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Image  —  Posted: February 6, 2016 in News and items of interest

What are our authors reading? Check out two new book reviews from Clark Hays.

The Soul of the Marionette by John Gray: Cutting the strings of human exceptionalism

John Gray covers familiar ground, eloquently. He plunders obscure writers and leans heavily on his knowledge of history to build an argument that deconstructs human exceptionalism and to dispel the notion that people, society and culture progress in some linear fashion. His thesis is that humans create the illusion of order because the alternative — embracing the certainty that we are mortal and meaningless creatures (“flawed, intermittently lucid animals”) in an indifferent world — fills many of us with paralyzing dread. That created sense of order was once overseen by invented gods, then an invented god and now by science (which, in a sense, elevates human ingenuity to the status of an invented god). Regardless of how it is embodied, the underlying impulse is to create a sense of purpose and progress that he, of course, considers false. Read the full review>>

Porius by John Cowper Powys: Endure to the End

Tungerong larry ong — endure to the end — is both a rallying cry of the main character of this incredible, and incredibly complex, book, and a much-needed encouragement to readers. At 762 pages, each filled with epic, breathless sentences crackling with mystical subtext, unpronounceable Welsh names and a gargantuan cast of characters, this is not a book one should enter into lightly.

It took me almost three months to finish, but the journey was worth it. Porius is gripping and challenging and dense and impenetrable and layered with swirling currents of meaning. It is an insane mix of history and magic, action and romance, and philosophy and religion. There are giants and magicians (including Merlin), scheming druids and savage forest people with poisoned arrows, the foppish court of King Arthur and grim-faced Saxon invaders, owls that become women, nature worship, magic rivers, enchanted mists, old curses, ancient myths and even more ancient burial grounds and all manner of petty, squabbling gods and their slavish worshippers — from Saturn to Mithras to Yahweh. Read the full review>>

Kirkus

Riveting, wickedly funny, existential, brilliantly written, authentically western …

Introducing racial issues isn’t the only adjustment the authors have made to the vampire mythos, but it’s more than just the details that set this series apart. Rather, it’s the way the authors utilize those details to create meaningful conflicts and world-altering choices for the characters. Riveting. – Kirkus Reviews

One of the funniest and most engaging series I have read in a long time. – Bitten by Books

Pour yourself a shot of the good stuff and settle in for a wickedly good read. – The Eastern Oregonian 

Unremitting fun, and a damn good read. – Fresh Fiction

Go ahead. You’re trying not to laugh at the title. Let it out! It’s funny and so is the book; sly and adult. – SF Site Featured Review

One of the weirdest stories I have ever read. It’s right up there with Neil Gaiman’s man-swallowing woman parts and talking tents. Instead, here we have rocket-launching, womb-sucking, Bible-bending, non-pointy-toothed vampires. And love. And cowboys. Depending on what you are looking for, that might be a good thing. If I had to liken this book to a movie, it would either be to Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, or maybe more appropriately, Quentin Tarantino’s From Dusk to Dawn. – The Avid Reader

A choice and very much recommended read, not to be missed. – Midwest Book Reviewdeeo.ru

The literary trend is just getting started, but by the looks of it, fiction readers and NDE followers are in for a fascinating ride. Here are five novels in which the NDE is central to the plot of the book and the actions of the characters.

A spate of new novels that include the NDE as a central plot element are popping up across genres — thrillers, horror, sci-fi, westerns and even literary fiction. Publishing houses range from the New York Big Six to small press and independently published e-books. Contemporary fiction is not only a testing ground to explore cutting-edge theories about NDEs, it’s also a unique frontline glimpse into society’s shifting perspectives. Indeed, this nascent but growing literary trend resembles what would become the sci-fi heyday of the mid to late twentieth century. Read the rest of this entry »

Clark and Kathleen are putting the final touches on the fourth book in The Cowboy and the Vampire Collection. The authors have commissioned an artist to design the cover of this final book chronicling Tucker and Lizzie’s opposites-attract love story arc as an homage to the vintage 1999 cover, but within the aesthetic of the current covers. Published (Llewellyn) before the e-book revolution, the 1999 now-first edition was print only. Tough to tell in the image below, but the blood and boot design were raised/textured and given a shiny treatment. This original book has become a bit of a collector’s item now. Stay tuned. We’ll share the new 1999-inspired cover and book title soon. Publication expected in early 2016.

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The Oregon Caves are no place for taphophobes — those who have an acute fear of being buried alive.

Early on in the tour that took us deep inside the namesake caves, the ranger turned off the lights, sheathed his flashlight and let us experience the utter, absolute darkness.

We were hundreds of feet below the surface of the earth, and far from the already-tenuous fading light of day, so the effect was memorable — it was terrifying, and also oddly liberating.

The ranger wasn’t tormenting us, he was simply illustrating how the discoverer of the caves might have felt as his last sulfur match flickered out, leaving him stranded in the inky blackness with no sense of direction, lost and alone in the bowels of the mountain in complete silence other than the trickle of the underground stream. (Spoiler alert: the stream saved him; he made it out by following the creek.)  Read so much more….>>

From Writastic Thoughts from the Thinking Realm: Zany Grey!

“As a vampire novel, The Cowboy and the Vampire is sure to satisfy Dracula fans’ expectations. However, this book has a little something extra to offer readers. A little something that harkens back to the days when man fought against the wild in the name of civilization. Hays and McFall have succeeded in mixing the Western genre tropes with the Gothic conventions to create a zany grey romance.” Read more of this review

From The Avid Reader

“This is one of the weirdest stories I have ever read. It’s right up there with Neil Gaiman’s man-swallowing woman parts and talking tents. Instead, here we have rocket-launching, womb-sucking, Bible-bending, non-pointy-toothed vampires. And love. And cowboys. Depending on what you are looking for, that might be a good thing. If I had to liken this book to a movie, it would either be to Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, or maybe more appropriately, Quentin Tarantino’s From Dusk to Dawn.” Read more of this review

We’ve sent authors Clark and Kathleen on a road trip to celebrate the completion of the last book in The Cowboy and Vampire Collection. Let the copy editing, cover design and other details commence while they wander. Follow along on the road trip on twitter @cowboyvamp!

Day 50

cover sketches1Writing the Range: Top Ten Cowboys Cowboys in Literature gives a perspective from authors Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall on what makes a successful cowboy-themed book. The authors blog about it over on their site but we’ve reposted it here too…

Cowboys are enjoying a surge of popularity, particularly in the land of romance. Right now, an explosion of popular books on Amazon feature six-pack ab-adorned cowboys with steely blue (or green) eyes, staring out from the covers seductively and with promise. They all look vaguely related, too.

While these romances are flying off the e-shelves, it’s made us think a lot about the cowboy icon. Why is this myth so persistent? Especially when, by and large, moody, gym-going cowboys without shirts never really existed? And we should know. One of us is a true-blue cowboy, albeit lately lapsed due to love, and he never looked – or acted – anything like these romantic heroes. The other one of us is a born and bred city girl (and the cause of the cowboy lapse), a doe-eyed slightly-lost-in-the frontier just shy of pretty type usually cast as the romantic heroine in the ab-adorned books.

Ever since we met, we’ve been debating these questions: What is a real cowboy and are there any characters in books that capture that essence? The answers don’t come from romances, although they are fun to read. The first thing we agreed to agree on – in order to answer the two questions – was cowboy history. Read the rest of this entry »

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Learn from the mistakes, and tiny, inappropriate victories, of a guerrilla book marketing campaign

Not too long ago, Kathleen and I launched an experimental marketing campaign called #50DaysofFiverr. We wanted to tap into the staggering wealth of creative talent available on Fiverr.com and use the experience as a springboard to build our brand and raise awareness about our books. Fiverr is a platform that allows you to contract with artists and designers and all manner of creative folks from around the world — it’s like the Star Wars cantina for creativity — for a starting price of $5.

Need an original sketch? Five bucks. A video of an Italian dude ironing his shirts and reading your script? Five bucks. An original rap song? Five bucks. A cartoon? Well, you can probably see where this is going. As broke thrifty indie authors constantly looking for a marketing edge, we were entranced. The idea behind 50 Days of Fiverr was simple: purchase 50 gigs (that’s the hip, cool way they talk about products) — from art to video testimonials — and run them for 50 days straight on our “big three” social media channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Read the rest of this entry »