Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Book Review: The Pulp Jungle

The Pulp JungleThe Pulp Jungle by Frank Gruber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publishing is changing. Advances are going down, it's getting harder to push through the traditional publishing bottleneck, and more people are choosing indie publishing. Going it alone means having to do all your own marketing and even more importantly, being prolific in order to boost your visibility.

It's for this reason that I've been studying the old pulp days, when writers often got paid only half a cent a word and had to write reams of tales in order to make ends meet. Many starved, while others made a decent living and a few made it big.

Frank Gruber was one of the lucky few. He wrote for all the best pulp magazines (sometimes earning up to two cents a word!) and ended up writing novels and for Hollywood too.

The Pulp Jungle gives a fast-paced, fun account of Gruber's struggle to make it as a writer during the Depression and is filled with anecdotes of those long-gone days. For example, when he was really down in the dumps he'd go to the Automat--a coin-operated, self-serve restaurant--and get a free meal. It turned out that hot water was free, as was ketchup, so presto! Tomato soup.

The story follows Gruber as he works his way up from poverty to middle-class comfort through grindingly hard work, cultivating contacts in the industry, and sheer optimism and persistence. The book is filled with portraits of other writers, such as one who was hosting a party and announced around midnight that he had a 12,000 word story due the following morning. Gruber assumed the party was over, but instead the host went to a corner with his typewriter, banged out 12,000 words, and then poured himself a gin and rejoined the party!

As Gruber says, "They don't make them like that any more!"

Anyone who is a writer will find this book inspiring. Readers interested in classic pulp fiction will find this book to be a fascinating glimpse into how those stories were made.

View all my reviews

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Free Post-Apocalyptic Ebook and Kindle Countdown Deal!

Hello from Worldcon! I'm in London at the world's largest, and oldest science fiction convention. I'll be turning 45 here on Saturday, surrounded by science fiction fans. There are worse places to to grow old.

In honor of Worldcon and my oncoming decrepitude, I'm running a special promotion for two of my Toxic World titles of post-apocalyptic books. Radio Hope is on a Kindle Countdown deal. It's usually $3.99 but for August 14-15 it will be 99 cents. On August 16-17 it will be $1.99. On August 18-19 it will be $2.99.

Also, my short story The Scavenger will be free August 14-18.

Grab these titles while they're cheap, and tune in next week for a full convention report and plenty of photos!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Looking forward to Worldcon, plus an upcoming giveaway!

On Thursday I'm heading down to London for the World Science Fiction Convention, otherwise known as Worldcon, this year hosted by Loncon. It's five days of panels, movies, special events, making new friends, and of course a giant dealer's room!

I'm doing a panel on Thursday, plus a signing on Saturday, the same day yours truly turns 45. Yipe!

I'll be writing up a full con report next week for Black Gate and will post the link here.

In honor of Worldcon and my oncoming old age, I'll be running a special promotion for two of my Toxic World titles of post-apocalyptic books. Radio Hope will be on a Kindle Countdown deal. It's usually $3.99 but for August 13-14 it will be 99 cents. On August 15-16 it will be $1.99. On August 17-19 it will be $2.99.

Also, my short story The Scavenger will be free August 14-18.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Trench Raiders now available!

Just in time for the WWI centenary, I've come out with Trench Raiders, the first in a series of World War one action novels. Here's the blurb:

September 1914: The British Expeditionary Force has the Germans on the run, or so they think.
After a month of bitter fighting, the British are battered, exhausted, and down to half their strength, yet they’ve helped save Paris and are pushing toward Berlin. Then the retreating Germans decide to make a stand. Holding a steep slope beside the River Aisne, the entrenched Germans mow down the advancing British with machine gun fire. Soon the British dig in too, and it looks like the war might grind down into deadly stalemate.
Searching through No-Man’s Land in the darkness, Private Timothy Crawford of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry finds a chink in the German armor. But can this lowly private, who spends as much time in the battalion guardhouse as he does on the parade ground, convince his commanding officer to risk everything for a chance to break through?
Trench Raiders is the first in a new series of World War One action novels that will follow the brave men of the British Expeditionary Force through the major battles of the First World War a hundred years after they happened. The Battle of the Aisne was the start of trench warfare on the Western Front, and it was there that the British and Germans first honed their skills at a new, vicious brand of fighting.

Trench Raiders is available at Amazon, Smashwords, and within a few days will be available at all other online outlets.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Remembering the World War One Centenary

On this date in 1914, the British Empire declared war on Germany, bringing it into the First World War. Fighting had already started, of course. Austria-Hungary had declared war on Serbia for its part of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. This led to Russia declaring war on Austria-Hungary, causing Germany to declare was on Russia, bringing Russia's ally France into the fray. Germany then infamously decided to attack France by going through neutral Belgium, bringing the British in to the war.

I'm in Oxford right now and it seems every church is having a ceremony today. At my local church in Iffley I came across this memorial. One name, that of R.W. Pepys, caught my eye. I've been reading the regimental history of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, and it mentioned that a descendant of the famous diarist Samuel Pepys was in the regiment. I hadn't read that he had been killed , however, so seeing this monument was a bit of a shock.

I then checked in the regimental history and found in fact there were two men with the last name Pepys in the regiment. The other was Second Lieutenant Francis Pepys, who was also killed in the war.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

New World War One Speculative Fiction (not mine!)


Fellow Madrid writer Andrew Leon Hudson has a short story in a new anthology about World War One.

Wars to End All Wars – Alternate Tales from the Trenches is a collection of seven short stories inspired by the “Great” War, though not necessarily following exactly where it led. In addition to a piece from the award-winning Elizabeth Moon, it contains original stories by Dan Bieger, Wilson Geiger, G. L. Lathian, Igor Ljubuncic, Lee Swift, and Andrew Leon Hudson.

As with the previous two anthologies put together by SFFWorld.com’s N. E. White, the first year’s proceeds from Wars to End All Wars will be donated to charity: this time to Doctors Without Borders, so every copy represents not just some interesting fiction but a little bit of valuable aid to a worthy cause. Plus, it’s only 99 cents!

It's available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Trench Raiders blurb (please help!)

I'm in the final stages of editing Trench Raiders, the first of my World War one action novels, and I've come up with a blurb. this is very much a version 1.0 so I could use your help!

September 1914: The British Expeditionary Force has the Germans on the run, or so they think.

After a month of bitter fighting, the British are battered, exhausted, and down to half their strength, yet they’ve saved Paris and are pushing towards Berlin. Then the retreating Germans decide to make a stand. Holding a steep slope beside the River Aisne, the entrenched Germans mow down the advancing British with machine gun fire. Soon the British dig in too, and it looks like the war might grind down into deadly stalemate.

Searching through No-Man’s Land in the darkness, Private Timothy Crawford of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry finds a chink in the German armor. But can this lowly private, who spends as much time in the regimental jailhouse as he does on the parade ground, convince his commanding officer to risk everything for a chance to break through?

Trench Raiders is the first in a new series of World War One action novels that will follow the brave men of the British Expeditionary Force through the major battles a hundred years after they happened. The Battle of the Aisne was the start of trench warfare on the Western Front, and it was there that the British and Germans first honed their skills at a new, vicious brand of fighting.
Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.