You Didn’t Tell Me There Was Gonna Be a Test

Cover Art (c) 1979 by Tim Hammell

Cover Art (c) 1979 by Tim Hammell

Well, okay, I’m not grading this. I’ve talked before about the magazines that have come and gone, but today I started in on some of my files in preparation for moving, and I’m turning up things even I’d forgotten about. How many of you have heard of a magazine called The Twilight Zone? Maybe a few of you, since the TV show will likely appear in re-runs until the heat death of the universe and there was a well-regarded print magazine (redundant at the time. ALL magazines were print) dedicated to publishing TZ-esque stories. In theory. In reality it published dark fantasy of many types. It was a good magazine, I read it and hoped to write for it one day, but it ended before that happened.

Well, I can get a lot more obscure than that. How about Shayol? No? Perhaps Myrddin? Anyone? Bueller? Prelude to FantasyEldritch Tales? Fantasy Macabre? Fantasy Book? Copper Toadstool? Weirdbook? Maybe a few more on that last, since it’s been recently revived, or at least is going through the process. These were all small press fantasy/sf magazines that existed back when producing a magazine meant printing and distributing a magazine. It was expensive, and most didn’t last any longer than the publisher’s money and enthusiasm. Quality of the package ranged from saddle stapled with typewriter typography to typeset and perfect bound, usually with b/w line illustrations, but sometimes full color.

They’re like little time capsules, many of them. At a time when there weren’t that many outlets for fantasy writers/artists especially, people flocked to magazines like this. Which is why you’ll find names like Charles de Lint, Steve Eng, Tom Reamy, Pat Cadigan, and Brad Foster among the names on the contents pages. Right there along with people you’ve never heard of, and likely never will hear of, but that was the thing—everyone, from publisher to writer, to artist, was participating, creating, strictly for the love of the form, because nobody was making any money.

One or two even had someone named Richard Parks. Sometimes I wonder whatever happened to that guy. Regardless, I’ve been doing purges because anything I don’t get rid of, I have to move. And that is a hassle. I likely will be tossing a lot of rough drafts and ephemera, but most of these old zines? Yeah, I’m keeping them. There are some things, some ideas and ideals, you just can’t—and shouldn’t—let go of.

Do You Want Footnotes With That?

Heian Lady

Reference books. We tend to accumulate them in the natural course of our writing projects, whatever they may be. After all, Google doesn’t have all the answers, and while any single citation should be taken with a grain of salt, the ones you find on the internet need something more along the lines of a 50 lb bag. A source of reliable information is to be treasured, and since I’m going to be packing them up soon (oh, they are SO going with me), I thought I’d mention a few. I’ll concentrate on those I’ve found especially useful for the Yamada series and why, since I’ve been asked about them so apparently some people are curious.

Continue reading

Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

Pensacola-LighthouseWe took a short trip down to Pensacola, FL. That’s Carol’s hometown, and since there’s a good chance we won’t be back that way for some time, we took a nostalgia/farewell trip. I have a lot of happy memories–and some less so–from Pensacola, mostly due to its association with Carol, but it was home to her for a lot of years. Carol was pleasantly surprised by how much hadn’t changed–her old house was still in use, her grammar school is still there, even some old-school relic tourist motels that have served as landmarks for 50+ years, still in operation. Pensacola-Lighthouse-Keepers QuartersWe took advantage of the chance to visit the Pensacola Lighthouse, located on the Naval Air Station. Which, for the uninitiated, is also the home base for the Blue Angels precision flying team. The guard at the gate warned us about heavy traffic, and we were wondering why that would be the case? Then Carol realized that this was a practice day for the Blue Angels, and that they’d be flying near the lighthouse. We had thought about climbing to the top, but people book a year in advance to be able to watch a Blue Angels practice session from the top of the lighthouse. Must have been a fine sight, as we got a pretty good one just watching from the porch of the Keeper’s quarters. I was able to catch this one on a low pass. 1 Angel-BlueBest I could do with a camera phone. Those guys are fast. Carol grew up with this type of thing as a common occurrence, but for me it was a treat.

We’ve been pretty good vegetarians for a while (Well, Carol better than me), but it was time to eat seafood. Especially mullet. Carol wasn’t going to visit home without a taste of mullet. Sometimes, you just have to eat the fish and be done with it. Until the next time.

Power’s Shadow is still wending its way through the edit process. I’ll post here once I have a release time for the ebook.

Goodbye to Winter Oak


When we first moved into this house, one of the reasons we did was because of a beautiful old oak that stood in the front yard. Then, for a lot of reasons having nothing to do with the house, we decided to uproot and put the house on the market. Apparently the oak decided to uproot too, or rather a wet June followed by a severe thunderstorm decided for it.

We were really fond of that tree. We originally moved into the house in December of ’98 and Carol named the place Winter Oak in its honor. It’ll just be a house once we’re gone. Winter Oak has already left.


The More Things Change

My beautiful picture

Photo by Jeff Parker

The More Things Don’t Remain the Same

Take a look at this picture. That’s me, circa 1983. I was a member of a medievalist group called “The Society for Creative Anachronism®,” and that’s my fighter outfit for an afternoon of best friends beating on each other with rattan swords in a local park. The armor part of the outfit was no joke. The swords may not have had edges, but they were essentially clubs, and the pole arms were really big clubs. Bones got broken and teeth got knocked out in SCA fighter practices and tournaments. Not many, because the armor requirements were stringent and strictly enforced. It was supposed to be fun, and personal injury isn’t fun. Mostly it was fun. And research. Wearing padded gambesons and steel helmets gave one an idea, at least, of what it was like for knights and men-at-arms back in the day. Minus the element of terror and potential loss of life and limb, naturally. I may have been crazy, but I wasn’t stupid. Continue reading