Saturday 30 April 2011

Archive's eNews

Yet another UK publishing house have seen their eBook sales double in 2011- Penguin Books recently released this Trading Report which clearly outlines the rise in the digital market. eBook Magazine, an essential online resource has a full report.

iPad owners are able to download free a copy of the Official Royal Wedding programme - the digital copy is identical to the paper copies that were sold on the big day.

Italy is the latest country to fall to the lure of eBooks -  Italians are taking to eReaders. “There are likely 150,000-200,000 people using eReading devices and 20 plus stores selling eBooks. Considering that less than 50% of Italians buy at least a book a year, these are pretty good numbers for a six month old market.” Marco Ferrario, CEO of 40k a new digital publisher in Italy. For full interview go HERE

F+W Media has acquired Tyrus Books, the company’s first move into the crime book space. Tyrus founder Benjamin LeRoy will serve as publisher of a brand new imprint, F+W Crime.
The imprint will publish its first books in June, and up to 200 eBook-only titles are scheduled for the year. They will also publish “select” print releases this fall.

Macmillan has created a new online community for crime fiction and nonfiction readers, Here’s more from the press release: “At launch there will be excerpts, original fiction and articles by authors Joseph Finder, Steve Hamilton, Rosemary Harris, Charles Ardai, Luis Alberto Urrea and more… is ‘publisher neutral,’ meaning that it will include author participation from all publishers and other content creators, and is not exclusive to Macmillan authors.”Crime writers from any publisher can submit original short stories and pre-release excerpts to senior manager Liz Edelstein. This site will also have a Facebook page and Twitter page.

Writers struggling with the need to market and publicise their own books could do worse than check out this post from writer, Jody Hedlund HERE . Titled, Loving and Taking Care of our Readers, the article offers some interesting insights into the role of the author in the modern world - "Obviously, if we choose to self-pub or go with a smaller press, we’ll need to shoulder the bulk of marketing and publicity. With a larger traditional publisher, authors will have the publisher’s sales team working for them, getting their books into brick-and-mortar stores, advertising with distributors, and sending it out to major reviewers." Read the full article


Friday 29 April 2011


eEverything - overview

eBooks - eBooks - eBooks - it seems these days that everywhere you turn someone is either talking about or writing about eBooks. The Archive has long championed this new technology, believing it to be the saviour of mid-list fiction. And now in this three part article we will tell you everything you need to know about eBooks, from eReaders to the eBooks themselves and in this first part we give a general overview of the current state of play.

"Assurance, tax and advisory services group PwC on Thursday (28th April 2011) cautioned publishers, content owners and retailers to act quickly to secure positions in the eBook and eReader market or risk losing out to a new industry"

Way back in 1455, Johannes Guttenberg printed a Bible using a new kind of movable type that pressed ink onto paper - this was a great world changing invention and although there have been many innovations over the years, including computerised printing, the basic method of printing uses the same principles. Until now that is - the success of digital readers mean that it is now looking likely that print is very soon going to be left behind.

“Digital publishing appears to be reaching critical mass,” said Vicki Myburgh, South African entertainment and media industry leader for PwC. “Media coverage and extensive reporting on eBooks and eReaders have given most consumers a basic understanding of the digital technologies. They don't, however, truly understand the larger concepts behind digital publishing and the advantages of reading digital books over paper ones.”

Dedicated eReaders like the Kindle and Sony (the two market leaders) are rapidly dropping in price, and so are the books that can be read on them. These digital downloads don't consume the planet's resources - forests remain standing with digital, the books do not need to be shipped by road, air or sea and are much more flexible than traditional books. For instance the print size can be increased at a touch of a button. eBooks are often, though not always, cheaper than the print version - Stephen Leather's Hard Landing is £7.99 in print and only 49p on the Kindle. Of course that low pricing is absurd and in time, even by going their own way, cutting out publishers and agents, writers will still need to charge more than 49p for product. It is my guess that eBooks (fiction) will eventually balance out around the £4 - £5 mark - a fair price when one considers the amount of work put in by the writers of these books.


There is also the matter of convenience - Stephen King's Under the Dome weighed in at close to a thousand pages, and most bestsellers number above 500 pages - imagine carrying several of these around with you and yet a standard eReader is capable of carrying the entire top ten bestseller list and hundreds of other titles. No matter how many books you have in your Kindle it will still weigh only 247 grams. And of course eBooks (as long as DRM free) can be synced across several devices using APS such as Amazon's Kindle for PC - buy a eBook and read it on your eReader, smart phone of computer screen.

Now readers wanting an experience that mimics reading a printed book need a dedicated eReader such as the Sony range and the Kindle - these use pearl eInk displays which closely simulate the printed page and the no-glare screen minimises eye strain. Devices like the iPad use conventional screens similar to your computer monitor, and reading for any length of time can be a bugger. Dedicated eInk readers can also be read in direct light, that thing called the sun, with no glare. The sun bounces off the screen just as it would paper. Where devices like the iPad win out is in their full colour screen which is far better suited for reading digital comics and magazines. However most industry experts believe that coloured eInk is just around the corner.

"PwC urged publishers, bookstores and device managers to take the opportunity to provide the market with innovative products before they were pushed out of the market.
Failure to re-strategise and adapt to these changes could push traditional bookstores out of the expanding market for digital content, the financial services group said. “Traditional bookstores will need to emphasise their strengths in terms of customer knowledge, customer retention as well as competence, and distribute content in all formats and via a number of channels,” it said.
According to the survey, eBooks and printed books would co-exist. “Even though consumers preferred to hold a book and thumb through the pages, this appears to be an insignificant factor. On the other hand, experts are less optimistic with regard to printed newspapers and periodicals. Tablets such as the iPad will ensure that newspapers and periodicals can be attractively displayed in digital form and can be purchased as part of a subscription thanks to integrated internet access,” PwC said."

Best eBook readers - at the moment is seems to be a contest between the Sony and Kindle range. Both are quality eReaders with many of the same features, but the Sony is slightly more versatile simply because it supports the ePub format which the Kindle doesn't. For instance public libraries can load eBooks to devices such as the Sony but not, as yet, the Kindle. Amazon's device though wins out because it is totally PC free - you don't even have to own a computer to use the Kindle which connects seamlessly with Amazon's Kindle store. Again I am ignoring the iPad which is a fantastic device but in truth it's a tablet computer and far better suited to other things rather than reading.

Book lovers want a reading experience as close as possible to a real book - they want to forget they are holding a glued together chunk of paper or electronic device, and lose themselves in the story - only dedicated eReaders can offer that.

In the current market it's a simple choice between the Kindle and Sony ranges. Both do much the same thing and both offer the pearl eInk display. The Kindle screen is slightly better, but the Sony is far more versatile because it supports the ePub format which the Kindle doesn't. In practise this means, at the moment, lending libraries can supply books for loan to devices like the Sony but not the Kindle.

The Nook is also a great eReader,as is the BeBook and Elonex - in fact besides their eInk readers, Elonex have a low priced colour eReader on the market, but the problem is this doesn't use eInk and has a LCD screen which is very reflective. Colour will only really take off when colour eInk is perfected.

"The weight of several paperbacks and a well-known airline's weight restrictions tempted me to an impulse buy of the Kindle. I have been delighted with it. It is intuitive and easy to use: a pleasure to read. I find it lighter than most paperbacks and you don't need to hold it open.

"I also was able to sit by the pool and download books, none of the hassle of trying to find a decent book in English and then paying over the odds for it while on holiday. I have also read a couple of classics free of charge that I wouldn't have paid for. Overall, an excellent buy." Angie Ford, Computer Active

PROJECT GUTTENBERG offers thousands of free public domain eBooks that can be read on any device - you only need
to download 23 free classics, which each would cost several pounds in print, to offset the price of an eReader.
Many times the Archive has made the claim that eBooks are the future of genre and mid-list fiction - for proof of this check out all the westerns, the Archive's favourite genre, available digitally - if you are lucky enough to find any westerns in a brick and mortar book shop the chances are the range will be very limited. And it's the same for other genres which have all but vanished from mainstream book shops - horror, Sci-Fi, erotice novels, noir thrillers.

The final photograph on this page are my own bookshelves in my den - you see that Kindle in the bottom corner (tan leather case without bad motherfucker written on it) - there are more books on that device than displayed on these shelves. Since getting my reader I have continued to buy paper books, so I think there is definitely a case for using the two systems side by side. It all depends on what kind of books you wish to read. With the ebook reader you still get a pleasing tactile experience that is somewhat different to but just as satisfying as holding a traditional paper book and the range of titles are also greatly expanded - in a very real sense since although there are far more printed books than eBooks you try finding these in your local bookshop. I now buy more books as eBooks than conventional books, and that seems to be the current trend. There is also evidence that people who have not been regular readers for many years are now buying eBooks on a weekly basis. It seems that eReaders have provoked a resurgence in reading.
In the next article we will look at the range of eBooks available and particularly those in the western genre.

Thursday 28 April 2011

Desert Island Disc

Top marks to the BBC for putting the entire archives of Desert Island Discs online - that's every castaway from 1942 to the present day. The programs are also listed in categories - authors, actors, politicians and so forth. Find the site HERE - over the years it seems everybody who is anybody has been featured. And any programs you are particularly interested in can be downloaded as a podcast and kept forever.

Desert Island Discs is a long-running BBC Radio 4 programme first broadcast on 29 January 1942. It is the second longest-running radio programme (surpassed only by the Grand Ole Opry, 28 November 1925), and is the longest-running factual programme in the history of radio. Originally devised and presented by Roy Plomley, each week a famous guest ("castaway") is asked to choose eight pieces of music, a book and a luxury item for their imaginary stay on the island, while discussing their lives and the reasons for their choices. The programme's famous theme is By the Sleepy Lagoon composed by Eric Coates in 1930. Since 2006 it has been presented by Kirsty Young.

Thor looks to continue Marvel's movie run...

It could so very easily have been a disaster but the advance reviews are that Thor is a great movie; even better than Iron Man according to ComicBookmovie.Com

Now it's Sherlock V Doctor Who: The Taff War begins

 To my mind Sherlock deserves the award - I just haven't warmed to the new youth orientated Doctor Who. Either way Steven Moffat will end up the winner as he is the man at the helm of both shows. This years Bafta's are also great for BBC Wales with a total of eleven award nominations for its programs.

Matt Smith has been  nominated for a Bafta television award.
The 28-year-old actor joins other rising stars in the nominations list for the 2011 awards.
BBC Wales won 11 nominations in eight categories for the awards which will be decided at a ceremony in London on 22 May, hosted by Graham Norton.
Smith takes on Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch for the leading actor prize.
He took over the Doctor Who role from David Tennant in 2009.
Sherlock, the modern-day retelling of Sherlock Holmes commissioned by BBC Cymru Wales, received four nominations.

BBC Wales Bafta nominees

Leading Actor: Benedict Cumberbatch - Sherlock, Daniel Rigby - Eric & Ernie, Matt Smith - Doctor Who Supporting Actor: Martin Freeman - Sherlock Single Drama: Eric & Ernie Drama Series: Being Human, Sherlock Drama Serial: The Sinking of the Laconia Specialist Factual: Human Planet Single Documentary: Between Life and Death Audience Award: Sherlock
The show is also up for best drama series, alongside Being Human, best supporting actor for Martin Freeman and the audience award.
Daniel Rigby is nominated for leading actor for his performance in BBC Wales' Eric & Ernie, which is also up for best single drama.
Human Planet is nominated in the specialist factual category and The Sinking of the Laconia for best drama serial.
Between Life and Death, also commissioned by BBC Cymru Wales, is up for best single documentary.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Wake Wood - the Hammer strikes back

HAMMER FILMS are back with their first movie production (excluding the online movie, Beyond the Rave) in decades. In fact it's been more than thirty years since a film entered the cinema with the Hammer Films logo.

Patrick and Louise are a young couple who have been through hell - their daughter was killed by a savage dog. Thinking that a move would help them to come to terms with their grief they settle in the small Irish village of Wakewood. Soon afterwards they stumble upon a group of locals, led by a very sinister Timothy Spall performing a bizarre pagan ritual in which the recently deceased are brought back to life. They are told their daughter can be brought back to life but only for three days, during which they will be able to properly say their goodbyes.

As expected things go wrong and become very gory as their daughter, Alice, now a teeny psychopath goes on the rampage. It's a genuinely creepy movie which takes the horror aspects seriously,  even the pagan mumbo jumbo is presented in a straight forward style which may make the film seem slow by modern genre standards, but that's not to say it's a bad movie because it isn't - it reminded me of horror classic The Wicker Man and seems to be paced in a similar fashion.

I don't really enjoy modern horror films, preferring the classic monsters over the latest slasher of the week, and I found myself glued to the screen for the admittedly short duration of this movie - 88 mins including titles.It is refreshing to see a horror movie aimed at adults, where suspense is much more important than cheap shocks .

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Magazine Watch - Comic Book Heroes new issue now on sale

At £7.99 it's a bit pricey in comparison to most magazines, but it is an excellent publication and the current issue (out now) is no exception.

There's a great feature on Battle Picture Weekly (a comic book I've written about several times myself.) as well as a feature looking at 2000AD's classic future war strip, Bad Company.

There's much more between the covers, the lead feature looks at the X Men.

The free League of Gentlemen fridge magnets are also pretty cool.

Archive icons - James Herbert

Let's talk James Herbert - the best-selling horror author and recipient of the OBE has a new book out this September - the author burst onto the scene in 1974 with his novel - The Rats - an immediate best-seller, the book seemed to catch the Zeitgeist and started a string of gruesome but increasingly complex works. Of course the timing of the book helped - it was 1974 and the horror genre was about to enter a golden age led by Mr Herbert and a then unknown American author named Stephen King. In fact King's debut, Carrie didn't come out until a few months after The Rats had topped the best-seller lists. But, more than anything else, the thing that made the Rats such a massive success was the style of writing - previously British horror was dominated by a verbose style demonstrated by the likes of Dennis Wheatley, and here was this new young turk, writing with a working class voice and using working class characters to carry the story.

In short - James Herbert kicked arse!!!

I was nine years old when The Rats burst onto the scene but I think I was a few years older when I came across the dog eared paperback which was one of the hot topics in the school playground.

It was the extremely graphic (for its time) horror that appealed to us snobby nosed kids and although I've read the book several times since, I think the first reading was the best. That's the one where you turn the pages with your mouth hanging open.

 It made the author an instant superstar and in the UK, at least, he was a bigger seller than Stephen King. In fact in the UK it was James Herbert who was given the tag, King of Horror.

A title that the author never seemed perfectly comfortable with -  the author has cropped up on UK chat shows from time to time, and he always seems to squirm when the interviewer questions him about the gore and violence contained in his books. However this visceral quality only belonged to his early books and by the time of 1977's The Fluke, the author's fourth novel, his books had become much more complex and assured than his early work. That's not to take anything from his early work though and The Rats, The Fog and the Survivor are all totally enjoyable reads - And of course enjoyment is the main reason to read. The books have been very influential and in no small way  inspired the splatterpunk horror movement that emerged towards the end of the decade.

The Jonah though was more of a fantasy than a horror novel - marketed very much as horror, the story of a man reincarnated as a dog, and told from the dog's point of view, is a beautifully written fable with that dark twist the author is renowned for.

Herbert's follow up to Fluke, The Spear was a curious hybrid of the horror and thriller genres, and in turn he followed this up with Lair, a sequel to his first  novel, The Rats. He would also publish a third novel in the Rats saga, Domain in 1984 which sees the rats finally dominated after mankind has been virtually wiped out following a nuclear war.

Since then the author has experimented with his genre - giving us traditional horror - The Dark, adult fairy Tales - The Magic Cottage, supernatural chillers - The Haunted, and pretty much everything in between. Herbert doesn't mess around and can usually grab the reader by the end of the first page.

James Herbert was born on April 8, 1943, in the East End of London, the son of street traders. His family lived at the back of Petticoat Lane in Whitechapel—once the stalking ground of Jack the Ripper. Age ten, he passed the 11+ exam and won a scholarship to St. Aloysius Grammar School in Highgate. At sixteen he went to the famous Hornsey College of Art, where he studied graphic design. This led to him joining a leading London advertising agency, where he worked his way up to the position of Group Head/Associate Director.

Feeling there was more he could do, at the age of 28 he started secretly writing a novel. Ten months later he had completed The Rats—inspired by his childhood upbringing and depicting a London overrun by monstrous, flesh-eating rats of unknown origin. He submitted the manuscript to six publishers on the same day. Within three weeks he had received three replies. Two publishers turned the novel down, while the other enthusiastically accepted it. 

As a teenager I devoured each and every one of Herbert's books and whenever a new title was released I'd buy it, read it and then pop off a letter to the author. And you know he always replied - I've still got these letters somewhere and will dig them out one day - there's an article in those alone. 

Monday 25 April 2011


Stetson's are cool, so say Doctor Who in the opening episode of the new season which aired in the UK this Saturday last. This time there was no expense spared and the BBC crew arrived in the Utah desert - I'm not at all sure what happened in this episode - I found it all quite baffling, even if the locations did look stunning.

And the current most successful western writer in the world is...

Every 7 seconds, 24 hours a day, a John Locke novel is downloaded somewhere in the world.

Those who say the western genre has no chops should be eating humble pie now because one the strongest selling eBooks at the moment is a western, Follow the Stone by John Locke - granted it doesn't look like a traditional western and is not marketed as such, but it is fairly traditional none the less.

International best-selling author John Locke (Saving Rachel, Wish List, Now & Then, Lethal People, Lethal Experiment) tackles a new genre, with hilarious results.

"I love the idea of westerns. It’s a simple dynamic: a man or woman overcoming hardship to carve out a meaningful life in a savage land, while maintaining their integrity." John Locke

Follow the Stone (An Irreverent Western Adventure) is a good-hearted, rollicking story about a former gunslinger and his crablike scout, who journey West with a mail order bride, a witch, and a wagon full of prostitutes!

Expect a full review and interview with the author, soon.

The self publishing indie

Twenty eight titles in Amazon US top 100 bestsellers are by self published authors, and given the recent excitement caused by Amanda Hocking's mult-million dollar deal, things are  looking up for the indie press:

Below are live links to the bestselling self published titles, together with chart positions.

#4 Vegas Moon (A Donovan Creed Novel) – John Locke – $0.99

#2 in Thrillers » Suspense

#23 Trojan Horse – David Lender – $0.99

#1 in Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue

#25 A Girl Like You (a Donovan Creed Novel) – John Locke – $0.99

#2 in Action & Adventure

#27 Saving Rachel (a Donovan Creed Crime Novel) – John Locke – $0.99

#2 in Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue

#30 Lethal People (a Donovan Creed Novel) – John Locke – $0.99

#3 in Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue

#31 Liquid Fear: A Mystery Thriller – Scott Nicholson – $0.99

#1 in Romantic Suspense

#32 Lethal Experiment (a Donovan Creed Novel) – John Locke – $0.99

#4 in Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue

#33 Wish List – John Locke – $0.99

#6 in Action & Adventure

#34 American Vampire (Vampire for Hire #3) – J.R. Rain – $3.99

#1 in Fantasy » Contemporary

#40 Now & Then (a Donovan Creed Novel) – John Locke – $0.99

#5 in Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue

#42 The Spell (The Big Bad Wolf Series) – Heather Killough-Walden – $1.00

#2 in Romantic Suspense

#53 The Righteous – Michael Wallace – $0.99

#22 in Mystery & Thrillers

#55 The Heat (The Big Bad Wolf Series) – Heather Killough-Walden – $1.00

#2 in Romance » Contemporary

#56 Just Perfect (Perfect Trilogy) – Julie Ortolon – $2.99

#4 in Romance » Contemporary

#59 Her Last Letter – Nancy C. Johnson – $0.99

#1 in Mystery » Women Sleuths

#62 Follow the Stone – John Locke – $0.99

#1 in Westerns

#64 Ascend (Trylle Trilogy, #3) – Amanda Hocking (Author), Jason Letts (Editor) – $2.99

#1 in Love & Romance

#65 The Strip (The Big Bad Wolf Series) – Heather Killough-Walden – $1.00

#5 in Romance » Contemporary

#66 Too Perfect (Perfect Trilogy) – Julie Ortolon – $3.99

#7 in Romance » Contemporary

#68 Switched (Trylle Trilogy, Book 1) – Amanda Hocking – $0.99

#3 in Love & Romance

#69 Torn (Trylle Trilogy, Book 2) – Amanda Hocking – $2.99

#2 in Love & Romance

#72 Least Wanted – Debbi Mack – $0.99

#2 in Mystery » Women Sleuths

#76 Moon Dance (Vampire for Hire #1) – J.R. Rain – $0.99

#2 in Fantasy » Contemporary

#80 Diary of a Mad Fat Girl – Stephanie McAfee – $0.99

#2 in Humor

#84 Identity Crisis – Debbi Mack – $0.99

#4 in Mystery & Thrillers » Mystery » Hard-Boiled

#94 KILLER – Stephen Carpenter – $2.99

#1 in Mystery & Thrillers > Police Procedurals

#98 My Blood Approves – Amanda Hocking – $0.99

#4 in Love & Romance

#100 Blue – Lou Aronica – $2.39

#3 in Fantasy > Contemporary

Something eReader owners will never want to be without

eReader owners will want the MAGIC CATALOGUE - this free download that you can find HERE - you can download the cataloug in either MOBI (Kindle) or ePub(Sony and other readers) and then browse through the thousands of public domain titles from Project Guttenberg, select those you are interested in and bingo you've got the eBook.

I've been using the Magic Catalogue for a week or so now and have added over a thousand titles to my Kindle library.

Project Gutenberg (PG) is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, to "encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks." Founded in 1971 by Michael S. Hart, it is the oldest digital library. Most of the items in its collection are the full texts of public domain books. The project tries to make these as free as possible, in long-lasting, open formats that can be used on almost any computer. As of November 2010, Project Gutenberg claimed over 34,000 items in its collection. Project Gutenberg is affiliated with many projects that are independent organizations which share the same ideals, and have been given permission to use the Project Gutenberg trademark.

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 18 Apr - 24 Apr 2011

Unique Visitors7218377237206535866114,851693
First Time Visitors6777656816836085585764,548650
Returning Visitors4472423745283530343

Sunday 24 April 2011


President Obama sex shocker!!!!!

Not really - but I needed to get your attention. Wait don't turn away - this is important.

I've just bought this book from Amazon for the Kindle (though it can be read on other devices with the free Kindle AP) and all it cost me was 69p. Now that's a bargain! Firstly Charles T Whipple is none other than western writer, Chuck Tyrell and I know he spins a darn good yarn - and secondly all profits from the book will go to toward relief efforts in Japan where Charles is a resident.

Go on all - make just a small gesture to help by buying this book and get a great collection of fiction, including the award winning story, A Matter of Tea for your troubles. Not only can you lose yourself in the well realised fictional worlds, but you can feel the warm glow of satisfaction because you would have helped a good cause.

Find the book HERE

"Delicate as bisque china, dangerous as a snake den, Charles T. Whipple's writing resonates across the seven seas. Tales of sacrifice and honor that flick at the heart and encircle the soul." – Marsha Ward.

Stories include: A Matter of Tea, The Dragon of Torigoe, The Floating World, Kamo Ike, From Chojagasaki Bay, Masakado's Revenge, and four Bonus Sections. Royalties from sales from both the author and the publisher will go toward relief efforts in Japan. Please help us help them.

The Archive's Sunday Comics - There's a storm a'brewing!!!

From here on in Sunday is funday - as promised, and following our popular British Comic Book Weekend, we start a weekly series looking at comic books of yore - Sunday comics is the commonly accepted term for the full-colour comic strip section once carried in most newspapers. Many newspaper readers called this section the funnies.

The Archive will be carrying on a long tradition - A Sunday strip is a newspaper comic strip format, where comic strips are printed in the Sunday newspaper, usually in a special section called the Sunday comics, and virtually always in colour. Some readers called these sections the Sunday funnies. Some newspapers, and this includes most British ones, published Sunday strips in black-and-white, and some printed Sunday strips on Saturday.

This week strip was written by the Archive's partner in crime, Keith Chapman AKA Chap O'Keefe to tell us about our first comic strip. - Remember clicking on any image will enlarge.

Scary Tales was one of the Charlton Group's half-dozen mystery titles. Its better-known and longer-running mystery mags were Ghostly Tales, Haunted, and Many Ghosts of Dr Graves. As can be seen, the emphasis in all these mystery comics was on the supernatural, but the company's various lines covered other popular genres of its time, Romance, Western, War, Animated, and Special Adventure. Haunted Love was cross-genre long before the term "mash-up" was coined.

Charlton, based in Derby, Connecticut, with its own building and aging printing press, was regarded as a poor relation to the major New York comic publishers like DC and Marvel. But it attracted some big-gun artists. Steve Ditko was perhaps best known for his Spider-Man work, while Tom Sutton is remembered for a long run on the Star Trek comic.

Tom Sutton was the artist for the story Storm Freak which appeared in the January 1977 Scary Tales. It's a good example of the Charlton product.

Artist Tom Sutton (1937-2002) was once asked by The Comics Journal why he worked for a second-tier publisher like Charlton:

"Because I wanted to. I think that's why a lot of people bothered with them who could do otherwise. There was none of this bullshit that big companies had.
If you wanted to do a cover, you didn't send a pencil rendering to be approved. You just did the cover."

"There were no bureaucratic obstacles."

"No. I would get a call from [editor] George Wildman. 'Tom, can you do eight pages of Comic X by Wednesday?' 'Sure, George.' 'Hey, great. Gotta go!' I liked that. Not deliberating over this and that ridiculous thing."
"Tell me what the physical layout of Charlton was like."
"You get this eight-storey building. A real old building, I’d say probably put up at the turn of the century. And it’s right next to the railroad tracks, which meant at one time they were shipping stuff. Because the tracks, at the time I was there, were very clean. They were making something else. You can cut that out of there, too. I could probably get sued for that."

"You mean in the building?"

"Yeah. The owner of Charlton lived in Sicily. What are we doing? You know all of this already.... You go up two floors. I don’t know what the hell they were doing on the first floor. You went up two floors, and boy, let me tell you, this is not DC. This isn’t even Marvel.... Donna [Sutton's wife] was being very careful. She might get something dirty. You sure could in that place."
"Did you get the impression that it was a mob-affiliated company?"
"I don’t know, because I don’t know anyone in the mob, so I don’t know if they were affiliated or not. They were scrupulous with me. They paid me exactly what we agreed, and they paid it bingo! On time. That’s all I ask. I don’t care if you’re affiliated with the Martians."

As previously mentioned the writer of Storm Freak was Keith Chapman, better known to us today as western writer Chap O'Keefe. And I urge Archive readers to buy Keith's current western which is available in the Amazon Kindle store - Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope is a great read and at this price it's a steal, but don't just take my word for it -

(REVIEW BY WESTERN FICTION REVIEW) - The pace of Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope is very fast moving and features some superbly written set pieces, such as a breakout that's made possible due to the use of a rat, and an ingenious method of escaping from a hangrope. The book has plenty of the more traditional action you'd expect to find in a western, which includes an exciting gunfight with outlaws set on wiping out the wagon train Lil finds herself involved with.

The main plotline, of murder, sees Chap O'Keefe explore a different type of killing than one would normally expect to find in a western, proving that there are still new storylines to be found in the genre. Even though I did suspect the right person of this killing I was way out with the how and why and the answers definitely provide a memorable conclusion to this book.

Enjoy the strip and buy the book HERE

Saturday 23 April 2011

Another Milestone

Today the Archive hit the magic 300,000 hits - it wasn't that long ago we were celebrating 200,000 .Over the last three years I have tried to provide interesting and varied content and will continue to do so.

Everything's still there, to be viewed in the Archive archives or if you want to support the blog, then please buy the Kindle book, In Conversation.

The book collects together ten writer interviews from the history of the blogozine and for a great low price. Find the book HERE

Limp movie, great book - Pet Sematary

"We're really going to get old, he thought. No one's going to make an exception for us."

The movie, directed by Mary Lambert jettisons a lot of King's novel, and this results in the characters not being fully developed, and what is genuinely terrifying, not to mention disturbing in the novel, just doesn't have the same effect on the big screen. The novel's preoccupation with mortality is also lost on the screen.

"Sometimes dead is better..."

The novel takes its time in building the situations which are ultimately going to send protagonist Louis Creed, over the edge and death is used almost as a character itself, but kept on the sidelines, the reader always aware of its presence. One early plot device, the death of neighbour Judd Crandell's wife, Norma is jettisoned completely from the movie and another important plot detail, the death of Rachel Creed's sister, is heart wrenching in the book but comes across as standard horror movie fodder on the screen. On the screen the poor girl suffering from spinal meningitis looks like a zombie from a Romero movie.

The basics of the plot are - The Creeds move to a new home, befriend an elderly man named Judd Crandall who shows them to an ancient pet cemetery (misspelled) sematary where generations of children have buried their pets. Shortly afterwards the Creed's pet cat is run over and killed and Jud takes Louis Creed to an old Micmac Indian burial ground beyond the pet cemetery. The cat returns from the grave. The cat is different now - not exactly nasty but more unpleasant and there is always an earthy aroma when he's around.Some time later the Creed's little boy Gage is run over and killed and the heartbroken father takes the little boy's body to the Micmac burial ground...

Gage's death in the book is absolutely horrific and touches the reader on an almost primal level. King's greatest strength is his ability to create characters that are so real, the reader feels a bond with them, and when the little boy is mowed down by the speeding truck, its headlights bearing down on him like the eyes of a monster, it actually hurts, the reader feels the grief of the characters. But on the screen the same events come across as simply horrible and of questionable taste. King himself did the screenplay and as is the case with his directorial debut, Maximum Overdrive, he displays that his astounding talents as a novelist do not stretch to filmmaking.

I think the main problem with the movie is that it is very much a horror film and suffers from the excesses of the genre, whilst the novel, marketed as horror, is really a character study - that those characters are thrown into unimaginable situations is a given but it is the study of these very well realised characters that drives the piece. By the time the unspeakable events occur in the narrative we have fallen in love with the characters and know them so intimately that they become like family members, and we suffer their loss with them. Horror in literature has a much broader definition than it does on the screen, and doesn't have to  be (though often can be) quite as silly. A perfect example of the different way plot elements are handled by book and film, is the earlier mentioned death of Rachel's sister,  Zelda, the poor little girl suffering from spinal meningitis. The scenes in both are presented as flashbacks, both come from Rachel's point of view, but they couldn't be more different.

The book, to my mind King's best, stays with you long after reading but the movie is quickly forgotten.

King's decision to make a cameo appearance in the movie, as a preacher at a funeral, is also a mistake and, playing spot the author is detrimental to the scene, and what should have been a key moment becomes slightly humorous. All in all this is an astounding novel that should be read by everyone, but the movie...well, take it or leave it.

Friday 22 April 2011

Will the eBook save real books?

It's a strange twist on the eBook story, but several recent surveys have suggested that readers who enjoy books on devices like the Kindle are often buying more physical books. John C Davorak, host of the video podcast Cranky Geeks, who seems to be the eBook man for PC Magazine wrote in a recent article - 

"I'm reminded of my son's reaction to the Kindle. He got a Kindle because he thought it would be a nice way to make the library of reading more practical and compact. The more books he read on the Kindle, the more books he decided he had to buy in hardcover or paperback edition" 

At a time when the widespread  opinion is that eBooks will kill traditional books, it would be perverse if the new technology actually increased physical book sales.

Thursday 21 April 2011

Feeding the old Kindle

One of the things I love about the Kindle store is that I can buy books that I would never see in the increasingly irrelevant UK book stores. And most of them cost me next to nothing, far less than I'd pay for a new paperback.

These are my latest purchases - expect reviews here soon.

Archive readers will not find my first two choices at all surprising - I am after all a huge western fan. But maybe my third choice will seem surprising - hey, I want to see what all this fuss is about.

Cash Laramie is back

Cash Laramie, that increasingly popular western character created by David Cranmer AKA Edward A Grainger is back in action and this time it's short, sweet and very nasty - HERE

Elisabeth Sladen - Tributes take over the web

“But I’m only a girl.”

“Your Majesty, there’s nothing ‘only’ about being a girl.”

There are some great tributes to the late actress over at Tor.Com

Sherlock three new stories confirmed

More details have emerged about the second series of the BBC's Sherlock - the  confirmed second series of three 90-minute episodes will air in Autumn 2011. Detailed information about the new episodes is not publicly available, but Steven Moffat told The Guardian, "You can have three words to work from: Adler, Hound, Reichenbach. Those are your clues."

At the Kapow! 11 convention, Mark Gatiss confirmed that the three episodes would be based on the stories , "A Scandal in Bohemia", "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and "The Final Problem" and that the writers for the episodes would be Moffat, Gatiss and Thompson, respectively.

Amazon listen to the public libraries

Amazon  US announced today that Kindle users will soon be able to borrow their favorite eBooks from over 11,000 libraries across the country.

Unlike Amazon's current eBook borrowing system, Kindle Library Lending will allow customers to renew checked out books and preserve previous annotations using the company's Whispersnyc technology. Now this is clever - you can make notes in a library book and then if you ever buy the book your notes will be there.

"We're excited that millions of Kindle customers will be able to borrow Kindle books from their local libraries," Amazon Kindle Director Jay Marine said in a statement.

"We're doing a little something extra here," he added. "Normally, making margin notes in library books is a big no-no. But we're extending our Whispersync technology so that you can highlight and add margin notes to Kindle books you check out from your local library."

Users will be able to borrow books on all generations of Kindle ereaders and apps for Android, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone. Soon after its launch the service will be available internationally.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

What is the eSecret to success?? THE NAKED TRUTH

Joe Konrath contemplates his next million sales
It's an interesting question - there are scores of eBooks out there, all jostling to be noticed but what is the secret of success in this competitive market? What is it about writers like Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath AKA Jack Kilborn, to name but two, that make them stand out from the crowd? For every eBook that succeeds there are squillions of others that are never heard of.

Why is this?

I've yet to read Amanda Hocking but I have recently read several of Mr Konrath's books - they are indeed well written and the author certainly knows how to construct a story and grab the reader, but then so too do scores of other writers who have nowhere near the profile of Mr Konrath.

I suspect the answer to Konrath's success is that the author is extremely active in self publicising and puts in as much work getting his books noticed as he does writing them in the first place - known in the writing community for his work in self-promotion. Konrath believes that writers must play a large part in marketing their own books, and his blog, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, focuses on this. He has outspoken and somewhat controversial views on advertising, the publishing industry, and internet publicity.

According to the WIKI - In 2006, Konrath mailed out close to 7000 letters to libraries across the United States with fellow mystery author Julia Spencer-Fleming, touting their books to librarians.
Later that year, Konrath signed books in 612 bookstores across 28 states.The booksellers he met on this three month journey were thanked by name in the acknowledgements of his fourth novel, Dirty Martini.

So is it all this extra curricular activity that has made Konrath? Well it certainly can't hurt - I've been following the author around the net, trying to discover his secret, and I've noticed that he's active on all the social networking sites - Twitter, Facebook, My Space. And he regularly goes on blog book tours which is kind of like a real book tour but without getting off your arse. And of course his blog is interesting and although I don't always agree with his views I do find much to learn in his posts. The Archive has been cornering Mr Konrath for an interview for some time but alas our emails go unanswered and our tweets seemingly ignored - so if Konrath is reading this then come on - email the Archive and let's chew the fat.

"I also love print books. I have 5000 of them. But print is just a delivery system. It gets a story from the writer to the reader. For centuries, publishers controlled this system, because they did the printing, and they were plugged into distribution. But with retailers like Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords, the story can get to the reader in a faster, cheaper way. And publishers aren't needed." Joe Konrath

Now from my own experience I know that self publicity can help - the success I achieved with my first Jack Martin novel, The Tarnished Star is proof enough of that, but at the same time I'm nowhere near Konrath's league. Maybe things will change when Tarnished Star is realised as the movie, Lawmaster (scheduled to start shooting 2012, folks).

So perhaps I need to work even harder at self publicising - though it's difficult to see how - I too have profiles on all the social networking sites and this blog you're reading now, is updated several times a day. Christ I even once posed naked with a copy of my second novel in a bid to provoke sales from readers with a thing for the undernourished male body.

Someone once remarked to me that the western is not as commercial a genre as the horror or crime genres within which Konrath seems to have scored his biggest successes, and there may be something in that. But although I do write in other genres I refuse to give up working in my favourite genre of all - the western.
There I'm naked-buy a book and I'll put clothes on
What is the answer?

You know thinking about it - perhaps I do know the answer, maybe I've known it all along. The most important step must be to forget all this, not to worry about success or failure,or even large screen televisions, but to concentrate on writing a bloody good book in the first place. But even that may not be enough to make a splash in the current aggressive book world.

Still who cares?

It's the book that matters!


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