Friday, December 30, 2011

Final Friday of 2011 Doodle

We're running into 2012 as fast as we can (the mad dash at one second per second). This little doodle is my tip of the hat and farewell to 2011.

Happy New Year's Weekend, everyone!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Criminous Haiku on The 5-2

The week of December 26, the crime poetry site The 5-2 is featuring a haiku I wrote. Besides being a haiku about crime, it has a seasonal/holiday slant.

Gerald So, who edits The 5-2 site, posts a new crime-associated poem each week. Gerald is a member of the Academy of American Poets, his poems have appeared in Nerve CowboyBarbaric YawpDefenestrationCherry BleedsYellow MamaGutter Eloquence Magazine and other provocatively-named venues. He broadcast an invitation for holiday-themed submissions, and I responded. I'm not sure how many weeks he has set aside for the holiday poetry, but I was pleased to receive his acceptance. Gerald also posted his reading of the poem. It's haiku, so don't worry -- it's short.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Incognito turkey for Thanksgiving Day

The tsunami of deliverables for work, plus lots of activities for the Cub and Boy Scouts, has kept me very busy lately, but Space Detective is progressing: I'm closing in on 40K words. I would have reached that mark this past weekend, but a 10-speed bike fell on my nose from its rack in the garage, broke my glasses, and gave me a heck of a bruise and headache. Providence alone kept me from worse pain and worse.

Meanwhile, here's a seasonal drawing from several years ago. When I worked as Content Director for, I provided occasional illustrations for their eCards. This one, done in pen and ink and colored pencils, was meant for Thanksgiving. A caption was meant to accompany it, but I've forgotten what it was.

Anyway, enjoy, and have a great Thanksgiving holiday!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review of Old Albert

Old Albert -- a limited edition book written by my pal Brian Showers, published by Ex Occidente Press in Romania, and for which I provided a couple of illustrations (including the one on the cover that is depicted) -- is now reviewed very nicely at Speculative Fiction Junkie.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

PulpFest 2011 reading

I had a blast at PulpFest 2011.

You can see a fuller report at my PulpRack blog.

I gave the first of four readings at the 'Fest. I read from three of my works in progress: an excerpt from Space Detective, an alternative-1950s SF/hard-boiled detective novel I'm working on with British artist Mike Fyles; a chapter from Shalimar Bang, about a contemporary pulp-styled action-adventure team; and a short chapter from a western novel, The Express Agent.  The audience was interested, the Q&A lively, and the experience overall was very enjoyable. The pieces I read prompted laughs in the appropriate places, and no one laughed during the passages that were meant to be exciting action scenes, so everything seems to be working in the narrative as intended. I look forward to doing another reading someday. 

I'd read excerpts from the first two novels -- Shalimar Bang and Space Detective -- and after some Q&A had enough time left to read from The Express Agent. I first asked if anyone in the room read westerns. Only one person raised a hand out of thirty or so attendees, and I was surprised to see the only person who responded was a woman. Maybe I'm narrow minded in thinking that most western readers are male, but there were fewer women in the room than men, so statistically speaking, I expected at least one male to raise a hand. On the other hand, I know the western genre isn't the most robust sales-wise in the book industry, so I half expected to see no one respond. But I was pleased to see at least one brave western reader among the bunch.

The audience all seemed to enjoy the chapter from The Express Agent as much (or, in the case of some folks, more than) as the other pieces. This reaction pleased me quite a bit. Maybe I converted some non-western readers to try out the genre. I hope so.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Reading at PulpFest

I'll be reading excerpts from two works in progress at this year's PulpFest, an annual convention for fans and collectors of pulp fiction and pulp magazines. The working titles of the pieces I'll be reading from are Shalimar Bang and the Bad Luck Baedeker and The Space Detective at Hell Gate. I'll be reading July 29th at 1 p.m.  The convention is in Columbus, Ohio. You can learn more at the PulpFest site, thanks to Mike Chomko.

By the way, the accompanying Space Detective illustration is by my pal and collaborator, Mike Fyles. Check out his site for some cool retro-style illustration. Mike's done some nice work for Marvel Comics, producing some covers for Iron Man and Spider-Man titles.

I haven't been very consistent in communicating here lately. My apologies. I've been super-duper busy the past three months. I think I'll get a little more breathing space after the next few weeks. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Artwork for Old Albert: An Epilogue

Over on Facebook, Brian J. Showers has posted some photos from Ex Occidente Press of the assembling of Brian's new book, Old Albert: An Epilogue. An illustration I did for this ghost story--of a face carved onto a keystone in an arch--is being foil-stamped onto the paper wrapper for the book. A photo of the foil stamping accompanies this post.

The foil-stamped version certainly looks different from the original b&w line drawing, which I've also posted here. The contrast between the light-colored foil and the paper color makes for an interesting appearance.

The story, "Old Albert," is a ghost story in the manner of those stories in The Bleeding Horse and Other Ghost Stories. In fact, it originally was meant to be included in that book, but some editorial decisions by the publisher determined that "Old Albert" wasn't in the final version. Brian expanded the story, and it had been slated for inclusion in a periodical for a little more than a year. But the publication's next issue has yet to appear, so Brian withdrew it and Ex Occidente Press picked it up. This small press operates out of Bucharest, and specializes in limited editions. Old Albert is limited to 60 copies. I'm not sure that I'll manage to snag one, but Cold Tonnage Books is offering pre-publication ordering, so I've put in a request.

Ex Occidente has some photos of its recent and works-in-progress at its blog. All are very nice looking books.

Apparently a different image that I drew will be stamped on the book's cover boards. I may post that later if I can located a scan.

More info as I learn it.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

James Reasoner's Diamondback

A couple of pals say undeservedly nice things about me on their blogs: James Reasoner at his Rough Edges page and Juri Nummelin at Pulpetti.  It's all about James' novel, Diamondback, and an itsy-bitsy part I played in its twisty publishing history.  Thank you, guys! But the real kudos go to Juri, who worked hard to get the book published (you can read the details at Pulpetti), and to James, who wrote a very entertaining action novel. Diamondback would have made a great Gold Medal paperback novel back in the 1960s, the glory days of paperback originals. Lucky us, we get to read it these days as an eBook! Recommended reading.

Accompanying this post is a cover photo of the illo I produced for Juri's project. I may have another version of the art that I can post here later, if I can dig it up, that allows some comparisons for before-and-after the typography is added.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Quiet Night in the Dark in La Plata, Missouri, 1942

My story for the Two-Fisted Tales of LaPlata, Missouri--a print anthology published by Mark Lambert for the 2007 Doc Con in Lester Dent's town--is now available for both Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook.

Lester Dent is known today among pulp magazine and popular culture fans as the primary creator and writer of the character Doc Savage, hero of a monthly magazine published by Street & Smith from 1933 to 1949. Doc Savage -- Clark Savage, Jr. -- was the precursor to later popular heroes like Superman, Batman, James Bond, and Dirk Pitt. Dent's energetic prose for the Doc Savage stories always was published under a Street & Smith house name: Kenneth Robeson. So he was surprised when his editor informed him that Kenneth Robeson was the name of an actual person. And in "A Quiet Night in the Dark in La Plata, Missouri, 1942," a surprise visitor shares with Dent an astonishing story that leads to deadly consequences in his quiet rural home.

My buddy, Chuck Welch, who runs some web sites devoted to Doc Savage, wrote: "A fun story that captures the signature snappy prose style of Lester Dent."  I take that as high praise.

You can find the Kindle version here.

You can find the Nook version here.

For those folks who have other eReaders, I plan on having the story available at SmashWords soon.

Meanwhile, enjoy!  Thanks for your patronage. Feel free to post comments. And if you like this story (or Pretty Polly), please post a review at Amazon to let other folks know. (I don't think you can post reviews at B&N, but I may have simply overlooked that feature.)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Scott Hampton and Mike Mignola

I'm in the process of posting news about some new work of my own in the next few days. In the meantime, I'll promote some recent work by a Bleeding Horse buddy, Scott Hampton. Scott provided the painting for the dust jacket of Brian Showers' The Bleeding Horse and Other Ghost Stories, for which I provided interior black-and-white illustrations. Scott recently performed art chores for a two-part Hellboy tale scripted by creator Mike Mignola and published by Dark Horse, The Sleeping and the Dead. Neat little tale about vampires.  I've posted the cover image here that Scott drew.  There's another version with Mignola's drawing on the cover, which you can view by clicking here.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Doodle Day

Some days just deserve a doodle.

My day job requires my participating in a lot of teleconferences and in-house meetings. During the course of making notes for these, I'll doodle little squiggles and drawings. Instead of distracting me, as one might assume, the doodling occupies that artsy side of my brain so the more logical part of my mind can better focus and engage with the business at hand. It was the same way back when I was a young boy in school.

Anyway, the accompanying drawing came out of a teleconference. It seems well-suited for a Monday-morning-start-of-the-workweek mood.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Bleeding Horse

In 2008, Mercier Press (a Irish publishing company) brought out a hardbound collection of short stories, The Bleeding Horse and Other Ghost Stories, by my buddy Brian Showers. This was a nice-looking book with a great dust-jacket painting by the amazing Scott Hampton, who has done a lot of work for DC Comics, including Batman and Simon Dark (the latter with Steve Niles, who created 30 Days of Night). I was very pleased to be a part of this work by providing the black-and-white interior illustrations, one of which I've included here.

Brian crafted his stories about actual locations along Rathmines Road, which leads through the community of Rathmines into Dublin. Woven among the factual and historical bits are the clever fictional elements of the ghost stories, and performs this task so very well that one really can't tell where the truth ends and the fiction begins. The book has some minor popularity among fans of ghost stories, and famed anthologist Ellen Datlow (former fiction editor for Omni Magazine and the Sci Fi Channel's web site, and co-editor of many annual Best Of Fantasy & Horror collections, among others) selected three stories from Bleeding Horse for Honorable Mentions in Best Horror of the Year, volume 1 (2008): "Father Corrigan's Diary," "Favourite No. 7 Omnibus," and "Quis Separabit."

The book's biggest honor came with winning The Children of the Night Award (2008) from The Dracula Society for "the best piece of literature published in the Gothic (including horror or supernatural) genre -- novel, short story, or biography." The competition was stiff that year, with nominations going as well to perennially best-selling author Neil Gaiman (for The Graveyard Book) and John Harwood (The Seance). While Brian's stories carry the show, I hope my illustrations added to the proper atmosphere.

By the way, the Bleeding Horse is the name of a pub. No actual horses were harmed during the writing of these stories.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pretty Polly now available for the Nook

For those who have been asking, it's now available. Click here to check it out.

Thanks for your interest!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Pretty Polly soon available on Nook

For those who use the Barnes & Noble Nook eReader instead of the Kindle, I just formatted and uploaded Pretty Polly tonight.

It should be available for download in a day or two.

I'll post here when that happens.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bill Crider reviews Pretty Polly

Another Texas gentleman, Bill Crider, has posted a positive review of Pretty Polly at his blog, Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine.

Bill is an accomplished author in the crime and western genres. He writes the Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery series. He's written some excellent westerns: Two of my favorites are Outrage at Blanco and Texas Vigilante, both about a female gun-for-hire--the story is tough and action-filled, and the prose thrums with that masculine energy that marked the best Gold Medal westerns of the 1950s and '60s.

Bill also is one member of the triumvirate of authors behind the new Rancho Diablo series of novels. The other two writers are James Reasoner and Mel Odom, and the three are penning these western tales under the shared pseudonymn of Colby Jackson. An  interview with Bill about the series is available at the Pulp Serenade blog.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review of Pretty Polly

Texas gentleman James Reasoner has posted a positive review of Pretty Polly over at his blog, Rough Edges. I greatly appreciate it.

James is a fine writer with more than 200 books to his credit, and more to come. Everything I've read by him has been entertaining. One of my favorites is Under Outlaw Flags, which combines the western with World War I action.

He has two recent releases:

One is a western, Rancho Diablo #2: Hangrope Law, under the pseudonym Colby Jackson. Jackson is a name shared by three writers--Mel Odom, Bill Crider, and James--who are writing a western series they've created under a single nom de sixshooter. They are releasing the Rancho Diablo series as eBooks for the Kindle and the Nook.

His second new release is from Berkley, Redemption, Kansas. It's available both as a paperback and an eBook. Troy D. Smith has a nice review of Redemption, Kansas, over at the Western Fictioneers blog.

James' review of Pretty Polly suggests that the villain, Griswold Bear (aka Grizzly or Grisly, depending on whom your talking to), should make a return appearance. I have to admit I hadn't thought about that. I fully expect Sheriff Shoat to show up in another story, but maybe Griswold also deserves another fictional outing. I'll have to let that percolate in the brain pan. It's worth considering.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Coming Features: Projects in progress

Time for a few hints, but no hard facts:

Once Pretty Polly went live on Kindle, I took a look at what was in progress and began assessing next steps.

(By the way, Many Thanks to those folks who have purchased a copy so far! If you like the story, please go to the Kindle Store and add a customer review. Many potential customers become actual customers if they get the chance to read what other folks have to say about a book.)

I'm in the process of formatting a second story for Kindle release. This story has, like Pretty Polly, had a previous publication in a print anthology, but that collection of stories didn't have as wide a release as Where Legends Ride. So I hope the eBook edition will expose it to a wider audience.

I'm also investigating what sort of formatting and changes I need to make to the Pretty Polly file to prepare it for release as a Nookbook. I know some folks love their Nooks as vociferously as others adore their Kindles, so I'll be making the western available for the Nook readers as well. While Kindle requires some basic html formatting, the Nook requires ePub formatting, which is a bit different standard. So I feel a little like I'm in geometry class--a brand new learning curve awaits.

After the currently-in-formatting-mode story is available as a Kindle eBook, it will also be appropriately tweaked for the Nook.

(By the way, if you don't have a Kindle or a Nook device, you can still read Kindle and Nook ebooks on your PC or laptop--you can download the Kindle application and the Nook application to your PC or laptop [or other mobile device] for free. Just click here for the Kindle, and here for the Nook.)

So, after the second story is released, what next?

I've turned in a 30,000-word novella to a small press (printed format) publisher, who has accepted it. There's no release date as yet, while the artist is at work, but when I have news, I'll share it here.

Meanwhile, I'm currently working on four books in a vigorous manner. One of these is getting most of the attention, and will likely be the next to appear. Each is in a slightly different genre than the others, but I think any of them will appeal to some of the same readers.

I hope no one minds these ambiguous teasers. I just want to let folks know that more is on the way.

Many thanks for your patronage!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Now available for Kindle: Pretty Polly, a Western Story

Now available as a Kindle eBook from Amazon!

Great entertainment value!

About Pretty PollyGriswold Bear--a.k.a. Grizzly (or Grisly, depending on who's talking) Bear--a vicious outlaw, enters the town of Wicket with the intention of terrorizing the inhabitants and filling his saddlebags with money and whiskey. However, his plans take a sharp turn into unexpected territory when he meets the Sheriff of Wicket, who offers the marauder a deal. You can get it by clicking here.

Praise for Pretty Polly in its print edition (Pretty Polly first appeared in Where Legends Ride):
"For outright horsey humor there is Hard Times For The Pecos Kid by Les Pierce and Pretty Polly by Duane Spurlock. Both could have been made into movies with James Garner, they have the same light, hilarious flare to them." -- Ron Fortier, Pulp Fiction Reviews

Many thanks to Anthony Schiavino for his critiques of my cover designs as they were in progress. Anthony is the creator and scripter for the Sgt. Zero comic. He's a professional designer--he's the brains behind Episodes from the Zero Hour, for which I provided interior illustrations for Volume 3, Mac Samson: Secrets of the Lost City--and spent some time at Tor Books designing covers. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Oh no, another blog about . . .

Fill In The Blank.

Everytime someone launches a new blog, the writer probably pauses and thinks, Does the world need another blog?

And then goes right on with the launch.

I'll be blunt. I'm here to provide info about projects I'm working on, whether writing, publishing, or illustrating, and to take looks at projects I've worked on in the past. One, it's blatant self-promotion (I said I'd be blunt), because I figure I'm the person whose job it is to promote my skills. (See the first blog post of author and eBook-promoter J.A. Konrath at A Newbie's Guide to Publishing.)

I have some eBooks that are in the prep stage for publication. The first should be available in the next few days from Amazon.

So this blog offers me a means of sharing info quickly to several folks without repeating myself in a whole slew of e-mails and notes and whatnot. (Economies of scale is the sexy phrase.)

I'll also review other projects I come across, point you to nifty things I find, and cross-promote the work of other folks I enjoy. And I'll let you know when I update my other sites. (Right now, my only other active site is The Spur & Lock Mercantile, a blog about all things western. The current post is about The Long Haul, a graphic novel in the Western mode by Antony Johnston and Eduardo Barreto.)

I plan for this to be fun for everyone. 

Okay, here we go. I'm at large.