Goblin Tails: Art
Since the Pulp Revolution of the Twenties and Thirties, great fantasy fiction has always been accompanied by great fantasy art. It is hard to imagine Conan without Frazetta, or Dragonlance without Elmore. Salvatore says that he still thinks of Elmore's painting of Drizzt when he writes his hero, and Weiss has written how she cried while writing the death of Sturm, the painting of the same hanging above her desk. Even Tolkien had his wonderful maps, tracing the paths of the Fellows on their quest.

When the art is good, the images are burned into your imagination. They come alive while you sleep, the world within the painting picking up where the artist left off. While written images enter the mind slowly, accruing as the pages are turned, visual ones leap instantly off the page. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have good art to accompany good stories.

Cover art is even more important. It sets the tone for the book, creating the frame and lens through which the reader perceives and evaluates the story. I like to think that Chuba art is especially challenging, as an artist needs to balance tongue-in-cheek humor against hopeful, earnest desperation.

Thus it is with great excitement that I can share some of the rough, prelim work being done for the cover. Aaron Norell is a first rate artist working for dirt cheap pay (a trait he shares with the rest of you). For all the writers finishing up their stories, I encourage you to download the picture, hang it on your wall, and let the words roll as they may.

Alrunic: Witness what you have wrought. Your creation lives.

As for myself, I'm thinking of getting a tattoo. ;)


Dad, when I grow up I want to be a doctor -
- like Doctor Dre.

One of the coping mechanisms I learned as an actor working for the Renaissance Festival was to imagine myself as someone extroverted. A shy young boy, I played out my part even after the curtain closed, convincing (or at least believing I had convinced) those around me that I was affable and lively. With each new social encounter, I would ask myself what would my alter-ego do if he were here, and played out my role appropriately.

To roleplayers, this is no great feat, just another tool we use in our games, and it permitted me to enjoy what otherwise might have been a terrifying proposition: attempting to entertain an audience of hundreds with nothing more than a goat, a shepherd's costume and some great one-liners.

As I grew older this technique gave way to more honest (and healthier) behaviors, but the ability to recast my life through my imagination has always stayed with me. To this day, when I fall upon difficult times it isn't too difficult to invest the situation with romance. In college I was never a poor student without hope of employment. Instead I was a writer, making sacrifices for my art. It didn't matter if my trashy works of fiction were complete failures, because in the moment I had found a way to be proud of the choices I was making.

To this day I continue to invest my life with imagined romance. Sometimes silly, often melodramatic, occasionally irrelevant. And today, listening to the radio, I hit upon another moment, brought to you courtesy of our dear friend and producer, Doctor Dre:

"...Now all I get is hate mail all day
saying 'Dre fell off.'
What? 'Cause I've been in the lab,
with a pen and a pad,
Trying to get this damn label off?"

Flash. Mild mannered Grimbones becomes writer, editor, publisher, hustler*, trying to get this damn anthology off.

*cackle* I love it.

I am such a geek.

Anyhow, things will be bumping this week so if we don't have many updates it is because all the magic is taking place behind the curtain. Send me any of your questions, but otherwise assume that our collective project is picking an insane amount of momentum and will soon explode onto the fantasy scene with the best damn stories and art yet collected by mankind.

That much I have control over. Whether or not GT sells is beyond my control (which is why I'm so rabid about the "no money" mantra). But the stories and art are first rate.

See you in the bookstore...word. ;)

P.s. If any of you recall Mrockwell from the WotC boards (or know Marce first hand), stop by and send her some love. She should probably have brought another child into this world by now.

(*For the record, you don't get much "whiter" than Grimbones. My skin is actually translucent. Wanna-be gangsta I am not.)


Why what is interesting to me ...
Poison Clan Press is in the process of applying for its first series of ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers). This is a disgustingly simple process that will give GT a unique number for distributors to reference ...

Should be interesting to you.
... thereby permitting folks like Barnes&Noble.com and Amazon.com to carry* one certain little anthology that is close to our hearts.

In the face of all this, please, please, please remember one little truth:
We are _not_ going to make any money off of this. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

You have been warned. ;)

*Interesting note that I wouldn't have anticipated:
The precious anonymity that comes from being a black-hooded cabal can also work against you. Most places need to see 2 copies before they'll agree to carry the book.

They want to read the antho and judge it on its own merits. That's pretty neat.

Devil On Your Back
If you haven't seen it yet, take a moment and read this article:

Write Now, #10

The first (of several) rounds of revisions are going out next week. If you get one and the changes/edits seem particularly dramatic, take a deep breath and remember a few things:

1. Your writing is good. Otherwise we wouldn't have invited you to write for the anthology.
2. Your story isn't standing alone. It is creating a world with 10 other stories, and so it has to carry (and conform to) the burden of that world.
3. No matter how good a story is, it is our job push it to the next level. Nobody is getting out alive.
4. Okay, so maybe #3 was a little dramatic.
5. I truly believe that this has the potential to be the best damn anthology released this year. Between here and there, it is going to hurt a little bit, but that is only because we want each and every story (YOUR story) to be the best in the collection.


Bring the hammer DOWN
An online distributor has offered to carry our paper editions and proposed whipping up more pre-sales ... if our stories pass muster.

This is the first time we've been invited to step through a door and demonstrate our worth. I believe we're golden, but what will the world think?

Is that kung-fu music in the background?

From the Mail Room
Q. "What is the origin of Poison Clan Press? How big/small is it? Who's involved in it? So far I'm just imagining a secretive cabal of black-cloaked lords with a printing machine."

Poison Clan Press currently has 4 employees, but what we lack in numbers we make up in passion, cunning and sheer audacity. During the day we hold down a number of sundry jobs that permit us to afford luxuries like eating and paying rent. After dark we don hooded cloaks and meet on the rooftops of tall buildings and in caves behind waterfalls.

We are purveyors of high quality pulp/fantasy fiction. We draw our inspiration from Golden Age authors like Howard, Leiber and Moorcock, and publish stories that excite, entertain and inspire.

By publishing anthologies that are as exciting to write as they are to read, we attract some of the finest authors in the field. Our Master Plan for World Domination calls for building our small (but scrappy) press into a house of renown that will publish 1-3 anthologies a year, with the express purpose of dedicating our share of the profits to specific charities.

The idealism and hope offered by pulp/fantasy fiction has saved many lives, including some members of the Poison Clan. By showcasing great writing and beautiful art, we hope to repay this debt in some small fashion.

Until then, we wait in the shadows. Always watching. Always learning. ;)


Like small press hotcakes!
And yes, we've now sold 15 copies of a book that doesn't yet exist outside of our collective imagination. :)

GT Update
One of the many joys of spending time editing stories is the chance to see writers improve their craft.

Before anyone takes insult, it should be stated that even great writers can improve. This comes no surprise. History tells us that the finest artists of every age were seldom satisfied with the works that would later come to be regarded as masterpieces. But to see it actually happen before your eyes is a thing of wonder, and it is an honor to take some small part in that process.

We have one last round of submission deadlines coming up and then all the rough drafts will be in. For everyone that has already finished their stories, I beg your patience.

Anthologies, like tea, must steep. I promise it will be worth the wait.


And now for a brief intermission from your regularly scheduled program:
It's All In The Definitions

"Hello, you've reached XXXXXXXX School, this is Harley."

"Hello. I'm looking for a Christian school for my child. Can you help me?"

"Ma'am, while our children study religions, we're not a Christian school per se. However I can recommend St. Joseph's here in town. I'd be happy to give you their number."

"St. Joseph's? Aren't they Catholic?"

Harley's head smacks the desk as he realizes what is about to happen. "Yes, ma'am, but they're Christian in the sense that there is a Jewish tradition, a Muslim tradition, a Zoroastrian tradition, and a 'Christian' tradition."

I'm certain I've pissed her off. I just said the word "Zoroastrian" over the phone. I wait for her acid reply, but instead -

"Yes, but there is quite a difference."

Harley's head smacks desk, dulling his incredulity. "Well perhaps if we called St. Joe's they could recommend some quality Protestant institutions..."

Kam, Marce. Everybody else. Can you offer some perspective I'm missing?

So I sat down, breathed for a bit and read Kam's response. I do appreciate the differences in Christian faiths.

This does not excuse my arrogance on the phone, btw. :)

However, in an effort to compound failure with failure, let me end on a snide note:

If you want a "Whopper with extra cheese and double mayo," don't order a "sandwich" at the drive-thru window.


"There once was a goblin slave named Chuba..."
I got an e-mail from Chris yesterday. Edits of a Chuba story he had written. But I was buried under e-mails from artists, other authors, James over at RPGnow, and before you could say "Grimbones calls it a night - time to go skate," I had shelved the new stories for reading the next day.


Big mistake.

I didn't get a chance to read them until this afternoon, and let me tell you, friends and enemies, these little shorts are brilliant. This is vintage Chuba, told by the man who knows him best. Can you remember the sheer joy you had when you read "Chuba's Beloved" for the first time?

These stories are of that caliber, only they're new.

I've always read how editors light up when they come across a great story, how that joy makes everything else worth while, and today I finally understood what they meant. On any average day I'm so excited about the antho that I have trouble sleeping. Reading these stories brought that excitement to a whole new level. My brain is on fire.

So now I'm hustling harder than ever, harassing artists and colorists, designers and printers, not because your stories are great (they are), not because I know the anthology will look beautiful (it will), but because I'm simply in love with this character.

As much as Conan, Arthur, Merlin and the rest, this goblin is real.

Welcome, Eáránë Felagund!
A big, deathy welcome to Eáránë/Evenstar! (Though I must confess I don't know how to pronounce your name.) Heh.

May your melancholy always be matched by your mirth. ;)

Just in case you were worried...
.... I won't be the designer for the book or cover.

I'm not the guy with the talent, I'm the guy with the phone numbers of the folks with the talent. ;)


Assemble the Monkeys!
So if you've been reading the comments you know this already, but it still deserves the 999 monkey shout-out:

Alrunic got himself and TSG seats as guest speakers to Necronomicon.

Awesome. Well done.

But, THEN he got a table at the same con, even though there was no more room.

You will be able to buy the book and "Chuba"-gear (whatever the heck that is) at a Tampa Bay gaming convention. How freakin' cool is that?

I'm not sure how he is making this happen, but the monkeys sure do seem to be happy.


FAQ: Where's My Money, (Expletive Deleted)?!
In return for their hard work and creative genius, authors included in the GT anthology will receive:

1. One real time, burn-for-kindling, paperback copy of their book.

2. One share of all profits, divided evenly, aka "pirate style."

GT Pre-sales?!
We have now officially sold 4 copies of the anthology. *boggle* Split evenly amongst the authors this still isn't quite enough to buy a can of soda, and yet it cannot be disputed that someone is paying money to read what you have written.

That makes you a published author, a feeling considerably sweeter than that provided by any sugar water.

Just don't spend it all in one place, okay? ;)

Please remember that,
1) we aren't going to make any money off of this. This is writing for the love of it;
2) pdf sales will have a much higher profit margin, even though they will be sold at 1/4 the price of the paper version.


Goblin Tails Book Tour
Alrunic, creator of Chuba, has sealed the deal. He and his wife will be guest panelists at the upcoming NECRONOMICON, Florida's largest gaming convention. You may have heard of some of the other writers that will be joining Alrunic and TSG; does Richard Lee Byers ring a bell?

I'll cook up a professional release later, but right now I'm still in shock. Instead I'll just sit back, applaud Alrunic and TSG, and laugh, laugh, laugh.


Share the Love
Kameron's blog is up and running. Why not drop in? For those of you who aren't gamers, Kameron is the author of the upcoming "Maiden of Pain."

Buy it. Read it. Love it.


From the Mail Bag:
Q. Why are you so excited that it will be 100 pages long? Won't that just increase the price?

A. Yes, but here's the thing: it will be available in print as well as pdf. The print version might cost a little more, but the 1/4 priced pdf is nothin' but royalties to the authors. Invite your poor friends to buy the pdf and coerce relatives into buying the book.

And besides, what is the point of printing a book that won't stop a bullet? That, and if I ever throw Goblin Tails at someone, I want it to hurt.

Goblin Tails update
46 pages and we're still waiting on another 4-5 stories. That should bump it up into the 100+ range. So much for my prediction of 52 pages.

In case I haven't written it today, thanks again to Alrunic for letting us play with his creation. Who knew it would be this much fun?


The Best Thing About My Job:
I get to play with all these kids. And then they go home. It's like being an uncle to 175 short people.

To all the parents out there: I give you my deepest respects. Make sure those kids go to bed early, and if they're sick, keep 'em home where they can rest. It makes my job a lot easier. ;)


The 90% Manifesto
So it drives my girlfriend nuts, but I get incredibly antsy whenever we go to a bookstore. 90% of the work being published is absolute doggerel. A monkey with a lot of time of his hands could write this trash. But then there is that 5% that blows my mind (see Wolfe); these folks are brilliant and I cannot conceive of being able to write so well.

For my part, I am a persistent monkey who knows a couple chimps that can edit, so I suspect my final drafts fall somewhere in the middlin' range. Still, it drives me nuts to walk through a bookstore seeing all this terrible, terrible prose for sale.

Moreover I am absolutely convinced that you too can write above the 90% benchmark (likely higher) and I am willing to put it to print.

And there you have it, the impetous for Goblin Tails.

Welcome, Ed/Mother!
A big, deathy welcome to Ed, whom most of us know as Mother1219. Make sure to buy a copy of Realms of the Dragons, Vol. II when it comes out next year; word on the street is that Mother got one of the cool dragons, which is quite a feat considering the competition.

999 Who-see Whats-its?!
You know, monkeys.

If 1,000 monkeys had typewriters, a bit of time of their hands and a decent spellcheck program, they could write Hamlet , or in my case, a good Conan story.

Whenever one of you makes it, the remaining 998 monkeys and I stand up and give a rousing cheer.

So no, it's not Satanic, although there can be a bit of poo flinging in the back.

Old Men on Wheels
Two nights a week I dedicate to volunteering at the local youth club, skateboarding with the kids.

Most often, my skating is terrible and I spend a lot of time falling down on concrete.

Some nights my skating comes together and I can hang with the kids.

And then there are the truly rare nights when my skating comes together and I have the chance to press myself to the edge where folks typically get hurt. These are the nights I end up bloody, scraped and bruised, but come away feeling alive.

Last night I was fortunate enough to partake in one of those nights.

And as I wished the children goodnight and left the park, the dark skies opened up and a good, soaking rain came pouring down. Walking home, cars hurtling by on the dark streets, I had one of those passing moments where I was everything I had ever wanted to be: with some dreams realized, and some still waiting in the wings; bleeding, but not broken; and with a board over my shoulder as I headed home to work on a story.


(This really deserves more thought than I can give it now, but I hope there is enough there to convey the skeleton.) I hope everyone else had a wonderful night, too. Take care, guys and gals.