Monday, January 31, 2011

Hollywood Smackdown: Robert Bloch vs. Jack Webb!

"When I brought my revised version to the studio I was directed to [Jack] Webb's office to deliver the script. The reception area was imposing, and several personable secretaries labored within its confines. But its chief attraction was a series of huge glass-fronted display cabinets which featured an impressive array of literally scores of framed citations, medals, gold and silver trophies and awards presented to Webb for Dragnet.

"As I stood goggling at this overwhelming evidence of success, the door to the inner office opened and Webb himself emerged. He may or may not have recalled my name and used it in his greeting; this I can't recollect. What I do remember is the perverse impulse which came over me.

"Nodding at the staggering display of prizes and trophies, I said, 'Gee, Mr. Webb -- you must have done a lot of bowling!'"

--Robert Bloch
Once Around the Bloch

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Young Writers/Young Publishers

I get emails from young writers asking for advice. Unfortunately, I don't always get a chance to answer them. To tell the truth, I'm probably one of the world's worst correspondents when it comes to email.

Of course, that doesn't mean I lack for advice. I've got a bucketful, and I'm willing to dish it up. For those of you who are climbing the ladder and looking to sell your first book (or second, or third, or even your fourth or fifth) in the small press or to a newer publisher, here are some basic tips:
  1. Have you tried New York? I mean, really tried? Do it. Aim high. Especially if you're trying to sell a novel. Start at the top, or as high as you can reach with any connections you've managed to make. If it's not happening there, then go the Indie route.
  2. If you work with a new publisher, you're taking a chance. Some chances pay off and others don't. Myself, the "new" publishers I worked with were Cemetery Dance, Subterranean Press, and Night Shade. Things turned out just fine for me, but they don't always work that way. You have to watch yourself. You have to protect your book. You have to be very careful.
  3. If publishers don't keep their promises, do your best to hold them accountable. Of course, this is not an easy thing to do. You may have to ride them like Zorro to get results. But if they stop responding to your emails and phone calls that means Zorro can't even find his horse, let alone lead it to water. This why you should always have an exit route in mind that will protect you and your reputation (even if you don't quite have one yet).
  4. The first putuporshutup moment in a writer/publisher relationship is the contract and the check. If those obligations aren't fulfilled in a timely manner, you're probably in trouble. My advice is: don't stick around.
  5. Insist on a Reversion Clause in your contract. This means that you're setting a time frame for the publication of your work. With small press projects, I generally work with a 12 - 18 month window. If the work isn't published in that time, the rights revert to me and I keep the advance. Don't be afraid to use this clause as a negotiating tool. Don't be afraid to enforce it if you have to. I've never had to. I've been lucky.
  6. Covers sell books. Make sure to get a good one. You probably won't get anything in the contract about that, but you can try. Otherwise, make the cover part of the discussion before you sign your contract. Have a good idea of the publisher's intentions in this regard, and make sure they're something you can live with.
  7. When working with an unproven publisher, it's best to do one project at a time. Wait for them to prove themselves before you line up more work. Of course, if they're waving a good check in your face and you can trust that it will soon be in your hand and putting food on your table, that's another story. Charge ahead.
  8. If a publisher is taking money based on the value of your name, this will ultimately be a reflection on you. That may not seem fair if things go south, but its something to keep in mind, and another reason to be careful about working with someone who has yet to develop a track record.
  9. If you're a first novelist and a publisher waves a contract in your face for a micro print-run book, my tip is to avoid it. If you want to know why, tune in next Wednesday and I'll clue you in...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Writer's Detention Hall, Episode 33 (Day 2)

Book: Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 2 edited by William K. Schafer (SubPress)
Volume: 250+ signature sheets
Instrument: Pentel Sign Pen
Movie: Gladiator
Verdict: "Are you not entertained?"

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Best Horror of the Year, Volume 3

Just had word from ace editor Ellen Datlow that "Lesser Demons" (the title story from my last SubPress collection) is included in this compilation. This latest volume of Ellen's Best Horror reboot series clocks in at 140,000 words (a little more robust than the previous two), and it will be coming at you later this year from Night Shade Books. Anyway, great to be shoulder-to-shoulder with so many talented writers, some of whom (I'm lucky to say) I also count as friends. Not that I'll name names -- you can check out the complete Table of Contents below, and make your own guesses on that score.

Only a couple comments now: Langan in there twice? What a literary brute that guy is. And Cody Goodfellow leading the pack? Nice going, pard... but no resting on your laurels, Cody -- slap leather, and go write another!

At the Riding School Cody Goodfellow
Mr. Pigsny Reggie Oliver
City of the Dog John Langan
Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls Brian Hodge
Lesser Demons Norman Partridge
When the Zombies Win Karina Sumner-Smith
-30- Laird Barron
Fallen Boys Mark Morris
Was She Wicked? Was She Good? M. Rickert
The Fear Richard Harland
Till the Morning Comes Stephen Graham Jones
Shomer Glen Hirshberg
Oh I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside Christopher Fowler
The Obscure Bird Nicholas Royle
Transfiguration Richard Christian Matheson
The Days of Flaming Motorcycles Catherynne M. Valente
The Folding Man Joe R. Lansdale
Just Another Desert Night With Blood Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.
Black and White Sky Tanith Lee
At Night When the Demons Come Ray Cluley
The Revel John Langan

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Are You Hep to the Jive?

You bet you are... as long as you've got these five CDs to shuffle up a Hep-Cat Holiday both reet and poteet...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Why I Still Like Two-Gun Bob

"And Solomon Kane shuddered, for he had looked on Life that was not Life as he knew it, and had dealt and witnessed Death that was not Death as he knew it. Again the realization swept over him, as it had in the dust-haunted halls of Atlantean Negari, as it had in the abhorrent Hills of the Dead, as it had in Akaana -- that human life was but one of a myriad forms of existence, that worlds existed spun on through the untold ages, Kane realized, and as it spun it spawned Life, and living things which wriggled about it as maggots are spawned in rot and corruption. Man was the dominant maggot now -- why should he in his pride suppose that he and his adjuncts were the first maggots -- or the last to rule a planet quick with unguessed life?"

Robert E. Howard
"The Footfalls Within"
The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane

Thursday, January 20, 2011


"Stimulation? Thursdays. Motivation? Thursdays. Paydays. That's it. It's important not to think too much about what you do. You see, with my way of thinking there are always Thursdays -- no matter how the picture turns out."

--Lee Marvin
American Actor

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Original Mr. Fox

Just discovered that my old buddy Rockin' Randy Fox has whomped himself up a blog. If you're in the mood for some real-deal monsterkid memories, click on over to A Schmuck With an Underwood and check out Randy's essay, "The Communal Deadly Mantis, or 'Movie Good, Piano Bad!'" It's hilarious, even if you're not old enough to remember the excitement that could set a young movie lover's heart beating pitter-pat when the new issue of the TV Guide arrived in the mail. And, yep, I'll admit it -- as a kid I used to attack the TV Guide with a red felt pen to mark shows I wanted to see as soon as it showed up, and I often set my alarm clock for truly ungodly hours to catch movies in those pre-VCR days. (Not that I caught them all -- while Randy always seemed to miss Bride of Frankenstein, my tales of woe were missing first-run TV shows like Kolchak and Planet of the Apes because football games fell on Friday night [and nope, I wasn't a jock... I was in the band]).

Anyway, click on over and tune in. I'm sure Mr. Fox will keep things interesting. After all, Randy knows his stuff when it comes to movies, music, comics, and all the cool marginalia that falls in between. I mean, this is the guy who cooked up a Gene Vincent/Allison Hayes story for my B-Movie antho, It Came From the Drive-In. If you read that one, you'll remember that Mr. Fox shook, rattled, and rolled that wild pair straight into The Twilight Zone.

With Elvis as the bad guy.

And Vic Morrow along for the ride, too.

Now, that was a bucketful of rockin' good.

'Nuff said.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Crucified Dreams

Comin' at ya this February, a new anthology from Joe R. Lansdale and Tachyon Books. Crucified Dreams looks like another great compilation from Hisownself, and I'm proud to be part of it.

Introduction Joe R. Lansdale
The Whimper of Whipped Dogs Harlan Ellison ®
The Monster Joe Haldeman
The Mojave Two-Step Norman Partridge
Front Man David Morrell
Interrogation B Charlie Huston
The Quickening Michael Bishop
The Evening and the Morning and the Night Octavia E. Butler
Love in Vain Lewis Shiner
Beast of the Heartland Lucius Shepard
Coffins on the River Jeffrey Ford
Game Night at the Fox and Goose Karen Joy Fowler
Copping Squid Michael Shea
Access Fantasy Jonathan Lethem
Singing on a Star Ellen Klages
Quitters, Inc. Stephen King
Nightbeat Neal Barrett, Jr.
Window Bob Leman
The Pit Joe R. Lansdale
Loss Tom Piccirilli

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Your Basic New Year's BANG!

Work by yours truly turned up on a couple of "best of the year" lists. First off, Stomping On Yeti chose Lesser Demons as a noteworthy short story collection, comparing my work to my buddy Laird Barron's thusly: "The yin to Barron's yang, Norman Partridge's horror is less literary and more raw. If Barron is the football player who studies the finest QBs and demonstrates text book mechanics, Partridge is the pure gamer, the kind that learned the game in the vacant lot, the kid that beats the odds time after time. His fiction is pulpy and raw, full of overambitious simile and metaphor that shouldn't work but always does. He writes about sheriffs and soldiers, the kind of hard-nosed men who do what needs to be done because, hell, someone has to do it."

To top that off, Blu Gilliand of fame chose Lesser Demons as his favorite book of the year, while my Cemetery Dance collection, Johnny Halloween, clocked in at number five on his Top Ten list. Even better than that is the fine company of writers I'm rubbing shoulders with on Blu's list: Stephen King, Joe Lansdale, Tim Lebbon, and my good buddy Tom Piccirilli.

But wait, there's more: Blu's also started what promises to be a great blog on all things horror called The October Country. Click on over and check it out. You'll be glad you did.