Friday, June 16, 2023

Neither Beg Nor Yield, and other S&S developments

Keith Taylor was one of the most talented authors to come out of the “second wave” of sword-and-sorcery in the mid-late 70s. Upon a re-read of his wonderful novel Bard I was inspired to get a hold of Keith for a two-part Q&A for DMR Books.

You can read part one here and part two here, which cover his literary inspirations, early writing career and breaking into Fantastic Stories, then Swords Against Darkness, and eventually landing a book deal at Ace. And much more. 

Keith is not only still writing, but is due to appear in a new anthology I’m excited about—Rogue Blade Entertainment’s Neither Beg Nor Yield.

The past couple months have seen the announcement and/or publication of several new S&S anthologies. I recently purchased DMR Books’ Die by the Sword, which is getting some good press and has made it to the top of my TBR. The dudes over at Rogues in the House published a Book of Blades which I bought and enjoyed, and are planning a Book of Blades vol. 2. And I recently backed Swords in the Shadows, which leans hard into S&S’s horror roots. This last one should be shipping soon.

I’m awash in contemporary S&S but there’s always room for more.

Neither Beg Nor Yield is going all-in on attitude. With Judas Priest’s Hard as Iron on the landing page and the explicit inspiration for the anthology’s title you kind of know what you’re in for. 

Can we pause for a minute and remind ourselves that Conan kicks ass, and that’s why we love him? That he never begs nor asks for quarter, and doesn’t stop until he claims the crown? There is a spirit to (some/most) S&S that speaks to the unconquerable spirit in us.

Editor Jason Waltz is seeking to capture that attitude with his latest and evidently last anthology, his publishing swan song. He previously published the anthologies Return of the Sword (2008), an important early title in the S&S revival, Rage of the Behemoth (2019), and others. Waltz later under the non-profit imprint Rogue Blades Foundation published the likes of REH Changed My Life and most recently Hither Came Conan (in which I have an essay).

That’s a solid 15 year run but it ends with Neither Beg Nor Yield.

Jason tells me that he drew inspiration for the title while writing the foreword to Lyn Perry's recent Swords & Heroes, in which he cuts through all of the various bandying definitions of S&S (including my own) and boils it down to the powerful heroic spirit, the “indomitable will to survive.”


There will be a total of 17 stories in the collection, and possibly an 18th if a stretch goal is reached. We know at least one is from Keith Taylor, we’ll see who else lands a credit.

Sign up here to be notified when the kickstarter launches.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Cormac McCarthy, 1933-2023

I want to be with you.
You cant.
You cant. You have to carry the fire.
I dont know how to. Yes you do.
Is it real? The fire?
Yes it is.
Where is it? I dont know where it is.
Yes you do. It’s inside you. It was always there.
I can see it.

--Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Blog slowdown/cryptic book announcement/life news

It’s happening again. I’m afraid the blog is going to slow down quite a bit in the coming months. But for good reason.

I’ve not only started but am now confident enough to announce that a new book will be forthcoming. When, I don’t know, but it’s fully outlined and I’m perhaps 25-30% of the way through the first draft.

I hate to disappoint my tens of regular readers, but it has nothing to do with sword-and-sorcery, or literature/literary analysis of any sort. It’s a biographical project, capturing a few formative decades of my life and a piece of popular culture that was and remains very important to me. 

That’s about all I want to say right now.

If I go long stretches without posting you’ll know why. I fully expect this second book to go much quicker than Flame and Crimson, although it has presented a very different set of obstacles, including a test of my memory and my ability to tell a compelling narrative. I hope I am able to write the book that I would want to read. I’m giving it my best. But after some tenuous beginnings it’s beginning to catch fire.

All that said I will continue to post here from time to time as the spirit dictates.


In other news my daughter Libby graduated from high school yesterday. That now puts Sue and I in the category of very proud but financially strapped parents thanks to two daughters attending college in the fall. But we got some great news when Libby was awarded the district’s top scholarship. It was announced at the graduation ceremony and was an utter surprise, to quote Tolkien a “sudden joyous turn” that will greatly help us with her tuition and reduce the amount of debt she’ll ultimately graduate with.


I also want to talk a bit about my seemingly newfound role as a public speaker. I definitely did not see this coming.

This past week I was asked by Libby’s friend and Pentucket class president to give a speech at the senior banquet, an end of year celebration for graduating seniors and their parents. I was allotted just five minutes (what can be said in five minutes?) and my request was for something meaningful and funny. Somehow I managed to deliver that with a speech about friendships, and how they must be cultivated and tended like a garden, lest they wither. It went more like 6-7 minutes and was very well received.

This followed hard on the heels of a 30-minute keynote session I gave in front of a crowd of some 1300-1500 people at a conference in the second week of May. This one I also had no choice but to accept; it was for former longtime colleague who died from breast cancer at age 48. The association (one I used to run) started a new award in her honor, and I worked with her longer and closer than anyone else. It fell to me as my task to sum up her life and impact, and expound upon broader lessons on living life with authenticity. Something Melissa did every day that I knew her.

I have to say I don’t much enjoy public speaking and find it very nerve-wracking and fear-inducing. But I also discovered that I seem to have developed (through many exposures and practice) some faculty for it. After each of these recent speeches I was inundated with dozens of complements, including people who seem to have taken inspiration from my words. Quite shocking for a confirmed introvert who has suffered with social anxiety.

I guess I would say, I’m pleased in each instance to have spoken. And I’ve come to realize there is a rare power in the spoken word that writing (my preferred method of communication) can’t quite replicate. If you get the chance, seize it. You can be good if you’re willing to put in the preparation.