Review: Ghostwalkers by Jonathan Maberry

GhostwalkersGhostwalkers (Deadlands #1) by Jonathan Maberry (2015) : Tor Books (9780765375261)

Full-disclosure: My wife and I are currently playing a Deadlands campaign together. It’s great game with an interesting poker card-based mechanic and a setting bubbling over with the possibility of great stories. So when I saw that Jonathan Maberry (Dead of Night, Rot & Ruin, King of Plagues) had written a novel based in that world, I was there faster than a silver bullet.

Grey Torrance is a gunman who is constantly running from the literal ghosts of his past. Putting his nose where it doesn’t belong embroils him in the machinations of a robber baron with dreams of conquest who is sucking the town of Paradise Falls dry of resources and people. With the guidance of Thomas Looks Away, a Sioux scientist, and the drive of the beautiful and fiery rancher Jenny Pearl, Grey seeks redemption in the impossible defense of the town.

Ghostwalkers is the first in a trio of tie-in novels set in the Deadlands universe. And it is a great opener. Maberry does an excellent job of painting the setting and creates a whiz-bang plot for the characters to play in. There are strange ghost-rock powered gizmos, plenty of zombies, Harrowed gunslingers, mad scientists, fell creatures from deep beneath the earth, and even undead dinosaurs thrown into the mix. This is a tale of high adventure and Maberry delivers.

The writing is punchy and the dialog is fun. Each chapter ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, throwing you into the next step along the way. It’s just good, pulpy writing and keeps you interested, even during the expository bits. The characters are a bit one-dimensional, but still engaging. There is just so much going on that there isn’t much time for deep character development–and, really, this plot-driven pulp. Deep character study isn’t really necessary. The Sioux character of Looks Away is slightly problematic. While Maberry doesn’t dip into Native American cliche’s with the character, the scientist’s British mannerisms are a bit forced–especially as it is established that he didn’t go to England until he was 20 years old.

Ghostwalkers is a ripping yarn, a wild roller-coaster ride of a novel, and a great introduction to the weird western world of Deadlands.

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Fueling the Fire: FenCon XIV

I attended the Writer’s Workshop at FenCon XIV in Dallas this year. The facilitator was the ever-insightful Cat Rambo. I was in with 14 other writers, critiquing and soaking up insights from Cat for 4 days.

It was WONDERFUL.

Not only did I learn a ton about writing and about how others approach the craft, but the workshop refueled the tiny writer’s flame in my heart–which had been sputtering of late.

I immediately took home the various suggestions made about the story I had submitted for critique and really worked at tightening it up and making it better. I’ve re-titled it and have sent it out to a market for possible publication.

I can’t emphasize enough how great this workshop was. It was a great bunch of folks with a great teacher. It can’t get any better than that.

FenCon 2017

I’m the one with the subtle beard in the front…

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FenCon Writing Workshop

I will be attending the FenCon writing workshop this weekend with the brilliant Cat Rambo.

I’m hoping to revitalize my writing bug and get back on the horse. I’ve taken a hiatus from writing to focus on my RPG passion. I want to get back into it again.

So far, it has been excellent. Inspiring folks with illuminating critiques.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Darker and More Hollow

A few years ago (has it really been that long?), I wrote a couple blogs about Anissa Mayhew. She was blogger with sass, snark, and spirit and I really enjoyed what she had to say. She suffered through a myriad of health issues, causing strokes and other maladies. When I came across her stuff, she had just experienced a stroke and the internet was pouring its love out to her.

I was one of them. I even bought the t-shirt.

Today I found out that she has passed away. I’m saddened by her loss and the loss felt by her close friends and family. She was a special person, an exuberant, life-filled, soul. Though we never actually met, my heart now feels darker and more hollow for her presence having been taken away.

Requiescat in pace, Anissa.

Here are my previous blogs about Anissa in case you’re interested:

A Real Hero

Extremely Manly and Testosterone-Filled Tears

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The Comeback Kid

giphyAwhile back, I wrote about my struggles with clinical depression. How it steals parts of your life away. Well, things are looking a bit brighter these days and I wanted to share that part of the struggle, too.

Life is pretty good these days. My medications seem to have me balanced out. I’m no longer missing work. I’ve cut back on the therapy sessions because, when I get there, I just dodn’t have much to talk about. Both my therapist and I agreed that this is a Good Thing™. But most of all, I don’t feel quite so miserable all the time. So, all in all, I feel like I’ve come out of the other side of a really bad patch–which was made up of highs and lows all on its own.

To be sure, I still have some bad times. Nothing is all Pollyanna-Technicolor-Rose-Colored-Glasses here. I have to watch out for the pitfalls that send me down those rabbit holes of thought that have me spiraling into a funk. But I have tools to help me and support. That helps immensely.

I’ve also been throwing myself pretty hardcore into my hobbies–especially role-playing games. I’ve been creating adventures like a fiend and running the Wife through all sorts of adventures. Plus I have my regular gaming groups.

Anyway, this is all to say that if you suffer from depression and you see that wall of funk spring up in front you, there is an other side. There is hope. There are ways to help you through the morass. It’s not easy and it’s not fun, but it’s possible. And it will always be work. But it pays off in the end. You get your life back. And that’s pretty cool.

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