Black Gate 11 and Back Issues

Black Gate 11 continues to find its way to mailboxes and bookstores scattered across the globe. If you folks like what you’re seeing, I sure hope you’ll spread the word and tell your friends to subscribe. Send ’em to the Black Gate site. We’re growing in strength, but we still need your support!  Right now Black Gate is running a HUGE back issue sale with ridiculous discounts, so now’s your time to catch up on any issues you’ve missed. The zombies are getting tired of tripping over the boxes of old issues, so we’re clearing the warehouse. Follow the link for details!


John and I are back to reading submissions. Interesting peculiarities pop up while you’re working your way through — John encountered a knot of almost a dozen stories that ALL began either IN a tavern or with characters on their way TO a tavern. I think at this point for either one of us to like a story that starts like that it’s going to have to be written by REH, Leiber, Moore, Vance, or some new lass or bloke with those kinds of chops. Odds are that if you’re submitting your first or second story and it starts in a tavern, you don’t yet have those kinds of chops…

My submission peculiarity popped up yesterday as I suddenly realized the next half dozen stories were all more than 9k words long, and that each of them seemed well enough written that I’d probably be reading my way to the end. It’s probably not fair to the authors, but I think, for my own sanity and for the sake of some feeling of progress, I’ll have to intersperse these long stories with shorter ones that were sent in a little later.


Some months ago I mentioned I was back to the drawing board as to novel revising. Well, on August the 33rd (so declared by my wife, so that I might hit my goal of revising before the end of August) I hammered out a final new 2000 words and completed the new draft. Out with 20 thousand bad, horrible, evil words, and in with 9 thousand completely wonderful brilliant words. Sure. 

Anyway, in the process of writing I tried out a new technique. Regular visitors may recall that one of the things I was on about the last time I brought up my writing was POV threads — because I’d started from a less-than-thorough outline I ended up with a number of issues that have been dogging every revision. One of those was ending up with POVs that started with promise and then… poof! went nowhere. I found myself inventing scenes to justfy the previous POV choices, which led to novel bloat and, well, boring scenes. So I ruthlessly killed entire plot threads, and as  a result ended up revising in a way I’d never done before. For instance, I finished a new pass of the novel’s final scenes long before August 33rd. What I’d been doing since was strengthening a worthwile point of view thread that needed some added scenes. Rather than revising A to Z, start to finish, this time I’ve been thinking more about plucking out threads, be they POV threads, plot or character development revealed by dialogue, or unfolding dialogue, and working on these as they progressed, shifting from thread to thread as needed — one day I’d be working on one of the mysteries that gets slowly unveiled, the next time I’d be working on a character’s voice and backstory that comes out slowly through dialogue over the course of the book. Every writer’s different, but I think that this method really helped me. Maybe it will help you. Heck, maybe you were already using that method and didn’t mention it to me. Shame on you.

Next I’m going to make another pass that will hopefully be more about honing the language, then pass the thing again to a circle of trusted readers and then, fingers crossed, back out to the wider world. I am eager to get started on a number of other writing projects, including penning some more Dabir and Asim stories, writing some more stories featuring some other characters, drafting another book in a different setting, but most importantly revising and then finding a home for a sword-and-sandal piece I wrote with one of my best friends.

That’s all for now!

Howard Andrew Jones

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