Author Archives: Allied Authors

A sequel is born: Children of the Saviour

Friday the 13th brought nothing but good luck for a certain member of Allied Authors.

Christopher Whitmore published his second novel, Children of The Saviour, on Sept. 13, 2019. The book is a sequel to 2017’s Saviour, a post-apocalyptic fantasy adventure.

The back-cover blurb captures where Children of The Saviour picks up and hints at new territory ahead:

“A year after the events of SAVIOUR, Miracle Ashe returns home to find her sister and friends entangled in a perilous skein of intrigue: a glorious angel, wrapped in tendrils of living flame has unexpectedly arrived in the city. He proclaims that he is the son and heir of The Saviour himself.

“Miracle isn’t convinced.

“Her journey to discover the truth behind this angel of fire reunites her with old friends and ends up introducing her to astonishing, forgotten corners of the world. However, enemies familiar and new await her, both at home and across the sea.”

Whitmore’s published works combine complex religious themes, thrilling action, and a generous measure of comedy to keep readers turning pages and craving the next installment in the series. The Fond du Lac native joined Allied Authors of Wisconsin in 2017, shortly after the release of his debut novel.

Both Saviour and Children of The Saviour are available in paperback and as e-books on Amazon.com.


Soul Sleep Cycle comes to mind-bending conclusion

David Michael Williams’ psychological rollercoaster of a book series reached terminal velocity when If Dreams Can Die launched earlier this month.

If Dreams Can Die book coverThe 360-page paperback or e-book depicts the final confrontation between a death-defying cult and the CIA-sanctioned dream drifters determined to protect the collective unconscious. If Dreams Can Die reveals important information about Annette Young, a mysterious figure from the first two books and the alleged villain of the series.

“Annette has devoted her life as well as her afterlife to reconnecting with her departed family, even if it means destroying the dreamscape,” Williams said. “Although she has committed reprehensible crimes for her cause, she still sees herself as a hero.”

If Dreams Can Die ties together the intertwining storylines of If Souls Can Sleep and If Sin Dwells Deep, both published in 2018.

“Characters who were enemies in the first two novels must join forces to stop Annette,” Williams said. “But how do you defeat someone who is already dead?”

As with its predecessors, If Dreams Can Die contains elements of several literary genres, including science fiction, fantasy, paranormal and suspense. The Soul Sleep Cycle could also be categorized as dreampunk, a subgenre that raises the question “What is real?”

“I set out to write something I’d never read before, something unique and admittedly experimental,” the Wisconsin author said.

Williams’ indie publishing company, One Million Words, published If Dreams Can Die on May 21. Both the paperback and e-book will be available at Amazon.com.

In addition to The Soul Sleep Cycle, Williams is the author of The Renegade Chronicles, a sword-and-sorcery fantasy trilogy comprised of Rebels and Fools, Heroes and Liars, and Martyrs and Monsters. He is a 1999 graduate of UW-Fond du Lac and a 2001 graduate of UW-Milwaukee, where he studied creative writing. He joined the Allied Authors of Wisconsin in 2005.

Learn more about the author and his fiction at david-michael-williams.com.


AAW members to present at UntitledTown

Three Allied Authors of Wisconsin spec-fic writers will share their experiences and expertise at an upcoming book festival.

Mark J. Engels, Christopher Whitmore and David Michael Williams will participate in panels and a workshop at UntitledTown, an annual literary event that promotes all aspects of book culture. The festival will be held April 25 to 28 throughout downtown Green Bay, Wis.

Most of the events, including readings, book signings and presentations, are free and open to the public. Here are the events featuring AAW members:

Fantasy & Sci-fi World-Building Workshop

Williams will lead a workshop that focuses on the essential elements for creating a fully realized world and offer tips for successfully integrating those details into one’s story.

  • 4 – 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 26, in Think Tank C of the Brown County Library (Central Branch), 515 Pine St.

Writing & Publishing Sci-fi / Paranormal / Fantasy Fiction

Engels, Whitmore and Williams — along with three other Wisconsin authors — will share their trials, passion for the craft, the horrors of publishing and more during this panel.

  • 12 – 1 p.m. Saturday, April 27, in the Waterford Room of St. Brendan’s Inn, 234 S. Washington St.

Writing Mysteries & Thrillers

At this panel, Engels and a handful of other Wisconsin writers will talk about the craft of writing in the mystery and thriller genres.

  • 4 – 5 p.m. Saturday, April 27, in Breakout Room 5A of the KI Convention Center, 333 Main St.

For more details about the festival, including the full schedule of events, visit https://2019.untitledtown.org.

 


Who knows Solar Pons?

In 1953—with tongue firmly in cheek—editor Anthony Boucher provided readers of Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction the lowdown on August Derleth:

Mr. August Derleth is the literary agent in this country for such writers as Stephen Grendon, H. Russell Wakefield and Lyndon Parker, M. D. Dr. Parker is the Boswell of that modern master of the science of deduction, Mr. Solar Pons, the famed consulting detective of 7B Praed Street, London. Mr. Derleth has marketed three volumes of the Doctor’s accounts of his friend’s triumphs: In Re: Sherlock Holmes, The Memoirs of Solar Pons and Three Problems for Solar Pons (all published by Mycroft & Moran)—a criminously delightful trio that any reader will, as Vincent Starrett say, “accept with enthusiasm.”

Boucher was himself a well-known critic and mystery writer. Starrett had become a leading authority on the world-famous literary detective, Sherlock Holmes. And Derleth was Wisconsin’s most prolific regional writer and publisher.

What resonated with readers, however, was the inference here—and in the new story “The Adventure of the Snitch in Time” (recalled with the help of science fiction writer Mack Reynolds)—that Solar Pons is Sherlock Holmes, just as Dr. Parker is Sherlock’s sidekick Dr. Watson . . .

Adding nuanced meaning to a question Derleth asked when publishing the Pons collections of stories under his own M&M imprint:

“Do You Know Solar Pons?”

 

Do You Know

 

If this doesn’t ring the bell, go back and read my earlier post on this site: The Mystery of the Milwaukee – Chicago – Sauk City Connection

Then you will know why Solar Pons—as does Sherlock Holmes—has his own legion of fans who seek out the Derleth detective’s earliest appearances in the American wood-pulp magazines of the 1920s and 30s . . .

 

Dragnet

 

And collect Derleth’s M&M books, known as the Pontine canon—collect even the publishing ephemera associated with those books.

Literary people know all about ephemera—in this case, almost anything related to a press, or imprint, items with a limited lifespan not offered for sale to the public. Advertising. Giveaways. Those that do the collecting are the diehard fans, and usually it is the paper items they collect.

As for Pontine ephemera, check out what my partner Don Herron posted only a few years ago:   http://www.donherron.com/rediscovered-further-pontine-ephemera/  Don concluded his blog by noticing, “Yeah, I guess the ephemera collecting game is once more afoot…”

And so it was.

In fact, it had been afoot for a long time.

Way back in 1985, Mycroft & Moran and Arkham House collector—the House being Derleth’s more famous publishing imprint specializing in supernatural fiction—Phillip T. Mays and bookseller-publisher Roy A. Squires issued a little chapbook bibliography, The Phil Mays Collection of Arkham House Ephemerae: A Descriptive Listing.

Combining the two imprints made sense, because Derleth usually included M&M within Arkham’s more famous Stock Lists and bulletins. Almost immediately the little items listed in Squires-Mays began to sky-rocket in price, a large contingent of Arkham or Derleth collectors wanting to find and add each and every one to their collections.

A difficult task to complete with so many of the pieces genuinely rare—with little or no knowledge of the quantities originally printed, or how many now survive.

Mays included two advertising pieces Derleth used to promote only M&M titles: the first a postcard that announced “— a new Mycroft & Moran book, coming December 12, 1952 . . . Three Problems for Solar Pons”; and then a brochure that blared, “Coming Late in 1955! The Return of Solar Pons.”

At this point you might ask why these ephemera pieces are important . . .

To which I would respond by asking, “How well do you know Solar Pons?

That’s because I’ve sampled the little treasures of interesting information one can find buried in the ephemera. For example, from—and only from—the Mays find could I deduce the true story behind the small and unusual Three Problems book—unusually small compared to earlier collections in that it contained only three of the detective’s adventures.

 

3 Problems

 

Yes, a little digging turns up the fact that Derleth published this book in the 50’s when small publishers were struggling for sales against changing tastes and the rising costs of doing business following World War II—who wouldn’t think Derleth wasn’t merely responding to these operational realities?

The ephemera pieces suggest otherwise—a motive perhaps historically significant . . .

The very moment Derleth decided he would mirror in pastiche the entire Sherlock Holmes canon produced by Arthur Conan Doyle, who had once brought the Holmes canon to a temporary end, interrupting it after chronicling twenty-six adventures.

Derleth introduces Three Problems sadly, proclaiming that “These are quite possibly the last Solar Pons pastiches I shall write,” for reasons he blamed on new activity within the Doyle estate…

Three brought the total of Pons adventures in print to exactly 26.

Coincidence? Perhaps there was a coded message in the utterance Derleth is known to have begun making: “I think Doyle had, and so Derleth must also have”. . .

A message of intent which explains how the meaningful title for the next volume of Pons chronicles series was decided; mimicking that of Doyle’s third Holmes collection, it would be The Return of Solar Pons.

None of this is to say that Derleth, a cagey publisher with excellent business sense, didn’t make at least one adjustment to cope with a softened market: he trimmed his initial order of Three Problems, estimated (if we believe the colophon) to have been 2,000 books, down to 990—probably the exact number of patrons who had routinely purchased the earlier collections.

We learn as well from the M&M ephemera Mays listed another tantalizing, behind-the-scenes, bit of data. How otherwise would we know that the collection Derleth planned to follow The Return had, for a short while, The Problems of Solar Pons as its working title? Only from the ephemera do we learn this, a “lost title” apparently undreamed of by Sheldon Jeffery–or else it would’ve been with the others he included under that heading in The Arkham House Companion (1989), a reference book covering every AH and M&M title published, or merely considered.

Perhaps so that it wouldn’t be confused with Three Problems, the already announced Problems of Solar Pons was retitled The Reminiscences of Solar Pons prior to publication.

The Mays listing of Derleth’s AH and M&M ephemera gave completists a great start for finding the game, but new finds made it evident almost immediately that his collection had not been complete.

Finally, about sixteen or seventeen years later, my friend Don Herron jumped in. He wanted to refine the Mays list—compile a new one that would be up-to-date, definitive, and otherwise as useful as it possibly could be.

On the sidelines, I agreed to help.

It would be Don’s list, but I supplied every new item I could reasonably, authoritatively, corroborate the existence of, even if not all of the needed information was at my disposal.

One of these was another strictly M&M piece, which the reputable New York bookseller Lloyd Currey listed in an old catalog—it was a variation of the Mays “Do You Know Solar Pons.”

All I had for the description was an excerpt from the actual piece, a quotation used in the piece that Currey used to promote it:

“If you liked Sherlock Holmes, you will not want to miss Solar Pons, The Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street. . . .” In Re: Sherlock Holmes, The Adventures of Solar Pons, The Memoirs of Solar Pons, The Return of Solar Pons, The Reminiscences of Solar Pons. Includes two pages devoted to offset reviews of the Pons saga from various sources – Starrett in his Books Alive column, Time, San Francisco Chronicle, etc. “Under the imprint of Mycroft & Moran. Order without delay from your bookseller or Arkham House: Publishers. . . .”

It was enough for us to include it in the new list. And today, validating our decision, I located one, and now own the actual piece.

“Arkham House Ephemera: The Classic Years” by Don Herron was published in 2002, in Firsts: The Book Collector’s Magazine.

Since then, however, Don & I both are aware there is game still afoot. But not even he knows about the two additional brochures I found, which raise the “Do You Know Solar Pons” series to a total of four.

For Derlethians and Sherlockians—especially for Arkham House completists—here is my updated list of the ephemera Derleth devoted exclusively to Mycroft & Moran:

1952: POSTCARD.
Arkham House Announces.
“— a new Mycroft & Moran book, coming December 12, 1952. . . Three Problems for Solar Pons. . . .”

1953:
“The Memoirs of Solar Pons: A Unicorn Selection—Coming Next Month.” Unicorn Mystery News V3n12 (c. 1953): 10-11.

1954: LETTER w/M&M letterhead.
“Solar Pons joins me in wishing all friends of his as well as the Master, his best on the occasion of the Master’s Centenary!”
Signed by August Derleth, “Sebastian Moran” and “Mycroft Holmes.”

1955: BROCHURE.
Do You Know Solar Pons?
“Coming Late in 1955! The Return of Solar Pons.”

1961-63: BROCHURE.
Do You Know Solar Pons?
“If you liked Sherlock Holmes, you will not want to miss … The Reminiscences of Solar Pons.”

1965: LETTER w/Deerstalker (M&M) letterhead.
Dear Reviewer:
The Casebook of Solar Pons brings to 56 the total number of Pontine tales in print — the precise number of the Sherlock Holmes stories in short length.”

1965: BROCHURE.
Do You Know Solar Pons?
“If you liked Sherlock Holmes, you will not want to miss … The Casebook of Solar Pons.”

c. 1966: BROCHURE.
About Solar Pons.
A 57th story, The Adventure of the Orient Express, was published (1965) in chapbook form … The Candlelight Press also published in 1965 Praed Street Papers.”

1971: CABINET CARD w/Roy Hunt illustration of Solar Pons & Dr. Lyndon Parker.
“All thanks for your order … We expect to publish [Chronicles] in October.”

Is the foregoing all the game there is to find that is exclusively Mycroft & Moran ephemera?

Maybe, if we recall that announcements for the first two books in the Pons series—In Re: Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Solar Pons—were adequately covered in Arkham House pieces, and that those published after 1967—Mr. Fairlie’s Final Journey, The Adventure of the Unique Dickensians and A Praed Street Dossier—were announced in Derleth’s house-magazine, The Arkham Collector.

Maybe, but the likelihood is there’s more game afoot . . .

John D. Haefele submitted this article.

© John D. Haefele. All rights reserved.


Soul Sleep sequel takes dreamscape to new depths

Williams’ genre-bending book series returns this month

Paperback cover of If Sin Dwells DeepEven good girls have secrets…

If Sin Dwells Deep, the second installment in David Michael Williams’ speculative fiction series, tells the story of Allison, a straight-laced woman who transforms into a rebellious goddess when she dreams.

“Allison is living a double life,” the Fond du Lac author said. “She thinks having a fling in the dreamscape is harmless fun until a sadistic predator learns her true identity and she must deal with the real-world consequences.”

The 380-page paperback and e-book delves deeper into the hidden world of dream drifters, people who possess the power to invade the minds of others. If Sin Dwells Deep also sheds light on the war between gifted government agents and those who would use their abilities to corrupt life, death and the afterlife—a conflict only hinted at in the first book.

As with its predecessor, If Souls Can Sleep, the new novel contains elements of science fiction, fantasy, suspense, metafiction and more.

“It’s a wonderfully weird mashup,” Williams said. “I took a risk by doing something different. Given the positive reception of the first book, I’m thrilled to report that readers apparently appreciate the strangeness.”

Although If Sin Dwells Deep is the second book in The Soul Sleep Cycle, it is not a typical sequel.

“Book Two is a parallel novel, which means the plot runs concurrently with that of Book One. It’s another side of the story. The two books are interconnected yet independent,” Williams said.

“Which means readers can enjoy If Sin Dwells Deep without having read If Souls Can Sleep,” he added.

Williams’ indie publishing company, One Million Words, will publish If Sin Dwells Deep in paperback on Oct. 2. The e-book is currently available through the Kindle Store.

To celebrate the release of If Sin Dwells Deep, Williams will sell and sign copies of the book from 5 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 2 at Gallery & Frame Shop, 94 S. Main St., Fond du Lac, as part of Fond du Lac Gallery Night.

The third installment in The Soul Sleep Cycle, If Dreams Can Die, is slated for publication in spring 2019.

In addition to The Soul Sleep Cycle, Williams is the author of The Renegade Chronicles, a fantasy trilogy comprised of Rebels and Fools, Heroes and Liars, and Martyrs and Monsters. He joined the Allied Authors of Wisconsin in 2005 and the Wisconsin Writers Association in 2018.

Learn more about the author and his fiction at david-michael-williams.com.


Allied Authors say a sad farewell to Fern Ramirez

The Allied Authors of Wisconsin lost a longtime member and close friend on July 19, 2018, when Fern Ramirez passed away at age 91.

A onetime teacher, Fern married Tom Ramirez in 1947. The two joined AAW in 1956 after being invited to a meeting by the late Beverly Butler Olson, a childhood playmate. Fern valued being a part of AAW and counted it as a privilege to have known Larry Sternig, Ann Powers Schwartz and Harry Schwartz, Don Emerson, Aubrey Young and many others during her rich tenure.

An avid, attentive reader, Fern always provided constructive feedback on members’ manuscripts.

“In the group, Fern’s comments were eagerly sought, well thought out and highly beneficial. Fortunately, her discerning eye, attention to detail and sharp wit were always tempered by a kind, gentle heart,” Jack Byrne recalled.

“An extraordinary lady, Fern was loved, and she shall be missed.”

Fern also went above and beyond with her assistance, including proofing one AAW member’s trilogy.

“Dear friend, fellow Allied Author, proofreader — Fern was all of these things and more to me,” David Michael Williams reflected. “While she will be greatly missed, I know she is now in a place where there is no pain or suffering — indeed, only joy — and look forward to reuniting with her again when my time comes.”

Fern’s various teaching positions ranged from first grade through high school and also included leading classes at a women’s correction facility. Her writing consists of short news articles and op-ed pieces. She also wrote a series of Sunday school stories with lesson plans and tinkered with a children’s novel, Bay’s Story.


Book-themed bike rack memorializes Ramirez’s memoir

Photo provided by the Fond du Lac Public Library

A longtime member of the Allied Authors was recently honored with an engraving on an unconventional monument.

Thomas P. Ramirez is one of six Wisconsin writers whose name appears on a new bicycle rack outside of the Fond du Lac Public Library. He is featured for his memoir, That Wonderful Mexican Band, published in 2017.

The book-themed rack was introduced as part of recent improvements to the library. When two standard bike racks had to be removed to accommodate a driveway redesign, library staff elected to replace them with a unique option that celebrates Fond du Lac writers from across the years and from a variety of genres.

The following works are represented on the rack (with abbreviated titles to fit the space):

  • Foot of the Lake: An Early History of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin by Cindy Barden
  • Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly
  • Fond du Lac: A Gift of the Glacier by Michael Mentzer
  • Book cover of "That Wonderful Mexican Band"That Wonderful Mexican Band: A Memoir of The Great Depression by Thomas P. Ramirez
  • Extraordinary People: Understanding Savant Syndrome by Darold Treffert
  • Secrets of the Ledge: Pictorial Report of Archaeological Findings on the Niagara Escarpment in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin by Dwight Weiser

The inclusion of That Wonderful Band is appropriate not only because the memoir so vividly captures Fond du Lac during The Great Depression, but because Ramirez specifically cites the Fond du Lac Public Library as one of his favorite childhood destinations.

Ramirez, 92, is also the author of 150 paperbacks and dozens of published short stories—including three popular Phoenix Force novels in the 1980s—making him among the state’s most prolific authors. He joined the Allied Authors in 1955.

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