Monday, December 28, 2009

Five Star Review!

Review of Secret of Wolf Island from Gypsy Shadow Publishing  has been reviewed at

RATING: Five Stars out of FiveReview by PermaFrost

Jonathon Shadows is a private investigator who specializes in undercover assignments. He learns his friend and former Marine Corps colleague Danni Shaw is dead in a mysterious accident on the island of the video game mogul Barret K. Wolf.

BOOK REVIEW(excerpt):
. …Former Marine Danni dies during a video game reenactment, and questions arise as to the actual cause of her death, and whether it is related to her sexual orientation…

"Secret of Wolf Island" is a fast-paced mystery in which the author skillfully escalates the suspense while simultaneously building character delineation. An exciting opening weaves seamlessly into the unraveling of the story tapestry, keeping the reader's attention and eliciting interest in the characters' progress. Clearly the author has done historical research and is also knowledgeable about computer programming and video game design, as these details lend credibility to the novel's backdrop.

…this is a fascinating novel and well worth the reading for its plotting, action-filled pace, characterizations, and seamless interweaving of Renaissance, medieval, and contemporary science.

You can get it at

Sunday, December 6, 2009

great review for The Horsed Thief have reviewed the Horsed Thief: A Virtual Tale of Old Basra and  say, in part:

Teel James Glenn’s novella The Horsed Thief takes its reader on a trip into a world of virtual reality gone awry. This brief but action-packed tale combines elements of both science fiction and fantasy to tell two concurrent stories: the misadventures of a thief in first century Persia and the debugging of a virtual reality gaming system. I found this story to be entertaining, unique, and somewhat surprising in the end.

The two worlds of The Horsed Thief – the software development company and life inside the game – merge and diverge throughout the story. Since the character who becomes the thief Asad loses any sense of personal identity outside of the computer program, I found it a bit of a guessing game trying to determine which character in the “real” world translated to which ones in Al-Basrah. Who is real and who has been manufactured by the computer program? When the truth is revealed at the end of the story, I was more surprised that I thought I would be.

One characteristic of Mr. Glenn’s writing that I enjoy very much is the realism he instills into his action sequences. As Asad leaps between rooftops, evades the guards in the palace garden, and battles the troops of the evil Abdul-Azim who are trying to capture and kill him, there is a sense of urgency and danger, and I felt as if I were watching an expertly choreographed movie scene.

Mr. Glenn includes a number of unexpectedly lovely passages in this story. The songs sung by the physically enchanting Fatinah have a rhythm and a rhyme that appealed to me very much, and one character's observation that “cheekbones may change, but smiles are lit by souls” struck the romantic in me as well. Overall, I enjoyed this novella. Mr. Glenn has given us an unusual and well-told story in The Horsed Thief, and I hope that he offers us more such tales in the future.

(Sensuality Level: 1
Rating: 4.25)

The ebook can be found at, At the publisher and on in paperback for only under five bucks!! What a deal!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Caligula finaled!!!!

My  third Exceptional novel "On the Good Ship Caligula! " a tale of bio-enhanced bounty hunters in the year 2030 has been named a finalist in the 2009 Action/Adventure category!!! If you are an EPIC member give me the vote!! (yes shameless begging!!!)

Another book under contract!

I have signed with Gypsy Shadow Publishing to bring the first adventure of Jonathon Shadows to the world in "The Secret of Wolf Island" a contemporary detective yarn with a sci-fi/fantasy twist.
And yes, he is the son of my 1930s adventurer- Dr. Shadows, the Granite Man!!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

re:New Skullmask cover

We went with a new cover for the Weird Tales of the Skullmask; I'm very happy with the work from my publisher and the book got this great review:

                     Author Teel James Glenn writes a fast-paced action fantasy with deep homage to the pulp fiction classics of the 30s and 40s. Like other stories from this era (The Shadow, Doc Savage, Fu Manchu, Tarzan), SKULLMASK combines detecting with magic. The settings, too, (western, exotic tropical islands, and inner-city gang hangouts) reflect the golden age of pulp fiction. WEIRD TALES OF THE SKULLMASK makes for a fun and exciting read.

                     .                  Four Stars ****

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Re: Amazing October!


It is with considerable excitement that I make my October announcements:

On the 7th The Horsed Thief: a virtual tale of old Basra  premiers from Eternal Press. A swashbuckling love story with a twist.

  On the `5th The Escape Artist premiers from Whiskey Creek Press. A thriller set on the eve of the Millenium.

At the end of the month Weird Tales of the Skullmask comes out from BooksforABuck! A collection of horror adventure tales in the pulp tradition.


And this weekend I signed contracts for two more books with Whiskey Creek Press:


The Devil Wore Greasepaint a collection of horror stories with a theatrical theme and Gaslight Occurrences: the Steampulp Adventures of Augustus Argent. Both are due out next year.

And the month is not half over!!!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The news is good

I had a great time at the NY Anime Con this weekend and came home to some great news: my Altiva Fantasy Novel has been reviewed with three and a half stars out of five at

It says in part:

“Death At Dragonthroat is just a hoot! If the quotes at the beginning of each chapter weren't enough, (example: “Everything looks good in a heap by the bed.”—Wolff’s first law of fashion), TK seems to open his mouth at every inopportune moment; causing problems for one and all. His excellent combat skills are very well written and, overall, I would really like to read more about Mr. TK Mitchell. This could be the beginning of an excellent series!”


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

And the hits keep coming!

My month continues to go well; I've sold a poem to Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, found out my book Weird Tales of the Skullmask will be coming out from Books for a Buck in October instead of early next year as I had thought and I achieved  long time goal of contracting for a full book of my poetry with Gypsy Shadow Publishing!!!
Hymns to the Battlecrow will feature over forty of my poems and a number of interior illustrations! Here is a possible cover. Stay tuned for more details as time goes on!!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

a Busy Month!

I've been hard at work this month--two feature films as a thug (I was killed in both),  pirate party as  a swashbuckling buccaneer and lots of writing. There is also a short article on me and my Renissance faire murder mystery novel "Knight Errant: Death and Life at the Faire" in the Austin Examiner. Check it out and get my numbers up on the visits! They get a few facts wrong but they spelled my name right so I'm happy...
Most importantly of all I gotten stories placed with Pagan Imagination magazine (two), (two) and a completed a collection  of stories of adventure and magic called "OF Swords and Sorcery." Over here is a cover I also designed. 
There will be more frequent updates as I have books coming out almost monthly for the rest of the year!!! 

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The nature of heroes

Overcoming: The nature of heroes.


When I was asked to write a guest blog for the fabulous ladies at (A fabulous site) I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say to a new group of readers; I don’t really have to get on a soapbox at my height to make a point, but I thought it a good opportunity for a virtual one.

Rather than talk about any one of my book series specifically: The Exceptionals (Whiskey Creek), or Altiva, Dr. Shadows or the Mensorsa Saga (all Epress-Online Inc.) I thought I would talk about what underlies all of my work: the concept of what it is to be a hero.

Because in today’s society thugs who can run fast with a ball are prized above educators, artists, scientists or healers I felt compelled to write about what it is to really be a hero in a literary sense.

The concept of heroes has been greatly distorted in our present world. Celebrity and infamy have supplanted famous and deserving of admiration for far too long.

True, sports stars have always been admired as achievers of the near impossible-at least to most physically un or under-gifted- but in past societies that status was linked to good citizenship, ethics and a sense that their skills-however hard they worked to hone them-were somehow a gift of a higher power to be shared, not a skill to be exploited at the cost of others.

Along with this distortion of what it is to be a hero has come a raising of the status of the bad guys-the anti-hero and villain- to the status of hero.

There is a school of thought that says villains are more interesting than heroes; that Dracula is more fascinating than Van Helsing, Butch Cavendish more intriguing than The Lone Ranger or the Joker more delightful for the audience to spend time with than Batman.

I say no; resoundingly NO!

I say that if a reader finds a man who kills, mains and then laughs about it more satisfying than one who tries to prevent said mayhem they are flawed beyond recovery or the writer has failed in his/her job in presenting the charters in context.

No villain should remain unexplained, it is true, but that does not excuse their villainy, just humanize the monster to make him more understandable and his connection to the hero more tangible. All drama is, ultimately some sort of morality play, after all.

With this raise in the villains’ status has come corresponding devaluation of the hero, claiming them to be grey and boring.

What has allowed this mistaken image of heroes as bland, uninteresting cardboard cut outs, this complete reversal of all that holds society together?

Was it the Hayes Code that demanded such flawless heroes that they could not be human and strive to overcome human failings? The church groups who refused to acknowledge their own base doctrines which talk about the very need for flawed humans to try for the godhead as a daily goal? Did they ignore the fact that few of the holey writings of any religion talk of unblemished existence as a norm- it is always a daily goal to be worked for, our human nature to be overcome?

Perhaps all three and many more reasons connected in a general decline in personal responsibility and self awareness.

When fire happens and a building is engulfed who is truly more interesting to spend time with; the giggling psycho who lit the fire and watches a ten year old burn to death or a normal healthy and fearful person who, despite the danger and possibility of their own destruction runs toward the fire?

Think hard—your answer could get you committed.

But seriously folks: a protagonist might delight in a child’s death—and if it were a horror story be the person we follow through the story to its conclusion, but the hero is always the person running to try and save the child.

And here in lies some of the problem; people mistake hero for protagonist and vice versa far too often.

Hannibal Lecture was a sick SOB who ate people and delighted in other’s suffering; he wasn’t the ‘hero’ of Silence of the Lambs –or even Hannibal the sequel; he was the protagonist.

In the first book (I have problems with the sequel even having been written/filmed but that’s just me) Clarice is the heroic figure but not an unflawed or bland character. She has a complex of failings and weaknesses that she works against and that is what makes her a hero.

She overcomes.

Webster’s defines hero as: 1: a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability An illustrious warrior C: a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities D: the Principle male character in a literary or dramatic work

A hero does not sweep in and, with no problems or questions about what he/she does, solve all that must be solved—if he did it would be the blank and flat line boring that far too many people think a hero is. No, conflict is the essence of all drama and so it must be with a hero as well.  Inner conflict is as important-perhaps more so than storming the castle is the reason why it is stormed!

A hero must have something at stake and something to overcome or it is not drama.

People who favor the ‘anti-hero’ concept that was popularized with such furor in the 1960’s cinema because film critics (don’t get me started on that jaded group) had decided that role models were passé.’- forget that it was not a new concept and is based on a faulty assumption.

. Hercules of classical myth (definition A) is a hero because he overcomes his own personal faults He is really an anti-hero by that very modern definition. He is a drunk, he kills his family in a fit of madness and spends a guilt ridden life trying to make up for that. Not a bland fellow at all. But he tries to do good, and that is the thing that makes him a hero.(definition C) In fact, in a ‘Hollywood’ happy ending his good works get him elevated to demi-god hood!

The faulty assumption is that heroes just do what they do and are not affected; but in fact they have to take what Joseph Campbell called ‘the Hero’s Journey’- moving from point A to their end point in a story and growing or evolving in someway or, by definition they are not heroes. Heroes doubt, have their moment of weakness, their ‘human’ moment just as villains, to be fully human must have theirs. (.Hitler was good to his dogs, the original Blackbeard was Joan of Arc’s sidekick and protector and Dracula was a patriot for his homeland before he became a human mosquito).

As a writer we are obligated to connect with those human portions of both sides of the moral wall or we are cheating our readers and not doing our jobs of presenting a ‘complete’ world for them to journey to. Yet for me, I really don’t want to spend more time with unpleasant people than I have to in real life so I chose the same criteria for my reading/viewing/writing perimeters as well.

This brings us to definition D.

I confess, my criteria is narrow by some definitions but it’s my party, I’ll smile if I want to…or something like that.

At the same time, nobody, including me likes a stuffed shirt’ and I don’t want my heroes to be that way either. Thus while I may want them to be a hero I need them to be flawed so I, a flawed human, can connect with them.

I still want them to be better than me; more able to withstand temptation, more able to endure pain etc. because else, why am I reading about them? But just enough so that I can believe and connect with them.

And I want my villains to be less than me, expressing the darkness I fear either externally or in some dark corner of my own soul that I want to conquer.

And this may be where I differ from much of the world at large; I do not delight in seeing people worse off than me as a way to make myself feel superior. (No I do not watch Japanese game shows to see people get pasted!)

And that may be why those affore mentioned critics liked so-called anti-heroes. Maybe in their mind by following the adventures of rapists, killers and perverts that they made their ‘heroes’ made them feel better about being flawed.

Me, I’d rather look up to the heavens than down in the mud even though I never forget that even the demi-gods have to stand in that mud.

How about you?


Teel James Glenn




Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Another book sale!

Weird Tales of The Skullmask


I’m incredibly pleased to announce that I have signed a contract with for my fifteenth book in the last four years.  It is called Weird Tales of the Skullmask and is a collection of chilling stories about the strange relic, The Skullmask. It is a collection with multiple heroes.

When an individual has been wronged in some way the mask mysteriously appears and anyone putting it on gains the memories and powers of all who have worn it before-hearing their voices as it guides them on a quest for just vengeance….….

A sinister mask that links the minds of all who have worn it in the quest for just vengeance.

The One hero who is many heroes.

Look for it later this year...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A new review for The Vision Quest Factor


I am pleased to announce that the Book Wenches at have given my novel The Vision Quest Factor a Rating of 4.5 out of 5!

They said in part “I found myself caught up in this story about the otherworldly race known as the Mensora and their plans for Earth. This novel is well-written and interesting. The imagery is vivid enough to bring the story to life, and the characters are well developed, unique, and intriguing.

The action is very realistic and clearly depicted and is almost cinematic in quality. There is a very real sense of danger involved that draws the reader right into the middle of each scene.

…it definitely leaves the reader hungry for more.”

Reviewed by: BD Whitney

To read the whole review  go to

Its a great site so stop by anyway...

Friday, June 19, 2009

A busy time


May and June-so far- have been busy. Very busy.

I did my 49th ren faire, performing at the Shakespeare Summer Revels in Piermont New York telling stories. Solo this time but Aislin and I are scheduled to do the Cloisters Medieval Faire in October.

I have also been writing: The Hunt Club Occurrence, Even Hollywood Zombies Need Agents, Lord Wicked, John Bull and the Fairy Ring, The Eye of Darkness and Greystone’s Descent. All novella’s and all in one of my series: Doctor Argent, Dr. Shadows or Moxie Donovan.

I am on the next story now...

I also had to do the final edits on A Hex of Shadows the first collection of Dr. Shadows stories-mystery adventures set in the year 1937.

I also was able to approve the cover beside this for my first romance sale

The Horsed Thief: a virtual tale of old Basra from Eternal Press due out soon.

In the virtual world of 9th Century Basra a thief, in an attempt to woo a princess is spelled with a curse while in the real world of today a computer designer woos a colleague. Who is who and what will happen to them when the safety protocols on the Virtual Immersion Unit are removed: if you die in the dream, you die!

Look for it out soon....

Don't mind he cover it was a miscue between me and the artist-there is no blonde Arabian woman in the story--at least not in the virtual world--but it does have symbolic read it and enjoy!


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

An eventful week

I performed with my daughter at my 48th Renaissance Faire this last weekend at the Hudson Valley Mayfaire. It was a fun experience and I came home to yet another positive review for my novel Sister Warrior at the Rainbow Review site. Here are some images of me and my gal while I performed. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Is it our future to take a step back to tribal times?

Review from Chrischatreviews

Is it our future to take a step back to tribal times?

“Across the Wasteland” travels with us to a part of our world turned into a wasteland due to a massive hole in the ozone layer that we caused. This area “the zone” is a virtual dead man’s land. Nothing electrical works within its ozone free boundaries. The solar radiation can and does kill. Even Lastshot and Skorpion well this areas weakening powers.

However, as renegade Exceptional, Rokk, knows, life is always hidden in Mother Earth. Rokk is “a full blood Seneca, a citizen of the Original Nation Confederacy”  as well as an Exceptional. Mr. Glenn introduces an interesting future for North American and her Native Peoples...

The base story of “Across the Wasteland” is the survival of Lastshot and Skorpion as they strive to deliver Rokk to the proper authorities while keeping the civilians, whose plane was commandeered for Rokk’s transportation, alive. Within the Wastelands, our group encounters the locals , who were forced to band together into warring tribes, packs of radioactively mutant wolves, and their own internal battles.

I like Lastshot here more than in Book 1 of the Exceptionals. Here he is faced with someone, Rokk, who is very much like Lastshot but has crossed the very narrow line dividing the legal from the illegal. How Lastshot accepts or doesn’t accept Rokk made for a deeper reading of what is an adventure series.

This time around Mr. Glenn has produced one storyline and has run with it to my satisfaction. So, what is so great about it being to my satisfaction? I’m no longer going to read book three because I’m curious or because I’ve accepted the review request. I’m reading book three because I want to revisit this series.

Well done, Mr. Glenn.

Three out of four elephants.

Copyright 2009 by Chrischat reviews

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

On the Good Ship Caligula: not a Disney story

The third installment of the Exceptionals' Saga will be published this month from Whiskey Creek Press and it explores more of the personal lives and world conditions of our heroes in this near future thriller series.
With a great cover by Jinger Heaton this one is all set to eclipse the best seller status of the two previous books.

When the Exceptionals uncover a deadly gladiatorial combat that has been televised worldwide they make an even more horrifying discovery: one of there own, the techninja Temper is a participant and fighting for her life.
Conner Le-Shott is convicted of murder and then escapes jail only to find himself embroiled in the deadly games. He meets the young girl Jester who badly needs his help and finds his interest in her is more than professional.
Can the Bodyguard discover where the games are and stop the mad man Caligula’s plans for world nuclear destruction before Le’Schott loses his life-or his heart?

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Exceptionals: A thriller series!

In 2008 I realized a long time dream and the first two books in my series The Exceptionals were published by Whiskey Creek Press. Created with Jerry Kokich in 1998 the world of the Exceptionals is a dark one but with a ray of light. I wrote the first from scripts Jerry and I had written and the next two solo with the fourth in the works...

Here is the trailer for the book//series we shot in 1999...

The Near Tomorrow World of the Exceptionals:
It was not a world anyone wanted to live in except the terrorists. Their desperation to make the rest of the world conforms to their view of the universe as far back at the 1980s had changed the world. It was a slow change at first, and then like a dam that burst, the violence and irrationality of their vision was imposed on the rest of the world.
It was from this chaos and lawlessness that a terrified world came to embrace the concept of the Exceptionals: extraterritorial bio-enhanced bounty hunters, who could go anywhere, do almost anything in the name of law. Their lives were always at risk from the narco terrorists, tyrants and hate mongers of this not-so-brave new world. TheUnited States Government and the United Nations mandated that their identities became a closely guarded secret.

This was a review of the first book (which was a best seller for Whiskey Creek Press):

"The Exceptionals is a great book and the start of what I hope to be a long series in the science fiction/thriller suspense genre. The authors' fictional world set in the mid 21st century is so vivid and compelling you find yourself believing that this reality of the world actually exists. Teel James Glenn and Jerry Kokich have created a great fictional world for their Exceptionals and I for one can't wait to return. If you like your suspenseful thrillers with a healthy dose of science fiction thrown in, The Exceptionals is the one for you."--A Simply Romance Reviews Outstanding Read! Reviewed by Whitney, Simply Romance Reviews

Knight Errant reviews!

I've been lucky enough with my very personal mystery novel Knight Errant: Death and life at the Faire to get good critical response, the most recent of which is in Renaissance Magazine issue #66 :
Knight Errant:
Death and Life ant the Faire

BY Teel James Glenn
Epress-Online (06)

The hero’s carefree life of beer, pizza, knocking the heads of punk robbers, and renaissance faire combat is shattered when his best friend tom is mysteriously killed. This action packed novel will keep the fan of hard-boiled renfaire mysteries on the hedge of his seat.

And this online review from some time ago:

Knight Errant_:Death and life at the Faire
Teel James Glenn_
Epress-online.com_ISBN: 0-9772224-5-4_, _Reviewed by Shannon Frost ___
When Eric Knight’s best friend, Tom, is murdered, he knows neither himself nor all the people who loved Tom will be able to find peace until they discover who was behind the crime. Together with his friends, Eric begins a quest for truth that takes him from the modern streets of New York to the living past of a Renaissance Faire. With each step he takes, the killer is close behind him, and the only way for Eric to find justice may be to fall back on the laws of long ago.

Written in the first person, the voice of Eric has an easy flow with a snappy wit that makes it feel as though the reader is sitting with him while he spins his tale. Based partially on fact, at the end of the novel is a postscript written by the actual wife of Tom about love and loss that touches deep to the heart. With its bright characters and interesting plot, Knight Errant does a fine job of delving into the fascinating sub-culture that surrounds Renaissance Faires.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My books...

I realize many coming to read this blog will not be familiar with my work so I thought a little cover gallery might be in order:
Here are my books in the Altiva series from Epress-Online Inc. Four so far, more are due...

Them's Figthin' Words

Bruise and Consequence:
How to build a better beating

A excerpt from my book “Them’s Fightin’ Words!” (published by

Since the first storyteller sat around a campfire spinning tales of gods and heroes it has been a given that a little action makes a mildly interesting story into a real grabber. Put your hero or heroine in physical jeopardy and you can have a winner. Conflict is the key and physical conflict, i.e., a fight, is often the answer.
It is not the only answer, to be sure, and emotional conflict is the essence of real drama, but the line where drama ends and adventure or melodrama begins is an iffy one. If the level of your drama is high, if the characters are convincing and we as a reader care about what happens to them then you can get a frenzy of worry out of us by having a villain try to club our hero. Or shoot him or…you get the idea.
Since the fight has to serve the purpose of the story you have to use the same criteria as any journalistic or dramatic story. Ask yourself, ‘is this fight necessary?’ If it is then you can use the old six questions: Why, Who, How, Where, What and When?

Why is this fight the solution to this moment of the story, instead of a dialogue scene? Being clear about the purpose the fight in the story is paramount. After all, Shakespeare put the fight at the end of Hamlet for two very strong reasons. It was the dramatic climax that brought together several plot threads, and it was used as a device to reveal the true personalities of the major participants: Laertes regrets using the poison, Hamlet is proud of his swordsmanship, Claudius reveals his cowardice etc. In fact the action scenes in all of Shakespeare’s plays are calculated (often as ‘wake up and pay attention moments’) and never just attached for no reason. When using action in prose work the same care has to be taken.
There are four chief reasons to have a fight in a story, though often a fight (or action scene) can and should serve more than one of these reasons.
1: To amaze or confuse a character

2: To scare a character

3: To conceal/reveal some plot point within the smoke and mirrors of an action scene

4. To reveal or accentuate a character trait

Who is involved in the action; the principal? A secondary character? If so, what is their stake in the confrontation (their personal why)?


How did the fight come about? How does it end? And in what state are the participants when it is all over? Will there be lingering effects? And will the effects be physical or mental or both? There is also the mechanical how of a fight; that is, how to plan it out. You can’t build a house without a plan and just as you would plan out a book or story by making an outline you must do the same thing with the ‘story’ of a fight.
One thing to do in building the fight is to put in a ‘kick the dog moment’, by which I mean, give your bad guys an action that makes it clear they are not just misunderstood and mean well. Let them ‘kick’ the metaphorical dog in the room, hurt an innocent with no remorse. I once saw a western where in the opening scene, Leo Gordon, a true old time bad guy actor was riding into town and a little boy’s dog barked at his horse—so he shot the dog with no compunction! You sure as heck know I waited the whole movie to see him get his (he did), just like every other patron


Where does the action take place? Is it an interesting enough place, i.e. a kitchen, a garage, a spaceship port? What makes that place of particular interest? Does it add color to the story, or is it just a drab background, a diorama in front of which the action takes place?


What is involved, physically in the fight? A sword fight; if so, what style? Or styles. Do they use the objects at hand or did they bring the ‘death dealers’ with them. (Jackie Chan movies are especially good at finding clever things to do with found objects in action scenes—you don’t have to be ‘clever’ funny but you should clever smart.).


When is it appropriate to have a fight instead of a non-physical solution? I know I keep stressing this, but that cuts to the heart of the situation of many literature snobs who will not deal with any ‘action’ because they feel it cheapens the purpose of a story


Flavors of violence and the ‘ouch’ factor:
Fights, like dramatic styles, come in a variety of flavors, each suited to the overall tone of the story.
A grim, down and dirty knife fight might be fine for a thriller, but wrong for a romantic comedy.
Once you understand that it hurts you can think about the ‘ouch factor’: that is, how much damage and how much recovery time.
Seems a no-brainer, but now that you’ve determined your moment of humanity for your character you determine just how real you want the fight to be—remember, The Three Stooges get a saw cut on the head and recover in the next scene, but when Athos is wounded in the shoulder in The Three Musketeers it bothers him for a number of chapters. In between is the level of ‘reality’ for your story.
This is where the flavors come in— how you balance these elements: how real, how much pain, and to what end the action in the scene in the story determine if the fight is farce or frightening
So how does it break down—what makes a fight funny or scary or realistic? Anything that makes a dialogue scene any of those funny or scary.
Exercises to liven your fight scenes
1. Not everyone is a fight choreographer (or else I couldn’t sell a book on this), but every one can choreograph a fight. Really.
The first thing you do is to decide the type of fight. For argument’s sake we will assume you want to design a sword fight. Short swords.
I know, you don’t have any short swords sitting around the house. No problem. Get some rolled up newspaper and a congenial friend/mate/sibling. Now slowly, as in really slow like an old Six Million Dollar Man episode, walk through five or six moves.
Attack head, parry head, attack shoulder, parry shoulder and step to the side etc.
Just like a slow motion dance. You can even use moves you crib from that video exercise back in chapter three. But now you are not describing it, you are recreating it, with variations that your body and the space dictate. Then write it down; but in the writing the newspapers become real swords and you are moving at breathtaking speed.
Now this may not be possible; you might not be able to physically execute the moves, or have a long suffering conspirator to collaborate with.
No problem. Just let the inner child out and get a couple of movable action figures. I like the old Captain Action dolls, but any jointed figures will do—even the art store pose-able figures with no features. Tape some short swords made out of pop sticks into their hands and let them do your fighting for you.
Then write it all down.
It’s amazing what cool spinning heel kicks old Cap can do that I can only dream of doing….

2. When painting students are learning their art they are instructed to copy the paintings of great master, stroke for stroke and it is considered perfectly okay. No legal hassels at all. Okay, now that you’ve read the stories, or story, you have a big task ahead: rewrite it. That’s right, take Conan or Tarzan or whomever and the general situation of the scene and –without peeking –write your version of it. May be your only chance to write your hero without a copyright lawyer running after you. It’s best to do it for a scene you read ‘last book’, or earlier in the book, and once you decide on the scene don’t go back and peek. Cheaters never prosper!
Then put it aside for a day or so before going back to compare them. It doesn’t matter if you unconsciously copied some phrases or exact actions, it is bound to happen, it is the idea that you can achieve some of the energy or flow of the story—and who knows, you might improve on it. Could happen!

What is the appropriate level of you character’s skill?

The choices extend beyond purpose and tone for a fight, it must also be appropriate to the time, place and character.
I mean, really, Babe Ruth should not be swinging an aluminum baseball bat unless it’s a time travel story and if your 1860s cowboy hero starts throwing jumping martial kicks he better be named James West!
A certain amount of credibility with your reader is purchased from their imaginations with the preconceptions of what they expect verses what is credible or possible.

Let’s define “martial art.” Martial art is the process by which one person seeks to do damage or control another physically. It knows no geographic barrier even though most of the time when someone says martial arts they really mean ‘eastern” or “oriental .” When I was studying a number of arts we used to have a saying “If you want to feel pain, take a Japanese art, if you want to inflict pain, take a Korean art and if you wanted to discuss the philosophy of pain, take a Chinese art.” It’s a gross exaggeration, of course, but it illustrates that different cultures do indeed put a different spin on how they approach the very practical, mundane business of hurting each other.

Martial arts also have points of origin: you can’t have a Bowie knife fight before 1827 because the indomitable Jim Bowie hadn’t ‘invented’ it (or perfected his brother’s invention—whichever version you believe). And fighting with a Bowie is significantly different than than fighting with other knives, or swords, because while it shares characteristics of both it is its own ’beast.’ The original Bowie knife really looks more like a short sword with a clipped point and sports a brass filet on the back of the thick blade for the express purpose of ‘catching’ an opponent’s cutting edge for a split second. It has a ‘clipped point’ so that one can cut upward or downward and the clip can tear outward from any wound it is thrust into. Bowie is supposed to have fought a number of duels against swords with his knife and won every one.

Thus you see how very important to the believability of the story it is to get the How or with what you characters fight with. Those factors and their attitude to the action are all great means to understand who they are and how they fit into the mosaic of the story’s world.

This is just a small piece from the book “Them’s Fightin words: a writer’s guide to writing Fight Scenes.” Which is available in trade paperback on or electronically from

Monday, February 16, 2009



Here are a couple of the extremes I can go between for my performances from All Father to No Nonsense. Mostly cast as badguys but always hoping to be the hero....

welcome to my world!

Hello to the whole world of blogs.
My Name is Teel James Glenn, though most who meet me- and much of the film world for 30 years-call me TJ.

I’m a native of Brooklyn though I’ve traveled the world for thirty years as a Stuntman/ Fight choreographer/ Swordmaster, Jouster, Book Illustrator, Storyteller, Bodyguard and Actor. I’ve been lucky to study martial arts under the head of the Seoul Military Academy and sword fighting with Errol Flynn’s last stunt double and feel obligated to ‘pass that on’. I was head instructor at the Hollywood Stunts professional stunt-training center in New York for a time and teach stage sword privately.
My greatest achievement however, is my awesome daughter Aislin Rose who is well spoken indeed.
As time has gone on and the body got a few dings I began taking my second passion seriously--writing.
I’ve had stories and articles printed in scores of magazines from Mad to Black Belt and Fantasy Tales and a number of books published in the last four years: so far four in the Altiva fantasy saga: Tales of a Warrior Priest (an anthology), and Death at Dragonthroat, The Daemonhold Curse and Sister Warrior are available from ePress-Onlne as well as the mysteries A Hex of Shadows(09), Knight Errant :Death and Life at the Faire , and the science fiction Vision Quest Factor. I also have the non fiction book on the craft Them’s Fightin’ Words: A Writers Guide to Writing Fight Scenes from the same publisher.
Whiskey Creek Press is The Exceptionals Science Fiction Adventure series :#1 The Measure of a Man , #2 Across the Wasteland. And #3 On the Good Ship Caligula (09)
This blog will cover many of these interests and update any who care to keep track of my convention and personal appearances and maybe even reports on the films I do (I still take hits to make actors look good).
So welcome to my world—and fasten your seatbelts it will definitely be a bumpy ride!!!