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Tag Archives: writing

Soon, and hopefully before the end of the year, I will be releasing a novella titled Grimoire Game.

When two new college students, Austin and Caleb, can’t find a book of occult magic in their school’s ancient library, they decide to write their own as a game. They fill the grimoire with nonsense words and ridiculous ingredients, but when they try their first spell it works with frightening force.

 With each new spell they cast, the results become more unpredictable. Can they contain the power they have unleashed before it spins out of control?

I’ll provide an additional update once the exact release date is known.

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In early 2015, I’ll be releasing my next novel.  The exact timing will be determined by the remaining editing process.  Right now, I’m sending copies to my beta readers, though there’s still a lot of work let to do.

This will be the first book in what I’m tentatively calling the “Weight of Power” series.  Here’s my first take on the book description:

Since the dawn of time, the powers of evil have worked to destroy creation. Over the centuries, monsters of terrible power – Impurati – are created, each with the power to bring destruction to the world. Each has been turned back by the Guardians – warrior wizards whose purpose is to protect the world from these Impuarti.

But the Impurati cannot be destroyed. Instead they have been imprisoned, locked away for all time. Now someone is releasing the Impurati, making an army of these demigods. Can the current Guardians turn back this seemingly unstoppable force?

 

A portion of the books I choose to read are done specifically because they are popular.  This makes me feel terribly unenlightened, but at the same time, as a writer, it’s important for me to understand what is popular.  I’d like to believe that the most wildly popular books are also the best written, but this is usually not the case.

And so I found myself reading Divergent, by Veronica Roth, after its recent theatrical release.

The book is about a girl toughing it out in a dystopian future.  Apparently that’s in vogue right now.  There is enough different in the setup not to dwell too much on whether or not this work took its cue from the Hunger Games.  Besides, any time you compare works in the same genre, you’re bound to find similarities.  What I noted, though, was the similarities between Katniss and Tris.

Both heroines find themselves in tough situations where they are pushed to violence.  What surprises me, though, is how both brush aside these acts.  I understand that for both of them, these are intended to be unavoidable or emotionally charged.  I have trouble seeing it that way, though.  Specifically, at one point Tris tells a friend (who has admittedly given her reason for anger) that if he comes near her, she’ll kill him (?!).  At another time, she shoots a friend (who is zombie-fied) in the head.  She couldn’t have stopped him without killing him?  Seriously?  Admittedly, Tris shows some remorse for this, but doesn’t even think whether she had another option.

I certainly accept that literature is filled with anti-heroes, with moral ambiguity, and with otherwise good people who make bad choices.  We writers try to make our stories (even sci-fi/fantasy) seem real, after all.  But both Tris and Katniss are, as far as I could tell, intended to be relatable heroines, not anti-heronies.  If poor choices are made in the heat of the moment, shouldn’t this be reflected in the writing?

In the end, I did find Tris more likeable, and less self-centered, than Katniss.  Her shifting moods and varying application of selflessness was perplexing, though.  I haven’t yet been able to tell whether this is a character quirk, sloppy writing, or because she is “Divergent” – which in the context of the story might be an acceptable explanation.

I liked the book enough that I will probably continue the series, but I certainly wasn’t spellbound enough to be in a hurry.

I just read a fascinating article about making it in traditional publishing. It’s both illuminating and disheartening. And completely unsurprising.

The thing is, most of us have a good story or two (at least) to tell. Many of us would love the opportunity to tell them, especially if we made a few bucks doing it. And of these, there’s a pretty good percentage that actually sit down and make an effort of a draft. How many of these are decent writers, I couldn’t say, but the end result is an enormous number of unpublished works. I dare say that a fair number of these would sell, at least respectably, if promoted properly.

Some could see this as condemnation of traditional publishing, and supporting independent publishing. But the thing is, that this doesn’t solve the problem. We use publishers (even before the days of print-on demand and e-books) as much for marketing expertise as for gatekeepers. Trying to get your name out there and get published is no easier, and probably harder. Yes, you can guarantee that your book gets published. Maybe you can even assume that you’ll get a couple of sales. But there aren’t any more people “making it” this way than with traditional publishing.

In the end, no matter what path authors take, their sales are as dependent on luck as hard work and talent.

As November begins, I just wanted to   the NaNoWriMo participants the best of luck – no matter what your goals are. 

If you’re trying to write the Great American Novel, may you find your inspiration.  And remember, it doesn’t need to be “done” this month.  At the very least, there’s always editing to do.

If you’re participating to help explore or expand your writing style, may you find the answers you need to become a great writer.

And I hope everyone has FUN!

One of the things I’ve always liked best about reading (and good movies, too!) is the philosophical wisdom to be found.  Whether the sage is Yoda (“Try not. Do, or do not.  There is no ‘try.'”) or an old Borderland saying (from the Wheel of Time, “Duty is heavier than a mountain.  Death is lighter than a feather.”) there is something about these expressions that helps put our world into focus.

But what about the other side of the coin?  Are George Lucas and the late Robert Jordan modern-day wise men, using their characters as surrogates?  Perhaps, but I think there is more to it than that.  What makes these sayings resonate with us is our acceptance of their truth.  In fact, we already know them, though we may not have expressed them in that way.  We all know that half-heartedly ‘trying’ will only get us so far, we have to make a real effort.  We’ve all experienced times when the weight of responsibility seems overwhelming.

As writers, we try to put all sorts of intangibles into words and phrases that are relatable to others.  We don’t have any more wisdom than anyone else, we just put it in words.

And finally some thoughts on NaNoWriMo.  (If you don’t know what that is, and have any interest in writing, I’d suggest you check it out: nanowrimo.org ) I read a blog post from a professional writer recently proclaiming that if we prepare for the event, we’ll be more likely to have some workable material coming out of it.  And that’s true, so far as it goes.  But I look at this in a different manner.  I see NaNoWriMo as 1) Giving us confidence that we can write a lot of material quickly 2) Giving us a chance to try out new ideas or characters that we’d never risk putting in our ‘serious’ work 3) Giving us a reminder that writing is FUN.  Any attempt to come out of November with a novel that just needs a little polish will kill all 3 of these goals.  No matter how you intend to approach it, though, I wish everyone the best of luck!

For the next few days, Peripheral will be available for free on Kindle.  If you don’t own a Kindle, you can download a free app from Amazon. 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009JY54BS

 

The final review process for my latest novel, Peripheral, went more smoothly than I anticipated.  As a result, it will be available for purchase as an e-book in the next day or so.  The print version won’t be far behind.  If you’re looking for a quick Halloween read that isn’t terribly scary, I’d recommend checking this book out!

Peripheral:

“When Jim and Emma meet late one night, instead of a romantic rendezvous they are confronted by strange sights.  Shadows seen at the edge of sight turn into men who stalk them.  No one else, even Abby, Emma’s twin sister, can see them.  Are they ghosts, illusion, or something else?

When Emma disappears, Jim must search for answers, with the help of an emotionally fragile Abby.

Sometimes the answers we seek aren’t hidden in the shadows.  Sometimes, although they are in plain sight, they remain peripheral.”

I wanted to give everyone a couple quick updates.

First: Disenchanted is again available across various digital media outlets (rather than just Amazon).

Second: My next novel, Peripheral, is nearing completion.  I’m anticipating that it will be released in mid-October.  I’ll confirm the date once we get closer.

I first saw The Flight of Dragons when I was only six or seven years old.  (At the risk of dating myself) It was one of the first movies we rented for our first VHS.  It was immediately one of my favorite movies, and although my perspective has changed with the years, my appreciation of the movie hasn’t.

A little background:  This movie is actually a blend of two fantasy books.  The first is The Flight of Dragons by Peter Dickenson.  Despite my periodic attempts, I haven’t yet put my hands on a copy of this.  The other is the Dragon and George by Gordon R Dickson. 

One of the things I love about this movie is how it blends science and fantasy.  This is always one of the challenges for fantasy writers.  Obviously, we live in a world of science where magic isn’t considered real.  Should there be a bridge mechanism, that ties our world to the magic world?  Should the story be set in a world with no tie to ours?  Or do only “special” people get to see the magic world?  This movie takes place in the distant past, before mankind makes the decision to turn its back on magic in favor of science and logic.

But what really cements this as one of my favorite movies is the climax.  The hero is faced with an impossible battle.  He cannot win, and make his quest a success.  He will not survive this stand against evil, but he does not back down.  The personal sacrifice is no reason to allow evil to proceed unhindered.  The movie to this point has firmly established that the heroes are vulnerable.  As a result, this is one of my favorite moments in any movie.  As a writer, it is thi s moment that I try to reach.