Fear is Fun! or Hanging Out with the Right People

Posted by on Jul 6, 2015 in Writing | 0 comments

It’s amaz­ing.

I don’t fear many things. I’m not a man dri­ven by my fears, or hin­dered by a great many hang-ups.

I’d make a pretty good hippy, all things told.

What are the things I fear, you ask? (Of course you asked…I heard you *rus­tles bushed out­side your window*)

Well, I’m not a fan of spi­ders. No sir/madame. I love to watch them work, and their intel­li­gence and tenac­ity fas­ci­nate me, and the tiny guys with the lit­tle silly faces and very un-spiderlike bod­ies who hop around where I live are pretty cool, but the gan­gly spi­dery ones really give me the shivers.

Of course, guess what kind of crit­ter ends up on me most? Yeah, spi­ders. On my face. While I sleep. I’d bet, even if you didn’t fear spi­ders, that still gives you the creeps.

Another fear: Whales. Between your hearty guf­faws at my expense, just pon­der it for a moment. Think back to those pic­tures you saw in National Geo­graphic, or on some nature spe­cial on Dis­cov­ery: The fully-grown human swim­ming with these beasts, gen­tle as they tend to be, who dwarf the tiny swim­mer like a man dwarfs a hedgehog.

That’s what scares me. That dif­fer­ence in size, that dark water, those cold dead eyes just hun­grily look­ing for more swim­mers to eat…

Thank good­ness that’s not a fear I have to face very often, land-locked as I am in the moun­tains of New York. Except for the Moun­tain Whales, of course. Some­times I can hear their sad bel­lows echo through the night as they look for hap­less humans to gum inef­fec­tively with their tooth­less maws.


But, besides these few things, I’m a pretty fear­less dude who’s been known to wan­der grave­yards at night and pick fights with burly Russ­ian men in pub­lic places.

And yet, I hem and haw about start­ing a new writ­ing project, some deep, dark lizard fear tick­ling the back of my brain.

A fear of what? I have no idea. Fail­ure? Maybe. That I’m not good enough? Maybe — though I feel pretty con­fi­dent in my fic­tion writ­ing abil­i­ties, and am not shrink­ing away from writ­ing because “I suck, and I’ll never amount to anything!”

No, I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s all these things, or maybe it is some­thing else entirely.

But, you know what? It doesn’t mat­ter. Not one bit. The real­ity of it is no one is not afraid, not filled with trep­i­da­tion, when writ­ing. Sure, some folks are afraid of dif­fer­ent aspect — maybe they are wait­ing to see how their book does in pub­lic, maybe they have racked up a wall full of rejec­tions, maybe they’re writ­ing about whale-spiders skit­ter­ing through the thick under­brush of upstate NY. But they are all afraid.

I guess it’s just the way it is.

And you know what I find helps a lot? Know­ing some folks who work through their fear.

Noth­ing makes you real­ize just how nor­mal it is to hem and haw, pro­cras­ti­nate and worry, more than know­ing a few folks who — even as the same crap nib­bles at their heels — still write book after book, story after story.

If you feel this progression-stopping lizard fear tick­ling the back of your brain, do your­self a favor and min­gle a lit­tle with the right crowd. Get­ting stuck in your head is a bad thing at those times. Def­i­nitely avoid the down­ers — the artsy writ­ers who moan about how hard their nov­els were, how much time they put into every sen­tence, how tough it is to be a writer — but rub elbows via Face­book, email, stalk­ing via binoc­u­lars and record­ing devices planted in that person’s bath­room, with a few writ­ers. Those odd­balls who flip their lizard-brain the bird and write three nov­els in half a year. Those cham­pi­ons of what­ever pub­lish­ing style they love, be it tra­di­tional or indie, who spend more time writ­ing than they do mea­sur­ing and argu­ing the mer­its of this path or that, this online store or that, agents being won­der­ful things or vile grem­lins who steal your money.

Those mad (wo)men who wres­tle their fears to the muddy earth.

If I didn’t know a few of these folks, I can’t say whether I’d have stum­bled for­ward as long as I have, grasp­ing through the dark­ness to the point I’m at now — still unpub­lished, but con­fi­dent enough, and informed enough, to know when I’m get­ting in my own way and let­ting fears get the best of me.

Trust me on this. Punch your lizard-brain in its lizard-brain-face and get out of your own head. Put your self-loathing aside, stop look­ing for some­one to give you a thumbs-up or an attaboy, make some friends with peo­ple who kick ass and take names, and finally real­ize the facts:

  • You aren’t the only one who feels that way
  • Oth­ers push through it, and so can you
  • You are a shitty judge of your own work, so let some­one else judge for you instead of let­ting your fear act as some inter­nal gatekeeper
  • That some­one else can be a good writer friend who actu­ally writes or a slush reader at a magazine

And, hell, maybe I’ll read your stuff in Clarkesworld.

And maybe you’ll read mine.

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No, the Blaagh Ain’t Dead – Just Getting My Ducks in a Row

Posted by on May 22, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I know it has been kind of quiet in these here parts. 

I also know a lot of blogs go dark, slid­ing ever slowly into oblivion. 

I know the writ­ers at those blogs tend to opine on how the blog is still alive, and then not post again for a year. 

But that ain’t me. 

My ducks were all scat­tered, quack­ing in con­fu­sion. I’m busy herd­ing them all into a nice straight line. The dozen irons I had in the fire all got hot at the same time, and I’ve been scram­bling hard these last few months. Being laid off and try­ing to make money for your­self tends to be like that. 

But the Blaagh lives, and is due for some tweaks. Books need review­ing, my per­sonal hints (for what­ever they are worth!) on cer­tain aspect of writ­ing need a place to live, great friends have amaz­ing books on their way into the world I need to tell you all about so you can feast your hun­gry eyes on their prose (keep an eye out for Beyond Redemp­tion, all you dark fan­tasy folks!)

For those of you that visit me from time to time, I thank you. My goal has always been to be enter­tain­ing and inter­est­ing, and writ­ing blog posts that meet that cri­te­ria can be tough when time is lim­ited. But, please, check out my works on Ama­zon and Patreon, con­tact me about any­thing at all, com­ment on a post or two, and keep your eyes on the Blaagh for new con­tent in the next week.


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Gormek of the Thousand Tongues, a Short Story

Posted by on Mar 27, 2015 in My Fiction, Writing | 0 comments

Gormek had tasted all the world had to offer: the sour tang of tainted mag­ics, the lin­ger­ing sweet­ness of fear, the roasted dark­ness of man and beast.

The ener­gies of the world are fad­ing, but the hunger of the many-tongued godling will not abate. When it came across a lowly farmer, Gormek believes it was just one more morsel, one tasty bit of meat in a land drained of life.

How­ever, the farmer may yet be the creature’s match. Quick wits verses an insa­tiable, ancient appetite as the with­ered world hangs in the bal­ance as prize for win­ner of this con­test of wills.

Only one may feed their need.

Hey all! Come check out my short story on Ama­zon, Gormek of the Thou­sand Tongues, a dark fan­tasy with a dash of humor.

Or is it dark humor with a dash of fantasy?

Could be both.

Oooohh, creepy!

Oooohh, creepy!

I am very happy with this story, and if you enjoy dark fan­tasy, apoc­a­lyp­tic land­scapes, and ancient mys­ter­ies, give this one a gander!

Find it at Ama­zon, here.

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Insane Writing Falsities 1: Asking Permission

Posted by on Mar 1, 2015 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

I spend some time float­ing about this here inter­webz, inter­act­ing, read­ing, email­ing, dig­i­tally stalk­ing peo­ple who won­der to them­selves, “who the holy hell is this guy, and why does he keep tweet­ing me?”

As a writer, it should come as no sur­prise to you that a lot of my net time involves writ­ing and writ­ers. We word nerds are like that, all clicky and strange. Some of these folks I fol­lowed because of an inter­est­ing post, or a book they wrote, or because they often col­lect links together in some mas­sive orgy of click­able knowledge.

Some­thing they did intrigued me, enter­tained me, or made me think.

And, of course, quite a few of these are advice blogs, usu­ally on Tum­blr, which answer ques­tions and dis­pense, well, advice on the writ­ing process.

Advice is good. Advice is help­ful. We all need advice. And, for the most part, you can find some pretty inter­est­ing things on these advice blogs, like links to how lan­guages formed or what some sub-culture in a dis­tant land does or did or will do. Lit­tle nuggets of brain-feed abound in these places, lit­tle trig­gers that just might get a new story idea brew­ing in your head.

But there is an insane thing I see on many of these blogs: ques­tions of such an inane sort, usu­ally answered with such grav­i­tas it makes my head spin.

Things like:

My pro­tag­o­nist and antag­o­nist are sim­i­lar. How do I make them different?

Can I (insert action here) in a (insert genre here)?

What are the rules for (insert trope here), and can I make up my own?

Here it is, folks, in a nut­shell. If you write, then you are a writer. Maybe not a good one. Maybe not an expe­ri­enced one. But for fuck’s sake, you are a writer.

Repeat after me: I am a writer and I don’t need per­mis­sion to write what­ever I want how­ever I want.

Really, folks, don’t ask ques­tions like these. Don’t ask the inter­net if you can make stuff up in your own book.

And that’s what this all boils down to: ask­ing per­mis­sion. Sure, the for­mat of the ques­tion changes, but the seed of the issue, the crux of the prob­lem, is this.

I want to write, but I can­not because of some rule, or I am afraid to solve the prob­lem myself since I might be miss­ing some rule.

How do you make your char­ac­ters dif­fer­ent from one another? Really? How many peo­ple do you know? A bunch I bet. Notice how they are all dif­fer­ent? Write like that. Write those peo­ple. BAM, magic. Char­ac­ters are really not that hard, and none of them are ever made whole cloth and from the author’s brain-meat. Pull from the sources of your life, for good­ness sake. Every­one is doing it, folks, everyone.

If you have to ask how to write a cer­tain story, then you are either not read well enough in those types of sto­ries to feel how they work, or you are afraid to write it the way you see it in your head. Either way, you need to come to grips with the fact you are the writer, you are at the wheel. I see folks ask­ing things like, “How do I write fan­tasy…” I promise you, no amount of help­ful links in a mas­ter post of writ­ing shit is going to answer that. You can­not learn how to write fan­tasy from the inter­net. You learn by A) Read­ing fan­tasy, or B) Just mak­ing it all up as you go! You can do that! In fact, it was just this type of DIY atti­tude that got us all our great books to begin with, folks.

I will repeat that: Those book that affected you the most, that made you want to write, were likely the exact books that broke the rules and made it all up.

Tolkien was like, “Imma write a pseudo-historical tale and take ele­ments from all the races I’ve read about in real life, but add, get this, lit­tle damned peo­ple and a giant flam­ing eye­ball on a tower!”

David Eddings was like, “Imma write fan­tasy with­out fol­low­ing most of the set rules for it by Tolkien and the authors that fol­lowed, and instead take ele­ments of ancient prose-poems and tales of knights, and get this, make my wiz­ard a lech­er­ous dunkard whose only love was a wolf-woman! Oh, and glee­ful violence!”

What are the rules for a cer­tain story ele­ment? There are no rules, and that’s the rule. Tolkien didn’t fol­low rules. Brad­bury didn’t fol­low rules. Elli­son actively had car­nal activ­i­ties in pub­lic with rules. You make the rules.

Look, I get it. We all start some­where. We all need a hand. We all want to know if we are doing it right. And there are cer­tain, let’s call them best prac­tices, to bor­row from the dead soul­less void of the cor­po­rate world. Not rules exactly, but not not rules, either.

You should try and write in an active style. You should avoid too much pur­ple prose. You should keep char­ac­ters inter­est­ing and lively. You should mix up sen­tence length so it is fun to read.

Fan­tasy usu­ally involves magic. Sci-fi often takes place in space. Noir has a lot of brood­ing, angry protagonists.

But do not ask ran­dom peo­ple on the Inter­net if it is ok for you to write a cer­tain theme, or style, or genre. Either you do or you don’t, there is no ask.

That’s what it is to be a writer.

If you want rules, be a lawyer.

If you want to write a noir steam­punk fan­tasy were­wolf book, then open your lap­top and do it. You’ll get an awful lot more done that way than ask­ing the inter­net for per­mis­sion, I’ll promise you that.

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Humble Bundle Full of Books

Posted by on Feb 26, 2015 in Books, Humble Bundle | 0 comments

Hum­ble Bun­dle: A place of mad­ness, I tell ya’

Alright, for those who don’t know, Hum­ble Bun­dle does a pay-what-you-want kind of thing for assorted books and games. They bun­dle the stuff up and you get it for…well, what­ever you pay.

$1? Sure.

$100? Sure.

There are bonuses, of course, if you pay higher than the aver­age or higher than a cer­tain amount (like $15), but the bulk of the good­ies are yours at any price.

Check out what they are offer­ing here: https://www.humblebundle.com/books

$123 worth of DRM free books in three for­mats: EPUB, Mobi, and PDF, all from Sub­ter­ranean Press. Har­lan Elli­son, Joe R. Lans­dale, John Scalzi — a whole hella lot of good authors in 22 books (if you pay at least $15).

Some of the meta-data is a bit wonky on one or two of the books (poor Robert Mac­Cam­mon is “First­name Last­name” in his offer­ing, I Travel by Night) but it is a small price to pay for so many books at such an afford­able cost. Not to men­tion, a quick meta­data update via Cal­i­bre (you do use Cal­i­bre for your DRM free book col­lec­tion, right? Right? *judg­ing*) will fix that right up.

Check it out as it ends in six days.



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