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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I just finished polishing up the newest addition to my Patreon page, Wren, a 1k word piece of flash fiction.
Big robots? Tough as nails pilots? A flavor of the post-apocalyptic? Yum!
Come, take a ten minute break, read a good story, and let me know what you think!
Be forewarned, I feel a little snarky about this subject, and it shows.
Kickstarter, seemingly a place for chaos and strife.
Who would have thunk it? Certainly not I.
Kickstarter, for those who don’t know, is a place where creators of whatever — movies, games, zipper masks — can crowd-fund a project. Basically funding an expensive venture through a lot of smaller transactions, and giving those who sent money their way some perks like a free copy of the game, or a thank you in the credits, or a ninja-kick to the junk.
And thanks to Kickstarter, we find ourselves with games and movies that would not have ever seen the light of day otherwise.
Yet, sometimes, a Kickstarter campaign will blow the hell up, sending nerdrage shrapnel and uninformed bullshit in all directions.
First floor: Tee-shirts, swimwear, uninformed rage
A few days ago I came across an interesting post on The Passive Voice, which I recommend you read, as there are always awesome posts popping up there. The title of said post was “Why I Cancelled the Kickstarter”.
Hmm, I mumbled as I clicked.
Here are the basics:
An author, Stacey Jay (a pen name for the author’s YA books), had started a Kickstarter campaign to publish the second book of a cancelled series — one that sold well, but not well enough for the publisher to continue with her (note: I am saying “her” due to the pen-name being Stacey, so this is an assumption, and could be wrong). So, being the brave new world, she decided, WTF let’s do this anyway, and opened a Kickstarter.
The idea: Support me, including the costs I will incur by avoiding an hourly day-job in order to write this novel in a few months, and get a novel and perks for doing so.
I guess the brave new world ain’t so brave, and certainly not as new, as it looks. The “stodgy, grumpy, enraged, filled with assholes” old world is still there, just waiting for someone to overstep some invisible boundary, equipped with +1 Cudgels of Get-Back-In-Line.
In this case, things went *poof* in her face. In her own words:
But late last night I was made aware that the writer/blogger/reader community was angered by my Kickstarter to fund the Princess of Thorns sequel. Space cadet that I am, I was completely shocked. I never meant to make people angry. Quite the opposite–I wanted to make my Young Adult readers who kept asking what was next from me happy.
Angered, folks. People got angry.
There are things to get angry about. A bee in your trousers. A boss that grabs your ass. The fact the highest grossing app in the world is basically “shop for expensive stuff with Kim Kardashian.”
But anger over a Kickstarter for a novel?
Well, it seems an author isn’t supposed to consider eating, drinking, electricity, and the feeding of the wee little ones as they write a book. The catching point for most seemed to be that Stacey Jay needed to consider living expenses as she wrote the novel over the next months.
Oh man! What an asshole, right? I mean, she want to eat and have electricity while writing?
Man, when I was her age, we used to etch our stories into our flesh with hot knives, in the dark, while starving, and only had one pair of pants which only had one leg-hole and…
Now, truthfully, Kickstarter is not meant for covering your food expenses, at least not directly. One cannot start a Kickstarter campaign called “I’m fucking hungry, pay me $10 so I can eat” and offer absolutely no services or end-product.
But when you support that videogame, or that movie, the money does go to food. The coder of that Donkey-Muffin Extreme Snowboarding app you supported will use said money to keep the juice running at home. He/she ain’t working for free. He/she ain’t eating the digital bits and bytes of his/her code to survive. He/she needs to feed them pesky rugrats, who need all those calories and bullshit. Damn little kids.
In this case, Stacey Jay was the provider of said services — we give $$, she eats and writes. What’s the difference? Where is the discrepancy here? Why should the actors in a Kickstarter movie use some portion of said money, paid to them for their talents as actors, to live off of, and Stacey Jay be separate and different in asking for money to use her talent to produce an end-product?
Hell, that’s the whole point. I payed InExile so they could feed their coders while their coders made me my game. Sure, it also helps cover other stuff: New hardware, advertising, bringing in new artists, etc. But in the end, I give $$, a coder eats, a coder codes, I play game, happy fun time much excite.
Allow me a moment of your time here for a quick logic-check
Kickstarting a movie. Great!
Kickstarting an awesome fiction game platform. Great!
Kickstarting a robotic roach. Great!
Kickstarting a salt-shooting mini-shotgun to kill flies. Great!
Kickstarting a sequel to a beloved videogame. Great!
George R. R. Martin getting a hefty advance to write a book so the man can eat and keep the lights on. Great!
Stephen King getting a hefty advance to write lots and lots of books while simultaneously paying electric bills and feeding children. Great!
A woman going to Kickstarter and saying, “Hey, if you want to, you can pay me $10, and I can eat, keep my house, and write the next novel in a series.” Not great! BOOOOOOOO! HISSSS! ENRAGED!
Time to reconsider
It’s time, dear reader, we take a good hard look at this sort of thing, and ask ourselves, “Why? Why? OMG why am I mad about this?”
Why shouldn’t a writer ask for living expenses, as long as said expenses are reasonable, and be able to use Kickstarter for such a thing? The fact is, if her fans thought it was a shit idea, they would vote by not supporting the work. Poof. Done. Gone. The Kickstarter would fail, and then the message would be clear.
Instead, a number of folks went to the internet and rattled cages, flung poo, and made a lot of noise.
And now, Stacey Jay has cancelled the project, and no book gets made.
Is this a win?
Did the INTARNETZZZZ win a decisive battle on the high hill of morality here?
I think not.
To me, this is a loss. I don’t know Stacey Jay. I don’t read YA romance. I would never have picked up this novel. It isn’t on my radar.
But we lost something here: A novel, yes, and more.
The freedom of an artist to ask for money — not just for their art, but to simply exist as a human being while making said art — has yet again been punched in the groin.
It’s 2015, folks! Betcha didn’t know that. Mmmhmm, that’s why you come here — To be edumacated!
I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I’m feeling the new-year this time. I’ve had a lot of changes in the last year, and I expect more changes to come.
I want to make it a good year. Maybe you do too. Maybe you write, and want to be better this year than you have ever been before.
Well, let’s do this together. But together, like separate together. Please don’t drop by my house with a sleeping bag or anything, OK?
Here is a mad geek scientist if ever there was one. A writer of SF, Jamie is very open about his workflow. He shows you what he does and how he does it, and managed over 400k words in a year only writing an hour a day.
He writes completely in Google Docs.
He’s scripted Docs to automatically tally his writing, in both fiction and nonfiction, and put them all into a spreadsheet for him. This way he can just write, and ignore all else. He opens a doc in Docs, scribbles, and closes it, letting his automated processes count words and mail him the info.
But, besides all that nerdy madness, he also writes (often) on the blog about writing, reading, useful apps, etc. He’s been published in an assload of pro magazines, so when he talks, it behooves us to listen.
Check him out at: http://www.jamierubin.net/
If you want to see some of his writing madness, look at this site, which automatically polls his writing and makes pretty graphs… mmmmm graphs.
Also, if Google Docs is your thing, you can follow the instructions here to set things up to count your words and track your writing.
2 – Listen to the Dead Robots’ Society, the Roundtable, and I Should be Writing
I’ve talked about these blokes before, but in this new and shiny 2015, allow me to remind everyone: The Dead Robot’s Society is one of the best writing podcasts out there, for a number of simple reasons.
First, it is a joy to listen to.
Second, the hosts run the gamut of publishing: Indie, small press, Amazon, not Amazon, folks that pants their way like maniacs and others who lay out a bit more brickwork before laying on the words.
Third, these folks are active. Really active. Patreon pages (well worth your reading time!), indie published SF novels (super good stuff), fiction podcasts (oooh, ancient gods and historical fiction!), you name it. You can learn a lot from their chats on all of it.
The Roundtable Podcast is among the best out there, covering all aspects of writing, including interviews with those in the trenches. Dave Robison is a joy to listen to, and things are always lively and interesting and strange when they get going. Do yourself a favor and have episodes of The Roundtable playing as you exercise (HA!) or languish, depressed and dejected, on the living-room couch.
And, the one and only I Should be Writing, hosted by Campbell award-winning Mur Lafferty. This is a must-listen podcast. Interviews, the travails of publishing, years worth of previous podcasts… You can also support her via Patreon and get all the back catalogue — years worth — of episodes. Trust me, I’ve listened to most of the shows, and you will learn a lot — both about writing, and about yourself (you ain’t the only one with doubts, dear reader, join the club) — through the podcast.
3 – Get your SF & F mags, fill your brain
Nothing helps writing more than reading. It sucks. You stop reading for a few days due to holidays and the like, and Ye Olde gray matter starts to get stiff. The words stop flowing as easy. The ideas don’t beat down the doors anymore.
Sign up to one (or all) of the old-school pro magazines. Do it via Kindle (way cheaper) or via actual, mailed magazines (cooler, more expensive).
Honestly. I know we aren’t all aiming to be published for short stories, or even SF and fantasy, but the content in these magazines is mind-blowing. You can feel the stories stretching your brain-meat, and expanding what you consider possible in fiction.
Asimov’s Science Fiction for $2.99 a month.
F&SF for .99 a month.
Analog for $2.99.
Every month you get a bunch of pro stories written by serious SF and fantasy people, edited by pros at the magazines, and chock full of crazy ideas.
It really helps keep the juices flowing, and it’s a lot easier to read a short story than a novel when time is tight. And a lot cheaper than a cup of Starbucks coffee.
4 – Figure out your workflow
It’s time, folks, it’s time. Stop mucking around with your tools (you’ll go blind that way!).
Figure out what you need: Do you need to write on the go? Can you even write on the go?
Iron something out, and stick with it. Don’t worry about the other bullshit. Like Scrivener? Use it. Like iA Writer? Use it.
Ignore the other goodies whispering your name, singing their siren songs. You don’t need it. Pick the tools you are comfortable in, marry them, and move on.
Did the folks behind iA Writer release a new writing app? Sure they did. Do you need it? Depends: If you are happy with iA Writer/Scrivener/Google Docs/chiseling your stories into stone, then don’t even bother with it.
Make 2015 a year of words, not a year of trying out all the new, shiny, tools.
5 – Write
Easier said than done, sometimes, am I right?
I mean, who the hell are you to think you can stand next to the Asimovs and Bradburys of the world?
And all that time! You have to dust, clean, watch football…
Yeah. 2015. We should just give up.
Or no. Instead, just write. The more you do it, the easier it gets, the better you feel, etc. It’s a cycle.
Everyone says it. So often, in fact, it sounds hackneyed. “Suuuure, duh, of course it helps” you may think, yet still not do it.
Yet, when put into practice, it can really help.
When I write daily, I feel good. Motivated. Happy. Like I can do this shit, maaaaaaaaan. Dig it?
When I let it slide, play some games, watch some movies, I feel stagnant the next time I write. The words are more sluggish, atrophied little word-legs twitching. I sit to write and it’s like I am looking through a fog.
Make it a game. Join a Facebook group and post about how many words you wrote that day. Use the Magic Spreadsheet to earn points for every day you write. Track your progress in a spreadsheet, or with whatever floats your goat.
Happy 2015, folks. Let’s make it a good year.