Oct
2

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Monday Morning Madness

Tales 1 smallerLots of stuff is happening behind the scenes even if the site itself seems a little abandoned. The Kickstarter for Tales From the Magician’s Skull is nearly ready to launch — there will be an announcement in the next several days. Just this morning I was looking over a proposed membership card for the Legion of Skulls, the fan club for the mag.

Work continues on the novel revision. I’m getting closer all the time. I also saw the near final cover and I love it — I hope to share it with you soon.

And I’ve been reading something a little outside my wheelhouse and enjoying the heck out of it. That’s Mary Robinette Kowal’s Ghost Talkers, which posits a reality where mediums were real, and in World War I were used to communicate with dead soldiers to gather intelligence. That, at least, is where the story starts, and it quickly develops into a compelling mystery that’s well-plotted and surprising. I’m about two thirds through and I’m still not sure who’s behind it all. Additionally, as always with Mary Robinette Kowal’s work, there’s intelligence and kindness threaded through her prose, with none of the self-indulgences I see in too much modern fantasy. As any of my frequent visitors know, I’m tired of unrelieved darkness and naval gazing and destined greatness. It’s a pleasure to read of believable characters determined to do the right thing. 

Sep
27

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Return of the Sword-and-Sorcery Kickstarter

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m mentioning it again because there are only 26 hours left as I type this, and the Guilds & Glaives Kickstarter is about 2 grand short of its goal. The anthology is going to feature a whole slew of sword-and-sorcery fiction, including a new tale from yours truly, so I have all kinds of reasons for wanting to see it hit its goal.

Add in that if the Kickstarter funds, it will have a few slots open for submission as well, and that might be even more incentive. If you’ve been on the fence, or been meaning to join in but forgot about it, I hope you’ll take a look and think seriously about pledging.

 

Sep
25

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Monday Heroic Fiction

Tales 1 smallerWork continues behind-the-scenes with Tales From the Magician’s Skull as Joseph finalizes the Kickstarter preparations. I can hardly wait to point the way, but you’ll have to wait just a couple more weeks. There are many things about working with Joseph that I like, and one of them is his careful preparation.

I haven’t been reading nearly as much the last month, as my wife and I discovered Parks & Rec, and have been watching it in the evenings. We don’t usually binge watch television like this, but it’s nice to have a positive show about people you like. It kind of feels like the 2nd-5th seasons were the best, but we’re watching to the end. In the shortened 7th season I’m finding myself laughing out loud several times an episode again, even if some of the main plot lines feel a little forced and sometimes indulgent.

But that’s not heroic fiction. I wanted to share something that was, and that’s the Blades books by Kelly McCullough. I’m most of the way through one of them, Bared Blade, and it reads something like Zelazny and Chandler co-writing a fantasy detective story in ancient China. Except that by “detective” I mean that there’s a problem to be solved and a sort of professional trouble-shooter who’s a former assassin for the goddess of justice. That means that, unlike so many other blokes in cloaks, he was only offing the bad guys. Aral is a force for good, or at least strives to be, the fantasy equivalent of Chandler’s knight in the battered trench coat working his weary way through a corrupt but beautiful city.

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Sep
20

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Farm Life

Big RedOne evening this spring while I was finishing up some yard work I spotted a fox slinking through our pasture. If you don’t keep chickens you might not know that foxes love chickens. When we first got started raising chickens we lost a number to clever foxes, who are in on the secret that chickens are delicious. Our birds are free range, but we keep a dog in part to protect the chickens, and we keep the birds inside a coop in the barn except when it’s full daylight.

As it happened, though, dusk was on the way and I hadn’t yet done anything with the chickens because I’d been trying to finish some work on the fence. The dog was inside because she hadn’t been keeping far enough away from the mower. My wife ran to get the dog and I sprinted to find the chickens, only to discover that our rooster was already rounding them up and herding them into the barn.

Roosters really only have one job, and that’s to watch over the chickens. Most roosters don’t manage even that. They just stand around crowing, constantly, and just as constantly mating with the hens. Big Red, though, actually took pride in his job. In my experience there’s not a whole lot of personality difference between chickens, and I haven’t really formed many attachments with them. Big Red was far and away my favorite. You can’t help but respect someone who’s good at their job, even if he’s a chicken. I saw him herd the chickens several times when stray dogs wandered onto our property. Read More

Sep
18

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Writing Tests

Jake Parker "A Fireside Story"

Jake Parker “A Fireside Story”

A while back I talked about one of the questions I ask myself to make sure I’m on the right track, and that’s the Doctor McCoy test. 

Sometimes I think about another one, though, and that’s the “Grandparent at the Fireside” test. The idea is that the grandparent is at the fireside telling a story. As he or she is telling the story, there will be questions from young listeners. Sometimes, of course, young listeners have an agenda or want to take over the story, so for the sake of the test I pretend that the questions are coming from an intelligent listener.  Read More

Writing

Character Design, Part 2

Friday, November 15, 2013

My friend Mick wrote in the other day on the site and told me he’d “love to hear more theory about how you pick weaknesses and flaws and…

Link Day

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My absence this week has all been due to keeping up the homestead and working away on writing deadlines. I have a lot more writing pointers to discuss,…

Character Design, Part 1

Friday, November 8, 2013

I had the privilege of sitting down with Patrick Rothfuss at Detroit’s ConFusion last January, and he was kind enough to discuss some of the methods he uses…

Character Writing Prompts

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I didn’t understand writing prompts or their purpose when I was younger. Maybe it’s because I always knew what I wanted to do even though I wasn’t aware…

On Writing Swiftly

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sometimes I write quickly. Occasionally, when I write quickly, I write well. Most of the time, though, I don’t. I have to revise and re-revise and throw things…