Jul
15

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Novel Lessons 4.5: Between the Novels, Part 2

One of the reasons I wrote last week of learning from other genres is because of one of the problems plaguing me in the as-yet uncompleted The Maiden’s Eye. I’ll get to that in a moment, but first, some background.

The unfinished third novel of Dabir and Asim had several problems leading to its abandonment, although the most important of those was the cancellation of the series. By the second or third month after the release of The Bones of the Old Ones, it was clear that no amount of good press was getting the book to move. It just wasn’t selling. My editor told me if I wanted to go ahead and finish the third book, that he’d publish it, but the writing seemed to be on the wall, and we both agreed to step away.

I set to work deciding what I’d work on next, coming up with several ideas I’d back burnered, outlining them in some detail before I allowed myself to mourn the end of the series I loved so well. I’ve since vowed that I will at least one day finish the third novel, but I have to admit that it was a little easier to walk away because it had some issues: Read More

Jul
13

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Writer Chat: Setsu Uzume

I’m always on the lookout for talented new sword-and-sorcery writers, or at least new to me, and I stumbled upon the work of Setsu Uzume in an issue of Grimgark magazine. Shortly after I invited Setsu to contribute to Tales From the Magician’s Skull issue 2, which will be available in print form any day now, and a few days ago we sat down, via e-mail, to discuss writing and fiction and all that good stuff. Without further ado, here’s what we had to say:

First, why don’t you give us a little background about yourself and your work. 

I tumbled around a lot before winding up as a writer. When I was tiny, I wanted to be some kind of itinerant hero like Xena. I did a lot of theater, playing male and female characters, but when I auditioned for a specialized high school to pursue acting professionally, I didn’t get in. I figured, OK, I’m always doing bit parts and side roles so I’m either not cute enough or not femme enough to be a star. However, I had a strong martial arts background, so decided to do stunts instead. Then The Matrix came out and the shift to CGI didn’t bode well (plus, if you were gonna double for women in those days it was all rape scenes all the time), so I put that dream on hold while I went to college. Parallel to all of this was a love of story and storytelling, and I was starving for characters that looked and thought like me. So here we are. Read More

Jul
12

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Dreams of My Father

For the first time in ages, I dreamt of my father. I was walking across campus with my backpack over one shoulder, as I would have been lo those long years ago, and I spotted him through a corner window that never existed, standing behind his desk and talking on a phone — in an office that never existed, for Dad was never on the first floor with a huge window. But he was talking to someone about how I was coming to see him prior to Freshman orientation.

At some level I was aware that this was a dream and that he was gone, and I was long past this point in my life, but I raised my hand at him and smiled and he raised his hand up to me and smiled and damn, but that was great, because I could see him. Not just for a frozen moment in a memory, or photograph, or even a rare shot of him on video tape, but I could look at him, living, as long as I wanted, and meet his eyes, and he was looking back at me.

I didn’t realize how powerful it was until a little later this morning when I thought about it and wept. It’s been eighteen years. It’s been long enough now that it’s impossible to imagine me calling him up and catching up on everything that’s happened, like I used to fantasize about. The acute pain of his absence is gone. But I will always miss him. I would so like for him to have known my kids as adults, or even to have met my youngest. What I wouldn’t give to tell that kid with the backpack that you’re not always going to be walking across campus and have the chance of running into your dad.

I can’t do that, but I can try to take time to be present in the lives of my kids, as my father always did. Maybe I can pass that on, and one day they’ll get it too.

Jul
11

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Tabletop Gaming: Treasure

Every year  RPGnow/Drivethrurpg.com has a Christmas in July sale. It’s not under way yet — usually it takes place around the end of the month. Almost every year I get a wish list together, save up some PayPal cash through some trades, and get ready to splurge.

I love reading this stuff even if I never use it in a game — even if I’m NOT gaming — because the best of it throws off sparks and sets fire to the ‘ol imagination.

This year I thought I’d do a series of articles before the sale begins and point you towards some fantastic products I’ve accumulated, in the hope that you’d get some joy out of them yourselves. I’m such a long time gamer that there are quite a lot of them, so today I’m going to focus solely on treasure and loot.

As you’d probably guess, almost all of this material is from small vendors you’ve never heard of.

I’m only going to discuss my very favorites. If you have others you think ought to be mentioned, I hope that you’ll do so. Read More

Jul
10

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Beta Readers

The other day I was asked what the best way to find beta readers was. In short form, you have to network with other writers.

I found my first beta readers when I joined critique groups almost a quarter century ago. Some of those experiences were, at best, useless, so you should never be afraid to walk away from a crit group that exists, for instance, solely to teach ONE way to write, to knock down other writers, or, more benignly, is full of people who only get one genre, and it’s not the one you’re writing.

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Writing

Undisclosed Location

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I’m writing from an undisclosed location, in the midst of a secret mission. Most of the assignment involves writing copiously every day, but I must also infiltrate fine…

Writing Tests

Monday, September 18, 2017

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…

Appendix N and Fantasy Exploration

Friday, August 25, 2017

While I’d been introduced to fantasy fiction when my mom read me The Hobbit, it was Dungeons & Dragons that sent me exploring for more of it. Appendix…

Previews

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Yesterday I got to see some thumbnail sketches of covers for my upcoming novel, and I have to tell you, that was pretty cool. This book is starting…

Book on the Way

Monday, July 31, 2017

My posts may be a little spare in the coming weeks as I put pedal to the metal and start revision of the first novel of my new trilogy…