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The man, the myth, the legend.

Tag Archives: literature

Yay Success! Now Get Off My Lawn.

Update. Right. Forgot.

So A Promise Made is going to be in the next Sha’Daa anthology, currently titled Facets. I also was trying to squeak a second story in but I couldn’t really get it to work. It came off as a monologue but the story structure needed to be more of a script (transcript, diary, screenplay, etc). I was a little annoyed with myself for not being able to wrap my mind around the structure (I wanted a script, since A Promise Made is more of a journal, and I hate duplicating myself). I guess I’ll survive (dramatic sigh) and wrap up Hill 142 before too long.

Wraithkin is coming along. It’s around 70,000 words right now, with 75% of it being action. I’ll break that up a bit so as to not overwhelm delicate sensibilities– ah, who am I kidding? I’ll probably add more carnage and mayhem before I mellow it out a bit. Hopefully it won’t go above 120,000 words because I can’t see publishers getting excited about a MilSF/romance/political thriller being about 600 pages long from an unknown-ish author.

Yes, I said romance. Because the entire book is fueled by a love story.

I also have to finish The Gods Anointed for the Not To Yield anthology soon, I think by June 1. So that makes two shorts and a novel to finish by June 1.


I can do this. I just need proper motivation… which, depending on how things work out, may have occurred this morning.

Also: reviewed Chuck Gannon’s debut solo novel, Fire With Fire, over at Shiny Book Review today. You should give it a go and buy this book.

To Start Off With A Bang

Two of my major goals are to get Wraithkin and Wraithguard out. Not published, but merely out of my hands and into the hands of the Alpha Reader Squad. In order to accomplish this, I forced myself the other day to create a massive spreadsheet for word count. I think my word count goal (not including the blog or book reviews) was somewhere in the 370,000 range. It’s doable (in 2008 I cracked 500,000 words) but it is a lofty goal, primarily because of the dark and gritty undertones of both books. I’ve talked about Wraithkin before here, but I haven’t gone into too much detail about the subsequent books — Wraithguard and Wraithlord — because I only have them plotted with some notes about where they’re supposed to go. Of course, saying that, you just know that they’re going to go ever other way but that one.

Also, because I’m not sure the last title is going to stay as is.

So today was a 1,200 word day on Wraithkin. I hit the 1,000 daily goal (It’s a convoluted math score, involving certain days I don’t write, certain days where I need to write 3,000 words, others when it’s a measly 1,000), so we’re well on track to the 370,000 goal. I also added in about 700 words for a short story I’m writing called The Gods Anointed for an epic SF anthology, Not To Yield.  So almost 2,000 words (not counting the blog!) today. I’m happy with the progress and pace.

Now let’s see if I can keep it up. 2013 is starting off with a bang.

Doing Time in the Slush

I think that every prospective author should do time as a slush reader — a volunteer slush reader, in fact.

This sounds like a fate worse than death for most of us. If you are an aspiring writer who thinks that this could be fun, then you are one of the ones who must do this. Because while you might be convinced that all writers deserve a chance at being published, a quick month or two of reading slush for any publishing company (assuming they even do slush anymore) will quickly correct this misconception. Despite what a lot of people believe, not all writers are created equal.

Look, I suck at this writing thing. I don’t have subtle subplots, secondary story arcs or a deeper meaning in my novels. My characterization is pretty intense, but in no way do I think my characters are like real people. They’re not realistic because they aren’t real, they’re fiction. They’re meant to be enjoyed. Serious readers will read my crap and say “Srsly bro, WTF?” (okay, serious readers will write a dissertation about why and how I screwed up, but whatever…) but the average reader should be able to read it quickly and be entertained by it. At least, that’s my hope. I don’t want to write the GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL, I want to write that dime store novel that people lacking MFAs can read. I’m perfectly okay with the “low brow” reader, because (quite frankly) that’s what I am at heart. I like adventure novels, I enjoy a Mack Bolan/Longarm novel (Longarm is hilarious and fun, though short), and I usually don’t mind some of the “dumbed down” versions of Shakespeare (“usually” being the operative word. I keep laughing when I read the renovelization of Romeo and Juliet and nobody freaking dies…).

But… slush is where your mettle is tested. If you can go into slush, read without prejudice, you will quickly realize that 95% of the stuff in there is absolute crap. Oh, it’s got plot. There’s some tremendous story building in it. Characters with so many dimensions that you need a TARDIS to navigate them. But there simple is no story. There’s nothing. It’s a pretty book with absolute NOTHING going on. I’ve read and reviewed these books. They’re called “literature”. Screw that noise. Shakespeare is literature. Jane Austen is an aneurysm with a shot of whiskey. To this day I can’t stand Tolkien and need to get piss drunk after reading The Two Towers.

One of my former coworkers, upon finding out that I was a published author, tried pitching me his novel. I had to remind him that 1) I’m not a publisher, and 2) I doubted that I would be able to help him sell it anyway. He continued to tell me all about his novel about a world where it is half dark and half light, where one side always faces the sun and the other always is in darkness (to which I remarked, “Oh, like Twilek!”, further establishing dominance with my awesomely sized geek wang, and drawing a blank and confused stare). He then proceeded to tell about one very religious society which controls all he metals and the other, which is an atheist society who controls something else (I forget, because by this time my eyes were glazing over… I have ADH-Oh Shiny!). Then in the sequel–

…and this is where I cut him off. “What happens in the first book?” I asked.

“Oh, I told you.”

“Say what? All you did was describe the backstory.” I replied. “Where’s the actual novel?”

I think I’ve mentioned this incident before. It was evident by the look on his face that he had no idea why I couldn’t see how important his novel was. In truth, it could have been that he just absolutely sucked at pitching said novel, but I don’t think that was it. Like many novels in slush, there was a decided lack of story in it. And an aspiring author might not realize that they might be lacking something in their novel until they delve into the dark pit of despair that is the slush pile.

Where am I going with all this, you might be asking yourself. Hell if I know. I just think that before you submit your novel to a publisher (or more likely, an agent), you should read what other people are submitting. Not what is published, because that was probably submitted over four years ago (I did mention before that publishing moves at the speed of a glacier, right?), but what is being submitted at this time. Not for story ideas, god no. Your ideas are your own, keep it that way. But see what is going on in these stories. Do they have a story? plot? Characters? Are they entertaining, or written to make the poor plebes like us scratch our heads and say “WTF?”

And knowing is half the battle. The battle of wills, with the will being “Will I survive this slush experience?”

So ask yourself, aspiring writer. Do you feel slushy?

Well, do you?

Yeah, I went there.