Time Must Needs

Artist: Pavel Kolomeyets.

Artist: Pavel Kolomeyets.

You say that it has been six years. And I nod.

The wheel turns and April 25th comes again and I am thankful for the rain. It should always rain. It was sunny then, that day was beautiful. That day is beautiful – sun-yellow and sky-blue. I say is and was all mixed up because time must needs move backwards. But it will not. If only my will could make it so.

Maybe I am making it rain. Maybe it can always rain. So easy in my mind to go back, why can not I compel Time to come with me? Why not pull Time back with me when I go and cover that day with Rain? But it will not. That day is sun-bright, will always be beautiful. I go again and again and the sun still shines.

Time must needs. Must needs move. Backwards. But it will not.

It only moves forward. Like a river it only moves downstream. I get farther and farther away past other days and graves and waves and love. I learn and forget and dream and wake. You tell me that it has been six years and I nod.

Time must needs. I must needs. Must needs move backwards.

Time is not my servant as much as I write it. No magic or will can bend the river into a better shape. It helps to pretend that the Rain comes at my bidding, so today I will have it so.

So today I say I love you. I say it with grey clouds and black skies. I say I love you all with Rain. May it fall until this day is over.

Asteroid Made of Dragons – InkShares – Sword&Laser Publishing Contest

pow-hi

In a haze of stress neurons, I’ve done something rash. I’ve been lurking in the digital bushes around InkShares, a crowd-source publisher, for a few weeks now. I really like their model – if you meet your goal, the book gets published. Professionally edited, cover design, release in major markets, the works. But I was hesitating – partly because I wanted to wait until I had a little more open headspace – partly because I’m a little bit chickenshit.

But then I got an email about this contest.

In the words that I myself reverently uttered upon reading, ‘Bug Jesus.’

The top 5 sci-fi/fantasy novels in the contest get published. The five books with the most pre-orders by the end of May get published. Even if they don’t hit their funding goal. My book’s goal is 750 preorders for ebook / 1000 for paper – but it doesn’t matter. If I can get enough pre-orders to stay in the top five, I’m in. It’s just too good an opportunity to pass up. All I want is that 5th slot – Asteroid of Dragons in the finals with a bullet!

The grand prize is even better – being the first Sword and Laser Collection novel published by InkShares and getting interviewed on the podcast. Finally, Veronica and Tom will know the clever things I say about the month’s book that I’ve been saying in my car. [!]

So, now the hustle – which connotes the amount of work I need to put in, but also the slight tinge of a scam. I NEED people to pre-order the book before the deadline. I’m going to start by plowing through my Friends List, of course, but I’m not going to make it over the hump without – gulp – strangers.  I’m going to update the InkShares page regularly, I’m going to update here more, and be much more active on Twitter and FB. I’m going to be obnoxious. That is my vow. I have just over 45 days to convince as many people as possible to give me 9.99 – to extend faith in what I’ve written before, and take another leap in a book called Asteroid Made of Dragons.

Eep. Very eep.

https://www.inkshares.com/projects/asteroid-made-of-dragons

That’s the link – the starting line of this race. Help me win. Tell me how I can win. If you follow the link and don’t pre-order, come tell me why so I can FIX IT.

Much more to come. Just think, if this works – some responsible adult will be in charge of marketing and I’ll be left to write weird sonnets about sentient pickles. Won’t that be grand?

dtroubadour

Book Review – Deadly Troubadours

dtroubadour

Full disclosure:  The author of this book is one of my closest friends. I’ve written plays with him. We’ve have swung imaginary swords together in many strange lands. I have eaten his mother’s chewy ginger-snaps. Whether that makes me meaner or nicer is best left to your judgement. From a writing standpoint, our worlds are kissing cousins at the very least – linked by Pratchett’s ‘consensus fantasy universe’ and a shared wavelength of universes touched by the Fall of Gilead and the breath of the Red Wizard. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Well, Brent does.

Non-spoiler Review:

 Absolutely top-notch world building and character work. Strong dialogue, clean action scenes. Brent has a patience that I lack, really drilling down into the core of his world — each location breathes, the thought and care put into each is delightful. It’s a fantasy where most travelers will feel at home, and that’s no easy feat. Also, really badass, involved descriptions of some magical rituals and arcane machinery – that may be a ‘writer’ sort of thing to say, but those things are a beast to write and way too easy to make boring. Brent keeps them engaging throughout, and any writer that can make logistics interesting is one to wear in your heart’s core.

Our Heroes are a ragtag band, but not of misfits. Misfits suggest a lack of competence, or a fringe status in this world – nay, they are perfectly shaped. Though I quickly found myself favoring Kestra over the other characters – your reaction may differ. I like stoic gladiators, perhaps you will prefer the wily thief-mage, Demetrius or the scholar, Talbert.

The narrative structure flips between the present, where our group has embarked on a quest of more than usual danger and foolhardiness — and the past, where we learn more about the three main characters in a series of ‘Origin’ chapters. Taken as their own, the flashbacks provide the novel’s strongest writing – but the chapter order was one of my main complaints, especially early in the book. You go from the present, to the recent past, to a flashback, to another character’s flashback, then return to the present. It was like Brent kept handing me different action figures – and let me assure you I wanted to play with each one! – but just as I would start having fun with them, he would knock them out of my hands and push another toy at me. I found myself wanting to sink deeper into each story only to be jerked out too soon. This could just be a ‘me’ thing and may not bother other readers, but by the end of the book I was only nominally interested in the present-day plot  [and there’s a fucking dragon in it!] – I was much more looking forward to the resolution of each of the Origin plotlines.

This is rock-solid fantasy writing – and I have no problem saying it holds together much better than my first attempt.  You all need to buy this and love or hate it – but support the writer. I want to read the next one, the next one’s what it’s all about. There’s some dark, beautiful things in that head and we’ve only gotten a glimpse.

Spoiled Review:

This is mostly ‘inside-baseball’.

Your heart is in the past, Brent. Those Origin chapters are so fucking good they shamed the rest of the book.  You are at your best when your characters are growing, changing – in pain, in woe, in transformative joy. You write the hi-jinx stuff fine too, but it doesn’t have the resonance, it doesn’t have the ‘THIS MATTERS’ bell that goes off when you read something real. I want to read further adventures of the DT, but I’d love to see you sink your teeth into a single protagonist YA. That’s what the Origin chapters and half your novel really were.

I liked most of the one-off characters, but Carradam just didn’t work well enough for me as a villain – maybe he’ll be better if he comes back as more of a Zenigata-type for the team. But he didn’t hold a candle to the witch, or Pho, or Tate’s avaricious mentor.

Loved the ‘interior’ dragon chapters, I wanted to experience the battle a little more from her perspective.

So get back to work and write me another book.

BREAKING – SyFy’s Pilot of ‘The Magicians’ Cancelled – Replaced with Spell/Sword Series Order

Syfylogo

Producers Janice Williams and Michael London announced today that they were halting production on the anticipated pilot immediately. The adaptation of Lev Grossman’s bestselling fantasy series had been gathering a great deal of interest and excitement from fans. Williams spoke to reporters, “Everything was going great. Casting, script-writing, sets were built. But then we came to work yesterday and found the power had been cut and a team of carpenters dismantling the front steps of Brakebills. All they would tell us is they had a work order to re-purpose the lumber for use on ‘Helix’.”

London added “It was a SyFy level decision – not us, we were going to show the world something special with this show.” The series was being produced by Universal Cable Productions.

the-magiciansWhen reached for comment, SyFy president, David Howe, just sort of shrugged in between bites of a massive roast beef sandwich, “We had hoped that Lev Grossman’s blend of magic and realism would capture the imagination of a new generation of viewers and further strengthen Syfy’s ownership of premium quality sci-fi fantasy drama. But then we realized CHOMP – this shit is depressing as hell. We already punish genre fans enough with our content, I don’t think we need to have a show that actively mocks them for liking the concept of Magic.”

To fill the gap in the upcoming schedule, SyFy has greenlit a 26-episode adaptation of Spell/Sword – a self-published fantasy novel currently ranked #2,108,408 on Amazon. Howe assured reporters that the book was ‘rad as hell’.

The author of Spell/Sword, and it’s even less well selling sequel The Riddle Box could not be reached for comment as he is currently embedded within a small plate of green Jell-O for reasons of national security.

Empty House

what make we

what mar we

in the formless air of the

nothing square?

shuttered, dustless

and sere

like a  hobbled

moonbeam or broken

cog.

i speak

i don’t but I speak

and light dribbles down my cheeks

and is lost in the cracks around my navel.

hard to remember

wax breaking, channel and signet gone

the ink

is poison.

Dust eats me

and I am alone.

I Have Only Read 1.5 Terry Pratchett Books.

The Color of Magic and Good Omens.

That’s it. That’s all I needed to know. That I would live my life writing in his shadow. That I would have to wait until I was not writing fantasy for a while before I could read more, because I would copy. Copy copy copy. Some without realizing, some with avarice and the bandit’s dagger bit between my teeth.

Artist -  Molly Crabapple

Artist – Molly Crabapple

I’m sure you’re surprised. The closest comparison people have had for my stuff is ‘Are you trying and failing to do some sort of weak-sauce Pratchett thing?’. And the answer is yes. Of course it’s yes. Even without reading more, he’s everywhere – his essays, his presence, the quiet vibration in the air when I write. I’m not the first explorer, far from. He marked these paths for me, he’s already traveled further than I ever will. He already said the things, he already made that joke, he already saw, he already wrote it better than I ever could. I’m a candle and he is a bonfire.

It made me jealous, it made me depressed, it made me feel safe. I struggled to articulate the core concept of my fiction for months, he laid it out in 1000 words thirty years ago. I seethe on the border of the city he built, a useless rebel. I stare at his mountain of work with pickle-green envy.

And now he is gone. He left as he wished, in the manner he chose.

And now the road is less. The way is less. The worlds beyond are darker, and the paths out of ours harder to find. His light remains but it is distant, like the time-phase of starlight. And I feel alone. I have his whole canon to enjoy one day and that is a blessing, but out here in the woods between the wind is colder and I am bereft of the traveler who I envied and barely knew. He left his light in a tower of words, but his campfire out here in the dark has gone out and all I can smell is smoke.

With temerity and gall I claim kinship, with grief I join my voice to all that mourn.