Wordy-type Makings: A Blog Hop

 

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And now I catch the baton from my friend and sadly distant conspirator, Leigh from her blog Fun Things To Do While You Are Waiting. You absolutely should navigate your web-machine to her and Coralie’s site – it’s a lifestyle blog with tons of crafty adventures and receipes — much more regularly updated than my site. I’m terrible at these blog chain letter sort of things – the fun premise will quickly descend into navel-gazing, but I’ll try to keep it frothy.

What am I working on? 

I am working on the final re-writes and edits on The Riddle Box, the sequel to my previous novel Spell/Sword.   I’m hoping to have it ready to publish in another month or two. This brings to a close several months of editing — AKA the part I hate. I’m very excited to get it out there for people to read – but more excited to be able to start work on the third book, working title: Asteroid Made of Dragons.

Side projects — writing for three Pathfinder campaigns, game prep, world information, and forum play.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’ve expounded on this at great length in the past, but let me boil it down. I’m a special snowflake and everything I do is unique and wonderful.

The name I’ve given it is ‘Swordpunk’, but through my research I’ve found that Terry Pratchett has a much better term for it – the ‘consensus fantasy universe’ – that place we all understand instinctually without need for qualification or endless description. Dragons can fly and are mean, a hero with a sword is generally a good thing to have on hand, witches are potent, elves have pointy ears, etc. etc. etc. As much as I love the current heights of epic fantasy [Martin, Rothfuss, Sanderson, Abercrombie] – I’ve grown weary of the genre taking itself so seriously. Also by traipsing in this ‘consensus’ universe, I don’t have to waste any time or reader brain wattage to re-invent the wheel. We can jump right in and get to the action.

Also my work is not particularly popular, so there’s that.

 Why do I write what I do? 

HRMMM. That’s kind of a brain bender. I don’t know if that’s even the sort of questions I’m equipped to answer. Who knows what strange events and mental misadventures have resulted in my own particular output?

I do know that the forms of fantasy make sense to me. As a writer you’re usually trying to express something – something simple, or something profound – and you grab whatever tools are at hand to get the point across. Swords make sense to me, magic is the perfect metaphor. I think if I tried to write a story set in modern day about emotions, or culture, or banking — I would only make it a few thousand words before goblin-gunners start erupting from storm drains or roc’s land on the top of city buses.

The fun part of my work is I’m absolutely certain there’s some grand point I’m trying to get across — but I’m usually mystified about what exactly it’s supposed to be. I stumble into bits and pieces of the message as I keep rambling on, but completely by accident. My crafty subconscious has something to say, but it whispers in hindsight, in the corners of things.

Spell/Sword  is the pilot episode, so a lot of its energy is spent on getting my heroes together and starting some plates a-spinning that won’t resolve until years in the future – but I like to think there’s a nice through-line about Friendship. The Riddle Box is much more on point as I grapple with my thoughts on depression, and the sick, strange madness that haunts all human endeavor.

How does my writing process work?

I am a ‘discovery writer’ as the lugubrious buzz-term goes. I don’t plot or outline in advance, though I do have a skeleton plot in my head — or rather I have big moments and fight scenes like sign posts on the road ahead. Spell/Sword I had only the most basic of ideas of where I was heading – The Riddle Box, as a murder mystery, I had to know ‘whodunnit’ so I could reverse-engineer the plot. I know outlining is king if you want to truly focus on a marketable product – but I couldn’t go to work if I knew every twist and turn, half the fun is getting to see these moments for myself.

Beyond that, I try not to fetishize my process in any way. I don’t have a set time, or place, or a special mug that I have to have with me. I set myself easy deadlines, of between 5-10 pages a week [depending on the insanity of the rest of my life] and get to typing. I write when I have time between work and home, just as long as I’ve turned in my pages by the end of the week, everything’s kosher. Admittedly, I’m bad about putting it off until Friday or Saturday and jamming out that week’s allotment in one quick stretch. If I get in a groove and write more than my allotment – that’s great! – but I can’t bank anything in advance. Each week is always 5 pages more than where I ended the previous week. I write chronologically — mostly because I have to ‘discover’ the scene, but partly because if I wrote all the fun stuff first, I’d never go back and write the connective tissue.

That’s it – I just keep chugging along until I get to the end. [Or at least what I think is the end.]

 

Huzzar! I have completed my blog hop — of course, I haven’t had the forethought to get anyone else to take the next leg from me. So,  yeah — any of you want to take the next leg? Ping me in the comments for my thanks and blessings.

Absentia

2014-04-14 13.57.20Okay, Oklahoma! is complete and as I slowly nurse the post-show hangover and emotional detritus, time to start sorting through the rubble of the rest of my life. Big things on the horizon for The Riddle Box as I finish the final re-writes, start getting the first drafts of the cover design – I had my first public appearance ever as a writer at Avid Bookshop, here in Athens – that was a crazy thing that happened. Participating in a ‘bloghop’ next week, got three Pathfinder games to prep, a new house to find and rent, visits to plan, and dishes dishes dishes laundry laundry laundry.

Sometimes I wonder about the gigantic energy dump that directing a show is — it effectively puts everything else creative in my life on hold. As I start to get more and more involved in the writing aspect of the manga-adaptation of a Faulkner novel that is my life, I do wonder if it’s something I’m going to be able to keep doing as – hopefully – writing and promoting myself will require more and more energy. I find directing enormously satisfying – but as with most art I do – there’s also some odd psyche resonance and strange internal machinery involved that leaves me feeling a bit odd in the wake of it.

But yeah, expect more rambling in this space.

You Are Not Cooler than Oklahoma! [.]

The following is not for those who have a problem with foul language or musical theater.

I see you. I see you right now. Running your eyes over the bright, shiny art for our production of Oklahoma! - I can see your expression, the little twist too your lips, the ever-so-slight eye-roll. Oh, this show. It’s so hokey, so old-fashioned, so…cough cough…lame.

Click this image for tickets.

Click this image for tickets.

You feel supremely confident in this judgement. You take a sip of your fucking Cherry Sprite and go back to yawning your way through your John Green subreddit. It feels good, doesn’t it? Dismissing a faded old chestnut of a show, putting thing in their proper cultural context enlivens your nightly spank-session. The semen-encrusted sock of your aesthetic judgement is a treasured possession that you clasp tightly each night as a Velveteen Rabbit of Irony. It is so pleasant to completely judge and abandon a work of art without any effort or exposure, like knocking  the bowl of broccoli casserole off your high-chair so you don’t have to taste it.

You are in a high chair because you are a baby.  You are a baby in this metaphor. With a  baby face and baby hands and baby drool going down your baby chin.

Well, I am here to tell you something. You are not cooler than this show. I know it is horrible to consider that you might enjoy spirited dancing, bright melodies, and broad humor. I know you think you’ve seen all this show has to offer because you saw a high school production 10 years ago. I know how easy and precious it is to slot this show into your ever growing pile of ‘Art I Don’t Have an Immediate Affinity For or Societal Pressure to Experience, So Why Bother When I Can Watch Netflix and Begin My Slow Descent Into Utter Cultural Stagnation’.

I’m assuming you read this far because you like musical theater. Pick a show, any show — trace the genealogy back and you’ll find Oklahoma! winking at you. Characters that reveal their emotions directly through song? Songs used to advance the plot? The synthesis of different styles of performance and dance in unexpected ways? Shivorees?

You may laugh in your cyclone of pretension and empty fucking souled rumination — but I tell you this show is beautiful. Silly, yes. Dated, yes.  Kind of like Beethoven’s Ninth you miserable pustule of cynicism. The form, the shape, the stage language, the music, the movement of its internal pieces – it is something wonderful to behold, you jaded Ass McNugget. As long as human culture exists this piece of art will be performed – I suggest you find a way to open your mind a wee, tiny crack and experience it the way it should be. Live band,  gifted performers, and no excuses.

Fuck. Just fucking…just fucking watch the goddamn show you incandescent shit-squeeze.

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! Will be performed April 4th-13th at the Town&Gown Players in Athens, GA. Ticket information at the link above. 

That We are Underlings

Spell/Sword Kindle version on sale .99 until the Ides of March.

Play that invisible piano.

Play that invisible piano.

Enjoy the book, now back to stress whirlwind.

Amazon

The First Time We Saw Her

A quiet house, a quiet street. These are rare things in the gnome city of Spice, the Underneath Wonder, the Kitchen Sink of Possibility. Gnomes are not known for their reserve or their placidity – not in architecture nor  in decorum.  An odd race with preposterous origins they delight in creation, invention, and discovery. Each house an adventure, a riot of red brick and gleaming neon next to a circular wooden palisade surrounded by orange roses. A miniuature castle built on top of a slightly larger castle, a tree fort where the leaves are kites, an empty grass lot with nothing besides a red sleeping bag and fifteen gray rabbits nibbling away. The streets of Spice are equally as likely to feature a nude poetry slam, an impromptu cooking contest, a cross-city game of Freeze Tag, and a hotly contested riddle-sing as the mundane traffic of work and market.

In the City of Oddments, normal is the bizarre. In the Town of Tura-lura-ay, quiet is an unwelcome stranger.

But still, a quiet house and quiet street. The house was large, a sweeping bluestone with wide windows. A friendly place, a children warren, the marks of young gnomes are everywhere in forgotten chalk drawings on the walls and semi-functional doorknobs and shower curtains wrenched askew by the unknown sagas of youthful adventure.  Perhaps it is the late hour that makes it so quiet, even gnomes must sleep – the better to dream a better world to make when they burst forth into the waking hours of their lives. The scratchy symphony of a double-dozen snores came from the open windows. The children are asleep, all the lights are out, it is quite late. Perhaps this is why it is so quiet in the quiet house and the quiet street.

But that is not the reason.

One window glows golden in the cool evening. A golden doorway, soon darkened by a crouched, dark shadow.tumblr_mgqcbmR67N1ro1qj8o1_500

Carbunkle looked up from his chair and hookah without surprise. The shadow hesitated at the window-sill, seeming to dim the shining lamp-light. The Black Moon was full, or Maero as her name was now known. The old librarian could not see the moon, but he knew it was there all the same. Just as he had known the quiet and made sure his sometime-squeeze Scarlet and her filthy monkey would not stop in for a visit tonight.

“I’m always a little surprised to find this window open,” the shadow said, flipping its legs over into the room.

Carbunkle said nothing, just took a slow drag from his hookah. This conversation, or one like it, had repeated itself a few times across the months and years, his visitor would come to the point without any assistance.

“Yes, I know I always say that,” black-glass eyes glittered with ferocious amusement. “As I know you take great delight in thinking yourself the cleverer one.”

The shadow edged itself into the room, keeping one claw on the window sill — as if for comfort, to keep escape close at hand. It wore only a scrap of  white fabric, rough-edged. It’s skin was obsidian. It seemed to find the simple lamplight disgusting, like a haze or foul stench.

“I don’t even really know why I return here, why we have these little chats from time to time. I have work enough, great works and discoveries beginning to bud out there in the world. I and my brethren sing to the moons and dance with them. It is so beautiful, so beautiful. I wish you could see it, it is ..astonishing..no more, an astonishment. Wonder, endless wonder spreading like ivy across the unknowing world.”

Carbunkle began to reply, but his shadow forged ahead.

“I often wonder if yours was the better choice, but when I doubt I just look on the face of my Dark Lady. And then I am sure.” The shadow smiled and cocked its head to one side. “But on some nights…like this one…”

The old librarian nodded agreement from his chair. They both knew what night this was.

“Do you still remember…” the shadow reluctant turned to look out the window. “Do you still remember the first time we saw her?”

Carbunkle sighed and nodded.

“Please. Please tell me,” the shadow implored. “I know I’ve asked this again and again, but tell me. Tell me again. This time I’ll remember, this time I’ll hold it longer. I remembered the anniversary, I remembered the exact day. The day she died. This year, at least.  Now please, please tell me.”

The old librarian looked at the dark thing, at his shadow, at the Other Choice and made himself smile. He smiled because this pain he understood quite well.

And so he told the story again. About Saraghina, the Sorceress Supreme. The day they saw her walking through the library, how they saw her pull a pack of ginger cookies from her sleeve and nibble on them as she read,  the greatest wonder of all  - that such a luminous being could eat cookies and spill crumbs and be real. He told the story again in the quiet night, on the quiet street – between golden lamp and dark moon. The two remembered together.

And then the shadow was gone and Carbunkle locked the window tight behind it.

 

Egads!

2014-03-05 17.08.32Aye, forsooth! This bloggery has been a trifle thin of late. I come not to praise the lapse, but bury the hatchet. Your gentle author’s head is o’er crammed with projects both mundane and fantastical and time to devote to this shining square is easily counted on the head of an ant. [ITS REAL SMALL SON.] Worry not for things of great import and moment lurch forward to the flimsy present. A special discount on the Spell/Sword ebook next week. Editing on The Riddle Box continues apace, a rare life appearance in the misty future.

Hold me in your hearts if we be friends, or at the very least in your gentle kidneys if we be casual acquaintances.

 

Titan’s Wake – The Story So Far

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Shining cities and tower tall,
broken at its feet they fall.
The Titan, red ash and smoke
in Cataclysm’s voice it spoke.
Then nothing but sand and wind
and death.

Then at last in caverns deep
The dwarves were first to break their sleep.
Their Empire rose in steel and stone,
bending all hidden in sand alone,
to kneel and bow to
the Lion Throne.

The Roots of Stone patient stand
until Dragon curse from human hand,
bit and tore at Secret Seal.
Druid-child born to heal,
led companions brave
across the sands.

There they found in canyon’s peace
a giant with crystal-heart to cease.
Bitter miles and hidden fear,
full of doubt but purpose clear.
They broke the heart,
to break the curse.

No curse they broke, and cursed their own
The sacred Roots a tomb of stone.
By Dragon-Word they slipped away,
awoke in chains both black and gray.
The Machine-City of Zero,
where the Dream sleeps.

Tales they heard and songs of light,
their learned much of Zero’s spite.
A story of a different sort,
the gods own ruin by Dreamers thwart.
Undo the Titan, free every mind,
at Dragons’ return.

With brittle lies and fortunes blessed,
the heroes fled from the Dreamers’ nest.
They brought their strange tales and questions meet,
to lay at Sunset Company’s feet:
The Final Seal is found,
Zero rides.

Under sand and over stone they flew,
up spire and in air they knew,
the Temple Unknown, invisible and sure
they fell upon harsh knowledge, pure.
The Mask of Six found
a new bearer.

And there they fought against the Dream
Red blood flew against Sunset’s gleam.
Fleeing death and Zero’s might
the Mask unleashed a blazing flight.
Far to the west,
beyond the moon.

Led on by words of sleeping hand,
they journeyed west to a frozen land.
Beyond the desert, beyond the glade
Seeking for both Guide and Blade.
In Raven’s Hall,
they claimed them both.

Snow and mountain spire,
their path lead to secret fire.
A hidden temple amongst the snows,
where secrets wait and death’s wind blows.
The machine flickers to life,
and the Mask shines with fervor.

Careful now, you heroes bold
for what you find down in the cold.
It’s hidden heart slowly beats
Power does not die, it only sleeps.
Words and tales and songs and lies,
the empty choice is hero’s prize.
Make your way or make your grave,
the blindfold-man is Fortune’s slave.

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