The Buzz-Saw

Setting out on a mission of revenge, the hero is told to dig two graves. One for the villain and one for himself. When setting out on a mission of self-promotion I have learned to dig eight graves.

One for me, one for my dignity, one for my pride, one for that random werewolf that always attacks me, two for anxiety because that sucker is portly and depression resurrects him on the regular. Two more just because I like digging. And the eighth grave for this entire metaphor.

So, to whit: anxiety is getting out of the grave, but I defeat the werewolf?

This is my problem, you see? I’m a writer and a communicator, but my preambles are deadly. Weaponized elocution right here.

I’m the self-published author of two fantasy novels. And promoting your self is part and parcel of the experience — and something that more and more people are becoming familiar with. You can’t wander into any social media space without seeing people hawking and flogging everything from albums to alcoholic cookies. It’s something that innumerable people will offer to instruct you on in never-ending neon-rimmed posts on Twitter and FB. As the arsenal of marketing feels ever more at our fingertips, it becomes easier and easier to feel dumb for not doing it right.

I feel pretty dumb.

But this really isn’t about self-promotion. It’s about the buzz-saw.

So you make a thing. A book, a record, a drawing, a video. And then you pick it up Buzz_sawin your arms and you look at it. You like it. It’s got problems, sure, but it’s a good thing. But now you have to get that thing to other people. Fortunately, the human race has equipped itself with the most potent communication tool in history. So you put it up.

And nothing happens. Except you walk right into the buzz-saw. The deafening un-sound of one droplet in a rainstorm.

You bring the thing up at parties. In casual conversations, in careful status updates designed to hide the sales payload, in fervent harangues over too much beer, you put it up. And nothing happens. The buzz-saw whirs and more sawdust flies off of you.

There is a certain weight you need to carry your thing forward. A certain percentage of your psyche you need at fighting form. The buzz-saw cuts that weight off you. If you’re not careful you are splinters before you realize it.

You put it up again. You read guides, you watch YouTube videos, you go to conferences. Everyone tells you how to carry the thing. How to get the thing to the other people. The buzz-saw whirs. You put the thing up three times a day, five times, ten. You blog-hop and tweet and podcast and jibber. You find sawdust in your pockets and crammed in the crevice of your car’s console. You can’t use the cup holder anymore there’s so much of it falling off you.

A lot of nights it’s just you and the thing. Huddled under the brown comforter and thumbing your phone through the endless places you want the thing to be. Wistfully weighing other people’s things — things no better or worse than your thing! — and feeling the buzz-saw bite.

And you can’t stop. Not now, not ever. Because if you do, no one else will carry the thing. That light will go out and not even the dark will notice.

So you keep walking into the buzz-saw. People help you of course, it’s not all disintegration. A new review, a friendly word, someone makes a thing because of your thing [!], you get a great idea for a new thing, or a new part of the old thing, or an old thing you can do in a new way. There’s a lot of us on this side of the lumber mill and you take strength from swapping scar-stories. I’m always astonished by those that live in the teeth of the buzz-saw, mashing those buttons with fever intensity. We all roll our eyes — but I also quietly give them the gunslinger nod. They are stronger than I or less fragile or just made of more wood.

I am mostly sawdust. I am chicken-shit. I barely get touched by those metal fangs and I’m reeling back on the ropes. But — and this is the important bit — I don’t stop. At least not yet. At least not yet.

So to all who press against the buzz-saw, with their thing cradled carefully in their arms, I salute you. To all those who cannot or will not press on, I salute you. To all the things, a toast. May we all pass the metal destroyer and watch our things fly beyond us into a wider world.

[This originally appeared on Medium – is anyone else over there? I don’t really know what that place is for, if you’re over there could you help me figure it out?

Spine of the World

Here it is. The tiny Post-It that keeps my universe knit together.

worldspine

I actually found this when tidying up my desk, I thought I had lost it. It’s not a lot of information, but I wasn’t looking forward to digging through the Lost Scrolls to recreate this. The next book I’ve got a new ‘scholar’ character planned that’s going to finally dish out all the crunchy world information that the kids be craving. There is an internal consistency to the narrative that is very important to me – even though it looks like I’m ignoring it most of the time.

That space in the middle there? That’s where it all goes. The Riddle Box and Asteroid Made of Dragons and however much more I can squeeze in there. Don’t worry, I’ll write small. [on the Post-It.]

http://ben-andrews.deviantart.com/

Sand & Tea

[Hit a big ‘end of disc’ moment in current Pathfinder campaign. Here’s the first little bit of the next story, and a fond adieu to some of the characters off on new adventures.]

Back in black I hit the sack
I been too long I’m glad to be back
Yes I am
Let loose from the noose
That’s kept me hanging about
I keep looking at the sky cause it’s gettin’ me high
Forget the hearse cause I’ll never die
I got nine lives cat’s eyes
Using every one of them and runnin’ wild
Cause I’m back
Yes I’m back well I’m back
Yes I’m back
Well I’m back back
Well I’m back in black
Yes I’m back in black
– Trollkin Drinking song, Traditional – Bard Unknown

The hounds and the thieves fell back into the world like a sack of potatoes tossed on the floor — all eyes and with a loud whump.

Several of the party coughed, as hot air and gritty sand blew into their mouths. They were surrounded on all sides by dunes made of yellow sand. They had landed in a small hollow between the dunes that gave some protection from the wind, but none from the heat. The wide face of the sun was well on its way to the far horizon, it would be night soon.

There was no sign of their quarry, the strange woman and her perilous sword. Only on the crest of a dune a few hundred paces to the west, a black discoloration could be seen in the sand.

Zed, or rather Bowman as it would soon become impossible to keep the Zeds straight without reverting to their Rainscour nicknames, shrugged the bound wizard, Janus, onto the sand as he stood up, putting a hand over his eyes to shade them.

rainscour“We didn’t see what we just saw. It’s preposterous. There’s no way we just saw the actual Sword of Ruin, right?” the notorious thief asked. “Someone please reassure me, just lie to me if you would be so kind.”

The other Zed, Dagger, laughed and hopped up as well. “If you like. It was just the Saber of Major Unpleasantness.”

The desert wind blew across the thieves and hounds alike, bearing with it the faintest smell of ash.

Somewhere Else

Lysander’s eyes popped open. For the first time in days his head felt clear – so frustrating to be in a wondrous place like Rainscour and then the starry void between worlds with a headache brought upon by dimensional distortion. The cleric sat up and looked around.

A few of his companions were nearby, most still unconscious from their escape from the shattering constellations. The only others awake were their savior, the steel-touched traveler Crim and and the tengu, Fletch. The magus Ozmen snored loudly against the bright blue tile of the plaza floor.

Lysander looked around – they were in a a plaza, not too dissimilar from the one they had sheltered in the strange streets of Rainscour. Where that city had been filled with rain, this place seemed to almost riot color and sunlight. The only water burbled joyously in the fountain, ringing against the sides of the marble with tranquil rhythm. Off in the distance, the cleric could make out the sound of construction – hammers on wood, hammers on stone, voices shouting instruction and derision as they went about their work.

From a nearby building with wide arched windows, a broad head topped with red hair furiously shout through with gray appeared. It appeared again at the next window, then the next, as if the person was making their way towards the entrance, but couldn’t resist looking out each window as he did.

At last, the short and stout figure of a dwarf appeared at the entrance, trotting with exuberance that belied his age towards the party. Crim stood up sorrowfully and waved, but most of his attention was focused on the shattered Jump-Node that he held in the crook of his elbow.

“Well, hellacious day, travelers!” the dwarf boomed as he approached. “You just made every doodad and scrying stone I have go bonkers. Hell of a leap you must’ve made from wherever you came from.”

Ozmen helped Fletch to his feet, both blinking their eyes at their strange new surroundings and the garrulous greeting party.

“Where is here?” Lysander’s mind reeled. “We’re from the world called Cynus, and we kind of jumped blind from the dimensional void. Is this Cynus, is this home?”

“Or could this be Turn?” Crim asked without hope. “I never met any dwarves there before but…

“Sorry, my new friends,” the dwarf smiled. “You’ve fallen victim to the Thief, I’m afraid. Our world is so greedy, it’s always plucking strays from all over the place. This is not your world, traveler – but we’ll do our best to make you feel at home. My name is Bragg – and while our world has many names, this city has but one. Welcome to Kythera! The City of Wonder left by the Precursors for us to explore. Now come on! You’ve got some stories to tell I imagine, and the tea just came to a boil before your portal got everything squawking at me back in the lab. They do have tea where you came from, I trust?”

Lysander felt himself smiling despite the strange situation. “Depends, do you have sugar here?”

“We do, lad. We do.” Bragg nodded sagely.

The lost travelers followed the dwarf to tea, and off into their own story which will find its own time to tell.

Query Letter on File

Dear Literary Agent of Sophistication and Skill,

I am the Alpha and Omega. Starlight is my rod and moonlight my robe. I can manifest Mr. Pibb only from places that Mr. Pibb should never emit. Lint fears me. All lint. It knows why. I am contacting you today because I have written a book and would like you to represent me to publishers. I have selected you for this task after your future self came to me in a dream and begged me for pistachio ice cream. You muttered something about the book, but it was indistinct as your mouth was full of green delicious.

The book in question is called Asteroid Made of Dragons. It is the third book in a

I look like this! Maybe we already know each other.

I look like this! Maybe we already know each other.

series of undisclosed number. It concerns the impending doom that threatens a planet stocked with fantasy cliches. This will be the most terrible of contrived apocalyptic scenarios — for after the asteroid hits and nuclear winter wraps the globe and crops die – there are also hundreds of concussed dragons. The main characters of the book have no knowledge of this dark fate as they are occupied with a bank robbery, unresolved murder charges from their past, confusion about their sexual awakening, a pan-dimensional witch cum narrative device, courtly intrigue, a lost recipe for Strawberry Tarts, and a team of hardened assassins that seek their death. They got their own shit to deal with, man. Will they save the world? Yeah, probably.

I have been cleverly subverting epic fantasy tropes for a few years now in foul obscurity. I’ve already unleashed the first two novels of my genre-mangling series, Spell/Sword and The Riddle Box. It’s too late for you to represent those, you missed out. Too bad you weren’t following my Tumblr feed in 2012. I have published no short stories and do not intend to. Published authors like [REDACTED] and [REDACTED]  have read a few pages of my stuff and responded with extreme tact but obvious concern. I am a danger to myself, the fantasy genre, and linear thought itself. I must be stopped. But I cannot be stopped. [I can probably be stopped.] You should only consider representing me if you  are interested in forever altering the DNA of the fantasy genre and dying alone in poverty and misery.

You have been warned and also enticed. I stand ready in my Dreaming Chamber to commune with you. Do you prefer emeralds or onyx as a resonator?

G. Derek Adams

Writer of Minotaur Poetry

First Three Chapters

Spell/Sword

The Riddle Box

Asteroid Made of Dragons [soon]

[I’m self-published, but traditional publishing most definitely has an allure. I watched Seth Fishman’s broadcast about query letters from the Worldbuilders charity and found it very helpful and responded with this garbage. This is the query letter I wish I could send. I am certain it will be helpful to anyone attempting to write their own!]

My Wizard Throne

WhiteKnight-chesspieceSometimes I sit on my wizard throne. Not often, but sometimes. I pull the cowl of my cloak down over my eyes and I slouch against the high arms made of steel and basalt. Then idly I gaze at the windows that hover about me. They float in the air, held up only by chance. Some of the windows are clear, some covered with shadow.

I see Jonas and Rime tromping down the hill that leads them away from the Heart-Broken Lion. I see Caliban and Slade battling the wraith in their pajamas. I see David Brown tossing cigarettes in the back of his Buick, caring not at all if they are dead or aflame. I see Agnar carrying a soused summoner back to his over-sized bed in the Captain’s quarters. I see the Blank army marching over the hills of Turn.

ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROPA. – 2010

The sands of the Descabellado blow through one window and sing of secrets still waiting in the sand. Another window the gray-edged Cynus, another window the stone-ship Jocasta and the Crown of Might. I scratch my chin and peer farther at the windows on the edge of the light. Talitha singing among the stars, Lucas dying in the White Garden, the broken laughter of the Circle and their hula-hoops, the Tractor and His Boy, the monster-makers and their crumb-filled van.

I try to see beyond even these but I fail. Out there is the Gray Witch’s domain and I have no power there.

And again – the closest mirror. Were they windows before? The mirror, the Dragon’s Eye blinks at me and I see Jonas and Rime. It’s all about context. Future? Past? I don’t even know anymore. Does it matter? Will it matter? I’m sorry I whisper, I’m the only head you have.

I slip from my wizard throne, or it fades. I keep my cowl down tight, pulling with both hands until it frays and splits. Then I am just me again. The dogs need food and that dish has been in the sink for three days and I can feel the stress in my neck and the weight on my heart. Wizards don’t do well with bank accounts. I can stride through dimensional boundaries and the very fabric of Time at will but here I am tired and tired and just don’t know.

I need to write faster. So many mirrors, so many riddles, so many lines in the dark. I need to write faster.

Podcast Appearance!

first-cover-copy

My friend and boon companion, Brent Thomas, invited me to appear on his podcast where we discussed Rat Queens, scandals thereof, Villains by Necessity, and about 14 other topics.

Comics League International – Episode 6

This was a ton of fun – mainly because that jerk lives in Japan and we rarely get the opportunity to speak the Nerd Cant. His podcast is focused on exploring comics and our relation to them, but he’s also a fantasy author himself. Check his blog for his short fiction and keep your eye peeled for his debut novel, The Deadly Troubadours.