Sunday, April 27, 2008

Title Decision

I think I've come up with the final solution for the titles of These Roman Stories. (Thanks need to go out to Keanan Brand, who reminded me of things I already knew.) The three extant stories will be called:

Sunset at the End of Empire
Storm Clouds at the End of Empire
Fire and Blood at the End of Empire

'Fire and Blood' now has a thousand word opening scene that I rolled out this morning. It is set in Rome a few years after the second story and it contains angry mobs, angry priests, and angry Praetorian Guards. That, my friends, is the quickest way I know to get both fire and blood.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Spark for Raven Kill


This is the Skykomish River in Index, WA, from the deck of a cabin that my friends and I go to every now and again. Two years ago it was the inspiration for a cold, lonely river that one man had to guard with his life.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Advancement on Every Front Except a Title

That Second Roman Story Set Entirely In Greece has been molded into second draft form and is starting to look like a finished piece; or rather, a finished piece with no title. I've incorporated some most excellent advice and broadened the Meaning of the Story in a way that continues my examination of the end of an Empire. Still haven't heard anything back from Serpentarius about the first Roman story and now something is wrong with their website. I'm hoping everything works out OK, and by that I mean I hope I get an answer soon because if it's a rejection then the reading period for Paradox magazine is opening up in May.

On the third Roman story, I've got the basic scene list done and tonight I struck upon a couple of great ideas regarding plot and secondary characters. If done correctly, it could even lead to a fourth story. It seems that every time I start looking a few years down the line in Late Roman Imperial history I find another juicy fact that can form the basis of a plot.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Begotten by Lisa T. Bergen

It's time for another CSFF tour. This month we have The Begotten by Lisa T. Bergen. It's a Christian speculative historical fiction piece that pits good versus evil amidst the Spanish Inquisition. Here's a quote from the book's website:

"In his two years as a knight of the Church, they had burned at the stake a score of sinners. As each died, Gianni de Capezzana could not determine whether any were any less saint than he. This one was different."

Great stuff. As a matter of fact, based on the excerpt where Gianni has his first encounter with the Sorcerer, I went to amazon.com and bought a copy. You should too.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Son Number Two: Budding Website Designer

The internet has a peculiar way of shrinking the distance between thought and action. Hence, Son Number Two's Latest Web Page Based on His Current Interest.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Return of the Sword Promotion Day

There's a lot of buzz over at the BraggingRites Yahoo! Group about Return of the Sword today. A while back there were some Top Ten Lists compiled for a blog tour and I thought I'd throw in my own list just for the heck of it.

The 10 Lists That Didn’t Make It Into the Return of the Sword Promotion ‘Lists of 10 Things’

1. 10 Ways to Know You’re 10 Seconds From Getting Your Head Chopped Off
2. 10 Tender Places That Hurt the Most When Pierced by Daggers
3. Rorshach’s 10 Favorite Blood Spatter Tests
4. The 10 Best One Liners to Say to a Freshly Created Corpse (Wait, I think that one did make it.)
5. 10 Goofy Ways to Arrange Entrails
6. 9 Great Sword and Sorcery Novels
7. 10 Bad Things to Hide in Grok the Barbarian’s Bedroll
8. The 10 Most Influential Ancient Methodologies and Their Impact on Post-Neo-Modern-Classicalism Synergistic Writing Optimization
9. Beer to Blood: 10 Techniques for Instigating Mass Chaos Among Tavern Patrons
10. How to Fillet an Orc in 10 Easy Steps

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Rhode Island Residents Can Win Free Sex

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Just Doing Their Part

My kids are outside right now contributing to the downfall of American civilization. They have set up a stand in the front yard with a sign advertising 'Suicide Drinks' for 25 cents. They have concocted a horrid brew out of water, slugs, glue, and dirt and have labeled it for its likely result upon quaffing.

There must be a bad influence in their lives somewhere. If only I could find it...

RotS Reviews VII

The classic tale presented at the end of Return of the Sword is "Red Hands" by Harold Lamb. It's a good story but it demonstrates some of the problems of old classics. First, the word choices and phraseology are unfamiliar and I found myself just skimming over some sentences and trying to pick up the meaning in context, which was not always easy to do. Second, old books, stories, movies, etc. tend to meander for a while before starting in on the action. This one is no different. The guts of the story is a battle against river pirates. The two characters who meet for the first time and join the fight go through three or four pages of introduction that were interesting enough to read but in my opinion unnecessary. Third, old stories were usually the first to do such and such, which is why they became classics, but by the time we get around to reading them they may seem old hat. The plot twists have been played out in other stories and the characters have been portrayed several times before. That doesn't make "Red Hands" a bad story, it just means that it's now a classic; it has value as a story that was king of it's day but... a new day has dawned.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

RotS Reviews VI

An Uneasy Truce in Ulam-Bator- This is an amazing story because it is plainly evident that the authors had great fun writing it. The introduction explains that Allen B. Llyod and William Clunie began this collaborative writing process over some Chinese food at a favorite restaurant and it shows. It’s a very well written story that contains a series of fortunate and not so fortunate events. I can envision them sitting across the table from each other saying, “Then this happens.” “No, wait, then this happens!” “Yeah, yeah, that’s good.” The result is a couple of characters that make the best out of whatever situation they find themselves in. A clever plot coupled with a wry sense of humor which is believable and not campy. An excellent read.

The Mask Oath- Steve Goble has crafted an impressive story about duty, honor, and the things that really matter. This is a powerful tale about the son of a wizard hunting down the demons that his father released. I’m not talking about metaphorical demons like alcoholism or child abuse, I’m talking about real friggin’ demons. You can’t stick the head of anger management issues on a spike outside the city gates can you? Of course not! God bless sword & sorcery. Flying blood, flying body parts! Terrific story.

Valley of Bones- We end the new stories in this anthology with a military tale from Bruce Durham. As a United States Marine I know what it’s like to stand with your comrades and face an onslaught of undead beasts and pagan magicks. Well, that might be stretching the truth just a bit but I know the mind of a military man. The interactions between the soldiers are spot on. The sergeant character is perfectly done. (Really, so much can be revealed in a man by the way he says, “Steady, boys.”) The hero is a typical soldier, doing his job. As always, that job includes acts of unimaginable heroism when the opportunity presents itself. In the span of a few moments you can go from grumbling about the pay and the food to saving the civilized world. All in a days work.

The last story in the book is a classic by Harold Lamb that has likely been reviewed before. So there you have it. That's the anthology. It's awesome. Go buy it.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Battle Reviewed

Holy smokes! This is an excellent review by Richard Marcus of Blogcritics Magazine. I got all giddy inside while reading it. What an amazing few days this has been! I'm great, I suck, I'm great again. Tomorrow I'll likely suck again. Yea!!!

BTW, still nothing from Rhode Island. What do I have to do, fly out there and log in myself?

RotS Reviews V

Claimed by Birthright- A great story, cleverly written. It takes on the age old question of who would win a duel between a sorcerer and a barbarian. What may first strike you as an incredibly contrived scenario of an arena duel featuring Barbarian King Brom versus, in the red corner, Mage Lord Kahzvax instead turns out to be well told tale. The chief string puller in the story has maneuvered his puppets into place and while he is a bit of a cardboard character, the other two are real enough and the fight is believable enough to make the clever ending all the more satisfying. You’ll like this one a lot.

The Hand That Holds the Crown- This one is outstanding. I loved every sentence, every word. It is now on the top of the list as the best of the book. A classic tale of two half brothers dueling for the crown. The fight scene between them is one of the best yet. All the brutality and cunning savagery of desperate single combat is played out by the author, Nathan Meyer. The writing is solid, the settings are vivid, and the characters are clearly drawn. I knew it was good from paragraph one but the last two pages really cinched it up for me. Outstanding in every way.

The Dawn Tree- A well told, powerful story that reads like mythic fable. Perhaps a little out of place in a sword and sorcery anthology but it is good enough to hold its own and the two main characters have some outstanding scenes with each other. Our intrepid hero, Dermanassian the desert elf, takes up the quest of replanting the Dawn Tree by escorting the tree’s guardian to a suitable location. There’s one problem though; the four Elementals have joined forces in order to destroy the Tree before it is planted. This leads to a battle royale at the end but of course everything winds up happy happy. Or does it?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr. and the American Dream

Today, for the first time, I read Letter From a Birmingham Jail and the entire text of the I Have a Dream speech. If you can read those, in a quiet moment without distraction, and not get a tear in your eye then hand me your citizenship and start packing because you don't belong here. I'm just sorry it took me so long to figure that out.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Witch Rejection

EDF rejected "The Witch of the Westmoors" just in time to bring me back down to some humble reality. I'm very thankful to Jordan Lapp for his comments and I think I can make the piece better because of them. For some bizarre reason, I was starting to feel like I could do no wrong and that everything I wrote must be in its perfect form. This is a dangerous place for a writer to be. Artistically you become like Terry Goodkind.

So I will revise a few things that I had fallen in love with despite excellent advice that suggested said love was misplaced. Luckily it is flash fiction and the revising will not take long. Then it's back to the submission rounds with a more firmly grounded sense of self.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Rough Draft Edges Closer to the Cliff

The rough draft for That Second Roman Story Set Entirely in Greece is dangerously close to committing suicide by throwing itself off the Cliff of First Draft Completion. Tomorrow morning I will have worked out the last scene and all remnants of its rough draftism will be gone. To mix my metaphors, I'm glad this one simmered as long as it did. It's coming together like a nice pot of chili instead of a microwaved Hot Pocket. But of course this means I have to come up with a title for it and that hasn't been easy with these Roman stories. I've also started outlining a Third Roman Story with our protagonist, Apollo Valerius Delphinius, and this one is Set Mostly If Not Entirely In Rome. Details will follow as they always do.

BTW, still nothing from Rhode Island. What's up with those guys?