Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Center Can and Will Hold

No, I'm not talking about the great center of our country that is being pounded by the current financial crisis and the labyrinthine bailout proposal. I'm talking about the center of 'River of Bones' that I embarked on this morning. I'm up to 2400 words and the hero is about to take a short cut through some mysterious hills in order to gain on the people he's pursuing. Trouble with shortcuts in a fantasy world: they usually lead through a Very Dangerous Place. The particular test and trial that the hero has to go through once he gets there is forming in my mind. My bet is that there will be grumpiness, a variety of weapons of opportunity, a severed limb or two, and hurt feelings. That, my friends, is heroic fantasy gold.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Marcher Lord Press

This month's CSFF Tour takes us to where the map ends. An ambitious undertaking by industry veteran Jeff Gerke is launching next month, called Marcher Lord Press. It aims to produce excellent Christian speculative fiction and get it into the hands of as many people as possible. The launch consists of three books that span the broad genre and we wish him the best of luck as more titles come out in the near future.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

River of Bones

The new story I'm writing has a working title of "River of Bones." (Because I wanted to start writing it and needed a title so that was what came to mind when I entered down to the place in the middle of the first page that needs a title.) I'm not sure how I will work that in or whether or not I even want to. That leads me to opine about spur of the moment working titles. Sometimes they're drivel and sometimes they're inspired. You don't really know which one you've got until the story is finished but I find it interesting that my fling with the subconscious has produced a catchy title. I'm sort of wondering what kind of story will come of it because I really don't have a good visual of what it means. Hopefully that will come about as I go. Right now I have a strong opening scene and an emotionally charged final scene but no story in between. (That's never stopped me before.)

Anyhow, I'm up to 2100 words as of this morning. The main character's name is Rath and he is searching for something dear to him. Rath is the protagonist in the last story that I wrote a month ago called "Thunder Canyon." What? You say you've never heard of that story even though you're a devoted reader? There's a reason behind that and I'll reveal it later. Right now all you need to know is that I really love Rath and the dramatic nature of his circumstance.

I still plan on finishing the Third Roman Story and I have an idea for a follow up to "The Battle of Raven Kill" which will explain Oth's origin. But... I know how I write and when something is hot I allow the keyboard to receive the pounding it deserves. Otherwise there would be no progress at all.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Details, Details

One of the submissions for Rage of the Behemoth I read lately had an interesting problem with it. As writers, we always strive to provide our readers with enough details to make the story come alive. We want them to see, smell, feel, hear, and taste what the hero is going through. We want them to know what the hero's hopes, motivations, and fears are. We want them to understand enough of the setting so that the action makes sense. We do this by providing details relating to all these things so the reader can build the picture in his or her mind. Sounds simple enough.

The problem becomes picking out what details to put in and what details to leave out. In any scene there are a million things happening and to put them all in would make a story unreadable. We just can't focus on too many things at once. The submission in question struck me as over detailed and with the wrong details. There were too many descriptions of unimportant characters and they came too soon in the tale. I felt like I was listening to the Brady Bunch theme song: "Here's a story, Of a boat of raiders, Twelve in all and looking for a fight..." It was too much to keep straight.

I suppose the only way to guard against this is to have some good beta readers that can point out what the author has lost focus on. While us writers can see all kinds of things in our mind's eye, we need to be able to pick out the relevant things and put them in a context that a reader can follow all while telling a compelling story. This ain't always easy, folks, but it's why we get paid the big bucks.

Monday, September 15, 2008

MindFlights Stikes Again

The good people over at MindFlights have uncovered another good story. It is The City on the Rock by Andrew Cooper and it's one that I can readily identify with. You have the Captain of the Guard, family man with responsibilities who's trying to get by in a city on a downward spiral, who uncovers the evil source of his hometown's misfortune. It needs to be fixed and he fixes things his way, with a sword and a strong arm. Throw in a couple grotesque villains and bloody demises and it makes for some excellent reading. This looks like a good start for young Cooper; the MindFlights crew was wise to snap this story up.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

More Fun With Words

A couple of fun things today. I sold my flash fiction piece called "The Witch of the Westmoors" to Abandoned Towers. It is set just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Raven Kill and features a vaguely recognizable character from before. More on that later.

I also have compiled about 1200 words towards a new story with what is turning out to be my favorite protagonist. More on that later as well.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

That Roman Story Finds a Home

Over the weekend I successfully sold "Sunset at the End of Empire" to a new market called Abandoned Towers. It is scheduled for their second print issue sometime next spring. This is a particularly satisfying sale because I really love These Roman Stories. They are great fun to write and to research. The hero, Apollo Valerius Delphinius, is a man who knows the end is coming and he will do what he must to preserve the good in order to benefit the future. Although the sun is setting on his empire, he knows the night that follows can be shortened.