Friday, June 27, 2008

Rage of the Slush Reader

OK, well I wouldn't quite call it rage but perhaps 'mildly irked.' So far I can only find one story that I can give a recommendation to. It was good enough to pass up the chain but even that one lacked oomph. This anthology is called Rage of the Behemoth. That means there should be some raging behemoths, people! This isn't called Sunny Bunny and the Happy Day. Can someone please write a story where we see some destruction on a city-wide scale?

Anyway, here's a quick writing tip that I pulled from one of the submissions. It falls along the lines of knowing how your story is going to come out and making sure the characters drive it there with no distractions. This story had the main character follow a map to a dungeon complex in order to find a treasure. That's a pretty basic plot that works for a lot of great fiction. The characters then fight their way through traps and demons and such and come to the conclusion of their quest. They find out that they need to give their map to someone in the complex. The author then wastes two or three sentences describing how one of the main characters went back out to the horses to get the map. Here's the tip: You have to be smarter than your story. Sure, it's quite realistic to not have an Important Thing when you come to an Important Point in real life. But as an author, you don't have time to waste with this unless there's something nasty waiting outside with the horse clutched in its blood soaked jaws. It's not difficult, just have the character slip the map into a pocket. Shoot, you can even (shocking gasp) rewrite the scene so the forgetful character remembers to do it.

Just trying to help.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Raspberry Slushies Anyone?

I've been brought on board the editorial team of Flashing Swords Press as a member of the Prose Acquisitions cell. I tried to get the title of Vice President, Fiction Acquisition Directorate but that was a non starter. Basically I read the slush and give recommendations to the editor, Jason Waltz. The stories I'm reading are intended for publication in the new anthology Rage of the Behemoth. There're two things people ought to know about the kinds of stories we're looking for. 1) The behemoth needs to rock the house. Hard. 2) The characters need to have something to emotionally connect with. Aspiring writers need to understand that while we're looking for epic action and mass casualties there's nothing of interest if the reader can't connect with a character and live the tale through them. This is Storytelling 101, folks, and it's necessary to get past me. There are a few other requirements and they can be found here. Follow them and I'm sure you'll knock my socks off.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

You Will All Die

I was watching the classic Star Trek episode "The Lights of Zetar" last night. Why I was watching Star Trek when I had other work to do is not really important. Most of the family was in and out of the room and taking every opportunity to comment on the horrible acting. (We decided that the bad actors must have been on purpose. They are the only way to make William Shatner look brilliant.) Anyhow, the guest star of the week was inhabited by a bunch of sparkly lights that were some kind of collection of life forms. Kirk was having a conversation with them through the possessed crew member when she delivered the best line of her performance: "You will all die!" The family got a good laugh out of the melodrama and repeated it a few times. Then, out of the blue, Son Number Three belts out "ALL DIE!" The round of laughter he got cemented that line into his vocabulary and he kept shouting it in his deepest little two year old voice. What made it funnier was the karaoke machine in the corner that he knows how to turn on. Why we have a karaoke machine in the living room is not really important but it was stinkin' hilarious. With the reverb turned way up he kept shouting "ALL DIE!" as loud as he could. Good clean family fun.

Monday, June 23, 2008

CSFF June Tour

This month's tour is for the book Vanished by Kathryn Mackel. She writes novels that have been called Christian Horror and I know that some people probably think that can't possibly be possible. Well, that's because they've been raised on a steady stream of Stephen King and Resident Evil. To me it's not the horror aspect of horror that's anti-Christian, rather it's the anti-Christian aspect of horror that's anti-Christian. (No, that sentence made perfect sense, thank you very much.) When you peel away a few very thin layers you typically find that modern horror writers are a non-religious bunch. They believe more in the occult or the 'power of positive thinking so you can be the best you you can be' or some such drivel. These sorts of things have an anti-Christian bias to them by their very nature. They distract from and obscure the message of the Bible. But there is plenty in the realm of Christianity that can be pretty horrifying if you face it without God so the concept of horror fiction that lines up with a Christian world view is not all that strange.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Another One Bites the Dust

A new online magazine of adventure fiction has come and gone. The folks at NorthPoint (better follow that link quickly, the site will be coming down soon) showed real potential but have resulted in only a few stories published over the last couple of months. I'm not sure what the disconnect was but their submission guidelines seemed to suggest one kind of story and they ended up publishing some that were quite different. I sent them The Witch of the Westmoors because the magazine sounded cool and I thought it would be a good fit. Well, that was not to be.

Friday, June 20, 2008

More Fire and Blood

This morning I went swimming and did my twelve laps. That's really not important. But afterwards I had time to kill before going to work so I wrote the next scene in 'Fire and Blood at the End of Empire.' That's only marginally more important but it's what I'm going to talk about so there it is.

This scene was essentially a campfire scene. You know, that part of the movie where they all sit around a campfire and reveal meaningful plot points and character traits. I started the scene (a week or so ago) with two characters sitting down to tea and cakes but quickly realized that situations like that make for boring reading. So I procrastinated a while and thought about what kind of info I wanted to impart and how best to do it. My first inclination was to have some kind of suspenseful running fight scene on the streets of Rome with the discussion happening amidst the action. That was good, you generally want action and suspense on every page, but it didn't quite fit the mood of the story at the time. So I started typing this morning, without really knowing what I was doing, and That Funny Thing About Writing happened. As I wrote I decided to have somebody else do all the fighting and have Apollo and the other character do the talking while the fight happens 'off camera.' What I ended up with was a scene with some mystery and suspense as well as a bit of humor as the bad guys get thrown out windows, tossed down stairs, and generally thrashed to within an inch of their life. The story is up to 3100 words now and the scene was great fun to write. That's how to start your day well.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Triond: The Residual Income Machine

I checked my Triond account this morning and was shocked to find that it is still churning out gobs of cash on a regular basis. The Marine Corps derived self-help articles I wrote last year seem to be handing over fistfuls of pennies on a semi-quarterly schedule. I'm now up to a whopping 3.54 US dollars. Retirement is in sight, folks.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Knockaround Book

I picked up a copy of Ian Fleming's Casino Royale and for the last couple of months it's been what I refer to as a knockaround book. It ends up being read when I have a couple of minutes here or there. In the old days I always kept one in the car so when Wife Number One and Only went shopping, I could stay in the parking lot. They also come in handy while waiting in lines for the auto ferry across Puget Sound. The best knockaround books are usually old classics that are thin and portable. I don't much care about the story other than that it is a better time waster than staring out the window.

The first Bond book is interesting in that it is clearly not publishable in today's market. I'm a third of the way through and other than one good bomb going off, nothing much has happened. Bond has eaten several fine meals and met with Mathis and Vesper Lynd and there are some nice descriptions of the casino and a three page treatise on the game of baccarat. If a submission started out like this nowadays it would be bounced by the slush reader before page ten.

You can learn a lot from the classics.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Oh Canada

Because this morning Sons Number One, Two, and Three are all awake and watching SpongeBob, I will not be able to write much. But that's OK. 1) I haven't quite figured out how I want this next story to go. 2) Now that Rhode Island is conquered I thought I'd check on Canada. Google Analytics shows Canada but the provinces aren't separated out like the map of the States. However, my powers of MapQuest are strong. I've had hits from all the provinces except Prince Edward Island. Nothing from any of the territories (Yukon, Nunavut, and the inventively named Northwest Territory) but then they're not provinces so I don't know if they count. Since this is a completely arbitrary bout of goofiness, I'll consider them bonus points. If I can figure out how to attract the one computer geek in Yellowknife to visit the site I'll celebrate by, I don't know, frying up some back bacon or something.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Rhode Island Finally Gets With the Program

Welcome, welcome to the lucky person from Cranston, Rhode Island. You, whoever you are, were the first person from the last state to visit Scriptorius Rex. (Unfortunately for you, I was kidding about the winning free sex thing.) Now I have a completely full map of the USA on my web traffic analysis page. This is a rite of passage, sort of like jumping from tall platforms with vines hooked through the skin on your back, that I've been anxiously counting down towards. I'm nationwide.

Next stop: THE WORLD!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Writing Milestone

I did a strange thing a few seconds ago. I sent an email to an editor with one of my stories under consideration and withdrew it. As some of you may know, The Roman Stories I've been working on have changed and changed again. The first of them is now stronger for it but is also several iterations away from what I sent out a few months ago. It's an odd thing for a barely published writer to say, but I feel that artistic control of these stories at this point is important. More important than the chance of publishing just because I want something published. So now, "Sunset at the End of Empire" is free to seek acceptance elsewhere. And that's not so strange.