Saturday, July 26, 2008

We Don't Need to Know

This morning's submissions to Rage of the Behemoth all suffered from the same thing. (Although one of them was good enough to pass up the chain of command anyhow.) They all had way too much stuff at the beginning. I learned this lesson a while back and wrote about it concerning "The Battle of Raven Kill." For the most part, we just don't need to know all the fluff that you the writer think we need. The stories I've written lately have all started with scene and action already in play and I think they are stronger for it. Backstory can usually be picked up in context or worked in some other way. This also helps you trim down the verbiage to the barest minimum to tell the tale. Better writing is the result.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Debut of the Rogue Blades

Jason Waltz has transformed Flashing Swords Press into Rogue Blades Entertainment. He will continue to focus on the anthologies and other fiction projects that he's begun but also plans some expansion into other areas. It's entertainment that's the direction now, however we can serve it up. I will continue to read submissions for Rage of the Behemoth and the timeline for that has not changed. There may be a slight alteration and broadening of the stories we're looking for but they don't change the basic necessities of strong characters and big creatures with attitude problems. Keep writing and submitting great stories!

Monday, July 21, 2008

CSFF July Tour

The tour for this month is DragonLight by Donita K. Paul. I've had my eye on this series for a while and it's very good to see it gain the popularity it has. Join the discussion and visit the rest of the tour blogs on the sidebar.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Oh Canada II

Yesterday come lucky soul from Charlottetown became the first person to visit my blog from Prince Edward Island, the last of the Canadian Provinces to grace my pages. Still nothing from the territories but overall I'm well on my way to conquering the English speaking peoples.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The End of the World As We Know It, and I Feel Fine II

My wife bought me a pair of Crocs.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Beauty in the Little Things

I have to tell you about Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, for two reasons. 1) I'm one of the few from Seattle that can spell it. 2) The way the lake comes right up to downtown is amazing. There's a city park at the end of Northwest Avenue where the downtown core sits. It's got plenty of tall evergreen trees as well as a stage and a huge play area for the kids. The lake stretches out away in one direction and the shops and restaurants and hotels are right across the street behind you. It's the sort of place I'd want to hang out in if I lived here. But today, I had to settle for lunch. Seagulls, boats coming in and out, the lake houses on the other shore... it makes you thank Almighty God for every breath He gives you.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Positive Ray of Hope

I've discovered something positive that I tend to like about stories and thought I should share it here. I just read a submission that I unfortunately had to recommend against because the writing just wasn't good enough. That's not the positive part. The positive part is that it contained a mysterious encounter with a creature of the fey. I always get a kick out of reading other people's take on the fey folk. This one was fairly standard, old woman in the forest with a sure strength and enchanting eyes, but it was pretty well done. The fey really make excellent herald/mentor characters due to their otherworldly perceptions. They have that tendency to cut through all the human B.S. and get to the heart of the matter. Of course, any protagonist worthy of writing about will not understand it because he or she will try to frame everything within the confines of aforementioned human B.S.

This is a way to illuminate our connection with God. His ways are strange to us even though they are in our best interest. We have trouble communicating with God and receiving the fullness of His plan because our own frail, sin-based natures have a way of corrupting our understanding and implementation of His intentions.

So for those of you who may stumble across this post while trying to figure out what kind of story is most likely to get past the first screens for Rage of the Behemoth, there's your tip of the day.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Less is More

I've now encountered this phenomenon twice in the past week of reading slush: The author puts in a completely unnecessary scene. One instance was a flashback to the two main characters' first meeting and another was an odd encounter that has no impact on the story and is never referred to again in any meaningful way. These examples point to a lesson that is taught frequently in books and seminars; make everything in your story important. Every word should move the story forward and point towards the eventual resolution. The flashback scene should have been in the context of some current situation and could have been much shorter but instead it felt like it was tacked on with no purpose. The random encounter should have had some material effect on the character or the story and should have been tied back into the final scene. Otherwise, in both cases, the reader is left wondering, "What the heck was that all about?" My advice to all writers is to avoid presenting your readers with a scene that evokes that thought.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Walking the Walk

In between reading the submissions for RotB I managed to finish a story I mentioned a while back which is now called "Bleeding Grey, Seeing Red." It's a fun story with some humor, some pathos, and some bodies exploding into red steam. I'm sending it out into other people's slush piles so they can read it and ridicule me behind my back. With three stories out making the rounds I figure one of them has to take hold and fool someone into accepting it sooner or later.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Something Doesn't Belong

Here's something that I've noticed in a few different stories I've read and recommended for rejection. It's the use of modern language and dialogue in sword and sorcery. People, I can't tell you how annoying this is. Whatever voluntary suspension of disbelief has been built up is completely shattered when the characters continue to use modern colloquialisms when talking with each other. If you want your fiction to be believable then you have to watch how your characters speak. (If you really want to score bonus points then you'll also watch how they think but that's for another time.) The only way this can happen in these submissions is that the writer just doesn't know any better. I hope they're not sitting at their computer and thinking about how hip they can make their characters because if they are, they shouldn't be writing S&S. Throwing a bunch of archaic language around is not the solution either. There is a seriousness and formality that is commonly used and that sort of speech has become the convention. If you have to have a character which talks differently than all the rest, which is a good idea, then make up some mild slang or quirky turns of phrase. Work it into the story and let other characters reveal how different it is. Whatever you do, don't make your characters sound like their working at, like, The Gap. Y'know?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Powell's Book Signing

Last night was the author's event/book signing at Powell's in Beaverton, Oregon. It was, as we powerful and influential members of the publishing world like to call it, 'lightly attended.' Apparently the incredibly beautiful weather we're having in the Pacific Northwest drew people out to other activities like picnics in the park, family and church events, and other such nonsense. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the other RotS authors Allen Lloyd, Nathan Meyer, and Micheal Ehart. We got a chance to chat about our current projects as well as fiction and sword and sorcery in general.

The bookstore staff had collected up all the copies of Return of the Sword from their locations across town and we all signed them, which was kind of fun in and of itself. As predicted, every one of my autographs looked different. I just cannot seem to make my hand write 'Draper' without looking like a three year old did it.

All in all, it was a fun way to meet some writers who are all better than me and try to gather up some of their thought processes. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.