#IWSG – Delaying one project for another

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I really wanted to get work done on Far Flung in May! That was the plan!

But then a juicy opportunity to write something for a project called Bound came along. I’ve been in talks with two of the people behind Bound, and I’ve been working on a potential story that could use the mobile fiction platform they are developing. The story I’ve been planning out is entirely different from Far Flung, but something that’s been in my head for far longer.

I learned something interesting about myself as a writer – I handle the news that somebody is interested in my writing and wants more almost as poorly as I handle rejection!

After I learned that Bound was interested, I went through weird stages of nervous anticipation, and I had great difficulty reading books or listening to audiobooks. Obsession with planning a good outline and producing something good took over, it was hard to think about anything else. Far Flung got placed firmly on the back burner – I barely even tried to work on it while this exciting new possibility filled my head.

For the Insecure Writer’s Support Group: How well do you handle multiple writing projects? Do you find that one story-in-progress simply takes up too much mental real estate?

As for me, I find out in another week or two what will happen. The idea I was obsessed with for May has been submitted for consideration, and I just have to wait and see what they say. Maybe I can get back to Far Flung for a bit. Maybe I’ll read a book or two. One thing’s for sure – it’ll be a tough wait.

ca2e6-insecure2bwriters2bsupport2bgroup2bbadge

 

 

Reblog: Worldbuilding in Science Fiction and Fantasy by Jay Allan

Worldbuilding can make great stories even better!

It’s hard to imagine classic series like Asimov’s Foundation or modern series like Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn without richly detailed worldbuilding. Populating a fantasy universe with political systems, past wars, myths, technology, and other details help everything in the story work as part of a whole.

This article is a really good summary of how worldbuilding can serve an author and help draw in readers.

Worldbuilding.  It’s a term that gets bandied about quite a bit when discussing fiction, especially in genres like science fiction and fantasy, but for all the endless times it is repeated, I think sometimes the importance is overlooked.

It’s very fashionable to say things like, “character development is the important thing,” or “it’s the story that matters.”  And, of course, those things are absolutely essential.  But they’re not the whole story.  Not by a longshot.  Not in science fiction or fantasy.

A work of historical fiction set, say, during the American Civil War doesn’t need worldbuilding…it’s world is the world, and beyond pointing out some historical facts the reader might not know, the author can focus almost solely on characters and storyline.  But science fiction and fantasy demand more.  These stories take place in worlds that are the creations of their authors.  They may be set in the near future, based heavily on the real world, or they may be wildly different (a galaxy far, far away), but either way, the reader needs to understand this setting, and the only way that’s going to happen is if the author fleshes it out.

Imagine a work like Dune, without the immense detail of the empire, stripped of the customs, institutions, and history so carefully laid out by the author.  What is left?  A good story, some well-developed characters?  Yes, perhaps.  But an enduring classic of the genre? Doubtful.

Or Asimov’s Foundation series…with its galactic empire and its ‘world as one giant city’ capital.  The characters come and go in what is mostly a series of short novellas, but the overall plot of the fall of empire ties them all together.

On the fantasy side, could there be a better example than the Lord of the Rings?  The three books cover little more than a single year’s activity, yet Tolkien’s work wouldn’t be the classic it is without the massive worldbuilding that gives us thousands of years of fictional history interspersed with a few months of real time action.

In science fiction and fantasy, the setting is like a character itself, often as much a part of the story as any hero and villain.  When I think of the books that have resonated with me in my forty-odd years of reading science fiction and fantasy, it is those that offered rich worlds in which I could lose myself that became the favorites I pull out every couple years to reread.

See the rest at http://discoverscifi.com/worldbuilding-in-science-fiction-and-fantasy-2/

First Impressions – Fade to Black by Tim McBain & L.T. Vargus

Awake in the Dark

Howdy! I’ve got a First Impression here. I’m looking at Fade to Black today because one of the authors contacted me and asked me to. Yeah, I do that kind of thing, when I can.

At the Amazon page for the Awake in the Dark series, I read the first chapters of Fade to Black by Tim McBain & L.T. Vargus.

It starts off with:

Any minute now a hooded man will come barreling out of nowhere and kill me.
So that sucks.
I know this because it has happened six times before. I wake up in this alley, hung from a post by a piece of rope lashed to one ankle, tied in a hangman’s knot. After several minutes of work, I pry my bonds free, and about thirty seconds after I hit the ground, this guy in a black hooded robe gives me a pretty bad case of death.

So that gives a pretty good idea of the “voice” of this work – witty, sardonic, and dark all mingled nicely. It’s a funny read with a quick pace, making for nice easy reading. The narrative is a little raw at times – I thought it could have been a bit crisper. There are few too many adjectives and adverbs for my critical eye, but the style can be justified as the main character’s storytelling. I thought some lines were trying too hard to be witty, but overall I appreciated the humour.

The story starts with a nicely intense sequence with Jeff Grobnagger running from someone trying to kill him. The reader learns that Jeff has run down this datrk alley before and has been killed already, six times before! The reader then finds out that Jeff passed out from a seizure while in a grocery store and had the dream or vision of his own grizzly death. Jeff is helped by Glenn, another customer at the store. Jeff, refusing to take an ambulance, instead accepts a ride to Glenn’s home.  Glenn thinks that Jeff’s seizures are a form of astral projection, and Glenn reveals that his missing daughter was involved with groups interested in magic and the occult.

This all happens in the first 2 chapters, so it’s a lot. I appreciate the fast pace, however I really thought it odd that Glenn reveals so much right away. It was a bit of a stretch to go from “I’ll help this guy who passed out” to “I’ll take him home” and then to “I’ll tell him everything about my missing daughter”. Sure, it gets the exposition out of the way quickly and gets the story going, but I would have appreciated a little more justification. (I have to admit – this might be part of the humour going straight over my head…)

Thanks to the fast pace and humour, this is a series I’ll definitely try out. At the very least, I’ll check out the first book in the series – it’s less than $1 for Kindle.

Other things I’ve learned from looking in to this:

  • Having a dirt cheap or free first book in your series is really effective
  • Never be afraid to contact bloggers / authors and ask them to check out your free sample
  • Make sure you have a free sample that rocks

Check out the Awake in the Dark Series on Amazon:

L.T. Vargus can be found at ltvargus.com

Tim McBain can be found on Twitter, @RealTimMcBain

First Impressions – The Watchmage of New York

While I work to get the next chapter of Far Flung out for next week, here’s a review of a book I’ve been checking out. This work started as a serial on Jukepop.com, and is now available on Amazon.com.

The Watchmage of Old New York by C.A. Sanders

(Yes, that’s an affiliate link. I checked the rules, should be okay!)

I read through the first two chapters on Jukepop and re-read them in the version I purchased from Amazon, and I must say – wow! This is an urban fantasy rich with detail and backstory to begin with, and in the final verison, it’s much deeper and even more detailed.

My very first thought when I read the descriptions of this book was “Steampunk Harry Dresden, nice!” Makes for a nice tagline to sell it, but it’s much deeper – even just from reading the beginning I can see that.

Our protagonist, Nathaniel, is an immortal Watchmage who lives in New York in an alternate 19th century. He’s charged with watching over fantasy beings who cross over into this world and try to live among humans. The first chapter does a wonderful job of setting up his backstory, describing his powers, and showing how he tends to use them.

The second chapter focuses on the police officer, Jonas, who works with the Watchmage, and thus provides even more detail on what life is like in this alternate world, as weell as giving the reader a hint what it’s like to work with someone who can conjure the elements at will.

I was sold on both characters right away, and needed to know more. I think it was the working of the worldbuilding into the characters’ first-person narratives that really got me into it. Details from real-world history are worked into the fantasy history to create a New York both familiar and strange.

I couldn’t find any major difficulties in what I’ve read so far. The writing is crisp, brisk, and obviously well-edited. Some readers might be put off by the amount of backstory and detail that comes into play, but I think it’s handled very well.

Go check it out!

The Watchmage of Old New York on Amazon.com

Official Site of C.A. Sanders

#atozchallenge – Z is for Zagaz, bringer of disease

 

It brings disease to the young and innocent.

At the end of the list, the finish line for this challenge, we have the Zagaz. This Moroccan spirit was responsible for bringing disease to newborns. He brought about one of the most common and tragic illnesses of his time, a form of tetanus which claimed the lives of many young babies.

 

That’s the end of this blogging challenge! It’s been fun, spooky, and darkly inspirational!

 

Sources:

Image – Djinn by Nick Corbell

http://mythicalarchive.com/creature/zagaz/

http://www.thecbg.org/wiki/index.php?title=African_Spirits

 

 

 

#atozchallenge – Y is for Yaoguai, feasting on souls

They are malevolent shapeshifters who feed on souls.

The Yaoguai are China’s demons, lurking about and feeding on human essence. They are usually evil animal spirits or fallen celestial beings, seeking immortality – and they need your soul to get it! They’ve been known to appear as foxes, skeletons, and even beautiful seductresses in their search for prey. They especially like to abduct and consume holy men, though they probably wouldn’t turn down a lesser snack…

Sources:

Image found at http://horrorhk.blogspot.com/2009/08/blog-post_6543.html

http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2012/10/29/10-scariest-chinese-monsters-youve-never-heard-of/article?gcheck=1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaoguai

 

#atozchallenge – X is for Xiang Yao, the lords of disease

(Ha, good old Chinese folklore, handling the X requirement easily!)

 

They leave disease and putrid swamp in their wake.

A Xiang Yao is a spirit with nine horrid heads on a large snake’s body. They bring disease and sickness, poisoning fresh streams into putrid swamps. They serve the great black dragon Gong-Gong, bringer of the great floods. It’s best to stay far away – an encounter is likely to leave you sick and weak.

Sources:

Image taken from the Mythical Archive

http://www.mythicalcreatureslist.com/mythical-creature/Xiang+Yao

http://www.mythicjourneys.org/bigmyth/myths/english/eng_china_pantheon.htm

http://mythicalarchive.com/creature/xiang-yao/