Writing Update

After my unsuccessful attempts at writing a worthy sequel to Elegy earlier this year, I took November off to work on a science fiction NaNo project and sort of clear my head. During that time, it became clear to me – for a number of reasons – that in order to be successful this time, I was going to have to do some outlining.

Normally, I do not outline. I just start with an idea and see where the story carries me. However, after spending nearly 75,000 words chasing an idea that simply didn’t pan out, I realized that another effort of similar magnitude that went nowhere was going to put me off writing for a long time.

Outlining is a strange beast, but I found that Scrivener is really helping me to keep everything in order. I have a folder which is full of nothing but short scene lines on the “index cards” on the corkboard, with short names that remind me what they are. They’re in the order I decided on, and they’re really only brief highlights of plot points. The story itself is expanding between them – I’m right now writing a sub-plot that was nowhere on my outline, but will serve to both get the story rolling and provide an obstacle right off the bat.

If I’m not too much mistaken, this version of Arbiter Codex 2 is going to be long. I’m standing at 7600 words in two and a half chapters, I’m excited about the plot that I’ve devised, and there’s still a lot of highlights left to go. Like… almost all of them.

My intent is to get it right this time. It’s going to take longer than I expected, but it’s going to be good, and I’m going to be proud of it at the end. That’s the goal, and I’m really looking forward to sharing it with everyone when it’s completed.

Who knows… maybe now that I’ve figured out an outlining process that actually seems to work for me, I’ll get more reliable output! That would sure be nice.

On a side note, I am now reading Once We Were Like Wolves by M. Todd Gallowglas, and there will be a review up once I’ve finished it!

 

Review: Halloween Jack & The Devil’s Gate by M. Todd Gallowglas (@MGallowglas)

(Note: I read HJ&TDG via the Amazon Prime KDP Select lending option. My reading device was a combination of Kindle for PC and Kindle for Android.)

To be up front, I read Halloween Jack because I am a huge fan of Gallowglas’ First Chosen, which incidentally was named one of my Top 5 Books of 2011. I am also what you might call ‘friendly’ with the author on Twitter, who’s a great guy and I always love to read his tweets.

Halloween Jack and the Devil’s Gate is, at its heart, a folk tale. It stirs up feelings of stories featuring other characters named Jack – like Jack & The Beanstalk, for example. This is a story of whimsy and hearkens back to an age of storytelling when history was a murky blur and legends ruled and had power.

In fact, the power of myth, story and legend is one of the central themes in HJ&tDG. The mythical figure Jack o’ the Lantern (who keeps the demons away from Earth, chasing them back into Hell after they are allowed to come out on Halloween) loses his power, and it’s up to his distant descendants to do something about it.

The characters are larger-than-life, as they are in any good folk tale. This tale of the triumph of human ingenuity over adversity is a rollicking good read from beginning to end. John and Moira are heroes you can really root for, and the supporting cast (including my favorite side character, the ogre named Mickey) lends great color to the story.

The story has a steampunk-esque feel to it – the Devil’s minions use something called Steam Soldiers as part of their world-conquering army, which seem to be Victorian-esque robots, though they are never described in great detail. There is a gas-lantern feeling about the whole story, which covers locations such as Boston, rural Ireland, London and even ranges all the way out to Texas. A folk tale with globe-trotting heroes is exactly what this story sets out to be, and it accomplishes that task with panache and daring.

I do have to deduct minor points for a few technical issues – namely, editing ones. More than once, there is a homonym confusion. The most prevalent one is “heals” to refer to the back of one’s feet – the correct word is, of course, “heels”. There was one other homonym confusion I noticed which I do not now remember.

On the more technical side, I only encountered one actual typo, and for a ~40,000 word work, that’s excellent.

One of the joys of indie publishing is that all of these things could easily be fixed with a quick edit and re-upload to the sites, and nothing is committed to a massive print run where these minor mistakes would be set upon parchment in indelible ink.

With that, I award the final score for Halloween Jack and the Devil’s Gate:

For a great and engaging folk-tale about the terrors of Halloween and the triumph of human ingenuity, marred only by a few minor editing mistakes, I award 4 1/2 stars.

Note: Because the story itself is fantastic and editing errors can be easily fixed, in places which do not allow half-star reviews, I will be awarding 5 stars.

Thanks once again to Mr. Gallowglas for a great story; I am eagerly awaiting the next installment in his Tears of Rage series!

Sorcerer’s Code Launch

\Sorcerer's CodeGood news, everyone!

Sorcerer’s Code is now available at the Amazon Kindle Store and at Smashwords!

I’m really proud of this particular work, and despite the cliche, I truly hope that you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

And now, in the words of Krusty the Klown:

Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a Kwaazy Kwanzaa, a Tip-top Tet! …and a solemn and dignified Ramadan.

Top 5 Books of 2011

Since I sort of inadvertently became a book reviewer this year, I thought I should go back and look at my list to see what my favorite books of 2011 were.

I haven’t done nearly as much reading as I would have liked since October, for two reasons: my budget got a lot tighter when the wife and I moved into our new house, and also because preparing for and then executing a NaNoWriMo strategy took up most of the time I would otherwise be reading. Now I’m working on planning and writing my next book very actively, which also leaves little time for reading, but I’m hoping to get back to doing more quite soon.

On a side note: this top 5 will only be out of the books I reviewed here on my blog this year, because that only seems fair. Also, I would like to note that actually ranking these was very difficult, since I enjoyed all of these books so much.

And yes, for those of you who are wondering: those are custom blue-manna themed star images designed in Photoshop by me.

…nobody was wondering, were they?

5

First Chosen by M. Todd Gallowglas
“First Chosen
is a strong entry into the indie fantasy market, helped significantly by its fascinating world and genuinely interesting characters.” (9/13/2011)

4

The Black God’s War by Moses Siregar III
“This is not just one of the best independent books I have ever read; this is one of the finest fantasy novels (period, full stop, etc etc) that I have read in many years.” (9/16/2011)

3
The Hero Always Wins by Robert Eaton
“When the first major plot twist happened, I had been lulled by the fantasy tropes, and then I got hit in the face with a real, honest-to-god surprise. The last time I was actually surprised by a book was Changes by Jim Butcher, and that is some high praise right there.” (9/5/2011)

2
Scriber by Ben S. Dobson
“I really can’t describe in text how much I liked this book. The independent author community should welcome this new writer with open arms, because he will be lending credit to our movement for years to come.” (10/8/2011)

1
Ghost Story
by Jim Butcher
“If you’re already a fan of the series, you probably don’t need a review to tell you that this one isn’t to be missed. If you went looking for reviews anyway, you can rest assured that you really ought to buy this book.” (7/30/2011)

Eisengoth: The Arbiter (4)

Murderous. Relentless. All-consuming. Implacable. Merciless. This is the enemy we face. Not the daemon, nor the man, but corruption itself is our enemy; all others are merely manifestations.

Our enemy is perfect in a way which can never be imagined. It is perfect evil: seductive, cunning, ruthless in its perfection. It is a force of nature. Would a man stand against a typhoon and will the rain to stop? Would he put his strength against the base of the mountain to move it?

This is the task given to the Arbiter. Corruption has no morals, no thought, no mortality. It simply is, and it is the Arbiter who must prevent it from devouring our world.

If the enemy is perfect, so too must we be perfect. We must defeat relentless corruption by being more relentless, defeat implacable corruption with implacable wills, overcome deadly cunning with our own. We must be a wall of iron against the seduction of the shadows. Our minds and purpose must be clear.

Our sole advantage is reason, which disappears in those touched by the crimson light of corruption. That deadly darkness eats away at sanity, at thought, existing only in its purest form in the daemon. In men, we may defeat corruption by being more thoughtful, more rational, and more intelligent, but all of those will serve nothing against the daemon.

The Arbiter’s only hope is to expect nothing less than perfection from himself, his peers, and his students. Any flaw in his iron will, any misstep in his sword technique will result in a lingering, painful death, and perhaps that of his fellows.

For a man to err is a consequence of life. For the Arbiter, it is death.

– “Demanding Perfection”, Master Nurem Frejar (1121-1198). The Arbiter’s Codex, pp. 40-41

Eisengoth: The Arbiter (3)

To walk within the world, and yet remain above it: such is the destiny of the Arbiter.

We have been chosen, whether by chance, by fate, or by design, to be the vanguard against the darkest things, in the darkest places, in the darkest times. We are of humanity, but we are both more, and we are less. No longer are we sons and daughters, but warriors against an implacable foe.

A daemon will not spare a squalling child, nor an aged woman with great wisdom; it consumes both with the same voracity. Likewise, it consumes both the patriot and the coward, regardless of their heritage.

Mortals fall like wheat beneath the scything daemon’s fangs, and neither wealth, nor status of birth, nor courage nor any other virtue held in great esteem changes it.

A wise man once said: to defeat the enemy, we must first understand him. As the daemon makes no distinction between men, so too must the Arbiter make no distinction. Whether it be in mortal affairs, or the horrors of corruption, the Arbiter must stand apart and make his judgment based on the facts alone.

– “Above the World”, Master Nurem Frejar (1121-1198). The Arbiter’s Codex, pp. 14-15 (one of the oldest surviving texts, preserved for more than 4,000 years)

New Header

See that awesome new header image up there? Like what you see?

As it turns out, that image is actually a snippet of a brand new wallpaper image, which is being offered exclusively to Facebook fans!

So, if you’re looking for something new to spruce up your computer desktop, head on over to Facebook and “Like” my page there. You’ll get links to download that exclusive wallpaper image just for doing it, plus you’ll get early announcements and other awesome sneak-peeks that are only available to Facebook fans!

Well, what are you waiting for? Facebook is calling!