New Summer Poetry

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Over the course of that rainy muddy monsoon that was the summer of 2018, I wrote some poems, cheap, messy, quick, and therefore true. I consider it an expression of this idea I call Suburban Zen, which I have not fully defined. It’s closer to Zen that way.

It’s a Kindle-exclusive, and it’s 99 cents. You know what to do.

This is my second such collection. The other one, Stir, was longer and composed over a longer period of time.

I am likely to keep doing this. There’s an ease an a gratification in making such small offerings. They keep the juices flowing.

The Novel Ain’t Dead. The Industry Has Just Changed.

That’s the upshot of this article at Quillette. While midlist authors are seeing their income shrink, the upper-crust is doing even better: the number of seven-figure advances has increased even as the number of five-figure ones have decreased.

What this means is that the publishing industry doesn’t want to invest in small potatoes anymore – they want profits. So be it. What this means is that authors who once populated the midlist – who got $10k advances and typically made another $20k from sales – are going to find themselves migrating to self-publishing, crowdfunding, and other means. And that means the level of class struggle and agita between self-published authors and trad-published ones are going to increase, even as both get better off.

Fasten your seatbelts.

(Hat tip: The Story’s Story)

Quick Review: The Outlaw King

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What the wags have called Braveheart 2 came out this week on Netflix, and being a medievalist nerd, I was all about it.

It is a more accurate film that Braveheart in several respects. For one, it gives us the real struggle Robert the Bruce had in claiming the throne of Scotland. None of this sudden Hollywood climax decision with a full army at his back for the Bruce: he had to claw his way to power, bearing a crown no one respected, hiding in the heather from his own countrymen for a number of years. For another, it’s depiction of Edward I of England is probably truer than the cartoon villain Braveheart gave us. If you loved Patrick McGoohan’s moustache-pulling (and who doesn’t? “The trouble with Scotland is that it’s full of Scots!” that’s A+ movie-villainry right there), you might not like the merely iron-fisted politician this film gives us. But Edward I of England wasn’t a cartoon, he was a real man, a puissant ruler and crusader, a man who struggled to restore royal authority after the turbulent reigns of his grandfather John and his father Henry III, and largely succeeded. Call out his excess in this if you like. Say that his cruelty to the Scots crosses the line into wickedness – I can’t refute it.  But he was a man, and not a devil, and this movie does him the courtesy of making that real. You may not recognize Stephen Dillane – Stannis Baratheon from Game of Thrones – in the part, but you will appreciate him.

However, when it comes to Edward II, I think the earlier film got it right:  the second of the Three Edwards (for a century, from 1277 to 1377, the King of England had the same name) seems to really have been a dilettante who had neither capacity nor wish to charge into battle at the head of an army. We see the younger Edward’s weakness in Braveheart, his terror of his father, and silent yearning to be utterly unlike him (a yearning that made him a poor ruler indeed). In this film, the younger Edward is just a bad chip off the old block.

The film doesn’t run the length of Braveheart, so it can’t spend the time building and enriching the emotional life of the characters. We don’t quite see Robert’s emotional motivation to rebel in the same way we saw William Wallace’s. Chris Pine holds more back than Gibson does, preferring to act with his eyes in something of a slow burn. How well he pulls that off is for the viewer to decide.

Bottom Line: it’s both less thrilling and less fanciful than Braveheart. It runs close to the truth, and is never boring. Worth a watch.

New Cover Art, Right of Revolution and Little Guerrilla Platoons

Pursuant to Yesterday’s post, here’s new covers for old works. One is a glorified essay, the other a “Long Short Story” (Novellette?). They’ve been published a while, but I’ve never liked their cover art. These are better:

ror I do the philosophical justifications of Rebellion, as understood by The Bible, by Jefferson, by Marx. It’s a pondering.Link Here
tlgp This is fiction, and what you might call Suburban Realism. I like it. Link here.

I’ve also updated my Books Published page to reflect these changes.

I Don’t NaNoWriMo, But I Do Self-Publish

I’m definitely an agnostic on National Novel-Writing Month. I’m not down on it, and if someone wants to take the moment as a inspiration to create, I’m the last guy to wrinkle my nose at such. Write, you guys. Write like the wind.

But I also don’t participate. I’ve got a few reasons for this:

  1. I Can’t Write a Novel in a Month. Based on past experience, it just doesn’t work for me. I’ve got a job and a house and a family. I consider having finished The Sword as fast as I did an achievement, and I had to abandon that several times, because reasons. Trying to squeeze one out in 30 days just isn’t realistic for me.
  2. I Don’t Like Being Told When to Create. Call it a mental habit or even a mental block, but trends annoy me. Jumping on a bandwagon because everyone else is doing it makes some part of me not want to. I want to create according to my own time and schedule. I want to set my own goals, and then meet them. Again, if you find NaNoWriMo useful, good for you. I personally don’t.

That being said, I have some plans for this November. First of all, I’m planning on rolling out some new covers on my back catalog, including giving Solar System Blues a hardcover edition. Second, I have some new poems I want to offer up in a ebook-exclusive collection, as it’s likely to be shorter than Stir. All of them were written this past year. Planned title: The Short Cool Summer.

Watch this space.

Monsters and Aliens for October – Unnamed Journal 16

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All kinds of bad craziness. We have three, count ’em, three, chapters of Ulysses and the Fugitive, in which the aliens start taking over and sending their agents to do their bidding. Then Drunk Vampire Hunter makes a return for When’d He Go?, which is absolutely a pun on the name of the cannibal monster from Native American legend. We also return to the universe of Chamber of Pain and Cantilever Jones Lands Hard, in which the Imperial Deathguard trap a star monk in a ruin and immediately regret it. I call it Ash on the Wind.

Read for Free on Joomag

The Chamber-Cantilever-Ash universe is currently organized under the working title Gods of the Sky. There may or may not be a novel or novella from this, or I could just keep pouring out shorts. All my Star Wars and Dune fanboyism is just pouring out of me in the process.

Unnamed Journal 3.3 is Pretty Rad.

I mean, look at this cover.

UJ cover 15

That’s Ankor Wat on fire from beyond space, and that’s not just there to look cool; it’s relevant to the content: specifically chapters 8 and 9 of the serial Ulysses and the Fugitive. All manner of espionage, aliens, and Burning Man ensues.

We also get Caligulia’s take on his love life, and some space terrorism. Oh, and Steve Martin saving the world from monster versions of his comedy albums with nothing but his trusty banjo.

Click here to read.