I Don’t Know If This Means Anything…

Publishing, Uncategorized

…but I have been collecting followers on Tablo at a fairly rapid clip. Without too much promotion on social media, either. I’m going to chalk that up to the work appealing on some level.

The last chapter of The Devil Left Him is started. I can still finish if I sit down and make it happen. I’ve also started the next chapter of Last Tomorrow and outlined the next chapter of Void.

Somebody on Tablo liked Void. I feel like good news is breaking out all over.

The Year of the Three Novellas (which are probably novelettes, but whatever)

Books, Publishing

First, update to The Party at the Last Tomorrow (Click image to go to Tablo and read it)

last-tomorrow

I am now 4 chapters and about 8500 words into this one. That’s the least amount of progress on any of the things I’m working on right now, which is surprising because it’s the one I conceived earliest. I chalk that up to pantsing, or “discovery writing”. Other than a bare scene outline and it’s inspiration (Poe’s Masque of the Red Death), I am making this one up as I go along. This is both freeing and frustrating. But progress is progress, and progress pleases me.

Of course, I should probably talk about what I’m progressing towards. I decided sometime before the New Year to make 2017 The Year of the Three Novellas. The Three Novellas are the books I’m currently writing on Tablo, and they’re on my Books to Preview page, but basically:

The latest Chapter of Void is exclusively available in newly-arrived 8th issue of Unnamed Journal for the next month. Did I mention subscriptions are free?

Unnamed Journal Issue 2, Volume 2

Anyway, the plan is to finish Devil this month, Last Tomorrow sometime in March/April, and Void by June. Then I’m going to give them each a deep edit, and put them on Amazon and iBooks over the second half of the year, while I’m writing the next project, which will be a bigger novel. I’ve got a couple of ideas started, and I just need to decide which way to go.

Right now Devil is sitting pretty at about 11,000 words and one more chapter (possibly two) to go. I should round off at about 15,000 words. Last Tomorrow and Void are about the same in terms of word count, and have the same number of finished chapters. My guess is Last Tomorrow will end up slightly longer than Devil, and Void longer still.

I’d originally conceived Void as being 6-7 Chapters, and I’m starting to think I’ll go as high as 8. The story is taking it’s time. I’ve got more of an outline with this one than with Last Tomorrow, but the exact nature of antagonist is demanding a slower reveal. Which is all to the good, in my opinion, because any good author should like it when characters start making their own demands on you.

Of course, according to Wikipedia (by which I of course mean, according to what Wikipedia sources), anything between 7,500 – 17,500 words is really a novelette rather than a novella. But two of the three might just qualify, so nyah.

challenge_accepted

Naming the Dark One: a “The Devil Left Him” Update

Books, Publishing

First off, there’s a new chapter up. It’s actually an old chapter, since I update on Tablo one chapter behind. So When I finished Chapter 5 this morning, I made Chapter 4 available. I do it that way because it feels good not to be behind my audience.

That means I have about 1, maybe 2 chapters to write, and the first draft will be finished. Then I’m going to give it a good, deep edit, then put it up on Amazon for the world to enjoy.

I’ve also added the new cover I showed in the last post:

devil-1

And I’ve done something else, which has to do with the title of the post, and the title of the book. I’ve taken out every time in the text that “the Devil” is used, and replaced it with “the Satan”.

Wherefore did I so?

The word “devil” comes to us from the Greek, diabolos, which means “slanderer” or “accuser”. This makes it a rough translation of the Hebrew Shaitan, which also means  “accuser”. In the Hebrew texts of the old Testament, “satan” is usually preceded with a “ha-” indicating that the word is a title, rather than a name. Some English translations also reflect this.

This raises the question of whom the devil is accusing. We find our answer in the Book of Job, the first text in the Old Testament where the word “Satan” is used. In it, Satan argues with God that Job is not really righteous, only comfortable, and so God gives Satan permission to test Job. The Problem of Evil ensues.

Some traditions of Judaism thus regard Satan as an agent of God, whose purpose is to tempt and try men, to find the wickedness in them, and then accuse them to God. Christianity takes a different view, of Satan as a fallen archangel and lord of demons.

So because Yeshua bar Mariamme spoke no Greek (that we’re aware of), he likely never heard the word “Diabolos” in his life any more than he heard “Jesus” or “Christos” (both of which are Greek translations of his name and title). So replacing “Devil” with “Satan” serves the same Judiaizing verisimilitude as that of referring to Yeshua by name. Also, it lets me consider how I might toy with title vs. name in the climax.

Other names of the Devil:

  • Lucifer comes from a Latin translation of the Hebrew “Heylel”, meaning “morning star” or “Light-bringer”. The word appears in the Book of Isaiah, referencing either a Babylonian King, the Kingdom of Babylon itself, or a Canaanite deity. It is often used to reference the Devil before his fall.
  • Beelzebub is Hebrew for “Lord of the Flies” and is a pun on the name of a Philistine or Canaanite God. It is sometimes used to refer to the Devil, and sometimes to a lesser demon, as in Milton.
  • Mephistopheles is a demon from German folklore, usually as part of the Faust legend. The word either comes from Hebrew or Greek. It’s not usually intended to refer to the Devil, but an agent or representative.

Anyway, Enjoy!

Progress on the Writing Front

Books, writing

Chapter 3 of Void got finished last night (I’ve made some minor edits to the first few chapters). It will be part of Unnamed Journal, Issue 7, which is supposed to be out November 15th. That will be our year anniversary issue, so check the Facebook Page. Big changes will be afoot: a free back issue starting tomorrow, an omnibus, and a new design from a new platform. It will be rad. .

I’ve also laid down some good outline material for The Devil Left Him, so some new material should be out on that soon as well.

That’s all. Just what I been onto.

 

Time in Space

Books, Uncategorized

One of the sci-fi novellas I’m working on right now, Void, has a theme about space travel and the hell it plays with time. When I wrote Solar System Blues, I avoided this by making the ship in question travel at below-light velocity, and deliberately making the voyage a long one. Even then, the fact that Burton had been in space for 30 years straight had consequences for his character.

But ever since Einstein, the idea has been that faster-than-light travel would warp time around a vessel, so someone would seem to travel to Alpha Centauri quickly would discover upon his return that many years had transpired on Earth.

In such a system, people who traveled in space professionally would be a breed apart from the rest of humanity, quickly cut off from their familial roots. They’d have to develop their own culture merely to have any sense of themselves. That’s part of what is animating the ennui that Lang, my protagonist in Void, suffers.

I’m not hitting this too hard, because I’m not well-versed enough in space-time physics. It’s just there in the background, humanity cut off by the cold empty distances from its home.

Why it’s called Void should be clear. Read the first two chapters for free on Tablo.

void2.jpg

 

New Fiction – The Devil Left Him: A Retelling of the Temptation of Christ

Books, Religion

A bit ago, I happened to rent Last Days in the Desert, an indie film with Ewan McGregor portraying both Jesus and Satan during Jesus’ forty days in the desert (Matthew 4). It was an interesting take on the idea, but the script wasn’t quite up to snuff, being primarily concerned with a family Jesus encounters while on his way back to Jerusalem.

It also fell victim to the difficulties of writing Jesus as a literary character. In a story, a protagonist needs to have some kind of arc, a progression from a lower to a higher state. But the Godhead of the Christian faith is whole and complete from the moment of his birth – he has no need of growth or understanding. That’s the whole point of his being here.

So what ends up happening in non-religious films is Default Arianism – Jesus is some kind of demigod, at best, with limited understanding. At one point in Last Days in the Desert, Jesus asks the Devil what being the Presence of God is like. The Devil’s response is interesting, but I was unable to stop thinking “Oh, come on!”

I can quite understand the need to do that, but that doesn’t make it any easier for me to swallow.

Moaning about someone else’s creative work is easy. It’s better to try my own hand at such a tale.

Behold, the first chapter:

thedevillefthim Yeshua was fourteen days in the desert when the Devil came to him. He had reached the point where the hunger inside of him could no longer be fooled by the drinking of water – for water had to be consumed in the desert, daily. It was no longer an experience that his tall, lean body underwent without protest. His body was screaming at him to eat.

He felt the pain as a reality, as the raw nerve transmitting the signal – this is wrong, this is wrong – and did not deny it. He understood at last the way hermits sought to transmute this pain into pleasure. That was a way to allow the brain to survive the pain, the monotonous stab of it. But it was a lie. Yeshua had no patience for lies.

Read the rest for free at Tablo.

Writing Apps and Social Media – Some Recent Experiences

Books

And by “recent” I of course mean “yesterday”

Less recently, I took Facebook off my phone. It just takes up too much data space, and I tire of scrolling through it. This doesn’t mean that Facebook is “dead” to me, but it does mean that I will be using it less frequently. The charm of it was mostly in the novelty, and that has mostly gone.

But the lack of it did make me wonder if there’s a social media experience I could be missing. Twitter is a battlefield, and like drinking from a fire hose more often than not. Tumblr is much the same. I wanted something … different.

So yesterday I looked at the social media apps on the App Store, and I came across Ello. Ello became a thing last year, and it seemed utterly precious in my eyes. But the copy promised a space for creative endeavors, a place to make and share things rather than to dimly snark at each other. That seemed the cure for what ailed me, so I downloaded it.

It’s already a better experience. I joined the writers group and happened upon a fellow by the name of Lee Williams posting a short story link, Hope is a Venetian RugI liked the cover art, so I followed it. The story was pretty good, but it also led me to the writing/publishing app he had it on, Tablo.

Tablo allows you to write something on your phone, publish it to the wider community, and even put on the Apple iBooks store and Amazon (in exchange for a 20% commission on the sales price of your book. Which is not bad). The phone app is simple and useful, and the web site is even better. I can work on something while I’m putting the baby to sleep, or any other point I have down time.

There’s another app I’ve been using, Werdsmith, which I’ve found useful for sketching ideas (it distinguishes between ideas and projects, which have word goals). Tablo is for when you have a definite story coming out, and you want to focus on getting it out.

So here’s my flagship efforts for the new site:

  • The Little Guerrilla Platoons, a short story about a man’s vengeance on his homeowner’s association (and the fat slob who runs it)
  • The Party at the Last Tomorrow, a post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk novella that’s been taking up brain space for a while now.

Watch this space for publishing details.