If You Want to Write a Story, Write a Story…

Good post at The Green Study:

My writing tip #234: Don’t read books on writing while trying to write a novel. First of all, it usually sheds bad light on whatever you are writing and secondly, it can make you overly ambitious.

I agree. What you need when you’re working on something is Inspiration. It doesn’t come bottled, but in my experience, it comes in paperback form. So what you should be reading is what will make you want to write.

The cusp of the post is the writer giving herself permission to write the novel she’s writing, rather than the epoch-shaking political work she feels like she’s supposed to be working on.

I also agree. Writing is art, and art is more important than poltics. As I have above my Twitter feed: Politics is now; Art is forever.

I’m going through something similary with Last Tomorrow. I’m torn between wanting to polish its rough corners and letting it be the little postabpocalyptic homage to Mask of the Red Death that it is. It’s a novella. I’m not going to turn it into a novel. I’ve got an actual novel I’m working on, plus shorts for the next issue of Unnamed Journal. But I want it to be the best it can be.

And how do I know which way is right? I won’t until its over.

This is why writers drink.

Vlad the Impaler and Cue-ing Your Readers

Good Post at madgeniusclub about making sure your readers are getting the cues you’re giving them, and more importantly, not reading cues that you don’t intend to be there:

You need to be aware that if you’ve got a strong mystery plot, you should be putting in the cues for the red herrings and the real culprit and all the other little goodies mystery authors tease their readers with. Similarly, if your epic fantasy does not have a strong romance subplot, take the time to make sure you aren’t throwing romance cues at your readers. That will just make the more romance-oriented ones unhappy. It could well make the non-romance readers unhappy too, because these cues are deeply embedded in our culture.

This may raise the hackles of those who want to bust out or overturn the tropes or expectations of genre, but you can’t do those things unless you know what the tropes are and how they are used.

The author, Kate Paulk, is one I’ve read before. Her Impaler starts out as a historically-grounded Vlad II-as-a-Vampire story, and then goes someplace completely unexpected with it. It confounds your expectations in a good way. When I read it, I kept thinking the story could not possibly be going where it is, and I felt a little confused, but I kept reading. The characters were sufficiently developed, and sufficiently interesting, that I wanted to know what was next even as I found myself wondering why the trope I had expected was not arriving. Plus, a great closing line. If you like a good broody vampire prince tale, you should check it out (click the link to buy on Amazon).

Everything is Back on Track!

New books are live. More books are coming.

The Devil Left Him is up on sale on Amazon. I just did the official announcement on Periscope.

That should have showed up on Facebook as well. I explain that the book is available, and go into a little bit about why I wrote it: a literary experiment on the Divine Character Problem. I talk about Luke Skywalker for a minute, and then can’t figure out how to turn the broadcast off, because it’s my second one.

nailed-it-4

I’m going to publish it on iBooks as well, probably with an alternative title. I’m also doing an Amazon Ad campaign for it, to see how that does. All in all, very exciting. I conceived this and brought it to market in about a year, while working on other projects as well, and holding down a full-time job and taking care of a family. I think I can improve that time, but the future is a tease, always arriving different than expected.

Next up: getting the next issue of Unnamed Journal up. Then publishing Last Tomorrow and Void. I should be getting back on track with The Sword as well.

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

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.

Is Writing Art, or Commerce?

Why not both?

A discussion of the Great Unsurprise of the New Year – the unfinishing of The Winds of Winter – has prompted Joe Vasicek to point out that for indie authors, it may be more the latter:

In the traditional system, writers were paid an advance on royalties by their publishers. The contract also allowed for royalties, but those figures were set so low that most books never earned out their advance. Publishers made up for it by raising the advances for the writers they wanted to keep.

In contrast, indie writers live and die by their royalty checks. Had a good month? Congratulations, you can afford to eat. Had a bad month? Tsk, tsk. Better hurry up with that WIP of yours, because the longer it takes to publish it, the longer it takes for you to get paid.

Thus, the reason Martin can fart around with finishing A Song of Ice and Fire is that he’s already a millionaire and has a small legion of fans who will drop everything the minute the release date is announced to pre-order it on Amazon. Whereas for the struggling indie artist, delay means loss of income, both from the books you aren’t selling and from the market forgetting about you when you finally do bring your pig to market.

Since I don’t have the weight of Bantam publishing behind me, that means I must needs move. I’ve done a lot of outlining for The Blood King, and I’ve got about 1,000 words give or take in various forms. I don’t feel like I’ve really begun to begin, though. I feel like I need to clear other desks (like the long-delayed podcast) first, but that might not be realistic.

I feel the Devil at my heels, though…

I’m Waxing Philosophical on ThoughtCatalog

ThoughtCatalog is an interesting web site because it’s one of the few places on the Internet where you can reliably encounter diversity of opinion in the comment section. You can actually have a civilized discussion with people you disagree with. That’s a nice feature.

So I decided to contribute something: 5 Things We Should Probably Stop Complaining About.

When a society produces things in abundance, it also tends to produce the leisure to judge things. As the 21st century grinds on, we find ourselves surrounded by vexing irritations, almost all of which we have invented. And while evil and injustice stalk the world with the same strength they always have, we prefer to issue petulant rants about useless ephemera.

Normally they claim a two-week turnaround on submissions, but this got posted same-day, with an accompanying email saying they liked it. So share and enjoy, share-and-enjoyers.