Of Gods and Goddesses

I once wrote an article about the origins of fantasy, namely mythology. It was many years ago, under a different name, still existing in cyber space somewhere, and it makes me cringe a little if I think about it. Not because my ideas were wrong, but because I, as a writer, have increased my skills so much in the last ten years or so that the old article just looks bad.

It’s a good reminder of where I was, and were I am, and hopefully a prelude of where I am going.

I loved mythology as a child. I couldn’t get enough of Greek and Roman gods causing wars, cheating, turning people to stone, and wrecking the world around them, or saving it at a whim.

There was the bittersweet love story of Psych and Eros. A woman who’s curiosity, and distrust, deprived her of the wonderful love given to her by a god.

There was the Trojan horse, and a war fought all in the name of love (or ownership) of the beautiful Helen of Troy.

There were the heroes, like Hercules, and Perseus, who braved mythical beasts and crossed entire continents to fulfill their quests.

In each of these stories we see the first structures of modern day tales. Romance, quests, revenge, war, suffering. Each an intrinsic part of the human narrative. Each a part of what has made our history.

When I wrote Forgotten Ones I attempted to pull on subtle hints of these gods, to capture their struggle with each other, and with the humanity which myth said they created.

That battle, in many ways, is real. Created from primordial pools of DNA, evolving into thinking, feeling, creative individuals, we still struggle against the world, the universe, that created us, and against one another. Massive natural disasters. Fires. Floods. Wars. Famines. The list goes on…

Struggle is what makes a book interesting. Overcoming adversity, and beating the odds. Whether it is a god, a goddess, or a human being.

And why shouldn’t the ancient myths reflect a very real struggle between man and the environment? Ancient men labored closer to, and had greater fear of, the wild places then we do in this day. They did not have guns to protect them, or metal sky scrapers to take them up above the wilds. They didn’t have planes, and satellites to tell them when the waters would rise, or crops fail.

But it’s a new age. The weather seems to be changing drastically with every turn of the clock. Tsunamis, fires, sinkholes, and even meteors pose real threats to people. So now we’re creating our own mythology in movies like “Dante’s Peak” and “Armageddon”. And it makes sense. Our myths are based on science, instead of gods, even if the science is faulty.

I think one of the reasons the old myths are so interesting is the human quality of a god or goddess. Maybe they are more powerful, invincible, and immortal, but they still love, and hate, and fight. They still have emotions. Something an equation, or a volcano can not do. You can reason with a god, or trick them. A volcano will blow no matter what you do, or what you promise.

So, yes, fantasy and story telling started with those great myths from the past. They started with fears, hopes, and dreams of men who came long before us. But we are continuing on in their fashion, fighting against the shadows in the night with words, and hope in the form of new stories, and new myths.

Some Updates

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So a few things have happened this week.

I published “Potion Shop”. It’s available for 99 cents at the moment, but will be raised to $2.99 on Monday. You can find it on Amazon or Kobo.

I also published a few more books on Kobo. Two of them are stuck in publishing. Kobo’s tech team is working to figure out why that is, and hopefully all of my currently available titles will be available on Kobo and Amazon very soon.

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Also, I have three chapters left to edit and finish writing for “Forgotten Ones”.

I am hoping it will be out this weekend as well. I’ve been sick for the last few days so it’s slowed down my writing quite a bit, but now I’m starting to feel better so I have high hopes.

Also…. Tonight is the Self Publish Round Table Podcast. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you need to! We all have a roaring good time, and the comments get pretty awesome. If you hang around after the podcast we usually have an after party and chat with all our wonderful fans.

See you tonight!

The Internet is Weird

Over the last year I have made some new, wonderful friends. People who have helped, and encouraged me. People I have laughed with, made fun of, and in general caused mayhem.

People I have never actually met in real life.

I don’t know a great deal about these men and women on the internet. But I like them. They tell great stories. We have similar senses of humor, and love writing, and reading, and share a lot of similar goals.

I count them as friends.

I suppose this isn’t quite as unusual as it would have been just ten years ago. Many of us now have friends that we’ve never actually seen face to face. Never had a cup of coffee with. Never hugged, or shook hands. But the people on the other side of that google hang out are just as wonderful, and I would miss them just as much, as any other of my friends. (Especially Cyndi 😉 )

I am unsure if this development in our culture is good, or bad. It has allowed me, a person who is uncomfortable in crowds and often socially inept, the safety of a computer screen to feel completely at peace with chatting with more then two people at once. And has even bled over into my physical life.

On the other hand, there is still a distance. If something were to happen to one of my friends that live down the street I would know within a matter of days, if not hours. If something were to happen to one of my internet friends… would I ever know?

I suppose it is no different then if I had a pen pal back in ye old Victorian days, and the letters simply stopped coming. This is probably also why living wills and wills now sometimes include passwords, or other information to inform those who might be interested.

In a world that is increasingly becoming connected, and at the same time disconnecting from one another, we are adjusting to technology, and the idea that boarders, and distance rarely matter.

Perhaps there is a story in this idea… one in which a boy, smitten by a girl in a city far away, suddenly loses contact, and travels across the country, or the world, to find her.

Perhaps it’s just a reminder that life is fragile, and precious, and we should all take the time to appreciate our friends weather they live down the block, or on the other side of the world.

What makes you think you’re so special?

I’ve been in writer forums, workshops, blogs and more, and invariably there is someone who says something like this:

“I want to write, but I’m afraid to write a bad story.”

One… no you don’t, or you’d be writing.
Two… why the hell do you think you’re so special?

Stephen King writes for years in the corner of his living room before he finally produces something worth selling. But you’re going to produce awesome prose on the first try?

Do you know how many times an author re-writes, re-vamps, throws out, and tries again… on the same project?

But you’re special. Right? Whatever comes out of your head must be perfect and wonderful the first time or you’re not going to write.

Let’s look at it from the view of an author who writes, puts out, and publishes a book, or several books. I’ve labored for hours, months, and possibly years to produce this book. I’ve tortured myself about what to write on that page, or who to kill on that page. I’ve lost sleep because of deadlines, skipped dinners, and missed out on fireworks… all to finish a novel.

And it sucked. The first draft was horrible. The second draft less so, and the third draft finally started to look like something worth publishing.

But you…. you think you should be special and everything out of your hands should be pure bliss to read?

I think it’s time for you to re-evaluate what it is that you really want. Do you want to write? If so, WRITE! That is all you can do. It will probably suck. People might laugh. So. If you are writing because that is what is inside you to do then none of that matters.

Unless you are Motzart, Pascal, Akrit Jaswal, or John von Neumann, you’re going to have to fumble and screw up just like the rest of us poor mortals.

I wasn’t a prodigy. I write. I suck sometimes. But I still pick up that keyboard and write.

What’s your excuse?

Influences of the Past

I was talking to a fellow author today, and we started discussing authors we know and love. There are a number of them I love at the moment. Neil Gaiman, Kim Harrison, Elizabeth Hayden, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman… all fantastic authors with wonderful books that drew me in, and kept me reading. Kept me looking for the next book.

When I was younger my tried and true authors were Piers Anthony and Anne McCaffrey, with a little bit of Mercedes Lackey thrown in. If you caught me with a book (which you often did) eight out of ten times it would be one of these authors.

I was a voracious reader. I have read about 80% of Piers Anthony’s, and Anne McCafferey’s books (both of who are/were prolific authors. Piers Anthony is still writing to this day, and is currently writing a book through his twitter feed.)

Thinking back, I realize that my consumption of these books had a great influence on my writing. Piers Anthony especially.

I once found myself in a discussion about his books on Reddit. Now, Reddit is an odd place, and  you can find some incredibly thought provoking commentary in there. You can also find a bunch of trolls just looking to get a rise out of people. That day I just happened to meet someone who honestly didn’t like Anthony, and when she saw my comment about what a good writer he was it pushed her buttons.

Apparently some people think of Anthony as “an old pervert”. Okay, I’ll give you one, but not the other.

Yes, Anthony writes about younger girls falling in love, flirting, sex, and centaurs and mermaids with their breasts showing. He even wrote an interesting book called “Pornucopia” which is exactly what it sounds like. Does that make him a pervert? I don’t think so. Writing erotica doesn’t make you a pervert any more then enjoying sex because, you know, it feels… GOOD!

Sex is a part of the human condition. So are the subjects of body image, love, relationships, gender equality, and age of consent. Issues that he addresses in many of his books.

I kept reading his novels because they spoke about the human condition without being preachy. He often addressed race, religion, beliefs, fear, politics, and social and political issues of all kinds, throughout many of his books. But he did it in a way that even a young adult could understand. And he did it without shoving his own personal beliefs on you (even if they were sometimes pretty obvious.)

In “Race Against Time” Piers Anthony deals with the complex idea of “conformity” and how that could cause the stagnation of society and innovation. Written in 1973, it still rings true during a time when political correctness is almost crammed down our throats. We are taught from childhood to sit down, follow directions, and learn and grow just like everyone else, and if you stand out your risk punishment for being a “disturbance in class”.

I wonder if “Race Against Time” would be publishable, through traditional means, in this decade, especially if Anthony were an unknown. Some have openly called it racist because he uses race as a device to accentuate “conformists” to “individualism”, but it was never meant to be about race.

When I say that Piers Anthony influenced my writing today, I mean that if you take the time to read between the lines of my stories you will find a deeper meaning. It isn’t just about a pretty leaf, or a scarecrow, or death. There is something behind it, some deeper meaning, even if that deeper meaning is “pay attention, ask questions, think for yourself.” Especially with my “Eversword Saga“.

I only hope that I can do half as well as Anthony, and others, did.

SPRT Episode 6

SPRTJust finished up another episode of Self Publishing Round Table.

We discussed pricing. What should an author price their book at? What influences it? What should they consider?

We also talked about “The Beam”, and Neil Gaiman a bit.

 

On that note, Small Bites the complete collection is out, and priced at $2.99…. But I’m going to be raising it to $3.99, and raising all the individual books to $1.99. You may want to get it before the price increases…. It is also available as a paperback through Createspace. It is $6.99.

 

Letting Go

I’ve been working through a back log of old stories, trying to complete them. There are two that are complete, finished stories… and I will probably never publish them.

They aren’t horrible stories. They just don’t fit me anymore. One, “Grimalkin”, I might use as a bonus some day because I think it’s a silly little fairy tale like story, and a fun read. The other, “Contract”, is… controversial in nature.

I don’t write silly little fairy tales, for the most part. And “Contract” just isn’t as good as I would like.

I have a whole file filed with story ideas. Some times I go back to those files and read them, and they spark new and interesting ideas. Other times I wonder why the heck I’m holding onto them.

Letting go isn’t that easy. Especially when it’s something you worked hard to build or create. But knowing what is and isn’t worth pursuing is part of growing as a creator. Sure, I could say “This is done” and post the story, but what would my readers think? Would it be a good experience for them? Would they continue reading other stories?

No, probably not. So it’s best to shelve. Let it spark other ideas. But I won’t be releasing those particular stories.

If you missed it, there is a free story, “The Pretty Leaf”. It is about memories, and life long love.

Also, “Twilight Tales” will be available for free on the 21st and 22nd of this month. If you haven’t read it, grab it then. I’ll be using up the last bit of my KDP select free days for that.

Things get Tough Sometimes

I’ve had a lot of changes lately. Mostly in my attitude.

Not so long ago I wouldn’t have had enough confidence in myself to attempt self publishing one book, let alone eight. And here I am, eight finished and more on the way.

I’ve noticed other things. My tenacity is growing… the simple ability to stick to something no matter what.

Writing isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s tough. Some days the words don’t click, or the story frustrates you. Some days you have to power through, find a voice, and go with it.

Small Bites has done a lot to encourage that tenacity. Some of the stories have been incredibly easy to write. Others incredibly hard. But I keep writing.

This last book, three science fiction stories, has been the hardest to write so far. Not because I don’t know sci-fi, but because they are all relatively new story ideas, not quite complete, requiring a but more thought then some of the others. Plus, I have lot more going on right now, and if I skip a day of writing I usually can’t write much for a while, so I try not to skip days.

On the other hand the words seem to flow so much better when I just let go and write.

Regardless, the fact that I know I can sit down and write, even if I don’t feel like it, is a valuable thing. I may not like what I write, in fact I probably won’t… but the act of writing, and fleshing out a story, is usually enough to “get me in the mood”, which is when the true story comes out.

I took a break from publishing this week so I could redo a lot of things, and get a little ahead. I reformatted the print copy of “Osiren’s Tears”, and decided that “Small Bites” would also go up as a print book.  Got most of that formated, I just need the last three stories.

I don’t know which is coming out next week, “Small Bites 4” or “the Camera”, but I hope they will both be done by friday morning so that I can publish, one, have the other for the next week, and then work on “Forgotten Ones”. Another 20-30k word book.

Really… I just love writing.

A New Book, and the Next Book

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“Small Bites 3” is now out.

The third installment of the Small Bites dark, flash fiction stories.

And it already has one 5 star review! Awesome.

BUT! Because of this book, and how publication is gong lately, I think I am going to have to take a one week break from publishing.

The goal was to publish one book a week until I had a nice selection of books available on Amazon. I wanted each publication to be on Friday night for the weekend. Ideal would have been Thursday, so that it would be available on Friday morning.

But with everything going on, my new podcast, D&D once a week, and general family time… I need to get ahead a week in order to have the Thursday night release.

With my schedule I generally end up finishing the stories sometime around Friday night, Saturday afternoon. Then I scramble to get the formatting and everything finished, along with a few last minute edits. That means I don’t actually get to hit “PUBLISH” until about 2 am.

Because I want it out for the weekend, not just part of the weekend, I think I need to finish it that weekend, and release it the next Thursday night. That will give me time to catch up on a few things.

camera2The next one scheduled is The Camera, the second book in the Illicit Gains series.

Expect it on July 6th.

And to get any of my books, including a paper back version of “Osiren’s Tears”, check out my Amazon Page.

Small Bites 2 available now!

Late last night I published Small Bites 2.

Like the previous title, this also contains 3 short stories. However, I wasn’t quite able to stick with the less then 1000 words goal. “Carmine” is double that.

This title also comes with a bonus at the end of the book. The other two stories, “Scarecrow” and “Price of a Book” follow the less then 1000 word flash fiction rule.

“Scarecrow” is also in “Twilight Tales”, but as it is my most popular flash fiction story I had to include it in the Small Bite series. It just happened to fit in this collection.

Small Bites 2” is only 99 cents.