January 26, 2017

Quicknib the Scribe (A Trashling Tale) [re-post]

When I was young, a distant glimpse of the Makers set me on my path.

To find the Scribes is sufficient call to our way of life. I spent years as an apprentice Paper-Reclaimer, slowly working my way up to Ink-Confector, then Pensmith. Invested at last in my sacred robes as Scribe, I labored a month on my first composition.

Master Truehand led me to the very top of Mount Cheforiac and took my work from me. I wept as he let the paper go.

We cast our tales to the winds, O Makers, hoping that you will notice us.

January 19, 2017

Giatolo the Sell-Sword (A Trashling Tale) [re-post]

Cardboard crunched. Giatolo drew his twin blades and kissed bone charms made by Tu-va-illa herself.

Green eyes glowed in the shadows—the beast killing the Mouse-Herders' flock. A grey tomcat launched itself at Giatolo. Teeth snapped so close that he felt its hot breath. His blades flashed. The cat snarled and batted him to the dust.

The grinning beast grabbed him by his mouseskin vest and tossed him into the air. The sell-sword laughed, somersaulting and landing on the cat's back.

His blades sang until the tomcat ran off howling. Giatolo chuckled and gathered severed whiskers to re-string his lute.

January 18, 2017

The Butterfly Path: Cover Reveal!

Well, I'm running a little behind on my story series at Amazon, but things *are* moving forward with them. The next one to be released will be "The Butterfly Path." I'm hoping to have the final formatting done in time to release by the end of January.

I'm *very* proud of this story; I consider it one of my personal favorites of all the things I've written. Hopefully you will agree. While you're waiting on the story, though, here's a sneak peek of the cover:

The awesome Carey Abbot did that for me. If you're a writer releasing e-books, check out her pre-made covers--very reasonably priced, and she runs sales from time to time as well.

More on "The Butterfly Path" when it hits Amazon. I'll have a couple of other announcements then too, regarding the next Tale from the Veldt and a few surprises.

Until soon!

January 12, 2017

Kranok the Searcher (A Trashling Tale) [re-post]

The pathways of the Land of Fill shift from night to night, month to month, year to year. Only the Makers know why.

Kranok stands at a crossroad. He raises his Searcher's staff to divine his next step.

If he goes left, he will reach the habitations of artists and artisans, Tinkers and Coggers. If he goes right, the fields of Farmers and pens of Mouse-Herders. Straight ahead lie the camps of the Makers' Children, next to the furnaces of Those-Who-Burn.

He opens closed eyes and sets off over the refuse itself. He walks somewhere he has never been before.

January 07, 2017

How I Started Writing Seriously

I remember very clearly the day I decided I was going to write seriously. What do I mean by seriously? Getting paid for what I write.

I was reading a recent fantasy novel by a well-known author. I won't say who, but you've probably seen their name on the bookstore shelves.

I was enjoying the story. But I got to the point where a switch went off in my brain: I can write as well as they can. If they can be published, why not me?

That thought was all it took. 

Any success I've had as a writer found its start in that one "why not" moment.

Do you want to be a published author? If I can do it, why not you?

January 05, 2017

An Experiment in Haiku Fiction: The Trashlings (re-post)

Two of the most influential works in defining my concept of haiku fiction are Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson and The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters. Winesburg, Ohio is one of the first examples of the "novel-in-story" genre, a lengthy narration told through a series of interconnected short stories. The stories work as individual pieces, telling the histories of an interesting cast of characters. Yet they all interrelate to recount the main character's coming of age.

The Spoon River Anthology is a collection of poems, and it does not have the "through line" of a novel. But Masters paints the picture of a single small town by presenting us the epitaphs of its citizens. The life stories told in the poems often give different perspectives on the same event. One can only figure out what happened by reading between the lines of two or more versions of the same event -- if there is a "true version" at all.

Inspired by these two works, I'm going to try a writing experiment. I am in the process of writing a series of interconnected one hundred word drabbles. I hope to create a consistent world and hopefully an interconnected narrative. Why drabbles? Because I find that the limitation of the hundred word form focuses my creativity. And they're a heck of a lot of fun.

You get to be my test subjects. I hope to post one drabble a week here at my blog. Come explore the Land of Fill with me. And let me know what you think of the Trashlings:

How It Began
My wife and I recently brought a couch to the local landfill. As we lowered it off the truck, a scrap of paper blew into my face. I cursed, snatched it off, and shoved it into my pocket.
I forgot about it until I reached for my keys to drive home. The paper bore words in a black-brown ink. I didn't understand the story at first. Not until we found more scraps of paper.
Together, they speak of a race of creatures living in the landfill. I don't know whether or not the tales are true.
They call themselves Trashlings...

January 03, 2017

Review of Cirsova 4

Fletcher Vredenburgh has a review of Cirsova 4 up at Black Gate Magazine. He is very complimentary toward my story, "The Sands of Rubal-Khali":

Jam-packed with slavers, a wily bounty hunter, and a cosmic mystery, I liked this a bunch.

 Read the full review here.

January 01, 2017

Looking Back/Looking Forward

I almost started this blog exactly as I started last year's January 1st blog, by talking about Janus, the Roman god of thresholds.

Which shows how often I re-read my blog. That post was my only post for 2016. Something needs to change there!

Needless to say, that means I didn't post any new Trashlings stories. Nor did I finish my novel. I have some good directions in which to go; I just have to make time to go there.

I didn't quite average a short story a month, but I did finish seven new stories, five of which also saw publication, and I sold a reprint or two and found homes for stories I had previously written.

Chaosium's werewolf anthology with my story "Arcadia" finally appeared in 2016. I made another appearance in one of Flametree Publishing's beautiful Gothic Fantasy anthologies, this time in Murder Mayhem with a reprint of "Mr. Ted." Flametree has qualified as an SFWA professional-level market, so in 2017 I will be looking into joining SFWA and/or HWA at their entry level.

I had another enjoyable year with the fine folks at The Writer's Arena. In addition to judging for half the year, four of my published stories this year appeared in Arena competitions. "The Lights of Wasashe Springs" won, as did my first two entrants in the annual Arena Tournament, "Good Neighbors" and "My Mother, The Superhero" (narrowly, by the popular vote).

I made it to the final round of the Tournament again this year, competing once again against my friend David Webb. Dave's story won out against "Cloudcuckooland," crowning him as 2016's champ. (I still owe him the celebratory beer...) Shortly after the Tournament, the guys in charge of the Arena announced a hiatus for the Arena. I have great faith that "that is not dead which can eternal lie," but it will be missed in 2017, not only as a venue for my work, but also as a place to meet other awesome writers.

I've ventured into the realm of self-publishing through Amazon's Kindle Direct service. "In the Days of the Witch-Queens" and "Serpent's Heart" haven't had many sales yet, but when I offered them for free a lot of people did pick up copies. "Witch-Queens" is gathering some good reviews. I plan on releasing further KDP books in the near future, and perhaps having a larger library available will help sales. More on this soon.

Two of my proudest writing accomplishments for 2016 are my appearances in Cirsova Magazine. "The Hour of the Rat" ran in the very first issue--something I'm quite proud of. Cirsova was a perfect home for my tale of sword and sorcery told from the point of view of one who might normally be considered a minor character.

"The Sands of Rubal-Khali" is a spiritual sequel to "The Hour of the Rat," and appeared in Cirsova's double fourth issue. I'm even happier with this story, especially in its solid grounding in the planetary romance tradition. One of the most enjoyable parts of being a Cirsova author, however, has been getting to know the circle of writers and fans that have quickly grown up around this magazine. Think no one still writes adventure yarns in the tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, Abraham Merritt, or Jack Vance? Get to know Cirsova!

My biggest blessing in 2016, however, has nothing to do with writing. In August, after years of trying to get pregnant, my wife gave birth to our first child. Baby Uitvlugt has changed our lives in so many ways, but there's one thing that he reminds me of each and every day:

Time is precious.

I can remember holding Baby Uitvlugt by my forearm alone with room to spare. Now I have a hard time managing him in his car carrier for extended periods of time. I remember wakign up to feed him every two hours. Now he sleeps through the night--once we can get him to fall asleep. Every moment with Baby Uitvlugt is precious in a different way, and no moment will ever come again.

I have less time to write than before he was born, so I have to make the time I do have count. We have formula and diapers to buy, and every little bit of extra cash helps, so I have even more motivation to write well. I need to become a better writer because Baby Uitvlugt is counting on me. I want him to be proud of his Daddy.

With that in mind, here are my goals/resolutions for 2017. I've broken them down into four headings.

1) Short Stories.
I will write at least twelve short stories this year, averaging one a month. I will publish at least half of these. At least two will be in professional venues.

2) Platform.
I will blog at least weekly. I will revitalize the Trashlings series. I will obtain at least 2500 Twitter followers.

3) Self-Publishing.
I will publish at least one new Kindle Direct story a month. At the end of this year, if self-publishing is still not profitable, I will re-assess it as a strategy.

4) Novels.
I will finish my fantasy novel. I will get it beta read. I will begin to market it. I will plan a second novel.

There you have them. Written down for all to see. Will I fulfill them? Stay tuned.

What are your goals for 2017, and what will motivate you to succeed?