Sunday, March 18, 2018

Song Styles

Every now and again, I stumble across a song that latches onto me and becomes an obsession.  I hit the repeat button, I go back to seek it out at random times, and long before my fascination fades, I've got it memorized nuance by nuance.  This is one of my most recent obsession songs, and fair warning, it's creepy:

Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) - Aurora

The atmosphere combined with the song and Aurora's piercing song ... it's pretty much perfect.  The acoustic version is also haunting, but I love the beat and ethereal sound effects here.

Who is the "he" in this song?  And is the song even meant to be taken literally, or is some abstract part of the singer dying?  That's up to the listener.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Scylla and Charybdis Reviewed at Fantasy Faction

An early review for Scylla and Charybdis is now available at Fantasy Faction:  check it out!

I'm quite pleased with this review.  I'm surprised how much attention the reviewer devotes to the society of Anaea's home station, but I suppose in hindsight, it plays a much bigger role than I originally intended.  We authors often develop a picture of the book that isn't necessarily how a reader approaches it.

Although character is very important in Scylla and Charybdis, I've always thought of it as a Milieu novel.  It's centered around the exploration of the world, and for me and Anaea, that means the world outside her home ... but on the other hand, you can't approach a foreign land without the context of where you've come from.  So in some senses, the space station is the most important setting of all, even if it doesn't get the same number of words devoted (directly) to it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wednesday Wanderings

In all the preparations for the release of Scylla and Charybdis, another anniversary slipped on by.  Flow has just had its sixth book-release anniversary!  The beginning of the month, in fact.  In the past, I've joked that of the two birthdays on the first of March (the book's and mine), Flow is obviously more important.  Who cares about the author's birthday?

It's been six years since Flow came out from Double Dragon (and is still available!).  It's been even longer since I first wrote it.  Sure, I might change a few things if given the chance to write it again.  If nothing else, the rise of smartphones and mobile technology would have a lot of small, subtle effects on the narrative (and the lack thereof does date it to the setting year).

Flow was a novel written from character, specifically the two women - Kit and Chailyn - who drive the narrative.  Their abilities and general backstory shaped the world I built for the book.  Along with Hadrian, they were all roleplaying characters who I adored, but didn't get enough time to play.

For those unfamiliar, roleplaying is essentially collaborative writing.  Typically, each person controls a single character, while one - the gamemaster - manages the world and forces moving against them.  I played in various iterations, but Kit, Chailyn and Hadrian come from internet-based games where the basic world is laid out in coded / described rooms, allowing people to interact without a gamemaster involved.  (Room being a pretty broad term:  a "room" could be an entire city neighborhood, a garden or an iceberg.)  These games were called a MUSH (Multi-User Shared Hallucination) or MUX (Multi-User eXperience).

So it's a very immersive way of creating a character, if sometimes tedious or humdrum - believe me, just about everyone who has played on a MUSH or MUX has had multiple scenes of lounging around a coffee shop chatting with a total stranger about nothing.  A lot of what is played out has little relevance to ongoing story, but as with many other aspects of writing, the iceberg effect comes into play.  What the reader never sees or even "needs" for the story shows up indirectly under the surface.

I've written other stories in the Flow setting:  Xmas Wishes and A Dose of Aconite have been published, and a few others are still in my to-be-submitted pile.  And what about a sequel to Flow?  I have definitely kicked around ideas, but I have so many other enticing projects that it's unlikely to float to the top (flow to the top) any time soon.  Unlikely ... but not impossible.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sunday Snippet

Instead of musical meanderings this Sunday, I thought I'd switch things up with a bit of proof-of-work from Surgeburnt.  This is one of the flashback sequences that form the novel's past-plot.  For context, the narrator is a Scorpio Star-child, which means in part that she has enhanced, poisonous nails ...

We spent a few moments more with the final details of the plan, then went our separate ways.  Tahir and I headed for the power station.
“Tell me whatever passage you’ve chosen for us isn’t crusted with cobwebs,” I said.
“What, are you afraid you’ll break a nail?”
I flexed my talons.  “Can you blame me?”
“I’d hate to see the amount of force you’d have to apply to break one of those nails.”  He managed a fleeting smile.  “We’ve got this, Maren.”
“Stop telling me things that are obvious.”
The power station was heavily monitored and protected by numerous electronic surveillance systems, but the soda factory on the next block was not.  We mingled with the workers on lunch break and entered the maintenance area. 
Tahir pried off the cover of a ventilation duct.  “After you, milady.”  He swept a mocking bow.
“So I hit any traps first,” I said.  “How kind of you.”
“I do try to be a gentleman.”

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Song Styles

In case you missed my shouting from the rooftops, Scylla and Charybdis, in Kindle form, is now available for preorder - check it out here!

I have an extensive playlist for the novel, which I'll be discussing in the weeks to come, but I wanted to start out with a song that is purely mood music, a moment of joy.

In The Arms of the Milky Way - Laura Powers

Of course, there are a few constellation / mythology references, which are very appropriate to the novel ... but mostly, I just love the attitude and the rush of discovery the song encompasses.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Wednesday Wanderings

Had trouble coming up with a topic for today's post, so on a whim, I inputted "writing" and "fantasy" into a random blog topic generator.  It spat back:  "Why We Love Writing (And You Should, Too!)"

No, no, don't.  I'm put in mind of the Dorothy Parker quote:  "If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy."

In any case, it seems like writers exist (or at least, this writer exists) in a constant state of paradox. We love writing and loathe it, beating our heads against the wall when the beautifully rendered scene in our minds turns into drivel on the page. Our work is derivative drek, but somehow - simultaneously! - worthy of publication by the big houses, glowing reviews, maybe even a movie ...

And the ability to hold both these states in suspension, often at the same time, is probably what makes the writing work. Stray too far in one direction or the other, and the result is stagnation.

So yes, if you're encouraging someone to write, you're telling them, "You should be a little bit unhappy all the time!" On the other hand, you're also telling them to be a bit happy all the time, so ... perhaps it balances out.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Song Styles

Curse my fickle writer brain!  I've committed myself to my next novel project and am partway through my third book on the research for it.  I am genuinely excited for everything it has to offer.  The characters promise to be a lot of fun, a study in contrasts, and it will be great to write from multiple POVs again ... especially since they have vastly different outlooks on the world and events around them.  I'm also tackling a(nother) mystery plotline, which has been a long term writerly goal of mine for a while.  Yes, Unnatural Causes is a mystery, but this one should be different enough not to feel like a retread.

And yet ... this morning, I woke up feeling the sudden, sharp pull of another project that has been on the backburner.  In some senses, it's a rewrite project, but it's more extensive than that:  I'm taking storylines and characters and transporting them to another world with different rules, which will inevitably change the dynamics.  These are people I know like the back of my hand.  My concerns, and the reason I had decided - ha! - not to tackle this project yet is the cast and plot are huge and complicated, and I'm concerned that it won't end up being original enough.

One of the facets I am very pleased with and think is unusual, though, is the fact that much of the plot is driven by the romance plot ... between the villain and his beloved.  It is a genuine, deep affection, but it also causes a lot of havoc in its wake.  I've always said that the question behind it is:  sure, true love can conquer all ... but should it?

Among the songs I associate with this thread is (from her perspective):

Bleeding Love - Leona Lewis

The violent metaphors take on a vaguely sinister cast in this context.  It's a great illustration of the beginning of a downward spiral.