Screenshot from my computer.
Yes, it’s a bland image to be sure, but writing fiction isn’t all fun, games, and glory. Once a story is accepted, or in this case two, it doesn’t mean what you’ve submitted to the publisher is perfect. It just means that it’s a good story (well, I hope that’s what it means).
It also means that someone is going to go over your story with the proverbial fine-toothed comb, pointing out issues, everything from word usage to punctuation.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com
Finally got some mojo back and am doing a bit of writing, but I’d better hurry, because the deadline for this one is just a week away and I’m still halfway through my first draft. Here’s an excerpt. Tell me what you think of it.
“A wise man once said, it ain’t over til it’s over. I got lucky enough to get a seat at the highest stakes poker game in the west coast underworld with who, a drug kingpin, a racketeer…” he winked at Harris as the butt suspending her three-hundred pound frame shifted, threatening to turn the ancient wood chair into kindling. “…an assassin…,” he nodded at Elias Swan, who looked more the part of a balding, frail accountant. He only spoke from behind his surgical mask when the game necessitated it, “…and the man who runs the unions and the docks from here to San Diego. Tell us why do they call you Daddy?”
Miller knew he was pushing them all, especially Cooke, but that had always his point. Still grinning like an all too visible Cheshire cat, he slapped his hand on the peeling varnish of the pine tabletop. “Read ‘em and weep. Straight flush in diamonds, six through ten.”
“I’m impressed Miller, but not impressed enough. Still can’t beat a…”
Cooke had just enough time to start tipping his hand downward revealing a royal flush in spades when Al Miller exploded out of his seat, violently shoving the table into the other three to his left. As if by magic, a Colt M1911 appeared in his right hand. He lunged at Daddy, whose…
Promotional image for the HBO series “Lovecraft Country”
Every once in a while, I visit Mike Glyer’s File 770 SciFi fanzine. I used to follow them and get email updates of new posts, but either due to an accidental technical glitch or me being deliberately booted off for being an “undesirable,” those notices stopped.
Anyway, I was scrolling through Pixel Scroll 8/15/20 To Clickfinity And Beyond! and came across a link to HBO’s ‘Lovecraft Country’ Brings Viewers To A World Of Monsters, Magic and Racism.
I didn’t learn about famed horror writer H.P. Lovecraft’s racism until this last round of Hugos when he was denounced along with a lot of other dead white men.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Lovecraft’s monsters and his racism have both been twisted into a show set in the 1950s which features both:
Image of the cover of Orson Scott Card’s book “How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy”
On the heels of my blog posts Looks Like the 2020 Hugo Awards Once Again Sucked, Loving and Fearing SF/F Fandom, and the currently highly popular Is SciFi Author/Editor Robert Silverberg Really Racist and Sexist (or has the internet once again lost its mind)?, a library book I just finished and am about to return caught my attention.
Written by Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead) the small book How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy was my choice to re-read in the hopes of dragging myself out of my current writing slump.
Published in 2001, all of the advice about how to publish, market, and, of course, win awards (Card won two Hugos, a Nebula, a Lotus, and in 1978, the John W. Campbell [now renamed Astounding] Award for Best New Writer) are outdated and useless.
But his lessons on how to write remain pretty much timeless, especially when you are actually learning the craft rather than trying to promote a social position, attitude, or bias (I say that knowing that all stories contain the biases of their authors, but lately, it’s gotten so much more obvious and even blatant).
EDIT: I picked up some additional material on the twitter stream and thus the content. Any changes I’ve made in this blog post are bolded.
I started following fantasy author Jeannette Ng on twitter after she gave a rather “unusual” acceptance speech upon receiving what used to be called a “Campbell Award.” I recorded my reactions HERE.
I follow her, not because I’m likely to read anything she’s written, or even that we agree on much (if anything), but to understand differing points of view. Most of the time, I don’t give her much thought, but today, I saw a thread on twitter that caught my attention. I only read part of it since, due to the nature of twitter, threads get nested in interesting ways requiring a lot of clicking and time to open them and read.
So I took a screenshot (several actually, and I edited them together) to capture what I thought were the most representative points. Apparently, the discussion was about what got various people interested in Science Fiction and Fantasy (SF/F). However it was also a debate regarding progressive vs. traditionalist voices in SF/F, and if it were possible to speak to the positives of what an author crafted while setting aside the more “difficult” aspects of their life (More text beyond the screenshot).
Update: Someone I know on twitter captured a much more straightforward vision of this thread Here. Since people sometimes delete their material, I redid the screenshots and updated the image below. Oh, and Ms. Ng, if you ever get around to reading this… “Stale, pale, male crowd.” Cute.
Cover image for “Fantastic Schools, Volume One”
Finally L. Jagi Lamplighter’s magic schools anthology Fantastic Schools: Volume One (Fantastic Schools Anthologies Book 1) is available on Amazon. It features short stories by Christopher G. Nuttall, Mel Lee Newman, Emily Martha Sorenson, and others.
My short story “Sorcery’s Preschool” will be appearing in Volume Two of the series, hopefully out sometime this in August 2020.
Would it be too much to say that I’ve been waiting all my life for this story to see the light of day?
Well, maybe not all my life, but Jonathan Cypher has been part of me in one incarnation or another for over forty years.
Mark at Dastaan Magazine just accepted “The Unreal Man” for the “Quantum” themed issue of that periodical. He accepted the 5,000 word tale as opposed to the 10,000 expanded tome I originally submitted, but at least Jonathan’s name will be out there.
Here’s a couple of excerpts:
Cover art for Superversive anthology “Fantastic Schools 2”
You may remember I announced that my short story “Sorcery’s Preschool” was selected for publication in one of the Superversive Fantastic Schools anthologies.
Found at superversivesf.com. No image credit given
L. Jagi Lamplighter has just announced at the magic schools page for Superversive SF, the upcoming publications of Fantastic Schools 1 and 2.
One of the two volumes, I don’t know which one yet, will feature my fantasy short story “Sorcery’s Preschool”. I very, very loosely based the main child character on my four-and-a-half year old granddaughter, which was a lot of fun. However, she won’t really appreciate the story until she gets a bit older.
According to Jagi, volume one will come out this spring, but as I said, I have no idea if my tale will be in the first or second tome. I guess she received so many great stories that she decided to spread them out.
This is the first official announcement and it’s pretty general. In part, it states:
Cover art for the Zombie Pirate Publishing anthology “Witches vs. Wizards”
I just finished Zombie Pirate Publishing‘s 2018 anthology WITCHES VS WIZARDS: A Fantasy Anthology, and I must say I was exceptionally impressed. Typically, indie anthologies are a mix of terrific, good, and okay stories, with one or two stinkers, but this one surprised me.
I can’t say I found a story I didn’t like. A few of them were on themes I don’t naturally resonate with, but in each and every case, the writing was solid, and they all had an interesting, if not always unique take on the world of magic.
Derek Paterson’s “The House of Magus” was a compelling tale that could have come out of the pages of a Robert E. Howard “Conan” short story, although with more thought and a bit less bashing.
Adam Bennett’s “The Apprentice” was somewhat predictable, at least at the end, but getting there was half the fun. I had hoped for a happier ending for the hapless protagonist, but sometimes that’s not how magic and quest to slay witches works out.