Is The War of Art really a craft book? Maybe not by any reasonable definition, but it does cover a topic of great interest to many budding authors: if I want to write, how come I rarely actually write anything? If this question sounds absurd to you, you’ve obviously never spent much time on writer’s forums, where variants of it come up over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. See, with a little practice, anyone can figure out how to cut an adverb or cliché, but when it comes to the thorny issue of motivation, there are no easy answers–at least until now.
I read this book at the request of a friend who had heard rave reviews from various media outlets proclaiming it to be the greatest thing since spellcheck (perhaps the fact that he was too lazy to read it himself speaks volumes as to whether or not he needs it). Impressed by the blurbs, I put it on my Kindle and ended up consuming it over the course of a couple hours (it’s not that engaging, but it is very short). What I found was a pretty good self-help guide, mixed with a good smattering of nonsensical blather, especially in the final third. Read on for details.
Eren Arik is an incredibly talented concept artist from whom I was lucky to be able to commission a piece of artwork. The subject is a scene from Aetheria’s Daemon, my current WIP (click the image for a larger version):
Aetheria’s Daemon is what some might call a non-traditional fantasy novel. It takes place on a world with a landscape and ecology much different from Earth, where all the humans (or at least they think of themselves as human) are immortal, and any object can be conjured from the air with a thought. The elements shown here–the castle, the mountains, the drakenbird and even the dust clouds in the distance are all important elements in the story, but you’ll have to wait to read it to find out what they mean.
What I can tell you about the story is that it begins with Meli, a practitioner of the arts of plant and animal creation. Meli has had a dream in which she is holding a baby, something no one in Aetheria has heard of before. Drawn by a powerful urge to make her vision real, she recruits Ariden, an unsociable vagabond and legendary fighter, and Karis, an aged airship engineer with the appearance of a teen girl, to help make a perilous journey across the ocean. But when an attack by air pirates splits the companions and leads Meli and Ariden to the lair of an ancient cult, they begin to learn the truth of her quest, and its connection with a mysterious being who plots the destruction of all Aetherian life.
You can see more of Eren’s work in his CGHub gallery.
I went to Worldcon this year for the first time. It was an experience. Hard to put into better words than that, especially since my brain is still reeling from so much input. Worldcon serves many purposes, most of which overlap to some degree: there are fannish (autographing, interviews, etc.), social (drinking and schmoozing), craft (panels, workshops, etc.), and industry (drinking and schmoozing again) related activities. There is no such thing as a “perfect” Worldcon schedule, and even after running around like crazy for four days there are plenty of things I wish I had done and people I wish I had met. I am also not the best in the world at partying, given my low alcohol tolerance (as in small amounts of alcohol give me a big hangover) and my self-consciousness at being un/self-published. But, I did meet some really cool folks, gained a few good insights about writing (especially the business side), and there were no major disasters either with travel or back at home while I was gone, so I’m going to count this one as a success.
Up next for me is finishing the first draft of Aetheria’s Daemon, at which point I will put it aside for a couple weeks, then look toward finishing another draft somewhere around mid-October. I also may have another Aetheria’s Daemon-related surprise coming for you soon. Until then, here are some pictures from the con to look at; probably not as many as I should have taken, but like I said, I was busy.
Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a huge fan of independent author Christopher Ruz, so when he asked if I’d like a copy of his horror serial Rust to review, you’ll be unsurprised that I jumped right on it.
I was excited about Rust because I’ve always thought that Ruz’s voice was made for horror. Horrific imagery leaks through in bits and pieces in his other speculative fiction, and he has propensity to get very personal with thoughts and desires, as well as hold nothing back from a character’s raw experience, even at the expense of making the reader uncomfortable.
All I can say is that I was not disappointed. Horror is one of those love/hate genres for me–if done well it can be amazing, but almost all the time you see it it’s not done well. And if making good horror movies is difficult, then writing good horror must be nearly impossible, because I can count on one hand the number of horror authors I’ve read who really got under my skin. With Rust, Ruz has joined an elite cadre of authors including King and Barker who can do horror well.
There’s a lot to like here, starting with the setting. Rustville is a suitably disturbing playground for all manner of macabre adventures had and yet to come, and the brilliant decision to place the series in the mid-1980′s only ramps up the creepiness and sense of dread (horror is so much better when no one has a cell phone). The plight of the main character Kimberly, waking up in a life she assumes must be a lie but which all evidence points to being real, adds a mysterious touch to the heart-pounding, skin-crawling action. But most of all, the story just flows in that typically Ruz-ian fashion, events transpiring at just the right pace to draw you in and not let go.
I’m also a fan of the serialized format, mimicking how shows like Lost follow one continuous storyline, while also delivering a separate climax at the end of each season. One thing I would like to see for future seasons would be an expanding of the cast to be more of an ensemble, though the focus on Kimberly and Fitch this time around works well as an introduction.
Rust: Season 1 is available either serialized or as an omnibus edition. If you’re a fan of horror, you need to read it as soon as possible. Then, hit up Christopher Ruz’s website and let him know you’d like more seasons to be produced.
THE TRUE QUEEN LIVES
Bragging time…fellow author and all-around smart guy S.M. White graciously agreed to review The Reintegrators, and he’s written up his thoughts here. As you might have guessed, he was very complementary, so much so that the swelling of my head to gargantuan proportions has nearly left me at a loss for words.
It’s difficult to explain why authors dread seeing the initial reviews of their work. Certainly, the whole point of putting a book out there is for it to be read, and if I’m expecting people to read it then I’m also expecting them to have an opinion about it, and it’s more useful for both me and others if they make their opinions known. And it’s not as if I think the book is bad–clearly I like it quite a bit, or I wouldn’t be offering it to others. But no matter how confident I am, I also know that any judgement of “good” or “bad” is purely subjective, and that there’s a chance I’ve become so involved with the project and so biased that I could no longer make rational judgements about its quality.
So, it’s been somewhat of a relief this past month to see The Reintegrators attracting some really positive reviews. Of course, not everyone is going to love everything about it, especially since some it has some experimental aspects (how many books can you think of where the bulk of the storyline consists of the protagonist doing multiple things at the same time, in different bodies?). But every once in a while I see a review from someone who really “gets it“, and that’s when I feel like all the grinding and decision-making that led me to this point has been worth it.
I’m so glad that Mr. White is also one of those people. Getting praise from a fellow author is especially flattering, because our minds are so heavily involved in making enhancing the quality of prose that it’s easy for us to spot flaws. All I can say in return is that since he obviously has great taste, you should consider checking out his books, especially his new novel The Lonely Man: The Witch’s Price, and also follow him on Twitter.
Next up: Aetheria’s Daemon status update.
The exposition…here we go…the exposition…what a show!
Ahem. Sorry about that, was channeling Mel Brooks for a moment.
Where were we? Ah yes, exposition. The bane of freelance editors and critique groups everywhere, because generally speaking, exposition is boring. In it’s purest form, it’s simply a way giving the reader information in the simplest, flattest way possible. No plot, no characters, no emotion–all the things we love about fiction are stopped dead so that the budding author-to-be can clearly explain everything he or she thinks you need to know about the cultural mores of his race of talking marmosets.
You can enter to win one of three paperback copies of The Reintegrators here. Nothing required to enter other than a Goodreads account. And just to prove that I’m for real, here are the goods in question, ready to be shipped out to the winners:
Update: the giveaway has ended and the books have been shipped. Thanks so much to everyone who entered; the interest was far beyond my expectations, with over 650 people signing up. Clearly with that kind of demand, I’ll need to do another one of these in the near future. Stay tuned…