Shattered World’s excerpt

lone_tower_by_m_hugo-d6aioqg

Eresh’s Chimney looked like a mud castle made by a giant. A mish-mash of crude bricks, rough boulders, and hewn beams the thickness of tree trunks, the spire gnarled its way skyward, knobby, crooked, and enormous.

There was a single entrance at the ground level, two massive doors of stone. They were  the color of storm clouds and seemed to take forever to open.

The sun had started its drop toward the western edge of the horizon when Levi, Gibs and Addas watched Snat delicately unwrap a leather bundle of long wire instruments and with a wink, get to work on the mechanism. “Have us in before you can say ‘Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.'”

Twenty minutes later, he was still fussing with it with his tools, but muttering in goblin under his breath.

Levi steeped up behind him and peered down over his shoulder as he worked.  “Legend has it that lock was fashioned by Völundr himself, sort of a payback to Eresh for helping him escape an island where he’d been imprisoned. Cunning genius that he was, I’ve read the smith crafted such things looking in a mirror. That way, spying eyes would be hard pressed to understand, let alone copy the secrets of his trade. Perhaps if you imagined yourself inside the lock—”

“Credentialed in gobermouch before the Shattering, were you?” the goblin snapped. “Cause you’re a bit mouthy to have been a picklock.”

“Ah, it’s just we should gain entrance before the sun sets. While there’s still light, you see.”

“I see.” The goblin gritted his teeth, put one pointed ear against the lock plate. “If you’d quite yammering. I’m—” A grin. A soft click. “There!”  He tugged gently. The massive stone door whispered open.

Snat knelt and wrapped his tools back up. “In you go,” he nodded. “While it’s still light.”

Back at it.

worst-apology-everBeen a while here. The last three months have been crammed with work deadlines, disability/health issues, the birth of grandchild number 4, writing-related adjustments, plus the usual Real Life grind, and in all that, writing and blogging were put on the back burner on Low. Real low.

I apologize to any of you who glanced this way for new work or posts. Certainly don’t mean to disappoint folks who are kind enough to spend time here or with my work. Apologies to Dave Alderman in specific: my promised read and review fell off the edge of my world. (There be dragons) It’s next in my reading queue.

I’ve managed to beat back the tangle and started in again. After all, forward is the only direction we’ve got. More stuff coming soon.

I am sincere here, but this was too funny not to post.

Have a good day.

false-apology-cards-tony-carrillo-f-minus-comics

 

 

Calibrating the writing process

watchmakers-lathe

A couple points I need to remind myself of when things are flying everywhere and I bog down trying to cram too much in too little space/ time.

  1. I have three modes to my writing process: Strip Mining, Assembly, and Polishing. It’s all “Writing”, but they are very different from each other and require different parts of my brain.
  2. I can’t do two simultaneously. Stop trying.
  3. Accept what mode I’m in. Embrace it even. At this point, the only deadlines I have are the ones I set. They can be extended.
  4. Remember that adage about the right word versus almost the right word? Very important, that.  Word Count can be a trap. Go for time spent instead. Why? Because WC varies by mode. Strip Mining = lots. Assembly = less. Polish = even less.
  5. That said, Busy-ness is NOT Productivity. It all comes down to finished pages.
  6. It’s OK to work on more than one project at a time. The background process still run. Focusing on something else might just let them work easier.
  7. Finish the piece to the best of my ability, kick it out the door, then move on. The Learning Curve  is just that – and the only way to learn is to do the work.
  8. It’s not what I can’t do but what I can do that counts. Life is a gift not a chore. Adjust attitude accordingly.

 

Some people have greatness thrust upon them. Few have excellence thrust upon them…. They achieve it. They do not achieve it unwittingly by doing what comes naturally and they don’t stumble into it in the course of amusing themselves. All excellence involves discipline and tenacity of purpose.

We pay a heavy price for our fear of failure. It is a powerful obstacle to growth. It assures the progressive narrowing of the personality and prevents exploration and experimentation. There is no learning without some difficulty and fumbling. If you want to keep on learning, you must keep on risking failure all your life.
John William Gardner

Opening Lines

I started a file of opening lines; a compilation of those random phrases, sentences, even paragraphs that pop up in my head like an infestation of mangy, unrelated, prairie dogs from the profusion of dank, dark holes and scurrilous burrows worming the plains of my imagination.

But instead of my prose, I present the previous five winning entries of the prestigious Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. (he’s the ‘dark and stormy night’ guy)

Have a great day and feel free to leave your own ‘Opening Line’ in the comments.

 

2015

Seeing how the victim’s body, or what remained of it, was wedged between the grill of the Peterbilt 389 and the bumper of the 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT, officer “Dirk” Dirksen wondered why reporters always used the phrase “sandwiched” to describe such a scene since there was nothing appetizing about it, but still, he thought, they might have a point because some of this would probably end up on the front of his shirt.
Joel Phillips, West Trenton, NJ

2014

When the dead moose floated into view the famished crew cheered – this had to mean land! – but Captain Walgrove, flinty-eyed and clear headed thanks to the starvation cleanse in progress, gave fateful orders to remain on the original course and await the appearance of a second and confirming moose. — Elizabeth (Betsy) Dorfman, Bainbridge Island, WA

2013

She strutted into my office wearing a dress that clung to her like Saran Wrap to a sloppily butchered pork knuckle, bone and sinew jutting and lurching asymmetrically beneath its folds, the tightness exaggerating the granularity of the suet and causing what little palatable meat there was to sweat, its transparency the thief of imagination. — Chris Wieloch, Brookfield, WI

2012 (personal fave)

As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting. — Cathy Bryant, Manchester, England

2011

Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories. — Sue Fondrie, Oshkosh, WI

This image


It’s the promo poster for “In the Heart of the Sea”, the film about the whaleship Essex. (The basis for “Moby Dick”.)

I was awestruck first time I saw it. It captures not merely the tenor of its movie, but – for me – the essence of good spec-fiction writing; there is a sense underneath of larger things, moving. The story is merely the bits that break the surface, the indicators of some terrible, wonderful immensity.

To continue the analogy; every story is another throw of the harpoon and the desperate prayer my aim is true.