Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Reading Outside Your Genre (and Century)

With a newborn in tow, one of the things I’ve discovered to help pass the time while trying to settle her to sleep was reading off my Kobo. As far as eReaders go, this thing is a gem. Since my second daughter’s birth in early October, I’ve read the last two George R.R. Martin novels, about 2100 pages.

One of the things I’ve found with my writing is the need to look outside the science fiction and fantasy genre. This affords me the chance to catch a glimpse on other styles, different prose and methods of presenting ideas. One of the things I endeavour is to do a throwback into previous centuries to the classical era, if not the classics. Reading Lord of the Rings certainly throws the currently accepted and expected prose for fantasy novels, which makes the reading experience that much more interesting (if not aggravating at times).

My current book is The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper. This inspired one of my favourite movies, one I endlessly return to if I’m bored or in the hankering for some historical fiction. First published in 1826, the narrative syntax was an absolute shocker. Did people really write like this 'back in the day?' A little research finds that many, even Mark Twain, had criticisms of the style. I later found that JFC wrote Last of the Mohicans in a style meant to be read aloud. With this in mind, reading the text flows much better, and I find the style actually lends itself to the setting.

One thing I found to be a delightful surprise was the way JFC described certain scenes. At first, I was put off by the nearly 10-page description of Magua. That said, it played into further scenes in a way I found acceptable. Less than half-way through, I can’t possibly do justice to the way he sets a scene. In one scene, the party are trapped in a series of caves, facing off against Magua and a Huron war party. In what they discover to be the sounds of horses neighing in terror, JFC describes in a fashion that could compete with any modern horror story. The atmosphere and descriptions (particularly when imagined read aloud in a darkly lit room) made for a chilling scene and added heaps to the conflict facing the characters. Loved it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Writing and Sleep (or the lack thereof...)

It has long since been my intention to continue blogging about my writing, as well as my efforts to get Days of Reckoning published. Long has it been since I’ve had the chance to provide any input to the blog, let alone do anything resembling writing. The reason for it is simple, yet not an excuse.

Upon returning from vacation in August, I found myself facing a few research related problems concerning the follow-up to Days of Reckoning. After a short trip to Chapters and the local library, I gathered two books to further in delve me into the samurai culture and how to adapt it to my fictional setting. Voila the two books I took to with veracity.

From both, I learned a great deal about Japanese culture, as well as certain pitfalls about this chosen slant to my epic fantasy. Names can get muddled around pretty quickly, and there was a litany of politics in the background. For the first, I’ve made painstaking efforts to address the proper and family names in a manner least confusing to the reader. Of course, when I look at George R.R. Martin’s epic ‘A Song of Ice and Fire,’ which uses a relatively Anglosaxon base for naming characters, even some of his books could get confusing.

The other issue I discovered was the immense and intense politics. This made me go back and pull the book from active agent seeking simply to re-work this aspect, which I know is lacking. An agent is surely to pick up the same thing. When I looked back, I was astounded to see several political arcs naturally formed through at least a half-dozen exchanges, each of which really should be addressed. Now the challenge is to get them in there without the word count ballooning.

The true reason for this hiatus is the birth of my second daughter. Cute as a button and the apple in her older sister’s eye, sleep deprivation makes thinking about writing fiction about as useless an exercise as trying to jump to the moon. For now, this all now frustratingly pauses all efforts for publication until I am comfortable in the final product, as well as spending the requisite family time. Oh yeah, and keeping my day job too.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Queries and Query Tracker [dot] Net

To be honest, things fell a little by the wayside for a while. I recently put in a big (huge) push to get my bloody self organized and get cracking on my agent listings. When I started updating things, I found out that perhaps about 20% of it was out of date; people moved on, closed for submissions, they changed the genres they were looking for. So of the near 30 agents listed, I had submitted less than a dozen, the others all requiring updating.

All this was embarrassingly compounded by a visit to Querytracker.net.

To be brutally honest, I had done a big push and then stalled, due to real life concerns. A second big push and Querytracker’s help netted me a total of 80 additional agents/agencies looking for fantasy/epic fantasy; this list does not include direct to publisher submission possibilities. Fantastic! Two days of concerted efforts and quick checks of blogs, submission guidelines and a run through over at the Absolute Write forums drew this back down to a 73 and a plan forward. I’ve identified the agents/agencies I thought best fit my manuscript and fired away seven.

I have the following series of queries to be prepared, with technical notes and details for each (email addresses, specific agents’s names, etc). Now I’ve given myself the following 3-4 weeks to research and target queries to each agent’s individual quirks and specifications.

Long story short: have a plan and stick to it.

Thanks to Querytracker, Google, Absolute Write and a host of agent and reader blogs, things don’t seem as daunting.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Weapons That Define Them

Aside from trying to differentiate the races by their interactions, I noted that most cultures can be defined by a predominant weapon that comes to define them; the samurai’s katana defines Japan, the scimitar generally denotes an Arab or Turkish soldier. Although grossly over-simplified for the purposes of television, the Deadliest Warrior (DW) show proves the point. It was during a DW marathon that I thought about the symbolism of the weapons and how they would define the races in Ihr’Vessen.

Katana: Certainly not the only race to employ this weapon, this is the symbolic weapon for the J’in Empire. A blade of finesse and honour, it requires countless hours to manufacture and equally arduous years of practise to master the weapon. It is the heart and soul of the samurai warrior, both a symbol his position within society as well as his honour. To lose a katana in anything other than combat would be unacceptable, an insult only recoverable by taking one’s own life. This symbolism and honour represents the Empire as a whole, where the code of bushido is the backbone of the culture.

Sagaris: Employing two different methods of attack, this peculiar weapon requires neither finesse nor the complexity of construction of the katana. This makes it an ideal choice for the Plainsfolk. A hand-and-a-half battle axe, it could be used with equal ease from horseback or on foot. One on side we have the axe for slashing and cutting, the other tapered into a spike for brute penetration. The dual nature of the weapon also suitably represents the culture that shows the most capacity for barbarian class warriors.

Long Bow: Representing the Elves, the long bow finds its most lethal use by their elite rangers; other races use bows, but never to such effect. The long bow is a stand-off weapon, its range allowing archers to engage their enemy without risking direct physical contact. This seems to best fit how I wanted the Elves to be portrayed. The lone superpower, they deal with the ‘lesser races’ from a distance, allowing them to develop and stumble on their own.

Kilij: Rivalling this katana for lethality, it requires neither the complex forging process nor the exacting training required. The kilij is a weapon of war, its weighted and curved blade able to penetrate heavy armour. This was most appropriate for the Free States, who deal with the ork slavers as their primary threat.

Warhammer: Although I detested the idea of falling into the trope of “hammer wielding dwarves,” it seemed to make sense given the above-mentioned symbolisms and racial contexts. Living in the mountain realm of Naro, they are artificers of note, which requires mining. This would necessitate hammer and pick. Given their location and the threats they face, it seemed appropriate then to symbolize the race with a warhammer that, like the Sagaris, employed a pike on one side, the hammer head on the other.

Spear/Javelin: Not detailed for some time in the Ochra Cycle, the ratmen live in a swampy region betwixt the dwarves of Naro and the humans of the Free States. With few resources, the use of complex metal weapons made little sense. The use of a spear fit perfectly with their environment; a hunting weapon doubling as a weapon of war. From low-tech sharpened sticks to more complex throwing constructs, this weapon symbolized ratmen the best.

Chinese War Sword: This massive weapon could only work to its full potential in the hands of an ork. What would likely be seen as a mid-sized sword to any ork would require two hands for any human of Elf. More like a cleaver, its weighted blade and heavy shaft make it the definitive weapon for a race who brutalizes its victims and takes slaves of the survivors.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Worldbuilding and other such endeavours

One of those traps that I see referenced throughout the Web is the apparent near-addiction quality of worldbuilding (okay, is it world building, or worldbuilding?). Now, most fantasy authors and budding-authors will likely mention they grappled with early on. “How do you worldbuild? What level of detail do you get to? Do you start at the micro-level and work up? Macro-level and work down?” To be honest, the best fantasy series I’ve read that apparently did this with no seams to speak of were Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Orson Scott Card’s Ender series and Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry.

Tolkein spent ages of his time developing whole languages (the stories of which need not be repeated), which nowadays would likely be seen as diving a little too deep into the worldbuilding. The end result of his work largely influenced everything thereafter and he defined much of the commonly accepted tropes we see in fantasy novels today. The Ender series, despite being science fiction, drives a spectacular balance between the training school scenes Ender spends most of his time dealing with, while his brother and sister deal with Earth-bound “issues.” The pace of Ender’s Endgame made this an instant classic and favourite for me. Finally, the Fionavar Tapestry, with its other-world Arthurian legend left me wondering whether I could ever accomplish something this diverse and detailed. The man wrote poetry disguised as prose – that’s about all I can say. I won’t ever be able to match it, nor will I bother to attempt it.

When asked how do I worldbuild for the Realms of Ihr’Vessen, I can’t really define any particular approach. It was a process. I developed a macro-level picture with the history that led to the point where the Ochra Cycle kicks off. Thereafter, I delved into the micro-level stuff when plotting the chapters out. This sometimes necessitated a return to macro-level, just to make sure things meshed together. Otherwise, I tried my darnedest to remain tacked to the story, not the worldbuilding.

Then I ran into these two websites:

Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions

Limyaael's Rants

Patricia C Wrede’s article (first link) is more a series of detailed questions. That said, if there is a checklist to refer to before diving too far into the plot, it would definitely be this one! I’m happy to think that I’ve answered many if not most of the questions therein, certainly some of the more crucial ones. How they come across to the reader may be different, of course.

Limyaael's Rants (second link), with 346 rants and counting, is pretty tongue-in-cheek some times, but valid arguments most times. I know I’ve read many of her rants and wondered the same things, or made specific efforts to address a similar issue with my WIPs.

As a bit of a diversion, they sometimes re-check my train of thought, or remind to include certain references within my own work, to make sure I’ve hit all the right spots. I figured if I couldn’t answer a question related to something these two references bring up, how could I expect a reader?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tropes, clichés and “isms”

We’ve all read them. We’ve likely all rolled our eyes as we came across them reading our favourite genre. As authors, budding or otherwise published, we’ve all strived to avoid them, or at least keep them to a minimum. I’m talking about the dreaded tropes, clichés and whatever “isms” seem to keep being attached and labelled to it. In the science fiction and fantasy genre, we seem to be rife with them; at the very least accused of using such a heinous “crutch.”

I recently re-read some of my older books, novels published back in the 80’s and 90’s. Most were fantasy, some sci-fi and what would now be termed urban fiction. What I found were a series of tropes and clichés that by current standards likely would not see publication. Then I look at the names and the dates of publication: Terry Brooks, David Eddings, among others, all with lists of publications I can only dream of accomplishing. Many of them are what I’d label as some of the great builders of the genre, after Tolkein of course. In the end, I remember enjoying them immensely.

So I asked myself the following: “What is the great mystery to the reactions about these dreaded tropes? Should I avoid them at all costs? Can I make something of them truly unique and transform a negative into a positive?”

I quickly realized how quickly down a rabbit hole these questions were leading. My initial response was “Just write whatever the heck I want,” so long as I kept it realistic; keep it within the margins I had set about writing within. I’m sure I’ve avoided the pitfalls of some of the more groan-worthy clichés out there. Have I chanced upon some of the tropes? No doubt. At a quick glance, I doubt a story could ever be written without delving into some tropes here and there.

As a story based in a Japanese-esque society, complete with a bushido system that underlies human culture and interactions, it includes the laundry list of races normally found in epic fantasy. Humans of various cultural backgrounds, Elves, orcs, goblins, dwarves, the list goes on. Already I’ve launched into three or four tropes. I’m also guilty of initially throwing those dreaded apostrophes into Elven names, something I’ve had to go back and edit out.

Are there things that make the setting unique? Surely, though macro-level world building aside, it’s the story that will see any WIP published. The differences I put into place to drive away from the “dreaded trope” may have some play in how things develop from a publishing standpoint, likely not nearly as much as I initially feared.

In the end, I write because I enjoy the story I have to tell. If I ever luck out and get an agent willing to work with the manuscripts to make them better, I’ll just count my lucky stars, not the number of tropes I can find.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Of clerics and mages

Due to the narrative of Days of Reckoning, I didn’t really have to delve too deeply into the military formations or how clerics and mages were employed within the J’in Empire’s Jade Legions. As I dive into Nights of the Assassin, I’m drawn further and further into the complex details of what could only be described as battalion and brigade level warfare. Sokuru deals with a series of tactical level scenarios, building up to a significant series of battles where I’ve had to sit back from the narrative and think about how clerics and mages are integrated into the military.

It took a few days before I suddenly remembered a recent military career course. From the modern perspective, artillery and engineer units are never under total command of a brigade commander. Each of these trades provides him with senior advisors, who know the capabilities of their own troops and equipment far better than the commander could. As such, they are integrated into the overall construct of the brigade, specialist skills and equipment supporting the whole.

It suddenly hit me that this would provide an interesting way of organizing the cultural and military integration of the clerics and mages into the J’in Empire. By extension, the mages and clerics would be subject to their own authorities: priests and clerics to the High Priest, while the mages would report to a hitherto undefined chain of command in support of the overall commander; I had already addressed sorcerors back in Reckoning. They each retain their status as samurai, yet socially and militarily they are apart from the Jade Legions and others of their social caste.

The significance this posed on cultural norms to both clerics and mages far surpassed just answering the question of “How would a mage employed in the Legions respond to orders from a commander? How would their interaction be shaped?” I now had a different way of introducing them into later scenes, where the social interaction was the key. It also gave me a certain leeway on how these divergent parts of the samurai caste would or could interact with others; a shadowy sub-set of the samurai that are little understood outside their own circles, but still required to network with other samurai.

It’s an interesting solution to a problem, and a good example how one aspect of culture building (more finite than world building) can have a more significant impact on the narrative than initially perceived.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Researching for writing

Well, back into it.... I’ve really kicked off into the second book, Days of Reckoning out for agent review. I’m expecting a flurry of form letters in the near future. Not to be deterred, I’ve decided to bash on through with the second novel, carrying on the exploits of Reckoning and throwing in some new characters. I’ve found myself really getting into some of the new points of view, particularly Sokuru, who had a very minor appearance in Reckoning. I’ve written five chapters from his worldview in no time flat.

One of the problems I’ve hit is the limit of my research on oriental and far eastern cultures. One of the biggest problems was the cultural norms of samurai japan, which I’ve largely taken into account while writing the Ochra Cycle. One thing that I know some will pick at, despite the fictional nature of the Realms of Ihr’Vessen, is the caste structure of the J’in Empire. The easy out of course is that this is a fictional setting. Notwithstanding this, there need to be enough reference points for a reader to grasp.

Samurai have largely been presented in modern media as an upper class of people, born into their station. Peasants remain the same through birth, with no possibility for improvement. There seems to be no room for advancement or movement between classes; the only exception to this being a samurai’s fall from grace to become ronin, which is still oft-times simply portrayed as the lowest of the upper class, still better than a peasant. This is mostly indicative of the Edo period of Japan. I’ve made the conscious decision that this doesn’t quite match the vision I have for the J’in Empire, at least not at the period that Reckoning entails. The Sengoku period seems more fitting, given the social movement possible, as well as the absolute anarchy produced by the warring states across Japan.

Another aspect I’ve been having fun researching has been the ancient techniques of war from the Chinese. From the very beginning where defences were largely limited to ditches and burms, reinforced with stakes, to the more elaborate castles and leading ultimately to the Great Wall of China. Most of this leads into the limitations my writing has faced with Nights of the Assassin. Once I clarified certain points, ideas abound!

All to say that researching has put a crimp in the amount of time left for writing. This of course is countered by the fact that I’ve added a slew of new ideas and plot points to Nights of the Assassin and the remaining books in the series.

The writing is flowing again.

And I’m loving it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Real world issues have kept me busy... I mean really busy. It's all I could do to sit down and spend time with my family and keep up with my measly four or five hours of television per week. On this vein, I think I have written all of three words to manuscript; surprisingly, I've written scads on background information and housekeeping of ideas and records for future books in the series.

Book 1 is currently out on its second wave of submission letters, round three looming in the near future. About the only good thing about my current work schedule is my absolute inability to bother worrying about replies or rejections - silver linings. Once things recover, I'll start round three of submissions and continue tracking.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Thoughts on movies: the good, the bad and the ugly

The Good: Having read the Steig Larrson trilogy (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest and Girl Played with Fire) on my Kobo, I can say that the film remake was close to the spirit of the trilogy. Capturing the storyline just enough, my wife who had not read a single word from the books, was captivated enough to actually get over the subtitles (a pet peeve of hers). The pace was there, keeping true to the books’ primary events and the disjointed point of view of Lisbeth Salander.

The Bad: With the pedigree of Matt Damon, Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg, you’d think you would be getting an entertaining film for a couple of hours with Hereafter; apparently not. Cinematically, this movie was beautifully made and very tightly written. I thought the concept was really well executed. The problem was the three inter-related story arcs that had very little to do with each other until the final twenty minutes or so. The pacing was abysmally slow and quite frankly I could only really care about one of the three storylines. As the final scene faded into credits, both my wife and I turned to each other and asked the same question: “So.... that’s it?” Is Hereafter based on a book? Not to my knowledge, though I imagine it would have been infinitely better received as one.

On movie adaptations (very often the ugly): Generally, Stieg Larrson’s books were well represented, something astonishingly challenging for Hollywood (read: North American media) to accomplish. Need I bring up just about every Stephen King novel adaptation. This said, my standards are likely set fairly high.

The first movie adapted from a book that I saw was Bladerunner, something of a science fiction masterpiece (cinematics, sound track, acting, direction, production). The first book I read on my Kobo was the long-awaited Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which Bladerunner was based upon. This just reinforced my appreciation for both book and film. Another worthy adaptation isthe Lord of the Rings trilogy, both films and movies require little comment. Aside from the (very) long Return of the King film, this was a masterfully entertaining and well-produced series of movies.

Writing fantasy: One of the biggest possible pay-offs for a writer is to have their works adapted to film; the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, so to speak. So, do writers think about the way things would adapt to film when they write a scene? I’m sure some do, something I myself must admit to. I listen to music while I write, a trick I adapted while doing my undergraduate and post-grad studies. It evokes the mood and sometimes the very scenes in my head. I then write what I see; it helps maintain the pace. I am by no means conceited enough to think my work is blockbuster movie material – heck, it has to get published first! That said, it certainly is influenced by film.

Just a few thoughts.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The real world in world building

One of my favourite diversions is playing Warhammer 40k. Collecting, painting the models presents a great way to exercise another passion, painting; playing them through the tactical scenarios presents the challenge of adapting to the opposing player, his army list and the vagaries of the dice when rolling to shoot, for close combat, et cetera.

One of the few things that aggravate me about the state of the game is how a large majority of players shifted into one mode of army lists, mechanisation. I’m not against mechanisation, just the reasoning behind their arguments. The thought that this style of army is the sole possibility of winning...... irks me. Then I thought how this applied to other things, invariably turning to the fantasy genre.

Tolkein was likely one of the greatest influence in fantasy stereotypes, yet it was carried forward through a myriad of other authors and products. Role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, one of the genre’s larger perpetuators, has reinforced these stereotypes to the point of iconic and invariable. Examples: Think of an elf and instantly, Legolas from Lord of the Rings or some other woodland garb wearing bowman of incredible martial prowess comes to mind. Dwarves evoke short, grouchy, bearded axe wielding warriors who live in vast mountain realms. Why do Elves and Dwarves always hate each other too?

One author that I have really come to appreciate is Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt series. His concept of insect-traits dominating city-state relations and how they act is absolute genius. It is executed in a way that is both blatant to the reader (Wasp-kinden are, well waspish, Ant-kinden fight other Ant-kinden city states), but also inherent to the way the character's react, within the macro-level construct he's created.

Bringing this to the Realms, I couldn’t quite accept the stereotypes, partly because of the samurai slant this world takes. That alone is neither an excuse nor a significant change. Change just for the sake of change is pretty useless and provides no value. It also gets readers disjointed about their preconceived notions on races and how they should act. With this in mind, I need a reason for any differences, consequences that bring races and their interactions to this point. No need for changes on the physiological level, mostly because they wouldn’t work. At the macro lever, things needed a cause.

Enter the Pantheonic Tragedy.

When the dust settled from that conflict of gods, the Elves were the principle race left standing, left in charge because they were the brightest, most organized; not unlike the U.S.A. as the sole super-power after the fall of the U.S.S.R. I’m a firm believer that real life is stranger than fiction, so why not apply real life realities to the Realms? A firm basis for race relations in this context, something readers can relate to. Looking to international media for how others view the United States provided a round-about way of world building that could apply to micro-level scenes and interactions.

With the Elves as the quasi-U.S.A., I found the Druids taking a quasi-United Nations role. For the Dwarves, I decided an Eastern European worldview, the Orcs fell upon an ancient Chinese perspective; the list goes on. At the end of the day, I was surprised how well this macro-approach helped define some of the more crucial scenes where the races interact and more importantly, how they approached each other, as well as the Ochra threat.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Real life vampires....

Well, nothing so grandiose as the blood-sucking types, but time, effort and desire-to-write sucking activities and events that seem to have taken over my life these past three or four weeks. If it isn't the job (and this is my primary culprit), it's family, friends and other diversions that simply leave me vacant of all desires to write.

One diversion I found wildly amusing was watching the first season of Fringe on DVD. These guys (the writers) are sometimes likely accused of taking the hallucinagenics the quack-science from the sixties that inspires much of the plot. Hilarious but entertaining nonetheless.

Now that things seem to have stabilized and my day-job/career has founded roots closer to normalcy (I daresay sanity), I find the compunction to continue writing has hit.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Oh the agony....

When Days of Reckoning started out, things flowed pretty well. The ideas were plotted out, just the details of the how, why and when. And fingers flew on the keyboard, shaping the story and creating tone for the series. And then it was done, or so I thought.

The first run through was a whopping, bloated and sorely over-wrought 191,00 words. Yep, 191k. When I found out that equated to just short of 800 pages and most fantasy novel targets are around 100 to 125k.... that's a near 50% cut required. After I can't remember how many rounds of cutting, it dropped over 50k to the current 126k mark. At this point, I think I'm nearing the end of the editing process; I'm at that magic point where I can say there is little else I can do to it.

To edit from 191k to 126k sounds like a lot, and it certainly is. Would an agent have another go at it and find another 10-20k to tweak and/or change? Of this I have no doubt and would welcome the input, if it meant getting it to print.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Inspiration and Techno-babble

Aside from being a voracious reader of science fiction and fantasy novels, role-playing games have always been a heavy influence. For the first several years as a player, I later switched to Game Master. I was forced to start plotting out adventures for the players and voila, essentially you are living the story during game nights. Leading a group in RIFTS, AD&D and Legend of the Five Rings was incredibly rewarding.

I finally figured out the techno-babble and back-end requirements to creating and upkeeping a blog. Up went the Inspiration page, which details how Ihr'Vessen came to be, as well as the About Me page (more to follow) and off it goes - let the games begin. I'm now linked in (leashed, as my father would likely say).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Musical Inspiration

One of the most influential elements to my writing has to be music. I listen to it all day at work; while I drive, while I write. As an inspiration, it could be as simple as a series of riffs inspiring the mood for a scene, a verse that unlocks a sticky plot point (in one case unblocking the entire series from the middle of book 2 onward). All of these groups play a central role in setting the mood and helping the story flow.

Here are some thoughts on the groups:

Primary Repertoire:

Apocalyptica: Heavy metal, on cellos... I didn't get it at first, now some of the more powerful scenes I've plotted out are based on their songs.

Enya: Enya? Really? Even my wife raised an eyebrow, but when thinking about Feye creatures and Elven history, nothing works better. Something about A Day Without Rain just meshes so well with what I've envisioned for the Feye creatures of Ihr'Vessen.

Lacuna Coil: I discovered these guys 3 years ago. Fantastic mix of rock and symphony with contrasting vocals. That Cristina Scabbia is rock-solid gorgeous doesn't hurt either....

Nightwish: After a mistaken download, I immediately went out an bought the Dark Passion Play album. With metal rhythms reinforced by symphonic overtones, it really sets the mood; the bonus disc without the vocals was a great addition.

Supporting Repertoire:

The Cult: For years I've listened to these guys and they got better with age. One line from a song unlocked the series for me and allowed me to plot-point four books.

Metallica: Since childhood, these guys have been a staple of my music collection. I wrote RIFTS: Free Quebec and dozens of RIFTS fan fiction stories listening to them.

Muse: My wife wanted to watch the 83rd Grammy's. I caught their act and was checking youtube for other videos. Listened to 3 songs and immediately they became part of the repertoire.

Thoughts on Blogging

For the longest time I have fought the seemingly inexorable tide of comments and suggestions to "get into the social media." I have a Facebook account, largely untouched except to post family pictures or for other odds and ends. As an aspiring author, I see (numerous) places on the 'Net suggesting authors develop a blog to help reach out to readers and market their novels. As an aspiring (read: unpublished) novelist, I found this rather counter-intuitive.

"How can you market a novel that isn't yet published?"

After a bit of soul-searching and fighting the urge not refute the blog trend simply because I dislike 'band-wagonism', I was hit with an epiphany. I realized this blog wouldn't, nigh shouldn't, necessarily be restricted to marketing. I already have a process whereby I collect my thoughts and review what's written to my notes and how it drives further plot points. Why not share the process, use this tool to help focus my thoughts?

So, with only the slightest shake of my head, I dive into the realm of blogs. The hope and the dream is to help refine my process and writing to eventually lead to seeing my works published.