A Good Book, Great TV and Whining

“Tie-in has a whole extra level of stuff to get right,” Narry told me today.

And he’s right. I got the beta review back on a story I was preparing. While I feel the tale has some strong themes and solid action going for it, there were a handful of technical issues that need addressing. And there were a few other elements that need better delivery in order to stay true to the background. Best guess, it’ll take an hour of work to get right. Another hour to correct the synopsis and probably 30 minutes to an hour to revisit the cover letter.

Meanwhile, my conscience continues to Navi me over the novel. I haven’t touched it since the turn of the month, returning to the standard 1,000 words a day rate of my short story speed. I’ll be certain to return to it this week at some point, but as I’m so close to being ready on this story, it’ll be easier to finish it and have it ready.

The Whitechapel Demon

"The Whitechapel Demon" by Josh Reynolds.

The Whitechapel Demon by Josh Reynolds.

Over the weekend, I finished The Whitechapel Demon by Josh Reynolds. The book is the first of an upcoming series involving the duties of a figure entitled the Royal Occultist. Appointed by the queen, it is the duty of the occultist to investigate all strange and macabre incidents throughout England.

The current holder of the title (there have been several before, giving Reynold’s work a rich background to draw from) is a Mister Charles St. Cyprian, a veteran of the Great War. St. Cyprian is not alone throughout his efforts, as he works with his assistant Ebe Gallowglass, and both competes and cooperates with the Ministry of Esoteric Observation, his bureaucratic rival.

Mister Reynolds has certainly done his homework. Although I’ve yet to fully research it, many of his elements come from real world sources and references, such as Jack the Ripper, Aleister Crowley, hyssop oil, ectoplasm and pentagrams. Although fiction, the big draw of the Royal Occultist is its reverence to historically-attempted applications of magic.

The book is a treat for anyone who loves Sherlock Holmes, the occult, The X-Files or perhaps Constantine. Or better yet, any and all of these blended into one. Although the novel is relatively short at less than 180 pages, its brevity helps the reader decide whether or not the forthcoming series will be for them, a wonderful change from the 600 page novels that begin too many fantasy series.

Halt and Catch Fire, “Landfall”

The latest episode of Halt and Catch Fire was the best yet. Hands down.

Perhaps the reason I like it so much is due to how it has stopped being so prudent. The pilot was great and set the stage perfectly, then the follow up episodes slowed it down a little, holding back the tide of plot. But as of the sixth episode, they changed course and let the chips fall where they may. Exactly how it should be.

On paper, the show seems to have a lot of similarities with Mad Men. There’s direct client interactions, a historical basis, the focus remains business drama, and a great deal of personal character dilemmas and conflicts. But in execution, the show has a faster pace, more sudden turns and borrows themes from David Fincher’s The Social Network.

What I like the most is the difference in how the two shows handle foreshadowing. Mad Men sticks to its tried and true subtle method of hinting the future. But while Halt and Catch Fire flirted with that, they eventually gave up and went bold. That is the ideal for a show about a revolution, with its characters persistently pushed to the edge and recovering with an ever weakening grip.

Which brings us to the awesome scene from “Landfall” where Gordon runs about the city, desperately trying to buy a Cabbage Patch doll for his children before a hurricane strikes. After being swindled out of $80 by a conman offering a wrapped box with a stone, Gordon finally comes to a toy store and finds it closed due to the storm.

gordon

But while returning to the car, Gordon spots the doll on display in the window. Frustrated with seeing the prize taunt him, he takes (what I believe) is the stone from his conning and smashes the display. But before he returns, he hears something about the building and finds a body who eerily looks like his boss Joe MacMillan.

I don’t know whether the body was real or a hallucination. Gordon was who saw it. But the question is, was it foreshadowing, or was it simply a manifestation of his fears? Of the three main characters, Cameron has barely applied effort to anything in her life, and to our knowledge Joe has never failed. But Gordon, uniquely, has done both these things when he created and failed to market the Symphonic.

I feel this vision, real or not, will add to Gordon’s conservative sense and turn him into a greater obstacle for Cameron and Joe. And given his experiences, it’s a shame they probably won’t listen.

 

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Writer’s Scars

“Today was not a possibility. It was an inevitability.”

 

So long since my last post, and so much news.

The Black Wind’s Whispers is (finally) out in print edition. Still working on the same for Marching Time, although the Kindle version of that is available. And we’ve been making strides towards Far Worlds, our next Bolthole anthology which is currently in the works.

I’m also stepping down from the Bloghole. I enjoyed my time there and learned so much about the business, but I want to return to writing and writing related projects.

But the whooping news is that a particular publishing company is shutting down. Their printing ends in February next year. And with it, fellow writer Jonathan Ward and I are losing over half our published works.

As I spoke to him, I learned final warnings from the owner. He told me stories of queries from contributors and new authors, trying to find out when the next opening was. Gauging if they could openly submit a novel. He told me how disheartening it was to turn people down and dealing with points of reduced sales.

But despair and I are old friends. Few people know how to hold onto lost causes better than myself or Rhett Butler, and the education given to me by others only serves to enhance my zeal.

But the former point the owner mentioned is a lesson. I’m spoiled because so many new writers dive after novels instead of trying their hands at short stories and mastering their craft. I did a novella once, and have learned that it is better to do as you are asked than try your hand at something unexpected and not requested.

It seems that future writing projects will need to have some kind of buffer. We’ll have to draw our line carefully and find a means to filter that which we do not ask for.

Well, that’s a concern for a future day.

But there’s a coming-of-age lesson here and it starts with the title. Today was not a possibility. It was an inevitability. Every writer who held on has to deal with the moment that the publication containing their works goes out of print somehow. Maybe the one-time rights expire. Maybe the company shuts down, or violates some agreement and has to stop the book from further circulation.

Maybe you knew it was coming. Maybe it’s a bolt out of the blue. But those stories you crafted, the tales that wowed editors enough to be printer worthy, are given back to you. And it dawns on you that, for the first time, your pieces of work must be submitted with the word ‘reprint’ stamped to it.

All of a sudden, this great tale is no longer quite as valuable. Sometimes, companies flat out refuse reprints. Other times they’ll take them… at 10% the cost of what they would pay for an original. “Our normal rate is $.05 a word. But since this has already been published once, we can only offer you a flat rate of $25.”

Or less.

But like I said. Anyone who holds on long enough has to deal with this. Stories do eventually become homeless. I think of accomplished guys like Josh Reynolds, who have or had well over a hundred short stories published. There’s no way they could all remain in circulation.

It’s a day to remember at least. But for now, the following stories are available for only another five months. Get them while they’re hot…

“On Ne Passé Pas!” from War is Hell.

“Happily Ever After”from Under the Knife.

“The Child of Iron” from From Their Cradle to Your Grave.

“The Eyes from 100 Horrors: Tales of Horror in the Blink of an Eye.