The Gator Got Tazered, but the Mole’s on a Roll

Bounce back on the novella. It was my bad for misinterpreting the publisher’s submission guidelines. It’s pretty much writer 101 that when they say guidelines, what they really mean is “rules.” Don’t let The Pirates of the Caribbean fool you otherwise.

I went ahead and inquired if there were any hints about an open call for novellas anytime soon. If an opening might be coming in a few months, why not just wait? I’d rather work with these guys. If not, if they don’t see themselves being open again within a year, I’ll consider whether I should go elsewhere.

But on the brighter side, I went ahead and submitted a sci-fi short story to another publisher. This is a “bigger” catch in some ways.

You see, I usually rate the value of the publisher against what and how they’re willing to pay for your stories at all. Obviously, non-paying publications are the lowest of the totem pole.

Then there are those willing to engage in either a token commission that occurs once, or a sliver of the future profits. The latter of these two is slightly less risk for a publisher, and gives the writer considerably more incentive to promote both his work and the publisher over the course of the contract.

But there are those who pay a better amount for the work on the spot. These particular publishers are a step up from the previous ones. It’s saying, “We like your work enough that we’re willing to take a risk and give you $XXX for it.” Obviously, the publisher expects to make more than the $XXX he gave you, hence your work is (theoretically) profitable and a good investment.

This short story falls into that latter variety. I don’t know whether or not it’s going to make it with this publisher, but I think the story is good enough for someone to publish.

But back when I was busy trying to get The Black Wind’s Whispers together, a few of the guys came forward saying that although they enjoy or don’t mind writing it, horror was not something they wanted to do for their lives.

Now I have higher stamina than they do for writing horror. I enjoyed, and still enjoy, writing it. I will continue to, but I really do want to branch out and try other things. The novella was dark fantasy and this new short story is sci-fi.

But sometimes, it doesn’t feel like writing moves laterally. Sometimes, it feels like you’re back in the small pond again when you switch genres. I’m sure that there are some writers who were told, “Listen, you’re fantastic at (genre they’re done), but you’re not a very good (genre they want to do) writer. Stick to what works.”

And I wonder about that. How many writers thought they broke through the first publication barrier, only to find out that what they really wanted to do still treated them like a beginner?

Would it bug me to spend the rest of my life as a horror writer? … To be honest, yeah. It would. I don’t look down on writing terrifying tales. Especially because it’s a genre that is so poorly portrayed in the cinema (Who knows? Maybe someday my stories will be on the big screen.)

But who wants to create the same thing again and again and again? What I really want to do is be able to talk to someone, almost anyone. And hear what they like to read about, then pick a story of a similar vein from my bag  and hope they like it.

People don’t have to like everything I do. I accept that, cause they’re not going to. But I’d like for everyone to enjoy at least one thing I’ve done before.

Blackhearts Omnibus

How can a man survive that cold with such a thin mustache?

How can a man survive that cold with such a thin mustache?

The Old World is an easier setting for people to get into than its 40k counterpart. For one, it’s more jovial and humourous. It feels like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s more fun and less serious. Second, thanks to gentlemen like the father of swords and sorcery, Robert E. Howard and high fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien, a lot of people get fantasy settings long before they touch the pages of a new novel. The concepts of Orcs and magic have long had a place in our minds.

The double edge of this sword is that some people are tired of fantasy as there is plenty of bad writing in the genre. And others have a distinctive taste for it, which may easily reject the details of ye olde Warhammer.

But the Blackhearts Omnibus isn’t like most fantasy. Never mind complex details like magic or the history of Altdorf. Forget needing to learn a whole bunch about the universe. You don’t have too. It’s an easy read about ordinary guys in extraordinaire situations.

Nathan Long‘s tale stars luckless trickster Reiner Hetzau. Although far from innocent, Hetzau is imprisoned on false charges and is spared for a secret mission with a group of other criminals. Eventually earning the leadership of the group, the Blackhearts face against the Chaos marauders of the north, treacherous Imperial commanders, rat men and plenty more.

Nathan Long excels at two things; characters and plots. The plots throw enough at you to keep you guessing, as the Blackhearts face traitors within their own ranks. They are convicts, after all. Meanwhile, a combination of political intrigue and unforeseen elements keep shaking up the story. There maybe times you wonder if the plot has gotten off track, right before it comes sailing right back at you. And then explodes.

Another version of the cover.

Another version of the cover.

With the Old World setting established for him, Long focused on creating a group of smirk-jerking characters who remind you of an adult version of The Goonies. What’s more, you cannot help but feel that there is some similarity between Reiner Hetzau and one Captain Jack Sparrow of the Pirates of the Caribbean fame. It kind of helps that the book feels like it was made for the movies too, with many of the character’s backgrounds told through dialogue over the writer’s narrative.

But in that statement lies the single real weakness with the omnibus. The story is written surrounding Hetzau. Even though it’s always in third person, the narration never leaves Hetzau’s side. If you happen to like him and his roguish ways, you’ll probably end up loving this book. If not, then this isn’t the book for you.

But the Blackhearts Omnibus is an enjoyable, leisurely read for even the uninitiated. Try a chapter. You’ll probably like it more than not. If not love it.