When You’re Stuck: WIP Staying Power

Hi, SEers. Mae here today for my first post of 2021! I hope all of you had a spectacular New Year. Let’s hope 2021 is going to be FAR BETTER than the…

When You’re Stuck: WIP Staying Power
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Music of Legends of Windemere: The Merchant of Nevra Coil

Cover art by Jason Pedersen

Welcome to the three songs of Legends of Windemere: The Merchant of Nevra Coil.  This was the first of 2 books that just appeared in my mind after I began publishing the series.  It means there aren’t many notes on these two stories and I made them for specific reasons.  The purpose of this book was to focus more on Yola Biggs the exiled Chaos Goddess, who is with Baron Kernaghan.  I wanted to have her to more than mischief in the background and give her some evolution as well.  This helped set things up for when she takes a bigger role in a later story.  I got to do more with the gnomes, Nyx, Trinity, and a bunch of other smaller things that could have become hanging plot holes if I left them alone for too long.  Anyway, let’s get to the crazy fun since Yola seemed to commandeer 2 of the 3 songs.

This ‘Mad Hatter’ by Melanie Martinez, which I first ran into with the above Anime Music Video.  I used this because the real video seemed a little too much for some people in my regular audience.  Anyway, Yola Biggs is crazy and unpredictable.  Her antics are at the core of the chaos that ensues in this story.  A part of this song that I thought worked best for her is that she’s proud of being unhinged.

This goes for Yola Biggs too.  It’s ‘Unstable’ by Chaotica and the rapid speed made me think of how she operates.  This one also connects to the section that takes place in what would be a psych ward.  Of course, this goes into full disaster and the minor instability becomes a massive upheaval.  Guess being unstable is a big part of this story even though it stay under the surface.

I was trying hard not to give all the songs to Yola and insanity.  Once I switched my mind to the gnomes and their flying city, I realized that there was a song.  A perfect song for that entire species.  There you have it.

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#4 Post of 2020: Does Fantasy Have to Be Medieval?

(Post originally made on January 6, 2020. That’s staying power.)

Joan of Arc

Various questions come up when someone wants to write high fantasy and many of them are completely understandable.  They may deal with magic, various races, and creating a world that isn’t Earth.  Yet, there are other questions that you can see why they are asked, but they come off as shocking.  It makes one wonder about the entire genre and how it might not have evolved as much as many believe.  I’m going to touch on one of those questions here:

Does a fantasy story have to take place in a medieval Europe/Dark Ages setting?

The obvious answer is ‘No’.

As long as the genre doesn’t require a specific setting type like Westerns and WWII dramas, you can do whatever you want.  Even those ‘restrictive’ areas have some wiggle room, so nothing is set in stone.  The rules are incredibly flexible with fantasy, which really only requires that there be a magical, mystical element that can’t be chalked up to science.  This means you can do the traditional medieval setting or take inspiration from any time period.  You can also ignore that and try to make something entirely from scratch.  It is much more important to make the world work than to follow what you believe is a genre trend.

It isn’t hard to see why people think it should be medieval worlds or expect them to run the way our history did.  Tolkien and Lewis set that standard, which tends to go along without many changes when you look at the big ones.  ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘Dungeons & Dragons’, and even series that take place on a future Earth that has magic seem to go for the European aesthetic.  Castles with kings and knights traveling in search of adventure or a dragon to rescue from a fire-breathing princess.  You’re going to find more series that follow this tradition than blatantly go against it.  So, new authors get the feeling that this is a requirement instead of a suggestion that most people take.  Although, can you really blame them?

I’ve seen many readers go after a fantasy book because it isn’t historically accurate.  A suit of platemail isn’t correct or rules of etiquette don’t meant with medieval standards.  You can have a reader complain that the heroes are bathing regularly or that there are indoor bathrooms.  Had those tossed my way a few times.  As soon as you have the set pieces of medieval Europe, you’re bound to have people assuming that it will be Earth history accurate.  This doesn’t make much sense to me when it’s a place like Windemere, which isn’t Earth.  Yes, they have settings similar to the traditional, but they also have more modern things like the emergence of indoor plumbing.  This means you can’t suddenly say that something isn’t supposed to be that way because it could very well be right since it isn’t Earth.

Well, that’s my opinion and statement on this.  I’m going to be playing more with the idea when I finally get to the fantasy tip book.  What do you think about the belief that fantasy stories need to be in medieval Europe?

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War of Nytefall . . . Any Questions?

Cover Art by Alison Hunt

So, I’m preparing things to build hype for a spring release of War of Nytefall: Savagery.  This is a book where Clyde faces a monster that may be more powerful than himself.  It results in him having to do something that he never thought he would do:  Train.  Of course, that leaves his friends and long-running enemies behind to deal with the new threat.  Supporting characters such as Kai Stavros rise to the occasion.  Oh, and Mab is going to have to really face her drug addiction here.

By the way, these aren’t spoilers.  Some are hints at what is to come and others have been established in the previous books.  You can’t promote a new book of a series without talking about what’s already happened.  Sorry.  That’s simply how it works if I want my posts to make sense.

That being said, this post is about gathering information on what I should talk about when hyping the new volume here.  As with any series, I’m sure people may have questions.  It can be either from reading the books or noticing what I’m doing here.  Feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll try to answer in a post either in March or April.  Yes, that’s a long ways off, but I need time to get things set up these days.

So, what would you like to know about Clyde, Dawn Fangs, and whatever else comes up in War of Nytefall?

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First Week of Work in 2021: Survived!

Last weekend . . . I wrote and rested up as my holiday break ended.  My son was with his mom, so I kind of had the time to write.  It was slow going and I’ll get into that later.  I’m writing this around 10:30 PM on Friday and I’m drained.  Getting this post ready to go is my last act before sleeping.  I’d do it in the morning, but I really want to work on Do I Need to Use a Dragon? as much as possible.  My son comes back tonight and I’m going to be doing March blog posts the nights when he’s here.  So, this is my last chance for a while to really get things done unless I pull a late night.

Currently I have 28 sections left of Do I need to Use a Dragon? and I think I can get it down to 25 before the end of today.  The original plan was finishing the ‘Character’ section and leaving on the ‘Quest’ group of 20 and the outro.  That means I come up 4 short of my goal . . . How?  Well, I took my time getting into on Saturday, but I figured 2 instead of 3 was good enough.  I got 2 down on Monday after work, so I thought I was golden.  Then, I got nothing done on Tuesday because of a faculty meeting that was followed by a really bad evening.  Wednesday was 1 while Thursday was a miraculous 2.  Friday was none again because I decided to be social instead.  That’s the end of the stumbling of Charles the hapless author.

I was so tired this week because of the cold and work.  Not that things were crazy, but everyone was getting back into the swing of things.  So, it was too calm and mellow for me since I was still adjusting to waking up early again.  That meant I got groggy and depended on a coffee drink midday for a boost, which meant a crash.  There was also tension since you never know who behaved during the holidays and who didn’t.  I wasn’t around many people thanks to my schedule, but there are those who keep talking in dire tones and getting the more anxious members of society nervous.

Boy was my anxiety giving me some problems earlier in the week.  I don’t know what set it off either.  If it was anything, it would be getting back on schedule combined with personal events that were gnawing on my control.  This resulted in a really scary situation Monday night that I still don’t understand.  I had crawled into bed and was starting to fall asleep when I rubbed at my nose.  This had me thinking I should wash my hands for some reason, which was maybe a 2 minute out of bed, wash, and back trip.  Maybe I was colder than I thought, but I’m sure it was an unexpected anxiety attack.  My entire body just went nuts with violently shaking and my muscles stiffening to the point where I was in sheer agony.  I had my sleep apnea piece in, so I was fighting mostly to stop my jaws from slamming shut.  I managed to work my arms and hands enough to get the device out and on the nightstand, but that was it.  Just shook and twisted in terror and pain for either a minute or an hour.  Eventually, my body collapsed and I got the device back in before falling asleep.  No idea what it was or what triggered it.  Hasn’t happened since, but I’ve definitely been shaken all week when I start to go to bed.

In blogging news . . . I really need to figure out some things for Sunday blog posts.  I found that I mixed up some of my notes for future books, so I can’t tell what I kept and tossed, so it’s hard to pick from there.  Might see some repeats coming in the next few months as I sort.  Still, I’m always open for suggestions and topics to do these fun, goofy posts.  I’ll be making another bigger request tomorrow.

Television watching was mild.  I did finish ‘Harley Quinn’ and blew through ‘Cobra Kai’ Season 3.  That second series was practically devoured in two nights instead of getting a little extra sleep for work.  I watched the news a bit more because of the events going on, so I didn’t get into much else.  There’s Season 4 of ‘Slayers’ and I’ll finish that soon then go through Season 5.  That’s an anime and I’m still trying to figure out what to go for after that.  ‘Disenchantment’ comes back next Friday, so maybe I’ll watch that while thinking of something else.  I keep eyeing various live action shows like ‘Doom Patrol’, but I just don’t have it in me for anything with hour long episodes right now.  I’m just weird now.

Friday night was the big fun, but it’s rather simple.  After work and an appointment, I got together with a friend for pizza.  Then, we went to a movie theater.  The way it works is that you reserve your seats and all of the seats around you are blocked off from being purchased.  Not much out there, but this theater is pulling out older movies and we went to this one:

I’d seen it before, but I was curious about it being on the big screen. So much slower than I remember and not as violent.  Still, it’s a science fiction classic with a good story.  This started it all too.  Totally worth not writing tonight because how often will I get to see a movie like this in theaters?  Not a lot once the big blockbusters return.

Goals of the week:

  1. Time with son.
  2. Work
  3. Possible outlining
  4. Trying to sort and organizing the book/series list.
  5. Write more Do I Need to Use a Dragon? if I can.
  6. March posts that will revolve around War of Nytefall: Savagery
  7. Work on puzzle
  8. Get some extra sleep
  9. Plan a fun trip for next weekend.
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7 Tips to Writing in 2021 (Not That This Year Is Really Any Different Than Previous Ones)

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Last year, things were a really wild road in terms of writing.  Not only for myself, but for others from what I could see.  It either felt like we had all the time in the world or couldn’t get a second to ourselves.  I managed to write the last 4 volumes of War of Nytefall last year while doing remote working.  It wasn’t as easy as one would think in lockdown since I also had to work, help my son with school, and avoid going mad from either being cooped up or watching the news for more than 15 minutes.  Again, I’m not the only one who experienced this.  It was exhausting and oddly exhilarating, which resulted in me learning a few things about writing in the future.  (Okay, I knew them already, but this experience renewed the memory.)

  1. Notes are incredibly valuable.  You never know exactly how long a writing period will last even when things are slowing down.  Sickness, family time, waking up with no author mojo, or simple fatigue can push you back in the midst of a roll.  If you maintain some notes about where you are, you will need less time to get back into the story once you return.  It doesn’t have to be detailed.  It can even be about how you were feeling or where you think they story is going.  Whatever works for you to get back into the swing of things.
  2. Just because you have all this free time, doesn’t mean you need to put it all into writing.  Of course, this comes from the guy who would do a section in the morning, another after lunch, and a third after dinner if he had a free day.  I did make sure to give myself some resting time between those and I’d stop if friends or family wanted me to make an appearance.  Now, this can be frustrating in the moment because you may feel like you’ve been gifted this writing time.  That’s very true if it’s usually hard to come by.  Still, you need to step back from time-to-time to avoid going stale as well as recharging.  (I am talking about a little time though instead of getting routinely yanked off projects for months.)
  3. Savor the writing experience because you don’t know how long it will last.  Once I got back to work, things slowed down again.  It was a little jarring since I’d been creating at a rate that I hadn’t felt for years.  This made me realize that I really should have enjoyed the previous moments a lot more instead of whizzing by them.  I mean, I loved what I was writing as you’ll see throughout this year, but I certainly didn’t savor every moment.
  4. Doesn’t hurt to sleep in every now and again.  You don’t even have to sleep.  Just stay in bed with a book or listening to music.  Having one day that’s a slow or non-starter can help give you the right amount of energy for the other six.
  5. Decide who you’re really writing for.  This is something that I’m going to make a post about, but I wanted to mention it here.  Many believe authors write solely for their audience while many authors feel that write for themselves first.  Last year, I sat back and tried to figure out where I fell on this spectrum.  Who was I really trying to entertain, especially since sales were abysmal?  Definitely helped a little when I thought about it.  Still cried about the lack of sales . . . Hey, I’m still human.
  6. Editing can wait.  You don’t have to jump into this stage right away and there’s no perfect period to wait.  Get to it when you get to it.  Give another story some time to earn a first draft.  Maybe outline a few others.  Read more.  Aside from you getting to go back fresh, you don’t stress yourself out about deadlines.
  7. Writing can be as big a stress reliever as TV, reading, video games, and movies.  I could argue more so since this is all in your head.  There’s no risk of reality really treading on what you’re doing with an advertisement or somebody else trying to make a personal statement.  If you want escape from reality for a bit then plunge into your own fictional world instead that of another person.  (If you are going to go to another person’s world though, I highly recommend War of Nytefall.)
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Immortal Wars: Light, Blood, & Tears Intro . . . Here We Go

Last year, I put the first book I wrote on my blog by sections.  This was called Immortal Wars: The Summoning and I wrote it in high school.  It was cleaned up a bit in college when I sent it to a vanity press.  One would call this science fiction and superhero instead of fantasy.  Still, it didn’t sell and I’ve moved all of the characters to other locations to be repurposed for Windemere.  Now . . . why am I bringing this up?

There was a sequel!

I never published this one.  Since the first volume didn’t move, I tossed the entire series away, but I’d already written Light, Blood, & Tears.  Never knew what I wanted to do with it, but I couldn’t throw it out.  This piece of work has never been edited or revisited since I finished it back in high school/college.  Common sense tells me to leave this in the dustbin, but I’m genuinely curious about it now.  It really boils down to a strange and awkward fact:

I don’t remember what happens.

Seriously, I haven’t touched this book in over 20 years.  If you asked me to explain the plot, I’d have to shrug.  I vaguely remember events going to Earth and the Museum of Natural History in NYC appearing.  Beyond that, I don’t know.  This could be the most horrible thing imaginable.  So, it could be hilariously fun since this is probably a much better example of my original attempts than the first volume.  At least I edited that at some point after college.  This one has been festering.

Come back next week for the awkward humiliation.

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Stanford’s Stylish Sword Shop: Don’t Lick the Merchandise

Final Fantasy 9 Store

Welcome!  Come on in out of the rain and put your umbrella in the bucket.  I assume you’re looking for a magical sword.  Why else would you have ventured out into such a maelstrom?  It did strike without warning, but you know how the weather is around these parts. Very unpredictable.  Now, what can I get for you?

The first part is to choose the type of blade that you want.  Too many think a sword is just a sword, but you need the right tool for the right job.  For example, you can’t take this claymore and use it for stealthy assassinations.  It’s too big and unwieldly, so you’re looking more at daggers or a shortsword.  Probably not the best example, but you get the point.  Consider your build, fighting style, and intentions before you think about what looks good.  I can only comment on the first part, which makes me want to direct you to the lighter weapons.  Straight blades are for our piercers and curved blades are better for slashing deep.  We’re out of Kilij, but a Shamshir has a similar curve if that’s what you want.  Great.

Hilt decorations and scabbards are next.  Not the most important part, so we get them out of the way.  We have tassels, gems, studs, etchings, and more for the hilt and handle, but the Shamshir doesn’t have a lot to work with.  The hilt is thin and simple, but maybe we can shape it to your liking.  A man with his arms out holding obsidian orbs can be done.  Do you want his body and legs to be the handle?  Then he can be standing on . . . I believe we got a pearl shipment in yesterday.  Now, the scabbard gives you more variety.  You want us to make it look like a rusty piece of junk?  Good point. That would dissuade thieves.  I will add some faded pictures and maybe some spots where one would think gemstones once sat.

Time for the fun part.  What kind of enchantments do you want?  We have everything you can imagine.  Healing, elemental, illusion, nature, cosmic, enhancement, demonic, angelic, psychic, transformation, cooking, and the list keeps on going.  If you can dream up a spell then our casters can put it into a sword.  In fact, our shop is known for having exceptionally potent weapons.  The trick is to cast a very specific moment, which is a trade secret.  For the Shamshir, I would say you have a three spell limit depending on the combinations.  One large would be everything, but you can do three small or two moderate with one small.  Maybe a small could be squeezed in there with the large if it’s restricted.  What’s our most popular enchantment?  Surprisingly, it’s weather control.  I don’t know why.  Sell about five of those every week.  Hey, looks like the storm stopped.  Now, have you made a decision on the spells?

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Basic Plots: Vonnegut’s Man in Hole

Ciao, SEers. I’m back again to talk about story structure (admittedly an obsession of mine). Love him or hate him, one of the twentieth centuries …

Basic Plots: Vonnegut’s Man in Hole
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Music of Legends of Windemere: Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue

Art by Jason Pedersen

I’d like to say that I had an easier time with the songs for Legends of Windemere: Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue, but I’d be lying.  There were a lot of aspects that I had to choose from here.  This introduced Dariana, had a big evolution for Luke Callindor and Kira Grasdon, and gave a boost to Nyx.  Speaking of Nyx, I just realized that she’s on the cover and this thing was published in April of 2015.  Anyway, I ended up finding songs that worked better for other books than this one until I finally figured out 3 that really stood up.  It’s one for each of the key points too.

I was going to use ‘Hurt’ by Johnny Cash (a cover of Nine Inch Nails), but I put that somewhere else.  This one deals with the painful evolution of Kira Grasdon, Luke Callindor, and Sari.  It’s heart-wrenching in some aspects and still has this one spark of hope that I get from the tone.  The more I listened to this song, the more I felt that it worked in both words and tone.

Genuinely surprised that I forgot about this one, but I guess that comes from having finished Legends of Windemere a few years ago.  This was a song that I played a lot whenever Nyx was the focus.  We’re back to the fire theme for her, but that was really her thing.  At one point, this was being used as her battle theme and I played it on loop whenever she fought Queen Trinity.  Fits well for this story.

Now, the previous two took a while to get.  This is the one that snapped right into my head to represent Dariana.  We’re talking about a powerful psionic waking from a magical slumber.  In fact, she’s been awakened and put back to sleep for centuries.  The idea that she’s got these weird, strange dreams makes sense.  It isn’t digital or dealing with a computer program, but there’s also a storyline that somebody is threatening to put her away again.  Dariana is a character who fights for control at times even though it’s more subtle than her companions.

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