There’s a Sword for That

Monsters - Full Cover-600tempIn addition to the novels I’m currently working on, I’m making a practice of producing more short stories and submitting them to various magazine and anthology markets. Rather than just search for random topics, I’ve decided to write as many of them as possible for ultimate inclusion in a single collection, called There’s a Sword for That.

As you can see from the progress meters on the right, there are four stories so far. This is a science fiction collection, not fantasy, somewhat unexpectedly for stories with swords in them. So far, they’ve included children, sessile tentacular creatures, intelligent multi-purpose devices, and a famous historical kris (not all at once, of course).

There’s a frame to this collection — the Curious Arms weapon shop, tucked away on a space station. All the covers will show the weapon shop and one of the weapons (the cover for the collection will include a rosette of all the weapons).

As each story completes the submission process and becomes available again, it will be published by Perkunas Press, and eventually the entire collection will be available as a book, too. That’s more than  a year away for some of the stories, but at least a few should be available this year. Since I like to get the covers done sooner rather than later, you can at least get a preview of what they’ll look like.

It’s been a while…

TimeFliesMy, how time flies.

I’ve spent the last few months conducting a number of experiments and thought I’d mention them here.

Look for a summary of 2014 and plans for 2015 in separate posts.

Finally, I’ve decided to add progress meters (on the right) for short stories still in the submission process. When finally published by Perkunas Press, they will have full pages here and on the Perkunas Press websites.

Social Media

I conducted a blitz for four months aimed at improving my Facebook and Twitter audience. Rather than advertising my books (bad form) except for the occasional sale, I focused on providing interesting content covering a wide array of topics. In other words, I posted about the things I like — archaeology, landscape, language, surrealism, and dozens of other subjects.

My Facebook friends said, “hey, neat!” and hardly grew at all. Twitter, on the other hand, where I had little presence, grew to hundreds of followers. That was gratifying, but the advice to “make friends and have conversations” still eludes me. I’ve found new people to follow, but conversations don’t seem to make sense in that medium.

I also dabbled in Pinterest and lined up Tumblr and Instagram to explore, but I’ve eased up on this for now. When my next book is published, I’ll do announcements on Twitter and Facebook, and see if I can detect any impact, especially from Twitter. If not, then this is not a great use of my time, and I should ratchet back to a more normal level (yet to be determined).

This blog has suffered as a consequence. I expect to be posting more regularly, and with a greater focus on actual news rather than just amusements and general items of interest.

Workshops & Lectures

I’ve become a real devotee of Dean Wesley Smith‘s workshops and lectures. His somewhat acerbic and dismissive manner sometimes requires accommodation, but he and his wife Kristine Rusch have an invaluable perspective on the publishing industry and the important issues for long-term fiction writers. It’s always difficult to find a mentor whose sensibility accords with your own, and these two do it for me, covering both craft and business concerns. Read More →

Stunned by sorrow

woodspurge

The Woodspurge: Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1856)

The wind flapp’d loose, the wind was still,
Shaken out dead from tree and hill:
I had walk’d on at the wind’s will,—
I sat now, for the wind was still.

Between my knees my forehead was,—
My lips, drawn in, said not Alas!
My hair was over in the grass,
My naked ears heard the day pass.

My eyes, wide open, had the run
Of some ten weeds to fix upon;
Among those few, out of the sun,
The woodspurge flower’d, three cups in one.

From perfect grief there need not be
Wisdom or even memory:
One thing then learnt remains to me,—
The woodspurge has a cup of three.

Preconceived notions about the weapons that heroes carry

Iron – Utility or Rarity?

Golden dagger & sheath of Pharoah Tutenkhamun (d. 1327 BC)

Golden dagger of Pharoah Tutenkhamun (d. 1327 BC)

Ceremonial weapons are all very well. They look splendid when you ascend the throne. The goldsmith was probably the best in the land — look at all those animals on the sheath (click on the image to enlarge it).

What insights can we draw from this dagger from Tut’s tomb? The blade is gold alloyed with copper to harden it, but it can’t have been a practical weapon. So the boy Pharoah who carried this never had to defend himself (or didn’t expect to need to after death) — that’s what he had guards for.  Judging from his physical remains, he may have been unfit and walked with a cane. The cause of his death at 19 is disputed.

So, this dagger defended his reign, the right of his dynasty to rule (but he had no issue, so the 18th Dynasty ended with him). It was a beautiful, treasured, symbolic weapon.

The pair of daggers from Tut's tomb - gold and iron.

The pair of daggers from Tut’s tomb – gold and iron.

But before we jump to conclusions, there was a second dagger found in his tomb, this one with a meteoric iron blade. (Notice that the haft for the iron blade can’t be the original, since it’s shorter than the tang of the blade requires.) Given the similar haft and sheath treatment in gold, there is speculation that the iron blade was valued as highly as the gold one.  Certainly it’s more practical as a weapon, being able to take an edge. Read More →

A nice big house, um, library

Trinity College Library, Dublin

Trinity College Library, Dublin

A Dutch fondness for books

 

 

As close as we can get to dragons

eagle3

The Eagle: Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1851)

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

—————————————————–

Just as exciting when “domesticated”.

The motivations of alien beings

Goat-Red-Surprise
Ever wonder what an alien thinks? Well, aliens may be in short supply in our daily experience, but life in the country recognizes alien beings all the time.  It’s just that they typically have four legs.

So, today we’re driving along the road on top of the holler and we see a good-sized goat trotting diligently down the middle of the (deserted) pavement. We pull alongside and ask it what it’s doing, and it pauses to consider the question, but continues on its determined way.

The next driveway belongs to a neighbor, and we think he may keep goats, so we pull in and, sure enough, the goat (following us) turns in, too. So we head to the house to let the neighbor know he’s got a goat loose, but no one’s home. Meanwhile the goat trots into the one-stall barn, and takes up his post next to the horse there, good buddies that they clearly are.

It's those horizontal slit pupils that betray their alien heritage

It’s those horizontal slit pupils that betray their alien heritage

We shrug, head on home, and later give the neighbor a call to tell him about his goat’s travels. Only it turns out, it’s not his goat. It belongs to one of his neighbors and is in the habit of paying his horse a visit from time to time.

That goat had places to go and people to see.  Wasn’t lacking for motivation at all.  Wonder if it borrowed a cup of oats while it was there?
 
 
 
 

Novel considerations

facesofthenovel-webOnce again, the humor of Grant Snider.  There’s my work, down at the bottom, next to the end.

Too many distractions

Oatmeal_procrastination