Saturday, February 27, 2010

This You Can Trust

Just got the Atlantean sword from a local crypt and had to teach my son the Riddle of Steel. He can barely pick it up, but he'll get there.Then later at night his older brother watched the old animated Lord of the Rings and I had the delight of his first reaction to Gandalf and the Balrog. He said, "Dad! The Balrog it has a whip and it took Gandalf and he fell and he said 'Fly-You Fools!'and now he's dead!"
That was awesome to see his first take on a classic.

I just found this while I was pondering teaching my son all that befalls you on the Tree of Woe and had to share. Basil Poledouris was a GENIUS, this was performed only 4 months before his death.

This was truly a score worthy of the source material. This is some of my absolute favorite music to write too. It has a magic that haunts and grips your soul, no wonder so many other movie soundtracks borrow it for promo's. We will miss Mr. Poledouris.

Me messing round the backyard, notice Cimmeria in the background.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Readings of February

This has been a busy month for me writing, and so in turn the reading has dropped quite a bit. I do have a friends novel I'm reviewing-but I'm gonna save that for Monday. So beyond that I have mostly been reading short stories this month-still always reading but in smaller quick increments.

Swords in the Mist, by Fritz Leiber
This is a collection of short stories about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, two of the greatest swordsmen who ever lived (according to Leiber) I have to admit that when I first read some of their tales years ago I wasn't as taken as I could have been but picking them up again was very pleasing this time around. Leiber is rather purple in his prose but that has never bothered me much at all if I am enjoying myself and with these tales I certainly was. Cloud of Hate was a great romp of action with an ending tossing the usual heroic yarn out the window. Lean Times in Lanhkmar also had quite the tongue in cheek about it. And though not in this particular volume I also read Bazaar of the Bizarre another Fafhrd and Gray Mouser tale from a later collection-that too was a most excellent Sword and Sorcery tale.

In The Void, by Michael Collings
I bought this from Michael Collings at the LTUE a couple weeks back. It is a collection of his poetry with a Sci-Fi,Fantasy, and Horror slant. I haven't read all of these yet, but have greatly enjoyed those I have read. Just flipping the book open anywhere I was struck by his raw energetic prose. Sasquatch has a delightful twist, Myrmidon brought the echoes of that immortal conflict the Trojan war scurrying back across the field before the gods and Because I Would Not Stop For Death=Awesome.

Desolate Souls was an anthology collection from the World Horrorcon 2008. It had quite a variety of contributors and thus far the standouts for me was a piece by Orson Scott Card-Lostboys and another poem by Michael Collings, Crows. I also liked Awake, Awke Ye Northern Winds by Simon R. Green a moody pirate/zombie piece.

I just received a copy of Rage of the Behemoth, another anthology put out by Rogue Blades Entertainment I have been meaning to get ahold of this for awhile and finally did. Its moving to the top of my to read pile for the weekend. I have also been re-reading The Dark Muse by Karl Edward Wagner and Black Colossus and Beyond the Black River by Robert E. Howard for the sake of my own stories mentioned below.

And of course finally, there is the short story contest at the LDS Publisher Blog. I mentioned this earlier in the week but I have 2 (out of 26) stories posted anonymously. If you had the time I wouldn't mind more people reading and voting, the poll is open until Saturday midnight. I have read them all and some are better than others (that's as kind as I can be) and some surprised me with their new twist on things.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How to write Stories that Rock

This is related to the LTUE I went to a week and a half ago. It was cool to meet and talk with these guys. John Brown has some very good writing tips on his site. And I like Larry Corriea even more because he considers himself a pulp writer. Here are the first 2 of 12.

Monday, February 22, 2010

My Short Storys at LDSPublisher

I haven't been posting much lately in part to getting a lot more writing done. I am anxiously waiting on whether or not some short fantasy yarns will be accepted for a couple different anthologies coming out in a few months and instead of just one I submitted two 5K tales to a short story contest at the LDSPublisher Blog.

The tales are all listed anonymously until the voting is done and the winners are selected. Once selected the winners will be given a spot in an anthology. (as yet untitled)

So I can't reveal which one's are mine for you to read-just know that two are mine and I would appreciate a vote. I think readers of this blog will have a pretty good idea on which are mine.

If I am blessed, I'll have my novel out soon (month or so) and at least three anthologies with my stories inside.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ages Undreamed Of vol.5 Cahokia

Rivers were highways to ancient man and where the Illinois, Mississippi, and Missouri rivers meet a thriving metropolis once stood . We don't know what its inhabitants called it, but we refer to it as Cahokia.At one time it may have had a central population as high as 40,000 plus many more in is outlying suburbs. The prime reason so many could live so close together was the economic/agricultural backing of sunflower, tobacco, squash, amaranth and especially corn. So much corn could be grown in the fertile region that the surplus could be used as a trade good with far-off areas, from copper rich areas to the north, obsidian and furs to the west, mica to the east, sea shells and even sharks teeth from the south have all been found. Cahokia was likely a trade hub of ancient America.An interesting facet of the "special" buildings foundations is the preponderance of astronomical alignments. many are constructed to align with equinoxes and star paths. No temples or religious building were constructed haphazardly, points were known and carefully aligned to be in sync with celestial events. There was even a "Woodhenge" built of red cedar posts (red cedar resists decay well). At least 5 great circles of posts have been found with alignments easily identifiable for equinoxes. It appears red ochre may have covered the posts for decoration.
Because of the abundance of food, cahokians would have had the ability to develop trades and pastimes to help specialize their society. All manner of artisan work has been found as well as ball pits not unlike those found much farther south in Mexico.The average home was built of wood poles and woven grasses. I am also inclined to think these were stuccoed over as so many others I have read about were. The Temples and other such building of importance were atypically of log and hewn together in a fashion that would not be unrecognizable to our ancestors. Most all of these were also situated upon earthen mounds, the greatest of which is known as Monks Mound.Monks Mound is almost 100 feet high and constructed entirely of earth in four levels. Excavation has revealed a large building once sat on top. Estimated to have been up to 50 feet high and at 105 feet long and 48 feet wide, it was almost 5,000 square feet. Such a building would have been visible for miles on end. Monks Mound is the largest earth work in the US.

There were wooden palisades and watchtowers set up roundabout the prime section of the city and some evidence of burnings therein. There has also been found a number of what appears to be live human sacrifices and or dismemberment's-interesting because another "important" person was buried with over 20,000 fresh water pearls (You had to be supremely wealthy for such a sacred haul as that). SO in conclusion while decadence may have run its course-I would never disavow the incredibly likelihood that barbarians at the gates ended the life of the city on the highways of the past.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Life, The Universe & Everything, a destitute recap

The LTUE is a 3-day symposium with panels, workshops, presentations and papers on writing, art, literature, media, science on aspects of speculative fiction.(To cut and paste from their own page)

3 days I went to one, Saturday and now I'll tell you about it.

I went with a couple friends. As we walked in I saw a tall man preparing one of the first panels, turns out it was the "A Guys take on Writing Romance" now I had no intention of listening to that panel, especially since there was another couple dudsicles in there complaining that "how come at this con you can't dress up?"
Tough Break guys.
But the tall man was John Brown author of Curse of a Dark God. I haven't finished the book yet but what I have read is good. He and I have been conversing somewhat via e-mail and it was nice to meet him in person. And that's why I decided to stay and listen to that Guys Romance Panel and I am very glad I did. Largely because with John were Clint Johnson, Dan Willis, and L.E. Modesitt jr.. I haven't actually read a book by Mr. Modesitt yet but I will now solely based on how much I liked his answers and advice during that particular panel.

He said things that made think about character such as "Values are not people and people are not values," "Men fight all battles and women pick their battles," and "Some characters have rough edges about them but don't forget that some are so polished they cannot be touched,"

I am probably failing to inspire with my retelling here but his many answers and such moved me. I will read his books because of those insights---inspite of their Darrel K. Sweet covers.

I then listened to a Soft Science SF panel mostly so I could hear Larry Correia and though I am anxious to read his novel Monster Hunter International,( he seems like a real cool guy) I didn't get a lot out of the panel. Though I will admit Roger White was very interesting too-lotta life experience there.

Between things I briefly talked to Sarah Eden, she thought I looked familiar, I said it must be the hat.

Then was the Keynote Address by Brandon Sanderson. He talked about how 90% of everything in the speculative genre is crap-or is it?
No, it isn't.
No one reading spec-fic really thinks 90% is garbage (Eragon) and he went on to explain why we don't think so and even though there are things we don't like-at least people are reading and IF they read this-perhaps you can get them to read something else you think is good.
Yes, I thoroughly butchered his presentation in the retelling.

I meant to go to the Horror and Dark Fantasy panel to hear and speak with Michael Collings but got distracted along the way talking with Dan Willis about the E-book revolution and all that it entails. I regretted missing Collings presentation but at the same time I got so much from speaking to Willis that it all balanced out. I spoke with Collings shortly afterward anyway and bought his poetry volume In The Void (good stuff I'll review it soon) Oh, I meant to go to the Worldbuilding/Religion panel too but I was still talking to Willis.

Then I spoke with Candace Salima and Tristi Pinkston a little about Valor Publishing their newer company, because the Regional Publishers panel was about to start.

There were Stacy Whitman of Tu Publishing Lyle Mortimer of Cedar Fort Publishing and no they aren't even based out of Cedar Fort, nor even located within a cedar fort. And then also on the panel was Tristi with Valor and Lisa Mangum with Deseret Book (you don't need a link). It all started kinda ho-hum until an old guy said with a little bit of venom-"With the way we can all do self-published books on the Internet now-What do we even need all of you for?"

*(read Tristi's comments below for another view)

Now at first, the panelists tried to respond pleasantly enough with the usual you have a team with a publisher, editing and design, marketing etc etc. This old dude was having none of it-"You're not answering my question!" So then it turned into a self-pubbed can't get into a bookstore/low quality debate versus the established route type thing. At one point the old man got up 3-quarters of the way (not quite fully erect) and gave a good hand shake scolding that they were liars and stealing all the royalties from authors because making e-books cost nothing but the authors time. He was pretty upset and gave them the Grandpa Simpson "frowning of a lifetime" I thought Tristi was the most gracious at saying you could get self-pubbed books into stores if you put enough effort into them; while Lyle Mortimer almost seemed ready to fight the old dude. I would have paid money for that. Because did I mention this whole symposium was free? I will have to go longer next year.

Other authors I talked to there-Nichole Giles, Elizabeth Mueller, Jenni James, Michelle Teacress, Heather Justesen, Karen Hoover, Rachelle Christainsen, and then I meant to say HI...but didn't to Jenn Johansson, Kasie West, Kimberly Job, Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury, Dan Wells, James Dashner, Julie Wright, and some pasty faced guy who looked like Stephen King at 20 years old? Who was that guy? All in all a pretty good con, considering I missed 75% of it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Where I Dream of Home

When I was a kid this was my veritable backyard. I look back on those days with both fondness and longing to return and give such a Cimmerian upbringing to my children.

For now I am in the city and I will take advantage of what opportunities it has to offer, arts and culture but especially work. The plan is if things go well enough financially I should like to return to my mountainous roots and breathe the crisp mountain air and taste the new fallen snow without the bitterness of Mordor's work tanging the senses.

And so I will work for today at what I want to give my children tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Strange and Humorous Sights of the Week

I'm at a loss at the moment and IF anything I merely feel like RANTING and rather than post something I may regret later I'll only subject you all to another edition of weirdness I find on that wondeful invention of Al Gore's.

CHARLIE DON"T SURF! Suppose I could have also put a pic of Professor X. here for that caption.
Out of the mouths of Babes. HEY! Her Mom works at Home Depot and she is selling snow shovels-get your mind out of the gutter.
This is too sweet but I do not need another reason to get pulled over.
I love DUNE and those Guild Navigators are super creepy.
The new DeWalt Nail Gun coming to a hardward store near you.
This kinda looks like the rear entrance of my old high school's auditorium. People said it was haunted.
I knew there was something weird about that guy.
We all remember where we were the first time we heard Dumbledore had been shot. Its a generational thing.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Rock into Mordor

Nightwish are among my favorites for mood music whilst writing, as I Rock into the Mordor of my mind. What do you all like?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ages Undreamed Of vol. 4 Giants of old Mexico

This particular post relates directly to the previous in the sense of inspiration for that particular story-or at least a facet of it. I usually try to have a pic of some type of evidence relating to my points but this time all I have are pic's of pic's, the best I can do for the moment.

In part because nobody has photo's from the Spanish conquest just drawings usually referred to as Codex's. And here is a doozy.Seems if you have a giant in your neighborhood you had best kill it-because they only cause problems. Not merely content to just rope this guy up, they also hit him in the eye with something and disemboweled him. Rough. Note that the giant has a name near him, the text reads Quinametzin, one of the old ones, as I had the urinating slave boy tell Madoc in the story. The name next to the men roping him is Tolteca/Tulan. These were the people that just preceded the Aztecs-so this denotes something that happened in the years before them. But wait...

My apologies to any giants who may be reading this.Know, Oh Reader, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the rise of the sons of Cortez...wait getting ahead of myself.During the Spanish invasion of Aztec Mexico such wild and legendary things couldn't have happened could they? Giants didn't still walk the earth did they? Apparently they did. According to the translated Aztec accounts of the invasion, contained in the fascinating The Broken Spears edited by Miguel Leon-Portilla, one of the Aztec hero's Tzilacatzin, was a giant.

According to the Aztec sources, when the Conquistadors first entered Tenochtitlan with hostile intent, it was Tzilacatzin who with three large stones (it says the kind they built walls out of-whatever that means) threw them at the Spaniards chasing them out of the city.

The text says Tzilacatzin was a great captain and that he was an Otomi, and that he wore his hair in the style of the Otomi's. Portilla makes this sound like its a military rank-but the Otomi were a tribe distinct from the Aztec, by all accounts very similar people but they considered themselves different. Kind of like New Yorkers and Staten Islanders. I find it much more likely that Tzilacatzin did his hair after the manner of his tribe (likely serving as mercenaries) than after a particular rank-but you never know.The codex's go on to say that Tzilacatzin frightened the Spaniards to such a degree that he became a priority to kill. They did not succeed at least that first day. The giant and others were able to keep them out of the city until nightfall when the Spaniards retreated. No more word of Tzilacatzin is mentioned after this initial battle for the city-which we know the Spaniards eventually won. There is no mention of Tzialcatzin falling but based upon his character thus far and his defensive attitude, I find it unlikely he survived the fall of the city.Why was he never mentioned by the Spanish? I don't know, perhaps he was too horrific to be believed or maybe you just don't wanna talk about the guy that made you wet yourself even after you kill him.

Why wasn't his fate mentioned by the Aztec's? Hard to say, perhaps because he was an Otomi (mercenary) he wasn't worthy of mention.(unlikely I know)
Possibly the Spaniards forbade speaking of him-they forbade the cultivation and use of Amaranth for quite some time.

Or maybe a part of us doesn't want to know how legends die.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fight Scene for a Blog Cause

Just heard about a Fight Scene Blogfest hosted by Crimson Ink so here is a snippet of "Name of the Game" a current WIP

The crowd grew restless waiting and soon was calling out for some amount of reward for Madoc’s performance thus far. Tezomoc relented and allowed a slave boy to bring the Welshman, Madoc more Pulque and water. He also had corncakes and a handful of Chia.

“This is from the silent lady,” said the boy.

“I don’t know any silent lady,” said Madoc, as he took the handful and swallowed them with a mouthful of Pulque.

“She knows you.”

Madoc grunted at that and helped himself to the water and the corn cake. “Boy, what is this Amon-Gahela?”

The boys eyes went wide with fear. “One of the old ones, a Quinametzin.”

“What’s that?”

The boy couldn’t answer, Tezomoc was addressing the crowd and the excited cheers and screams drowned out anything the boy tried to say. “Now heed me all of you holy witnesses. The Amon-Gahela comes!”

Thunder at the gates.

The stricken fear in the boys eyes was real and as the gates at the far end of the arena banged with two sudden thumps, he lost control of bodily function right there beside Madoc.

Astounded at the heavy dirge pounding the gates and the boys smelly fear, Madoc stood and swung the club once to stretch his arms and remind himself that he was the real slayer, a man to be feared.

The boy and his dripping loincloth stared back at the gate. He wouldn’t take his eyes off of it.
“Go on, get out of here boy,” snapped Madoc. But the boy remained frozen in place. Madoc rapped him on the head with the flat of his club and the boy came back to his senses. “Get out of here!” The boy nodded and ran disappearing into the slaves entrance.

The banging on the gates continued and then they burst open with the force of a hurricane. Madoc was amazed by what he saw.

A mountainous misshapen head peered into the arena. One eye was larger than the other or it was perhaps because a drooping flap of skin concealed most of the other. The ears and nose were small in comparison to the other facial features. It was nearly hairless and wore only a scrap of breechcloth about its loins, but this breechcloth would have been a full blanket for another man. It had to get down on its haunches to make it through the gate. The skin was pale and flabby, covered in scars and Madoc imagined this great being was indeed starving.

The Amon-Gahela was a man, but the biggest man in all of creation. It stood at least twice the height of Madoc perhaps even two and half his height. It growled and bellowed turning once to face its keepers who prodded it with long spears and whips.
Once through the gap and into the arena, the Amon-Gahela lolled its head back and forth gibbering at the mass of people. Its mouth, so like the jaws of hell, was nearly toothless and it drooled obscenely. A whip brought a cry of pain from the giant and it flung its hand backwards, barely tagging the keeper who was thrown against the wall and knocked senseless.

Squinting against the sun, the giant blinked its one good eye at Madoc. Its tongue rolled across its lips as more saliva dripped in yards long strings of bile. It stood fully erect and roared an inhuman cry of despair and rage.

The brute strength of such a behemoth was beyond imagining and Madoc stared hard trying to find a weakness in those spindly long arms. The nails were extended and Madoc saw each hand and foot bore six digits. Each ponderous step was crushing and the colossus wheezed as it shambled closer.

Madoc was at a loss on how to fight the thing when he noticed one last heavy wooden ball at his feet. Stooping to pick it up, he whispered a prayer to his own forgotten gods. He knew he could throw better than hit with the paddle, so he wrenched back his right arm and roared his own defiance at the Amon-Gahela in an attempt to get it to answer him.

It did. The Amon-Gahela opened its maw wide and roared an anger that knew no right or wrong, only pain.

Madoc threw hard and true, the ball went into the creatures mouth and down its gullet. The howl stopped cold and the giant’s long cold hands reached for its throat. It gasped and choked and stumbled backward, stomping a horrified keeper to death in the process. Its one good eye stared at Madoc and it then pitched forward upon its face. The right leg jerking several moments before going still.
The roar of the crowd was deafening. “Madoc! Madoc! Madoc