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Excuses

Hello everyone; it’s been a long while. I’d like to say that there was a good reason for my (very) extended leave of absence, but there really isn’t. Over the past year, I’ve mostly had my head down in my undergraduate thesis, and once that finished in May, I spent the summer preparing for my upcoming doctoral program in sociology. I’ve always found it difficult to write when I am stressed or otherwise preoccupied by other things that need doing; it’s my greatest flaw.

So, while I’ve gotten some writing done, it hasn’t been nearly enough, and I began to doubt if I really want to be a writer. After a long period of soul-searching, I decided I still do want to be a writer, but also many other things. A writer is not an all-exclusive thing to be, and I’ve been in the mindset that it should be for a long time, which has been making it hard for me to get the motivation to actually write something. As I worried about and prepared for my doctoral program, I felt like I was betraying myself. Now, however, I have come to terms with my probably future as a writer and a sociologist, and I will do both.

So, I have no excuses for my lack of updates, or my lack of writing. I hope to fix both in the upcoming months, assuming my program will give me the time (and if not, I’ll do my best to make time). I will stop making excuses to not write (oh, I’m too stressed to write well! Oh, I don’t feel like it. Oh, I’m not a real writer so why bother?). I will just start writing again.

Part of my problem with regards to writing of late, other than the excuse-making and stress, has been a lack of inspiration. Inspiration is by no means necessary to start writing, but I’ve been less than inspired by my stories as of late. As such, until I can get fully involved with them again, I am starting a new project that I am very, very excited about. I am leaving the world of the Juxian Mythos – spending so much time in that universe I was beginning to find stifling and was hampering my creativity (though I still love it and will return to it many times) – to instead work on a science fiction novel (or maybe more than one depending on length) tentatively titled Sundering Stars.

The planned novel will deal with themes of genocide, humanity, auto-evolution, alien life, and godhood. It might be a bit ambitious for one such as myself, but I’m going to give it my best! Wish me luck, and I hope to soon be updating both this blog (and EsoTarot eventually) more often, starting with my thoughts on Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders and more about inspiration and Sundering Stars.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in Personal, Writing

 

Back in Business!

Hello dear readers, did you think I had forgotten you? Have you spent the past few months escaping from the sorrow and misery that had descended upon you as a result of my absence? Fear not, for I have returned from my journeys!

The last semester at university was riddled with all sorts of stress and work and assorted problems, and as such I got very little writing done (though I did write some!) and haven’t had the time or energy to really put up an effective blog post. Now, however, I have graduated with a B.A. in History and Sociology, and I’m taking this summer largely off. I hope to use it to get seriously back into writing and to establish a schedule! Of course, come fall I will be beginning my doctoral program in Sociology at Brown University, so we’ll see how that affects my writing then. But for now, I have returned!

My first order of business was to make myself promise to stop starting new projects. I will finish all of my WIP’s first! There is quite a lengthy list of WIP’s, but in order of priority (at the moment) they are:

Ziggurats (Juxian Mythos academic expedition gone very wrong)

Beneath (Juxian Mythos induction ceremony gone very wrong)

Tal’kan (Juxian Mythos Techno-space druids!)

The Divine Madness of Kings (Juxian Mythos direct sequel to the Jakken Trilogy)

People of the Storm

…and then everything else. I have largely decided to ignore what I wrote for A Deadly Dance, as I really don’t like how it came out. Similarly, The Divine Madness of Kings will be seriously reworked and expanded upon. I will also continue to work on short stories in between these larger WIP’s; right now I’ve been working on one called “Wings,” based on a prompt a friend gave to me.

I will not go away this time, and will return to EsoTarot soon as well! Ta-ta for now!

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2013 in Writing

 

Me, Checking In

Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve written here in my own voice. It’s been a busy month, but NaNoWriMo 2012 is finally over, and I managed to pull off a victory after writing 9,000 words in the last 24 hours (one stretch of 5,000 in three hours and then 4,000 in two). A lot of the writing in that particular work, A Deadly Dance, is not up to my desired standard, and it will undergo very extensive revision! I like how it’s shaping up, however, even if it might end up turning into another trilogy. We’ll see what happens!

In other news, I am discontinuing my writing of Goodman’s Diary, because I have lost all will to write it and it became a chore, not to mention I don’t think many people were reading it. Sorry about that!

So then, my plans for the future, you ask? First, I am going to survive this semester. Second, I am devoting a fair bit of time to developing two games: a Lovecraftian board game called Eldritch, and a spaceship tabletop battlegame (that I am working on with an apartment-mate) that currently has no name. On top of that, I’m going to keep working on A Deadly Dance and get back to working on Beneath as well. Finishing those two Works in Progress are my top priority right now.

And after that? More works in progress to finish! I will probably turn back to finishing my Tal’kan duology next, and after that go back to The Divine Madness of Kings. In the extremely likely chance that by next NaNoWriMo I haven’t finished these, I will work on them instead of a new novel.

So, here’s to writing!

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Writing

 

Slave to My Muse

Before I got into the headlong flight of NaNo, I wanted to share my thoughts about my muse. I am currently not on speaking terms with her (or him; I don’t know which it is) at the moment, as when I most needed to catch up on schoolwork, my muse decided to, after having been absent for two months, come back with a vengeance, and force me not only to delay my catch-up work, but to force me to work on a completely new project unrelated to the things I wanted to do! I was forced to sit back and watch, in an almost out of body experience, as my muse grabbed my limbs and force me to create, of all things, a board game based on H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, in which you play as a semi-Lovecraftian protagonist seeking to summon the Great Old Ones to rule the world!

The good news is, the first playtest went well, and was addictive and loads of fun. When I have a more final version, I might put it up here for download!

The point of my mini-rant, though, is that muses can be fickle. Mine is. I also am a slave to it; I cannot direct it. It goes where it wants and does what it wants, and I have no choice to follow, no matter my circumstances. It can be rather annoying.

That is all for now. Onward and forward!

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2012 in Philosophical Musings, Writing

 

National Novel Writing Month 2012!

Hello everyone! I’ve been remarkably silent on this blog recently (even with my Goodman’s Diary entries), and for that I apologize. I served on a 3-day jury case and got sick, so fell very behind on my university coursework and thesis. I am mostly caught up now, though, and as a reward I get to plunge into a month of writing 1,667 words a day: or a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, or the month of November. This is the world of NaNoWriMo!

I was originally going to work on a WIP that was shelved for a long time – People of the Storm – but at the last second (about an hour before November 1, when the event begins), I decided to change my novel to A Deadly Dance, a story about conflicting empires, the futility of war, capitalism and communism, individualism and collectivism, and an insane madman who, in The Libel of Blood, is known as Roland van der Tyke. The villain from my third novel’s backstory is the main subject of this novel, and I’m looking forward to seeing exactly how he turned into the monster he did!

Wish me luck, in I goooooooo!

*splash*

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2012 in Writing

 

The Next Big Thing

I have emerged from the university library, where I have spent my days and nights toiling over an undergraduate honors thesis on medieval Iranian ideology, for a brief period of time in response to one Thomas James Brown, a great horror and speculative author and amazing person, who was kind enough to tag me in a post, asking me to spend some time discussing my current work in progress. I highly recommend checking out his post on his own WIP, Lynnwood.

Of course, I ran into a problem as soon as I decided to make my own post: I have multiple WIPs. I have part one of scifi/fantasy fusion duology (Tal’kan), a story about the rise of a king in the distant future (The Divine Madness of Kings), and one about an investigator-turned-ambassador-turned-illegal investigator on an alien planet (Beneath). So my first problem was choosing which WIP to write about. In the end, I chose my most active WIP, Beneath.

1. What is the working title of your book?

Beneath. It will likely be the final title, too, as the entire novel revolves around secrets hidden beneath a glossy surface: the depravity behind a great culture, the knowledge behind a mystic order, and the evil beneath a planet’s surface. The main character’s goals in the novel (though he might not know it yet!) are to rip away the shiny exterior and reveal what lies beneath it.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

This book is part of my larger universe, the “Juxian Mythos;” it’main character is also a secondary character in The Divine Madness of Kings. I have created a detailed timeline of the history of this universe, and there was one specific entry in said timeline that just briefly touches on a powerful figure destroying an ancient evil. As I was browsing through said timeline, I came across that brief entry and wondered at what cost was that ancient evil defeated? Could the debt to whatever power allowed that evil to be defeated ever be paid back? From those questions, the idea for Beneath was born. It takes place long, long after this evil was defeated, but will deal with an outsider slowly discovering exactly what it cost a certain civilization to drive out the evil, and how it still plays a role in that society, just beneath the surface.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Horror in a science fiction universe. The plot is Lovecraftian in the extreme, but the setting is a very detailed space opera. There are elements of high fantasy in the work as well, as embodied in the conflict between an ancient evil and a cosmic good, but the lines between the two have blurred over time, and the focus of the novel is on the horror of the past and the disturbing price of victory.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I don’t know many actors, but were I to choose one for the main character, Russell Hicks, I would have to go with Ben Browder or Peter Jurasik; they have both played characters similar to the intriguing Mr. Hicks, who is really a combination of John Crichton from Farscape and Londo Mollari from Babylon 5, with a bit of Sherlock Holmes thrown in there. Ian McKellan and Christopher Lee would probably find their way into it as Elfviyat (the alien civilization in question) as well.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Ex-private investigator, now an ambassador for the Kingdom of Man, is sent on a routine diplomatic mission to the heart of the ancient Elfviyat Empire, but once his old investigative instincts kick in, he realizes that the grandeur of the Elfviyat is not all that it seems…

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published! I am a huge fan of self-publishing, and at this point have little interest in traditional publishing; I enjoy having full control over all aspects of my work.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

What first draft? I’m still working on it! It’s been about eight months so far, though.

 8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

H. P. Lovecraft’s The Whisperer in Darkness or Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos. The first has the same atmosphere of horror, and the second has the same themes of secrets hiding beneath the surface.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I’m not sure. I was choosing between three possible new projects, put a poll up on my website, and this idea sounded the most intriguing to the respondents! That’s the best answer I have.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The universe and background is extraordinarily detailed, and like all Juxian Mythos novels, it will have an extensive appendix! The clash of cultures on this book would be of interest to anyone with a remote interest in anthropology or sociology, and the structure of different alien cultures might also prove interesting to a reader. Anyone who loves Lovecraftian monsters would also not be disappointed with this book; Lovecraft’s hand is very easily seen. Other than that, an atmosphere of dread and, of course, a mystery plot also might intrigue a reader!

 

I would nominate others for this, but I have never been really comfortable doing so, so everyone who reads this is nominated! Hopefully I can find more time to be active in the future!

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2012 in Writing

 

Dark Aeons

Big news! After three long, long years, I have finally released Dark Aeons, my collection of horror short stories! I would like to take this time to thank Peter Merlin and Jacob G. Adams, my literary advisors and editors, for the work they put into editing the monstrosity that is now available for reading!

Dark Aeons is, like I said, a collection of horror stories. Most of them are highly experimental in nature, so many of the stories won’t be for everyone, but they cover a wide range of topics and things, all linked together by fear and their disturbing nature. H. P. Lovecraft’s influence is very heavily felt in the collection, and indeed, my novella “Parallax” is very similar to his story “From Beyond,” though the two go in very different directions.

My personal favorite stories from the collection are the following:

-“Winds of Madness:” A story about a young boy with a deathly fear of winds, and the pyschiatrist assigned to work with him. His fears might not be irrational, however, and both of their lives are soon in danger.

-“Dark Prophecy:” A prose poem describing the horrors of the future, as told through the words of a rambling, crazy man accosted by the police.

-“Hell Factory:” A semi-prose poem describing a terrifying vision of eternal torment.

-“The Loneliness of the Spheres:” A poem describing my own personal feelings towards life.

-“The Derelict:” Originally published in Space Adventure Magazine, re-appearing here, this story follows a crew of space scavengers that pick the wrong derelict to loot.

-“The Playground:” This prose poem embodies all that is disturbing and creepy to me, and is filled with a commentary on both childhood and adulthood.

-“The Vessel:” A Roman equestrian finds himself caught up not only in the Punic Wars, but in something far deadlier as well.

-“What Walks Under Moonlight:” My first attempt at a semi-rhyming and metered poem. It might not be amazing, but I’m still proud of it!

Of course, I like every single poem and story in the collection, but the above are, in my opinion, the best of them. But who knows, maybe you will disagree with me!

And just to whet your appetites, here is an excerpt from “The Silver Door:”

*-*-*

We always had wondered what was behind that large silver door on the lowest floor of the city library. It was an oddity in that dusty old building, easily one and a half times the size of the polished mahogany doors that populated the rest of the structure. For a long time, I never got too close to the door itself; it was one of those items irresistible to my childish curiosity, but at the same time clearly forbade anyone from coming too close. My fear had always overridden my curiosity, and the same had been true of my two best friends – Jack and Valerie – as well.

It didn’t help our curiosity that we never saw anyone ever open that door. Many a time we would sit at the table nearest the door – though this table was still a good twenty feet or so distant – and watch it intently, all the while pretending to study.

I say that the silver door was an oddity, but in truth, the entire lower level of the library was odd. It was below ground level, and one had to walk down a spiral staircase to get to it. Five more floors extended upwards from the first, for a total of seven floors. The library was the oldest structure in town, and I would not have been the least surprised if the lowest level predated the rest of the building. The stones in the walls of that level were different than those used throughout the upper portions of the library; they reminded one of the walls of some ancient castle, very much unlike the red bricks of the structure above. The carpets on the floor were also much older, and looked like antiques brought in from the Orient.

The bookshelves down there had the same appearance as those of the upper floors, but their contents were an example of what was perhaps the starkest contrast between the upper and lower levels. While the books above were those one would expect to find in a library of this day, the books in the cold stone cellar were much older and far more sinister in appearance. Many of them were locked, and almost all were bound in thick leather, with thin yellow parchment in place of proper paper pages. Most of them looked as if they hadn’t been touched in centuries.

To make the room even more curious, at least to us children back then, was that all of the books were written in either Latin, Greek, or Arabic. None of us could read a word out of any of them, although we often tried. We didn’t go down there for the books, however, though one would describe us back then as bookworms.

We went down there to escape. Our intelligence and bookishness made the others jealous – we were teased and bullied mercilessly. The library was the only escape for the three of us –  Jack and Valerie and me. We had always visited the place when we were tiny, and as we grew older, spent more and more time there.

There was one day, though – I think it was a Tuesday – when the biggest bully of them all, Billy McDermott, and his friends chased us into the library on a sunny afternoon. Terrified, we ran down the first staircase we saw – the one leading down to the lower level, where we had never before been in our lives. Billy never found us down there – perhaps the work of the doddering old men (and occasional young lady) who worked at the place, or perhaps they failed to notice the descending spiral stair. Or perhaps he sensed something about that cellar that we did not.

We found quickly that we loved it down there – we all fancied ourselves to be medieval folklorists, and the atmosphere in that basement was that of a medieval study, perhaps one in an ancient monastery. We soon found ourselves going down there every day, sitting at one of the old oak tables – maybe from an old Viking meetinghouse – reading various works of fiction we had brought from home, and doing our schoolwork.

We found the door a month or so after we began to inhabit the room, staying there every day of the week. The floor was very large, much like the others, and we never ventured far, for we never had any need to. Eventually, though, curiosity got the better of us and we went exploring. At the farthest end of the room we found the door. As I said, the closest tables were above twenty feet away; there was a large open space in front of the door. The three of us, on that day, approached the silver door, but all refused to cross that threshold marked off by the tables. We stood silently at the edge of that area for several minutes, all overcome by mingling senses of curiosity and fear. But, as always, our fear overpowered our curiosity, and we retreated back to the stairs, where we discussed our findings.

Gradually, over the course of a few months, we began to sit nearer and nearer to that door, until we regularly inhabited that table closest to it, no longer quite so bothered by the odd mixture of emotions that tended to accompany its presence.

Only once did someone other than ourselves descend that staircase and enter our domain. I do not know whether or not he was a librarian, but he was an old man in an ancient tweed jacket, supporting himself on a silver cane topped with an intricate carving of a howling wolf. He stayed with us for only a minute or so, quickly locating a gigantic black volume, and walking back upstairs with it.

And for many more months after that, the silver door waited, unmoving, its cold surface both taunting and terrifying, both beckoning and warning us against the secrets it hid behind its implacable face.

*-*-*

Currently, Dark Aeons is available as a free eBook at Smashwords, and as a $7.00 print book at the  CreateSpace eStore and Amazon. It will eventually become available on Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook, as well as the iTunes iStore. If you’re even remotely interested, give it a try; you might find something worth your while in there!

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2012 in Writing