Writing

What were Daniel and Castle up to?

I started working on a new story yesterday, and when I say working on, I mean writing.  For fans of The Chain, this story takes place at the same time.  Wait, what?

A Study in Shadows picks up in chapter 6 of The Chain, by retelling a pivotal scene between Daniel and Castle.  This time it is from Daniel's perspective.  That changes a lot.

I've toyed around with this story for a while.  It was in my notes as backstory to The Pearl, but I thought it would be more fun to tell the story on its own.  I was right.

In The Chain, we learn that Daniel is going to learn the arts of the Secret Keepers, and a couple chapters later, we see him using them.  I didn't include his lessons in the book because I thought it was a distraction from the rest of the story.  As its own story though, it is powerful.

Since Daniel is taking over the series in The Pearl, I thought I would share this story about his experience in The Chain so I could try out some things, and to start getting your feedback about the character.

When it is finished, I will give the story away for free to all the subscribers to my newsletter.  If you are not already one of them, sign up:

If you would like to be a part of testing and perfecting the story, follow me on social media.  I will be sharing links to drafts.

I am so excited to be back in the world of the Dragons of Night.  Have the fun.

The Wand and Weaver: The Pearl Story Engine

I just finished the Story Engine for Wand and Weaver: The Pearl.  Honestly, I don't expect that to mean much to any of you, it is a very high concept pass over the story used in Dramatica to make sure that you have all of your bases covered.  For more information on Dramatica, you can study the theory here.

My other version has detail on each of these points, but since that information contains a lot of spoilers for this and the next book, I thought I would just share the Story Engine.  If you have any questions about it, I would love to answer them, so leave your questions in the comments.

The big new year for the Dragons of Night

Again, I want to thank everyone who made 2012 my best year yet for fiction sales.  I took a pretty big gamble switching genres, but thanks to your love, help, and support, it was well worth it.

2013 is going to be a very big year for us.  Wand and Weaver: The Chain is out of exclusivity, which means it should be available on your Nook and other favorite bookstores soon.  We are even working on an audio version that will be available from Audible.com and as a podcast.

Work on book 2 proceeds on schedule, and I can't wait to get it into your hands to see what you all think of it.  For those of you who have asked, it will pick up right at the end of The Chain and go on to explore the relationship between Daniel and Lady Oban.

We have also decided to release a serial, to be called Our Solemn Hour, that will show events taking place in the wider world.  I'm very excited about the series, and hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy working on it.

In addition to all that, I have started publishing prose poems and flash fiction, as well as original artwork, in the Dragons of Night setting over at medium.com.  These are part of my daily warm-up routine, and I thought it would be fun to share them with you all.

As always, I love getting feedback from everyone.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to hit me up on my various social media profiles, or use the contact page to get in touch with me directly.

I hope you are as excited as I am for all of the new things coming to Dragons of Night this year.  And since I can't say it enough, thank you so much for your love, care, and support

Thank you for a great 2012

I wanted to take a quick minute to thank everyone who picked up a copy of Wand and Weaver: The Chain this year.

Thanks to you, for the first time in my writing career I've hit my book sale goal for the year. I set a rather high target and through your generosity we hit it.

I also want to thank everyone who has written a review of the book, and everyone who has contacted me to share how much the story meant to you.

As you know, the story is very near and dear to my heart. It pains me as a writer to say this, but I really and truly have no words to express how grateful I am to all of you for your kindness, love, and support.

I look forward to the new year, and all of the new things that it will bring for me to share for you all to read.

Wildness

Transient

I’ve talked a lot in the past about my love of Robert E Howard and his love for the the Barbarian, especially through the character of Conan.

What he means by Barbarian is not an ethnic group or even a particular class of individual, but is simply a person unburdened by the the social norms and rules of “polite society.”

If that doesn’t make sense to you, check out The Importance of Being Earnest or An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde, or the BBC farce, Keeping Up Appearances, where the humor is based on a how people are forced to act within the gilded cages of polite society.  They are not Barbarians.

On the other hand, check out Almost Famous, Farscape, and Firefly to see Barbarians at their best.

Barbarians have Honor

What makes barbarian society possible in the absence of etiquette and mores of polite society is that integrity and reputation are more important than social standing and lineage.  If you are a renown liar, it doesn’t matter who your father is or what company you work for.

Cultured society, by definition, adopt certain norms of speech, action, and etiquette.  The end result is a subjection of the natural state of an individual to the homogenized whole.

In its worse extreme of a cultured society we get Stepford Wives and 1984.

The Problem with Words

It is hard to talk about these things, because English is biased against me.  I mean, a good person never does anything beyond the pale, right?

“Beyond the pale” refers to the people outside of the British controlled area of Ireland.  Norman/English conquerors felt that they were better than the Irish, so the notion of Irish culture, language, and people were denigrated.  The Statutes of Kilkenny (1366) forbid English people from marrying the local Irish, talking like them, adopting their culture or language, or even riding a horse like them.

The idea of the Irish as barbarian is not the only racist problem with the language, but is a fair example of it.

The word barbarian itself derives from what the Greek thought non-Greeks sounded like when they talked.

I love the word barbarian, but you have to bare in mind that I am referring to something different from the idea of a culture different from my own.  I am using the word cultured to mean the sort of cultural fundamentalism that institutes a polite, public image and rituals to reinforce it to mask the inherent hypocrisy such an institution requires.

Are barbarians civilized?  Uh, well it depends what you mean by civil or civilized.

To quote Robert E Howard, “Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.”

Violence and Barbarism

One of the reasons I am bending towards the use of the word Wildness as apposed to Barbarian is the association of violence with barbarism.  In English, the two words are synonymous.

With all respect to Mr Howard, I don’t think the threat of violence is what marks the difference between cultured people and their uncultured counterparts.  I think the difference is born out of respect.

Anarchy and Subculture

The punk and goth movements that I grew up in are modern “urban barbarian” movements.  They were both anarchistic, and rejected the accepted culture, not just the pop culture.

**The following represents my person experience, and to hell with all the pop culture stereotypes.**

In high school, I got into punk.  For us, it was part rejection of social norms and part an attempt to express our individual identities.  It was born out of frustration on many fronts.

We were confrontational, and anyone who saw us dancing at a show or a club could easily be excused for thinking a riot broke out.  For us, the violence of the pits was a pressure valve that exorcized our anger in a controlled way.

I am not sure I could explain life like that to an outsider.  The encouragement of individualism and honesty is something that I have taken with me my entire life.

In fact, the only person who has ever betrayed me was an average pop culture hipster who tried to fit in, but always read as trying too hard.

Open revulsion was accepted, but insincere politeness was derided and used against people to prove they weren’t trustworthy.

Wildness and Empire

The story of Romulus and Remus being suckled by a wolf is not a meaningless fable. The founders of every state which has risen to eminence, have drawn their nourishment and vigor from a similar wild source. It is because the children of the empire were not suckled by the wolf that they were conquered and displaced by the children of the northern forests who were.
— -Thoreau, Walking

I never thought I would ever quote Thoreau, but that one is just too good.

While I have been singing the praises and virtues of the barbarian, it is important to see their effect on the world.  The American Revolution was born in the Colonial Taverns.

So was Thomas Jefferson a paragon of wildness?  Some quotes:

“A coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit.”

“A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circlue of our felicities.”

“Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.”

“Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom.”

“On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

Okay, so he may not have had a mohawk or listened to the Germs, but I am not asking if he was a punk

Wildness is all about natural, native state of things.  If integrity (living honestly), respect (not forcing everyone to copy your patterns of life), liberty, fierceness/relentlessness, and fearlessness as the measure of wildness in a person, I think he makes the grade.  He may not have been a party animal, but that is a personal trait, not a requirement.

Thoreau was right (wow, I said that), Wildness builds and conquers empires.  Makes you think about the effects of Valley Forge on the army in a different way doesn’t it.

Origin of the Dragons of Night

On Tuesday, February 23, 2010, I struggled all day to come up with a new idea to write.  I had written three Space Operas, and I felt a little burned out.  I wanted to do something special, but every idea that I came up with I could match to another Book, Series, or Movie that came before.

I was frustrated beyond words.  My last book had made a splash with Horror Fans, and I couldn't get the cult success of Phara-un out of my head.  It was a limited run, and it is no longer available anywhere, but people constantly asked me about it.  I wanted to continue it.  Words wouldn't flow.  I was blocked.

That night, Brian and I went out shopping.  About half way through the store, I had an strange image pop in my head.  I sat in one of the benches in the back of the store, and opened EverNote, and added a strange note.

I could feel my skin crawling.  Something strange lingered in the air.  A musky bouquet wafted down from somewhere, muscling out the odors of the city.
 
He looked up, knowing what he would see, and there it was atop the Redd-Bishop building- an enormous black dragon perched on the pinnacle with its wings out stretched.  He doubted anyone would see it.  Its scales blended perfectly into the skyline.  In a moment it was gone.
 
Relieved, he took several steps towards the restaurant before he paused and looked again at the night sky.  What is a dragon doing in the city?  He thought, then realized he probably didn't want to know the answer.

Hmm, there might be something there.  I titled the note "Dragon Knight- Nathan".  I rushed out to the car and tried to capture more of the idea.  It didn't work.  I ended up just reading these three odd paragraphs over and over again.

The next day, I remembered a note I had in one of my notebooks for my Space Opera Setting:

I am not going to say that it was necessarily an original idea, but it awakened a new idea in me.  The idea had merit, whether it had a future or not.

I started playing with the idea, and experimenting with new formats.

My biggest hurdle has been getting beyond the structures of the novel and the short story. I agree with H P Lovecraft that the best fiction is pulled off with the same craft as a well devised hoax. So I started playing around with ways to tell a strory directly and from oblique angles. I would love to share some of these stories, but they may be included in the final project, so I don’t want to release them early.
Testing a Setting

I wrote that post March 5, 2010, and explored the idea of a Epistolary Novel, crossed with a blog and a magazine until November 29, 2010.  I still like the idea, but it felt forced and unnatural.  I even explored doing an ARG (Alternate Reality Game) for a while, but again it felt strange and wrong.

During this period, I asked myself a very important question:

To Wainscot or not to Wainscot– that is the question:

Whether ‘tis nobler in the tale to create

The beings and world out of nothing but my page,

Or to take with some of its history

And, creatively change them. To write, to make...
To Wainscot or Not to Wainscot, that is the question

That one badly paraphrased Shakespeare quote changed everything, and made be delve into world history and construct a world that developed a parallel history to the one we know, and gave a spin to special events.

This early seed of an idea eventually grew to the world I am sharing with all of you.  I can only hope you love it as much as I do.