Projects Update. Now With Script!

Author outside at a table with a birria taco in his hand. Elote also present on the table in front of him. He has a beard and glasses and is smiling.
Tis me, eating Birria Tacos at a local taco joint.

Life in quarantine has been a trip. A TRIP. Since June 1 of last year, when I officially locked myself down and separated myself from the unwashed masses (to do my duty/due diligence) I finished the apoc spec fic novel Corpus Paradisum, edited it, started and finished the portal scifi novel Cirrus Kingfisher, and also edited it, the sequel portal scifi novel Stratus House, and wrote two short stories (scifi Interlinkt and horror Red Fruit, Black Root). If I were a professional novelist, with a life of writing novels for my income, I’d be doing just fine. It’s a blast. I love it. I’m gearing up to jump into my hard edit of Stratus House.

If anyone is interested in what I’m writing nowadays, I have the website set up to show my writing wares, as it is, but still no agent/publication. Fingers are crossed, though, as Red Fruit, Black Root has been on submission for over a month and a half with no rejection. You might see it in print soon!

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(Poem) When My Brother Births

River Oyster shells with mostly scraped-off handwriting denoting travel in 1843.
(From Saint-Mary’s-Of-The-Woods)

Little river stone
Like when my brother would haunt
The house
After midnight play
Impromptu dark piano against darker sky
Alive and worrying cracks along his face
Two notes not caring who
Tried to sleep tried to compose
A three-note tragedy
Little river stone all the edges worn
Sharp like oyster shell in the garden
Avante like the gnome
Half buried
Holding compost at bay Salute

My collections a composite of fractal
Memory, I think
Bottles of the greats, multi glass unlike
Lake Michigan glass
License plate numbers behind the fray
Wallpaper-pages.
All Those Who Came Before Me, From Me—
Me, a growler with a dog’s face and glasses
Rusted out Dr. Pepper sign to match the lip gloss
Melted from the heat
Pooling against the bronze keys
I don’t remember.

Little river stone
Wearing down
Worrying away to nothing, borne
Reborn by brittle belief
Ah, the Smartest Man in the Room
Thoseindelicate fingers trace across the stars
Those who came before him cut him raw
Inspire like harboring giants
Like that depthless Esaglia seashore
Stuck on the other side, the wrong side of a copper
Mirror-face
Wrong side of a pooling water-face
A what-if tapestry of broken bottles glued together
Memories that weren’t
Origami brokebirds that ran away.

When my brother haunts
This house. This barrier of scatter.
Tesla in a ring of marijuana smoke
His static the background noise of a birthing
Universe
He has no place in this garden
His spade in hand
Ivory keys against the black ones
A song he built from harmonics
An aural promise, and no more growth

When my brother births
His house. His misty-walled amphitheater.
Voice starward, a gambling wail,
Two eyes a focus, facsimile, golem man.
A river runs through it. Spackled moss cushion
A river runs through him. Glittering stardust tumbles
He fills his chest with powder-rocks.
His first true love a disaster.
His second a plot device that is everything
He isn’t. A pray to the single-letter god.

My love comes as a flush of hearts
King of Swords this.
My hand of galvanizing blades
Round Table adorned with fields of fancy
At zenith, a crucible
We all pour our cards somewhere
Let the edges fray, crystallize, melt
Dice in a pestle. Ground to powder.
Chaff what remains, that dim nugget
What iron curls in, what steel and bronze,
And ash picked away by naiad and fray,
Two nuggets, little matte gunmetal grey
Rusting at the bottom
Little river stones

Little River Stone
My brother
See me
My eyes are golem eyes, too
Dull, unlit
Unlike yours
Pearls, as Eliot would say.

Table Top Role Playing Games: A Form of Communal Storytelling?

I put on my robe and wizard’s hat.

Who doesn’t like a little monster hunt?

What’s the world’s second oldest profession? Lazy research aside, I contend it’s storytelling. In fact, I’ll go a step farther and say it’s in contention for being the oldest profession. The idea of communal storytelling isn’t new. Every culture, its history, its values and morals and beliefs, has been built on communal storytelling: word-of-mouth, sea shanties and ballads and whatnot, shared experiences then retold through fable or music, the religious practices of attending services to recite parables written down in The Bible. A powerful way to keep stories alive. My focus is on a re-emergence of communal storytelling through TTRPGs.

Because we people love to connect socially. (Unfortunately I’m not referring to any non-person, alien, intelligent treasure chest, or genius loci)

I come at this from a writer’s perspective, where everything is Story. This is part one in a three-part series about Communal Storytelling.

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Kell in A Peculiar Coat

V.E. Schwab’s first chapter of A Darker Shade of Magic is a thing of beauty. We querying writers, and studiers of the medium, are trained to focus down on the first chapter as the single most important part of the novel: it introduces the main characters (usually), it identifies setting, plot (usually), and must pull the reader in or else the rest of the book is useless. We have many ways to do such a thing: hard and fast action, memory recollection, a hard choice, or a fantastical setting to name a few.

But unlike most I’ve read in the past decade, this first chapter, with Kell and King George III, continues to resonate. I read it three years ago, I’ve read plenty since then, and I’ve returned to the chapter time and again for my own personal interest. If I were to teach a class on genre fiction writing, or fantasy writing, or even novel writing at all, I would place this chapter in the lineup. I’d set it beside A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius in its ability to pull the reader in. But unlike A Heartbreaking Work, Schwab wrote this chapter intending it to be a chapter, and not a fully-fleshed tale in itself. It is a mastercraft piece of work.

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Recipes Are Lifeblood for My Family

Eggs in Hell. Or, Shakshuka. And my toes.

Let’s start with, I love food. Like, it’s a fact. I love trying new things, testing spice levels, ordering things I can’t pronounce. I’ve been that way since I can remember. St. Louis also did wonderful things for my taste buds. That being said, I grew up in a family that used to cook food every night. Like, clockwork. Dad would come home from work, he’d throw something together, we’d have dinner. Anyone who was a kid in the 80’s or earlier did this.

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So I finally watched Jojo Rabbit.

Sitting down to dinner with Hitler.

And I didn’t like it. This review contains huge spoilers. Yes, Hitler loses the war. Also other spoilers.

My “welcome back” post is a negative one, I know. I haven’t been on here since I got nasty sick for, eh, ten months? Easy? And I’ve been recovering ever since. That was four or so years ago. I’m finally away from whatever made me sick and in a place where I can write again. Hello. If anyone still follows me, hello. I write slower, with less panache and other cool french words, and I’m a little more to-the-point.

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Infinity War and a Problem with Moral Idealism

Or, I want Smarter Heroes.

Aaah, I return to the topic of space-rasslin’.

I feel it’s been long enough that I can talk about Avengers: Infinity War without SPOILERS-upsetting too many people who have not seen it. First off, the movie just surpassed Dark Knight in theater sales *golf clap*. This is both a great thing and a terrible thing (tongue-in-cheek See Zero-Sum below), partially because I loved watching Infinity War, and because I love Dark Knight so much more than Infinity War. Second off, Infinity War continues the long-running Marvel strategy of creating strong-looking characters with weak philosophical motivations. I’ll touch on the philosophical (now, with definition links!), but my focus wasn’t on the Trolley Problem.

Vision

This post is about the phrase, “We don’t trade in lives,” and the plot-devicification of the Trolley “Problem,” and how in utilizing this decision over and over in the same movie creates a perceived (or realized) weakness in our Flag Five. Yes, I did just plug The Tick in a vague parallel between the Avengers and the lampooning super.

Note: I put the word problem in quotes because it’s more of a dilemma with two outcomes (or if you read Reddit, many speculative iterations and outcomes). While I hope nobody has to make such a decision in their lives, I often see this dilemma show up in action/thriller/superhero movies.

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How the Dinotopia Fantasy Book Series Saved Me

Breathe Deep, Seek Peace.

I know. I know. It isn’t Harry Potter, or Wheel of Time, or the Lord of the Rings, or the Dresden Files. It’s… dare I say… better?*

This post comes on the coattails of a delightful tweet where a class of students is reading Nic Stone’s Dear Martin, and one student’s reaction to an important part of the book. It warmed my heart so much to watch, and I immediately remembered when I was that age, or younger, and the series of books that hit me in the emotional space.

James Gurney - Design Heard 6

The book series was called Dinotopia, written in 1992 by James Gurney, surrounding a fictional island in the 1800’s where intelligent dinosaurs and people coexisted peacefully. The series began with three books that artfully depicted delicious, crisp scenes reminiscent of 1950’s art, da Vinci-esque machinery, and vibrant clothes, all surrounding a cast that felt almost small-town in nature; salt-of-the-earth folks. The colorful books won Hugo awards, and were apparently super successful.

And, I didn’t own either of the three of them. I read the first two, piecemeal, at Waldenbooks (rest its soul) because they were too expensive for me to buy. I randomly came across them at friends’ houses, but was too uncomfortable mentioning it because it was fantasy, and fantasy was fake.

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Should We Give Our (book) Babies Away For Free?

 

OldbooksHey everybody. A few months ago, while I worked with a SLPA (St. Louis Publishing Association)-affiliated editor–and by “working with,” I mean trying to establish how much it’d cost me to get Of Salt and Wine edited professionally–I was informed about his thoughts on how I’d get off the ground as a first-time, self-published writer. He informed me, under no uncertain terms, that I should publish and distribute my first novel entirely for free, to generate interest in my writing “brand.”

This came as no huge surprise for me, and since I didn’t have the $ available to actually seal the editing deal, I stepped away from the negotiation. There’s been enough time between our conversation and now, and enough Twitter conversation from established writers, to give me a pause. Should we, as self-publishers, give away our hard-earned first novels in order to create a base?

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On Black Panther and Symbols

pt_blackpanther_characterposter_mbaku_689650c4

M’Baku. My favorite character.

 

Warning: there are a few spoilers ahead. Marked out for your easy identification.

Black Panther, as the rest of the world already knows, was brilliant. I had the good fortune of seeing it in the theater last night, and while it wasn’t a perfect movie (does every superhero movie require a BvS-style “Martha” moment? T’challa could have just said, Nope. I don’t recognize Killmonger as having a stake to the throne. Lock him up as an outsider.), it had so much awesome going for it, I’ll put it in my top two Marvel superhero movies EVER, and within the top five superhero movies ever (Behind Dark Knight, Batman v Superman, Blade, and Hellboy).

I feel a portion of what made Black Panther so successful was the importance of symbol-use, symbol-sets, and individual identity, and I’m going to talk a little about that in this post. Also, Claw had one of the greatest laugh moments in super villain history, and it was perfect.

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