Tradition and the Individual Talent

No pic this time: all business.

I might have to take a step back and clarify a little about what I wrote in the article Joyce and Modernism: Why is it Important? I’ll try and iron a little of this out while also explaining a little more in-depth what’s going on with what I’ll refer to as the Living Body of Work. Or, to be more specific, the texts one studies while learning about literature, writing, and the human condition that constantly changes due to visualizing through other lenses. Examples of lenses could include structuralist focus, mythic method, cultural upbringing, fresh input or opinions on specific topics, or life experiences such as war or death of a loved one. I see it as a kind of time-stamped sociographic pattern. Reading texts in parallel that are written with previous texts in mind, creates an alternative narration for both.

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Joyce and Modernism: Why is it Important?


The text outlawed in the United States when first released in full.

Before I dive into Joyce’s modernist writing style, I must start with definitions. (All definitions used while focused on writing only)

  1. Modern – characteristic of present and recent time; contemporary; not antiquated or obsolete.
  2. Modernist – (in literature, structuralist) a deliberate philosophical and practical estrangement or divergence from the past in the arts and literature occurring especially in the course of the 20th century and taking form in any of various innovative movements and styles.
  3. Postmodernist – (in literature, poststructuralist) any of a number of trends or movements in the arts and literature developing in the 1970s in reaction to or rejection of the dogma, principles, or practices of established modernism, especially a movement in architecture and the decorative arts running counter to the practice and influence of the International Style and encouraging the use of elements from historical vernacular styles and often playful illusion, decoration, and complexity.

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Writer’s Block Blog

Yeah. I feel like that today.

Yeah. I feel like that today.

I sit here, uncertain what to write. I follow some pretty prestigious blogs on WordPress (prestigious to me, I guess), and writer’s block tends to filter through their posts like a shoulder shrug and a head shake. For the serious writer, the professional, who has a career in writing with bills, family, food, shelter hinging on what he writes, writer’s block is a joke. For the professional, writer’s block is either a profane form of laziness or a reason to take a short break before returning to work.

I am a professional, and I currently suffer from writer’s block.

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Guest Post: Emily Russell

*Taken with implicit implication and con permisso de Emily Russell.

*Taken with implicit implication and con permisso de Emily Russell.

I haven’t been on this blogosphere for very long–two months, give or take? During this time I’ve had the good fortune to get to know quite the charismatic and compelling writer. Given tomorrow (11/13/14) she will have her very first novel (Aurian and Jin: A Love Story) available for purchase, I decided it’d be nice to get to know her a little better VIA A GAUNTLET OF FLAMING SWORDS.

Oh. Didn’t pay gas last month. I guess this questionnaire will have to do.

First off, I think she’s awesome. She writes my brand of conflict, my brand of fantasy. Anyway. Onward.

?) Before we get down to serious business, tell us a little about yourself. I’d love to hear about hobbies, passions, foci outside the book writing business. Anything you want to share.

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Why I Read, As a Writer

Again... I've read all of these. Not really.

Again… I’ve read all of these. Not really.

This’ll be a short post. As a writer, and as a seasoned critic (well seasoned. Old Bay is my favorite), I’m constantly fighting a tug-of-war battle with reading and writing and other forms of research. We all have jobs. We all have passions outside our jobs. And we all love to write (or want to love to write). It’s not easy for me to read for long lengths of time, mostly because I have so many other things going on (like diligently testing new video games as they come out. haha I could manage my time better).

The good news is I take as well as I give, and although I’m a pretty hard critiquer, I’m not a jerk. I’m actually a really nice guy. So, every writer should read. It’s powerfully important. Why SHOULD I be reading?

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Why My Beta Readers Saved My Life.

Symbolic of last night's epiphany.

Symbolic of last night’s epiphany.

I had a big hiccup yesterday. What was it?

I started reading the novel I just finished proofing, and I realized the whole first two pages were pointless expo and nothing the reader can sink his teeth into. I nearly had a nervous breakdown. Never fear! I did not. I drank some Starbucks coffee and watched Fringe for an episode, then after my thoughts were composed and amazing (AMAZING), I looked at the whole big picture.

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Book Cover Ideas



So I’ve recently seen some other fantasy writers’ cover art (Aurian and Jin, among others) and it’s got me actively thinking about my own.

I’ve spend the past four years considering this book cover idea, and I’ve had several “THAT’S IT!” moments. To be perfectly frank, if this book were a baby, I’d’ve had two false labors and two botched C-Sections. Yeah. Nothing about this enjoyable piece is coming along smoothly. Actually, I’ve come to think of it more as a Pinocchio than a real boy. I redid that poor boy’s left forearm more times than anything else…

So the title was a really, really long process. The words themselves took half of Mr. King’s so-called million words, and the cover art is no better than anything else. I’m not sure if I have many followers, or watchers, or whatever, still interested in this webpage, but I want to run it by people, and if interested, you could leave your vote on your favorite book cover idea.

The tagline for the book is “Soren has run from his demons all his life, but when a priest begs him for help, he can’t help but take up arms against those in the Astral who would go to war against him. And this time? The demons are real.”

Three sentences. Yeah whatever. Given it’s book one in a series of seven (I like series of seven. I don’t know why.), It’s got a few themes. Titles, for instance. This novel is named “Of Salt and Wine,” because those are the symbols/tools most connected with the evil he fights. Book two is “Of Earth and Blood,” and so on. It’s taken from one of the lines he says in the book, 2/3rds of the way through: “Those of Salt and Wine, I come for you.” Kind of like a war cry, I guess. It was originally called “It Gave Me a Name,” because his darkness, yes, a character, gives him the name of a demon. I liked the rhythm, but it had too many words. People would get confused, I thought, so I strived to be more and more simple in my idea. It perhaps could even end up as “Salt and Wine,” although I absolutely love the “Of” at the beginning, as if it were part of a much larger thought. Which it is.

So the book cover should be as important. I began this project with the idea of a layout of symbols or tools, a la Game of Thrones or Guy Gavriel Kay’s novels. Book one would have a series of thirteen horizontal staves, or several pieces of jewelry, or better yet, a vintage 1800’s tattoo of skulls and vines and whatever the evil looks like. Several experts added their thoughts, stating the best way to sell a fantasy is to depict a scene from the book on the cover, with Magic: The Gathering-esque card art for the cover, similar to the Wheel of Time books. It would most likely have Soren standing in a septagram on the altar of a church while a big read, Diablo-inspired demon pours green liquid into a played priest’s throat. I like those ideas, but I’m thinking a little more traditional. Something I could lay out for all seven books in the series, with small but connective variations. In fact, I’ve already rough-draft finished book two. I’m that serious about this stuff.

So, I’ll run through a handful of ideas. If any single one presents more of a visceral response, please please please say something about it. I don’t mind if you’ve never been here before and are never coming back. I’d absolutely love the feedback.

1) Horizontal (or vertical) staves, all of different woods, straight, like prison bars

2) The “O” of “Of Salt and Wine” being Soren’s personal symbol, while the S of Salt is actual salt and the dot of the i in Wine is actually a goblet of wine

3) The wall of masks Soren has in his home, all looming down

4) A tattoo of Soren’s, laid over polished hardwood floor (he has twelve)

5) The Blackwood Shillelagh, his Modus Operandi for the book and most important item he uses, glowing at the bulb

6) Vintage 1800’s art in the form of a tattoo, possibly using a human or demon skull as the focal point, with dandelion leaves spread out (think this, only inked and not so 3D)

7) Closeup of a man in a suit, tightening his tie, with his sleeve cuff charred or burned or even aflame

8) Closeup of a man in a kurta, signing a mudra, the head of a snake tattoo stretching across his wrist

9) “Evolution” type silhouette, with the four demons, Jack, Olivia, and Soren, walking down the street one behind the other

10) Demon symbol for Ferrulous (circular and striking)

11) Soren at the top of the stairs, wailing at a door half-covered in tar

12) Soren in the septagram, hands up pleadingly, in the classical pose like daVinci and other Reformation artists, toward a demon

13) Soren’s childhood door, half-covered in tar, with Soren’s symbol scratched in chalk

14) A goblet of wine, ringed in salt like a Margarita

15) A man in a top-hat, face obscured, standing off-kilter to a backdrop of brick

16) A man playing chess alone in a park


That’s all I got. Any thoughts?