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? 




Let’s Talk About Drugs!

Said the clown to the priest.

No. Writing a book based on any level of “realism” (or at the very least, depth) requires the writer to study the periphery. The periphery could involve any number of things. In fact, in fantasy (and dare I say, in reality) the possibilities are damn near endless. Writing an urban fantasy novel (UF from here on out) usually brings about images of sardine-packed apartment buildings, grungy streets, dark alleys, bricks and concrete and unnatural yellow streetlights. What good city doesn’t have those? Farther on the periphery, the main character (MC from here on out) hears dogs barking–which a friend of mine once wrote a very in-depth analysis of what part these barking dogs have in our subconscious; interesting little read–or perhaps people talking in the distance. The MC passes shadowy shapes in alleys, perhaps, or nobody at all. The MC is silhouetted against bar windows or restaurants or vacant buildings. The MC stops in front of graffiti. All important.

Yet. One major aspect of the Real Life Urban scene is drug use. I haven’t read much UF with drug use as a periphery. I don’t know why. Given I’ve never done illegal drugs, never inhaled mary jane, never rolled Ecstasy, perhaps most fantasy writers haven’t either. It’s something they know nothing about, therefore it is either overlooked or ignored in the story.

I understand it. I don’t like it. We write about dragons but not drugs? We write about hellfire but not drug-use? The only time I see much discussion of it is when it’s a pivotal point of the story, where some supernatural investigator seeks the truth in some drug-user’s death–usually, where the drug is the magical, I dunno, tool used to move the story forward. Which is cool. I love those stories. I just want more of it. Especially in UF.

And high fantasy (HF from here on out) included! What? Pirates didn’t use opiates? Your scoundrels exist in a drug-free world even though there’s an ecosystem as complex as anything that exists on Earth? Hell no. I refuse to believe it.

Now if you want a fairy tale with no drugs, that’s fine. Plain and pure and storytelling at its best? Sounds perfect. Go for it. It has its place. Drugs are a dark side to society most people want to escape from. It might not have a healthy place in your story.

But I want more of it. I want the guy that’s high as a kite, he just might, stop and check the MC out. I want the Trent Reznor-type in an intimidating-as-shit black duster roaring in the MC’s face as he’s hyped up on PCP. Why not? It’s scary. A kind of scary a lot of people don’t want to get involved with. Perhaps a little Too Real. But it’s UF. And, if you do it right, it’s a damn easy way to make an intimidating Antagonist downright terrifying.

Take The Professional, for instance. The movie made in ’91 (or was it ’94?). Gary Oldman stars as the bad guy, a crooked cop that’s actually head of the DEA. The guy’s a loose cannon. Not someone you want to play Russian Roulette with. Add his little pill he pops (literally pops) in his mouth, he transforms into something else. Every single aspect of what makes that man sane, and with boundaries, is gone. Whisked away with the intense high.

Here’s the thing. It can be just on the periphery. It can be a secondary character that simply was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It can be an average joe the reader trusts. And he can change in an instant. That stuff is powerful.

To extend the thought–magic. Oh crap, magic! You can have a magical drug that does nothing to most but changes a few. You can have a time-delay magical drug that simply gives all the peaceful effects of a steaming cup of tea, but have three successive loud noises, whoa Nelly! Run for the hills. It allows you to create monsters out of timid mice, sleeper agents who truly know nothing of their place, or just, heck, plain old frostbitten Josh Nobody looking to take the edge off his gangrenous foot. For as long as humanity has existed, drugs have coincided. Alcohol aside! I think there’s a huge market for any writer willing to get his fingers dirty, understanding drugs and, farther in, humanity’s need of them.

A professor once told me to use the rule of ten doors. Major decisions require ten outcomes. Write them down. Pick the best. Go to a smaller choice. Rule of ten. Write them down. Choose the best. And so on. It helps with writer’s block and everything. It also does a great job of painting the picture when it comes to drug use: drugs have different effects for different people, even the same dose. It makes for wonderful storytelling and, given the magic world the MC lives in, could possibly turn bad into worse or good into terrible.

I’ll do it now!

Dashing Tom Perfect just had a run-in with Josuha Random Reefer Toking while on his way to deliver a medallion!

1) He puts his head down and ignores him, creating foreshadowing for JRR Toking later in the story
2) He takes a moment to listen to JRR Toking and his far-out stories of Nevernever Earth and inadvertently adds humor to the otherwise stoic, dry story
3) He realizes Mr. Toking is smoking Magical Marijuana, and any contact high could relinquish DTP’s perfect mental control over himself, creating small conflict
4) He listens to JRR Toking, who is really an escaped torture victim for (Antagonist’s name here), and he can only survive this hellish life by smoking the reef and drifting through the world as a vagrant
5) JRR Toking is smoking to get up the courage to talk to Dashing Tom, because he has Vital Information!
6) DTP has had a negative experience with potheads, where his half-brother (half-elf) smoked too much pot and burned his life away to mediocrity, despite having a brilliant mind. DTP therefore puts Toking in a choke-hold and ties him up in the back of his pedivan.
7) DTP smells more than marijuana on JRR Toking’s breath, recognizing the effects of a much more damaging drug, the Soulfie, where JRR Toking slowly gives his soul away to a powerful douche-cerer.
8) JRR Toking is a conspiracy theorist who loves to think about the possibility of a universe whole-mind, where everyone can talk to each other psychically and nobody has to poop. That’s all. Oh and he’s a cunning thief in disguise and steals the medallion.
9) DTP recognizes the sociopolitical ramifications of JRR Toking walking the streets in such rags–but wait, isn’t that the insignia of a freedom fighting group he wears as a patch on his skinny jeans?
10) JRR Toking reminds DTP of a friend DTP once had, stops the man, talks to him a moment, and realizes the poor bastard is a war vet with A WHOLE LOT OF STORIES TO TELL. And firearms training.

Alrighty. That’s just one line of decisions, all rife with information. I’m not feeling particularly inspired at the moment (Really stressed) so I bypassed some of the deeper thoughts. Any one of those decisions could lead to another major decision. So on and so forth.

So. I advocate drug use. In fantasy novels.

My Brand of Fantasy Magic

…isn’t really fantasy at all. Magical realism, perhaps?

I recently re-watched Constantine (starring The Man of One Face: Keanu Reeves), where the protagonist spends his life fighting to keep the balance between heaven and hell via magical relics, know-how, and insight into traveling to hell and back. He’s dark, brooding, quippy, and so self-destructive he’s dying of lung cancer. It’s a delve into what I consider magical realism: people, many people, believe wholeheartedly that the ability exists (even if it’s only for one person) to… insert random miracle here. Be it travel through hell, talk to the dead, turn water to wine, transform into a totem-animal, talk to rocks, converse with ancestors long dead, see auras, dowse, possess another person/animal.

A lot of people don’t. And that’s cool. A lot of people pursue religion as a form of self-government, so instead of spending the time to understand themselves, they look to religion: “This is bad (according to the Book), so I won’t do it.” It also kills multiple birds by creating a community of similar-thinking people, which reinforces the feeling of “this is right.” Which is cool. That’s what certain governmental bodies do. And we’re governed by many circles, be it personal, family, friends, religion, spiritual (separate from religion), communal, work, local, federal, world. And that’s just what I pulled off the top. This is a digression and I’ll stop it now. I’m trying to show how this also holds its own forms of power: any single one of these bubbles could specify “this is bad” and a person follow it simply because, well, someone says to. Even the “personal” circle. Which in itself is a form of mind control.

I had a simple purpose when I began writing twelve years ago: have fun, connect with people, share my thoughts. It’s still the same purpose, albeit a little evolved. My thoughts developed into something a little stronger: magic is real. Some magic is real. Not all. Magic Missiles and two hundred foot orc giants with enchanted tree trunks for armor isn’t. Science keeps trying to say it has all the answers worth knowing (while people touting Science as the new religion also try to say, like a marijuana enthusiast, Science has ALL the answers), but it doesn’t. Neil deGrasse Tyson recently said, “That’s what’s so great about science. You don’t have to believe in it for it to be true. It exists without your permission.”


I know enough about Science to know the importance of “observable” and “human fallacy.” I’ve been reading about human beings having more than five senses. More like nine. Pressure, balance to name two. It really doesn’t matter how often Science revises what truths it accepts as fact. What matters is it’s always changing in its definition, always updating its databases.

Next, to define science into two subcategories: hard science (physics for one) and soft science (psychology for two). I know too many well-meaning Science worshippers who put it all together. Soft sciences, the stuff our thoughts are made of, the stuff of our dreaming, of our extra-sensories, of our deeper knowledge, of our abstract pattern recognitions, is very wide open and mostly unexplored, despite the 100 or so years we’ve had to study it. Why? Unobservable. Or, difficult to observe. Assumptions based on calculations and patterns of tests.

Magic is a soft science. In fact, eventually, all that “magic” will fall into some sub-sub category of either a sense or quirk of one or two chromosomes in some errant mutative family line (or, you know, something a person develops through meditation and a proven set of practices). Since our realities are subjected to the extent of our senses, there is nothing–absolutely nothing–to say I can’t dream another person’s dreams, for example. Or travel a place constructed wholly of peoples’ thoughts, over time, like a great big living world placed overtop our own. Or fight constructs of modern religion with sheer self-certainty alone.

We all give off energy. That’s a fact. We exist because of it. Byproducts of processes going in in our bodies. We can’t see it. We assume the effect of said energy release is negligible to our surroundings simply because, since we can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.

I find a new awakening going on, in this culture. In this society. A long, long time ago, during the time of the birthing religions (200 BC to, say, 1000 AD), the understanding exploded of a second, third, and perhaps even fourth sublayer above the Real. This is the stuff of the new old religions. It is the backbone. Now that religion is failing so many people of this time of “Scientific Certainty,” they’re turning to Science and Atheism. Which is cool. They do their thing. As long as they aren’t killing in the name of Neil deGrasse Tyson, it’s all gravy.

The New Reformation, I guess, comes. Or a Second Enlightenment. I’m only sorry I don’t get to know it fully.

So the magic I use in my writing comes from a deep place, a sub-tonal to the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the Gitas, and the Books of the Dead, and whatever else. It comes from a constructed place–a governing place similar to those I listed–where the reality is multi-faceted, science is currently too short-sighted to involve itself, and energy talks with the voice of long-dead preachers. The magic I use is energy, plain and pure, built up on the shoulder-plates of imaginative thinkers and socio-pariahs like Einstein and Twain and Jung who, in another century (or life), would be heralded as prophets or even gods.

My brand of fantasy magic comes from the coupling of intelligent thought and passionate realization, of fever dreams and deep stillness. My brand of magic is the extent of the human condition, of spirituality that exists for itself, of ripe power sieved through governing filters. And that’s just in the reality.

In my writing, it collects the results of What Ifs and runs tests until the pattern is undeniable in its repetition.

Sorry. Magic is a lot of things. For me, it must stem from reality. It must stem from science and its branches are religion. Its fruits are you and I, the readers and writers, and it’s more than simply an axe-like tool. It’s a whole undiscovered place, like a continent with slightly different rules. It’s a way of breathing. It’s a way of bleeding. It’s a way of interaction.

It’s so. Fucking. Sexy.

Violence, and Fiction

According to Wikipedia, Stoker’s Dracula is considered Gaslamp Fantasy. Someone needs to raise Mr. Stoker and tell him.

I did a little research on all that is “Steampunk,” taken from Cyberpunk, and there’s actually very little written on the subject, and IN the subject. Very little of note. I consider Jules Verne a steampunk writer, especially 20000 Leagues Under the Sea… You can’t tell me Nemo isn’t an antagonist fighting The Man.

My NaNo project falls under Gaslamp Phantasmagoria (fantasy), because I don’t lean on science and I don’t have clockwork chimneysweeps, which is apparently a requirement if you write le steam. Silly chimneysweeps.

I recently posted the first half of the first chapter of my unfinished novel on Critiquecircle, interested in seeing what people would say about it. 11 people have looked, 4 have critiqued, 3 have said, unequivocally, it’s crap because they have no idea what’s going on in the book. Point taken.

What surprised me is, two said the violence found within is unneeded and unnecessary. Which got me to thinking about violence, fiction, and violent gaslampy, historical fantasy. Is it truly unneeded?

I got my fantasy violence from Stephen King and Tolkien, and equal parts Max Payne (video games) and Dark Knight (movies). All the things a boy growing up in America sees, I saw, along with a fair amount of things that go bump in the night. I remember my second grade teacher telling me to write the worst nightmare down to tell the class. I wrote about my brothers being eaten alive by jackals in beds beside me while I listened, terrified. No. I had never seen a horror movie.

She asked me for my second-worst nightmare, which included an eyeball monster running around on the beach chasing me. Much more tame.

I’m not a violent person. I’m not prone to violence. I duck my head low, if things get iffy. I don’t pull out a switchblade or shotgun. So why do I write violence so frequently in my writing? Perhaps I’m entertained by violence, or spent a long time studying it. I find violence is a way of life earlier in our society, in many societies, and in spite of what common man thinks, the mid 1800’s was a place of more than anglophile Bostonites parading about to sexy parties and watching magicians. And those of the Dark Ages, after the final Crusade, were “worse” yet. Incorporate magic into the mix, allowing a woman to be as powerful as a man if she wished, incorporate guns and weaponry that further evens out the scales, and you get a powder keg.

Businessmen today talk proudly of how they study Sun Tzu’s Art of War to better subdue their business opponents.

I also write violence when I feel cornered by a plot. It’s an easy way out. He’s scared! Let him fight to survive! Words fail him, as they fail me! Let his/her/their fists do the talking! No Man Controls My Man/Woman/Team of Chimneysweeps.

I don’t believe a character has value to me in the story if he isn’t willing to fight. It’s ingrained. Every novel I’ve ever written has violence, cussing, and complicated subject matter–usually occultish or philosophical in nature. Writing about a guy living his life nominally, filling it with all the normal eureka moments every normal person has, bores me. I had those moments when I was young, before the age of thirteen. Sometimes I feel all the “growing up” realizations most people have in their twenties, thirties, etc., came when I was very, very young. We all die. Death is a part of life. People Are Gullible. There’s more to understanding the world than the scientific method.

Now the real life stuff I didn’t get until later: mom and dad were right, for instance. I should have studied harder to be an Engineer. I’m poor broke, still unemployed, studying the market for all those things needed to get a job.

Violence has never been a part of my external, day-to-day life. It’s rarely reared its head, ever: playground, soccer, argument with dad (which I lost miserably), bickering with brothers. All from 13 years and earlier–except for soccer.

So why is it so prevalent? It is my escapism, perhaps. I stare at my characters and have them do what I don’t (not won’t). Given the extraordinary circumstances imposed when a light helping of magic is introduced, I’d react in violence.

Men’s lives are built on violence. One’s ability to be respected rides on the ability to hurt, subdue, destroy.

Is the violence found in my Gaslamp Fantasy gratuitous? Is it needed?

My characters say yes. Absolutely. Violence has a place in all of it because they are imparting their wills against a society they aren’t a part of, against people used to winning and owning and controlling. Against police used to getting their way, always. Against powerful tycoons and miserable thugs. And in some cases, against a society that says women absolutely need to be heeled.

Very, very few people know magic in my book. Very, very few people are “good ol’ boys” in my book. The three I chose to save the world from total annihilation are three that must make choices most people wouldn’t.

But I agree with the critiquers, on a certain level: must all my characters be prone to violence? No. And they aren’t. These guys are. No whimsy, no poofy dresses concealing magic wands (actually, there is… but she isn’t dressed out of habit). Only a few sexy parties with absinthe and ales. No chimneysweeps, clockwork or otherwise.

Regular people bore me. Confuse me. I must study them! Challenge accepted, critiquers of CC. Someday I will write something nonviolent. I’ve already begun, after a fashion. Let’s hope the lack of violence improves my writing, because it makes me uncomfortable as hell.


NaNoWriMo: Infodumping, lies, and Spam. The Smeat.

Alrighty. So I won’t make it to the magical 50k number. That’s the bad news (I guess). The good news is I’ve found something far more helpful to me in this November process. It’s forced me to rethink everything I know about writing, about what people say is “infodump,” and why so much of my time following well-meaning advice from unpublisheds (yeah. I just made that up) and agents has put me back three years.

“Three years? Surely you jest!” Well, British-accented Everyman, in one area, at least, I’ve been forced to return to my roots, before I went on a pilgrimage into the world of online writing sites, blogs, etc.

I realized something separates me from my favorite writers, from the classics like Poe and Dickens and all those superbeasts of writing. And what, pray tell? The terrible, horrible, incorrigible Infodump Syndrome. For three years now I’ve dedicated a healthy effort toward erasing everything that didn’t pertain to the story, distilling the words down to basic action, invention, and a resounding grasp of the “now” of the story. Characters’ history showed up when needed and ONLY when needed, I describe scenery only when scenery became important to the story (and ONLY when it became important), and essentially created a Haiku-style writing I thought was my ticket to publication.

Well. I’ve done some studying, both of “historical fiction” for my NaNo novel, my old works (specifically, an infoheavy novel I wrote 3 years ago, almost to the month, complete with so much worldbuilding there’s more addendums and appendixes than actual novel), and out-of-the-box modern writers. What did I find? That novel I wrote three years ago walked down the right path. It was complex, violent, compelling, and saturated with info. The storyline, unlike most of my work, was excruciatingly simple while the characters’ thoughts, history and background, and religious context overwhelmed the page. Infodumping? Hell yes. Boring infodumping? Hell no.

Everything I’ve written since then has lacked the intellectual spark I so crave in my preferred reading. Dan Simmons, my touted favorite author Ever Ever, creates an intellectual soup from which both the character and the reader share. Like some primordial mud bath with Jacuzzi jets, it is inundation between the internal and external. And on top of all this, he simply rolls with the story. I’m not talking about a ten-page stint on a character’s favorite cat. I’m talking about a ten-page stint on a character’s favorite cat breed.

I’m almost disgusted with myself. Yes, I came down with diabetes two years ago and that screwed up all sorts of brain chemistry, creative output, etc., but having to rediscover my writing is painfully arduous. I find myself taking the “easy” route of injecting fantasy elements to the story instead of fleshing the characters out, instead choosing to conflagrate the plot to force the character into action than allowing the character any self. It’s total crap, annoying, and destructive of any serious writer.

Toni Morrison does this. She develops incredible metaphors through her writing (some of her writing, I should correct. She has a new book out. I might buy it), reinforcing action and history to flesh people out–history that ISN’T NEEDED for the plot, but needed for the reader to understand a place. Infodumping for the sake of fleshing a character is perfectly acceptable. A tedious, introverted scientific type might just infodump forever if he’s allowed to, and for the sake of the story, it’s worth it. Even if it annoys you to read.

Pace pace pace. I hoped to find a simplified form of my writing by blindly following critiques and observable advice. I hoped to find insight through carpeting comments from an agent on her blog: avoid passive tense, avoid infodumping, tell the story and ignore the rest. No.

No. Pace is key. Always, pace is key.

I’m reading House of Leaves. In the first three chapters it has served to deconstruct the novel, deconstruct the purpose of reader, narrator, and plot, and turned all the writing rules on their collective heads. If a character rambles on in his head about God-knows-what, let him ramble. Ramble forever. Let him fall down mental holes and climb spiraling mental staircases. You can remove some when the novel is finished, if some is unneeded. But for the love of everything valued, let the characters talk. Let the narrator talk.

Okay. I don’t consider any advice given as “lies,” specifically. I consider them helpful advice, and beneficial as a guideline., a place I used to get critiques for my work, is a great starting point. Yet the greatest critiquers I found there were those that bypassed all the, “Avoid passive verb use. Don’t start a sentence with And, Or, But, Yet. Does this introduction serve a purpose?” comments and assumed, for a moment, I knew what I wanted in the writing and that I had a purpose for four paragraphs of cat breeding.

I don’t read a novel going, “Does this chapter serve a purpose?” (well, on very rare occasions, I start to sour on a novel. Stardust by Neil Gaiman for one. I tried rereading it two weeks ago, as an example of “distilled writing,” and I couldn’t get through it. Even half of it.) I read a novel going, “Is this pace right for me? Furthermore, is it right for the characters? Is it proper for the plot? Does this movement move me?”

So my Soren novels, my Red Wing Black novel, and this NaNovel must change. I realized David and His Shade, my Modern Fantasy, actually has all the info it needs. As a YA novel, it doesn’t need that much. Yet. Book four or five, on the other hand, will be inundated and saturated. Because that’s what it needs to be great.

Finally, I ate spam for the first time. It smelled exactly how I expected: rotting ham. It tasted like heaven due to the grease. Damned grease, making everything taste better.

I will never eat it again, if I can help it.


Religious Fantasy is Apparently Taboo?

I know a building that reminds me of the sea. It takes up half a parking lot next to train tracks that lead to the university. Its brick is old, stained a draining white from internal leaking pipes, and ringed in dune-grass that is never mowed. Its paint is peeling, its wood planks are faded, warped, and aging, and someone, somewhere, repaints it once every three years.

But the wind hits it in its unhindered roll over the plains, scours and slashes and blasts ground train-stones against its walls. But not when the trains come. The trains protect it from wind, but howl worse, like sirens by the lighthouse.

Today it is raining. I paused at the building on my way into work and took a deep breath. I smelled the fresh growth of grass, smelled the mouldering steam-soaked bricks, and listened to the husky sound of dune-grass.

I sometimes imagine I am back at Coco Beach, and I am twelve years old, and none of this happened.


I spent most of my evening doing research on Religious Fantasy, a little-known sub-genre of Fantasy or, even, a subplot for Urban Fantasy. The use of religion and religious beliefs as a form of magic while also incorporating fictional characters are apparently frowned upon. Most publishers and most agents will avoid it like the plague.

This frustrates me because I’ve spent two years polishing a heartfelt work based on fact that, in the end, nobody’s biting because of the content: disillusioned boy discards ways of American life to travel the world, returns to realize all his ghosts (literally) are still around, and he must finally pick up the mess. In comes a priest, haunted by a demon. Soren puts his Dresden-esque abilities to use, hilarity ensues.

200 rejection letters from publishers, agents, and everyone in be-tween later, and I finally realize I never got more than a form letter. It could be the writing, of course: it might just suck. But the truer thing is most likely the lack of interest in touching fantasy elements in religious affairs.

I think I’m going to just self-publish it, or else release it to the internet via my wordpress site.