On elves, orcs, and other standard, fantasy fixtures

Fantasy creatures are all pretty well universally recognizable to most fantasy and non-fantasy readers alike. Orcs are usually the big, burly ones with green skin and a need to break bones, invade places, and generally wreck things in the name of honor, family, and glory. Elves are beautiful, often androgynous, woodland-dwelling masters of archery. There are certainly plenty of variations on these themes, but they are tried and true enough to keep readers (and viewers and gamers) coming back. Is it because these types of characters are familiar, bordering on near-family? Or are they more like set pieces to the overall story?

One of the driving forces behind A Princess, A Lich, and Some Murders is that I wanted to play around with these races of characters. High elves are always the most revered, esteemed characters, but why can’t they be laughable, lowly gutter-scum? Why not make orcs sophisticated, reformed from their more bloodthirsty ways? Does deviating from the tried and true versions of orcs and elves and so on reduce them to something less than they are meant to be or help them grow into something more?

Are writers better off sticking to the usual of what works or should we focus on mixing things up more often?

I’m asking these questions as I write, of course, but my focus is elsewhere. I’ve been slacking, and this novel has been sitting. There’s writing to be done if I ever expect this to be the novel that gets me noticed by HarperCollins (wish me loads of luck, please).

Progress to the tune of small nervous breakdowns

Short version of an update from yesterday: I saw a cover band named Velveeta last night, indulged in a fair bit of alcohol consumption, and didn’t go to bed until an ungodly hour. Let’s not talk of this again.

My new novel-project is coming along nicely, which is good. I can’t turn that into a negative. Believe me, I’ve tried. It’s getting positive feedback so far from my beta-reader(s). There could be some level of bias there, but I also accept that these are people who I can trust because they would cautiously and kindly let me know if my writing is turning into garbage.

There may have also been mention at some point from someone–someone who happens to be me–about eventually wanting to send something to HarperCollins for publication consideration. I would have to research it, find out what all goes into such a challenge, and then make it happen. The goal wasn’t publication, but an attempt. Even a rejection would be fantastic, as it would indicate I’ve met a goal. I can also say, completely devoid of any doubts, that if I did get accepted (that if is so big that there are now billboards along major highways advertising it as a tourist attraction) I would probably have a multi-week meltdown as I processed the greatest success of my adult life. Let’s also not dwell on that.

Short version: HarperCollins does not accept any unsolicited anythings. Ever. That much I guessed even going into this, but I figured I would look into it anyway because sometimes my delusions of grandeur take on a life of their own and go crazy. This was one such time. They do, however, also have a link to a web site called Authonomy. Curiosity got the better of me, as it should in this situation, and I clicked the link. Continue reading

The revenge of the return of me self-destructing through writing

It’s almost a month into the new year. I’m seven chapters and a couple of dreadful, pained paragraphs into chapter eight (because killing a major character is proving more difficult than I’d expected, so that’s regrettable). I’ve also watched three seasons of The Legend of Korra and a whole lot of Parks and Recreation, which is just great for not being productive.

Brianne and I had a delightful conversation about my writing, by which I mean she reminded me to stop focusing on what I haven’t accomplished. There was a specific mention of One Hundred Days of Blogging, the details of which are a bit blurry because I vaguely recall words intermingled with me screaming internally, and then an idea happened. It started as only a couple words, which was enough to lead to it finding a spot in my Miscellaneous Shit Notebook That Deserves a Better Name.

Let me make it perfectly clear that I hate myself so much for the words I’m about to type.  Continue reading

The publishing house I’d love to call home

As a writer, I have all sorts of goals and dreams, blended neatly with what I can only assume are powerful delusions of grandeur. I dream of becoming published. I dream of finding a decent-sized audience and having tremendously fun interactions with them. And so on. I could go the rest of my life without such luck, and I’d actually be perfectly content still writing. I have an established group of readers. Some of them may (definitely, most certainly) be biased, but they’re all wonderful to me.

However, there’s that one thing that will gnaw at me no matter how well or poorly I do as a writer. I, like many writers, have a dream home. I’m not talking about the sort of home you need a mortgage for, of course. Getting to the obvious point here (unless you bypassed the title): I’m talking about the publishing house I dream of calling home. Continue reading