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).

Self-induced madness

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time to celebrate and damn the progress I’ve made! This week feels like it has been an eternity, which is unfortunate. Has that prevented me from getting writing done? Nope. Am I particularly excited about how much I did get done? Also nope.

In Progress

A Princess, A Lich, and Some Murders (working title) – It’s also waiting to be approved for posting on Authonomy. I’m also still actively adding to the page count, enjoying suggestions and edits as beta-readers provide them.

Cordelia’s (short story) – Still screwing around with plot details so this doesn’t turn into pointless rambling

Woman Seeks Vampire for Dinner and a Movie (short story) – The title exists, and the basic plot is sort of there

One Hundred Days of Blogging 2.0 – because that should be mentioned since it is taking up fair bits of time

Authonomy stuff – Presently this only consists of A Princess, A Lich, and Some Murders (working title), but has the potential to turn into a means of getting more attention for other works as well, such as things that will be mentioned in the next section. This is what happened to my HarperCollins goal, by the way, as it’s the most likely way I’ll ever get published by them (even if the odds aren’t exactly in my favor)

Backburner Projects

A picture is worth a thousand of my terrible jokes.

A picture is worth a thousand of my terrible jokes.

Warpt Factor (the novel) – At some point, this means I will have to remove the existing material and use it for source bits. Sorry! However, a certain aunt has requested/demanded this happen, and since I’ve lost the original notebook full of information from Warpt Factor (the series) and I wasn’t about to just let this die, I figured “Why the Hell not?”. Keeping in mind, of course, that this isn’t going to be happening too soon. Probably. We’ll see how thin I can stretch myself before I go completely crazy.

The Lodgers (novel) – Yes, this still exists. Yes, it’s going to happen eventually. No, I’m not going to scrap it. However, even if I were to choose to work on two novels at a time (something I’m on the fence about)…this wouldn’t be one of them. It’s not really in the forefront of my thoughts, even if it is a fun bit of fiction to write. It’s also far more of a shift towards purely adult reading, what with the characters and their tendencies toward expletive-heavy speech.

The Devil Sort of Made Me Do It (or whatever the Hell I titled this) – I haven’t forgotten this one either. A good friend of mine has made forgetting it impossible, in fact. Hah.

Submitting more short stories for publication – Most certainly needs to happen. Strongly considering Cordelia’s as a possible submission for The Literary Hatchet.

These posts are actually very therapeutic, as they help put things into perspective for me. Especially on days like today, when I feel like I’m accomplishing so little. One book published, and onward towards getting a book published by HarperCollins. To that last end, if any of you have an Authonomy account and would be so kind as to read, critique, and support my novel (if you like it, of course) once it’s available, I would be immensely grateful and most assuredly return the favor.

Ninety days remaining.

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

Today’s big book-related news

Better known as the post I have deliberately been shuffling my feet towards writing because I wanted to make a few key people wait. Probably not the nicest thing I’ve ever done. Moving on.

For anyone who missed it, Joshua Harkin and the Wicked Nightmare King is now available for purchase on Amazon. That’s a tidbit of information that still makes me want to weep in a mix of joy and terror; joy because ohcrapohcrap I’m a published author (though that point was made true earlier this year, but not in terms of being a published author who has a book available), and terror because I’m already stockpiling comfort food for my first one-star review. Ben & Jerry will be my two closest friends, and I will run the risk of becoming the hippopotamus requested for Christmas in what I still consider to be one of the worst holiday jingles ever written.

Winning this publishing contract has been a great thing for me. It’s a step towards my dream of being able to say I’m a writer for a living, or at least for part of my living, and I’m still sort of in that weird state of disbelief. Continue reading

Once upon a time, I got a book published

Well, more specifically I should say that once upon a time I won a book publishing contract that resulted in getting a book published. As a quick, highly-related aside: my backspace key seems to be sticking, so correcting errors is a real treat. Already prepared to say screw it and have typos from here on out. We all know that isn’t going to happen.

Right.

“But Phil,” you might say, “why are you saying published in the past tense?”

What an excellent question, convenient question-asking post-device persona. That’s because, and I’m both very excited and slightly anxious (for no good, real reason) to announce, my first novel, Joshua Harkin and the Wicked Nightmare King, is now available for purchase here.

Needless to say, this is really crazy exciting stuff for me, even if I haven’t fully processed it because I’m still partially lost to my Thanksgiving feasting-induced food coma.

Check it out and please consider picking up a copy (or two or ten; it would definitely be a great non-denominational holiday gift). There will be a Kindle version available down the road, and I’ll be more than happy to link to that as well.

One Hundred–Ah, screw it. My vacation adventures begin tomorrow!

Today’s been a damn good day for me. That statement overlooks how I spent work in a haze, half-asleep, for reasons unknown. Naturally such comments require explanation, and I’m happy to provide it. If only I could type without it coming out like I’m rolling my face along the keyboard.

I promised some playlists, and I’ll be following through on that for tonight’s post. Why? Because I haven’t packed a single article of anything yet, which is probably not ideal since I leave tomorrow. I also only made one playlist/CD so far, so I’m a pretty tremendous failure in that regard, too. However, I did send off my signed contract with Cary Press and I am tremendously excited to really dig into work on my first published novel. Expect lots of fun from here on out, folks. Continue reading

One Hundred Days of Blogging – Day Forty-One

This is my two-hundredth post on this WordPress. Let’s ignore that I took several month-long hiatuses, and that my posting is spotty at best, and focus on how awesome this sort of milestone is. The only major disappointment I have is that this isn’t also day forty-two of my One Hundred Days of Blogging. Oh well. I’ll just have to celebrate like a hitchhiker traveling the galaxy in tomorrow’s post.

Now I could very easily talk numbers about Misadventures In Fiction, but that would be a pretty short and sad post. And it would interfere with my vacation prep week posts. Can’t very well let that happen. Mostly because my viewing figures are actually on the same level as some reality TV shows, and that’s a little soul-deadening.

Quick update to the intro before I continue (I have methods to my madness and I don’t like deviating from them) – Apparently, as part of the contract I won through Cary Press, I’ll be having a book release party? So that’s mind-blowingly exciting stuff. I have no idea how to react right now other than “Oh wow, holy shit”. Probably the appropriate reaction, right? More details on this, and Joshua Harkin and the Wicked Nightmare King‘s release, as possible. So exciting! Continue reading

One Hundred Days of Blogging – Day Thirty-Nine

I’m convinced that days off of work are not governed by the same space-time laws that are in play every other day of the week. They go by way too fast when they shouldn’t, and drag out when it’s time to focus on things like cleaning or important paperwork or whatever.

On the plus side, I did take a terrific walk tonight with Brianne. It was relatively cool out, but not unpleasantly so, and it was enough to get my brain going on various topics relating to creative things.

We’ve established by now that when my brain gets going on things that it can go to negative places. However, that negativity is a pretty powerful starting point for me to put my problem solving skills to good use. So I guess it’s a lose-win situation. Something like that.

However, all things are eclipsed by next weekend and Intervention. After that, I’m making my first major road trip to Chicago for some quality time with my best friend Jason. This upcoming vacation, I think, will be a much-needed break, and I’m hoping it will yield a good deal of productivity on my part (on top of seeing movies and enjoying good liquor with friends).

Tonight’s post, however, relates back to some of my thinking from my walk. It should provide some insight into how my brain works, and so I caution readers to potentially step away while retreat is still possible. Continue reading

One Hundred Days of Blogging – Day Thirty-Six

Today was busy, eventful, and generally good.

However, I’m also entirely okay saying this post is being used as a cheat-day for the sake of focusing on creative writing projects. And because I just had a thirteen hour work-day, and I don’t have an idea I like enough to bother. Especially after the last two turned out so unfortunately.

On one hand, I’m really excited I have a book on its way to being published (FYI: it’s Joshua Harkin and the Wicked Nightmare King, which shouldn’t be surprising).

In closing, I have a question for you all (or at least those of you who comment…so a select few, I guess). How does Joshua Harkin and the Wicked Nightmare King sound as an official book one title? I know I’ve had it listed on the Joshua’s Nightmares page for a while, but I want to know what people think.

Wishing everyone a happy, productive hump day, I guess.

 

Sixty-four (just like one of Nintendo’s best, most carpal tunnel syndrome-furthering systems) days remaining.