Angels or Demons

I both love and hate philosophy.  I enjoy discussing different philosophical thinkings and views of the world.  Sadly, I don’t really enjoy reading philosophy because most philosophers are excessively long-winded that blather on incessantly.  Were I a strong advocate for their specific views, the attention to minutae might be appealing but as a tourist to that realm of thinking, it gets cumbersome.

One philosopher that I’ve been rereading recently, however, is ‘Meister’ Eckhart Hockheim. These days, he’s probably most famous for being referenced at the end of Jacob’s Ladder.  In it, the character Louis Denardo tells the titular Jacob,

“Eckhart saw Hell too.  He said, ‘the only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won’t let go of life, your memories, your attachments.  They burn them all away.  But they’re not punishing you,’ he said.  They’re freeing your soul.  So, if you’re frightened of dying and…and you’re holding on, you’ll see devils tearing your life away.  But if you’ve made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the earth”

This singular quote has seemed a bit apropo (if more than a little melodramatic) with the recent tragedies that have befallen me and my family.  For example, I lost my computer and all (and I do mean ALL) my files.  That’s years – decades – of writing gone.  Gone and likely unrecoverable.

On the one hand, true tragedy.  My life’s work, up in smoke.  But on the other hand, all of it was and still is in my brain.  All the stories still exist.  Vincent Pierce, Everett Kendall, and so many other characters, still live inside my mind.  And getting them out is as simple as daily visits to the library until I am able to buy a new computer.  Or even just jotting stuff down on a notepad.

A lot has been lost, sure.  Tiny nuances of characters and settings and events that could only be born out of a certain time and place in my life.  But the essence of who they are and what they do hasn’t been lost.  And while I lament what has been lost, I also have the opportunity to rebuild from the ground up.  I can start fresh, of sorts.

So that’s something.  🙂

 

 

Speaking of nice, I will be at Anime Mid-Atlantic this weekend, hosting a bunch of panels as well as helping to man some panels for my publisher, Haven Publishing.  And also promoting the print release of my newest novel, Rhest for the Wicked.  I hope to see you there!

Nobody Is Above Getting Paid

A recent consult with a fellow writer brought up an interesting point: should a writer write work to get published?

To give some context, my author-friend had an idea for a fantasy-romance novel.  It was light fluff (in her own words).  You know, the kind of stuff you see in the supermarket, only with fairies and some such.  She was hesitant to write such a book because she felt like nobody respected it.  When I pointed out that romance novels have never sold better, she asserted ‘but isn’t it degrading, to write something just so it will sell?’

That’s what we all do.

No author writes a book unconcerned with whether or not it will sell.  All of us hold that as a core consideration.  If we (the authors) don’t, the publishers and agents certainly do.  And why wouldn’t they?  Why wouldn’t we?  Sales are the name of the game.

And I don’t mean ‘sales are the name of the game’ in the sense that we’re only in this for the money.  Nobody gets into writing for the money – at least nobody smart.  We get into this because we’re artists, with a love of the art form and the medium and a desire to tell our stories.  That’s why we get into the business.  But it’s necessary to understand that it is a business.  And we may come for the art, but we stay for the paychecks.  Otherwise, the very first time we had to make a choice between something else and writing, we’d do something.  Because something else almost always pays better than writing.

As artists, we struggle with our desire to share our art and also our desire to live.  If we don’t make money, we can’t make ends meet.  We can’t write.  And so, we charge money.  The notion that ‘real artists don’t charge for their work’ is a lie, perpetrated by either charlatan art gallery owners (or their ilk in whatever art form you prefer) or by artists who already make so much money they have the luxury to just give away work for free.

Every artist charges, or should charge.  Every artist wants to make money.  Not out of greed (because – and I really can’t underscore this enough – writing is NOT a good way to make money), but because we want to live.  We want to make art.  And if our art can support us, then we can devote as much time as possible to making that art.

As such, we writers (and all artists) pursue a paycheck.  It isn’t our highest priority but it IS a priority.  And it should be a priority. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to scam you.
So, to my writer friends have that pulp novel that they think isn’t the highest of literature but they know will sell?  Put it out there.  Make your paper, and use that success to help pay for the next novel.

And if somebody accuses you of selling out, smile and let them know you sell out…every book on the shelf.  People think being a sell-out means you compromised your priorities for a paycheck.  Yet, they never seem to acknowledge that getting paid is – and always will be and always SHOULD be – a priority.

Oh, hey, did I mention that I published a book?  You should totally check it out.  🙂

Rhest for the Wicked and other books

In case you missed the announcement, Rhest For The Wicked is now available for the Kindle and other ebook readers, with the print version to come shortly (possibly this week).  But that’s not all!  Haven Publishing House, (aka my publisher) has also released The Pack by Dan Coglan and I Think? No, I’m Sure…God Hates Me by Manny Camacho.  The Pack is a fantasy story, while God Hates Me is a collection of various tales about conventions and the wacky world surrounding conventions.  Please check them both out…as well as Rhest For the Wicked, of course!

Again, these are all ebooks; the print editions will be available soon.

I first published Crossworld in 2001, so it’s a weird experience being a ‘new author’ a second time around.  Given the gap since my last novel came out, I feel like I’m almost starting my career over again.  I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.  In the intervening years since my first book, I’ve learned a lot about the industry.  But it was always as an independent author.  I failed more than I succeeded and I have the personal and professional scars to show for it.  But I also had a lot of fun and got to realize a dream.

Now signed with Haven, an indie company (and an upstart in its own right), it’s been interesting seeing many of the growing pains I went through when I was first published, only now on a company scale.  It’s been a hell of a ride just getting to this point.  But now that I/we are here, it’s like cresting a mountain.  It’s been long, hard, and arduous, but now we get to look out over the possibility that lies ahead.

This is an incredibly exciting time; professional, artistically, and personally.  Having the serials back online, being back in print, and now having a publishing house behind me, a new set of challenges and opportunities presents itself.  It’s exciting, to say the least.

For those of you who have been here with me through it all, thank you for sticking by me.  For those of you who are just now joining the adventure, welcome aboard.  We’re just getting started and there’s a LOT of fun stuff on the way.

And some of it will be showing up sooner than you think!  🙂

Rhest For The Wicked is Here!

RHEST FOR THE WICKED - Cover

It is with great delight that I announce my first book in seven years; Rhest For The Wicked, published by Haven Publishing.

This book has been almost a year in coming, and it’s been a fight to get it out.  There’s a lot that goes on in publishing that few outside the boardrooms ever get to see, and by signing with a start-up publisher, I got to see a lot of that.  It’s been a trial, no doubt, but it’s finally here.

Currently available is the ebook, with the print edition coming shortly (print editions take longer to push through the databases for reasons that can only be described as hocus-pocus).

Please take a look at Rhest for the Wicked.  It’s just a fun, simple cyberpunk haunted house story.  🙂

Bullet Points

I really hate Daylight Savings Time.  It’s an antiquated idea, one that not only has run it’s course, but is legitimately dangerous (skip ahead to about 3:25).  Worse, it’s just inconvenient.  So, with that in mind, I figured I’d save us all a little bit of trouble and just hit a few issues that have been rattling around.

– When will the next episode of New Phase go live?
On Friday, my first serialized story in over a year went live (you can read it on the Serials Page).  The next episode will go live the first Friday of April (the 4th), and so on for the run of the serial.  Yes, I know a month between episodes is a lot but A) they’re free, so hush and B) I plan to shorten that time with subsequent serials.  Writing a serial is a lot of work, in some ways more work than writing a novel (which I’m also doing).  As such, I want to make sure that I can maintain this production rate.

– Speaking of books, where’s Rhest for the Wicked?
If you were at RoFCon, you know that my publisher Haven is having a devil of a time getting Rhest through the assorted online databases.  As a small publishing house, it’s an uphill battle to get anything done when being crowded by the Big Five publishers, and sorting through the million things that can hang up a book’s listing is a daunting task.  That being said, Rhest for the Wicked WILL be available by summer.  Hopefully much sooner.
If you want more information, please swing by Haven’s brand-spanking-new website.

– Most of your toy reviews are Transformers; what did you think of the trailer for Transformers 4?
I am cautiously optimistic.  I didn’t hate the first three live-action movies – I by and large enjoyed them, believe it or not – but they were very far from flawless.  The new movie looks from the trailer to be a step in the right direction, with streamlined robot designs, a smaller cast, and a more personal story.  That being said, the same was true for the first movie and we had three different plots running simultaneously that pretty much never merged, and two of which were not resolved.  So while I am a little more hopeful, I’m not out-and-out excited yet.

– What did you watch the Academy Awards?
I didn’t watch them.  For starters, I find the show pretty boring and I often didn’t see many of the films nominated.  While I don’t think awards should be popularity contests, when many of the nominated films are often obscure, I start to suspect ulterior motives.  Secondly, many very deserving categories simply do not exist.  For starters, there is no category for genre films (science fiction, fantasy, etc).  Such movies usually get sluffed off into the ‘special effects’ categories, and then still end up losing to a period piece (see Benjamin Button beating Transformers 2).  Likewise, there are no categories for Best Trailer (which is an art unto itself and well deserving of recognition), Best Stunt Performance, Best Voice Acting, and so on.  When you add into the track record of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences history of turning a blind eye to the abuses of the film industry (check out Life After Pi, how the special effects studio responsible for one of the most visually gorgeous films ever filed for bankruptcy because the film studio paid them a pittance for the masterpiece), I find the AMPAS and by extension the Academy Awards undeserving of attention.