Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Social Mediaare to CIgarettes as....

Necessity  of doing extra crap. For the up and coming writer doing a bunch of garbage that is not writing is now pretty much required.  Nine times out of ten I would rather be writing, but now I have to divide my time between social networking, establishing a platform on social media and trying to keep up with at least three other projects for me. 

I like being busy, but in all honesty some of the stuff I have to do try and build a career in writing I would rather not do. I would rather be writing. I am pretty sure we all would.  This is not about griping about something I cannot change.  I fully admit that I cannot change this and that it is better to accept that change and try and roll with it. 

But accepting is easy to talk about, much harder to do. Changing yourself in general is extremely hard to do. Everyone talks  about wanting to do something different and wanting to be different in some way. Well maybe not everyone but most people.  Better career, better shape, more money, advanced in your career. All of these are things people will usually want one of. But achieving it is hard because we as people like routines. Routines are easy. They aren’t scary because you know exactly want to expect. I think that is one reason some people don’t like to go to the doctor. The doctor may tell you that you have to change something about yourself. 

And when you are used to doing something like drinking soda, or eating pizza on a certain night of the week we don’t want to have to do that. That is one part of that makes cutting down on actual addictive substances like cigarettes (or tobacco ion general) so hard. 

My step dad is going through all the fun of quitting tobacco and my mom is getting to enjoy every minute of that lovely experience. 

As a former smoker one of the hardest times to not have a cigarette was when I was bored. There was a time that if I was bored and near a door I would duck outside and have a smoke. Even worse after dinner, or on long drives. I never developed the smoking after sex thing because if done right neither of you really have the energy nor the motivation to get out of bed, off the floor, etc. I have been non smoker for the better part of ten years (with the exception of a six months when I went through a very sad period in my life) and I sincerely liked it. But I knew I had to change. It was not easy. Was not the hardest thing to do in my life, but was also not the hardest. 

It was change. It was unpleasant. It was something I have to do. So I guess that is my overall analogy to what new authors have to do when building a platform. It is not easy, not always pleasant, but something you just have to do. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Jesse Magnan's Blog of the Lance: Potions

Jesse Magnan's Blog of the Lance: Potions: Bright Eye, Winter Night 2, 354 AC Blood poured freely from a crack in the skull of the defeated cleric. Cherry ran over and kicked the...

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Jesse Magnan's Blog of the Realms: Steelheart

Jesse Magnan's Blog of the Realms: Steelheart:             The air grew colder the closer he rode to the coast, and Remenissions made another prayer as the scent of salt air led to t...

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Fast, Cheap, Or Good.

There is a phrase in project management that I also think applies to writing, and especially to self publishing.  It has multiple names but the one I like the best is the Iron Triangle.

This phrase breaks down to this:
You can do it fast.
You can do it cheap.
You can do it well/good.
Pick two.

As writers we often want to get our stories out there for the world to see, and get them out there as soon as possible.  Ignoring the expense of an editor, and deceiving that our self editing or editing by that one guy we know who really knows his grammar is good enough. In doing this we risk sacrificing quality. 

Don’t get me wrong there are those snowflakes and unicorns that can pound something out and it is good to go as soon as they type “The End”.

I always err on the side of caution. I assume I am not that snowflake. I am not unique. And by trying to keep my ego I check I truly think I have become a better writer, and possibly even a better person for it.

That is just one combination of the triangle.

If I want quality and speed that means I am going to have to shell out the money for some of the best editors in the business.

You check those rates out?  Over a thousand dollars and that’s on the low side.  You wrote your book fast, but man oh man are you going to pay to make sure it is up to snuff.

If you’re as broke as I am these prices only leave you with one option.  Taking a long time, writing it and editing all while trying to track down that affordable editor, and then double checking THEIR work.  You don’t have to go and layout over a thousand bucks, but it is going to take time to find that editor who is just starting out. Vet editors you meet on our, if they are starting out you have no way of knowing if they are really good at their job or just another putz trying to make a dollar and a cent off of desperate writers.

In some ways I like the idea of working with a new editor. Establishing a relationship with someone while they are trying to get their name out into the community that they have a skill others will want to utilize.  

 I am the same way with new and eager writers. I want to know them and I want to help them.  I want to be able to say I knew the next King or Rowling and that I helped to mold them.

If I am not known for my writing (even if I do follow my own advice with the triangle) I at least want to contribute in some way to the next generation of writers.

Maybe it is a bit selfish or egotistical but I am at least being honest that I am may not have the talent or the luck (some say it is mixture of the two, with the focus on luck) to have my writing take off. Being the Muddy Waters to the Rolling Stones of the future is not a bad thing.  

Side Note: Muddy Waters did have some of his own success, but I think the analogy still holds up.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Jesse Magnan's Blog of the Realms: Remenissions Journey to the Coast.

Jesse Magnan's Blog of the Realms: Remenissions Journey to the Coast.: Marpenoth 19, 1367 DR - Year of the Shield             Remenissions cantered south passing through fields, some plowed and some l...

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Races and Fantasy

I have reached a certain conundrum with my current work in progress. Should I use traditional races? There are plenty of epic fantasy and sword and sorcery books that use the traditional elves, dwarves, gnomes, etc. 

But should I?

At first I started to avoid this pit fall, only to realize that I had created several races, all of whom just turned out as analogues for the traditional ones.

Using them is not a bad thing. When you mention dwarf, or elf, or even gnome, you create a very specific image inside the head of a reader. And movies like Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit have only helped in that regard.

At the same time you run the risk of becoming crystallized into what those races can and cannot do, and what those races are and are not. That risk does not change regardless of where you first encountered these different humanoid creatures. Only the details do. Elves from Tolkien and elves from a popular game like Dungeons and Dragons have some very distinct differences, and yes both are amazing in their own way, but with those archetypes stuck in your head it can be difficult to own them.

It brings up questions I am not sure I have all the answers to. Elves from Tolkien are pretty much divine beings that live until killed (or at least that is the way it seems).  Do I want that?  

The elves from dungeons and dragons can see in the dark, and are magical in nature along with a myriad of other special qualities. Do I want anything like that? Do I want o use part of each? How would using anything like that change how these creatures would act and interact within the story?

My biggest problem with changing the traditional names and going with my own creations that are similar, is that having so many could get confusing to the reader and that I would lose some of that imagery that these words conjure in the minds of reader.

And in all honesty I want some of that imagery, and some of that tone. I want to tap into that feeling that someone gets when they read about an elf, and their mind goes back to that first time they EVER read about or saw an elf.

It’s kind of a cheat, but it is a cheat that all writers use. When a writer describes someone as looking 

like Santa Claus a very specific image pops into your head. If a writer describes someone as looking 

like Santa Clause, if he were Hell’s Angel, then a similar, and yet very different image will pop into your head.

It’s not really about making others happy on which choice I make. There are some readers who hate the traditional creatures of fantasy, and there are some readers who really love them.

It is about my biggest concern. If I use them and change them will I end up changing them too much? Would I end up with sparkly vampires that aren’t vampires? And if that is the case then why even use the word elf or dwarf at all? 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Jesse Magnan's Blog of the Realms: Second Meeting with Sherlen

Jesse Magnan's Blog of the Realms: Second Meeting with Sherlen: Marpenoth 19, 1367 DR - Year of the Shield             With nary a wave farewell Remenissions mounted his horse and galloped so...

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Jesse Magnan's Blog of the Lance: Disease and Blades

Jesse Magnan's Blog of the Lance: Disease and Blades: Bright Eye, Winter Night 2, 354 AC Surprised the cleric of Morgion turned to face the intruders. "What are you doing here? You...

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Ethnicity/Race/Gender and Superheroes

In one of the many groups I am part of this really talented person made himself a truly epic Batman cosplay costume. This young man also happens to be black. Shouldn't be a big deal. A costume is a costume and fun is fun. Some people tried to tell him that "historically Batman is white", usually right after the phrase "I'm not racist but". Then they would go on and say he should dress as a character that is already black.

There is so much wrong here I am not sure where to start.

First off, if someone does a lot of hard work creating a costume for a character they love then either applaud the hard work or shut your mouth. Unless you are applauding their hard work or you have something constructive  to say (I see you did Technique A for the gloves, you can do Technique B instead and save yourself some time, money  and aggravation) or a question (What material did you use to create the six pack ab effect?) then you have nothing to say.

Second, bringing up a fictional character as some sort of historical context for the validity of your racism is mind boggling backward. Even Lenny from of Mice and Men wouldn’t use that kind of argument.

If we go into the REAL history of many of our beloved superheroes we will find racist motivations behind many of the reason a character was white. Batman was created at a time when no publisher would have allowed a black superhero.  Same with Superman.  Nineteen thirties America was not an enlightened place, and we still have a long way to go. 

And even many of the non male, non white superheroes feel a bit like token characters. Not all of them, just many of them. 

At the same time I do think that doing a gender swap, or a skin color swap on a superhero does change that superhero, but I think it adds a much needed level of depth and complexity. Imagine a Batman who was black. How would police perceive him? Would have ever get the praise he deserves or would he always be treated as a criminal just as bad as those he pursues?

And no you don’t need to make him Batwing, or Batkid, or some other bullshit Bat-deviation.  All that does is place the character in a lesser position than the actual Batman. You may not think this is important. But really it kind of is. There is something call stereotype threat.   

You may not think it affects you, but it does. That is its nature. Study after study (not linking to them here, because there are too many and if you are really interested do the research your own damn self) has shown that just being aware of a stereotype is enough for it to have an effect on your performance. This Batman is “historically” white is just an extension of Asians being good at math. And yes a positive stereotype for one group will have negative consequences on another group. If you sit a group of people down and say Asians always score better on this test, all those who are not of Asian descent will do much worse than the control group.

That is my rant.
If you’re not helping the cause for equality, keep your damn mouth shut.

No, this is not the costume.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Jesse Magnan's Blog of the Realms: Amulets and Hammers

Jesse Magnan's Blog of the Realms: Amulets and Hammers: Marpenoth 19, 1367 DR - Year of the Shield Coryn tied the small pouch to his belt, “Many thanks milady, I only wish we could ha...

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Book Review: The Cat, The Crow, and the Cauldron: A Halloween Anthology

So it is about that time of year where many of us ask to be scared. We want chills and that feeling of something ghoulish creeping up on us out of the corner of our eye. Movies and television can try to give us that haunted feeling, and they have their moments, but nothing is quite as good as a scary story.

This short story anthology gives us more than one story, it gives us nine. Short story anthologies are underrated. I’m not sure why. Maybe people think that they need an entire novel to enjoy a good story? Those people are wrong. Drop them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

With well crafted short stories we get a tight narrative and quality characters in bite size chunks.  And this anthology delivers quality writing and addictive stories that will keep you turning the page.
In a lot of ways The Cat, The Crow, and the Cauldron is like a bag after you have been out trick or treating. You go through your bag and find that there is some candy you like, some you will eat only when there is no other candy left, and some you don’t like at first but once you try it is some of the best candy you will ever have greedily devoured all in one afternoon (Not that I do that, well maybe, just once. Okay, it was yesterday but that’s my business. And yes I regret it, but only for a little while).

To continue this metaphor (or maybe just to grind it to dust after beating it to a pulp?) there are stories with happy endings, depressing endings, some are slow to start, and others end leaving you wanting more. But I need to be clear, none of this is bad. Not every story is for every taste and these nine stories run the gamut. Messages form the past, ghosts, a demon apocalypse, psychological horror are all present. Better yet I never once felt as though I were reading someone’s rehashed vampire/werewolf fan fiction (not that there is anything wrong with it if that is your thing but I am tired of it) or poorly edited Lovecraft Tentacle Erotica (yes that is a thing, no I will not provide a link). 

Speaking of Erotica, the final story gets a little hot if that is your thing.  What I normally read doesn’t usually go in that direction, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. If that is your thing I think you would enjoy it too. 

So to sum everything up: Halloween is Saturday and instead of watching the same movies, the same TV, or reading the same scary stories you have been reading since you were a kid go out and grab this book. It will give you something new to be afraid of in the dark. You’ll think twice when you are at the museum, second guess what you know about history, and wonder if that strange thing in the sky is a portal the herald’s an end of days through a gnashing of teeth.

And for the price (FREE!) you can’t go wrong.

A strange and wonderful collection of Halloween stories, ranging from paranormal romance to horror. 

Joe DeRouen’s “Good Fortune” teaches us a valuable lesson about why you should be very careful when you hold someone’s fate in your hands. It may come back to haunt you, just as it does for Grimsley Harkness, who dares to wish for more than he deserves. 

Celia Kennedy’s “Nothing Scares Me” takes readers on a test of endurance. Lost in the Florida Everglades, Ardith Deblois, wife, mother and intrepid adventurer, fights for her life. Enveloped within the humid swamplands is a perilous maze full of obstacles and adversaries. Which is the greater impediment, the humans that hunt her or the deadly animals and poisonous plants she hides amongst? 
Can she fight through fatigue and dehydration to save herself? Nothing Scares Me. True or not? 

Zeece Lugo’s “Five Stories Up” finds us on October 31st, 1966, and night is falling over the city. Below, the groups of little ghosts and goblins stream in and out of the front stoops and basement bodegas, running, laughing, white blankets flapping in the wind, their candy treasures tightly held in hand. But above, in the dark rooftop of Sonia's building, something pale and evil watches her, and beckons... 

Angie Martin's "Sold" follows a paranormal team as they investigate the home of a serial killer for their live Halloween night televised show. 

Heather Osborne's “Will You Remember Me?” past and present collide when ghosts from witch trials of long ago come to life. It's up to Sierra to lay things to rest. 

Leonie Rogers' “Roast Pumpkin” Anna discovers that going trick-or-treating in her new home town is more of an out-of-this-world experience than she'd ever imagined. 

CJ Rutherford's “Treaters” tells the story of Jaz. Who would believe the world would end on Halloween night? Can Jaz, a retired U.S. Marine, battle loss, grief, demons, and loneliness, to survive the end of the world? 

Jada Ryker’s “Dead Eye” Alex takes Marisa to an unusual Halloween party in an isolated Kentucky community… with a murderer ready with deadly tricks, rather than treats. 

Jalpa Williby’s “Beauty and the Beast” Kelsey’s entire family perishes in a fire on a dreadful Halloween night. Overcome by grief and guilt, she decides to end her pain once and for all. Will the mysterious stranger be her savior, or will he ultimately cause her tragic demise? 

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