Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

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I am very excited to announce that ShadowSpinners Press will be releasing a series of short stand-alone novels inspired by Dungeon Solitaire: Labyrinth of Souls! A number of outstanding writers have already committed to the project and are at various stages in writing their Labyrinth of Souls books. Authors so far include Elizabeth Engstrom, Eric Witchey, Christina Lay, John Reed, Stephen T. Vessels, Cheryl Owen-Wilson, Cynthia Ray, Pamela Jean Herber, and me.

That’s an incredible list to be a part of, and I am super excited to be working on a project that includes this many amazing writers. And I am overjoyed that they have all showed such an interest in fictionalizing underworld adventures inspired by the Labyrinth of Souls.

The Labyrinth of Souls is more than an ancient ruin filled with monsters, trapped treasure, and the lost tombs of bygone kings. It is a manifestation of a mythic underworld, existing at a crossroads between people and cultures, between time and space, between the physical world and the deepest reaches of the psyche. It is a dark mirror held up to human experience, in which you may find your dreams… or your doom. Entrances to this realm can appear in any time period, in any location. There are innumerable reasons why a person may enter, but it is a place antagonistic to those who do, a place where monsters dwell, with obstacles and illusions to waylay adventurers, and whose very walls can be a force of corruption. It is a haunted place, ever at the edge of sanity.

Each Labyrinth of Souls novel will feature a journey into a unique manifestation of the underworld. Get ready to delve into the Labyrinth in a totally new way, and stay tuned for more author announcements and release dates for the first Labyrinth of Souls novels.

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Here’s the cover of the upcoming ShadowSpinners anthology to be released near the end of the month. The exact date for the print and ebook release has not been set yet, but I’ve heard print books have arrived at ShadowSpinners press and the Launch party date is set, so it’s definitely coming.

My story “A Darkquick Sky” is inside, along with an eclectic collection of dark tales from many of the amazing authors who have written for ShadowSpinners, including Cheryl Owen-Wilson, Elizabeth Engstrom, Christina Lay, Eric M. Witchey, Stephen T. Vessels, Cynthia Ray, Pamela Jean Herber, Sarina Dorie, Alexis Duran, Lisa Alber, and Alan M. Clark. I’m very excited to be in such good company, to be a part of this project, and to get my hands on this awesome book!

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My short story “The Menace Dupere,” first published by The Fringe, will be released as a .99 cent Kindle ebook. Djibril al-Ayad, editor of The Future Fire, called it “a gripping, well-written, and intriguingly academic horror story in the best Lovecraftian tradition.”

This is a core story in the mythology surrounding the strange town of Auxerre, Wisconsin, where many of my horror stories are set. A mad professor will stop at nothing to understand an ancient occult secret. The cost is steep, and the creature he summons may destroy the world unless one student can stop him.

Two other stories with connections to Auxerre, “The Music of Timothy Shean” and “Old Growth” are available now.

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My last post dealt with the importance of understanding the tone of a fight scene, but there is something even more important. Real fighting, be it on a small or large scale is not inherently entertaining. Nevertheless, we are drawn to the story of a good fight because of the dramatic engagement of the characters. Without drama, the action can be a tedious, boring, or otherwise off putting.

Whether you’re writing something like the battle for Helm’s Deep or the duel between Hamlet and Leartes, the buildup to the fight is arguably more important than the fight itself. It is during the buildup that we come to understand why the fight matters. Ask yourself what’s at stake for your characters and in the larger context of your story. “The readiness is all,” Hamlet says at last, and because the entire story has built up to this moment, we are prepared for a fight of truly dramatic proportions.

Think of your fight scene as a kind of story within the story. It should be a necessary part of the overall narrative. It should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It should have a setting, a plot, and characters. It goes without saying it should have external conflict, but it should also have internal conflict. These elements should be established in the buildup, so when the action starts they all come crashing together. The fight should be a climactic focal point for dramatic elements in the narrative.

In terms of plotting the action, things should never go as planned. There should always be surprises, turns in the action driven by the elements in play. Perhaps reinforcements arrive, treachery unfolds, or fear strikes. A good fight will have at least one or two good turns, when the advantage shifts from one side to the other before the final victory or defeat.

 

*First published on ShadowSpinners.

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Physical violence and fighting can be a wonderful source of conflict in fiction … when it’s done well. A fight should tell a story that’s integral to the overall narrative, and the tone of the action should not feel out of place.

Most violence and martial arts portrayed in fiction is filled with various levels of fantasy, even in otherwise realistic stories. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, but frequently I think writers are attempting one thing and doing another.

When writing a fight scene it’s important to understand the kind of fight you want to write. You can imagine your fight existing somewhere on a graph with realism vs. fantasy on the x-axis and serving the story vs. the inconvenient truth on the y-axis. Great scenes can be written anywhere on the graph, but it helps to know where you are and what you’re up against.

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In this context, realism is an adherence to the laws of physics and the demonstrated behavior and abilities of real people.Fantasy may break these rules, but should have a set of internal rules the characters and actions adhere to.

Serving the story is the necessity of certain actions or outcomes for the sake of the overall narrative. The inconvenient truth is everywhere the rules of realism or the internal rules of fantasy are in conflict with those actions and outcomes. Sometimes it’s okay to break the rules, but go too far and readers will be put off.

Martial arts and fighting are rich fields touching upon physics, culture, technology, anatomy, phychology, history, and human ability. It pays to do some research! As with most things, the more knowledge and experience you have, and the clearer your objectives, the more confident and convincing your fiction will be.

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The author receiving some experience in Russian martial arts

 


*First published on ShadowSpinners.

 

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In a cave up past Kegan’s Bluff, Malcom Roberts and his friend Steve find a strange staircase that spirals deep into the earth … and into the dark recesses of the human mind.

My story “Spiral” is now appearing in The Lovecraft eZine, Issue #34. Jump right to the story and start reading here. I was very excited to see the illustration by John Donald Carlucci, a stark black and white image depicting a pivotal scene from the story. Perfect!

Thanks to Mike Davis, the editor of The Lovecraft eZine, and to John Donald Carlucci for his excellent illustration.

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I’m happy to announce my story “Spiral” has been accepted to appear in a future issue of The Lovecraft eZine. This is a great source for weird tales and Lovecraft related podcasts, comics, gaming, and interviews. The magazine is available in web, Kindle, epub, audio, and print editions. Editor Mike Davis has done an awesome job of building a multi-platform magazine well worth reading, visiting, downloading, and purchasing.

I’ll post more when the story is scheduled for publication, but in the meantime, head over The Lovecraft eZine and check it out. Here’s a picture of their April issue to wet your appetite. Many other issues are available on the website.

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