World Fantasy 2019

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At the mass book signing with Christina Lay and Stephen T. Vessels

I had a great time at the World Fantasy convention this past weekend with ShadowSpinners Press and some fellow authors in the Labyrinth of Souls fiction series. Can’t say I saw much of LA, since I did not leave the Airport Marriott for three days, but the weather was nice, the conference was great, and the company was outstanding. It is truly a wonderful experience to be in the midst of so many creative and inspiring writers and artists.

The crowds gather in LA Airport Marriott

The ShadowSpinners table had a lively showing in the book room, and I had a great time answers questions about Dungeon Solitaire and the Labyrinth of Souls. I signed a few books, did a reading with fellow authors Christina Lay and Stephen T. Vessels, and managed to get to a few talks and panels. I was particularly interested to learn a bit more about audiobook production and particularly taken with the beautiful art of Reiko Murakami.

The ShadowSpinners table and chief editor Christina Lay

With another successful appearance, we are planning to make an even bigger showing next year in Salt Lake. We’ll have more books, more authors, and more games. Hope to see you there!

Art print by Reiko Murakami (available on her website)

Littlest Death Released

ld-cover-mdThe fourth Labyrinth of Souls novel, “Littlest Death” by Eric Witchey, is available now on Amazon and other online retailers in print and eBook forms. Eric Witchey has sold over 100 short stories and several novels. He has received recognition from New Century Writers, Writers of the Future, Writer’s Digest, The Eric Hoffer Prose Award program, Short Story America, The Irish Aeon Awards, and other organizations. His How-To articles have appeared in The Writer Magazine, Writer’s Digest Magazine, and other print and online magazines.

This is an amazing book! As I got interested in the character of Littlest and the fantastical underworld she inhabits, at some point I realized something was going on that was larger and more significant than I had even imagined. From that point on I could not stop reading. I had to know if the story was going to go as far as it might. And it did not disappoint. It went even further! I wept. I cried. I rejoiced. What a wonderful payoff! The end of the book was like an emotional and intellectual bomb going off. Beautifully set up and so well done!

Here’s the description from the back cover:

One human soul and a little respect isn’t too much to ask for, but both are hard to get if you’ve only been a death for a thousand years. Shunned by other grim reapers, Littlest Death yearns for the respect given to deaths who bring human souls from Overworld into Underworld. She has only been a grim reaper for a thousand years, but she works hard at the jobs she’s given. Really hard! No other death gathers in MILLIONS of souls at a time like she does. Okay, they are just the souls of fungi, bacteria, and single-celled critters like amoebas, but—MILLIONS! If she could bring in just one human soul, the other deaths would stop looking down on her. She sets out to spy on the most accomplished death in the history of dying, Oldest Death. She figures she can learn a few things from him. And, of course, she does. She just doesn’t learn what she thought she would learn, and the learning comes hard. Desperate to become a real death, frustrated by humans and their attachments to one another, hounded by a Hell Puppy, ridiculed by other deaths, and undermined by her own ambition, she journeys the Earth and the Underworld in search of a trick that will let her gain the respect she believes she deserves. Unfortunately, her actions hurt the living, undermine the natural order, and threaten the eternal flow of souls between life and death. By the time she understands the damage she’s done, it may be too late to save herself and the souls she has hurt. An Afterlife Fantasy by award winning author Eric Witchey.

In other news, I’ll be at the World Fantasy Convention in San Antonio next weekend with ShadowSpinners Press and a number of the Labyrinth of Souls authors, to promote the game and the fiction series. Work continues on the third Dungeon Solitaire game and Labyrinth of Souls expansion called Dungeon Solitaire: Devils Playground. However, with the end of the year looming, we have pushed the Kickstarter back until after the new year. Progress also continues on the the Labyrinth of Souls mobile app, which is also in development. Stay tuned for more news on all these projects.

In the meantime, enjoy Littlest Death, and check out the other Labyrinth of Souls novels, Benediction Denied by Elizabeth Engstrom, Symphony of Ruin by Christina Lay, and The End of All Things by Matthew Lowes. The next book to come out will be The Door of Tireless Pursuit by Stephen T. Vessels. And more will be more coming out in the coming months. Leave a review if you get a chance, and visit ShadowSpinners Press at the World Fantasy Convention next weekend in San Antonio where all things Labyrinth of Souls will be on display.

Labyrinth of Souls Fiction Project

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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.

ShadowSpinners Anthology

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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!

“The Menace of Dupere” ebook coming soon …

 

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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.

Writing Fight Scenes: Graphing Fictional Violence

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, October 2013.

“Spiral” to appear in The Lovecraft eZine

lovecraft ezine cover 30I’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.

 

A Picture is Worth (x) Words

Everyone’s heard the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but does it hold up when you’re actually counting the words?

Among writers, the subject of outlining seems to be a fundamental ongoing process question: to outline or not to outline, and also when, and in how much detail, in what form, and how closely to follow it. For the record, I’m a firm believer in outlining, and tend to make progressively more detailed outlines as a project unfolds. I also tend to sketch various ideas for the scenes I’m working on, and collect photographic references.

Visual references may not be talked about as much as outlining, but I think it’s a great tool, and at the recent Wordcrafters writers conference in Eugene, I noted both Terry Brooks and Elizabeth George talking about the use of visual references in their work. Mine tend to take the form of little maps or sketches of characters, visual details, or dramatic moments. I also look for ideas and take photographs at various locations, and use image searches on the internet.

Today I thought it would be fun to take a look at a few sketches from recent chapter outlines and do the math to figure out how many words a picture is really worth. In most cases there were multiple little sketches per chapter, so I took the number of words in the completed chapter and divided by the number of sketches. Here are a few pictures with their associated word counts.

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481.8 words

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298.4 words

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509 words

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410 words

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679 words

When I averaged everything up it turned out a picture is actually worth about 445.33 words. It was a lot less than a thousand, suggesting that pictures, while incredibly useful, may be slightly overrated. However, this was a very limited study of only a few sketches made by a single writer for a small sample of chapters. More research is needed.

Surely this doodle is worth a thousands words, but I haven’t written the chapter yet.

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*First published on ShadowSpinners, April 2014.

“Buyer Beware” to be translated into Italian

fantasy-jewelry-3My body swapping, sci-fi farce “Buyer Beware” will be translated for the Italian language magazine DUDE. The story was previously published in Every Day Fiction, and the English language version can be read there.

I’m excited to have another story translated, and to reach a new audience. The online magazine is beautifully designed, and appears filled with fiction and various culture pieces. No word yet on when my story will appear, but I will post when I know more.