J.M. Williams

A home for all things fantasy and sci-fi.

The Were-Traveler Open Call: Tribute to Douglas Adams

Nov
19

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Do you write humor stories on your blog? Do they sometimes have a speculative twist, even outright sci-fi roots?

I’m looking at you Shawn Cowling, E.A. Wicklund, and Biff!

The Were-Traveler has, among their Calls for Submissions, an issue they are calling “Mostly Harmful, Sort Of, Something Something 42 : A Science Fiction/Fantasy Humor Tribute to Douglas Adams.” Who doesn’t love Douglas Adams?

While this publisher doesn’t pay, they do accept reprints. You can send them a story from your blog, which is what I did. What you get is the added exposure of their site and social media. And, of course, you get to sit in the issue alongside moi!

Yeah, it’s not the fanciest or most well-known publishing site. But you probably weren’t sending that story anywhere anyway, right? The deadline for the Douglas Adams tribute is January 15th.

You can find Were-Traveler’s submission guidelines HERE.

Pre-orders Now Open

Nov
17

The PRE-ORDER PAGE for The Adventures of Iric is now live on Amazon. I’d like to think it will be the same page for regular sales, once the release date arrives, but I’m not sure.

Justin Cover

Thanks to everyone for all the support you’ve given me over the past year here on the blog, on Facebook, and all the places I’ve been published. Finally things are starting to take shape in the way I had expected when I started on this writing adventure over a year ago.

~JM

The Adventures of Iric–Release Date Set!

Nov
17

Well, I did it. I pushed the button that handed my baby over to Amazon. The official release date is set for Monday, November 20th. But it should be available for pre-order some time soon.

Without further ado, here is the cover:

Justin Cover

That’s pretty decent, right? E. Rachael Hardcastle did a good job. I wasn’t actually trying hard or hoping for much with this collection, since it’s a first and just collection of my blog stories. But it came out very nice. I was shocked when I found the stock photo with this guy. I almost shouted to myself, “It’s Iric!” Really close to what I had in my head when I started writing him.

I struggled a lot trying to decide on the right pricing for the book. In the end, I decided to go a bit lower than what I thought was right. I’m hoping to use this book to build my brand, so I think I need to preference distribution over income. Accordingly, the book will be priced at $2.99 (US) and whatever the equivalent is in other currencies. The length is about average for a novella and seems longer than many flash collections out there.

I have put a lot of work into making this a great collection. All of the stories have been revised, some significantly. For many, this happened during the editing process when they were published across the web in a variety of magazines, ezines, and flash sites. For the rest, I revised and edited as I added each to the collection.

Though this is primarily an Iric collection, there are some bonus stories at the end, featuring my other flash fiction characters from the same setting: Sparrow and Faline.

I really hope you’ll consider picking up a copy of the book when it drops. And if you do give it a read, please give me an honest review on Amazon!

This is just the beginning. I’ve got several more projects coming up soon. Keep an eye on this blog for further news. Things are starting to get busy!

~JM

Two New Stories Live

Nov
11

While I’ve been away working, I received notice from two publishers that my stories are not live on their respective sites.

The first is an original Storm Hamilton story I wrote shortly after finishing The Maltese Falcon. I’m sure the influence shows. It was published as part of Akashic Book’s new flash fiction series, Fri-SciFi. The story can be found HERE.

The second story is a reprint of an old Iric story on Eternal Remedy. Like the previous story I had published with them, they paired the story up with some odd pictures that represent their style, a style that I happen to like. I also like the clean layout of their website. Anyways, the story can be found HERE.

In addition to this good news, I’ve been working on the Iric collection. I have the ebook cover done and am just waiting for some final editorial comments before I put it up on Kindle.

I have to admit I am a bit excited to finally have a book for sale! Oh, and my next story with <a href=”http://www.centropicoracle.com/index.php” target=”blank”>The Centropic Oracle</a> is set to drop on the 15th of December. So much news coming in these days. Seems like things work out better when I am not paying attention, a watched pot as they say…

I’d like to say that I can now enjoy my weekend but, alas, I will be working through. Hope you guys have a fun break!

~J.M.

Final Bards and Sages Tome Out Now!

Nov
02

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My story “The Sorcerer” is now available for purchase as part of Bards and Sages last tome anthology, “The Great Tome of Magicians, Necromancers, and Mystics.”

You can buy the anthology here: PRINTKINDLE

~J.M.

New Story on Flash Fiction Magazine

Oct
31

I’ll keep this short, since I have things to do–like being horribly sick with a demonic head cold.

A new, unreleased story of mine entitled “Innocence Lost, Innocence Found,” just dropped on Flash Fiction Magazine. Just in time for Halloween!

I’ll let the story speak for itself. You can find it HERE.

~J.M.

Trouble in Paradise – What Pegman Saw

Oct
16
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Mauritius ©Google Maps

Both cars were out of fuel. Not that it mattered; Kori couldn’t drive a car across the ocean. This island paradise she had chosen for her first vacation after losing Derrik had become a prison. No, something worse than that–a slaughterhouse.

Hearing a shuffling sound down the road, Kori rolled herself over the road barrier. She heard it coming, step by mindless step, its broken leg dragging along the ground, its half-missing jaw moving up and down as if it was dreaming of a meal. But Kori was sure these things didn’t dream. And there were no meals left, except for people.

She drew her knife, leaning tight against the metal barrier, letting it approach. Then dispatched it with several hard blows to the back of the neck. It fell on its back and Kori took a close look of its face–she now recognized the formerly handsome hotel bellboy.

*Written as a response to the What Pegman Saw October 14th photo prompt. For some reason this picture had me thinking of the video game Dead Island. If you haven’t seen the trailer, you should. It’s one of the most emotionally intense bits of zombie film I can recall seeing, despite being a CGI movie that is now visually outdated. The video was widely praised when released. Unfortunately, the game didn’t live up to these grand expectations.

A Little House – What Pegman Saw

Oct
07
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Littleton, West Virginia © Google Maps

It was a little house, on a little street, in little corner of West Virginia. Regarding shape, it was about as perfect a rectangle as something could be; it gave off the air of rectangle, and little else. There was a group of little kids who rode by every morning on their little bikes, on their way to the little school a few blocks down the rode.

Everything about the house was little. Everything, of course, except for its gigantic inhabitant. He was Kwerg, first son of Galactic Emperor Tal, Conquerer of Endless Space, Destroyer of Suns, The White Plague, and Enemy of Vacuums.

Kwerg hoped his father would not find him here, hidden amongst the lowly little creatures of Earth. His father simply couldn’t accept that Kwerg did not want to be a destroyer. He wanted to paint landscapes, like his hero Bob Ross.

*Written as a response to the What Pegman Saw October 7th prompt.

A Dog Named Trouble – What Pegman Saw

Oct
04
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Casablanca, Morocco © Google Maps

Lâche-moi!” the woman shouted, before any further cries were muffled by a gloved hand.

She struggled to free herself from her captor, who was double her size but–as betrayed by his disheveled and broken clothes–only half as civilized.

Samuel Thacker remained in the shadows, under an old, stone arch on one side of the narrow alley. He had come to the Mediterranean to find his progenitors, to find answers. But trouble seemed to follow him wherever he went like a sickly dog.

The man had his arm around the woman’s throat, dragging her away from the main road, towards where Samuel hid.

The vampire grabbed the thug by his heavy collar, lifting him off his feet, breaking his grip on the woman. Samuel slammed the man into the stone wall, and once the témoin féminin had fled from view, he took a bite.

*Written as a response to the What Pegman Saw prompt for September 30. This story features the same lead character as my flash story that will be released by Flash Fiction Magazine on Halloween. A prefect day for a vampire story, eh?

~J.M.

I hope you enjoyed the story. If you like what you’re reading here, why not join the Rabble, my little mailing group? I will be sending out the first exclusive bits in the next couple days, including the first reveal of the cover for my upcoming epic fantasy serial, Call of the Guardian!

The Best Scene of Discworld 37

Sep
23

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Are you sick of Discworld posts? Is that even possible? Well, try and stop me. Actually, you’ll probably be successful at that, since I am planning to wrap it up with this post.

Maybe you haven’t read any of Terry Pratchett’s work yet. If that is the case, you should really stop what you’re doing an binge-read the fourty-odd books right now. Stop everything, don’t go to work, don’t eat–you’ll be fine, trust me.

If you haven’t read a Discworld novel, Unseen Academicals is probably not the place to start. It’s part of a mini-series of books with recurring characters–the wizards–which you should probably have some sense of before jumping in. It’s also not as good as many of the other books. While I loved this book, as I have loved all the others, I think I’d rank it pretty low on the list.

I still think Small Gods is the best place to start learning about the wonderfulness that is the Discworld. It’s a stand-alone novel that does not connect directly to any of the others. Thus, you need no knowledge of the series going in, and there is no compulsion to continue if you did not enjoy it because you are clearly a gang of squirrels in a trench coat. (Thought I didn’t know?)

My favorite book is still Monstrous Regiment, which also is a decent stand-alone book, and would not be a bad place to start, especially those who like works with a slight feminist slant.

When I was younger, I was a crazed fan of Star Wars, in all its incarnations. I dove deep into the Expanded Universe novels and played all the games. And while I still love Star Wars, the Discworld has overshadowed the Galactic Republic as my favorite place to spend my time.

There is one very good reason for that–Terry Pratchett creates characters that are deeper, more memorable, and more meaningful than any I have encountered elsewhere. His writing is not the best–a bit too many adverbs and fancy dialogue tags–but his stories, and his characters are peerless.

In this book, the characters Nutt and Glenda are the best, in my opinion. One of the things that makes Pratchett so great is his ability to take any sort of genre–from prose fiction, but also film, TV, stage–and craft a great new version of it that walks a fine line between honest interpretation and parody. In the case of Unseen Academicals, the obvious genre being parodied is the sports film, which Pratchett does in an almost cinematic way. But there is also a sub-genre of romance that colors the plot, particularly between Nutt and Glenda.

To highlight this sub-plot, and to offer an bit of insight as to why Pratchett is so popular, to those who haven’t experienced his storytelling yet, I’d like to share my favorite little scene from the book. As is typical with his best, this scene offers philosophical insight into the way people think and live. The people of the Discworld are not so different from us. And in the end, it’s just a lovely, emotional exchange between two people who care for each other but can’t get around that social awkwardness that is all too real.

~J.M.


from Unseen Academicals, by Terry Pratchett

‘Why were you running away?’

‘Because I know what will happen,’ said Nutt. ‘I am an orc. It’s as simple as that.’

‘But the people on the bus were on your side,’ said Glenda.

Nutt flexed his hands and the claws slid out, just for a moment. ‘And tomorrow?’ he said. ‘And if something goes wrong? Everybody knows orcs will tear your arms off. Everybody knows orcs will tear your head off. Everybody knows these things. That is not good.’

‘Well, then, why are you coming back?’ Glenda demanded.

‘Because you are kind and came after me. How could I refuse? But it does not change the things that everybody knows.’

‘But every time you make a candle and every time you shoe a horse, you change the things that everybody knows,’ said Glenda. ‘You know that orcs were—’ She hesitated. ‘Sort of made?’

‘Oh, yes, it was in the book.’

She nearly exploded. ‘Well, then, why didn’t you tell me?!’

‘Is it important? We are what we are now.’

‘But you don’t have to be!’ Glenda yelled. ‘Everybody knows trolls eat people and spit them out. Everybody knows dwarfs cut your legs off. But at the same time everybody knows that what everybody knows is wrong. And orcs didn’t decide to be like they are. People will understand that.’

‘It will be a dreadful burden.’

‘I’ll help!’ Glenda was shocked at the speed of her response and then mumbled, ‘I’ll help.’

The coals in the forge crackled as they settled down. Fires in a busy forge seldom die out completely.

After a while, Glenda said, ‘You wrote that poem for Trev, didn’t you?’

‘Yes, Miss Glenda. I hope she liked it.’

Glenda thought she’d better raise this carefully. ‘I think I ought to tell you that she didn’t understand a lot of the words exactly. I sort of had to translate it for her.’ It hadn’t been too difficult, she reckoned. Most love poems were pretty much the same under the curly writing.

‘Did you like it?’ said Nutt.

‘It was a wonderful poem,’ said Glenda.

‘I wrote it for you,’ said Nutt. He was looking at her with an expression that stirred together fear and defiance in equal measure.

The cooling embers brightened up at this. After all, a forge has a soul. As if they had been waiting there, the responses lined themselves up in front of Glenda’s tongue. Whatever you do next is going to be very important, she told herself. Really, extremely, very important. Don’t start wondering about what Mary the bloody housemaid would do in one of those cheap novels you read, because Mary was made up by someone with a name suspiciously like an anagram for people like you. She is not real and you are.

‘We had better get on the coach,’ said Nutt, picking up his box.

Glenda gave up on the thinking and burst into tears. It has to be said that they were not the gentle tears they would have been from Mary the housemaid, but the really big long-drawn-out blobby ones you get from someone who very rarely cries. They were gummy, with a hint of snot in there as well. But they were real. Mary the housemaid would just not have been able to match them.

So, of course, it will be just like Trev Likely to turn up out of the shadows and say, ‘They’re calling the coach now—Are you two all right?’

Nutt looked at Glenda. Tears aren’t readily retractable, but she managed to balance a smile on them. ‘I believe this to be the case,’ said Nutt.