JM Williams

A home for all things fantasy and sci-fi.

Some Quotes from Discworld 38–Pratchett Talks Power

Feb
14
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38th Discworld Novel

I am currently enjoying Terry Pratchett’s 38th novel set on the Discworld, I Shall Wear Midnight. This is the fourth Tiffany Aching witch novel and, so far, is doing a decent job of further developing that character.

I don’t really like this book as much as some of the other Discworld novels. Of course, dislike is a relative thing–not liking a Discworld book is very different from not liking, say, a Stephen King book. This novel has a very straightforward, linear plot. I find Pratchett is at his best when the plots are complex, the story is scattered and even a bit confusing at the start. The best books start out with you wondering for a bit what exactly is going on, but at the end all the threads come together. The Watch novels are probably the best example. The easiness of this book is certainly due to its younger target audience.

Even so, the book does have some interesting things to say. Pratchett always uses his books to examine and satirize the real world. This is one of the things that makes his work so enduring. In that case of I Shall Wear Midnight, Pratchett digs at power relationships, hierarchy, and the concept of duty.

Regarding power relationships and protocol, there’s this humorous passage about arranging the meal table at the castle for a significant event:

And then there would always be the problem of seating. Most of the guests would be aristocrats, and it was vitally important that no one had to sit next to somebody who was related to someone who had killed one of their ancestors at some time in the past. Given that the past is a very big place, and taking into account the fact that everybody’s ancestors were generally trying to kill everybody else’s ancestors, for land, money or something to do, it needed very careful trigonometry to avoid another massacre taking place before people had finished their soup.

I just love how he points out the absurdity of holding on to past legacies and past grievances. Go back far enough and you can find justification for anything.

Here’s another funny passage:

There is a lot of folklore about equestrian statues, especially the ones with riders on. There is said to be a code in the number and placement of the horse’s hooves: if one of the horse’s hooves is in the air, the rider was wounded in battle; two legs in the air means that the rider was killed in battle; three legs in the air indicates that the rider got lost on the way to the battle; and four legs in the air means that the sculptor was very, very clever. Five legs in the air means that there’s probably at least one other horse standing behind the horse you’re looking at; and the rider lying on the ground with his horse lying on top of him with all four legs in the air means that the rider was either a very incompetent horseman or owned a very bad-tempered horse.

It is important to not here that Pratchett attributes this idea to “folklore” or what “is said to be a code” rather than delivering it as a certain fact, as he often does with funny details of life in the Discworld. It is clearly a conscious choice.  I think what he is getting at here is the ability of people to read meaning into things separate from any real truth or established fact. When you think of it logically, how could every artist in the world that ever sculpted a horse be in on this secret code? They couldn’t. But people believing in some hidden conspiracy in horse statues is quite possible.

And here’s one last bit that gets deeper on personal relationships and the ideas of duty and loyalty:

When Mr Aching had worked for the old Baron, they had, as men of the world, reached a sensible arrangement, which was that Mr Aching would do whatever the Baron asked him to do. Provided the Baron asked Mr Aching to do what Mr Aching wanted to do and needed to be done.

That was what loyalty meant, her father [Mr Aching, Tiffany’s father] had told her one day. It meant that good men of all sorts worked well when they understood about rights and duties and the dignity of everyday people. And people treasured that dignity all the more because that was, give or take some bed linen, pots and pans and a few tools and cutlery, more or less all they had. The arrangement didn’t need to be talked about, because every sensible person knew how it worked: while you’re a good master, I will be a good worker.

I will be loyal to you, while you are loyal to me, and while the circle is unbroken, this is how things will continue to be. And Roland was breaking the circle, or at least allowing the Duchess to do it for him. His family had ruled the Chalk for a few hundred years, and had pieces of paper to prove it. There was nothing to prove when the first Aching had set foot on the Chalk; no one had invented paper then.

Rulers try to claim ancient roots to defend their right to rule, but most are just momentary regimes in the larger scheme of things. It is the people who have true roots in the land, who have community and history, continuity.

Here is also an important lesson on leadership, relevant even in the modern age–“while you’re a good master, I will be a good worker.” A respected leader is one who offers respect in return. And a respected leader will always be more productive. Regardless of the rigidity of a hierarchy, there will always be a little back-and-forth between leaders and the led. Those on the bottom have as sense of what should happen, and if it doesn’t, there will be discord. Good leadership and proper rule is that which synchronizes the two ends of the rope, binding them into the “circle” as Pratchett describes it. Bad leaders break the circle and damage the relationship.

Well, that’s it for now. I still have about a quarter of the book to finish and will offer my final thoughts at that time. If you haven’t read a Discworld novel before, I strongly urge you to give one a try. The best place to start, in my mind, would be with Small Gods or Monstrous Regiment, which are two of my favorites and are both stand-alone stories. As many of the Discworld books are part of different series and use recurring characters, it would be best to start with a stand-alone.

Thanks for reading!

~JM

Gremlin Noir

Jan
22
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Gremlins, 1984, Warner Bros

All the whiskey in the world can’t drown the sick rat running through my guts. The sweet haze of cigarette smoke fails to obscure the shameful mayhem around me.

A famous frog once said, “It ain’t easy bein’ green.” Oh, he didn’t begin to know the truth of it.

Am I the only one in this bar–besides, of course, the girl serving drinks, trying to keep her skin intact for a few more seconds–that has any sense of propriety?

Besides the drunks laughing at the bar, there’s the idiot with his finger in the model train’s electrical circuit, like a dumb child evolution is trying hard to forget. There’s another fool playing croquet on the pool table, shattering beer bottles and only adding to the mess.

And then there’s Stripe. Just shot a guy at the poker table. Our fearless leader is as unstable as the rest.

I need to get out of here, before these imbeciles take me down with them.

As I am rising from the table, another simpleton accosts me, his hands covered with puppets. I knock him hard to the ground. If he has any sense, he’ll stay there.

Gotta get out.

Behind the bar, there’s a guy in a trench coat flashing the bartender. But he don’t got anything where it matters. I knock him out with a bottle and take the coat. My body might not need covering, but my shame does.

The air is bitter, snow coming down like confetti, marking some great moment that has yet to be realized. Maybe it’s coming soon. The air is thick with potential for disaster. I pull the coat tight around my skinny body and walk away.

My toes crunch into the snow and I wonder why it doesn’t cause a reaction on my skin. Water makes us multiply, but not snow? I need to stay dry. The world doesn’t need any more of those cretins. Maybe my offspring will have more sense? Can’t take the chance.

There’s a pair of boots in the snow nearby. Pink girl’s boots. I slip them on and head down the road, trying not to think what could have happened to their owner.

The mayhem around me subsides as the other gremlins head off in one direction, downtown. Maybe Stripe has something planned. I won’t be part of it. Gotta get out of here.

Within the hour, the center of town booms. Explosive fire, devilish smoke rises up into the night air. I can only hope they were all there when it happened.

I pull my hat down to conceal my face, as sirens and bright lights pass by me. On the edge of town, there’s a flat-bed truck waiting, its engine rumbling. A man tosses a few bags into the back and ushers his family into the cab. Don’t know where they’re going, but anything will be better than this place.

They are leaving. So am I.

THE END

Author’s note: I don’t typically write fanfic, but I just watched Gremlins last night and felt really bad for this guy. He’s just trying to enjoy a quiet smoke and a drink, and everything is going to hell around him. I just had to give him an escape.

If you haven’t seen the film, or don’t remember the bar scene, you can watch it on YouTube.

Anyway, thanks for reading!

~JM

I will soon be sending out my next newsletter, in honor of the new year. It will include an exclusive video of myself, talking Iric and future projects, as well as the usual publication highlight and writing tips. If you’d like to see all that, and be part of the “cool” crowd, you can sign up to join the RABBLE on the right side of the page!

Throwback – “Clumsy Luck”

Jan
20

“Clumsy Luck” was one of the first stories I ever posted on my blog. Back then, I had yet to figure out what my blog was supposed to be, or what blogging was supposed to be. I had imagined it would be a space to market and develop the book I was working on at the time, my first. But the blog, and my writing adventures, quickly expanded beyond that.

This story was accepted for publication on The Story Shack, but I recently received notice that the site will be shutting down for some time, if not permanently. Along with the bad news, the editor said if he resumes work on the flash fiction site, he will publish those works already accepted. I have no urge to submit this story anywhere else, so if it gets published some day on The Story Shack, then that’s where it will end up.

I also wrote this story before I really understood flash fiction. That was something new to me when I started the blog, but proved to be a good fit for blogging. The combination of wanting to develop my book and to develop my flash skills, led to The Adventures of Iric, a 20-episode flash series. What’s striking about the story below is how well it works as flash fiction, despite having been written by a flash amateur.

I hope you enjoy it.

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CLUMSY LUCK

by JM Williams

CLANG!

Bjorn shuddered as the pan bounced off the floor. He rushed down to pick it up, forgetting about the long broom in his other hand, which pushed an opened carton of milk off the counter.

Bjorn stood in the white puddle, pouting. He berated himself for always making things more difficult. Now he had to wipe the floor, wash the pan, clean up the counter…cleaning the kitchen was taking him all day. He just wanted the house to be clean and neat by the time his mother came home from work. He wanted to give her a special birthday.

Bjorn hadn’t been able to buy her a present, having wasted his allowance on toys and candy. He had tried to make something, several somethings, but they all came out wrong. He had already ripped up a half dozen ugly pictures, and smashed a disfigured sculpture. The last thing he could do for her was to clean the house. But he knew she was the kind of person that would take such an act to heart.

After cleaning the kitchen, Bjorn’s next task was to water the garden and clean the bird feeders. He found the watering can in the backyard, along the back of the house and under the wide, wooden deck. The plastic can was large and orange, with a sunflower design on its tip. After filling it, Bjorn had to heft it with two hands, carrying it to the edge of the garden.

As he stumbled through the yard, he felt the ground squishing oddly under his feet. The water in the can swished, the weight of it throwing Bjorn’s small body from side to side. Suddenly, something caught his toes and Bjorn tumbled forward. He fell right on top of the plastic waterer. It shattered under his weight, splashing him with the  cold liquid. Bjorn’s head hit the ground and buried itself in a deep hole. Bjorn didn’t bother to get up; he just laid there and cried.

“What’s your problem?” came a gruff voice from deep down in the hole.

“Huh?” Bjorn mumbled.

“I said, what’s wrong with you kid?” Bjorn could start to make out a small figure silhouetted in the middle of a long tunnel.

“Everything is so wrong today. Everything is bad,” Bjorn cried.

“You look fine to me,” the little man said.

“But I broke my mother’s watering can and I spilled her milk and I dented her pan…and, and it’s her birthday! I just wanted to do something special for her.”

“Ah…I see,” the little man said.

“Who are you?” Bjorn asked.

“I’m Gim. I’m a garden gnome,” the little man said.

“A gnome? What’s that?” Bjorn asked.

“Kind of like a fairy, but one that lives in the ground. We help the plants grow. ” Gim smiled at the boy, then raised a finger excitedly. “Wait a moment, I have an idea.”

The little man disappeared down the tunnel. After several long minutes, he reemerged with something shiny in his hands. Bjorn pulled his head out of the hole, letting the light hit the tunnel in full. He saw what Gim carried. It was a brilliant, golden ring with a bright red gemstone cradled in its center.

“Wow,” Bjorn said, staring in wonder.

“Here, take this for your mother,” Gim said. “Birthdays are special things. She is lucky to have a son like you.”

Gim offered the ring to Bjorn with two hands. The boy giddily accepted the gift.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Bjorn said.

“Just don’t tell anyone you saw me, okay?” Gim said. “It will be our secret.”

“Our secret,” Bjorn repeated.

Bjorn said goodbye to his new friend and carefully filled in the hole. He picked up the pieces of the broken water can and put them back in their place. He would apologize for that later. For now he jumped around, thinking how lucky it had been for him to be so clumsy.

THE END

Thanks for reading.

~JM

I will soon be sending out my next newsletter, in honor of the new year. It will include an exclusive video of myself, talking Iric and future projects, as well as the usual publication highlight and writing tips. If you’d like to see all that, and be part of the “cool” crowd, you can sign up to join the RABBLE on the right side of the page!

My Experience with Book Covers and Artists

Jan
05

I recently had my third cover made. It was a couple months ago and was for my self-published flash collection The Adventures of Iric (which is available for purchase). That was my third time working with cover artist, as I do no feel capable of making marketable covers myself, each time being a totally different experience. The three experiences differed in many ways, from the amount of control I had as the author, to the level of contact I had with the artist themselves.

I feel I have learned a lot about getting covers made through these three experiences and wanted to share that information with all of you.

Let me begin with a short summary of the cover services you can find out there. There are generally two types of covers: stock art covers, and original art covers. Stock art refers to the pictures that are sold for use on sites like ShutterStock.com. Original art means an artist is (digitally) painting something totally new for you. Original art covers will likely set you back at least $500 as you are not only paying for design, you are paying for image creation. Artists generally get paid by time, so drawing something entirely new, then designing a cover, will take much more time than just arranging stock art. Also, you are paying for sole rights to new content, whereas stock art is available for purchase and use by many people.

Since my three experiences were all with stock art covers, I will limit my discussion to that side of the business.

On the stock art side of the cover market, there are more divergences. One such difference is the quality of the stock art used. Some artists only use free stock art sites like Pixabay. There will generally be a marked difference in quality between covers that use free stock art, and those that pay for stock images. This is because the best stock images are on paid sites like ShutterStock, and those sites also have a significantly larger library of images.

Another difference is whether the cover is premade or custom designed. Premade covers are ones that artists have already created. They simply put your name and book title on it. I am generally against premade covers since it is hard to find one that is a proper fit for the book. But it’s not impossible, and some artists do them very well.

These factors are going to affect the cost of your cover. A stock art cover can cost anywhere from $10-$500 depending on the artist, the stock art type, and the level of customization. You’re going to pay more for an artist that pays for stock art. You are going to pay more for a custom design, as it takes more time to complete. Typically, a good, original concept, paid stock art cover is going to cost you $100-200. But as I learned, you can find ways to save a bit if you’re willing to do some extra work.

Now let me talk about my three experiences with making covers.

The first was the cover for Call of the Guardian:

Call-Of-The-Guardian-Square

This cover was paid for by the publisher, Fiction Vortex. I did not have much input in the process, other than suggesting I wanted a protagonist stand-in and a dragon on it, and a lot of fire. Boom! This is what I got. It felt a bit like playing the lottery, but I was not too disappointed. I was told by the Boss Man that if I wanted to get this artist to do something for a personal project of mine, it would likely be around $200.

The next cover was for The Nightingale (releasing in April!):

Nightingale - Front

This cover was also paid for by the publisher, Fantasia Divinty. Unlike with my first experience, this time I had more input on the design. However, I did not have direct contact with the artist; the publisher stepped in as a intermediary. There was a lot of back and forth through those channels. I suggested an initial concept, the artist sent something back, I suggested changes, and so forth.

At first it was a bit of a struggle, as I did not care for what the artist was suggesting. In particular, I didn’t care for the character models the artist was choosing. So I started digging around on stock photo sites offering suggestions. This was perhaps the biggest lesson I learned about making covers, which I will discuss in detail below.

To my surprise, though, my suggestions were rejected. It took some time for it to become clear that the artist was only using free stock art, and I was suggesting pictures from paid sites. Moreover, I eventually learned that the artist used only one specific site for their stock photos. But once this bit of information came to light, the process became much easier. I searched the site in question, and though I did not like the choices there as much as on the paid sites, I did find a few that might work. This took me several hours of digging, but I viewed this time as an investment towards having a good cover. Finally, we settled on the character model shown above.

I do not know how much the publisher paid for this cover.

These two experiences suggested to me that the most important thing for an author to do, when getting a cover made, is to be directly involved. Be involved as much as possible. I carried this insight with me when I began working with an artist for The Adventures of Iric.

I found the artist, E. Rachael Hardcastle on a Facebook group. She responded to my query about cover letters by sending me a sample and a quote. I was satisfied with what I saw, so we started working.

It took about a week to finish the cover. Much of this was due to our geographic separation and online correspondence. I gave her an idea of what I might be looking for, and she responded by tempering some of my expectations. But I knew right from the start how I wanted to work it. I asked her upfront what stock photo site she used. Then I started looking for things to use on the cover.

I sent her suggestions of art and design ideas, she either shot them down as not good or even doable, or worked the idea and sent back a concept. At first, I felt like things weren’t progressing, but she kept trying. She suggested photos to me, and I looked for more.

After a lot of back and forth, I stumbled on a paid site that gave out five free images by signing up. I don’t recall what site it was. I entered my credit card info, selected my five free images, then canceled the account. What I found delighted me. This was the image that I discovered:

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My first reaction was, “This looks just like Iric!” Having been somewhat disappointed with how the characters in the two previous covers reflected those in the books (and being told that this doesn’t really matter, as the cover is more of a concept than a honest view), I was delighted to have an image that reflected what I saw in the character. It was also proper for fantasy.

I sent the image to Rachael and she also had a strong reaction. She did her bit of tweaking and artsy magic, and delivered me this:

Justin Cover small

In addition to adding the text, obviously, she also added a blue tint, shadows on the character’s face, darkened the hair, and many other things I would have never thought to do. It was mostly luck that the one image filled the page; usually the cover will be a composite of several images, as with the others shown above. But the end result was still a bit of a shock.

In the end, she spent hours on the project with me. She was ready to deliver a custom cover, on her own, had I not been so involved. She sent me at least four concepts before we settled on the one above. For that service I paid around $30.

Now I am guessing the lowness of that price is partially due to the effort I put in to help design the cover. When I asked her whether she appreciated my help, she told me “I think having the authors input helped. It’s their cover and they’ll all have a vision of what they want. Finding ideal images and keeping in touch with their own ideas makes my job easier and means I can design something suitable.”

That seems to me to be the hidden truth of cover creation. I could have simply rejected the concepts and asked her to do more, without any further input. But the easier you can make the artist’s job, the more willing they are going to be to go the extra mile. Also, they might charge you less if they have to work less, just like how premade covers are cheaper than custom ones.

So the advice I have for you, as I have learned over this past year, is to be involved with your cover design. Find the stock art that fits what you want and then let the artist turn it into something that will sell.

I certainly think I will be using E. Rachael Hardcastle’s services again if I self-publish another collection. But that is something to think about later. I have too many projects, and real work, to do right now.

I hope this helps you when you are deciding about covers and artists.

~JM

REBLOG: The Adventures of Iric Review

Dec
30

Thank you, Victorique, for the great review. I am surprised I got off so well. For those who don’t know, she is usually very hard on books! A 4 of 5 is a great score from her.

I really like this anthology. It doesn’t need you to constantly change characters, but each chapter is indeed a story. Resembles a serial in its own way but very much is still made up of pieces that all together work. Each one telling a little more about Iric as he begins to experience life. From […]

via Adventures Of Iric — Dreamingmtthoughts

An Ambitious Work

Dec
22

I hope that my comments yesterday on Stephen King’s IT did not come off as hyper-critical. I know I tend to rant when the passion gets in me.

I could have easily continued rambling on about what is wrong with the book (one thing that really bugs me is the over-reliance on pop culture references, which I find to be a very lazy sort of writing…but I’ll have to save that for a future post).

In all honesty, I am enjoying the book. It is a story I have always enjoyed, since I first saw the TV miniseries in 1990. I enjoy this book much in the same way I have enjoyed the last two Star Wars films–having fun on the ride, but acknowledging the many bumps along the way.

Many critics, including VOX, have described the book as “one of King’s most ambitious works.” Is it?

 

It is all too common to associate ambition with length. The phrase “ambitious work” is often directly tied to, or at least associated with, the work’s length. This is the case with the VOX article, where the length of the book is given in the same sentence where it is described as ambitious.

But is length all that matters when considering a work ambitious?

My answer is no. In fact, I would argue the most ambitious novel you could write today would be 40,000 words. That’s the standard length given for the cutoff between novel and novella. I mean exactly 40,000 words, not one word more or less. To put things in perspective, IT is 444,414 words, more than ten times the length I am suggesting. And the book needs to be a complete, deep, and fulfilling novel in its own right.

Anyone can tick off all the boxes on the novel-writing checklist with enough pages. The test of a really good writer is doing more with less, efficiency and brevity. All the more difficult it is to hit an exact word count without either filler or holes.

But as I mentioned in the last post, we have a tendency to equate length with quality. Longer works are “ambitious” while shorter works are generic. It really bothers me how many speculative fiction publishers have minimum word count requirements of 75,000 words or more when the cutoff for a novel is 40. They often state outright “we will not even look at anything below this.” Why not? You cannot know what you will find unless you look.

The first fantasy book I wrote, In the Valley of Magic, clocked in at 66,000 words. This was after several revisions that added to the length. But the work itself, structurally, is really unlike anything else out right now that I have seen or heard of. That’s why I started with that project, thinking that a unique and novel approach to the fantasy novel (pun intended) would be an easy sell. It’s disheartening to see that it has been rejected several times without consideration just because it didn’t meet some arbitrary length requirement.

On a side note, Fiction Vortex, who is publishing my fantasy series Call of the Guardian, will be picking In the Valley of Magic up later in 2018, after they get their app (Fictionite) and core stories rolling. Good thing about this is that their contracts are dope. Bad part is the waiting, after already waiting an eternity (okay, only since March, but it feels like forever).

All this is because science fiction and fantasy readers have been led to believe that length is quality. Well, sorry it be the bearer of bad news, but length is more often indicative of weak, lazy, bloated writing. You get length when you refuse to cut what needs to be cut, when you do not take care with every word choice. And of course, there is that sentiment that with a longer work you are getting more product for your money. But in the arts, that is not necessarily the case.

This is why I enjoy writing flash and microfiction. These forms force you to consider the efficiency of your words. They train you to be a better writer.

IT is too long for it’s own good, having many sections and even full chapters that should have been cut in the editing process. I don’t find that ambitious at all.

All that being said, I still enjoy the story and find Pennywise to be a disturbing and compelling manifestation of evil. Speaking of which, I’d better get back to it. I’m almost to the “apocalyptic rock fight.”

Here’s an important question, since if you are following this blog you probably read some sci-fi and fantasy: Would you be turned off of a fantasy book if it was “too short”? Would you open it to look at the writing, or just pass on sight alone?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments

~J.M.

2 Days Left to Win!

Dec
15
Justin Cover small

Cover by the awesome E. Rachel Hardcastle

Just a friendly reminder that there are only two days left to enter the giveaway for a copy of “The Adventures of Iric.”

Unfortunately, the contest is only open to US residents. So, for all my international friends and followers out there, I’m going to do something extra. Comment to this post on what country you are in and why you deserve a free copy of my book. I will choose one person and send you a copy.

Do you love Iric? Are you an active follower? Why do you deserve a free copy of my book? Let me know in the comments!

For US residents, you can find the official giveaway HERE.

~J.M.

Win a Free Copy of “The Adventures of Iric”!

Dec
03
Justin Cover small
Friends,
I am giving away 5 free copies of my ebook “The Adventures of Iric”! It’s a collection of short-short stories following the same character through his fantasy adventures in a magical city. The giveaway will run until December 17th.
Unfortunately it is only open to US residents.
If you do win a copy of the book, I would ask you to write a short review on Amazon. Every comment is a boon for new authors!
You can find the giveaway page HERE.

Dakkar of the Outworld — My Writing Roots Vol. 2

Dec
01

As my previous post mentioned, I started writing heavily in the 6th grade. I wrote horror stories in my school journal, I played with the word processor on my home computer, I even assembled mini-books. Today I will be sharing one of those.

I must preface this by admitting to some of the blatant copyright violations in this story. I was just a kid; I had yet to learn the word “plagiarism.” I stole names in particular from everything around me. I was big into video games and Magic: the Gathering. The term “Outworld” in the title, comes straight from Mortal Kombat (On a unrelated note, a lot of people do not appreciate just how much lore was crafted for those old SNES games; the game manuals were dozes of pages long and usually this was half story. The first Mortal Kombat film is still one of the best video game adaptations in part because it followed the lore of the original game, and did it unabashedly.) The name of the main villain in my story series, Lim-Dul, was stolen from M:tG. In fact, Legions of Lim-Dul is even a card itself. I almost certainly stole the word “legions” from that very card. In addition to names, magic cards were a source of much of my complex vocabulary. Sometimes I didn’t use them right, but I tried.

So with that caveat (read: Don’t sue me Wizards of the Coast!), I would like to present the first full-length story I wrote in my youth, “Dakkar of the Outworld.” This story was nine pages hand-written! What 12-year-old writes that many pages of fiction? If I have to guess, it’s around 2000 words. That’s a full-size short story these days.

I apologize for the horrible handwriting. I did not want to type it out for a couple reasons. I wanted to show the original form, and I thought my textual OCD would prohibit me from typing it out with all the errors intact.

Without further ado, let me present “Dakkar of the Outworld.”

Dakkar CDakkar p1Dakkar p2Dakkar p3Dakkar p4Dakkar p5Dakkar p6Dakkar p7Dakkar p8Dakkar p9

Isn’t that something? Sure, it reads like a elementary school student wrote it, but that’s because one did! What’s amazing, reading it after all these years, is that there is a complete coherent plot inside this messy story. There are many standard fantasy conventions like the wandering warrior/mentor and the animal ally. I clearly had some idea what I was doing, even back then.

My fantasy roots can be seen in this story, though I leaned a lot more heavily towards horror (and gore in general, the appeal of which I no longer understand) back then. I imagine my youth was similar to Stephen King’s, but whereas he stuck with horror, and maybe even got darker over the years, I shifted to more uplifting and heroic styles of fantasy. As you also can see, I really liked similes when I was younger. Really, really liked similes.  I also had not come close to mastering the concept of paragraphing.

I hope you enjoyed this crazy kid’s story. I will be sharing the sequel “Lim-Dul’s Revenge” soon, as well as a few other things I wrote when I was that age. It’s been very interesting seeing all this stuff after such a long time.

~J.M.

My First Book is Finally For Sale!

Nov
20

I just got the news from Amazon that my book is now for sale. It’s been a long road getting to this point. I hadn’t intended my first book to be a self-published one. Perhaps a bit of that was concern about the complexity of the publishing process, perhaps it was due to certain views I held–and still hold–about self-publishing. But I feel like I’ve put the effort into this book to make it stand out, whether that be the nice cover, or the hours I spent tweaking and formatting.

I definitely feel like this experience has changed me. I’ve even updated my Facebook Page to look like a more established author’s page! I feel like an author now, for sure. I am not so intimidated by the publishing process. So little anxiety do I have that I might have shot down the first positive reaction to my first manuscript, In the Valley of Magic, the book that started this whole thing, the book that 50-plus agents have passed on so far. I didn’t feel good about the contract and asked for some pretty significant changes. My demands are so severe, I am almost certain the publisher is going to deny them.

But that doesn’t scare me anymore. I know now, that if I need to, I can publish the book myself. I know how it’s done. I know where to get a good cover, and what it should look like. I know how to format the manuscript for ebooks and print. I know that, this being my primary book (and my pride and joy) that I will need pay the extra money to get on IngramSpark rather than just going through Amazon, like I did with the Iric book.

If I have to go it alone, I know I can, and that is an incredibly empowering feeling.

But I am not alone. I have worked with many great indie publishers–such as Fiction Vortex, Fantasia Divinity, Bards and Sages, Roane Publishing–that have shown real concern for my success. I am sure they would be more than willing to offer me advice.

All in all, I’m feeling pretty good. Got my first book out and two more on the way. This thing is starting to happen!

Thanks for joining me on this journey. I wish you all the same success that I have found. And if you ever have any questions or are in need of advice, don’t hesitate to look me up!

~J.M.