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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Short Story - Thor's Day

Thor's Day

Eric frowned as the first of the dark black clouds rolled down from the ridge north of the village. They had seen far too many storms in the last turn of the moon and the river that ran past the huddle of buildings to the fjord beyond was nearly at the top of the dirt dyke that separated it from the farmers' fields. Not for the first time Eric wished that he'd been allowed to go on the latest raid.

Instead, he’d been left with the children and old men to tend the fields.

The clouds to the north looked like they were moving quickly and would be upon the village by sundown.

Eric rested his metal rake on his shoulder and started down the hillside to the village. Two dozen small houses, a blacksmithy and a longhall where the townsfolk held their meetings. All surrounded by a low stone wall. Eric was told that it was a small village, as things went. Maybe one day he’d be able to go on a raid and see the villages of the people in the south.

He reached the low stone wall just as the first heavy drops of rain started to drop. It was then he noticed that something was missing. There was no flashing lightning. No rolling thunder. There was thunder, even in the smallest storms that rolled down from the northern mountains.

“There’s no thunder!” He yelled across the small yard to Sven the Gray. The old man was one of the only men in the village that had never been a raider. He’d raised sheep and farmed the lands for his whole life.

“Some storms don’t have thunder. It’s nothing to -” The old man’s words stopped suddenly as a black spear sprouted from his chest. Behind him, a figure clad in an oversized black robe sat astride a midnight black horse. Eyes of silver glowed from beneath the cloak’s hood.

Eric was speechless. He had heard whispered tales from the old women of the village. They told of the black men who rode the thunderless storms. He had always believed that they were just tales, told to frighten little boys and girls.

But now one of these creatures had come to Eric’s village and he was frozen. He tried to shout a warning, but when he opened his mouth nothing came out.

The rider dismounted from his horse and walked toward the corpse of the old farmer. He knelt and pulled the spear from the already cold body. His hands searched the body for a moment until he found what he was looking for. He ripped the amulet from around the man’s neck. It was a small stone hammer, a tribute to Thor, god of Thunder.

“Where is your god now?” A high pitched voice demanded.

“I...I...” Eric couldn’t find words. The black rider stood
“Where is your god?” The voice demanded again.

“He...doesn’t visit us anymore...”

The voice laughed. It was a shrill sound that hurt Eric’s ears.

“Your god is dead,” the rider threw the amulet at Eric’s feet. “Tell your leaders. This day is no longer Thor’s Day.”

Saturday, November 12, 2011

On Genre

I've always liked to read both Science Fiction and Fantasy. And as a younger author, I tended to switch back and forth between the two.

A few years back, however, I stopped dabbling in Fantasy and have predominantly worked on Science Fiction, particularly the Space Opera and Military Sci-Fi sub-genres. I just liked the idea of writing massive space epics that spanned hundreds of light years.

But recently, I've started to go back to the Fantasy genre. It started when my younger brother was over and he mentioned that he had this idea for a story set in a Fantasy world. He's a song writer, though, so he passed the basics of the idea on to me. I wrote up a basic 2 page idea and have it on file ready to go when I have a chance.

The seed was planted.

I started to develop a new world, which I have named "Zaria" though that is likely to change, and have been working on that world more recently. I had started it as a gunpowder era world, think the late 1700s to early 1800s. I wanted to use some historical situations as a baseline.

Then one day I decided to add elves, and magic was close behind. I realized that my world didn't really fit into any current sub-genres. It's not quite Steampunk, as I've decided to leave steam power out for now (I may start to introduce it much later in the development of this world). But it's definitely not High Fantasy.

I spent a couple of days trying to decide how to adjust this world to more easily fit into an established sub-genre and then I realized that I didn't need to. Sub-genres have to start somewhere, so maybe this will be the start of one.

Special Shoutout to: @cultauthor for helping me decide to just go where the story takes me

Friday, November 11, 2011


So I've read several different blogs on the benefits of Plotting (or Outlining) vs Organic Flow. 

Personally, I'm very much a Plotter. I like to lay out my full story ahead of time so I have a guidepost to go on. It's mostly just ideas that I've had ahead of time that I want to make sure I get back around to. Now, that isn't to say that I strictly adhere to my plot and leave out any chance of Organic Flow. Quite the contrary, my in depth plots tend to spark organic flow as I look to them for guidance. 

I've been thinking about how far ahead I should plot. So far with my current world, a sort of Gunpowder and Sorcery Fantasy, I've chapter-by-chapter plotted out the full first novel. But I've also come up with several significant plot points that I will be working into later installments of this series. 

I also have a general idea of where I want the novel to end.

I've considered going through and fully plotting out two or three novels ahead in chapter-by-chapter form, but I think that until I get through Novel 1, I won't be positive where I want to take certain aspects of the following novels.

Do you plot ahead, or are you an organic flow person? And if you do plot, is it just a general outline or in depth chapter by chapter ideas?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Top 5 Mobile Apps For Writers

     With the increasing penetration of the mobile world into every facet of our lives, it was inevitable that the mobile world would eventually develop things that would become useful to writers, instead of just providing a constant distraction.
     As a member of a generation that has seen the mobile world explode and smartphones and tablets become massively popular, I find myself almost as comfortable writing out a blurb on my smartphone or tablet as I do on my laptop. In fact, with the exception of writing for long periods of time for my main branch works, I usually don't spend any time on the computer anymore. Being that my smartphone is nearly always within reach, its important to me to have applications available that will allow me to work on my ideas without necessarily requiring that I be at a computer.
    Below you will find 5 primary apps and 5 secondary apps, in no particular order, that have become a major part of my writing on my mobile devices.

The first app is Evernote. For a long time this app was just something that I used to jot down an idea here or there, without any real thought as to how it could be used. When I only had 1 device to worry about, Evernote's cloud sync option didn't really appeal to me. I always had my device near me, so why would I need to worry about syncing my notes.

Now that I have multiple devices, however, I've found it very handy to write up a plot idea, a chapter snippet or any other random bits for my works in Evernote. The program automatically syncs between my smartphone and my tablet so I can always go back and continue with what I was working on, regardless of what device I was using when I had the idea.

Android Market: Evernote for Android
iOS App Store: Evernote for iOS

Next is the app Read It Later. This application allows you to save full pages of websites, blogs etc to the cloud and, as the name implies, Read It Later.

This app is exceedingly useful to me as I have very little time to read as it is, so searching for an article that I found interesting doesn't really fit into my schedule. And where bookmarking a page would be useful on a single device, I don't always remember where I saved a certain bookmark for a certain page. This app allows you to save the page for offline or later reading and access it from any mobile device or from a web interface if you want to use your computer to access the pages that you've previously saved.

Android Market:Read It Later for Android
iOS App Store: Read It Later for iOS

Moving right along, two of the most popular office suite apps available right now are Documents To Go and Office Suite. These apps allow you to view and edit documents and spreadsheets and view pdfs. I've found this very useful for when I want to write up the beginning of a chapter or a short story and then continue it later on my PC. This takes out the step of having to copy and paste from a note taking document.

They both have very similar features, though the main difference are that  Documents To Go will allow you to access your Google Docs account, whereas Office Suite doesn't, and Office Suite is not available on iOS at this time.

Documents To Go
Android Market: Documents To Go for Android
iOS App Store: Documents To Go for iOS

Office Suite
Android Market: Office Suite for Android

Dropbox isn't strictly a mobile app. However, when combined with Documents To Go or Office Suite, Dropbox can be a life saver when it comes to limiting the number of different copies floating around on your various devices. Dropbox gives you storage (by default, 2GB for free) which is sync'd across multiple devices and platforms. You can use this to sync multiple files between your computers, as well as on your mobile devices.

Drop a file from your laptop into the Dropbox file, download it on your smartphone or tablet via the Dropbox app and edit using one of the document editors. Save and re-upload to have the changes available when you go back to your laptop.

Android Market: Dropbox for Android
iOS App Store: Dropbox for iOS
Website to get started:

Everyone needs a dictionary or thesaurus once in a while. And that's where the and Thesaurus apps come in handy. I know I'm kind of cheating here by squeezing two apps into one section, but they go hand in hand.

These next apps aren't necessarily beneficial just to writers in the area of their work, but are more general use apps that I've come to know and love.

Blogger is the official Google app that allows you to access, edit, read and publish posts to your blogspot account. Handy for writing up a quick blogpost while you're out and about and don't have access to your laptop or the time to sit down and do a full write up.

Amazon Kindle should be a fairly obvious one. It's one of the most popular formats for ebooks.

A similar program that I've found handy is  FBreader for Android. I've used this to export my own ebooks before they are published (using the bookbrewer website) to take a look at formatting and what not.

PocketCast is a great app that allows you to easily organize and listen to podcasts.

Pulse helps you keep your RSS feeds straight. With a maximum of 60 feeds (12 per page, 5 pages) you have the ability to keep up to date on blogs and news feeds in an easy to use interface.

Finally, I would suggest looking into an alternate Twitter App. I personally use Tweetdeck on my phone and am currently using Plume on my tablet because I like its tablet interface better. These apps are exceedingly useful in keeping on up your social media presence.

If you have an app you'd like to suggest, or have a problem with one of the apps that I suggested, let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cleaning Up the Ending

Now that I've worked through my first draft, editing and then applying those edits, I'm going to pay attention to the ending.

While I was reading through, I realized that the ending was rather rushed and didn't give appropriate detail to the ending of all of the characters.

I think part of this arose from how the particular story was built. I originally wrote the core of "Live! At the Front" as a short story, focusing almost entirely on the main character's story. It only rounded out at around 40k words.

So when I decided to convert the novella into a true novel, I decided that to bring the word count up and further develop the story I would add in a secondary storyline that would follow a naval officer.

When I got to the end of the novel, having converted the original novella to the new novel's universe, I hit a wall with the new storyline and decided to just cut it out in order to get the novel into first draft edits. Lazy, I know.

I think I've got the path I need to clean up the storyline, though, so I should be able to get the novel into 2nd Draft pretty soon. And I already know where the focus is going to be there: increasing the level of detail in several sections.

First Draft Editions

So I finally finished applying my first draft edits for "Live! At the Front"
I want to flesh out the end of he novel a little bit before I got to second draft.
I think I can do a lot to add details throughout during my second draft so it really looks like it's going to be my third draft that I'll be looking for beta readers.
If you're interested in beta reading this Sci-Fi Space Opera, leave a comment or you can reach me on twitter @stealthvoodoo
I'll post my blurb for "Live!" such as it is later tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chapter 3 Excerpt

So here is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of "Live! At the Front".

     "John Darro clutched his small carry-on bag as the military shuttle fell toward the vast white of the planet's surface, whispering curses as turbulence shook the vessel. John couldn't see very far from the shuttle as it descended through what looked like the beginning of a massive snow storm, but as the craft cleared the lower clouds, the outline of an extensive fortress system became evident.
     Battle armor bunkers, turrets and towers dotted the landscape around the small landing area beneath the approaching transport. Half a dozen other such bases were spread across the planet, enough living space and services to support every single active marine, simultaneously.
     The trip from Gregorov had taken the Republican frigate less than two Gregorovian standard days at full speed, making maximum velocity jumps into 3 systems. The frigate hadn't been much larger than the courier that had delivered him to the Gregorov system. It had whisked John Darro from the Space Station Forge to the frozen world of Semper, far from the core of Human civilization, but at least he'd been provided with proper quarters and a bed. And the translations between systems had gotten less painful as well. Each jump seemed to get successively easier for John to handle, a fact that most of the naval officers took for granted.
And the pilots had the audacity to arrive so very early in the morning.
     “Mister Darro,” a Marine Second Lieutenant with long blonde hair was waiting at the bottom of the landing ramp, waving him off of the transport. The Viking-11 star had not yet risen and the lieutenant was bundled up in a vast duster, complete with a full fur liner. Faux-fur most likely, but still much warmer than the blazer John wore. “This way, we’re expecting a snow storm any minute, and dressed like that you won’t last five seconds.
     John shook with cold as he hurried after the marine, his luggage in tow on anti-grav carts provided by the base. They were running toward a small hatch in the side of a concrete shelter and John wondered just what the Lieutenant’s ass would look like if she weren’t wearing the insulated coat."
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