Scott Lynch on Depression

Relentless Reading has a wonderful, honest interview with Scott Lynch, author of the Gentlemen Bastards Sequence, in which he talks frankly about his struggles with depression and their effect on his life and his writing:

Depression’s not a weird thing, it’s a fucking normal thing. It’s by definition not healthy, but it’s healthy to talk about it and admit that it happens.

And it’s important to know that it’s not going to stop your life and it’s not going to stop you.

Also: World of Warcraft, LARPing, Skyrim, and more.

Cherry Blossoms & Maple Syrup Gives ‘Exile’ 5 Stars

River from the book review blog Cherry Blossoms & Maple Syrup posted a wonderful 5-star review of Exile

The unexpected twists were SO good. I thought that this was going to be a journey book (which is part of why I picked it up, because I’m a HUGE fan of survival and journey stories) and while it was, it wasn’t in the way I thought it was going to be. I thought I had it pegged and then there were two twists that made me SO happy that this WASN’T predictable and made me love it even more.

Zen and the Art of Tom Sachs’ Vimeo Account

I was introduced to artist Tom Sachs about a month ago, when Jason Kottke posted Sachs’ short film “A Love Letter to Plywood” on kottke.org.

Sachs’ Vimeo account is comprised of a collection of videos that serve as a primer for prospective visitors to and employees of his studio.  The films he makes have a strange zen to them, that I find incredibly appealing.  This is how art should be made.  Here, craft and art combine.

My favorite is COLOR.:

I’d imagine these videos would be excellent viewing for those interested in ASMR.

Classical Music for Writing

I present to you my playlist of classical music for writing.  As you can tell, I prefer comparatively lively classical music, especially when listening to it for inspiration.

 

The Creativity Threshold: A Few Words on Writer’s Block

Four Mistakes ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Films Made

My obsession with Tolkien’s Legendarium has never needed much encouragement, but Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings understandably stoked the fires.  My sophomore year in college was a relatively lonely time in my life: a lot of my friends had transferred to different schools, I was living with a difficult roommate, and I was feeling the warning rumbles of a quarter-life crisis that would, in many ways, define the next decade of my life.  The opportunity to lose myself in Middle-Earth, especially in such an exciting new way, was a welcome one.  I don’t even remember how many times I saw The Fellowship of the Ring in the theater, but it was often alone, and it was often in the middle of the night.  Which was by choice: going by myself meant I didn’t have to worry about someone else.  I didn’t have to keep up a conversation, wonder whether they were enjoying themselves, or generally interrupt my own rapt ingestion of the film to concern myself with the presence of another human being.

Yeah, I was a pretty self-absorbed guy back then.

I didn’t go in to the movie expecting much.  The Lord of the Rings was, after all, the defining literary experience of my life at that point (and at every point afterward).  Mostly, I was just hoping it wouldn’t completely suck.  I couldn’t stomach the idea that millions of people who hadn’t read the books might be introduced to the story for the first time by way of an adaptation that was insipid, depthless, or just plain bad.  It was too important to me, and I felt like I had been defending its artistic validity for too long to have Hollywood screw it up.

Obviously, I was pleasantly surprised.  Stunned.  Enraptured, even.  It was actually good.  And not only was it good, it felt like Tolkien.  It felt like reading the book.  There are so many things, in Fellowship in particular, that Jackson and company just got right.  I could list half a dozen moments when I found myself thinking: this is exactly as I imagined it.  I won’t, because if you’re reading this I’m sure you had a similar experience.  But the quality was there, and the feeling was there, and I was hooked.

Certainly there were things I missed, portions of the book that I knew, academically, couldn’t be included: the deliciously tense, years-long period between the Long-Expected Party and Frodo’s departure from the Shire; Farmer Maggot; Fatty Bolger and the house on the Brandywine; the Old Forest, Tom Bombadil, and the Barrow-wight; Glorfindel and the torturous flight to the Ford.  And that’s just in Book I of Fellowship.  I understood, as any realistic fan and especially any realistic aspiring artist had to understand, that sacrifices must be made for the sake of time, clarity, and pacing.  Realizing that was the beginning of realizing that it was possible to love both the book and the film, that they were each their own animal, and that I didn’t have to choose between them.

The films became a new way to enjoy my favorite books.  I lived to watch and rewatch them, often pointing out the allusions to the larger world of Tolkien’s creation or even little inaccuracies when they popped up.  But over all I loved them, and didn’t spend much time focusing on the rare flaws.

But almost fifteen years and innumerable viewings later, I feel like I finally have enough distance to confidently point out a few of the mistakes Jackson made in bringing Tolkien’s magnum opus to life on the screen.

Continue reading

‘Exile’ in Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off

Exile AMZN-EPUBSo I’ve entered Exile: The Book of Ever into Mark Lawrence’s awesome Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, which I talked about here just a few days ago.  (Exile is free for Kindle through this Monday, by the way.)

My book got sent over to be reviewed by the excellent people at Fantasy Faction, which is very exciting for me, as I’ve been a reader of theirs for quite some time now.

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Mark Lawrence will be updating his post (linked above, and here) as reviews start to trickle in, and you can also check the individual blogs for updates as well.  If you happen to be talking about the Blog-Off on Twitter or another social media site, be sure to use the hashtags #SPFBO and #SelfPubFantasyBlogOff!

‘Exile’ Free for Kindle Thursday Through Monday

Exile AMZN-EPUBExile: The Book of Ever is free for Amazon Kindle starting this Thursday, March 12, through Monday, March 16.

If you like survivalist, dystopian YA science fiction, you’ll like this.

Downloads, comments, and reviews are much appreciated!

Centuries after the Fall, the United States has been wiped away. The crumbling remains of the great American empire are home now only to savage, lawless tribes and packs of ravening Damned—the twisted children of the apocalypse. Most of those few who survived humanity’s destruction spend their short lives in a violent struggle for survival. But some light still flickers in the darkness: the Blessed of Bountiful live in seclusion, relying on walls both physical and spiritual to protect them from the Desolation that their world has become. Among them are the Saints, those few men and women born with superhuman abilities that the Blessed see as gifts from God. The violent apostate tribes of the Northeast Kingdom have always been a danger, but up until recently its small size and the vigilance of its people have made Bountiful an unappealing target. As attacks on the community grow harsher and more frequent, however, even the steadfast Blessed are forced to start preparing for the worst.

With her home’s very existence threatened, seventeen year old Ever Oaks, a Saint with the power to heal, is forced to make a difficult choice, one that may come to define her people’s future…

Mark Lawrence is Sponsoring a Self-Published Fantasy Reviewing Contest

mark-lawrence-authorMark Lawrence, renowned author of the excellent The Broken Empire series, starting with Prince of Thorns, has rounded up ten of the most popular fantasy book bloggers on the web and convinced them to participate in a review contest featuring exclusively self-published fantasy fiction.  You can read the details of the contest here, but it’s very simple: you submit your finished book, the bloggers get the chance to decide if they want to read it, and then they sponsor or “publish” it to the next round.  It’s essentially a bracket system, resulting in a final ten novels that will be reviewed by all ten bloggers.  This is an incredible opportunity if you’re a self-published fantasy author: a bestselling, traditionally published author is giving you the opportunity to get your work in front of a group of respected book reviewers.  As Mr. Lawrence said himself, “you can’t buy better publicity than that.”

The reviewers participating are:

1./ Sarah Chorn of Bookworm Blues
2./ Steve Diamond &co at the Hugo winning Elitist Book Reviews
3./ Mark Aplin &co of the award winning Fantasy-Faction
4./ Mihir Wanchoo of Fantasy Book Critic
5./ Lynn Williams of Lynn’s Books
6./ Milo of The Fictional Hangout
7./ Bob Milne of Beauty in Ruins
8./ Ria of Bibliotropic
9./ Tyson Mauermann of The Speculative Book Review
10./ The guys at Fantasy Book Review

If Mr. Lawrence and I lived on the same continent, and I swung that way, and it didn’t constitute criminal assault, I would kiss him for this.  As every self-published author knows, even in this, the golden age of self-publishing, it is still very, very hard to become accepted by the literary establishment.  Most respectable book bloggers aren’t interested in self-published work (usually for understandable reasons), to say nothing of getting your book noticed or reviewed by more traditional publications.  And traditionally published authors* tend to range from openly hostile to politely disinterested in self-published writing, so it’s incredibly spirit-lifting to find one who not only embraces self-publishing but wants to help.  Bravo, Mark Lawrence.  To quote Jorg Ancrath, “This is where it starts. When they write the legend, this will be the first page.”

As someone who chose self-publishing not because there weren’t other options but because I thought it was the best choice for me at the time, I’m overwhelmingly grateful for this kind of effort to reach out to new writers.  It’s rare to find someone who is confident enough in his own accomplishments to be able to serve as a mentor, as a champion.  As a leader, if you will.  Because after all, “You got responsibilities when you’re a leader. You got a responsibility not to kill too many of your men. Or who’re you going to lead?”

You’d be downright dumb not to take advantage of this opportunity if you’ve got a fantasy book ready to submit.  I only wish Karthanas were ready to storm the gates!

* Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, including traditionally published authors who started out self-pub

Karthanas Goes to Dinner

I’ve been taking a break from my work on the sequel to Exile to work on an as-yet untitled epic fantasy novel that has been taking shape in my mind for some time now.  You can read an early version of its first chapters here, though it has evolved a lot sense these were written.  Eventually I’ll post the updated version.

This one’s darker, racier, and decidedly not for children, so if you’ve got a problem with sex and violence, it’s probably not for you.  Here’s a (PG-rated) taste.  If you like sword and sorcery, swordpunk, grimdark, Mark Lawrence, Joe Abercrombie, or Game of Thrones, I think you’ll like Karthanas the Lesser.

Karth took the seat at Louvhena’s right, next to Kornu and across the table from a man and a woman he didn’t know. The fact that they had not risen and their dress made them Peers, but not from neighboring fees. He supposed he should have acknowledged them before now, but between the confidence-sucking sight of Louvhena and the buttery spectacle that Kornu made at table, he hadn’t truly laid eyes on them yet.

The man was tall, almost of a height with Karth, with thinning gray hair and an impressive lantern jaw. He wore a thin circlet on his shiny pate, an affectation most Lanthean highlords had done away with decades ago, and a ribbed tunic in crushed velvet that looked stifling even in the relative cool of a spring night. The neckcloth tied at his throat was the color of old piss, and completely at odds with the rest of his attire.

His wife, or the woman Karth took to be his wife, was at least twenty suns his junior—hardly uncommon—but what was uncommon was the fact that she had the red hair of the barbarian tribes that peopled the northeastern part of Yora. Karth arched an eyebrow at that, but took in the sparkling green eyes and freckled bosom with undisguised interest. There’s something would be nice covered in butter.

Louvhena cleared her throat delicately, her glance like a quick cut with a rusty blade.

“Since you are late for dinner,” she said, smiling her most inviting, maternal smile at her strange guests, “allow me to introduce Lord Pevenish, Peer of Carobdown, and his lovely consort, the Lady Abraun.” No titles for the little lamb, Karth noticed. He’d pegged that one right. Louvhena seemed to realize it, too.

“Where was it that you were born, my dear?” Pevenish frowned slightly at this, taking the opportunity to cough a gob of phlegm into his linen napkin, but said nothing. The lack of titles was indication enough of her breeding, but asking after her birthplace so frankly was one step above inquiring whether the whore who’d pushed her into the world even knew the identity of her sire.

Abraun blushed, which only made her more delicious, and looked down at her folded hands.

“Carway, my lady,” she said. “I’m of the Cullisht tribe.” She answered like a young girl speaking to her governess.

“How lovely,” said Louvhena, cocking her head as if the girl had said she was heir to the Empyrean Throne and not a nameless whelp from a lawless territory unendowed with so much as Lanthean citizenship. Karth supposed she had gained that upon marrying Pevenish, but still….

“My lord,” Karth intoned, nodding his greeting. “It is my pleasure. And my lady.”

“My lord Karthanas,” Pevenish grumbled, as if Karth had kept him waiting. “I was just telling your lady mother how…pleased we are to be her guests.” He didn’t look pleased. Karth couldn’t blame him. An invitation of any kind from Louvhena was like pickled herring: you either loved it or saw it for the odorous bait that it was.

“Carobdown is in the southeast, is it not?” Karth had never heard of it, which meant it was one of the Scraps, the two dozen or so tiny fees in the southeast left after the last scion of the House of Kestren died without an heir and set every cousin, vassal, and country squire squabbling for their share of a suddenly untended feast of land. Kestren had been a great House in its day, with an eponymous fee in the form of a huge swath of arable land east of Lansium. After a couple of adjacent, powerful Houses took the opportunity to assert old claims over pieces of it, the lesser lords tore up the rest. Thus the Scraps, though the new “Houses” that grew out of the whole business hated the name.

“Yes,” said Pevenish, “one of the descendant fees of Kestren, of course.” He was phlegmatic enough about it for Karth to pin him as one of the less prickly of the Scraplords, whose sensitivity over the youth and inconsequentiality of their titles had led to more than a few border disputes that had threatened to become a region-wide problem.  But the Senat had stamped them down, as it always did; open contention among the Peerage was not tolerated. Not the kind with swords, at least.

Pevenish was clearly used to having to explain the location and history of his lands, and as he didn’t seem terribly put out by doing so, Karth went on.

“Carobdown,” he said. “Named for…?”

“Its chief trade good,” Pevenish responded.

Karth raised his eyebrows.

“Carob,” Pevenish explained, his patience wavering. “We grow carob.”

“Ahh,” said Karth. “A worthy nomenclature, my lord. A personal favorite of mine.” Karth despised the stuff. Vinerran’s head cook called it poor man’s chocolate, as the peasantry used it as substitute for that delicacy, which was beyond the means of many middling Peers. Chalky and sweet, peasants stuffed the pulp from the tree’s seedpods into pastries and breads. He couldn’t think of anything else to talk about with the man, so he determined to get him talking about his bread and butter.

“Indeed,” said Pevenish, more lively now, “a most wonderful plant. So many uses! The obvious ones of course, as flour and flavoring for pastry, but also the farmers make of it a sweet liquor….”

Karth stopped listening. It was enough to get the man talking, make him feel like he was at all interested in anything he had to say. Part of a host’s duties, and all that. He looked at Louvhena and found her watching him with wry approval. She knew what he was doing, and liked it. Damn woman. Whatever stratagem she had in mind for this bumpkin lord had nothing to do with the internal trade of foul-tasting commodities. Karth almost pitied the man: Louvhena collected sycophants, and most of them eventually realized that a gilded collar was still a collar.