I did a guest post on writing and technology over on Rob Cornell’s blog. Check it out, and while you’re there, have a look at Rob’s novels. The man can tell a great tale.
I just got the cover art back for my upcoming urban fantasy novel, IMPERIUM. The cover was done by the amazingly talented Ronnell Porter. He’s a great guy to work with, so if you’re looking for a cover artist, check him out.
Vincent Corinthos leads a triple life. As a secret agent, he handles paranormal threats; as a god, he protects his followers from evil forces; as a stock clerk, he keeps the back room of an antique store tidy. When one of his fellow agents goes missing, Vincent begins with the usual suspects. His investigation takes him to vampire lairs, golem laboratories, and the realm of the fae. Along the way he squares off against genetically modified gremlins, virus-spawned zombies and a horseman of the Apocalypse. But it’s only when he infiltrates a private medical lab that he realizes just how big of a threat he’s facing, and even being a god might not be enough of an edge…
Coming Summer 2011!
I love comic books. I started reading them back when I was in my early teens and faithfully collected for several years until I went to college. I still liked comics, I just didn’t have the time or money for them anymore.
Fast forward some fifteen years or so and I’ve started reading them again, thanks to my iPad. The iPad has an app from each major comic publisher that allows you to download and read their titles. The first thing I did was grab as many issues of The Flash as I could, and have since moved on to Batman and Green Lantern, which were my favorites back when I was younger.
But there are a couple of publishers that are new to me as well. Dark Horse Comics and Boom Studios, in particular. (I should note here that I remember seeing Dark Horse back when I was collecting, but I didn’t read any of their titles.) When Free Comic Book day hit this year I pulled down an issue of Doctor Solar from Dark Horse. It was a great read. I typically have two requirements for my comic heroes – they need to either be smart, clever or both. Doctor Solar is smart. Like nuclear physicist smart. After being exposed to a nuclear accident, he can now control all forms of energy, as well as his own physical makeup. He can holographically project his memories to those around him, can travel via phone lines, and doesn’t need a cell phone to make a call. Solar explains the science around this just enough to give the reader an understanding of how and why he can do what he does, but it doesn’t bog the story down. You can check that issue out for free from here.
The Traveler from Boom Studios is another title I’ve started reading. It’s billed as “Stan Lee’s The Traveler,” but I’m not sure what Stan’s involvement really is with the book. He’s listed as Grand Poobah in the credits, and while that’s absolutely true, it doesn’t tell me if the Traveler was his idea or if he’s just the executive producer of the thing. Regardless, The Traveler is clever. He’s a mystery man who has the ability to control time. He can freeze time long enough to allow people to escape danger, he can briefly stop time so he can recover from serious injuries, and he can rewind time to send projectiles back at the people who launched them. This title is especially fun because the Traveler is snarky on top of being clever. Snark + Clever = winning combination. You can learn more about The Traveler here.
What comics have you recently discovered? Sound off in the comments.
So I’ve been dark for a couple of weeks. I’d love to say this was because I was locked up in my Writing Cave, pounding out thousands upon thousands of words in the WIP. Or I’d love to say that it was because the Justice League had recruited me for a secret mission in an alternate dimension and I’ve been out saving the world. The truth of it though, is that I was horrifically sick. I had to be hospitalized twice due to a very high fever and the fact that I couldn’t keep fluids down. So it was an unpleasant experience in every possible way. It’s mostly over now though, and I’m slowly getting things back to normal.
So let’s celebrate my return with a writing prompt. Invent a sickness that does terrible things, but also provides one positive effect to someone who survives it. Maybe it’s a flu that destroys 90% of your lung tissue but gives you psychic powers, or something like that.
Happy writing, and everyone stay healthy!
I love fantasy. I love a good epic fantasy – Sanderson, Rothfuss, Jordan, and of course Tolkien. But a good urban fantasy is just as satisfying. Simon Green, Jim Butcher, and Anton Strout are all great writers.
It was Jim Butcher’s storm Front that made me want to write an urban fantasy novel. I had been struggling with an epic fantasy for some time and finally realized I wasn’t a good enough storyteller to do that particular tale justice. It was a depressing experience. But I decided I’d try my hand at UF and see if the change would do me some good.
Did it ever.
The main difference I found about writing UF vs EF is that the world building process is a heckuva lot shorter. Since I’m working in the “real world”, I’ve got a bunch of parameters already established. That lets me focus only on those things I care about – my characters, their powers, their relationships. I don’t need to build the whole planet from scratch.
Now, don’t get me wrong, world building can be fun, but I found I’d get bogged down and discouraged by minutiae. Case in point. Let’s say I’ve set my epic fantasy in the stereotypical medieval Europe-esque kingdom. My main character, Dirk Manly, is having breakfast at an inn, and orders a cup of coffee. This simple act sets off a massive plague of minor, unimportant details. I need to make sure my kingdom’s climate is one that can support the growth of coffee beans. If it’s not, then I need to determine where the coffee beans are grown. How far that location is from my kingdom? Then I need to establish the trade routes that get the coffee from there to Dirk, and spend some time fleshing out the cultures and political climates that may influence those trade routes. Then there’s the question of stability and security along the routes – are they patrolled and well maintained, or does Juan Valdez get robbed every other trip? I also need to explain the technology that allows the coffee to be brewed, the people who perform that process, and the cost of coffee itself, taking into account that it could well be a luxury item, and if that was the case, could Dirk Manly afford it?
That’s just too much crap for a cup of coffee.
Contrast that with an urban fantasy set in Boston. Here, Dirk Manly goes into a Dunkin Donuts, gets a large coffee with cream and sugar and that’s it. I can focus on who Dirk is, what he does, and trade routes be damned.
Unfortunately, Epic Fantasy tends to get bogged down because the author has to explain every detail of how his or her world works. There’s a point in the Wheel of Time where Nynaeve and Elaine are traveling with a menagerie. One particular scene details the mechanics of Nynaeve *brushing her teeth.* I love Robert Jordan, but I was like “ok, I get it, she’s brushing her teeth, let’s get on with life.” Just the same, I understand why he had to do it; it’s not like Nynaeve can just pop into CVS and pick up a new Reach toothbrush and a tube of Crest. But having to work stuff like that into my stories was frustrating because I felt it was taking away from the tale I was trying to tell.
In UF, all that mundane stuff is taken care of for you, courtesy of the real world. I think that’s part of the appeal of UF, it’s easier to get into because the setting is immediately familiar. As readers, we only need to focus on how Harry Dresden’s magic words work, how Shaman Bond’s golden torc operates, or what insights Simon Canderous’ psychometry reveal. As writers, we only need to worry about defining those things which set our characters apart from normal people; we inherit our world from the real one and then tweak it, instead of starting out with a totally blank canvas and saying “In the beginning…”
I know I’ll go back to that epic fantasy someday, but for now I’ve got some pretty big plans for my urban fantasy series and its hero. Future posts will talk more about my version of Boston, my hero, and the role he plays. I’m glad to have you along for the ride. Stay tuned, it should be fun.