100 Words on Revenge

Chuck Wendig’s having a flash fiction challenge over on his site. The rules? Write a 100 word story in any genre about revenge. Here’s my attempt:

Madame Lucinda turned the second to last card over. “I see you have suffered a loss.”

Frank wrung the faded CVI ball cap in his hands. “Yeah. Been at CVI twelve years, and that bitch fired me.”

She turned over the final card. “Ah, I see revenge.”

Frank smiled.

He paid for his reading and went outside. His boot caught on a crack in the sidewalk and he fell into the street, where he was crushed by a CVI truck. The ensuing investigation revealed that CVI condoned drug use for its drivers, and the management, including Frank’s boss, were imprisoned.

Guest Post From Suzy Turner

Please welcome Suzy Turner, author of the Raven Saga, a YA urban fantasy series.

Thanks for inviting me to be a guest, Nicholas. It’s fantastic to be here and in such good company.

Nicholas was recently a guest on my blog and he described beautifully what inspired him to write his series Caulborn, and so we thought it would be nice for me to tell you what was behind the idea for The Raven Saga.

In 2009 my husband, our close friends and I went on a three week holiday to Canada (Alberta and British Columbia to be specific). The moment we arrived, we were blown away by its utter magnitude and beauty. Everywhere we turned we were faced with the most dramatic scenery, and the friendliest people we’ve probably ever met. Needless to say, it was totally inspiring.

However, it wasn’t until we were passing through a place called Powell River on the BC coast, that my mind began to go into overdrive and all these wild ideas started to form.

Stopping in a car park, we took out some food and drink and went to sit on a little beach just out of the town to have a picnic. It was there that the initial idea for The Raven Saga first came about.

Scattered all over that little bay were huge pieces of driftwood, where we sat and ate, taking in our surroundings. Every now and then, fish would hop in and out of the water. We tried to get photos of them, but it proved a little difficult. We still don’t know what kind of fish they were.

As we looked ahead to the Pacific ocean, there were a few little islands off into the distance and behind us were lots of tall trees. It had an air of mystery to it. It was also a little eerie… at least that’s how my mind saw it.

I’m a Twilight fan and I started to have all kinds of ‘Twilightesque’ ideas. I realised it would be the perfect spot for supernatural beings to hide. Not just vampires and werewolves but different kinds of creatures like changelings too. Those ideas continued to form in my head until I was made redundant from my job as magazine editor in early 2010. It was like fate was trying to tell me something. It was telling me to follow my dream. To be an author. Thus The Raven Saga was born!

 

Thanks for stopping by, Suzy!

You can learn more about Suzy and the Raven Saga from Suzy’s site, her blog, and you can follow her on Twitter.  You can purchase Raven, the first book in the Raven Saga, from Amazon, B&N and Smashwords.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Following Paper Towels

Twitter’s been a great way for me to learn about new writers and their work. However, when I logged in the other night, I saw this in my “Who to Follow” section.

That’s right, Twitter wants me to follow Bounty paper towels.

I think Twitter’s a great way for companies to connect with their customers, but I’m having a hard time with this one. Twitter makes sense for a software company, because people can use Twitter as impromptu tech support. Twitter makes sense for products like Pepsi or Coke, because they use it to promote the concerts and other events they sponsor. Twitter even makes sense for things like WD-40, because they can use it to post tips on what you can do with the product.

But paper towels?

I can’t see a customer support situation there.

Customer: OH SWEET EVER LOVING GOD I SPILLED SOMETHING AND I CAN’T WORK THE BOUNTY!!

Bounty: Stay calm, sir. Now, grip the roll firmly and pull one paper towel off the roll.

Customer: CRAP, I RIPPED IT IN HALF! WHAT DO I DO???

 

I don’t see Bounty sponsoring anything, and if they’re planning a Bounty-palooza concert series, they’re being awfully quiet about it. (And if such a concert series does occur, I fully expect them to commission John Anealio to write them a theme song.)

 

As for tips? They’re. Freaking. Paper. Towels. You wipe stuff up with them, end of story.

So here are some things that I think Bounty could tweet about that would be fun:

  1. A video showing a person throwing rolls of Bounty into a swimming pool. The viewer who correctly guesses how many rolls will be needed to absorb the entire pool wins a year’s supply of Bounty products.
  2. A factoid telling us how long a roll of paper towels stretches if you unrolled it.
  3. In that same vein, how many rolls would you need to encircle the earth, or reach the moon?
  4. If lit on fire, how long would a roll of regular Bounty burn? What about the Extra Soft kind?
  5. How many rolls of Bounty would be needed to cushion the impact of a car hitting a brick wall, while traveling at 30 mph?
  6. How many rolls are needed to mop up all the blood in the human body? (Not asking for any particular reason, mind you.)

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Bounty.  I buy the stuff in bulk. But c’mon Twitter, unless they’re suddenly interested in printing my book on a roll of paper towels, I’m really not sure why you want me to follow them.

 

 

 

IMPERIUM Cover Art & Blurb

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Renewed Love of Comics

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.

 

 

 

Where ya been, Nick?

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!

Welcome!

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.