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Mark Twain

Become Great

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

Mark Twain

Found this quote as encouragement for a friend of mine and I figured I’d share it here with everyone. Stay away from the small people, their opinions are useless to your journey. Twain, as usual, is right. As I wrote to my friend: keep your head down, lock those shoulders forward, press through. You got this.

Friday Link Pack 01/31/14

10 Key Terms That Will Help You Appreciate Fantasy Literature

It’s time to share a few interesting links I have found throughout the week. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming year? Let me know!

Writing:

Mapping the world of Mark Twain
It’s no secret that Mark Twain is one of my favorite authors. I was excited when this showed up in my RSS feed. When I saw the map, I was blown away.

10 Key Fantasy Literature Terms
Nice write up covering the terms for the various sub-genres of fantasy. Everything from Portal Fantasy, Secondary Worlds, to the New Weird (technically the subgenre The Stars Were Right falls inside). It’s good info and worth checking out.

A Novel List of Atypical Sci-Fi from the Seattle Public Library
My home town’s Library compiled a nice list of solid science fiction. There’s a lot of good stuff on here, some of my favorites: Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age and China Mieville’s The City and The City.

Art:

Joao Ruas’ “Verso”
Thinkspace gallery is featuring the work of one of my favorite artists: Joao Ruas. If you live anywhere near Culver City, California get yourself over to see this stuff. His work is incredible.

I Am Hello Kitty
Very beautiful and fascinating look into the people behind the iconic characters in New York’s Times Square.

Random:

So the new Space Shuttle is amazing…
Meet the next Space Shuttle. It’s tiny. It only needs one rocket, and it can be towed behind a pickup truck.

Art of the Title: Black Sails
Art of the Title interviews the creators of the Black Sails title sequence. I love it, the music, the motion, basically everything. It’s awesome to know the creators were inspired by Kris Kuksi.

Please Advise
Letters of Note shares this quick memo sent in 1969 by record producer Teo Macero to executives at Columbia Records over Miles Davis’ album: Bitches Brew. (In my humble opinion: one of the best jazz albums ever.)

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Temple
A german u-boat and its cruel captain face terrors under the sea.

Farewell Gif of the Week:

Mine! Minemineminemineminemine...

Travelin’

mark twain

I’ve been traveling this weekend for my 10 year anniversary. Kari-Lise and I have been doing our share of hiking, eating, drinking, and exploring. While out and about a quote from Mark Twain came to mind, one of my favorites:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

— Mark Twain

Get out there. Abroad., nearby, doesn’t matter. Experience what you haven’t experienced. It’s important.

My Two Projects

So what am I working on? Since starting this blog I’ve been fairly vague. Talking about queries and partials and never anything about what I am actually writing. I feel it’s important to share a little info about my two projects:

Coal Belly

This is the finished manuscript I am currently shopping. (The one with three partials currently out in the ether) It sits at 133k words. Which is kinda in that new-writer danger zone. (Most publishers won’t accept over 120k words for a new writer.) Coal Belly is a speculative title set on the fictional, river covered, world of Vale. It’s probably easier to post my query letter since it’s a good synopsis of what is happening:

Rumors whisper from the corners of the city: the world is breaking. Mountains swallow distant towns. Strange creatures prowl the ridges.

Captain Erasmus Hale can’t be bothered with the rumors. Broke, cheated, and facing repossession of his riverboat, the Transcendent; Hale accepts the offer of a mysterious stranger for a dangerous late-season trip upriver… unaware of the danger he’ll place upon himself, his passengers, his crew, and his boat.

Torrenting is changing the world. Its practitioners bend reality: lighting lamps, heating steam engines, and smelting iron without the need for fuel. And yet student torrenter Lisette Wakefield struggles with even the most basic fundamentals. When an old professor offers to send her north to a distant campus she agrees, and embarking on a journey that will change her life forever.

Beset by enemies on all sides, and with rumors of revolution brewing, the mood among the rivermen in Commonwealth’s Flotilla is tense. Gunny Cooper Rueben is a loyal, yet his ironclad loyalties are shattered. After a drunken mistake, he is betrayed by his country, sold into slavery, and forced to serve as a groom for a brilliant young torrenter.

Coal Belly (133,000 words) is a swashbuckling adventure set during an age of industry that tells the story of a shattering world, and the passengers and crew of an old riverboat steaming headlong toward its breaking. It’s Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself meets Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi: high adventure, a bit of romance, and a little magic.

And… that is why I’m always posting pictures of riverboats. I’ll keep you updated as I keep getting responses from agents.


The Stars Were Right

Stars is my new project while I shop Coal Belly – I’m about a third done with my rough draft. It currently hovers around 36k words and is always growing. It is weird fiction heavily influenced by my appreciation for the works of H.P. Lovecraft and China Miéville and movies from my childhood. With Stars I’m trying to avoid the fantasy tropes while keeping it chock full of the fantastical stuff that makes weird fiction so great: strange races, interesting locals, unique cultures, dusty tomes, gigantic monsters, and death cults. You know, the fun stuff.

It centered around this quote from H.P. Lovecraft’s “Call of Cuthulu:”

When the stars were right, They could plunge from world to world through the sky; but when the stars were wrong, They could not live.

The plot is told from the perspective of Waldo “Wal” Bell, a caravan master leading caravans between the frontier city of Syringa and the multilevel megalopolis of Lovat. Fresh from a finishing recent cargo delivery for the importer Wilem, Black & Bright, Wal is arrested and accused of murdering two close friends.

All signs seem to point to him, though Wal is adamant he didn’t commit the murders. When the cops refuse to listen Wal makes a daring escape from his holding cell. Running from the law, he seeks to unravel the mystery and find out who is really killing his friends and how it’s all connected to him.

Short description, it’s the Fugitive if it was directed by Guillermo del Toro and art directed by WETA.

So those are my two projects. The things that occupy my free evenings and weekends and keep me up at night. I figured covering them in at least a basic level will help make sense of this whole journey so as you follow this blog. Hopefully this will be of interest and if you are writing something you’ll be able to learn from both my mistakes and my victories as I continue this journey.