Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A Blade for Monsters Part 10

“You look worse every time I see you,” de Avaram remarked.
Beringer could not disagree. His face was a mess, his broken finger splinted. Even now there was still a slight buzzing in his ears. Beringer rubbed his tired eyes and said, “It is done.”
“You found the target?”
“He’s done.”
“Done?” Behind his table De Avaram froze. He blinked. And set his palms on the table. “You. Banished. A Greater Demon. By yourself?”
“Not me. The Creator through me.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A Blade for Monsters Part 9

The place used to be a boiler room. Ancient machinery rusted away along the walls, leaving a central space. In a far corner, obscured by a collection of pipes, a group of naked women whimpered. In between him and them was Simon.
“Sure took your time, eh?” Simon said.
“Let the women go,” Beringer said.
He sniffed. “Eh, why not. They served their purpose.”
He waved his hand.
Loud CRACKs resonated in the room. A great gush of liquid followed, carrying the stench of acids and rot. The women twitched, and all at once fell in a crumpled heap.
“No,” Kentaris said.
“What the fuck did you do?!” Beringer roared.
The Greater Demon giggled. “I let them go, didn’t I? Alive or dead is immaterial, no?”
Their spirits tried to leave their broken bodies. Simon waved a finger, and the streams of light bent sharply backwards, flowing towards him.
“Hodegetria Mariam, come preserve—”
Simon sucked in the souls. They swirled round and round, disappearing into the Void. He licked his lips and smiled. “They weren’t believers. Why should she care? It’s not like—”
Beringer fired.

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Road to $10k: An Author's Journey

As a completely unknown author with no big connections and no following (and no income), the problem of becoming a known author with connections and a following (not to mention a steady income) looms over me. So many of the success stories out there seem to boil down to just-so, “and then I got lucky” stories.

Well, I’ve come to understand that luck is mostly a matter of managing you opportunities well. If you develop more opportunities, you have better chances of one of those opportunities being the Big Break. Some people call it “manufacturing luck”.

So, how does an author manufacture luck?

I have no idea. So this author is going to start experimenting.

I’m going to set myself a big, hairy, audacious goal. Inspired by one of my favorite startups, Groove, I’m going to set my goal at $10k per month. No timeline, because I’m starting at $0; I’ll get there when I get there, and I’ll share what I learn along the way.

To get to $10k/month, at the very least, I’ll need a backlist of books for sale on Amazon and other retailers. Right now, I have no books.

The journey of a thousand leagues begins with a single step.

Learn about my super action plan at my site. I'll see you over there!

A Blade for Monsters Part 8

Beringer took stock of his weapons and ammunition. One pistol. Two spare magazines. Two large blocks of aetherium, one in each pants pocket. Four smaller ones in his shoulder holsters. That was all.
Note to self: next time, always carry a long gun on your person or nearby.
“What’s the plan?” she asked.
“First we see if there’s a welcoming party,” he said.
The witch’s eyes turned a brilliant shade of green. She looked at the main door and shook her head. “There’s too much Darkmist for me to see through. I can’t tell if there’s anything there.”
Beringer extracted his detector and aimed it at the door. He turned the knob, setting it to detect demons. The screen showed a collection of bright white dots several meters in front of them. His earpiece crackled a constant TIKTIKTIKTIKTIK.
“Yup, definitely a welcoming party,” Beringer said.
Kentaris peered over his shoulder. “There’s ten of them, at least. We’re not fighting our way through that.”
“Yeah. Let’s look for an alternate entry point.”

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Blade for Monsters Part 7

Exactly thirty minutes later, Kentaris stepped out of the taxi in front of the cafe. Getting the right clothes was a bitch. She didn’t have anything that fit the description at such short notice. She just threw on her most practical outfit and backpack, and tossed on her robe over them. With the hood down she could blend in almost anywhere. The one concession she made to street fashion was her boots. Waterproof steel-toed boots.
Wandering into the cafe, she searched for the Voidguard. Three men sat with their backs to her at the counter; none of them could be him. The booth next to her was occupied by a hassled mother trying to get her three children to settle down for dinner. At the far end, an intense young man in a short black coat trained ice blue eyes on her. Beringer.
They exchanged a curt nod. She took the seat opposite him. A subtle heat radiated from him; he was loaded down with quintessence. This close to him, it seemed there was no light in his bright blue eyes. They were open so wide it was if they were swallowing in the light. Those touched by the Void bore stigmata, some obvious, some not, and this was Beringer’s.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

A Blade for Monsters Part 6

The Church taught that the Creator granted to the people the use of aether to work wonders in his name, and to do battle against the forces of the Void. But the Voidspawn adapted, learning to take on human form. To detect and defeat them, the Church granted to a select few who kept the Covenant a license to study and employ the powers of the Void against the demons that lurked within in. From that came the Voidguard. And the Voidguard had many tricks up its sleeve.

Friday, June 22, 2018

A Blade for Monsters Part 5

Back in his hotel, Beringer indulged himself in a long, hot shower. He scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed but could not wash off the taint of the Void. At least he didn’t hear the voices any more.
He staggered out, just in time for the sunrise. Blinked. Blinked again. Yawned, shuffled back into the bathroom and brushed his teeth.
After the hexe left, he collected his glasses. Or tried. The delicate crystal matrices were corrupted beyond repair. When he replayed their memories on his telecrystal all he saw was darkness, broken by keening wails or low-pitched moans or the multivoiced, dissonant laughter of the Unmaker. It had to be Simon’s work. That meant Beringer had to personally deliver his report to de Avaram.
On the bright side, Beringer had to personally deliver his report to de Avaram.
After a couple of hours of sleep.
Beringer stared at the bed. Yes, sleep. Sleep was good. And de Avaram already told him to report in the afternoon, so there wasn’t a problem with...
Beringer swore and headed for the writing desk. There his Lynx awaited.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Blade for Monsters Part 4

Voidguards are all the same.
Kentaris stepped back, snapping her knife up. “What do you mean, exactly?”
The Voidguard’s face was a solemn mask. “By the Covenant of the Church of Creation, within the Holy City of Amarantopolis I cannot permit a witch to live.” He pressed his lips together. “Leave now, and I shall pursue this no further.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that,” she said.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Blade for Monsters Part 3

Beringer blinked. The demon zipped to the next target and fired a black spike, smashing clean through her chest. The spike retracted just as fast, creating a vortex of soul energy that disappeared into the Void.
The third witch spun around, popping off rounds at it. The demon laughed, appeared next to him and spiked his face. The witch’s head vanished in a pyrotechnic cloud.
Beringer swore, sent forth a trickling of his soul into the Void and stopped the clock.
“O-ho! You have some tricks, mortal man!”
The Greater Demon sauntered from behind a gravestone, walking nonchalantly towards Beringer. This close, he could finally make out its form. It had taken on the shape of a mortal man, wearing a black button-up jacket and matching pants, with black gloves and knee-length boots. He was...the boy he had seen earlier.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Blade for Monsters Part 2

Modern technology was a wonderful thing. During the daylight hours Beringer planted tiny glasses around the necropolis, rigging them to alert him when they spotted motion. As the necropolis closed, he hid himself away inside an unused mausoleum and waited for nightfall.
The taint of the Void was upon this place. Flowers lay scattered on the flow, shriveled and brown. The hexagram on the wall was scratched and faded. The tombs were empty; scuff marks around them revealed that they had been opened recently. He scattered a generous handful of powdered aetherium on the floor and the sign, and retraced the hexagram with his finger. Light poured forth from the symbol, clearing away the corruption in the room.
He found a comfortable spot, set his telecrystal on the floor, and waited.

Monday, June 18, 2018

A Blade for Monsters Part 1

Alan Beringer had learned the hard way never to assume he had seen everything. It was perhaps the only reason he managed to hang on to his breakfast.
The bodies, or what was left of them, were scattered across the hall. In the middle of the aisle was a heavily-gnawed arm, the flesh only mostly stripped. Too many legs and too few torsos piled up in a corner. Unidentifiable gibs hung from the chandelier, dripping putrefied slime. Lying on the steps of the sanctuary, the remains of an old man awaited, arms and legs spread wide apart, his soft tissue chewed off. On the pulpit was his head, or what was left of it.
“Demons,” Beringer said. “Most definitely demons.”

Friday, June 15, 2018

Pulp Doesn't Revive Itself: Support The Culture You Want To See

We've got to create the culture that we want to enjoy, and that means backing those willing to put themselves out there. While that does mean spreading the word, ultimately it comes down to putting either your money or your skin where your mouth is. I understand if you're having to pinch your pennies, but if you can't put your money down then you can find a way to contribute otherwise; I can write, so I'm putting skin down instead and throwing my hat into the ring. Below is an excerpt of what I put out on my writing blog last Friday.

I'm taking a big step today. Today I launch my first crowd-funding campaign for my debut novel.

Head on over to my Freestartr page today, where you will find the campaign page live and awaiting your pledge of support. I don't have much to offer in terms of backer awards, as one would expect of someone starting out; I can't become someone that can do that sort of thing down the road if you don't trust me to deliver on my modest offerings now.

So what do I offer you?

If you haven't been keeping up, this is my #StarWarsNotStarWars AND my #AGundamForUs contributions, something I'm writing with as much inspiration from the East and the West, from the Pulps as from Medieval and Ancient epics, and played straight and sincere. If you want a hero that John Carter would be proud of, come put your money down for my space knight-errant and his adventures in a galaxy full of wonder and peril. No ponderous, plodding, bloated door-stoppers here: just slim, lithe page-turners like E.E. Smith and Robert E. Howard used to write.

I promise you Action! Romance! Giant Robot Combat! Space battleships pounding each other in engagements full of passion and valor, villains whose evil will make you love to hate them, and a heroine who is every bit the Deja Thoris to my John Carter, my Clarissa MacDougal to my Kimbal Kinneson. Some may not make it to the end, but nihilism and despair have no place in Galactic Christendom, so you'll find no such rob-the-reader endings here.

We've got a good core of solid folks now willing and able to produce the stuff we want to see; just look at the Contributors. We've also got Autarch Entertainment and The RPG Pundit making new non-pozzed gaming stuff for the tabletop RPG world, taking the same "Regress Harder!" ethic to tabletop gaming (where the same problem goes on there).

We're making more of our own outlets, starting with the magazines and podcasts (as those are easiest to do with a small team), but if we're going to succeed then we need to learn how to work better together as well as to bring some more players on to the team (as it were) to properly force-multiply our efforts. Remember that the strategy is "Fork and Replace", and the latter part in particular means working to build up clean institutions to be ready with the diseased ones collapse. That won't happen if you don't back those putting skin in the game now.

If you want the culture of hope, courage, and tenacity--especially under severe adversity--to revive and thrive tomorrow, then you need to water the seeds being sown and cultivated today. There's no other way to see it happen. Passivity is not an option.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Between Pulp Wonders and Light Novel Trash

In his last podcast, JimFear138 sat down with Rawle Nyanzi to discuss the concept of genres in a freewheeling discussion that spanned, among other things, My Hero Academia, the blurry line between science fiction and fantasy, and, at the 40:15 mark, Japanese light novels.
Rawle didn't have a high opinion of most light novels. I share the same sentiment. Yet light novels are the modern-day inheritors of the pulp tradition.
Within literati circles, it's fashionable to deride classic pulp fiction from the early 20th century as cheap, lurid and ultimately disposable fiction. Social Justice Warriors further insist that such stories are racist, sexist and all kinds of -ist and -phobic. Yet this seems to be a Western phenomenon: in Japan, light novels proudly continue the tradition of cheap, exciting entertainment, and far from being derided, are an integral and celebrated cornerstone of Japanese culture.
Light novels are short, inexpensive books on fast release schedules. Running to about 50,000 characters, they are small and lightweight, able to be carried about and read anywhere. This mirrors the pulp practice of publishing compact, fast-paced stories on equally compressed schedules. Well-loved in Japan and around the world, many LNs have been translated and exported across the world. But how do modern LNs compare to the pulps?

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Series Review: Writing Violence by Marc MacYoung

Marc 'Animal' MacYoung watches rom-coms because Hollywood gets action scenes wrong. Having worked as a court-recognized expert witness, correctional institute director, bodyguard, bouncer, cooler and event security, he has decades of first-hand experience with violence and criminals. His street name came from a high-risk lifestyle filled with life-or-death encounters on the mean streets of Los Angeles, and his vicious approach to streetfighting. With his Writing Violence series, MacYoung offers his expertise to writers seeking to create authentic action scenes.