Monthly Archives: June 2015

Demons, Werewolves, and Zombies, Oh My

I didn’t quite know what to expect when I took on the challenge of editing the Monsters! anthology. I knew I’d get some solid stories by talented authors, but the depth and breadth of those stories impressed me. The stories that play with familiar tropes like zombies and demons do so in unique ways. Several stories touch on the idea that the real monsters in the world reside within us. Some make you laugh, some make you think, and they’re all worth your time. It was an honor to edit these stories, and it makes me happy to see it out in the world. Be sure to back the kickstarter so you can be one of the first to discover how this group of authors tackle the monster theme.

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I’ll Just Put This Announcement Right … Here

I’ve signed the contracts, which I suppose makes it official enough to announce: Silence in the Library will be publishing two of my novels this year. The first is a YA set in a school for World Domination, and the second is an urban fantasy set in Prohibition-era Chicago. Both will be out later this year. SitL uses a unique model; they run a kickstarter to cover initial publication costs, so be prepared. I’ll be blathering about these books again soon enough.  

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Shiny

Kelly referenced Mad Max in her previous post, a movie I finally hauled myself off to the theatre to see.

(At 10 am, because the kids were still in school, and so I didn’t need a babysitter. Going to a movie at 10 am is kind of awesome, because it was cheap and me and my wife were the only ones in there. It does, however, make you feel awful adulty. I remember when most of the movies I saw were midnight shows.)

Anyway, Fury Road was awesome. There’s a lot of good stuff there, which you can find out about easily enough by trolling the fan sites and Twitter. Or you could perhaps go see it. What I wanted to comment on, though, was one tiny portion of the world building that happened in the film. The Warboys would spray their mouths with silver spray paint before doing some particularly suicidal move. Basically, they were making their mouths look like they were chromed, like the front of the cars that are central to the whole Mad Max post-apocalypse. None of them say this though, they just scream about being shiny and chrome as they leap to their dooms.

It’s little touches like these, unexplained but obvious in the context, that really punch up world building.

I LIVE! I DIE! I LIVE AGAIN! READ THE REVIEWS!

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Watch Bad Movies to Improve Your Craft

Bear with me.

So the other night the husband and I watched Kick-Ass 2. While the third act is pretty cool action scene, the movie overall isn’t great. I watched it mostly because I loved the original Kick-Ass so much. As I lay in bed (and honestly, again the next day) I kept thinking things like, “you know, if they had cut out the X storyline and made the Z storyline that felt tacked on into the main storyline, it would have been much better and would have nodded to comic-book tropes, too” and “or they could have made Kick-Ass the main character and Hit Girl the protagonist, like they did in in the new Mad Max,” that sort of thing.

My writer brain wanted to make the story better. My writer brain recognized what wasn’t working in the story and thought of ways to strengthen it.

We storytellers usually talk about how reading good writing will help make your writing better, and that’s true. One should definitely spend the bulk of one’s time consuming good story. However, there is something to be said for reading/watching/experiencing a subpar story so you can recognize it when you see it and think of ways to make it better.

Come to think of it, that’s good advice for editors, too.

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