Friday, December 22, 2017

Rey and the Force and Lukyanenko's Mirror and the Gloom

There will be spoilers for both The Last Jedi, and The Last Watch

With The Last Jedi, Rey's profound abilities have caused many fans to refer to her as a "Mary Sue." I don't believe it's deserved, and the fact a previous example of her sort of character appeared in one of my favorite fantasy series has only given me greater appreciation of what Disney's doing with her.

The Watch is a Russian urban fantasy series by Sergei Lukyanenko. It follows two groups of supernatural beings that are at eternal war with one another: the Day Watch (good), and the Night Watch (bad). Both groups gain their abilities from an invisible force that is emitted by all living things called the Twilight (or the "Gloom" in the films). In fact, the less "Twilight force" you emit, the greater your ability to absorb and wield it.

In the fourth book in the series, The Last Watch, the Day Watch has grown too strong. Though unconscious like the Force, the Twilight creates a mirror-magician to bring about a new balance. The Mirror is a neutral character, and is only as strong as the imbalance. So when enough members of the Day Watch are killed in battles with the Mirror, it fades back into the Twilight, its mission accomplished.

While I'm pretty sure none of the writers of the new Star Wars films have read Lukyanenko's series, the correlation between Rey and the Mirror is pretty strong. Kylo Ren is powerful, and has decimated the ranks of the Jedi. Shortly after, the Force inside Rey awakens and she's every bit as good as Kylo. In fact, the stronger he seems to be, the stronger Rey becomes. Just like the Mirror, training isn't necessary as the Force gives her what she might otherwise be lacking. The balance must persist, and when it doesn't, the Force steps in to make it so.

The concept of a mirror-magician is foreign to the Star Wars universe, but I think it's interesting how closely it resembles what's happening in the new trilogy. It even fits into the gaps of knowledge we have about the Force since there hasn't been a time in recorded (canon) SW history where the adherents of the dark side and the light side have been so low, with no potential for balance. (Remember, Luke blocked his ability to access the force, which means there's no representative of the light side out there anymore). Call Rey a Mary Sue if you like, but I much prefer to think of her as something like a mirror. It may be new to Star Wars, but it's also an intriguing addition to the lore.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Infected by the Editing Bug

I edit everything I write. Even my social media posts aren't exempt. Misspellings mentally hurt the worst, but even* redundancy bothers me--especially if I know my writing friends and acquaintances will see it. For example, I wrote an announcement for a sale on a private message board that read "Pleasantly surprise" instead of "Pleasantly surprised," and every time someone congratulated me, I saw my mistake and it prickled deep in the soft meat of my brain. (I fixed it, of course, but not quickly enough). On FB, I might edit my posts as much as four or five times until I get it "right." Forget Tweets! If there's an error, I delete the mother-blanker and start again, regardless of how many hearts it got**.

There are a few writers and editors I know who don't seem to suffer from this affliction, and they're pretty famous within the short story writing world. What must be going through their brains? How can they read something like, "I jus finished my newest [project] and sent it to my [editor/agent/whatever]. Can't wait to see they're reaction" and not be bothered? I, for example+, already edited this blog entry four times and I haven't++ posted it yet. My only question is, am I blessed, or cursed, or something in the middle? I like to pretend it'll help me in the long run,  but more likely it just means I'll obsess endlessly over minutia and never get anything done. So goes life.

* I just noticed I used "even" twice in two sentences, and it offends my eyes. I left it in as an example.
** This isn't a problem, yet, because I'm about as significant on Twitter as a grain of sand in the Sahara. My Tweet heart record is three, and I'm still proud of it!
+ Oh God...
++ Almost wrote another "even" here, but I couldn't allow it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Slow News Year

I've had a few publications since I last wrote.

"A Mundane Encounter With a Civilized God" appeared in Intergalactic Medicine Show's February issue.

"Servant of the Aswang" was reprinted in the Feburary issue of Apex Magazine, and again in the French horror anthology, Ténèbres.

"A Thing in All My Things" aired on the Pseudopod Podcast in August.

"Behind the Walls" appeared in an anthology of original horror stories called Cutton Block: Single Slices vol. 1.

"Love in the Time of Alien Invasion" was reprinted in the Fantastic Stories of the Imagination: People of Color Flash Anthology.

"She Who Would Rip the Sky Asunder" was adapted into an audio drama and aired on the Redshift Podcast.

As for sales? "A Pocket of Madness" sold to Digital Horror Fiction; a reprint of "Penelope's Song" sold to Far Fetched Fables, and is expected to air in January 2018; the Podcast Tales to Terrify picked up "PagPag" to air sometime in 2018; and "Beyond the Reach of Darkness" may appear in an anthology of original horror stories in January of 2018 as well.

Beyond that, one of my newer stories made semi-finalist in the Writers of the Future contest, and I have a few originals currently under final-round consideration. Hoping to get more, and better, news as we near the end of the year! I'll also try to update my bibliography, and this post, with links as soon as I can.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Bibliography Updated

I updated my bibliography with three new publications, including "Pagpag" from Apex Magazine #89 and "Penelope's Song" from the 3rd Spectral Book of Horror Stories. Also added a few publications, forthcoming in 2017, to the bottom of the list.

Friday, December 16, 2016

My 2016 Writing Year in Review

By all accounts, 2016 was a good year for my writing. I had a number of originals published, all of which I'm proud of, and tied my all-time record for 11 stories sold in a single year. While my output was low, I did end up extensively rewriting a number of old, trunked stories that eventually sold, and even started my first novel.


My absolute favorite is "Pagpag," which appeared in issue #89 of Apex Magazine (October). Paula Guran called it, "A poignant, textured story," and it's free to read at Apex Magazine's website.

That same month, The Spectral Book of Horror Stories Vol. 3 released "Penelope's Song," a sad, but (I think) ultimately hopeful tale about a developmentally disabled girl who must defend her group home from a monster.

"The Last Great Failing of the Light," a dark, second-world fantasy--about hope and loss in a dying world--came out July 16th in Myriad Lands Vol. 2: Beyond the Edge.

"Winter Fever," a horror story inspired by my fever dreams, appeared in the final issue of the great Shock Totem (#10, March 2016). Inspired by my own fever dreams.

"Midnight, San Francisco"--a rare (for me) science fiction story and among the first stories I ever wrote--appeared in Stupefying Stories Showcase on September 16th.


"Multo" was included in The Best of Apex Magazine Vol. 1 (January) and in the Apex Magazine 2015 Sampler (February). "Smart Money" appeared on Evil Girlfriend Media (March). "So Praise Him," my Lovecraft meets Pentecostals horror story, appeared as a Digital Fiction Short Story in June and then again in the Digital Fiction anthology "Largely Deceased" in July. "Multo" also appeared in Expanded Horizons #50 (June). An updated and slightly expanded version of "Burning Men" was published in Sci Phi Journal (August), and "Love in the Time of Alien Invasion" is forthcoming in Fantastic Stories of the Imagination's POC flash fiction anthology (Kickstarter in December, and an ebook in 2017).

Forthcoming Stories:

I also made a few choice sales that will appear next year, including "A Mundane Encounter With a Civilized God" (IGMS, February 2017), "Behind the Walls" (Single Slices, 2017), "Beyond the Reach of Darkness" (Fifth Spectral Book of Horror Stories, October 2017), a newly polished version of "Servant of the Aswang" (Apex Magazine, 2017?), and "A Thing in All My Things" (Pseudopod, 2017).

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Halloween costume

Not everything is writing all day, every day. Sometimes I take a break and Halloween with the best of 'em.

I wanted to make Mario look as real as possible, not the cartoony version most people dress up as. It took me three months to grow the beard that I would eventually shave down into a suitable mustache. For the heck of it, I played the theme song on my cell phone, tucked into the front pocket. People seemed to get a kick out of it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Pagpag released in Apex Magazine #89

Pagpag was the third, though far from last, story I wrote inspired by Filipino folklore and urban legends. The antagonists in this are based on the aswang, though unlike my previous story "Servant of the Aswang," I've taken some liberties with the folklore to give readers a little something new. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Apex #89

The issue features original fiction by Kristi DeMeester and me, as well as a reprint by Adam Roberts. You can purchase a Kindle version of the issue at Amazon.