29

04/22

Max is back!

1:55 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Writing

My WIP is Aries II, and I’ve been writing a little bit in it every day. Look for bits of it on Twitter. I’m up to 7,500 words–ten percent done!

Been taking care of my overly dependent geriatric cat, who has to take meds every day now.

Tom “helping”

New stories are out!

An ancient form of revenge.

“Hippolyta’s Dagger” takes place at The Truck Stop in the Center of the Galaxy. It’s a fun place to be. Read some of the other stories.

If it’s precious, they can steal it.

“Seven of Swords” is part of The Storyteller’s Tarot series. I kind of copied a scene from Grim’s last book, Grimaulkin Redeemed, rewrote it, introduced a new (old) character named Tamerlane who is a bit of a jerk. Just a little bit.

Coming soon: War Mage: The Extended Edition.

06

04/22

Busy

2:54 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Uncategorized

I have no excuse for February, other than putting together the podcast “Small Publishing in a Big Universe”.

March, though, I helped out my publisher who put out a submissions call for the Dragon Gems program of short stories. So many people replied (175 or so) that he needed help weeding out the good stuff from the chaff.

At first, I concentrated on the “art” of the story. Did the author tell a good story? Eventually, though, I got irritated by all the different version of “formatting” that people did. Not Comic Sans, but some were pretty dang close (single-spaced, 10 point, .rtf default). We put on our website exactly what submission guidelines were. Oh, and by the way, Scrivener can automatically do that for you in Compile. So with the second batch and from then on, the author got a letter grade taken off for bad formatting.

Some people’s writing was truly atrocious. I finally understood the whole “you tell, not show” error in a manuscript. Then I read some stuff that blew my mind and I wanted to pass it along right away to the judges with a screaming neon post-it saying “THIS ONE!”

That took me all the way through March, between reading and replying to people. Just over 50 of the 175 are in the judging phase. They went past me because either they’re great, or I was on the fence on it. Like horror and hard sci-fi ain’t my thing, but as long as the author didn’t mess up the formatting, the spelling and word choices were good, and the story kept my attention without me scrolling through, then it moved onto judging. Some of them brought a different dimension to magic that made me stop and think.

Basically, I loved being a gatekeeper (ahem, “curator”). I’d do it again in a second.

Meanwhile, what else is going on, you might wonder? Have I written anything? Not in the last two months. I attended a webinar that was “write to market” and found out that the hottest sellers are in the Romance category. Romance-anything. So I was thinking of pulling Max out of retirement and do another Brothers of the Zodiac series–this time, much longer, taking place during world history instead of American history, and explore the world a little more. Bring in the Sumerian gods? Explain what it means to be immortal in Ishtar’s service? Explore the sign itself a little more. What really happens to the immortal if he falls in love with someone?

For a fleeting fifteen seconds, I thought of a typical heterosexual romance. Then I decided I can’t do that. I know the heroines are supposed to be kickass these days, but I still like the difficulties (challenges – drink!) that M/M romance has with it.

Brothers of the Zodiac, the Next Generation. I’m starting with Aries. I’m giving myself until June 1 to get it done.

21

01/22

Read Harder 2022 Challenge (part 1)

2:06 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Reading,Review
  1. read a biography of an author you adore:

Read a history about a period you know little about:

Read an entire poetry collection

12

01/22

Top Ten 2021

4:30 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Inspiration,Reading,Review

10. “Reduction in Force” – Steve Soult (fiction, short story) You think you got it bad…

9. The Sorcerer’s Secrets – Jason Miller. (non-fiction, magic) Although he’s a little full of himself (what real practicing magician isn’t?), this is a really good introduction to magic without fear.

8. Three-Story Method – J. Thorn. (non-fiction, writing) I read a lot of books on writing. I liked this book so much that I bought the corresponding workbook which was worthless. And I liked this book so much that if you ask me now what was so great about it…I don’t know.

7. Being Indie – Eeva Lancaster (non-fiction, writing) Marketing as an indie. Useful tricks and tips.

6 “Best Served Cold” – Bob Schnoover. (fiction, short story) It’s so unfortunate that we lost this author last year. I would have loved to read what he planned to do in our Truck Stop series, and wish I could read the other stories that Analog rejected.

5. The Viking Spirit – Daniel McCoy (non-fiction, Norse magic) The warriors of the north. My kid got me interested in Loki – Marvel’s Loki. Who I think is cool, but not someone I want dating my kid. Reading this reinforced that idea.

4. The Conflict Thesaurus – Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi. (non-fiction, writing). I have to pick this up in paperback. It’s wasted on Kindle.

3. High Magick – Damien Echols. (non-fiction, ceremonial magic) The first book that got me on the Qaballic Kick. I didn’t need to read the other books on ceremonial magic – this one was fine.

2. Mastering Your Mystery – Cheryl Bradshaw. (non-fiction, writing) Excellent, excellent book on writing mysteries, even if they are formulaic. She goes from planning to writing to publishing to marketing.

  1. Seeker – Morgan Chalut (fiction, fantasy). Well-written, easy to read, plotted well, twists, realistic, and excellent world-building.

10

01/22

Takin’ my own sweet time

If you don’t give me a deadline, I assume “anytime you want”. Teen Guardians, the newest Grimaulkin story, is at 11K words because of a few reasons.

Podcasting.
Pain.
Health.
Boredom.
Lack of attention.

I do two podcasts: commercially, Small Publishing in a Big Universe; and always Dark Mystic Quill once a month on the last Friday of the month.

I have pain in my left hand due to arthritis. Forty years of typing hasn’t helped because this is not the hand that does the typing–I have to raise my thumb to keep it out of the way. All you touch-typists know what I’m talking about.

Still on dialysis. Still dealing with the heart attack (myocardial infarction). I am double vaxxed and boosted and waiting to get Covid so I can get it over with.

When I sit down to write, I only pretty much know what the scene is going to be. After that, I have no idea what’s going on with the rest of the story. And whenever I try to plot it out, I get mad at myself because I don’t want to write it out. There’s no fun in that. I have an ending in mind for the main plot, but no idea for the sub plots. I don’t want my writing to turn into a bunch of words with no story. That’s what I was afraid of with Carnival Farm–that it had no story. But it’s doing really well (I might have a double-digit royalty check this month!) despite my thinking there’s no story involved in it. It’s a book club book.

Lastly, I look around and see things I need to do. Clean the cat litter box. Read for my 2022 Reading Challenges. Finish reading this humongous book on the Middle Ages. Research, learn, and perform ceremonial magic. Do divination/spiritual explorations. Not to mention prep for podcasting and watch movies/read books at dialysis.

Coming out between February and April 1 (tentatively) is War Mage, the Extended Edition. It’s War Mage the way I wanted it done. An editor wanted me to rewrite it, which I did, and it came out as the tiny book that’s on sale now. But this one is much better. It’s only got my name, L.A. Jacob, so Jake is gone.

And one more thing: We’re doing Rhode Island Comicon November 4-6 at the Convention Center and Dunkin Center in Providence this year. There will be TONS of books (trust me, I have to carry them) from Water Dragon Publishing. Myself and a really good author from Boston, Steven D. Brewer, will be there with his short story collection. My son will be cosplaying somewhere around there, too. More information forthcoming!

24

12/21

Success! Ummm…

3:56 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Reading,Writing

H/T to Steven D. Brewer in his blog, what does success mean to me.

Now this entry isn’t going to sound as scholarly as his, but humor me.

Was I rich this year? Nope. But I’m not complaining at what I have made. Any cup o’ tea helps.

Was I famous this year? I touched more people with Carnival Farm than I had with Grimaulkin. General fiction is a winner. Who’da thunk?

I did like something noted in Steven’s blog:

Jane McGonigal, in her book Reality is Broken, identified four qualities that make for a happy life: (1) Satisfying work to do, (2) The experience of being good at something, (3) Time spent with people we like, and (4) The chance to be a part of something bigger.

  1. Check.
  2. Check
  3. Cheaaaaaakkkk? (Two toxic people in my life I’m working on distancing myself from)
  4. Don’t care. At least, I don’t think so.

DBT talks about “Mastery”, and I will admit, I think that I have achieved the mastery of writing. (Wait! No more writing books? Oh, hella no–I’m addicted to collecting those like I’m addicted to collecting tarot cards.) So what do I do when I feel like I’m worthless–i.e., those two toxic people tell me I am worthless?

I write. Or I read something that I know I can write better. Or I outline. I plan the next scene. And I try to work hard on it to get it published.

Writing equals success. Publishing equals success. Money and fame are icing.

05

12/21

A Grimaulkin Return?

2:25 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Characters,Grimaulkin,Inspiration

I have the itch to write. I put aside the NaNoWriMo project after its epic fail last month. I want to write something, but I have no idea what.

So I sat down with my writing journal, and what came to me was a scene I had done years and years ago on another blog. I had Grim create a spell call the Cornucopia Spell that he put on a fridge. Anything you wanted would appear in the fridge. Cooked or uncooked, but just the way you wanted it.

Well, one of the characters in the hostel that the fridge was located in liked to “stump the fridge”. He created bacon ice cream. A long and very funny role-playing session happened (but not as memorable as Penis Coat in the D). I could do a short story with that character and the Cornucopia scene. It could be part of the Storyteller’s Tarot as the ten of cups (wish-fulfilment).

As I kept writing in my journal, I realized that there were a few other characters I wanted to bring out. Jules, the naive wanna-be hero; Eule, the prankster; Masonry, the anti-hero; and more from way back in City of Heroes and Champions Online. I have to go back to all the stories I’ve written (skipping Bomber because he’s quite dead) to get what I was trying to do with them. Do I want to bring them all out, along with Grim, who owns this hostel for “wayward boys” because he’s forced to do years of community service for a crime he committed?

The thing is, I don’t want to mine old stuff. But it seems to be the fastest way to get at anything.

I’ll play with the idea. Let it stew and pull out old characters, read/write them up.

Maybe another Grimaulkin story might find its way out.

24

11/21

Epic Fail

7:19 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Uncategorized

I started off with good intentions. Then, on November 7, I went into the hospital with a heart attack.

Three days in the hospital’s Cardiac Care Unit and three days of recovery afterward destroyed the possibility of me catching up to NaNoWriMo. I had to get the Small Publishing, Big Universe podcast done, listen to my audiobook to get it done by December 11. Found myself distracted by news of the day and trying to read books to finish my Goodreads challenge.

So I got the “winner’s” t-shirt, without winning. Sad on my part.

17

10/21

Waiting

7:49 pm by L. Jacob. Filed under: Uncategorized

I’m waiting for the gunshot on October 31 at midnight so I can start writing. I have the characters ready to go: the casting is done, the playlist exists…now everyone’s milling around waiting for the settings, the scenes, to speak the dialogue and do the actions.

I have the beginning and the end, but the middle, not so much.

In December, on Small Publishing In a Big Universe, I am going to be interviewed for my new book Carnival Farm. Well, it’s been recorded and it just needs to be edited. Also Carnival Farm’s audio book might be out in December. And also on December 11, I will be at the author expo in Pawtuxet/Cranston, RI. It’s a dialysis day, so I’m probably going to be a wreck. I have to find a dress I can wear.

Speaking of dresses, I went through my clothes and donated the ones that don’t fit anymore, or that I’ve had for “work” and haven’t worn for the last three years. I discovered some clothes that were my favorites, but I was ruthless and tossed them in the bag to go to the Goodwill. I brought them down before I could change my mind.

I will have a special NaNoWriMo website set up which will have my work. I could, if I wanted to, submit this to The Storyteller’s Vault which allows fan-fiction of Vampire, Werewolf, and any of the other RPG’s. You need to pay for the license to get paid, though.

I’ll stick to offering it for free, raw and unedited, all 50,000 words or so. Trust me, it’ll be bad.

01

10/21

NaNoWriMo Planning

4:26 am by L. Jacob. Filed under: Inspiration,NaNoWriMo,Prince of Providence

All of a sudden, I have a hankering for LARPing. Ah, the nostalgia of my college years, when Vampire: The Masquerade was all the rage and Mind’s Eye Theatre had a foothold in Brown University. Instead of doing it, I collected the books and stayed on the fringes. Far be it for me to be of the same ilk as Brown kids.

I still have all of my White Wolf books, the V:TM core rule book. The Player’s Guide. Mage: The Ascension first edition. Vampire: Dark Ages. Changeling: The Dreaming, first edition. Werewolf: The Apocalypse, first edition. Somewhere is Wraith: The I Forget, but I can’t put my hands on it right now. I pulled down all these books and paged through them, remembering the good old days when I would create a character and…nothing.

I had in my head at the time a story which I now know would be considered fanfiction. The Giovanni vampires took over Rhode Island. An old Gangrel who had been Prince of Providence comes back to see how things are going. Providence is a mess, with Sabbat packs roaming the streets, crime up, everyone in the Giovanni’s back pocket, and all the Camarilla scattered “in hiding” around the state. (Now, RI is as big as some counties, so it’s not like they’re far away from each other.)

In 2005, I was on a tear for anything V:TM or Mage-related. I know this because there is a digital RPG site called DriveThruRPG that I downloaded a ton of source books and novels at that time. They’re still in my library, all the .pdf’s. So I downloaded them all and read most of them.

What if I wrote the story that was in my head from the 2000’s? Scenes and bits are still there in the recesses of the corkboard of my brain, ready to be used. Thus, Prince of Providence is in gestation.

I pulled out a 2-subject notebook (on clearance at BJ’s Warehouse, doncha know). The first section is characters. The second section is plot or brainstorm. No scenes yet, because if I write them out, I might as well start the darn book. And I can’t until November 1. Then I printed out sheets for each character.

Boy, was that a mistake.

I now have a pile of RPG character sheets, which, although good for keeping my characters in line, created a huge cast of characters that I probably won’t use half of them. There’s Camarilla and Sabbat and Mages and Lupines. For a week, I’ve been filling out RPG sheets, getting inklings of characters, sitting with each and every one, making notes on their idiosyncrasies. I didn’t bother doing “Merits and Flaws” because that’s shoehorning them into something more strict. But it’s like D&D: Charisma and Intelligence and Strength.

There is “Nature” and “Demeanor” that I find indispensable. Nature is what the character is on the inside; Demeanor is how the character presents themselves to the world. This is how I plan on keeping the characters straight. “Concept” helps too. That’s what the character is supposed to emulate. For instance, the main character, Ragest, has a concept of “Adventurer”. Then there’s details: skills, abilities, and knowledge.

My plan is to “play the game” while writing. If I get stuck, I’ll roll the 10-sided dice. Example: Ragest has to figure out how to get into a laptop. He has one “Computer” related die, and four “Intelligence” die. I roll them versus a difficulty of 8 (6 is average, but because he’s not a computer guy, I increased the difficulty). If he gets three out of five successes, he wins. If not, it’s a loss, and he’s got to hand the laptop to someone else with better computer skills. If they all fail, it’s a “botch” and he broke the computer.

What this will do is cause me to do twists and turns that I normally wouldn’t do. It’s totally random and unpredictable.

This is gonna be fun.

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