Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Gospel of Bad Advice

I was reminded the other day about all the “rules” people like to quote at us, as writers, of how we should (or more often, should not) be writing.  The “should not” is the crucial bit here, because far more often than not, these rules tend to be things not to do.  Which is all well and good, but I’ve noticed that rules that ought to be phrased “try to avoid too much…” or “be aware of…” become gospel from on high: THOU SHALT NOT. And the problem always comes when "here's a suggestion"-- especially when it's specific to a piece being critiqued-- becomes preached like it's universal gospel.

1. Thou shalt not use passive voice.  On the whole, this is sensible advice.  Passive voice tendsto make for weak writing. However, more often than not, I've seen the person giving it not know what passive voice actually is.  Here’s a hint: it is not when the gerund form of the verb is used (as in “the boys were walking down the street”.) Or anything to do with verb tense or helper verbs.  Here’s passive voice in a nutshell: when the object of the action is the subject of the sentence.  Take “the boys were walking down the street”.  What the subject?  The boys.  What’s the action?  Walking.    Who was walking?  The boys.  The subject is doing the action.  Active voice.  Passive voice would be, “The street was walked upon by the boys.”    Subject?  The street.  But the action is done by the boys.  Got it?  Good.

2. Thou shalt not use ‘to be’ in any form.  I’ve heard it said that using forms of ‘to be’ is “weak writing”.  But you know what’s really weak writing?  The kind of convoluted verbal cartwheels I’ve seen people use to avoid a simple “to be” sentence.  Sometimes it pays to be concise.

3. Thou shalt not use ‘said’.  I’m of the school of thought that ‘said’ is an invisible word.  People don’t get caught up in its repetition.  True, if you have a two-person conversation, their dialogue should be distinct enough that you don’t need to indicate the speaker at every line.  But when you do tag, ‘said’ is nice and innocuous.  I’d also rather tack an adverb onto ‘said’ every once in a while instead of having characters chortled, exclaimed, exuded, implied or, god forbid, ejaculated.  I do like, when appropriate, asked, answered, whispered, muttered, murmured and shouted.  But on the whole, said gets the job done.

4. Thou shalt not use adverbs.  Yes, sometimes adverbs can be over done, and using an adverb is used where a stronger verb would do a better job, but adverbs are a useful tool, and they are part of the language for a reason.

Here’s the thing: I’m against any rule that’s spoken of as an absolute, about keeping the tools locked in the box.  The words and tools are there, use them.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Fan groups, wikis and eligibility

So, a while back, I was chatting with an old friend who is far more business/marketing minded than I am capable of being, and he was talking about giving readers the opportunities tone more than fans, to "live" in Maradaine-- in the sense that there is more for them to engage in beyond the books. Partly that's encouraging things like fan art and fanfic (which: yes, especially fan art.) Partly that's merchandise. But largely it's about engagement and community.

I'm not entirely sure how to go about that, but I do know that some fans have been working on a Maradaine wiki, which is AMAZING. If you are interested in helping out with that project, I highly encourage it: https://the-maradaine-sequence.fandom.com/wiki/The_Maradaine_Sequence_Wiki
ALSO, since I've been asked, here's are my eligible works for this year's Hugo nominations, which are due on the 15th:
  • Best Novel: LADY HENTERMAN'S WARDROBE
  • Best Novel: WAY OF THE SHIELD 
  • Best Series: MARADAINE (the whole saga, not any of the individual series)
  • Best Related Work: #BelgariadLive Read
All right, back into the word mines for me. No use having fans if I'm not putting out the work, right? Right.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Creative Focus, and the Playlists Behind Them

I've been a little radio silent the past few weeks, at least in terms of posting, because I've been chin-deep on a few things, both in terms of creative projects and other personal responsibilities. Nothing bad, mind you, just busy.

Two things have been my creative focus of late. One is finishing the draft of THE FENMERE JOB, the third Streets of Maradaine novel, and like all third novels in the Maradaine saga, there is a crossover element, which I'm sure you can suss out just from title alone. 

The other is more in the developmental stage, but let's just call it a Secret Project for now. But it will probably be a standalone thing to palate cleanse myself between Phase I and Phase II of the Maradaine Saga.

Both of these, I've got some inspirational music for, though I don't tend to go full-on curated playlists. Rather, I tend to find thematic material and throw it together and then, in process, figure out which stuff really works for me.

In the case of The Fenmere Job, I'm leaning toward film scores from films that evoke the same feeling I'm going for. Here's the spotify link for that one.

For The Secret Project, it's got a very different feel from the other stuff, and the playlist matches it. As you can see, it's largely focused on a specific artist. That might morph over time, though.

All right, back to the grind. Plenty to do over the next few days.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Backlist love for The Maradaine Constabulary Series

With A PARLIAMENT OF BODIEScoming out in just a few weeks, I think it's appropriate to look a bit at the backlist and what's led up to this book. Primarily, the first two books of the Maradaine Constabularyseries. Blending high fantasy, murder mystery and gritty urban magic, this series features Inspectors Satrine Rainey and Minox Welling, two detectives in the city constabulary who protect Maradaine from crime, both magical and mundane.

AMurderofMages
"A Murder of Mageswas another hit for me, a fantastic read from a new talent whose star continues to be on the rise."  - Bibliosanctum

Satrine Rainey: Former street rat. Ex-spy. Wife and mother who needs to make twenty crowns a week to support her daughters and infirm husband.  To earn that, she forges credentials and fakes her way into a posting as a constabulary Inspector.

Minox Welling: Brilliant Inspector. Uncircled Mage. Outcast of the stationhouse.  Partnered with Satrine because no one else will work with “the jinx".

Their first case together—the ritualized murder of a Circled mage—brings Satrine back to the streets she grew up on, and forces Minox to confront the politics of mage circles he’s avoided.  As more mages are found dead, Satrine must solve the crime before her secrets catch up with her, and before her partner ends up a target.

READ AN EXCERPTGoodreads Pagefor A MURDER OF MAGESAvailable at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBoundand more!

Maresca - An Import of Intrique
"Maresca offers something beyond the usual high fantasy fare, with a wealth of unique and well-rounded characters, a vivid setting, and complicatedly intertwined social issues that feel especially timely."  - Publishers Weekly

The neighborhood of the Little East is a collision of cultures, languages, and traditions, hidden away in the city of Maradaine. A set of streets to be avoided or ignored. When a foreign dignitary is murdered, solving the crime falls to the most unpopular inspectors in the Maradaine Constabulary: exposed fraud Satrine Rainey, and uncircled mage Minox Welling.

With a murder scene deliberately constructed to point blame toward the Little East, Rainey is forced to confront her former life, while Welling’s ignorance of his own power threatens to consume him. And these few city blocks threaten to erupt into citywide war unless the constabulary solves the case.

READ AN EXCERPTGoodreads Page forAN IMPORT OF INTRIGUE
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBoundand more!

But it would be remiss to leave out novels in the other series that lead up to this one as well! The Imposters of Aventil features Satrine and Minox as they investigate the murder of a constable and the Thorn's involvement, and the events of that book echo into Parliament. Also, as the inspectors team up with Dayne Heldrin of the Tarian Order, it wouldn't hurt to check out The Way Of The Shieldas well. And there may be threads to Streets of Maradaine.

It wouldn't hurt to read them all. I mean, just to be safe.

Monday, February 11, 2019

PARLIAMENT OF BODIES, Boskone and other appearances

Hello, friends,

We're just six weeks away from the release of A PARLIAMENT OF BODIES, which I'm so excited to get into your hands.  I know people have been anxious for more of Satrine and Minox, PLUS you get more of Dayne and Jerinne.  (You have checked out WAY OF THE SHIELD already, yes?)  Well, even if you haven't, PARLIAMENT gives you a great introduction to them.   Publishers' Weekly says, of PARLIAMENT, "Maresca’s detailed worldbuilding and tightly plotted intrigue will entertain fans of suspenseful fantasy."


Also, this weekend I will be appearing at Boskone, which is one of my favorite conferences.  If you are in the Boston area this weekend, come check it out, come say hello.  Here's my schedule:

Kaffeeklatsch: Marshall Ryan Maresca
Format: Kaffeeklatsch
15 Feb 2019, Friday 18:00 - 18:50, Galleria - Kaffeeklatsch 2 (Westin)
Marshall Ryan Maresca
Booting the Reboot
Format: Panel
15 Feb 2019, Friday 20:00 - 20:50, Marina 3 (Westin)
Do we really need all of these reboots? Does the current reboot formula work for everything? And do all these retellings steal energies (and audiences) from new creations? Our participants discuss the good and bad of the reboots we love to hate.
Marshall Ryan Maresca (M), S L Huang, Robert Howard, Jennifer Pelland, Julia Rios (Fireside Magazine)
Hugo Award Recommendations (Dramatic)
Format: Panel
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 13:00 - 13:50, Marina 3 (Westin)
What's the greatest stuff you saw last year? Let’s (quickly) review and recommend 2018's best movies, TV shows, theatrical productions, and more in the worlds of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. If you're eligible to vote, feel free to take notes — your Hugo Awards nominations ballot is due in Dublin, Ireland soon.
Marshall Ryan Maresca , Bob Devney (M), Daniel M. Kimmel, Garen Daly (44th Boston Science Fiction Film Festival and Marathon), Deirdre Crimmins
Reading by Marshall Ryan Maresca
Format: Reading
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 15:00 - 15:25, Independence (Westin)
Marshall Ryan Maresca
If Only It Were Real
Format: Panel
16 Feb 2019, Saturday 20:00 - 20:50, Griffin (Westin)
What science fiction concept, other than space travel, would you most like to see realized? Flying cars? Matter replicators? Time travel? Why? What would be the impact on civilization of this wish fulfillment? Flying cars crashing into buildings, replicators putting manufacturers out of business, time travelers running wild, oh my!
Alan Brown (M), Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Mary Anne Mohanraj (Speculative Literature Foundation), Karl Schroeder
How to Survive a Horror Story
Format: Panel
17 Feb 2019, Sunday 12:00 - 12:50, Marina 4 (Westin)
Who knows better than a horror writer how to survive a horror story? Join he fun and "lively" conversation as our panelists discuss scenarios from horror novels and films as if they themselves were characters within the scenes. Will their special authorial insights keep them safe? Will they split up to look for the cat? What are they willing to do to survive (relatively) intact? Who dies first? Who lives to tell the tale?
Marshall Ryan Maresca (M), Barry Lee Dejasu (New England Horror Writers), Nicholas Kaufmann, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert , Clarence Young (Zig Zag Claybourne)
Autographing: Bruce Coville, Craig Shaw Gardner, Mur Lafferty, Marshall Ryan Maresca
Format: Autographing
17 Feb 2019, Sunday 13:00 - 13:50, Galleria - Autographing (Westin)
Bruce Coville, Mur Lafferty, Craig Shaw Gardner, Marshall Ryan Maresca
---
Also, I will be at the Sunset Valley Barnes & Noble on TUESDAY, MARCH 26th (Release day!) at 7pm for a reading and signing event.  If you're in the greater Austin area, please come on out!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

COVER REVEAL for SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE

I'm very excited that I finallyget to share the cover of the second Maradaine Elite novel, SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE. It's a gorgeous cover that highlights both Dayne and everyone's favorite Tarian Initiate, Jerinne Fendall.
Not only do we have a cover, but description and pre-order links! Go now so you can have it in your hands when it comes out on October 29th.

The second novel in the Maradaine Elite series blends fast-paced high fantasy and political intrigue, where Dayne and his compatriots get embroiled in a plot of dissident groups threatening to disrupt Parliamentary elections and throw Maradaine into chaos.

After stopping Tharek Pell and saving the Druth Parliament, Dayne Heldrin and Jerinne Fendall find themselves on the margins of the Tarian Order: lauded as heroes in public but scorned and ignored in private, their future in the Order hazy. Dayne is given an assignment that isolates him from the Order, and Jerinne is hazed and bullied at the bottom of the initiate rankings. 

But it’s a grand holiday week in the city of Maradaine, celebrating over two centuries of freedom and the foundation of the reunified modern nation, and with that comes parades, revelry… and protests and demonstrations. A dissident group called The Open Hand–and their mysterious, charismatic leader, Bishop Ret Issendel–seeks to disrupt the Parliament elections with their message of secession and dissolution.

Despite orders to stay out of the public eye, Dayne and Jerinne are drawn into the intrigue of the Open Hand and kept apart by dark powerful conspiracies that brew around them. Dayne and Jerinne must fight for their own principles, and protect the will of the people as the election is thrown into chaos.

"The Way of the Shield is at its best when they’re running around in the streets getting themselves beaten up by political subversives and the constabulary, and dealing with the consequences of their decisions. Maresca writes solid action scenes and has an eye for the believably absurd." —Locus



Goodreads Page for THE SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound and more!

Who are your influences?

So, whenever that question pops up, I can't help but think of Jimmy Rabbit, trying vainly to hold auditions for the Hardest Working Soul Band in Dublin.
It's funny, because when I think about the books that influenced me, I'm kind of at a loss.  I mean, nothing that I read in my youth really matches what I write.  I cite Zilpha Keatly Snyder and David Eddings as influences, and it's true.  They both opened my idea of what fantasy could be, and more specifically what it didn't have to be.

That was important, because on some level I was always dissatisfied with the trappings of 'traditional' fantasy.  Even though Eddings fits in that category, it did it in a way that defied my earlier expectations.  Both Green-Sky and The Belgariad showed me that Fantasy didn't have to fit neatly into the genre boxes.

And of course, there's Watership Down, which is more myfantasy epic than any others. That book showed me a thousand different ways to make a different culture, different world, feel both comfortable and familiar while being alien and strange. It's just a gorgeous work.

Then there's the stuff outside of the genre boxes, which shaped how I looked at storytelling and world building. Something like, say, Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel was a huge influence on the way I looked at how societies grow and advance, and thus how world building works. 

I'm thrilled that nowadays there is such a wealth of fantasy nowadays that doesn't fit neatly into the boxes.  The stuff that's proliferating today is exactly the sort of thing I craved back in the day.  And I'm glad to be a part of that.  Because the stuff I'm writing is, to a large degree, the sort of thing I wanted to read back then.

Hopefully that will influence some writer of tomorrow.