Monday, December 11, 2017

Wrap Up for 2017

So, the year has nearly come to an end.  And what's been accomplished?
Well, the big thing for me, of course, was having two more novels come out.  For the record, both Holver Alley Crew and The Imposters of Aventil are eligible for any Best Novel of 2017 awards, including and not limited to the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, etc.  Both meet the criteria for "novel" in terms of word count (both being more or less 100K), and if you honestly believe either one deserves award recognition, I welcome your endorsement. 

What else is has been going on?  Well, plenty.  In addition to getting Lady Henterman's Wardrobe ready to go into your eyeballs, I drafted A Parliament of Bodies and a few other Secret Things that I will be talking about very soon.

I know this year has been especially hard for a lot of people, and it certainly hasn't been easy for me.  The best thing is that I've had the ability and freedom to immerse myself in my work and make More Stories for all of you.  And that'll be continuing, though I can always use your help. 

How can you help?  Well, if you've been reading Maradaine novels and you enjoy them, talk about it.  Write reviews on Amazon or Goodreads.  Tell your friends about them.  Give The Thorn of DentonhillA Murder of Mages or Holver Alley Crew as Christmas gifts.  Share and enjoy. 

I'm looking forward to plenty of more things in 2018.  Until then, I'll be down in the word mines.  See you down there.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Work Space for my Head Space

I do not have the luxury of being especially twee about my writing space.  For various logistical reasons, I do not have a permanent desk or workspace.  So I've got to be a writing nomad, moving to whatever flat surface I can find.  That's what I've gotten used to, and I've managed to make it work for me, even though it can be rather frustrating at times.

So, for me to get into the creative headspace, it takes a certain degree of focus.  Distractions or interruptions tend to knock me out, and I need to start over again.  So I do my best to minimize them.  Oddly, working in public can be a good thing for me, as long as it's a public space where I'm not expected to interact much.  Coffee shops are good.

BUT, I need the focus, and that means a good set of headphones.

Nothing is more critical in terms of centering me, regardless of where I'm working.  If I can drown out the world and give myself a good dramatic score or thumping baseline, then everything comes together.

That's it.  As long as I have the comfortable place to sit and the outside world can be shut out with a good beat?  I can work miracles.  Everything else?  That's extra.

(Not that I don't want an office of my own.  I so do.  I will also happily accept any offers for writing retreats, if anyone wants to make them.  The advantage of being a Writing Nomad is I can easily go anywhere, including a remote lakeside cabin in the mountains.  If, you know, you've got one of those.)

And speaking of, new works won't write themselves.  Time to get to work.

Monday, December 4, 2017

TURK 182!: A Bad Movie I've Seen Many, Many, Many Times



This is a special entry into the Bad Movie I've Seen Many, Many, Many Times Canon.  For one, it's our first request.  Now, surely you're asking, who can make a request for a movie that I've seen many, many times.  Well, my sister, that's who, since any movie I saw many, many times, she almost certainly did as well.
 
This one is also strange because, while I've seen every scene in this movie oh-so-many times, I honestly don't think I've ever actually watched it in its entirety in one sitting.  This sort of thing isn't uncommon if you grow up with a all-the-movie-channels cable package, because you'll flip around and settle on a movie that's only got a half-hour left, or you'll watch the front half of something on HBO for forty minutes to kill time before you switch to the movie you actually want to see on Showtime.  Turk 182! is kind of the perfect movie for that.  It's a movie nobody wants to watch, but if it's on, eh, fine.

The movie focuses on two brothers.  Our main character is Timothy Hutton, who's the young, ambitious smart guy in a blue-collar family.  I honestly can't recall if he's got an actual job or career or such in the movie, but he probably doesn't, because there's no way he'd have the time to do everything he does in this movie if he's also got to go to work every day.  I'll get into that.  His brother, played by Robert Urich, is a salt-of-the-earth good-guy firefighter.  Timothy worships his older brother, and Robert will point to his brother and say, "This kid's gonna make something of himself!"  Or something like that.  It's been a while.  Anyhow, one night they're drinking at the local firefighter-bar in New York City when someone runs in and says there's a fire.  Robert Urich, despite being a few drinks in, just charges out and into the burning building, saving a little girl.  But while he's in there, other firefighters burst in with the hose blasting, knocking him out the window and smashing into parked car below.

So, Robert's badly injured, but because he was off-duty and drinking, the city is all, "Sorry, nope" about paying his disability or medical expenses.  Which is a fascinating dick move.  Like, regardless of him having a few drinks, his injuries were 100% because of the negligence of other firefighters.  Maybe that's why his fellow firefighters are hanging him out to dry with the city.  But the point is, he's looking at a long rehabilitation, and no one is going to pay for it.

That's no good as far as Timothy Hutton is concerned.  So he takes it all the way to City Hall to confront the mayor and get what's fair for his brother.  The mayor blows him off ("Your brother's a drunk!") and no help is given.  And I can stress this enough: the other firefighters nearly straight-up murdered him.  Fault is so obviously theirs its almost comical.  But this sort of thing was typical in 80s movies: city officials that are nothing but bureaucratic penny-pinchers who will never do the right thing.

So, Timothy Hutton gets his hot-head on and wallpapers the mayor's office with all the rejection letters his brother's received from the city.  He does this while the Mayor Tyler (Robert Culp) is doing crunches in the next room and his deputy-mayor eats a burger.  I am not making that up.  This was the glory of movies from the 80s that you just don't see today: utterly random, go-nowhere character traits in secondary characters that honestly make them feel more real.  Namely, the idea that the mayor used to be fat, but now has lost weight and is into fitness. 

There's a lot of strangeness in orbit of the mayor in this movie, but we'll get into it.
Anyhow, since Timothy Hutton's character was previously yelling at the mayor about his brother's treatment and then letters to his brother were all over the mayor's office, Timothy Hutton is the obvious suspect and he's immediately arrested and the movie is over.


I'M KIDDING.  That doesn't happen for no real adequately explained reason.  Instead, Timothy Hutton continues to stalk Mayor Tyler, and in the meantime make eyes at his brother's social worker, because she's played by Kim Cattrall.  That's the obligatory romantic subplot, and I'll get back to that. 

See, Mayor Tyler has his own problems, in that there's some inadequately explained scandal involving a guy named Zimmerman who fled the country before his trial.  The Mayor wishes people would forget about that and instead focus on his whole anti-graffiti, clean-up-the-city campaign.  But protestors disrupt one of his events by painting "ZIMMERMAN FLEW AND TYLER KNEW!" on the golden apple that was supposed to symbolize the clean city.  The mayor is incensed, obviously.  Timothy Hutton sees all this go down and then GETS AN IDEA.  Namely, that he is going to copy those protestors. 

This is where we get into the real meat of the movie, in which Timothy Hutton becomes GRAFFITI BATMAN. 

He starts this campaign when the mayor is unveiling this fancy graffiti-proof train, that has some special coating that spray-paint won't stick to.  His tech people assure him, in order to tag this train, someone would have to take a sandblaster to it first.  Cut to: Timothy Hutton sandblasting the train.  Seriously, ALL ALONE he pretends to be a city worker, stops the train before it gets to the event, and sandblasts and spray-paints the train, and ALL THE WHILE none of the people who are on the train adequately question the guy who IS CLEARLY SPRAY-PAINTING THE TRAIN before it arrives at an Anti-Graffiti Event.  The only person who even thinks something might be off is Peter Boyle, the Mayor's Chief of Security.  But by the time he manages to bumble over to check things out, the damage is done and the train engineer drives right into the press event, with ZIMMERMAN FLEW, TYLER KNEW, TURK182! plastered on the side.

Needless to say, the mayor is put out.

I'm just amazed that the logistics of pulling all this off are kind of glossed over.  It's basically, "Every city official, including cops and train engineers, are super-incompetent, so he just gets away with it."  Same thing when, later in the movie, he just takes over the Yankee Stadium Jumbotron to further tweak the mayor. 

That's most of it: we get a whole lot of montages of TURK182! getting tagged everywhere, the mayor getting steamed, and the cops being in full Keystone Mode because no one can catch this mysterious Turk182, whoever he might be.

Except Kim Cattrall figures it out, because it's literally no mystery at all.  Robert Urich's nickname is "Turk" and his badge number is 182.  But he's in the hospital with all the broken limbs, so it's clearly Timothy Hutton.  When Kim Cattrall figures this out, she does what any reasonable person would do: gets naked and waits in his bed.

REALLY, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS.

So Timothy and Kim get together, as the romantic subplot dictates they must.  My favorite bit of all this is, when she presses him about the whole "Zimmerman Flew, Tyler Knew" thing, he admits he really has no idea what that's about, it's just something to piss the mayor off with. 
She convinces him to go public, but Turk182 has become such a sensation, hundreds of people are confessing to be Turk182.  So when he goes to a reporter and gives the whole story, it gets filed away as "just another nutcase". 

The big climax is on a bridge, where there's going to be a huge lighting-up-words on the bridge ceremony, so of course Timothy is on the scene, rearranging the lights while pretending to be one of the workers.  This time he finally gets noticed in the act, because you can't scaffold up and down a giant bridge with cameras literally broadcasting the event live without a few people noticing.  While he tries to finish re-setting the lights to make it read "TURK 182!", Peter Boyle is losing his damn mind about it all, and tries to murder Timothy Hutton, and failing that, kill any city electricians who want to keep the power on.  But Turk182! has become such a beloved folk-hero that the city electricians are all, "screw that, turn the power back on" when Peter Boyle goes away.  So the lights stay on, and the final, giant Turk182 message goes out.

And the mayor... he doesn't really have a change of heart, but he knows a publicity opportunity when he sees it, so he basically decides to just roll with it, telling the deputy mayor, "When he comes down, we're going to say we've been rooting for him the whole time."  All is well, Robert Urich finally gets the financial support he's due, and Timothy and Kim are a happy couple or... something.

So a campaign of public vandalism... works?  Is that the message?  I mean, what he does is the 80s equivalent of getting a hashtag trending, and because the people like a good story that gets the mayor mad, he succeeds. Like I said before, there was a definite streak in the 80s of hating city officials and bureaucrats (like Walter Peck from Ghostbusters), so a story about a little guy winning against a heartless bureaucracy with nothing but wit, heart, and Jason Bourne levels of skill when it came to spray-painting things.

Or maybe it's all about what Timothy said when Kim asked him why he's doing it.

"To get girls."

Yeah, that's about it.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Green Sky: Three Books from my Youth

So, often I'm asked "who are your influences", and a name I immediately go to is Zlipha Keatly Snyder.  And that's largely because of the three books of her Green-Sky trilogy: Below the RootAnd All Between, and Until the Celebration.  

This trilogy was significant to me for so many reasons.  For one, it was very much the fantasy series that I consider my entry into the genre.  Nothing had previously captured my attention as a fantasy world like Green Sky did.  It was a glorious, ardent world of a city in the treetops, where the people could fly and glide from branch to branch.  And it was a world with a dark secret.

The first book focuses on Raamo, a young man who begins his training as part of the elite priest caste, the Ol-zhaan.  He's been sought out to join because he's especially gifted in the Spirit powers, which the Ol-zhaan are supposed to be masters of, but it turns out most of them have little-to-no ability in them.  With two of his plucky youthful companions, he starts looking deeper into the dark secrets of the forbidden ground, which is supposedly populated by monsters.  But when Raamo and his friends discover a girl on the ground, they learn it's not monsters at all, but people, trapped underground.

The second book shifts perspectives to Teera, the young girl, starting with her inadvertent escape from the underground prison her people live in.  They're held in by the magically powerful Roots that are impossible to burn or cut.  The Root was created by the Spirit powers, because those people had been banished by the Ol-zhaan to protect the true secret of Green Sky.  You see, the people of Green Sky came from Earth, which had been destroyed in horrible wars.  (See, it's sci-fi embedded in a fantasy.)  Two factions formed, one who wanted to tell the people the truth of their origins, and the other who wanted to keep it a secret forever, hoping that ignorance of their violent past would help them stay peaceful forever. The tell-the-truth faction lost, and they were banished.  But now the truth is out and public, and there's no hiding it... especially since the reuniting of these two peoples has reawakened the Spirit powers.

The third book does something unexpected. It's all about the messy fall-out of trying to unite these people, and how it does bring about the very violence that had been unknown all this time.  It then goes on to, well, kind of a downer ending, mostly about how saviors and messiahs aren't always going to be able to patch everything up and lead the people into a golden age.

But this series taught be about how fantasy can be anything.  Which is such an important lesson.  If you can find them (which is apparently challenging to do), go check them out.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Crossovers and Revisiting THORN & ALCHEMY

If one thing should be clear from IMPOSTERS OF AVENTIL, it's that I love a good crossover.  That should give you a sense about some of my future plans for Maradaine.  But for the time being, I'm so excited about what's happening this week on our televisions:


I mean, I may have watched this trailer, like, 12 times already.  Or more.  I'm pumped.

As far as my own crossover is concerned, it's brought some people back around to checking out The Thorn of Dentonhill and The Alchemy of Chaos, which means everything is going to plan.

But, for example, Gizmo's Reviews just looked at Thorn, saying "a strong start to the series... a high fantasy academy adventure that's rarely been seen before."  And Short & Sweet Reviews reviewed Alchemy: "If you’re looking for a fun, lighter side of fantasy story then I recommend checking out this series."


In the meantime, it's time to get back to work after the holiday.  Plenty more things to write for you all.  See you down in the word mines.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankful

This will be quick, because I have plenty on my plate but:
  • If you've ever bought one or all of my books...
  • If you've read and loved the stories of Maradaine...
  • If you've been looking forward to the books to come...
  • If you've told a friend to try out my books...
  • If you've left a review on Amazon or Goodreads...
  • If you consider yourself a fan...
Then, thank you, thank you, thank you.  From the bottom of my heart, it means the world to me. 
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Coming up in The Streets of Maradaine

Folks, I had a lovely time at OryCon, and Portland is a wonderful city— wish I had a chance to do more while I was there, but my schedule for the Con meant I had to keep my focus on that.  Maybe another time.  I was fortunate that some old friends played hosts-in-absentia, letting me stay at their home even though they were away, and that made the whole experience far more personal.  (I don’t sleep all that well in hotels, and I slept great in their home.)

And now, it’s time to really start taking a look at Lady Henterman’s Wardrobe, which comes out on March 6th.  This is, of course, the second Streets of Maradaine novel, following up on the first one, The Holver Alley Crew.  Let’s take a look at our team:

The Planner:  Asti Rynax, former intelligence officer, forcibly retired.  The one who can figure out all the angles and put together a plan so crazy that no one will see coming.  Deadlier with an apple and a lockpick than most people are with a pair of knives.
The Burglar: Verci Rynax, Asti’s brother.  Gadget-maker, window-cracker, and the only one who can keep Asti grounded.
The Sharpshooter: Helene Kesser, best crossbow shot in all West Maradaine, with a mouth as sharp as her aim.
The Muscle: Julien Kesser, Helene’s cousin.  Strong as an ox, but not allowed to fight, or you’ll answer to Helene.  Loves cheese.
The Driver: Kennith Rill, carriage driver, master builder.
The Eyes on the Ground: Mila Kentish.  Teenage beggar girl that no one notices until after their purse is already gone.
The Old Lady: Josie Holt, the fallen boss of North Seleth, who may only have this crew left as the people she can trust.

It was an absolute joy to write this team again, especially to put them through a whole new set of wringers after the events of Holver Alley
You have read Holver Alley Crew, yes?  If not, I’ll let Powder and Page convince you:
The final verdict: You’ve GOT to read this book! You can jump into the world of Maradaine starting with this book or with A Murder of Mages or The Thorn of Dentonhill without feeling lost or that you’re missing out on anything. This book is my favorite to date, though not by much, as everything by MRM is of the highest caliber and I would recommend them without reservation.
So go get your hands on that, and then pre-order Lady Henterman’s Wardrobe.  And get yourself ready, because some further Maradaine announcements are coming up.

Blending high fantasy, crime fiction and daring heists, the Streets of Maradaine features Asti and Verci Rynax, two former thieves who tried to go straight, but dragged through the ashes of tragedy back into their old life.

“While Maresca has been building the Maradaine universe across multiple books and connected series, The Holver Alley Crew marks a new chapter in the city’s story, and a great entry point for new readers.” – Barnes & Noble Fantasy Blog

LADY HENTERMAN’S WARDROBE
Forthcoming March 2018

Mixing high fantasy and urban fantasy, the second novel of the Streets of Maradaine series follows the Rynax brothers’ crew of outlaws as they attempt their biggest heist yet and restore justice to the common people.

The neighborhood of North Seleth has suffered–and not just the Holver Alley Fire. Poverty and marginalization are forcing people out of the neighborhood, and violence on the streets is getting worse. Only the Rynax brothers–Asti and Verci–and their Holver Alley Crew are fighting for the common people. They’ve taken care of the people who actually burned down Holver Alley, but they’re still looking for the moneyed interests behind the fire.

The trail of breadcrumbs leads the crew to Lord Henterman, and they plan to infiltrate the noble’s house on the other side of the city. While the crew tries to penetrate the heart of the house, the worst elements of North Seleth seem to be uniting under a mysterious new leader. With the crew’s attention divided, Asti discovers that the secrets behind the fire, including ones from his past, might be found in Lady Henterman’s wardrobe.

Goodreads Page for LADY HENTERMAN’S WARDROBE
Available at Amazon and more!