Tag Archives: writer

On the Passing of Terry Pratchett — a personal story

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I can only seem to make sense of the passing of Terry Pratchett by writing about how he influenced my life and my work. The rest has been said by better people than me.

In 1999 I was drifting. I was in my first year of college, my roommate was sucking the life out of me, I was doing badly in classes, I was depressed, and I would possibly go weeks at a time without talking to another human being. I was miserable, and I could only deal with it by escaping into books.

After consuming several dozen titles, I came across “Equal Rites.” I had tried reading it in 7th grade, but I put it down in embarrassment because the first page had the word “sex” in it. I thought I’d give it another shot this time, so I began to read… and read… and read. I was done with it in three days, I recall skipping a few classes to finish it.  I adored it. I laughed. It was rare to hear me laugh in those days, unless it was cynically. A little cloud had lifted off of my heart.

But it wasn’t enough. When I put it down, there was a hunger in me. I wanted to play in this world again I needed to play in this sandbox again and never leave it. I looked in the inside leaf to find out what other books there were and dashed to my college bookstore to see what I could get. I quickly finished Colour of Magic, Light Fantastic, Sourcery, and Wyrd Sisters. Over my 4.5 years in college, I bought EVERY book in the Discworld series that was out (Sorry, Mom. Most of it was money that was supposed to be for food and texts). When I’d bought them all, I’d bug the staff about ordering the rest. They started to recognize me by face after a while. It wasn’t uncommon for them to greet me with things like, “No, honey. ‘The Fifth Elephant’ isn’t here yet.”

And in reading those wonderful magical books, my eyes were opened.

Terry’s writing voice was like mine—the running Mystery Science Theatre 3000 that was always in my head when I read fantasy. He was pointing out tired plot devices and character tropes that I had long ago become sick of. He seemed to be as tired as I was of all the myriad of fantasy authors who were attempting to ape Professor Tolkien.  Not only that, but he too became tired of his own fantasy world. As the Discworld series progressed, everything became less about heroes and more about the little guy. It wasn’t about dark lords and farm boys and prophecies. It was about parents, and career women, policemen, bureaucrats, teachers, journalists, hippies, kids—ordinary people, made extraordinary by their larger-than life personalities.

Philosophically, I was enthralled as well. His portrayals of Death, culture-clash, capitalism, government, women, and people of faith and non-faith alike made me question my world and see his world in it.

Later on, his bravery and humor, and cutting observations inspired me to make my own sandbox: Tereand. Linus Weedwhacker, I can’t deny, would not have been possible without Terry’s influence.

I’ve been blessed with some good reviews for my books, but the only one that made me feel like I truly succeeded—that I was able to give back some of what was given to me— was the review that compared my work to that of Terry Pratchett’s. I considered that a compliment of the highest honor.

God bless you, Terry Pratchett. Hopefully, it will be revealed to you how much we all loved you.

Terry Pratchett was born in 1948.

In 1971 he published his first book, The Carpet People.

The first Discworld Book The Colour of Magic, was published in 1983

He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2007 and struggled with it while still writing and devoting countless hours to raising money for further research into the virulent disease. He wrote over 70 books, finishing the 40th Discworld book, Raising Steam, last year.

He leaves behind his wife, Lyn, and his daughter Rihanna.

 

His family is currently asking for their privacy to be respected and for well-wishers to leave donations to justgiving.com

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Character Spotlight: Orin

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In incredibly late character spotlight goes to Linus’ second son, Orin.

 

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We first hear about Orin in Must Love Dragons, in the following exchange:

“Why does the little boy look so worried?” asked Morf.

            “Oh that’s Orin, my five-year-old. He was just a little scared. The artist had a mustache. Orin is terrified of people with mustaches,” Linus clarified.

            “Smart kid,” laughed Morfindel. “Is it only mustaches?”

            “No,” sighed Linus. “He’s also afraid of dolls with glass eyes, crows, the kitchen stove, coat stands, that spiders will crawl into his shoes at night, and the hole in the privy…to name a few,” 

It’s plain to see that Orin has a lot of anxiety over seemingly ordinary things. He’s very sensitive, high strung, and imaginative. He snaps out of it often enough to pal around with his sisters (who he gets on well with) but will then lapse into a thoughtful daze or suddenly panic and run for his room. This is because while Orin has a brilliant imagination, he doesn’t know how to control it or separate it from reality. He spins beautiful stories that enchant him, but he also has a flair for the macabre that broods and festers in his mind until it haunts his dreams and torments him daily.

Linus is at his wits ends over what to do with such a boy. Carson was bad enough with his fondness for staying indoors reading, but he was tough enough that Linus didn’t worry too much about him.

Orin is the one he worries about. Linus is most worried because Orin is acting now very much like his brother, Palmer, had as a child. Linus is frantically trying to find a way to “snap Orin out of it,” for fear that he’ll turn into a cold snobbish sociopath like Palmer did. Sadly this involves a lot of hamfisted attempts at therapy,usually resulting in Orin developing new and original fears at an even faster clip.

Orin is somewhat based off of my son who is also very highstrung and imaginative, but he’s also in part based off of myself and all my myriads of irrational fears. My nickname at school was “crybaby,” and I was constantly scaring myself with my own morose imaginings.

Over time Orin is going to find ways to deal with them, but he’s going to reach out to another family member who understands a bit more about what he’s going through—Palmer. We’ll just see how that goes.

Fun Facts:

*I got the name Orin while remembering Little Shop of Horrors, although there is NO similarity between my sweet boy and the homicidal dentist.

*Orin is classic case of a child with Asperger’s with ADHD (which I have), but of course in Linus’s world he’s simply labeled as “flighty,” “particular,” and “having an old soul.”

*Orin is a philosopher by nature. He’s always one to argue about why things must be done, why that is the case, and whether there’s any sense in it. 

*Orin doesn’t get on with Carson, the latter of which sees Orin as a pest and an annoying tail.

*Orin is very clever but gets poor marks at school for not paying attention and for going on tangents about his flights of fancy to his classmates.

I’m not going to go into the three youngest children, Fia, Lenny, and Elsie, since they are really too young to talk about. I may do after a few more books with them come out.

That’s it for the brood of Linus. Feel free to make any suggestions for next week’s character spotlight!

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More Audio Goodies!

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Just a quick one here!

I’m still playing the wine glasses (see last post) with all the things I have to finish before (DUN DUN DUN) summer vacation.

SO,  last week my brother and co-writer for the Tangent Artists comics, Dave, posted a link to THIS site on my Facebook wall. (click the image to see the link)

ImageThis lovely site, http://tabletopaudio.com/,  is similar to the soundscape sites I’d posted earlier, but this is less “whales and nature” and more “dungeons and Old Ones.” There are dozens of 10-minute tracks of world-building sound tapestries to help you enhance your brain juices and bring your imagination to full HD clarity with rainbows and unicorns and leprechauns on rollerblades with Roman candles. It’s original use is for tabletop gaming (I love using soundscapes for those too) but I think this would make a great tool for writers too! I’ve already been using “Dessert Bazaar.”

There’s a huge selection of scifi/fantasy/horror/specfic landscapes like the humming warp thrusters of  “Starship bridge,” the eerie echos of “catacombs.” Tread the salt-crusted boards to “the age of sail,” and challenge that yellow-bellied lowlife Slim Jim to a showdown with “True West”—just to name a few.

Worthy of note: this is a FREE site but it’s funded entirely by donations. If you find this site as engaging as I do, please consider donating to their site.

See you all tomorrow for Character Spotlight Wednesday! 

 

 

Character Spotlight: Miles Reyner the Entertainer

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So this week’s spotlight is on Miles Reyner, the sweet pop star who’s first introduced in Runs In Good Condition.

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Miles is a charming clean-cut teen idol in RiGC in which I kind of combine modern stars like Zach Efron and Justin Beiber with more old-timey super stars like Vivaldi or Mozart. He defies the stereotype of the jerkwad teen with too much fame money and power, but is that simply because he’s trying to make a good impression on Linus’s oldest daughter or not? He’s the reason several songs appear in RiGC, although I’m learning that I will never be able to STOP putting songs in my books, no matter how I try.

The biggest question I get about Miles is why he’s so different in CRIT! than he is in Runs In Good Condition? Well that ultimately comes down to writing teams. I wrote RiGC long before we’d conceived of doing a comic about it and shortly after we started writing CRIT! my brother, Dave Joria, was wondering if he could be “in charge” of a character for writing sessions (aka: D&D games).

I told him I had a Bard in my next book and gave him a loving description of Miles Reyner…and Dave chucked it out the window. That’s why in the comic, Miles is a obtuse, egocentric, bombastic, glory hound in tight leather pants. It was so hilarious I didn’t have the heart to make him stop. He was even the inspiration behind the Handbook for Saucy Bards, which has been our breakout hit!

So does that mean the two Miles have no connection? Wellllll. Let’s just say that Justin Beiber was once a “sweet kid” too.

FUN FACTS:

*Miles is actually Half-elven. It just never comes up in the book (there are LOTS of Half-elves in Gwynnharrafadd). Also, his hair tends to cover his ears.

*One of Mile’s trademark decorations is a quizzing glass on a chain (a sort of monocle with a handle), a fashionable piece of jewelry in the Regency Period.

*Almost all of Miles’ songs are written down in the book with the exception of the opening number for his concert. In my head, he’s always singing this song: the song that inspired him.

The Entertainer by Billy Joel. I do not own the rights to this clip.

That’s it for Miles this week. I look forward to your comments and suggestions for next week’s victim!

 

The Idea Well

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It’s up there on most authors’ “worst questions to be asked,” right up there with, “so do you have a real job?”

“Where do you get your ideas?”

When it comes to simply, “where does our mind fly off to to fetch ideas about worlds that don’t exist and people who aren’t real?”  A person might as well ask, “what magical leprechaun visited you in your sleep and poured whimsical brain dust into your head holes to give you your ideas?”

How do I answer that? There’s no magic rite, no ceremonial dance, no burnt offerings. It’s just there, unbidden, and NEVER on call when I need it. No one really knows where it comes from. I sure don’t. Frankly, I’m not sure I want to because imagination is a terrifying and amazing place.

Usually, though, people are expecting a concrete idea. Like “when I work out,” or “when I was in Mexico for a year,” or “while the doctor was shaving me for my hernia operation,” and that leads to more embarrassing situations for me.

That’s the other thing authors won’t tell you about writing.

Most of us get about 70% our ideas while we’re in the room with the sink.

That’s my Victorian version of “we’re on the can.”

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The porcelain throne, usually around 3 am,  devoid of phones and shampoo bottles to read, barely awake and still half dreaming, I seem to get most of my ideas. Sometimes I luck out and I get ideas in the shower, but it would appear that my muse is a stoned college student who hangs out in bathrooms in weird hours and says, “hey…. hey… hey…hey… I got an idea…. hey… this is great…. dude… dude… You should TOTALLY do a bit in your book… where Linus has no pants.” It then dissolves into giggles and goes to the kitchen for grape soda and cold macaroni salad.

Yup. That’s how the magic happens folks. Oh what glamorous lives we lead.

Fighting Chair-butt

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One pitfall if being a writer and artist is the fact that all of those things are done sitting down for hours at a time.
In may case I don’t even have a desk. I have a laptop stand by a couch. So I complete all my tasks like a lounging Roman hedonist, in various states of boneless reclining. So one of the things on my HabitRPG checklist is to get up an exercise.

So today I’m going to try out some of the workouts I found on Neila Rey’s site Like this one here.

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Neila Rey has unlocked the key to getting me off my tuckus, which is appealing to my romantic sense of Fantasy and Heroism. And the best part is that it’s all free! Neila is only accepting gifts from enthusiasts so please consider donating.

Flatter butt? Longer lifespan? Reduce likelihood of developing cancer and heart disease? NAH. I couldn’t be bothered.

Save Middle Earth? Fight with the Free Peoples? Hold the line while Frodo destroys the One Ring? OH HELLS YES.
Granted some of the moves a little hard-core for my marshmallowy body and old-lady knees so I’m going with my limits currently and doing softer versions of some of the ones listed here. Once I stop wheezing after step one I hope to do the full on version one day.

And if destroying the newly risen disciple of Morgoth is not your thing (and why the hell isn’t it? Why do you hate freedom and sunshine?) Neila Rey has you covered with other nerd-themed workouts!
You could fight crime in Gotham, Fight demons to classic 70’s rock hits, channel The Force, or meet far off aliens and engage in lots and lots of running.

 

Happy sweating and stay hydrated! 😀