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My Writing Process

Eye Like Scriptlings 02Holy bovine of a female persuasion!

I can’t believe it’s been that long since I posted something in here.

I won’t insult you with excuses, so instead I’ll jump right into the reason I am posting something today. Long story short, I got caught into one of those chain letter phenomena, to be more precise – their blogging manifestation. Okay, so “being caught into it” is not the most accurate wording I could have come up with, nor is it fair to the nice lady who performed the actual catching. K. D. Keenan, brilliant storyteller of The Obsidian Mirror, could not have been more cautious and demure when she offered to pass the torch to my lazy/busy self.

Truth be told, I find it impossible to say no to Kathy. You see, Kathy is the kind of person who gives so much and asks for so little, that when she actually asks for something you really feel that you have been granted a privilege.

So what did she ask me for? To perpetuate a meme – that of authors joining a blog tour on the predefined theme of their respective writing process. Her own contribution can be found here.

 

1. What am I working on?

My day job, first and foremost. This being said, however much I love my job, this blog is not the place for it, so I will gracefully pirouette around the topic. There, I put that image into your heads.

Hobby-wise, I am actually working on four different fronts.

  • The Scriptlings audiobook. Yes, you’ve read that right. Prolific genius and renaissance figure, Garrett Robinson, has offered to record that for me. He is already twenty chapters in, and I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome his performance is. To say that he has brought Stapley and the gang to live would be a shameless understatement.
  • The Scriptlings new cover. Before you ask, there is nothing wrong with the current cover. But since we had to make some changes for the audiobook cover, I thought I’d ask my super-duper cover artist, Travis Anderson, to revisit the design a little, so as to make it stand out better when viewed as a thumbnail. I have often thought that all that beautiful detail gets somewhat lost on Amazon, and so we are now going for something punchy and contrasty. The first drafts look smashing.
  • The Masters. I’m about 13K words into this sequel, and for all that I’m moving at a dry snail’s pace, I am awfully proud of how it is shaping up to be. I say this as one of those authors who are tyrannically judgemental with their own work.
  • Cambridge Troll. This is actually an earlier work of mine, which never got published. The text was in dear need of some hard-core editing, and a more substantial plot. It had great characters, though, and a lot of good jokes. So why the revival? Well, as luck would have it, I found the perfect person to help me rewrite the story and give it the shine it so deserves. Or rather, she has found me. Her name is Tracy Smathers and she is a geek par excellence. We both share a love for words and puns, the difference being that she has actually made a career of it. More on that at a later date.

2. How does my work differ from others on its genre?

Well, for one, others probably sell better.
Shattered dreams of independent wealth aside, what makes my work different is that I am not trying to be the best Pratchett, Adams, or Moore impersonator, but rather I’m doing all I can to be the best Sorin that I can be. And if that happens to be dirty-nerdy, then so be it.

3. Why do I write what I write?

Because if I didn’t put those crazy ideas on paper, I would soon become haunted by a constant sense of loss.

But mostly, I write for fun. The thing is, I’m not that confident or accomplished of a public speaker. When I say a joke, I feel obliged to limit its scope and depth, so as not to ruin it with my inability to say it right. Things are different when I write – I have all the time in the world, I can twist that joke on all sides, and I can pace it over the course of many pages or even chapters.

4. How does my writing process work?

I am still looking for a process that works for me. Right now, I’m going for the P.G. Wodehouse approach, whereby I rank a page on the value of its contents and then re-write it until it aligns to the top with the rest of the pages. It is, needless to say, a time-intensive method, but I find it works well with my nitpicking personality.

I divide my creative process in three stages:

  • Write down an idea, joke, pun, or observation whenever it strikes me. I usually use my phone for that, since I have it with me all the time.
  • When enough thoughts are collected and I feel their weight pressing too hard against the barrage of my laziness, I perform the actual act of writing. Damn, that came kind of ritualistic, didn’t it?
  • Do the Wodehouse, as described a moment ago.

 

Alright, so now for the passing of the torch. I have asked two fellow bloggers to join the joyride. One of them said yes, the other said nothing.

I thus nominate Liliana Negoi, who has the soul of a poet and she is not afraid to use it. She is the one who said yes.

As for the one who said nothing, I am volunteering him anyway, because I know he loves to write more than anything. Garrett, make us proud!


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My First Video Review

Hey there, Scriptlings!

Remember Garrett Robinson – crazy artist, talented movie maker, super-duper author, and fellow Pratchett junkie? (click here and here for details)

Well, to prove just how awesome this dude is, here is the latest in his Five Minute Books YouTube series:

I couldn’t be prouder if Douglas Adams himself were to shove a wet fish down my ear 🙂


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Book Review: Midrealm

WOW! There, I always wanted to begin a review with “wow”, and Midrealm, by Garrett Robinson and Z.C. Bolger gave me the perfect opportunity.

At “500+ pages and almost a quarter of a million words” – to quote one of the authors, this is one huge book. It took me a while to read it, but I enjoyed every moment of it.

Midrealm features six main characters, and it does it with style. Each character has its own first person / point of view narrative. If you are a writer, then you know how darn difficult it is to pull this one off. Writer or not, you will have your mind blown away.

Perfection of style aside, this is a beautiful and compelling story. The characters simply jump out of the page, and the scenes blend as seamlessly as if this were a movie. Of course, one of the authors is a movie director, so that’s only to be expected.

Speaking of the characters, you will most likely find one to identify with. For me, it was Calvin, the D&D nerd. That’s not to say that if I were sixteen again I wouldn’t have a major crush for mysterious Tess.

I will not delve into the plot, for fear of unearthing too many spoilers. Suffice it to say that it is bullet proof, despite its many unexpected turns.

Though I enjoyed it immensely as an adult, my only regret is that I could not have read it as a teenager. I would have been a much better writer if I had Midrealm as one of my early influences.

See more of Garrett’s works:


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Interview: Garret Robinson (part 2)

Garret Robinson

Garret Robinson

Welcome to the second part my interview with Garret The Awesome Robinson.

If you missed the fist part, click here.

If you haven’t done so already, do check out his first book, Midrealm, which is on sale right now on Amazon. You can also pre-order the second book in the series at therealmkeepers.com

 

Sorin: Paperback, eBook, audiobook. What do you think is next in this industry?

Garrett: I tell you, if I knew the answer to that, I’d be trying to secure a patent on it. I have always considered myself an artist, not a techie, even though I’m pretty savvy with computers and stuff. In my opinion, there are artists and then there are the people who develop tools for the artist. Rarely do the twin meet (when they do, hellooo trillionaire).

Ebooks, audiobooks, all that—they’re just tools. They’re just ways and mediums for art. I am perfectly content to let other people develop new and better tools for distributing art to people, and then adapting what I do to work within those tools, those mediums. My viewpoint is this: it doesn’t take me very long to learn a new method of distribution or art, and it’s one more avenue. So why not do it? Why not experiment with new ways to get my stories out there, whether it’s the books I’m writing or the films I’m directing?

I really see a future in cross-platform storytelling. People have tried it over the years, but I think it’s gaining new ground now that Whedon is on board with the Avengers franchise, now in film and on TV. Where else could that story be told? Why couldn’t there be an online game set in the same universe, where the storyline would actually be swayed by what occurs in the films and TV show, and vice versa? Why not make the storytelling every bit in legit in every medium it’s told in?

It’s an exciting time. As I’ve often said, if you’re an artist, there’s never been a better time in human history for you to be alive.

 

Sorin: If you had a … for every time you … you would …?

Garrett: If I had a fan for every time I had someone download one of my free books, I’d be J.K. Rowling. (Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But while I recognize the value of free book deals, it does annoy me how many people download free books and never read them…)

 

Sorin: Kobolds or goblins?

Garrett: Goblins. Kobolds annoy me. I was brought up on Tolkien and Warhammer.

 

Sorin: What’s your favorite euphemism?

Garrett: I’ve always liked “mashing uglies,” for some reason.

 

Sorin: Would you care to share an excerpt from any of your books?

Garrett: One of my favorite scenes ever is the scene in Chapter Two of Midrealm when Greystone shows up. Here’s one of my favorite parts from that chapter:

 

I groaned and started to push myself up, but a funny thing happened. I felt the stone courtyard under my fingers, and it sort of…tickled. I ran my hands across the ground and felt the rough surface of the stone. It felt comforting. Warm somehow. Like…the thought seemed ridiculous, but like hugging a cousin that I hadn’t seen in years but had always been really good friends with. For some reason, the stone felt alive. I didn’t want to break contact. To my right I heard Calvin breathing deeply in and out, chuckling every time he did.

Then there was a POOF, and an old, gruff voice said, “Well, now that that’s over with.”

I leapt to my feet and whirled around. Just outside the circle of stone pillars, in the direction of the doors I’d been planning on making a run for, stood an old man. Not just old—this guy was ancient. His face had more wrinkles than a shirt after it had been slept in overnight, and his bushy white eyebrows jutted out like the wings of a bird. His crazy white hair stuck out in all directions, immediately making me think of Albert Einstein. He was wearing an old, faded grey robe and clutching a gnarled wooden walking stick that was a little taller than he was.

I jumped in front of Tess and Calvin, who were both climbing slowly to their feet. I felt Miles step in on my left and Blade on my right, the three of us forming a wall in front of the smaller kids. Raven stayed off to the side a bit, staring at the old man, unsure.

“Who are you?” I asked.

The old man scoffed. “Who am I? Listen, girl, I’m not the one with anything to prove. You’ve got big shoes to fill, child, and you look barely old enough to ride a horse, much less save the world.”

“Ride a…save the what?” I asked, utterly confused. I could understand what he was saying, but a part of me was aware that he wasn’t speaking English. Even understanding his words, though, he wasn’t making sense.

The old man sighed heavily. “Always with the new ones,” he grumbled. “It’s always ‘what are you talking about?’ and ‘who are you?’ and ‘why are these people trying to kill us?’”

“What?!” I shrieked.

“Hey man, where are we?” Miles asked. “What’s with those rocks?”

The old man sighed and peered at all of us instead of answering. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw Miles and Blade look at me. Like I was supposed to know what to do. It looked like the old man saw them, because his eyes narrowed and focused on me.

“You,” he said. “What is your name?”

I glared at him. “Why?”

“Come now. You’ve asked me for my name, despite my being your elder, but you do not offer your own? Give me yours, and I will give you mine, and then I will hear from the rest of you.”

My brow wrinkled as I thought about it. All of this was so bizarre, I didn’t know what to think. But there was something about the man. Something in his eyes. He sure seemed to be a crotchety old guy, but I didn’t feel like he actually meant us any harm.

“I’m Sarah,” I told him finally. There was no way I was going to give him my last name. “Now, for the last time, who are you?”

He snorted. “‘For the last time.’ Such bravado.” He thrust his staff out to his side and bowed low, holding his hand over his middle. “I am Greystone the wizard, and I am, most unfortunately for all of us, at your service.”

“A wizard. Right,” said Blade sarcastically beside me.

“Cool!” cried Calvin. He pressed forward between me and Miles and stared at Greystone with a wide grin. “What can you do?”

Greystone looked at him with disdain. “Oh, you’re one of those.”

 

Don’t you dare forget to follow Garrett on Twitter and on his website 🙂


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Interview: Garret Robinson (part 1)

Garret Robinson

Garret Robinson

I’m splitting this interview in two parts, not because Garret is a chatty fellow (which he is), but because I have come to learn what a bite size really means on the Internet.

I met Garrett while seeking reviewers for The Scriptlings. Having sent messages to a ton of people that day and having got no answer, I was understandingly excited when I got this message from Garret, barely two minutes after writing to him:

I tried to read this all the way through, but about two paragraphs in I was like, “gimme, gimme, GIMME!!!”

Garrett Robinson is one of those artists whose creativity spans more than just one form of art. Here is what I had to say about his hilarious novel The Ninjabread Man:

This book is so funny, that I was L-ingMAO while still reading the dedication and authors’ note. It only gets better from there.

If you’re a Terry Pratchett fan, then you will be thrilled to find a winged species of Feegles amongst the main protagonists – swearing, debauchery, recklessness and all. They are so well integrated that their presence smashes the borders of mere fan art. Indeed, I daresay Pratchett himself would approve of it.

On top of finely crafted (or baked, in some cases) characters, The Ninjabread Man stands out through its impressive cinematic quality. Since one of the authors is a movie director, that should hardly come as a surprise.

What should surprise you, though, is the fact that the authors somehow contrived to include a ton of witty references pointing back to the story and characters themselves. For a relatively short story, this is an amazing feat of wordsmithing – seeing as you would normally expect this kind of fine literary device in a sequel, rather than on the original work.

Before we delve into the interview, please be advised that his first book, Midrealm, is on sale right now on Amazon and you can pre-order the second book in the series at therealmkeepers.com

 

Sorin: How does being an author compare to being a co-author?

Garrett: There are good parts and bad parts to both. I’m a bit of an admitted egoist, and so not having the final say as a co-author grates on me occasionally. I’m able to put aside my personal feelings and come to a compromise for the good of the story, but it doesn’t get less annoying each time—which is totally illogical, because every single time we compromise, I look back on it in retrospect and go, “Oh, yeah, that was totally the right decision.” Having a good co-author is like having a fantastic content editor. You catch each other’s gross plot inconsistencies, out-continuity, and generally weak story ideas. You also get two different viewpoints on any story problem, so it’s easier to work through each one. And you only have to do half the work on thinking up the next twists and turns in the story. It’s a really, really great way to work.

That being said, there are things I like working as a solo author. They don’t outweigh being a co-author or vice versa; it’s just different. I like having full control. I like being able to go places that a co-author won’t necessarily go. There’s something freeing about being the only one responsible for where a story will take me.

After Realm Keepers is done, I’m embarking on my solo fantasy series, the one that’s been building in me for years now. It’s very adult, very epic, and very fun. It’s important to me that it’s the best thing I ever do, so I’m probably going to write it and then sit on it for a while—maybe years. I don’t know. It’s not coming out until it’s perfect. But I’m looking forward to taking everything I’ve learned about storytelling while working with Z. C. Bolger and applying it to a solo project.

 

Sorin: Some people think that fantasy and humor should not mix. What would you like to do to these people? I promise I’ll help.

Garrett: I want to pat these people on the head like the little simpletons they are. Anyone who says fantasy and humor are incompatible is woefully ignorant of the genus of all modern fantasy, which is of course Tolkien. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are absolutely saturated with humor (The Hobbit more so). The antics of the hobbits, and occasionally of Gimli and Legolas, are often hilarious, both in the books and in the movies. Humor isn’t the focus of the series, but it’s an integral part. Without an occasional moment of levity and humor, the series would be a much less rich, satisfying and real place for us to spend our time.

Also, two words: Terry Pratchett.

 

Sorin: Then I guess I won’t be needing this crowbar… Is there any type of scene you will not apply humor to?

Garrett: Basically, I won’t apply humor to my own personal “cardinal sin” list. Most people have a list like this. It’s the things that are absolutely, totally unforgivable. Bad acts you can’t come back from.

Some authors won’t write scenes from their cardinal sin list at all. Famously, Johnny B. Truant of the Self Publishing Podcast won’t write scenes where children or animals are harmed. I don’t take it that far. Nothing is off the table in my fiction. But I won’t apply humor to certain scenes.

Rape is definitely one of them. At the end of Non Zombie, Cliff’s wife is nearly raped. Non Zombie is a humorous book, but I couldn’t have made that scene funny. It would have made me feel ill to try.

The death of parents is another big one. Many characters (in all fiction and in my own works) lose parents. It’s not a funny thing, and I’d feel terrible trying to make a joke about it. I lost my own mother a few years back, and nowadays I can’t even stomach “yo momma” jokes.

 

Sorin: Like I said before, The Ninjabread Man is, to a certain extent, Discworld inspired fan art, but I believe there is so much more to it – enough for Terry Pratchett himself to love it. Did you get any kind of reaction from him or from fans?

Garrett: My God, if I’d heard anything from Terry Pratchett I would have shouted that across the internets. We did get a lot of love from fans who recognized the inspiration from The Wee Free Men. It was important to me that we were very open about them in the dedication. If people enjoyed the Scotts, I hope we funneled some of them to buy Pratchett’s book.

Fortunately, we haven’t gotten any flak for the Scotts. I was afraid people would accuse us of “ripping off” Pratchett. It’s a dicey line to walk, but I see it as akin to the hobbits, or orcs. Hobbits and orcs basically didn’t exist before Tolkien, and yet now everyone uses them in their fiction. Are they ripping off Tolkien, or did he install a new creature in the collective consciousness of human art that we can all make free use of? I believe the latter.

 

Sorin: Did you ever meet your fans? Any juicy story you want to share?

Garrett: I’ve never met a fan in person—not in the way I think you mean. My roommate reads my books ravenously. She’s one of my biggest fans. But I knew her well before I started writing, so that doesn’t really count. And I did a live event recently at my old high school, and some of the kids there bought Midrealm. But they weren’t fans before that, so that’s different.

I came so, so close to having a beer with a reader in Florida, but his wife got ill right at the last minute. Other than that, it’s all been online interaction. Which is fantastic in its own right. I think people are freer and less inhibited on the internet, even if they’re NOT hiding behind anonymity. A person can reach out to me via email or on my website, and even if they’re a little shy or introverted in real life, they can gush about a book. It’s great. I wonder if, when Z. C. and I start doing conventions next year, we’ll have people as engaged in real life as they can be online.

 

This concludes the first part of the interview.

In the meanwhile, don’t forget to follow Garrett on Twitter and on his website.

 


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In Memory: A Tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett

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