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Beat Treatments

In college I had several foreign exchange friends from Japan, and I once asked them their favorite joke. Despite insisting it did not translate, I was treated to one of my favorite jokes ever. Q: How do you put an elephant in a trunk? A: Well, first you have to cut it up. All translation and darkness implications aside, this joke does cut to the heart of one of the issues of starting a new screenplay/ novel: It’s daunting as hell due to being so huge. Q: So what do you do? A: You cut it up into smaller, more digestible pieces. Be very careful when googling "elephant chainsaw." You may not like the images that pop up. The first stage of making the writing elephant more manageable for me is St

The Fantasy Conceit

An odd thing happened recently, something that shook me to my writerly core: I couldn’t come up with a logline for Star Wars. Yes, despite it being around for 40 years and the franchise basically raising me, I could not adequately condense it into concise, two-sentence summary without leaving out some fairly salient bits. This bothered me quite a lot until I realized I had trouble summarizing Lord of the Rings as well. Considering each franchise’s ubiquity and eminence within their respective genres, this seemed rather odd until I considered it through the lens of Worldbuilding. But before we get to Worldbuilding, let’s explore my trouble a bit with my logline for Star Wars: A young farm boy

Worst Defender: Luke Cage or Iron Fist

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, comic book movies are all the rage. Marvel’s success at launching an interconnected universe with four individual movies leading to The Avengers was so pronounced, DC fell on their faces attempting to bring all their heroes together without first doing the requisite legwork. And now Marvel’s applying the same strategy on Netflix by bringing together Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist in the form of The Defenders. But two of these table legs are terribly unsteady as we dissect which is the worst Defender. As always, I’m joined by fellow fantasy author, 2017 SPFBO semi-finalist, podcast professor, and all-round academic extraordinaire, Daniel E. Olesen, to

Sneak Peek: Chapter Two of The Imbued Lockblade

Author's Note: Okay, this is a sneak peak of book two I'm about to send off to my copy editor (so don't judge the typos!) so I can include it in the re-release of The Woven Ring in the next few weeks with a new cover. Astute eyes will see the inclusion of another Payday Story, a version of which came in 11th at a flash fiction contest and earned me comments from Mark Lawrence, Josiah Bancroft, and Sebastien de Castell (whose book I was coincidentally reading at the time). That means all three of them read something I wrote, which is pretty cool. But now, on to the story: Marz 13, 557 Things could not be worse for the boy. Those of the yogano, the communal campfire for victorious men, pelted

Court of Broken Knives Fantasy Playlist

Novel Playlists from Fantasy Novelists treats each fantasy novel like a feature film and encourages the author to put together their own dream soundtrack. Having conquered all of Europe and now turning her sights upon the US, queen of grimdark Anna Smith Spark has an overwhelming hatred of cutlery, which she demonstrates with her debut novel The Court of Broken Knives. It is the richest empire the world has ever known, and it is also doomed. Governed by an imposturous Emperor, decadence has blinded its inhabitants to their vulnerability. The Yellow Empire is on the verge of invasion--and only one man can see it. Haunted by prophetic dreams, Orhan has hired a company of soldiers to cross th

On Writing Time(s)

It hasn’t even been a full 24 hours since I wrote THE END on the rough draft of The Imbued Lockblade, the sequel to The Woven Ring in what will be a four-book series, and I already find myself reflecting on it. In the past had the hubris to brag, including on my Goodreads page, that I’ve never suffered writer’s block before, which pretty much ensured I was due for a comeuppance when it came to writing this one. Looking back in my writing log (and yes, I have a writing log), I find that I started the outline on this back in July of 2016 yet only finished the rough draft a little over a year later. There were, of course, numerous reasons for this, ranging from some screenwriting gigs, a family

Ode to Shannara

I know it’s en vogue to bash on Brooks’ books, but the word of Shannara will always hold a special place in my flinty heart. Sure, it’s derivative of Tolkien, but no more so than a weekly D&D session, and no one gets all up in Gygax’s business for daring to include elves, dwarves and orcs. Still, a lot of fantasy purists aim a lot of ire Shannara’s direction I don’t think it deserves. In a lot of ways Shannara may sum up Gen X’s take on fantasy the same way that LOTR did for Boomers. At least it does for me. I can remember where I was when I first encountered Shannara: In the back of our 1977 Ford LTD on a family vacation when my mother pulled out a book on tape of The Sword of Shannara. She

Jon Snow VS Daenerys Targaryen: Best Ruler For Westeros

Spoiler warning: If you’re not caught up on GoT, you probably shouldn’t read this post. Despite the nearly Russian-novelesque cast of characters, Game of Thrones is coming to a close with none of the participants of the War of the Five Kings still in the running for the iron throne. Instead, Daenerys and Jon seem to be the best two poised to bloody their rumps upon the oversized cutlery chair, and we find ourselves wondering which one would prove to be the best ruler of Westeros. As always, I’m joined by fellow fantasy author, and all-round academic extraordinaire, Daniel E. Olesen, to put this issue to bed. Daniel: The King in the North! I feel that says it all. I was so hyped after seeing

The Birth of the Emets and the Engel Revolt

[From the Biba Sacara Book 1, Chapter 8] Waer and her children hounded the five tribes of Sol and torment them wherever they were found on Ayr. But the Children of Sol continued to be fruitful and multiply despite Waer and her daemons. And soon Waer’s children Bleim and Kor became envious of Waer and her husband Vradra. Wishing to possess the power of Waer, Bleim and Kor too desired progeny like the Children of Sol. So they came to a nodus and each tore off one of their Breaths to cast into the nodus. And from their Breaths a new creature called an emet emerged from within the nodus. And they named the emet Ghala. Rejoicing greatly at their cursed spawn, Bleim and Kor ordered Ghala to tormen

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