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Archive for the month “October, 2011”

Ghosts

ooh, look at that

Halloween.  Samhain.  Dios de los Muertes.  The Autumnal celebration of the ‘spirit world’ is a very nice tradition, whatever you want to call it.  I have always had a great affection for the week surrounding Halloween, ever since I was old enough to gobble down fistfuls of candy.  Of course, I’ve always been on the morbid side of having a “healthy outlook on life”.  I joke, of course, but there is something nervous in the way people approach death, the dead and the spirits of the departed in this culture.  It’s weird – and coming from me, that’s saying something.  Two interesting things came to mind as I sat down to compose this.  The first is about my daughter, the second is about me – when I was her age.

I was explaining to my eleven year-old what the ‘Day of the Dead’ is all about.  Or, rather, I was talking at her, about it.  When she was younger, we slathered our face with black & white greasepaint and made a small, odd processional to pay homage to the spirits.  I told her that in Latin America, it wasn’t that they believed the dead literally rose from the grave, but the people there invited the spirits be present.  Much like setting the table for an extra dinner guest would change the way you conducted a meal, I suppose.  It’s a kind of play, it seems to me, where you make the space for a kind of interaction.  You honor the dead, the departed, the past, by acknowledging it – by making it welcome.  It’s a beautiful, sometimes humbling thing.

Now, when I was still in grade school, I had a poorly understood relationship with death.  I was fascinated with it, scared of it and genuinely tried my best to come to grips with the concept.  In my 5th grade class, we were required to bring a clipping from the newspaper in each week.  We’d write a report on the news event and present it to the class, in summary.  It was a neat idea, but I went and made it creepy (on accident, I swear).  I cut obituary/death notices from the paper.  Sometimes, there were tiny, but now and then I’d see a long, glowing review of a dead person’s life.  It was an irresistible draw.  Here, on newsprint, in tiny letters, was the end result of someone’s entire life – all of it reduced to a snippet, smaller than the sports scores, buried near the classifieds where no one would see it.  I thought… well, I’m not sure what I thought, exactly.  I think I thought, “What could be more newsworthy? This is someone’s LIFE!”

My daughter’s teacher has never called me up, to complain about her being “creepy”, or scaring the other children.  For that, I’m grateful, because it is the kind of thing my parents had to deal with – among other, less relevant kinds of phone calls they received about me.  See, for me, the essence of mortality, the actual reality of capital-D ‘Death’, was never explained or fully understood by my little kid self.  In a very real way, the ghosts of all those people did haunt me, just not in the way ‘haunting’ is generally thought of.  Victims of murder and car accidents, people who died from cancer and drowning, and all the various and terrible things that happened every day in the world flooded my sensibilities.  And really, that’s too bad.

I’m much older and I hope much wiser.  I’ve seen death, up close and personal, many times.  I felt the warmth of life fade in my hands.  But rather than be horrified, or too fascinated, I’ve found a place in my life to put the horror of mortality.  I’m not ‘haunted’, but like everyone else in the world, I am visited by ghosts.  Whether you acknowledge it or not, the past – and the folks who lived there – make their presence felt in our world.  The only thing you can control is how you deal with it.

Tonight, I’m going to pour a drink in a small glass, I’m going to put a treat on a small plate and I’ll light a candle.  And I’m going to leave them on my porch.  Not because I want to feed the squirrels and not because I do or don’t believe in ‘ghosts’ or ‘spirits’.  I’ll do it because I want to honor the dead.  I do it because I am alive and I can.

It’s funny.  When I first thought about writing this post, it was with the idea of my favorite ghost stories in mind.  But as this day approached, I couldn’t find any reason to conjure a made up tale, or to dwell on the ones I like the most.  The best stories – as any kid can tell you – are the ones that are ‘almost true’.  The best ghost stories are no different.

 

Patrick Jennings-Mapp is a co-founder of and an editor for Escape Collective Publishing.  When he’s not being depressingly morbid, he’s actually a fun person to be around.  You can drop him a line at patrick AT escapecollective DOT com and tell him to ‘lighten up’ if you like.

 

 

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Win a copy of All Hope Lost from the author herself!

Faith Van Horne, author of the amazing Lovecraftian noir novella, All Hope Lost, is giving away a free copy on Halloween to one lucky story teller! Check out her blog for details:

Scribatious: What’s in the Box?

Get to writing, horror lovers!

Alexandra J. Ash is a horror writer as well and would try for the book giveaway herself, except as the book’s editor, she already knows how good it is, has her own copy, and would probably be disqualified as an employee anyway.

November is Almost Here!

The logo for National Novel Writing Month

Every year, when October rolls around, I find myself talking about National Novel Writing Month (the cool kids call it NaNoWriMo, I guess).  I talk about it with my friends who are writers, to see if they’re crazy enough to do it this year.  I talk about it with my wife, to see if it would rock the boat too much for me to do it.  And I talk about it to folks who have never heard of it before, which is a lot of fun.  It’s a really neat exercise and I’ve found myself drawn into it a couple of times.

For those who don’t know, it’s just an annual, month-long event to encourage people to write.  The one-size-fits-all goal is to hit (or surpass) 50,000 words in one, original, continuous story.  There are thousands and thousands of participants, of all ages, from around the world.  There are cool badges you can get, progress spreadsheets you can download and lots of active forums for people to support each other.  All in all, it’s a fantastic idea, with lots of potential.

The reason it’s so much fun to talk to new people about it is the variety of reactions I get to see.  Some are horrified by the idea of writing so much, so fast.  A few seem genuinely hungry for the challenge.  Most of them probably dismiss the whole idea as being too difficult.  It’s hard to argue with that last point.  Everyone has a job, or school, or yoga class, or a wedding… lots of ‘stuff’ to do.  And there’s that Thanksgiving holiday at the end of the month.  But my response is pretty blunt:  That is bullshit.  If you want to be a writer – an actual, professional writer – you will have to deal with this issue every month.

Now, I’m not going to advocate that everyone dump their responsibilities and do this wacky thing.  I don’t even think NaNoWriMo is a good idea for everybody (more on that in a minute).  But there is one, indisputably great thing about the event.  It shuts up your internal editor.  Everyone has one and some people let that nagging critic ruin most projects before they can get started.  The best thing you can do for your ability to write is to silence that editor for a while.  There will always be time to review and rewrite and reject your work later – but there has to be something there in order for that to happen.  NaNoWriMo gets a muzzle on the editor and pushes down on the accelerator.  That is a damn good thing.

The first time I did this, I was pretty nervous.  I owned my own business and my family kept me busy on top of that.  Nonetheless, I looked at it as a challenge I needed to face.  Before that Autumn, the longest piece of work I’d ever done was about 30,000 words, over the course of a few months.  In preparation for November, I plotted a long, winding story in my head.  I peopled it with characters and nested the plots inside one another.  There was a neat mechanism for switching between parallel stories whenever I wanted, if I got bogged down.  Just after midnight on November 1st I started writing.  I didn’t know how much or how fast I could write, but I aimed for that magical 1,500 words per day that would get me to the finish line.  I hit the ground running and kept going at a frantic pace.  After everyone had gone to bed, before work, or whenever I found a moment to steal, I was working.  Halfway through the month, on the 15th I think, I hit the 50,000 word mark.  It was an unbelievable thing, for me.  Granted, the story was only ¾ of the way through.  Also, the jumbled narrative and experiment with ‘nesting’ was a complete failure.  But I had done it.

There is a sense of wonder and awe, the first time you hit that word count.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve done it before or not, the relief is palpable.  It truly opened my eyes as a writer, for what kind of effort was needed to do my job.  I didn’t have to work that hard, every month, unless I wanted to.  But at the same time, I knew that I could if I was under the gun.  Up until that point, the idea of writing a novel-length piece of work seemed impossible; like a magical thing that other people could do.  And for that I’ll always be grateful for NaNoWriMo.

It's funny, because it's true. And also mean.

The whole affair doesn’t get a full pass from me, though.  For some writers, abandoning their inner critic for an entire month can be tragic.  Don’t misunderstand, I think that everyone could benefit from this kind of work, under the right conditions.  But a gimmick of a writing project is no substitute for actually sharpening one’s tools.  Writing isn’t difficult, and that seems to be part of NaNoWriMo’s message.  But good writing is sometimes very difficult and the only way to do good work is to go through the actual work.  The value for the month of November is quantity over quality.  Like I said, sometimes that is a very good thing – I certainly got a lot out of it – but please don’t ignore the other months.  Remember, once National Novel Writing Month is behind us, take the gag off your internal editor.  Who knows?  Perhaps you’ll find that critic a bit more reasonable, after a month long vacation.

Whoever you are and whatever you do, keep writing.  It’s the only you have to do, if you want to be a writer.

Patrick Jennings-Mapp is a co-founder of and an editor for Escape Collective Publishing.  He likes to write surrealist/inspirational poetry in notebooks and leave it for strangers to find.  Someday, he’ll include a character in a story that does the same – because it’s funny, that’s why.

MONSTERS, Part Two: GIANTS

That's a human on the far left...

Human beings can get pretty big.  There’s actually a field of study on mammalian morphology, or some such, that includes us talking apes.  In fact, we humans have a very wide array of sizes to choose from, with the shortest adult male (verified) coming in at just 57 cm (that’s 22 inches).  On the other end of the spectrum, there are adult males over 2.29 m (7 & ½ feet) all over the place.  I’d even go so far as to say “just” being 7 feet and some odd inches isn’t quite gargantuan enough to merit wonder anymore.  The tallest ever verified was Robert Wadlow, who may have grown just a bit after his last measurement of 2.72 m (that’s 8 feet, 11 inches).  And the current, living, tallest human is Sultan Kösen of Turkey who is a whopping 2.51 m (8 feet, 3 inches).

Damn.  Those are some big people, no doubt.  If you measure those tall folks against the worldwide average (about 5 feet, 5 inches) they seem even larger.  Factor in the historical/genetic trends towards taller and taller humans and those record holders might seem downright inhuman.  But you’d be wrong to think so.  Even if Mr. Kösen is literally twice the height of my Great Aunt Dee, he’s still a human being.  He puts on his (gigantic) trousers one leg at time, like the rest of us.

Those very, very tall folks?  They aren’t monsters.  Not even close.

Monster, monster, monster

These are Monsters.  Formed in the prehistoric nightmares of our caveman ancestors, these titans tower over the diminutive, hairless apes.  Those same nervous hunter-gatherers created the myths and tales that served as the foundation for creation stories.  Giants walked the land.  In the wake of their passing was death, chaos and destruction.  Storms raged, the ocean surged and the very Earth rumbled, shook and cracked open.  Volcanos erupted and giants flung molten rock and burning ash.  Their footprints became lakes.  Where they dragged their spears in the dirt, rivers followed course.  When they grew weary, they laid down to rest; spines crooked over the horizon, slathered with dirt, rocks and scrawny trees.  Inhuman?  Oh my, yes.  Legendary.

I want those giants.  Where have they gone?  Banished, to Tartarus, by the upstart new gods?  Are they not needed anymore?  Once, the incarnation of a dangerous and uncertain world, they gave way to – less monstrous – more human deities.  Some kind of reverse entropy occurred, where the random forces of the universe settled down, were replaced by more ordered and logical avatars.  And in some of our cultures, that trend has continued.  There are fewer and fewer gods, in a more ordered and static mythology.  Is that the way of things now?

But the giants are still there.  Aren’t they?  I think they’re buried deep in our little monkey minds – a genetic bias against being crushed by some malevolent colossus.  We created them – back in the dark days – and we’re still at it.  We’ve made statues, carved them in the sides of hills and weaved them into our religions.  When we were babies we looked up out of our cribs and saw them carrying on.  When our ancestors huddled against the cold and dark tried to piece together the world around them, they must have been just over the treetops.  Now, when you look at the stars hanging about you in the night sky – when you feel so insignificant that you question your place in the universe – you know just how small you really are.

They aren’t my favorite monsters, these giants.  In some ways, they scare me more than any of the others.  But I still want some good, old fashioned, awe inspiring giants.  I want my teeth to chatter in mind-numbing fear of the inhuman enormity of the colossal menace.  Because the hum-drum, run of the mill vampire thrill isn’t doing the trick.  If I want a monster, I want to rock my senses and shatter my world view.  Bring it on.  I say, make it BIG, or don’t bother.  Honestly, I’d settle for more Trollhunter.  Especially if that meant a little less Village of the Giants.


This movie scared the piss out of me – this is what I’m talkin’ about.

.


Sadly, no one was squashed.

Patrick Jennings-Mapp is a co-founder of and an editor for Escape Collective Publishing.  Although he is more proficient with the Metric System than many of his countrymen, he doesn’t measure his height in meters anymore.  It only serves to make him feel smaller.  If you want to tell him how silly that is, drop him a line at patrick AT escapecollective DOT com.

Turning a Story into Fiction

The insightful and talented Teresa Nielsen Hayden, of Making Light, has a powerful and short little post up right now.  It’s four little tools to help build a truly rollicking story.  Or, as she says, “for turning story into fiction.”  I especially like numbers 1 and 4:

1. Move and keep moving. Tell the story you want to tell without shilly-shallying around. Move your characters out onto the board, get them into interesting situations, and have them do big, consequential things as early as you can. Then, continue making situations interesting, and keep the big, consequential actions coming.

4. See if you already have one. Whenever you need something new — prop, plot thread, setting, minor character — go back through the parts of the story you’ve already written and see whether you can find it there. It’s surprising how often the exact thing you need is already sitting there in plain sight.

It’s worth the time to read and absorb the whole post.  She doesn’t purport to solve all your story-building problems, just offers more tools for us to work with.  And it’s an interesting filter for looking at my own writing.

Too often, my toolkit for writing (especially long fiction) looks like a hodge-podge of generic ‘tricks’.  Much of my creative energy is spent simply getting the words out of my head and onto the page.  Any useful tools for shaping the work and/or keeping my head straight while I’m doing it are more than welcome.

I can’t recommend her work enough.  You should go devour the entire site when you have a chance.

(via)

They say that if you listen carefully, on the night of the full moon – in the wee hours before dawn – you can hear Patrick Jennings-Mapp cursing at his laptop.  He is still waiting for his inbox to fill up with submissions for the winter anthology.  Hint hint.

Resistance & Muses

I just started reading War of Art, by Steven Pressfield, and I’m already smitten with it.  With a subtitle like “Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Creative Battles”, it seems like a no-nonsense manual for dealing with that most dangerous of foes:  ‘Writer’s block’.  It is one of the most talked about issues surrounding my beloved occupation.  In an ironic twist, it’s also one of the most written about.  Now that I think about it, it’s kind of galling too.  I mean, think about it.  You’re sitting there, twisting in the wind, your mind like this:

 

Not only does some joker not have the same problem, but they get their book published.  All on the back of your effort and anguish.  It’s almost as if they are profiting from your misfortune.  And ya know what?  There’s no…  Wait a second.  …  Okay, I’ve taken my ‘chill pill’ and had a cup of coffee.  I’m all better.

“Resistance”, is what Pressfield calls it and I like that.  Not only does giving it a name take away some of the power and fear, it also externalizes the issue.  ‘Writer’s block’ is something that is wrong with you, the writer.  ‘Resistance’ is something else, grinding on your productivity, keeping you from succeeding.  Damn, I like that idea.  Oh, here’s another cute ‘writer’s block’ thing I found, while I was supposed to be working: 

 

For a good portion of my adult, writing life I’ve been lucky to not be afflicted with serious blockage – in the traditional sense.  Sure, I’ve had my moments, when I knew what to write but couldn’t figure out how.  I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by good writers, with lots of insights on productivity.  I love the idea of ‘resistance’ and I’m going to plow through this book in no time.  But, I do have this other, related, problem.  It’s almost the opposite, in fact.  I’ve got Muses.

(Sounds like a medical condition, when I put it like that, doesn’t it?  “Sorry, sir, but the tests came back positive. It’s congenital Muses, all through your juicy head-meat. And it’s inoperable.”)

My Muses look like this, but with tattoos, piercings, dyed hair, leather jackets and a reckless air about them. And booze.

I’ve got three and they’re all heavy drinkers, with flaming tempers.  I spend a lot of time not doing to writing I should be doing and the Muses get pissed.  There’s never much warning before they lash out and drag me into a creative space.  It’s happened in meetings, during hospital visits, funerals, weddings – you name it.  Whatever I was focused on is out the window and I get caught up in the turn of a phrase, or snippet of dialogue.  Sometimes, I’ll find myself doodling and the doodling becomes the blueprint for a series of robot-themed romance novels, or the structure of a hypothetical short film that just has to be drafted right now.  Usually, by the time I’ve exorcised one notion, six others have popped up.  It’s the desperate attempt to keep my soul in the creative sphere, I’m sure, but the net effect is to torture me.

They’re driving the speedboat and I’m floating in the water.  There are skis on my feet and I’m holding a rope.  In the best case scenario, I get a few seconds of warning before the boat takes off at outrageous speeds.  The Muses, they laugh and chuck empty whiskey bottles over the side.  Do they even know I’m behind the boat, desperately trying to stay on my feet?  Do they even know they’re driving a boat?!  And do they even care?  Well, of course they do.  The Muses only torture me when I’m not working, silly.  If I sit on my ass too long, they fire up the speedboat and we end up doing laps around the Pacific.  And they will only stop if I’m drowning or if I get back to work.

Can I complain?  After all, at least the Muses keep me well-stocked on ideas.  Right?  Well, I get both ways, coming and going.  And I damned well will hold on to my right to whine and complain.  You know what happens after the Terrible Urge to Create has seized me?  Right after the flood waters of (hostile) inspiration recede, I’m left with a half-dozen sketches of work – each one demanding attention, each one begging me to save it from erasure and dismemory.  It’s a kind of writer’s block, an overwhelming sense that I have too much on my plate, that I cannot salvage a damn thing.

Look, maybe this makes some sense to others, or (more likely) these are the ramblings of an overworked, undercaffinated fool.  But the point I’m meandering towards here is simple.  The forces of creation are not to be trifled with.  ‘Resistance’ wouldn’t be an issue if you weren’t compelled to do this work.  The only reason I do write is because I can’t not do it.  Heed my advice and listen to your Muse(s).  Don’t let them marinate in your laziness.  Do your work.  Sharpen your tools, pay attention to your craft and let the more angelic nature of your Muse(s) guide you.

When he’s not taking involuntary water-skiing lessons from his sadistic Muses, Patrick Jennings-Mapp likes to write scripts for puppet shows.  He doesn’t have any puppets, so he puts socks on his hands.  But sometimes, he just talks to his hands.  If you send your puppet show script to him at patrick AT escapecollective DOT com, he will give you a free puppet show script critique.

MONSTERS, Part One: ROBOTS

Robot Monsters get all the chicks

A robot reveals its true colors!

It might surprise some of the people who know me, but I have a stronger and more lasting affinity for robots than any other kind of “monster”.  Yes, even zombies.  Don’t be fooled, robots are monsters.  Whether it’s buckets of bolts, riveted together, cyborgs that are part human, or androids.  Whether you’re talking about old-school Cylons, with clanging metal parts, or the new breed that are indistinguishable from humans, they are the same:  cold-hearted, mechanical monstrosities.

Let’s be clear here.  Go back to the earliest ‘robot’ archetype I know of, the Golem.  What is it?  A living statue, made of clay.  It knows nothing but holy scriptures, which are written on paper and stuffed into its head.  Yeah, programmed, just like a robot.  You know what else is like a robot?  Robots.  The first mentions of them, as autonomous worker machines, describes them as being trained to do simple repetitive tasks.  By the time you get around to Robby the Robot, Gort and C3PO, robots are well established in the conventions of science fiction.  But, I maintain, their central characteristic is one of pure, inhuman horror.

What do you call a something that looks, acts and behaves like a human being, but has no feelings or emotions?  A sociopath?  A psychopath?  Serial killer?  A monster.  That’s what robots are really all about, to me.  The complete loss of identity, or fundamental humanity, dressed up in the appearance of a person.  It’s got more terrifying potential than zombies, if you ask me.  Robots don’t want to eat your brains, or steal your job at the factory.  They lack the lustful appeal of vampires.  We can’t identify with their primal nature, like we might with a werewolf.  No.  Robots just do whatever they were programed to do.  And they don’t care about a damn thing.

We just passed the 100th birthday of Jack Finney, the man who wrote The Body Snatchers – which later became Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  I can’t think of a better description of replicant replacements for humanity than “pod people”.  Go back and watch that original 1956 thriller again.  The fact that the villains are alien plants doesn’t change a thing for me.  They are automatons – robots strike again. 

From the days when I was a wee tot, the idea of robots has fascinated me.  Among my first recollections are live-action Japanese actors in rubber and metal costumes, fighting over the fate of the Earth on our black & white television.  Had that been the last or best impression the concept of artificial life-forms had on my still-forming mind, I doubt robots would have stuck with me.  But there were more – so many more – and much, much better.  They have become ubiquitous staples of science fiction and adventure tales, but as we move further into the 21st Century, the idea of robots is less and less ‘speculative’.

You can get toy robots to play with.  There are robots that can sweep or mop your floors.  Robots built your car.  They are real and no one seems to mind much at all.  Take a look at cartoons, comic books and movies.  Robots everywhere.  Wall-E?  Amazing movie, captivating and beautiful to look at and it’s all about robots.  Yeah.  It’s robot propaganda, that’s what it is.

You can call me crazy if you want.  I don’t mind.  I’m certainly not going to spend my days screaming out warnings, like Kevin McCarthy at the end of Invasion.  And maybe we’ll end up getting one of those fancy Roomba things.  But I’ll never trust ‘em, no way.

 

Patrick Jennings-Mapp is a co-founder of and an editor for Escape Collective Publishing.  Ever since he had his tonsils removed, he’s suspected that he, himself, was really a robot.  That’s a pretty deep rabbit hole, don’t you think?

Hobbit Habit

(this post originally appeared on our old blog, in a slightly different form)

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

In my continuing efforts to be a good parent, I read to my kids.  Study after study points out that reading to children stimulates their cognitive abilities and aids the development of language, literacy and cements a better bond with their parents.  These studies suggest starting early – while they’re still in the womb even – and continuing on until the late teenage years.  So many studies.  They could probably stop studying it now I think.  I mean, how much more can they hope to learn?  Anyway…

Of course, I started out with stuff I wanted to read, but over time kids form their own opinions and want to read “Goodnight, Gorilla” over and over again.  And then it gets worse, when they discover terrible, kid-oriented fare.  Then I end up reading “Pretty Kitten Princess Diaries”* over and over again.  And then I die inside.

But, when my daughter was about nine years-old, I decided she was ready for some more sophisticated literature.  Now, this kid is wicked smart and reads far above her grade, but I had yet to really get her hooked on anything I wanted to read to her.  So, it was with a bit of trepidation that I broke out J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.  I was worried it wouldn’t resonate with her, that it would scare her, that she was too young to really get into it, that it would put her off fantasy novels – and I was worried that it wouldn’t hold up to my memory of it.

I shouldn’t have been concerned.  Although I’d read it several times when I was younger, I had never read it out loud.  Tolkien’s words read aloud with such character and tone that I found myself falling in love with the sound of the words.  My daughter listened, attentive, but not fully immersed in the book, until I got to the first song.  I wasn’t sure how to proceed.  Should I just read it as a poem, or dive into a hearty rendition?  And what kind of rhythm should it have?  I shrugged and dove into a slow, sung version of “Chip the Glasses and Crack the Plates!”.  She stared and smiled.  At the next song (“Far Over the Misty Mountains” I think), she really got into it.  I was surprised and pleased.

To be honest, the songs never captivated me when I read them as a kid.  As written works, they are integral to the flavor of the Tolkien stories, but didn’t draw me in.  My daughter, however, was swept up  by the songs, as much as the tale of wee Bilbo’s adventure.  In fact, without the songs, she might have only half-listened as the story unfolded.  They came at just the right moments for her temperament and they broke the story up in just the right way.  Upon reflection, they pulled a ‘merely great’ book up to another level.

My daughter is lucky to have such a love for reading, for stories large and small.  And I’m lucky to have such a good selection of stories to introduce to her, to share with her.  It’s no surprise that good stories resonate with kids, that they deepen the bond between parent and child.  What is a surprise is why certain stories strike a chord, while others just distract.  As a writer, an editor and a parent I never would have guessed that it would be the verse that sparked in my child’s mind.  What’s more surprising is how much more I enjoy The Hobbit now, than before I sang the songs out loud.  Even now I can’t look at the words without the urge to sing them.  Try it yourself, sometime.  With or without a kid around.

I suppose it serves as an example of some kind.  Probably not that I should sing in public!  No.  But it shows that you never know what element of story is missing, until you find it.  You never really know where you’re going, until you get there.

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.

 

Patrick Jennings-Mapp is an editor and co-founder of Escape Collective Publishing, which is all fine and good.  But you should really hear him sing; he missed his calling.  If you leave a comment, or email him at patrick AT escapecollective DOT com, he will sing it out loud to himself.  Perhaps someday he’ll release a CD of such recordings and finally realize his true destiny.  But probably not.

 

*: I just Googled “ Pretty Kitten Princess Diaries” and am happy to report that it doesn’t exist.  Yet!

Just a quick link…

This is beautiful and horrible, all at once. I have a love/hate thing with book art. It’s conflicting. Very conflicting.

Student Explains Kindle To Charles Dickens

 

Update: Correct link above. And here’s the link I accidentally linked to after a long afternoon of linking stuff on the website. Go support Faith in her amazing blog tour! :>

Alexandra J. Ash is a co-founder and editor at Escape Collective Publishing, an eBook publishing company, so she really shouldn’t be so attached to real books, but she is. Oh, is she ever. But she also reveres her eReader with an intensity verging on obsessive love, so it all works out in the end.

Head: Explodey

Have you ever had that feeling?  When there’s so much going on, you can’t prioritize correctly – it’s a breakdown on task triage.  My week has been like that, except instead of a “crisis” feeling, it’s been strangely happy and manic as hell!  Quite a wild ride.  Especially after all the stress (good & bad) from the past few weeks, it feels pretty nice.  I’m sure it takes a toll on my mental and physical health.  It’ll be very little comfort if all the “good stress” kills me before the bad.  Ha!

Well, it’s in that spirit of ‘happy triage’ that I tell you about a few things.  Exciting things, for me – all of us, really.

First, both All Hope Lost and Corpus Pretereo are available from both Barnes and Noble –and– Amazon.  And I’ve already sent all the snarky, passive-aggressive emails to the customer service reps that I could handle – so there’s a decent chance that all the terrible errors will get fixed.  It’s the kind of thing I always took for granted in this kind of business; take the book, put it on the website, people can buy it.  SO simple!  Again, HA!  Anyway, here are the links:

All Hope Lost – click HERE for the Kindle, click HERE for the Nook
Corpus Pretereo – click HERE for the Kindle, click HERE for the Nook

On a related note, we’re also trying to get people to review the books.  So, ya know, if you or anyone you know might be inclined, please give ’em a nudge.

Second, we’re already gearing up for our next publishing cycle.  We need long form fiction (novels, novellas, novellettes, and, uh… novellitas…?) as well as submissions for our next anthology.  You can go to our main submissions page HERE and see the sweet details.

Third – and finally – we’re having a cover art contest for the next anthology!  I know, that’s a great idea, right?  All the details are currently on our main page, over THERE, so go check it out.  The deadline for submissions is the first of December, so there is plenty of time.

And I’m out, for now.  I gotta go find a way to let off some steam, or the next thundering ‘kaBOOM’ you hear will be my head.  I don’t like it when my head goes all explodey.  It’s messy.  Anyway, next time I want to tell you a little story.  See ya soon!

 

Patrick Jennings-Mapp is a co-founder of and an editor for Escape Collective Publishing.  When he’s not sending blisteringly snide email messages to customer service ‘bots, he’s trying to figure out who put the bomp in his bomp bah bomp bah bomp – and who put all this ram in my rama lama ding dong?!  Sheesh…

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