The Hobbit and Kardashian marketing

I must say I’m not that enthused about Peter Jackson spinning out The Hobbit into three parts. He’s taken quite a few liberties with Mr. Tolkien’s untouchable tale, some of them rather benign and some of them (girl elf-Fili, or Kili, whatever, love story) reprehensible. Jackson should have his beard shaved off for that one in the manner of the king’s emissaries who were humiliated at the court of Edom (or wherever).

At any rate, it’s galling that Sir Jackson (Sir Jackson? that’s what people get knighted for these days, as opposed to fighting the Moslems at the battle of Tours?) has gone the route of Kim Kardashian marketing with the good Professor’s wit. Spin it out, enlarge it, hash and dash it and repackage it with something shiny.

Yes, I’m going to go see the movie. Even though I’ll gnash my teeth from time to time (sans popcorn, as it doesn’t seem to agree with my health — little agrees with my health these days; save me, Jonathan Gruber!, or at least let me know when I’m supposed to die so I can schedule my dry cleaning accordingly).

And, yes, I’m almost ready to publish the latest Tormay story. Hopefully before my dry cleaning’s date with destiny. Wait. Am I talking about clothes or closure?

And, yes, winter is coming, and that has nothing to do with George Martin. It’s simply winter, a much more profound and persistent entity than any Stark.


The Rangers ready to start filming

woodland

Woodland location for The Rangers

The Rangers will start filming on August 15. I have to admit, it is much more peaceful to just write scripts and let other people film them. I get to lounge around in California while Ron Newcomb (director) and Scott Mathias (producer) and their teeming minions do all the hard work out in Virginia. I’m already feeling tired just thinking about their shooting schedule.

Anyway, like I said, they’re going to start filming on August 15 and will be filming for 9 absolutely packed days. Two crews, four cameras, breakneck speed. Quite a large cast, lots of extras, actors flying in from quite far away (Scandinavia, for some of the elves, I think). What’s more, this is a period piece.

The dwarf Tiberius from The Ranger

The dwarf Tiberius from The Ranger

Yep. Period piece. The Rangers is not specifically a spin-off of The Lord of the Rings, but it comes close in look and feel. Medievalish setting. Elves. Orcs. Rangers. Wizards. Lots of weaponry. Fighting. Magic. A dragon makes a brief appearance. Definitely a period piece (those are much harder to pull off in terms of sets, costumes, etc, in case you’re wondering why I mentioned it).

Like I said, I’m lounging in California while they’re doing the heavy lifting. Filming, if you’re not getting the hint, is not glamorous. It’s a lot of work. Hard work. There’s a great deal of time that’s already gone into the pre-production phase: scouting, casting, a great deal of armor, weaponry and clothing had to be constructed, script development (I’m about to finalize the 9th draft), securing crew, finances…

Anyway, like I parentheticalized above, I’m about to finalize the 9th draft of the script. After that? Onto the next script. I’ve got a fairly goofy idea for a romantic comedy. If I can’t get Ron and Scott to go for it, I think I’ll shoot it myself out here in California. Which means I’ll be doing all the hard work…


Seal Whistle almost done

The Seal Whistle is almost done. I’m wrestling with the main ending scene. Tying loose strings together into one coherent finish. I find that the dramatic end of a story is quite different, can be quite different, from the personal end of the story for the characters. Which is why I wrote the end of A Storm in Tormay the way I did. It ended with what happened to the characters after the ending climactic scene. After, mind you. That’s the way I see stories ending (I’m writing primarily for myself). Not with a bang and a flourish and a crash of cymbals, but with the long, smooth legato of violins and the sun setting as smoothly and serenely as it always does.

Because that’s who I want to be. And how I want to die. Of course.

I have to bring up death in this context. A great deal of the fairytales, the genuine ones, have to do with death and endings and partings. Things changing irrevocably. The adventure over, the marriage begun, the evil vanquished, the wicked stepmother nailed into a barrel and rolled down into the sea (whatever happened to her next?). That’s exactly what Tolkien did at the end of The Return of the King. He was writing about death and dreadfully solemn endings to life. Things fading away with as much serenity as a ship sailing over the horizon from the Grey Havens. Because those things were even more important than the fall of Sauron.

But, in that, there is joy.

Not for the George R. R. Martins and Abercrombies and Patrick Rothfuss minions of the world. Nope. They’ve thought themselves into a box that is defined, described, bordered (up, down, top and sides) by human self. The style is well done–I won’t fault them on that–but the substance runs dry of hope. Which is logical. The human creature cannot find hope in and of himself.

Which is why you cannot will not will never can never find Tolkien’s eucatastrophe in any of their stories. For me, it’s like deliberately painting in black and white and steadfastly ignoring the dazzling panoply of color patiently waiting on the palette. Waiting and never used. Like going about with a blue plastic umbrella always over your head and thinking, this is my sky. This blue plastic curve is my sky, and that’s it.

And refusing to listen to the crash of thunder and the wind and the lightning and the rain and the sunset splashing down in more shades of purple and red and orange you could every find words to describe. All that true sky happening outside and above your umbrella, and you’re still steadfastly muttering “this blue plastic curve two inches above my head is my sky, the sky, the only sky.”

For me, that’s epic fantasy without eucatastrophe. Without joy.


Hawk and His Boy on Audible

The Hawk and His Boy, the first book in the Tormay Trilogy, is now available on Audible.com. If you’re an audio-book lover, click on over and get a copy. The very talented Wayne Farrell did the narration, and he’ll be narrating books two and three as well. I’m extremely pleased to have another format available. I suppose the next format to tackle would be a film or TV version. If anyone has Joss Whedon‘s cell phone number, please let me know.


audio Hawk

Once upon a time there was a little book called The Hawk and His Boy. A narrator got hold of it and decided to turn it into an audio book. And now, in several days (or several days plus a day or two), the Hawk shall appear on Audible.com. That’s that, eh?


The Rangers in pre-production

Lieutenant Wolf of the RangersThe Rangers is currently in pre-production, with filming scheduled for August. We’re doing a short film of 40 minutes, fully funded from our Kickstarter campaign from earlier this year. In a nutshell, Rangers is an epic fantasy off-shoot of the Lord of the Rings in sensibility and types of characters. The story involves a Ranger unit operating in the wild lands, trying to administer the King’s justice while fighting off bands of orcs. A deeper darkness, however, has come to the wild lands, an old evil that is working behind the scenes to topple the kingdoms of men and elves.

I co-wrote the script for this one, along with Scott Mathias and Ron Newcomb. That’s the same trio that wrote The Fellows Hip: Rise of the Gamers, the indie comedy that won Best Feature at the Indianapolis Gen Con Festival 2012. While that film didn’t get theater play, it has gotten plenty of foreign television deals (France, UK, Russia, the Middle East, etc), as well as straight-to-video deals in places like Walmart, as well as streaming on-demand on Netflix, etc. Ron is directing the Rangers and Scott is producing.

There’s quite a market for epic fantasy films these days, not that that’s apparent from the Prince Korlan of the Dark Elvesmovies showing up in your local cinemaplex; rather, there is a steady stream of low-budget indie fantasies from companies such as Arrowstorm Entertainment. Epic fantasy, as a genre, has a fan demographic that consumes at a fast and rapid rate. Therefore, a great deal of new stories are needed, whether that be in book form, comic form, or film/tv form.

Celistar of the Wood ElvesAt any rate, I’m looking forward to what Ron and Scott and Company pull off. Shooting will occur in the Virginia area. If you’re interested in working on the project in a crew or cast capacity, please get in touch with the production office (there’s info at this link for how to upload Youtube auditions if you’re interested in a part). I’ll post updates from time to time. The images in this post are from some conceptual photo shoots: Lieutenant Wolf of the Rangers (that’s Wolf Sherrill, who played a big role in our previous film, The Fellows Hip), Prince Korlan of the Dark Elves, and Celistar of the Wood Elves).


Hielo y Fuego

Yo no comprendo mucho español, to be honest. Even though I grew up working in the fields with plenty of Spanish-speaking folks. I did learn, however, a great respect for the humble jalapeno. Anyway, I’ve started securing translations of some of my books recently in Spanish and Portuguese. Fire and Ice is the first to come out of the kitchen. Hielo y Fuego, translated by the cheerful and efficient Ines Galiano. It’s currently available on Kobo, iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

In other news, I’m tackling a new project that has everything to do with writing books but nothing to do with me writing books. It’s secret for now, but revolves around the fact that I’m more of a reader than a writer. To be honest, I could care less if my books don’t sell another copy. While I love writing, writing is it’s own fulfillment. However, the thought of never being able to read another book…well, that’s a completely different kettle of chanting fish. Never having another book to read would be horrible. Thus, the secret project.

All shall become clear in about two months.

In other news, garden gnomes are making a stunning comeback in the state of California. They’re even voting. Early and often.


New cover for The Fury Clock

cover Fury ClockI just published a new cover for The Fury Clock. To be honest, the book simply does not sell, even though I think it’s a vastly readable and hilarious story. What’s not to like about scoundrel heroes, beautiful barmaids, cantankerous dwarfs, sanctimonious ogres, evil necromancers, monsters, roast boar, and dirty farmboys intent on saving the world? Humorous fantasy seems to be a very narrow field, despite the success of Terry Pratchett and…well, Terry Pratchett. At any rate, there’s a rather nasty dragon in the story, so I’m giving him front and center billing for the cover. I hope this attracts a few more eyes…


RT Bookfair, Aspiring Authors, the end of the World, etc.

So, the RT Bookfair just occurred in New Orleans. It’s one of the deals where booksellers and authors and readers show up to mingle and meet and buy and giveaway and all that sort of thing. The indie authors and smaller presses with nonreturnable books (ie., books sold on consignment) were put in one room and the traditional pressers were put in another. A lot of indies have been grumbling about this, particularly in light of an RT staffer who referred to them as “aspiring authors.”

Well, you know what? Who cares. It’s not the end of the world. At least you haven’t been kidnapped by Boko Haram thugs in order to be sold into slavery via a forced Muslim marriage. Heck, it could always be worse. The Spanish Inquisition could start up again, right on your lucky little doorstep.

Speaking of the end of the world, I’m starting to grow a bit weary of all the dystopian novels. I realize trends are things that people jump on (like: flying carpets, trolleys, and spiders that stroll across your kitchen floor), but the trendification of publishing is starting to become a Sight to Behold. A trend begins and then a vast wave of similar widgets surge their way across the landscape, singing in chorus and all painted the same color (see: have I seen those abs before?).

It would be fascinating if someone did a study of publishing and analyzed trends. Did trends occurs in the Ye Ancient Dayes of Yesteryear like they do now? Twilight…instant vampire trend! Hunger Games…instant dystopian trend! Some book with abs on it…instant New Adult trend! When Tolstoy published War and Peace, was there an instant Massive Russian Novel trend?

I’m thinking…no.

Okay, back to the Seal Whistle. 109 pages so far. I’ve noticed something interesting while writing this story (and, by the way, if you haven’t read my Tormay trilogy, the Seal Whistle takes place in that same land…go read The Hawk and His Boy if you don’t know what I’m talking about; it’s free). I started out with a specific plot in mind, specific characters who are from the Tormay trilogy or related in certain ways to those books. The characters have strongly asserted themselves in the process and are basically demanding page time to do what they want. Even if it really has nothing to do with the plot. I realize that authorial wisdom says one should edit and prune out such passages. However, these characters will probably beat the stuffing out of me if I do that.


Sneak peek at The Seal Whistle

The Seal Whistle is the name of my newest Tormay story. I just passed the 100 page mark and I’m not sure where the end is. It could turn into a regular novel or just a long novella. We’ll see what the characters want to do. I’m fairly pleased with this one for various reasons. For one thing, it answers a big question that was left unanswered at the end of the Tormay Trilogy. I can’t say what the question is, as it would reduce a certain amount of the story’s fun. However, the question concerns what happened to one of the main characters of the trilogy, after the trilogy ended. The Seal Whistle involves the sea, of course, which you probably already figured out from the title.

I’m finding it an interesting thing to revisit Tormay. The land exists in such detail in my mind that I’m discovering the story refuses to simply unfold in a straight and quick fashion. Rather, characters intrude and have their say and then go back to whatever they were doing: herding cattle, fishing, chatting in a tavern, several doing rather evil things, a young boy trying to earn enough money for a pair of boots.

If you’d like a sneak peek at The Seal Whistle, I’m going to release the first eight pages next week. However, you have to be on my email list to get them.