Tag Archives: fantasy

Submitting Work to Magazines/Competitions

I just submitted something. This is a big step for me.

It feels like pushing your baby out of the window in the hopes that someone will catch it.

God I hope they catch my word baby.

For those interested I entered the Aeon Award – http://www.albedo1.com/aeon-award/aeon-award-2014/

It may well come to nothing, but that’s okay. This step of actually submitting work has had a positive effect. I now feel like a struggling writer, rather than someone struggling with a hobby.

My work is out there. It’s like opening a flood gate. How many other things can I submit? How many magazines are out there accepting new work?

 

 

This is an important point – I really didn’t understand how many sci-fi and fantasy magazines there are out there accepting submissions. You’d be surprised! There are so many!

Do be careful though, each place has their own strict guidelines. Read each carefully and make sure you follow them to the letter. There is no ‘basic’ way of submitting your work these days. Fortunately there are now extensive guidelines and FAQ pages so make use of them.

And, finally – exercise caution.

There are always going to be shady places out there looking to trick you out of money. Research a magazine/competition etc before entering it. The internet is your friend…

 

Push those word babies. Push them.

 
– Zero Nine

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Remembering Why We’re Here…

This marks the first time I’ve missed my ‘new blog every Sunday’ rule. But I’ve been busy dammit!

Stop judging me!

 

 

London Film and Comic is coming up so I’ve been busy getting ready for that. But enough excuses!

What little time I do have is spent actually writing. But I’ve also been thinking about how I got into writing. I’ve always been an avid reader – something inherited from my parents – but what was that spark that made me really want to write? And why? And does it still inspire me? So in essence – what helped me comprehend the power of the written word and inspired me to try and weild such power?

The answer, for me, is below. It’s best read out loud, as with all of Poe’s work.

——————-

The Haunted Palace

BY EDGAR ALLAN POE

 
In the greenest of our valleys
By good angels tenanted,
Once a fair and stately palace—
Radiant palace—reared its head.
In the monarch Thought’s dominion,
It stood there!
Never seraph spread a pinion
Over fabric half so fair!

Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
On its roof did float and flow
(This—all this—was in the olden
Time long ago)
And every gentle air that dallied,
In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
A wingèd odor went away.

Wanderers in that happy valley,
Through two luminous windows, saw
Spirits moving musically
To a lute’s well-tunèd law,
Round about a throne where, sitting,
Porphyrogene!
In state his glory well befitting,
The ruler of the realm was seen.

And all with pearl and ruby glowing
Was the fair palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing
And sparkling evermore,
A troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty
Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
The wit and wisdom of their king.

But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch’s high estate;
(Ah, let us mourn!—for never morrow
Shall dawn upon him, desolate!)
And round about his home the glory
That blushed and bloomed
Is but a dim-remembered story
Of the old time entombed.

And travellers, now, within that valley,
Through the red-litten windows see
Vast forms that move fantastically
To a discordant melody;
While, like a ghastly rapid river,
Through the pale door
A hideous throng rush out forever,
And laugh—but smile no more.

Source: Poets of the English Language (Viking Press, 1950)

————————–

There’s still something about it that sends shivers through me. Sorry, *Poe fanboy alert!*

 

http://www.harkavagrant.com/

 

So give it some thought. What set you on this path? What inspired you?

 

All the best,

 

– Zero Nine

 

 

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A Game of Thrones Reality

There’s been a lot of controversy recently with regards to the excessive sex and violence on show in HBO’s Game of Thrones show.

There’s always controversy where sex and violence are involved, so nothing new there. But this got me thinking – I’ve not watched the show yet (hush, I will at some point) but I have read the books. One thing in particular that struck me about them was the blunt reality that they portrayed. It didn’t revel in rape, sex and violence, but it wasn’t shy about them either. The books were coldly realistic – a rare trait in a series of fantasy books.

As I haven’t watched the show I can’t really comment on whether what’s shown is overly glamorised or not. But it did get me thinking about the place of realism, even in books that needn’t pay any heed to reality.

Let me be more specific:

If you were actually dumped into a dangerous situation you would not suddenly become a kick-ass warrior. The bullets or arrows would not all somehow miss you. I don’t consider myself a coward but if I thought I was going to die I’d probably get the hell out of there – it’s survival 101.

Stories, especially fantasy and science fiction have a tendency to focus on the chosen one, which is fine. But whilst the chosen one is enjoying being protected by the plot who is narrowly avoiding death in the background? I find the idea of the ‘desperate blunderer’ protagonist far more appealing.

So what does trying to write realism mean to me? Does it mean I can’t have alien races or magic? Nope. If they’re part of the world I’ve written then they exist.

But will my lead character suddenly find the power to fight her way through countless well armed and thoroughly trained soldiers in unarmed combat? No. Because unless she gains access to super powers or a secret weapon (i.e. goes down the ‘chosen one route’) then that can’t physically happen.

Will she occasionally find herself in a situation where things are in her favour and she narrowly comes out on top? Yes. Because that’s called using your initiative and we can all do that.

Will she willingly face ridiculous odds for no real reason other than to forward the plot? No. Because… well… would you?

Will she throw herself into harms way to protect someone she loves? Yes. She’s fundamentally a decent person and people do crazy things for love.

I hope I’m making sense here. Contrived writing is the bane of reality. So to create reality one most avoid cliché’s. Not every protagonist can save the day. Not every mystery can be solved. Not every life saved. As with real people – all my characters can do is their best and hope things work out. They are not protected by the plot – quite the opposite:

What I’m getting at is that I strive to find the reality in my fantasy; the real people in unreal situations; the survivor of a war, not war heroes. This is what George RR Martin does perfectly, in my opinion: he creates realistic, flawed people – not ideals.

Not that my protagonist won’t be heroic on occasion. Indeed, any act of heroism will be made all the more substantial by the reality of their situation. Real people can be heroes, but it’s a risky business…

– Zero Nine

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Take-That, Lady Gaga, and why I haven’t done any reviews recently…

For those of you that have followed this blog thus far (that’s right I’m on about you three!) you would have noticed that despite my ‘One review a week’ aim, things have been very quite for a while now. Let me explain myself.

Writing, or rather writing regularly and objectively, always makes me feel good. What with University just around the corner (again! :D) it was good for me to get into the writing mood again. The reviews were a great medium to write creatively about things that mattered to me. After my last review I had a number of ideas about albums to review. But then something amazing happened. I started to write prose.

As soon as I got back from work every day I would write until I couldn’t stay awake. And you know what? I’m still writing. I’ve tried to write novels before (who hasn’t right?) but after about three thousand words I’d get bored with the concept, the characters, everything. I’d forget about it all completely. Then I stumbled across something I had started to write about a year ago, I read it with fresh eyes so to speak, it was pretty damn good. So I carried it on. I revived the characters, the plot. I designed the world with more detail and I got stuck in.

I have never felt this way about writing before. It’s like a story is clawing its way out of me. Half the time I don’t even think about what I’m writing. I sit down and let my mind wander and before I know it plot arcs are forming, characters are developing, all seemingly without me thinking about it. It’s a weird feeling. The words are flowing from my mind without any trouble whatsoever. And as it stands I’m nearing 50,000 words and it’s all happened in a fairly short amount of time. I’m aiming for 100,000 as a general goal but at this rate and with how much there is left to tell I imagine I’ll go over that amount.

I’m not saying that what I’m writing is perfect, it may amount to nothing in the end. But I can’t stop writing. There’s a whole world created, a whole set of people, an adventure, that exists now in words that would never have been there without me. In a rather twisted way it all relies on me to exist. To create a world, a whole reality, to have everything that happens there as your responsibility, it feels so exhilarating!

I have started talking to publishers, getting advice from published authors, and I even have artists ready to start working on the cover art and the world map (all good fantasy stories need world maps!), I don’t know where this will take me, but I feel good about it. It feels ‘right’.

That is my reason for neglecting this blog. I will try to sneak the occasional review in occasionally though!

But enough about me. I made this blog site with the aim of reviewing music so here’s a few music related things so that this post isn’t all about me!

First up, Take-That. I’m not fussed on them. Never have been. But one of their newer songs, and the video to this song, has been a pleasant surprise. It’s visually quite Steampunk, or at least some of the outfits are. This caused some outrage from the Steampunk community which I don’t think is fair. The song is really quite good, the video is entertaining, and the Steampunk outfits look good, rather than looking like a parody. This isn’t mainstream Steampunk, it was just an inspired off-the-cuff idea from one of the video directors that fitted the message of the song! And it works.

Which is more than Panic at the Disco can say about their foray into the genre.

So here is the video, Kidz, by Take That:

See? That wasn’t so bad was it? Anyone expecting Gary Barlow (yes I had to google the member’s names) to turn up at a Steampunk convention? No, because the video was just a bit of fun. And fun, coupled with creativity is what Steampunk is all about right?

Next up, Lady Gaga. I have avoided her this long simply because the music seemed to be going over the same ground that pop stars have been star jumping on for a while now. I gave one of her new songs a chance due to its name: ‘Judas’. I find religion incredibly interesting, as most atheists do I’m sure. So I was interested to see if the video and the song matched the name. And it really did. It was basically about a love triangle between Mary Magdalene, Jesus, and Judas. But looked at in a wider scope what it came across as was the human desire to embrace both the ‘good’ and ‘evil’ parts that make us human. In the video these three biblical characters and the disciples were a biker gang of sorts. It may sound lame but it works!

Here’s the video, enjoy:

After seeing this I checked out some of her other songs and got bored very quickly. But this song is still brilliant in my opinion.

Okay, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little foray into my mind and into the more mainstream music area. Sure these songs need no publicity but I found them interesting discussion points when it comes to style genre’s and biblical teachings. You’re own opinions are your own and my opinions are mine. Make of it what you will.

Yours hastily,

-Zero Nine

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