Short Fiction

Curses Dark and Foul – More Background

Good morning everyone, I hope you are well this week and that you had a good week last week. Today marks the second post about my upcoming fantasy anthology, Curses Dark and Foul, due to be released in just a few weeks. You will note that the cover is ready and has been ready for several weeks. This cover is important, because it represents a bit of all three short stories in the anthology. Here’s a bit of a taste of how it does so with each of the stories and bit of background for one of them.

The cover features a young woman in the foreground and behind her is a looming beast. All three of the stories deal with curses so the title is Curses Dark and Foul. Two the stories deal with a beast. And two the stories have a young woman who is a character in a story. The story highlighted today has both a beast and a young woman. So that’s how the relevance of the cover works for all three of the stories. It ends up being a solid bit of artwork for the anthology with some relationship to all three stories.

However, the cover best represents the story, Shadow of the Beast. I’m not going to share much about the story lest I give it all away, but you can easily see the importance of the cover to this particular story.

Shadow of the Beast is a story that I wrote several years ago and considered what to do with it for a while. It required I develop the main character with some subtle influences in his life. He is tasked with a seemingly impossible job and essentially blackmailed into doing something he doesn’t want to do.

The story came from the kernel of an idea about being alone on a snowy night at a campfire. The question came to mind: what was beyond the light? What could be out there in the wild stalking the darkness? Those are straightforward questions, but they easily come to mind whenever you find yourself alone in the dark with very little light. You can at least imagine what it would be like in a deep wilderness or anywhere else that you might be in such a situation. It’s also easy to imagine what it was like a little more than 100 years ago before electricity was so prevalent, and what it’s like in many isolated places in the world yet today. That is, in part the essence of the story, but there is far more to it than that simple kernel.

So there you have it, the character tasked with a job he doesn’t want to do and a fire in the dark. Of course there’s more and the story leads to that setting. The setting speaks for itself and I hope you will enjoy the story. Here’s a blog post from over on Story Empire where I discussed more about how your imagination and impressions of your surroundings change when you are alone in the dark for an extended period of time. The link for the pre-order is coming soon, I’m just not quite finished with the compiled manuscript.

Thanks for stopping by today at Archer’s Aim. Please share and re-blog the post as you see fit. Also, leave your thoughts and reactions in the comments section and I’ll answer as is I can.

Fantasy Friday! The Bow of Destiny Commentary Pt. 2: The “Fit”

Introduction

I thought it would be interesting to share some commentary about the beginning of The Bow of Destiny now that the book has been out for a while, sold well and the next book should be released in just a few months. The Bow of Destiny has a curious beginning for many people that’s at once perplexing, confusing and intriguing. This effect is done on purpose and I’ll share a bit about it now.

The Bow of Destiny is written using the technique of deep point-of-view where readers hopefully become deeply engaged with the perceptions of the point-of-view character. There are a few other aspects mixed into this, one being that there are little, to no, dialogue tags in the book – all the dialogue is contextual. Secondly, with the deep point-of-view, internalization is signaled – or tagged – with physical actions by the character. As such, the internal thoughts, mood and emotions of the character are not italicized since these are deep enough into the chracter-reader engagement to not be set apart in such a way. Lastly, when italics are used it is for a specific, ongoing experience for the POV character. In such cases, hallucinations, dreams, memories, visions and other such experiences of the character are italicized as a special indicator that something different is happening for the character. I also used a present tense instead of past tense to cue the reader that this is a present experience for the character. It’s important to note that the tense only has changed and not the character POV.

The Fit

Athson has been afflicted with what he terms “fits” since he was orphaned. Something in his surrounding environment can set off these episodes where he re-lives his past – sometimes overlaid with his present. It’s actually a PTSD-like reaction to the violence of his past and can leave him rather confused

On top of this, Athson also sees other things like Spark, an imaginary mountain hound that’s been at his side since the incidents described in the first chapter. Athson takes an elven concoction called Soul’s Ease to prevent him from having “fits” or seeing Spark.

The opening scene gets confusing for Athson because he’s forgotten his Soul’s Ease. The instances of italics in this case are when Athson sees his traumatic past – in present tense. It emphasizes that something different is ongoing within Athson’s awareness. If you – as the reader – are confused, then it’s all good because Athson is confused and you are really deeply into his experiences. However, it’s important to remember that the character point-of-view does not change – only the tense has changed to emphasize Athson’s (in this case) experience has changed.

Athson knows that these “fits” give him a hard time differentiating what he sees for days so he assumes things like Spark are not real. However, these seem very real to him and he often gets caught up in them anyway – such as interacting with Spark.

Conclusion

So this is another layer to Athson’s point-of-view in the opening scene. As you can see, there are a lot of different aspects to this scene that might get overlooked. However, if you read it again you’ll see the clues along the way. By the way, there are a number of other subtleties throughout the book that you might find interesting on re-reading.

Next week, I’ll dig a little deeper into this opening scene and attempt to offer a bit more about Athson’s state of mind. I found this scene difficult, tricky and daring all at once so there are a lot of layers to what’s going in with Athson that set the stage for the whole story. Thanks for reading today. Please leave comments below and check back next week for another post about this topic.

To find out more about The Bow of Destiny, click over to one of these online retailers:

Amazon

IMG_4154-EditAbout the Author

P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. The Bow of Destiny is his first novel-length title with more soon to come.

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And a Few Steps Forward

Good morning everyone! Last week had a few setbacks but this week saw a few steps forward. I finally purchased a new vehicle but I’m still going through all the changes of information with insurance and the registration. Nothing big, just a few details to cover. Aside from that, there were some other nice developments.

First, a new feature on this site was started named Fantasy Friday. For now, it’s nothing major while I develop where it will go so I’m starting with some re-posts about my published books. I have quite a lot of material by now so I can cover several weeks and those when I just don’t have time to write something new. But I hope to share new content soon enough.

Print for An Arrow Against the Wind is well underway. The print cover is complete – well, mostly. The final version will be adjusted for the number of pages in the print format. My formatting specialist has the manuscript now so it shouldn’t too long until the final versions are available. The print book will appear first on Amazon and then later on Barnes & Noble. Here’s the current cover version which was share last week if you missed it:

Maybe I’ll have a preliminary print cover for The White Arrow done in a week or so to share in an upcoming post.

I’m still up in the air about several events. There’s semi-interest on my part in attending the SFWA convention this summer. I’m still considering a local SF&F convention at a local library that draws well. With print coming along, I expect to be positioned well for an appearance there if I’m interested. I will attend a local writers conference and visit with a few people, maybe make a few pitches to an agent. All these are a goals this year in various degrees of importance. I’m also considering entering The Bow of Destiny in a print contest for Writer’s Digest. Who knows what could happen with that last one, but a friend suggested I give it a try.

Also in the past week, there were other developments. I made some steady revision and editing progress on Reformed Mage. It’s nice to move forward there even while the week was full of distractions from the new(er) car purchase. I’m hopeful that I can get something done to publish the book in June but that will be dependent on my editor’s schedule and cover art. Still, progress is progress. I really want to get some cover art so I can share that development too but I’m holding off a while until I can settle the concept more, then see what my artist thinks.

I’m mainly itching to release to the next books in the series as well as the first book of Black Glove. The latter has been in solid development stages for a while but it’s waiting for more series development. I don’t want to publish it too soon without more books planned and at least one in finished first draft status. Then there are some other books which have been pushed aside for a while that are clamoring for attention and publication. There’s quite a lot to do. Here’s something of my expectations based on the amount of material I have written:

  • Publication of Reformed Mage, Book 1
  • Publication of Reformed Mage, Book 2
  • Publication of either Black Glove, Book 1 or Reformed Mage, Book 3. Whichever comes first, the other one will be released afterward.
  • Publication of Broken Shield, Book 1.
  • Publication of All Things Forgotten, Book 1.

Along that publication schedule, I’d like to start dictating new books for Reformed Mage, Black Glove, The Bow of Hart Saga sequel, Broken Shield and All Things Forgotten. Just making progress is the overall interest, but my main goals are for Reformed Mage, Black Glove and The Bow of Hart Saga in that order. The others are much further back in development and publication so they will have a much lower priority. It’s a long list but I hope to make some serious progress over the course of the year, publication first and then new drafts. The publication calendar is at least a year and a half long, probably more. Some of the drafts that are completed during that time may will elbow their way into the schedule ahead of others based on reader demand. Nothing is set in stone at the moment and I don’t expect to release more than two books this year at the rate I’m going. I might even throw in an anthology of fantasy short stories I already have written, just for fun.

Regardless, I have to focus on the immediate and keep moving toward the goals. It’s demanding and fun. Thanks for reading today. Please share this post with others on social media or re-blog it as you see fit. Leave your thoughts in the comments and I’ll respond as soon as I’m able.