What I said and how I said it

You’re never going to be understood by everyone all of the time, let’s just get that out of the way right now. And of the ones that understand you, only about half of them are going to like what you say, if you’re lucky. And of those people, only a fraction are ever going to be bothered to let you know what they think about what you have to say. So, of everyone who could possibly ever leave you a review of your writing, only one half of one half of a fraction of a percent will ever do it. Don’t bother checking that math. I’m pretty sure it’s right.

Trust me. I’m a writer.

 

See? They wouldn't have made a t-shirt if it wasn't true.

See? They wouldn’t have made a t-shirt if it wasn’t true.

 

So, my point is that I’m grateful for every review I get. I never comment on any of them. It’s your review and you have every right to express your opinion about my work. After all, I released it to the public with the very expectation that some would love it, some would hate it and most would be somewhere in between (hopefully more on the love side, of course). And if you haven’t had a chance to post your review of my books yet, then PLEASE DO! Check out the links on the sidebar of my Home Page and get to it, people! Pretty please?

Seriously. Do it. Even if you hated it, please leave a review. I’m remarkably level-headed about this. It’s my career, after all. I need to know what people really think, not some white-washed “that’s nice, Dan” crap. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Just what you liked, what you didn’t and would you buy another book by this author. That’s it!

And, if you did leave a review already, then double check to make sure it’s still there. Sometimes Amazon takes down reviews because they find out that – HORROR OF HORRORS – a reviewer has actually had some sort of contact with the author. If you think that’s messed up, then I invite you to sign this petition. I did. Amazon’s current policy, as well intentioned as it is to remove flame reviews and bogus inflated reviews, only succeeds in removing honest reviews from loyal fans and does nothing to stop the disgusting practice of purchasing reviews because some people have more money than self-respect, which is the real problem.

 

"Look World! I'm a writer!"

“Look World! I’m a writer!”

 

But while I’m on the topic of reviews, I will take the opportunity to expand on a point one reviewer raised in one of my Goodreads reviews. She seemed to like the book, mind you, so it wasn’t a bad review, just a “meh” one. She said the one thing that distracted her was my use of the “modern voice” in a fantasy setting. I fully respect her tastes and understand that my narrative voice isn’t for everyone, so I have no problem with her review. Her observation does, however, raise a point that has always bothered me about fantasy literature; the rather odd choices made by many fantasy authors in terms of exactly what narrative voice they use.

Most fantasy authors that I’ve read like to use a late 19th century American or Victorian voice for most narration and then throw in a smattering of Elizabethan terms during dialog to achieve some sort of pseudo-medieval… errrm… sound, I guess? And this is somehow supposed to be the “authentic” fantasy voice? I’m not sure why this is so or how it got started (might be a fascinating thesis paper for all you English Literature students not reading this blog) but it isn’t at all an actual medieval voice. First of all, such a voice would be called “Middle English” and second of all it’s utterly impenetrable. Have you ever read Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in it’s original text? I have. It’s a foreign fucking language.

So, to me the use of narrative voice for fantasy books has always seemed to be up to the author’s whim. This is as it should be. It’s a fantasy world, after all. It isn’t historical fiction. Even if it was, a reader couldn’t read an authentic voice from classical/dark/medieval ages. We can barely read texts from Shakespeare’s day. Know why we can read texts from Shakespeare’s day and not before? It’s because he invented the language we speak today. It’s called “Modern English.” OK, maybe he didn’t invent it, but he was the first author of his generation (that I know of, anyway – literature was never my focus) to write how people actually talked.

After him, you can largely trace the great writers of following generations because they also bothered to write how people actually lived and spoke in their own times. In our current generation, it’s impossible for me to say for certain at this point. Maybe that’s too difficult a task to accomplish for your own generation. Maybe that’s a question for the ages. But, if I could switch mediums simply to illustrate a point, I might say Quentin Tarantino would be a good example in film/screenwriting. But, please, don’t tell him I compared him to Shakespeare. His head is big enough as it is.

 

I mean, look at the size of that thing. His melon is dangerously over-inflated.

I mean, look at the size of that thing. His melon is dangerously over-inflated.

 

In his writing, we see an honest approach to conveying how people in our everyday lives live and speak. Even if these people are heroes and villains of extraordinary proportions, they still engage in the same common struggles and conversations as the rest of us. Hitmen discuss the vagaries of human relationships, a man and a woman deflect sexual tension by talking about the price of a milkshake, etc. Great authors, in my opinion, invite everyone into their writing by mirroring the way they perceive the people around them talking and acting everyday. It’s the people who are alive you have to talk to, not the dead ones.

I guess that’s one reason why I chose such a “modern voice” for my Grant Scotland novels. Another reason was simply as an homage to noir detective novels. I realize it won’t be a voice everyone will be drawn to, but I’m hoping it will help more people, authors and readers alike, realize that there is no “authentic” fantasy voice. The only authentic voice is your own.

 

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The Song Title: A Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge

Hello again! Another short-short inspired by Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge for this week. This one asks you to use the title of the first song to randomly appear on your music player of choice. I wasn’t intending to do this one as the concept didn’t really interest me. In fact, I forgot all about it until a couple nights later, when I finally had an evening off from delivering pizzas. I started up Pandora and readied myself to play some MWO and listen to some tunes. That’s when Radiohead’s “I Am Citizen Insane” came on. Now, that’s a title I couldn’t very well ignore. I had never heard the song before, incidentally, but it’s a pretty good little tune – much better than a lot of their other mostly instrumental bits which sound less like music and more like screaming monkeys being devoured by the supercomputer from Superman III. Anyway, it wasn’t until a couple days after that when I finally figured out what I wanted to do with it and then I couldn’t stop giggling. I hope you get a smile out of it, too.

———————————————————————————————————-

I AM CITIZEN INSANE

(title courtesy of Radiohead off the album Com Lag – TwoPlusTwoIsFive)

 

The alarm went off and Alexander begrudgingly opened his eyes. He reached a hand out from beneath his pillow and grabbed his phone off the nightstand. Without even looking at it, he thumbed the dancing bell to turn it off. The trilling chirp stopped. Alex gave a heavy sigh and briefly considered going back to sleep, but decided against it.

His morning went like most. Bathroom stuff and then bedroom stuff and then kitchen stuff and a few minutes spent in front of the television sipping coffee and munching on toast. The heat from the morning sun poured through the windows and the central air conditioning of the apartment kicked on. The local news anchor’s face filled the screen as the TV came to life.

“…another incident of violence between costumed vigilantes. Police responding to reports of a disturbance at the Dunkin Donuts on Massachusetts Avenue in Kendall Square last night found two groups of costumed individuals skirmishing in a nearby parking lot. Apparently, they had tried to intercept an alleged thief who was attempting to steal the tip jar from the counter of the doughnut shop. Violence erupted between the two costumed parties when they could not agree on who should be allowed to apprehend the suspect. Although there was some property damage, no one was seriously hurt.”

The picture switched to a haggard policeman talking to reporters on the scene.

“I just want to repeat that while we appreciate citizens wanting to use their new powers to help fight crime, we strongly urge everyone to exercise restraint. Your local law enforcement officers are fully capable of keeping the peace. Also, there’s really no need to dress up in costumes since the IDs of the enhancement chips broadcast out to a quarter of a mile. There’s… really no point.”

Alex clicked off the TV, wiped his mouth on a napkin and took his cup to the sink. After another heavy sigh, he grabbed his satchel and threw it over his shoulders and walked out of his apartment building. He went along the sidewalk, careful not to stray into the bike lane, which was also the lane used by people who had installed the Super Speed enhancement. He could feel the breeze generated as they sped by, which was nice since the morning temperature was already 80 degrees. Overhead, a semi-organized stream of flying people created a sort of mid-air reflection of the street traffic. Not that there was much traffic on the ground. Most people preferred running or flying or teleporting to work these days.

Alex liked to walk, though. He had always liked to walk. He wasn’t great at it or anything, but he kept up a good pace. It was good exercise. Alex walked back and forth to work everyday.

He turned off Massachusetts Avenue and walked up Third Street. He ignored the homeless guy who liked to read people’s minds and tell them what he thought about what they thought. Alex had learned to think exclusively about cats whenever he had to pass him. The homeless guy didn’t seem to have a strong opinion about cats.

The office was already busy when he got there. Even though he usually arrived right on time, everyone always seemed to get there a few minutes before him. He booted up his computer and set down his satchel and grabbed his mug and headed for the break room.

When he got there, he saw Brian filling his cup with water. Alex smiled and went to pour himself some coffee. Brian nodded and raised his eyebrows at him.

“So, Alex. Check this shit out, man. I just figured out how to do this last night.”

Brian flicked his wrist and the water in his mug sprayed out into the air. Alex began to flinch away, but Brian made a slicing motion with his hand and the water instantly turned into a half dozen perfectly formed ice cubes that fell to the floor and scattered across the linoleum.

“Wild, right?” Brian said with a laugh. “I still gotta figure out how to get them into the mug though.”

“Pretty cool,” Alex said as he sipped his coffee.

“Yeah… Oh yeah! Pretty cool! I get it. Nice!”

Alex smiled and nodded. Brian picked up the ice cubes and put them in the sink.

“So you decided which one you’re gonna get?” he asked.

“I don’t know. I can’t really decide.”

“Aw, c’mon! There’s got to be something for you. Think back to when you were a kid. Wasn’t there some super power you wanted to have?”

“I always liked archery.”

“See! You could get Super Accuracy or something. Be like that comic book Avengers guy… what’s his name?”

“Hawkeye?”

“Nah. He’s the one with the wings. Bullseye maybe? Maybe Bullseye.”

Alex smiled and nodded again and Brian showed him his ice cube trick one more time before they went back to their desks.  The computer had finished booting up. Alex keyed in his login and instead of seeing his desktop, he was greeted with an animated picture of two bears mating.

“Brad. Just… stop, ok?” Alex addressed his monitor. Suddenly the face of the company’s IT guy appeared in place of one bear’s face. It turned to look at him.

“What’s up, Alex? Did you have a problem you wanted to report to IT? A technical issue of some kind?”

“There’s two bears fucking on my screen.”

“What? Oh, well look at that! You’re right! How about this? Does this fix it?”

The video of ursine copulation was replaced with one of a more porcine nature. Brad’s face danced across the screen before settling on the head of the male pig. After a few seconds, the bears were back, replaced quickly with the pigs again. Brad’s eyebrows waggled suggestively, but his expression became mock serious.

“What do you think? Is it better like this? Or like this?”

Alex heaved his third heavy sigh of the morning and contemplated going for another walk.