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Checking In, Catching Up

I never get any less busy, and posting is always the first thing that gets left behind, so let's pretend this is a catch-up post.

Two weekends ago, I was at sword camp, and it was good. Well, more than good; it was great. The same gang that does the bi-annual WMAW conference put together a special event on the off-year to celebrate the 600th anniversary of Fiore dei Liberi's Il Fior di Battaglia. Typically, the WMAW (Western Martial Arts Workshop) covers everything that can be remotely considered to be a "western" martial art; this one was all about one Italian master. Delightful.

Last weekend, I managed to get to one day of the Esoteric Book Conference. Long enough to hear a couple of the presentations (which were fantastic) and to do some serious damage to my pocket book.

Yesterday, the interview I did for Tor.com about The Mongoliad went live. Also, I found out that both Lightbreaker and Heartland are now available on the Kindle (those links will take you to their respective pages at Amazon.com. Huzzah! Go little books, go!

Today, I am hip deep in a backlog of video content as I try to put together some semblance of clips for all the choreography work we've done over the last eight months.
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The Foolscap Reading Series recap

Sunday was the first of the Foolscap Summer Reading Series, wherein I rambled on for nearly three hours to a room of attentive and interactive listeners. It was more of a rolling discussion than a Watch The Monkey Dance! sort of show, but scarlettina was kind enough to tweet the proceedings and make it seem like all the bon mots were coming from me. For the sake of posterity, here's the highlights of the afternoon (in a somewhat edited version from the flatstuff twitter stream).


* I start off by reading the two pieces I wrote for Omnivoracious, the Amazon blog, related to the Codex of Souls series. [NOTE: those would be "On the Nature of Magick" and "On The Existence of Monsters]

* Mark Teppo is fascinating: In twenty minutes, he's invoked Alistair Crowley, Jesus, and Descartes.

* Teppo says: "We just wanna get naked with things that we shouldn't."

* Teppo says: As I wrote Lightbreaker, I repeated the words, "Men and mantras, shotguns and sigils."

* On writing fantasy & making stuff up: Teppo says he actually did more research for his fantasy book than he did for his science fiction story.

* Teppo says: The trouble with doing research is the more you get into it the more interesting things you find.

* Teppo says: There are elements of abstract esoteric thought that, when applied to scientific thought, start adding sense to the universe.

* Teppo says: Faith is reliance on the external to deliver to you. Crowley says there is no faith, only will. Faith is reactive; will is active.

* This is more than a reading; it's practically a class on esoteric thought. Fascinating stuff!

* First scene of Lightbreaker, what was the inspiration? Teppo says: "It was . . . kinda cool." First scene was the only thing saved from first draft. [NOTE: Alas, Twitter doesn't really afford the means to capture the three minute off-the-cuff grad school style breakdown I did of the first scene and why it was the way it was; but at the same time, I can admit that I made it all up on the spot. Also, I should note that the VERY first scene--with the deer--isn't actually in the first draft. The early version references the deer, but it starts as he boards the ferry; I hadn't remembered this until I was reading it aloud yesterday.]

* Beautiful image in the first scene of Lightbreaker: a deer glowing with human soul energy in the dark of night. Magic afoot!

* Book is set in the Seattle; Teppo invokes the mystery of the woods, the mundane experience of a ferry ride with an acute perception.

* Teppo says: "What's the difference between urban fantasy and paranormal romance? Paranormal romance has happy endings; urban fantasy really doesn't." [NOTE: I'm not the first to say this.]

* Teppo recommends Mark Henry's series about Amanda Feral, a zombie, in the hip, happening capital of the undead, Seattle.

* Q: What makes a story horror? A: An awareness of dread. [NOTE: The longer version of is a rambling discussion about the difference between Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Thing Are and what we thought the Welsh translation's title was: In The Land Of Wild Things. (Don't ask; that's an even longer digression.) The point is that the Welsh title is a fantasy title, in the sense that it is the story of a magical land over there; Sendak's original is a horror story, because you don't know where the Wild Things are, and they're probably right here.]

* And then, we launch into discussion of The Mongoliad. I do a demo. We talk about how it is going to drop on all the major mobile platforms. [NOTE: I explicitly point out that it will also be available via the web, but as that's not nearly as exciting as the mobile devices, it's not been a major talking point in the press releases so far.]

* I detour into a discussion of the evolution of publishing, complete w/drawing of the internet as a cloud--not to scale. Somewhere in there I posit that, in five years, the mass market paperback is going to be an e-book.

* Teppo defines the distribution mechanism for The Mongoliad. PULP. Personal Ubiquitous Literature Platform.

* Q: What is The Mongoliad about? A: In 1241 the Mongols raided Europe; in 1242, they went back. The story tells the secret history of why.

* The Mongoliad will be told as a weekly serial online by a group of authors including Teppo, Greg Bear, Neal Stephenson, Nicole Galland, and others. Contributors to Mongoliad may be musicians, artists--there are more ways to tell a story than only writing.


* Q: If I invest in a Mongoliad subscription I want to know it has a beginning middle & end. Will it? A: Yes. We want that. But. . . it will have seasons, like a TV show, and shorelines will intertwine.

* Discussion about piracy, and Subutai's solution: build a interactive, entertaining site with low overhead to join, and people will do what is easier. Piracy may increase readership; it definitely improves sales. The trick is to make it effortless to participate honestly.



The How Book Publishing Works diagram. Notice the Internet cloud down there in the lower left, along with the top three distractions that plague a writer ("snacks," "cat vacuuming," and "WoW"). Later, I redraft it for the Internet Age and how it is relevant to the Mongoliad model.



The map of Europe. On the far right (you can see the edge of it) is another cloud that is the Mongol horde, not the Internet. Though, at first glance, you could mistake one for the other.

Finally, there were some questions about the status of The Codex Of Souls, and I re-iterated that I had scoped ten books, Night Shade had bought (and published) two, and things were in wait and see mode. They're still in wait and see mode, but I can tell you that the wait and see hold-up is on MY END now. Night Shade has re-expressed their interest in more books, and I'm looking at my schedule and giving it some honest thought.
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Upcoming Reading / Discussion

The gang at Foolscap have tapped me to start off their summer reading series. Saturday, June 26th from 2:00pm - 5:00pm at the Shoreline Library.

Three hours, gang. I'll read something from the CODEX books (as that's ostensibly why we're there), talk about some of the world-building (read geek out about the occult), and I'm sure someone will start a conversation about The Mongoliad, which I'll indulge as best I can.

As it's taking place at a library, there won't be books for sale, but I'm happy to sign anything you bring.

On the Foolscap Convention page, there's a discussion topic if you want to preload any topic you'd like me to discuss. Otherwise, hopefully I'll see some of you there.
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Subutai in SF

There's a regular geek-up in San Francisco called Dorkbot, and a couple of the SF-based Subutai officers will be at this week's meeting on Wednesday (Facebook event listing). They'll demo The Mongoliad and engage in a little Q & A. For those of you not in SF, we've put up a YouTube video of Neal Stephenson and Greg Bear doing the talking head routine about the historical backdrop against which The Mongoliad plays out.

Historical Scope video

For those of you who've gone to the Mongoliad website, I'm sure you've noticed the header of "Foreworld." In the YouTube video, Neal--briefly--hints at why such a header exists.
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The First Day

Today was my first day of being a full-time writer, and frankly, it was rather mundane. Started clearing my desk and making it a useful workspace. At which point, I realized that all the books on the south side of the room were books I didn't need that close at hand, and all the books on the north side and west side were the active projects, and so a massive re-organization began. Right now, it's chaos in here, and I have orange sticky notes on the shelves noting where certain categories are going be filed.

Did the dishes, watched the maintenance guys from Sears come by and service all of our appliances, caught a few episodes of The Venture Bros, and listened to some music. And a podcast (Thelema Now! with William Kiesel, talking about esoteric books, Ouroboros Press, and the Esoteric Book Conference).

Speaking of music, today's playlist was J. G. Thirlwell's incidental music for the Venture Bros, Delerium's Syrophenikan, Caul's Kairos, and Gitane Demone's Lullabies for a Troubled World. One of the nice things about working here is that the mood isn't always Thrash and Noise (aka The White Noise That Drowns Out The Ambient Noise Of The Train).

Caul's Kairos is a really nice surprise. In the past, Caul has been very ambient--very, very ambient--and this record introduces rhythms and beats. Almost downtempo in their slinkiness. The Caul website has an imbedded player where you can hear the whole record.
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New Projects

I gave notice at my day job today. Fourteen years I've been there. Wrapping it up in the next two weeks to go be a writer full-time. I know. All of a sudden, isn't it? Well, it's been a long process of working in the wee hours of the day and night, but I've finally reached a point where I can't do everything all the time. I have reached the point of needing to simply.

Less tech work. More writing.

That seems pretty simple.

Of course, it get complicated when Neal Stephenson twitters today that "Our first demo of the new novel I am writing with Greg Bear, Nicole Galland, Mark Teppo, and others" will be happening next week in San Francisco (handy link to announcement).

This is the Sekrit Project. Called The Mongoliad, it's well, go look. I probably won't be here for a bit when you get back. Things to do and all.
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Interview at Fantasy Magazine

This rush of content just makes it LOOK like I'm taking over the world.

Fantasy Magazine: Mark Teppo, of Men and Magick

"I’ve attempted to map most of the 'spells' [in LIGHTBREAKER], if you will, to existing practices, but as the foundation of the system is the rigorous belief that Will powers intent and expression, the resulting system becomes fairly organic. It is fantastic, let’s be honest about that, and I don’t necessarily believe that these sorts of abilities and actions are possible, but the underlying philosophy is one that I can get behind. I’ve been referencing this book as 'occult,' and the connotations of that word lend credence to the fantastic elements within the story, but more properly–from a standpoint of the things the writer wants his audience to mull over after all the sound and fury has passed–this is a 'gnostic' novel. And so, yes, it’s all about faith and knowledge, isn’t it?"

Next week, I'll vanish again.
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Guest Posts and Heartland Review

Two posts at Amazon's Omnivoracious, offering some background on the CODEX books.

On the Nature of Magick

"Like I said, the definition is a bit slippery, and it might be a bit much to attribute to the writing of a pulpy occult noir book the grandiose intent of creating magick, but that's part of what inspired the Codex of Souls. Not so much making magick, but rediscovering the possibility of it. Instead of holding such strangeness at arm's length and pretending that we're an entirely rational species, I wanted to embrace our esoteric history."

On the Nature of Monsters

"The little mantra I hummed to myself while I was writing was: 'Men and Mantras/Shotguns and Sigils.' I was going to write an urban fantasy book without vampires, lycanthropes, zombies, angels, or demons."

Also, Mad Hatter's review of HEARTLAND.

"The Codex of Souls is without a doubt one of the most original Urban Fantasy series going right now. It has stepped away from the pack and embraced a different type of magic and a very different sensibility worth checking out."
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Lightbreaker makes 2009 Reading List, and Weirdest Book Question

Mad Hatter Review asks a dozen writers about the weirdest book they've ever read. I was one of the twelve, and you can find that list here.

LIGHTBREAKER makes Locus Magazine's 2009 Recommended Reading list. Under the First Novel category, where I share the joy with fellow Night Shade author Paolo Bacigalupi (whose The Windup Girl is garnering more than a little praise; go, Paolo!).
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A Return to Blogging



DARKLINE.COM is live. Somewhat. I'm still tweaking the design here and there (a 1px issue on Firefox on the PC is bugging me), and the link list is somewhat sparse, but overall, I'm done fiddling and we might as well get started.

I've blogged off and on over the years, first on my own site and then as part of the transmit section at OPi8.com (and even now as part of the Farrago's F. M. I. team). But I got busy, and this was one of the things which fell by the wayside. I decided it was time to get back on the horse, and I've finally found a identity (a sense of purpose, if you will) that suits a domain I've had for a long time.

Which is to say, if you want to find me, I'll be over there.