Interesting write up of To Be Men

Blogger, Powered by Robots, had some interesting things to say about voices, writing, and To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity.

I decided to write about this because I’ve gotten a hold of a review copy of the To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity anthology edited by Sirius Métier and published by Superversive Press. It was published digitally about two weeks ago (as I write this) and seems to be doing pretty well, both relative to its Amazon reviews (five so far, and all five star ratings) and in terms of sales.

One thing the twitterati forgot about when they were raking male authors over the coals, was the intended audience of the story being written.

Read the rest, and his follow up posts based on each story, here.

Happy Father’s Day!

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As promised, in honor of Father’s Day, To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity is live. If you pre-ordered, your eBook is available for download now.

Whether you like science fiction, fantasy, military sci-fi, historical, or contemporary, adventure, humor, interesting characters, or even thought pieces, this anthology has a story for you.

My story, “Cooper” is a tribute to Jeff Cooper, one of the iconic, real-life figures associated with the M1911 and the 45ACP. This story was inspired not just by the idea of a sentient/sapient gun. I also found inspiration in The Wizard of Oz, in the fact that the Tin Man had in him, what he was so desperately seeking–a heart. Like the Tin Man, my protagonist is in search of something he thinks he’s lost.

Scott Bell‘s gritty cop story, “Earning It” explores the meaning of valor and honor. A writer with a unique voice, Scott balances out the grittiness with his trademark humor.

J Trevor Robinson‘s “Let the Chips Fall Where They May” doesn’t give us the “gentlemen thieves” of the typical pop-culture casino heist story. Inspired by his own father, it is instead the story of a commander, a role model, and a father responsible for the lives of so many others.

William C. Burns answers the question “So, what are wizards doing in the 21st century?” in his fantasy, “The Heaven Beasts.”

Karina L. Fabian serves up a noir-style detective story complete with dragons and fae. If you’re a fan of the movie, Bright, this one is definitely for you.

Michael W. Herbert, a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam, wrote two stories for this anthology, both based on real life events–one about dealing with rape, and another about defending a gay shipmate. I’m particularly fond of the way he handled both of these controversial subjects. As Michael says, “A mature man does not always know what to do, but he will do what he can to help.”

Richard Paolinelli gives us a dystopian story, “The Last Hunt.” Unlike so many other zombie stories, this one is about one man’s devotion to his duty and his country.

If you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan, I think you’ll really enjoy Ann Margaret Lewis‘s “The Affair of Miss Finney.” Holmes pursued many dark crimes, but Doyle never addressed the crime of rape. So, how would Holmes deal with the worst crime a woman can suffer?

In “For Man or Beast,” award-winning science fiction author Brad R. Torgersen, plunges us into a story about a future, untamed frontier where we discover that it is about being men and women that makes us essential not just to each other, but to civilization.

“Street Fox” by C. J. Brightley is set in her Erdemen Honor universe. Children need to believe in heroes. And not just in this fantasy, but in the real world.

In “Bring the Pain,” veteran and writer T. L. “Tom” Knighton, delights and entertains us with a story about a guy who is, quite literally, a tank.

In “The Messenger” Lloyd Behm II makes us cheer for an aging green beret who keeps his oaths, even in a post-apocalyptic world where the US no longer exists.

Marina Fontaine‘s “Picture Imperfect” is set in the near-future dystopia of her Chasing Freedom novel. Her hero is forced to choose between protecting his family and complying with a system that provides him with comfort and power.

Jon Del Arroz‘s military sci-fi adventure, “Compassion,” shows us that we must continue to fight the good fight, to fight for what is right.

Newcomer Jamie Ibson‘s story, “Priorities” takes us into the world of the school resource officer, the cops that investigate offenses involving students and schools.

No speculative fiction anthology would be complete a werewolf story, right? Julie Frost‘s “Man-Made Hell” mixes science-fiction and the supernatural, giving us a character who embodies virtus (the manly virtues) no matter his form.

 

Story before identity–then, now, and forever

I’ve been a reader for far longer than I’ve been a writer. Not once, during my most voracious phase as a reader, during those summers spent at the library, did I go, “Hmm, I want to read a book by a/an [insert identity group] writer.”

What I was looking for, was escapism, entertainment. A good story, well told. Interesting characters. Interesting milieu. Romance. Adventure.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. I spent a lot of time discussing books with my fellow geeks–and to be honest, if you want to get all PC about it, they were a diverse lot. When it came to reading, they wanted the same things I did.

I didn’t need to have a woman as the protagonist in order to identify with a character. I didn’t need that character to be of the same national origin or race either. Why? Because well-crafted characters (and stories) transcend all those things.

I don’t have to be bisexual for Friday Jones to be one of my favorite of Heinlein’s characters. I don’t have to be a gay sadist to love Augustus (one of the minor characters in R. M. Meluch’s wonderful space opera series, Tour of the Merrimack (6 Book Series)).

Believe it or not, I didn’t pick up my first Honor Harrington novel because it had a woman on the cover–shocker, I know!

I don’t go out seeking stories with protagonists of Romanian, or Hungarian, or Greek, or Italian descent. I don’t seek out stories written by immigrants. Or women. Or any of the “identities” or associations some people would love to pin on me.

That’s one of the reasons I am proud that my short story “Cooper” is part of To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity. You see, there was no requirement that you be a man to submit a story. Or that the story even be from a man’s perspective.

Marina Fontaine, one of my co-authors, put it best, when she wrote:

We were going to give them good stories.

Stories about men as heroes and role models, fathers and mentors, hardened warriors and even fantastic creatures. Men who are interesting, capable and worthy. Characters whom you’d want to meet, to spend time with, to learn from, and whose stories will stay with you after the reading is over.

And just like that, the authors’ gender became irrelevant.

The rest of her excellent article on how this anthology came to be can be read here. Give it a look. And buy the book. See what can happen, when stories are about Story [rather than the author’s identity].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Father’s Day — It’s almost here. To Be Men print version is live and ready

I’m thrilled to announce that the print version of To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity is ready to go, just in time for Father’s Day.

This anthology features the stories of Scott Bell, J Trevor Robinson, William C. Burns, Karina L. Fabian, Michael W. Herbert, Richard Paolinelli, Ann Margaret Lewis, Brad R. Torgersen, C. J. Brightley, T.L. “Tom” Knighton, L.A. Behm II, Marina Fontaine, Jon Del Arroz, Jamie Ibson, Julie Frost, myself, and an essay by Megan Fox.

Tired of stories about men as bumbling idiots? Of fathers as incompetents? Of masculinity as “toxic”?

Tired of misandry?

Ready for some real masculine role models?

Stories about heroes and men who do the right thing? Stories about real men? The kind that provide for their families, love their wives and children, and make sacrifices. And save the world.

A collection of seventeen stories and two essays, To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity pays homage to men and masculinity.

Fun. Action-packed. Thought-provoking. Whatever your tastes, you will find enjoyment in these pages.

Each story embraces, in its own way, virtus–the concept of valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth.

The sentient Colt 1911 destined for the smelter.

A courageous werewolf who embodies virtus no matter his form.

The wizard raising a family in the 21st century.

Sherlock Holmes’ newfound respect for women.

A future untamed frontier where “women and children first” proves itself a timeless maxim.

The hero who identifies as a M1A2 Abrams tank.

A Vietnam War sailor defending his gay crew mate, because when bullets are flying, only what you do matters.

The police chief in a noir-style world where Fae, dragons, and humans live, love, and break the law.

These stories will delight and entertain you.

Looking for badge ribbons?

Just click on “Shop.”

Both ribbons are in stock, ship out the next business day via 1st class mail, and the price includes S&H as well as sales tax. You must use PayPal.

No, I will NOT be selling them at LibertyCon (or any other con). You have to go through the website (i.e. link above).

As far as I know, they are single use.

So get yours now, and thank you!

Time and Distance: The benefits of cycling.

One of the reasons I work on multiple projects at a time is because my writing process is unlike anything else in my life. Most other aspects of my life are filled with clearly defined steps, checklists, and algorithms. Exceptions are clearly defined by “if,then” statements. Loops are set up in very specific ways. This includes the laundry.

Writing is the one thing I do that doesn’t work that way. It’s why I don’t outline (waste of time; I don’t stick to it; I write them AFTER).

Give me a beginning and/or an end, a theme or a moral point, and I can make it all work. Give me an already written ending and a song and I’ll give you a story (more about this when it’s official).

Think of a finished story as a sequence of scenes, numbered from 0 to N. Chances are, it’s been marinating in my head for some time and exists in one form or another as a set of notes, scribbles, and research references in a Scrivener file, waiting on me to get stuck on my current project and in need of something else to work.

A work in progress (WiP) might originally start out as scenes 5, 12, 18 … 52. Of course, at the time I’m writing them, I don’t actually know that, but you get my point. It’s not unusual for me to realize that I need to cycle back as I’m writing scene #18 and then come up with #13-#17 or go back and fix #12 so it works with #18.

Yesterday I spent the whole day writing (for the first time in awhile as I’d gotten side-tracked by other projects; I spent the whole day in pajamas and I think I ate).

There is nothing quite like time and distance to make you see that scene #156 is no longer a good fit. There’s also nothing quite like time and distance to make it easy to gut #156 if that’s what the story needs.

And by gutting, I mean opening up a new Scrivener scene document, and typing it out fresh after getting myself solidly set inside the character’s head. It is being inside the character’s head that allows me see that scene 156 no longer works.

It’s an entirely different process that “editing” an existing set of words and polishing the hell out of that turd hoping no one will notice what it is.

This is why writing takes time–and I’m talking writing here, not typing. All kinds of time go into “writing.” Research time. Down time (like a hobby or reading for pleasure).

Time spent cycling back to read what you’ve written so that you can get into your viewpoint character’s head before you move forward.

Time spent looking stuff up as you go along when you realize you need an essential piece of information (like can they really match bullets to specifics guns–the answer turns out to be a resounding NO!).

Time spent arguing with your characters because they don’t want to go where you want them to (aka writer’s block, at least in my case).

Is it worth it? I guess it all depends. I’m not a big fan of typing*.

Typing: Julie was a dog lover.

Writing: Julie tossed a TV dinner into the microwave for her husband and rushed out to the grill to make sure that Precious’s steak didn’t get overcooked. Great Danes were known for their particular tastes and she hoped he liked the kobe beef as much as the butcher seemed to think he would. Of course, the butcher had been under the impression that it was for her husband, and she hadn’t enlightened him. He wouldn’t understand. No one would. No one but Precious.

*For a better explanation about the difference between typing and writing, I recommend Writing to the Point: A Complete Guide to Selling Fiction (The Million Dollar Writing Series)

 

 

Where do you get your ideas?

I think this is one of those questions that comes up a lot in writing circles. I think a better question is “How do you come up with your characters?” When it comes down to it, stories are not so much about ideas (those are called documentaries) as they are about characters and setting (especially for speculative fiction, which is what I tend to write).

I’ve spent the bulk of last week running around with gun people, some of them old friends, many others new ones. And I have a lot of new character ideas.

Some are a bit cliché, but a cliché is a cliché for a reason. For example, the reporter who pretends to be sympathetic until they get you in front of the camera and then pops off a weasel-worded question that’s so inane, you can’t help but look at him with a “dafuq” expression. BTW, the chances you’ll see a “good” character that’s a reporter in any of my stories is somewhere around less than zero.

I do have new character ideas for a family of shooters, including a 10-year-old kid with more personal responsibility in his little finger than most adults today have in their entire bodies. Absolutely amazing. I wanted to stick superhero capes on him and his older siblings. An absolutely amazing — wait, I already said that, didn’t I — set of people. If the rest of America was like this family, raising their kids this way, we’d have a much better, and very different, country.

Also got to see the entire spectrum of gun owners, from what some consider the “marginalized” populations to the stereotypes, all in the same space, getting along swimmingly, enjoying a shared passion, having a good time. It was wonderful.

Of course, once I write these characters, I fully expect to get all sorts of blowback, i.e. they’re unrealistic, but I don’t care.

I know the truth.

Good news for Scribd subscribers

Rejection 101: A Writer’s Guide is now available on Scribd. If you’re a subscriber, it’s included in your membership. Click here.

Do you use your library’s OverDrive eBook lending service? Good news, you can now request Rejection 101: A Writer’s Guide and read it for free.

Blurb for “Enemy Beloved”

Illithea Dayasagar survives alone, on a distant continent. For her mission to succeed, she must remain hidden.

But the fireball that splits the sky and scorches the earth does not go unnoticed. Neither does the corpse she finds instead of the meteor. 

Especially once he turns out to be very much alive. And very much a mystery.

Passion and betrayal collide in “Enemy Beloved,” a story of true love and sacrifice.

Now available in Venus, part of the Planetary Anthology Series.

Now LIVE! on Kobo

Kobo was actually the easiest one to set up. Added bonus, they are part of OverDrive, a system that allows libraries to lend eBooks. So, if you’ve wondered how to get your work into libraries, this is one venue. I think it’s also available through other aggregators.

But why would I want to “give” my eBook to libraries? First, you’re not “giving” anything. Second, having your book in a library is advertising. Someone who enjoyed your work might just decide to check out and see what else you’ve written. Gasp! What a concept.

Rejection 101: A Writer’s Guide is now available on Kobo.

Didn’t need an ISBN for this either. Yes, this means they’ll have different ISBNs, but I don’t expect this to be something that needs tracking to justify the cost of an ISBN.