Atmosphere in Writing

Writing a story is akin to an abstract painting in a number of ways. You are, indeed, directly telling others what is happening…but you are also communicating how it feels to be there.

Take a look at this lovely Monet.

It is a depiction of a seaside cliff, yes, but it also tells you how it feels to there. The sun, the wind, and the smell of the sea are there, somehow. It’s not a picture merely regurgitating what the artist sees- it is telling you of an experience.

Storytelling should do likewise. We call it atmosphere and it is mercilessly hard to define but you notice right away when a book doesn’t have it.

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Announcing Doomwalker

My dark fantasy novel is now out for eBook preorder! It will be out on November 21! Paperback release forthcoming.

This dark fantasy novel is the first book of the Paladin Trilogy.

Dark powers are on the move in a world on the brink of chaos…

Paladin Valen has hunted the broken remnants of the dead elven gods all his life. Now he is tasked with delivering a warning from his goddess. Called ‘Doomwalker’ for reasons he does not understand, Valen makes his way toward the great capital city of Crownshold with a sense of duty and foreboding.

He crosses paths with the elf Maryx, a spy for the doomed kingdom of the elves.
She is bound to him through childhood oaths that connect her to the terrible destiny of the ‘Doomwalker’.

War is coming to the land and it is hard on their heels. Accursed warriors stalk the woods and an army moves towards the city with no sign of their passing but burning villages. Valen and Maryx’s fate looms over them, though just what that fate will be, neither can tell

Earth-Moon Weirdness

When it comes to writing sci-fi, there are lots of ways to create interesting planets that are not “one biome from Earth, but everywhere”. This perfectly respectable in soft sci-fi and may be possible for the likes of ice planets (Hoth) or desert planets (Tatooine), considering the conditions that create tundra and dune seas. They’d probably be far more inhospitable than often depicted, however.

Part of this is because so many factors go into what makes a world habitable, all of which are derived from the habitability of our own world, since it’s all we got to go off of. And our little blue and brown and green marvel is quite strange, even within in our solar system. Nothing else works quite like it does in a number of ways.

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Book Review: The Sun Eater Series

I stumbled across this wonderful space opera by stumbling across the author on social media, going on to prove that Twitter is not only poisonous. It really is a great series, hitting all the crazy space opera notes you might want.

What does the Sun Eater series offer? Well. What are our space opera staples? Strange politics and cultures? Check. Sufficiently advanced technology? Check. Long lost and mysterious history beyond our ken? Check. Aliens, battles, references to this, that, and the other? Check, check, check. All of it with a unique spin making it well worth a read.

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Meetings Every 12 Hours

Not presently, but I recently got a new job and it looks like the best course of action is another go at force-morning-person-ness. This will probably work out for the best in many respects. This is all tied to meetings (ones where people are nominally polite to all participants, which has been a culture shock) which put me in mind of one of the twists the Army threw into my life in its attempt to make me a morning person.

See, in every ADA (Air Defense Artillery) battery I was in, officers went to PT with their troops at 0630. That was enough morning for me, thanks, but on several occasions, the battery commanders got it into their heads to have a meeting at 0530…then another one at the end of the day, with the same people, about the same general things, anywhere from 1600 to- for one truly miserable summer- 1930. For anyone who don’t know how to convert from military time, subtract 12 from anytime after 1200, there’s your civilian time.

You may think a lot can change on a weekday night between 1730 (merciful days, those) and 0530. It’s twelve whole hours! In an Army unit! That’s like half a day! A lot can change in half a day!

That’s half a day that occurs at night when you aren’t deployed and the morning is early for everyone. When these dual meetings were their most miserable, our largest concern was making sure people got to their appointments. Not much happens on weekday nights when you aren’t deployed. The evening meeting was exactly the same as the next morning’s meeting.

N.B.: Deployed, things do change in those hours for an ADA unit. Mostly things break. Sometimes it is even actually something important.

I am convinced that many Army commanders would greatly prefer it if their soldiers worked like modern Roombas. You program them to function during certain hours, they do the thing you want, then they head back to their charging docks and go inert until they are supposed to do something again. Alas, the Army is composed of people. People are chaotic and willful. Anything could happen.

This fact eats at the mind of many a commander to the point it induces a slowly grinding paranoia, hence a morning meeting that contains exactly the same information as the meeting the evening before. Something could happen overnight and…I guess the commander might get a phone call about it and maybe call subordinates with directions about what to do about said something and that would just be…not an hour-long meeting at the crack of dawn.

Largely, nothing happens overnight. Soldiers go home, amuse themselves in innocuous ways, and go to bed. Nothing organizationally exciting happens.

But it might, I suppose. Might makes tyrants out of men.

Action Scenes Don’t Have to be Scary

To write, at any rate. Atmosphere is up to you.

I have a theory based on…not much, to be honest…that a lot of writers stick to, say, college or coffee shop stories or such because writing action scenes scares them. (This is an epidemic in some corners of fandom.) This limits you as a writer and there is no reason for it. You can learn how to write at least tolerable action sequences.

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Book Review: The Shikari Series

When it comes to ‘ye olden times in space’, things have grown repetitive for frequent readers of science fiction. How many times can one read ‘Horatio Hornblower in SPAAACE’? Most of the subgenre seems to fall into that category.

I never had much stomach for that and I’m one of the few sci-fi readers who has never touched an Honor Harrington novel. I got my fill with the old Mech Warrior books many years ago. It would take something really different to take me back to the subgenre.

The Shikari series by Alma Boykin are very different. Take a bit of space opera, a bit of colonial England, a bit of Jane Austen, and you have these delightful novels.

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