Time for a new weekly writer’s roundup of my works-in-progress and those ready to read! Definitely in the “works ready to read” side of the spectrum is my announcement of new fiction available on Aethereal Engines! Today is the debut of my short story Adraxis Alas Asmon, a self-contained tale at 4,200 words. Some of you might remember me talking about it back at the end of April (here and here). It’s the product of a monthly writer’s challenge on a fantasy writing group I participate in on Reddit. Well, now you can read the whole thing here if you would like!
I’ve only made a few changes and additions to it based on feedback received from the version I submitted to the contest, adding about two hundred words. The changes, although small, I think really helped the piece because they came in key places and made those points much stronger. I’m really proud of this one, and I hope you check it out! It’s a tribute in a way to a subject that I enjoy; classic pulp stories and authors from the decades before World War II. But this is no mere genre love-letter and I’ve managed to pack quite a bit of mystery, action and a touch of romance within its modest length.
In other news, I managed to get my story, Raid on the Château de la Malartrie, proof and alpha-read on time last week, allowing me to do some dedicated editing last Thursday before submitting it to the latest version of the same Writing Challenge that spawned Adraxis Alas Asmon in April. I even had a little spare time left to craft some artwork and pretty-up the submission a bit, which was completely frivolous, but fun. I’ll likely reuse the artwork later on my blog. Here is the opening blurb for the story that I used for the contest:
Strike a blow against the Axis powers with the elite women of Allied Section Alpha! Bear witness to their desperate Raid on the Château de la Malartrie on a mission to rescue the Queen of France from the clutches of Premier Napoléon Bonaparte and his Nazi cohorts!
Although the above sounds intentionally like the lead-in for a Golden Age comic book or movie serial, I’ve written it as an adult and fairly straight-faced action-adventure. It features a team of heroines culled from historical personalities and placed into an alternate history and science-fantasy. Why all women? Basically I thought it would be a nice change of gears. So often in super-heroic teams the ratio of women to men is pretty low, and the female characters that are present will often be broadly written and shallow. Too often they are there for romantic interests, team moms or sisters. Or hard nosed “I’m just as tough as any man” types which are as one dimensional as a “girly girl” character.
Instead, I wanted to showcase a group of women working towards a dangerous goal in a heroic fashion. Extraordinary individuals who have a difficult job to get done. They have their flaws and strengths… and their sex would be a detail, not a definition. Allied Section Alpha just happens to be comprised of women; there is no particular message they or I are trying to send in that. Their priority is the mission.
The writers challenge opened on Friday and the feedback has been very positive. One commenter said that it reminded them of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic books at which I was immensely flattered. I love that series by Alan Moore and he’s definitely an author who has influenced me since I was a teen. To be truthful, I didn’t realize how much that comic had inspired me on this until about a week into writing it, then the epiphany hit me!
Of course, there are lots of ways in which the stories are quite different; for one, I’m telling a super-heroic tale with actual historical personalities in a very alternate history whereas The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen uses fictional public domain characters roughly in the eras of their creation for the most part. But certainly there is a similar feel from the inspiration and I’m honored to have that comparison made.
Others remarked on the engaging characters and packed, flowing action. So it looks like I hit all the marks I was aiming for! I’ve already started writing the rest of the story and moving things towards the climax after a little more thinking and research… I’m really excited to finish this thing now and it’s already almost 8,500 words long!
In spite of all the positive feedback however, the most I feel of any story in the contest this month, it didn’t win. The winning entry wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t as good as many of the other entries who would have surprised me less with a victory. Because of the way Reddit and a blind contest mode works on their system, accountability is hard to verify… I can’t shake a feeling of shenanigans going on.
But, whatever… it’s a no-prize anyways. If someone is cheating with vote-manipulation and games to win that, it is more pathetic than dastardly. What I wanted to do was create some fantastic writing and better my craft. I did that. I had a fair number of people go out of their way to tell me how much they loved what I had created. That they wanted more after reading an extended version of a story that they could have stopped after only a few pages and not all twenty five and counting. That’s the real victory; I brought a story to life. And I shared it from my soul to those of others where it now lives.
Alright, time for me to stop blogging and get back to writing some fiction! Take care!