Sunday, April 23, 2017

Everyone Loves a Nice Mechanism

Of all my novels, this particular bleak little tale has been selling most consistently the last couple of weeks. I'm not sure why, but I figured I'd talk about it a little bit.

It's one of the bleakest things I've written, set in one of the more evocative settings--a sprawling, windowless factory filled with massive oily machines. Picture it. Smell the grease and the warm metal and the mysterious grimy filth. Within the factory, there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of rooms, most of them sealed behind locked doors. And within these rooms, you'll find the saddest child slaves you've ever imagined, rag-draped Dickensian wretches doing endless menial tasks day after day. 

Cruel robots called Watchers guard them, punish them when they fail to work, and feed them hideous gray food bricks once a day. Doesn't that sound uplifting? I actually think it is one of the more uplifting things I've written.

The book introduces us to four main characters.

Bik, a mostly hairless, tiny thing in the filthiest scrap of a robe you've ever seen. He spends his days polishing mysterious purple rocks using a harsh chemical polish.

Hen, an emotionally disconnected girl who does her best to avoid personal interaction, she spends her days climbing up and down a towering contraption called the Mechanism, like a little bug.

Ekir, a bent-backed boy, much abused by an older supervisor named Ous, he spends his days preparing and serving meals on a nice table in a lush dining room and then cleaning up afterward when nobody eats the food. Nobody ever eats the food.

Kuo, a damaged and possibly disturbed young man who spends his days climbing up and own the enormous fat folds of a headless monster called the Grong, feeding it meat paste from a bucket. He might be losing his mind.

These four eventually cross paths and descend into the bowels of the factory, uncovering secrets and horrors beyond description.

If you've never read the book, let me encourage you to do so. 

For a deeper look at the meaning behind the story, check out this luscious article!

To check out the book, click on the book cover above.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Embrace the Sadness

I am of the opinion that the best and most effective stories need a few truly sad moments. I don't mean the dainty kind of sadness with a sigh and a single tear. What I'm talking about is a soul-crushing moment of hopeless despair, where we peer into the void. Work a few of those into your story, and people won't soon forget the experience of reading it.

For example, there's the testimony of the ghost from The Vale of Ghosts:

“It happens to all of us. As time passes, everything we ever knew or saw or heard, every person we ever touched or loved, they all drop away, leaving us with nothing but the vague and choking need to escape.”

That's not nearly the saddest moment in the book. Of course, what affects the writer deepest might not affect readers in the same way. For me personally, as I wrote the thing, the saddest moment comes in the basement of a cathedral in Tilieth. Not to give too much away, but it involves our protagonist making an emotional confession.

The bleakest thing I ever wrote is Children of the Mechanism. It's got a few of those horrible, hopeless moments, along with some truly wretched, miserable little characters who suffer far more than they deserve to.

The sad moments start early on. I'd be curious to know which bleak moment of despair hits readers the hardest. For me as the writer, it involved the character of Hen and her tragic interactions with a girl named Tag. And this thought:

I told you to wait, one thought resounding over and over. I told you to wait.

Actually, there's possibly a sadder moment, and it involves a character saying this:

“You were so brave and so strong. I have to do something now, Bik, and don’t you follow me.”

So what is your opinion on sad scenes? Do you enjoy a story with some truly heart-rending bleak moments? What are some scenes from various novels that have deeply affected you?

By the way, the paperback giveaway is still going on! Check out the previous blog entry for details.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

One Million Beautiful Quotes (and Giveaway)

I love reading individual, isolated quotes from novels, especially when it's a good, strange, or thought-provoking quote that piques my interest. I like to try to imagine how it fits into the overall story. I guess that's why I keep doing these quote posts from my novels. Maybe nobody finds it as interesting at me.

Anyway, I've done enough of these that I thought it might be interesting to collate them all into one mega-post.  Also, click on the pictures for more info about the books.

GIVEAWAY: I've got a few paperback copies of my books to give away. Respond with your favorite quote from this list, and I'll put you in the drawing. You can respond on the blog, on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. If you'd prefer a Kindle copy instead of paperback, let me know. Books will be given away in a couple of weeks (4/15/17).

Mary of the Aether Series

"I don’t want a boring old world where all anyone ever does is grow up and work some awful job for no money and spend Friday evenings watching high school football games and recalling the so-called glory days until they die."

"Nobody really believes in anything. My parents don’t believe in anything. They just breathe and eat and work."

"I don’t want sympathy. Sympathy only makes me mad."

"Maybe if I practice a lot, if I order my thoughts, I can learn to imagine better things. Maybe in time I could imagine anything. What if nothing is impossible?"

"The world just got a whole lot more dangerous tonight. Maybe it always was dangerous, but I didn’t know it."

"I know who I want to be. I want to help and heal, and I won’t let you or anyone else try to change me. I saw what I can become, I saw it, right there by the side of the road."

"I don’t care if anyone likes me, as long as I’m not embarrassed ever again by my own feelings or my own behavior."

“I never want an explanation for any of this. Never. I don’t know what you did. I don’t care what you did. The whole world has gone crazy, and I don’t want to know anything."

"I’ve been selfish. I see that now. I wanted a happy little life, but I was entrusted with this power by people who loved me. I’ve wasted so much time whining when I should have been learning."

"The world will burn out like a torch, but the light will shine brightly, and I will rise like the brightest ember into the stars at the end."

"The world is sliding into oblivion, devoured by shadow, and you are its last light."

Shadows of Tockland

"Destiny, I want to lick your face for all your perfect ways.”

"Mark my words, the ever-night is coming, and when it does, you'll be glad you've got some wild nutters at your side."

"Destiny has a funny way of making things irrelevant. Superior numbers, for example.”

"Far away, far away, blessed one. The ever-night is coming. It is coming forever."

"Tonight is a night you’ll wish you had a gun.”

"Sometimes, rubes don’t think they got their money’s worth, and they try to take it out of us in blood."

"Look, we’re committed to destiny now. From this point on, whatever happens, happens. That’s how destiny works."

Children of the Mechanism

"Open doors are the best thing in the whole world. An open door means you can leave something bad and maybe find something good."

"If you hold on, we will live. If you let go, we will go down, down, down. Do you understand how important it is for you to hold on?"

"I was born climbing the Mechanism. Nobody ever told me why.”

"Where I come from, the higher you go on the Mechanism, the more dangerous it gets. The circles get smaller, and the fall is farther. The world is like that, isn’t it? The higher we go, the stranger, the smaller, the uglier, the more dangerous."

"I walked forever down a hundred different places and saw all kinds of different lights and Watchers with hands, and then I came to the end."

"The world got worse and worse the more she understood about it."

Garden of Dust and Thorns

"The very thing that you took for granted will be your salvation. Never forget it."

"You’ve lived in the shadow of this Garden all your life. And you had no idea what was here. None of you did, not even the caretakers. This will be to our everlasting shame. While we lived outside the wall in the dirt, we had everything we could ever need in here.”

"Persistence is not a virtue. It is a defect."

“Stand on your island, in the shadow of your sacred tree, and watch me defile this ground. And weep, if you will, knowing that your thief-lord’s reign is at an end.”

"It’s a very strange thing to be deceived. A very strange thing."

The Archaust Saga (The Vale of Ghosts)

"Why is it every decision I make seems right one second before I make it and then completely wrong and ridiculous one second after I’ve made it?"

"You crossed the relic wall. The ghosts can see you now, and they will—they will drag you down into the vale, sooner or later. They do not give up."

"As time passes, everything we ever knew or saw or heard, every person we ever touched or loved, they all drop away, leaving us with nothing but the vague and choking need to escape."

"Are we smarter than the generations that came before us? How can we expect to fix a problem that they could not?"

"Our worst mistakes can become the catalyst for our greatest accomplishments, if we are willing to make it so."

“There’s not a worse person in the world than someone who will abandon a friend or family member in their last days.”


Dreams in the Void

"Your comfortable life is paid for with the taxes of hard working villagers, so that one day, you might provide just leadership for them.”

"Until a few weeks ago, I thought the world was normal. Then it all came crashing down, and I learned everyone is sick—depraved and sick."

"It’s a miserable thing to be helpful—to be needed, to be essential—and someone can’t see it."

"There is a heaviness in me now, like something coiled around my intestines. I hope to make it go away. I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I don’t want to be the person I have become."

"Sit and ponder, boy. Dream of killing kings."

"And so it comes down to a simple question, young Dekembri. Are we the righteous, or are we the wicked?"

“A storm is coming to sweep away everything. Find a secret place, bury yourselves inside and wait it out. Wait it out.”

Fading Man

"You cannot bury sickness under the ground and expect it to stay there. It will make itself known eventually. It will climb up out of its hole and demand to be seen."

"Nature or fate or destiny has selected us for suffering, and we are to endure it, accept it, take and gorge ourselves on misery like the dutiful sub-creatures that we are."