Good Day,

I’ve had the privilege of meeting many very smart, talented and interesting people in the years I’ve attended conventions and been part of the professional end. It’s been an undiluted pleasure to meet people like Elizabeth Bear, David Drake, and Lois McMaster Bujold. I’ve met artists and editors, publisher, agents and publicists. The one unifying thing each and every one of us has in common; an abiding desire for the industry to be taken seriously.

Well, newsflash ladies, gents, undeclareds and undecideds; the current crock in crockery isn’t how we get there. The name-calling, that most of the folks I know on either side wouldn’t tolerate from a seven year old in their charge. The sexual sniping is something that one would expect from the middle school kids who known there’s something going on down there but haven’t figured out anything other than its messy and makes them uncomfortable. Yes, that is how it looks to (me) the movie companies, fans, and anyone else who might be considering your intellectual property.  Do you really think anyone wants to work with a chronological adult like that if they can avoid it?

I don’t care about the sides. I didn’t when it was still a “discussion” about who should or shouldn’t be kicked out of SFWA. I didn’t when it was almost possible to view it as a purely intellectual debate over the content of the SFWA social media and other outlets. Sadly, it hasn’t been about either of those things in weeks. It’s become dogmatic drivel slinging as a litmus test for who’s cool and who isn’t. That isn’t supposed to be what SFWA is for. None of the sniping promotes the welfare of writers. None of it is getting more accountability from publishers. None of it is getting more recognition for self-published writers. Not a damn bit of it is attracting new readers and con-goers. The garden path y’all and hootin’ and hollerin’ down just eats creditability, time, and creativity.

But I get where it’s coming from. I’ve read many of the people busy pissing in the punch. Many of you were unpopular in school, and some of you still are in your non-publishing lives. Bullying, exclusion, and self-doubt were the other three horsemen when you walked the halls of whatever high school you longed to escape. Today, you’re striking out as you couldn’t then. It is great you’ve found your fighters stance and steely eye.

Unfortunately that fight is over. You can’t avenge yourself on you fellow outcasts, they didn’t push you from the herd in school. More importantly, you job is to entertain. You aren’t trapped five days a week 180 days a year in the same building with anyone. Some of the people you’re hissing and spitting at you’ve never met, and have probably spent less than a week in the same building as in the last decade. Is it worth it? Is it productive? Does it make you a better writer or protect the livelihood of some other writer? Nope, not a chance, and hell no. It’s all lost product.

There are a lot of people in the industry I like spending time with. Some like that guy way on the left who isn’t over tall and that lady on the other end with the funny accent wear their politics like a suit of armor. Some like Lois Bujold have politics that are nigh on impossible to guess. Why do I like people so far apart? Wit. Verve. Drive. More importantly, I don’t do cliques, I don’t care about what clique someone might be in because it doesn’t make me, my friends or my clients any money. I didn’t do cliques when I was a kid, didn’t as a teen, never been tempted.

So for the love of writing, reading and profits can we all just please, please, please and thank you pretend to get along?

Just before Christmas I came to a tentative deal for two books with the fantastic folks at DAW books. Seeing as the wheels of publishing turn slowly, it took a tiny bit of time to get all the details nailed down. Since then poor Marshall has been sitting on the knowledge he had finally gotten his dream. He wasn’t allowed to tell anyone because the contracts weren’t signed, witnessed and returned. After you read this (or before, it’ll still be here) go congradulate and comiserate with him, you can find him in several places on the intertubes.


Q: So who is this Marshall Ryan Maresca fellow?

A: Marshall Ryan Maresca is a fantasy and sci-fi writer living in the Austin area.  And he’s just sold two fantasy novels to DAW!
Q: What are a few books that made you fall in love with fantasy and science fiction?
A: A few early favorites are David Eddings’s The Belgariad, Asimov’s Caves of Steel, Richard Adams’s Watership Down, and Zilpha Keatly Snyder’s Below the Root.
Q: What makes you laugh?
A: What specifically?  Hard to say.  It doesn’t take much, I can tell you that.  I’m pretty easy.
Q: What’s the hardest lesson you have learned about writing?
A: It took me a while to figure out that enthusiasm alone for my settings or ideas wasn’t enough to truly make a story.  I had to push through a phase where I wasn’t really writing, I was essentially being a fandom of one for a thing that was only in my head.  I had to sit down and really figure out how to outline and structure a story with a driven center.
Q: What’s the most difficult thing you’ve learned about publishing?

A: Patience.  Still working on that.
Q: With the explosion of self-publication what made you seek an agent and traditional publisher?

A: Frankly, self-publication is too easy.  I couldn’t see the value in taking that route.  There’s a bit in A League of Their Own that I like to bring up, where Geena Davis says that the game “got too hard”, and Tom Hanks replies, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.  The hard is what makes it great.”  That sums it up quite nicely.
Q: What was the process in getting your agent like?

A: I first became aware of him quite a few years ago, when he did a public challenge of pounding through as many slush entries he could in a single day.  I sent something to him that, in retrospect, had very little business being shopped around. But I had to learn that.  He– quite rightfully– passed on that one.  But he stayed on my radar, and when I was querying for Thorn of Dentonhill, he was at the top of my list.
Now, here’s where it gets interesting.  That draft of Thorn was, for all intents, unsellable: a 70,000 word manuscript in a genre that really demands at least 90K.  I can only imagine that a number of agents passed on it without blinking when they saw that statistic at the top of the query.  But Mike read the whole damn thing and came back with, “This is great, BUT it’s far too short.  Fix that and get back to me.”  Up until that point, I had been clueless about the fundamental flaw in the work.  So I got back in there and figured out how to make it longer without causing fundamental damage to it.
On top of that, there were plenty more queries, sending partials and fulls upon request, and a lot of form rejection letters.
Seriously.  A lot.
Q: When you went agent hunting how long did it take you to land the aforementioned scoundrel?
A: Well, that’s a complicated question.  I started the query process for Thorn in 2009, and I heard from Mike there in October.  It took me a few months to rework it, and then send it back to him.  And then the process of further querying brought more drafts, and in early 2011 I sent him a even more revised version, which he accepted in May.  So: two years, give or take, where the manuscript went through a lot of evolution in the process.

Q: NightWing and Hawkeye get into a battle to the death; who wins?

A: First of all, both those guys operate on a No Killing code, so I don’t know how this battle to the death came about.  But, accepting the premise, I’ve got to put my money on Hawkeye.  He’s a crafty bastard that everyone underestimates.  Plus: he beat Death itself and saved the universe from complete destruction using nothing but a carny trick.
Q: Who are your three favourite superhero’s?
A: If my answer above didn’t already clue you in, I’m a sucker for archers: Green Arrow and Hawkeye.  Some people will mock them for being, you know, just a guy with a bow, while next to them are the likes of Iron Man or Superman or such. But you’ve got to flip the script on it: they’re just guys with a bow… who are good enough to be standing next to Iron Man or Superman.  For a third, I’ve got to go with Nightcrawler: pure panache and style.
Q: What form does your writing procrastination take?
A; Maps and worldbuilding for other things.  My space opera setting has grown quite literally exponentially while not writing various projects.

Q: Your bio says you do some acting, would you want to play any of your characters in an adaptation? If so who?

A: Oh, absolutely.  Probably one of the minor bad guys in Thorn– Nevin or Bell– or Captain Cinellan in A Murder of Mages. But just about anyone would be fun, because… well, I write with the perspective of a guy who’s played “Citizen #4″ in Julius Caesar.  You’ve got to make even the most minor character dynamic.
Q: What movie have you seen the most times?
A: This is the hardest question here.  I’ve seen many movies many, many, many times.  And quite a few of them were really not worth the repeated viewing.  I don’t know if I’ve seen it more than any other, but the movie I can always pop in and be utterly engaged in is Die Hard.  And like I said above, that’s a movie that makes even the most minor character dynamic.
Q: What can you tell us about the books you sold?
A: Thorn of Dentonhill and A Murder of Mages are street-level fantasy novels set in the same city.  In Thorn, Veranix Calbert is a magic student at the University who spends his nights slipping off campus to wage a one-man war on the drug dealers in the adjoining neighborhood, and their boss Willem Fenmere.  Using his magic skills in his fight, Veranix draws the attention of Fenmere, mystical circles and street gangs, and they all want a piece of “The Thorn.” With professors and prefects on the verge of discovering his secrets, Veranix’s double life might fall apart, and the assassins and mages after him could end it completely.  In Mages, Satrine Rainey is a working mother and an ex-spy who fakes her way into a Inspector position in the Maradaine Constabulary.  She gets partnered with Minox Welling, an eccentric genius and an untrained mage.  Together, they have to solve a series of gruesome murders, in which all the victims are mages.  Both books stand on their own, but as they take place in the same city, there are little hints and connections tying them together.
Q: When they build a statue to you, how will you be posed?
A: Slumped in front of computer, writing.
Q: Where on the internet can we find you? (List all social networks that are publicly you, website, blog and whatever)

A: My webpage is www.mrmaresca.com, and my blog can be found at blog.mrmaresca.com.  I’m also on Twitter (https://twitter.com/marshallmaresca) and Facebook.

Why Are You Reading This?

Posted: January 7, 2014 by onyxhawke in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

You heard me!

Why are you reading this?

Oh wait. Let me guess. You’re that one person who has already bought, read, reviewed, and shared, on all your social networks The Broken Dragon? You know the latest in Irene Radford’s long running universe from DAW books?

That’s the book with this lovely cover:

BrokenDragon radfordI mean, honestly, between you and me (and the convieniently obsequious electrons helping us), I can’t think of any other reason for someone to be here right now reading this. Let’s be realistic, laundry, work, and the cat will still be there in a few hours, the book must be read (and the other stuff), now.

So stop reading. (Just share this post, eh?)

Things to Do At Worldcon: Rayguns Over Texas

Posted: August 27, 2013 by onyxhawke in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Find yourself a copy of Rayguns Over Texas, an anthology of fantastic fiction. There is a foreword by someone named Bruce Sterling who’s been in print since the 80′s, it is edited by Rick Klaw, and more importantly if features the writing of the amazing Marshall Maresca, along with more than a dozen others including Aaron Alston, Joe R. Lansdale and Michael Moorcock.

 

An anthology featuring Marshall Ryan Maresca and others

An anthology featuring Marshall Ryan Maresca and others

If like the rest of the explored universe you’ve been waiting impatiently for another fix of fantasy by marvel maker James Enge, you can breathe again.

 

James Enge's Wrath Bearing-Tree released August 20 2013

James Enge’s Wrath Bearing-Tree released August 20 2013

In fact please, please breathe its very hard to run, walk, skateboard, or drive for very long. You certainly wouldn’t be able to do it long enough to make it to the store much less read the book.

In through the nose, out through the mouth.

One of the things that you learn as you study history is that at some point someone has tried to explain everything from positions that don’t hold water. As a young nation, which America still was in the early 1800s it was wildly xenophobic. Worse as a large part of the movers and shakers who built America were from England their reaction to the Irish either Protestant or Catholic wasn’t always pleasant. The Irish in turn lashed out. Despite getting to vote fresh off the boat, no bars on employment and often language barriers as even the Gaelic speakers were integrated into the police, fire, political and union machinery, they lashed out at blacks to bolster their position.

This link is a pdf that I tripped over the other day that takes a look at things: click here

One of the “lost” events of the civil rights struggle was the kidnapping, mutilation and murder of a 14 year old boy in the Mississippi delta for failing to follow the rules he, a visitor, was wholly ignorant of. Worse was the travesty of a trial afterwards. Simeon Wright is the cousin of that lost boy Emmett Till, and he tells the story as he lived it.
Simeon's Story: An Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett TillSimeon’s Story: An Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett Till by Simeon Wright

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My only complaint about this book is that it isn’t long enough.

Simeon Wright plainly, and unbiasedly tells his part and memory of a dark, dark period of American history. Life in the Mississippi Delta in 1955 was precarious even if you’d grown up their and knew all the rules, Simeon Wright’s cousin from Chicago didn’t, and his life ended in the delta floating down the Tallahatchie river wired to a fan for whistling at a white woman.
Well told, good use of pictures and no grandstanding.

View all my reviews

Not so incidentally, the Emmett in Pyramid Power by Dave Freer and Eric Flint is named after Emmett Till.

Water, Ice, Snow

One of the things a lot writers have to do is jump outside the known, into the stark cold reality of “making shit up” and not just making it, making it up and making it sound good. If you’ve never left the southern tip of Miami, or live on a beach in Panama, you probably haven’t spent much time in the cold and snow. One of the wonderful things about snow is that it doesn’t merely fall from the sky and stay on the ground. It blows.

blowing snow,

Trying to make it through the snow, on the ground is only part of it. It reflects light. It changes the shape of things, it can make it impossible to tell how far you are from something.

two lamp posts and trees

It can make landmarks you pass every day much harder to make out. same lamps and trees

Even without the differences of night and day, the changes can be dramatic.

Land, Sea, Air

The boundaries of land, sea and air can get a little blurry.

If you missed it earlier, Irene Radford’s newest book is available. Go get a copy, and wrap thyself around it.

Silent Dragon Is Available!

Posted: February 9, 2013 by onyxhawke in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

For those of you who somehow forgot to preorder, and missed Irene Radford’s blog post, and didn’t get to a book store, Silent Dragon came out this week. This video is a lovely interview DAW put together with the author.

The book is available in paperback, and multiple ebook formats.

Silent Dragon by Irene Radford from DAW books Feb 5 2013 release

Benjamin Benneker was not a space marine but that’s probably only because he never got a chance to work with NASA. One of the black men held up to show various small minded bigots like Jefferson that blacks were intellectual equals to the white slave owning, power holders. Among his other accomplishments was hand carving a wooden replica of a pocket watch that kept accurate time, and being a technical assistant on the first federal survey of the land that would become our nations capital. He wrote 28 editions of an almanac that was well regarded even in comparison to Ben Franklin’s, and he was almost an entirely self taught mathematician and astronomer.

This is one of the best books I’ve read in the last two or three years. If you’re looking for a larger than life figure to base a character on, Dr. Howard is the man. If you want to read about civil rights figures beyond Malcolm X, or Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Dr. Howard is still the man. It starts with some history of the area he was born and raised in, and follows his life closely. Beito and Beito do a job worthy of all the superlatives you can apply in bringing Howard to life.

One particularly interesting part is how the governor of his home state responds to the Knight Riders.

Black Maverick: T. R. M. Howard's Fight for Civil Rights and Economic PowerBlack Maverick: T. R. M. Howard’s Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power by David T. Beito

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an excellent book on an under-discussed, vibrant man who was critical to the civil rights era. He came before Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, or Bobby Seale. He mentored Rosa Parks and Medgar Evers and was the single best asset to the family of  Emmett Till, and the prosecutors who went up against the White Citizens Councils and was an active part of the movement despite having a career as a surgeon and some expensive habits.

Dr. Theodore Roosevelt Mason Howard was:
A surgeon
a caring father
a big game hunter
a mentor
a mediocre husband
an activist
atop the KKK’s most hated list.
A real American.

View all my reviews

News! Short Sale and Return to A Universe

Posted: January 14, 2013 by onyxhawke in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

The amazing Marshall Ryan Maresca will be part of a stellar cast in the upcoming Rayguns Over Texas which you’ll be able to put your hands on at LoneStarCon 3 aka Worldcon 2013.

Silent Dragon by Irene Radford from DAW books Feb 5 2013 release

 

A little bit sooner than that, in February in fact,  is the release of the fabulous Irene Radford’s Silent Dragon her return to the universe that gave us Glass Dragon and Loneliest Magician after a long hiatus. She’ll also be a bit busy this August.

 

The boffins at Amazon have pulled together six new web series they want folks to rate.

Your cat could make your baby blind.

Chromosome segregation is something we can all embrace, especially since cancer cases have a 90% prevalence when it breaks down.

There may just be a habitable planet orbiting Tau Ceti. If there is, is that are first extra-solar stop?

Is is time to give your blog a facelift? These could work.

And the 25 best places to work are?

Suitjamas – RedFerret

The nice man above is dressed in pajamas. Why someone decided people need a pjs that look like a business suit is anyones guess.

Want a solar powered charger for your next camping trip?

Wanna write letters like a pro? There’s a guide for that.

Color speaks volumes, and everyone has a method for ordering them.

10 Writing Myths, via @ChuckSambuchino

Entrepreneurial lady carves out a place to sit in Afghanistan.

 

Brain Fodder: Good News Addendum

Posted: December 17, 2012 by onyxhawke in Brain Fodder

For some reason this didn’t show up in the last post. Work safe.

Given the recent nonsense, I’m going to start this collection off with something that should make you smile and is entirely work safe:

And football being the only sport worth watching that’s actually being played right now (Thank Jeremy Jacobs and Gary Bettman!!)

The DC character I think should be next up for a major movie or tv series get’s talked up:

Nightwing a DC comic image via Comicvine

Nightwing

In news that will rock the souls of NHL fans to their very fundament, the players are better prepared than the owners.

They say the only thing worse than no security is bad security. Guess which we have?

Apple Maps headlines a list of turkeys for 2012 over at CNET.

Continuing the list trend, some of the best psychology and philosophy books of 2012.

Not to mention NPR’s top 1o Jazz albums of 2012.

A quick way to add function to your website.

If you want to set a story in Boston, even in part, you need to know something about the T, the lines, the stops, and where they are and were. This is a great place to start.

8 mythological critters, some of which you may not have met before.

Genetics, interbreeding, and the fossil record can and can’t tell us about our own past.

 

Mental Health

Posted: December 14, 2012 by onyxhawke in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

One of the, if not the biggest problems with our society (Western society as a whole) is that it has become unnaturally dichotomous. There is good. There is evil. There is no other category. There is sane. There is crazy. Good = Sane. Evil = Crazy. While I certainly despise gray goo in literature, in real life it is the rule not the exception. The problem is the definitions of “good” and “sane” are in just about all cases “behaving as I would behave”. Evil and crazy are any and all things outside that first definition. As we’ve seen with Mike Huckabee  you need to be careful who you let define your good.

The problem with the dichotomy is that the spectrum of good/evil is far wider, and weirder. More importantly, the impact of pressure to change on people at different points on the compass will result in different results.  Tell someone who’s an absolute omega follower that they need to do what you tell them, and they probably will, say it to a beta that believes they are your equal or better and they might just challenge you for authority on the spot, or they might watch you waiting for you to show some sort of weakness. If you are an alpha type and you give the same order to another alpha, they might do what you asked, you might have a power struggle, they might pass it on to an underling, or they could completely ignore you. All of those behaviors are normal for their type.

The worst problems arise when we try and shape people beyond their functional type. Someone who is easily frightened, highly unathletic, compassionate almost to a fault, and lacks even the assertiveness to defend themselves is not an ideal police officer or soldier. Pushing them into a role like that will result in some form of dysfunction. At the other end of the extreme someone with a reasonable amount of athleticism, a handful more paranoia than average, and a willingness to be violent, is not going to make the best barrista, personal assistant, or janitor. Pushing them into a role like that will result in some form of dysfunction.

Dysfunction for the purposes of this post is “that which directly harms the individual or makes them detrimental to society”, which does not include things others just find distasteful. So playing video games six hours a day is functional; smoking crack, rape, assault, or drinking enough alcohol to interfere with their other activities would be dysfunctional.

So if we take each of the examples above, and from childhood push them in direction that will maximize what those two individuals are as opposed to what sociologists, school teachers, their parents, or whoever thinks they should be both are capable of contributing to a healthy society. A soldier without a little bit of paranoia is probably gonna die in a hurry and get others killed. A personal assistant who can empathize with their boss is more effective, and almost certainly makes their boss better in turn.

Differential function is a fact. Period. Gwen Stefani, Madonna and Diana Ross might have been pushed into being accountants and likely no one would ever have heard their voices. Given all the time each of the three has spent around music and doing other creative acts, how functional would they have been in a job that didn’t allow them that?

That differential functioning shows in all sorts of ways. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? If you like working with people do you do better with children or adults? Whatever it is, for you, and those you influence, tell yourself and those around you; go towards your talents and your own psychoemotional construction.

The most broken people in the world, including the one who wiped out his family and a class full of children are what they are before they pick up any tool. The ability to be “evil” is one that has existed since the first human walked the earth. Ill acts can be committed with teeth and nails, or 13th century technology.

Goodreads: Diving In

Posted: December 8, 2012 by onyxhawke in Social Media
Tags: , , , , ,

So, recently I decided to give into Goodreads. I’ve had an account for a year or two, I just never used it much. The basic daily navigation tools are ok, but for stuff like adding reviews, or finding out you have to rate or review 20 books before you get recommendations  you have to dig. This may or may not have been explained when I signed up, but well, I no longer remember.  Those following me on twitter @Onyxhawke will note I reviewed a bunch of books in the last 24 hours or so to get to 20.

When I first get their recommendations top it looked like this:

Goodreads

Top of the page (minus the navigation bar)

Scrolling down they put fantasy next:

the fantasy pics

And at the bottom:

last row of rec page

I decided to click on the fantasy category which looks like this:

The top of the Fantasy rec page.
Nine rows total

A quick trip through the 45 recommendations showed me a couple interesting things:

  • No one I’d reviewed showed up.
  • 16 of the authors were people I’d read something by.
  • most of actually was fantasy despite the first screen showing a space opera.
  • No real leaning towards an particular publisher, decade, or subgenre.
  • Many of the books were a decade or two old, and most seemed to be the start of a series not a middle book.

More to come, I’ll also be taking a look at two other networks in the near future Diaspora and Socl.

Launch! Steam Mole

Posted: December 2, 2012 by onyxhawke in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

So like many others, you’ve read Cuttlefish by now. The long awaited sequel launches NOW. NOW!! NOW!!! Steam Mole takes our intreped adventurers a little further on their journey.  Share the love with the readers you love this holiday season.

 

2012-11-24So you need to chart the heavenly vista for your opus magnus? Not a new concern. Try this.

A little remind that not all things are improved with quantity.

Political Parties http://www.reagencydesign.com/products/241597-political-party-monsters-preorder-s-xl

What do you mean you need to know where the stars are before you can draw them? Blasphemous thought!

If you haven’t heard of Kelvin Doe, shame shame! He’s one of those kids who does some damn impressive stuff.

Everyone has pretty distinct handwriting, do any of your characters write in one of these fonts? Do you ever pick a font for your characters?

This planet is so big its star is clearly overcompensating.

The solar system has clearly been lying about its age. This is unconscionable, and it needs to be punished.

In birds we think of imprinting as an all or nothing occurrence, that doesn’t appear to be the case in wallabys.

Know someone for whom time is a relative concept? Maybe, they are a living example of what the BaBar team has been studying?

When we age, we don’t just see differently, we read differently.

One of the most fascinating things about Homo sapiens is our adaptability. Think of the athlete who trains year round, the neurosurgeon who makes cuts using a robot and a laser that are minute, the statistician who carries a hundred 20 character or more formulas n their head, and person who speaks twelve languages are all not so different from you. Hell, you might be one of those, or something else amazing,

Differing abilities aren’t the only way we adapt. The level and type of risk we face, and how we do it is another type of adaptation. When a danger is so common you can’t ignore it, you either adapt to it, escape it, or die. Californians have earthquakes. In warzones, like Israel the adaptations, are something else:

 

So, what do the characters, villages,cities, mercenary companies, princes and shoe polishers, backers, barons, and brewers have to adapt to?