Hello, Subscribers (New and Old)

It’s been a long time. I published my first post here at Speak More Light on July 6th, 2015. Here it is, if you want to see it.

On the other hand, that’s only about two-and-a-half years ago. In the world of publishing, that’s hardly a heartbeat.

But it feels like a long time to me. During that time, I’ve published three novels, written forty-three blog posts at Speak More Light, another dozen or so at the Writer’s Coop

I’ve also, somehow, accumulated about 1,500 subscribers to this site, for which I am grateful and pleased. It seems like high time I said thanks to all of you for your support.

SO here’s what’s happening. For those of you who have never downloaded a book of mine, here’s your chance. From December 9th through 11th, my first two eBooks, Spark and Flight of the Wren, are available for FREE download over at Amazon.com.

Of Spark, Moxxley (at Platypire Reviews) wrote:

“This is one of those books that you have to read. So well put together and paced. I really enjoyed the story and the characters…A tip of the hat to Mr. Gage for writing such a compelling book.”

Of Flight of the Wren, Merissa (at Archeolibrarian) said:

“This is one of those books that you pick up and, even though you have read the synopsis, you’re still not sure exactly what it is you’ve let yourself in for. What I got is a book that I completely immersed myself in…With kidnap, violence, friendship, loyalty, and more, this is one eventful book that will tug at your heartstrings, whilst giving you a thrilling ride. I absolutely loved this book…”

Please download both books if you like. And, if you so moved, I would be honored to have you write a review. And, while you’re at it, consider picking up my new book Whisper Blue, of which Merissa said:

“For me, this book was as creepy as all (get) out. I don’t do horror, but the chill factor here gave me goosebumps. This is probably because the descriptions are so wonderful…Whisper Blue is an excellent book for those who like paranormal with a twist. Highly recommended by me.”

 

Thanks for reading and downloading. Thanks for subscribing. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I enjoyed writing them.

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Be Ready When She Comes

Delany, some time ago

The other day, this article, a speech on racism and science fiction (dating back to 1998, no less), surfaced in my Facebook feed. I’d never seen it before but, being a Samuel Delany fan from way back, I dug right in.

Before I had even cleared the first third of it, I found myself hurriedly putting it aside to work on the second draft of my own current WIP. The damned thing had been fighting me hard—not because the plot or characters were in any way unclear in my mind, but there was simply no consistent voice yet. WIP’s come in all forms, and they all fight us to some extent, but this one had been particularly tough—petulant, thorny, recalcitrant—it had resisted all my efforts to get a groove going. The novel, typically, didn’t care about what I was trying to do. I hadn’t gotten her attention yet.

Somewhere between George Schuyler’s horrific and ironic description of a lynching and Delany’s own telling of his first pointedly racist rejection letter, I hit pay dirt. All at once, I had a new beginning for the first chapter, and with it, a new sense of where I was going and why I was going there. My bristly companion was suddenly purring and eager, both soothed and enlivened by the fact that I was finally doing something it liked. Continue reading “Be Ready When She Comes”

Bedraggled Bird

All right, yes, I admit it. This post is little more than an excuse to announce the publication of a new short story. It’s called Windborne, and it is appearing in Strange Fictions Zine, Friday, April 28, 1:30 EST. Oddly precise, I know, but I guess that’s just the way it is with online zines. But if you’re reading this, the story must be up and ready for viewing. You should check it out. It only takes about five minutes to read.

It is a little disingenuous of me to call it a new story. Windborne is at least 12 years old. It was the first story I ever wrote, at least since my college days. The truth is, I never particularly wanted to be a writer, at least not of fiction. Songs were what I wrote, lots of them. I sang them with several rock bands, then by myself, then only for myself. My musical career traced a long and squiggled line, but that line had a decidedly negative slope.

After that, I got married, had some kids, and settled into a life where my only creative impulses were realized in idiosyncratic woodworking projects. And that was fine. If I was experiencing any great lack in my life, I wasn’t aware of it.

Then one afternoon, I was standing on Moonstone Beach. The kids were playing in the water by the big rock. There were a lot of people there. It was windy but warm. I was standing on a flat rock near the runoff. The wind was blowing full in my face, rifling my clothes. It was one of those winds where a sudden gust can jostle you, knock you off stride—almost, if you let your imagination unreel a bit, lift you up off your feet and into the air.

That’s where the story was born. I stood there, buffeted by the sea wind, and wrote the whole thing in my head.

Later that evening, I wrote it out for real. I showed it to my wife. She liked it. I’m fairly sure I didn’t show it to anybody else for a good—oh, I don’t know—maybe six or seven years. Continue reading “Bedraggled Bird”

But Seriously, Folks

Possibly, some of you never saw this fantastic interview I had with Tom Wolosz on his excellent website about Spark, and the accompanying review.  Can I say, with all modesty, how great it is when readers take your work seriously? Right? I mean, sure, Spark is a fun read with an impossible premise, but you put the same amount of work and care into all of your books, don’t you?  You take your YA romp seriously. It’s nice when readers feel the same.

Anyway, you should check out Tom’s site, but if you don’t feel like clicking, I’ve reprinted the interview below. Of course, Spark is available on
Amazon. While you’re there, check out Flight of the Wren and my newest book Whisper Blue.

Thanks for reading

DocTom: What was the inspiration for Spark?

Me: I’m pretty sure I was washing dishes. There’s no particular connection to dishes, but I do remember having this sudden image of a man walking past an empty lot on a city street. In the lot, a couple of homeless men are warming themselves around a fire built in an old 50 gallon metal drum. The scrap lumber fire cracks in a shower of sparks as he walks by. He doesn’t notice, but one of those sparks follows him, tracking him down the dark street, unseen. That was the birth of the idea, anyway. What was this spark? Why was it following this guy? Over the course of time, the man became a teenage girl, and the whole scene with the fire disappeared completely, but the questions remained. I had also just read China Mieville’s Un Lun Dun, and that definitely had an impact on the pocket universe scenes. Unless I’m mistaken, James Tiptree’s story All the Kinds of Yes played a part, not in terms of plot but in the concept of good guys and bad guys. That story posits the rather quaint notion that some people are just good guys and some are bad guys. I rather liked that. Francy and her friends are, for better or worse, good guys, and there’s just no point in denying it.  Continue reading “But Seriously, Folks”

So You Want To Build A World

(Also posted at the Writer’s Co-op.)

 

“You see, to be quite frank Kevin, the fabric of the universe is far from perfect. It was a bit of a botch job you see. We only had seven days to make it. And that’s where this comes in. This is the only map of all the holes. Well, why repair them? Why not use ‘em to get stinking rich?”

–Randall from Time Bandits

So you want to build a world, eh? Are you ready to be God? Because that’s what you’re doing. Creating a world, populated with millions of beings. They’re your responsibility now. What happens to them—well, that’s on you, isn’t it? And more than that, you owe it to your readers to create a functional world, an elegant mechanism guided by a clear plan and exquisite craftsmanship, a Swiss watch kind of a world.

Or—maybe not.

I know. A lot of writers LOVE world building. They revel in creating dossiers, elaborate histories, mythologies—even whole languages. It’s part of the fun. And backstory can certainly add depth and richness to a narrative, making it more believable, more real, more engaging.

But how much is really necessary? All fiction writing is world building. You set the stage, you paint the backdrops, you provide the props. You populate that world with living, breathing people, give them history, put flesh on those dry paper bones so that they rise up off the page. And no matter how closely your fictional environs hew to the real, recognizable world, it is new. You built it. Continue reading “So You Want To Build A World”

Order Please, Mr. Adjective

Not so long ago I caught a bit of a podcast from Mignon Fogarty, also known as Grammar Girl, talking about the correct order of multiple adjectives in an adjectival phrase. (I know. Sounds like a wild party, but let’s try to focus here.) When using more than one adjective to modify a noun—and for the purposes of didactics, let’s ignore the fact that you probably don’t want to do that most of the time—how do we decide what order to put them in?

Most native speakers have little difficulty with this task. We tend, without even thinking about it, to follow the same basic order for the most common types of adjectives:

Opinion
Size
Age
Shape
Color
Origin
Material
Purpose

Most of these are second nature to us. We would never refer to “a yellow, stupid shirt” (color before opinion) or “an Armenian, old carpet-seller” (origin before age). These examples just sound wrong. There is some give and take—shape and color can sometimes go either way—but the basic litany is pretty well fixed. We might refer to “a dismal, mud-grey, slack-shouldered, American, polyester leisure suit,” (opinion, color, shape, origin, material, purpose) but surely never “a polyester, mud-grey, American, slack-shouldered, dismal leisure suit” unless purely for comedic purposes. Continue reading “Order Please, Mr. Adjective”

Me and Hemingway

The other day, this blog post appeared in my Facebook feed with the title: “This Surprising Reading Level Analysis Will Change the Way You Write.”

Once you get past the clickbait title, it’s a pretty good post. The reading level analysis the post is talking about is called the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, a method developed in the 1970s for evaluating the difficulty of a text. Basically, it analyses a text for complexity and assigns it a reading level.

Just for kicks, I fed a brief, randomly-selected chapter from my newest book, Whisper Blue into the analyzer over at ReadabilityScore.com and clicked analyze. My score? A whopping 4.1. Fourth grade reading level. Ha! Shows what an erudite elitist I am! Continue reading “Me and Hemingway”

The Whispering Girl cometh redux.

Okay then.  Sorry I’ve been gone so long. It’s been a tough week (on top of a tough year), but life goes on, right?

That might not be the most comforting cliche.

Anyway, I’m not going to talk about the election or my personal problems. I do that elsewhere, and this, here, is about books. Mostly my books, but I’m open minded. If anyone out there wants to talk about their own books, I’m open to that.

And, speaking of my books, the newest has nearly arrived. This is what industry folk refer to as the cover reveal. Voila!

 

full-cover

 

Nice, huh? A very different look from Spark and Wren, but that’s a good thing. It’s a very different book. And hats off to Jack over at Black Opal.

It makes me happy, anyway.

As far as the book itself, well, it’s available for pre-order at Kobo. It should be at  Amazon by November 19th. Haven’t heard about advanced reading copies yet, but I’ll let the interested parties know as soon as I do. I was, humbly, pleased with the revisions. It had been nearly a year since I’d opened the thing, and I liked what I saw. It fairly hops off the page and has some genuinely quirky beats. I’m looking forward to having people read it.

In the meantime, hang in there everybody.

Cheers,

Atthys

 

Got You Covered

Never mind any old adages you have hanging around about how not to judge a book, it’s pretty much universally acknowledged that book covers matter. In fact, a book’s cover may be the single most important factor that you, as the book’s producer, have some control over. There are certainly bigger reasons for why buyers buy—author name recognition, word of mouth, personal recommendations—but all of those exist outside your scope of influence. You gabbing about your book on Facebook probably will not create a significant word-of-mouth buzz, and until you actually are famous, your name isn’t going to sell anything.

So covers matter. Granted. But how much? A poll at Book Smugglers of 616 respondents gave an overwhelmingly positive response to the question: Do covers matter at all to you? That is, do covers play a decisive role in your decision to purchase a book? Seventy-nine percent said YES. Twenty-one percent said NO. Continue reading “Got You Covered”

The Whispering Girl Cometh

Hello all

I’ll spare you all the apologies and explanations about being absent for so long because, honestly, we’ve never had that kind of relationship. Some of you pop in from time to time, but you aren’t sitting around waiting for my next post. And that’s fine. No commitment, no strings attached. You go your way and I’ll go mine, as Betty Smith said.

BUT, I do have actual news of an authorly sort. Nearly a year ago(!), independent publisher Black Opal Books offered to publish my new (or it was then) novel. It’s called Whisper Blue. It’s about…well, here’s the blurb:

There is no Whispering Girl. She doesn’t exist. Continue reading “The Whispering Girl Cometh”