A year ago, I helped create Rise of the Europan. To help celebrate this anniversary and increase the visibility of the book, Dryden House is making the Kindle edition of Rise of the Europan free from November 21 to November 25.

This is obviously the best deal you’re going to get, so if you’re interested in reading the book but you’ve been holding off due to the cost, now’s the time.

To my fellow collaborators of RotE, I want to apologize for my actions of the last year. I worked hard on my story and was an active participant in many aspects of this book’s genesis, but shortly after it debuted, I dropped off the map and have not put in any appreciable effort to promote it in the time since. I had my reasons, excuses, etc., and all that, but those things are mostly just noise.

What’s true is that I made a promise to myself and all of you, to help keep this book alive, and I have failed to live up to my word. I’m not happy with the way I’ve handled this, and many other things over the past year, but at this point all I can do is own my mistakes and attempt to do better.

I believed in this book when we wrote it, and I still do. I want more people to read it, so I’m going to have to suck it up and put in the hard work that I’ve been neglecting to do for so long now.

If you’ve stumbled across this post, please consider downloading a copy of Rise of the Europan during its free Kindle promotion. A great group of people came together to make that book a reality, and it is filled with some eclectic and entertaining sci-fi stories, all set in amazing collaborative science-fiction setting that continues to grow.

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I wanted to make a brief announcement here, just so there’s no confusion. For the short-term future, my stories “Specimen 25” and “Catch and Release” will not be available for download on Amazon or any other platforms.

I am currently working on a plan to republish them, along with some other changes that I’ve been pondering for some time now. It’s time for me to revamp and reset, because I have concluded that I need to make real changes in my writing practice to pull myself out of the massive slump I’m in at the moment.

I’ll be back soon with more info, including when and where the stories will be out again.

 

 

I want to write about the last six months, tell everyone what’s been going on and maybe provide some insight regarding my writing. But I’m not going to do that now. Maybe not ever.

There are two main reasons for this (and lots of other reasons that don’t merit a mention here): 1. It would not be productive for me to sit here and write about things that I can’t change, and 2. Most of it is really boring. Mostly that first reason, though.

Forward is where I’m going. I’m setting my sights there: the time-not-yet. With that comes the usual host of questions, which are predictable, if not worn-out by now, and yet entirely necessary.

What do I want to accomplish? What can I do with everything I’ve learned so far? Where is there room to improve? (Spoiler Alert: There’s room to improve everywhere.) How can I write more? What the fuck am I doing?

You know, questions.

All of these questions have answers.

I didn’t say I have them. Not yet, anyway. Part of me moving forward involves getting better at living my life without always trying to find the answers to every question. That’s a symptom of something that’s been dragging me down for a long time. A mix of perfectionism and paranoia. I’ve always felt that drive to get it exactly right, like when I would obsess over a single blog post and take three hours to write it and then re-write it, which usually brought along its friend that pulls up a chair to say, “Hey, what if you didn’t get it right, even though you just spent three hours getting it right?”

I need a willingness to write, talk, create, and share, without being burdened by my own anxieties and neuroses. Sometimes it’s acceptable to do something, look at it for a minute, nod, and be done with the damned thing. Now, let’s be real, that’s never going to work for my fiction writing. I’m always going to have that mindset when it comes to my stories.

This blog doesn’t need to be like that. If I ever want to have a chance at reaching a wider audience and sharing my stories with more people, I need to worry about putting more of my words here. There’s no need to sacrifice quality for quantity–I don’t intend to start constantly posting on here just for the sake of being one more self-important ass shouting at the world–but there is a need to find balance. Maybe I won’t be able to keep to a schedule all of the time…but something tells me I might if I didn’t always give the keys to my inner censor.

I’m getting the feeling that this particular post has almost reached its capacity for worthwhile reading. (Or maybe that was hundreds of words ago, eh?) The essence of what I want to tell you is this: I know I’ve gone off the map, like I always do, but instead of lamenting the fact and dragging you through a redacted version of all-the-reasons-why, I’m pushing forward and attempting to do what I should have been doing all along. Just write.

For this week’s WIP Wednesday, no long introduction.

Last week I shared a small sample of “Blooded,” my short story for the upcoming Dryden Nightmares anthology. Here’s another sample from the draft….

            The pile he’d landed on was composed of a disgusting palette of refuse and morbid waste, huddled somewhere along a vast plain of lifeless dirt. As he shifted to gain his footing, Samartin pushed aside shredded pieces of decaying wood, torn bits of cloth stained a rusty red, and what he belatedly recognized as a collapsed rib cage with a patchy covering of gore attached. He saw more of the debris when he stood, in particular a remarkably intact ship’s wheel made of oak, a long beam that he suspected had once been a mast, and several lengths of rope, some held together with intricate knots. He’d managed to fall into the remains of a large ship, including its former crew and cargo. He couldn’t imagine how it got there, but that seemed rather inconsequential given his current location.

Low fires burned all across the terrain, sending up indiscriminate exhalations of black smoke. He watched the dark clouds rise and disperse, seeing their dissolution as they broke up a fair distance from where he stood at the zenith of the wreckage. The climb down was ripe for catastrophe, more likely fatal than not. He followed the movements of wispy trash flying everywhere, gusts of burnt air sweeping by to disturb the heap’s outermost layer. Standing had taken a significant push from his legs, which meant gravity would surely hasten any fall and deposit him in the middle of whatever unknown circumstance awaited.

All he could discern for sure was the steady presence of a steel wall, reaching as far as the horizon in either direction.

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Six authors. Six stories. In the year 2700, one event that will change everything.

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This fantastic promo image was created by Gavin Revitt.

Rise of the Europan is the bridge to a new era in Dryden Universe, a moment in history. We brought together six authors to tell stories about this game-changing event and explore the possibilities of an expansive science-fiction shared universe. This is Creative Commons in action. The result is a collection of short stories showcasing half a dozen unique visions of a dynamic storyworld.

The book features stories by Eugene Kelly III, Daniel B. Hunt, Kitty Sarkozy, Don van Ausdoll, Tracy Vincent, and me, Damian Roache. Each of us picked some part of this event that we wanted to write about. It could have been six different stories, filled with other characters and locations. The details were up to us, as long as we respected the established timeline of Dryden Universe and wrote a story involving the Europan, the powerful, sentient life form for whom the book is named.

When Joel put out a call for stories, I jumped at the chance to be involved in this project. Why? The idea of authors sharing their talents to weave together a collection of unique stories was exactly what I’d been looking for–a collaboration that was more than just, ‘You submit a story, and you, and you.’ No, this was something else, something way more interesting than that.

We had the spark for our stories: the event happening on Europa. And we had our space to work in: Dryden Universe, in the era known as the Primer. With those elements set, we were free to write what we envisioned. However, all of us wanted to write stories that meshed together, stories that felt like they were happening in the same universe–because, dammit, they are! We talked about the setting, discussed our ideas for characters and plots, and held regular online meetings to keep each other informed. This release is more than just a new book coming out in Dryden Universe. It represents a triumph of our collective will to make something bigger, and it’s proof of concept.

The stories are written, the book is on its way, and you know what? We accomplished our goal.

This is what The Dryden Experiment is all about.

It’s available for pre-order on Smashwords, and release is November 30th. Less than two weeks to go!

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RotE front cover

 

This week’s WIP Wednesday deals with a story I’ve been working on for the past few weeks. “Blooded” tells the story of Samartin’s quest to enter the heart of Izuntu and become one of his high priests, a group known as the Blooded.

If you haven’t read the primer on Izuntu, here’s the short version: Izuntu is an ancient dark god trapped in a remote region of space, and his followers seek to accumulate enough power to eventually free him and bring about his reign.

So, in “Blooded” we’re following Samartin, a devoted priest of Izuntu who’s spent years acquiring the power and knowledge needed to venture into Izuntu’s realm (which is also his body–I swear, this all makes more sense if you’ve read that primer…). The bulk of the narrative tracks our protagonist as he works his way through a bizarre landscape that’s been warped by the dark god’s influence, but there are also some short interludes involving Samartin’s dream-visions.

I gotta say, this one is fun to write. Sometimes a story turns out to be a real pain in my ass once I’ve gotten into it; this is not like that at all. I have a feel for the character as I’m writing, which is always helpful, and I started with a partial outline of the plot. I think I managed to find a good mix of planning and room for inspiration on this project, too. I’d be lying if I said it’s been easy so far, though difficult doesn’t always mean dull. Even when it’s giving me trouble, I’m still enjoying the process. I’ve got almost 5,000 words of the first draft written.

Time for an excerpt from the draft. Remember, this is unedited and likely to change by the time the final draft is done.

Early in the story, we see Samartin entering the god’s realm. This requires him to complete the rite of entrance, which in this case involves an offering to Izuntu. For those of you who’ve read the primer on Izuntu, you might recognize some of this from what I wrote about it previously. Read the excerpt below to learn about the items that Samartin has brought for the ritual.

The rite of entrance required three offerings. First was an oblong flask, sealed tight with a knotted cork, containing a drop of blood from one-thousand of Samartin’s enemies. The fluid held a potency that many a practitioner would seek to harness: the collected samples mingled together and shared their life-energies. He’d only taken blood from the slain, seeking to prove himself further to Izuntu, and so the contents represented victory over a great many foes.

Next was a handmade cloak, every piece of which he’d gathered from one-thousand beasts he’d hunted in his travels. A thick layer of hair and feathers formed the fabric, woven in tight patterns to create a sturdy covering that shimmered under light, reflecting the many hues of its sources. The edges he’d lined with a thin, scaly covering cut from the hide of a sleek reptile. An assortment of sharp teeth and jagged claws were worked into it, displaying the breadth of Samartin’s prey. He’d fought and killed so many fearsome creatures to obtain the parts, everything from werewolves to giant squids, but making the cloak from so many disparate components had proved almost as difficult as the slaying itself.

The final item was one he’d spent years searching for, its existence something of a legend. The memory extractor resembled a long syringe on one end, constructed from a crude mixture of ancient materials that nonetheless provided a sturdy frame for the device. Intricate scrollwork and series of runes snaked around the barrel, leading up to heavy plunger of hammered copper. The needle, when inserted through the victim’s ear, was long enough to reach through and puncture the opposite ear drum. An opaque bulb sat atop its other half, where the memories of one-thousand lives swirled in perpetuity, held fast by the magic of the artifact. He would miss it a great deal, but all of his possessions were expendable in pursuit of the high priesthood.

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RotE Cover Reveal

Title: Rise of the Europan

By: Various Authors

Release Date: Nov. 30th, 2015

RotE Syn

For 500 years human exploration of space has gone largely unchallenged. Now, deep in the ocean beneath the crust of Jupiter’s moon Europa, something is stirring…a power both ancient and wholly alien, moving in the dark places. Its power is unimaginable, its rage inexhaustible and its goal clear; to eradicate humanity.

RotE front cover

There’s the cover. I’ve already seen it before today, but I still get a rush of psychotic joy every time I look at it. Huge thank you to Gavin Revitt for designing that. It’s an awesome piece of art to set the stage for this collection.

Do you have any idea how excited I am for this? DO YOU?!

Well, just in case it isn’t clear by now, I am over the moons (yes, all of them) about this book. Now that we’re almost there, I find myself having tiny moments of spontaneous HOLY-SHIT-ITS-REAL-AND-ITS-SOON, sometimes accompanied by spastic arm-flailing and/or crazed laughter. It’s a good thing no one sees me when I get like that.

Here’s some teasers for a few of the stories in the book, including mine, courtesy of Tracy Vincent…

RotE teasersRotE_teaser_dan1RotE Damian1RotE Don2

The ebook version of Rise of the Europan is available for pre-order on Smashwords. The paperback will be out on the official release date.

I’ll be posting more about the release as it approaches, so check back here for updates and features on the book ahead of  November 30thDryden House Publishing.SCR PRIMER

The Dryden Experiment