I’ll take Death over the Tower

I’ll take Death over the Tower

I’ll take Death over the Tower any day

My living room windows blew in, less than a second after I hit the deck under my table. Sadly, this kind of thing happens often enough that my reaction is reflexive. The howling and the light show, those were new.

I should stop reading the Tarot. I tell myself this often – almost as often as I read the damn things. The problem is, I have to wonder, if I didn’t read the cards…who’s to say the same crap wouldn’t still happen, but without any warning?

I’m Maurice Ferland. I read the Tarot. I also listen to the dead (try and get a word in edgeways and you’ll see why I put it that way), know enough about herbs to sound convincing, and can draw really cool shit with coloured chalk. Because I’m…who I am, these things are a little more effective for me than the other gris-gris totin’, rum-drinkin’, chicken-frightenin’ types you can find taking easy money off tourists.

They say my grandmother sold her soul to the Devil, but frankly, I doubt it. A devil, maybe. The Devil has nearly as many layers of flunkies between him and the public as the President, and I doubt grand-mère would have had the patience. Still. I wish the old bastard a good morning every time I turn over his card…just in case.

Writing Myths: Slay the Dragon

Writing Myths: Slay the Dragon

Writing Myths that need slaying

I must write something other people will like and approve of.

No. A thousand times no. As Oscar Wilde put it: “You can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies.”  Write your truth. If it pleases everyone, chances are high you’re doing something wrong. Offend people. Make them think. Challenge their beliefs. Challenge your own. The world is too full of people tiptoeing carefully through their existences without ever standing up for themselves or what they believe in. If everyone is comfortable with your words, you’re using the wrong ones.

I must write at a level everyone will understand.

Don’t insult the intelligence of your readers. Don’t be complicit in the dumbing-down of society. Write to the level that your book demands and your characters dictate. If you have a story able to reach out and grab your readers by the balls, they will find themselves a dictionary if they have to. Don’t lessen your work or yourself to please the masses – because often the ‘m’ is silent.

I must write something that will sell.

Why? Are there writers who seriously go in expecting to get rich from their work? Write what pleases you, because the trending genre this month will have blown away with the autumn leaves next month. Write what pleases you, because forcing yourself to write what everyone else does will be a brutal exercise in boredom. If no one else is ever to read your magnum opus, you had best make certain it enthralls you. Be original. Be yourself. No one else can be.

Writing is a slog, a chore. Writing is like giving yourself homework every night for the rest of your life.

Writing is an adventure. Every time you pick up a pen or sit at a keyboard, you create a world that only you can; live for a while with the only people you’re willing to invite inside your head. Writing is an addiction and a cure. Writing is an antidote to the tedium of life that was the same today as it was yesterday, as it will be tomorrow. Writing should make your heart beat faster and the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Writing should be what gets you through the things you ‘have’ to do; the thing that wakes you up in the night with the next scene more alive in your head than the walls around you.

Migration madness

Migration madness

Migration, eh?

Feel free to insert an image of geese creaking their way South – I know that’s what I think of when someone says ‘migration’ to me. Here and now, I’m talking website migration. You may have noticed both jcsteelauthor.com and byriteofword.com were down for a few days in May 2018.

They are now hosted on servers in Europe, and jcsteelauthor.com got a full update in the process. Hopefully it’s become more streamlined; I’m older, sadder, and much better-informed where it concerns the vagaries of WordPress now than I was more than two years ago when I put my first author site together.

I also had a common author problem to solve. I’m branching out into urban fantasy alongside my sci-fi series, and I didn’t want to maintain two completely separate sites. From that came a lot of frantic concept planning, and finally, the idea of a homepage that was simply books, each one linking to a page that introduces the world of that particular book. I’ve also caved and put in a standard nav bar. Enough of this trying to be original shit.

Among the purely author-based reasons for a migration and update came the practical ones. I had GoDaddy hosting that wasn’t precisely cheap, and not at all easy to access. Getting into my website tools took a login plus navigating through an arcane GoDaddy subsystem, and then email access took another portal, another login, and two more pages to even view. Not to mention Outlook 365 has no mass-download option, and costs an arm and a leg. I swore at it every time I used it, and because it was so hard to get to, peoples’ mail languished in limbo for several weeks at a time.

What’s new?

I’m now with a relatively new hosting organisation in the UK called Jollyleaf; my website tools are all in one place, and they include webmail – which conveniently feeds into my email host on my desktop. I’m saving myself a ton of cash annually, and I can see everything without needing multiple passwords. Hopefully this means that email will at least get seen in a timely fashion, even if natural disorganisation kicks in immediately thereafter.

I hope that you like the new layout of the J C Steel author site. Areas are still being added, and in some cases content needs re-uploading (you will notice that the blogs are missing a lot of the old content, which will be reintroduced once I get my database to talk to me). Among those to be added pieces, I’ve received a request for an ‘Upcoming’ area, which will look at what I’m currently working on and what the plans are. I’m also looking into a spot where people can access the bits and pieces I give away for free – there are so many plug-ins that do this that I’m currently having a ‘can’t see the forest for the trees’ problem.

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