31 December 2011

The End is Near. Long live the Future!

Greetings and salutations bloggers, bloggettes, and bloggophiles (and the Freudian-slipped mistyped bloogers)!

I had sincerely believed I had put away the blogosphere for the year, having made plans to do unto others what has been done unto me, shorthand for making merry in the holiday tradition of my kinfolk. But, twas not to be. With a funeral trip and a lengthy stay in the sick bed (had an outstanding assortment of weird dreams), some quick final editing of my debut masterpiece AFTER ILIUM and even quicker academic conference proposal dashings off pre-deadlines, my break from the Day Job has hardly seemed the thing of endless possibility it began as. (I love long sentences, don't you?)

So now that the end is near, I feel rather jittery, full of unspent energy I barely used the preceding three weeks. As I spent some time perusing the proof copy of my novel AFTER ILIUM and finding a dozen spots to correct, it occurred to me that there may yet be a sequel in the works. Mind you, it won't likely be as intense in either sex or violence as the original. In fact, it would not even include any of the same characters, although I reserve the right to bring in the mythological undead, as hero Alex Parris often did in the original book.

This sequel would be titled WAY AFTER ILIUM. It would concern the journey, nay, odyssey of the author of AFTER ILIUM as he travels from his home away from heart in central Oklahoma to the deep south, to a town appropriately named Troy, in the state of Alabama. There he has planned an event at the local institution of higher education. Among the buildings of that institution squats a small yet magical Barnes & Noble store, ostensibly for the procurement of textbooks and the sordid what-nots of student life, of course. However, because it has gained a phenomenal reputation for magically launching the first works of several famous artisans, writers, skilled people of all makes and models, the Author of AFTER ILIUM wishes to likewise partake of the magical influences of that sacred venue.

The trip, of course, would be the bulk of the story. All manner of adventures might test him, everything from car trouble to bad weather, criminal mischief and indulging temptations, the innocent misdirections of well-intended community leaders and snarky local cops--all providing as great an odyssey as poor Alex Parris faced on his unexpected journey across the Turkish coastline, hoping to be reunited with the woman he loves--yes, that older, mysterious, exotic Greek woman he meets on the cruise ship to Istanbul and whom he sees as his personal Helen of Troy (perhaps, she's from Alabama, after all)--until his own physical survival must become foremost in his mind. Indeed, another morality play. The world of literature is full of them. One more won't hurt, eh?

"Never look a gift horse in the mouth," they say...because you may find Odysseus staring back with some choice-yet-unkind words to give!

Look for the original AFTER ILIUM coming in January! Available from the publisher Fantasy Island, and from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. (The Amazon "preview" is glitchy but will be fixed shortly; don't let that dissuade you from diving in.) Available both as ebook for your new holiday Kindle and in traditional paperback that you can take to the beach or read during class behind your textbook.

And the sequel WAY AFTER ILIUM will be forthcoming in a couple years or so. Well, at least after the Author has lived through the adventure--because we all know writers must write about what they know in order for it to be authentic and believable, right?

Until we meet again in print or ebook, may you all (especially my potential readers!) have the merriest end of year celebrations you can safely have, and may the coming year be full of amazing adventures and many purchases of books (especially of mine, thankyouverymuch!), and good fortune in all of your deeds, sordid and otherwise.
The Author of AFTER ILIUM pretending he has just found a kick ass novel on the shelf in the local Barnes & Noble store, hoping others will wonder what he is reading and open a dialog with him through which he might tell them exactly what he is reading and perchance they might wish to read it, too, because miracles never cease and sometimes stars fall from the sky, long before Hell might one day freeze over!

(C) Copyright 2010-2012 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

10 December 2011

Greats Stories for a Great Cause!


Not much time has passed since my last post, but here is something I must add!

The anthology from Fantasy Island Book Publishing is now available at Amazon.

Here is the link: The Story Tellers' Anthology

Shaun Allan - Final Entry
Shaun Allan – The Tooth, The Whole Tooth and but The Tooth
Alison DeLuca – Crown Phoenix
Alison DeLuca – Beta Test
Stephen Swartz – Rendezvous
J Darroll Hall – Appalachian Passages
Connie J Jasperson – Long Hard Run To Alpharse
Connie J Jasperson – Once Upon A Time
Lynette Ferreira – All Over Again
Marilyn Rucker Norrod – From The Ashes
Lisa Zhang Wharton – The Adult Book Store
Lisa Zhang Wharton – Butterflies: A Surrealistic Writing Class
Nicole Antonia Carson – The Last Five Pounds
Nicole Antonia Carson – Women of Wal-Mart
Rachel Tsoumbakos – Mildred the Ghost
Danielle Raver – The Enchantress
Kathleen Barker – O Canada
Joan Hazel – The Orbs of Taliesin
Elaine Gannon – Bits on Display
Ceri Clark – Mind Games
(and a fantastic cover by Ceri Clark, too!)

You might notice that one particular name and story title is in boldface. Mine. (Well, this is my blog, right?) Just wanted you to know, in a non-threatening way, that one of my stories is included. Now, that's not the only reason to click on over and download that baby. (My story is "Rendezvous"; it's my only entry in the urban fantasy genre, trying to impress my Twilight-obsessed daughter with my own vampire/reincarnation hybrid tale.)

The real reason, aside from some great stories in a variety of genre, is that all proceeds from the purchase of this anthology are going to a charity, Samaritan's Purse, whose focus is on providing safe, clean drinking water in devastated areas. You can learn more here: Samaritanspurse.org

So...Happy Reading!  And thanks for your contribution to good stories and clean water!

(C) Copyright 2010-2011 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

08 December 2011

December Muse Tells All....

Dear Decembrists (if you're offended, you can google the term),

I kept looking at the calendar this past week, day after day, feeling as though I should write a blog post. It's been a while, though I have nothing much to confess. Or comment on. Problems everywhere. More of the same out there in the real world. Even the fantasy realms are somewhat boring this time of year.

The only news of any worthiness, I suppose, would be the fact that I recently sent back my so-called final look at the final manuscript version of my debut novel* AFTER ILIUM, the sordid tale of the innocent young man tricked by the evil older woman, and so on. Been done many times before. I've tried to put a unique spin on the template by creating a parallel to the Trojan War couple's story.

I had the idea back in 1998 when a few bits of impetus came together in fortuitous ways. My goal then was to have the modern plot parallel the ancient plot without seeming contrived. In other words, our hero had to see the parallels without the author intruding and saying to the reader "See how this parallels Homer's Odyssey?"

In a summer creative writing workshop, it became a fun exercise to me. As a what-if kind of story it was easy to plot...if one is deliberately plotting to follow the plot of a well-known classic. (In that summer, however, I only managed to put it into an 11,000 word story; definitely too much telling, less showing.)

1. Find a young man, recently graduated from college, a nerdy, geeky, bookwormish fellow who likes studying history, has some computer skills (I suppose that may be redundant with "geeky"), and sees the world always through rose-colored lenses. Give him the name Paris, but not too obviously. Make it a surname: Parris. Then send him to Turkey, to the site of the ruins of ancient Troy, often also called Ilium (hence the name of Homer's other book, the Iliad). So far, so good. What could happen?

2. Introduce a "Helen" character in a believable way. Can't name her Helen outright because that would be too obvious, so name her Elena--close enough. The young man, Parris, becomes enamored with this woman, of course: she is sexy in an older woman way, voluptuous, sensual, seductive. Let her be running away, seeking some adventure. And they meet. It's easy for him to like her, but she...? She will need to gradually warm to him, decide to flirt and seduce him, to toy with him for the few days of this trip.

3. Then, as young men are prone to do, this Parris fellow decides that this Elena woman is Ms. Right, especially after she lets him play with her in bed and other venues. Voila! They are a couple. Believable enough so far, eh? So, from this point, do they live happily ever after? Or does something else happen? In the Homer epics, they remain a happy couple until Paris, the Trojan, dies in battle. Helen is recaptured by her husband, Menelaus, and returned to her home. But here in modern times, there is no war to solve the plot conundrum.

4. Or is there? If not a war, then at least a fight. If this Parris fellow is so hot for that Elena woman, let him try to protect her when she seems to be threatened. Then he would get into a fight, say, with some men...yes, at the site of ancient Ilium! Perfect. But in a modern tale, what would likely happen? He would be arrested by the local police. That's believable. But just as Odysseus had a crew of sailors on his voyage back home to Ithaca from Troy, this Parris fellow needs helpers--some of the sidekicks who inevitable get killed off so the hero can live to the final credits.

5. So here we have this Parris guy, sensitive, intelligent, but not a leader or a fighter, mooning for his lady, trying to reason his way out of his predicament. He has to find his way back to her. That has "odyssey" written all over it. The rest is mere parallelism. In the Odyssey, Homer has his hero visit different places, each with unique challenges and each leaving him with new lessons learned. Eventually he makes his way home, of course, and even there he faces challenges. So does this Parris fellow, only his must conform to the realism and available technology of the modern era.

6. Instead of a cyclops, Parris encounters a constable with an eye patch. Rather than his crew being incapacitated from eating lotus plants, his odyssey buddies get stoned on wild hashish. A quartet of farmer's daughters take the place of Sirens. The stormy sea and the rugged cliffs Parris must traverse replace the monsters Scylla and Charybdis. And he is found washed up on the beach not by King Alcinous and his lovely daughter Nausicaa but by a lonely Greek fisherman. Instead of calling the gods for assistance with a message via Hermes, our Parris fellow gains access to a computer with internet connection. He is finally on his way back to his lady, Elena.

The ancient Paris never returned to Troy; he died there. Our modern Parris does return, expecting to find his lovely Elena there. Instead, he meets....whoa! What was I thinking? That would be quite an egregious faux pas, giving away the ending like that. Nobody likes a spoiler. However, to complete the point of this report, it is perhaps enough that you can now see how the challenge of retelling an ancient tale in a modern setting can be accomplished. Has it been done successfully? That is the only worthwhile question in need of answering. And I, unfortunately, am not allowed to answer it. Only our dear readers may do so.

And for that, I have much gratitude and appreciation, no matter the result. Enjoy your reading!

Available soon from Fantasy Island Book Publishing, and via ebook sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, with print format following quickly after.

*Although I have written 7 novels to date, After Ilium will be the first to be made available to the purchasing public. Some of the others will be published in coming years.

(C) Copyright 2010-2011 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.