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Messing Around With Ancient Greek

I went to Boston Comic-con this weekend. This was the first time I’ve gone to a comic-con, and I went mostly to check it out and see what it was like. I wasn’t there in any official capacity, either – my publisher had no formalized presence there and there wasn’t really much going on that a fantasy author could edge in on. It wound up being me and a buddy of mine walking up and down the aisles of vendors, checking out the costumes and browsing. The only really interesting thing to report is that I picked up a very nice leather-bound sketchbook with a cool, eerie cover. It was pretty expensive (considering I could go to an art supply store and get four sketchbooks for the price of that one), but this wasn’t a practical purchase. I was hunting for inspiration.

If only all my notebooks looked as cool as this!

If only all my notebooks looked as cool as this!

I’ve got a lot of notebooks, mostly full of world-building notes and novel or story ideas, spaceship sketches, scraps of fantasy-themed poetry, and the like. If a world of mine gets to the point where I’m going to write a lot of stories in it, sooner or later it rates its own map-book and master notebook. I’ve got one for Tyvian’s world, Alandar. It contains fifteen different full-color maps of various places all over the world (many of which, incidentally, have changed since I drew them and need to be re-done). This new notebook – this expensive, leather-bound book with its cotton-paper pages and crazy eerie cover – is going to be my bible for a new world. A world called “Nyxos.”

I’ve set two stories in Nyxos so far. The first one, “Dreamflight of the Katatha” was published in Deepwood Publishing’s Ways of Magic Anthology.  The second, “Upon the Blood-Dark Sea,” is set to come out in Stupefying Stories at some point this year. Since the genesis of the world-concept (Ancient Mediterranean technology/culture, dream-magic, a post-Ragnarok-esque mythology, etc.), I’ve started adding more and more to the world. This time, I’ve started primarily with the terminology. I want the world to sound exotic and ancient. To do this, I’ve started messing around with Ancient Greek.

I don’t actually know very much about Ancient Greek, but I don’t think that matters very much (Nyxos isn’t actually Ancient Greece in any real sense, anyway). What I’m looking for is a sound. So, I take a concept I want to give a word: a dream-asp, for instance (a predator that lives in dreams and can dominate minds and souls by eating away a person’s subconscious).

Step 1: Go to an Internet Translator

So, I take a word like “snake” or “viper” or “asp” and I translate it into Ancient Greek. Unhelpfully enough, it comes out in the Greek Alphabet. That brings me to…

Step 2: Find a Translator from the Greek Alphabet to the Latin Alphabet

This takes my string of Greek characters and makes them into a Latinate word I can pronounce (probably badly, but whatever).

Step 3: Aesthetic Judgment

Then I see if the word is “cool” enough. Often it is not. For instance, the word for demon in ancient Greek translates as daimon, which is lame. It also comes up anytime you want to find a word pertaining to ghosts or spirits. Boooo! Back to the drawing board I go!

In time, you develop a burgeoning vocabulary. Here’s some of the words I’ve got so far (note: there are a variety of accent marks I can’t make this blog create, so just imagine them in certain places):

  • Onierarch (the Dream Tyrant)
  • ekhis (dream-asp)
  • The Plains of Sigalos (the world of dreams)
  • The Mountains of Khanos
  • Arkhe (the origin, primordial chaos, The Watery Abyss)
  • dakos (a symbiotic weapon-creature)
  • the Hemithere (bestial half-men, abominations of the gods)
  • Entheros (a wild, jungle-choked land infested with monsters)
  • the Skie (shades, people of the Dead World, invisible by daylight)
  • herpeton (a six-legged beast of burden)
  • Arkhestatos (the Broken Lands)
  • The Khersammos Wastes (a desert)
  • doru (spear)
  • aspis (small shield)
  • hoplon (large shield)
  • xiphos (a kind of sword)

And so on and so forth. I’ll keep you updated as more aspects of Nyxos become clear to me. My hope is you’ll be hearing a lot more about this place in coming years.

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Ways of Magic: Now Available!

The cover art is inspired by my story.

The cover art is inspired by my story.

The next month is going to be full of great news for my writing career, so let’s kick it off with the release of a short fiction anthology featuring my story “Dreamflight of the Katatha.”

The Ways of Magic anthology, released by Deepwood Publishing, is now available via Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble and Kobo. I encourage you to check it out, as I’m proud of the story within it and have every confidence the whole thing is a good read. If story anthologies are your thing, then you’ve got a lot of good news coming your way, as I’ve got two more like this coming out in the next couple weeks (one of which has an advance copy sitting on my desk right now).

And then, of course, is my Big News, which is still under wraps, but never fear – you’ll find out soon enough!

Enough listening to me gab, though – go out and buy this book!

Please Stand By…

Okay, so I haven’t been posting this week. There’s a lot of reasons for this, but chiefly it is because of something very exciting that I really ought not talk about yet until all the details are ironed out. Suffice to say that I am very, very excited and also stand to be very, very busy in the coming months. Yes, it is writing related.

Big news is inbound...

Big news is inbound…

Also in writing news, I have a story coming out in Stupefying Stories on April 1st (I’ll link to it when the issue is available), I’ve got a story coming out in the Ways of Magic anthology from Deepwood Publishing (and my story inspired the cover art!) on March 31st, AND I’ve got a story in the Sword and Laser anthology (check out the cover art!)  that should be coming out in late April/early May.

So, you know, just doin’ what I do – writin’ stories, kickin’ ass, etc.. I’ll check back in probably next week with the full update and clue you in to the exciting stuff in Habershaw-town. (Well, maybe not all of it. I’m being informed the details may take a while. Anyway…)

Hmmm…I might also update my blog to buy the ‘aahabershaw’ thing, sans wordpress. The time seems to be drawing nigh.

Writing Updates!

wizard_bookAs an addendum to my last post this week, which referred to a couple acceptances at various magazines, let me give you good folks a few specifics, more or less. Working under the assumption you care one way or another about my writing career, of course.

Update #1

My story “The Great Work of Meister VanHocht,” accepted by Stupefying Stories a couple months back, is nearing publication, potentially as early as September.

Update #2

My story “Dreamflight of the Katatha”, accepted in Deepwood Publishing’s Ways of Magic anthology, is slated to get edited sometime in September, as well. Hopefully the book will be out a month or two after that. This story deals with the world of Nyxos, which I am in the process of developing for a potential novel and more short stories in the future.

Update #3

I landed my short story “Partly Petrified” – a Tyvian Reldamar tale involving a heist gone wrong and a haywire wand of petrification – for publication by Sword and Laser in their upcoming anthology. Also good stuff.

Update #4

Now for the really big news: I landed my story “Mercy, Killer” with Analog Science Fiction and Fact just last week. For those of you who don’t know, Analog is one of the oldest and most prestigious short fiction markets for scifi in the business. Stared in the 1930s as Astounding SF, Analog has discovered folks like Robert Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Anne McCaffrey, and Frank Herbert. They’ve won a mountain of Hugos over the years and the Campbell Award is named after their original editor. Getting a story in there is tough and I’m immensely pleased that I pulled it off. It means a lot. It means that, on some level, I do in fact know what I’m doing.

It may be a few months before any of this stuff actually makes print, but fear not – I will gladly be tooting my own horn about the whole thing when it happens.

On top of all that, I still have two novels (The Oldest Trick and The Rubric of All Things) under consideration by Harper Voyager, a host of short stories submitted to various markets, large and small, and I’m now about 2/3s of the way through a new novel, Lych, about a Russian lych hiding out in Boston’s South End and how a nosy medical student blows his cover and causes untold mayhem. Anyway, things proceed well, and I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. There is, of course, nothing else I would rather do.

The Skie of Nyxos

 Dusk born and dawn dead,

Crown of Stars about their head.

Feast on flesh and blood and bone,imagesCARBBQBQ

Young as dewdrops, old as Stone.

Clad in Whispers, Speak in Silk,

Seek them not, nor all their ilk.

Wand’ring Kyklos, where no man tread,

With the shades and restless dead.

Dancing they on darkest moon

to ancient words and madman’s tune,

Carry silver, holly, purest lye

and Skie revels shall pass you by.

I’ve begun developing a new fantasy world, inspired by a story I wrote called “Dreamflight of the Katatha”, which will be published in Deepwood Publishing’s Ways of Magic Anthology. The place is called Nyxos, and it is inspired by a mixture of Ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Celtic cultures. Unlike Alandar, which is more gritty and realistic (and more ‘modern’), the idea of Nyxos is to be mythic, ancient, and dreamlike. It’s in the very early planning stages, but the above is a verse description of one of the ‘creatures’ roaming the lands beyond the ‘civilizing’ influence of the Oneirarch. Of note, most of what people know in Nyxos is based off verse and song – almost no one can read or write. Anyway, thought I’d share it, and I hope you like it.

Another Story Picked Up!

Down the path I continue apace...

Down the path I continue apace…

In the wake of last week, I slacked off a bit on work, blogging included (insofar as this is ‘work’). This was primarily due to the fact that, on Friday (when I had intended to do my second post of the week), my city was turned into a Batman movie as crazed, gun-toting suspects were shooting up police and chucking bombs out the windows of their hijacked car(s). Crazy stuff, and my heartfelt congratulations and to the Boston Police Department and its allies which managed to nab the surviving crazy person alive.

In more personal news, however, I received word that another story of mine will soon see print. Deepwood Publishing has offered to publish my story “Dreamflight of the Katatha” in its Ways of Magic anthology. No word on a release date just yet, but I’ll keep you posted.  This makes the second story in a month, as my story “The Great Work of Meister VanHocht” (an Alandar tale) will be published in Stupefying Stories soon (or so I hope).

Of course, with this good news comes some bittersweet news, too: I failed to make the semifinalist round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. My deepest gratitude to those of you who read and reviewed my excerpt online; I’m glad you all enjoyed it. For now, though, The Rubric of All Things must pursue alternate publication options. I’m nearing the point where I may self-publish it, but I’m not sure. I haven’t a whole lot of money to throw around to prepare it for the big, bad world myself, anyway. Back to querying.

Anywho, that’s me. My semester is almost ending, so I hope my own writing pace (woefully inadequate of late) will be improving substantially soon. Of course, I will be spending my summer days caring for a very loud and very insistent infant, so we’ll see. How on earth do writers with small children do it, I wonder.

Well, I guess I’m about to find out.