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Weird, I’m Published

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Jul 10th, 2010
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I’m excited to report that Issue #2 of Shock Totem is now available! Included in the magazine is my story, The Rat Burner. You can buy it from their website or Amazon. You can read an excerpt of my story here.

Shock Totem is a magazine of strange and horror type fiction. The first issue had a cool cover and good stories. My favorite was Thirty-Two Scenes From a Dead Hooker’s Mouth by Kurt Newton. I’m really looking forward to reading what’s in this next issue.

When I first started writing, the last thing I envisioned was being someone who wrote “horror” or “strange” fiction stories. I grew up reading Tolkien, Howard, Moorecock and other varieties of fantasy and sword&sorcery authors. That’s what originally inspired me, anyway. So, I was pretty surprised at what came out when I sat down to write The Rat Burner. It isn’t a scary story (at least, I don’t think so). I’m not really a big “gore” or “scare” fiction reader.  But it’s definitely weird.

This publication has caused me to reflect a lot on what I’ve learned over the last few years as a writer–places where I’ve improved, places where I still need to improve. My strengths, weaknesses. What I enjoy writing about. Weirdness is something that has bubbled to the surface.

My novel, Jack of Hearts, is a fantasy, but it’s got a vein of weird to it too, I think. Looking back at some of the early beta-reader feedback (thanks Adam, for that term), a lot of their favorite parts tended to be the weird or unusual bits. One friend described it as reminiscent of an old world fairy tale. The ones that had bite. It’s got a giant that eats horses, leg-stealing dwarves, and magic based on enslaving children. Fun stuff.

Many of these stories I’ve written since then (which will hopefully find homes soon), have that same tinge.

So, if you’re inclined, please pick up the magazine and let me know what you think of the tale.

Writing Level-Up: The Fire Opal

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Jun 29th, 2010
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Over the weekend I finished the first draft of a new short story called The Fire Opal. In the beginning of my novel, Jack of Hearts, Jack meets a family in the Desert of Night Walking that has been robbed of their only horse by the charlatan wizard he’s hunting. Jack gives the family a rough opal to compensate them and vanishes after the wizard. The Fire Opal tells what happens to that family.

I really, really wanted it to be 5000 words, and I had the general story arc mapped out ahead of time–but half-way through the writing process it took an abrupt turn. I should say *I* took an abrupt turn, because I don’t subscribe to the idea that I’m just along for the ride, following the story wherever it wants to go–I’m the AUTHOR dammit, the characters and plot obey me (under threat of deletion!)–but I can sympathize with that view. That’s what it feels like at times, anyway.

The disruption occurred at what I thought was the end of a sentence that went:  Kali grabbed his wrist and clawed the opal out of his hand, which turned out to only be half a sentence that spontaneously grew the following: except when she opened her fist she saw it wasn’t the opal.

Since you haven’t read the story, the significance of that sentence and it’s uninvited appendage are probably lost on you. But trust me, it was supposed to be the opal. It was a lark, a stray thought, and after I typed it, I laughed. Yeah, that would be cool and crazy. Okay, let’s just delete that and get on with the story. But I paused, because maybe it wasn’t just a stray thought. Maybe it was a subconscious signal–maybe it’s what I really wanted to happen as a reader, because it would be crazy, and more dramatic, and interesting. The worker in me balked momentarily because it meant more effort, more thinking through the ripples it would have on the storyline. You know what? Put some duct tape on that dude’s mouth because he never has the best interests of the reader in mind, or your goals as a writer.

So I let the sentence stand, thought about everything I’d have to change, then plunged ahead. I took a left turn when the map said go right. And that, as Mr. Frost once said, has made all the difference. I think, anyway. I could be wrong–maybe I should have stuck to the plan, but I believe I ended up with something more emotionally compelling (to me anyway). The story came in at 6300 words instead. It’s a first draft, so I can probably  chop some more fat after I let the story simmer a while.

If you’re a planner, I’m certainly not advocating dumping planning, or just following any stray thought, but I do recommend staying open to new possibilities that present themselves along the way. It’s along the way that you know a lot more than you did at the beginning of the journey.

On a different tack–anyone else know of any cool novels that spawned short stories set in the same universe? I think it’s fun to find out what happens to an interesting side-character or explore a locale only touched on by the main novel.

Sneak Preview: Shock Totem

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May 12th, 2010
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Late last year I sold my short story, The Rat Burner to Shock Totem magazine. Just a while ago Ken Wood, editor of the magazine, sent me a preview of the cover. Check it out:

Shock Totem #2

The font/color might change slightly between now and print, but that’s the art. Pretty cool. I’ll update again once the magazine is available. Very soon!

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About Me

Ricardo Bare
Austin, Tx

Ricardo Bare is a writer and game designer living near Austin, Texas. Currently he works as a game designer for Arkane Studios, which in 2012 released Dishonored. Ricardo started his career in the games industry working on the Deus Ex series, winner of the BAFTA and numerous other Game of the Year awards.

Ricardo is the author of Jack of Hearts and Fool of Fate, the first two books in a young adult fantasy series.


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