Poetry: “Can You Fix It?”

my son would ask me
every time he ripped paper cut-outs
for every fairy tale he’d see
he felt pain for dolls who couldn’t

His piggy bank itself
a favorite toy to talk to
while staring down from his shelf
living where it shouldn’t

I heard a crash
then a cry
I ran to him
saw tearful eyes

“Can you fix it?”
he held up his cut hand
“No, buddy. But you can.”

“I’ll fix it?”
We put a bandage while he stayed still
“Yeah, keep this on and you will.”

I saw one of his papers later
with a crayon drawing of the big bad wolf
held together by tape I didn’t put there


If you like my work consider supporting me with a donation! http://www.paypal.me/FrankOrmond

You may also like some of my other work:

Worldbuilding: Religion and Philosophy

How to Tell if Your Writing is Improving

Poetry: “Story Unpublished”

Poetry: “Rusted Theme Park from My Childhood”

Poetry: “Elfland”

Make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram

Book Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

It’s hard to underestimate the impact that Neil Gaiman has had on fantasy. From his Sandman comics to American Gods and Anansi Boys, he’s a force to be reckoned with in the industy.

I’ve previously reviewed his book The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and while it wasn’t my cup of tea, I can see Gaiman’s usual creativity in it.

American Gods was the first real book of Gaiman’s that I read. It’s a sad and interesting story about a guy named Shadow who suffered a loss. From there, he becomes the bodyguard to a Mr. Wednesday, a manifestation of Odin. Apparently, in this universe, the gods come into existence from belief. Thus, if a concept is firmly believed and held to, new gods will come into existence with technological and societal changes. This gives birth to conflict, which gives rise to violence.

The story is dark and surreal. It contains interesting imagery, unique interpretations of old stories, and lots of reference to the old Norse myths (Gaiman would go on to write Norse Mythology as well). There’s other well known gods in the story, and the biggest draw is the mix of characters. There are a ton of characters!

This book is typically classified as urban fantasy, and I think I’d agree with that. It’s dark, like I said, so younger readers beware. Also, as far as the ending goes, I still don’t like it.


If you like my work consider supporting me with a donation! http://www.paypal.me/FrankOrmond

You may like some of my other reviews:

Light Novel Review: Eighty-Six by Asato Asato

Book Review: Stormbringer by Michael Moorcock

Book Review: The Ship of Ishtar by A. Merritt

Story Review: The Tower of the Elephant by Robert E. Howard

You may also like some of my other work:

Writing with Inspiration

How to Tell if Your Writing is Improving

Poetry: Elfland

Make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram!

Personal Update – Different Worlds – May 24st, 2020

It’s fascinating to think my third child was born at the end of February, right when this whole situation we’re in now started to be taken seriously. He hasn’t even seen his grandparents yet because of the state of things. I wish the world was more safe, more comfortable for him, but it’s hard.

Writing is still something I love. I just submitted several poems to contests and publications for review. Hopefully I get in somewhere, but if not I just continue writing and submitting.

I suspect once I have enough poetry, I’ll probably do a simple poetry book for submission to either agents or publishers. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll self-publish. Either way, I want to get my words out there.

Writing so Your Work Reads Better

One of the most interesting things to me is when people say that they write for themselves. I get that, I love writing. But it’s not just for me.

If you’re submitting your work, it isn’t about you. It’s about the person reading it. If it’s about them, then your focus should be on getting your work to a point where it can be read.

So the question is: How do you write so you can be read easily? I offer three simple solutions to improve your writing towards that point:

1. Read your work out loud

Please, please, please read it out loud. Repetition and odd words are easily caught with this method. Someone once told me it’s the first editor you’ll ever have. So please, try it.

2. Use “said” more often than not

I’ve heard this a ton of times, but never understood until I started reading my own work. “Said” is easily ignored, but unique and uncommon attestations are difficult to ignore. Readers typically want to ignore what isn’t being spoken by characters, so doing this allows your story to be read easier.

3. Try to avoid “to be” verbs

The big one is “to be” verbs. What sounds better:

“He was under the apple tree.” vs. “He stood under the apple tree.”

Obviously both are… fairly neutral. But “was” is weak and tells you nothing about what he’s DOING under the apple tree. “Stood” tells you he’s on his feet, at least.

Now this applies to us because “was” and “is” just comes across as boring to readers. If your entire paragraph contained descriptions involving “was” it becomes repetitive. Then, instead of just ignoring the attestation, the reader now ignores the descriptions and gets lost. Or worse, the reader gets bored.

This is all conventional advice, but if you’re writing for your work to be read (and I hope you are) then it is important to take this to heart.


If you like my work consider supporting me with a donation! http://www.paypal.me/FrankOrmond

You might like some of my book reviews:

Book Review: The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany

Book Review: The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson

Book Review: The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe

You may also like my other work on writing:

Creating Interesting Characters Using Contradictions

Dodging Derivatives

Worldbuilding: Religion and Philosophy

Make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram!

Poetry: I know this monster

that strangles people at night
it stabs them in the stomach
ruins their eyesight

a creature born of futures
living in the past
curses them to have nightmares
while tiny hopes get dashed

the monsters birthed by people
living in their lives
it touches all adulthood
til only Stress survives


If you like my work consider supporting me with a donation! http://www.paypal.me/FrankOrmond

You may also like some of my other work:

Writing with Inspiration

How to Tell if Your Writing is Improving

Poetry: “Rusted Theme Park from My Childhood”

Poetry: “Elfland”

Make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram

Book Review: Halo: The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund

The book I’m reviewing today is one I’m intimately familiar with. Honestly, for me, the Halo series was the first science fiction video game series I really dove into. For fantasy, the Elder Scrolls was my first real dip in that genre.

I remember when the original Halo: Combat Evolved was released. For me it was practically life-changing, since I bonded with friends and family using that game.

The year was 2002. I recall hushed whispers of a Halo book whose tome held the secret of the Master Chief’s real name. I couldn’t believe it when I’d heard it! So I went to one of those giant book stores (they still had those then) and bought the only Halo book they had.

The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund chronicles the events immediately preceding the story of Halo: Combat Evolved. It’s a military science fiction story (I’ve covered a few in the past, most recently Hammer’s Slammers) and follows mainly the child John, who would become Master Chief, an enigmatic member of the Spartan-II program. Children like these are abducted by the military and raised in a literally Spartan style of training. It’s brutal, it’s callous, and it’s deadly. I recall several of the children dying.

But they become strong. They’re described as having the bodies of Olympians, with the skills of military veterans. They’re given powerful battle armor and trained to kill. Then, the alien races known as the Covenant show up. John becomes a leader, and is promoted to Master Chief Petty Officer.

Knowing the Halo series, I always assumed the Spartans were created to fight the alien race known as the Covenant. However, in this book, it’s revealed that the Spartans existed to fight other humans. They were intended to squash any rebellion in human systems.

I will add praise, though, to the symbolism present in the Halo universe. It’s not particularly Eric Nylund’s work, but his book is solid. The names like “Covenant”, “the Ark”, “the Flood” all have religious connotations and match well with the Covenant’s use of religion as tools of motivation.

All in all it’s a good story for fans of the property. In a reread, I’d say it’s a little slow in parts and it’s hard to see John as anything but a perfect character. He reminds me a lot of Ender from Ender’s Game. As military science fiction, it’s not heavy enough in the combat. I think fans of the series would like it, but beyond that I can’t see it appealing to many others.


If you like my work consider supporting me with a donation! http://www.paypal.me/FrankOrmond

You may like some of my other reviews:

Story Review: Black Amazon of Mars by Leigh Brackett

Book Review: The Troy Rising Trilogy by John Ringo

Book Review: The High Crusade by Poul Anderson

Book Review: The Lost Fleet Series by Jack Campbell

You may also like some of my other work:

Worldbuilding: Religion and Philosophy

How to Tell if Your Writing is Improving

Poetry: “Story Unpublished”

Poetry: “Elfland”

Make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram!

Poetry: “The House I Used to Live In”

White sand beaches packed down by cars.
My initials carved in rough tree bark.
Kid hand prints and names in cement.
Childhood bike ride ’til the sky was dark.

I left my driftwood roots
for hills beside a river.
Freshwater swimming instead of salt
where we would deliver.

I absolutely love my family now
but still drift to childhood’s loves.

My children have their garden now
their own bikes, books to read,
an aloof cat, conifer trees,
their own lives to help them lead.

Even now I recall the sea
and miss the land I called my home
but I’d rather all my children have
a place to call their own.

I’d rather live for my children now
than the child I once was.


My recent poem “Life in a Puddle” has received a ton of attention. Please read it and let me know what you think!

If you like my work consider supporting me with a donation! http://www.paypal.me/FrankOrmond

You may also like some of my other work:

Worldbuilding: Religion and Philosophy

How to Tell if Your Writing is Improving

Poetry: Five Haiku, “Recalling Our Time Together”

Poetry: “Rusted Theme Park from My Childhood”

Poetry: “Elfland”

Make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram




Pitfalls of Writing Politics in Fiction

Fiction can often deal with governments, but the biggest issue I’ve noticed is that governments are too often conflated with politics.

I previously reviewed Freehold, and it’s a perfect example of a political bend taken to an extreme in your writing. Freehold is a science fiction book about the titular libertarian colony that functioned perfectly well until refugees started migrating en masse. You can already see where the author’s political leanings favor.

But see, that didn’t have to be the case. In this case, the author framed the book as a way to convey his political opinion instead of using his political opinion as a background for an actually powerful story.

If your message is more important than plot or character your book will ring hollow. Readers don’t like being preached to, even if they agree with you.

So I offer you these three ways to put politics/government in your story without falling for the trap of messaging.

1. Show a political system you don’t like as functioning well

If you don’t agree with a monarchy then try to include one as a functioning government in a story. If you can do that, then you can provide a message with your heroes to say “I don’t like monarchies”, while still showing that they do function.

Obviously, monarchy is just an example, but this idea applies to other political systems and opinions. If you hate communism, try to portray it as a functioning society in your story.

2. Show other opinions as being valid outside the main characters

Some people won’t agree with you, and that’s fine. Only showing your political opinion as being the “right one” will lead to half, if not more, of your readers being annoyed. The easiest way to show this is by showing the political idea operating as #1 mentioned, but you can simply just have the opinions spoken of by other characters (not necessarily held to by a main character, though… that’s #3).

A good example of this is when an opinion is shown on news reports as being discussed. No one is particularly “wrong”, but the discussion takes place nonetheless.

Still put your opinion in there! It’s fine, but acknowledge that people disagree with you and that it’s valid.

Be careful, though, of being a “middle of the road” person. Bigotry or racism shouldn’t be acknowledged as valid political opinions, but a character who holds those opinions can still be a friend to the protagonist. I’ll leave it to you how to handle issues like that, but political issues themselves are something that should be open to discussion.

3. Show a main character as having the opinions you disagree with

This is an offshoot of what I mentioned previously. Instead of the opinion coming from a third party you could have a main character share an opinion you don’t agree with. Even if your main character is a die-hard libertarian, the communist friend they have will keep them in check and they’ll playfully joke about their differences. It is entirely possible to have this without it becoming a mechanism that the reader sees as “preaching”.

Now the reason I split this out is because this isn’t for everyone. Sometimes the beliefs that oppose yours disgust you, and that’s fine. If you don’t want to work on a story where one of the main characters believes a politic opinion you don’t agree with, that’s perfectly fine.

Conclusion

Ultimately, to avoid the pitfalls of writing political fiction, you simply have to avoid becoming a mouthpiece for your particular politics. Oh, sure, you can certainly preach. But once you’ve done that readers who disagree with you will be gone.

“I didn’t want them anyways,” you may say. But is it worth losing readers because you prefer a flat tax? Or because you think term limits in the senate are a good idea? These are the kinds of things I’m talking about, not moral issues.

Remember to keep writing!


If you like my work consider supporting me with a donation! http://www.paypal.me/FrankOrmond

You may like some of my other posts about writing:

Going from Outline to Manuscript

Revising Your First Draft Novel

Worldbuilding: Religion and Philosophy

Also check out my book reviews:

Book Review: Space Cadet by Robert Heinlein

Book Review: Slan by A. E. van Vogt

Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Also make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram!

Poetry: “Life in a Puddle”

Slow walk in a nearby park
grey city walls
green grass within

I came across some tadpoles
living in a pond

A tadpole hopped in a puddle near
swimming in slow circles

though water was low
it didn’t panic at all
it didn’t even know
its world was so small


If you like my work consider supporting me with a donation! http://www.paypal.me/FrankOrmond

You may also like some of my other work:

Writing with Inspiration

How to Tell if Your Writing is Improving

Poetry: “Rusted Theme Park from My Childhood”

Poetry: “Elfland”

Poetry: Five Haiku, “Recalling Our Time Together”

Make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram

Story Review: Black God’s Kiss by C. L. Moore

I previously reviewed Shambleau by C. L. Moore, but where that story was science fiction, this one is purely fantasy. “Black God’s Kiss” is the first of C. L. Moore’s Jirel of Joiry stories, written in 1934. It features a red-headed French swords-woman named Jirel.

Black God’s Kiss is well known for its blend of dark fantasy elements with fantasy action. It reads almost like a Conan story from Howard.

The story is about Jirel’s quest for vengeance. She initially seeks a weapon with which to slay Guillaume, a villain she despises. She makes her way to a black temple to retrieve something along those lines, she finds herself semi-mesmerized and kissed the black idol in that temple.

Jirel as a character is interesting. She’s got the anger of Conan with the ferocity of a lioness. Moore paints her as both beautiful and deadly. Yet she has moments of clarity and emotion. When she pays for something, it’s amazingly told with a fantastic payoff. This story is worth reading if you’re a fantasy fan. Even if you’re not, it’s a story that has been held up for almost a hundred years.


If you like my work consider supporting me with a donation! http://www.paypal.me/FrankOrmond

You might want to read the previous Robert E. Howard review of The People of the Black Circle.

You may also like some of my other reviews:

Book Review: The Gray Prince by Jack Vance

Book Review: The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe

Book Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Book Review: A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

You may also like some of my other work:

Writing with Inspiration

How to Tell if Your Writing is Improving

Poetry: “Rusted Theme Park from My Childhood”

Make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram!