Mahabharata: Death of Bhisma

In an epic saga like the Mahabharata, two mythical families destroying each other is certainly a major event, and it is no exception here.

Krishna decides that he will give his armies to the Kauravas, but he himself will help the Pandavas. Krishna is Vishnu, the king of the gods incarnate, so it’s probably a good thing for the Pandavas that he’s on their side.

The Kauravas and the Pandavas go to war for 18 days. Bhisma is commanding the army against the Pandavas. The Pandavas love Bhisma like a father. Arjuna, the great bowman, does not want to kill his beloved uncle.

This is the point in the battle during which Krishna takes time out to deliver the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna. The Bhagavad Gita summarizes Hindu theology. Krishna convinces Arjuna that human life is ephemeral, and it is better for him to act than to not act. Arjuna, seeing the tapestry of existence in a wider way now, decides he can fight Bhisma.

You might remember that Bhisma has vowed not to attack a woman. Shikhandi, who is a reincarnation of the princess Bhisma ruined the life of, is placed in Arjuna’s chariot, and from this cover, Arjuna fills Bhisma full of arrows.

Everyone is very sad, including the Pandavas. Bhisma is literally a pin cushion of arrows. Arjuna places 3 arrows under his head so he can rest. Bhisma is allowed to choose the time of his own death, and while he no longer the commander of the Kaurava forces, he lives until the war is finished. and then chooses to die.

Next up: Karna enters the battle.

Funny Hugo for the Win!

Another two hours of work on the troll book. I’m twenty-seven out of sixty-three scenes through the new outline. Relentlessly, I will work my way through the new structure with fewer characters and then I will go through with texturing.

I’m finding that after about two hours, I need a break. I *can* come back later, but that’s satiation.


And now, time to talk about something that’s near and dear to my heart–the serious business of funny stories. Funny writers are often underappreciated writers. Actors often say funny is harder than serious, and I agree. Not only do you have to juggle genre conventions, you have to also strike the funny bone and stylize humor.

You might imagine that Jim and I talked about this while he was out here doing his guest gig. Certainly, funny is one of the writer hats I wear. I think funny writers need to be celebrated, and considered for fantasy awards. There’s a discrimination against humor in the arts. Who else remembers when Juno didn’t win the Oscar?

Jim has taken matters into his own hands. He has created the SF/F Humor Roundup: 2009 page.

Go forth, read, and maybe even vote on some of these for awards. Remember, the funny bone you tickle may be…okay, just read the stories.


Writer Soup

Who are your influences as a writer?

On the way back from World Fantasy, one of the books I polished off was Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. We’re doing a bunch of old books next year for our book group, and it’s giving me a chance to read some books that I read as a kid, remember fondly, but really remember very little about. The Martian Chronicles was one of those books.

It goes without saying that Bradbury is almost poetic in the execution of his prose. The stories take your breath away. His precision of description creates scenes in the theater of your mind.

I realized that a lot of how I write comes from reading Bradbury. This is not praise of incredible writing skill. I realized that I emulate Bradbury subconsciously, that I’ve forgotten his work, and suddenly I can see where my work is trying to be like his.

There are other writers that I’ve discovered this about from time to time. At Viable Paradise, Doyle suggested that Substance of Shadows had overtones of E. Nesbit. Guess who read E. Nesbit growing up?

Who else will I see in there, now that I’ve gone back to look? Frances Hodgson Burnett? Mary Stewart? Charles Dickens?

Even as we begin to write, we don’t remember who or what we’ve read, but it appears that your subconscious remembers what you like, and what makes you feel at home.

I am well aware of how much I adore certain writers that I’ve loved as an adult. I wonder how much the writers we adored as children make a difference.

Now I’m convinced, after the startling discover of trying to be Bradbury, that they make all the difference.

I’m very curious about where your influences come from, and what you think.



Go buy Booklife by Jeff VanderMeer. Buy it as soon as you can.


I’ll be the first to admit that there are better books written about private booklife, or the art of being a writer. Laura Mixon gave a terrific lecture at Viable Paradise, about feeding the beast that I wish I could share with you. That lecture, to me, seems closer to the mark.

However, if you’re reading this article as a writer on the internet, if you journal or blog on a regular basis, if you feel responsible for your own image, branding, and in part your self-promotion, you need to read Booklife.

I think Booklife will speak to you in ways that other books about writers haven’t yet. It is full of interesting ruminations about technological mediums, writer connectivity, and industry and writer interface. Booklife seems to be the first book that talks about the rhetoric of electronic life for genre writers.

Of course, Booklife will be dated, eventually. Technology and expectations change. Future volumes of the book need to address that, and I’m sure they will.

Still, it’s a sound examination of the life of the author in an age of new communication alternatives, and what that means in regard to interaction. As an online artist, you (yes, you!) should read it.


Small Press and Reputation

So, for the first time today, a writer asked me for some help. Shannon was curious about how you found out the reputation of small presses. Of course, I advised him the long way around: Look at the site, check Predators and Editors, ask authors who’d published at ’em what their experiences were, and so forth.

Then I thought I would ask all of you fine folks: Is there a place that might be a reference in this regard? Some sort of review site? Or a small press board?

It’s a long shot, but I thought some of you, especially those of you who are small pressers, might know more than myself.

ETA: It appears that the best place is the Absolute Write Bewares Board. Thanks for your help!

Shannon, go to town!


Book Review: Norse Code

If you’ve been reading Writer Tamago, you’ll realize that I have a bit of an offbeat sense of humor. Take one part broad humor, lace it with dry wit, add in Iowa colloquialism and a PhD’s worth of irony, and you have…me. I write like this sometimes, as Hulk Hercules will attest when it comes out.

It’s not easy for most people to be funny. I’ve been funny since that moment, at age 13, when I met my father at the airport after returning from school in Scotland. At that moment, given the horrible events that had occurred before I went, the wall of humor erected, never to come down.

I love my sense of humor. I don’t have to be the funniest person in the room anymore (God bless medication!), and I really appreciate it when I read books where the sense of humor is a dominant force.

Humor has to be more than slapstick and pun. Which is why I’m so attracted to LOL cats, right? Ahem. What is the best mix for me is humor mixed with poignancy and truth. I don’t like Piers. I do like Jim Hines. I can take or leave Robert Asprin after his first books. I love early Esther Friesner, especially the New York by Night series. That’s just the right mix of humor and poignancy.

This would be why I am a Greg Van Eekhout convert. I read Norse Code. Don’t let the sexy Valkyrie on the cover convince you it’s another tough woman urban fantasy. This is a Ragnarok romp that takes a beach combing god and gives him center stage in a story about the end of the world.

Continue reading “Book Review: Norse Code”

TrollNoWriMo: Day 2

Day One of TrollNoWriMo was all about planes.

Day Two, however, has been all about organization.

Now I know. Ten chapters. I know which characters to whack, which of the written scenes to revise, and which new scenes I have to write.

I’ll spend tomorrow and Thursday working on current scenes. Then we’ll start adding the new ones.

Direction. Awesome.

How are your projects going?


World Fantasy: Can Haz Lucidity?

First of all, let’s put up the super fun link to Chris Cornell’s pictures. It was great to see him and Sean again, and to expand our knowledge of VPers past. Our t-shirt is the best one. I’m just sayin’.

So, I’m back, and for the first time in like, four days, I’m not sleep depped. I never did make a reasonable transfer to Pacific time, and we threw daylight savings into the mix, and, well, big time yawn! The latest I stayed up any night was to hang out with VP Peeps Friday, and that was 2:30 am Iowa time.

I didn’t go to any other parties. I couldn’t do it. I was bumping into furniture as it was. Okay, I made it to Jay Lake’s cheese party, but it was 4 in the afternoon, so that helped.

What did I think? In a nutshell, if you have business connections, or it’s the only place where you can see some of your buddies, World Fantasy will be useful to you. As far as conventions go, the panels were not gripping (perhaps because the program came out late, there was little time to organize. I also have a high level of expectation, coming from academia, where panels are usually well organized.). The dealers room was fine. The readings were truly fine.

If you are a beginning writer, looking for a way to get included in the community, this is probably not for you. It’s not the place to make a casual writing acquaintance, so I think a newbie might be uncomfortable there. There also isn’t a great deal of writing instruction on the panels, and the topics are kind of generic. For such a large con, there’s only two tracks of programming as well.

What’s a newbie to do? I’d recommend Wiscon, and although I haven’t tried it, I hear Readercon is also pretty good. I may well try Readercon next year as I seek out other places to meet new writers.

I think I expected World Fantasy to be more expo-ey, and it was not. I imagine it’s a stop I’ll make again as my writing career expands, but I’m not sure I don’t do more networking on the Internet than I did there, and of course, it costs boatloads less to do it from behind this screen.

It also doesn’t help that Viable Paradise was a close bonding experience, because it set the bar higher than World Fantasy could have delivered at this point.

That said, the experience was not without its merits, and I am happy to detail them. But you may not wish to read my personal adventures, so I will judiciously use the cut.

Continue reading “World Fantasy: Can Haz Lucidity?”