“No Books of Men: Vol 1” – Take These Broken Wings and Learn to Fly

Yet another No Books story. This one is intended as a direct sequel to the last one (i.e. “History Lesson”) and features the same James who wrote that essay, despite him not appearing in a speaking role here. Instead, this focuses on his immediate family: his wife Maria and their adopted son Eustace. This serves two purposes. The first is to set up James and this part of his family (there are more to his family, specifically Friday and Tom who are his adopted sister and brother-in-law respectively). The second is to close up the “backstory” chapters for the beginning of the book. Whereas the previous chapter was a broad overview of the Schism War and the general history of magic users in this setting (and generally optimistic), this chapter shows what’s changed in the twenty years since that was written and the personal (very negative) impact on the author of that piece.

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“No Books of Men: Side Stories” – Tomas Sparks and the Grand Prix Showdown

My schedule didn’t really let up much from last week, so I’ve still been a bit too drained to do much beyond read and play vidya games. As such, you get another Tom stories from the archives. This one was written from the same convention book as the last one, but during a different year. The theme was racing that year and so the theme for this one is also racing. It’s the first time I tried a hand at writing my wife’s character June, who is Tom and Friday’s teenaged (or in the main No Books timeline, early 20s) daughter.

Once again, as a side story, this isn’t official No Books canon. It is however broad strokes canon, meaning Tom has gone to Monaco to look for a wayward June, but the exact circumstances may have been a touch different.

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“No Books of Men: Side Stories” – Tomas Sparks and the Mystic Cauldron

This has been a rough week for creativity, I’ve found. Lots to do round the house with the in-laws coming in a few weeks. Work’s been a mess for a number of reasons. Helping my wife bounce ideas around for a project she’s working. It’s been busy to say the least, and when I do finally have time to sit and write… Nothing.

Therefore, today you get something from the archives. This is a Tom Sparks story, originally written for a convention fiction collection, set in Scotland at an indistinct timeframe (as with most Tom stories). Tom is a favorite of mine and one of a handful of characters I’ve been writing off and on for about 10 years, and I always come back to writing him eventually. With the advent of my “No Books of Men” project, these Tom shorts (and there are more than half a dozen of them) are in a strange place in the canon of that setting. Tom exists in the No Books world, and we’ve already seen him in action here on the blog. The stories that predate No Books (in some cases by nearly a decade) are still canon for me, but in a broad strokes sort of fashion.

In other words: The Tom you have and will continue to see has been to Scotland, met the figure in the mists, and found a cauldron. It just might not have played out in exactly this fashion and the timing of it in his life is undetermined. It may happen in the future. It may have happened in the past. It may have happened in his “home time” which isn’t exactly the past but is also the 1940s (it’s a strange situation which will be illuminated in future No Books stories). In the meantime, enjoy “Tomas Sparks and the Mystic Cauldron.” This was written in 2012 for a convention whose yearly theme was “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.”

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“No Books of Men: Vol 1” – History Lesson

This bit of work is different from most of the stories I’ll be producing for the No Books setting, in that it is more “world-building” than character driven. Specifically, this is an in-universe document written by James Dering, a character which will show up more frequently in No Books stories as it progresses. Specifically, he’s a retired adjunct professor at the Ys Academy in Antartica and a former student of Columbiana in the US. This is technically part 1 of a two part story, which will be followed up soon. This piece was “written in 1994” in universe and thus predates much of the current setting but does much to both provide history for the setting and (along with its follow-up) to also hint at what happened to James and the setting as a whole between then and the mid-2010s.

Note: I’m considering changing this from an essay to a symposium talk of sorts. Not sure if that’d help set up the “part 2” better… Just something I’m considering… Continue reading ““No Books of Men: Vol 1” – History Lesson”

“No Books of Men: Vol 1” – Orientation

Today, something a little different. I’m losing a bit of steam on my “Untitled Novel” edit, so rather than let myself burn out completely, I’ve been getting started writing some of the stuff for my No Books project. When finished, the No Books saga is (if finished as planned) a pentology (or whatever you call a five book series) with each containing one part of the its story arc. I’m approaching this one a bit differently however, as I’m not writing “chapters” per se, so much as I’m writing short stories that all tie together.

Also, in the interest of full disclosure, this project is heavily based on the roleplaying experience I ran on the site No Books of Men, and while the plot and overall arcs are about 95% my creation some of it did change in the course of that site’s existence. The characters are probably about 60-70% mine too, but there are others mixed in there which were Player Characters created by others.  I will attempt to give credit for those I have permission to use, and those I cannot get permission for will have names and basic elements changed to “protect the innocent” (and my own butt).

This story contains characters owned by others. Avery Gannon belongs to my friend Angie and is used with permission. Noah Fenwick belongs to my wife, Elysse and is used with permission.

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“Purify”

When I was in college, I chose to take a Creative Writing course with the assumption it would be a “fluff” class for me. After all, even then, I was writing short stories and other random bits of creative writing works. What I hadn’t anticipated is that it would be taught by a “poet laureate” and one who was fiercely dedicated to his chosen focus: “creative nonfiction”. That fact alone wasn’t enough to cause a problem. After all, to each their own…

The problem arose when I started turning in pieces for our “self-chosen works,” i.e. when we were given the freedom to produce our own works in our own styles. Turns out, the professor was rather vehemently opposed to fiction and particularly derided the “pulp-style” fiction I was sort of obsessed with at the time. I spent days carefully crafting two different “Tomas Sparks” serial stories and I was very happy with the results (looking back, they were a bit weak and had some flaws, but they were still very good for where I was with my writing at the time). One received a C and the other a D. I was furious and confronted the professor about it. His explanation was lengthy, but essentially boiled down to the idea that fiction wasn’t as worthwhile as a field and pulps doubly so.

Incensed, for the next assignment, I intentionally threw together a ‘prose piece’ in less than an hour and turned it in. The response can be best summed up by the glowing “A” I received for my sarcastic and enraged work. This only further infuriated me, but I was kind of a noodle back then and never confronted him about the discrepancy. Instead I half-assed my way to a B in the course with “creative nonfiction” works BS’d the night before they were due. I never took another Creative Writing course and actively avoided taking classes taught (even non-creative ones) by that professor. After a few months passed and my temper cooled enough, I looked back at the first of those prose pieces. It wasn’t bad. It’s not really my style and I wouldn’t really ever consider making another like it, but its worth sharing and archiving alongside my other works…

Note: This is probably the oldest piece I plan to post (at least unedited), as it dates from 2006.

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