Getting There

Starting to feel better, so there’s light at the end of the tunnel, but I’m not going to rush recovery. This was too painful. I’ll be resuming regular “broadcasts” next week.

Out Sick

Hey regular readers, just wanted to let you know that I haven’t abandoned the new schedule or forgotten about you. I’m suffering from a very painful ear infection, one which makes it difficult to string together sentences, let alone coherent thoughts (ask me how long it took to compose this message sometime). Hope to return to the regular schedule soon.

Slight Delay

Sorry folks, going to need one more day for the blog post. Lost a beloved pet this morning and it’s sent my schedule into a tailspin. Soon, I promise.

In Case I Don’t Update Tomorrow…

Happy New Year to you all! Here’s hoping it’s a happy, prosperous (in whatever definition you may use) one for everyone. So here, raise a glass to a dainty looking girl and a particularly metal-looking old man.


Judge Me By My Age: Five Characters Who Are Older Than They Appear Pt. 1

Welcome, welcome. I’m kicking off a new set of features for the site, kind of marrying the old style of Muse features with the new focus on the fiction itself. Tip of the hat to fellow author Marie Loughin for inspiration on that front and helping kick my butt into gear.

For the next few entries (roughly until the middle of next week), we’ll look at five characters in pop culture – mostly movies and novels – who are much older than they appear. This topic centers around one of the main characters of the Among the Dead cycle, Tommy. Born 9,000 years ago in a very different-looking version of the fertile crescent, Tammuz got his start as a scholar in pursuit of the knowledge of the really ancients. The Station tells the story of his discovery and how he ended up trapped in a child’s body, providing vital impetus to the story of City of the Dead, but we’ll get to that later.

For now, let’s start at the bottom.


5. Claudia (Interview with the Vampire). I can’t point to one character as the “inspiration” for Tommy, but Claudia sure had a lot to do with his existence. For those few who haven’t read the series, Claudia was a six-year-old girl (twelve in the movie) turned into a vampire by Lestat in a particularly horrific turn of hubris and a desire to hold onto Louis. One of the more uncomfortable aspects of her character was the development of human female desires and traits in the body of a child. Tommy’s case is a little different, as he begins a man and ends up in a child’s body, but there are echoes of Claudia’s feelings for Louis in the relationship between Omarosa and Tommy. I tried to avoid the squick factor. I really did. But those characters practically insisted that they be lovers. Anyway, divorced of the ickiness, Claudia’s tale is actually quite fascinating. She’s a slave to others’ perception of her as a child, and it’s something that Tommy struggles with over the course of the series as well.


4. Eli (Let the Right One In). I guess it was inevitable that this list contain a lot of vampires, though Tommy himself ended up in his predicament through a strange glitch in the system that maintains the Multiverse. Eli shows up suddenly as a mysterious neighbor in this movie and the boy next door is immediately fascinated with her. As she explains once he learns her secret, “I’m twelve…. but I’ve been twelve for a long time.” Eli is conflicted by her place in the world in a very different manner from Claudia. Where Claudia and Tommy struggle with others’ perception of them, Eli has more directly embraced being both a “child” and the nature of being a vampire, but seems to suffer loneliness from living inside of that world that is only alleviated by the arrival of the protagonist, who struggles to understand her world. It’s an interesting angle, and one that could work well for a future story with Tommy.

And that’s it for this entry. Watch over for two more entries in this series over the next few weeks. Your hint for next time:

Hint Hint

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Room 3 Tour Starts Today With the Avid Reader -and- Pathways of the Dead

Hey all, still on something of a self-imposed sabbatical to finish what had once been called City of the Dead…okay, well, sort of.

Let’s start with the tour information. First of all, there’s a giveaway! I’m working on getting the Rafflecopter code for it – you can check in here tomorrow for that – but for today you can hit up the current stop at The Avid Reader. That post features an excerpt and an interview with yours truly. I felt like this was a pretty good interview and worth checking out. Here’s a quick sample:

The Avid Reader: If you could travel back in time here on earth to any place or time. Where would you go and why?

Jonathan D Allen: Assuming that I could come back, I would love to see what came before the Sumerian and Babylonian cultures. I’ve always felt that the evolution of civilization felt incomplete, as if something were missing in the transition from tribes to cities. A lot of my work is about speculating on that connection, and I’d like to see just how off-base I might be.

I’ll be updating every day this week with every stop of the tour, and the tour runs for quite some time, so don’t panic if you can’t get in on the Rafflecopter right now.

In other news, Pathways of the Dead is now very close to the finish line, on the first draft at least. I thought I’d have it done by now but something popped up and it’s looking more like next week. With what remains of the book – finishing critique group, beta readers, editors, and loads of my own changes in between – I think we’re looking at early October. We’ll see, though. I’m definitely ready to get back into the blog swing of things, though. See you again soon.


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The Morality of Picking in a Consumer Society

Happy Monday, everybody. This is going to be an interesting week, as I’m in Flash training all of this week and will be fitting in writing as I can. It’s not that unusual; every year when the holidays roll around, writing becomes a lot more difficult because of the social schedule. Hey, at least I have a social schedule, right?

Anyway, I want to talk about something today that I don’t typically discuss. I may have mentioned before that I currently have about three jobs: I’m a technical writer, I’m a novelist, and I’m a picker. I want to talk about the last one today.

I get a lot of questions when I tell people that I do that. What’s a picker, they ask? The folks who have seen American Pickers have some idea of what I do, but I don’t think any two pickers use the same methods, so you’re only getting a piece of the puzzle watching that show (though I do enjoy it). Methods are typically based on the picker’s target. Those guys sell vintage stuff and antiques, so it makes sense for them to hit up people who have stored generations worth of stuff in barns and sheds. I specialize in vintage video games, video game ephemera, and software, and dabble in toys and video. As you can imagine, the approach of hitting up those guys with barns would be pretty damn useless, so I stick to thrift stores, garage sales, and yard sales. Thrift stores make up the bulk of my targets, though. Why? Well, that’s part of why I’m writing this entry in the first place.

For those of you who don’t know what a picker is, we basically find the things that other people might not value as much, pay a fair price, and then turn around and sell it to collectors. It can be a pretty profitable business, but it takes a decent amount of knowledge, preparation, and luck. Luck, especially; it’s sheer luck that you sometimes stumble across something that’s been knocked down to $5 but sells for $200 online (as with a printer that I recently discovered). There can also be some risk, as if that printer hadn’t worked, I would have eaten the cost. I could write a whole entry on the process, and might do so if there’s some interest. For now, I’m interested in looking at the morality of what I do. Continue reading

The #TESSpecFic Weekly: Everybody Dance Now

Ah, we missed the Emissaries last week, and there were some great posts! Alas, I was just not up to it at the time. On the positive side, I did manage to make last week’s deadline, so the sacrifice was not in vain.

Still, we have a lot to catch up on, so let’s get on with it…

Continue reading

Crowd-Sourced Creation: Beta Reading and the Feedback Loop

Going to admit it right up front: I used to hate having others read my work before I had finished it. I told myself that each work had to reach a certain stage of completeness in order for a reader to appreciate it; I didn’t want to put my work out there when it couldn’t fully be understood.

The reality? Sheer terror. I was in no way ready to share my work with others. My fragile ego couldn’t take it. I couldn’t admit that to myself, but reality is reality. The thing is, I’m almost glad I couldn’t accept that. It may well have been for the best, given how long I had to go. This was the mid to late 90s, during the infancy of the Internet, so I didn’t know much about the concept of critique groups or beta readers or any of that stuff. I had never so much as met another fiction writer in real life, outside of creative writing classes, and even those had mostly been dabblers. My work underwent something of a review process through those classes, but I never got to share my longer work (what I considered to be my “real” work), so I never felt that I got the full benefit of the classes.

Cue a hermetic form of writing for many, many years. I completed several novels, but never felt any were good enough to show to others. I grew in my craft, true, but that happened in a bubble. A bubble that wouldn’t burst for many, many years. Continue reading