Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Flashes of Wonder Prompt: Setting as Character Contrast

UKA THE UNDYING, the zombie sorcerer, is experimenting with flashes of dark magics to blast the minds of bards! Illustration provided by Mustafa Bekir.

"Flashes of Wonder" is posted irregularly. It will feature a sword and sorcery flash fiction prompt. -JRC

Setting as Character Contrast

Vivid setting in sword and sorcery can bear thematic weight. A swamp can suggest sorrow and decay. A desert can evoke hopelessness and austerity. A verdant jungle can bring to mind sensuous vitality. Indeed, "setting" can almost become "character" in sword and sorcery. 

Consider Robert E. Howard's famous description of Cimmeria, Conan's homeland, as rendered in poem "Cimmeria."

Vista on vista marching, hills on hills,
Slope beyond slope, each dark with sullen trees,
Our gaunt land lay. So when a man climbed up
A rugged peak and gazed, his shaded eye
Saw but the endless vista - hill on hill,
Slope beyond slope, each hooded like its brothers.

The colorless and monotonous land that Conan abandons to begin his life of adventure in the various vibrant kingdoms of the Hyborian Age adds a imporant dimension to his character. Could it be that Conan is uniquely Conan because he is a Cimmerian, a mirthful man fleeing a sorrowful and sad landscape?

Write a sword and sorcery flash fiction that uses setting to contrast a character. For example, write about a just warrior in a lawless slum, a pious monastic in a sensuous temple of profligacy, a sage scholar in a barbarous, illiterate frontier. Focus on "extreme close-up" details: flora, fauna, matter, dynamic activity. 400 words.

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Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Familiar's Four Gems, a Miscellany (Issue 7)

     


SPITTLEDRUM, the Four-eyed Demon, has scoured the internet for new eyes: four sword-and-sorcery gems! Illustration provided by Mustafa Bekir.

"The Familiar's Four Gems will be posted intermittently. It is a curated list of old and new digital resources for amateur sword and sorcery writers and readers; it will occasionally provide short reviews where appropriate. If you have something you would like to include, contact us. -JRC

DMR Books: Boris Vallejo at 80, by Brian Murphy. "If you grew up in the 1980s it was impossible to avoid Boris Vallejo’s influence. Love him or hate him, he is inextricably intertwined with all things sword-and-sorcery, sword-and-planet, and fantasy art in general."

Tales from the Magician's Skull: Bran Mak Morn, Doomed King, by Bill Ward. "Bran Mak Morn emerges out of Howard’s fascination with the Picts – but not the Picts of modern, sober archaeology – rather the Picts of turn-of-the-century pseudo-scientific conjectural anthropology, the sort of thing that was available for a young Howard to read."

The Cromcast: Karl Edward Wagner's, "Raven's Eyrie." "Hail, Cromrades! We return with discussion of another story as we continue down the Left-Handed Path! Here we discuss 'Raven's Eyrie. Be sure to check out our story list for details and links to ebooks!"

REH World: The Robert E. Howard Museum. "Thanks to Arlene Stephenson and Rusty Burke I have put together an information page about the Robert E. Howard museum, run by Project Pride in Cross Plains, Texas. Just click on the brochure to read all about it."


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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Call for Submissions for Issue 3 (Spring 2021)



CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS / WHETSTONE / Issue 3 (Spring 2021)

Tuesday, December 16, 2020

WHETSTONE is an amateur magazine that seeks to discover, inspire, and publish emerging authors who are enthusiastic about the tradition of "pulp sword and sorcery." Writers in this tradition include (but are not limited to) the following: Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, Michael Moorcock, Karl Edward Wagner, David C. Smith, and many more. "Pulp sword and sorcery" emphasizes active protagonists, supernatural menaces, and preindustrial (mostly ancient and medieval) settings. Some "pulp sword and sorcery" straddles the line between historical and fantasy fiction; at WHETSTONE, however, we prefer "secondary world settings," other worlds liberated from the necessity of historical accuracy. Want to learn more about our aesthetic? Issues 1 and 2 are available as free PDFs on our webpage: whetstonemag.blogspot.com

About the editor: Dr. Jason Ray Carney is a lecturer in the Department of English at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. He is the co-editor of the academic journal The Dark Man: Journal of Robert E. Howard and Pulp Studies and is the area chair of the "Pulp Studies" section of the Popular Culture Association. He is the author of WEIRD TALES OF MODERNITY (McFarland) and RAKEFIRE AND OTHER STORIES (Pulp Hero Press) and the editor of SAVAGE SCROLLS (Pulp Hero Press).

About the associate editor: Chuck E. Clark lives in Southern Wisconsin with his wife and four children. He graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Political Science degree, apprenticed as a jeweler, joined the navy, and now fixes laser microscopes. He has been published in WHETSTONE and The August Derleth Society's newsletter, SAGE OF SAC PRAIRIE. He loves collecting rocks, books, and whiskey.

Length: We prefer compressed stories that are nevertheless cohesive narratives (1500 to 2500 words). These limits are firm. No more, no less.

Publication, payment, and rights: Publication, payment, and rights: Issues will be published as .pdf files. If work is selected for publication in WHETSTONE, authors will (1) be paid an honorarium of $10 and (2) will be asked to provide, by contract, "First North American Serial Rights." In our opinion, this means that copyright is NOT transferred. All copyright stays with you, the writer; however, you will have sold/transferred a form of "exclusive use rights" called "First North American Serial Rights" (FNASR). This is the right to publish your unpublished work for the first time, and ONLY the first time, no more. The important thing to remember is that some professional publications may ask for FNASR upon acceptance of a specific work; you are not legally permitted to provide those for that specific work after publication in WHETSTONE, for you have already rendered their use to us. In other words, once you publish a work in WHETSTONE, that work's associated FNASR have been sold/transferred. You CAN publish your previously published work elsewhere as a reprint but only as long as that publication does not require FNASR. This is a long way of saying that WHETSTONE is an amateur publication, meant for showcasing emerging talent for the consideration of professional markets (which is why we kept the word count so low). In essence: save your best work for higher paying markets!

Submit: Proofread standard manuscripts should be sent to the editor/publisher, Dr. Jason Ray Carney, at jason [dot] carney [at] cnu [dot] edu as .doc or .docx attachments. Include the following subject line: "WHETSTONE: [Last Name]." Please keep cover letters brief. A story title and a one- or two-sentence bio is sufficient.

Dates:

• Submission deadline for issue 3: Sunday, March 28th, 2021, 11:59p.
• Editorial decisions: Sunday, May 2nd, 2021.
• Publication of inaugural issue: Friday, June 11th, 2021.

More info: 
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Webpage: https://whetstonemag.blogspot.com/
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Friday, December 4, 2020

Whetstone Issue 2 Now Available!

Whetstone Issue 2 is now available. You can download it HERE. This issue includes several great stories. Thanks to Chuck Clark (Associate Editor), Nicole Emmelhainz (my wife), Luke Dodd, and all the great contributors for helping us release this issue. We hope you enjoy it. Please share widely!



Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Cover for Issue 2. Art by Rick McCollum.

 


Here is the cover art for our second issue, to be released on Saturday, December 5th, 2020. The art is by Rick McCollum.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Sorcerer's Four Gems, a Miscellany (Issue 6)

    


SPITTLEDRUM, the Four-eyed Demon, has scoured the internet for new eyes: four sword-and-sorcery gems! Illustration provided by Mustafa Bekir.

"The Familiar's Four Gems will be posted intermittently. It is a curated list of old and new digital resources for amateur sword and sorcery writers and readers; it will occasionally provide short reviews where appropriate. If you have something you would like to include, contact us. -JRC

Goodman Games, publisher of Dungeons Crawl Classics, hosted a digital convention, Bride of Cyclops Con. Part of the convention was a "Sword and Sorcery Writer's Track." Here are the videos of the panels.

Goodman Games: Digital Panel: The Best Sword and Sorcery of the 20th-Century. Six sword-and-sorcery fans and scholars compare notes about the important works in the genre, starting with foundational fiction and moving on to more recent times. This panel will talk details, not just an author’s name, but why a particular story or novel is worthy of note.

Goodman Games: Digital Panel: Finding the New Edge for Fiction Writers. Seven modern crafters of heroic fiction and sword-and-sorcery sit down to discuss how they plot stories and create characters.

Goodman Games: Digital Panel: Getting Sword-and-Sorcery into your Role-Playing Game. Four veteran game masters talk about tips and tricks for getting your game sessions to feel more like a rip-snorting sword-and-sorcery tale.

Goodman Games: Behind the Scenes w/ Publishers of Sword & Sorcery Fiction. Where can you find heroic fiction in the modern age? Well, at least five of those places are represented by the members of this panel, who’ll be talking about trends in the industry, how to get your story ready for the editors, and related topics.

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Saturday, September 26, 2020

Flashes of Wonder #3: Sorcerer as Secret-Seeking Protagonist

  

UKA THE UNDYING, the zombie sorcerer, is experimenting with flashes of dark magics to blast the minds of bards! Illustration provided by Mustafa Bekir.

"Flashes of Wonder" will be posted every week. It will feature a sword and sorcery flash fiction prompt. Share your "flash of wonder" on social media. -JRC

Sorcerer as Secret-Seeking Protagonist: Sorcerers, thaumaturges, and dark-priests are frequently the antagonists in S&S fiction. But what if they were the protagonist? Write a 500 word S&S story that focuses on the sorcerer as the secret-seeking protagonist, an outsider, who desires eld lore rather than blood-stained coin. How does this change the role of the barbarian figure? How does this change the setting focus? What elements of typical S&S take prominence, and which ones take on a more secondary role?(500 words)

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