New short story, “The Most Beautiful Island in the World,” is out!

the most beautiful island in the world cover

That’s right. Just in time for Christmas, I have published the third of the four short stories from Fantastic Depths, called The Most Beautiful Island in the World, with a cover designed by jimmygibbs.

If you don’t know what this story’s about, here’s the blurb:

“After the destruction of his island’s once beautiful civilization and ecosystem, King Igici believes he may have finally discovered the solution to all of his people’s’ problems.

When his solution to these problems appears to fail, however, Igici begins to doubt his own ability to save his people. It does not help that his childhood friend, Gikil, expresses severe skepticism toward his plans to save his nation, thus eroding his already shaky confidence in himself.”

Buy The Most Beautiful Island in the World from:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Google Play

Smashwords

DriveThruFiction

Libiro

XinXii

Omnilit

Even if you are not much of a fantasy reader yourself, this short story would make a GREAT last minute Christmas present for any fantasy readers you know, whether friends or family members. At $2.99, it’s a steal!

Anyway, keep an eye out for the fourth and final short story from Fantastic Depths, titled Not Malicious. Just Unlucky, which will be available before the year’s out. Stay tuned.

New short story, “The Gift of Valgink,” now available! (Plus a special announcement!)

the gift of valgink ebook cover

As part of my mission to publish all four of my short stories from the Ambage anthology Fantastic Depths, before year’s end, I have published the second short story I contributed to that collection, a rather quick read (mere 11 pages in PDF) titled The Gift of Valgink.

Here is the sales blurb for those who don’t know what it’s about:

“Backed up against a cliff, with nowhere to run to, Desdar Bandas—a human slave who is only one year away from freedom—must figure out how to save his life and the life of his elvish mistress, Kencha, from a pack of violent, bloodthirsty smoke wolves.

Yet when it turns out that Kencha has stolen from the pack a sacred object of immense value to the smoke wolves, Desdar is forced to choose between his freedom and Kencha’s survival.”

Buy The Gift of Valgink from these ebook retailers:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Google Play

Smashwords

DriveThruFiction

Libiro

XinXii

Omnilit

Regarding the special announcement mentioned in this blog’s title, sometime after Christmas but before New Year’s I will write up a post detailing all of my writing and publishing plans for next year. I have a lot of awesome plans, but I don’t want to announce them just yet, as I want to keep the focus on this year’s last few releases before I bring attention to next year’s plans.

Anyway, keep an eye on this blog for the announcements of the releases of the next two Ambage short stories, The Most Beautiful Island in the World and Not Malicious. Just Unlucky, as well as the release of the Prince Malock World Omnibus, all of which I will get up before year’s end.

If you would like to be the first to know about the release of the last two short stories and the Omnibus, you can subscribe to my newsletter HERE.

New short story, “The Creator’s Dilemma,” now available for $2.99 in ebook form!

Hi, everyone!

With the recent publication of The Coronation of Prince Malock (which you can read about here) and the Prince Malock World novella series not set for release until January or February of next year, you might think I have nothing to publish in December.

Not true! In fact, I have a few things set for release this month, starting off with one of my short stories from the Fantastic Depths anthology, titled The Creator’s Dilemma.

Here’s the awesome cover:

the creators dilemma ebook cover

Pretty awesome cover, eh? It was designed by jimmygibbs. I picked out the cover art, but it was jimmy who made it awesome, so all credit goes to him.

Here’s the sales blurb:

“The being called Listener must help his master, the enigmatic deity known as the Creator, decide the fate of a woman’s life. When the Creator confesses his love for the woman, however, Listener realizes the situation is far more complicated than it first seemed.”

Buy it for $2.99 from:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Google Play

Smashwords

DriveThruFiction

Libiro

XinXii

Omnilit

Over the next three weeks, I plan to get the other three Fantastic Depths short stories–The Most Beautiful Island in the World, Not Malicious. Just Unlucky, and The Gift of Valgink–up on all ebook retailers as well. Stay tuned for that.

So if you’d like to be the first to know about the release of these short stories, you can subscribe to my newsletter here.

Changes to the Blog

As of this morning, I made a few minor changes to this blog.

Firstly, I updated my Works page to include links to the Fantastic Depths anthology and a link to the short story I posted on this blog last month, The Most Beautiful Island in the World.

Secondly, I added a new Contact page, complete with a contact form, for anyone who wants to send me a message privately. Been meaning to add one for a while and I finally got around to it earlier this morning.

That’s about all for now, so see ya,

-Tim

Worldbuilding and short stories

Short stories generally do not require as much worldbuilding as novels.

That may seem an obvious thing to say, but it’s something I sometimes struggle with when I’m writing fantasy or science-fiction short stories. Unless I set a short story in a universe I have written in before, it means coming up with a new world to write in. I try not to do a whole lot. Whereas with a novel I might map out the history of the world (to varying depths depending on the needs of the story, of course), with a short story I will stick strictly to what I need and never make notes on it, again unless it happens to be set in a world I’ve already written in before.

Still, despite that, writing short stories can be difficult for me because I run into a couple of temptations.

The first is to expand the short story into a full-length novel. This isn’t an entirely bad thing to happen, mind you, but I don’t always want to write a novel because I’m not always interested in fleshing out a world or universe in immense detail. Sometimes I just want to explore a simple idea, without having to commit to the length of time a novel usually requires.

The other temptation is to not use any of my good ideas. This thought stems from my fear that I might “waste” a really good idea that I could use for a novel later on, but it’s a really silly fear when you think about it. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “wasted” idea. After all, there’s nothing stopping me from taking that same idea later on and expanding upon it in greater detail in a novel.

Nonetheless, every time I sit down to write a speculative fiction short story set in a universe I’ve never written before, I feel like I have to do the same amount of worldbuilding I would do for a novel. This is where I am thankful for the Ambage, my writers’ group. For both of the anthologies that I’ve contributed to so far — Constellations and Fantastic Depths — I’ve forced myself just to write my stories and do only as much worldbuilding as each story requires, no more, no less.

Once I get past this irrational desire to worldbuild in excess, however, short stories are usually great fun for me to write. Not quite as fun as novels, true, but they are still fun, as writing should be.

-Tim

Two Interesting Websites

In recent days, I’ve discovered a couple of interesting websites that I’ve added to my “Interesting and Useful Links” page.

The first is the website and blog of author Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours reading the Business Rusch Publishing Articles which are an absolute goldmine for any writer looking to become a full-time career writer (it’s also the page I link to on my links page). In particular, I’ve found her articles on writing a will and planning an estate to be highly informative on a subject you don’t hear much about in books or websites on writing (although I haven’t read all of them yet).

The second is a web tool called Readability-Score.com. Simply put, you copy and paste text into the website and it will tell you (using the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score) how readable your writing is, among other things. I scored between 76 and 84 with my short stories from the upcoming Ambage anthology, which I guess is pretty good. If you want to know how easy your writing is to read (though not, of course, how good it actually is), then this website is for you.

-Tim

Why endings are important

I am currently in the process of revising my short stories for the new Ambage anthology that is set to come out later this month. In particular, I’ve been revising the ending of one of my stories because I realized (thanks to some criticism I received from a fellow Ambager) that the original ending was predictable, flat, and unsatisfying. Not bad. Just . . . well, nothing worth writing home about, really.

As I revise the ending, this process has made me realize just how important endings are to stories in general. I mean, I’ve always understood that endings are important, that you want to end on a note that (at the very least) is the logical result of the previous events in the story, but it never occurred to me how endings define stories far more than beginnings or middles do. Changing the ending of a story often changes what the story itself is about.

Take, for example, a story about a boy and girl who fall in love. Depending on how it ends, the story could be a tale about how true love always wins in the end (boy and girl get married and live happily ever after) or it could be a tragedy in which true love rarely, if ever, wins (boy and girl get married, realized they don’t love each other after all, and then get a messy, bitter divorce). Of course, that is oversimplifying things quite a bit (there are more directions you could take the whole “boy meets girl” plot than the two I listed here), but I think the point still stands that we often don’t really know what a story is about until its over.

Maybe that’s why we sometimes get upset at endings to the stories we read, especially longer ones. Throughout the story, we built up this idea about what the story was about, one maybe we’re especially fond of and could defend in a debate if we had to, so when we finally get to the ending, we are shocked to find out that our theories about the story are wrong or at least not entirely accurate.

Of course, sometimes we dislike endings because they make no sense based on what the author had already written. For example, I didn’t really like the ending of Michael R. Hicks’s In Her Name: Empire. It simply made no sense to me. It felt like Hicks had already decided the ending, darn it, and he was going to use that ending even if the story would have been better with a different one.

To me, that’s one of the perils of outlining*. You might become so fixated on your planned ending that you are afraid to change it even if the story is drastically different from the outline you originally wrote. We organic writers can get overly attached to our ideas, too, but I think we’re generally better than outliners at tossing out our preconceived notions if they no longer work with the story.

And of course, we can’t forget the tried-but-failed Deus ex Machina, the god from the machine. More than one otherwise good story has been smote by this illogical deity over the years, especially stories by beginner writers. The Deus ex Machina can take on many guises, such as a character (whether new or old) coming out of nowhere to save the day or a character suddenly using a new power or ability with no build-up whatsoever to defeat the big bad. It’s probably the worst way to end any story, worse even than the whole “It was all only a dream” ending.

I intend to keep all of this in mind while I revise the ending of that short story. This new ending will be a lot less predictable than the original, yet will hopefully make sense within the context of the story and leave readers with something to mull over, too. The only way to know for sure, of course, is to let other people read it and see what they think.

What makes a good ending to you? What makes a bad ending? Are there any stories you can use as examples of these good (or bad) endings? Share your thoughts in the comments!

*I have no idea if Michael R. Hicks is an outliner or not. The story felt like it had been outlined, but he could just as easily be a lousy organic writer. Either way, forced endings are still a problem outliners have to deal with more often than organic writers, I think.

-Tim

When it all works out

Recently I have been editing one of my short stories for an upcoming Ambage anthology*. And frankly, I haven’t been enjoying it that much. The story is seriously flawed in a number of areas and it has taken a good deal of thinking and fiddling on my part to sort them all out (and even then, I am under the distinct impression that I am missing something important).

When I find myself working on stories like this one, it is intensely frustrating. I change a word, perhaps rephrase an awkward sentence, but I know that none of that helps in any but the most superficial of ways. I rewrite whole scenes, sometimes even the entire story, and it still doesn’t feel right. It’s frustrating enough that I just want to print it out and let my dog tear it to shreds.

Of course, I know better than to do that. I’ve written frustrating stories before and I know that tossing them out is rarely necessary. All they need is time and patience on my part. As long as I stick to it, I know that sooner or later, I will reach that moment when everything makes sense, that moment when I finally understand just what this story is really about.

I don’t have a name for such moments, mostly because it hasn’t been necessary to name them. Yet these moments of clarity are an important aspect of my own writing style. They’re a bit like a flash of lightning on a dark night. Though they last only a moment, it is long enough for me to know exactly what I need to do next.

I am happy to say that I have reached such a moment yesterday morning while working on this short story. There are still problems to fix, of course, but it will be a lot easier and more fun now, I think, because I know what I need to do.

This is what I love about writing. When a frustrating story finally works out like this, it makes the entire thing worth it.

*I will be talking more about this anthology later, probably sometime next month. Stay tuned until then.

-Tim

What I’m Thankful For

Thanksgiving is a mere two days away. Soon it’ll be here and then it’ll be gone and then Christmas will actually be upon us and things will most likely get even crazier than they already are.

For me, I think my Thanksgiving is going to be a quiet family event this year, as it usually is, and probably even quieter than usual because we’re dealing with an annoying (though not nasty) cold. I hope we’ll all be better by then, but I have a feeling at least one of us will be sick on Thanksgiving, unfortunately.

Yet just because I am sick doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to be thankful for. I have a lot of things to be thankful for (in no particular order):

1. A nice home to live in.

There are a lot of people who don’t even have that. My house isn’t the fanciest or biggest, but it keeps me warm at night and is livable, so I have little to complain about. Plus, it was built in a beautiful part of Texas, so I have the generally beautiful weather and scenery to be thankful for as well.

2. A wonderfully supportive family.

There are unfortunately a lot of people with families who don’t support them and their dreams. That my family wholeheartedly supports my dream to become a professional, full-time writer makes me lucky and I am thankful for them every day.

3. Writing.

Writing is a huge part of who I am. If I were to lose the ability to write — whether through losing the use of my fingers or lacking writing supplies or something else — I am honestly not sure what I’d do. I couldn’t not list writing on a list of things I am thankful for without it feeling incomplete.

4. My health.

Yes, I just complained about being sick, but honestly it’s just a minor cold that will probably go away in a day or two. I’ve been lucky to avoid the major diseases, like cancer, and also major injuries. This is one thing I don’t think I’m as thankful for as I should be, to be honest, so I’ll be sure to be more thankful for this later.

5. The Ambage.

I am thankful for my writers’ group because it was through them that I was first published. Plus, they’re just an overall cool group in general. You guys are awesome.

These are just some of the things I am thankful for. I could probably be here all day listing the things I am thankful for, but I think I’ll stop with these five. Maybe I’ll list some more things later in another post.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

-Tim

Link

Hello and welcome to my new blog, Timothy L. Cerepaka’s Blog. It is a simple name, but I feel it will be easier for people to remember that way.

On this blog, I will discuss a variety of subjects, but most of my topics will probably center around writing fiction, especially in regard to science-fiction and fantasy, my two favorite genres. I may even occasionally post a story of mine, as my current dream is to make a living off writing.

If you are interested in reading some of my work, you can check out the science-fiction anthology Constellations, which you can buy from Amazon and CreateSpace.

I will try to update this blog a minimum of three times a week, although I may post more or less depending on what is going on in my life. If my schedule is disrupted, I will be sure to let you readers know.

I am also a member of the writer’s group The Ambage, which you can read about here.

That’s all for now. Until later, see ya.

-Tim