Scapple Art?

Writing Class Outline

Recently, I discovered Scapple by the makers of Scrivener—the greatest writing tool ever created. It’s a simple mind-mapping tool. Just write a note, drag it onto another, and you create a connection between the two.

Literature and Latte has an incredible talent for simplifying and streamlining, leaving behind the efficient essence of the tool. Scrivener is an incredibly powerful writing and publishing tool, which revels in its ability to do just what the writer wants. Yet, the experience for the user is clean and easy. If a large corporation tried to create Scapple, it would likely be so bloated with “options” for different ways to connect information as to be unusable.

As I have been finishing On the Far Bank of the Rubicon, Scapple has been an invaluable tool for getting things down where I can see them. One of my favorite parts of Scapple is that even the act of outlining a chapter can create something I find visually appealing. When the novel comes out, I will be publishing some of my chapter outlines for those of you who already have read the book, so you can get a “behind the scenes” look at my process.

For now, I can share the outline I created this morning for the writing class I will be teaching at the Cascade Park branch of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library. Just know there will be more to come.

 

 

War is Coming to the Pax!

Wecks_TAYLORS_WATCH_EbookEditionI released a new short story on Amazon today. Taylor’s Watch has been described as “Die Hard” on a space station. You can find a complete description here.

The story developed as part of my upcoming novel, On the Far Bank of the Rubicon. That book tells the story of the first Pax War, but at the very moment the war starts all my main characters are busy elsewhere. I started telling Taylor’s story to fill in the gap and then realized it would work better as a stand alone piece of military heroism rather than as a chapter in the book. The story you just read is the result. That said, if you want to know more about what happens to Taylor, she will still have a small but significant role to play in the novel, and yes, I promise it will tell you who picked her up after she completed her mission. Look for that soon.

So now you know, war is coming for Jack and Anna, along with the whole rest of the Pax Imperium. Things are about to get messy for the Pax.

Purchase Taylor’s Watch on Amazon

Something Sad is About to Happen…

This Sunday on Fox, Neil deGrasse Tyson updates one of the most important television series ever created, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. I can’t wait. I don’t remember when I have been this excited for a television event. Cosmos has been very precious to me since I was first introduced to the series by astronomy professor Doug McCarty at Mt. Hood Community College back in the early nineties. McCarty’s enthusiasm for the universe was infectious, inspiring, and filled with an appropriate sense of awe, just like Sagan’s

The winter I took his class, a friend of my parents let me borrow their ten inch telescope and use it in my back yard. On a cold February night, I saw all four major moons of Jupiter lined up across the face of the planet. It is a moment which has always remained with me.

Sagan, McCarty, and the personal exploration of the universe they inspired are a major reason I write science fiction. Cosmos helped foster in me a passionate belief in the need for our species to leave this planet and find our way to other places in our galaxy. It would be such a shame if our species died out before we had an opportunity to explore the beauty of the universe around us.

Yet for me, as a person of faith, I know that Sunday will be a bittersweet day. For there will be many others who in the name of faith will see Cosmos as something treacherous, something to be avoided like the plague. In doing so, they will miss the sense of awe and wonder a proper, fearless contemplation of our universe can create. For me the contemplation of the stars leads me to worship the creator who made them, who brought them forth with a word.

Neither the deceased Carl Sagan nor Neil deGrasse Tyson—nor Doug McCarty for that matter— share my worldview. Carl Sagan makes clear his position in the clip above. For Sagan, the universe itself is the sacred object of wonder and not any creator behind it.

For many physicists and astronomers, the existence of laws governing the processes of the universe is enough to cause them to reject the need for a creator of any form. In so doing, the physicist makes his leap from observation to faith. All human beings make this leap. By some weird farce of nature or some act of the divine, we all “make sense” of our observations. We all tell ourselves stories about the nature of existence and the cosmos. Human beings make profound meaning from their lives. At a very early age, we move from simply observing the world around us to asking the question why? In answering that question we always make a leap of faith.

The faith of the atheistic scientist is different from mine. However, that difference need not divide us when we look up in awe filled contemplation. We may see different sacred objects when we look at the night sky, but both of us recognize the act of looking up as an act of looking at the divine.

What makes me sad is that so much energy has been wasted, and will be wasted arguing with each other when our planet and our future as a species desperately need us to cooperate. No matter how you create meaning for yourself, it’s easy to get caught in the ritualized combat of identity politics and righteous indignation against the “heathens” on the other side of the divide. The real hurts we have received from those on one side of the culture wars or the other don’t help.

When I watch Cosmos on Sunday, I have no doubt there will be statements to which I can take offense if I am so inclined, but I will ignore them. Rather, I will try to keep in mind the future our species may hang upon our ability to love one another and cooperate across such lines.

It also hangs on our ability to be inspired, to dare and do great things. For me, and many like me, contemplation of the cosmos is a sirens song, an irresistible call to explore and expand our horizons. A call to something greater than ourselves. On Sunday, I will be watching in wonder.

Aetna Adrift Continues to Pile Up the Editorial Reviews!

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I just got an email in my inbox this morning saying that Paul Harrison had decided to review my book for arolemodel.com. It’s another great reveiw! It got me thinking. I now have a whole list of fantastic editorial reviews. Here they are all in one place.

LINKS TO FIVE STAR OR RECOMMENDED READ REVIEWS:
scifi.indieebookreviews.com
sweattearsanddigitalink.com
geekdad.com
arolemodel.com
rehunter.org
littleebookreviews.com

Erik Wecks provides a satisfying blend of sci-fi action, romance, believable world building, and timely social commentary. –SciFi Guy, indieebookreviews.com

And this world and this universe is colourful and richly illustrated. I love its decadence….You know it will collapse spectacularly in on itself eventually because it is in such a fragile state.–Matt Mason, sweattearsanddigitalink.com

Erik’s writing and plotting is right up there with the traditionally published writers, and I suspect that Erik could easily make the jump to a publishing house with the Aetna novel. –James Floyd Kelly, GeekDad.com

If this is the type of book you like, I recommend this one. I’m confident that you’ll enjoy it.”–RE Hunter

It’s rich world with believable characters and strong character development.– arolemodel.com

The Garden Between

My family thinks this is the best thing I have written. I tend to agree.

Purchase The Garden Between on Amazon

Wecks_GARDEN_EbookEditionSince time unremembered, Iorgas has lived a life of simple labor, tending the garden of the gods which lies between all things. But after his maker, Oikus, asks him to consider the question of his own contentment, he finds a longing nothing seems to quench. When he spies beautiful Antipone reading the poetry of his work in a way no other spirit has, he is transfixed, but he also discovers the source of his disquiet. Iorgas sets out to win her hand, but it remains to be seen if he can stand out among Antipone’s other suitors, the likes of which include the great Pan himself.

The Garden Between is a short literary fantasy from Erik Wecks, author of He Dug the Grave Himself, and Aetna Adrift. Consider it the perfect romantic bite for Valentine’s day.

Here’s a sample to whet your appetite:

 

The Garden Between

Erik Wecks

For Jaylene

Longing

“Are you content, Iorgas?” Until Oikus had asked, Iorgas had never really considered the question, but now that he had taken it up, it felt difficult to put down. He felt entangled with it, like a bur that had become embedded in the blue of his cowl.

“I want you to be content, Iorgas, not simply ignorant. I wish for you to know something of desire and fulfillment,” he had said.

They had been walking at the time—Oikus with his curly red hair and thick beard, dressed in white, and taking long thick strides. He towered over his three-foot-tall creation, Iorgas.

Iorgas didn’t look at Oikus when he answered him. Instead, the deep buried sparkle of his eyes turned away and sought solace in the living things he tended, as they often did when confronted by the great ones. The only thing which extended beyond the decorative stitching on the edge of the cowl was the protrusion of Iorgas’ gray nose. In his usual quiet and reserved voice, Iorgas answered, “Yes, I am content.”

But now, some time later, he wasn’t so sure. Now it appeared to Iorgas that the asking of the question had been like the planting of a seed—or perhaps the germination of a seed already implanted. For a while, it seemed as if nothing had changed, and then, slowly at first, Iorgas experienced a longing which he had not previously known.

Iorgas had no doubt this was exactly what Oikus had intended. Oikus was one of the great spirits who rested awhile in the garden before traveling onward through the gates to places and times Iorgas could not imagine. Charged with the care of all plants and forests, Oikus was ultimately responsible for the upkeep of this place. He had created Iorgas to be its tender.

Iorgas had tended the garden between the worlds for a time beyond times. In every moment he could remember, he had been a gardener, in love with all things which grew from the soil. For as long as he had known life, he had been content to trim, to tend, and to reshape the garden around him.

There was never a shortage of things to do. As far as Iorgas could tell, the garden was infinite. Over each rolling hill, there was always something else to see, another grove to order, another pond to put right, and another grand vista to overawe him.

Now, it didn’t feel like quite enough. There was in Iorgas a noticeable lack. Iorgas couldn’t have told you what he needed, but he knew he needed something—something that he did not possess.

 

Kinship

And so it was that a while after Iorgas recognized his longing for he knew not what, he found himself tending a small part of the garden near a great stone arch, a gateway to a different time and place with wrought iron bars. Through the arch he could see a dark forest, a kind of forest he did not know. In that forest, things unwanted might dwell.

Occasionally, Oikus told him about such places, and the adventures he had in them. Iorgas had no desire for such dangers. His sense of adventure was sated by the challenge of ruling the more aggressive plants of his world between worlds. That was enough adventure for his small spirit.

At that particular moment between times, two great worlds hung together in the sky above him, and overhead, Zephyr passed by in billows of white, bringing with him the tang of the sea, which Iorgas had never seen but always hoped would be over the next hill.

Iorgas was at work fine tuning the height of the cattails around the ornate stone bench near the pond when he saw a soft light in the forest through the gate.

Trembling, he hid. Continue reading

Ruff: A Short Story Suggested by You

Perchase Ruff for Your Kindle

RuffCoverSo the other evening, I happened to mention on Twitter that I had the urge to write a short story. I didn’t know what it would be but I knew that I wanted to create something short. The next thing I know some of you, you know who you are, bombarded me with suggestions of a most peculiar nature. Then this happened… Really, I take no responsibility whatsoever.

Ruff

Erik Wecks

This story owes a huge debt to Andy Sherwood. Not only did he suggest some of its major components in a series of tweets, he also saved it from a fate worse than death—a desperately horrid cover. Thank you, Andy! You are more fan and friend than a humble writer like myself will ever deserve. I also need to say “thank you” to my copy editor Jonathan Liu for once again making me appear to have a grammatical competence well beyond my capacities.

Gaarrk Gets a Job

 I put down my spoon with deliberate care, allowing it to sink slowly into the darkening milk of my breakfast cereal. I have a strong conviction that no breakfast cereal should ever be purple. Inevitably, the color bleeds, turning the lovely white milk an ugly gray. However, the aesthetics of milk never seemed to concern the makers of Purple Peacock’s Perfect Patience breakfast cereal. They have much higher aims for their confection.

It is no longer enough for a modern man to simply consume large quantities of reprocessed corn starches draped in ultra concentrated corn sugars and spray-painted with vitamins of specious effect. Now cereal has to be specially engineered to improve one’s character as well.

I eat Purple Peacock’s for the flavor, a cross between artificial grape and frosting, mixed with the aroma of the Dalai Lama. The way I figure it, the patience couldn’t hurt either. After all, us Neanderthals aren’t exactly experts at delayed gratification. Nope. Our cousins the Homo Sapiens have us beat on that one.

This particular morning it was the clip of hooves in the hallway that caught my attention. Carefully letting go of my spoon, I furrowed my considerable brow as I watched the silhouette of a unicorn approach the frosted glass on the door. The unicorn stopped, reading the arched letters on the other side: Gaarrk Mugmug, Private Investigator. Continue reading

My Reading at Wizard World Comic Con, Portland

So I did two panels at this year’s Comic Con, Portland. Both were fantastic. A huge thank you to fellow writer and Vancouverite Jeremiah Miller who caught my reading on film and posted it to You Tube.

I am reading the prologue from On the Far Bank of the Rubicon the next Pax Imperium novel. Here’s your sneak peak at the return of Timothy Randall. Enjoy.

NEW FICTION: He Dug the Grave Himself

I published a short story on Amazon last week.

He Dug the Grave HimselfEphraim didn’t find out his dearly loved wife, Lola, had been hiding something from him until she was cold and dead, and he was in the middle of digging her grave… What he realized nearly undid him.

Ephriam and Lola cleaved to each other for over fifty years. Many of these years they shared in quiet affection, working their homestead farm on the distant world Athena. When Lola died, Ephraim set to the labor of grieving as he had always done. For every difficulty, he found work for his hands. Now while digging her grave, Ephraim learns that there had been one part of her which Lola had kept to herself, and learning this, he is forced to reexamine his own judgments and prejudices.

The initial reviews have been really good.

Author Jason Gurley called it, “haunting, touching and affecting.”

Here are the opening paragraphs:

Ephraim chose the spot with care—the low spot down near the pond. The spot where the tree came and sat every evening, soaking in the last westerning rays of Athena’s star. The ground was soft there, tilled regularly by the probing roots. Ephraim knew that if he put her body there, the tree would linger, covering her, absorbing her, soaking in her nutrients until she became part of it, and so, to Ephraim’s desperate grieving mind, Lola would live on with him. He would see her any time he wanted. He could think of no tribute more fitting to give the woman who had been the light in his darkness. Besides, Lola had enjoyed the spot, near the Earth cattails they had planted and the bench he had built her when they first arrived on their frontier homestead.

Ephraim turned the earth with the spade he had taken from the barn at the edge of their tree pasture. Tonight, he had penned up the trees before he came. He didn’t want them to disturb his work. He would let them out to pasture when he had finished. The rhythm of the work felt good. It focused his mind. It forced his body to take action.

Actions… deeds and few words. These were the gifts he had given to his wife over the course of their marriage. These things had caused her to cleave to him, to become bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. For all her light and hope, Lola always had a hard time preventing her mercurial passions from overwhelming her. Ephraim had been her rock, her stability, her “Steady Eddy” as she called him.

She, on the other hand, had been his guiding light, his pixie, his joy. She had brought life and exuberance into his darkness and taught him to smile—to play. Now the light was gone, and as he dug, Ephraim knew he was burying his soul….

Get a copy for your Kindle at Amazon.com.

Mind Blowing Simpson’s Tribute to Miyazaki!

The Simpsons has proved again why it remains the smartest show on television. They are so very good at what they do.

This Sunday is dedicated to Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese animation genius who has decided to retire from film making. I have written before why I believe Miyazaki is much healthier for my daughters than the Disney princess industrial complex. In my opinion,, Miyazaki is by far this generations greatest family storyteller in any medium, and I am still grieving his decision to retire. I will be first in line to watch his last film, The Wind Riseswhen it arrives in the states next month. In the meantime, the preview for the Simpsons is so fantastic, I may have to find a way to see the whole episode on Sunday.

 

Thank you to Meredith Woerner at Io9 for pointing this my way.

Brody gets a Review

BRODY_cover
I keep telling people that I think Brody is my best story. Well it finally got an editorial review. Matt Mason is quickly becoming my favorite reviewer. Here is a quote:

“This is another finely written piece of prose from Erik Wecks. I flew through this in less than a couple of hours. There is such a wealth of information here that you have to keep reminding yourself that it is only a novella.”

You can read the full review at Matt’s site.

You can also get a free copy simply by signing up for my occasional email list. There I announce new book releases and appearances. You will also be able to get advanced copies of my upcoming books. An email with a link to your download should arrive in your inbox shortly after you sign up.