Kevin L. O'Brien's Blog: Songs of the Seanchaí

March 17, 2016

#PitMad Twitter Pitch Party

Today is the first scheculed #PitMad Twitter pitch party for this year.

I am pitching novel: The Adventure of the Dream Trials.

Mortally wounded, Differel escapes an enemy ambush by entering the Dreamlands, where she is found by Team Girl. They save her life and protect her as they try to get her back home. But a host of enemies, including Nyarlathotep, conspire to stop them, and if all else fails, they will not hesitate to kill the aristocratic monster hunter.
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Published on March 17, 2016 08:38

December 7, 2015

Review of "Other Worlds & Times"

My first review of "Other Worlds & Times" Vol 1 on Amazon:
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Published on December 07, 2015 14:18

September 12, 2015

New Writing Project -- Update

I have completed the manuscript for the first novel in the four-novel series I am crowdfunding at Inkshares. It runs 115,000 words. I plan to start on the second novel tomorrow.

Check out my crowdfunding page to read the first three chapters. I will be posting selected excerpts from the last two chapters over the coming weeks.
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September 6, 2015

New Writing Project -- Differel/Team Girl Dreamlands Novel

I have begun a series of four novels, "The Adventures of the Dream-Trials":

Sir Differel Van Helsing is attacked by an enemy determined to kill her at all costs. She manages to escape by accidentally crossing over into the Dreamlands, but becomes trapped there. She needs Eile and Sunny of Team Girl to help her return to the Waking World, but her enemy has followed her, and will stop at nothing to destroy her, no matter who he must kill in the process.

I have nearly finished the first novel in the series, "Convalescence". In an attempt to get it traditionally published, I have created a crowdfunding project through Inkshares, a traditional publishing company that lets readers decide which books they publish through preorders.

I have uploaded the first three chapters of the novel as a sample. In the future I plan to post other material, including illustrations, maps, diagrams, and excerpts from later chapters and the other novels in the series.

Please consider supporting my project. Also, understand that any preorders will be refunded if my project is unable to meet the funding goal.

Thank you.
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July 11, 2015

The Dreamlands for Dummies

For my Dreamlands stories, I use as a framing device excerpts from a book written by Aislinn Sile, a sage in the Dreamlands who lives Ulthar, "The Dreamlands for Dummies".

She wrote it to be a guide for new and novice Dreamers so that they could familiarize themselves with the Dreamworld before they got into too much trouble.

In my magnum opus "The Adventure of the Dream-Trials", Team Girl gives it to Differel, and the early chapters of Part 1 describe the information she learns as she reads it.

Here is the Table of Contents:

Part One: On Dreaming, Dreamers, and the Dreamlands

"What Are the Lands of the Dreams of Men"
"What Is Dreaming"
"Who Is a Dreamer"
"Finding the Lands"

Part Two: The Nature of the Dreamlands

"Life and Death"
"The Setting"
"The Kitchen Sink"
"Food and Drink"
"Lighting and Fire"
"Water and Waste"
"The Dreamers and the Visitors"
"The Bestiary"
"The Gods"

Part Three: The Dreamworld Gazetteer

"The Geography of the Lands"
"Ulthar and Environs"
"The Enchanted Woods"
"The Six Kingdoms"
"The Oukranos River Valley"
"The Coast of Awsan"
"The Desert Regions"
"The Forest of Parg and the South"
"Oriab and the Caraiben"
"The Lands to the West"
"Celephais, Serannian, and Ooth-Nargai"
"Karchedon and Punica"
"Hazuth-Kleg, Lhosk, and Daiwa"
"The Lands to the East"
"The Northlands"
"The Southlands"
"The Fantastic Realms"
"The Moon and the Solar System"
"The Underworld"

Essays taken from this book can be found here:

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Published on July 11, 2015 10:47 Tags: dreamlands, writing

July 2, 2015

Weirdbook Magazine: Good News

I heard from John Betancourt of Wildside Press last night. He accused me of threatening him and Douglas Draa with a lawsuit if they didn't publish my story, and demanded an apology before he would discuss the matter. I responded by reminding him that this whole mess began when Mr. Draa violated the contract and that I was just reserving my right to pursue legal action to force compliance if all other options failed. I also made several good-faith offers to try to resolve the issue.

This morning Mr. Betancourt offered his apologies for "misinterpreting" my emails and offered to place my story in a different venue if I wished. I also received an email from Mr. Draa in which he apologized for losing his temper and offered to print my story in issue #31, the first of the relaunch. I accepted both offers, so my story will be published in Weirdbook after all.

Of course, Weirdbook and Wildside Press are almost certainly closed markets to me now, but if this experience teaches them to be more circumspect with their writers, then it will be worth it. And I get my bragging rights back!

I strongly suspect that what changed their attitudes was that Mr. Betancourt spoke with his lawyer(s), and they advised him that I had a strong case and that he should settle. Whether that's true, since all I wanted was for them to honor the contract, I felt no desire to punish them. Indeed, I would rather try to preserve professional goodwill whenever and wherever I can in situations like this.

In any event, I will let you know when the issue becomes available in case you're interested.
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Published on July 02, 2015 06:51 Tags: weirdbook-magazine, writing

July 1, 2015

Weirdbook Magazine: Update

The editor of Weirdbook took umbrage at my previous Facebook post, claiming that my "trashing" of Wildside Press and John Betancourt meant that I have

"absolutely no faith in the project or those involved".

He subsequently withdrew his acceptance of my story.

I leave it to others to decide whether my statements constituted "trashing"; in my opinion, I simply expressed concerns based on past experience and the current situation, while also expressing the hope that things had changed.

I will also leave it to others to decide if the editor is punishing me for expressing my 1st Amendment rights. He did drop a previous publisher because he didn't like his politics.

I will, however, point out that I had signed and returned the contract BEFORE he tried to rescind his acceptance.

The contract specifies only certain conditions under which the story may be dropped from publication, and they do not include "trashing" the publisher or any arbitrary reason the editor dreams up.

This puts him in breach of contract.

He has tried to defend his actions by claiming:

"Nothing in the contract says that it has to be printed."

But as I pointed out in my reply:

"That is very thin rhetorical ice to found a stance on. The promise to print is built into the very nature of the contract. The entire point of the contract is to legalize an arrangement in which I give Wildside Press my story and they print it. The lack of a stated promise to publish is irrelevant, otherwise contracts of this sort would have no legal authority. Writers could freely violate the terms of the contract by arguing that without a stated promise, they are not bound by the contract until the story is actually printed. Which is legal nonsense. Similarly, it is legal nonsense to claim that the lack of a stated promise allows the publisher or editor to just drop a story for any reason. Either both claims are true, or both are not, and since no court will allow the former, they won't allow the latter either."

I have suggested a second time that he reconsider his refusal to honor the contract. If he declines a second time, or refuses to reply, I will approach the publisher. If Mr. Betancourt refuses to honor the contract, I am considering taking legal action.

I should state that, even if they do print my story, I have no illusion of ever being published in Weirdbook again. Besides, my payment will only be $10 and two contributor copies.

So why am I making a big deal out of this?

Because, writers get exploited in so many ways if they do not have Big Name clout or a powerful agent. This is just another example. If we just bend over and take it (forgive the crude analogy), we simply enable this exploitation to continue. Contracts are supposed to grant legal protection against exploitation; if editors and publishers can just ignore them whenever they wish, then they become meaningless and useless. And if this editor believes he can get away with it because I am not a Big Name and have no agent, that simply underscores the exploitative nature of the situation.
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Published on July 01, 2015 11:49 Tags: weirdbook-magazine, writing

June 30, 2015

Weirdbook Magazine: Submission

Some time ago, I submitted a story to the relaunch of Weirdbook Magazine: "The Road to Hell". In this story, two middle-aged/elderly men sit around a fire, waiting to die. During the course of their conversation we discover what happened to their world, and why they are so fatalistic about it all.

The editor accepted it and asked to use it in the second planned issue a week ago; however, my past experience with Wildside Press (the publisher) and John Betancourt left me less than confident that my story would ever be published.

Today I received the publication contract. I have signed it and will return it once I get clarification on what rights I am selling. I have allowed myself an extra helping of confidence and have decided to make this announcement for the benefit of my fans.

However, and this bears repeating:

*** There is no guarantee my story will be published. ***

Even with a signed contract, nothing is certain until the issue actually comes off the presses. I hope that after a decade Mr. Betancourt is more professional with his publications, but one thing that bothers me is that he is not promoting the magazine; he isn't even offering advance sales. There isn't even any announcement that Weirdbook is forthcoming.


How it now stands is I have signed a contract to allow my story to be published, but I still don't know if it will be. I will make another announcement when the issue is available for purchase.

But I wouldn't hold my breath.
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Published on June 30, 2015 18:55 Tags: weirdbook-magazine, writing

June 19, 2015

Future Writing Projects -- Update

I am on track for finishing a short story collection at the end of the year. Tentatively titled "Tales of Adventure", My goal is at least 120,000 words, and so far I have completed 7 stories for a total of 77,000 words.

Here is the planned content for the collection:

Pooka Games -- In ancient Ireland, Medb hErenn must deal with a renegade Pooka that is terrorizing one of the villages in her kingdom. She hopes to avoid killing it, because it is a friend, but she cannot allow it to kill her people.

The Adventure of the Bouncing Sunny -- A lab accident causes Sunny to go bouncing through time, and see what her life with Eile will be like, all the way to the bitter end.

The Adventure of the Cockatrice Tribe -- Team Girl's 11-year old daughters, Connie and Liza, are shipwrecked on a Pacific island inhabited by vicious pirates and a tribe of feathered velociraptors.

The Adventure of the Dragon Momma -- In the online RPG Otherworld, Team Girl's characters Braveheart and White-Lion are hired to slay a dragon. What they find is a shrimpy little beast hardly bigger than a poodle. Then its Momma shows up ...

Demon Lovers (completed) -- Differel Van Helsing is caught in the middle of an apocalypse when all the men in the world are turned into demons and attack all the women in the world. Dr. Mabuse believes she can reverse it, but that requires Differel to go out where the demons can find her.

Zombie Walk (completed) -- Differel and her frenemy Lady Margaret (aka, Dribble & Maggot) are camping in Dartmoor when they are attacked by a horde of Zombies. Ordinarily, that would be a simple problem: just call in the troops to exterminate them. But the children who seem able to control the walking dead complicate matters enormously.

The Mansion of Terror -- In her third appearance, the Princess in Orange zaps Differel into a real-life survival horror video game to see if she can make it out of a house filled with demon-vampire-zombies alive.

Questions & Answers -- The CEO of an Umbrella Corp-style conglomerate kidnaps Differel and subjects her to torture to see what it would take to break her. Meanwhile, Aelfraed sends Team Girl and Dracula to find and rescue her.

The Key to Adventure -- Team Girl buys the contents of an abandoned storage unit at auction and when they search through them they find a key to another storage locker. This sets off a treasure hunt with more twists and turns than a maze. With special guest star Differel Van Helsing.

The Sewers of Khwarezm (completed) -- In the Dreamlands, Medb hErenn attempts to rescue a princess kidnapped by slavers, but is caught herself. They both escape into the sewers beneath the city of Khwarezm, but find that they have just exchanged one threat for another.

The Adventure of the Lost Temple (completed) -- In the Dreamlands, Team Girl find a legendary lost temple, but become trapped inside, and must pass a trial to survive.

The Pirates of Elissa -- In the Dreamlands, Differel helps her Dream-husband, Victor Plunkett, flush out a band of pirates, but get themselves caught. While the pirate queen takes Victor to be her sex toy, Differel must somehow escape, rescue him, and destroy the pirates' base.

The Adventure of the Surrogate Daughters -- Team Girl are sent to a Parallel Earth by Dr. Mabuse to set up a base for future investigation. They recruit two street urchins who look like Connie and Liza to help them negotiate the PE's culture, but end up in the middle of a gang war.

The Legion of the Dead -- Dribble & Maggot, with Team Girl, go back in time to early 2nd century Scotland, and help the Romans defeat a Zombie horde 10,000 strong.

The Adventure of the Contrite Vixen (completed) -- While babysitting Connie and Liza, Kojoro the Kitsune tells them a bedtime story about a fox-princess who must recompense a farmer and his wife for the chickens she stole from them.

The Adventure of Bojangles (completed) -- In an Alternative Reality, Eile is a down-and-out drifter thrown into jail for vagrancy, and there she meets Sunny, an alcoholic tap dancer. The friendship they forge survives even death.

The Adventure of the Booted Feline -- A fairy tale, in which Snowshoe Kitty turns peasant daughter Eile into a rich nobleman and marries her to Sunny, ward of the local aristocrat.

Misunderstood (completed) -- A paparazzo obsessed with a popular singer vows to follow her until he learns her secret no matter where it takes him, even down into the sewers ...
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Published on June 19, 2015 18:50 Tags: future-projects, writing

June 6, 2015

Completed a New Story -- Zombie Walk

I have finished a new story:

Zombie Walk -- a Dribble & Maggot story

Lady Margaret Chesham (aka "Maggot") is a Girl Guide, and she wants to get a number of outdoor activity badges. She asks Sir Differel Van Helsing (aka "Dribble") to help her cheat, but naturally she refuses. Instead, she offers to help her earn them the right way. So they decide to spend a week hiking and camping through central Dartmoor.

Then one evening Zombies stumble into their camp. They take shelter in an abandoned farmhouse and encourage the horde to lay siege to them, so that the Caerleon Order has time to come to their rescue and exterminate the horde. But things get exceedingly complicated when they discover five children who seem to be able to control the Zombies.

No longer able to wait, they must take matters into their own hands. But even with a couple of pistols, Caliburn, and Vlad Drakulya, they cannot destroy the horde by themselves, and what if the children get away? Then again, they are a stone's throw away from the Great Grimpen Mire...

The title of the story is a play on the social phenomenon known as the Zombie Walk, when people pretend to be Zombies and walk the streets of their community as if they were an invading horde. It also plays with the standard scenario of most Zombie stories, wherein the heroes try to avoid contact with Zombies at all costs, whereas in this story Dribble & Maggot deliberately expose themselves to the horde to lead it where they will.

The story also features Vlad undergoing numerous transformations, something that rarely happens in other stories.

This story will be included in my future collection, "Tales of Adventure".

I no longer remember the direct inspiration for this story, other than a general desire to pit Differel and Margaret as children against a Zombie horde, but this story did go through many incarnations as to setting and details before the final plot gelled.
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Songs of the Seanchaí

Kevin L. O'Brien
Musings on my stories, the background of my stories, writing, and the world in general.
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