Archer with pointy ears talking.

BackTalk

Greg Back's Blog

July, 2016

Hello and welcome to my first-ever blog post. I hope you like the new, device-friendly gregbackwords.com. It’s been a bit strange the last few months, working on the site and going over the proof of Incarnate, the first volume of my fantasy epic The Dwindling, and trying to weed out the incredible number of typos and grammar errors that slipped past me the last dozen times I read the manuscript. Actually seeing the book proof, and reading the story as it’s meant to be experienced was a thrill. However, seeing it in a new format allowed me to pick up on things - way too many things - that escaped me when I read it on screen. It’s amazing how we tend to see what we expect to see, whether it’s actually there or not.

As many writers are doing, I’m self-publishing some of my work to get it out there, where it can find its audience. It’s a fairly involved process, especially when you’re a one-man-band like me. Building a platform like this website, for example. I’m not a web designer. I’ve been learning how to use Adobe Dreamweaver (among other things) from the good folks at lynda.com, the result of which is the page you’re reading and its relatives. There’s so much to learn there. I have my eye on several other courses.

I made all the artwork for the site, and the book cover too, using Photoshop and my trusty Wacom graphics tablet. The logos were created in a great little 3D package called Zaxwerks ProAnimator, which is a fabulous tool for both motion and static 3D graphics, and one I’ve only scratched the surface of. I’d love to get deeper into it; some of the fragmentation capabilities are very intriguing.

I’m also lucky enough to have a day job that I find very fulfilling. I teach Speech Communication at a community college near my home. It’s a very diverse group of students: young people straight out of high school, some raised in a rural environment, some in an urban one. There are older folks, too, dealing with job loss or other life changes, or simply trying to get ahead. It’s a wide range, and serving them all, helping them to become a little better at expressing themselves and looking critically at the persuasive efforts being put on them by others, is a real challenge.

I put lots of effort into preparing my lessons. I had thought that after a couple of years, I’d be able to scale it back a bit because I’d have materials already created. To a certain extent that’s true, but any time I might have gained is spent revising lessons, looking for better, more effective ways of doing things, to serve the students I have now. They invariably have different needs than the students from last semester or the semester before that. Each new class is a new dynamic. I love it.

I have a wonderful wife, a very cool teenage son, and a 9-year-old, 40-pound lapdog without an ounce of fat on him. We do stuff together. Fun stuff, mostly, though like most families, we have to do lots of things we'd rather avoid. Most importantly, we laugh. If there's a glue that holds a family together, I think it's shared laughter.

 

Oh, and I wrote a book. Actually, I’ve written a whole bunch of them. I’m using The Dwindling’s milieu in all of them, but the spin-offs - like Showdown at Rattler’s Fang - serialized on my Facebook page - (please give it a "Like" if you're so inclined) cross into different sub-genres of fantasy/SF. Rattler’s Fang is a western sort of steampunk/magic story that ties in with the backstory of The Dwindling.

Another spin-off is Geode: The Faerie Murders, another prequel, intended as a hard-boiled detective story. It starts off pretty horrifically for Geode Schist - a Troll scrivener - and his family, circumstances forcing him to flee his home, pursued by fanatical assassins, with nobody but his faithful hellhound Coal, bound for the capital city of his people’s traditional enemies. When a murdered prostitute literally drops on his head from the bridge under which he is living, Geode finds himself recruited as an investigator by a Pixie police detective.

Also in the works is a steampunk superhero book called The Wings of Icarus. This one occurs after the action in the Dwindling books, but they need not be read first to enjoy the story of NYC police detective Icarus Byrne and his adventures in the New York of 1890.

The stuff I write is a tad racy at times. At other times, it's rather violent. My villains do some pretty heinous stuff. But most of the time, it’s good, clean fantasy fiction with the occasional other genre thrown into the mix just to see what’ll happen. I can’t express how much it means to me to be able to share these characters and their tales with you. They, too, with all their dysfunction and angst, all their striving and suffering, all their laughter, tears and primal screams, are members of my family.

It’s about time they started earning their keep.

Looking back at what I’ve just written, I have to say my life is a pretty good one. I am a very lucky man. That said, I’m still gonna complain. There’s so much more I’d like to do, if I could find the time.

It’s the age-old complaint, right? So much to do, so little time. After stubbornly railing against it for my entire adult life, I’ve come to the conclusion that railing against things doesn’t often change them. So, I need a new strategy.

I’ve decided to start… managing my time. It’s a new idea for me; I’m naturally a go-with-the-flow kind of guy, at least as far as I can get away with it. Time management books sit on my bookshelves, gathering dust. I just haven’t felt the need strongly enough to force myself to change. After all, I get stuff done. I just want to get more stuff done. You know, while I still have a chance. Life goes by so fast.

More on that later. Watch this space.

 

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