Guest Post : Jesse Teller #BardsAndScribes tour – The Gunslinger

Today I’m really pleased to be hosting a stop on the #BardsAndScribes tour with Jesse Teller providing a guest post entitled ‘The Gunslinger”.

Here’s a link to Fantasy Faction’s guest post : The Druid.  Also a link for the Grimmedian’s Panda. Keep your eyes peeled for more posts from @FanBooRev@TheFantasyHive@booknest_eu, @EsmeWeatherwax8, and @FantasyBookCrit

Firstly, a little bit of information about Jesse and also what this post is really about (with further info links provided at the bottom of the post):

JesseJesse Teller is mentally disabled. He suffers from PTSD from an abusive childhood. He is bipolar, suffers from daily to hourly hallucinations, and has DID (multiple personality disorder).

He has been a member of the self-published fantasy community for four and a half years now, has published fourteen books, with plans to publish countless more.

Jesse Teller is not a sane man. He has been declared mentally unfit and is a certified madman. This blog series is a glimpse into the way he sees a small handful of his peers and a look into his own mind. 

I confess that this piece really moved me and so I hope you enjoy it too.  

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The Gunslinger

 The Gunslinger has a mind of maybes. He can walk the world of man with confidence and poise. Can talk to anyone with his down-to-earth personality and his swagger. He is impressive without trying to be and you can’t help but have a fun time when he is around. But as much of an everyman as he might seem, he is also a fellow traveler in the wild and the mystic.

His mind is open to theories and myths that others would dismiss. He sees the possible beast man lurking in the woods. Looks to the heavens for crafts and strange moving lights, and he opens his mind to plots and schemes some might think insane.

The Gunslinger walks alongside Artist stride for stride. But he is a terrible mind to wrestle with, both unbreakable ally and skeptic at once. A role that not many could play. Let’s look at how I found him and the glimpse I saw into his madness. Let’s see what he became to me and how, without him, my rise would have faltered.

I entered a very intense contest created by Mark Lawrence called SPFBO. Okay, that is what we call it. We even try to pronounce it and use it in a sentence. This is not a real word, but indie authors around the world work it into conversation. What this contest is actually called is Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off. It was designed by Mark to display talented writers to the world of the traditionally published and the world at large.

SPFBO

300 novels are submitted every year. Ten review blogs are chosen to judge and the books are divided up to them randomly. Every review blog gets 30 books and they are told to narrow that number down however they see fit. This replicates the submission process to agents and publishers, and puts us all in ten slush piles. Only one book can rise from each chosen 30 and only those ten are read by every blog. Three champions rise and the publicity they receive from standing above in Mark’s contest can make a career. So many great writers have come to this contest, a few have gained traditionally published contracts. Even more have been tossed into obscurity.

The system is not flawed but the judges can use any criteria they wish to choose their finalist. As far as I know, no judge has written the names on the wall and thrown a dart, but if they did, it would not be against the rules. They use the same techniques in their selection as any agent or publisher. So if a book comes to them that they are not in the mood to read, they can just toss it. If they choose to read ten percent of every book, then they can do that, too. However they want to rate the book, or shuffle the book, is viable. So a great book always rises, but many great books fall away.

The Gunslinger and I entered one year. The contest is a great way to network with other writers. We all talk, and friendships are kindled. This is the group I found The Alchemist in when I opened interviews to it. This is where I found The Cannibal and The Judge. This land of plenty and none is the place where The Panda and I first met, as he was a big supporter and boon to SPFBO. All my great writer friends have found me through this gate.

I woke deep into the afternoon, shook off my haze, and found a few messages in my box from The Gunslinger. See, he was right up the road from me in a small town in Missouri. He had dropped his book into the pot and, when the socializing began, he found my Facebook page. He saw my Harley Davidson. He saw a few pics of me with a beer and he decided I might be a guy he wanted to know.

We vowed to meet up and I decided to read his book so we might have something to talk about. I picked up Halcyon’s Wake: Faith by The Gunslinger. I read it in one night and wrote a review for it. This is what I wrote:

I have never had this much fun with a book before. Halcyon’s Wake is insane. FaithOK so have you ever been drinking and things get out of hand? You’re telling a story and some guy across from you starts telling a story that one ups yours. So you tell another, even crazier story. Then the same jerk hits you again with a better one. I’m pretty sure that The Gunslinger was having both of those conversations with himself.

Halcyon starts almost reasonable. Asteroid comes screaming toward Earth. Our planet can’t just dodge it, so there is a modest evacuation, and we are on our way. He has a technically sound knowledge of how modern space shuttles work, so you settle into a comfortable stride and you are moving along just fine. Then he hits you.

“Are you going to let me get away with this?” The Gunslinger asks his reader. He gives you a curve ball that has you slowly nodding your head. “Sure,” you say, “Let’s keep going.” A few chapters later he introduces a new idea. It gives you pause. You stop, look around to see if the room is with you or not, because this idea is kind of out there. It takes a leap to follow, but you nod and keep reading.

“Are you gonna let me get away with this?”

Now you are moving downhill. You are at a pretty hefty trot and things are starting to get a little treacherous. You are in unsafe land now. Running too fast. A bit out of breath. You are in this far, so why go back now?

“Double Dog Dare you to follow me here,” he says.

At this point the idea is so intense, so mind blowing that you can’t not go along. You can only nod and keep running. One dare after the next he gives us. “What do you think of this? This OK, are you still comfortable?” The Gunslinger asks.

No, you are not comfortable, things are moving fast now. Ideas are coming that are out of your control. You are moving so fast that you can’t catch your breath. You get more and more concepts thrown at you, more and more outright brilliant, outright crazy ideas. You are starting to realize now that your author might not be all there. You are starting to see that he has no filter. He will take you places that you are not ready for, give you visions that you could never prepare yourself to see. The book is hot now, running out of control and all you can do is hold on with white knuckle, the wind screaming in your ears, your cheeks flapping as he drags you along into the wildest read you have ever had.

There are things in this book that you will not be ready for. Every now and then, you will look at it wondering if the writer is seriously taking you there, wondering if you can suspend disbelief long enough to finish the book.

Do it. Don’t let this one get away. Halcyon is not an experience that you want to go without.

When you are done, go out and buy a bag of Peanut M&M’s. You have earned them.

Yellow

(Keen to know more about The Gunslinger – check out his author page here).

The Gunslinger read that review and went nuts. I am pretty sure that to this day it is the greatest way anyone has ever captured his work. Because when you read Halcyon’s Wake, you realize this guy is just left of center.

He also happens to have one of the most powerful grasps I have ever seen on the written language. He knows story. Knows what works and what doesn’t. And he is an editor. He had edited The Sloth’s book, and The Sloth gave him high praise and used him for the rest of the trilogy.

I stick to a very strict release schedule of every April 15th and October 5th. April 15th to honor the short story Mr. Olsen gave me in fifth grade. And October 5th in honor of Mrs. Hegg’s assignment my freshman year of high school. So when the editor who was working on The Manhunters series went in for heart surgery and had to set my book down, I reached out to The Gunslinger and he scooped up the third book in the series to whittle at it a bit.

He read the first two and delivered a powerful product I was very happy with. I sent it to my second editor, who gave it glowing praise for its cleanliness, then I roped The Gunslinger in for the lot.

He liked my style. Asked why I was not big yet and he agreed to work with me into a future we could not see the end of.

LegendsMy next release was Legends of the Exiles and here we hit a bit of a bump. Well, he had moved to Arizona and was looking at Exiles through the glass of The Manhunters. He said it didn’t fit and he was cutting it pretty deep. Said the dialogue was juvenile and the world did not seem that well-developed. He told me he had worked on it for X number of hours and he was only 23 pages in. He had been into his canteen and found not water there but whiskey, and he is prone to exaggeration when that happens.

My wife flew into action when I got off the phone with him. She emailed and messaged The Gunslinger and breathed fire for a while, and the next day he woke up to his desk smoldering and patted out the flames. He had been told by my wife the dialogue was juvenile because those talking were children. He had been told the world was in fact very detailed and she had told him that if he was not going to blah blah that she would blah blah. She growled at him quite a bit and he stepped into the book with greater respect and a healthy fear of my wife.

He texted me asking me to call him a few days later. He had been working on the book and needed to speak to me. I called and when he answered the phone, he sighed. He did not say hello, howdy or hey ya. But he spoke with a soft, reverent voice and said:

“She did not dance to their rules. Music was not for prancing around in circles with hands up and smiling. It was not about bowing and presenting intention. Dancing was about sweat and exertion. It was about freedom and power. It was a thing for gods and goddesses. The closest men or women ever got to divinity. While all of the others danced in their circles, she spun and slid through the groupings. She flipped her hair and moved her hips. She let the sway of her body and the waving of her arms speak of her power and she loosed her war cry every time the music lifted her to heights unimaginable.”

This is a scene from the book. This is young Rachel Beastscowl on the floor of a hall where her people are set for a feast. In his voice I heard his love of the young girl. In his voice I heard a true believer.

“What do you think?” I said.

“You have me for life. I will edit every book you write from this day forth. I want in. I want it all. I want Perilisc, I want the Mountain. I want to be a part of what you are making. Don’t cut me out. Money, deadlines, we can work all that out. I can be flexible, I am a hard worker. I’m with you. This is mine, too.”

And ever since, he has been.

I have The Gunslinger beside me fighting back all my doubts, fighting back all my flaws as he shoots from the hip and screams wild to the air. With a canteen of whiskey and a love of my world, The Gunslinger fights for my team. He is my editor. He is my scribe.

He is also my friend.

* Ends *

My thanks to Jesse for the opportunity to take part in the Bards and Scribes blog tour.

For more information about Jesse Teller:

Author Bio:

Jesse Teller fell in love with fantasy when he was five years old and played his first game of Dungeons & Dragons. The game gave him the ability to create stories and characters from a young age. He started consuming fantasy in every form and, by nine, was obsessed with the genre. As a young adult, he knew he wanted to make his life about fantasy. From exploring the relationship between man and woman, to understanding the qualities of a leader or a tyrant, Jesse Teller uses his stories and settings to study real-world themes and issues.

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/PathtoPerilisc/
Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/gromitkermit
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jesse.teller/
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Website: https://jesseteller.com/
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The Emoticon Generation Blog Tour!

Okay, today the tour for Guy Hasson’s book The Emoticon Generation, organised by Little Red Reviewer, stops by my blog.  The EG is a book of 7 short sci fi stories.

My first point. I would probably describe these as ‘soft sci-fi’ because whist they take you on a bit of a journey into a few possible futures they’re easily accessible or user friendly.  Or, if you want to be a bit of a stickler and call a spade a spade- I can be a bit of a dunce when it comes to all the science-maths-mumbo-jumbo-magical-bits and these stories didn’t make me feel like that.  In fact I didn’t get the feeling that I wanted to throw the book against a wall at all – which is just as well because I was reading this on my laptop!

My next point.  I don’t tend to read a lot of short stories because I feel disconnected to the characters.  I usually feel that I don’t spend enough time with them to get comfy.  However that isn’t the case here – the author has a way of writing that you can’t help connecting.

Anyway, I don’t want to go into overdrive so just a few thoughts for each – more so probably for my favourites.

Generation E – the father of a young girl goes snooping on his daughter’s phone and becomes concerned when he is unable to read most of what it contains because it seems to be all made up of symbols.  Now, this might not be a mind blowing story.  It’s gentle.  But it really resounded with me.  I think the author is really insightful in this story.  He talks about the father still thinking he has his finger on the pulse, which is probably the way a lot of parents feel and yet in reality your children really don’t see you this way.  Let’s face it, at the age of 17 most teenagers think 24 year olds are passed their prime!  So, he goes a snooping – tempting I know but naughty – and let’s face it ‘what you don’t know can’t hurt you’!  Basically your children love to have something that’s theirs and that you don’t understand.  For years they’ve been using words in a different context to that originally intended.  Then words became shortened – ‘c u l*tr’ then they progressed again into initials which is the stage we’re currently at and seems to give kids a way of swearing at their parents without getting caught – brb, cba, ffs, roflmao, etc, etc.  Anyway, this just takes it a step further – the really weird thing is you can see it happening!

Hatchling.  I loved this story and totally bought into the young girl.  Hasson just has a way of making you form attachments even over a few pages.  Nothing is squandered.  His writing is to the point and almost clinical in its lack of flowery description but it still pulls you in.  The young girl in the story basically has questions about her father.  Questions her mother avoids, ignores or just downright refuses to answer.  But this niggle isn’t going away, the niggle develops into an itch which is scratched into a sore until she picks and picks and ‘whoa’ opens up a can!  This is a clever young lady.  She has a computer and isn’t afraid to use it.  Apart from all the scary ‘big brother’ type events depicted here which are enough to have you looking over your shoulder, (really, you won’t be able to scratch your head without somebody picking up on it! ) is the fact that secrets will out.  However, the grass isn’t always greener (I’m having a challenge with myself to fit in lots of little sayings)  I read this story with a mounting sense of horror like a deer caught in the headlights.  It was compelling and had an unpredictable twist.  Scary ending.

The Assassination – okay, this was my least favourite.  I don’t know why but it just didn’t hold as much appeal for me.  It’s a sort of interview scenario with a former army guy who killed and has been grilled over the sequence of events ever since.  But, we appear to have discovered some new technology that allows us to replay conversations from years back – actually don’t women already do this??  I’m just saying.  Anyway, I’m not going to elaborate on this one other than to say there’s a general unspoken rule about trying to be careful about the written word because you never know when it will come back to haunt you – well, reading this, you better be careful about the spoken word as well.

Freedom is Only a Step Away.  I enjoyed this story, particularly the ending which was very satisfying.  We have a scientist who has discovered that imagination is good for you. (well score one for all us book readers because we already knew that anyway and let our imaginations run riot on a regular basis).  Imagination though shouldn’t be suppressed.  It’s harmful to children to do so and hinders them in later life.  By the time you reach adulthood your brain is trapped in a cage.  What I really enjoyed about this story was the way it unfolded, pretty much using a typical family watching news clips and then the resulting discussion.  We see scepticism, followed by interest, happiness, anarchy and a gradual revolution of the education system as we currently know it.  The funny thing is I couldn’t wait to see what would happen or how the author would resolve things.  I veered between ‘mmm, interesting’ to ‘no way’. I really don’t want to give away the ending so I’m going to use one of my father-in-laws funny phrases (he has a whole bunch) – ‘if things don’t alter they’ll stay the same’.

All of Me.  Now, this was okay but not as entertaining for me as a few of the others.  It brings to us a revolutionary development that can copy a person’s brain and in so doing come up with formulas for – which in doing so means you can add to the formulas to jump forwards. Basically this story has a young woman buy her boyfriend an unusual gift, one which she actually becomes quite addicted to.  In this instance the grass is greener on the other side!  It definitely is a thought provoking story though.  I’m intrigued about what exactly she was thinking – well, I suppose she was seeking the perfect partner and was able to manipulate things to achieve it.

Eternity Wasted builds on the previous story and expands it further.  Eternity Wasted is about a mathematical genius who has found a bit of a cheat.  He’s using the brain copying invention from All of Me and manipulating it to his own ends.  I was really horrified by his actions – the things he was actually doing to his ‘other’ self.  Is this the way you would behave providing you didn’t think it would affect you personally.  However, his ‘other’ self is going to get it’s revenge.

The last story Her Destiny also uses the brain copying invention but in a different way.  This ends up becoming something I hadn’t expected at all and goes from being down right hairs-on-the-back-of your-neck-standing-up-creepy to making you wonder.  Really is there such a thing as destiny.  It’s an unusual and fascinating concept.  Is your perfect person out there?  If you don’t end up with him will fate intervene to change circumstances.  Very enjoyable and one of my favourite stories of the collection.

Guy Hasson is also serialising his short stories on mythology/fairy tales ‘Tickling Butterflies” on his blog.  I will definitely be checking that out!