Guest Post: Jesse Teller, Author of Hemlock

The Timeless Enemy

by Jesse Teller

 

When I was a boy, my parents took me to the movies. This was back when we had no money. No money at all. We had to fight to get food on the table and we were always strapped. Well somehow, my parents found the money and the time to take us to the movies, and I saw Sleeping Beauty.

I don’t remember much at all. Colors, I think, is all I could take away from it. I was about six and I had no recollection of the story or the images really, but I do remember very distinctly the dragon. I remember the colors, the breath, and the black. I remember this tiny man striving to fight it, and the way it seemed impossible. I remember thinking no force in the world could rival a dragon, and that is all I took from it.

Years later, I was watching TV in the morning on a Saturday, and I saw Bilbo Baggins take the first steps of his journey. The artistry of it consumed me, the way those particular animation artists moved the characters across the screen. They were the same animators that did The Last Unicorn and I will never forget the way they drew the line. The movie The Hobbit was fun until Bilbo and I found ourselves at the feet of Smaug.

So huge that dragon was, nothing Bilbo could do could ever stack up. There was no weapon to grasp to bring death to that monster. No hope, however slight, could be held when the idea of fighting that beast was at hand.

I do not accept the death Tolkien gave to his god of dragons. It is too convenient, too simple. No one arrow ever made could take down the beast I saw in that cavern, no matter how well shot, no matter the target.

I remember thinking if ever a power could exist that could rival a being that great, it would have to be me who found it. No other creator could reach within and pluck out the shred of hope that stood up to a creature so mighty.

Well, of course, I was wrong. Writers and artists have been killing dragons as long as dragons have been around. St. George cast one down centuries before I was born, and people have been doing it ever since. But Smaug stayed supreme in my mind, a creature of such immense power that no one dare stand before him had they not a ring of power.

So then I set to work. I began, time after time, crafting a hero or heroine strong enough to crush the monumental monsters of my mind. Soon wizards. Then warriors. Then one after the next, I began to put together an army of people and beings so invincible that they could stand up to Smaug. They could face the Nefarious, the Tempest and the Wrath of the greatest forces of darkness that any mind could find. Any mind anywhere. With this devotion to craft and heart of a creator, I plumbed the darkness within my mind to find magic.

When I hit teenage years, I wanted warriors. Arislan, Aragorn. Caramon Majere. I found Mycenae Kark and Sai Sibbius Summerstone. One after the next, I sought and found one swords smith, then another, to battle the monoliths of my mind. Twenties found assassins. Thirties, barbarians. One great hero after the next filled my mind, always with one goal in sight.

Crush Smaug.

Pulverize the immense. Bring down the invincible. I write high fantasy. If that means I am not grimdark, then so be it.

There is a boy in here, deep where no one can find him. He is fighting a monster, a monster deeply rooted in the fiber of his mind. That little boy will not let me go small. He has a nemesis. He has a nightmare, and one after the other, he will pump out the mighty and the brave to bring it down. I have never killed Smaug. He is, as far as, I know unkillable.

But Rayph Ivoryfist would get close. Smear Kond could sneak up on him. Dreark would make Smaug tremble. I fear that somehow the mighty, world-moving powers within my books will make me less grim, that I might lose some street cred. I might have readers who shrug and drop me, thinking they want lower fantasy than I am prepared to give them.

To them I say, please forgive. There is a monster in here. He scares me. I must fight him the best I can. Smaug is watching. Smaug is waiting.


Jesse Teller is the author of book 2 of the Manhunter Series: Hemlock. You can get Hemlock here and book 1 (Song) here!

You can follow Jesse at his blog at https://jesseteller.com/

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America: Your Service Has Been Disconnected

I normally don’t post anything political to social media or my blog, but recent outbursts by the Senator of my chosen state have incensed me to the point of outburst. Something needs to be said, and silence helps no one.
If you’re unaware as to the comments I’m referring, here’s a screenshot of the quote as reported from the HuffingtonPost.
Chuck Grassley’s recent comments illustrate the disconnect that America is experiencing between our representatives and the people. I don’t know a single person who spends on “booze and women” but I know a ton of people struggling to pay their daily bills just to live, including myself. I’m disheartened by the fact that today’s politics are ran by characters from Charles Dickens novels instead of by people who have sympathy, heart, and understanding. When family’s have to make the decision between paying their rent, their student loans, or groceries and their representatives think they are spending all of their money on superfluous excess there is something wrong with America. Not to mention the insult this is to anyone who has ever earned a single dollar. My representatives don’t get to tell me or my friends how to spend our money. That’s not how freedom works. While I don’t want to spend my money in an irresponsible way, if I decide to that’s my decision as a tax-paying and voting American.
Chuck Grassley, Iowa and America is incredibly disappointed in you.
Not to mention, have you see the prices of Movies, Mr. Grassley? Ridiculous.

Laptop Woes!

Recently, my laptop has been on the fritz.
When I first got it, it was a refurbished model off of Groupon. I was impressed (at the time) with the hard drive size (500 GB) and the RAM (4 GB), but I was less than impressed with the amount of heat pouring off of it every time I used it. I dealt with the heat issue by getting one of those lap fans everybody uses, but also by researching as much as I could about heat issues with computers.
I ended up installing different BIOS updates and all sorts of other things before finally surrendering to the fact that this computer was just going to run hot.
Since then, the heat (and a few bad USB ports) are the only things I’ve had to complain about. It’s been fine otherwise, and perfect for helping me progress through my writing career.
Unfortunately, after a fun trip this weekend, I might have shoved my laptop into a too-tight bag and subsequently made it annoyingly unuseful for a writer. After our trip, I had some server updates that I wanted to run (yeah, we have a home server. I’m that nerd) and went to my browser on my laptop to access the server via Chrome. For some reason, my laptop decided not to open any icon that I clicked on. After three restarts finally seemed to solve that problem, I began to the type the IP Address for the server and noticed a problem when I got about halfway through it. The 9 button just decided to start typing on it’s own.
I restarted, tested, restarted again, tested, restarted again, and it seemed to fix itself, but the desktop icons wouldn’t open again. I Did one final restart and everything finally seemed to be working.
Then I opened up a word document to start working on the end of Broken Nights: Strange Worlds, and wouldn’t you believe it, the 9 button decided it wanted to help me write the story again.
Very Loud Sigh…followed by cuss words.
That’s no good for an author, but lucky for me, I have solutions.
The real problem for my dilemma is that I don’t want to buy a new computer. This isn’t entirely true, of course. Anyone who knows me knows that I really enjoy buying new computers. The truth is, I don’t want to spend the money.
My wife offered to loan me hers, but my “Maker” ways make me tear apart and mod things that I use. Basically, if she loans me her computer, I’ll want to do things to it that make it very un-hers. My wife is awesome, even for thinking of such a wonderful suggestion, but she’s too awesome for me to abuse her wonderful gift.
I also repurpose laptops for friends when they need them. I swap out hard drives, add and remove RAM, and install different Linux environments so that my friends can have a running laptop. If this solution is good enough for my friends, why not me?
A few months ago, my mother sent me my dad’s dying computer. I installed the latest Ubuntu on it, and was using it as more of a prototyping experiment more than anything. In light of the system failures in my laptop, I started downloading my entire OneDrive (only a few GB) to the Ubuntu box.
My only reason for seeing the Ubuntu laptop as an inconvenience is that I have subscriptions on the Windows machine. Steam, Adobe Photoshop, and Microsoft Office. All things that don’t translate well when switching over to Linux. To be fair, there is a Linux Steam client and GIMP is a great Photoshop alternative, but Microsoft Office is a disappointing service to lose full access to.
The great news is that there are tons of open source (free) alternatives to everything that I’m used to, and Microsoft has online tools that are just slimmed down versions of their downloaded suite of services.
So, my plan for now is to transfer anything important to the Linux laptop, install the programs I need to keep on keeping on, and to transfer the RAM cards from my laptop to the Linux laptop to improve the functionality of it.
What does this mean for my writing? Absolutely nothing. I was using OneDrive as a back up for my important things, including my writing. When I hit save on my story last time I was writing it, it uploaded any changes to OneDrive instantly. All I need to do is sign into Word Online and start typing, or open the downloaded OneDrive backup I did the other night and continue the document from there.
Frustrated at losing a computer’s functionality, but not as frustrated as I could have been! #creativelife!
–MD–