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Dinosaurs & Dames: A Selection of Short Stories

So this is a self-published anthology of my short fiction that I recently posted for sale on Amazon.com:

Dinosaurs & Dames

This is a self-published anthology of short stories by amateur writer Brandon S. Pilcher. By and large, they are action-packed speculative-fiction tales featuring dinosaurs and other savage beasts, fierce female warriors and huntresses, and African cultural influences. So if you like adventure, strong heroines, prehistoric wildlife, and non-Western settings, these are the stories for you.

I would greatly appreciate it if anyone with a Kindle or Kindle app would be willing to spend $1 on my anthology. You won’t regret it!

On Planning and Pantsing

When it comes to planning out stories, writers seem to fall anywhere between two ends of a spectrum. Towards one end, there are the people who write down detailed scene-by-scene outlines of their stories, often with character biographies and setting/world-building notes as part of the package. Closer to the other end, you have the writers who prefer to “write on the seats of their pants” (hence the term “pantsers”), eschewing planning altogether and not necessarily knowing what’s going to happen in the next scene. Although both the planners and pantsers have plenty of published writers in their ranks, in my experience it’s usually the planners who are most convinced that their method is ideal. Certainly most books on writing (with the distinct exception of Stephen King’s On Writing) seem to advocate the planning approach.

I personally would say that individual writers should go with whatever works best for them. As for myself, I’ve found that I lie somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, albeit maybe a bit closer to the “pantser” side. I absolutely do need some idea of where a story could go when I start writing, but I don’t necessarily have to write a whole outline down. In fact, every time I’ve actually finished a story, most or all the planning I did was in my head. By contrast, whenever I try to write a complete outline for a story, I find myself blocked sooner or later. I am still not sure why that is.

To be sure, all my successes as a writer have been with short stories. I have yet to complete an entire novel. It could be that novels, since they naturally have more going on, require more meticulous planning than shorts. All that I can vouch for right now is that when it comes to short stories, I seem to favor a sort of mental planning that almost looks like pantsing.

Hotep, My Homies!

Hotep, My HomiesHaving more fun with ancient Egyptian chicks in modern-day outfits here…

The word “hotep” means “to be at peace” in ancient Egyptian, but the Egyptians actually would use the phrase “em hotep” (in peace) as a greeting. However, omitting the “em” in the phrase made for better alliteration with “homies”.

A couple of character concepts…

These are early concept artworks for the villain and heroine of a fantasy project I’ve started. As of now, it’s set in a fictitious, mythic era in our earth’s past and centers on a conflict between the ancient Egyptian and Chinese civilizations. The storyline is about a vengeful Chinese emperor named Bao Yen who steals a sacred Staff of Serpents from the Egyptians, hoping to use it to conquer and enslave them. The heroine on the other hand is an Egyptian princess named Nefrusheri who must retrieve the Staff. There’s a lot of blank spots about the story that need to be filled in at the moment, but I rather like the idea of the ancient Egyptian and Chinese empires duking it out this way.

Bao YenNefrusheri

Cryolophosaurus

Cryolophosaurus

Cryolophosaurus ellioti was a large theropod dinosaur that stalked Antarctica during the Early Jurassic, around 194 to 188 million years ago. Back then, the continent would have been covered by temperate forests as a result of the warmer global climate. The distinctive pompadour-like crest on Cryolophosaurus’s head has inspired the nickname “Elvisaurus” for this dinosaur.

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar

This is a quick portrait of Gaius Julius Caesar (100-44 BC), by far the best known of the Roman generals and statesmen. This was the guy who conquered Gaul (now France), romanced Cleopatra before Antony, and eventually got himself assassinated on the Ides of March. It was his great-grandnephew Octavian who became the first proper Emperor of Rome, thereby ending its phase as a Republic.

Although Caesar is supposed to looked middle-aged in my portrait (since that was how he looked in the bust I used as reference), I kept his hair dark because everyone else seems to color it this silvery-white color. I dunno how that convention came to be, since he would have only been in his mid-fifties when he died (so it should have only started to gray, if he was like most dudes).

Wildest Dreams

Wildest Dreams

Say you’ll remember me
Standing in a nice dress,
Staring at the sunset, babe.
Red lips and rosy cheeks,
Say you’ll see me again
Even if it’s just in your wildest dreams.
— Taylor Swift, “Wildest Dreams”

This started out as simply an African woman sitting on her legs, but then I recalled the Taylor Swift song “Wildest Dreams” from a few years back. The music video for that attracted some controversy because it was set in the African bush but somehow hardly featured any black people in it. Whatever your views on that, I thought the song would make for a nice (if ironic) “theme” for this piece.

Proto-Afrasan Hunters

Proto-Afrasan HuntersSomewhere in the eastern Sahara between 16-11,000 years ago, this pair of hunter-gatherers is scouting the dunes for food. The language they speak is Proto-Afrasan (or Proto-Afroasiatic), and it will give rise to a entire phylum of languages spoken across northern and eastern Africa as well as the Middle East. Examples of Afrasan languages include ancient Egyptian, Sudanese Beja, Somali, most languages spoken in Ethiopia, and the Berber and Semitic subgroups (the latter having arrived in the Middle East sometime before 7400 BC). The exact origin point of Proto-Afrasan remains unknown, but most likely it is somewhere in northeastern Africa.

A friend of mine is working on an anthropology/archaeology book about various human population movements in and out of the Sahara during its cycles of climate change, and he and I believe the expansion of Afrasan languages across Africa and into the Middle East represents one of these movements. His project is what inspired this illustration.