Monthly Archives: September 2012

Ramp it up to ELEVEN!!!!: EXTREME WRITING


Much of my advice often follows the path of finding a middle between extremes in your styles of writing.  This allows the use of all sorts of techniques that hook some people but not others.  If a particular style you are using does not appeal to someone, if you keep a lot of your writing in between using too little or too much of something they will probably like some other aspect of your writing.  Most readers often fall inbetween this point too, that a lot of what they like to read are techniques used enough to highlight aspects of the book, but not over take it.  Sometimes however, it is both fun and rewarding to throw all the other advice out the window and just write with certain styles and techniques cranked all the way up with no middle ground.

Many popular sub genres fall into one of these extreme writing styles.  For example Pulp writing tends to have very little of the following: dense continuity, character growth, interior monologues – but tend to have lot of action, adventure, and character actions that seem familiar or repetitive (favorite lines or battle techniques, situations that follow similar patterns, familiar types of background characters occur, etc).  By hewing to these extremes of very little of some themes and quite a lot of others a very different writing style can be made.

Another popular sub-genre is POV fantasy books.  This style often goes over the same events through different eyes, with new discoveries made each time.  In this genre inner monologues occur often more than dialog or action, dramatic irony is used very frequently, but pacing is much slower than normal.  Even with only three aspects being more extreme it still sets the tone as something very different than most narratives.

One great way to see what types of writing you like to do with certain aspects over the top is to write short stories. This is better than investing the time into long novels and then realizing you don’t write in that style well.  Another way to experiment with it is to write certain chapters with certain elements ramped to eleven.  The main hero has seen all of her family die, all of her plans go to waste and the person that did it is right in front of her with only a dozen guards standing in her way.  In that case, even if the rest of the chapters have balanced action and dialogue, that specific chapter might have no dialogue at all, and just be one descriptive action scene after another as she hacks her way to the ultimate confrontation.  This technique allows you to use a lack of moderation to enhance only one part of a narrative, without making the whole work done in a specific style.

Going to extremes isn’t something I would recommend without a plan.  I wouldn’t just say to yourself  “I want to do a book with tons of dialogue and a lot of humor, and practically no inner monologues or descriptions at all, just funny witty things said the whole time  and also make it a 1000  page epic!” just to try to create a new genre.  There will be people that like that style of book, but probably much more that will find it off putting.  Also along the lines of above, it is more palatable if only a few things in the book are extreme.  See each aspect of a book (methods of writing, subjects focused on, action to interaction quotient, tone, amount of humor, levels of irony, popular tropes used, etc) as different “dials.”  If only a few dials are ramped up, then it is easier for people to take then the whole book being completely out of the norm to the point of alienation.

So in the end I guess I am recommending even for extreme writing, to have some moderation.  How surprising.

I have not received a lot of complaints about the lack of poll, so I will do without it again.

World Info for Allmother’s Fire:

Travel times between most islands is measured in days or weeks.  There are some large islands that seem to be more out in the periphery which take closer to a month, but those are only gone to very rarely, as the rewards are not normally worth the extra costs of stocking up for months’ worth of supplies for your crew.  Getting to one specific island may take you a month if it follows a different path than yours, but on its way you will probably cross at least 3 or 4 other islands that you can stop and get new supplies.

There are horror stories of those running out of supplies and not even being  able to hook any flying animals enough to get food, but clouds when passing by ships seems to automatically refill barrels if treated right by Woodsingers, so running out of water is never an issue.  The only reasons people would risk going long without supplies is if they have no place they think is a safe haven nearby (which some rather aggressive Air Pirates with notorious ships do) or if exploring for legends.  It is said some where is an island that the true daughters of the Allmother live on, and whoever goes there will receive her blessing.  No one has gone there and returned to tell the tale, even if everyone is sure they heard of a friend of a friend of a friend who thinks they saw that island once.


Expectations: Follow and Avoid Them


Fantasy and other genre fictions have certain expected tropes that normally occur.  Dreams show the future, farm boys grow up to be heroes, prophecies lead ways to light the darkest hour, the slumbering dark lord awakens, etc.  Although there is a familiar and almost nostalgic quality to when fantasy follows these well-worn paths, long time readers are sick of them.  Many readers are fine with these qualities being in the first few novels they read, but eventually it can push them out of reading the genre for they become lazy writing crutches.  Once a line has been crossed from “this is familiar” to “this is a rip off” readers often do not want to continue to read from those writers.

At the same time, if all of it is new, with nothing known or familiar it can be alienating to the reader too.  There are adventurous readers that enjoy these types of stories, but a vast middle of your audience like a balance between comforting familiar tropes and explorative original ideas.  One of the best ways to walk this line is to give them some familiar elements, then utterly destroy what they expect to happen after that.

This can be done either by throwing in familiar things then making everything else original, or you can also make those familiar aspects cloak original twists.  For example the story can start off with a farm boy who has strange dreams of confronting an evil Dark Lord in his past lives.  The novel can then make it seem that like many fantasy novels before it the farm boy is the prophesied one who will destroy the Dark Lord!  Then of course, you can eventually reveal the farm boy WAS the Dark Lord in the past life, and he is about to be reborn in his power to destroy the world. Once that revelation occurs you could take the story anywhere from companions of the farm boy now having to defeat him, to the farm boy determined to find ways to never become what he once was. This is an example of taking a familiar element and using that to cloak original twists.

A variation of that is to have the familiar trope carry through for the character, but then having the consequences for it happening not be what you expect, especially if the consequences are more realistic.  This sort of technique is used by people like George RR Martin all the time.  Sansa dreams of being a pretty princess betrothed to her king and learns the hard way that it may not be the dream she actually wanted.  Another King marries for love, and his kingdom and army are destroyed because of it.

One of the earlier mentioned techniques was to put in some familiar things in your novel, but have other parts be original.  Your hero is not a farm boy, but a trained merchant duelist, who since birth has been taught to defend the honor of her House.  She fights not to save the world from evil, but for better contracts for her Family.  Then one day in the marketplace she notices a group of people following her. And that they are in fact people she has killed in the past.  After  a long chase and fight scene she remembers seeing the symbol emblazoned into her undead opponents heads, it was the symbol of a dark god of death.  She is now determined to read the ancient prophecies to see what could be happening here, and how it ties into her family.  This takes some familiar tropes (fighting supernatural forces, prophecies, dead gods rising again, sword fighting main character) but adds original elements to keep in new (merchant duelist, prefers to fight for money not honor, has no manifest destiny as a “chosen one” etc.)

Hopefully this advice can help you to keep your novel familiar enough to interest fans of the genre but creative enough to make them want to keep reading.  Like almost all good writing, the real key seems to be striking a balance between extremes.

I notice recent polls have not been as popular, so I am skipping the polls for at least one blog.

World Info and Book Update:

The second book is moving slower.  The upcoming move and associated activities is cutting into writing time heavily, but it is still occurring.  The good news is another edit (3rd major) of Fall of House Nemeni is done which will be the Barnes and Noble version, and I will probably post it for Kindle too, but mainly for newer readers.

For World information, I wanted to talk about duels.  Typically duels only occur for nobles.  I have spoken of weapons before, and the dueling sword is worn by most nobles at all times outside of their houses.  Matters of honor are important, and a duel is the best way to often resolve them.  However, your Station in your House matters to.  The Head of a House is considered to be of such high Honor that they can ignore challenges to those that are not Heads of other Houses.  The Head of a House is just assumed to be right, and can have insults from members of Houses lower than them killed in the streets when insulted.  Of course the Head of the House who owns the person you killed might take this as an insult, which could lead to d a duel, but there should be no immediate reprisal from murdering one of lower Station.

The stories have small guilds and merchants also use dueling to resolve issues and even pirates are said to use duels to pick their Captains,.  Whether or not those stories are true might depend on the specific guild, or pirate crew involved.


Songs and Prophecies: Fantasy Flavor


Songs and Prophecies: Fantasy Flavor

Fantasy novels are a continuation of the same story telling tradition as myths and fables.  Most are inspired by the epic ballads of heroes, and due to this link often contain prophecies and songs from that world.  This is due to the original tradition of mythological stories being recited orally, and often sung (hence the term ballad) depending upon the culture.  This carried through in many of the first fantasy epics, like the works of Tolkien (especially the songs) all the way through current blockbuster epics (Wheel of Time for prophecies and songs).  They add significant flavor to a book, and make it fit the genre better, but if done wrong can pull a reader out of the book.

Songs are probably the harder of the two for most authors.  While there may be a few budding songsmiths amongst fantasy writers, many are not particularly musically inclined.  This has the habit of making many songs either just general poems or not feeling songlike in the least.  The easiest way to make it feel more authentic if you do not have song writing abilities yourself is to pattern your song after either the cadence of epic ballads ( like Beowulf, odyssey, etc) or if doing something closer to our time then sung to the tune of other songs you know.

Many traditional songs we know like Yankee Doodle had the lyrics patterned to fit existing songs (in this case a drinking song) and this happened with many hymns and other songs that people know of.  Sometimes your reader might even think it seems familiar, if they know the source material enough.  In the second book of the Allmother’s Fire I needed a rousing but slightly wistful song for the Air Pirates.  I decided to pattern the tune after “My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean.”  At that point the song practically wrote itself (lyrically it’s not similar, but the idea for the song I had grafted onto the backbone of the existing tune so well, the whole thing was written in about four or five minutes).

For both songs and prophecy you could get the feel you wanted by using certain types of poetic forms, like iambic pentameter to give it a familiar stylized feel.  Other rhythm and meter schemes work.  If wanting to evoke the feel of homer for your Prophecy, try dactylic hexameter.  Modern English is used to rhyme schemes being emphasized, but it is not the only way to give the effect of a song or prophecy.

With prophecy the content is just as important as the presentation.  If the meaning is too clear and accurate there is no sense of discovery or surprise in the book, since everything could be predicted easily.  The key to good prophecy besides making it “catch” in the head of the reader through meter and rhyme scheme is content fuzzy enough to not make twists obvious, but detailed enough in hindsight it makes sense.

For prophecy use vivid descriptive phrases, but let them have multiple meanings.  This way a reader (and the characters) can draw wrong or obvious conclusions early on, but the truth of their meaning can be obfuscated for later surprise.  You could also make intention obvious and have the whole prophecy be an outright lie, but is more a plot choice then stylistic.  You would still want to use things like rhythm (which syllables are stressed) and meter (how many “feet” {syllable combinations established with rhythm} each line has) to make the prose stand out as something unique.

Poll:

Do you like when fantasy novels have their own songs, or do you skip past them to get to the rest?

1)I like it, it adds flavor.

2)I don’t it bogs it down.

World Info:

Here is an Air Pirate Song!  We would recognize this tune as my Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean:

“My love once met me on an isle

It was a place no one else could see

I stayed with her but a while

But it was long enough for me

 

For I won’t

I won’t

I won’t be tied down

Not Me

Not Me

For I won’t

I won’t be tied down

Not Me

 

My place instead is in the skies now

Sailing and forever free

Never tied to one love by a vow

For I won’t ever bend the knee

 

For I won’t

I won’t

I won’t be tied down

Not Me

Not Me

For I won’t

I won’t be tied down

Not Me”


Fantasy Magic: Internally Consistent or Author Fiat?


When it comes to fantasy, the magic system is often very central.  If not to the plot itself the options available to characters often rely on rules and restrictions of their magic systems.  There are two main types of ways (and many points between those two) authors handle those limitations to their characters.  One is by having a rigorous magic system with it’s own internally consistent rules.  It in essence becomes another type of technology that gives predictable outcomes if one takes specific steps to achieve them.  The other is magic more as mystery or a story device.  If you treat it this way it seems like a capricious force that achieves things without the reader or character being able to know why, or the character being able to replicate the same effect again.

A lot of older fantasy fiction and myths occur like the later description.  Magic in stories was a way to have the mysterious or even frightening happen. Those that could use it would be rare, and follow more the paths of a mythological hero than anything else. Early fantasy fiction followed this.  For example Gandalf as a wizard does very little that the modern day would consider “magical” in the Lord of the Rings.  He fights with his sword more than anything else, and most of his wizard abilities were small, illusory, or using obscure lore.  He could however suddenly do things completely unexpected and not foreshadowed, like essentially coming back from the dead.  Even greek and norse gods seemed to only have the abilities that fit the needs of the specific tales they were in.  The one exception to this was at times magic items would do the same things every time, whether it be a ring of invisibility or a spear that causes thrones to sprout out of it’s target.

Modern fantasy seems to be more informed by the fact that many of its readers have been role playing gamers, or played video games or other media which are influenced by specific rules. There is still some leeway for surprise effects, like letting a character have fire magic without codifying each and every use of this before it happens.  Then the mage who normally throws fireballs at its enemy can summon a firestorm and go unconscious from the fire during he final battle (or even burn themselves up) without it seeming “deus ex machine” or to occur by fiat.  Some authors (such as Brandon Sanderson) might add appendixes so you know exactly the limitations and abilities of each “branch” of fantastical powers available.

Whichever you choose, it’s best to stick to one of them, or whatever place you decided in between, the whole series.  If people can use their abilitiesonly  in certain logical ways most of the times, but at key story climax times unexpected capricious things happen it can leave a reader feeling frustrated.

The mysterious version is best if you want the characters themselves and most of the denizens of their world afraid or awed by magic.  If almost no one knows how it works then it gives a feeling of amazement when it does show, or if it works differently every time even those using it cannot rely on it for they do not know what effects will happen when they use it.  Many dark fantasies like Game of Thrones and Chronicles of Covenant make magic either rare or capricious, so that no one relies on it for they never know what outcomes will happen.  If a main character uses it even they should be afraid to use those abilities for dark consequences may happen.

Those that want to build a world different but similar enough to our own will often choose to have their magic systems following laws our minds can understand.  As stated before this is common to those who come to fantasy from genres outside of older literature (comics, video and role playing games, similarities to some sciences, etc) often expect it. In these worlds magic is less a taboo dark force than it is a consistent tool that just could not exist in our own universe.  This is a great system to use when also crating world with culture or flavors like our own (something that feels Victorian, renaissance Italian, ancient Celtic), etc sicne our minds accept it in the same way we would accept a weapon or other tool a culture uses that we do not.

Poll:

What is your preference for magic systems in your fantasy literature?

1)Open and unreliable

2)Defined and methodical

3)Whatever works for the book it is in since as long as it is consistent.

4)Don’t care at all.

Book Update:

I am probably about 60% through the first draft of Rise From the Sun Below, the second Allmother’s Fire book.  In the conceptual stage I am deciding what series to do next, between two different series, and a standalone book idea.

World Info:

Bodies of water are an interesting thing in this universe.  There are no oceans, so most water is confined to well spots or occasionally canals and streams.  Streams do go off the island, but instead of falling down into the Sun Below they careen back to the under portions of the island and then go back into the steams and different points.  If one wanted to they could try to pilot a small boat of the side of an island, but no knows if they would make it back up the island again, or careen down into the sun below.

A few islands actually have large lakes, and this is the closest anyone in the universe has to Oceans.  There are tales of islands that have lakes large enough to be similar to our Oceans, yet no one has ever been able to map how to go there, so it may just be a tale. It is certainly spoken of in the past of lakes large enough to be Oceans, and if this is not true then it is curious why airships looks almost exactly like ships that in our world would cross the Oceans.  Some whisper that this is just one more mystery suppressed by the Allmother’s church.


Word Usage in Non Existent languages


In fantasy (and in many scifi novels) your protagonists probably are not speaking English.  They are likely not speaking and actual existing language, unless you want them to.  You could just decide by fiat that they are speaking English, but some people might have a problem suspending belief (especially if they know enough to know different Old English is from current English, and that language constantly evolves).  If you do decide that they speak their own language however other issues occur such as; can you use any puns then, what about rhymes, or wordplay like homonyms or clever phrasings, and what about modern idioms?  Below is some advice to help with these issues.

The most important advice is to stay consistent.   If you sprinkle your own (or another language’s) words for something, or an ancient word for something use it every time.  Do not use the phrase katana and broadsword as if interchangeable.  Don’t call an animal a k’ysen most of the book, and then suddenly call it a dinosaur later even if the description you gave made it obvious.  If you do pepper modern idioms into your world, decide which ones fit and why and stick with it.  Nothing is worse than having what parts of our languages are used in your world seem arbitrarily.  If the whole world seems like an allegory for the ancient Vikings, and then you use all modern English rhymes in their poetry it may pull a reader out of your world.

Modern phrasings in particular can be tricky, including what is “modern.”  Even phrases that often are in our language and seen as conventional are actually references to real life cultural events and would not probably exists in your fantasy world.   This means extra care must be taken of what types of phrases you use to keep your world feeling consistent.  Decide why those phrases are allowed. It might be because of cultural similarities, it might be events in that world, or you might let all modern idioms apply and assume that those modern idioms are translations of whatever they are really saying. If attempting to weed out modern phrasings then you will need to think hard about anything allowed.  Even my last phrases “weed out” assumes the speaker’s culture has familiarity with the process of keeping a garden.  If trying to be rigorous on phrasings, I recommend having multiple beta readers that keep an eye out just for that.

If you want your own jargon (this happens particularly with magic or technology in fantasy and sci fi) it helps to keep it to a level that does not overwhelm your reader with new words they must learn.  Also, if there is something analogous in our world you can use that as an alternate way to describe it as long as it is not too rooted in one particular cultural identity.  If a person has a specialized curved sword called a dyten, calling it a sword later is fine.  Referring to the dyten as a scimitar later is not advised however, as it weakens the idea that your world’s sword is this unique thing you called a dyten.  If you can keep all your phrasing to a small amount (maybe a dozen or two words) the reader won’t feel like they need to check a glossary each time a conversation occurs.

Puns, homonyms, rhymes and the like very much rely on deciding if: the language is for all intents and purposes modern English, the language is not at all like English and you do not want anything to break that illusion, it is not English but you assume that there is some sort of wordplay in that language that the people in that world are seeing that we are not and let our version of the wordplay stay as a way your reader can connect.

Most fantasy seems to go with the third one.  The language is not English but it is treated like that in the rhymes, songs, and puns its characters use.  This is the easiest way to write, but can sometimes pull your reader out of the book much like using modern idioms.  This seems to very by reader.  Some readers actually prefer this technique for familiar wordplay draws them in more.  If firmly rooting your novel in history, or emphasizing the “otherness” of your culture you might want to write it differently.  Instead use analogues, related concepts, and wise observations for poetry instead of rhymes.  Make humor contextual instead of pun related.  When writing think  “Will this joke be the same for my Spanish, Japanese, German and Italian readers?  That sort of mindset can give you good guidelines of who to keep language integrity throughout your work

Poll:

Do you prefer your languages in fantasy and sci fi to be:

A)Modern English.  Who cares if that’s not feasible, it gets rid of all other barriers.

B)Its own unique language, and nothing modern or reliant upon being English should show.  The translated version of this novel will easily be able to use actual translations with little to no localization needed.

C)Functionally similar to modern English, but only as a device to allow the reader to be more immersed in the world.  It will have differences, but rhymes and puns are allowed and it is just assumed the world has an equivalent for them.

World Info:

Mandatory Paradise will be the focus again, since it is the newer book and I have more questions about that from people who have wondered how one structure can cover the entire island.  The truth is the Palaces are essentially connected and wind their way around the island and jut into the center of it at parts.  There are, however,  places not actually part of the Palace as a whole.  These are not residential places, and do not have the running water the rest of the island does or entrances to the catacombs.  This is where the markets are, smiths craft their wares, and the vineyards for the grapes are located.

Also thePpalaces are broken down by areas and quarters have different feels to them.  I will describe the differences between the quarters in a later article.  In general they are broken down by class and occupation, but occasionally by philosophy.  It is still all one Palace, but the culture is not nearly as homogenous as the Senate would probably prefer it to be.


Writing in Sprints


Most ebook authors are holding down a full time job, raising a family and might even have a hobby or two.  This means time is a premium, and unless they become a self-sufficient hermit (with wi fi) they will never have a schedule that allows them to write as much as they want.  This has some writers forcing strict schedules on themselves to make up for this, with either a specific time of day that they write (like maybe one or two specific hours each week day, all Saturday,  etc) or a specific goal every week (5000 words is a common one I hear).

My schedule, for whatever reasons I cannot pin down, ends up being too chaotic for specific guidelines.  I still have overall goals I would like to meet (I prefer a minimum of one chapter a week) but I do not always fulfill that.  I try to make up for this by most of the time that I write, I write in sprints, then edit at a slower pace.  Without some words or some guidelines, days can pass with nor progress on the book.  If you force artificial guidelines (I must have an hour to myself!) then it may never get done.  Instead when I sit at that keyboard and I have the spare fifteen minutes to write, I let those fingers fly away as quick as possible to put as much things down in electronic form as fast as I can!

After that, of course, you not only do the obvious spelling/grammar edits, but you can flesh out the scenes, or re word things.  You might even have to redo entire scenes this way, as the idea that sounded great in your head when pounding out a chapter quickly might not translate as well on paper.  That can happen even if you are leisurely typing out a chapter too, meticulously following out a point by point outline.  It’s much easier I have noticed filling out editing in spare minutes, as long as there is something on the page to change. 

Along those lines writing in sprints also means not always doing things in order or stopping at obvious places. Nothing defeats a novel’s formation as much as a blank page at the beginning of a new chapter or at a break in a chapter.  It’s for this reason that normally after I finish a chapter I start typing the next one, even if only a paragraph.  That way when I come back to it I have thoughts to build off of.  For me, once I have a character in a situation I can continue the plot by merely having them react to the situation.  It’s also easier to come up with said situations when finishing another chapter because my “writing brain” is fully engaged and therefore better at pulling plot out of the ether.

Sometimes when writing in sprints real life may keep you from writing for days, or at worst weeks.  When this happens I have noticed it’s very tough to start again.  Things that have helped me before with this is: trying to continue the scene in my head before writing, jumping ahead to another chapter, or erasing the last paragraph or two and re write them differently so that new ideas flourish.

Another thing that helps with writing in short amounts is mentioned above, but can be done even if it has not been a long time between chapters: continuing dialogue, scenes, or other aspects of the novel in your head in between writing.  Often at random times such as at lunch breaks, commuting to work, or even watching TV I am wondering how characters would react to the last thing I wrote for them, or even hypothetical situations that are likely to happen from where I left them last.  When I actually sit down to write it does not always come out the same way I originally imagined it, but doing this helps you work out possibilities without constantly erasing and re-writing.

The most important thing about sprint writing is not giving up, and allowing it to happen as frequently as possible in your schedule.  You won’t type out whole chapters in one sitting like marathon writing does, but you will see progress in a way that can fit even the busiest of schedules.

Well, you will as long as you don’t eat a whole bag of jelly babies beforehand and your mind descends into sugar induced insanity and/or lethargy.

In other news:

The second Allmother’s Fire book is officially over the halfway mark now.  I can’t tell if this novel will be shorter or longer than The Fall of House Nemeni was, but it seems to me to be packing more scenes in less words as a lot of “filler” words are being excised from it.  It’s moving slower due to real life (moving across country in two months) but still expanding at a steady pace.

Also the likely next series is starting to coalesce, and I might even write a short story in that world in between book 2 and 3 of the Allmother’s Fire.  It’s not a large epic like Allmother’s Fire is, but the canvas for it’s world is vast and is also clockpunk.  It’s not however a tale of floating islands and has more of a pulp influence to it.

Also got my first Amazon 5 star review (had some on goodreads before) for The Fall of House Nemeni, and my first Amazon review for Mandatory Paradise!  I can’t describe how much a writer loves reading these things, even when the point out the weak points too (it’s honestly how we grow).

My poll ties into my post, but you can apply to yourself even if you do not write, as I am curious about how different people tackle similar things:

Poll:

When tackling a big project do you prefer to do it:

1)In many short chunks fit in when you can

2)All at one period of time with nothing else in between

World Info:

I have done a lot recently on tidbits from the Allmother’s Fire world, time to diverge for a little bit to Mandatory Paradise, since I am finally getting some feedback from it by people I do not know.  Today’s will be general answers to questions I have gotten, but edited so as to not give spoilers:

1)The cover and occasional points in the book have Alnanla in dark robes, but the first description given of Priestess’ at the Bull Dances are that they and the Priests are pretty scantily clad.  Is this a plot hole?:

Answer:

No, at the dances they do not wear alto as part of the ceremony and because no one wants to be gored by a bull because you were attempting to run around in thick robes.  When not at Bull Dances both Priests and Priestesses are modest, hence the robes.

2)If thesis stones hold such information how come they are not used by the populace in general instead of formalized teaching, reading, memorizing etc.

Answer:

Thesis stones are limited, and the Senate and Judges have a reason to not hand them out like candy.  This will become more apparent why as the story progresses.

3)If most of the populace never gets attacked by the monsters behind the shields, why are they still afraid of them?  Even though they could see them wouldn’t their fear of them go away, and the “threat” the monsters present seem unreal, much like violence has become to some people because of TV?

Answer:

Without debating conclusions drawn in that question, keep in mind that enough Lykatic Vampire attacks happen that on an island as small as that enough people know of a friend, or friend of a friend who has had someone die even if they have not seen the monsters do it themselves.  At the same time many of the citizens often do not look up at night at the monsters, because shield or no shield it’s still frightening to see dragons and gryphons careening around madly only a few hundred feet over your head.


Reviews: Life Blood of Independent/Self Published Books


As per the title, without reviews independent and even more so, self-published books, wither away and disappear.  Without a giant media machine letting you know you should buy something, or buying reviews in Locus or other major review organizations the only way most readers know if they are truly interested in your work is in reviews.  The two most important for this are Amazon Product review and Goodreads.  Without these things, your book is lost amongst the glut of self-published fiction, with nothing but maybe your cover and product description to distinguish yourself.

In some ways the Amazon Product Reviews are the most important.  A prospective reader can tell if someone actually bought the product, and Amazon does a good job filtering out sock puppet accounts and false reviews.  There is also an immediacy to it, especially if you book is a Kindle only one, for they can scroll down and see the whole review right away.  If something happens to make it so that they are already reading your description (such as your cover catching their eye, a free promo day kicking you up in the rankings, hearing about your work on twitter) this is probably the best type of review to have.  However this does not normally help someone learn about your book and something had to already draw them to that product description page for it to do any good.

Therefore Goodreads reviews can be excellent to have also.  Many people like to use Goodreads, especially if their friends with someone, or someone has similar reading tastes to them.  The way a reader tags your book is good too, for it can show up in searches more frequently.  From my own personal experience my Goodreads reviews seem to be by people giving more in depth reactions to my book than my amazon reviewers, but that is only anecdotal evidence.

Other ways available for your book to be review include personal and professional blogs.  The more widely read the blog is the better it is for you.  However this sets up an issue that the very wide read blogs are often booked up and so it can either take forever for someone to review your book this way, or they may not even try if there are not enough reviews on your book already.  This is where it helps to have reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, to show that other people found the novel worth their time.

If you really want to thank an independent/self-published author for writing a book you enjoyed then write a review on one of the above places.  Even if it’s not perfect, any word of mouth and honest opinion does help, and it’s more genuine that way.  You do not have to give a glowing 5 star review to make an author very pleased that someone took their time enough not only to read what they wrote, but to give an opinion about it later.  All of this is of course because my newest book Mandatory Paradise is very new, and looking very lonely with no reviews anywhere.

Poll

If you read Reviews, where do you get them from? (you can choose more than one)

1)Amazon

2)Goodreads

3)Small Personal Blogs

4)Large Review Blogs

5)Libraryanything

6)Shelfari

7)Other, put in the comments below

 

World Tidbit – Allmother’s Fire

The Grand Laws of the Universe are often said just like that in one large unwieldy phrase.  The Grand Laws are not put in just one specific book, but are all the combined observations of scholars and philosophers throughout the Centuries of how the world normally runs.  Families with Domain over a certain aspect can Loophole them, but they still follow some sort of internal logic with a cost for what they do.

Many philosophers have thought of codifying what the Laws are so that they can be read in all of one book.  The Allmother’s church however has a distaste for the written word, and discourages such movements whenever they occur.  It is whispered that this may be because the Church is afraid that people will look to the Grand Laws instead of the Allmother to solve their answers if this was ever to occur.

In the darkest of locations it is rumored such a book does exists, and the Church has either destroyed it or acquired it long ago, never to be seen again.


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