Tag Archives: clockpunk

One Year Anniversary


In two days it will be the one year anniversary from having this blog (just renewed, that’s how I know).

Since that time I have completed my first novel, and the readers of this blog walked with me as I went on the journey of getting it self-published, and the various decisions made with it. I consider that first book, Fall of House Nemeni, a definite success, even though I have not been able to market it recently.

Then, I had an older work re edited, and released it (Mandatory Paradise). Although it has a small vocal fanship with me, this did not feel as successful. I do not know if I did not market it well enough or if because it was so tonefuly different than my first (but newer in terms of when I wrote it) released work, but it never found the same footing as Fall of House Nemeni. I feel like I have learned from it too, and want to do something with this book or world sometime in the future, but for now it is not my focus.

Currently I am working on the second of the Allmother’s Fire trilogy (most likely to be titled “Rise From the Sun Below”) and although a move and then more recent real life events have slowed my work on this, it is nearing the 2/3rd mark and I am making progress on it.
I am considering writing a short story when this second novel is finished and going through the various layers of editing, but my original plans of maybe doing another novel in another world are on hold until this trilogy is finished. I would like to think that one of the things I have learned from Mandatory Paradise is not to shift my focus when working on another novel too much.
I also had my encounter with other obstacles, but they seem to be in the past too.
So realistically what can be expected from the future? I plan on finishing and publishing book two before 2013 is done. 2014 should finish the trilogy, and I may or may not (schedule permitting) release another short story during that time. After that? I have decided it’s probably smart to wait until I finish the first trilogy to make any other decisions.

One other plan, is you notice my first book is getting close to having been out for a year, and yet it has never been released on the Nook as per my original plans. A variety of factors have contributed to this but the biggest are twofold. One is that Kindle promotions are too important to give up, at least for now. Maybe when more books of the trilogy are out I can decided to let the first book go multiplatform, but for now, it’s too important to keep things Kindle Exclusive. The other is originally the process to convert to smash words and then nook was so specific that it was annoying to meet all of what they wanted. Then, nook re did how to submit books just to it, but their newest terms of service leave something to be desired. For a person who owns a nook (in addition to kindle on their tablets) this annoys me that I won’t be releasing in that format any time soon, but I do not see any way around that for now.

So all in all, it’s been a great year, and I will leave you with a dialogue snippet frpm the current chapter(pre editing of course):

The youngest Nemeni pointed to her back and said, “I did not mutilate myself here either, all the people from where I live don’t have wings … yet.”


Inner Monologue vs. Dialogue (Revealing Information)


Besides describing events as they occur the main way information is relayed to the user is through dialogue of the characters and the characters inner thoughts.  Good writing has a balance of this, for they both have different uses in pushing the story forward.  There are reasons to rely more on one than the other, depending upon the feel you are trying to evoke in your narrative.

Dialogue has the advantage of simultaneously moving the narrative along and possibly relating personal or past information at the same time. It does not however allow the same amount of inner thought to be revealed as internal monologues do.  That does not mean that NO inner thought is revealed that way.  Word choice, the topics spoke of, idioms used and other subtleties can clue the reader in to things that other characters might not pick up on. Overall though dialogue is better at conveying more overt information, unless it is in character for the speaker to say things that have primarily double meanings.

Narratives heavy in dialogue seem to read much quicker.  Some readers actually crave the dialogue so much they skip past scenes that do not have it.  Most information we gain about someone in real life comes from talking to someone else.  Sure you may occasionally read of people that become your friends, but often getting to know someone starts off as a conversation with them, or about them.  Because of this dialogue feels like a very “natural” way for information to be conveyed, and helps make that a primary form of fast reading for many people.

People often slow down when reading inner monologues, partially because in real life that is not something we can do.  They are essential however for conveying information that is internalized.  A lot of history, personality, and subtleties are easier to understand when coming directly from the characters head.  Context is often key to truly understanding a character.  Most people do not constantly talk about their past with others, and stuffing your novels with flashbacks is cumbersome (I know, this coming from the guy who is showing 12 years over twelve flashbacks over the course of a trilogy).

Without those resources the main way to deal with the past is the way many people do in real life.  When things occur or even when idle it reminds them of other events that have some sort of similarity.  In addition to relaying past information an inner monologue can often be the only way to really know how a character feels about a situation, especially if it is opposite of their words or tones used.  It is easier to convey dramatic irony through inner monologues, and can add depth to a novel.

Narratives where the focus is on introspection, where nothing is as it seems, and the focus is on what lies beneath the surface will often have a disproportionate amount of inner monologues.  The biggest issues coming from this however is that it can slow down the reader.  Also, depending upon the reader or technique used, it can fall opposite of the normal “show don’t tell” rule of writing.

Pulp writing has little inner monologues while mysteries often come from a first person perspective  that has most of even its dialogue sandwiched by inner thoughts and reactions.  Fantasy and sci fi depends on the style used.  Swords and Sorcery books come from the same vein as pulp, and therefore are dialogue or description heavy (more of that next blog).  Large Epics often want to get in characters heads, and tend to lean more towards the inner monologues.

Poll:

Which technique do you prefer?:

1)More Inner Monologue

2)More Dialogue

3)No Preference

World Info:

Let’s go back to the Allmother’s Fire Trilogy, since that is what I am writing currently.  Although not touched on heavily in the first book (but it is referenced) there are many “schools” of sword fighting available.  Each Island has at least one school, no matter how big it is, and the largest Islands have many.  Cenive for example, has ten large sword schools.  Although any one form any guild or family can learn any style, most of the time those from the same guild learn the same style.

The Nemeni for example primarily learn the Southern Quarters style, which emphasizes two swords and precision.  The Tanello instead learn the Staccato style,  which uses rapiers only and is named after the fact it’s students learn to fight to music.  There forms are taught connected to both orchestra and opera, and many of it’s students reach for a sword whenever they hear the appropriate music.

These schools are not only useful for learning how to fight, but give one a network of friends that can be relied upon.  Houses and guilds should remain higher than that, but many see their Sword School as great family then blood itself.  It should be telling that  the Nemeni officially are not supposed to learn any style other than Southern Quarter, so that there should never be a conflict of loyalty.


Dramatic Irony vs Suspense


Dramatic Irony vs Suspense

In any novel with secrets when they are finally brought to light there are two main ways to reveal them.  You can reveal them to your readers, and not the characters.  The other way is that the reader does not know something until a character does.  Novels that focus on suspense tend to use this later method.  They leave clues and hints but in the end nothing is made definite until revealed to the character.

Other novels and my personal preference as a reader and a writer is to reveal at least some of the secrets but either none or most of the characters do not know the truth.  While this does lessen the suspense (and is probably not the preferred method for a mystery) it does allow later events to be seen in a different light than the characters are seeing things.

If Jen is bemoaning that she never got to raise children to John, who is secretly her child and you know this, it makes the whole speech different.  If John is aware of this, and responds back but does not reveal the secret, each words he says may have two meanings.  One of them is the way she is perceiving things and the other comes from his additional knowledge of the truth.  Personally, I love that method much more.

This of course does not have to be used in just soap opera settings, and can help add danger to a scene if you know that person’s partner is really the killer, or they just handed their house key to the person who wants to take them down.  Dramatic Irony can get you yelling at the characters in a book like almost nothing else, and I like things that add that level of caring about what happens.

The other reason I prefer Dramatic Irony is that if in most of the novel a lot of the big questions remain secrets to the reader, they may become lost, confused, or bored.  Dramatic Irony should give enough information to hook interest, but can often leave out key pieces of informaiton that makes the reader want to know more.  Being clued into a secret also helps the reader feel smarter than the characters without actually dumbing down the characters.  You might know what will happen if they stab someone with the magic dagger and they are not wearing a blue tunic, but you can’t fault the protagonist for not knowing since they were not in the mind of the antagonist two scenes ago.

Some people prefer the real impact of a secret that is carried for a long period of time and then is suddenly shown to characters and the readers at the same time, and prefer the shock value that has.  I honestly believe that in sci fi and fantasy novels (and to a lesser degree thrillers but not mysteries) it is good to have an honest combination of both, to give short term and long term ‘hooks’ to your readers.

As for other book related things I wanted to briefly talk about tags.  Amazon uses tags to help people find books that appropriately fit categories.  One of the issues with Indie books is with less original exposure, people at large are not sure if a book tag fits an appropriate book.  Here is a great thread on the Genre Underground Goodreads group page http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/947198-a-sporting-game-of-tagging?type=topic#comment_53802172 to show some Indie authors some love.  They have links to their books and you can click on the suggested tags, and say that you agree with the tags. This has nothing to do with endorsement of a book, and is not a review or liking it, just letting people know what type of book it is so the right audience can find it.

My Poll today is NOT connected to what I mainly talked about, instead it is another one about the epic novel.  The results of the last poll have Conspiracy, Labyrinth. Paradise, and Island as showing as the top four options and I had one person tell me they had an issue clicking on Labyrinth, so I am giving them another vote for it.

Here are some titles I am thinking of, you can vote for more than one.  If you have other ideas, please put something in the comments.  Like last time for my First novel, I am not guaranteeing to take the vote as the new name for the novel, but this helps me gauge what my readers like.  Please vote as to which titles makes you most want to either pick it up or at least read the description.  Oh and the Paradise Conspiracy is not a choice because I already looked it up and it’s taken 🙂  Depending upon if there are a few I like and others like too, I may do a final poll on this later.

Poll

1)Labyrinthine Conspiracy

2)The Labyrinth Conspiracy

3)Conspiracy of Mandatory Paradise

4)Island of the Labyrinth

5)Paradise by Conspiracy

6)Island Paradise of Conspiracy

7)Massacre in Paradise

8)Isolation Conspiracy

As for other news:

Updates – The epic novel is 80% through it’s current editor (the book was partially edited beforehand but that was a while ago, and the focus was not on line editing in the past like it is now).  Soon it will be passed to another editor to copy edit.  I expect this novel to have at least two new full passes of editing, and possibly three, with a particular focus on copy/line editing since it had more thorough overall story editing in the past.

The sequel to Fall of House Nemeni is about 25% through the rough draft, ie the bulk of the writing.

As for a world tid bit:

Long ago the House Nemeni made clockwork guards amongst their other clockwork marvels. These guards were amazing as they could react as if alive, and were unbribeable and never slept.  Occasionally though, something would happen and they would slaughter people without warning.  Eventually the Church issued an edict that the brass guards (also known as golems) were being possessed by Firesouls and their use was forbidden.  By the time this happened House Nemeni had transitioned to a banking house, and this edict did not harm them.

Now golems are the things of children’s tales and warnings.  If you do not listen to your parents a firesoul may make a golem appear in your room, and crush you in your sleep, or so it is said.  Only scholars with large libraries seem to remember how widespread and how powerful they truly once were.


Winds of Change!


No I am not referring to the “classic” song by the Scorpions.

Jul y 1st- July 4th a very awesome promotion will take place.  A group of Indie Writers (yup I am one of them) called the Genre Underground have banded together to give quality Indie options of Fantasy, Horror, and Sci fi novels to consumers and during that time many will have free or 99 cent books!

http://www.facebook.com/#!/TheGenreUnderground this is the group’s facebook page, and they have a more extensive following on goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/topic/list_group/70802-the-genre-underground that I can highly reccommend.  Soon you will be seeing interviews from members of this group here.

The Fall of House Nemeni will be free two of those days, and it will be a NEW revised version with additional line editing from a few people and other changes already talked about in this blog.  Newer books of mine I will have more beta readers/line editors but since that was my first book it definitely benefits from the original help.  Not to mention, I am a big fan of using different medium different ways, and this is one of the great things about e-publishing, issuing corrections digitally.

As for The Winds of Change Event July 1st to 4th here are some highlights for you of things you can expect (and remember these books will be free part of the time and heavily discounted when not:

BROOD OF BONES by AE Marling. High fantasy adventure of dreams and mysteries.

http://www.amazon.com/Brood-of-Bones-ebook/dp/B005QQ3H7G

KNIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and KNIGHT TERRORS by Stephen E. Moore. High octane comedy and adventure where “B movie” tropes get blasted at Renaissance Faires.

http://www.amazon.com/Knight-Living-Strange-Knights-ebook/dp/B004YR54LU

http://www.amazon.com/Knight-Terrors-Strange-Knights-ebook/dp/B0069SJIHI

ELEGY and LEGACY by Christopher Kellen. Gritty sword and sorcery from the Arbiter’s Codex.

http://www.amazon.com/Elegy-The-Arbiter-Codex-ebook/dp/B005ESFMMY

http://www.amazon.com/Legacy-The-Arbiter-Codex-ebook/dp/B0087TQNCU

STALKER SQUADRON by Dave Meek. In the near future, artificially intelligent war planes set out to start a war between the US and China.

http://www.amazon.com/Stalker-Squadron-ebook/dp/B008B0JQVA

FIRST CHOSEN and ONCE WE WERE LIKE WOLVES by M. Todd Gallowglas. Dark epic fantasy of scheming gods and men, in the first two volumes of TEARS OF RAGE.

http://www.amazon.com/First-Chosen-Tears-Series-ebook/dp/B0055I14BG

http://www.amazon.com/Once-Wolves-Tears-Series-ebook/dp/B006OSSF7C

The link for mine is still http://www.amazon.com/Fall-House-Nemeni-Allmothers-ebook/dp/B00847364S

This is a great time to stock up on some fiction, depending upon which genres you like!

One of the things I am really enjoying that I did not know before getting my book out was how nice a lot of the Indie writing sf/fantasy community is.  I have been given a lot of advice by twitter and email, and it has definitely helped chart the course of what I have done, and a lot of the decent exposure my books has been given has been from that.

Considering that many creative outlets in an independent scene treat sales like a zero sum game (if someone buys from Author X they are somehow taking away from my sales) I feel pretty fortunate that it is not that cased with what I have witnessed so far.  Authors are also willing to give not just advice, but shout outs for other books and initiatives, and this camaraderie is a lot of what I look forward to seeing whenever I am on twitter now.

As for updates:

The sequel to Fall of House Nemeni is at about the 18% mark for the first draft.

The too-be-renamed epic Novel (for now we will codename it Nimoa because that used to be its name) is about 2/3rds the way through the first new revision, but this one is going through a lot of hands.  A few blogs from now I will put up more polls having to do with its new name.

Poll:

Just curious in general, what is your favorite genre? I am putting up side genre’s only not, things like general lit, or things that fit in other categories ( for example, YA tends to be some other genre).

1)Fantasy

2)Sci Fi

3)Horror

4)Thrillers

5)Mysteries

World Tidbit:

Not a lot of time/space for a tidbit about my world this time so I will keep it brief.  The Nemeni House was not always a banker house,  Certain of it’s clockwork gadgets (safes for storing money, gear trackers for finding stolen things, armed clockwork guards) were used by other banking Houses frequently but could only be operated by the Nemeni.  The Nemeni eventually realized it would be smarter to cut out the middle man, and become bankers themselves.  They stole many clients from their former employers, including the House Tanello most of all.  House Tanello never forgave them and it became a feud raging up until the beginning of the first book.


Perception and Reality: POV


If four people were in a room and saw a confrontation you would probably get four different (sometimes very different) stories of what happened.  Everyone shades what happens through the way they view the world and their own thoughts and preconceptions.  Even specific words might change as people misremember what they or other people said, and body posture and intonation also take on completely different shades depending upon the viewer of a situation.

I bring this up because one of amazing things with writing is that we can show this so easily, how an event can be interrupted in different ways depending upon whose head we are in.  It’s a device used in many of my favorite books.  It ties heavily into the beginning of the Fall of House Nemeni, and used a few other places too.  I have had people write me and say, “Hey how come things looked different in this chapter and the other time it was told.” I then have them go back and look and keep in mind that it was from a different characters viewpoint, and they could see how that heavily altered the perception of an event.

One person recently asked me, “So what is the real story, what is really happening, who is right?”  As a writer, I do have a pretty good idea of what is really occurring, but I would like to think I am biased too.  I see events as how they affect the overall plot, and frankly that is not the full story either.  There are also some passages that let readers know information that is secret, and completely changes the way they read all the dialogue already said.  Personally, I enjoy those moments, when you realize everything said buy someone in the past might have been different then you thought. I talked to a reader recently who did not like those types of things revealed when seeing someone’s viewpoint.  They preferred having things revealed in actions, and viewed from the main protagonists view, than from inside other people’s heads.

Poll Question:

Do you like to have the revelation of some secrets to be from when antagonists or background characters get a POV, or do you want everything revealed in action viewed by the protagonists?

1)Revealed by Protagonist perception only

2)Some reveals by POV can be good

Miscellaneous other things:

On advice connected to a group of writers I am with, I have increased my twitter followers from about 17 to 350+ in a weekend.  We will see how this goes, but so far I have met some really interesting people.  Twitter is still not my favorite social media at all, but it is a neat way to meet a lot of people and learn just a little about them.  The chat on #steampunkchat was tons of fun too!

Someone asked that with floating islands, airships, and pirates, if that meant we would have sky mermaids.  They answered their own question when they realized that would mean harpies, who are much less cooler than mermaids.  Hmm I wonder if people really want harpies in this?


Killing your Babies and Revision


Very minor spoilers (if you read the product description there are no spoilers involved)

Fall of House Nemeni begins with four chapters of four different view points based off a single event.  The original idea was to chronicle the cataclysmic (well at least for the House Nemeni it was) events that shape the rest of the book, and show how a different pair of eyes could tell a different story.  As I get feedback from multiple people about the beginning of the book although there are some differences of opinion, most people have responded thusly: they like Chapters 1 and 2, and most did 4.  What has become really obvious, is that most did not like Chapter 3, and it has made me think about something another author once told me.

They said, “The most important thing about being an author is being willing to kill your babies.”  I am pretty sure it was not a literal infanticide comment or just bieng willing to let characters die, but more about excising things in your book that you will want to keep because they are important to you, but the book does not really need it.  Upon re reading I can see chapters 1, 2, and 4 reveal significant new information and interesting characters that it is obvious why people like those chapters.  In my mind Chapter 3 was a needed piece of the puzzle, but further study combined with feedback makes it obvious to me that maybe three lines are really needed, the rest just completes my want of having four characters observe the same events, and is not needed.

I am going to send House Nemeni through another round of edits, even though publsihed now, as I have caught several issues not caught before original publication (then/than issues, some grammar, etc) and a couple of formatting issues that did not show in the preview mode when I published it to kindle.  I plan to do this rather soon, and want it out before the July 4th weekend if possible.  At the same time these edits will help the book, nothing major changes as to the story itself by doing them.

With that in mind, I now ask my next poll question:

When I release the revised version of the book, should I entirely cut out the current chapter three?

1)Yes, if overwhelmingly people don’t seem to like the chapter, then cut it.  Early momentum when reading is important.

2)No, the book has been released, if you kill an entire chapter in future versions of the book, that will be confusing to the people that already have it if they download the revised version later.

Specifics, like whether or not I should add the few missing pieces of information that would occur from killing that chapter into another place in the book can be decided later.

Also, is there someone who is not currently editing another book for me that thinks they could do another round of revisions in the allotted time?  If so, please let me know the more fresh eyes the better.

As for a book world tidbit:

There are flying versions of various creatures both of the mundane variety (like flying gazelles) and the less mundane (like flying Kraken) around the floating islands. In many cases they have versions that seem island bound, and than others that fly around.  In the cases gazelles the flying variety have wings, in the cases of some of the species like Kraken they do not.  There is not a lot of conjecture in this world as to why this occurs, but some philosophers think it is the same thing that allows islands to fly and never sink that allows certain species to do the same.  Every year more mundane species seemed to be spotted flying (some try to even say they have seen flying cows and pigs) in uncharted spots around the isles, but there is not definitive proof for many of the claims made.


Exposition and Lost Ponderings


One of the fun challenges with fantasy fiction is how to get all the necessary world information without turning chapters into boring walls of exposition.  This task gets even more interesting if the characters and the inhabitants of that world in large have incorrect or incomplete ideas they think of as true of their own universe.  At that point you have to find a way to relay what people think about the world, but not back yourself into a corner so that when you show more of what is going on it is obvious there is not ret conning going on.

I am writing the second book now, and certain characters are starting down a path that will reveal the truth behind things they did not even think to explore (ie this is not about the religion or prophecies) the veracity of.  I am trying to find a way to make these revelations obvious that it was the truth the whole time, but still feel natural from the events and the characters, and not make it seem that this was just a way to cover up inconsistence’s for the internal “world logic.”  I did plant plot seeds to help with this, but it is still a challenging task.

It is important to the overall plot that some of this is revealed to the characters, but I wonder how much is necessary for the characters to know, and how much the readers even want to know. Some people like to see fantasy epics as a tapestry for characters to exist on and stories to be told in, and do not care too much about underlying mechanics or how everything happens in that world.  Other people see the mechanics such as the magic systems, the creatures that live there, and unique things about the world to be just as important as the plot and characters themselves.  These readers prefer if not for everything to be spelled out at least enough information to be given that everyone can draw logical conclusions themselves as to how it all works.

Think of the end of LOST (possible mild spoilers if you have not seen it all yet).  About the half the viewers were fine with the end, and found that the characters arcs were all wrapped up in a satisfying matter, and closure was given to the characters and their drives.  Others hated it, feeling that their many questions about the world and why things happened were never answered at all.

This all leads me to a question I was pondering the other day, and my poll today:

Do you prefer the focus to be on the characters and their personal stories, or have all the questions about the world itself answered?

1)I want the focus on the characters and their stories, I don’t need the in depth details of everything about the world explained.

2)I like characters and stories, but please find a way to answer any major questions or what appear to be inconsistencies to me, or I am not going to be satisfied with an ending.

As for updates on the books themselves:

Fall of House Nemeni is basically moving at the same rate it does normally, minus special events (first few days released, promos, etc).  Although the free promo day was fantastic, I am not definite long term whether going exclusive for Amazon was the best choice but we will only know once I release it on other platforms in Late August.

The second book in that series is started, and currently going on the right pace to make the total time to create it (both editing and writing) be roughly nine months.

The release of the newly edited older work will have at least three editors.  The first editor is 20% or so through it, and when finished I will hand to the next editor after doing suggested re writes.

Also many of my ideas are generated from comments or private mail, so let me know if you have questions or anything to say.  I know several people are in the process of reading the book, so even if not finished your feedback helps (one such conversation prompted this blog)!


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