What Not To Expect

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I have hit my third big landmark as an author: The first bad review.

It was 2 stars and it left me wondering why?  Sure this is only the third review I got from someone who knew nothing about me beforehand and had no bias one way or another. So I wanted to understand what the person meant and I analyzed it and talked about it with a close friend and I got a better understanding of what I’ve done as a writer.  It wasn’t a bad review, but it wasn’t a good review and from it, I learned something about my readers and possibly what to expect in the future from my work of art.

One.

The criticism that it was unnecessarily wordy and complicated.  Definitely a taste criticism, and valid.  Some people love the complexity.  I’ve had one beta reader who wanted it even more ‘crunchy’.  It definitely goes to show this is not a book for a person who does not like complexity and deal with a new lexicon.  Totally understand that.  I wondered too if I was going overboard at times, and worked to find a balance where the language and names struck a good balance.

In fact, the whole reason created the glossary and didn’t dumb down the names to English surrogates was to follow a style idea I first experienced with Richard Adams and his classic book “Watership Down”.  Now, I’m not sure how complex that story really is to some readers, but I definitely thought it.  I could have done a footnote method, but it never felt good for the whole flow of the story.  Also, I have had a reviewer state that they preferred the complexity and worldbuilding I put into the Glossary into the text itself despite it slowing the pace of the story.  Again, it was a compromise that has had some who love it and others not so much.

Two.

The book was not whimsical or magical like Narnia, Middle Earth or Hogwarts.

Completely fair on many fronts as we all compare works against the best.  This is also an accurate assessment.  I never intended it to be like any of those books.  Narnia is an allegory which they never really delve into the miraculous magical things that happen. It is just accepted that Santa Claus can show up and that the magical beings that exist are generally happy fairy tale style creatures for the most part.  Sure, you get much scarier things in Middle Earth, and its a grittier setting, but that is offset by the Hobbits and Shire.  There is a certain level of whimsy to it, and because of those two series, I suspect people who see “Christian Fantasy” expect more the high fantasy, light-hearted adventure or fairy tale inspired adventures.

In response to this, I’d have to say I never tried to show my book as one of those outside of it being an adventure epic.  In fact, I go so far as to portray this series as low fantasy where it is based more on real world spiritual warfare/exorcism, medieval church politics, and what it means to be caught in a world where devils and angels actually manifest and go to war around you.  It is not meant to be whimsical for it was never written for children.  It was written, believe it or not for nerds and fantasy geeks who liked grittier fantasy novels, the same way some people love cyberpunk, and hard science fiction.  Although children as young as 11 and adults who are into fine literature have read this book and loved it, they were not the target audience but aspects of it spoke to them.  So yes, It is not a whimsical book, though it will have whimsical moments.  This is more Jack London’s “Sea Wolf” than the Don Bluth Studio’s version of “Balto”.

Three

This is the criticism that I think was the most revelatory, and I thank the reviewer for giving me the opportunity to address it.  The statement is made that he is a Christian that believes in spiritual things.  Good…  Seriously.  I am as well and this is a basis for part of why I even tried to write fantasy like this in the first place.  It is further said that this comes too close to the line.  Now I’m not sure what line this is, but if it is the line between reality and make-believe, then this is right on the nose.  It is supposed to mirror the Christian spiritual paradigm.

The magic and miraculous in Akiniwazi is based on the teachings of deliverance ministries, exorcism, eye witness accounts and scripture as best as I could.  The only thing I tried to do was crank the special effects to 11 to enter into the realm of the fantastic.  That means those who can do the miraculous are in direct contact with divine beings, be they Angels and the Holy Spirit or demonic forces.  There is no ‘neutral’ form of magic in the book.  If a ‘spell’ is cast, there is an angel or demon behind it in some form or another. It isn’t the individual’s personal will or power or gift.  Just like Samson’s strength, it came from God.  Just like the prophetic slave girl Paul drove the demons out of, that power came from satan.  Magic is not something that is dug out of the ground like coal, or manufactured like a microchip and is spiritually neutral.  This is a staple trope of fantasy, but one I chose to throw out at high velocity.

There are going to be many people, particularly Christians who will find this extremely uncomfortable because it will hit close to home.  The book will touch on how demons can infiltrate people’s minds, and the whole idea of legal spiritual rights.  It is intended to be conversation starters and fodder for people to question the spiritual war that I believe is going on around us right now.  Again, not something some Christians will agree with or enjoy but others will.

Anyway.  This is also not a book about having a strong or perfect faith.  In fact, most of the characters are strongly flawed failed people that do not have instagram perfect lives, and God still uses them.  It deals a lot with failing and picking yourself back up again.  How rejection by others does not equal rejection from God, and the difference between religion and faith is no respecter of person, privilege or group identification.  It’s you and God together in the end and how you walk with Him.

Now, hopefully I wrote the book well enough that if you’re not into that kind of stuff, you can just ignore all that as window dressing the same way people do with Narnia and it’s blatant Christian allegories, or say Umberto Eco’s “Name of the Rose” does not preach religion at his audience, but it is everywhere in the book.

As for the last point of being poorly executed… ::: shrug ::: not sure how to help there.  🙂 Matter of taste I guess and that’s fine.  I did the best I could, and learned a lot.  I still see stuff I wish I would have worded better, but it’s out there now because I’m not going to spend 4 years editing it.  I’d say give book 2 a try when it comes out.  I know, like most book series, only improve over time.

Thank you for reading the book and leaving a review.  It helped me consider my work better, and keep some thoughts in mind moving forward.

If anyone would like to discuss the book or anything about it, please, send me an email, or post a question/opinion here.  I’ll be glad to discuss my work, particularly if you are confused about anything.

 

Rolling Forward

Just a quick update on Book 2.  We’re still not entertaining titles yet, so Book 2 it is.

The process of writing the first draft is often filled with lots of fun revelations as well as wandering down blind paths.  I had been caught in one for a week or two now, but have worked it out, cut out a minor character, and things started moving again.  Two more chapters have been added to the Beginning Hook, and I am almost to the climax of the beginning hook.  I can’t wait!

See, although I have an idea of where I’m going, I never see it till I get there.  That’s what makes it both fun and frustrating.  Sometimes you think you’re going in one direction, but when you sit down to write it, the characters or circumstances tell a different story and you are stuck being along for the ride.  On a positive note, the villains are all shaping up nicely.  The secondary characters are well established as well as the main characters.  Such fun.

I’ve made one of my alpha readers very happy with one chapter so, I hope it translates well to the rest of you all when the book comes out.

That said, I figure 3 maybe 4 scenes left before I pull the trigger on the Beginning Hook’s climax which I know how it must end up, but I still can’t see clearly how it will come about.

Hopefully I will have this built strong enough that the roller-coaster effect will kick in once the few following scenes are complete and I start melding all the subplots together.

But that’s all for now.

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Writer’s Block… I So Hate You.

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Book 2, title still pending, is a much more complex project that ALRDW and Book 3 (yes, Book 3’s first draft is done) will be transformed with the work on Book 2.

I got stuck on a chunk of writer’s block that was keeping me from unifying the two biggest plot lines together, but the solution has spawned another plotline and comprehension of the mechanics of what is going on in the land.  Yeah… that sentence made sense… right?  Not just me?  Ahem… okay, nevermind.  Anyway….  Big stuff happening, and now that one obstacle has been defeated, I can push forward some more and hopefully that will push other blockages out of the way too.

All caused because everyone’s so far fallen in love with Brother Finn.  Love the guy, but boy, I never expected him to go full “Han Solo” like he had, necessitating the need for book 2.  But, I digress and you’ve heard this all before. As it sits right now, I have six plotlines that I need to wrangle with.  A challenge I did not expect.  But so much has started to happen in the setting you guys deserve to see some of the cool stuff.

Teasers that I can give you is that you will learn what Brother Finn has been up to… so to speak… in Kynligrspiejl.

You will also learn that the political life in Akiniwazi is not quite as stable as you may have thought and start learning more about the Visekonge and the Hird.  Heavy is the head that wears the crown.

There’s going to be more traveling and adventure, and I’m going to pull some triggers on the Chekov’s Guns I left lying about un-fired from ALRDW.  It’s all been leading me to some interesting places in my own mind and the global story arc.  There’s a lot of fantastic things out there to write about, and some are going to be mindblowing.

One of the places you will be visiting is Dyrrvatn Kastali.  The capital!  Oh yes.  Not sure how much time you’re going to spend there, or what you’ll all see and experience, but I promise you this, you’re going into some pretty impressive places and see what happens in the most powerful city and land of Akiniwazi.

One subplot of the many that have come up will be peeled off to become it’s own standalone short story/novelette for it confused the timeline for readers (and author).  It’ll be great prep for you for the novel too, though you won’t have to read it beforehand.  I’m fairly certain it will be a freebie too.  That’s the goal.

The other subplot that I had to push out will actually be moved into Book 3 if I can figure out how to connect it up.  It involves people who would not come into play in Book 2 currently, but could really crank up the thrills in Book 3.

The last thing I’ll give away is that Reimar is not in Book 2.  Yes I know, but it just doesn’t make sense for him.  He’s in the Trivium at Saint Martin’s learning how to read, write, do basic math… you know… the good essential stuff.  That’s the time period that Book 2 is set in.  Hope you’re not too disappointed, but with what is set for Book 3, heh heh heh…

 

I’m sure the wait will be worth it.

 

The Long Night is Over

Last night was a great night.  Got to go visit my parents while they were camping, meet some of their friends who I found out were reading my book and talk about it and pass on interesting stuff, and see how they’re reacting to it.  And then went to the drive in with my parents to watch Wonder Woman on a glorious summer’s night.  A good night was had.

But the reason the long night is really over is that I finally got all the obstacles out of the way, and “A Light Rises in a Dark World” is available as an ebook, Paperback and Hardcover.  BTW, don’t trust amazon when it says something is temporarily out of stock.  It’s a flaw on THEIR end.  The book is POD, and you can get it sent probably far faster than they’ll claim.  Been seeing that with other products too, and some of my fellow members at ALLI have been reporting the same problem for books not published by an Amazon imprint.  Just… come on guys.  Don’t be petty.

Anyway, as I mentioned and added to the site, I’m a member of ALLI.  Great resource for those who are published or just about to publish.  Great people over there too.

As an added bonus, I had an epiphany about the global story going on… and it has the potential to really REALLY change the direction of the entire series moving forward.  Them big picture storylines can really shake up your thoughts on what the world was supposed to be.  What it helped the most with is that it gave me solid motivations and plans on the “How” will be accomplished.  It also spiked the drama way up for what’s going to happen with poor ole’ Brother Finn and Reimar when the time comes.  We’re thinking big picture, mind you.  Book 4…?  Book 5?  Ummm… not sure when.  Maybe some moves will start happening earlier or the seeds will be laid.  I dunno yet.  Still working on the fun stuff and conceptualizing.  You know, the fun part of writing.

So that’s the update.  I’m focusing more on Book 2 now that I’ve got the wreckage of Book 1’s crashed launch off the runway, I can go back to getting Book 2 ready to fly.

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Where Have You Been, Young Man?

So, okay, one year anniversary has come and gone, and my posts have become a little less regular.

 

Okay… a LOT less regular.

 

But that said, I’m still here and still working on stuff.

But it’s been a back breaker lately, I just want you to know.  My job has been cranked up to Nightmare Difficulty.  I’m having some big problems dealing with getting the paperback book published which might descend into a legal fight if I cannot get a resolution this week… I don’t wanna have to get a lawyer to get my intellectual property back!  And the hardcover’s dustjacket problem has been almost fixed… I hope.  I will know this week.

So, know that I’ve been trying to move forward, and it has been happening, slowly.  Much slower than I wanted, and that may be okay.  All the delays thanks to scattered focus, lack of energy, working on health issues, and trying to de-stress from my job have made the second book far harder to push up the hill.

On a positive note, a few “no-dustjacket” hardcovers were sold and made it to customers before it was pulled, so a few people inadvertently got a collector’s item.  LOL  listen to me pretend this is a collectible already.  I’m also learning to not make announcements till it’s already in the bloody online store!  BLARG!

I am also going through a lot of chaotic thoughts about marketing and how to get the word out for my awesome book.  I don’t want to do the things I get pissed at myself.  Spammy mailing list?  ummmm, why do I need one of those?  I barely hack writing out my blog?  Why not just use the blog and worry about the rest later?  I dunno.  It would be nice to know from readers how they like to be marketed to, so if you have an opinion, please share.  How do you want to be told about new books and products without me being spammy and sleezy like too many authors have become lately.

Junkfood for thought.

Gloria in Excelsis

 

Akiniwazi Encyclopedia

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Now that things are moving forward, some housekeeping had to be done.  I realized very quickly I had my database of all my glossary, places, and more are scattered about in too many files and need to be consolidated.  So last night I spent a lot of time putting together all the definitions, locations and names I could find for part one of my Encyclopedia.  There are two more parts to this, as well refining the main atlas. In the future, if I see interest, I may release this as a freebie for everyone who signs up for a mailing list or maybe just joins this website.  I dunno.  I haven’t thought about a platform yet because the idea of marketing and even more social media just rubs me raw.  I’m quite a private person, and social media distracts me too easily.  I have to be very careful about that stuff.  How the encyclopedia is breaking down is so:

Part 1: The Encyclopedia Proper

The glossary or the definitions or explanations of everything in Akiniwazi with a proper noun attached to it so far.  Therefore, it is going to constantly grow over the progression of the series.

Part 2: The Timeline

The history of Akiniwazi is the most finite thing so far, but I’m not finished compiling it right now.  I’ve been too distracted with other stuff, plus moving the story forward in Book 2.  Currently, it is laid out from the year 800 AD to about 1350ish AD?  Somewhere in that range.  About 175 years before the time of the story.  There are some significant events that happen in that time and shape things.

Part 3: The Atlas

Yes, there will be maps coming.  Not only is there the main geographical map as included in the first book, I plan to add other maps to the collection like political maps, possibly zooming in on individual lakes once I have more places named.  And of course, maps for each novel as appropriate.  Of course, if I can get legal clearance to release the novella (Currently titled “The Price of Mendacity”) I will not need a map for that.  Other ideas for maps include Timeline maps tying part 2 into the Atlas.

My last part which may be more important than I want to admit is going to be a cast list, so I can keep track of all my characters out there.  I tell you, I have 3 books worth of characters (yes, remember book 3 has its first draft done, but needs heavy HEAVY editing).  And I’m starting to introduce some of the characters into book 2 as I write.  What can I say?  I like some of these people and feel they deserve a little cameo up front or set them up better for book 3.  I’m chaotic, go fig.  It is also the part I probably will not release to the public for too many of them will be riddled with spoilers.  Maybe I’ll do character bios someday.  Call it a to-do list or something for Patreon if I start doing that.  I dunno.

Anyway, that’s the stuff that’s going on right now.  I’m happy to be doing it, but so frustrated that my inner Veruca Salt is back out running amok screaming “make time go faster!”  (of course as long as someone else can do it.  BOY work and focus suck.)

 

SURPRISE BOOK RELEASE!

Yep!  As of this morning, I have a hardcover of my book available to purchase!  Hooray!  Now available on Amazon.  I was under the impression it would be a month.  How little I understood!

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I has a happy place

Get your copy today!  Read it to pieces and leave a review!  Seriously now… I want to know what you think and don’t be shy.  🙂

The Horror… The Horror…

Yes, it’s Colonel Kurtz time here on the old farmhold.

I’m on the quivering, bleeding edge of getting the book out in print (Both Hardcover and paperback), but to steal a quote from another witty luminary:

“My path is strewn with cowpats from the devil’s own satanic herd!”

So, no idea when I will finally have my book available through KDP, to which I have found a MASSIVE error in Amazon’s software that refuses to complete the publishing process.  To wit, I am waiting on their crack team of customer service and tech support to fix for me.

Also, I have not been well informed as to how to get the hardcover, now completed with Ingram Spark, to be available for purchase ANYWHERE!  So patience, contact customer service, and be ready to follow instructions.  I’m also quite shocked with how high the price has to be to actually earn anything for myself.  I’m not a charity you know, Signore Printero!

Just so you know, the price of the hardcover when it comes out is not that high so I can pocket a ton of dough.  I will be earning less than 10%.  Of course this is fantastic when you consider traditional publishing, but if you compare it to the profitability of a hedge fund manager (over 70% on average)… I’m kinda getting the short end of that stick.  Which for a book that costs around a fifth of that to print… I gotta wonder where’s it all go?  Ahhh, good ole shipping and handling I guess.  pfft.

I said it before, I’ll say it again… please forgive the hysterical sobbing in the corner.  I’m just trying to survive.

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On a positive note, I’ve had to rename one of my main villains because well… I’m not about to give him a girl’s name.  “A Boy Named Sue” be damned.  The positive was the new name I found in Old Norse is epic.  It just nailed it, and with it came a whole slate of personality.  I remember some writer… really good one too… that I can’t remember his name (Oh yeah… Elmore Leonard!) who said he had this same problem with a character he had created.  Gave the guy a good creole name for his murder mystery and the guy just wouldn’t talk to him.  Changed him to an Irish guy and he couldn’t get him to shut up.  I loved that story.  Just perfect.

In the downtime from writing Book Two I’ve been tearing at a lot of foundational philosophy for my setting, and realized its a deep deep DEEP construct for me to explore philosophically, as well as theologically.  Yes, lots of lectures on medieval religion and faith have been watched, as well as getting into the Apocryphal books some more.  Learning tons about Medieval life and how it would be altered by the nature of Akiniwazi and more.  One of the most startling realizations I had is that the discovery of steampower may not have been quite what I thought it was.  It adds a more… complex?  Sure… I can go with complex nature to the growth and evolution of the Forsamling society.

More fun is how I’m starting to understand the Skaerslinger culture a bit more and the history of the sects.  I swear, I thought I knew pretty solidly how this was going to end up.  I still kinda do in broad strokes, but writing this project has been like going into thick woods and popping out half way up a mountain with a vista of a huge world beyond yet to go!

I’m very excited to keep moving on, and in some respects this delay has been good and bad at the same time.  The frustration level is through the roof, while the learning has been phenomenal.  I wouldn’t say that I’ve become an expert on anything, but I have had my eyes opened to how much I do not know.

 

 

Becoming Like a Child…

The Quantum Camera Series

A local youth pastor was at the youth Bible study I sponsor on campus every Tuesday after school and he said something pretty profound.

“The devil is always wanting to bring up your past … he wants to take you back and hold you there.”

OK. I confess. That is pretty simple on the surface, but the more you think about it the deeper it gets.

The devil uses the past in two different ways:

  1. Regret: he takes us back to how we blew it and makes us relive it time and again to make sure guilt washes over us in an effort to cripple and restrict us from moving forward.
  2. Pleasure: he reminds us of how good something was so that it cripples and restricts us from moving forward as well.

Now I have had my share of regrets, let me tell you. But the biggest problem I have had…

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…And They’re Off!

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It’s official… “A Light Rises in a Dark World: Book One of the Akiniwazi Saga” is now in paperback on Amazon.

The book should be available for purchase in the next 12 hours, but I was so excited (see attached pick for how I feel) I couldn’t help but let you all know right away.

The goal is still to release the hardcover on Kobo (and possibly Smashwords, and by extension Barnes & Noble among many other places) by the end of the week.  I hope it won’t be quite as hard to set up THAT final formatting too.

Oh!  And as a final bonus, you are getting an extra map of the land in the Paperback.

Just a little sumpthin’ sumpthin’ for all those that buy the physical copy.  😉

Thank you all for your support!