Looking for Pre-Release Reviewers

Ahoy-hoy all book review bloggers and others interested in talking about a new book!

Yes, I am finally in the last leg of the book release process, and am looking for those willing to do reviews!  I will be sending out a request to a few people willing to get a free copy for a review and a shout out on your blog if you feel it is:

a.  Appropriate
b. Something you enjoyed

(Beta Readers don’t worry, I have not forgotten you either.)

There are a few major steps left that I can forsee:

  1. Format the book for release
  2. Get the cover illustration.
  3. Set up with distribution (Currently looking at Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and Apple iStore, and possibly Google Play Store.)
  4. Finalize plans for incorporation for my intellectual properties (Gots ta have dat legal protection, yo!)
  5. Press Launch!

I have set a new deadline, the one year anniversary of Ash Wednesday.  Therefore, any reviewer needs to be able to provide a review on or near that date.

As a reminder, this is Epic Christian Fantasy Adventure.  It is a low Fantasy/Historical fantasy setting with steampunk elements.  If this sounds like your cup o’ tea, please feel free to contact me.

<Insert witty sign off here>

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Scrapyard: Improving My Craft

First, a hat tip to David Lawrence, another aspiring author, head of The Seraphim Regiment : Christian Online Gaming Guild and co-inspirational goofus for driving me in this drive towards making writing my career and really working at my craft.  Thanks for the inspiration to try this out.  Go check his blog out.

Two resources have been put front and center in my writing life right now.  First is one I found and latched onto like a lamprey, while the other has come up behind me and clubbed me a good one thanks to Dave.

The first is “The Story Grid” by Sean Coyne while the second is “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey.  The two are revolutionizing how I write and work with my stories.  What’s even better is to realize how much I used before learning more about these things on instinct.  I think I can blame 30 years of being a GM for various RPGs and participating in oral storytelling for most of my life.

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So last night, I started analyzing some of my favorite films.  Yes, 2am, Christmas Eve/Day is a good time to watch a movie when you should be keeping your regular schedule.  What did I pop in?  “The Fifth Element“.  Not the most holiday-like of a film but it was what I wanted to see as I resisted the re-watching of “Blade Runner” because I’m on a giggly anticipatory edge for the sequel.  That, I will watch later today.  What I wondered was why, although “The Fifth Element” is an incredible movie, it doesn’t quite go over the ‘critical hump’ to make it a masterpiece.

What I realized is that it did not quite manage the “Hero’s Journey” in a completely satisfying manner or its delivery of obligatory scenes was not quite up to snuff, and made up for the gap in the storytelling with a richness of top notch production design (which nobody can disagree with.  Nope sorry, your argument is invalid because reasons.) and good acting.

Luc Besson spends a long time building the universe, and although it’s fun to watch everything up to the point of Korben Dallas getting into the story (the true personification of the hero in the story) it is about 20 minutes of setup that is more or less dithering on establishing the “Status Quo”.  It doesn’t really dig into the actual story, which in effect is a very short and basic.

You have also have a lot of parallel villains and macguffins.  Now this isn’t bad per sey because Zorg (and Mr. Shadow) with the Mandalorians are all seeking the stones.  The three threats are all striking similar chords and add some delicious betrayal and complexity, but each time, it slightly weakens the overall whole.  Mr. Shadow is a “Man Vs. God” level threat, and the other two are “Man vs. Man” threat.  You have a small “Man vs. Self” threat in terms of Korben’s depression and helplessness but that is almost an afterthought to create the ambiance of his character as the burnt out veteran. Even though the man vs. self does a quick return at the finale, it’s got no real power other than some base sentimentality and emotional manipulation to make the “gets the girl” trope work.

The movie does spend some good time with the next three steps of “Call to Action”, “Refusing the Call”, “Assistance” and “Departure” which comes in many various flavors.  The movie is more like a rope in this manner rather than a beam.  Many things working together, providing great flexibility and art, which is good, but it is not as strong in the end as a singular focus.  The call comes to adventure comes to Dallas through multiple sources, same does his assistance.  Again, although they are alloyed together and echo each other, it is not as strong.

As for the “Trials” honestly, this is almost non-existent and is wrapped up in the coupled fights before and after the Plavalaguna’s Concert, but it’s also mixed up in a disorderly mess where two of the three villians (Zorg and the Mandalorians) are dispatched leaving only the real Man vs God threat as Mr. Shadow goes right for the temple to kill everything and so too must our heroes.

“Crisis” is present when Leeloo is wounded, but again, it is easily overcome, which hurts.  Yes Leeloo is wounded with some great buildup and diminished, and then we get some angst out of Korben, but that’s about it.  Combine with that the emotional shock of the self sacrificing Diva, we are back to that “rope” I’ve referred to.  Good, flexible, textured, but again, not as strong.  The obligatory scene of “Hero at the mercy of the villain” is here with Zorg vs Leeloo, but again, its a little weak on its own, but with the death of the Diva and Korben trying to figure out where the stones are, it’s strengthened.

Then comes the final battle which combines “Crisis”, “Treasure”, “Result” and “Return” all into one quick 10 minute event.  Leeloo is fully realized, Korben gets the girl, evil is defeated for another 5000 years and they’re all back on Earth.  Badaboom, it’s resolved and for me, the first time I saw this movie, it was satisfying, beautiful and fun just like every good thrill ride.  But why did the movie not make the jump to true “classic” film?  I think it’s because it used rope versus versus a steel beam of singular sources of hero and threat.

We even get an “all is lost” moment in when they assemble the weapon only to not understand how to make it work.  As I think about this movie, it works a lot on thematic echoes.  Protagonist Korben is echoed by Leeloo and to some extent Father Cornelius.  The Villains are echoed.  The Macguffins are singular, but in four parts.  The departure (boarding the spaceplane) is repeated FOUR TIMES!  The “Crisis” and “All is Lost” moments are echoed as well.  And again, what it does it sets up a nice harmonic, but goes back to my basic criticism I think to where it keeps this movie from being considered a true classic, but rather an “Honorable Mention”.

The movie itself hits a ton of obligatory tropes:

  • spaceship with FTL
  • Flying cars
  • Megacities
  • Aliens
  • Cool new technology (that nanoreassembly is an incredible bit of SFX)

They even give a few 1990’s cultural twists that were popular ironic social observations.

  • Cynical former military hotshot
  • Benevolent or at least benign but incompetent government
  • Big Business cooperating with evil blinded by profit
  • Damsel in not so much distress (Damsel saves Knight)
  • Scatterbrained priest with undefined strange religious trappings (Dem robes y’all)
  • Shallow uber-sexual narcissist media figure idiot
  • Stoner ground crew of the Reggae variety

But how about obligatory scenes/events common to sci fi/space opera?

  • We get a few battles in flying ships.  (Flying cars and spaceships)
  • Learning about the alien culture (Leeloo learning human culture… now with nudity!)
  • Big spaceship explosion (So long, Fhlostan Paradise)
  • Hokey Religions and Ancient Weapons (Meet Leeloo the deified ancient weapon)
  • Plucky Rebel against insurmountable odds (Korben and Leeloo vs a cast of several)
  • Last second salvation  (The rainbow barf pew pew that saves the universe)

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Now I’m not trying to minimize how much fun this movie is, because dagnabbit, it’s a blast and I like to watch it regularly.  But as I learn more about my craft, I realize why it’s not a seminal classic or rated among the best films ever.  Now I get it.  Hold this up to say “Blade Runner” you can see how it differs in that manner (even though this is light space opera adventure versus a cyberpunk film noir thriller).

Anyhoo, this is me having fun with mah new skills.  I think I may make this a regular series when I sit down and tear into other movies using the ideas from Shawn Coyne and Joseph Campbell.  If not to help myself improve my craft, but to give observations that may help other writers, or just be entertaining.  So, let’s see if my “Scrapyard” will become a regular series of articles.

<Insert awesome sign-off tagline here>

 

 

Penultimate Logo Poll!

One more poll after this one I think and that will determine the winner of my logo competition.  The five remaining artists have really stepped up their game.  I mean just wow!  A little tweak here and there for the font, but I think these are it.

So which logo speaks strongest to you?

https://99designs.com/contests/poll/fl534v

Vote for only one, rate and comment on all you desire!

Book Blurb

Here is a first blurb for “A Light Rises in a Dark World” Book One of the Akiniwazi Saga.

To save his family from starvation, Reimar, with six more children are sold to the Holy Kyrkja (Heer-hee-ah) so that all might have a chance to survive the deadly winter. They are handed over to a disgraced monk, Brother Finn, and his dog, Bergamot, who are pressed into service once more before being in exiled to the outer wilds of the land. They must travel through the fearsome pinery and on deadly waters where nature itself tries to destroy the children while Brother Finn’s enemies plot to assassinate their only protector. Will they be able to run the gauntlet of storms, demons and hidden murderous plots and reach safety again?

Akiniwazi, is the untamed Land of the Seven Freshwater Seas, where steamships ply the lakes, and the bodies of the dead do not rest.  Akiniwazi, the battlefield for Heaven and Hell,  in a war where the prize is the soul of every man.

Expect more coming on my 99designs logo competition soon.

X-Post Fact Toast 161222

I’m just going to date these things now.  LOL

So I have started the 6th draft.  Oh… Emm… Gee!

The 4th and 5th drafts revealed so much technically wrong, but I forgot about some of the stylistic errors too.  So when I decided to listen to it one more time through “NaturalReader”, the fastest way to hear your book out loud I have, you find so much crap that doesn’t sound right!  I mean wow!  I had forgotten that I had loved doing this for the 3rd draft.

I’d also forgotten how drained it made me.  But, I can do around 10 chapters in a day before my brain said “Check please!”

On a side note, my Logo contest is going well after I finally learned how the service I chose works.

A fellow member of the Seraphim started building a major set piece of the novel as a 3d model, and has a video of him working on the rough draft of it that will be coming soon (It’s long and boring but you can hop around to some cool stuff from times.  We’ll have to do a sped up version), and I will be getting ready to go for the cover!  Woot!

And… muhuhahahahhaaa!

I am sending out requests to schedule an editor for final line item and proofread.

This is now happening so fast.

The Retitling is Here!

After much consideration and a wonderful game of “idea catch” with Torfinn, we have a new title for book one and rebranding of the novel.  Amazing how this is working out.

Book one new title is:

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Okay, ready?  I know I am!

“A Light Rises in a Dark World”

Book One of the Akiniwazi Saga

So why the retitling?

Simple.  The focus changed.  When I converted the book from first to third person narration, a secondary character, Brother Finn, jumped to main character status and quickly became the fan favorite among my beta readers.

Now, just between you me and the internet, this left me with a problem because Brother Finn was almost completely missing from the second book.  Yep.  Since the original titles were going to be the “Reimarsoga” and told in first person and for plot reasons you will find out when the book goes on sale… it was perfectly appropriate for him not to be there.

And now, this is where the problem kicked in.  He was so popular, and there is this lovely gap in my timeline, I realized I could write that new second book and focus on him while ignoring Reimar completely and everyone could be happier.  Book 2, as the first draft already written gets shoved to book 3 status, and now I fill in the gap.  And now I feel much better about it.

But I can’t call the whole thing “Reimarsoga” if book two is going to be all about Finn, and calling it book one of “Finnsoga” in the end just isn’t working so… pantpantpant… sod it all, new naming convention!  Huzzah!

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So, here we are then.  A new title that fits the series theme better, and just snaps, plus it’s Biblically inspired.  So….. win/win/win/win/WINNING!

I feel better now.

Mah First Literary Love is Gonna Be BIG!

Tis the year of Cyberpunk I think.  Two incredible looking films coming out this year that has me overflowing with so much schoolgirl glee, a thousand Bobby Hills couldn’t squee better.  I pray pray PRAY that they turn out to live up to the hype now built up in my head.

The reason I say it’s my first literary love is because Cyberpunk fiction, was spawned first in film, but then exploded as I discovered some of the classics out there like Neuromancer and Hardwired.  But now with these two films coming out, I have to say, I can’t wait to get my first 3-4 fantasy novels done so I can flip over to writing cyberpunk again.  Something I have not done in almost 20 years.  So without further ado,  I must share why I am so full of joy.

 

And then this one came out.

 

And then this trailer made all the hair on my body stand on end.  I was scared to death of this, but oh boy… I think it’s got a shot.  The sequel to my favorite movie of all time.  Just don’t let me down like Star Wars 7.

 

Wipeout

Yep.  I’m wiped out.  I pushed too hard again, am facing a possible setback that I won’t get into yet, and just am burned out at the moment.  What’s worse is that I want to start working on book 2 but just cannot find the handle I thought I had, so I may have sunk too deep into the philosophical and just need to say “Screw you, plotline!  I’m pantsing the hell out of this book too!”

It’s even affecting my posts as I have now shelved 3 of them I’ve started that got too deep into the philosophical end of the pool and I realized I didn’t know what I was babbling about.  So you get this one instead.  Maybe I’m just trying too hard.

I know where I need to be at the end, I just don’t know where to start or how to get there.  It’s like waking up in the trunk of a car at an unknown airport.  I know I need to get home, but first I have to figure out where I am and then how to pay for the tickets without a wallet.

On a positive note, my copy of The Story Grid showed up and I’m reading it.  Some good stuff which will probably help me out of this hole relatively quickly.

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