Walk n’ Talk

Tonight was a stellar night for me and Akiniwazi.  Both creatively and healthwise.

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As most will know, I am not in the greatest of health, due to a shattered elbow and long term weight problems.  It had left me very sedentary, for too long, and I’m now trying to reverse that trend.  The problem is that I never could seem to get my butt out the door.  Nothing motivated me enough.  Well, tonight, that changed.

For most of my youth, I used to walk a lot.  Miles and miles.  A mile walk or bikeride to school.  Plus, I was a paperboy and had to walk my route.  I did not have many friends, so I entertained myself by telling myself stories and working on RPGs I was playing or running.  But occasionally, a friend would accompany me and we’d talk for hours while we walked.  I miss it and it’s a habit I sorely miss today.

Combine this with me struggling with a touch of agoraphobia and hating to be out in public for various reasons, and my physical issues, my situation got worse and worse.

So what changed?

Tonight I got someone to talk to, and was able to unburden myself with all the book secrets and long term plotline of Akiniwazi.  I mean they got EVERYTHING.  “Inside Baseball” level of info dumpage.  But I noticed as I talked, I was pacing in my apartment constantly, so I said:

“Self, Get your pants and shoes on and start walking and see what happens.”  So out the door I went and started walking around my complex.  At least it was evening so it’s not like I burst into flame from the sun.  Ick, sun.

The reason I needed to talk like this is I have been struggling with how to finish the beginning hook.  I had the pieces sitting there in front of me, mocking me because I didn’t know how to put them together.  I did not want to mirror what happened in the previous book, and I sure wanted it to be exciting.  So, after all the big plot expose was done, and I left my collaborator in shock, I broke it back down to this one little piece of the picture and started trying to talk it out, because that’s how my creative process works best.  It was like putting a can of “Sea Foam” engine cleaner into a 40 year old engine!  It blew out so much black smoke and noise but in a few minutes of running it, the storyline became clear again!

And boy did it have a few logical twists I never expected too!  What really made me the most happy is that I was walking and never noticed my back.  See, sitting for work so much as both a commercial driver and now a desk jockey, my back, butt and thigh muscles have atrophied a lot, and walking hurts.  I had to stop every once in a while, but long story short, I’m fairly certain I walked about 2 miles tonight for the first time in about a decade!  That unto itself is cause for celebration for me.

Plus I cleared out a huge narrative problem that will leave the beginning hook’s resolution a lot cleaner, logical and tragic all in one swell foop!  I still don’t know what I’m going to do to top it for the climax… well not true, but I don’t quite know in what form that climax is going to take.  Once again, the middle build conclusion might be more dramatic as it currently stands.  I dunno.  See, this is the problem with the complexity of this book and what it will launch coming up.  Book 3 is going to have to get fatter still… and I love it.

Anyhoo…

2 miles of walking.

Major plot point fixed.

Enthusiasm pressure restored.

Time to release the brakes and start rolling forward.

Thank you all for coming on this ride with me.

 

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Laundry Money

That is my sales goal for now.

To make laundry money every month with my book sales.

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I have meltdowns when thinking about book marketing/advertising and everything else about promotion.  Seriously.  I freak out.  I’ve bought a few books, I’ve taken a few seminars, I’ve discovered I get very angry about then being sold to by email lists I thought were not supposed to treat me like a hick on a used car lot.  It’s really left me flustered.  Flustered?  No… not strong enough.  Discombobulated?  Sure that’s decent.  And angry, because I don’t like being discombobulated nor flummoxed or flustered.

The reason?

I’m not good at it, and if I had enjoyed it, I’d be doing it for a living elsewhere.  I hate sales.  Seriously.  It is anathema to me.  I just want to focus on putting out a good book, and let the chips fall where they may.  I’ll be honest, I have a big ole psychological block about the subject that leaves me contemptuous of the field, and jealous at those who can do it because I wish I could.

I’m a complex little pirate, ain’t I?

Anyway, In my few furative attempts at advertising and promotion, I’ve come to realize that most if not all big hits is completely out of the control of the author or publisher.  That said, I do believe that promotion is in their control, but not something I’m good at either.  The worst part is that it’s a Catch 22 in the end.  You have to promote to earn money, but if you don’t earn money you have to have money first, and if you don’t have that… ummm kinda stuck.  See, I’d rather hire someone to do this for me because of how angry/stressed/discombobulated I get.  But, that costs money on a budget I don’t have because right now… I’m covering laundry money.  That’s it for now.

I do expect in the future this to change though.  When book 2 comes out, I hope to be making GAS money every month from both books.  And then when the 3rd one comes out, I hope it’s going to cover my utilities too.  By the time the 5th book comes out, I better be making rent or I’m going to wonder what the heck is wrong with me.

Ultimately, what I realized is that this all takes time.  The get rich systems/plans is just Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir sold by street-corner mountebanks designed to separate me from my hard earned money, not help me.  I don’t think all books or seminars out there are that way, but ohhhhh 85% possibly are.  Of course, I’m biased and cranky about it, so YMMV.

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But I really would love to hire someone who both loves and is skilled at marketing/promotion.  Farm out what I suck at to someone who’s good at it.  I did it with my cover.  I don’t care what people say about doing it myself.  I cannot do it as good or as fast as a real pro, and I think it shows with my cover.  Why not do the same for marketing/promotion?  Sure, it saves me money, but… is not my time better spent doing the one thing nobody else can do, which is write my books?

Tada!

But… someday… when I make more than just laundry money.

Stupid Catch 22s.

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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