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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The Importance of Knowing Where You Are.

And now to distract myself from working on book 2 and talk with you lovely people… tsk tsk tsk.

I must say that it has been so easy to get lost in my own creation.  Writing Book 2 has been like driving in the mountains at night when the “holler fogs” are out.  One minute you see things clearly, and you’re up high on a hill, then, zoop! right back into zero visibility with your high-beams reflecting back in your face.

Once again, I have rediscovered the desperate need I have in knowing my geography, and even more than that, the names of places.  I know those of you who have read my book are going “Oh dear Lord!  Not more long names!”  Yep.  They’re coming.  When your naming convention is based on old Norse, Finnish, Icelandic, Swedish and of course lots of Norwegian with a dash of Ojibway for the pickle on top of that linguistic sundae, you get some strange names.  But once named, and considered in the mental geography of my series, it is so much nicer to work there.

On the other hand, once I know the names of things, and where they exist in my mind, things get much easier and my confidence grows which means better chapters.  Much shorter chapters too.  I’m taking a tip from James Patterson on this one and going the Pringles route.  Once you pop, you can’t… steal blatant advertising jingles.  Blah!  What was I saying!?

So anyway, it’s been a little harder going, but I’ve been having fun with it once I defeat the obstacles that keep rearing their heads.  I was hoping to get 5 chapters done this weekend, but it looks like 3… mayyyybe 4 might be the result.  We’ll see.  The resistance is strong in this book.

On a positive note, the Alpha readers are looking at it as we speak and providing a little feedback, but since they don’t know where its going yet, and there are six subplots to work with… umm yeah, currently 6…it’s been a heck of a job braiding a big novel I never expected to happen in the first place!  But that’s what I get when the readers fall in love with a secondary character.  We’re going to have to see what to cull out and maybe use a freebie for you guys.

The even gooder news is that I am keeping careful track of things in the glossary and I am going to try and get help to hot link the terms, so those that buy the eBook will have a much better time with it.  Not sure how yet, but it’s my desire, so if anyone has tips on how to set that up in Scrivener, let me know, please!  I want to learn.

Also, an interesting side business may be cropping up.  Once I research more about this, I’ll make an announcement.  That will also wait till after I finalize banking and small business type of legals too (so after book 2 is in the hands of my lovely beta readers and editors which I hope will be late spring or early summer so I can meet my self imposed deadline.

Lastly, as a precaution, I’m removing all artwork from my blog that I did not purchase or do myself.  Yes, I am sad about this, but thanks to the litigious society we live in, I’m just not going to risk it anymore.  If people can get me some good advice on where I can get SAFE clip art for my website where I don’t have to be looking over my shoulder and worry about surprise bills, cease and desist orders

So… happy thoughts.

 

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Keep on chugging… keep on chugging…

Update: Book 2

We have reached chapter 6 of the second book.  The scenes are still a little difficult to put out, but I am falling in love with some of the characters.  Can’t wait to share more about them.  Oh… and I am bringing back some characters from “A Light Rises in a Dark World” and Book 3.  Yes, remember, book 3 has its first draft done already.  It’s in for a heavy rewrite once this one’s done, but I think we can do this fairly well.

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Stats

Chapters – 6
Words – 11,995

And the plotlines are sprouting up like weeds.  I had forgotten how fast this happened with running RPGs.  You run the first adventure, and suddenly you have a plethora of directions to go in, and it becomes a case of careful pruning.

One of the plotlines, I am toying with making a special freebie for mailing lists since it is an asynchronous story inside the book and necessary for explaining things into the future.

One of the most fun aspects of writing of course is that I do a lot of “on the fly” research.  How did people write these kinds of complicated works before the interwebs?  I mean I am writing a scene where I have to describe the kinds of desserts available to royalty.  Much to my surprise, variations of cookies, called ‘kex’ in Iclandic go all the way back to Persia in the classical era!  Well hell!  Crusaders could have picked up that recipe since that’s when they came over to Europe.

Not to mention, this time, you guys get an out and out palace and castle. Achievement Unlocked!  Get ready for Dyrrvatn Kastali, home of the Visekonge and the celebration feast of Klarrvatn.

There’s your teaser.

Also, this book is going to be bigger than the last, and possibly the next.  Just a suspicion.

Anyways, happy days!  Now I need to move about before my butt falls totally asleep from working so long.

We… are… LIVE!

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Book one of the Akiniwazi Saga is now available for pre-order purchase as an ebook through Amazon and Smashwords!

If you’ve been a reviewer, now’s the time and the place to put your review up of what you saw here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NA090PF/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1486455553&sr=8-1&keywords=M.D.+Boncher

or here

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/702282

It’s now available worldwide and I can put the full cover up here because my behind is covered… ummm yeah…. about that language thing… :::rolleyes:::

Here is the preview of what to expect for the print cover which will be released around April/May.

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Don’t forget you can find the first 10 chapters free on Wattpad.com as well.

So this is why I’ve been running silent lately.  That and a really rough weekend at work.. Oy… you don’t even wanna… ahem… but I digress.

Book 2 News

The first two chapters have a strong start, and some interesting thoughts have come to mind which will REALLY make things a little crazy.  A new subplot is coming to the surface as the new characters are asserting themselves.  This is why I’m a ‘plantser’.  I plot the main points and events, and then let the characters tell me their story.  Makes it exciting for me, that’s for sure.

Anyway, I best get writing if I’m going to get this book out by my appointed deadline.  Now that I know what I’m doing more, this should go so much smoother.

Restraint and Patience are Difficult

I received my first draft of the cover.

I’m a very happy boy!  I so want to share this right away, but I have to wait till we get some minor tuning things figured out.  I can tell you this much.  I chose well for the artist.  It hearkens back to the old school game book covers that I used to love like you’d find on the old AD&D hardcovers.  Very classic, but with a fresh modern edge that works extremely well.  May not be something a lot of proper Christians expect or like on the cover of one of their books, but, well, it is perfect for nerds into fantasy.

I can’t wait to show, and we may have it sooner than I had hoped, so… yippie!

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Day of Reckoning

That’s right.  We have an official release date.

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“A Light Rises in a Dark World” will be available for purchase on:

February 17th, 2017

I am going to be setting up pre-orders soon.  I cannot have it set yet, since I am still waiting on the cover.  It should be done on or before the 12th, allowing at least one week for pre order through Amazon and other sites like Kobo and Smashwords.  This is only for the e-book release.  The print book release is going to be done in May.  (And if God smiles down, Book 2 will be coming out shortly after that for summer reading at the beach/cabin/pool).  So hopefully this will be a full, fun year!

To clarify, there is an importance to pre-orders, just so you know.  In fact, this is where all the importance of reviews and purchases matters.  Your decision to purchase my book over the first 24 hours can make the difference of entering the water like an Olympic diver (no splash) or your big Uncle Carl doing a belly flop off the high dive (refill the pool).  Therefore, your best support is three fold:

  1. Order/buy your book during the pre-order period, or in the first 24 hours.  This is of course the best way to support me.
  2. Leave a Review if you have been given a review copy.
  3. Tell everyone!  Spread the word on social media or if you know someone this book would be good for, let them know it’s out there.

Once I have the cover nailed down and things in place for setting the pre-order, I will know more and will continue to provide details of what’s happening.

Till then, we’re up to Chapter 4 on Wattpad for those looking for a free sample.  More chapters coming every 2-4 days till release, so keep checking!

Oh… and thank you all for your support!

Sampler Platter #4 “For the Greatest Good, They Leave Home”

Chapter 4 is now posted for your reading pleasure.  Please feel free to drop by and leave comments.

https://www.wattpad.com/361577151-a-dark-light-rises-in-a-dark-world-4-for-the

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Positive/Negative: Interweb games

So good news, irritating news I guess is the best way to describe it.

Good News!

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My cover is in the process of being done.  Agreed to a budget with a talented artist who has done other fantasy books, and it could be ready in as quick as a week.  Woot woot!

This also means my early deadline for the book release WILL be met if nothing goes wrong.  So I’m looking for the middle of February sometime around Valentine’s Day.

Irritating News!

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I just learned that WordPress gets rights to everything I publish, modify and more when I post here… so I won’t be putting any more writing on this blog.  I will have to link people to a place that protects my rights and property, so expect some changes to come here soon. 😦  Sorry, but I don’t feel like giving free, worldwide, non-exclusive rights to my creative stuff I am trying to sell like that.  No offense WordPress, but I feel like that needs to be a little more clear in the TOS and easier to find.  Still gonna blog though.

And that means I’m going to have to start working at getting my mailing list set up officially so I can store and control what I want to give out and to whom and who owns it.  So…. yaaaayyy!  sorta.

So on that note… I am putting up some of my book on Wattpad instead.  I’ll link it here, but that’s where you’ll find it.  I plan to release a larger portion of my novel here for free review.  Sort of the extended Amazon teaser.

https://www.wattpad.com/story/96195973-a-dark-light-rises-in-a-dark-world

 

Enjoy!