News from the Home Front – Aug ed.

When I first thought about self publishing, I considered several models on how to put out my work.  It has become time for me to go forward with one of those ideas.

File under “C” for Cheezburger.

Starting this September, I am going to serialize “A Light Rises in a Dark World” into three volumes.  The first volume will be free, while the second two will be $0.99.  They will have a new, simpler cover, and no maps, but the glossary will still be there for all the novellas.  I will continue to keep the E-book full version out there for the time being at the same price.  If people want the full story in one shot with the artwork and maps it will be there fore now.  Need to give you some value for buying the full book over the volumes, right?

The current plan is to release them from over three months, and then hopefully, we will have book 2 done by the end of the year and those volumes and final books will be available at that time.  Again, these volumes will only be in E-book format.  The hardcover and print will still be full novel length only.

The exact date on when the first free volume will be released is uncertain but my hopes is it will be ready by the second week of September at the latest.

Now… I shall summon the power of my fanbase…  I need reviews.  Moar reviews!  So if you have read the book, and enjoyed it, heck even if you haven’t enjoyed it.  I need your reviews on amazon, or even, email me through the contact page and tell me what you thought so you can tell the world about it.  I’ve gotten some very humbling reviews lately and thank you from the bottom of my heart.  But let people know what you think of the work.

I also have had a few people wanting me to make an audio version of the ALRDW.  I’d love to do that… but unless there is someone out there who has some talent to do it, I don’t see it coming up.  I am not good enough nor equipped well enough to do a professional grade recording, or afford a voice actor and studio time.  So, if this is something you have talent in, perhaps drop me a note and we can talk about it.

So that’s the news on the home front.  Book 2 still moves forward.  We’re solidly into the middle build and it’s getting fun.  Right now I’m reformulating how to explain what happens.  Thinking about what scenes must be in the following chapters as well as consider the repercussions of what I’ve just written.  I can’t wait to share it all with you.

 

 

A Huge Weekend Writing

I’m tired!  Whoooeee!

Four new chapters, 7,700 words in two days

And the craziest part, I now reached the point where I expected to start it in the first place!  I mean Jeez La Rue!  I cranked out so much of what I originally thought was only backstory and it’s a cracking good read.  And this is the beginning of the middle build!  So lots more to go.  I’m enjoying doing shorter chapters (most times).  Really keeps me focused better.  But now I have a firm deadline I want to keep, so push push push.

Latest chapters finished? (Working titles subject to change)

#27 “Conditions, Restrictions & Honor”

#28 “Out From The Depths”

#29 “Three Become Six

#30 “The Magnitude of Betrayal is Revealed”

Now, comes some crazy stuff.  I hope that I can get my mind bent around this in time for my next writing session starting Tuesday night… or at least Wednesday.

If not… I’ll work on my project that will be announced soon.  😉

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An image on things to come.

 

I Need a New Process

Okay, so… There’s an upcoming expansion to Guild Wars 2 coming in late Sept and I want it.  I also know what that will do to my writing schedule.  Ergo, I need to get my keister moving, meester.

Tonight, I just did some light cleanup on chapter 26: “An Unexpected & Boisterous Encounter”, and cranked out Chapter 27: “The Battle of Eitrfjord” which had me a little breathless at the end.  That’s what I get for listening to the “World of Warships” Soundtrack while doing a battle scene.  Good stuff.  I took a moment after I was done writing, because it is a different way of me handling the fighting and listened to some of The Hobbit to see how he handled action.

But at the end of it, I’m like “awesome!  I can now move forward and do more of the story!”… aaaaaannnd the tyranny of the blank page kicks in.  It’s like I’ve shot my bolt and need to build up pressure again.  Mind you “The Battle of Eitrfjord” is a hefty 2700+ word chapter because of much higgledy piggledy going on, but really I should not be so drained when I know the kind of stuff I want to have happen next!  Blargh!  Wai r yew so harrrrrdd!

So I gotta figure a new method to help me refocus, and go right back at it instead of wanting to fire up GW2 or MWO and let my brain rest.  I got so much more that needs to come out.

Maybe a walk will do it.  Probably a good idea anyway.

Well back atter, otter.

 

 

A Surprise Is In The Works

As a build up for book 2 as I push towards completion, I’m going to be announcing some changes and a nice little surprise in the next week or so.  So keep watching this space!

Also, thank you to those who have been leaving such wonderful reviews on Amazon.  These really help me, and pick up my spirits when I struggle.  Don’t forget the star rating or it will give me a “1” despite the comments.

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Following the Plan-ts

Writing is sometimes a breeze and others a struggle.  You authors in the crowd get what I mean.  What’s horrifying is when the story wants to flow, but the actual work is hard.  Five chapters into my Middle Build, I’m feeling just that.  The big storyline is now shaped up, the antagonists are well defined, they know their Macguffins, the twists are pre-planned, the betrayals ready to go, the thrills and spills all lined up for their qualifying heats.  I mean it’s just mmm-mmm-tasty!

But the work to lay it out?  Oh man… just shoot me.  I’m still trying to figure out my real methodology, but I’m coming closer to understanding it.  I write much like how I used to run RPGs.  Some light planning up front, decide what events were going to happen whether the PCs had a say in it or not, and then figuratively kick the anthill and see what scurries out.

I’ve kicked the anthill and fireants have come scurrying out making me question my life choices at times.

So I’m basically a “Plantser”  I plan some, start the ball rolling then react, react, react to what the characters tell me they’d do.  Several times, I’ve discovered the characters take an action I never expected, but yet there it is.  I can’t ignore it, because the character WOULD do that.  This now alters the plan somewhat, but the same events are still going to be on course.  For the most part.

I’ve been really stretching myself with seven way conversations.  I mean, how do you write a meeting of many people?  All of whom have something to say because although they are minor players, they need to be there to flesh out the event.  Ensemble writing is tough!  At least in one case, I was able to strip out characters and decide on the four I wanted involved, laid out their positions on the subject and went from there.  The other… Ummm… errr…. Not so much yet.  And they all share the same title, because they’re peers of the Hird.  So the honorifics get them ‘echoes’ started pretty bad.  Hopefully, it will not turn people off too badly, but I got to feeling a lot like this:

But, as slow as it has been going, I’m really happy with the story so far.  My small team of alpha readers has been keeping me on course and the immediate rewrites (yes I’ve had to redo chapters and parts of scenes a few times before moving forward) have been enthusiastic and constantly wanting the next chapter ASAP.  A good sign I’d hope.  May this transfer well to the rest of my readers when it hits the websites.

Not sure when its going to get done yet.  This is a far bigger book than anticipated with the multiple storylines now converging and the final chapters yet to plan out in more detail  (Something that always gets clearer the closer I get to putting fingers to keyboard.), but I’m very optimistic.  Ultimately this will make book 3 in line for a bigger rewrite than I thought.  I wish I could focus more on writing, but lots of distractions going on (mainly job related).  Hopefully I can get some of that to change for the better and clear my mind up from all that stress.  I know I know some people do far faster projects with ten times the distractions, but that’s them and this is me.  We’ll make it work.

That then begs another question.  Should I break up the release into three sections?  I easily could do 3 novellas, then release the novel in hardcover/paperback.  I dunno.  I wanted to do that with book 1 for the ebook too.  Say make it 99 cents for each part (with the first one for free).  How does that grab you all?

So I shall leave you with a little surprise.  Here is an excerpt from the first draft of one of the chapters titled “Bedtime Stories”, so mind the dust and splinters.  It is just the first draft.

Enjoy!

Bedtime Stories

 

“…and without another word, Saint Ragnar slew the evil Draugr, sending the manitou to hell, and saving the village from its evil, forever.  The end.” the Visekonge said, finishing up his son’s bedtime story.  

Compared to the problems of the crown, the nightly ritual for his son was one of his daily joys.  His simple son looked up at him with his bright slanted eyes, his broad moon face glowing and clapped with the end of the triumphant saga.  He always enjoyed the sagas of Saint Ragnar and his fight against the Skaerslinger and the Draugr, and knew when even a single detail had been changed and always reminded his father.

“Pader?  May I have another story?”

“No my son.  No.  It is time for bed, and I must also go.  My crown is busy tonight.”

“Awww,” Olivr whined.

The Visekonge suffered his son’s disapproval in silence with a smile.  The time he spent sitting on the edge of his young son’s bed was one of the few places where he found solace from his troubled kingdom.  Where he could talk about great men who had already solved greater problems than the ones he faced.  The ritual helped center him again and reminded him what it was he loved most.  The petty infighting of the Statsraad was such a terrible drain at times.

“Will you say prayers with me, Pader?”  Olivr asked again.

“Of course,” The Visekonge said, and then began for his son, “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust…”  

Olivr picked up where he trailed off.

“Let me never be ashamed and deliver me in thy righteousness,” The boy continued.  His father raised his eyebrows and mouthed along with him.

“Bow down thine ear to me.  Deliver me speedily and be thou my strong rock, and castle to save me.”  Olivr said smiling at his father’s mock serious faces.

“For thou art my rock and my fortress, therefore for thy namesake, lead me and guide me.  Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me, for Thou art my strength.”  He giggled a moment, before his father’s face got serious again and encouraged.  

“Into thine hands…?”

“Into thine hands, I commit my spirit.  Thou hast redeemed me, Oh Lord, God of Truth,” Olivr continued, refocused on the words.

“Amen,” Gregor whispered.

“Amen,” Olivr agreed.

The Visekonge leaned over and kissed his golden haired boy on the cheek.

“I love you, my son.”

“Love you too, Pader.”  The boy rose up a little to rub his nose against his father’s in a side to side motion.

Pages 197
Words 59188

Sermonizing, Failing the Payoff & Jumping the Shark: The End of Doctor Who

Warning: Offensive Opinions, Ranty Snarkiness & Spoilers Ahead

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The latest announcement from the BBC on the new Doctor has me thinking a lot of why I have been dismally disappointed in hind sight at the years of the New Dr. Who.  A show I’m quite a fanboy of.  Or at least I was until recent years.  I have considered many of my convoluted thoughts on the subject, and have come to realize that it’s a trifecta of issues that bothered me.  The reason I have not enjoyed the last 4-5 seasons of Dr. Who, despite remaining a fan of the series or individual episodes are as follows:  (and things I’ve learned from their mistakes).

 

Failing the Payoff

Ever since the decision to make “Season Story Arcs” had come about, we’ve had an unholy partnership of bad finales brought about by Failing the Payoff which I directly link to Jumping the Shark.  Mind you, individual stories have been great.  Fantastic even, but the season arcs with the exceptions of David Tennant’s first season, Matt Smith’s first and second season have been a bit rubbish.  Well that’s if you can call a smouldering dumpster fire a bit rubbish.  But why?

Every season save for the three I mentioned became massive “Save the Universe” type moments.  Even the oft appreciated Bad Wolf storyline from Season One was better save for jumping the shark at the very very end.  They’ve failed at the end because the writers wrote themselves into a corner.  Moffat was so good at it, he could practically have his picture in the dictionary for it.  His buildups are excellent.  He has some inventive ideas that create classic thrills and scares and seem like its going somewhere good.  But at the end, he loses confidence so he whips out one of my biggest irritant the Deus Ex Machina, and in doing so spoils all the build up.

Cases in point: Bad Wolf.  Companion gets phenomenal cosmic power.  Why?  Reasons.  With the exception of the three seasons mentioned all the companions develop a phenomenal cosmic power which ends the enemy but to save her the Doctor must rejenerate.  This is a rubbish copout.  Sure you can say that this groundwork had been laid all season long with Bad Wolf… which to be honest is the only reason I don’t go off on it more.

And poor Martha, who just has an out and out dumbass ending of Carebear Feels and Johnny Appleseed talky bits that really were silly beyond belief and became the poster child for wasted companions.  She didn’t jump the shark but the solution sure did.  Plus it was slightly alleviated because she had the best reason to leave the Tardis as anyone.  She was the rebound companion and had too much self respect.

Then you have the whole Doctor Donna Metacrisis in season 4.  What the Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!!!!!11!1!???  An awesome build up of planets being ripped from time leading to a face off between the Dr. and Davros?  Oh come on!  This has awesome written all over it.  But the solution was once again? Superpower Companion to the rescue at some forgettable nonsensical cost… if any!

What I learned is that if your ending isn’t good… guess what?  It poisons all the rest of the good work you did. You failed in the compact between you and the reader.  They expect you to do certain things, write about specific things specific to your genre even if you subvert or twist the trope.  But if you chintz out at the end…  no one will care about what you did before and possibly no one will trust you again.  (Full disclosure, I have seen only the “Return of Doctor Mysterio” and “Pilot” from season ten because A) they both jump the shark and B) I’m pretty pissed at Moffat’s serial violation of all these points.  Which is sad because I wanted Capaldi to have a better run than Sylvester McCoy and Colin Baker… who were also stuck with crap stories and wasted potential  (well not Colin Baker.  Ick).

Jumping the Shark

As you can see the theme for jumping the shark was Companion based.  Donna was great… then she got made into Doctor Donna.  Rose was great… then she became Bad Wolf.  Rory… the companion, through the power of Runninggag, who just wouldn’t die.  (Amy was good except by using her force of will to you know… drag the Doctor and the TARDIS across an impenetrable wall in space-time and back into reality.  You know… stuff like that) Clara was great… till she merged with the Doctor’s time stream and what was originally an interesting story became a gawdawful mess of “SuperClara and her trusty Sidekick, Some Schmuck Chauffer in a Blue Box”.  Hell, even River Song traipsed up to the line, but she was the one companion, other than say Micky, who didn’t become all-powerful or bend reality to their whim.  I will say that Rose at least had a good ending, all be it terminally sappy and now she comes back time and time again like a Brown Recluse bite and just as damaging to the integrity of the series and her own character’s credibility.  What part of “trapped in another universe unable to cross” don’t you get, writers?  Stop violating your own rules!

What this has taught me is that if you paint yourself into a corner, you’re going to have to go back and fix it where it starts and not… NOT… take the cheap way out and just ret-con some cheesy fix.  It also has taught me that sometimes, you just can’t bite on the tasty bait of a kewl trendy idea without taking into account the dangers of what it might create down the road.  This is also a major sin of Marvel Comics lately.

And that takes us into the last, most egregious sin:

Sermonizing

A while back I was introduced to the phrase “Story, not Sermon”.  It’s part of where lots of Christian Fiction falls down.  Too many focus on preaching while neglecting the story, and that life doesn’t always fall into neat little boxes of quantified faith and philosophy.  Lately, though, sermonizing has become endemic throughout movies, TV and music.  It isn’t so much in books much more than it had been in the past, other than artificial markets created for identity politics which are then weaponized by publishers and retailers with an agenda.  BTW, everyone has an agenda.  Those who claim otherwise are lying to your face.  When I read a book to learn something, sermonizing isn’t so bad.  For instance, I don’t pick up “Hind’s Feet on High Places” and don’t expect it to address me directly or obliquely.  On the other hand, if I pick up “The Screwtape Letters”, I don’t get sermonizing at you, but its more of a morality tale or fable where I can choose to ignore its subtext towards me, and the philosophy becomes a backdrop.  On the other hand, if I read “Ender’s Game” I don’t get any sermon or morality tale outside of the broad general themes of an Sci Fi adventure story.

What this has this taught me?  There are expectations on how much you can preach a belief or faith before it interferes with the good story.  “Hind’s Feet” is a book that uses allegory to preach directly to you about its subjects in an entertaining parable.  But I went into reading that book knowing it was going to preach to me.  If I had not and was averse to Christian theology, I’d have been pissed by the bait and switch.  Same goes for “The Screwtape Letters” if I did not know it was a morality tale with a solid trope twist.  But if suddenly I started getting either morality tales or parables from “Enders Game”, a book based on the pretense it is nothing more than an entertaining story, I’d have launched the book across the room.  It’s part of why the sequels have been failures.

So I work hard to use the morality tale/fable line in my work.  People know going in that I’m putting this out there as an aspect of the world.  I’m not preaching to the reader that this is how to believe.  It’s just the way the characters believe.  The instant you cross the line and try to make people agree with what you’re putting in the book, you leave prose and entertainment and become rhetoric.

How does this relate to Dr. Who?  For a few years now, we’ve been seeing creeping political correctness joked about, more libertine attitudes being normalized and the slow slow descent into forced Transacceptance theology.  Post Modernism and Social Justice has poisoned too much of the show’s underpinnings and has been slowly dissolving the “just for fun” nature of the show into subtle fables and sermons on how we should act and think. Social programming at its most nefarious.  Captain Jack was the first hammerblow.  Missy was the next.  Then came the “Day of the Doctor” with gender changing generals (a rubbish episode that wasted John Hurt), and then Bill and now… this.

No one who’s been paying attention is fooled as to what this is about.  This is pushing a political agenda and using the popularity and love of a trusted franchise to do it.  As a fan of the show since 1980, I find it insulting and infuriating that something used for entertainment and twisted it to push an agenda.  This is equivalent to a reboot of Star Trek making James T. Kirk into some man-hating feminist. Or Darth Vader was Luke’s mother.  It’s a comparable betrayal, and its something people need to realize is wrong for it violates trust for the sake of a trend.  I have no animosity towards the actress.  In fact, I feel kinda bad for her, because she’s going to be vilified and roasted on the spit of public opinion.  To them it’s now a delivery system for a socio-political agenda to sneak unpopular/abominable ideas past critical thought barriers of impressionable fans and normalize aberrant behavior.  All in the name of hypocritical “Tolerance”.

When you fail in the payoff, it’s often because you over-reached or sold something you couldn’t figure out and had to cheat.  If you jump the shark, it’s usually caused from the previous point, but made worse because its outlandish and violates the rules of your universe or at least sprains credulity.  And sermonizing… Well… that’s a direct violation of trust between you and your reader if you were not up front with the fact ‘Here there be rhetoric, not entertainment”, and that is the most bitter betrayal of all.

Some very important things for me as an author to consider.  Something I hope never to violate or at least be up front with my level of rhetoric/sermonizing/story.  A balance that I hope always comes out with story first.

If you think that this level of fan outrage has not happened before or is not coming, I refer you to this:

 

 

 

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.

 

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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