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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Akiniwazi Encyclopedia

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

Part 1: The Encyclopedia Proper

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

Part 2: The Timeline

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

Part 3: The Atlas

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

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

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

 

SURPRISE BOOK RELEASE!

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

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I has a happy place

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

…And They’re Off!

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you all for your support!

Experiencing My Work Anew

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Over the last month or so, I’ve been doing a final polish of my book before I put it out to print.  I was sad to find so many errors in it that I missed on the previous 7 edits, but I blame myself for I did not do the one thing I should have: Read the book out loud to myself.

Well, now that I have, it has been a very different experience for me.  I was given a chance to experience the work from a more detached eye, and see some things that I was unable to before.  It’s been a very nice blessing.

That said, I am happy the job is done, and if all goes according to plan, the Trade paperback will be available on Amazon in a week or so.

Before it goes out, though, the changes will be uploaded to Amazon, and according to their technical notes, you should all be getting update notifications.  Please take the time to upload them.  They’re supposed to be free, so you have nothing to lose there.

What I found interesting as I edited that I was able to experience the characters more honestly I think.  I didn’t have all the internal chatter in my head, and I could see more clearly ways to restate scenes that might have been clunky before.  The content has not changed, but the delivery is far better… except for one scene.

Yes, one scene was decidedly lacking oomph.  It had been weak from the start, and I didn’t know how to deal with it, till a suggestion was given, and I started rearranging sentences to try and get my meaning across clearer.  Then one paragraph became two, then three… and a whole new level of hard fought meaning revealed itself.  I went back over it, and made sure it made sense and held up… and got excited.  I realized that this scene now set the stage better of what was to follow, and made a much deeper impact.

I cannot wait to share these changes with you, and get the book in print.

But, not to fear, Book 2 will now start moving forward again, after I reconnect with it more.  I will be doing a partial edit to reconnect with the characters and then hope to get much of this done.  I’m setting a personal goal for Memorial Day Weekend, just like ALRDW and the first draft of Book 3.  You did remember, Book 3 was already written?  Well the first draft is, and it will be heavily edited, but, won’t be as hard as Book 1.  I’ve learned some tricks and lessons.

Now I can play Guild Wars 2 with less guilt.

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…

On Sale Now!

Yes Sir!

That day has finally arrived.  “A Light Rises in a Dark World” is now available for immediate purchase and download on Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords, so pick your poison and get your copy today!

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Now, I know that it’s just been released, and nobody’s pounding down the door yet,  but I want to thank my friend David Lawrence for reminding me that I shouldn’t be to anxious in one of the best lines I heard in a while. Thank you for that line my friend:

“Hang in their Michael. Just because people haven’t seen your baby yet, it doesn’t mean they are calling her ugly.
To which I about fell over laughing and remembered an old Flip Wilson joke that seems oddly appropriate for the situation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_6vhgSAhuI

Leave it to ol’ Flip and Johnny Carson to lighten the mood.
So the next 24 hours are important.  If you have a review, now’s the time to leave it.  If you have a rating to give, same deal holds true, and thank you all so much for your support through this adventure.
Book 2 BTW, has reached 9 chapters and 17,191 words with more to come tonight.