Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Questions you didn't ask #1

As promised, this is the first of my 'stuff you really didn't want to know but think you do,' series, guised as a series of questions my nonexistent readers never asked.

This first faux question contains spoiler material if you have not read 'The Serpent and the Unicorn' books (at least through book 3) and may one day wish to do so.  If so, stop here…

Okay, I will assume my remaining audience can safely tolerate that which is to come.  Here is the question that has been boggling readers (in theory) for at least a few seconds now: Why did you kill off Tristan?

That is an excellent question, and I'm glad I asked it.  Serpent was my first attempt at literature (and may yet be classified as an attempt by some) and still my favorite story arc.  It started more as something to occupy my time while my husband was working weird hours and I was alone for much of the time.  I never imagined it would be the first of many writings to clutter up the virtual-universe.  As far as characters go, he was (and is) one of my favorites, but the point came in the story where the question was poised: is this story about him or about something greater?  Writers can get very protective of their work, it is something that comes from the very heart and is very personal; I do not want to liken my characters to children, but it is a significant bond.  I felt a little like Abraham being asked to offer up Isaac, 'your son, your only son.'  But I knew it had to be done.  I didn't know why, but I knew it was necessary.

So I wrote the fatal words and the series went places I had never imagined and I even got my character back for random cameo appearances to boot.  If I hadn't done it, I think the whole thing would have fizzled out and still be a half written story moldering in the hard drive of a defunct laptop and all that came after would never have come.  A little dramatic, perhaps, but to a writer, our dramatis personae spring like Athene from the head of Zeus and we get a little attached to our creative offspring, but if we get too attached and sacrifice the story for the sake of a single character, our writing will suffer for it and that is by far the worse outcome.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

On relics, their uses and limits

A few years younger and I might understand this 'brave, new world' that technology has foisted upon us, or rather it would be as natural as breathing, which may or may not be a good thing!  I have recently started regularly reading the excellent blog of a very promising young writer and this has reminded me that perhaps I am a bit too old fashioned in my approach to modern readers.  I get annoyed when all people do is promote their book, their business, their whatever all the time.  I like to discover things on my own, stumble across them as it were while perusing quietly in the library.  Everyone shouting that their book (or whatever) is the best and must be read ends only in a maddening cacophony and turns off my interest in reading altogether.  I assumed this was the feeling of most discerning readers and thought that perhaps benign neglect was the best approach in 'promoting' my books.  That sounds very oxymoronic even as I write it!  But I figured, if my books are good enough, people will read them, if not they won't and I will still enjoy them myself; win win!  The problem with that is, like my reading preferences, it tends to be a hundred years behind the times.

For reasons I cannot possibly comprehend, people nowadays like to feel important, informed, a part of things.  They like to know everything about anything they find even vaguely interesting or they cease to be interested.  As mortifying as this is to my antisocial soul, I suppose it is not wholly a bad thing.  Why anyone would be interested in the mundanities of another person's life, I cannot fathom; I have enough trouble keeping track of my own details, let alone memorizing someone else's.  This does not mean I will become a user of social media (we relics have our limits), but perhaps I can offer up a few tidbits to those who are interested now and again (ye blessed few!).  I refrained from such things before because I thought there would be no interest and another voice crying in the virtual wilderness would likely avail nothing, but I can give it a try, and if this turns out to be an exercise in futility I can always go back to random posts about obscure christmas hymns and amusing words.

So in an attempt to bring myself and this blog into the 21st century, I will from time to time post some amusing trivia relevant to my writings, and if there is no one around to hear the tree fall in the forest, at least I will have the pleasure of saying I have at last caught up with the times.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

News! News! News!

"He calls ye one and calls ye all…" sorry, it is nearing that time of year when I have only christmas hymns in my head!  But this is a post about more than an obscure song I have stuck in my head, or at least I hope it is.  I have finally finished a book, it is rather shorter than I originally intended but it is finished and if there is one thing you do not add to a book it is useless filler.  It is a random collection of fairy tales and poetry (yes poetry, but thankfully most of it is not my own!).  I am evening playing with the pre-order craze that seems to be 'the thing' among ebook enthusiasts at the moment.  Don't worry, it has been out for a couple of weeks and is underwhelming in its performance, I think it is ranking somewhere around 2,000,000 on Amazon; top 1 billion, here we come!

It comes out Nov. 15th at all your favorite retailers (though it is cheaper at everywhere except Amazon!).  Over the Hills and Far Away.  At least the title is catchy.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

An Amazon update

Dearest of readers,

The headache that is Amazon has improved slightly, allowing my much neglected books on that site a desperately needed update, but it still lingers and is unlikely to abate for some time.  Up until recently I had to reformat everything to publish on Amazon, but now I can use the same word document I use for smashwords for amazon as well, thus saving much time and effort for a site where I sell 2 books annually.  So the updating I did this spring can now be applied to my poor amazon dependents as well, thus improving (vastly, I hope) the editing in those editions.  I am still unable to price books at less that $2.99 on Amazon so if a book is free elsewhere and has a price on Amazon, it is not because I wish it to be so but a requirement of the site.  If I go KDP select, I can forget about some of these headaches but then I cannot publish anywhere else, which is just silly!  So I must play by their rules (no matter how annoying) and be grateful they allow me to publish at all.  I will be getting my other books up (except the foibles, as I will not charge $2.99 for a 10,000 word story!) over the next few weeks.  I put them on Amazon because, well, they are Amazon, and I'd like the world to be slightly aware of their existence, besides for that, I have very little to say in favor of their treatment of rebellious authors who refuse to go KDP exclusive.  I apologize for the discrepancies in price and the lag in revising, but Amazon is not a congenial master.  Definitely shop around for the best deals in ebooks and if you are an aspiring author, think twice about solely publishing with Amazon!

Monday, October 6, 2014

A book worth blogging about!

I love a good fairy tale, but good fairy tales are hard to come by in this modern, materialistic, and indifferent age.  I couldn't find a good story, so thought to write my own, which I find mildly amusing but are rather insignificant in the whole scope of Literary History.  But happily, my own pathetic scribblings are now in vain, for I have found a writer worth reading and dare I compare her to the likes of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien?  Yes, I do!  Which is somewhat akin to a devout catholic naming their own saints, but this heretic is quite decided that this author is worthy of such distinction, or at least of a thorough reading of her canon.  Anne Elisabeth Stengl is the author of the 'Tales of Goldstone Wood' series, which is well worth the read if you are a lover of Faerie.  I have been fortunate enough to receive a free preview copy of the seventh book, Golden Daughter and my review follows:

Golden Daughter is the seventh book in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series (this is a review of a free preview copy) and is a worthy addition to an excellent series.  Until I picked up these books, I was quite convinced that any fantasy writer worth reading had been dead for fifty years or more.  Happily I am quite mistaken; Ms. Stengl is a worthy heir to George Macdonald, Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis.  In this book particularly she combines the aching beauty of Macdonald, the whimsy and charm of Lewis, and the intricate world-building of Tolkien with her own quick wit, all too real characters, a complex and interconnected plot, superb writing, and shrewd humor, enwrapping it all in a mystique and intrigue that may well lead to lost sleep and neglected duties as the reader falls under her spell and desires nothing else in life but to know what happens next.  This book can be read as a stand alone, but I would recommend starting at the beginning as it fleshes out and explains some of the questions left from earlier in the series and you will get far more out of it if you already understand something of the world in which it happens. 

This book deepens and widens an already immense world, adds new characters that feel more real, more complex than some of the people you meet in real life, and only worsens the yearning to hear the Song of Spheres for yourself.  There is sorrow, pain, grief, despair, and darkness in this story as in life, but there is a hope beyond the doubt, a light beyond the darkness, life beyond death.  This book will stir the deep places of the soul and ask of you the same questions the characters themselves must face, which is exactly what a good book does, for a good story is not merely a well told tale but a mirror upon ourselves and the world at large, if only we have the courage to look therein.  I very much enjoyed this book and impatiently await the advent of the next addition to the series! 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Another excuse to tarry

Reading is a horrible predicament for a writer, though there is little better way to expand and improve your craft save to write, it also means you are not yourself writing, as you are sucked into a world of others' making.  To this sorry fate have I condemned myself of late whilst my poor writings languish in half finished agony, but I am rather enjoying it even so!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Back to school!

It is back to school time, no more slacking, I expect that book report to be in in a timely manner.  Get busy!