Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Yet more questions you didn't ask (#4)

What's going on with your 'Greylands' stories?  Why do all the characters have the same name but you claim the stories have no relation to one another?

I hate coming up with character names, I have found several that I really like, fit my characters well, and rather than come up with unique names for 27 different stories, I cheat and recycle.  I am being 'green' as it were.  Isn't that why bottles of water now are so flimsy and crunchy?  We could likewise revolutionize the ebook world (though I hate those water bottles) and save the earth too!

Seriously though, these are different worlds, stories, plots, and characters but there are some underlying themes, imagery, characteristics, and the like which seem to recur in these tales.  Why not reuse a name as long as it is clear the character in question is unique to that story?  It is not like there has never been another person born with your name, why can't I do the same in a story if it happens in real life?

As to why I write them, that is a good question.  Full length books are certainly more profitable and popular with the majority of readers, but I find myself with all these shorter tales that need to be told and this seems the ideal way to do it, even if they do not acquire the readership a longer tale might.  Sometimes a tale just needs to be told, regardless of its popular reception or lack thereof.  But if you really want a good deal, go find a copy of my new volume containing the entire series, which will be updated as each new volume in the series comes out (and with the number of half told tales I have in the closet, it may be quite numerous!).  Pay once and own the entire series, now and to come!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Free Trip 'Over the Hills and Far Away'

Since my new book of fairy tales is selling so well I've decided to adjust the price, at least everywhere that is even remotely an option (ie. not amazon).  I decided to try the 'preorder' feature that all the ebook moguls seem to thing is the best thing since the discovery of chocolate (it is not), but your book has to have a price to participate, so I priced a book I had hoped to list for free.  Well, with preorder I have managed to sell 0 copies, I was astonished, floored, amazed, yes preorder is the way to go!  Maybe if you have a really popular serial going or people camp outside your house waiting for hints about your next book it is a good thing, but for no-name amateurs it really isn't all that great.  So I've adjusted my price to the outrageous fee of free.  It is a whimsical little book of poems and stories and now cost effective!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Even more questions you didn't ask (#3)

G.K. Chesterton once quipped, "a good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author."  Have you any thoughts on this?

A most excellent question, why is it all these questions seem to arise as if I asked them myself?

I am not sure I can fully agree with the most exalted GK, for all novels must tell us something of the writer, for one can only write 'what you know,' and of all topics, the author hopefully knows himself best.  We are also humans writing human stories (whether the main characters are technically human or not) and as such, all fiction must tell us something of the human experience or what is the point of reading or writing?  If we are reading a fictional account and it reads like an autobiography with the main character being the author, then yes, that is a bad novel indeed, but I cannot write a story or a character without incorporating some part of my experience, my fears, my hopes, my joys and sorrows, yea, my very soul into what I do.  For the root of all great art is buried deep in a human soul and without baring a little of that soul, we cannot hope to touch the world in any meaningful way.  What we know about being human, and thus about writing believable stories, comes from our own experience and hence is translated into our writing, though hopefully not in an exact copy!  In a good story, you will read a little bit of who and what the author is, but more importantly, you will learn some universal truth of what it is to be human.

Friday, November 7, 2014

More questions you didn't ask (#2)

Your newest book, "Over the Hills and Far Away," due out November 15th, is not classified as 'christian fantasy,' but merely as a collection of fairy tales.  Why no 'warning' label?  Have you given up on the genre?  Is this book safe for unwary readers?

An excellent question, I'm pleased to have proposed it…

As C.S. Lewis quipped in Surprised by Joy,  "a young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading."  It was George MacDonald that began the ruin of this particular atheist, who later became one of the greatest and most beloved Christian writers and thinkers of all time.     I am forced to agree with Lewis, that one can never be too careful in what one reads, if one does not want one's mind to be opened to the possibility of greater things.

I cannot help but spill my worldview into my writings, it is as innate to me as breathing.  There is undoubtedly an undertone of it in everything I write, but I can control the overall quantity that seeps in. While some of my works are overtly within the 'christian fantasy' genre, and are labeled as such, this latest collection of stories is not 'overtly' christian, at least in that I do not incorporate the various themes and imagery common to my 'christian' works.  There is no disguising the joy, the wonder, the hope, the suffering, sorrow, and sacrifice, that underlies this particular worldview, especially in writing stories such as these; in fact, they are the very theme of the book and underlie all great fairy stories.  For 'the greatest story ever told,' is the 'greatest fairy tale of all' and the best part is that it is true!  My hope is that this book will reach those who love fairy tales but are leery of anything labeled 'christian.'  I hope it will stir up thoughts and feelings too easily ignored, buried, or stupefied in our modern world, that it will waken that childlike wonder vital to faith and bring the reader face to face with the most important questions in the world and beyond it.

It really is a charming little book and I'm excited for its release, you can even see my mortifying attempts at poetry and feel better about your own!

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.