Friday, September 28, 2012

09/28/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Hello everyone and welcome back. I'm glad you made it here today and I hope you've all had a great week. I'm looking forward to a full weekend, and hope to have lots of fun through it all. For now though, let's get right to work!

Today I bring you 'Dead Birds' by Chad Inglis. Now because you get on my case like PETA or something, this story is not about how to kill birds. That would be awful and I would be sick to my stomach. Instead this story is about a city in a universe that's cracked and broken, and a homeless man named Holister sees to be the only one who notices the pigeons appearing without heads. He takes it upon himself to figure out why they're dying and what it means for everyone else.

Holister's been on the streets for several years, and finding the dead birds is the strangest thing he's seen so far. He The first one he thought was just an act of animal cruelty, but when he finds more, and then starts finding strange rings painted in their blood on the walls, he knows he's onto something more. Eventually another homeless man tells him to talk to an old woman named Maria and she shows him just how broken their world is.

I picked this story because it's about a man who would know the city better than anyone else seeing something wrong when no one else does. He takes it upon himself to solve the mystery, and there's a bit of hope that it inspires him to clean up his life and stop the one who's putting up the rings. This story feels like a small piece of a much bigger picture, so if this is a prequel I wouldn't be surprised. I also think the old woman is supposed to be the author's take on the Babba Yagga, so that was a nice surprise.

'Dead Birds' is available on Smashwords for Free and is relatively short, so I recommend picking it up on a lunch or coffee break. A word of note though, as of right now, their online reading/HTML format has something buggy going on with it now. In order to read this story I had to download a PDF. I'm sure they're aware of the issue and are working on it now, but I wanted to give a heads up before people started getting frustrated.

Thanks everyone for stopping by again. My hope is that next week I will be able to do a promotional special thing for 'The Light Rises' since by then it should be ready to be tossed back out into the world. At least that's the hope, we'll see what reality believes in. Other than that, I hope everyone has a great weekend and I'll see you back here on Monday!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

09/26/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Hello everyone and I hope you're all having a good day! I apologize for the late post, but I decided that since I am at home celebrating my birthday by not being at work, that I could sleep in and be lazy a little. I have tried my best to be as productive as possible after completing Phase 2, and it has worked marginally well. Right now I am waiting for someone to read through the new and improved 'The Light Rises' to let me know where little fixes need to be made and then it will be all ready for the world!

I have become disappointed with my ability to get 'Daughter of the Shackled King' moved to a digital format, so that is what I have been working on since finishing Phase 2. Now the story itself I'm hoping to release after the sequel to 'The Light Rises' is done, mostly because I don't want to risk confusing people with a timeline, but then I have to ask myself, since that story takes place in modern New York, is that really an issue? Which is why I wanted to bring that up for today's topic.

Now technically, the books I'm working on are all set in the same universe, they are just broken up into two trilogies: 'Rending the Seal', 'The Light Rises' and 'Through the Broken Mirror' are all set in London between 1887 - 1907, while 'Daughter of the Shackled King', 'Feathers of the Dead', and 'War of the Pantheons' will be between 2012 - ??? (likely 2013 but that will depend on how I feel and publishing dates.) Sense they are the same universe there need to be consistencies between them, which there are, but because there's so much time in between the first and last stories, is release order really so important? They won't have the same characters or same conflicts, so does that mean if I finish 'Daughter of the Shackled King' that I can release it without any problems? I've seen many discussions regarding release order before, and I can understand why it would be preferred to do everything in chronological succession, though in this circumstance I'm curious about whether or not it will be fine as long as the set trilogies are together.

Let's say you're writing a series, and it is going to be five books long, and each book is supposed to be the events that happened in one year. The Harry Potter series is a good example of this. Now in that case having the books released in order was a very good idea. It helped the reader connect and grow with the characters, and also with the intended audience for those books being children it was a wonderful way for the readers to literally grow up with the characters. If you take your series and decide to write book 1 and the next book you release is taking place five years later, but then the next one is taking place three years after the first (so technically you went 1, 5, and 3) that has a high probability of confusing a lot of people. This is also going to lead you as the author to doing a lot of continuity checks before releasing anything. I'm not saying this doesn't work, I've seen where it has worked out wonderfully, but my thinking is that if your stories are less than a year apart, maybe releasing them in order is a good idea.

I'll admit that I'm not doing that with 'The Light Rises' and it's pairing stories. Part of that is because I got the idea for the other two after 'The Light Rises' was about to be published, the other side is that each story, while connected, is more than a year apart from the other and in the case of 'Through the Broken Mirror' will be roughly 16 or 17 years after 'The Light Rises'. They are also going to be fairly obvious that one is a prequel, the other is a sequel and will reference each other accordingly. Now then, with 'Daughter of the Shackled King' and it's successive stories, those will be released in chronological order because the amount of time that will pass between the three will likely be a year and a half (at the most). It's less confusing for the reader (and author!) to do it that way, and also more believable for the characters as well. In the end though, do what you feel is right in terms of your release order. If it makes sense for the world and the characters, then I'm certain you can make it all work out for the best.

I appreciate everyone stopping by today! I hope my ramblings made some kind of sense as well. I will be back on Friday for my normal review and will the enjoy my weekend filled with Magic and friends. Have a good rest of your week, see you on Friday!

Monday, September 24, 2012

09/24/2012 Magnificent Monday!

Hello everyone and thanks for coming back after the weekend. I am super tired, but I'm sure I'll figure out some way to wake up. I hope it went well for everyone, for me I look forward to a relatively short week since I have taken Wednesday off, which will likely help my sadness from having a one-day weekend.

At the very least Phase 2 is complete, which means there is one more to do before 'The Light Rises' revision is complete. That guy I live with has graciously volunteered to read it over for me to make sure things make sense. Which is good because frankly after doing technically two rereads in a row I don't think I can technically look at it and know whether or not it makes sense right now. I'm really excited though and I will keep everyone posted about progress.

Going through all this has kicked my brain into high gear regarding the prequel 'Rending the Seal' and the details about the sequel 'Through the Broken Mirror' and that is really exciting. My hope is to have everything mentally ready for 'Through the Broken Mirror' by November so that I can get a jump-start during NANOWRIMO. December will likely be a tiny writing break time in which I play Persona 4: the Golden, but we'll see how that ends up.

I also listen to lots of music at work, and whenever 'Dust in the Wind' plays it reminds me of my mental 'opening music' to 'Daughter of the Shackled King' and every time the only thing I want to do is go home and work on it. I honestly just wish there were a few less hours I could be at work so I could write, or that the day was a little bit longer so I would have more time. Though I'm going for the first mostly because I would rather those few hours longer be spent sleeping.

All in all I'd say things are going well. As I said, once things are ready I'll put up links and such for the revised edition of 'The Light Rises' for everyone to see. In the meantime, please take these moments to check out my short story collection 'Uncrossed Paths' and share it with your friends. It's almost to 500 downloads, which I know after a year doesn't seem like much, but it would be great to get it to that number this week.

Thanks everyone for stopping by again today. I'll be back Wednesday with my normal post. I hope everyone has a great start to their week and I'll see you then!

Friday, September 21, 2012

09/21/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Hello everyone and welcome back! I'm glad you were all able to stop by for another quick review. I'll get right to it so you won't have to wait any longer.

Today I look at 'Sword of Kings' by Matthrew Iden. It's a short story about a king who discoverers his sword, passed on through generations, is dying. He must now find a way to save the sword that has been a symbol of his family for generations, but he must also consider the cost of doing so.

Andreas always thought of himself as a good king, as did his people. He was bold, courageous, and was always strong and just, however when his sword, aptly named the Sword of Kings, begins to break and become heavy in his hands, he fears what that image means to his people. The sword has always been as light as a feather in the hands of all kings, but now he is barely able to lift it and he must discover why.

I picked this story because I like the idea of a short story proving to people that you can have a massive and very powerful story with so few words. Story stories are challenges to a lot of people because they want to put in more detail, description, and other things that make full-length stories what they are. The author here has managed to do all of that while keeping his story under 10,000 words, which is a talent.

'Sword of Kings' is available on Smashwords for .99, and I'm sure will be available at other vendors soon. I recommend picking it up, as a tale of self discovery is always a fun read. So please pass it along to your friends as well, I'm sure the author would appreciate it.

Another quick message before I go, yesterday I learned that Elizabeth Marshall, you may remember her name as the nice lady who wrote 'When Fate Dictates' a while back, is in a bit of a bind. Recently she signed up to publish through Amazon, and they have a contract that states authors can only sell through them, so being the good person she was, she unpublished her works from other publishers. Recently however her books have been popping up in order retailers (such as Apple and Kobo), but she did not put them there. Her newer books (I'm not sure about what's going on with 'When Fate Dictates') are only supposed to be available on Amazon, but someone is posting them elsewhere, so if you see them please report them or somehow get a message to her so she knows what's going on. She is writing Amazon, but is really worried they will think she's trying to breach the contract. Please help her out anyway you can.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today! I will be back on Monday, so hopefully my short weekend will be alright. Phase 2 is almost done, so I am getting more and more excited! Hopefully I will have good news to report on Monday too. Until then, I hope everyone has a good weekend!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

09/19/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Hello everyone! Sorry the post is later than normal, but it's my day off and I felt like relaxing for a little bit. I would have just blamed a cat, but that doesn't seem fair. I got news at work regarding the status of things, but was given good reviews and compliments, so I feel a bit mixed today. I think not being at work will be a good thing overall. Especially since that means I can get lots of progress done on Phase 2.

Today I wanted to take a look at how to handle your environment while writing. I'm not talking about fighting off wild animals (or in my case cats) to defend your right to create. I'm more trying to focus on your ability to stay focused while the world tries to distract you from writing. The world will try to get you to lose focus in a number of ways, and sometimes it just feels like fate is against you, so I'm going to talk about that.

This is something that is a bit harder to go into detail about because it's very subjective. Some people can get work done on a crowded bus, while others can't even focus on something that isn't the road or else their insides feel like they are going to explode. Myself, if I am sitting still (that is not in a moving vehicle) I can write pretty much everywhere, but there are still the risks of distraction. Some people get around this by creating a solitary work area just for them that's quiet and away from everything else. If you're able to do that and the quiet doesn't drive you crazy, more power to you. Though if you're a parent or have pets that seem to require as much attention as a small child, this really isn't an option for you.

Other people give themselves a designated writing time, which I've mentioned before I approve of. I like this because it helps form routines and humans like routines, which in the end will mean that there will be more writing in the future. Now when this 'time' is will vary depending on your circumstances. It could be as simple as when you get home from work and just want to relax and focus on something that isn't office politics for a couple hours, to when the kids are finally asleep/quiet and you can get some time to wind down.

Some people have the ability to block out almost all possible distractions while writing, which means they can do it just about anywhere at anytime. I would say I fall into that category, but I know I don't. There is always something that has the ability to pull away my attention, but there are people who don't have that issue. I don't really know what to say about them except that I hope they notice fire alarms and other emergency alerts when they're 'in the zone'.

Something else that there is little control over is problems with the medium. Some people still hand write everything, but eventually the manuscript will need to be put into some kind of typed format, and who knows what sort of problems can happen there. Maybe you go in with a plan to write a ridiculous number of pages that day, but your computer just wants to update and restart, or (god forbid) there's an actual problem with the computer. This is something I've run into and I nearly died. Obviously I didn't because we got everything fixed (and a new computer) but this is something that not everything has the chance to enjoy.

The important thing about writing in today's world is to partially accept what it's going to throw at you as a distraction. Loud noises, animals, people, explosions, computer problems, fate kicking you in the pants, and the like are all things that you're going to have to face as a writer. The crucial part is how you handle them; if you can stay focused and keep telling yourself that no matter what your story will get told, then it will happen. Now it might be a little slower than you'd like, but speed is not going to help you. As much as everyone would love to be Stephen King and have his ability to pop up a new 1000+ page epic in less than a year (you know, because he's retired, and a robot), that just isn't going to happen. Be happy with what progress you make, and remember that any progress is still progress.

Thanks everyone for stopping by again today. I will be back on Friday with my weekly review. I've noticed that our visitors have been increasing over the past several weeks, and that is very promising and uplifting. I appreciate everyone who's told their friends and who also keep coming back. Thanks a bunch and I hope you have a great rest of your week.

Monday, September 17, 2012

09/17/2012 Magnificent Monday!

Hello everyone and welcome back! I hope your weekend was fun and hopefully productive. I am getting ready for my slightly earlier/long shift this week, so I am working hard to get myself to wake up.

Phase 2 of the re-read of 'The Light Rises' has commenced, and my hope is that I can plow through it as quickly as possible. The reason for that is that Harper-Collins, if the name isn't familiar they are a big deal Publishing Company, has said they will be accepting submissions for the first two weeks in October via their e-book branch for the first time since 2001. This is really exciting, but it does mean I have a deadline. It's not that I don't love having the book available via Smashwords it would just be fantastic to also have a big-name publisher that will also put the book into print have my book series.

Now none of this means that I'm going to abandon the indy publishing circuit. It absolutely doesn't. However, with a chance like this I really can't just let it pass me by. I'm aware that there will be thousands doing the same thing I am, and since I was doing this work anyway it's not that big of a deal to me to just do it a bit faster. I figure with how long 'The Light Rises' is, if I do about 10 - 20 pages a day I should be able to get it completed by the end of the first two weeks in October. Here's to hoping my plan works!

I'm sorry this post is relatively short, but time is of the essence, and I need to make sure I get everything done. The interview went well last week and they say I should hear back this week to know the results. There are a lot of good and deserving people going after the two permanent positions, so I hope whoever gets them are really happy. For now though I'm going to focus on what's important. I'll see everyone back here on Wednesday, so until then I hope you all have a great start to your week!

Friday, September 14, 2012

09/14/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Hello everyone and welcome back! I don't have much time so I'll try to make my little intro as quick as I can for you. The interview went well (I think) and I bring you a story to celebrate it with!

Today I have 'Wired: A Broken Fairy Tale' by Rabia Gale. It's a retelling of Rapenzel set in a post-apocalyptic world. A girl who's more machine than man is raised by a woman who sees her as a chance to control the world. Giving her the chance to learn and experience information on her own, it's not until she meets her prince that the girl sees the true blight around her.

The Wizard Grothel told her the story of how her parents abandoned her, and how she was better than any of that. Once she was even told she was part of a race that would rule the world, but that's not what she wants. She just wants to learn about everything, and her hair acts as wires to connect her to that information. She always thought of her mother as her savior and protector until she met him, her prince. Now she must choose between staying in her tower or fighting for her freedom and that of the people who fear her mother.

You know me, I'm always a fan of fairy tales getting mixed around, and this story is no different. 'Wired: A Broken Fairy Tale' is available on Smashwords for absolutely free and is a fun way to spend a break of lunch. The author even says he enjoys re-imagining fairy tales so do check out what else he has floating about too.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today! I hope you all are looking forward to a fun weekend. I'll just enjoy the fact I get a full one this time around. I also need to get to work on speeding through Phase 2 of my editing project for 'The Light Rises' and while I seriously doubt I'll finish this weekend, I'm hoping to make some vast amounts of progress. For now though, have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

09/12/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Hello everyone and welcome back. The temperature is slowly starting to drop and things are making progress regarding my reading. Today I will bring my laptop with me, not because I assume I'll get to Phase 2 today, but if I do I want to be ready. There are also interviews starting for a permanent position, and myself and my fellow temps are excitedly hopeful!

The question I pose to you all today is a rather simple one: How do you remember all your ideas? I've been asked this before when someone was curious about how I can pick up a notebook, write for a few minutes, go to work, do some other things, and then come back to it and pick up where I left off. I thought it was an interesting question mostly because I didn't have that good of an answer for them.

For me, a majority of my ideas live in my brain. Sure there are pieces that I write down to keep everything straight (timelines are your friends, especially when dealing with something that spans at least one century) but for the most part I keep everything locked away in my brain bits. I have the general plot, major scenes, characters, and how they relate to one another in my mind, but I know that there are others that write everything down and make fantastically complicated looking webs of plot and characterization. I've been curious about making one someday, just to see what it all looks like, but I'm always worried mine will never be as interesting looking as others.

Sometimes people just need to write out an outline to help fuel their memories of what's happened, what's happening, and what's going to happen. This is also helpful when keeping track of events across multiple stories, or in the event you're dealing with time travel. This is by far the most organized way to keep things cohesive in my opinion, and I've done some of it myself since in 'Daughter of the Shackled King' there is a character that's lived for almost two centuries, so I used him as my guide for 'when things happened and how old was he when it did' so that I know at what point his life was at during 'The Light Rises' and so-forth.

So again, I ask what works best for you? Is there some kind of method that I haven't thought of, or that you're particularly proud of? I'd really like to see other examples, especially since I know there are some things that work for others, and things that don't, but if something is completely different it might work for them. My goal here has always been to help out where I can, so if there is something I'm missing I'd love for people to see it.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. I look forward to seeing everyone back here on Friday for another review. I think I'm finally starting to get the hang of my schedule, which is a great relief. I hope everyone has a great rest of the day and I'll see you back here Friday!

Monday, September 10, 2012

09/10/2012 Magnificent Monday!

Welcome back everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend. Mine was short, but that's alright, I'll have a normal one this weekend. I'm hoping this week goes smoothly as I am finally able to start fully adjusting to my flipping schedules. We'll see, but the hope is still there!

We are getting toward the season where things start to become uncomfortable for me. As I mentioned before I have a very narrow window of temperature comfort and we are starting to dip below the colder side of things. Not to say I haven't missed the rain, which is a weird thing for me to say, but I have, because air quality seriously sucks right now. I am getting prepared for the cooler weather though, I just hope that if it does snow this year that I don't lose power for 3 days and am not trapped in my apartment again.

I am already getting a plan put together for November as well. Aside from the fact Persona 4: The Golden has been pushed back to that month (for the sole purpose of torturing me, I assume.), there is also NANOWRIMO to consider. I have options available to me for what I am going to work on, and really it's all going to depend on where I am in my current projects. Ideally I would like to start work on 'Through the Broken Mirror' which is the sequel to 'The Light Rises' and the final extension of that part of the series, but with 'The Light Rises' being worked on and then editing needing to begin on 'Rending the Seal', I am turning my attention to the stories set in modern day New York to see if working on those is something a bit more realistic. There are still a couple months for me to think about it, though so it's not like I don't have time.

The progress with 'The Light Rises' is going very well, and if things go the way I expect them to I should be able to start working with the digital copy at some point this week. I'm super excited about that, not just because it means I'm almost done, but because generally working with a computer makes things go fantastically faster. I'm sure that statement will slap me in the face and come mid-October I will be fretting about only being halfway done, but we'll see! For now I'm just excited about making progress.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. I will be back on Wednesday for my normal mid-week post. I'm really excited about the last couple weeks for Friday. The reception has been well received and the authors have shown their appreciation as well. Part of this is due to the fact they were relatively easy to contact. I really wish everyone would take a page from them and at least get an e-mail to let someone contact you at, if not just a Twitter account you only use to read awesome stuff that random people say. In the end, it's appreciated, and I hope everyone has a good start to their week. See you all Wednesday!

Friday, September 7, 2012

09/07/2012 Fantastic Friday!

Hello everyone and welcome back. I am somewhat awake and ready to take on Friday, even if I have to work tomorrow. I have shifted through the new releases on Smashwords and have brought something new for you today.

I bring you 'Run' by Tahlia Newland. It's a short story that's a prequel to her full-length book. It's about Nick, a young man who just wanted to be free of the problems his own world had, so after nearly being killed by a demon he came to ours. As he tries to escape the problems of his past, he finds they might not be as far behind as he'd like.

Nick has killed lots of demons in his Realm, all but one that almost killed him. With that he leaves at the protest of his sister and the tugging that tells him the spirit guide doesn't necessarily agree either. To him our world seems like a piece of freedom he so desperately wants. However when he gets there he discovers he's been too far up in his Realm, and as badly as he wanted to remain oblivious to them, he can see the demons leeching on humanity. It seems like as badly as he wants to get away from them and have a life that seems like it could be normal, he'll have to go back to destroying them no matter what.

I picked this because it is an introduction to a larger world, and frankly I can relate to the method used. I have my own short story introduction of shorts and it has really helped with 'The Light Rises' so I wanted to give the author a bit of a boost too. The story is meant for older teens and adults, so please keep that in mind during the, short, more adult scene.

'Run' is available on Smashwords for FREE and is short so there's no excuse not to go pick it up. The author would certainly appreciate it, and maybe you can check out her other stories as well. I'm sure she'd like the way connections work like that.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. I will be back on Monday ready to go again. For now though I must be off to work and the same for tomorrow. My goal is to be awake the whole time too! Anyway, I hope everyone has a great weekend and I'll see you back here next week.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

09/05/2012 Writing Wednesday!

Hello everyone! I hope you had a good weekend and a good start to your week. Over in the US here we had Monday off and man did I need it. I'm still working on getting fully adjusted to the work schedule, and I know it's been about a month that I've had to do that, but my schedule changes every week, so it's been a little difficult to get used to. Today is my off day though, so this was very much helpful in the larger scheme of things.

I know I've been talking a lot about motivation lately, so I wanted to try and look at something else in an attempt to give you all something more interesting to read. As I've gone through 'The Light Rises' again after pretending it doesn't actually exist for a while (which is weird considering I can go to my Smashwords page and see it all the time), I have learned just how important taking that step back really is. You can make something and go over it six hundred times in a row, or until the point you're convinced you're done and it's perfect, and when you go back to it after almost a year you find things that you wish you had done differently.

For me it was looking at the prologue to that story. I found sentences that didn't seem right, inconsistencies that didn't necessarily match up with the prequel I'm currently ignoring (it can stay in it's folder and like it!), or things that just seemed mentally clunky to read. That was when I decided that this story needed an overhaul and that anything I did to it would only make it better. Flash forward to today and I am roughly 50 pages from the end of Phase 1, and I still feel good about my decision.

I'm also coming to grips with the fact this is something that will likely need to happen with pretty much everything I write. Though my plan is to just go ridiculous on the editing phase so that I don't necessarily need to do it a year later before I throw something else out into the world. If you can get beta readers that's awesome, but sometimes if you want something done right you have to do it yourself. Even now there are parts of 'Rending the Seal' I'm wondering if they're really necessary and if I can move some stuff around to cut them out. Not because I don't like them (I positively love them) but because they take away from the story itself and I don't want it to feel like a bunch of filler leading up to a big fight scene. The morale of this story is: If you feel your story needs a new edition or an overhaul, go for it, don't feel bad, and be proud of it because it can only get better.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. I apologize for the post being a little late, but like I said I am recovering from my brain being confused all weekend so I was exhausted yesterday. All's good now though, and I will be back Friday with my normal review. I hope you all have a great rest of your week!