Category Archives: fantasy series

Science Fiction Series: Brandon Sanderson’s Bands of Mourning

photoI always do a happy dance at the start of spring. Warmer weather and longer days are near at hand, and summer lies not far away, full of promise.

Along the lines of marketing: Last week, I placed two ads. One was with Choosy Bookworm and the other with Free Kindle Ebooks. I selected the enhanced Choosy program for $70 and kicked in the $25 Free Kindle on the following day. Oddly enough, the Free Kindle program did better. Unfortunately, if you’re not marketing in some fashion, sales drop off. In this program I came out ahead, although downloads were less than before and I didn’t get as much follow-on buying of the rest of the series as in past campaigns.

Still, I’m happy with results but need to plan for next month.

A quick interesting science note from Kurtzweiler’s newsletter. The link is long, but it appears a new fabric has been developed that cleans itself through exposure to light. Wow! That could be revolutionary. As someone who does a lot of laundry, this was intriguing. Check out the details.

http://www.kurzweilai.net/nano-enhanced-textiles-clean-themselves-with-light?utm_source=KurzweilAI+Weekly+Newsletter&utm_campaign=0eaf0340c9-UA-946742-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_147a5a48c1-0eaf0340c9-281983297

Bands of MourningThis week I was excited to review Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson. Sanderson is a science fiction writer at the forefront of the genre. (see past blogs) He completed Robert Jordan’s bestselling series The Wheel of Time, after Jordan’s death and has several other series in his own name. He is best known for his Mistborn trilogy, which if you haven’t read yet, you should read first. The Bands of Mourning is the third in a series that takes place in the same world, but jumps ahead to the nineteenth century. Hence, there’s a Steampunk flavor along with the Western theme. You also have a highly thought out system of magic that uses metallurgy. Waxillium Ladrian is a Twinborn. He has both Feruchemical and Allomantic abilities. Burn some metal, then fly through the air sounds like fun, but he fights against evil and constantly puts himself in harm’s way where he relies on burning certain metals that activate his “magic” in order to save himself.

But basically, the story is a quest…a quest for the Bands of Mourning, which is a metalmind and gives the finder immense power. It is said to be hidden by the supposedly dead Lord Ruler in a hidden mysterious castle-like structure off in the cold northern mountains. So, we get a bit of Indiana Jones in the storyline too. Of course, our companions find the place booby-trapped.

Nothing is ever easy or works out as expected.

A Dangerous Talent for Time HQ (1)I love a good quest and used that plot line in my second book, A Dangerous Talent for Time. In my story, the characters search for the answer to a riddle to save them from attacking northern barbarians intent on conquering their kingdom.

Also, Bands of Mourning, explains why Wax left Teris to become a lawman and develops his relationship further with new wife, Steris. I needed to understand why he might marry her and why the relationship worked…or didn’t. I also liked getting motivation for his choice of being a lawman in the Roughs.

Of course, I loved reading more about Wayne, Wax’s quirky sidekick. Sanderson does a great job with battering dialog and a buddy relationship.

Bands of Mourning has everything. It starts off a bit Steampunk, turns Western, goes into a quest and ends up magical.

Sanderson writes for action and adventure, yet develops interesting characters. I look forward to the next and last book in this part of the series.

Shadows of SelfMistbornOther books by Sanderson you might want to check out:ElantrisWords of Radiance

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Filed under alloy magic, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, ebook marketing, fantasy, fantasy series, Marketing and selling novels, Mistborn series, science fiction series

Weddings: Real life and Fantasy Fiction

IMG_9518When you are writing as an author, often outside life events interrupt a somewhat disciplined schedule. Thankfully this time, the event was a happy one–the marriage of my only daughter.2016-02-06 16.56.48

And what a wonderful wedding it was…filled with longtime friends, treasured family, whirlwind activities, last minute panics, and satisfying solutions. Laughter, dancing, tasty food and toasts filled a church steeped with her new family’s tradition. The church’s hall where we celebrated bore her new husband’s name.

So writing and marketing fell by the wayside. A blog went overdue and edits ran late.
The world didn’t collapse

My latest marketing experiment was to see if discounting my first book in the series, Caught in Time, would be more profitable than offering it free. I used the Amazon Countdown to retain the 70% royalty and listed it on Bargainbooksy. I had previously listed it on Freebooksy to surprising success, and had heard the free path returned more. (Mark Coker blog)

He was right. Although I got paid with a discount, last year the free download generated three times more full retail sales through the sales of follow-on books in the series. This time I had very few follow-on sales from other books in the series.

What does this mean?

There could be many answers. One is that Caught in Time has been offered free several times and interested buyers already have it. Maybe I need to vary the ad site.

Or, January isn’t the hot month for ebook sales I thought it was. Too much getting back into the routine for extracurricular reading. Then, maybe with no outside marketing, people weren’t as aware. With all the wedding plans, I did no Facebook, Twitter, phone chats or any other spread the news stuff, other than a mention on this blog. I was distracted.

Who knows? I’d be interested in your experience as an author as to what has worked best for you, and what fell flat. Maybe we can share a little.

photo1.jpgMeanwhile, I’m commencing my writing and am writing about a spaceship’s encounter with a black hole. Nova is on my Tivo watch list and has been invaluable in helping learn the physics involved. Our understanding of the universe has expanded greatly over the last few decades, and Nova and the Discovery Channel have done a superb job of passing along that knowledge to the public.Jeweled Fire

Last week, I was excited to read the latest book by an old favorite author…Sharon Shinn. She has a series called Elemental Blessings and deals with a place where “Primes” have power over certain elements: water, air, fire, and earth.

Jeweled Fire is the story of tempestuous and fiery Corrine, one of the four princesses of Welce, who thought to be queen. Unfortunately, circumstances change for that path, and to carve out a royal life, she stows away with her bodyguard, Foley, onto a ship bound for the country of Malinqua. There she plans to make a play to marry one of the Empress’s four nephews, maybe rule as a queen.

But her training and expertise in navigating a royal court don’t prepare her enough for the intrigue and danger she finds there. Each nephew has a serious flaw, and soon she finds that she isn’t the only princess hoping to win a crown. Three other young royal women arrive at court, vying for a kingly hand in marriage, only to find themselves hostages rather than guests.

Corrine encounters more than she anticipated, and it is only with the loyal protection of Foley and her new friends that she can hope to survive the deadly game that she must play.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it? More for the female romance reader than the serious hard core science geek, but if you fit that mold…enjoy.

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Recommended Science Fiction for 2016

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Happy New Year to all science fiction and fantasy fans.

2016 is off to a great start.

First, I want to mention Mark Coker’s annual predictions for the future. Many of his comments are worth reading, especially if you are an Indie Publisher. Just be aware of his bias as he goes on a rant against Amazon, and especially Kindle Unlimited. They are competitors and Amazon is seriously in the lead.

Http:/www.smashwords.com/2016 Book Publishing Industry Predictions: Myriad Opportunities amid a Slow Growth Environment

As an Indie Publisher, I support Amazon, and the Kindle Unlimited program has been very generous to me. I had several books listed on Smashwords and two in their Scribner program…profit? $0. Now in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited almost half my income comes from the program, and new readers are finding my books and buying others in the series. As an author, what would you do? Who is best supporting the fledging author?

If the Kindle Unlimited program becomes unfavorable at any time, all I have to do is opt out. The exclusive requirement in the contract is for just three months with volunteer renewal options.

I find it a great way to expose my books to avid readers while being paid at the same time. At the moment, it’s a great deal for an author like me.

Having said that, Coker has a lot of good comments based on data from his ebook distribution website called Smashwords. Here are a few quotes to munch on:

“Every year readers are spending more hours reading books from indie authors. Reader eyeballs will continue to transition to indie ebooks in 2016….”

“In the 2015 Smashwords Survey we found strong evidence that series with free series starters earn more than series without…”

“Amazon understands, and we at Smashwords agree, that the future of publishing is self-publishing.”

And on that I heartily agree also.

This week I get to pick five books to read for 2016.

Jeweled FireFirst, I chose some old favorites such as Lois Bujold and Sheron Shinn but who have new books out in 2016.

I also wanted to try out a few best seller listed books such as The Bone Clocks and Time Salvager. Books that make such lists often turn out to be good books.Bone Clock D. Mitchell

Finally, I wanted to read a few self published authors who had an interesting looking story, which I found free on an ad website. Deep Crossing was one that was also suggested by Amazon. In this way, I can help promote fellow Indie authors and get a deal to pass along to you too. Since I’m currently writing about space exploration, military science fiction and stories on traveling in space interest me.Deep Crossing

Time SalvagerNext week, after further research, I will add five more with the understanding that the list will be filled in with other selections as the year rolls on and new books get published.

Making a list and putting it out focuses me on thoughtful choices so that I’m not flailing around on what to read. It also gets me excited about reading new science fiction.

Some on the list are not out yet. Bujold’s Gentleman Jole will be published in February. Stephen Lynch The Thorn of Emberlain is promised for Spring of 2016.

Gentlemen Jole and the Red QueenSo is my ninth novel, Worlds Too Far, which will also be published some time in the Spring. My writing group claims it is the best one to date. It stands outside of the series and yet takes place in the same universe.

A fleet of spaceships search desperately for a world to call home, but face insurmountable odds fighting against the dangers of space and the frailty of human nature.

Here are my first few picks:

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Louis Bujold

The Jeweled Fire by Sheron Shinn

Time Salvager by Wesleyan Chu

Deep Crossing by E. R. Mason

I’m now combing the lists of upcoming titles and will select five more to review and report on for you.

Meanwhile, each blog will contain information on marketing, exciting science news, or an occasional author’s rant . Why else blog if there’s not a good discussion/rant, now and then, where I can talk about what it’s like to be an author and find out what other authors are doing?

Some good books look to be headed our way and 2016 could be a great reading year. Enjoy some special ones with me.

Ps: I hope you’re watching  the Expanse Series on the SyFy Channel. Reading the books has helped me understand the plot better, and I really like the sets and special effects.

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Holiday Magic

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Christmas hornHappy Holidays

Holiday parties and holiday shopping are making it hard to wedge in any leisure reading.

In addition, checking over a final proof for Time’s Equation also kept me busy.
Beta readers got delayed by new jobs or new babies.
Meanwhile, there is a stampede to get a slot for holiday book advertising, but I decided to pass. I don’t think people have the time now to download ebooks. Maybe after Christmas when they are trying to fill up shiny new iPads or tablets.

What is your best month for sales? Tara Sparling, data hound extraordinaire, recently wrote a blog about this exact subject and highlighted May and December. Nick Rooney also added the following advice:

“Mood and market reception are really important. Certain books work better at various times of the year.

  • January – April: Romance, Self-help, Business books, Cookery
  • May – August: Adventure, Fantasy, Travel
  • Sept – Nov: Academic, Horror, Paranormal
  • Dec – Jan: Children, Cookery, Illustrated, Quiz, Dictionaries and quirky fun books.”

It’s a general guide. There are no hard and fast rules. Try and tie your book into an event or occasion when you want to promote it.

Christmas appears to be a great time for hardback books that make nice gifts. January and February appear great for ebooks when the weather invites an indoor snuggle with hot chocolate and a good read. Some of my best sales have been February and then May as people fill their Kindle libraries to prepare for summer vacation reading.

Shadows of SelfMy book for this blog is Brandon Sanderson’s Shadows of Self that continues years later in the Mistborn Series. I must admit I’m enjoying the action and the intriguing system of magic that uses metals. January 26 the next in the series, Bands of Mourning, will be coming out. Unfortunately, because it is a very popular series, TOR has decided to charge $14.99 for a Kindle edition. Why? Most likely because they can. Old line publishers are pushing up ebook prices, but as both an author and reader, I’m conflicted about the practice. As an author, I would like to make more money by charging more, but as a reader, I spend a lot already on books. Reminds me of the drug company pricing.

What the market can bear.Bands of Mourning

In Shadows of Self, Waxillium Ladrian is a Twinborn, able to use both Allomancy and Feruchemy, the dominant magical modes on Scradrial. He uses various metals as both weapons and protection. An example of this is the ability to fly through the air by shooting out steel to propel himself. His eccentric sidekick, Wayne, and a young constable, Marais, sister to his fiancee, help Wax untangle the conspiracy that threatens their city.

They chase a nonhuman kandran named Bleeder that can assume the shape of any animal or person it digests. Normally aides of the God Harmony, kandran act like angels, but this one has gone mad and is on a murder spree. High Lord and lawman combined, Wax pursues the paranormal enemy, uncovering corruption and rebellion within his city.

Because, Shadows of Self is set in a turn of the century time period, it has a steampunk flavor along with an intriguing magic system.

Brandon writes well. He has a worthwhile writing lecture series on uTube that is taped at Brigham Young University. 

http://brandonsanderson.com/writing-advice/

Exciting action, interesting characters, unique magic, and clear writing all add up to a book that I recommend. Good news is that it’s available at your local library if you’re willing to wait.

Image 4Happy Holidays to you and yours and may 2016 be the best ever year.Image

 

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Book Trailers

IMG_9503Trailers

No, not the kind you live in…the kind that keep popping up on a blog, Facebook or Utube.

We’re not anything if we’re not a media generation.
And the media is currently appearing all over mobile devices.

Recently two writers in my group put together their own trailers to promote their books.

Ted Blasche’s The Rust Bucket Chronicles has a trailer link in his e-mail signature.

https://youtu.be/npcdiizMgTw
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Using Animoto, Clayton Callahan whipped together this trailer for an anthology, Five Elements, in which I’d contributed a fun story called, “Peace Treaty.” (See right panel) He posted the trailer on Facebook. I’ve noticed this year a lot of short videos are being posted on my Facebook.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rJhFZCjUDeE

Then I was on TOR’s blog. TOR has been using trailers for a while to announce new shows and new books. I recently saw they had a trailer for the new Sherlock Holmes series I have been waiting for, so I eagerly tapped on the link. Are you eagerly waiting also?

http://www.tor.com/2015/10/08/new-sherlock-christmas-special-trailer-bbc-one/

So trailers are easy to make (Clayton did so), cheap, and popular on several platforms. Add interest to your blog, Facebook, e-mail, or Twitter. Send a trailer out to enthusiastic fans.
It’s another arrow in your marketing quiver.

Liars KeyThis week I read Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence. I’m into several series, and this is second in Mark Lawrence’s Red Queen Series. The first in the series is the Prince of Fools.Prince of Fools

Very much like the book I’m currently writing, Worlds Too Far, it’s in the same universe as a previous series, the Broken Empire, but has totally different characters at another part of the world and is considered a separate series. The Dead King is mentioned several times and the main character, Jalan, comments in a conversation on his cousin, Jorg of Ancrath, as a blood thirsty king. (Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns,)King of Thorns

Liar’s Key is a buddy adventure that continues the story of Jalan, Prince of Red March, a self-centered scoundrel, who only wants to return to the palace and resume his hedonistic lifestyle. He has no desire for kingship or power, but prefers women, wine and leisure rather than his current position of poverty and the cold North. He rationalizes his cowardly deeds, which ironically often end up appearing heroic by happenstance. Preventing him from returning to the palace is his Viking companion and big-hearted Snorri Snaggonson. (yes that’s his name) Snorri has somehow finagled Loki’s key that opens all doors in hopes of opening the door to death and retrieving his family. Jalan has been magically tied to Snorri by a powerful mage, the Silent Sister, his aunt, consequently where Snorri goes, so goes Jalan.

Of course Loki is the trickster god who created the key, so nothing happens in a straight forward way. Many powerful beings covet the key and try all manner of means to possess it.

Prince of thornsI laughed at and loved this adventure. Mark Lawrence wrote Jalan perfectly as the rogue who unwittingly does good, and towards the end actually makes a few sacrifices. Snorri is the perfect foil, full of valor, loyalty and everything heroic who constantly drags the band toward danger and death, putting them in impossible situations. Often in an attempt to bed a woman or run away, Jalan unwittingly saves the day.

Guiding the group through the power of his key, the reader never knows what the trickster god Loki will cause to happen next. That surprise along with the character of Jalan kept me laughing and interested in this fun adventure. Lawrence’s writing is so fluid the reader becomes immersed in the story and the crazy adventures of the foolish Jalan.

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Women of Fantasy

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A startling insight came to me after reading a blog by Leona Henry. I did not realize the dominance men have had on the fantasy genre. I thought that problem lay more in science fiction.

Apparently not.

https://leonahenry.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/why-are-female-fantasy-authors-pushed-to-the-back-of-the-bus/

Supposedly J.K Rawlings was told to use her initials in order to hide her gender. I was curious why my fellow writer Diana Peach wrote under the name D. Wallace Peach. Now I understand better. Another example is Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden who skyrocketed into fame after taking on the gender neutral moniker Robin Hobb.2013-MAR-Robin-Hobb-209x300

When I surveyed my reading so far this year, my fantasy picks have been Mark Lawrence and Joe Abercrombie, both male. Therefore I have added to this travesty…with some enjoyment I might note.

So when Robin Hobb came out with her new trilogy, The Fitz and the Fool , I jumped on the feminism train and grabbed her books. After all, we must unite to right a wrong.

Okay, so I was going to read them anyway because I loved her Farseer Series, and this continues the tale.

Assassin's FoolFool’s Assassin is the first in the series, and I recently discussed it in a previous blog. Now I’m reading Fool’s Quest, the second in The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy.

Last week Robin visited Powell’s in Beaverton for a signing. She lives locally in the Northwest and comes there at least once a year. (At least Peter said so, and he is Powell’s science fiction and fantasy expert and moderator)

I made an effort to go. The room used for signings was packed, standing room only. She answered a lot of questions from the audience on her writing, and of course, signed a lot of books.Fool's Quest

The Fool’s Quest continues the story of FitzChivalry Farseer, supposed bastard of the king’s brother, who is hiding out as Tom Badgerlock, having devised FitzChivalry’s death. In an attempt to save the Fool’s life, he returns to the palace with him and soon becomes swept up in court intrigue and distracted by the perilous health of the Fool. Believing his strange daughter under the protection of those at his manor home, he leaves her there while he administers to the Fool. With that brief inattention, she is kidnapped by a cult known to the Fool and taken to their island where she is regarded as the Shaysim. This is a rare being able to read the lines of the future. She is acclaimed the “Unexpected Son” by those who do not realize that she’s really a girl.

The first half of the story drags as FitzChivalry tries to please all at court while worrying about his daughter. He does a lot of handwringing and guilt trips, but doesn’t seem able to launch a rescue. There is lots of angst over the Fool, over the captured daughter, over his old mentor Chade, but no action. After a while, it gets frustrating. A few interesting twists and turns to the story add a richness, but FitzChivalry dallies overlong for my taste.

Meanwhile, Bee, the daughter, in order to save her life and that of her companion Shun, keeps the fiction going of her true gender

…maybe much the same as Robin Hobb did herself.

p.s.

I am once again putting my first book of the Alysian Series, Caught in Time free from September 18 thru the 22nd thru KDP Select. I plan to advertise in Robin Reads on the 18th and Freebooksy on the 21. I’ll let you now how it turns out. Meanwhile, if you haven’t garnered Caught in Time yet…now’s the time.

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Call for Beta Readers

IMG_9518I spoke too soon.

What a surprise you say.

The usual pleasant summer found in the Northwest has beamed down hot flames from the sun all week, making the temperature soar to 103 degrees Saturday. At least the nights cool down. Any reading is being done inside. Writing too. In air conditioning. It’s temporary.

I submitted my last chapter of book 8 to my writing group. Now I want to gather a few more Beta readers. These are readers who take a manuscript and read through it checking for continuity and general sense of character behavior and plot action. If they find misspelled words, I hope they mention it. Beta readers are special and often get a mention in the Acknowledgment and a signed final copy. They are people I trust with my special creation. They are the final polish.

So if you’d like to be a Beta reader for my next book, Time’s Equation, I need just a few more. Email me at: shmccartha@gmail.com.

Kepler 452bIn the science news: Many of you are already aware that the Kepler Project is discovering quite a few other planets out there in the universe. Recently, the most Earthlike planet has been discovered. Link:  https://www.nasa.gov/keplerbriefing0723  

The newly discovered Kepler-452b, located 1,400 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus, is the smallest planet to date discovered orbiting in the habitable zone — the area around a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet — of a G2-type star, like our sun. The confirmation of Kepler-452b brings the total number of confirmed planets to 1,030. Finding a possibly compatible planet in which we could live is exciting stuff to an author writing about an Earth type planet such as Alysia. Science fiction becomes reality. Half a King

This week I read Joe Abercrombie’s Half a King and Half a World.

Being royalty isn’t easy when you have a hard cold father, a maimed hand, and dislike violence. Prince Yarvi, the younger prince, was happy to leave court to study for the ministry, the office that advises the king, rather than fight wars. Handling a sword proved awkward with his half a hand. But then his father and older brother are killed, and he is called back to court as the new King of Gettland.

His mother, known as the golden queen, has firm ideas on what to do. Attack their enemies no matter the wishes of the High King who demands peace. When asked how his father and brother died, Yarvi is told that his father went to speak peace with the bordering king Grom-Gil-Gorm and was attacked and killed through treachery. At his father’s funeral Yarvi swears vengeance on his family’s killer. His uncle Odem and his mother encourage him to command an army to attack his enemies. Of course, he must lead them there. Sword raised high. Gulp.

Yarvi sails to Vansterland with his uncle Odem where he finds unexpected treachery from his once supportive uncle. His loyal guard reveals his true colors and, on Odem’s orders, throws Yarvi from a high parapet into the sea to drown. But he survives. Washed up on shore, he is brought before Grom-Gil-Gorm where he claims to be a cook’s boy to hide his true identity from his sworn enemy. From there, he is chained and delivered to a slaver who sells him to row on the downtrodden merchant ship, the Southwind.

Yarvi’s grueling life at the oar and the friendships he makes as he uses his wits to figure an escape teaches him to be a man. But even freedom isn’t pleasant, as he and a few from the ship are hunted by their sadistic captain while he tries to unravel the plots of those who want him dead.

This is an adventure story of royalty sold into slavery and overcoming adversity. A young prince who tries to reclaim his birthright and become a man. A few interesting twists and turns keep it fresh. Abercrombie builds an believable world that offers solid action.Half a World

The sequel, Half a World, follows the story of young girl who calls herself Thorn and aspires to be a king’s warrior in a society where women are supposed to cook, sew and clean house. It follows her struggle to prove herself, but when the sword master makes her fight three opponents at once, she accidentally kills one of her attackers after her practice sword splinters. The sword master claims murder, and she is clapped in jail. When Thorn faces a possible verdict of death by stoning, a fellow trainee, Brand, discloses the real story to now Minister Yarvi who saves her by bundling her onto his departing ship, the Southwind.

Once again several characters from the first book join an older and more mature Yarvi as they sail half a world away in search of allies for an upcoming war. The High King plots to take over the world and his cunning Minister, Mother Wexen, has her own plans within those plots. Minister Yarvi must untangle the politics and uncover the truth as he ventures from land to land with his rough crew, searching for allies.

As they sail, Yarvi has Thorn trained to become a killing machine and his secret weapon. There is also a nice, but rocky, romance between Brand and Thorn.

Both books are worth reading and offer old fashioned adventure with clever Yarvi and the rough but likable crew of the Southwind as they sail into exotic ports and discover surprising allies.

Recently Joe Abercrombie has come out with the next adventure called Half a War.

Enjoy your read now that the weather is cooling off.

Aaaahhh.

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Going to the Dark Side

IMG_0180Summer is a wonderful time of the year here in the Northwest. We have cooled off to high seventies in temperature, and other than gardening, I have time to read out on my shady deck under tall pines.

Lately, I have been restless, trying to find a good cutting-edge future science fiction tale. I dove into cyber punk with mixed results in Gibson’s The Peripheral and Charles Stross’s HaltinG StatE. (See previous blog for further comments).

Since I have been advertising my books on different websites, also with mixed results, I decided to download a few free and discounted books from Freebooksy and Sweetfreebooks. In my several marketing campaigns, Freebooksy and more recently the Midlist have given me the best results. The vaunted Fussy Librarian and Book Gorilla have cost me money while delivering poor sales. Having said that, other authors claim good results from them. Once again, various factors of timing, cover, taste, and reader who just wanted a time travel book at that moment, come into play.

Post HumanSo I chose the Post Human Series by David Simpson, Mirrored Time J.D. Faulkner and Star Wanderers by Joe Vasice. Why? The Post Human series had far future humans with transhumanism where humans are using technology and science to evolve past being human. Also, there was a suggestion of inter-dimensional realities that intrigued me. I’ll admit that so far the story is chock full of future science and action. The writing flows well with few grammar or punctuation errors.

The early episodes, however, are short and choppy, skipping over large spans of time. All that I could deal with, and did, until I got snagged on the changing point of views. Rapidly switching point of view with no warning or break is a new writer’s curse, and often the writer isn’t aware of what he’s doing until it’s pointed out to him. In this case, three pov jumps in one paragraph, and I put the book down. I may pick it back up later because of the interesting ideas and technology.Mirrored Times

Sometimes I’m not strong of will and cross over to the dark side. When the temperature hit over ninety last week, I reached for chocolate Haagen Daas to cool off my mouth and make my taste buds dance.

What diet?

At the same time, I reached for a fantasy in the form of Mark Lawrence’s The King of Thorns sitting soKing of Thorns seductively on my reading table. I had read his Prince of Fools and liked it. The reviews said King of Thorns was even better. I would be traveling into the realm of dark fantasy and knew it.

Now, there is also a Prince of Thorns that you should read first, but like chocolate Hagen Daas, I didn’t mind not having another flavor at the moment and confused the earlier book with Prince of Fools.

King of Thorns is a can’t-put-down book. And that’s just what I wanted. The writing is gorgeous with gasping wit, heart-pounding action, and tear-filled emotion. A bit gritty, but bearable.

You continue the life of Jorge Ancrath who at age nine has vowed to avenge his slaughtered mother and brother, and punish his father for not doing so. Now at age eighteen, Prince of thornshe is King of Renar, having taken the land through slaughter and death from his evil uncle. Jorge is not a delicate lad. He’s on a mission to rule the world and doesn’t play by the rules.

The story begins outside his castle where he is surrounded by thousands of the Prince of Arrow’s men. Orrin Oildan, Prince of Arrow, also hungers to be Emperor and sweeps kingdoms into his hand as he marches victoriously across the land until he reaches Jorge’s rough castle. Unlike Jorge, who is beset by sorcerers at every turn and considered mean and ruthless, Orrin is the fair-haired ruler whom everyone calls great and good. Every sorcerer and witch prophesies the triumph of the Prince of Arrows for the Emperor’s throne until Jorge is weary of hearing it. But it doesn’t slow him down a whit.

The book jumps back and forth in time, starting with Jorg’s wedding day, and then returning four years into the past. There he travels with his band of disreputable friends across the land from one wild adventure to another. Adventure and wedding flip back and forth moving closer in time as the book progresses.

Clever, haunted, and powerful, Jorge has the touch of necromancy in his fingers and carries a dangerous box of memories everywhere he goes. Trying to save a young fire Mage, he also learns to play with fire.

There are also hints of science fiction within the fantasy-flavored tale when Jorge refers to “the Builders” who seem to be great men from Earth’s past. He meets a holograph who is a downloaded personality of a past scientist. The holograph tends a forgotten machine deep under Jorge’s maternal uncle’s castle. Along the way, Jorge also accumulates artifacts from the past that become important to his survival.

My only complaint with the story is that in two critical instances, the author uses my own tricky plot twist to escape an almost impossible situation. One I use in Caught in Time when the bandits try to rob and rape Rowyna, and the other in A Dangerous Talent for Time when Brand de Fyre Elitas, like Jorg Ancrath, faces overwhelming odds in a battle.

Not fair!

Mark Lawrence will be remembered for the plot twist over me, I’m sure. Just like, since July 15, another author has come out with the title Caught in Time. The second one came out last year, well after my publication. (Sound of moaning and hair-pulling)

Oh well, I liked it when I wrote it, and I liked it again in Mark Lawrence’s story. In fact, I liked his whole story a lot. It made the chocolate ice cream go down so cool and sweet, as I slipped over to the dark side.

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Fantasy vs. Science fiction

photoMy writing group has a mix of both science fiction and fantasy writers, and I’m coming to some conclusions on how these two genres differ in regards to writing styles.

One differences is the extent of world building. Sure I put a map in my second book, but I just finished Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance tome, and he has not only an extensive map but extensive illustrations of the flora and fauna in his world, the fashion of his world, and the social hierarchy. Science fiction writers paint a world and then get on with the action; fantasy writers dally in the landscape and admire the scenery more.

Fantasy seems to be more character driven while science fiction is more plot driven. The reader doesn’t get too deep into the complex psychology of the Splinkx, whereas in Fool’s Assassin, the complex emotions of FitzWilliam is a focus for the story and provides the impact at the end.

And the science fiction writers like their high tech gadgets and cutting edge science almost as much as fantasy writers like their magic. Sometimes the two are very similar. (see sidebar quote)

In my series, there is time travel. Poof you’re here; poof, you’re there. Sorta magical.

Both may involve large battles. However, in Lord of the Rings, the battle is mostly on the ground while in in Star Wars or Star Trek, the battles are usually out in space with lots of lasers and gunships.

The enemy tends to be ugly in both genres. Whether it’s Klingons or Orcs, it’s not a pretty face. Our allies, however, are attractive. Legolas and Aragon make me drool, although we should skip the characters of George R. R. Martin as he is changing this trope a bit . Princess Leia and Hans Solo are also easy on the eyes…but the occasional hairy Wooki does pop up. And some of our friendlier aliens often exhibit odd behaviors.

In writing group, the fantasy people are always telling me to put more description in my story while I’m always asking them to stop admiring the scenery, the dress, character behavior and get on with the action and storyline.

This interplay makes for better writing on both sides of the aisle. Still, as a writer, you must recognize your genre and the style that your reader expects, and accommodate that expectation to a certain extent.

I recently read a blog by Tara Sparling and even though it is dated, the numbers are interesting. It’s data on the best selling books of 2012 with charts and graphs. Check it out here: http://tarasparlingwrites.com/2013/08/21/2012-bestselling-book-data-visualised/ 

Words of RadianceThis week I finished Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. (Huff. Huff) The over one thousand pages looked overwhelming, but they were actually easier to do than I expected– although it entailed a few really late nights. Way of Kings is the first in this series and I reviewed that last year and really liked it. Brandon Sanderson is a favorite of mine.

If you like chunky epics with detailed world building, you will love this one. The characters are compelling and the magic, as ever with Sanderson, is interesting. There are three major point of view characters: the doctor’s son betrayed into slavery and clawing his way back, the king’s uncle and stalwart hero who battles both in the trenches and in the  evil court, and the abused beautiful young girl who searches for the strength to become a powerful woman. Each has a story and each interact with the others. The stories start slow, but build beautifully.Way of Kings

Sanderson writes with passion and a good storyline. That combination always makes an excellent read and is worth being a little sleep deprived at times.

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Romance in Science Fiction for Valentine’s Day

photoLove is in the air. Valentine’s Day is here. Today is dedicated to recognizing the special people in our life and telling them that we love and appreciate them.

Too often we’re too busy to mention how important they are to us.

So take some time today and let them know.

You probably have it already on your agenda.

You know I’m working on marketing, so I want to make sure that you’re aware that my time travel romance, Caught in Time, will be offered free on Amazon today February 14th through the 18th.

Caught in Time Cover1.1 2Travel back in time to a medieval period…on an alien planet. Rowyna Grae is a regendered clone from the last dying time traveler and is sent into the past to kill a king who is considered the origin of those with special abilities called, Talents.

However, instead, she falls in love with him while dealing with no running water, lack of heat, a barbaric people, betrayal at the royal court, and a looming war.

Think Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court…only Rowyna Grae is no simple Connecticut Yankee and King Telluria’s court can get complicated to a young woman from the future.

Enjoy yourself. It’s FREE for a limited time only.

Currently, I am watching the Brigham Young University series by Brandon Sanderson and really am enjoying his lectures. I gave a link on a former blog. I am thinking of reading Words of Radiance since I have read and reviewed the first book of this epic fantasy, Way of Kings, already and liked it. Unfortunately, it’s over a thousand pages long. I can’t do that in a week. But I’ll probably try.Way of Kings

MistbornWord is that sequels to his Alloy of Law series will also be out later this year. So heads up there. The earlier Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson is a favorite of mine and many other fantasy readers. If you haven’t read it, you might give it a glance.

Since I’m constantly in edit mode nowadays, I bought Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown. I usually use an editor, but it helps to edit myself first before I hand it off. One of my favorite bloggers just came out with a long list of books to help the struggling writer of today and that is where I discovered this title. Check out http://www.veronicasicoe.com/blog/2015/02/writing-advice-books-list/ and her latest blog for ideas and comments.

Then, don’t forget to hug someone significant and tell them that you love them.

XXXXX

 

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