Tuesday, 9 December 2014
Friday, 24 October 2014
As November is approaching far more quickly than I had anticipated, I've yet to decide what I want to write for this year's entry into National Novel Writing Month. For those not in the know, NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Its a far more daunting task than it sounds, but I've "won" twice out of the three years that I've done it, and I hope to succeed once again.
However, I'm having a rough time of deciding what story I wish to explore. There's simply so much I want to write, but unfortunately, I only have time for one (I'm skeptical I could ever achieve 100,000 words in 30 days but it would be a fun and interesting challenge, now wouldn't it?)
Right now I have a handful of stories I want to explore, all of them set in my Galria universe as side stories or companions to the Legends of Galria. Here's a brief look at what I'm hoping to pick from:
Rite of Passage
A story focused on a minotaur named Veshal as he works to follow in his mother and father's footsteps to become a shaman in the Snowhoof tribe. The story follows his growth as a young child into a well-respected member of his community as a darkness seeps out from beneath the city of Valar, capital of the Snowhoof nation.
This story follows the aftermath of Xellik Fleshgorger's attack on the Temple of Earth from SHADOWS OF WAR. Arngrin, a druid from the Woodcaller tribe of minotaur, discovers that the temple has been raided. In an attempt to redeem his people for failing in their duty to protect the Emerald of Deep Earth, a task assigned to them by the Green Dragonflight, he sets out to locate Thomadis, Patron of the Greens, to obtain the power necessary to retrieve the artifact from Xellik.
Titar is the disowned son of a dwarven noble. He joins the Blackguard, a mercenary guild, seeking to make a difference in his world. However, he finds that those around him are greedy, close-minded, and not willing to accept someone different from themselves. Withdrawing into himself, Titar becomes a recluse and takes on only the most dangerous and difficult jobs he can manage. His life turns around when, on a mission, he comes into contact with the Nightpaw pack of werewolves, a species that everyone believed to be nothing more than a fairy tale. He is presented with a choice: to accept the gift of lycanthropy from the Nightpaw's alpha, or the life of a mercenary in the town of Albrand.
Thrill of the Hunt
In a follow up to my NaNoWriMo 2013 entry, SERVANT OF DARKNESS, this tale continues to follow the adventures of Dougal McMannus, wizard-thief extrodinaire. After leaving Altair behind, Dougal begins his next job in the human city of Lokivar to the south as he tries to rebuild his guild and obtain an artifact of power from the Eldritch Research Institute of Lokivar (ERIL). However, an enemy from the past has appeared once again and is seeking revenge for a crime that Dougal doesn't even remember committing. Once again, the shadows that serve as the thief's greatest strength also come to harbor a great evil.
Far in the forgotten land of the ursar's Bushido Empire, on the island of Kyoko, peace has finally been realized as the various clans have been united under a single banner. Yet as soldiers return to the fields, mysterious beings begin to skirt the outside of the Emperor's Palace. On the eve of a starless sky, Emperor Torakuma is kidnapped and stolen away. Agent of Eyes, Ryumaru, is tasked with finding him and chases his master's captors to an ancient temple that once sat submerged beneath the waters. There resides a relic that could bring eternal peace to the Bushido ursar, or crush the island nation beneath the waves.
Those are the five I'm currently fiddling with. They're all stories that I want to one day write, but I'm not sure which one to pick and focus on yet. I have a poll up for those wishing to help me decide!
Saturday, 2 August 2014
A month has passed since the events of Shadows of War, and Dane takes his first steps towards becoming an officer in the military. As the Lieutenant of the 81st Mobile Infantry Division, he must make hard decisions that could drastically alter the fates of those around him, whether they be his subordinates, the civilians he serves, or the man he loves.
Dane and a squadron of soldiers set out across the empire to the remote Kelmore Province, to the village of Mullead, to investigate a growing number of disappearances and murders. As the freshly initiated soldiers work to uncover the mystery plaguing Mullead, they are beset by one set back after another as someone works to keep them away.
The closer they get to the truth, the more the shadows creep in, seeking to slide in the knife and put an end to their nosing about.
Set in the Galria universe, THE LAST STAND seeks to build off of the world introduced with LEGENDS OF GALRIA: SHADOWS OF WAR. It is a direct sequel to the first tale, and acts as a bridge between the first book in the series, and the upcoming LEGION OF SYTAREL.
I'm rather excited to announce this title, because I haven't had much of a chance to show how the Rogarian Empire works to readers, or the connections that Dane is supposed to have with his subordinates and with his partner, Aiden. One of the issues I've experienced while writing the second book is that I had no explanation for where Dane's experience as a military leader came from, and THE LAST STAND is meant to share that with readers.
THE LAST STAND is projected to be a shorter work in length, likely only novella sized (somewhere around, or less than, 50,000 words), but hopefully the shorter format won't detract from the quality one is likely to expect from the Galria novels.
There will be a giveaway tied to the release of THE LAST STAND, but I will let everyone know more about that as I get closer to the release of the book, so stay tuned!
Sunday, 1 June 2014
Recently, I finished a short novella that's designed to be an origin story to one of my original characters. It started as a project to understand why the character was who he was. For a bit of background, this character showed up in my LEGENDS OF GALRIA mothership series in one of the original drafts. He's very boorish, constantly seeking stimulation through narcotics, alcohol, or other people, and is an unrepentant Blood Knight (for those not read up on TvTropes, he's a person who loves and LIVES for battle and killing). However, I never had any idea where this character came from.
So I started writing, and as the pen flowed, I found myself writing a tale about a child who had been abused by both society and those that he should have trusted. I found myself uneasy about writing it because I don't enjoy writing about this kind of subject matter, but at the same time, I found it gave justification for how a sweet, innocent child can be twisted and broken enough times that he becomes unashamed of the murderous personality that he adopts. I began writing about a person who had tried to cope, but failed, and in turn began looking to narcotics and alcohol as a means of coping with the slings and arrows thrown at him.
Unfortunately, as I finished the story, I found that things became graphic. I spared no detail in the endless quest to fulfill the objective "Show, don't Tell", and now I have a tale that might rival "A Game of Thrones" for unnecessarily graphic text (Please don't murder me. I just find some of the *ahem* details to be bordering on hard core pornography that I'm just not a fan of).
Granted, there's nothing nearly as terrifying as incest or pedophilia which can be found in Game of Thrones, but I'm sure people would take exception to violence against children. It's a sensitive issue, and when it comes news about Child Family Services, the media is full of examples of abuse that went too far.
My issue begins with not knowing whether I should scrap the story, or merely try to salvage it and make it better. It's such a tough spot to be in at this point, because after 40k words written in the last month, I don't want to give up on the project. I like the character, and the people who have read the story as its been put out have liked the character (and actually feel sorry for him, so that's a win-win!) but as someone who is supposed to be a professional and is in the public eye as an educator, I don't know how such stories would be perceived by other people.
Have I stepped beyond the bounds of what is acceptable and made a story too graphic?
That's the real question, and one I suspect I won't know the answer to for a long time. Fortunately, since this tale in question is supposed to be a side story to LEGION OF SYTAREL, and that alone is almost a year away from seeing release, I have plenty of time to figure it out.
Thursday, 29 May 2014
- Benjamin Bowerman. You've been in my life only a short time but you've been invaluable for bouncing ideas off you and letting me know what works and what doesn't.
- Devin Cayer and Vanessa Cayer. Holy cow we've known each other forever! Thank you always for the support you two have given me throughout the years, and all the fun times, too!
- Isaac DeKing. It's great to share a love of writing with someone, and you've always spoken highly of me. Plus you put up with my CRAZY art commissions, and you're a great writer yourself. I really hope your stuff gets published one day. Thank you. :)
- Paul Goshi. You read some of the earliest stuff, and your interest helped spark the drive that propelled me from a mere tens of thousands of words into almost 600,000!
- Zac Hubert. Your Ficlet100 was awesome back in the day. I started reading your stuff back when I was still formulating my ideas, and it helped kindle my interest in the fantasy genre, and that it could be taken seriously.
- Adam Karl. You still kicking around bud? You read the very VERY first draft of what would become my novel, back when we were at A&W together. Imagine if you shot it down, what would have happened? Heh.
- Matthew Kobewka. Plenty of good times at work when things have otherwise been crappy, and I'm always flattered when you mention me to other people. I wish you the best of luck as you enter the Faculty of Education. :3
- Michael Kozakewich. Remember LiveJournal? Remember when that was actually a thing? Hah. I try not to, either. Thanks for the words of support and encouragement back then. :)
- Brian Legg. Always helped to give that extra little push when I was feeling down.
- Gavin Mondor. You read my writing long before anyone else, back when all I did was create EverQuest fanfiction. Man, those were some good times.
- Daniel and Jennifer Reader. An awesome pairing if I've ever met one, and supportive the whole way through.
- Kevin Rush. You've been reading my stuff for a long time and always commented about it. And you've done an amazing job with the characters when I've commissioned you.
- Donna Vu. Your brought Dane and his world to life with your cover art. You were friendly and approachable, and you had no problem tackling it. I hope we can work together again in the future.
- The Shoppers Crew. Namely the cashiers I've worked with. Rhea, Dawn, Joty, Emily, Carly, Troy... you folks are some of the best people I've ever worked with and always supportive, too.
- The Zilkie Clan. A man could not ask for a better family. We may bicker and disagree on things, but overall, we're a solid bunch that always has each others backs.
- The folks from Cohort S1A (2012-2013) and S2C (2013-2014) from the Faculty of Education. Never before have I met a more supportive and wonderful group of people. :3
Saturday, 17 May 2014
That's right, my debut novel finally hits electronic book shelves world-wide! LEGENDS OF GALRIA: SHADOWS OF WAR is now available on Amazon! Click the image below to head on over to the store page.
Currently, only the Kindle version is available as I'm waiting for the paperback to be mailed to me so I can approve the proof. So if you don't have a Kindle, an iOS device, Android device, or don't like reading on the computer, it'll only be a few short weeks before you can hold my book in your hands!
Isn't that exciting? I know I can't wait! :D
Want to leave a review to let me know how you liked it? Or maybe you didn't like it and you want to tell me what was wrong with it? Leave a review on GoodReads, and I'll be sure to consider constructive criticism as I move forward with the second and third books in the series. :)
GoodReads link is right here.
I'm going to start being more active with my blog and other social media. If there's anything you'd like to see, don't hesitate to ask. I'm pretty approachable once you get past my macho exterior (Again, another reference no one will get... :))
Thursday, 20 February 2014
I found this interesting article while doing some research into this very same topic for a presentation I'm working on. Yes, I know it's not about novel writing, but I like teaching and I like video games and this is my blog, so WE'RE DOING IT MY WAY! :D
The basic premise is the same as what I've seen in videos on YouTube such as on "Extra Credits", and the foundations of it are based on Operant Conditioning, so it's not likely this is new to the savvy educator, but it's worth a read regardless. This page is a great tool for learning about what some of an educator's options are, and how to set it up.
Thursday, 6 February 2014
One thing I struggle with as a writer is incorporating humor into a text to lighten the mood or break up the endless cycle of angst (there's not actually that much angst in my writing. Really.). Most of the time, it sounds like it's been forced in, and part of the problem of writing high fantasy is that a lot of the jokes or comments I think a character would make are only applicable in a world with modern English conventions and slang.
Perhaps that speaks to my lack of creativity if I can't come up with a fantasy parallel for some slang. Hmm.
The idea of breaking up one's text exists all over the place. University textbooks and especially school books break up their blocks of text by having lots of information in the margins, pictures, graphs, charts, maps, and background information in their own text blocks. It's all designed with the intent of breaking up the monotony that results from seeing the same thing over and over again. This is the same principle that guides the use of unique chapter headings and drop caps in novels. It breaks everything up. Some people might find that distracting, but for most, I imagine, this is helpful to keep a book from being boring.
Humor goes the same way. It breaks up the tension. The writer for Fullmetal Alchemist stated the same thing when she wrote the series. A lot of the more serious scenes are broken up with lots of humor, and she did it intentionally because she didn't want to have her story bogged down in negativity for too long. This is subjective, of course. Some viewers might view Edward Elric's short complex as being a stereotypical component of shonen anime, but a most astute viewer might see it as a necessary break in what would be an otherwise bleak scene. This isn't used in every serious scene, and it would be hard to give examples without spoilers, but suffice to say, she uses humor very effectively to make the story more engaging.
Go watch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (or if you prefer Japanese, "Hagane no Renkinjutsushi (2009)"). Seriously. Go. Now!
Things brings me back to my own writing. I don't know how to do humor, save for my seemingly endless and rapid use of pop-culture references (Take a shot every time Tyler quotes Dragonball Z: The Abridged Series.... two shots if he tried to imitate the voice actor). Actually, don't do that, because then you'd likely be dead from alcohol poisoning.
I try to lighten the mood and break the tension in my work by using what TVTropes would call a "Breather Episode", a short chapter that's light-hearted and tries to distract the reader from the main tension and give them a break, while also providing ample world building and character development to keep it from being pointless. A lot of Dane's wanderlust is shown in these chapters, and I've used that in place of humor to break tension.
It's not for lack of trying that I don't include more funny moments, but I feel that they often fall flat on their faces or they sound stupid when executed. Playing on humor that embarrasses a character for his sexuality (or lack thereof) seems to be one of the few places I've been able to throw it in, and a lot of the rest of it focuses on conflict between characters.
Clearly, this is an area that I need to work on if I want to engage readers and not turn them off from the sheer amount of tension and conflict that's in the book. A good source of seeing how to execute this in a serious context could be looking at TVTropes and the "Crowning Moment of Funny" page of more serious works to see how "the pros" execute it. Of course, some things are harder to emulate than others. What works in Fullmetal Alchemist, for example, may not work in a purely literary medium. It might provide some insight that points in the right direction, however.
Humor is a fine line to walk in my opinion. Making it work without making it seem lame or forced is difficult, and takes a great deal of skill and editing to be able to fit it in.
Wednesday, 29 January 2014
Tuesday, 28 January 2014
Whoever said "Don't judge a book by its cover" is an idiot. I don't say that to be spiteful, but because I believe that no human out there has ever not judged a book by its cover. No one is going to buy a great book if it has a boring cover or something that doesn't catch the reader's eyes. Can you say you ever have? I know I don't, and my library only contains books that have covers that caught my eye even if the book ended up being uninteresting.
We treat people the same way. The unkempt teenager is less likely to get a job than the well groomed adult, even if the teenager might have the skills, knowledge, and personality to do the job. People are more likely to pick up the golden retriever or husky before they pick up a bulldog or bloodhound at an animal shelter.
Long story short, human beings are simple creatures who enjoy beauty and value aesthetics over what's beneath.
That brings me to my main point regarding cover art. Or rather, MY cover art. Or rather, the LACK of cover art.
See, the only thing at this point that is preventing me from being able to publish my book is a nice piece of cover art to go on the front of the book. That may not seem like a big deal, until you consider what the cost of something like that is. Depending on who you commission, you're easily looking for anywhere between $100 to several thousand dollars worth of art, with hobbyists being on the lower end of that spectrum and professionals being higher up. Somewhere in the middle is Amazon's CreateSpace (Where I will be publishing) which offers cover art services for a "modest" fee of $500-600.
That's a big sum of money. Something a starving student like me can't afford. At least, not in any reasonable amount of time.
I want to be able to get my book out there. I don't have the skills to be able to sketch and design my own cover. Certainly I'm a sketch artist of moderate skill, but a painter? Please. My paintings would be less coherent than a Jackson Pollok painting.
I think I referenced the wrong artist but you get the point.
My other options are simple:
1) I could squirrel away a bit of money and save up while searching for a hobbyist that offers a decent commission at a reasonable price.
2) Alternatively, I could squirrel away even more money and use Amazon's CreateSpace services to design the cover for me, which would fit into their specifications without any complaints.
3) I use KickStarter or IndieGogo to raise funds to pay for the book. Probably no more than $1000 or something.
#1 and #2 are fully viable options. Whether I want to spend that much money on a mere art commission on a book that may not sell enough to recoup my losses, who knows. I would need, if Amazon's calculator is correct, at least 250 book sales to break even on a $600 commission. That's a pretty big risk to take, but it might be worth it if the difference between a professional cover and a amateur one makes up for it.
#3 is also an option, but unfortunately, I have little in the way of "gifts" to offer to donators. Certainly, a $1 or $5 donation would get a thanks on my blog. But I'm not a big name person so I don't picture that being motivating. ;)
$10 wouldn't be enough to pay for a signed copy of a book either, but $15 could. Beyond that, I have no idea what I would offer people.
So I leave the question up to you, the reader. What do you think is a viable option for this problem? Leave your comments in the section below. :)
Thursday, 23 January 2014
I've noticed that as I do my research to see whether self-publishing my LEGENDS OF GALRIA series is the route I want to go, I'm noticing a consistent trend that makes me worried that it's not really what I want to do. At the same time though, I do feel that I could bring a breath of fresh air to the market depending on your outlook. I know that sounds egotistical but I need to have some self-awareness, right?
I've been taking the time to read some self-published books that are available over Amazon, and reading some reviews for many more. Some of the common trends I've seen are cause for concern with regards to whether people enjoy reading indie authors' works. I don't intend to name authors or their books (because I'm not in the mood for "shaming" those who are in the same industry as me), but I do sufficiently feel like some of these concerns are common enough that you could pick up any number of indie books and see one or more of them popping up.
For example, one issue I've seen is flat and unsympathetic characters that do not get enough development over the course of the story to warrant their existence. I feel that if a character is in the book as the protagonist or antagonist, they need to develop to some extent or become relatable to the reader to be worth writing. A character who is angsty throughout the work or is overly obnoxious to everyone else is not fun to read about, unless they develop into someone the reader can like. Perhaps that's a bit of a generalization, but that's the way I see it.
Perhaps the basis for that perception is what some of my beta-readers have said about earlier drafts of one of my books. The protagonist was very whiny and angsty, and there were only a few interesting characters the reader liked. When one of those interesting characters was killed, people put the book down because the MC was not worth reading about, because there wasn't enough development and he was too much of a whiner.
Another issue I've seen come up is the lack of editing. Spelling errors, grammatical errors, and improper word usage are all over the place and across a huge spectrum in terms of severity. Part of it has to do with the author not being a native English speaker. I've seen that in at least one case, and they essentially received a lot of flak for it from people who purchased the book. However, since they are a furry author, perhaps the drama and backlash is to be expected since the whole furry community is terrifying when it comes to drama.
Other authors don't have as much of an excuse for a lack of editing. It shows a lack of care or concern for their own product, in my opinion. I don't feel that there's any reason to miss errors beyond having a poor grasp of the English language. I may be a bit harsh in saying that, but I believe that much of writing has to do more with editing drafts than writing. I wrote my novel 4 years ago. Everything else since then has been edits. ;)
I'm hoping that when it comes time to start working on CreateSpace, after I've obtained a cover I'm happy with and after my beta-readers get back to me, that I won't run into reviews that gripe about my handle of the English language. Or about flat characters.
Or that my characters are too gay. Part and parcel with a GLBT offering, I suppose. ;)