Friday, April 29, 2016

Bletherings and Musings and Updates

Well, I'm trying to get some of these projects more on-track than less, and of course, I have to juggle them to keep from falling behind. With the addition of an anthology I'm trying to become part of, something had to give, and that turned out to be Axis of the Soul: Part One, so I am backing up the release date by about a week.

The project I'm working on in its place is also part of The Amuli Chronicles (mostly because I can't seem to work on anything else). It's a short story about an ekrim talking with a young amuli in one of the northern cities of the Amuli Republic, and it's actually the only short story I've done so far that doesn't have anything to do with the Soulbound arc or the Frendyl Krune series. It feels pretty good to stretch my mind and work on something completely independent of the other stories while taking place in the same world and at the same time as the majority of the Soulbound arc.

I initially wanted to work on an old science fiction short story I started back when I edited for Novel Publicity, but the more I tried to work on it, the more disconnected I felt with the story. Don't get me wrong: The meat for a strong story was there, the characters are interesting, and I really love the setting. Yet, the setup and the tale itself was never meant to be represented in less than 10,000 words, and the anthology I would like to be a part of caps off submissions at 5,000 words. Trying to shove something like that into half the word count didn't seem fair to the project, so I put it away and went in search of something else I could make shine.

And I found the short I began about three years ago. And I loved it. Yes, it's incomplete, but I truly enjoy the majority of the premise of the short and the subjects it touches upon. If the anthology declines to publish it, I'll release it on Amazon for $0.99 and post a URL here and on my Website. I may consider including it as a freebie in my newsletter at some point, too.

In other news, my Ekra Clan short story, Paper Sun will be finished in editing in about a month and at that time, I'll release more information about its release. Just wait and see!

I am also painfully close to finishing The Soulless King: Part One, which will be going to my amazing editor in just a few days. There are some things I still wish I could work on, but a few other glaring issues demand my attention first. The whole of The Soulless King is going to take a long time to put together and release, but it will be well worth the wait. Any fans of epic fantasy, especially the broad, arching story lines with a lot of smaller plots and weaving, intricate details will enjoy this book and its predecessor, The Soulbound Curse, as well as the short story interlude, The Crow Prince. I can promise that this series is anything but done after The Soulless King is released. The next book in the Soulbound arc will be The Throne of Souls, which will be coming out late 2017 and early 2018.

As for the Frendyl Krune series, I'm getting fairly close to finishing book four--Frendyl Krune and the Nightmare in the North--which will be out later this year. The third book, Frendyl Krune and the Stone Princess, was just released as an eBook earlier this week, and the print edition isn't far off! While I still have two more books beyond Nightmare in the North (Frendyl Krune and the Glass-Spun Moon and Frendyl Krune and the King Who Steals Hearts) and a couple of short stories, I have to say, thus far the experience of writing a Middle Grade fantasy series has been humbling.

I honestly never thought I'd reach a point in my writing career where I'd see the third book in any series be released. Just a huge milestone, and I hope next year when the last two books come out, I can look back at the entire series with gratitude for what it taught me as a writer and how it challenged me as a person.

Probably the most exciting aspect of being a published writer is realizing that people I've never even met are reading my work. People from all across the country and even in other parts of the world have decided to give my work a try, and that alone is what excites me and drives me to keep going. Being a writer has always been a difficult career, and especially today, when we're all competing in a massive flood of works from numerous people, the choice to continue writing sometimes feels like the wrong one. Yet, every time I even consider walking away, I read the reviews on my work, square my shoulders, and dive into my next project.

Thank you, one and all, for inspiring me to keep writing. This art is part of me, and I could never see myself without my writing. So, for anyone who has ever given me an encouraging word, who has bought a book of mine or any other Indie author close to me, for all of you who read and read and read so that we writers have someone to write for--thank you.

You truly are the lifeblood of this Earth.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Project Updates and Release Dates for This Year

Hi all! This is just a quick post to update you on where I'm at with my current projects, and the expected release dates for some of the newer ones I'm working on. Below are the dates the books and short stories all go live on Amazon!

Frendyl Krune and the Stone Princess: April 25
Axis of the Soul: Part I: May 2
Axis of the Soul: Part II: May 6
Axis of the Soul: Part III: May 9
Axis of the Soul: Part IV: May 13
Axis of the Soul: Part V: May 16
Axis of the Soul: Part VI: May 20
Axis of the Soul: Part VII: May 23
Axis of the Soul: Part VIII: May 27
Axis of the Soul: Part IX: May 30
Axis of the Soul: Part X: June 3
Axis of the Soul: Part XI: June 6
Axis of the Soul: Part XII: June 10
Axis of the Soul: Part XIII: June 13
Axis of the Soul: Part XIV: June 17
Axis of the Soul: Part XV: June 20
Axis of the Soul: Part XVI: June 24
Axis of the Soul: Part XVII: June 27
Axis of the Soul: Part XVIII: July 1
Axis of the Soul: Part XIX: July 4
Axis of the Soul: Part XX: July 8
Frendyl Krune Origins: Their Pretty Bones: June 27
The Soulless King: Part One: September 26
The Soulless King: Part Two: November 28
Paper Sun: An Ekra Clan Short Story: TBD
Frendyl Krune and the Nightmare in the North: November 28
The Soulless King: Part Three: March 27, 2017
Princess Yorsyl's Rise: Book One: The Glass Heart: TBD

I do want to mention that Axis of the Soul is my new serial novel (for those who are not yet aware), and that the release dates may vary. My goal is to have two parts up each week for 10 consecutive weeks. I'm getting married in late June, so the dates might get a little staggered around that time, depending on my ability to stay on top of writing, work, and wedding stuff. We'll see! I'm writing the majority of it ahead of time and have it fairly well outlined at this point, which is always a good sign! Please do not expect each part to be longer than 10,000 words (and even that's stretching it!). The first three parts will be free on Amazon, and then each part after that will be $0.99. :)

I will be making a print omnibus once the entire thing is released, but that may not be out until March of next year. Just a head's up!

Yes, I'm aware that there's a good chance this won't go the way I'm hoping. If all else fails, I'll at least try to get one part a week out. This is just a fun little project that I want to see take off on the side.

Have a great day!

Monday, April 18, 2016

New Serial Novel Coming Soon!

Yeah, you read that right. I've been mulling the idea of a serial novel over in my mind for a while, and I've decided to put Yorsyl's Rise on hold to work on this project instead. I simply don't have the time to devote to a novella right now, so a serial novel (comprised of 20 parts ranging from 7,000-10,000 words in length) is more my speed right now. I needed a serious break from writing and editing The Soulless King: Part One today, both to let some ideas percolate and to allow myself a breather from some of the serious and heavy subjects in the book, so I decided to get myself pumped for Axis of the Soul: Part One by designing and creating a cover--and, actually, my first ever real cover.

This took me many more hours than I'd like to admit, and was done between interviews, but I'm really proud of it. Everything from the line work to the patterns were custom made today... and I learned a lot about Photoshop and my skills in it today. I'll have to say, it turned out a lot better than I was expecting. :)

Each cover will feature a different color to help differentiate one part from the next. Axis of the Soul: Part Two will be either blue or yellow; I haven't decided yet. Anyway, I hope the first in this series will be out soon. I'll have a more definitive release date in a few days, once I've properly mapped out and written Part One and have figured out how the whole thing will work. Enjoy the cover!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Why Aren't Good Characters Allowed to Die?

Warning: Spoilers for Mad Max: Fury Road ahead!

I wanted to post this blog last Tuesday, but I found myself needing more time to think through what I wanted to write about and why this topic means so much to me. After watching Mad Max: Fury Road, an important topic in literature came to mind: good characters being allowed to die. So many characters have survived, both in cinema and in literature, who should have been given the chance to die for their cause rather than survive. At what point does a character's survival do more damage than good? Are we afraid to allow good characters death? If so, why?

In Mad Max: Fury Road, Furiosa, perhaps one of the strongest female characters I've seen in a while, comes near the brink of death, but in the final scene of the film, Max helps her out of the cabin of their vehicle to a cheering crowd. My initial reaction was a slack-jawed gape. Furiosa was alive. After a collapsed lung, losing so much blood that she could barely stay conscious, and, to boot, no medical equipment, she was able to crawl out of the cabin of a vehicle and sit atop the hood of the car. Excuse me? Why? Why was this character not dead? Certainly, I could believe there was a very slim chance she survived, but that she could maneuver in the way she did seemed beyond belief. Another thought occurred to me then.

Why was it so important that Furiosa be allowed to live? For a movie that pushed so many boundaries, made even me a little uncomfortable in a few scenes (and that's pretty hard to do), why not let such a powerful character die? Mortality is becoming more and more trivialized in media--from generic "bad guys," who are given little to no depth and development, simply being killed by the protagonist, to the protagonist not dying or coming only close to death themselves--and such trivialization is causing people to desire heroes and heroines who defy the laws of nature. Let me ask--how would it have impacted the film if Furiosa had been allowed to perish? (And note here that I've never read any of the Mad Max graphic novels; my argument exists solely in the case of the film adaption.) The mass of people at the end would have cheered at the death of Immortan Joe all the same, and Max might have looked like the hero (which he arguably is); it may have forced him to stick around a bit longer and deal with things he's not comfortable with (i.e., people), but it also would have given the film a chance to explore what happens when the masses lose a leader and don't have an immediate replacement. This to me is a much more interesting story than Furiosa rebuilding the society as a hero.

I suspect the death of characters is why A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) is doing so well. Allowing characters--and good ones at that--to die shows an important method of growing a story. Yet, the same flaw can be argued for Martin's work. Tyrion should be dead. That ax to the face should have killed him (in the books more so than the TV adaption; that injury was brutal), but it didn't. I suspect that because Tyrion is Martin's favorite character to write, he has let the Imp survive longer than he should have. Tyrion is also a fan-favorite, which means his death could damage ratings to the point where the show is canceled before it can finish. Here is where the audience influences the outcome of something as of yet incomplete. Many producers, especially for TV series or for film franchises, are turning to the masses to dictate what happens--not because they want to push the boundaries of the art form and storytelling, but because they want money and they want to please their fans. Plain and simple.

This isn't a bad thing. Look at My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Because producers and writers for the show are hyper aware of what fans think and are saying, they can integrate episodes such as Slice of Life into the roster. They can also disprove or make canon certain ideas and theories. This is fantastic. It's the first time writers and producers and artists have this sort of access to audience reaction, and such a resource is a very, very powerful tool. Misused, though, that tool can do more damage than good. I believe in the case of Furiosa that her being allowed to live lessened the impact of what it means to be mortal. Immortan Joe's death was expected, as was Furiosa's survival, which made the entire film seem less... well, just less. There was less of an impact, less emotional investment, and less power behind the actions of the characters near the end. In fact, my favorite character in the movie, Nux, had the death that impacted me the most. He arguably had the most growth of any character as well. His death was wonderful, brilliantly executed (HA!), and had a lasting effect--but the problem? It didn't truly impact the plot of the story at all. His death allowed their escape, yes, but that was it. He was fodder.

In the case of Furiosa, her death could have had an actual, lasting presence. What it would have meant to have her corpse hoisted toward the tower where Immortan Joe used to stand--just imagine it! How that could have affected everyone watching. Yes, Joe was vanquished, but at what cost? How could the people do better in the future? How could they make certain this didn't happen again? With Furiosa's survival, almost none of those questions matter to the masses; they only matter to Furiosa and a small group of people, who, when they die, may not be able to ensure such methods of caring for people are used.

The same goes for Tyrion's death. Imagine how much of A Song of Ice and Fire would have changed if he had been allowed to die.

Death plays so many roles in literature. It can restore a character's dignity and honor to the public, if they've perished for the right reasons, or offer a change and challenge to the people who are usually being saved, swayed, or controlled by the character's actions or the actions of the antagonist. A dead protagonist gives more breadth to the story; such a final end allows the audience to truly become invested in a story. Why would I be invested if there isn't a mortal consequence to a character's actions*? What's at stake, personally, for the character? No, it doesn't always have to be their life, but part of why I enjoyed Mad Max: Fury Road is because, from the get-go, death was an enormous stake--one which could have been a useful tool at the end of the film.

Anyway, those are my brief thoughts on Mad Max: Fury Road and character mortality.

* Note that many of the characters in my personal work are not mortal, but I abide by the law that there are things far worse than death in the world; I explore many of these outcomes in the hopes of manipulating the reader--and in many cases, my characters--into wishing that death were an option. And, if it ever becomes one, it is a relief, a victory for the reader and the character, not a punishment.