I’ve received a few messages asking for me to comment on several subjects. The popular topics are the Weinstein case and the Leah Remini / A&E show. This isn’t the forum to go in to detail on these topics but I will say that the cover tagline of my newest book sums up the issue quite well, “power corrupts absolutely.”
Now a different topic(s).
I have been a fan of comic books, fantasy and sci-fi for going on fifty years. I grew up in the age of Marvel Comics. I love all that kind of stuff. So when a movie or TV show with that spin shows up I have to watch it. That brings us to two I’d like to write about. The Shannara Chronicles Season 2, which I write about in today’s blog. And the Inhumans which I’ll write about next week.
The Shannara Chronicles. I hadn’t heard of the series until I saw an ad on Netflix. I watched season one and thoroughly enjoyed it. It wasn’t any new ground breaking film making. But the characters were mysterious, strong and full of life. It was set in a unique environment and had plenty of action and little if any sex. The fact that it wasn’t laced with sexual innuendos, blatant sexual acts, etc. was something I found very refreshing. The one drawback was the lead male character (Austin Butler) was chosen for his looks rather than his skill as an actor.
Fast forward to the first episode of season 2. Uh, WTF (That’s What The Frak). First it didn’t start where season one left off. I kept thinking I must have missed three of four episodes. Once I finally got my mind adjusted to the fact that the second season had little if anything to do with season one I had to contend with the reality that season two’s opener sucked. The acting was horrible. The lines were rushed. The editing was choppy and haphazard. But in order to save ALL the actor’s poor performances the writers had a genius (read stupid) idea. Let’s put in a scene of two girls kissing. That will save the miserable mess of a show. Yes, Ivana Baquero (who?) went from being in love with the lead man to being a lesbian. That’s a fast 180 seeing as she was trapped in a labyrinth at the end of season one.
You know a show is headed for the trash can when either a) they send the crew to Hawaii for a “special” episode. Or b) they pour “controversial sex” scenes into the show. Overall the Shannara Chronicles went from “nice job, I want to see more,” to “where’s the barf bag” faster than demons can fly.
Book 2 of the Xenkur Trilogy is now available in ebook and paperback on Amazon - Kobo and Smashwords
Ebook $ .99 (for a limited time)
Paperback $ 12.95
“Honestly, me thinks, if not killing her, at the least it caused her moral compass ta shift.”
“Its not just a moral shift, the evil thing is corrupting her heart. Her very soul.” Willow was nearly in tears.
“Speak of the devil herself,” Penn said, “Here she comes.”
“I have need of some iron castoffs.”
“Over there Lady M,” Penn pointed to a large pile of scrap.
Mithavan’ara-Khan rummaged briefly through the pile then walked away without a another word.
“Be a good day to ya as well, young mage, bah!” Penn thumbed his nose.
“You see, its worse.”
Rollin wiped the tears from Willows face. “I milady, its as if she doesnt know us.”
“Or care,” Penn added.
“I fear our young friends path no longer has room for friends.” Penn lifted himself off the stool and walked into his shop leaving Rollin and Willow together to ponder the future.
The war had raged on for three years with neither side gaining an advantage for long. The Orcs would push their way across the Blackwater River only to have the Paladins and their allies drive them back a few days later. Nowadays, it was mostly a stalemate. The lines were drawn almost in the same spot as they had started at the river. Battles in the field now were almost nonexistent. All the combat was now behind the scenes. It was combat filled with deception and espionage.
The war the Orcs started, known now as the Clan Wars, had engulfed all the western kingdoms. The exception was the far north where the barbarian tribes took advantage of the ice and cold to keep the creatures at bay. There was no war in the east, but they had still been affected. Many of the western trade routes were gone. And there have been many refugees spilling into the eastern realms.
The landscape in the west had changed in both topography and in its soul. What was once a thriving agricultural land where you could live in relative peace had now become a war torn zone of pain, blood and misery. Traveling south of the Blackwater River was nothing short of suicide. That area and all the Wastelands now fell under Orc rule.
Shadowmage's Tour Page
The Hidden Agenda
Oh it’s there. It may be so subtle you can’t find it but it’s always there somewhere. It’s the writer’s hidden agenda. It may be as simple as “Good triumphs over evil” such as in Star Wars or as complex as “The Holocaust” in Toy Story 3 but rest assured the writer’s agenda is there. A writer’s schema isn’t always something the writer consciously admits. And usually the story is better if the author is only vaguely aware of his or her own plan. Also for the reader, discovering what agenda the writer has is not paramount to a good story. I have enjoyed countless stories both on and off screen only to find out years later what was hidden between the lines.
In non-fiction the hidden agenda usually isn’t hidden, if it is maybe the book should be rewritten. However for fiction writers, many may not even realize they are trying to say something when they are creating. I was halfway through writing Darkwater when I realized my hidden agenda. (What is it? Extra cookies if you can guess it)
If you’re not sure what a fiction author’s agenda is for telling the story, it’s not something that should cause you to lose sleep. You should however as a reader, mull over what is the meaning behind the story. Knowing the writer better will give you a more solid foundation for his or her work and help you enjoy a deeper connection with the author.
Writing your Belief
Why did you write that? It’s a common question you’ll receive as an author. And I find often it’s a difficult question to answer. Oh yes, you could give pat answers like, “For the money” or “I always wanted to write a novel” but those are only surface reasons. Those are not the REAL reasons you write.
As a fiction writer it is a good idea to have at least a tentative grasp on why you are writing the novel. Is it to ease the pain of childhood? To grieve for someone? Or To signal a new direction in your life. Or maybe you have something you want to say about the world around us. Like in Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien’s book about Catholicism (yep and you’ll never guess who the parallel is for Jesus Christ).
Whatever your agenda is for writing your piece. Do not feel obligated to push it into your readers face. Few if any books have ever been successful by preaching at their reader. OK, maybe Animal Farm, and the Bible. Though if you read the bible it never forces you to swallow its concepts or beliefs. Though if I were you, I’d take every opportunity to devour the Bible. (Hey do you see my hidden agenda there? I hope so it’s blatantly obvious).
Just remember that your readers may not believe what you do, so don’t make your agenda so obvious its slaps them in the face. Their reading your book because they love the genre or they love you. Either way let them enjoy it. Who knows they may have an epiphany later in which they say “Oh that’s what it was really about.”
How Darkwater came to be
Now I could come right out and say, that I had been developing the world of Xenkur for decades. Toiled over the characters and had an epiphany about writing the book. Puff up my chest so I sound grandiose, “Hey I wrote a novel, look at me!” But the truth is only a small portion of that would be true and I loathe to the core of my soul “hype” for the single purpose of career advancement. That means I would never make it in Hollywood :( The real truth to how Darkwater came to be is so much more ordinary and so much more extraordinary.
I started playing Dungeons and Dragons when I was twelve or thirteen. That’s about the same time I started reading fantasy fiction. I was an unhappy teen (aren’t most?) Found home life boring and annoying, my friends were hell-raisers and druggies and school was a joke. So I turned inward and D&D was a way for me to have a ‘life’ that was thrilling. I mean how much more exciting can life get than using magic and fighting dragons?
Fast-forward to an early 2017. I was at a crossroads, financially and emotionally. I was praying and asking God (sorry if you’re not religious, I am) “What do you (God) want me to do to make a living.” I asked many times a day for a few weeks. I never ‘heard’ an answer in my ear. Yet, clearly God did answer me. I woke up one day and started typing. It had not even occurred to me to writing a novel. Two and half months later, Darkwater was written. A couple more months of editing, etc. and done!
Originally I set out to write three books. The Xenkur trilogy. While I wrote the first book, Darkwater, I had a few ideas for other books. So I thought, yeah, I can write half a dozen books. That would be a solid side income. That’s when God opened the floodgates. I now have fifty-nine (yes 59!) book ideas. That should keep me writing for the next 15 years.
And that’s how Darkwater came to into existence.
Q: Why did you want to become of Knight of the Rose?
A: I felt it my duty. Something inside me, since I was a child, told me to help those who cannot help themselves. I felt I could do this best as a sword arm for Duros.
Q: Can you tell us what happened. Why you are not a Knight of the Rose?
A: I am sorry that is a subject I do not wish to discuss.
Q: If you could live anywhere in Xenkur, where would it be?
A: Hmm... I’ve always been partial to the mountains. They bring out a peace in me I have not found anywhere else. Though I have not seen them, I have heard the Violet Mountains are beautiful.
Q: Do you have any siblings?
A: No. My parents were killed when I was a young child. I was raised by my paternal grandfather.
Q: Is there a woman in your life?
A: Umm... (Rollin fell silent and refused to answer this question)
Q: Do you believe having women in the knighthood is a positive experience?
A: Absolutely. Women have an innate internal strength you won’t find in their male counterparts. They are excellent problem solvers and in my experience have a much better grasp on their emotions then men.
Q: Tell us what is a Black Paladin?
A: A Knight of the Rose that, for whatever reason, is removed from knighthood is cast out of the organization. From the day forward his name in the rosters of the Knights is crossed out in black ink. He is branded a Black paladin and the red rose on his shield is re-painted in black.
Q: How did you get the title, The Winter Dragon?
A: (Rollin laughed) Someone else will have to tell you that story.
Q: What is next for Rollin Ayymon?
A: Difficult to say. I have plans, though Duros may change them at a moment’s notice. For now I will do what I can to help others. Stay close to my friends and do right by those who need me.
That’s what companies on the internet want you to believe. In the marketing research for my new novel Darkwater I found a company that wants (though I doubt they get it often) $ 499 to read and post a (yes that’s one!) review online.
I contacted 53 companies claiming to “skyrocket your book sales” ranging from $7.50 to $339.00. What I found interesting is many of the more expensive companies would NOT get any more people to see your ad then their less expensive counterparts. So why is one company charging $20 for 100,000 people to see your book and another is charging $200?
That’s a question, unfortunately, I can answer, GREED and FEAR. These materialistic companies charging major money online are preying on an author’s fear that he/she won’t get any sales. Using someone else’s, in this case the authors, frailties to line your own pockets is reprehensible. Regrettably that is exactly what all advertising does.
If you are going to pay to advertise your book, and I think you should, remember its advertising and it’s not about the truth it’s about money. So the first thing you should ask any company before you buy is, “Prove it.” You say you have 100,000 subscribers to your newsletter, then let’s see the proof.
Do your research. Don’t let the vague “sales pitch” trick you into spending your hard earned cash. Ask a lot of questions. If the company does not want to answer questions then leave them in the dust. Make sure to ask at least the following
Look I understand that EVERYTHING is a business. That people and companies have to pay bills. But in today’s world price gouging appears common place and it’s clearly out of hand.
P.S. Once all the advertising for my new novel is finished Ill post the results. It may help you decide which ad company to use.
Side note: That gourmet coffee you’re buying has a retail markup of 2,900%. And the worst retail markup of all, Crystal Healing at 2,493,828% over a two million percent markup! http://www.businessinsider.com/products-high-markups-2014-7
Ok, so I published this book, Darkwater. You’ve probably already read it. Then I set about the arduous task of promoting the book. When you’re a new author (and even for established authors) you need to promote like crazy in the beginning until the book goes “viral” and begins selling itself. For my first novel I promoted like crazy for almost three months.
And here are my results:
Book sites the book is available for sale – 55 including the biggies, Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, Kobo, and Goodreads (which belongs to Amazon now)
Book Sites that promote my book - 23 – You would think it would be much more. See "Paying for Listings" below for details.
Book Review Requests – 34 – I received 3 reviews. That’s about average. You’ll get about 10% of the people you contact that will actually post a review. Don’t accept “swapping reviews” from other authors. Amazon frowns on this and may remove the review if they find out. I did it ONCE. I posted a review for this person’s book and he never reciprocated.
Paid for book promo sites – 2 – I thought I’d trying paying for promotion. If you do this know that you WONT recoup your investment on the front end but you might after sales spike some time later. I did it more for reviews and to boost my Amazon sales rank. I didn’t get any reviews but it did boost my sales rank from 691,447 to 88,399. This meant I went from selling 3 books per month to 38 books per month. Since I had such a good result with the paid promos, I will try more when my next book is released the end of August.
And here are my complaints:
Paying for “listings”
MANY of the so called book promo sites charge fees to list your book. Most of the time the fees are small, in the $5-15 US range. That doesn’t seem like a lot of cash outlay. But if you list on many sites, I did 23 free sites (see above). I encountered 174 sites that would list my book for a fee. If I had chosen to do that, say an average cost of $10 US each that’s $1,740! That’s more than my house payment. I'll publish 3-4 books per year. Now the total comes to $ 6,960 year!! And you need to ask yourself, “How many people are seeing this listings?” Many of the sites don’t tell you. That leads me to believe it is very few people.
Contact me, us, them, they, etc.
I searched through countless websites (over 300, ok so I did count) that said they would help promote indie (that’s what they call us independent authors) authors. And I learned two sad facts.
1) The majority of self-published websites. (I.e. sites that people make themselves, not sites that a web designer creates) are awful. I mean just AWFUL. I’m sorry, that sounds mean and judgmental. But please I want to help. If you have no experience designing websites go to Fiverr and for a small fee, usually $ 25-50 US a web designer can make you a nice plain website that won’t scare away your readers.
2) Put your contact information on EVERY page. I searched through so many sites that would say, “contact me and I’ll...” and then nowhere to be found was an email address. Come on! If you tell us to contact you then add the email or even better make the contact me a link.
The Mythopoeic Society has announced the finalists for the 2017 Mythopoeic Award. For Adult Literature they are:
In school, they teach you how to write. That is, they teach you how to put words together to create a sentence so it makes sense to a reader. Is that writing? Yes and no.
Yes, you are writing, but are you doing it in a way that it captures your reader? Honestly (and this may sting), no, you are not. Simply putting words into a sentence does not guarantee your reader will be moved by the text. Let's take a look at a recent example of mine. This is from my new book Songweaver which will be out the end of 2017. Which opening line do you prefer?
We seek your appearance with all haste. Gray Star Tavern, Fallfell, was all the note said. It came with three rings, one made of wood, one of iron and one of stone.
“Fallfell,” Tomo said, “Thatd be way down south, other side of the great forest.”
“I know.” Why would someone send a message a thousand leagues to hire me? I'm good at what I do, yes, but not so great as to be known throughout the lands.
“Shear, it's time.”
There is one immutable truth to the world. The less I wore the more coins men would throw in my collection pale. It was sleazy, sometimes even obscene, but in a tavern such as this, staring out at a male audience, I knew the number of crowns I received was based more on how much skin showed rather than how well I played.
They are both good openings for a novel (brag, brag) But which one makes you want to turn the page to see what happens next. The first one right. It presents so many questions, you just have to find out what's going to be next. Who seeks her appearance? What is the purpose of the three rings? It’s time for what? She’s good at what? What does she do? I mean, even the text itself gives you a question, “Why would someone send a message a thousand leagues to hire me?” This is the opening to a novel that hooks the reader. People are curious by nature, so give them something to be curious about.
But I don’t write novels, I write emails to friends. Ok, but think about all the emails you get from friends and family. Do any of them excite you? I’d bet they don’t. Your emails, even those to friends and family should be exciting and entertaining. Yes, even the email to your mother-in-law.
Here’s an example:
I've got great news! The book that you helped me create has rocketed to the top of the best sellers list. I know you're not big on flying, but when the book tour hits, you should come along. Leave the hubby behind, he's not going anywhere. It’s a whirlwind tour!!
Hugs, hugs, hugs
Now isn’t that better? It’s a short email (short is better, people are busy), it’s funny, it’s clever and the beginning and ending are uncommon so they stand out.
What do you think? Drop me a note or comment on this blog.
On a similar note:
I am a big fan of K.M. Weiland and her books. They have made a vast improvement in my writing. Please go to her website at helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com She has written several books on how to create novels. Even if you write poetry, or short stories or even emails to your friends, her books are a must read.
A bi-weekly newsletter will be emailed the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays each month. The first one will be delivered June 6th. The newsletter will be a fun and entertaining way for readers and I to interact with each other.
Some of what will be in the newsletter are:
Tell me what YOU want to read and learn. I'll try to pack each newsletter with useful and fun information.
Here's a host of ways you can interact with me
Amazon -- Email -- Facebook -- Goodreads -- Twitter
Remember what Grormoth said, "Read it...," Dark Dwarves were born angry, you don't want to make it worse.
DW is an author and an artist. He has been creating paintings and photographs for over 40 years. He lives in Eastern Kansas with his daughter, a large epileptic dog, two cats, and a barnyard of chickens and ducks.