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Hi there! My name is Barbara Webb. I'm a writer, one of the finalists in the Self Published Fantasy Blog-Off that the inestimable Mark Lawrence has been hosting.

I just stumbled back here to the forums for the first time. I didn't even know y'all were here until someone was kind enough to point me here. What an awesome place to talk books! I look forward to meeting people.

November 20, 2015, 07:23:16 PM
Re: Hi there!
Hello Barbara,  you got my crazy email then saying how much I enjoyed your book   ;D Paul

I did!!

November 20, 2015, 08:08:14 PM
Re: Final Round: Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off Just popping my nose in to say that if y'all did a book club of City of Burning Shadows, I'd be happy to do a Q&A at the end and chat with everyone!
December 02, 2015, 04:24:29 PM
Re: The first words... How to start...How to plan? The good news--as a young writer, you have the most valuable resource of all. Time! Time to learn, time to read, time to practice.

In the beginning, it's important not to get too hung up on craft. Just write. If I had one piece of advice to give to my younger self, it would be to take the time to play, to experiment, to figure out what I REALLY love. The passion that actually drives the words. And then never let go of that.

It's so easy to get overwhelmed by technique. And, yes, it's important to learn to write well. But that's a slow process, and a lot of growth will come naturally as you read books you enjoy, as you write write write your own stuff, and as you pick up any of the piles and piles of writing how-tos out there.

Learn to read critically, but to write joyfully. Never critique your own first draft as you're writing it. As others have mentioned, editing is where the perfectionism gets to come out to play. When you're first getting the words down, do what's fun! An energetic, passionate, draft can be edited into a good story. A flat, technically perfect draft is going to be a challenge to turn into something that readers respond to.

The art of writing is to ultimately say, "Look at this thing! Isn't it awesome? Come be as excited about it as I am!"

(All one writer's opinion, of course. YMMV.)

December 02, 2015, 09:05:56 PM
Re: Final Round: Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off
Just finished City of Burning Shadows.

Holy... that was so damn good. Gave it 5 stars. I'm glad I picked it up. I did it because it didn't had sequels and I could use a lighter book before reading a really long one for a book club. Now I'm sad it doesn't have the sequels already out.

For those curious, it's fantasy, but also mixes with urban, sci-fi, mystery and suspense. Wasn't sure how all that would blend, but for me, it worked perfectly.

Thank you so much!!!

FYI, the sequel's in the final round of revision. If everything falls in line, should have a late February release.

And if anyone is curious what I find the most fun part of self-publishing--I've got the near-finished draft of my cover art for the new book, and I love it. There is nothing more awesome than getting to work directly with your artist to bring a vision to life.

December 08, 2015, 09:04:09 PM
Re: Slaughter of thousands vs a handful of rapes This is a really complicated topic, that's hard to answer in the length of a forum post, so I'm just going to come at one angle.

One of the reasons why rape in fiction gets a lot of--lets say negative attention--is that because so often it's simply a lazy writing trick that relies on the idea that a) women exist to provide motivation for men and b) the only bad things that happen to women are things related to their gender.

Over and over and over again in books, on TV, in movies, if we are fortunate enough to have a female character in the story, if her story is to progress, it does so in one of three ways (or some combination): she gets married, she gets pregnant, she gets raped. These are the stories that women get. Men get lots of different stories.

Over and over and over again in books, on TV, in movies, one of the primary ways we bring pain to our male protagonists is by attacking their girlfriends. Usually either she gets killed or she gets raped.

Over and over and over again in books, on TV, in movies, one of the fastest and easiest ways to show some guy is a villain is to...you guessed it!--have him rape a woman.

The problem isn't that rape is worse than killing. It's that it's a trick used over and over by lazy storytellers and one of the few stories women get to have, and it gets pretty tiresome. It's a trick that gets used so often its to the point people expect it. At a con, Seanan MacGuire once got asked when her urban fantasy heroine was going to get raped, because that was what happened to women who ran around alone at night. A super-powered heroine. Does anyone ask that question about Batman? If so, I've never heard it.

The problem isn't that rape is A tool of writers, it's that, too often, it's the only tool.

January 21, 2016, 06:41:18 PM
Re: Final Round: Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off
At the moment, Shattered Sands is the one with the least reviews, and that doesn't make me nervous at all. Not really. Not even anxious or anything. No.

Possibly a really good sign? A lot of the bloggers seem to save their favorite few for the last reviews they do.

Could be awesome!

February 04, 2016, 02:51:58 PM
Re: Final Round: Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off It's such a weird accusation since, as others have mentioned, there aren't any real stakes to this "contest." The prize is that we all get reviews and exposure. And that we get just for showing up as finalists.

I can't pretend a lack of bias towards EBR. (I'm their current highest scoring review. Of course, I think they are the awesomest.) But as Mark pointed out in his comment over there, this is a small, incestuous business, where a whole lot of people are publishing-siblings with a whole lot of other people. Beyond that, a whole lot of us are simply friends, because we're all fans together.

I'm going to rate this conspiracy theory a 3. The character motivations simply don't hold together, and the world-building doesn't impress me. An interesting conflict at first glance, but it falls apart when you think about it too hard.

February 19, 2016, 02:19:27 PM
Re: Final Round: Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off
Can I ask a question for @Barbara J Webb

In your novel your MC is Black which is great the more diversity we have in fantasy can only be good, what made you write a character of the opposite sex and colour to you was it to push yourself as a writer? also in this world do people suffer from Prejudice for having different skin tones or is it's not much of a big deal as Humans have to deal with non-humans in your world?

P.s I love your cover for City of Burning Shadows

What a great question!

So this is actually a topic I've put a lot of thought into, so I will try not to ramble on for days with my answer.

Gender first--writing guys is easy. It's still a sad truth that most of the media we consume is made primarily of male characters, so I grew up immersed in stories by and about men. (This is why, in general, women have an easier time writing men than the reverse. I'd even go a step forward and say women suffer from a similar difficulty in writing solid female characters, as we all grew up in the same unbalanced representational culture. Women have their own experience to draw on, but no one woman is all women, so we're still working from a handicap.)

As for why he's a person of color--yes, diversity, but also worldbuilding. In our world, if you take the population of the world as a whole, white people are the minority. And I'm tired of fantasy settings that are white white white, especially when I've read some fun research talking about how whiteness was kind of an accident tied to (and this is REALLY simplified) the weird climate of Europe and how it made grain and cows easier to grow.

So my starting premise for this world was that the majority of people in the world, like our world, were people of color. So when it came time to populate Miroc, I decided the overwhelming majority of people in this part of the world were black.

As far as skin-color based prejudice, there's nothing exactly like what exists on Earth, because--for several reasons--there's not a history of colonialism. There was no British Empire. There was never a slave trade. A lot of the cultural and tribal triggers of our world never happened.

On the other hand, I believe humans are a tribal sort of people. We instinctively like people who are like us and mistrust people who aren't. The presence of the other races doesn't automatically unify humans into one big happy family. Both the person who looks like a bird and the person who has really different skin are obviously not my people, and so there's going to be prejudice. Just not the systematic racism that exists, for example, in modern America.

And thanks on the cover! I really love it too. Jordan Grimmer is my artist, and he's simply amazing.

February 27, 2016, 06:45:01 PM
Re: Is Sword & Sorcery outdated? And how can it move forward? In some ways, I think Sword and Sorcery has been cannibalized for parts. There are elements of it running through a whole lot of the fantasy genre. And roleplaying games. And video games.

It is an interesting question though, one I hadn't thought about but now that you bring it up, I'm having trouble thinking of a good answer. I don't think this is a genre that can't evolve. So why hasn't it?

I will contemplate this on the Tree of Woe.

March 05, 2016, 06:08:47 PM