June 20, 2018, 10:02:50 AM

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Messages - WilliamRay

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Carnivores of Light and Darkness!  Alan Dean Foster.
No idea why I couldn't remember it, or how I suddenly remembered it now, but there it is.  There were three books in that series, all pretty fun, as I recall... although it's been twenty years.  ;D

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Ok, another mystery that came to mind recently... I'm so bad with names!

There was a fantasy series (maybe three books?) that came out in the '90s about an African themed hero who journeyed into foreign lands.  He was a very mythic figure stomping around less magical Europe-ish kingdoms.  There was a chapter about ants going to war as he slept, and another where he stomped through a field of flowers that were at war with each other.

I seem to recall the author did mostly sci-fi apart from that, and may also have written an anthology of western themed short stories.

Does that ring any bells?

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I'm in the same position—still working on recovering the outlay on editors and cover designer. Intrigued by your cover and the 'look inside' on Amazon, I bought a copy of your first novel. Probably be a month before I read it with all the other books I'm reading.

How did you get a copy of your cover in your signature? Perhaps I should do the same.

My mantra has become, "I am not the thunderbolt; I am the unrelenting sea. My tides will rise and fall, but mountains are not worn away in an instant."
Whenever self-publishing feels utterly Sisyphean, I just repeat it to myself.  Sometimes just getting to 'thunderbolt' is enough to remind me that I have a plan, and that the plan is workable, and is working, but just slow.


And thank you for giving my book a try!  If it catches your fancy, there's a second novel in the same setting out now as well, which is more of a mystery story.  I'm actually quite proud of having swapped story style and structure within the series to create a second book very different from the first.  :)

tebakutis gives good instructions on putting stuff in your signature, so I won't bother to repeat them, but I will say you totally should get a signature banner.  I had my cover artist design some for me, and I use them on Facebook, Twitter and various other forums I visit.  It feels far more professional to me than just a picture of a book, or mis-fitting vertical rectangle.  The big thing with self-publishing will always be that credibility gap, so anything you can do to overcome that is going to help.


Also, I should say more enthusiastically that I absolutely love the wide-open market of self-publishing.  I'm not competing with anyone.  If someone only reads one book a year, they're going to read GoT or something else they see on TV.  If they read just a few books, I might have an entry-point, but really it's not a sure enough thing to scramble after.  The literati who buy the most books read them far faster than I can write them and therefore, as a marketer, everyone else's rising tide raises my boat too.  If Bancroft does well, then it draws in more fantasy readers, and more readers means more who are likely to read my work too.

As a modern self-publisher, I don't have to worry that someone else gets better awards, and thus better shelf-space, or whatever; I can just do my best work and I get to cheer enthusiastically when I come across someone else whose work I like.  Sure we're paid peanuts, but we don't really have to fight each other over those peanuts, which is a rarity in any business, and one I greatly appreciate.  I get to go on Twitter and wish other authors well, and mean it, and openly celebrate work I admire because the other people who like things I like will probably also like the things I write, and celebrating helps us find each other.  It can be a great, positive world.

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Writers' Corner / Re: Do you need to know how to use a crossbow?
« on: January 18, 2018, 08:32:24 PM »
You Tube's good for this. I watched videos there when I decided on a sling as a weapon.

YouTube has an amazing array of videos on exactly this sort of thing.
Additionally, find some reenactors.  Even if they just dress up as Romans or cowboys or something.  I guarantee they'll know a guy, or a guy who knows a guy, who knows everything you might possibly need to know, and then you just need to email that guy, tell him what you're thinking about doing, and you'll get plenty of detail.

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Exactly.  Josiah Bancroft is a great example.  Self-publishing success can, and has been made.  I mean, it's work, and it takes time, and as near as I can tell the key is mostly just to find bloggers who will actually give indie books a shot, but once you've bridged that credibility gap, there's no longer an issue of sales capacity... the old thunderdome has fallen silent now that writers don't need to contest with each other in B.D. Dalton's various bloodsports for shelf-space.  It's a wide open market.

It's always been a low-paying job for most, and for the vast majority it was an entirely non-paying job.  My debut was named one of the best books of the year in '16, and yet I'm still out of pocket for my editors and cover designer... but even selling one book means I'm making more than nothing, which was the traditional model.

I think the traditional model is a dinosaur.  It'll still stomp on a lot of us little mammals before it lumbers off into the tar pits, but I think in the future indie is the way most stuff will begin.

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THAT'S IT!  Thank you so much guys, that was bothering me for weeks.

(then I forgot it entirely and didn't check back until just now, but it had been really bugging me)

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I'm trying to remember the name of a book and series that I read maybe 15, possibly just 10 years ago.  The first book was classic medieval fantasy centered around a siege, and there was an aging adventurer named D... Drudge? Durk? I think it was a D name, who was this legendary bad-ass hero, but not the main character of the novel.  Then the series went back and did a some prequels where that guy's wife was captured and he went on an epic quest to save her, and I think the same author did a bunch of generational leaps forward too, all in the same setting.

Any ideas what that might have been?

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What are you currently reading?
« on: December 22, 2017, 01:59:17 PM »
I just finished Jeanette Ng's Under the Pendulum Sun, which was a fantastic gothic read with missionaries in the fae lands.. but I'm not sure it's what a lot of fantasy readers are looking for. It's a bit literary, but well put together if you like that sort of thing.

Now I'm starting Richard Nell's Kings of Paradise which (despite the name and beachy cover) opens with cannibalism in a really bleak, vaguely Nordic fantasy world. A few chapters in, and I'm very intrigued to see where it's going.

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General Discussion / Re: Reading a book series out of sequence
« on: November 14, 2017, 03:31:59 PM »
I feel like if a series can't be enjoyably read out of sequence, then the author's individual stories probably aren't as polished as they should be.  Then again, I feel similarly about spoilers too, and enjoy filling in the backstory on things so, for me, knowing what happens at point B doesn't really diminish my interest in following the journey that began at point A.

This is also the point at which I lament my pre-Kindle days.  I know a series that fits that perfectly... the author started with a book about a siege, then wrote a series of both prequels and sequels about characters and events that spun outwards from that siege.  Unfortunately, all the names elude me entirely, I can't think of a good angle to search on it in Google, and the paper versions I owned are long since surrendered. :(

There are tons of examples though.  People advise the Star Wars movies are best enjoyed out of sequence, and the vast library of books in the setting happen at all sorts of different times in relation to each other.  I remember that the Dragonlance series had a bunch of prequels and sequels and midquels, and whatever elses, and while stories were often told in three-book chunks, the stories themselves didn't necessarily require being read in chronological or publishing order.  My father adores Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt novels, which (as near as I can tell from the two I've read) don't seem to require any particular sequence.

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Another good point to remember for elder civilizations is that most were rife with inaccurate information.  I mean, the barbarians might be terrified of the baby-eating god-king's bloodthirsty worshippers, and the civilized folks terrified of all the cannibalism and ruthless spirit magics of the tribes, and neither might be right about what the other is up to.

"But I've been there - they don't eat babies."
"Everyone here says they do, and you're the only one claiming they don't.  You're probably just denying it because you're embarrassed about eating a baby."

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A few settings with similar setups spring to mind.  The first is Glorantha, which is Greg Stafford's principal setting for the RuneQuest games.  There, the various religions protect their people against spirits and chaos magic, but they do require subservience to their gods.  If you live in Sartar, no matter what your other inclinations for worship, you have to placate the wind god who heads up their pantheon.  They sacrifice individual spiritual power on ritual days, and their gods protect them.  People on the fringes live much riskier lives, and have shamans and intercessionary ancestors who help protect them from evil spirits, but they have to make more deals and follow more particularized rituals to keep themselves safe.  They have a big evil Roman-type empire on the rise, the Lunars, who worship the goddess of the Red Moon, and do a lot of things that are very unsavory if not outright dangerously sinful in the eyes of other cultures.  Their whole setup is probably the best parallel you could study for more inspiration in that whole direction.

The other that springs to mind is the recent PC game, "Tyranny", where there is a mostly conquered world, ruled by the Overlord, who has godlike power and executes it somewhat ruthlessly, but protects his/her people from various evil spirits and such.  The few remaining other cultures (which you're sent to conquer) have their own arrangements, which clash and sort of illustrate the underpinnings of the Overlord's system.  It's not quite as apt as Glorantha, but it might be worth a look.

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How odd! I could swear saw comments dated from earlier this month... I must've misread the year.  :-[

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I've never done one, although the idea of having people to chat about something I've just read seems appealing... I don't think I've done that since high school, if not before.  I'm never sure how much time or focus I'll have to read though, usually I read in bursts - a chapter, four chapters, nothing for a week, eight chapters, two chapters - which makes on-time participation awkward.

That said, I'm really intrigued by the one forum setup I saw here that has people discussing the book in chapter chunks.  That setup seem like a good idea that could remove a lot of the time-dependent hold-ups.  Obviously there would be more interaction for those keeping pace with the herd, but that's still an intriguing approach that does make me more likely to participate sometime.

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Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: What are you currently reading?
« on: October 25, 2017, 08:29:39 PM »
I just started Karen Memory.  It's a first person POV, which is normally a turn-off for me, but several people here recommended it, and I'm trying to read more steampunk/cowboy stuff, so I figured I'd give it a shot.  So far, so good.

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Where are those genre-straddling books "shelved" digitally, though? Or... wait, is it even an issue? Are books on Amazon still "shelved" under one tag? Or can they have multiple tags? (I don't spend any time on Amazon. :D)

Amazon books are digitally shelved under up to two tags.  The tags, however, can be very granular.  You can shelve something under 'fantasy: general', but there are numerous vaguely defined subsets, like 'heroic', 'epic', 'urban' and on and on.  Sci-fi is similarly sub-divided (with 'steampunk' strangely a subset of sci-fi, rather than fantasy).

Personally, I think sci-fi should be a subset of fantasy to begin with, but both are really setting descriptions, whereas most of the other categories are by story type... romance, mystery, military, historical, etc.  Westerns stands out as another that is defined by setting, but if you have a sci-fi western (Aliens vs. Cowboys) or a fantasy western (Six-Gun Snow White) then you end up needing two categories off the bat.  A steampunk, noir-detective mystery with classic fantasy elements is required to sacrifice one of those three categories for its digital shelving (which I know, because I just wrote one).

So in short, yes, Amazon allows shelving in multiple categories, but those are arbitrarily limited to two categories.  To some degree, I feel like limited categorization isn't a terrible idea - there are certainly writers who would classify their work as falling into all categories regardless of the book's actual content, but I do feel like two is somewhat constraining at times, particularly when a number of the sub-categories are ill-defined and often barely different from each other.  I wish there was more of a word-cloud sort of approach, where a writer could say, "My book is mostly this one, but a little bit of these others as well".  That might better help Amazon cross-pollinate sales with listings of similar titles.

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