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Messages - J. Mark Miller

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Self Publishing Discussion / Re: recommendation: e-book cover artists
« on: January 20, 2013, 07:47:24 PM »
I'd like to throw my own hat into the ring. This is one of the reasons I've been sort of absent lately—going through a life reorganization and looking forward to new opportunities. Besides editing the final draft of my novel, I've joined my wife's graphic design business.

We do ebook conversions and layouts, as well as book cover designs. Take a look at some of our pre-designed covers that are available. We're available for custom work as well.

Five J's Design

Fantasy-Faction's 2013 Anthology / Re: Short List Announced!
« on: October 10, 2012, 02:37:01 PM »
Ah well, I didn't make the list. Thanks for the opportunity though, the contest pushed me to write a story I probably would have never written otherwise.

Congrats to the authors who made the list!

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Steven Erikson
« on: September 29, 2012, 07:47:18 PM »
I'm three chapters into Forge of Darkness, and I'm pretty sure my mind's been blown at least once per chapter.

Questions are answered about so many characters, Draconus, Anomander Rake, Sandalath Drukolat, Osserc, etc...but now I've got hundreds of new questions!

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: Favourite Type of Weapon in Fantasy
« on: September 28, 2012, 02:43:39 PM »
Maybe I'm old-school—or just boring—but I've always been a sucker for an enchanted/magic sword of some type. I think it goes back to Tolkien being the fantasy I read in my early years. When Gandalf, Biblo, and the dwarves found Glamdring, Orcrist, and Sting I wanted one of their swords very badly.

There have been far too many magical swords to try and mention them all here, but there are some highlights I suppose:

Belgarion's sword, the Sword of Shannara, the Vorpal Sword, Excalibur, Amoracchius, Dragnipur, Twinkle and Icingdeath, and many more.

Back on topic:

It's a great opportunity and would love to know if anyone here is going for it, and what they are planning to submit (unless they want to keep it a secret!)

I'm going for it. I'm in the last round of edits on two separate novels, and I think I can have them both ready before the deadline. I think this is a great opportunity.

Self Publishing Discussion / Twitter/Facebook Marketing
« on: September 17, 2012, 06:09:13 PM »
Looking for some feedback, mainly for my own marketing practices, but also because I'm getting a little worn out by all the marketing and self-promotion I'm seeing on Twitter and Facebook. (Truth in advertising: I'm in the Rarely category as far as my own purchases go.)

What say you?

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: J.R.R. Tolkien
« on: September 12, 2012, 02:33:07 PM »
Cross-promotional mayhem! I got to guest post over at Jo Fletcher Books, so, thanks to this -  I was stuck thinking about Tolkien's influence...

Feel free to leave comments telling me how wrong I am...

Good show!

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: J.R.R. Tolkien
« on: September 11, 2012, 11:21:46 PM »
Yes...but by putting someone on a pedestal/thinking only to protect them, you aren't treating them as a person, but as an object.

Agreed. There's the deficiency inherent in that style of chivalry. Pure motives, perhaps, but often the execution of those motives become in itself a kind of slavery which can be every bit as soul-crushing as the alternatives they are striving to protect against.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: J.R.R. Tolkien
« on: September 11, 2012, 09:02:11 PM »
See, now you're making me think (and I'm on day one of giving up the ciggies, so it hurts!). It was a long time ago...

Okay, pure subjectivity incoming

I always got the impression with Tolkien's females that they can I put it? Rather limp in a lot of ways (with the exception of Eowyn and Rosie). And even if they weren't limp, they...It was all about how they looked so nice, with white limbs, all delicate and elfy and... etc. Luthien was pretty much defined by, and remembered for, loving some bloke.

This perception (and it could just be me, because we all see things differently) was somewhat heightened/reinforced when I read this (by JRRT himself, with regard to Luthien and Beren). Bolding mine.

It is Beren the outlawed mortal who succeeds (with the help of Lúthien, a mere maiden even if an elf of royalty) where all the armies and warriors have failed: he penetrates the stronghold of the Enemy and wrests one of the Silmarilli from the Iron Crown.

For me, the emphasis was on Beren being the hero, and yes Luthien helped him was all about HIM, how she loved HIM and so did this stuff. That part I've bolded...that comes through for me, subtly but unmistakeably. She may have done awesome stuff, but she was still 'just a mere woman'. It's a...tone? And yes, subjective as hell. But there, it bugs me. I don't expect it to bug anyone else, and I wouldn't hold JRRT up as anything other than a product of his time. 

I'm probably not being very articulate here (need nicotine dammit!) and JRRT's works have certainly been an influence on me, and I love them, but that doesn't preclude them being problematic for me at times. At other times, ofc, I just say what they hey and enjoy reading them.

Oh, I agree. The tone is most definitely there. There are certainly deficiencies in his stories, as well as in his characterization, both female and male. Product of his time? Captive to what he felt might be accepted by the public? I really don't know. Doesn't excuse it perhaps, but it lends insight.

What happens when you write and were inspired by all the tales you heard when you were a little boy? When you're used to the knight in shining armor slaying the dragon and rescuing the princess? That's a little boy's dream. (A secretly most men's too.)

Honestly, sometimes I think (and I'm sure this will piss somebody off) there's an element of chivalry involved in the writing. I think there are some men from those days who felt that women should be honored and protected—put up on a pedestal as it were and preserved as much as possible from the blighted world. Sometimes this gets interpreted as "keep those womenfolk locked up for their own good" when that's not the intent. When you consider that Tolkien referred to his wife as his Lúthien, and you read how profound was his love for her, it gives you a different perspective on how he might have written Lúthien the way he did. Just a guess.

And personally, I don't think a character, male or female, has to be one of action (as in heroic action, fighting battles, etc.) to be a strong character. Maybe it's my own perception, but a character like Galadriel always seemed imposing to me. Her words of wisdom were always able to turn male conversation in the direction she desired. Her husband Celeborn was sometimes a bit hot-headed and would make rash pronouncements, only to have Galadriel say a few words and bring him back to level-headed reality. I always had the sense that while Celeborn was the lord of Lothlorien, it was Galadriel who was really running the show. She had wisdom far beyond just about every other character. Again, that's my personal perception.

Rather than rail against someone like Tolkien for his perceived deficiencies, perhaps we should look at those very deficiencies and ask ourselves how we can do better. That's not excusing the problem, but it is acknowledging that guys like him are dead and gone, and their writing is part of our shared literary past. Now it's our responsibility to create the world we ourselves hope for.

I'll admit, in one of my novels I'm working on, one of the main characters is a teenaged girl, and I struggle to portray her honestly. I struggle to make sure she is placed in peril without coming across as a constant victim unable to fight for herself. I need to put her in situations where she's in real danger, some of which she can escape from due to her own resourcefulness, but some where escape is impossible apart from the aid of her friends and those who love her. Doing authentically is a challenge, but a challenge I choose to accept.

Now I'm just rambling...

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: J.R.R. Tolkien
« on: September 11, 2012, 05:30:58 PM »

Any particular examples that spring to mind for you as strong? (Especially as it's been a while since I read it). I promise not to bite you.

Well, while admittedly not strong enough for some, Lúthien immediately comes to mind. She did storm Morgoth's lair with Beren, and used her magic to make him fall asleep.

And while she may not have been as featured as her male counterparts, Galadriel was prominent in the Noldor's rebellion, and was the "only female to stand tall in those days."

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: J.R.R. Tolkien
« on: September 11, 2012, 04:09:23 PM »
On Tolkien...

I've never actually read the Silmarillion. Has anyone else? I've heard from some people that it is incredibly dull and others that it is incredibly exciting. Help me out...

I've read it several times. It is, in fact, my personal favorite of Tolkien's works. It's understandably not for everyone.

Sheesh, I'm the guy who sat down once and read all of William Durant's 11 volume The Story of Civilization and enjoyed it as much as many novels I've read.

To each his own.

As a side note, I felt like the female characters in The Silmarillion were stronger, but that's the opinion of a stereotypical white male. :P

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: J.R.R. Tolkien
« on: September 09, 2012, 07:31:04 PM »
I don't think anyone's disagreeing that Tolkien is vastly influential.

It is, as you point out, a matter of whether or not he's still enjoyable! And, judging by this thread - opinions differ on that, and even Tolkien agrees with it.

Yep, and that's really the point my long-winded post was meant to make. It's like music in a lot of way. You like what you like, and don't like what you don't. That's ok, and everyone else would do well to be ok with it too.

That's the true beauty of a forum like this, a place where can all share our opinions. I'm thankful not everyone likes what I like and were not influenced by the same things. Ugh, how boring would literature turn out then?

Small Press & Self-Published / Re: Any Wattpad users here?
« on: September 09, 2012, 04:25:24 AM »
Lol, I guess not. :P

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Re: J.R.R. Tolkien
« on: September 09, 2012, 04:24:34 AM »
I watched this discussion with curiosity and a bit of anger as it happened the other day. Don't worry, no flames coming, just a bit of perspective.

Why is Tolkien revered? Well, because there are some of us who had their imaginations captured at the right place at the right time. For those, like Seven, who don't like or appreciate his work, that's ok. There are several authors who inspired me or caught my imagination who some folks consider hack writers. That's ok too. What's important is somehow, someway, their storytelling came alive in my mind and fired my imagination, and that's what most important.

Coincidentally, I started re-reading Lord of the Rings earlier this week, and I found something pertinent to this discussion from Tolkien himself. It's from the Foreword he wrote for the Ballentine paperback re-issue of the trilogy, and if you'll indulge me, I'd like to share a paragraph with you.

"The Lord of the Rings has been read by many people since it finally appeared in print ten years ago; and I should like to say something here with reference to the many opinions or guesses that I have received or have read concerning the motives and meaning of the tale. The prime motive was the desire of a tale-teller to try his hand at a really long story that would hold the attention of readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them. As a guide I had only my own feelings for what is appealing or moving, and for many the guide was inevitably often at fault. Some who have read the book, or at any rate have revived it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer. But even from the point of view of many who have enjoyed my story there is much that fails to please. It is perhaps not possible in a long tale to please everybody at all points, or to displease everybody at the same points; for I find from the letters that I have received that the passages or chapters that are to some a blemish are all by others specially approved. The most critical reader of all, myself, now finds many defects, minor and major, but being fortunately under no obligation either to review the book or to write it again, he will pass over these in silence, except one that has been noted by others: the book is too short."

One further passage, if you please:

"I hope that those who have read The Lord of the Rings with pleasure will not think me ungrateful: to please readers was my main object, and to be assured of this has been a great reward."

Whatever people think about him, he accomplished what he set out to do with his stories. And like him or not, we're still talking about him. That, my friends, is influence.

Thanks for indulging me. :)

Small Press & Self-Published / Any Wattpad users here?
« on: September 07, 2012, 05:39:59 PM »
This is something of a shameless plug, but I was wondering if there were any other Wattpad users around.

I'm today's featured author, and I'd love some feedback if you've got the time. If you're a Wattpad author or reader or both, let's connect over there. You fan me, I'll fan you. :P

Here's my featured work: Behind the Hidden Places

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