Monday, January 27, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 5 -- Implements of Sacrifice

by anonymous

Started: Jan. 21
Finished: Jan. 27

Notes: This fantasy novel has not been published as of yet. A friend of mine recently finished the novel and was asking some advice of me when I offered to take a look at it for him. Which is no small part why I'm reading it. I don't normally do this, read beginning novelists' work before publication, mainly because I don't have the time for it, but this time I made an exception as I'm interested to see what my friend does with his writing. I've kept his name anonymous for the time being, but once he publishes I will likely come back and place his name above, as well as include a cover shot.

Mini review: As can be expected from a first time novelist, this one's rough around the edges, but there is a solid story here, I believe, and quite interesting characters. In fact, the characters were the strongest element here, in my opinion.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 4 -- The Revenant Pact: Chronicles of Drasule, Book I

by Megan R. Miller

Started: Jan. 15
Finished: Jan. 21

Notes: I'm not only excited to be reading a new author, but in this case I'm also honored because this book is dedicated to ... me! No, I didn't edit the book or beta read it, but I did offer some few words of advice (and hope, I think) to the author over the last year or so. I first met Megan more than a decade ago when she was quite young, as I worked with her mother who was a photographer; when Megan found out I was writing fantasy, she contacted me again and we've sporadically kept in touch since. So, yeah, I'm really looking forward to this one.

Mini review: There's a little roughness here, as is the case with nearly all first-time novelists, but the story is quite strong, the characters interesting, and the world itself is quite awesome. The walled city of Drasule is run by a variety of noble houses, including one royal house, with the nobles and royals having psionic abilities, each house specializing in one power or other. There is also a giant tree at the heart of the city, and this tree appears to keep the very civilization alive by holding back the darkness of the world outside the city's walls, a world that seems almost post-apocalyptic, perhaps even Lovecraftian. A special order of priests and priestesses are in charge of maintaining the emotional harmony of the tree and the citizens, which affect one another, and seemingly any major threat to the tree's harmony would be a threat to everyone. Within all this is tons of intrigue as the various houses and assassins and thieves and the like work against one another. And all that's just background material. I've not even touched upon the actual story. I truly love this world, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 3 -- Magic of Thieves: Legends of Dimmingwood, Book I

by C. Greenwood

Started: Jan. 12
Finished: Jan. 15

Notes: For far too long have I been putting off my fantasy readings, so now is the time to correct that. I'm not planning to read nothing but fantasy, but I probably will for the next half dozen or so of my reads, and then I'll work in quite a bit of fantasy for at least the rest of the year. I was burnt out on the genre a couple of years ago, having just finished reading the 10-book series by Erikson and having spent a good amount of time writing several epic fantasy works, but now I'm ready for some more. I decided to begin with this particular author because I've noticed her works up and down the Amazon rankings during the last year and figured she must be doing something right. Plus, I always like discovering new authors.

Mini review: This was a damn fine story. The first chapter I found a bit jarring, but it was a jarring situation the main character found herself in, so it seemed appropriate, and often enough I feel out of my element when starting a new book. By the second chapter the story entered a flow that pretty much followed through the rest of the work, and what a flow it was. Those seeking philosophical fantasy akin to Steven Erikson or literary fantasy like that of Mervyn Peake might want to look elsewhere, but those who enjoy a romping good adventure story similar in style to Bob Salvatore or Weis and Hickman will find plenty here to love. The writing is solid without being overly complex, the characters are interesting, the editing is one of the best I've seen in an indie work, and the plot itself is entertaining. I'm looking forward to further books in the series.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 2 -- The Murder of King Tut

by James Patterson and Martin Dugard

Started: Jan. 9
Finished: Jan. 12

Notes: I'm a little skeptical of this supposed non-fiction book, in no small part because I'm no fan of Patterson's prose, but I'm also interested enough in the subject matter to want to give it a go. Was King Tut murdered?  I'd never really given it any thought until this book was published a few years ago, but I'll read it and come to my own conclusions.

Mini review: As I feared, Patterson's writing turned me off here. It's such a simplistic style, almost "Dick and Jane" material, that I found it nearly insulting. Perhaps worse than that were the speculative conclusions about King Tut's death. Was Tut murdered? Hell if I know. This book jumps to a number of conclusions, and none of them are backed up by anything other than what is written on its pages. There's not even a bibliogrpahy or index. No footnotes or anything, nothing pointing to where information was gleaned. There's no way this book can be considered serious scholarship from a historical point of view. At least it was easy to read, thus not taking up a lot of time, and perhaps it drew a few people into being interested in the actual history.

It's getting loooong over here

My current work in progress, the fantasy novel The Company of Seven, passed the 93,000 word mark a few hours ago, and there is no end in sight. My original thinking was that this novel would be about 160,000 words, but now I'm wondering if it won't end up being more like 180,000.

But that's all first draft material. Who knows? Upon re-read, I might end up chopping out a bunch of stuff. Still, I can't imaging cutting away more than a few thousand words, but time will tell.

Either way, this will be the longest single work I've written.

That thought is sort of exhilarating, but in no small part because I'm having fun writing this novel, my first novel in more than a year and my first Kron Darkbow novel in two years.

Initially I had wanted to publish this novel in December in time for Christmas. Then I got to thinking that maybe it would be February. Now? Truth be told, it's likely going to be Spring before this one is ready.

See, I've still got a bunch of writing to do. Then a few reads and re-reads and my own editing to. And I've got beta readers to line up, and one or two editors. Of course then comes the cover that needs to be done, and the blurb copy, the formatting for digital and for print, etc.

And that's not all. No, sir. The Company of Seven is a stand alone novel, but it does tie in with events and characters from my last two Darkbow novels, Ghosts of the Asylum and Demon Chains. So, I'm planning on making those three books into a trilogy, which means I'll have to go back and do some work on those earlier two books, including new covers and formatting.

Since I would like to release The Company of Seven at the same time I release the new versions of Ghosts of the Asylum and Demon Chains, allowing all three books to be tied together with trilogy labeling on their covers, I have a fair amount of work to do there. And I don't even have print versions yet of Ghosts of the Asylum and Demon Chains (I've been putting that off because I knew this whole trilogy thing was coming up).

Yikes! That seems like an awful lot of work. And I've a looooong way to go.

But I'm going to do it. Even if it means I can't publish The Company of Seven until Summer, I am going to get through all this.

Also, I think about some of the better known modern epic fantasy writers, such as George Martin and Steven Erikson. Those guys are penning novels 300,000 words in length and longer.


There was a time not so long ago when I couldn't have imagined penning something so lengthy, though now I can. It would just take me at least a full year to write that first draft, maybe longer. Honestly, looking back, I couldn't have imagined writing something longer than 100,000 words, but I've broken that already with a few books.

The point of this post? Just that I'm busy, and that I hope to have some new work out this year. Even if it's just this one novel, at least it'll be something.

However, there are a few already finished works waiting in the wings for final approval by traditional editors and publishers, so maybe some of that material will be published later this year.

As always, time will tell.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 1 -- The Sicilian

by Mario Puzo

Started: January 1
Finished: January 9

Notes: I thoroughly enjoyed some Puzo reading not so long ago, so I thought I'd drop in on another of his works. This one has connections with The Godfather, apparently containing events involving Michael Corleone during his stay in Siciliy. I love Puzo's writing, especially in his later books, and I'm always interested in The Godfather, so this should be interesting.

Mini review: As always, Puzo does not disappoint. The writing here is top notch, and what's more interesting is that it's all based upon history involving the bandit Salvatore Giuliano who ran rampant in Sicily in the 1940s. If not for the inclusion of Michael Corleone and a few other familiar characters from The Godfather, this novel could have been historical fiction. On top of that, it seems from my recent historical studies that the more romantic and outlandish elements of this tale were actually toned down by Puzo, as the truth was much more intriguing. What I found most useful here, besides the great writing and the great story, was that it gave me all kinds of ideas for my own fiction writing, even allowing me to flesh out and/or reconsider a few future tales I'd been thinking over.