Tagfantasy

Atlantis: TVC Winter Wonderland Sale!

| Volume 1: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00V0A3N44 | Volume 2: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01835JT32 | Volume 3: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077TSBBYL |

This sale runs all through the weekend of 12/15/2017. Remember, it’s the holidays and books make great gifts!

[Even if they’re not my books. Spread the book love! ]

Atlantis: TVC Volume 3: Complete!

Finally, I’ve completed volume 3!

I know it took longer than expected due to health issues and my surprise baby, but man does it feel good to finally have it done! As of the first draft it has twenty-six chapters, and is roughly one-hundred and four-thousand words long. This will change as editing starts and beta feedback is received, but so far that makes it almost twenty-thousand words longer than volume 1–and I actually ended it early. That’s right, in the timeline it was slated to go on for at least five more chapters but the thing was getting massive. I scaled back, folded the remaining events into volume 4 [Yes, there is a volume 4 planned!] and ended it in what I felt was a good spot.

In the beginning there wasn’t really a plan for a number of volumes. I completely “pantsed” my first book, [This is a valid writing term, I swear.] deciding to just write and see where it went. I thought maybe it would be a standalone, but by the time I reached the end of volume 1 I realized there was a lot more story left and drew up a more concrete timeline of events. Together, the first three books deal with Achine’s rise to the throne and make a decent trilogy. I didn’t plan it that way, it was just a happy accident.

We are going to be moving soon, so this couldn’t have come at a better time. I have hopes that this year I might be able to participate in NaNoWriMo for the first time ever because I have plans for a new series–one radically different from the fantasy feel of the Atlantis books–and I’m hoping to put out volume 1 of it as a NaNo effort. From there I am hoping to alternate between the two series, possibly working on them in tandem at some points. Until then I am going to take a break from writing [except for edits] because there are plans to release physical versions of the first three Atlantis books, which I am really excited about! But it is going to take some time and work to get them revised and properly formatted for print.

As of this posting the digital version of Atlantis: TVC volume 3 should be released this Winter, while the print editions for all three books will be available closer to Spring 2018. [This is subject to change without notice.]

Thanks-Give-Away Promotion

To say thank you to my readers, all my available works are free over the Thanksgiving holiday. That’s right–free! If you’ve been waiting to pick up volume #2 of the Atlantis: TVC series, or to try one of my other stories, now is the time! Want something to curl up with while you snack on leftovers? This deal is for you!

Have a friend you think may be interested in one of the stories listed above? Feel free to share this promotion! It’s for ALL my readers–current and future.

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Thank you all for your support. I am truly thankful for each and every one of you.

[Links to the listed e-books can be found on the Shop page in the header, or by clicking on the image above.]

Kill Your Darlings

Nope. I’m not going to trot out the same tired advice to trim word count by slashing plot and/or removing characters. I’m going to talk about literarily killing your characters. [Ha! Puns.]

Since my long-running series is fantasy-based, this will all be from the perspective of a fantasy setting. However, that shouldn’t stop you from applying what you learn here to a realistic world. [Provided it’s not a simple case of the magic-user used magic and the victim totally died, because that’s difficult to pull off when magic doesn’t exist in your world. You’re smart–you’ll know how to glean what you need from this.]

We could go on for hours about swords, instant-death spells, and arson; but those are pretty straightforward ways to kill or incapacitate someone. We’re going to go into the realm of cloak, dagger, and intrigue. That’s right–poison.

Poison is the perfect medium! Need a long, drawn out death? Poison. Need something that kills near-instantly? Also poison. Need something difficult to detect, or that mimics natural causes? Poison can do that. Need a reason to send your characters on a quest where they set aside their differences and come together in order to find an antidote? Poison’s got your number.

And as an added bonus, not only can it do all those things, but it’s discreetly administered. Aside from becoming liquid insurance for an assassin’s blade, it can take the form of an ingredient in a sumptuous meal or delicious tea. It could even be released into the air via deadly but wonderfully-perfumed incense. Poison can be everywhere. Not only that, but most poison is derived from natural sources.

That’s right! There is so much out there that can kill someone without you needing to make anything up. If you want to lean hard into the fantasy setting, you could devise any number of fantastic plants or venom that could be made into a plot point. But if you’re like me and want a touch of realism in your stories, you just need to look at things that are common in our world.

My favorite example is rhododendron ponticum. It’s a beautiful, ornamental shrub common to many parts of the globe. In fact, it’s called Common Rhododendron. Look at this thing. So innocuous.

It’s beautiful for something that will cause nausea, vomiting, breathing difficulty, and heart failure if you consume any part of it. But the best thing about it is that honey made from its pollen is so toxic, even the bees that make and consume it are poisoned. In fact, jars of this honey strategically placed in a village took down almost an entire army of Roman soldiers in 401 BC. Though, to be fair, they were left in 67 BC to take down a different invading army. As a plot device, readers and writers alike would call that deus ex machina BS. [But it’s history!]

The lovely thing is that honey is so innocent. In fantasy it’s often used as a sweetener in place of sugar, and even in our world it is common to drizzle it on pancakes, over oatmeal, in yogurt, or spread it on toast. No one would suspect a thing.

Delicious agony…

And that’s only one of the things that you can use. There are agents out there that come straight from the ground itself that can kill. Want to venture into the land of slightly-absurd-but-still effective poisons? Look no further than diamond dust.

Luxurious agony!

Yes, seriously. Though it’s not a poison on its own, when ingested the shards will embed themselves in the organs of the victim, causing infection–which leads to sepsis–and death. It’s a slow process, taking several months to work. It is an older method of assassination used most frequently during the Renaissance. It wouldn’t work in a modern setting due to the advanced medical technology we have nowadays.

The poison a character chooses can say a lot about them. What is more fantastic and decadent than a monarch using diamonds to take out the ruler of a kingdom they are at war with?

Another benefit of poisons: they don’t have to kill. In fact, sometimes there is more to be gained in incapacitating someone. Have a scheming advisor that wants power? Killing the king would make the throne go to the next in line. But what if the king becomes too ill to rule? The advisor might become regent until the king recovers… [Spoiler alert: Unless a protagonist steps in, the king will remain “ill” indefinitely.]

You can use poison to enhance tension as well. Finding an antidote can take time your heroes don’t have, and making or procuring it can be difficult on top of that. This is a good way to divide a large group, bring characters together, or send them off to another part of your world. Want a cure to be even harder to obtain? Combine your poisons. Not good enough? Mix real world toxins with ones you invent. The only limit is your imagination and how dead or incapacitated you want your characters to be.

Armed with this knowledge you can now go out there and not just poison your darlings, but do it catastrophically!

P.S: Here is a handy list of poisonous plants to get you started. Have fun!

 

 

The Glottal Stop [AKA: The Weird Apostrophe in That Word]

What do you call the apostrophe that appears in the middle of a word? Not one indicating possession, but one that is stuck in something for a reason that only seems discernible to the person who did it.

They’re called glottal stops, and not only do they appear in the names of real people, but they are common enough in fantasy writing to be considered a trope.

Now, full disclosure here–I use them in my writing. Specifically in my Atlantis: The Visionary Continent series. Why? To separate Native Atlantian [what the original Atlantians spoke] from Modern Atlantian, which is infused with all kinds of junk from other languages. [Notably Latin; to which I say… big surprise.] If you come across a glottal stop in my series then you know it’s an old word.

In American English they’re pronounced like a brief, stuttered pause–which is your vocal cords momentarily closing. This elongates the sound of the letter before the pause, often enough to overtake the letter after it. [As in “Mountain” {mount’in} or “Button” {butt’n}.] Most works of fantasy or sci-fi use them this way, though sometimes the rules of a specific series [or author] treat them as if they have their own sound–which is valid and happens in other real world languages as well. I treat them accordingly for Atlantian, which makes the name “I’nass” sound like ee-nass rather than eh-nass. Contrasting that is the other “I” name in my books, Idane, which has no glottal stop and is pronounced eh-dah-nay. [Allophones are fun, right?]

Not many people know what they’re called, and that they serve a purpose in language. More often than not they are filed under “Made-Up Fantasy and Sci-Fi BS“, or “Trying Too Hard to Be Creative” and left there to fester. Unfortunately this leads to the glottal stop getting a bad rap. I’ve heard everything from “lazy writers use them as a crutch to make names sound ‘exotic’,” to “If I see them in anything I’m reading, I will literally throw the book across the room and stop reading it.” Ouch, right? Why the visceral reaction? [Also, do those people throw their e-readers, or do they just delete the book in a rage? I imagine that is as anti-climatic as pressing the “End Call” button really hard on your phone’s screen.]

Though better than a broken e-reader every few books.

One guess would be overuse, despite the fact that recent negativity has made them uncommon again. I can’t figure out why a very vocal segment of readers respond to them the way they do. My first suspicion is that it’s become trendy to hate it. It happens to a lot of books and writing styles–if anything has ever been popular at one point, it will give rise to a counterculture that hates it simply for the sake of not wanting to follow the trend of enjoying it. [That was a mouthful, wasn’t it?]

Of course, overuse and misuse are both terrible things… but when a large group of people can’t even tolerate the thought of one, it raises questions. And no group is more polarized about it than other writers–you run the gamut of them thinking the glottal stop is whimsical, to acting like wanting to include one in your work constitutes some kind of war crime.

The battles are fierce, and not as verbose as you’d think.

It’s an innocent bit of punctuation! It has its time, and place. It’s like the Oxford Comma’s lesser known cousin; becoming more and more reviled as the years pass. Why all the hate for a tiny little mark between letters?

P.S: I am Pro-Oxford Comma.

P.S.S: I will officially declare my love of the super-versatile em dash. It is my favorite bit of punctuation, and has been ever since I can remember. [Even before I knew what it was officially called.] heart

End of Summer Sale!

That’s right! Volumes #1 and #2 are on sale this weekend! You can pick up Volume #1The Visionary Continent for FREE, and Volume #2Awakening is only 99¢. Grab them before summer is over! [They’re great for reading by the pool, or so I’m told…]

If you’re looking for a shorter read, my novelette Simple Words is free this weekend as well!

Writing, Tropes, and Losing Yourself in the Details

I was tempted to call this post “Tropey Tropey Trope Tropes”, because this is the state of mind I am in right now.

In one of the writing forums I frequent, tropes in fantasy novels came up for discussion. The main post asked what we writers [as readers] thought the genre was lacking, and what we would like to see in the future. Most writers used the opportunity to list what tropes they felt were tired and worn out, but some of them listed things they would like to see. The interesting part for me was that before this post, I didn’t realize how many tropes my Atlantis: TVC series subverts or deconstructs. Of course, there are many that it plays true to; after all, tropes are tropes because they’re common, and they’re common because they work. [See, this is why I aimed for that title, because the word “trope” is going to come up. A lot. It’s going to look strange on the screen after a while, and by the end of this article it will become a mass of letters that not only will seem spelled wrong, but lack meaning. Also, that’s known as semantic satiation. Or you can be fancy and call it jamais vu.]

Fun and educational!
This post is fun and educational!

Obligatory TV Tropes Warning: I’m totally going to link to TV Tropes beyond this point. You will lose hours, possibly days by following these links. Stay strong!

Okay, now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let me start by saying this–and reinforcing an earlier point–tropes are not inherently bad. Tropes are tools. [See what I did there?] Like I said, I was surprised by how many tropes I unconsciously subverted. I didn’t intend to do this; the story just happened to take me in this direction. I wrote a post a while back and in it I stated how after I began taking my writing seriously, I became disenchanted with all media because I spent so much time dissecting it, trying to predict where the story would go. It became so bad that I stopped enjoying it. I had to take a giant step back and learn to turn my inner writer off.

[Note: At this point in the article, I went to look something up and wasted three hours on TV Tropes without realizing it. Let that be an additional warning for you, in case you were not taking my previous one seriously.]

I ended up having to take a long break from everything to do with writing–writing forums, writing guides, TV Tropes, actual television… and yes, writing. I was taking a trip to visit my parents for a few weeks, so I deliberately left my laptop at home. The only thing I’d have access to would be the tactics, and rhythm games I had on my 3DS, and the games I had on my phone. [Mostly puzzle games, like Sailor Moon Drops.] And of course, Reality TV, because that’s what my parents enjoy. I can easily tune that out though, so that last one wasn’t a big deal.

It worked. I came back fully reset and not only able to enjoy the things I used to love, but having a better idea of how not to fall into that cynical mindset again. Surprisingly, it helped me to see my own book in a new light, and I ended up tearing down a lot of the future events I had planned and reconstructing them from the ground up. I am really pleased with the direction I’m moving in now, and I feel my writing is stronger for it.

Oddly enough, this is what is allowing me to self-analyze my own work and see what I have done. Here are some of the tropes I have identified in Atlantis: TVC:

Note: I tried to not spoil anything crucial to the plot.

    • A Birthday, Not a Break – Achine. [I feel bad for her. It just makes everything happening at the time worse.]
    • Calling Your Attacks – This was one of my favorites. Subverted by Eruni in volume #2, then deconstructed by Varanis in the same scene.
    • Mana Drain – Played mostly straight.
    • Mythopoeia – True to trope. Atlantian gods, goddesses, and mythos are all figments of my own imagination and not based on anything in reality. [Excepting Atlantis itself, which was a myth in its own right, but nothing about my version and the common version match.]
    • Urban Fantasy – Slightly subverted, and partially deconstructed. Though in the story Atlantis exists in its own bubble in our times, Davidian’s explorations into “modern” society have inspired advancements in Atlantian science and technology–the most notable of those being the mana potion, which was already mentioned as being something he drove development of in volume #2. [Later in the series his exact inspiration will be revealed, but you can probably guess what it was if you think about it.]

There were more I wanted to mention, but I would be spoiling major plot points from the current and future volumes.

When I originally created the Atlantis: TVC series eighteen years ago, I had no idea what a trope was. When I was re-tooling it two years ago [By the way, today marks the two-year anniversary of when I started writing volume #1! Time sure flies, huh?] I knew of tropes, but didn’t really know what they were in detail. I can’t imagine what it would have been like trying to write with a negative view of tropes stuck in my head! If I listened to everything I read, I may have never gotten past my notes…

At some point you’re going to have someone criticize your work. You’re going to read somewhere that writers who don’t go out of their way to subvert tropes shouldn’t be writing at all because everything has been done already. When you do come across this, put it out of your mind. Just because a formula is the same doesn’t mean it’s going to be written the exact same way. Every story is different, despite sharing tropes. That’s why people have favorite types of stories–because usually they share tropes! So when you encounter that, remember: only you can write your story.

P.S: Some of my personal favorite tropes are: Freaky Friday, Relationship Upgrade, Babies Ever After, Rescue Reversal, Firting Under Fire, Heroic B.S.O.D., Let’s Get Dangerous, Battle Couple, and Hope Springs Eternal. What are some of yours?

Shower Thoughts

I was in the shower and as I was shampooing my hair I found my thoughts drifting toward a strange subject–the fertility of long-lived species.

Well, specifically, it was elves. High elves, the original nigh-if-not-actually-immortal haughty bastards of fantasy. They live for a long time, and typically are portrayed as having small populations. Stories with these races in the world are often set long past their heyday, and it makes sense for a long-lived population in decline to be few in number. But, what if it was because of something else, like fertility?

In humans, females are fertile for twenty-four to forty-eight hours each month, and roughly from the ages of twelve to fifty. Males are fertile from the age of twelve until they die, but the quality of the offspring can suffer as they age. Animals are usually “in heat” once or twice a year, but for up to two weeks at a time. This starts around the age of six months and lasts until they until they die. [They also have shorter pregnancy cycles than humans.]

Don’t even get me started on Pokemon.

If elves [or any other long-lived race] are portrayed as similar enough to humans, then do their females go through a menopause? If so, since they have such long lifespans, when would it occur? Around the same time as a human female? That would make it fifty years old, which is usually interpreted as still being in childhood for these types. [Sometimes it’s literal–they still have a child’s body; or figuratively where they have an adult body but a child’s mind.] Under the assumption that the average age of death for elves is say, five-hundred–making their life-span five times as long as ours–then that means they don’t reach sexual maturity until they are sixty years of age. Still applying equivalent human time constraints, that would make them young adults. [About twenty-five years-old, which seems late for puberty now, doesn’t it?]

My main question is, when do they stop being fertile? Do they have a natural end to their fertility at a set age [At age two-hundred and fifty, if we’re still following humans.] or are they fertile until they die, like animals tend to be? If they’re continuously fertile, a small population makes sense if couples could wait to procreate because they never have the option not to–barring some factor like injury or infertility. This also means the number of children in the society at any given time would be low too.

On the other hand, if they had a set end to fertility I imagine a larger population since when you have a limited time to do something, you tend to start earlier rather than later. But they could start worrying about overpopulation, or some could choose to go child-free for various reasons–personal preference, available resources, etc. If enough of them start feeling this way, then the population will decline naturally as the elders die off. [This is happening in Japan right now.]

The only thing I can conclude is that a small population would be logical in either scenario, which doesn’t give me any answers. Of course, the author can write the elves [or other long-life race] however they want and absolutely none of this matters, but sometimes I like to take a good shower thought and examine all its facets under the light. In my Atlantis: TVC series, I have races with longer life spans than humans; most of them have small populations, and I can’t get into more than that because I would be entering spoiler territory. But this exercise makes me take a deeper look into my own races and characters–which is never a bad thing. In fact, it’s caused me to re-examine several future plot points and motivations. [In a good way!]

Sometimes shower thoughts are the best thoughts.

What do you feel causes authors to depict elves [and other fantasy races] as small societies? Do you feel it’s fertility related, or due to some other reason?

Atlantis: TVC Volume #2 is Now Available!

It’s here, it’s here! It’s release day!

I am absolutely floored that I got it done on time. I didn’t hit my original end of summer deadline, but I did make my fall one, and it feels good. I hope you all enjoy volume #2!

As for me, I’m taking the rest of the holiday season off to rest and spend extra time with my family, then start on volume #3 in the new year. I’ll still post here, so don’t worry about that!

I’m wondering if there is enough time left this month for me to kind of half-assedly participate in NaNoWriMo. [I keep swearing I’ll do it, but I never have time.] Maybe I can do it for real next year…

*coughs* Anyway, I wanted to say thank you all again for your support and patience. An author is nothing without readers, and I truly appreciate all of you. heart

atlantis_volume_2

[Volume two can be found here!]

Second Chances

One of the awesome parts of self-publishing is the ability to manage everything yourself. One of the horrible parts of it is the ability to manage everything yourself. So, you have to own any awful decisions you make.

The original cover of Atlantis: TVC volume #1 was a debacle. I originally made my artwork too small, and since it wasn’t vector it didn’t scale up well. I was in love with the concept of past and future Achine standing back to back and I didn’t want to let it go–nor did I want to start over from scratch. I compromised by scaling up the colors, and re-traced the lineart to be larger in Illustrator. The end result was what I launched the book with. It looked okay from far away, but close up… it was a mess.

When it came time to make the cover for the second volume, I tried to use the same template and the graphic designer part of me revolted. She threw up, then proceeded to mentally beat me until I learned what I had done wrong. I did learn, and I set out to redesign the cover template from the ground up. Once I finished my shiny new template I was forced to admit that the old concept for the first volume not only looked awful, but it was probably hurting sales, and needed to be changed.

Yesterday I rolled out the new cover in anticipation of the release of Atlantis: TVC volume #2 later this month. I have to say, I am really liking both the new template and the new image for the cover. It is leaps and bounds better than the old cover, and will hopefully give a boost to sales since volume two is coming out in a few weeks.

Speaking of which, here is the new volume #1 cover side-by-side with the cover for volume #2. Sneak peek!

If you missed it the first time around, volume #1 is available to read for free if you have a Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime account. If you don’t have either of those, it will be free for everyone for a limited time this weekend! [November 7th – 8th, 2015] You can find it here.