Tricksy website…

Not sure if this is something that is going to sort itself, but the website has prevented normal posting for the last couple of days. Slightly frustrating, but at least there are ways around these things!

Book 3 continues apace, and book 4 is planned out. Im even reliably informed that work has started on book 3’s cover! The race is on to see who finishes first!

Fighting distractions…

Curse you computer games and your gloriously addictive gameplay!

That felt better…. maybe just one more turn…

I’m sure I cant be the only one out there who finds one of the greatest challenges to writing anything is avoiding the myriad distractions that life puts in our way. Not just the normal ‘proper’ distractions – like work and children – but the vast array of alternate hobby related distractions out there. For myself these range from computer games, to painting and playing with my wargames collection, watching movies, or even just internet browsing. All of these demand my attention from the things I am ‘meant’ to be doing.

For example, I am presently about 100 pages away from completing the 1st major edit run of book 3 of the Fable series. However time is forever short, and as I do writing as a hobby and not a career (at least that’ll be the case until it starts offering to pay my mortgage), I find that these distractions often make a very tempting offer.

How do I fight these things off? How do I resist their ever tempting graphics, or the peculiar urge to play just one more turn? There isn’t one answer to that unfortunately. It comes down to mood,  but I find that I feel more inclined to write (and conversely to edit) when I feel inspired to do so. To clarify, I find that if I listen to a piece of music – be it sung or instrumental – it can get my mind working and my imagination takes over. I find that in listening to it, I can envisage it as part of a story and that gets the dominoes going. For example, just yesterday I was listening to Marilyn Mansons version of ‘This is Halloween’ from Nightmare before Christmas, and in so doing, the feel of the music, combined with a single line from the song, and a few wayward ideas Id had previously coalesced to create an entire plot for a new story. Sadly in this case nothing to do with the Fables series, but an entirely new story arc.

For the Fables series itself, I found that every so often I will be listening to the radio in the car, and a piece of music will come on which I find myself imagining playing as opening or closing credits. To clarify that a little, I used to watch a lot of anime when I was younger, and the classic 80s/early 90s cartoon series like Thundercats, all of which will often have very cool opening and closing credit sequences to music. Anime in particular tends to use pop music to open and close each episode. I found myself listening to Kelly Clarkeson’s ‘Stronger’ and immediately imagining it as part of an opening credits for an animated Herald’s Call. Odd, but it inspired me to fight past all the other hobby distractions and focus on writing.

I wonder how everyone else finds inspiration to keep going?

Some say…

‘Some say the prophecy moon’s reappearance heralds war, famine, or disaster. They are not wrong, but these things occur with or without the heavens to demand them. In my experience only one thing is revealed by the second moon, and that is more and deeper shadows.’

Archbishop Lazarus of Tyran 

One of the perils of self publishing

Herald’s Call hit createspace’s printers (or print on demand printing devices) late on the 5th – appearing for sale on Amazon very late that day. On the 6th I was breezing through the manuscript for usuable quotes and noticed something… odd;

 

‘Don’t 315isappoint me’

 

Pardon? I thought, checking it again to make sure I hadn’t gone mad. For some reason completely best known to itself Word had decided to replace a single letter with the page number.

 

June 7th. Resubmitted all files after minor correction to be reviewed again prior to be released… again… on amazon.

 

Whilst this incident is exceedingly annoying (and lucky it was noticed considering how tiny an error it was), it does highlight a major pitfall that anyone wanting to write has to be careful of. In this day and age, it seems likely that almost all authors and writers are using word processing programs of one description or another to do their work – be it Office Word or anything similar. The problem we need to be careful of, is what happens what we have saved our work in one format, and then change it to another in order to fit in with a publisher’s requirements (in my case – createspace).

As I had not come across this problem with the first time around, I naturally assumed that the only irritating thing reformatting would do would be to muck about the layout of chapters (I try to make it a habit to always start a new chapter on an odd page number). Easily noticed and corrected, I’d not had any problems. 

Second time around however highlighted just how important it is to double, triple and quadruple check everything, everytime you make even a minor change to the document. Word programs can do weird things – like decide two words need to be closer together than normal (giving the impression there isn’t a space between them) or decide that a word you have written is so utterly  wrong that it must be corrected whether you like it or not (I find this will come up particularly with British/US styles of the same word). Perhaps a word you wrote needs to be spaced out more, because your word processor god demands it? In this case, it randomly decided that the ‘d’ in ‘d’isappoint had to be replaced with the page number. Because.

 

For future reference to all of us who would like to write and publish. Always check after you change your document settings, lest you find yourselves 315isappointed.

Linking series visually

The arrival of the new book cover art for book 1 illustrates a helpful point for anyone writing a series of anything targeting male audiences.

I’ll admit it now.

Men like to collect.

At least, I have never met a man who didnt enjoy collecting something. Im sure many women are the same as well, but they tend to be better at hiding it.

Why is this important? Because when you’re writing a series, I believe its important to link this with the natural inclination to collect sets of things. Especially if these sets of things includes a set of factions or teams. Case in point, the previous artwork for Herald’s Call showed a damaged flag and the amulet, but not much else. It did a nice job of linking the art on the cover to the content of the book, but didn’t really leave any lasting impression. Herald’s Dawn, on the other hand, has a striking and memorable symbol. It still links the art to the book (the symbol is Lenateth’s emblem, the country in which most of the book is set), but it also allows the art to be linked to the series as a whole. How so? Well, the Fable of Griffon is estimated to be nine books in total. There are approximately 8 major factions throughout, each of which has an emblem of its own. By having the artwork for each book as one of these emblems, it does several things;

* It links the cover to the content

* It links the covers of the books together as a set of emblems, rather than just images

* It establishes some of the character of each faction, and helps appeal to that ‘tribal’ mentality that many collectors (men and women) have.

For other examples, look no further than Game of Thrones  or Harry Potter. How many fans of the books (even casually) would recognise a house symbol like Griffindor, or the Kraken of House Greyjoy?  My guess would be quite a few, and this extends to many things in nerdy culture such as Games workshop (symbols of the Chaos gods or space marine legions), star wars (which give how rare the appearance of the Empire/Rebel symbols are is quite surprising), and so on. Even outside of geek culture, symbols to denote teams in sports are just as common, even branding in clothing and other high street items (apple or Mcdonalds jump to mind for instance).

 

Though it matters less if your work is contained in one book, if you are aiming for a series I think it’s really important to set a clear image and to have these ‘collectible symbols’ that denote your work. It may be extreme optimism on my part to hope that these faction symbols will ever be recognised in the same way something like the Klingon empire’s symbol is, but just by having them I know that anyone who does read the books can have a clearer idea of the factions involved, the banners they rally under, and be reminded of them when they glimpse the symbol anywhere in the world. If you are writing a series, that has to be worth doing. 

Now that Tyran’s Raven and Lenateth’s Render are done, book three will be Nallaimor’s Black Lion. Cant wait to see the finished result!