On Getting Your Work Noticed (Just an Observation)

The end of an edit / re-write beckons; approximately 11.5% of some 248,000+ words left to ‘listen’ to and ponder over. Word is not happy with the weight I have placed upon it, pretending to lose the Dictionary additions, altering margins and spacing at random intervals, changing the Spellcheck to another language, failure to comprehend any literary constructs apart from business speak; the usual protests against an unprofessional artistic use of its programmes. BUT my trusty memory stick is ever at my side reminiscent of a faithful hound, lest Word pulls its most evil of tricks and crashes the whole work (which it dallied with back in July).

Thus this will conclude a work in three parts which will in total tally up 600,000 + words and has taken somewhere around six years to complete. A time in which edits, proof-reading and re-writes were all done within my own bubble. Thanks to Amazon Kindle and the free-book promotions I guess about 30 folk have Volumes I & II downloaded and a big thanks to those kind folk who also purchased copies (probably about 10 sales). If Volume III bumps the totals up by 33% that might be in line with my expectations (based on the previous performances). Sometimes those figures were disheartening but were unlikely to be the sole cause of the low mood, more symptomatic of a general lassitude, my late father used to refer to this as ‘being at the bottom of the wheel’. Outside of the central character of a mid-twentieth century swashbuckling or ‘happy’ musical film, who does not experience these times?

At this stage a writer facing such results will have reached a crossroads of some sort of another. Their outlook will be dependant on amount of the effort they have previously put into their marketing, networking, assistance, outside editing and beta-reading to name but a few of the preparation and research strategies available to them.

For some despite their very best and diligent efforts in these areas, their work still fails to gain recognition and a despondency sets in. This is very understandable. They may well decide writing is not for them and seek other paths. Whether this was the right choice or another promising writer was lost to the caprice of the market, we will never truly know; this sort of judgement belongs as it were ‘to the ages’.

For others there can be an analytical response, they shrug (after a period of flushing out the disappointment) and ‘go back to the drawing board’. Maybe, they think, the work needs some tweaking, nay complete overhauling. Records of advice: friendly, editorial and beta will be consulted, the work re-read (a painful process at times) and the writer returns to the battle carrying out that very delicate balancing act between others input and how they, the writer, wishes the narrative to go.

Some will decide, they do so love writing, but maybe they chose the wrong genre or wrong style of narrative. They start again, maybe using the very bare bones of the first work. This happened to me, twice. First attempt was grim, bloody (and also unreadable). The second attempt, set in the world of my current books at an earlier time was comedic satire, the volumes are now a source of folklore and history in the current works. This third is a mix, one might say real as can be found in Fantasy. 

I stood at the crossroads and looked back over my shoulder. Had I utilised any of those aforementioned strategies and resources in my journey. Yes, but due to the vagaries of life met with three sources whose advice or commentaries were not to my liking, and hereabouts there are some strong opinions retained on their competencies and ability to use perception, but we shall move on. I was glad of the observations and reviews by Audrey Driscoll https://audreydriscoll.com/  Berthold Gambrel  https://ruinedchapel.com/  and Rachael Ritchey https://rachaelritchey.com/ Each gave support, advice incisive and constructive and was taken on board in future efforts. Those who indulge in throwaway criticism would do well to stay away from me, their comments get analysed, critically…yes one is not supposed to indulge so in kicking back at a bad review…. I have nothing to lose, there would be ramifications for the throwaway reviewer.  

And there came the decision. If my work was currently not surfacing into public attention amongst the many thousands of efforts by unknown writers and my approach to all the strategies and resources was idiosyncratic, nay even shambolic and I was using the massively populated medium of Amazon Kindle, then what was there to lose in going my very own way? The books could be recorded for the public to find, there would be some gratification there, and at the same time all creativity, imagination and experimentation could be utilised just for their own collective sakes. Thus I gave vent to all manner of writing about varied circumstances, maybe some had no business being in a book seriously put together with sales in mind as a benefit; some might send editors and beta-readers into much head-shaking or saying ‘WHAT???’ Let it be so. I have enjoyed this veering off at tangents, exploring issues narrative, and it is all mine.

At this juncture let me say this is not an attempt to mask vanity with an air of assumed artistic superiority or the self-indulgent woeful stance of someone ‘suffering’ for their art. No this is just me, writing as I write, for a particular  purpose, and because the whole project will not let me be until it is concluded this way. To put it another way for those starting out or those having doubts:

Writing about my approach as one you should follow is not the reason. It would, quite frankly be irresponsible for me to contend this is worthwhile way of ‘doing things’. Not so, the above words are tailored to illustrate my position and current view of my own work. For advice on the matter of publishing, please, please seek out others. Going Complete Rogue is generally a bad idea. 

As long as the writing does not mask an agenda promoting Hate, Intolerance or questionable politics I wish everyone well with their writing. Published conventional or self-published, the writer’s efforts are to be celebrated, another record in the great endeavour writing, another statement ‘I was here’.

That you strive at your work with the conviction you have as much right as any to do is enough for me.

Meanwhile, nearly a year after the original narrative of Daughters of Circumstance. Arbiters of Consequences was completed, still working on the final ‘publicationable’ document? But of course.  

And Thus Is Completed The Narrative

Another Launch (Persistence Doesn’t Always Pay, But It’s Satisfying)

Musings on Writing (Another series). Important Reactions to Use on Suitable Occasions

Violence in Fiction

The intention of this post is not actually  about raising the profile of  my trilogy nor the last part of it; the project and its characters are merely the anchors for some thoughts on the use of Violence. Bear in mind this is written from a Fantasy perspective so if you are a reader/writer of other genres you may feel some of the points need tweaking. Feel free.

Fantasy, particularly ‘Heroic/Epic rely on large swathes of violence as there will be Wars and there will be Battles, which considering Human History has to be a given. War is part of us whether we like it or not. Somewhere along the line in response to the Opposition or Villains of the narrative the central character(s) will take up arms, several times in fact maybe leading up to one climatic battle, when all may be resolved or some part left unsettled for future tales in a series. Once upon a time in much popular fiction there was a simple sort of tale when Good vs Evil had Evil defeated and that was that, which was about as Fantasy as you can get! Folklore and Legends actually produce a more realistic overview with morally ambiguous central characters and tragic endings. These days there are many Fantasy series rather than stand alones, either one theme such as Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn

Mistborn

Or very complex interactions in which very few nice folk ever appear (and if they do, they don’t live long)

Game of Thrones

All are replete with unavoidable violence, the authors’ mirroring Human history and maybe their views on society in general. Joe Abercrombie being particularly adept at tales dealing with the very gritty, dirty end of violence in which sometimes ‘Fantasy’ hardly rears its head. Take for instance.

Best served cold

Being intentionally set in a land similar to 16th century Italy and nary  a rune or magic staff in sight- nor anyone you would wish to invite over for an evening. The central character (on the cover there) is not a nice person at all, but there again she does not have an idyllic back story.

As with many forms of fiction Fantasy is replete with its own set of genres and sub-genres and in the overwhelming number of works there will be violence of some sort, which since we are dealing with in some form either ambition and/or malignant forces, to repeat is bound to happen. How is this dealt with has many options and variations, from Good eventually triumphing to the very nihilistic someone walking off into the sunset in a devastated landscape, in which evil lurks under a rock (beloved of the writers of comic books/graphic novels and horror movies)- why people think the latter is entertainment is beyond me there are plenty of ‘live’ examples in the world we live in.

Anyway since the post has gradually, as it must, drift into my opinions of the subject this is where I use my own characters to ‘sound off’ (Actually I am fairly certain they do exist from in another part of the Universe and probably in another segment of Time, thus  they have a great influence on my own views)

Heroic Fantasy loves kingdoms and empires which since the setting is usually based in semi-classical or Middle Ages to Renaissance  settings is only natural. History indicates both could be quite robust in carrying on but were prone to their own shares of less than dynamic rulers who were propped up by systems or cliques of self-interest. Thus The Oakhostian. As an empire it is composed of princedoms, city-states and other set-ups. The current dynasty started off with one  fellow who seized power by being physically ruthless against other nobles and the the emperor, albeit in a surgical way, so no rampaging. His son was more inclined to secret police and espionage. Neither bothered the mass of the population as the mass of the population didn’t bother them and both sides saw that as fine. The third in line was more easy-going, affable, with a gift of selling himself and his ideas, and knowing which side to play and when, he also appreciated women a lot and died when as gamboling about with his latest squeeze he fell into a fish pond, knocked his head on an ornamental statue  and drowned. The fourth in line is too young for the job, nervous and doesn’t make decisions. There are of course vested interests big and small. What I did want to create was something far from perfect. An environment  in which an great deal of compromise, morally elastic actions and pragmatic activity went on, most folk just wanting to keep the whole thing going and get by as best they could, because there was always the danger of the Unknown breaking out (Either as demonic forces or the catastrophic ill-use of a nascent power known by various names, commonly Ethereal of Stommigheid)  Thus in some respects mirroring post WWII Europe in the latter half of the 20th Century.  In this empire Violence being contained in the local law and order problems, the spats between princes, princes and their own nobility and the occasional uprising by one group or another. These can be ugly, but since they occur ‘somewhere else’ most folk don’t worry about it. Which I feel is sadly ‘business as usual’ and fairly realistic.

Like most Fantasy series these days, you’ve got to be ready to produce something of maybe 200,000+ words per volume and have a whole world peopled by an entire cast. In fact this is half the fun of it. Since this is not my own web-site for dedicated readers in their thousands (ahhh, per chance to dream). I will only concentrate on how the three central characters individual approaches the question of violence.

In alphabetical order:

Arketre Beritt: From somewhere which might be similar to parts of the Southern USA. Brought up traditionally rural, in an attempt to find a direction joined The Devoteds (like Nuns) however with a tendency to be disruptive and a girl-chaser, by a long standing   agreement was sent to the LifeGuard. This was originally supposed to be the Imperial Guard but is now a state within a state. Initially she was trained as a medician (think medic).  To begin with she appears the nice, little fair headed, eager helper in a file (unit) but as the saga continues and she is exposed to persistent violence she reveals a more deadly side to her nature, killing without compunction, partly as she sees her duty but also in her own urge to deliver retribution. This is of concern to folk she is close to, lest they lose her to a pathway into nothing but violence. Her close friend Trelli is most adept at warning her and under her influence Arketre will display her healing skills and a rough diplomacy. She is something of one type of ever present soldier, conflicted between duty, rage and a softer side. Being in a steady relationship with Karlyn supplies another anchor. She is at her most stable with Karlyn and Trelli otherwise she is a person of War, although looking for a way out at any cost as long as Karlyn and Trelli are not harmed.

Karlyn: Originally with no memory of her past, only her recent life of being washed ashore from a ship. She lived in a city before venturing out on her own mission to strike down evil by burning down places at random. She, has an affinity with the inflammable, talks to and clambers above trees empathises with most creatures, has a very esoteric sense of smell and adept at finding and navigating pathways out of the conventional world into different realms. As the saga progresses it is found she is of another species of Humans, The Shadow Lords, was sent on a scouting task to the world of Humans but it transpires was ambushed by malevolent forces. Initially very scatty  and askew I was somewhat alarmed at how parallel she could be with Harley Quinn and together we had to work quite hard to ensure folk knew she was her own girl…Or actually two as at times her previous noble identity (Lady Maighdean Ardea )takes hold. She has no problems with killing, although being far swifter and precise than Arketre and only as a response to a direct threat, once the threat is dispatched, that is that. Fallen sweetly in love with Arketre and a friend verging on bossy big sister to Trelli. Her principal concern is staying with Arketre and not being drawn back to her family, quite at ease with punching her brother or cousins from trying to make her.

Trelli (aka Trelyvana Waywanderer): In Fantasy terms Trelli is not unusual, there she was an ordinary housemaid (later self-promoted to Housekeeper, if anyone asks her) when due to the son of the household’s research into ‘The Ethereal’ forces, she was inadvertently inculcated with its energies. Thus she can knock folk over, tackle those using Ethereal for evil purposes, learnt how to fly (in an eclectic way), travel between realms and sometimes influence minds. She was initially very suspicious of this, particularly as it manifested itself in red and blue aura about her fingers, causing her to wear thick gloves or tuck her hands under her armpits in an attempt to avoid folk noticing. Whereas she has come to terms with this circumstance, she is constantly aware of the potential corrosive effect on her character and thus to possibility of loosing destructive forces; she is therefore ever wary of any external or internal influence to lead her down such a path. Of the three she is therefore the least willing to launch into battle and even then is restrained, unless in direct conflict with the demonic forces (The Zerstorung), in which case as it is a fight to the finish she has no qualms. Due to the encouragement of her two friends she always has a tendency to resort lesser forms of physical violence when provoked. Through her friendship with Arketre and Karlyn and the mutual reliance which is fostered within the trio she is able to navigate a pathway through conventional experiences with little trouble.

It is my usual inclination when writing to give the malignant forces a very hard time, since if there is one thing I find irritating is the self-satisfied, monologuing, god-complex villain whose perfect plan is only foiled at the last chapter either by supreme sacrifice or some sudden burst of amazing whatever. My own narratives tend to be influenced by my reading of military histories and the fact there never is a perfect plan, that things go wrong and its the folk who make the least mistakes who usually come out on top. Thus no one in my books ever does things adroitly, it’s all about that catching of the other out and either then pummeling them, or skipping out of the way to come back for another shot. This normal lack of over-arching competence in situations allows the trio of central characters to escape some of the more excessive fates and experiences seen in other books (Note: As these books are self-published for their own sake the characters and I reckon we can between us get away with this as much as we please- look upon it as a sub-sub-genre Fantasy-Heroic-Feel Good )

Violence or the threat of it is ever prevalent and sometimes the central characters in particularly Arketre are the instigators. As stated earlier, the backdrop of the narrative is an empire under threat external or internal  so this is to be expected. Whether the use of violence is as necessary as the characters (or I) see it remains very much up to the perspective of the reader. Whether the central characters come across as likeable people is also left up to the reader to decide for themselves. Personally over the years (since about 2014) I have grown quite fond of them, seeing them as people of their time and circumstance, dealing with matters as they see fit and in general authority or those they work with or for having to catch up with the trio as individuals or in various combinations.

Therefore Violence exists. When using this in fiction the responsibility lies with the writer and to an extent the reader as to whether the levels, perceptions and morals of the usage are acceptable. Personally I use it a great deal, and dear reader don’t expect the villains ever to walk away from it.

Some Thoughts on Writing A Novel

Warning Foreword:

This post WILL contain some themes of a convolutedly, introspectively, esoteric nature concerning the relationship between a writer and their work. 

So sue me ….

I have this ‘thing’ about liking, nay enjoying re-writes and even more so since I discovered a rare useful device of Word’s ie ‘Review’ & ‘Read Aloud’

Microsoft Word Actually Being Useful in Self-Editing

The cause, may or may not be a combination of the following:

(1) Triumph in picking up all those niggling typos placed by Word’s evil cyber-pixies who wish to discourage all creative writing and would have a World Literature based on Business Projections and Internal Management Documents thus spoiling their plans. 

(2) Not wishing to be the cause of disharmony between me, some innocent beta-reader or helpful editor who inadvertently committed the unforgiveable crime of suggesting I change some part of the narrative or tweak a character. (It’s not that I am inflexible you understand, it’s just that……errr….. I’ll get back to you on that one in another post)

(3) Saving money on the aforementioned in ‘2’.

(4) Some latent vanity in the joy of reading/ listening to my own work. (Well someone has to admit to it!)

Those are the nuts and bolts ones. The actual fun comes in:

(A) The dismantling wholesale and replacing chunks of say 20,000 words with something better.

(B) Catching out the devious Continuity Fae who entrap a writer with whispers of enthusiasm to churn out the words and rush off to the next exciting bit and thus overlooking some leap of logic or several quite contradictory statements/actions undertaken by a major character. (This takes on cosmological proportions when you are writing a series of books).

(C) Actually listening to one or more of the characters who steps out of the narrative, stands in front of you waving an allegorical piece of paper and saying ‘Seriously?’

(D) And above all, the interactions of (A)- (C) which start some unexpected runaway process, dragging you off down a route you never even realised existed and effectively rattling loose most of the story into something else. The thrill of being part of such a situation overwhelms any concerns about having finishing a book by ‘such and such’ a date.

I don’t think my trilogy will ever sell many copies (so far most have been acquired ‘free’ through Amazon). Yet I do not care. The main characters are alive, and vibrantly taking control of the narrative, thus I owe it to them to make sure this is recorded.

The whole process is wonderfully chaotic and unpredictable. Everything else I intended to write or think about writing is on hold while this little universe settles down.

And I wouldn’t have it anyone other way.

Seriously folks… The Joys of Writing

 

 

Absolutely, Positively, Determinedly

A subjectively, intensely heartfelt post on the possibly very controversial subject of….

Idiot man 2ADVERBS….

Now, I come not to vehemently argue the potentially inflammatorily question ….

Freinds Romans Countrymen

Of whether to use or not to use ADVERBS 

For this is truly a matter which is potentially divisive to many a previously solid relationship of friends who are normally, happily sharing a love of writing

Girls reenacting Brexit

Nay. Let me not be the inadvertently ruinous cause of such distressingly unnecessary woes

 

 

Suffice it to say I will, fearlessly state, without fear or favour  that I will personally

Brexiteer

 

continue to use, doggedly, whenever I feel the use is beneficially and artistically useful to the narrative……

Adverbs

Simply because I like them

Glee

Thus having empathetically stated succinctly my case, I bid you with all due civility and affability.

A good day

Doffing a hat

Probably not the most interesting blog post on WP…but what the heck!

Warning:

Just about a book I’m writing

So the first draft…..well you know how that goes…..Blaah!

Second draft, it’s the working one!

cartoon-boy-doing-a-happy-dance-by-toonaday-6279

I am ridiculously cool with it!!

Working title: ‘Daughters of the Hard Road’….. not really what I was looking for.

Revised to ‘Daughters of Circumstances. Arbiters of Consequences’

Happy

(Volume 3 -or III- and conclusion of  ‘The Precipice Dominions’ )

The Precipice Dominions

Of Patchwork Warriors

Our Skirmishers of Lace, Steel and Fire

Now to check for spulling, syntax and other stuff.

Just had to post this up….. writers will understand.

Ah well…. off to the self-editing…..

 

Wives and lover husband coming home

When ‘The Book’ Ensnares You. (A sort of an apology)

Well there I was starting the first re-write

Victorian writer

And naturally as is the way of things

Overreacting

found it wanting.

Learning to Live with ‘The First Draft’ and its Consequences.

So after the usual crisis of identity and the attendant ‘What Is the Point of It All’ 

Existential crisis

The entire work was dismantled

 

Demolished

And started again

 

 

 

(I love a re-write; the plots are always so much better)

Anyway, this is an apology for tardiness in reading posts, replying and in general being Word Press Sociable

The Book has me in its grasp….

 

 

 

Musings on Writing- You Should Always…. 2

You should always…

Upon receiving a rejection maintain a dignified air 

Vintage engraving of a victorian era professor or schoolmaster reading a book.

True, there is nothing wrong in a small private release and annoyance

 

Upon receipt of that rejection notice….

You might even indulge in a modest amount of arrogant dismissal of the opinions voiced there in….

(Women writers are advised not to don a moustache and beard while doing this as it detracts from the overall aura of that most devestating of weapons……female distain) 

However once the disappointment and annoyance are out of your system…

Tricycle 1

And you have returned to equilibrium

Remember this:

Behind every successful writer are editors who rejected their work and would now rather not be reminded of it

Musings on Writing- You Should Always…. 1

You should always…

When you are conducting that most perilous of tasks…THE RE-WRITE

Alice in Wonderland

Upon re-discovering one of those true gems you created (you might think inadvertently…The Muses know better )

Muses

 

say something like:

‘Yessssssss!’

Wives and lovers happy woman

Congratulate yourself Laughing Guy…..Yep! You’ve earned it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let off steam with a little dance…physical or allegorical

cartoon-boy-doing-a-happy-dance-by-toonaday-6279

And treasure this interlude through the rest of the hard-slog that is the lot of the Writer.

Know ye this…..

plato

Let the words flow (you can sort them out later)

Writing 2

Writing 3

Writing 4

writer-2….. See…….. I can do it!

 

Musings on Writing- Don’t You Hate It When….1

Don’t you hate it when…

famous-writers-of-the-victorian-era-1

In a hurry to finish off one part; just for convenience  you place a character in Location A. Then later on in your eagerness to write THAT very important chapter around which, if not the whole but at least a vital part of the narrative revolves you have them appearing Location B which is many miles distant from Location A and in a circumstance which defies any good reason you can think of to explain that anomaly.

Hamlet 2

If you are very fortunate you will have dropped them off at Location A in such a casual way you can write that smidge out and in retrospect shuffle them into Location B ready for THAT chapter you have ben itching to write.

Meanwhile you look at yourself in the literal or allegorical and say:

‘Seriously?’ 

Confused person on Brexit

Virus Post. Walls down. Emotions on Display.

OK. It has arrived THE PANDEMIC, the one The Medical Community knew would happen-Fact.

Sour observations: The one survivalists have been just praying to happen.The one you read about in SF/Dystopian Fiction but never thought would happen in your lifetimes and now those books don’t seem quite so ‘entertaining’ do they?

Personal Commentary (No self-pity. No ‘Oh that this too, too solid flesh would melt’ soliloquy). Just facts, brief. Like about 50% of the population in affluent West, our Lives have their buckets of problems. For many reasons we can’t get to see our three children and five grandchildren- no personal rifts just those ‘Circumstances’ that dog many a life. We were planning to visit our son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons- Pandemic arrives. How many other folk have seen plans pulled down I would not like to say.

We have health issues of one sort or another which limit our getting out as a couple to ‘go places’, ‘do things’. Pandemic puts the lid on the few opportunities. Life wasn’t much fun before, now? Do the allegorical maths. So us and a few tens of millions around the world. Didn’t need this, but we got it. It happens folks, it happens. Compare this to what is happening in Syria, Yemen or too a host of minority communities around the world and what’s happening to you, me, us in The West…..Just a scratch…At present almost a walk in the park. Of course it could get worse.

My Own strategy

So what do I do? Try and adapt, obviously.

But what else?

Write, of course.

In this we are fortunate. My wife writes poetry, is in contact with other poets, gets work published, gets good feedback and has a collection she sells privately. I am so proud of her and every time she gets a poem published I am so damn happy. Gives me the fuel to carry on.

Me?

Well, to summarise….. there’s R J Llewellyn on Kindle. Of late I’ve been working away on a fantasy series, self-published (still with those typos)

Precipice Dominion series

Y’know what, folks? Here I am stepping out of my normal British character here, but overall, typos and syntax aside I-am-so-very-pleased with these…There I said it! The characters are alive (so much so they nag me all the time) and the plot is chaotic as it was meant to be. (If you read some military history you will get to appreciate wars are won on the basis of the other side making more mistakes than yours- there are no perfect plans, no villain is always ahead of the game until the last few improbable chapters)

Vol III was having a re-write for typos, continuity etc, when I thought

‘Heck (or words to that effect) we can do better than this’

Learning to Live with ‘The First Draft’ and its Consequences.

And now it’s undergoing a whole re-work. This will be finished, virus or not. I will have my Three Volume Series (was supposed to be four but reflection suggested the narrative and plot would be getting thin in Vol IV and a lot of repetition would take place–too slow). I have an upbeat ending, because I like positive endings, it is a quirkly good one….There I said it (again). Three Volumes completed, I will be content, pleased, at rest.

Now this is how I personally tackle a Life-Threatening, Life-Changing  Pandemic. This is my way of minimising the effects.

I-WILL-WRITE.

I WILL BELIEVE IN MY WRITING

Let this be your pledge to yourself in these uncertain times

Seriously folks… The Joys of Writing

 

 

PS. Explanation. Some regular readers might by wondering about the amount of unusual and aggressive affirmation regrading my personal opinion on my own writing. This is due to a severe case of Full Metal Jacket haranguing at me by one of my characters Arketre Beritt, a solider, of an elite unit. If you are new to writing be prepared when the characters take over, it happens)