Discussion in 'The Scribe's House' started by TirelessSeven, Jun 23, 2018.
I'll post. Just looking it over.
Yep in the pre-ebook era the only real self-publishing (if you didn't own a publishing company of your own) was mostly vanity publishing. A market sector that requires you to pay the publisher to do print runs of books and where the printers are basically expecting to sell to you, family and not much more. Ergo its not geared up for mass marketing and the money flows the wrong way (away from the author).
Today the ebook means that you can get onto a service like Amazon and reach a huge portion of the market. You still have to advertise your work, but you can at least reach the market.
There "is" a bit of stigma though for new self published authors because many don't use editors and often publish works that are very "green".
Proof readers, a good editor, responding to feedback etc... are all very valuable and worth doing before self publishing.
That's true, I'd say a pro editor - as well as spending most of your own (writing) time editing - is essential if you want to write like a professional author, or well enough to impress a literary agent. I would add to that the cost of hiring a professional artist to do the cover (for self-publishing). Seems like a small thing, but the fact is: we do judge books by their covers and a good one will make a difference - even if the book is electronic only.
Yeah. I unfortunately am too dirt-poor to hire anybody to do anything at all. I made the mistake of majoring in art back in my college days. I wasn't sure in those days if I preferred art or literature. I've since mainly settled in as a writer, but I draw sometimes when the mood takes me. Which isn't often these days. My friend and I collaborated on the piece of art you see as my avvy. It was going to be the cover, I had thought I might self-publish. He's an artist and is looking to make a reputation for himself, so it seemed like it might benefit us both to have him do the cover. After it was done I wasn't entirely happy with how it turned out, though. He's talented but he's better at drawing things he can see, than things he has to imagine. I did the pencilwork in an attempt to negate that problem, but it only partially did the job. I gave him photographic reference for textures, but he couldn't really extrapolate stuff like, "make the big guy's skin have a texture like this baby elephant but a color scheme like this salamander." Just didn't help him. What's worse, I'm more of a comic book type artist, so while I'm good with anatomy I don't necessarily make things 100% realistic and I think that contributes to some of the problems. Between my style of figures and his inability to produce detail out of his imagination, we wound up with something that looks more like a comic book cover than that of a novel.
I might be inclined to create a photoshop cover or something, if I self-publish this, but I miss the classic painted covers. I'm oldschool. Or maybe just old. AND I don't want to hurt my friend's feelings. I gave him most of my tax refund to square us up.
Those kind of situations can be tough. I would recommend you take a look at Jenna Moreci on youtube. She's a self-published author who also has a degree in marketing.
I'd also recommend Ellen Brock, she's a pro-editor - she's a youtuber as well - who discusses novel writing and publishing from an editor's perspective.
They have a ton of good, solid advice about the beta-reading process too.
Okay, so as we talked about here's a re-written chapter 3. I don't think it's THERE yet, but it's come a long way from what I had. I'd like to get more of Apparition's thoughts in there, and maybe work on the action scene some more. I got home from work a few hours ago and haven't been to bed yet. I was thinking about this a lot while I was at work.
It was still dark when Apparition was startled awake by the sound of hooves beating on the road. He sat up, still momentarily disoriented by his unfamiliar surroundings, the moonlight shimmering on the lake, the night sounds of insects and a rather despondent-sounding birdcall. Luna’s armor was nearby, where she had left it rolled up in her cape beside the blanket she had spread for herself to sleep on. She was not there.
Luna had said she didn’t expect the Keeper’s men – the Gaorethim, was it? – until morning at the earliest, so Apparition did not fully expect trouble, but he found his feet as quickly as he could. He heard her hiss, then, and found her crouching in the brush nearby, sword in hand, angrily signaling for him to stay down. The hooves on the road slowed to a walk, and a lone rider appeared. He was haggard, his oily hair curtaining his face, hanging past his jaws and mixing with the wires of his beard. His clothing was dark; wool hose and tall leather boots, a dark leather jerkin with a red shield shape emblazoned across the breast. An oilskin cloak was clasped at his throat and draped across his shoulders.
As he drew nearer, his scent rose above that of the horse; the man had clearly been on the road for some long time. He smelled of onions, and shit. His face was gaunt and his pale eyes sunken beneath the leathery brow. Now the black pictographs within the heraldry on his chest were clearly visible: Apparition recognized them at once as writing, not unlike the gold embroidery on his own robe. It seemed to him that the standard read, “Joyful are the weak, that the strong shall rule.” He found the sentiment troubling.
The man walked his horse down to the lakeshore, and passed between Luna and Apparition. Apparition knew he must act quickly. Lurching to his feet again, he said: “hey!”
The rider started, drew a plain short sword from a leather scabbard on his belt, and wheeled the horse around. Apparition became belatedly conscious of his own nudity; after spending the better part of a day with Luna it had come to seem natural to him.
The rider, however, only narrowed his eyes.
“It’s you.” Then he wheeled the horse the rest of the way round and began to urge him back toward the road. Too late: Luna sprang up and tackled the ragged man off of his horse. The creature spooked and leaped back up the rocks to the road, its master forgotten. The rider lost his sword in the fall, but kicked free of Luna and recovered the blade.
Before Apparition could react, Luna charged back into the unhorsed rider, sword flashing. Although the footing was uneven, she knew the land and the rider did not, and after a few moment’s worth of ringing blades she mangled one of the man’s knees, and he tumbled down the rocks into the water. She stepped down after him and skewered him where he lay.
“I’d have liked to ask him a question or two,” Apparition said.
“He was the enemy,” Luna said. “His words would not have been trustworthy.”
“Have you no mercy?”
“He’d have shown us none.”
“He knew me, or thought he did.”
“We don’t have time to bullshit around, okay? He was a scout. Lord Kossath is coming, and I cannot take on a whole unit of Gaorethim while you hold yourself in the bushes.”
“For God’s sake, Luna!”
“Be quiet. Grab your clothes and your staff and let’s get out of here.”
“Is it safe to be on the road?”
“No, we’re going to have to take another path, one that horses can’t follow, and I’d as soon not have done it in the dark. Don’t bother dressing, that robe’s going to be a hindrance the way we’re going.”
They put on their sandals. Luna quickly strapped on her sword belt, rolled up her blanket and tucked it into her cape with her armor, and strapped the whole bundle to her back, tucking the ends of the cape through the bronze rings stitched into the other end. Apparition hastily copied the technique with his cloak as best he could, and followed her into the forest.
She led him among the gnarled, mossy trees, down into a gully where the land was boggy and smelled like a privy. The trees were thick and the canopy high above them blocked out the starlight, so that only by his mechanical eye could Apparition see where they were going. Luna seemed to be operating from memory. They crossed the gully on a fallen log slick with mold, and pressed deep into a reedy marsh that spread from the lakebed.
“They won’t risk their horses in this, it would be stupid,” she said. “But we have to keep moving to stay ahead of them.”
“Won’t they just go around?”
“Yes, but it’s a few hours’ ride and we’ll be long gone by then. There’s a village beyond the swamp and if we’re lucky we can buy passage on one of the merchant wagons headed for Telan at dawn.”
Apparition found that he could sense the men gathering back at the lakeshore, preparing to search the forest behind them. The leader he assumed to be Kossath, the weight of his presence like the air before a thunderstorm. Apparition resolved that he would learn everything he could about the Gaorethim.
Around them the swamp scintillated with the throaty sounds of creatures calling for their mates, and blue-green fireflies winked on and off as though he observed the lives of stars throughout a tiny universe. The little insects were so thick in the air he thought if he breathed too hard he would swallow them. At length they found themselves surrounded by two shoulders of earth, and then the marsh dwindled away behind them and they rose to higher ground, crossed a band of saplings, and came into a waving field of grass long overdue for the scythe.
“We’re almost to the village,” she said. “Probably we should get dressed; people around her are weird about that sort of thing.”
He unfurled his robe and cowl and slipped them on. He found wearing it less enjoyable than he remembered.
“Do you mind if I ask you a question, Luna?”
He heard her draw a deep breath and let it out slowly.
“Well that would depend on the question, wouldn’t it?”
He wasn’t sure how to respond to that. He half-watched as she strapped on greaves over her sandals and fitted a burgundy leather war-skirt around her waist, and then he decided just to go on and ask.
“I’m a little confused about the way things work, here. You mentioned the Keeper ruling the world, but you’ve also mentioned your own queen.”
Luna was tugging on the straps of her bronze breastplate, buckling the belts to their accustomed fit.
“Aertha is queen of my people. But like all the leaders here she owes fealty to the Keeper.”
“I see. What has he done for her?”
“He hasn’t killed her.”
“Lovely. I might have been safer back in the sewer.”
“Coward. Typical male.” She had stopped fiddling with her pauldrons and vambraces long enough to glare at him.
“Hey, it was a joke. Do you see me running?”
“Next time we’re attacked I expect you’ll go hobbling away with your balls in your hand. You’re all alike.”
All this abuse was starting to make him feel wounded. She was difficult to read, but he sensed in her a great sadness that she did not even acknowledge to herself. It was not an issue to press. She had her bedroll and satchel slung on a strap, now, and her crimson cape hung from her shoulders, and he was following her into a dark, smoky town that seemed to have been shat into a mudhole.
“Why do I think you’re going to be the death of me?” He said.
“That depends a lot on who you turn out to be.”
“Luna. I don’t know anybody else in the entire world. Take it easy, okay? You’re all I’ve got.”
She put some extra space between them, then, and not just physically. He felt her close herself off from him. It was like a prison door slamming shut, and he was all too aware that he was the prisoner: a man with no memory and no name, and now maybe no friends. Not even an ugly turtle-man to gnaw on his leg. Probably now was a good time to be quiet. He issued himself a correction: five minutes ago was a good time to be quiet. Now would have to do.
It read well on first pass. I'll go through again and make suggestions as I go.
The chapter reads much better in your new draft - the nudity barely bothered me. Keen to hear what you think about the suggestions.
I’m glad I’m on the right track. That was only about three hours’ work and it was FUN. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had fun working on this book?
I love your suggestions, and plan to implement most of them. The only one I’d resist is re: scintillating. That was an artistic choice, using a visual word to describe a sound.
I live in the country, and it’s a fairly swampy area between two rivers. At night in summer, especially late summer on toward September, the sound of the night is incredible and I find that “sound” words just don’t cut it.
Frogs and locusts and cicadas definitely scintillate, or coruscate, or shimmer, in my estimation.
Cool, glad I could help.
As to scintillate, that's fair enough, obviously. It's a preference thing.
So, just for the heck of it, here's my first pass at the new Chapter 4. I think it's a wee bit short, though I don't worry too much about length given the size of the book. It's quite different as well, and while it's CERTAINLY more atmospheric, I know this also isn't THERE, yet, and as always I welcome any input. I did make revisions to 3, as well, if you'd like to see them, but for what it's worth I took most of your suggestions. Now, the revisions to 4 will require a few specific changes to 5, but I have a plan for that. After 5 is going to be more of this mega-revision. definitely for all of the stuff in Telan.
CHAPTER FOUR – THE LAND OF THE DEAD
Luna wasn’t sure what to think of her new companion. He had seemed helpless enough at the lake, bumbling around with a Kappa gnawing on his leg; she’d been immediately disarmed by the absurdity of it. He’d even treated her with respect, which was something outsiders were notoriously bad at where women, particularly Alatrians, were concerned. But his memory was missing; when and if it returned, who could say what kind of animal he might turn out to be? The Gaorethim knew him. Worse, he’d defended the scout, even called his attention to them.
Now he was pissed at her, but it was arguably his own fault the scout had to die. Well, she’d kill Apparition, too, if it came to it. Men were necessary for procreation and good for little else; and for that she sure wouldn’t choose this one. She looked back at him and he smiled, his gums weirdly orange against the pale blue skin. The lost puppy routine. Goddess, what a mess.
The town of Atta was a jumble of humped black shapes ahead of them, among the twisted trunks of trees under the diamond-covered sky. The meadow they were crossing was bounded by a fieldstone wall about waist high, and beyond it a muddy road led past a barn of stone and sod, into the little town. Luna hopped up into a sitting position on the wall and swung her legs over. Apparition, for want of a better word, ghosted through the wall. It was so absurd that she couldn’t even react. It was like her brains had missed, or else the underworld had opened and this one had slipped its gates.
He must have taken note of her expression because he pulled up short and said, “what’s wrong?”
She took a couple of steps back in spite of herself. It took a lot to terrify Luna, and he had just come very damned close. Her sword was in her hand now, by instinct alone.
“Back to Hell this instant and I shall not accompany you,” she said.
“What are you talking about?”
“It all makes sense now.”
“Luna, please, it’s me. Apparition.”
“Yes, that was very cute. Apparition indeed. I don’t suppose this blade is much use, but all the same I will not go down with you to the land of the dead.”
“Please, I’m alive enough.”
“Are you sure?” She tried to laugh a little when she said it, but she feared it came off more as a stammer.
“Look.” He slapped his flesh hand on the wall, and it made a regular, fleshy sound. “See?”
“Well,” she said, and hit him as hard as she could. He bounced hard off the fieldstone wall, and crumpled in the verge like an empty boot.
“Regrettably,” he said, fumbling for his staff.
“Okay, get up. What’s the deal with the wall?”
“It’s just a wall, it doesn’t care which side of it I’m on.” He had regained his feet, now.
“You were INSIDE.”
“That’s as good a side as any.”
“What are you, some kind of witch?”
“You know I don’t remember.”
Did she really, though? “Right.”
“So you’re telling me you can’t walk through walls?”
“As far as I know, you’re the only one. Don’t go doing that in town or we may as well leave our itinerary with the Gaorethim.”
Now she rather wished she had let the scout live, at least for a little while. She was no closer to understanding the queen’s vision, and she wasn’t going to take Apparition to Alatris; it was likely he was dangerous. But until she knew who he was and what use he might be, she wasn’t letting him out of her sight.
She put him in front of her, and directed him through the narrow, darkened streets of mud. The sounds of the swamp behind them carried in the damp and smoky air. There were peat fires burning in a few of the earthen huts, and a dog was barking insistently somewhere nearby. The gutters were full of turds and chicken bones pickling in urine, and the street was only marginally cleaner. A leper stared at them from an alley, partially sheltered among oaken barrels and a broken wheelbarrow. She saw Apparition regard the wretch with a look of profound sadness. The leper rattled a tin cup and Luna flung him a coin, not daring to get too near.
“Keep straight, Spook. Don’t touch anything in this part of town.”
She heard the low, mournful cry of a iana from a nearby rooftop; to encounter one of the birds was considered an ill omen. To meet its gaze meant impending death. She kept her focus on the dull fireglow from the large stone building near the far end of town, a tavern called the Barleycorn. With any luck, they’d find what they were looking for there.
They had to hunch down through the door into the dim orange glow of the interior. A peat fire burned in a stone fireplace along the side wall, candles perched in wall sconces made black smudges on the low ceiling. The piss-sour smell of warm beer and sweet, heady aroma of whiskey mixed with pungent body odor, peat-reek, and the acrid tang of candle smoke. A cackle of drunken laughter from the table by the door, a fat man in a bloody apron and his hatchet-faced companion whose remaining teeth were nearly green inadvertently blowing a gob of spittle into his friend’s beer as he howled out his amusement.
“I dislike this place,” Apparition said softly.
“Then we agree on something, at least.”
As the men in the room took notice of them, the merriment doused like yesterday’s cookfire. Murmurs loitered in the corners of the room. Luna was accustomed to the discomfort western men felt in the presence of Alatrians, and Apparition’s appearance was flat-out ghastly. The man behind the counter wore a shapeless wool cap and a long, mustard-colored tunic under a laced-up brown waistcoast. He had an apron and a clay pipe, and a face that might kill a iana bird.
“Ay, there’s Luna scaring away all the decent folk,” he said.
“Decent folk don’t come here, Amne.”
“Any son of a bitch with coin is decent enough for me.”
She laid a couple of coins on the bar. They were Alatrian, and they were rare here, but they were silver, and she knew Amne would take them.
“Maybe not only sons of,” he said.
“Something for my companion,” Luna said, ignoring the line. Amne was rough in his manner, but essentially harmless. “He’s had a lousy day.”
“No shit, he’s in Atta,” Amne grinned, and poured a tin mug half-full, shoving it at Apparition. “Got that wine you like, Luna.”
“Shit no.” He laughed, and Luna pretended to be amused. “Which way you headed?”
“Telan, and with some haste.”
Amne pointed out a few drivers she could talk to.
“What’s in Telan?” Apparition asked her as she led him towards one of the tables where a couple of swarthy guys were playing cupperts.
“A crowded marketplace, a lot of travelers, and a friend. Now let me do the talking, and for the love of Alatra, don’t do anything peculiar.”
I'll go into as much detail as I can. Any suggestions are - as always - just suggestions. Same goes for opinions.
Okay, so there it is, in detail. Obviously a lot of those opinions and suggestions are style based. I think the main issues are Luna's voice and the status of her relationship with Apparition. I think the early parts of the book will be far better when you nail those down in a consistent way. I'd suggest giving her an all-round tougher exterior. It will make those cracks more meaningful when they do begin to appear. She has to be less certain of/familiar with Apparition (in my opinion) in these early sections in order for their relationship to seem realistic.
Hey, thanks for that. It’s interesting because stuff like Luna thinking how bad western men are at respecting women didn’t feel like a complaint to me, just an observation. But I see how maybe it could read that way.
Similarly, her saying “right” wasn’t intended as sarcasm, but rather an attempt at diplomacy, agreeing verbally but not mentally, you know? There again, though, I see how it might not read that way.
It’s hard to know how people who aren’t me, will perceive things I write. That’s probably the biggest value of this exercise.
People always tell me I make my feelings too obvious when sometimes I don’t think I’m expressing my feelings at all. I guess I pass that along to my characters too... crud.
I don't think my critique conveys the extent of the point I was trying to make. Complaint is perhaps wrong, it's not that she's complaining exactly, it's that she draws a couple of negative comparisons. I think unnecessarily.
Specifically the words notoriously and particularly.
She's reflecting on his behaviour here, which is fine, but when you add these qualifiers, her observations become kind of back-handed compliments. She's not actually saying he's good here, only that he's more respectful of her than others, who are notoriously bad at it (a fact that's neither essential nor particular to this story).
The story-specific information here is that: Alatrians are (generally) treated with disrespect - by men. Adding the words particularly Alatrians, offers up other women as a negative comparison. It's making her say: the plight of Alatrian women is worse than that of other (suffering) women. I question whether someone from her culture would look at it this way. You can make her give the necessary info without making her do this.
I thought it might be the case, but I really did get sarcasm. Maybe that's because I've already read beyond Chapter 4?
Aha! Now THAT I see, now that you mention it. It’s like I was thinking of all women and then tossed Alatrians in as an afterthought, and the phrasing makes it sound like they’re worse off.
In fact they’d be treated differently than other women I imagine, because many men would think they “don’t know their place,” but that’s not worse than the women who are actually being kept down. Alatrians would hear some harsh words and sometimes have to defend themselves, but they don’t fear a fight and harsh language would matter less to someone who has seen actual danger.
You’re totally right.
Or because Luna is a big ol’ smartass right much of the time, right from her introduction, so of course I’ve taught the reader to expect it. Another good point.
Separate names with a comma.