thinkinglazy

Aspiring author and random thinker

Tag Archives: Writing

On Writing: books and their progress

I’ve come across some author websites where the published books and those in progress are listed. Thought of doing the same just to keep track of things.

  • Book of Kayal (Fantasy series)
    • Book I –  Wolf Emperor: draft 1 completed (Project scrapped and might be turned into a series of short stories)
    • Book II – Strength of Unity (Previously titled Hands of Fate): published-ed2 on Amazon and available on KU
    • Book III – Deliverance Edge: Draft 1 completed
    • Book IV – Grieving Flame: Draft 1 completed
    • Book IV – [Untitled Thalg Story] Draft 1 in progress, roughly 33% completed.
  • Palladium Falls (Sci-fi novel)
    • Introduction and concept completed. Awaiting 1,000,000 word writing practice mark to continue
  • Conscripted (Non-fiction)
    • Chapter 1 completed, book completion estimate unavailable.

I really should have this list prepared in a better way. Perhaps I’ll start another website dedicated to the books only.

PS: Book of Kayal: Strength of Unity will be available for free from August 30-31 on Amazon and Amazon UK.

On Writing: language and syntax feedback observation

I started reaching out to people to read and review BoK:SoU, some of them just samples and other the entire book, and I got a few responses so far. Because of not having gotten the book edited – a grave mistake which I intended to do to test something I will share later – there were a decent amount of spelling and grammatical mistakes, mostly oversights.

Now here’s the fun part, I’ve been studying quite a bit during the past few years and writing a shit-load of reports. When you edit a dozen pages or so, its easy to peal through each word and make sure it conveys exactly the meaning you want, thus in that case you can reduce such mistakes to none, or a mere few, during an entire paper with little effort.

With creative and long writing, however, it’s not as simple a task as it takes time and is extremely boring, especially when you get to the fifth edit. Naturally, some mistakes here and there sneak in, and naturally you’re overwhelmed with grammar, characters, story development and other aspects of the book.

So that’s why it’s important to get an editor if you’re serious about it. Even better if you get two.

Going back to the grammar mistakes that were picked up by the readers. Just going through the latest edit, in the first chapter, I picked up some debatable mistakes, which you can blame on style or so, and a few complex grammar mistakes, namely the ‘Past Perfect’, which very few people use accurately, especially Americans for some reason.

None of the reviewers picked up a single ‘complex’ tense rule error, let alone a ‘simple’ tense rule error, while they seemed to be enraged by the other simple typos (Eg: leapes instead of leaped). Now I find that ironic; grammar Nazis don’t seem to mind the mistakes in the rules they don’t know!

PS: I am grateful for those who point out the mistakes and only wish that everyone would be as constructively critical. If I conveyed any negative tone during that post please know that I had no such intention.

On Writing: post writing steps – reviews

The re-release of BoK Volume one ‘Strength of Unity’ brings me many challenges. This time I intend to try getting proper lift-off velocity for the book from the promo. Last time in five days I managed to get 750 copies downloaded (all free) and didn’t get a single review from it, which is supposed to be one of the main purposes.

This time, however, I’m looking at having the book reviews actively. In other words, I’ve been going on blogs and forums to ask people for review swaps or offer them a free copy for a review. I’ve also been trying to get to Amazon reviewers, send perhaps a hundred request so far, and I have to say the response rate is pretty low. At this moment I got eight review copies sent, of which one was a swap, for three days worth of work. Although, to be honest, I haven’t been extremely active on these forums before the beginning of this month, so I’ve been kinda under the radar.

I’ll keep you posed with the details of the prmo and the results sometime in the beginning of next month. The promo will run from August 30 to 31 on Amazon and the book should have some reviews by then.

On Writing: the banes of time

I’ve taken the past two months off after finishing my studies and immersed myself in a bout of networking, reading and writing. During that time I managed to kick-in a total of 110k words, surpassing my word count for the year by 37k now (of which 27k was written before this sprint). In two weeks alone I managed to edit a total of 90k words which funneled in to a drastic manuscript change including the plot and characters. I just wanted to contrast between a month of work/study with writing (in which I wrote usually no more than 10k and more often around the range of 6k) and a month of leaisure time (In which I managed an additional 80k of writing and an edit of an entire manuscript).

I’m still not to a level where I want to be, but its been around three years and I’m still writing. Baby steps ought to do it, I hope.

Chapter 1: Assigned to Utyirth (Ed 3.2)

Here is a second run-through the first chapter (what I call ed 3.2). It’s a bit of a read and I would appreciate any comments.

Chapter 1: Assigned to Utyirth

‘It is an honor to be sent on such an endeavor by our Lord Demigod Emperor, an honor only exceeded by death during this endeavor.’ Philosophical Lessons from Utyirth (Volume I: Captain).

1

Ganis walked back and forth on the deck of the Siren’s Tear, the Sennan vessel which would take her to the distant lands of Utyirth, where she was told the notorious rebel Naa’tas escaped to. She would join nine other Parthans, people from the western reaches of the Nosgardian Empire, in this perilous journey, as she was told by her master, Lord Asclepius of Katabasis Keep.

A cool wind breezed through her blond hair, braided into one thick bundle and held together with a long black leather strap wrapped around it. It was a practical choice for anyone who intended on keeping their hair long while on the front; although she never cared much for wearing it down regardless of how many compliments it brought her.

Why did Lord Asclepius send me here? Ganis thought, her black eyes wandering with fiery anger, haphazardly looking at whatever met their path.

Commodore Habitus shouted commands at his crew, “Stock these crates here…Make certain we have replenished our stocks of heaven’s weed” – his favored pipe stuffing – “and enough rom” – his favored drink – “to last us for twice the journey we plan.” He kept shouting commands to his crew with impossible vigor – of which all seemed to Ganis trivial, never a command to prepare the ship itself for sail.

And Ganis continued to walk back and forth. She cared little for the blue sky above her or the calm seas embracing the Siren’s Tear, reflecting the flight of seagulls gliding in the air. It was, by all means, a beautiful day for anyone who took the time to enjoy it.

A Red Parthan Ona, the most well trained and seasoned warriors the Nosgardian Empire had to offer, would be her new troop, the only link she would have to Nosgard, her home, once they reached the shores of Utyirth.

The Demigod Emperor Servak himself commanded that they discard all things Nosgardian before their arrival – their weapons, armor and all crafts imperial – for it would do little good saved to aid in identifying them in an environment of which they knew nothing.

Utyirth was but recently discovered when a Sennan vessel was lost at sea for many crescents, yet the Cult of Naa’tas – the rebels who rose against the Nosgardian Empire during the events of the recent Ancient’s War, the very first test of the Demigod Emperor Servak’s worth – somehow knew of it.

Against all odds the Emperor managed to keep the people of Nosgard unified against the mighty threat of the Ancients, but the few who doubted his claim escaped his attention, and the Cult of Naa’tas was formed.

After the Ancient’s War ended, the Emperor’s spies, known to a few as the Guild, were freed to investigate and eliminate the rebels. They were all but destroyed. Naa’tas, the leader of the rebellion, escaped to Utyirth with a handful of mercenaries and loyalists.

When Naa’tas eluded all attempts by the Emperor’s forces – the warden order of the Silver Stags, the Emperor’s law enforcers the Peacekeeper Core, and the notorious Guild of spies and assassins – Prince Iolcus, the once-kingdom of Partha’s leader, promised that his First Ona, the very best soldiers Partha had to offer, would be able to bring him Naa’tas, dead or alive.

Yet these events alone would not make Ganis, a servant of the necromancer Lord Asclepius, join the First Ona, for she was not one of them in training or by blood.

A Parthan Ona, always ten, was a selected group of proven warriors who spent enough time together that their minds melded into one. The Red Onas, the very best of them all, were capable of fighting truly as one. Some said that a Red Ona took a life of its own at the expense of ten, but few saw just how deadly a Parthan Ona was and lived to tell the tale.

Ganis had never trained with a Parthan Ona, even though she was defeated by them in the Second Civil War of Man – where she supported the very same Council the Demigod Servak, before he became Emperor, fought against. Her servitude to Lord Asclepius was the Emperor’s punishment for her actions, and Asclepius saw it fitting that she should be sent to Utyirth under Captain Pertinax the Second’s command, the Ona’s leader.

If only I died back then, Ganis thought, boots beating mercilessly on the ironwood deck of the Siren’s Tear. She often thought of how simpler it would have been if she died during the Second Civil War, as an officer in the Peacekeeper Core. Perhaps, she would think, there would be some afterlife awaiting me. The thought never lasted, no matter how bleak things seemed to be.

But now she was not regretful of her past, just angry at being sent away like a common servant by a man she was forced to call ‘Master’, an act she always found demeaning, but could do little to avoid without suffering from an even more demeaning punishment.

Another reason for Ganis’ anger was her ignorance about those she would join on their mission. She knew that they were nine others, two Turians, Ninazu the Alchemist and Sigurd Ironskin, and the rest Parthans, Captain Pertinax the Second, Hephaestion the Scholar, Thalia the Artisan, Priestess Eirene, Monolos the Beasthandler and the Twin Spies Percival and Dindrane. They were many names to remember.

The Turians she previously met were all of incredible determination, a truly proud and capable nomadic people long separated from their lands, and she could but feel humbled by their deeds of which she heard.

Lord Asclepius, she recently discovered, was also a Turian, although he came from a different age and few living Turians would consider him anything other than a relic from the past. His knowledge of necromancy gave him an unusually extended lifespan – a gift he bestowed on Ganis as a reward for her sacrifice during the Ancient’s War, even though she thought it a curse.

She also knew, rather thought she knew, that the Parthans would not accept her as one of them, not with the stance she took against them during the Second Civil War, and before she could see to the Emperor’s mission it was necessary to gain their trust, all while hiding her Dark Gift and the extent of her abilities.

Consumed by her thoughts, Ganis barely noticed the ship setting sail. The Parthans had arrived without her even noticing. They must have discarded their Parthan attire already, she thought. It was time for subterfuge.

2

Everyone aboard the Siren’s Tear was preoccupied with his own habit or duties. Ganis deemed the confusion an opportunity to get acquainted with her new companions. In spite of her objection to being sent away from Katabasis Keep, she knew that the voyage would be even more unpleasant alone.

Like a chain, an Ona was as capable as its weakest link, Ganis had learned, studying the Parthans once during her service in the Peacekeeper Core and once more under the mentorship of Asclepius. To her, being the weakest member of the Ona would be unacceptable. And not to be the weakest required her not only to be strong, but also to be in harmony with them. She would need to belong.

To Ganis, it seemed reasonable to start her introduction with the leader of the group, Pertinax the Second, whom she identified by overhearing some sailors speak. Standing on the edge of the ship’s bow in an attempt to get a better view of the sculpted Siren serving as the ship’s figurehead made the tall white-haired man easy to find.

Once Ganis approached him, Pertinax requested her to hold his hand and secure him if he lost his footing during his acrobatics. She agreed and held his hand, watching as he clumsily hung on the vessel’s grey wood. Once the air started striking his grease-covered hair, running its perfection, he quickly returned and produced a wooden comb from within his cloak.

“Thank you,” Pertinax said, combing his straight white hair. His brown eyes stared directly into Ganis’, attempting to burn an image of her in his mind.

Ganis nodded. “I just wanted to introduce myself.”

“You are Ganis, Asclepius’ companion and former Protector Commander of the Peacekeeper Core. You were captured by the Demigod Emperor Servak, Pax bless him, and sentenced to serve the released Necromancer Asclepius as punishment for aiding the Council during the Second Civil War. Although you were directly assigned to Asclepius, your second and main task was to spy on him…” Pertinax continued to flawlessly recited Ganis’ known history. Once he finished combing his hair, Pertinax stowed his comb back into the pocket of his grey cloak from which it came and continued, “I know who you are. The real question is: do you know who I am?”

“Other than being my leader and serving Servak, I know nothing of you.” Ganis was shocked by her Commander’s assiduousness. She judged that he might be a peculiar fellow from his appearance, but her assessment was far from accurate to the level of his peculiarity.

“As a comrade and a member of our Ona, I believe it important for you to know about me as much as I know about you. My story began forty years ago when I taught at the Parthan School of Knowledge. Signs of the First Civil War started worrying many of the scholars and thus, by their council, the leaders started reacting to those worrying signs.

“I was young at the time, and felt obliged to do more for my kingdom and king. Fueled by youthful passion, I volunteered to join the Parthan forces and was immediately assigned as an officer to serve in a fighting Parthan division.

“My rune-bearing capabilities and education made me privy to the best training and care, thus I was assigned to a high-ranking unit. Once my loyalties were certain and my training complete, I was carved with the same runes Parthan Protectors were required to bare, unless they had already undergone the ritual before they joined the force, of course.

“Shortly after I started my military career, the Civil War of Man broke and my duties were multiplied. Although the Parthans had the best trained and equipped soldiers, we were overwhelmed by a far larger force with far more resources.

“It was not long until the casualties started piling up and we were forced to retreat to a defensive position. With all our prosperity and military might, we were incapable of fighting the world on our own. Once we were driven into our lands, the combined kingdoms of men built a wall around Partha to imprison us, cutting us off from most of our lands and the outside world.

“We then fell into a godless darkness. This, my friend, was when I met Lyra and the Demigod Emperor Servak, Pax bless him. They showed us the path to salvation and peace, the Path of Pax.” Pertinax looked above him and gazed towards the endless blue skies.

“How did you get to be in Lyra’s Ona?”

Pertinax lowered his eyes and looked straight into Ganis’, saying, “Pax led me to her. All I had to do was simply follow the path he set me on. Tell me, Ganis, is there a deity you believe in?”

“No,” Ganis responded adamantly. She had long lost the little faith she had with the last of her dead men. “I do not believe that sins and virtues affect the path our spirits tread once freed from our physical realm. I know that there is no reward for the just, nor is there punishment awaiting the wrongful. Once we die, we just seize to exist and rejoin the earth once again. I believe, Captain, that the Gods have abandoned our kind long ago.”

Pertinax smiled and patted Ganis’ shoulder. “Perhaps one day I could convince you of Pax‘s existence and show you the degree of his involvement. I have told you enough of my past for you to know who I am. The details, however, will have to wait for another time.” Pertinax walked away from Ganis and towards the stairway leading to the lower decks. Before he disappeared into the darkness, Pertinax looked back and whispered to himself, “It will be an interesting journey.”

Although his final words to Ganis were not meant for her ears, her enhanced senses allowed them to be so. Ganis watched the skies for a moment before retiring to her quarters below, her thoughts entirely on the Parthans and the beauty of the sight escaped her.

On Writing: Tags and keywords

Keywords are quite important to help your visibility. I am no expert in book publishing, but, by virtue of having an MBA, I do know a thing or two about marketing.

A tool I found and wanted to share was google ngrams. This free tool allows you to look for the frequency of use of words in books depending on the year search range. While it is not directly derived from the internet, I suspect there is a significant correlation between the use of words in books and online. Thus, I believe, that it would be wise to use this tool to compare keywords when deciding on what tags to use on your book.

On Writing: Writeon by Kindle

I recently discovered writeon.amazon.com I wonder how useful it will be. I would appreciate any feedback on my current edit-in-progress book.

https://writeon.amazon.com/read/story/Tarek_Book_of_Kayal%3A_Unity_of_Strength/amzn1.ignite.story.19b4ee305d0a5a04e050007f01004133?ref_=ign_c_rt_st_0

Hands of Fate: Chapter 1.1

Today I decided to weekly post parts of my first unedited draft of one of my earlier works. I have not decided on the day of the week in which I would start, but I expect it to be sometime by the end of it, closer to the weekend.

Chapter 1: Assignment to Utyirth

‘It is an honor to be sent on such an endeavor by our Lord Demigod Emperor, an honor only exceeded by death during this endeavor.’ Philosophical Lessons from Utyirth (Volume I: Captain).

1

Within the mighty halls of Partha, Lyra and her Ona have been summoned by Prince Iolcus. The throne room was large and royal with the purple colored Parthan flags decorating its walls. A large purple carpet marked the way to the throne where Iolcus sat. Although it appeared dull in comparison to the Gallecian throne room, the Parthan prince’s seat of sovereignty maintained its awe and royal appearance.

Accompanied by the other nine members of her Ona, Lyra walked into the chamber, expected to meet the returning prince alone. To her surprise, she found her former companion and current Emperor awaiting her as well as the hero, Asclepius. With a joyous smile on her face, she knelt to the Demigod Emperor.

“You do not need to bow to me, not after what we have been through together,” while helping her up, Servak replied to Lyra’s gesture.

“You are an Emperor and I am your Voice in Partha. For that reason I have to bow in your presence, Emperor,” Lyra stood up with the Emperor’s help.

“Regardless of the formalities, I have a request to ask from you. During the Behemoths’ emergence and the events of the resultant war, we have been made aware of a potential rebellion. Unfortunately, we could not spare our resources and had to focus all on fighting the ancients and allowed the rebels to escape our lands with minimal resistance. Anaria offered us information regarding the whereabouts of the entity leading the rebellion, the Cult of Naa’tas. After a thorough investigation, it has been revealed that they traveled to distant lands known as Utyirth. We need your Ona to go and capture Naa’tas,” Servak briefed his Voice in Partha, Lyra.

“We will depart at once, my Lord.”

“The rebellion made us aware that the fight against the Council has not been won yet. To solidify our political influence and my claim to the throne, we will need all political figures to remain within the Imperial lands. As the Voice in Partha, you are required to remain here alongside Prince Iolcus.”

“So you will be sending a nine-man Ona into unfamiliar lands without their leader; that is most unwise,” worried by the reasoning behind Servak’s decision, Lyra suggested.

“You will be replaced by someone more fitting in dealing with matters of unfamiliarity,” a coarse and rugged voice spoke. Asclepius, the Necromancer and hero of the Empire, decided that it was time to join in the conversation and added, “Protector Ganis of the Peacekeeper Core will replace you. She is well-trained in the handling of unfamiliar situations and is the most suitable candidate for this mission. However, I do not suggest she replace you as the leader of the Ona, but as a member of the group.”

“It took me a great deal of training and time to achieve the harmony required to fight within one of the best elite Onas in Partha. For Ganis to reach such a level, it would require her to train along with them for no less than two seasons, that is if she successfully harmonizes with the group,” certain of her logic, Lyra stressed the futility in Servak’s decision.

“I am simply informing you of my decision. Will you accept this assignment on behalf of your Ona, or should I look for another group?” The Emperor often tended to ask his followers about their opinions.

Lyra turned to face the members of her Ona to check if they agreed on the assignment. The lack of response or comment from any of her companions signaled their cooperation, “They would gladly embark on this journey. Regardless of our own desires, your wish is our command.”

“From the moment we met in the Gallecian rune-carving festival, I trusted your loyalty and friendship, but I cannot command you to this perilous mission unless each member of your Ona is willing. Considering the limited knowledge we have regarding the nature of your target or their whereabouts, the mission is classified as one of extreme risk and a low chance of success. We have chosen your Ona because none of them have any ties to the Imperial lands, and because of the group’s composition. Taking all of their skills into consideration, your Ona is ideal for this task,” with brotherly affection and understanding, Servak directed at Lyra’s Ona.

Another moment of silence confirmed their intention to proceed with the task. Impressed by their diligence, Servak headed towards the exit while gently touching the shoulders of the elite warriors. Until the Emperor left the chamber, silence prevailed among the attendees.

“There are a few issues that need mentioning before you proceed. It is crucial to maintain your identities’ secret and refrain from bringing attention to yourselves. Since assimilation into the cultures of Utyirth is critical, you will be given simple clothes consisting of trousers, a leather vest, and a grey cloak. Attempt to acquire clothes and weapons as soon as you can to assure your blending in their societies. Ganis is aboard Commodore Habitus’ ship. They are both waiting for you to start the voyage. Proceed to the armory to drop off your equipment and receive your new gear before heading to the Siren’s Tear, your transport. Good luck,” Prince Iolcus briefed.

With nothing to ask, the nine members of Lyra’s Ona left to prepare for their voyage. In spite of their capabilities and military record, Lyra feared that this would be the last time she would meet with her comrades.

On Writing: Finding Time

It has been a while since I wrote on this blog and reported my progress. That was, unfortunately, because I have not had much time these past two years and I could not write to my hearts content. Two days ago, however, I finally managed to make some time and squeeze in some writing. I managed to write about 12,000 words in these two days in a binge-writing-type phenomena. I finally finished my fifth installment of the series I have been working on. It has been so long that I missed it so much.

The other day I was chatting with someone about writing and he told me that there was this study about writing which made people happier and more productive in their work. I found the article and read it and it made a compelling case. I really do feel that after I write things seem a little brighter, often blindingly.

When we think that we are most busy is when we need to write the most.

On Writing: Revision Preperations

It has come to my attention that I have not been preparing for revision enough. Hell, I have not even been trying to learn how to do it write and in a structured way.

A few days ago while surfing Youtube, I came across an interesting video about editing your book. After watching it, I decided to start over and take notes, preparing some sort of checklist about how to edit.

The list, a group of simple errors to look for, so far goes as follows:

Error 1: shifting point of view in the middle of scene. EX: A character cannot know if their cheeks are red without seeing them.

Error 2: painting a scene without knowing whose point of view it is. Make sure it is made clear in the first two paragraphs, if not sentences.

Error 3: describing an experience that no one had. EX: Shouting that no one heard.

Error 4: a character thinking about themselves as a different person. No one thinks of themselves as ‘the boy’, rather ‘name’, ‘he’ or ‘I’.

Error 5: information dumps; when actions stop delivering the information mid action narration. Use different situations and organize them like a puzzle so reader could pick up and later feel proud about ‘getting it’. Did I stop my story to tell?

Error 6: the ‘as’ factor/cause and effect fallacy/order of events problem. In cause and effect, the effect does not follow the cause, as should be. EX: ‘He arched his back as electricity shot through his spine’, this should be, ‘electricity shot through his spine, making/causing his back to arch’.

Error 7: the ‘ing’ factor. Things that happen at the same time but should not. EX: ‘Battling as he drew his sword’. It is not possible to battle while drawing your sword, the latter is the prerequisite for the first.

Error 8: telling instead of showing. Vague adjectives without a visual. EX: Fierce is not a visual, drawing teeth is. Cold is not visual but shivering is. Use colors, textures, body language and visual explanation. Happy to be replaced by smiling, trotting, energetically moving. EX: ‘he was intrigued’ to ‘raised his eyebrows in intrigue’.

Exception: when trying to get to once scene from another it gets exhausting to show instead of telling.

Error 9: changing speakers with no new paragraph.

Error 10: speaker tags problem. You cannot smile, or signal a word, it has to come from a sound. Creative speaker tags make you sound like an idiot. Chirped, hissed, howled…etc. Those are only acceptable in fast action settings with no time for a dialogue because it does not slow down the pace.

Exception: pace is more important than speaker tag rules

Error 11: lack of use of invisible tags, (said and asked).

Error 12: Speaker tags at the end of the speeches used often. Put them at the beginning to try and notify the reader of who is talking.

Error 13: separating dialogue with a bead (description of actions) without a natural pause in the dialogue.

Error 14: foreshadowing something that is not used. Do not mention a weapon without having it being used.

PS: Person first said second is more common in adult books than in children books. It is an archaic method of writing, use it more in fantasy and less in other genres.

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKw80FwZJU0