Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Hope of Memory [Update 23] Wilders is Coming

So I haven't posted about my progress on The Hope of Memory in roughly 10 months.  I'm starting to feel like George R.R. Martin here, but at least it's only been a little over 2 years since my last book, and not the ridiculous 5 that GRRM has going right now.

But anywho... Wilders is almost ready for publication.  2015 was a year of great change for me, and a lot of things happened that took my attention away from writing.  But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

As I mentioned before, both Wilders and Rom Tar have been written for a while now.  The Wilders first draft was finished about 3 years ago, while Rom Tar was completed a year ago.  I'm about done with Draft 6 of Wilders now, and I think the next will be the last.

Over the years I've come up with my own process for writing and editing, to polish my work into shape without involving an editor.  Yes, I self-edit my books.  Many will tell you this is a mistake and you should NEVER do it, and I know it sounds condescending, but I'm telling the story I want to, MY story, and I think any writer worth their weight should know how to properly edit prose, even their own.  Don't make someone else do it for you... you can do it yourself if you take the time.

My Revision Process
Here's basically what I've come up with after self-editing a few books now:

Draft 1 = Handwritten draft
Draft 2 = Typing out first draft, fix content as I go along
Reading 1 = First read through, take notes on things to fix
Draft 3 = Hardcore line edit, fix content issues (adding / deleting)
Draft 4 = Audio reading (read the entire thing out loud)
Draft 5 = Grammar and spellcheck (via Word, etc)
Draft 6 = Checks (limit certain words & phrases, term consistencies, word stats)
Reading 2 = Second read through
Draft 7 = Any remaining fixes

In the future I'd like to add beta readers into the mix, just to get impressions and to make sure things work as written, but for now I can survive without it.

The initial draft aside, Draft 3 usually takes the longest, because I slowly go through every sentence and fix everything I see.  For Wilders this took me 8 months.  Hopefully it won't take so long for Rom Tar... I want to get it out before the end of 2016 and move on from this trilogy.  I have another story that I'm really excited about (and which I might start writing this year for a change of pace).

So stay tuned... Wilders is coming.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Ancient Day

Stone and vines and
veins green with mold
and rust.  Watch high

and white fangs emerge
from their cave of lips
and neverending pits.

Take wing, dark one.
Three terrified flee
over stone square and

embattlements deserted.
A vast ocean of moss
spreads to the horizon

when the being is
realized.  Legends churn
over a red half-moon;

an eye.  Of dark the
willow weeps, like those
below.  Arms to the

sky-gray sun and cracked
towers of fear.  Windows
break.  Jump now or

forever speak no more
of this gate.  Chased to
the edge, the portcullis

dried under claws.
Something fell into the
gray-green plane of mist.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Eddings [Reference] The Rivan Codex

This is Part 13 of my retrospective for The Belgariad and The Malloreon. Please see this blog post for an overview of the retrospective. Warning: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE SERIES, AS IN BOTH THE BELGARIAD AND THE MALLOREON.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

The best way to approach these blogs is via your own re-read. If you have not read the entire series yet and plan on doing so, you may want to wait on reading this.



Reference: The Rivan Codex (1999)
Finally, the last volume in the Belgariad / Malloreon saga (I wish there were an overarching name for the entire thing, but alas).  This is a somewhat unique book, as it's a mix of reference material and essays on the world and writing process.  It would be akin to The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time if Jordan had also explained why he did things the way he did.

What I Already Knew
Reviews of this book were generally positive, and I was anxious to read it... but in the end I skimmed through most of it, as chunks of it were material I'd already read in the main narrative of The Belgariad and The Malloreon.  Like the "Book of Alorn" that Belgarath recites way back in Pawn of Prophecy - it's almost lifted word by word from this.  Most of the prologues throughout the two series come from these notes.  Which makes sense, considering that much of this material was background made beforehand, to give them a foundation from which to write the story.

There are sections with holy texts for each race, and then sections on the history of each race and country.  These take up most of the book, and I skipped most of it.  Seriously, there are dozens of pages dedicated to the entire succession of Tolnedran Emperors (yes, every single one) - something that I was not the least bit interested in.

The Malloreon Gospels are in here, which I did read, as well as a section at the end from the personal journal of King Anheg, which appears to be set up for the storyline of The Malloreon, as it focuses on the events leading up to it and into the first book, Guardians of the West.

So I probably only read about 1/4 of the book.  All of the racial minutiae I didn't care about.  But it certainly was an interesting look into the amount of preparation that went into creating this series.  As a writer myself, it's always helpful to see how successful authors go about creating and writing in a world.  Although in the end there's no right or wrong way to do it... it's all up to the individual author and how they work best.  I personally have never gone into that much detail regarding a race or people when plotting something.  It would bore me to tears.  I want to get on with the writing!

What I Didn't Know
I had no idea Eddings had such a substantial background in medieval literature.  This is covered in the Introduction of the book, which is the most interesting part of it, though most of it reads like a condescending lecture (more on that below).

Since much of his writing was done pre-Internet, there aren't the typical fansites that crop up while a series is being written, with the inevitable wealth of information you generally can get on a writer in the current Internet age.  So there was very little I knew about his personal life, even now.  He says in the Introduction that he is very private, and that it's going to stay that way.  Mission accomplished, I suppose.

Anyway, Eddings spends a lot of time in the Introduction explaining the roots of contemporary fantasy and how you should respect medieval literature above all (which explains why he was so good at writing "High Style" dialogue - thee and thou, etc).  He also originally intended to do just a trilogy, but Lester Del Rey (the publisher) said it had to be five books due to the length limitations bookstores would impose on them (shelf space = premium).

Eddings then goes on to say that "you're not qualified to write epic fantasy until you've been exposed to medieval romance," which I think most people (including myself) would disagree with.  Maybe 40 years ago, when there weren't many epic fantasies on the shelves, this would be true, but today... not so much, unless you want to be formulaic and boring.  It doesn't hurt to know (I took a medieval literature course in college for my own amusement), and it's certainly influenced modern works such as George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, but necessary?  You can get along without it.

One thing I do agree with, though, and what most writers will tell you, is to write every day, as often as you can, and to toss your early work.  I wrote dozens of short stories and four novels before I decided I had one good enough to publish (Bonebearer).

Confirmations!
Most of my theories or thoughts from previous blogs on the series were confirmed here.  I'm only going to discuss the major ones that have always bothered me.

Anachronistic Cultures
Eddings confirms that he deliberately drew from different cultures from across the globe, though some differ from my guesses.  Here's what he said they correspond to:

Sendars = rural Englishmen
Arends = Norman French
Tolnedrans = Romans
Chereks = Vikings
Algars = Cossacks
Ulgos = Jews
Angaraks = Hunnish/Mongolian/Muslim/Visigoth

None of the rest had a specific analog in our world.  I got a few of them right, though, and of course the anachronism is intact, as not all of those cultures/races are from the same time period in our history.

Malloreon Made Up Later
Eddings also confirms that much of The Malloreon continent and backstory was not created until after The Belgariad was done and they had to come up with another story.  Which is what it totally feels like, especially with the contradictions that come up between the two series.

Ideally, you don't need to detail all of the backstory and history in order to write a series.  Sometimes you don't need it until you have to make it up as part of the narrative (which I have done).  However - you should always try to make it fit into what you have so far.  Avoid contradictions and inconsistencies like the plague, as there are plenty of sharp-eyed readers who will gleefully point them out.

The Prophecies Don't Exist
That's right, he never actually wrote out the entire Mrin or Darine Codex - the impetus for much of the story.  As he says, they are a literary device and nothing more, used to occasionally set our characters on a new course of action.  He simply came up with lines as needed.  That's all.

Retrospective Conclusion
So there you have it.  I'm not going to create a separate blog post to "conclude" this Retrospective, like I did for The Wheel of Time, with things like favorite volumes, characters or scenes.  First, because I don't feel it needs one, and second, I want to be done with this Retrospective.  You'll note that I didn't even talk about the cover this time!  Lucky you.

Instead, I'll just wrap things up with the below:

The Belgariad and The Malloreon are not paragons of modern fantasy, but they will always hold a special place in my heart, as they are the first fantasy series I ever read.  I notice so many holes and issues with it now, but they still remain fun and nostalgic for me.  I would recommend them for young readers as a perfect entry into the world of fantasy.  Are you ready?

I'm thankful Eddings stopped doing "honest work" to write these two series.  They had a great effect on my life and my own writing.  Many people may scoff at it these days, but I'll never get rid of my copies, and I'll continue to read it every few years, no matter how old I get.

Online References
One last thing.  Throughout this Retrospective, I've referenced a few Eddings-centric websites.  There aren't many, but if you want to explore sites that actually still exist, here you go:

The David Eddings Wikia
Eddings Chronicles
Guardians of the West
alt.fan.eddings
The Eddings Trivia Page

Note that most of the links on the latter two sites are dead.  One is even linked to Geocities!  The content is somewhat outdated as well.  The Wikia site is pretty much the only currently maintained site on Eddings and all his (and Leigh's) works.

Previous:

Related Works
Novel - Polgara the Sorcerer
Novel - Belgarath the Sorcerer

The Malloreon
Book 5 - The Seeress of Kell
Book 4 - Sorceress of Darshiva
Book 3 - Demon Lord of Karanda
Book 2 - King of the Murgos
Book 1 - Guardians of the West

The Belgariad
Book 5 - Enchanter's End Game
Book 4 - Castle of Wizardry
Book 3 - Magician's Gambit
Book 2 - Queen of Sorcery
Book 1 - Pawn of Prophecy

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Dream

The magic only works in certain areas
Boundaries painted on the ceiling
Bars and features on the ceiling
Have to use moving vehicles to activate it
No one believes

Monday, June 1, 2015

Yellow Chair Review - Chair Stealer and Tickle Finger

A poem of mine, Chair Stealer and Tickle Finger, is featured in the latest issue of Yellow Chair Review, which has a theme of Superheroes.  You can check it out here:


If you're wondering, I don't write much poetry these days, but I did a lot when I was at University of Nebraska, like 18 years ago or so (wow I'm getting old).  I even took a poetry writing course there, which was interesting, as I got to learn about different styles and force myself to write in them.

So I have tons of old poems lying around that perhaps I might dust off and submit to a few places.  Some are actually pretty good, I think.

The thing I've always liked about poetry, though, is that it's very subjective.  There's almost no right or wrong, unless you are attempting to write in a rigid format, but that's only fun a few times.

Anyway, check out YCR, it's a newer journal, with both poetry, short prose and art.  Some good stuff in there.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Review [PS3] Terminator: Salvation

Genre: FPS
Gameplay Hours: ~6 for platinum
Year: 2009
Rating: 4
Availability: Retail disc
Website: None, so you get Wikipedia.


Continuing with the custom list quest that I mentioned in my review of Red Faction: Armageddon, next up was Terminator: Salvation, an old PS3 game that is infamous for poor design and a pitiful trophy list.  It features 12 golds and 1 platinum, and all the golds are story-related.  So all you have to do is beat it on hard and you get the platinum.  Most trophy hunters played this one back in the day... for whatever reason I never got around to it.

So I found it pretty cheap at GameStop and ran through it.  I generally don't do hard difficulties because I actually want to finish a game without getting mad or stressed out, but since I needed the trophy for the hard completion, and it would get me another platinum... I sucked it up.

First of all, the story is a joke.  I haven't seen the movie this is based on (I got tired of the Terminator franchise after the second movie because of their liberal use of time travel, which ruins it for me), so I have no clue if it lines up with that or revolves around a side story.  But basically you're John Connor, trying to rescue some buddies trapped deep within Skynet territory.  You take down so many machines on your own that you have to wonder why the humans are losing the war.


The amount of T-600s you kill in this game is impressive.  And yet
Reese in the original Terminator movie struggled to kill just one.

Secondly, the mechanics are pretty bad.  Parts of the game are interesting, but overall it's same thing for 6 hours.  You come to an area with elements perfectly set up for sitting in cover, and you know what's going to happen: enemies.  That's basically the whole game, hopscotching from one to another.  No upgrades, little depth in weaponry (half of them I ignored completely).  It was bad enough to inspire me to write a poem about it, which sums up my feelings better than this review.


Determinated
by Me 
Run until you find
An area with obstacles
Perfectly set up for cover and flanking
Sit in cover and listen to endless machine guns
Flank and kill enemies 
Ride in a moving vehicle
Shoot things 
Run until you find
An area with obstacles
Perfectly set up for cover and flanking 
Sit in cover and listen to endless machine guns
Flank and kill enemies 
Ride in a moving vehicle
Shoot things 
Run until you find
An area with obstacles
Perfectly set up for cover and flanking 
Sit in cover and listen to endless machine guns
Flank and kill enemies 
Wonder why Barnes can't stay in cover * 
Run until you find
An area with obstacles
Perfectly set up for cover and flanking 
Sit in cover and listen to endless machine guns
Flank and kill enemies 
Ride in a moving vehicle
Shoot things 
Run until you find
An area with obstacles
Perfectly set up for cover and flanking 
Sit in cover and listen to endless machine guns
Flank and kill enemies 
Platinum
I rate it a 3 **


* The reference to Barnes pertains to a specific mission, where he's setting explosives.  For the rest of the game your companions will not die during battles - except for this one mission with the explosives.  In it, he stands out in plain sight, ignoring cover, and can easily be killed, forcing you to do the mission all over again.  It's a tad bit frustrating.

** The 3 rating is for the trophy difficulty.  The game itself I'm giving a 4.  Playable and mildly entertaining, but forgettable.