Questions for Readers

This post is a poll of sorts, and I really would love your feedback! (It’s only three questions, and you don’t have to answer them all, so don’t panic). These are few things that I’ve been mulling over lately as I’ve been working on my fantasy stories, and I’d really like to know what other people think about these things. My questions are directed mainly at readers of fantasy and related genres. I welcome feedback from readers (and writers!) of any genre, but fans of fantasy/sci-fi/paranormal would probably understand these questions best.

So, here we go:

Do you prefer one-shots, duology/trilogy, or series?

I’m not trying to find the “best” or even the most currently “marketable” length – I’m just genuinely curious what other people are reading. And I’m honestly not sure which one is my favorite. So what’s your preference?

Do you like to have foreign languages translated in the text, or just have it left up to the reader to figure out words from the context?

This isn’t really about conlangs (constructed languages, like Elvish or Klingon), although that could be a subject for a blog post all on its own. When a character is speaking in another language (one different from the point of view character’s primary language) I’ve seen several different methods used:

The writer puts the character’s dialogue in brackets instead of quotes – [I bring you my sword], said Vlen – to indicate the language change. Or—

The writer simply states the language switch: “I bring you my sword,” said Vlen in Elvish. Or—

The writer has constructed at least the basics of the language, and uses it, with or without a translation as part of the narrative: “Mdash nii hwena,” said Vlen. I bring you my sword.

Have you read books – or written books – using one of these methods? Or a different method? Do you have a favorite? What method of inserting other languages seems the most awkward or interrupts the flow of the story?

Do you love or hate a book with a glossary or appendix?

Many fantasy books have landscape maps or genealogical maps, often at the beginning of a book. But what about other stuff that might come at the end of a book, like a glossary of conlang terms, a pronunciation guide, or an appendix explaining a cultural history or technological specs? Do glossaries and appendices get you excited about learning “behind the scenes” stuff about the world of the book, or do you get bogged down because it feels like a textbook?

 

Thanks! I truly want to know what others think about these storytelling elements. I look forward to reading everyone’s answers!

End of Summer Update – My Writing Projects

So here it is, the end of the summer, and what have I accomplished? Well, more than I thought I would, and less than I thought I would.

To be fair, let me explain – I have no kids, and I do not work in the education field. Therefore, summer is no different from the rest of the year as far as my schedule or time commitments. All that changes is that it’s hotter. And humid. I hate humidity. But that’s another topic….

So, back to the current status of my writing projects. Here’s what I’m finding myself doing:

Editing

The current millstone around my neck is book one of my fantasy trilogy The Light-Whisperers of Kalevala. As I (slowly) progress through this editing/rewriting/more editing phase, I’m discovering that I’m very much a first-draft lover. I love cranking out that fine new tale, in all its roughness and over-verbosity, getting to know the characters and their shiny new world.

Editing, revising, and rewriting is a lot like mowing the lawn – an apparently never-ending task, boring, unpleasant in every way. But I like the results. Mowing the lawn is necessary if you don’t want your yard to look like an abandoned property, and editing and revising your story is necessary if you don’t want it to look like it was written by a second-grader with no talent.

But I’m happy to report that I’m past (most) of the parts of book one that needed the heaviest re-writes (I hope). Right now I’m doing more editing and revising that full-out re-writing; it’s a lot more like weed-eating the edges rather than mowing the whole stupid yard.

Writing

This is the stuff I enjoy. I’m working on the first draft of the second Light-Whisperers book, albeit sporadically. I’m trying to focus my time and energies on the revising of book one for the next month or so. I’m also still working out some major plot points of book two, and since I’m a big-time plotter, I’m not in a huge hurry to get to that blank spot in my outline.

I’ve also started working on a short story for a contest. It’s fantasy, of course. The challenge here is to keep it short. I’m one of those odd people who can bang out 100,000 words with (relative) ease, but I struggle when it comes to keeping it under 5,000 words. My “short stories” in my college English classes were usually small novellas.

In the blogging realm, I am feeling very accomplished because as of the time of this writing, I have several future entries done (full or in part). This saves me from that last-minute panic of “ohmygosh I publish every Wednesday morning and it’s now 11pm Tuesday and I have nothing written.” So now I can relax and publish panic-free for the next few weeks until I use up my back-stock and have to start writing again.

More editing

I am now also marketing myself as a freelance copy editor and proof-reader. I figure why not put my inner grammar nazi to good use? I’ve put up a page outlining what I do. Contact me if you’re needing a second pair of eyes for that last-minute polish, and please help spread the word!

So that’s been my summer. Writing, editing, heat, and humidity. And mowing the lawn. How was your summer?

THE NEXT BIG THING – Blog Hop

I did a blog hop about the Next Big Thing once before, but I thought it’d be fun to give it another go. I will be answering several questions about my WIP. In the first “interview” about the Next Big Thing, I talked about the second book of the trilogy I’m doing, because I’m currently writing the first draft of it. For this blog “interview,” I’ll talk about the first book, which is in the rewrite and first round of edits stage.

1: What is the working title of your book?  

The Vanished Reindeer. The trilogy is titled The Light-Whisperers of Kalevala.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

I wrote a blog post once specifically about that. The idea came from a thought about a herd of reindeer and a mystery—and to solve the mystery for myself, I turned to the realm of fantasy.

3. What genre does your book come under?

Fantasy. Specifically, cross-world fantasy (where the story takes place both on earth and in a fantasy world), with a dose of mythology-inspired fantasy.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Dunno. I’m still working on this one. Most of the actors would need to be Finnish, as the story is set in Finland and only one of the characters is American.

5: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About a year and half to finish the first draft.

6: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Well, let’s see—are you a reader who likes fantasy that pulls elements from mythology and classic literature? Are you a reader who likes a good Scandinavian mystery? Are you a reader who likes mysterious monsters, immortal queens, magic, music, and just a dab of romance? My book has all of that—hopefully tied together in a nice cohesive package. That’s what this rewriting/editing phase is for.

Many thanks to Bonnie Watson for sending me this blog hop entry. Check out her books at www.WisdomNovels.com!

My imagination

I’m new to this blogging thing, but I’m not new to writing. I know that no one has heard of me as an author, but I’ve been inventing stories since I could talk, and writing down stories ever since I could spell. I have what many might call an over-active imagination; but even during bouts of low self-image attacks when I tried to squelch my imagination and live like “normal” people, I found that I never could manage to turn it off.

So here I am, finally deciding to embrace my run-away mind and all the worlds it creates. So now the question is, how well will that translate into a blog that people actually want to read? Or, better yet, books that people want to pay good money for and read? Well, I’ll never know till I try…

To start with, I should probably talk a bit about what I’m currently writing (besides this fabulous blog, of course). I’m working on a fantasy trilogy—just finished the first draft of book one, and now I’m in the first re-write phase and have started book two. Four hundred-plus pages and 175,000-plus words of fantasy adventure…so now my goal for the re-write is to shave it down by about 50,000 words or so. I’ve trimmed off about 1,000 words (i.e. about two pages) of unnecessary fluff so far. A good start, right?

The term “fantasy” can encompass a lot of things, so to briefly describe this trilogy, I would call it either cross-world fantasy or just straight up plain fantasy (as opposed to urban fantasy, high fantasy, etc). It’s set in Finland, and involves the northern lights, reindeer, some musical instruments, and a dose of Finnish mythology. Sound interesting?

I hope so! I’ll be blogging in the future about some of the research that I’ve done for this series (yes, research for a fantasy story), and some of the things that have inspired me. And maybe I’ll even show a few excerpts from the first book. Time will tell…