Tag Archives: book

The Storyteller Reports: For Once I Don’t Have Anything To Complain About

For those of you who’ve seen one of my “Rants of the Week”, you know I can be cruel with these posts. Guess what? It’s three days until Christmas, according to my time zone. Therefore I shall do an Ebenezer and make myself merry. I’ll even write a positive “Rant”. Happy holidays.

RANT OF THE WEEK: A Brilliant Idea By A Brave Man

When World War I hit Europe, the response of culture was something more fragmented and cynical than what had come before. The Romanticism of James Fenimore Cooper and Nathaniel Hawthorne yielded to the harsh bite of Ernest Hemingway and Sigfried Sassoon. Literature was never quite the same.

Or was it? An Englishman named J.R.R. Tolkien survived those horrors as well. You might be familiar with some fantasy titles he wrote. His work seethes with pain and loss, but never with the same harshness as some other veterans of war. In fact, it’s remarkably beautiful. Perhaps it is even more beautiful than anything Cooper ever wrought with his pen, or even Hawthorne.

That’s why I’m excited and proud to hear about Benjamin Buchholz. This man went through the war in Iraq as an officer for the American army. On only his second day, a little girl was killed in an accident. Who knows what other dark things he saw after that. In any case, upon his return he decided to write a fiction book.

All of the works I’ve heard of concerning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seem hard-boiled to me. Generation Kill and The Hurt Locker don’t have many traces of Romanticism in them. Breaking the trend (according to my limited knowledge) is Buchholz’ novel One Hundred and One Nights, about a scarred man who befriends a girl. Every night, his new friend tells him a story; Buchholz specifically drew from Scheherazade’s famous exploits to inspire his own work.

The Baltimore Sun was the first link to alert me about this. Buchholz has some amazing things to say about his literature and his experience. Give yourself an early Christmas present and see what he has to say. 

I think this could be a little different from the usual take on the Middle East. I know little about the modern literature that surrounds that (I haven’t even read The Kite Runner), but that doesn’t cool my excitement. Once I pay for next semester’s college tuition, I may want to save up and get a copy of this book. I feel like taking a chance.

STORYTELLER OF THE WEEK

Charles Dickens.

If you even need to know why, go read “The Christmas Carol”. Or check out my laud to one chapter that he wrote (the greatest chapter of any novel, anywhere, any time). All hail the master.

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The Smashwords Edition Is Up!

After a long and successful bout with Microsoft Office, The Kingdom: The Quest is available on Smashwords! I published it as The Quest (Part One of The Kingdom Trilogy), so it’ll show up better in search results. If you have questions about how to download, I’d be happy to answer them. Would you like a blog post devoted just to that?

Get the book here.

In other news, the version for the Kindle Store is being ornery. I’ll put that one up for you this weekend.

I also want to post the full cover art for the book, if you haven’t seen it yet. I had to make it smaller for the cover, so I wanted to display it here in all its glory. Martha Bartell, a fellow undergraduate at Benedictine College, made this over the summer. I told her about Cythonir, Arman’s sword, and she put it under the moonlight.

By Martha Bartell

Notes Of A Storyteller: Would You Date A She-Wolf?

Well, would you?

I had to find an answer two summers ago. I was tinkering with the second half of The Kingdom: The Quest, looking for a way to ratchet up tension between Arman and his friends. I pondered it for a while. Out of the blue came an idea. What if somebody fell in love with a werewolf?

The idea stunned me, but it fit perfectly. It was just crazy enough to work. So I included it. One of Arman’s friends, during the second half of The Kingdom: The Quest, is smitten by a female werewolf. This werewolf tried to kill everybody just a few chapters before the love affair begins.

I was rejoicing until my inner voice spoke up.

“Hey, Sean, old buddy, old pal. You know that what you have here is a paranormal romance, right?”

“Ummm… no. I guess it is.”

“Have you ever read any paranormal romance?”

“Well, no, but how hard could it be? I mean, the most popular examples are Twilight and True Blood. When I hear people talk about them, I don’t hear any talk about the plot. I hear them talking about sexy vampires.”

“Your point?”

“I’m not going to read them. I’m going to one-up them. I’m going to take a serious examination. Forget those adolescent fantasies! What really would happen if a man and a monster fell in love? What are the ramifications? How would this be looked at from a traditional fantasy perspective? What can I play with here?”

At that point I shoved away my inner voice and got to work. I didn’t have time to read those silly paranormal romances! I had a novel to write!

Guess who’s feeling stupid now. In about a month, The Kingdom: The Quest goes out to the world, and I haven’t done my research. Now I don’t have the time I had those two summers ago. I’m studying at Benedictine College and putting the final touches on The Quest. The only reading I’ll be doing for the next few months will be for literature and Latin class.

Which is a pity, because I’ve realized that there may be much more to the P.R. genre than I thought. Ever since I joined Twitter in May, I’ve run into paranormal authors left and right. Authors like Jami Gold have blown me away with insightful blog posts about writing. As soon as I have adequate free time, I want to read their books and get to know the genre a little better.

For now, though, I must go by gut. After a lot of thinking about my paranormal romance subplot, I made some conclusions. I thought I’d share them because, having read no paranormal romances, I don’t know how most books approach them. This could mean I have different takes on the genre. Consider this an outsider’s comments on paranormal romance (and a preview of how it’s going to look in the second half of The Kingdom: The Quest).

  1. In answer to the titular question, I think I would date a werewolf. If she truly had good left in her, and I thought I could help her, I would. I would not run if a spark developed between us. I would stay by her, even if everyone else persecuted me. The only thing that would make me leave her was her rejection or her ultimate choice to pursue evil.
  2. A werewolf isn’t always monstrous. As a human, there’s no telling what he/she will look like. My werewolf is a beautiful young woman. Even without fur and fangs, it’s easy for a man to forget the dark side of a woman when she’s pretty and she has a smile on her face. It’s easier to fall into paranormal love than the average hero (or heroine) might think.
  3. On the flip side, there has to be something more than erotic appeal. There has to be an emotional connection. Without that, I wind up writing a testosterone-laced fantasy. I don’t believe in that. Therefore, for my romance, I found a connection in pity. Arman’s friend wants to help the female werewolf, who is consumed by guilt (see #4).
  4. I think there must also be some serious examination over whether this sort of love is natural. The operative phrase here, after all, is paranormal romance. That implies a love that is not quite normal. Is it moral? Is it healthy? Is it acceptable? Is it even biologically possible if consummated?
  5. In Arman’s world, werewolves are evil. They are monsters originally created by the Nameless One. They transmit the curse by bite. My werewolf didn’t choose to become one, but she did choose to follow the werewolves that bit her. She’s killed men before. She can’t stop herself from killing if she transforms. The most important theme I try to is explore how she strives for goodness despite this, and how she is tortured by guilt for what she has and has not done. How guilty should she be in the end?
  6. On that note, there has to be anger from the other characters when they find out about the romance. Especially in a fantasy with traditional values like mine, werewolf romance is another phrase for “sleeping with the enemy”. It’s almost a perversion. For at least one character, it is perversion. I find the tension between all the characters to be extremely important.
  7. Most importantly, I could not settle this romance without finding answers to these questions. If I could not find a happy ending that answered these questions, then I had to break up the romance and maybe even kill one or both of the characters off. Justice must be served. If my character winds up giving himself to the Nameless One in order to love this werewolf, he becomes an enemy and he must be stopped. I would cheapen the story if I let him be happy just because he’s in love.
That’s what this ignoramus has to say on the subject. Am I wrong? Am I right? Has somebody already come up with these conclusions? Would you date a werewolf? Tell me what you think.

The Storyteller Reports: A Diamond In The Rough… And A Great Big Rant

It’s that time of the week again. Hang on tight.

Rant of the Week: Another Reality Star Gets A Big Book Deal

It’s news like this that makes me very glad I’m an indie writer. I have just recieved word that Bethenny Frankel, an actress from the reality show Real Housewives of New York, gets to write three fiction books for Touchstone Fireside.

It seems we have learned nothing from Snooki’s literary reign of terror. If the publishing industry has learned anything, seemingly, it is this: if you bash in the brains of your customer once, then doing it again will make your customer even more docile and willing to give you money.

Frankel hasn’t disappointed so far. The title of her first novel blew me away. Skinny Dipping. Such a skillful display of subtlety and literary intent I have not seen in years. The level of thinking behind this title was also astounding. She tied it in with her line of food products, clothing and skin care called Skinnygirl. Deep allusions, there.

No matter how enticing this may seem to you, however, please do not purchase this novel. We don’t want to encourage this sort of behavior, do we? Seriously. Frankel won’t write anything that we haven’t already seen before. USA Today quoted her as saying, “It’s about a girl’s journey and what she wants, and trying to have it all. It’s about the lessons and the people along the way, about naysayers and rising above.”

I think I’d rather edit my book, thank you very much.

Storyteller of the Week:

James Tallett!

Say hello to James Tallett. This isn’t the first time he’s been on this blog. I reviewed his first book a while back: Tarranau.  It’s a diamond in the rough, and that’s why James is our Storyteller of the Week.

The Four Part Land has clearly been in the works for a while. One of the big pluses in Tarranau is exploring the interesting countries that Tallett has put up. I won’t spoil much for you. But Tarranau does a fair bit of exploring in the cities he visits. He gets told plenty of things, too. I wish I had more time to to tell you more, but as an English undergrad at Benedictine College, I don’t have time to do anything more than promise wonderful things.

Is Tallett a great writer? Not yet. As I explain in his writing, he has too many words and too many details. But here and there, I can tell there’s a good sense of rhythm in those words. That tells me that with time, Tallett could only get better. Considering the scope of his world and his plot (there’s six more Four Part Land books upcoming), this could be something huge.

I’ll be keeping an eye on this storyteller. I humbly urge you to do the same. His official website is lots of fun to peruse.

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Thanks for reading! Do you mind if I invite you to a contest? I’m giving a $10 Amazon gift card to one random winner who votes for their favorite cover for Die By The Sword, a short story coming September 15th. Go to this post if you want in.

The Enemy of the Exiled

Surprise! You get not one, but two new characters today. In the last post, you met the Guardian of the Exiled. Do you have what it takes to meet their Enemy?

The Nameless One has been the Nameless One for as long as the Exiled can remember. None of them even know what he is. Some whisper that he is a spirit like Menemaeus. Others call him a man with unfathomable powers, or the First Monster who made all the other monsters. Is he flesh? Is he air? If Menemaeus knows, he tells nothing.

What is undisputed is that the Nameless One is at war. The entire history of Arman’s world has been shaped by the campaigns of the Nameless One to conquer it. Now he is returned for his final and most terrible campaign.

Name:The Nameless One

Looks: No one knows what he looks like. He never leaves his stronghold: the dark island Okrash.

Hobbies: Devising the doom of pitiful creatures, summoning armies, and seething with hatred for Menemaeus and the people he protects

Loves: The death, pain and terror of good people

Hates: People who he cannot scare

Special Weakness: If he has one, no one knows about it

Most Dangerous Moment in The Quest: You won’t be meeting him in The Quest, but rest assured he provides many dangerous moments for Arman and his friends.

Theme Song: “Son of the Morning” by Oh, Sleeper

Memorable Quote: Not once throughout The Kingdom Trilogy does he ever say a word.