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Fantastical Fantasy Sale

fantasy_sale_11-16

I’ve joined together with other great fantasy authors in the spirit of Black Friday shopping to bring you some awesome fiction deals.

November 24th (6am PST) – November 27th (11pm PST)

17 fantasy Kindle books for only $0.99 to $1.99 each!

Take a look and find out which worlds are for you. Happy Thanksgiving 🙂

Each book cover is hotlinked to its Amazon listing page & will open in a separate window.

Continue reading Fantastical Fantasy Sale

The Unending Story of Series Cliffhangers


Before I get into my topic today, I want to give a thank you and shout out to Audra Trosper. On November 12, she’s featuring a snippet from my upcoming book, Merlin’s Weft, on her blog. Go check out her blog.

ad_merlins_weft_m_andersen_pre-order


 

Cliff, hanging

Have you read any books that end like the one described below?

Cliff Studley and Kate de Lion have endured 327 pages of excitement, thrills, romance, near-death experiences and feats of paranormal derring-do to save mankind. In the past few pages, they’ve vanquished 1,132 enemies from seventy-three tribes of people, marmots, were-marmots, and wriggly sixty-two-inch-long earthworms.

Kate wipes marmot-goo from Cliff’s face, and he laughs with relief. They lean together to touch lips.

<you turn the page>

A 212-foot wide hole erupts before the couple and the vast, black spaceship last seen on page 217 rises from beneath the earth, laser cannons flashing.

The end.
Read the next installment of the Studley-de Lion series in
Yet Another Apocalypse,
coming next year.

A good book ends

Maybe you’re like me. I love a good book. I even read a lot of books to the last page that I don’t absolutely love. Some because they present an interesting idea and I want to see how the author carries it through; some because I like the characters but not the plot, or vice versa; some that are just … well … they’re not bad enough to put down.

So I read to the end. But lately, I’ve had to hope that the book I’m holding in my hand or on my eReader has an ending.

Even if I love a book, I am greatly disappointed if I discover that the author has so little regard for my time that I’m not given a satisfactory conclusion to a story in which I’ve invested hours of my time.

The nature of publishing today

I’m a fledgling author. I understand the nature of publishing today. You want to build a platform that carries readers from one book to the next. But more and more I’m seeing low-star ratings that are given because the author didn’t publish a book. A 327-page entry to a 20,000 word serial adventure often lacks the satisfying ending that readers like me crave.

“But wait,” the guilty cry. “There are some great multi-book series.”

Yes, and if you have the talent of JRR Tolkien or George RR Martin, I’ll buy your books and read them one after the other. But even JK Rowling wrote seven complete stories as she was constructing her mega-series about a young wizard.

Epic stories

The Lord of the Rings and the Song of Ice and Fire tell epic stories. Many other series require too many words, too many pages, to put into one binding. I don’t have an objection to long stories, per se. What I object to is the attempt to suck me into a series without telling me.

“But my book is listed as a part of a series. You should know.”

No, I don’t. Just because a book is a part of a series doesn’t mean each book is vitally dependent on the next one to complete its story. I point to the Harry Potter books as an example. Yes, you get more from them if you read them all in sequence, but each book has a beginning, a middle, and—here’s the kicker—an end. Many series are constructed around a sequence of complete stories, with the main characters developing as the tale progresses.

What do I suggest?

I ask for upfront honesty. If a book ends with a cliffhanger that requires—I repeat, requires—the reader to go to the next book to finish the story, then put that in the cover notes and the on-line description of the book. “This is part two of a single six-book-long story.” If I want to invest six books worth of time in the story, I’ll read it.

To be honest, part of the reason I’m concerned about this topic is that I’m working on a book right now that has 180,000 words. That’s longer than the word-count sum of my two Merlin books—each of which tells a complete story, by the way.

Since it’s historical fiction, its length is not as extreme as if it were a contemporary fantasy, but still, I’m not sure what I’m going to do when it’s ready to publish. I do have a “pause” about halfway through that could be a break between two sub-books. Hence, my soul-searching.

If I do publish it as two parts, I want to be able to let readers know up front that they are making a two-book commitment.

It’s a swashbuckler. I think it’ll be worth your time.

Meanwhile, I’d like to know what you think about unending books. Please leave a reply or comment at the bottom of the page.

 

Merlin’s Weft will be released November 18. The eBook is available for pre-order on Amazon.com for a 25% discount until the release.

 

Merlin’s Knot is available on Amazon.com.

Go to my Web site to obtain a copy of the prequel, Merlin’s Shuttle. He doesn’t battle evil in that story, but he does face off against Mother Nature.

Who Wants a Modern Fairy Tale?

UpTreeI’ve been on a fairy-tale kick lately. It started when I was thinking about the backstory of a character in my second Merlin novel. It led me to think about the character’s maternal grandparents. I’d already established the character as being Slovakian, and the character himself was based around a mythical being common in Slavic folk tales.

Quick disclaimer here: so far as I know, I have no Slavic blood. I’m a quarter Danish and the rest is a mélange of Western European nationalities.

This character’s sister was introduced in my first Merlin novel, and she told me when I was working on that book then that she was Slovakian, so what could I do? Well, that’s an easy question to answer: research. That’s how I discovered her brother.

Back to the fairy-tale kick. I had the idea to tell his back-story in the form of a modern fairy tale. I suppose some people would call it magical realism, but let me stick with fairy tale. I wrote a story about a girl who gets lost in the forest while being chased by a couple of nasty two-legged beasts (men) until she is saved by a (mystical) woodsman. I like the two main characters, but there was a minor character in this fairy tale—Babka—who insisted that I should tell her story.

I’ve had an on and off fascination with myths and fairy tales. Back when I was in grad school, I audited an anthropology class for fun. The name of the class was something like “Myth, Symbol and Ritual.” I wish I still had the class notes for that. It was a lot of fun, and a definite diversion from physics. I don’t think it was part of the class, but that was about the time that I read Bruno Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment. But then life happened and I spent several decades doing science and technology. My shelf of folk and fairy tale books mostly sat unread.

One of those volumes was The Complete Fairy Tales and Stories by Hans Christian Andersen. I’ve already written about the little gems I found there when I recently read that book cover to cover. It struck me that he seldom used the “once upon a time” formulation, and also how often he set the tales in (his) contemporary time. So, I wasn’t doing anything new by writing using a contemporary voice to tell a fairy tale.

Shoot.

I really only liked about one tale out of eight from H. C. Andersen’s stories. But I noticed that the ones that I did like had a magical feel to the writing. I decided, if I’m following in the footsteps of my distant not-relative, I should shoot for that quality.The story that old
Babka wanted me to tell is episodic, starting with her birth. Then, there are two vignettes of her as a girl, and the fourth occurs on the cusp of her adulthood, which also sets the stage for her role in the original girl-lost-in-the-woods story, where she’s an old lady. My intent is for each fairy tale to stand alone, but if you read them all together, they entwine. I’ve concentrated on making them feel magical.

I’m not sure that I’ve told her whole story yet. She might whisper something to me one day. But for now, I’ve got five tales.

I like the characters and what is happening to them. What I don’t know is whether contemporary readers want to read fairy tales. Would people buy a short book of newly made up folk and fairy tales? What do you think?

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