Posted in Books, Pop Culture, Religion

John C. Wright on the Genius of Robert E. Howard

Fascinating essay:

Conan is somewhat more deep and complex than the cartoon image of a brute in a bearskin loincloth found the popular imagination, with a dancing girl clutching his brawny thigh and a devil-beast dying under his bloody ax. The theme and philosophy he represents is not the product of adolescent neurosis (as certain bitter critics would have us believe) but of somber, even cynical, reflection on the age of the world, the costs of civilization, and the frailty of man.

You really have to read the original Conan stories to understand what there was about the character and the stories he enlivened to make him still a household name, 80 years later. For my part, the more I have read them, the more I have come to appreciate the vitality of them, and the flexibility of the character:

Conan is, in Wright’s estimation, a product of Theosophy’s pagan theories of eternal recursion:

the world of successive cataclysms captures the grim mood of the Hindu mystic, where a Kali Yuga routinely wipes out all life in the universe, only to have it start again. The Ecpyrosis of the Roman Stoics was the same idea, and said the whole cosmos periodically burned to ash and was reborn. And the successive destructions whispered in Aztec legends, where different generations of man and god alike are obliterated, all these and others capture the pagan spirit and atmosphere needed for the Hyborian Age of Conan.

In this way, Conan is something like an avatar of Shiva, or at the very least of Ares, the Greek troublemaker and brawler.

I recently picked up Wright’s Count to a Trillion, the start of one of his spacefaring trilogies. I haven’t cracked it open yet, but I hope to soon.

Read the Whole Thing, obviously

Posted in Books, Publishing

I Get Reviews, But Not Paperbacks

LastTomorrow3I don’t know who this person is (an anonymous Kindle Customer), but they had this to say about The Party at the Last Tomorrow:

on November 10, 2017
Well written. Muse is Everyman on a subterranean journey. Clever use of language to create a world to fear and dread.

That’s a solid summation of what I was going for.

In other news, I have been trying for a week to get Last Tomorrow available on Paperback, and I’m having no luck. Every time I set it up, the thing goes into review, and then I get an email from Amazon saying I need to fix this issue before I can go live, and then the paperback goes back into draft form. The claimed issue is:

Text on the cover is outside of the live graphics area

I am completely confused as to what that means. There’s a link that goes to their help files, which are way too general to be helpful. I assumed that to mean my cover was too big, as I’m using the same cover image as for the ebook, only set on the front cover area. So I resized it. Still the same issue. I’m starting to think it’s some kind of bug. I’ve sent Amazon a help request, we’ll see what happens.

Posted in Books, Letters

Fun Facts about the Tolkein Family

You can knock Wikipedia all you like, but I discovered some truly interesting information about the descendants of J.R.R. Tolkein, just by doing a bit of research on the Mabinogion.

To wit:

  • Christopher Tolkein deserves all the credit in the world for the existence of The Silmarillion. It was he who edited his father’s chaotic papers and drafts into the grand manuscript of the First Age. Plus, Christopher was actually part of the Inklings, the club of scholars and writers who included C.S. Lewis. J.R.R. called Christopher “his chief critic and collaborator”. He also drew many of the original maps of Middle Earth.
  • Simon Tolkein, Christopher’s son, is a novelist in his own right, and publicly broke with his father over the reaction of the Tolkein estate to Peter Jackson’s films. There was rumor that Christopher even disowned Simon over it, but they have supposedly since reconciled. His most recent novel, set during WWI and published coincident to the Battle of the Somme, is at least a partial homage to his grandfather’s experience in that battle.
  • Nicholas Tolkein, Simon’s son, is a playwright and director in Los Angeles. His first play premiered this past summer.

Quite the lineage, if you ask me.

 

Posted in Books, Publishing

How to Publish Stuff on iBooks, using Tablo…

I laid out the steps some weeks ago on my Ello page. If you like having your stuff iBooks, Tablo takes much of the work out for you. Here’s the basics:

Step 1Put Your Book on Tablo. You can write (or copy-paste) your work there with their Bookmaker software, which is intuitive and very easy, or you can upload a Word document. I’ve only done it the first way.

Step 2 – Publish. Having your book on Tablo, even available to read there, is separate from it being published to iBooks. When you click on your book, you will see three links at the top of the page: “Write,” to continue working on a book, “Publish on Tablo”, to allow it to be read on the web site for free, and “Sell on Bookstores,” which will send it to iBooks. You can have all, some or none of your book available on Tablo to read. You can select and deselect individual chapters. You can post chapters as you write them, to build a readership. Or you can skip this step entirely and go straight to:

Step 3 – Sell. Setting your book up for sale is all done on a single page. You will need to input the following:

  • Title
  • Subtitle
  • Description
  • Author Name (pseudonyms permitted)
  • Language of Book
  • BISAC Category (there’s a clickable drill-down to find yours, so don’t worry)
  • Tags
  • Pricing for US, UK, and Australia (there will be a suggested price point for each, but you can set them to be whatever you want)
  • Paypal email (Yes, you need a PayPal account to play)
  • Book Cover (Upload any high-res image)

Then just click the button and wait. This is the downside: you will wait.

I didn’t end up waiting as long as I thought I would, because as of a few days ago The Devil Left Him is up on iBooks. It has an alternate cover from the Amazon version but is otherwise the same. It’s also cheaper.

Devil3

Posted in Books, writing

Vlad the Impaler and Cue-ing Your Readers

Good Post at madgeniusclub about making sure your readers are getting the cues you’re giving them, and more importantly, not reading cues that you don’t intend to be there:

You need to be aware that if you’ve got a strong mystery plot, you should be putting in the cues for the red herrings and the real culprit and all the other little goodies mystery authors tease their readers with. Similarly, if your epic fantasy does not have a strong romance subplot, take the time to make sure you aren’t throwing romance cues at your readers. That will just make the more romance-oriented ones unhappy. It could well make the non-romance readers unhappy too, because these cues are deeply embedded in our culture.

This may raise the hackles of those who want to bust out or overturn the tropes or expectations of genre, but you can’t do those things unless you know what the tropes are and how they are used.

The author, Kate Paulk, is one I’ve read before. Her Impaler starts out as a historically-grounded Vlad II-as-a-Vampire story, and then goes someplace completely unexpected with it. It confounds your expectations in a good way. When I read it, I kept thinking the story could not possibly be going where it is, and I felt a little confused, but I kept reading. The characters were sufficiently developed, and sufficiently interesting, that I wanted to know what was next even as I found myself wondering why the trope I had expected was not arriving. Plus, a great closing line. If you like a good broody vampire prince tale, you should check it out (click the link to buy on Amazon).