E-Serials

Good afternoon, and thanks to anyone who has not only read the first three, free chapters of Tales of the Dying East: Book and Blade, but also bought Tales of the Dying East: First Day, which is now available online. First Day is a collection of the first three chapters of my e-book TODE: Book and Blade with two bonus chapters that won’t be released elsewhere.

Since I’ve decided to publish Book and Blade as an e-book serial or “e-serial,” I’ve had a sustained curiosity in regards to what the market for e-serials is like.

Personally, I love carousing the Internet for anything to read. I may read things from fanfiction.net, Smashwords, or the New York Times Online on any given day. On Smashwords and Amazon alike, I’m finding that more and more e-books are being published in a serialized format…and that made me glad that I was publishing the first TODE work as one.

I was later disappointed to find that many people avoid e-serials because they aren’t full books. According to a 2010 Huffington Post poll, 75% of readers who voted in the poll prefer to read full books instead of e-serials. A 2010 Mobilereads forum post also seemed to back up the negative common opinion of e-serials, regardless of their genre.

E-serial authors may be to blame for the relatively poor perception of e-serials. A moderate number of the e-serials that I have found on Smashwords have chapters that have been incomplete for a long time, as if the poor author had to abandon the series mid-way. Readers are taking a risk when they download e-serials, and as the reader’s anticipation (hopefully) builds through each individual chapter of an e-serial, the reader has to know that their prolonged trust in the story will pay off.

Even if e-serials are a hard sell, I’ll still write them. As a reader, I love reading serialized novels, but they’re great to write because:

The Author Has Freedom of Universe

I like comic books as much as novels. In the world of comic books, the single comics will have their storyline “arcs” and then release an issue that has its own independent story in the same universe with the same main and supporting characters. If Book and Blade was released as one full novel, for example, I couldn’t release bonus chapters about other things in the Dying East universe which pertain to major or minor characters and storylines.

Convenience

I like to read e-serials because I don’t have to wait a year or two for a good author’s latest work to come out. I’d rather have something short to read constantly than something big to read at once.

More Options For The Reader

By releasing free chapters of an e-serial vs. releasing one large book, I can give readers a choice between just following only what’s needed for the current story arc and following extra things regarding the world that I’ve constructed. A single large book doesn’t provide that kind of versatility for the author–at least not for me.

Greater Story Length

Unlike novels, an e-serial doesn’t have to end at 120,000 words because it can be broken up in so many different parts. Again, it seems easier to read constantly read small parts of a large novel than one massive 500,000 word tome. Much like anything else in a series format, an e-serial can sustain for as long as the creator wishes it to. It’s even better if the serial has been properly broken into volumes because the reader is then able to pick and choose what they want to read from the series.

These are simply my opinions on the e-serial format. If you’re reading this and have an opinion to share, please share it.

Book and Blade: First Day

Along with the 9/19/2012  release of the third, 13,500-word chapter of my e-serial Tales of the Dying East: Book and Blade, I’m pleased to announce the release of Book and Blade – First Day, compilation of not only the first three chapters of Book and Blade, but also two bonus chapters that haven’t been released anywhere else!

In The Lovelorn’s Last Sail, Rainmaker and Raze, both eager post-grads of the Scion Tactical Academy, participate in what would be Rainmaker’s final, fateful mission for Scion Tactical International. Caught between morality and demands of “the day’s work,” Rainmaker will make a decision that affects…and ruins…the rest of her life.

Savage Is Style is a very special chapter that takes place in the East Nainten region of Tagis, five-hundred miles away from the Scion Tactical Academy, and features the “post-barbaric” gang known as The Hands of Terror. Although they’re only mentioned in the second chapter of Book and Blade, the family of Eagen of Twin Hells rocks out at his Sci-Tac Academy acceptance party as only noble, jovial, chain-swinging psychos can.

Look for Chapter III of Book and Blade on Smashwords starting next Wednesday with the release of Book and Blade – First Day on Friday, Sept. 21!

What Is Scion Tactical, Anyway?

If you’re one of the 82 people who downloaded and read part I of Tales of The Dying East – Book and Blade, THANKS!

Wednesday, August 8th will see the release the second chapter of Book and Blade. Prior to the release of the first chapter, I introduced you to this fantasy world that is The Dying East. In today’s post, let’s take a look at the Scion Tactical Academy, where most of the action and drama in Book and Blade takes place.

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               The Scion Tactical International Officer’s Badge

“Violence grants me the power to control the world I’m living in, and knowledge grants me the wisdom to profit from that power. Without an understanding of the balance between The Book and The Blade, future heroes-for-hire, you will never pass a certain point in our field. You might not even survive in it for too long.

- Instructor Marla Kian, Sci-Tac Academy

Scion Tactical International, the Dying East’s foremost “private security firm”, started out as The Scion Tactical Outfit, a minor mercenary band formed in the small midwestern Nainten city of Rickero by veteran “pirate-killer” Hanno Kerse in the year 803 p.S. By the time he formed the outfit, Kerse had already amassed a small fortune by taking bounties on pirates from the undersea continent of Grysa, who would sail their submarines and battle-yachts against merchant vessels sailing on the Sea of Nainten between Nainten and the Isle of Ricte, which is 300 miles away from Nainten’s northern coast.

The Scion Tactical Outfit started with a single Velyan armored swoop, The Scion, which Kerse purchased through a naval black market. The Scion was formidable enough in battle to defeat Grysian pirate craft twice its size, and it wasn’t long before Kerse had enough money to purchase an entire fleet of craft capable of sinking Grysian pirate subs and yachts. As it is in Nainten, Word reached many that there was a new “king of the pirate-killers,” and many Nainten men and women left their homes to join him. By 810 p.S., Hanno Kerse had amassed 50 million garri in pirate-killing profits, a fleet of fifteen gunboats and swoops capable of sinking even the strongest of Grysian pirate ships, and an army of 1,200 eager pirate-killers.

As Kerse’s army swelled to 1,500 by 813 p.S., he could no longer house his troops on their respective ships. Kerse commissioned the building of facility built on 4,000 acres of land five miles east of his hometown of Rickero. Initially designed as a barracks for his troops, Kerse later selected twelve of his top lieutenants to train new recruits, and at their suggestion, Kerse’s facility was named The Scion Tactical Academy.

The school was a success, and enjoyed a full freshman class of 1,600 for its inaugural year in 814 p.S. The heightened interest in the Scion Tactical Outfit did wonders for its professional reputation as well; Scion Tactical’s pirate-killing services were in high demand along Nainten’s northern coast, where attacks by Grysian pirates were the most frequent and severe. Many North Nainten settlements paid upwards of 9 million garri per sunken Grysian vessel.

By 820 p.S., Dying East governments were paying between 10-20 million garri for the services of Scion Tactical. To reflect their growing reach, Kerse renamed the Scion Tactical Outfit to Scion Tactical International. In 822 p.S., Hanno Kerse added degree programs such as Counter Piracy and Advanced Swoop Warfare to the Scion Tactical Academy’s curriculum to give the school more credibility in the eyes of the Dying East’s four continents.

In reality, there were very few in the Dying East who approved of the existence of the Scion Tactical Academy, and Kerse’s refusal to acknowledge Scion Tactical International’s negative public perception would result in his downfall.

Kerse’s fate, and more back-history of the Scion Tactical Academy are in the second part of Tales of the Dying East – Book and Blade, available 8/8/2012 at Smashwords.com for the recession-era price of 10 cents. If you want to start the series from the beginning, part one is available free on this blog at the Tales from The Dying East section (scroll down!)

Games For The Newbie Writer: Fun With Flash Fan-Fiction

Today, I’m starting a new site category for site visitors who want to have fun while learning how to write fiction, especially genre fiction. 

The first, best piece of advice I’d like to give to any newbie genre (or otherwise) writers reading this post is that you must write what you like. Don’t write literary fiction because you think people will take you more seriously as a writer if you do, and don’t write zombie and vampire genre fiction because it’s what sells. Good writing comes from playing towards your strengths, not towards an audience. 

I feel that this sentiment is very true in the case of fan-fiction, a type of writing that has a mixed public perception.  After all, how can a new writer learn to form their own original ideas if all of their ideas are coming from a pre-established mythos? 

A writer who is still experimenting with the limits of their imagination, however, may not be able to form an “original” idea no matter how hard they try. So…why try? One of the most important things a novice writer can do is just get in the habit of writing and putting brilliant ideas on paper. 

Fun With Flash Fan-Fiction

1. Think of a fictional series/novel/story that you like.

You can also take a real-life event with the intent of adding your own fiction to it.

2. In less than 100 words, create a plotted prequel or sequel based on the series or event that you chose…

…but you can’t change anything about the story’s universe itself. For example, if you want to write a Superman-fanfic, you can’t introduce candy-cane colored Kryptonite unless a pre-established Superman villain can somehow create it within 100 words and upon Superman.

And there’s at least one Superman villain who can do that, too.

3. Try to find an Ideal Reader 

In his memoir ‘On Writing,’ Stephen King defines an Ideal Reader as somehow who is close enough to a writer so that they are vested enough to read the writer’s work, but capable of giving an unbiased opinion on it. In King’s case, it’s his wife, Tabitha. Realistically, many modern, busy people don’t have time to read any long work from a newbie (or experienced) writer unless they’ve been prodded or paid. 

However, it doesn’t take much for the newbie writer to pass a 100 word document to their unbiased drinking or shopping pals, read the whole thing, and give a short opinion. Similarly, it doesn’t take even a newbie writer long to write 100 words. 

If you can’t find an Ideal Reader, just post something here so that other writers visiting this blog can give opinion on it…with the promise that no one on this site will ever judge you or criticize you unfairly.

Keep in mind that while flash fan-fiction can get the newbie writer’s fingers and mind a flex, fan-fiction can never substitute the joy of creating an original character, world, or universe. Eventually, the training wheels have to come off.

 

What Is The Dying East, Anyway?

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A Scion Tactical Academy Crest

Art by Mykeal Spivey

Tales from the Dying East is a fantasy series that chronicles the hopes, hurts, and conflicts within a world on the brink of a new age. One of the major themes behind the Tales of the Dying East series is that regardless of what chaos occurs in any world, life and time still continue for the better or for the worst.

2,010 years prior to the events of Book and Blade, the first Tales of the Dying East serial, the civilizations of the Whole World experienced a millennium-long Diamond Age in which new planes of existence were discovered, natural death was eradicated, and mankind solved almost every mystery pertaining to the supernatural. Human beings found themselves discovering and accepting creatures they only knew from legend, such as angels, demons, and even dinosaurs.

All of this was due to one man, known to time as The Shifter, God Given Flesh, Or Man Became God, who found he could control reality as he saw fit. For 1,000 years, he reigned over the Whole World with the consent of the people living in it until he vanished from time on a single day referred to as The Shifter’s Fall. All order within the world collapsed on that day, leaving the “tumor in the universe” known as The Obsidian Sea in its place. Only four continents of the world ultimately survived both fall of civilization and “rise of the helltide”: the advanced Isle of Ricte, the religion-controlled, Dakstrian nation of Velya, the plague-infested nation of Vedal, and the humble, third-world, anarchistic nation of Nainten.

Only a few of the marvelous races discovered during the Diamond Age survived the Perdition Age that followed The Shifter’s Fall, during which the demonbeings known as the Dakstra and humankind protected each other from the stronger races that sought to devour and enslave them. It remains to be seen if this peace between Dakstra and Man will last into the new age.

As most changes in age are marked by warfare and influenced by a select few, who or what is the deciding factor in the final struggle between those who want the world to die and those who want it live?

I feel blessed for every Tales of the Dying East story that I get to write because I love this world so much. If even one of you reads a Tales of the Dying East work and loves it, any amount of work I’ve put into the series is worth it. Whether you come to dig Tales of the Dying East or come to hate it…send me an e-mail, and feed my gloryhoundom or just leave a comment or two on the Tales of the Dying East page, where you’ll find the first, free part of Book and Blade.

Heart Y’all,

Will