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Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy Novel’

Let The Submission Process Begin!!!

January 12, 2013 Leave a comment

Last week I officially started sending out queries for my epic fantasy novel Under the Darkened Moon.  I started by selecting five literary agents and sent them all queries.  I followed their submission guidelines and sent what they requested, whether it was just a query, a query plus a synopsis, or a query plus a synopsis plus sample pages.

A couple days later I got my first official rejection.  It was a rejection based only on a query letter and a synopsis and not the actual story itself, but a rejection none-the-less.  Now I am looking at my set of next five lit agents to send letters to. Read more…

Book Review: The Choosing, written by Jeremy Laszio

October 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Full disclosure: I received a free copy of The Choosing from Mr. Laszio in exchange for an honest review. 

WARNING! May contain spoilers!

The Choosing, I’m sorry to say, had a very, very difficult time even registering on my scale of 0 to 5 stars.  For the first three quarters of the book, I was seriously considering giving it less than one star.  The short reasoning for this is that this story is simply not on par with what I expect from a fantasy novel.  I think my standards are fairly reasonable.  But honestly, The Choosing feels like an unedited, or only lightly edited, draft of a story.  It is missing so much.  It does tell a story, but stumbles in doing so.  And in my opinion the story is not that solid.
Read more…

The Deadly Sin Of Not Giving A Book A Five Star Rating

June 7, 2012 Leave a comment

There are seven commonly recognized deadly sins.  They include wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.  But there is also an eighth deadly sin so cardinal that is often over looked.  That sin is daring to say that a book is not “5 star” quality.

Yep, it is true.  Honesty is not looked upon kindly in the world of book reviews.  In that world, glowing, five star praise painting every novel written as the next best thing since Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkein or C.S. Lewis put pen to paper is the order of the day.  If you give a hedged four-star review while heaping praise, you can usually avoid most ofthe inevitable aftermath.  But, dare to give a book three-stars or less and you better be ready for scorn to be heaped upon you and the personal attacks to ensue.

When I said that Ian Irvine’s latest fantasy novel Vengeance, The Tainted Realm Vol 1 was only worth three-stars saying it read “like I was in the middle of a Tuesday night AD&D session” and it was not for anyone with “discriminating tastes in epic fantasy” it was on.  I received angry emails calling me a “worthless piece of s**t” and accusing me of “being jealous that I could never write such a wonderfully contrived novel as Mr. Irvine does time and time again.”  Well, excuse me for having an opinion.  Excuse me for thinking the book was mediocre.

Even when I recently posted my review of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, which I gave four out of five stars, I was not immune from attacks.  While I recommended the book, I also said that some things disappointed me such as the “simplistic prose”, its predictability and the fact that the basic premise was not very original even if the story details themselves were.  That caused fans of the book to unleash upon me because I did not think it was worthy of five star praise like they did.  Again, sorry for having an opinion that you did not like I suppose.  Please note that I did give it four stars.  Geesh!

It is an odd thing to experience, especially as an aspiring writer seeking publication.  One person upset with my review of The Hunger Games whined at me in a long, meandering email, “How would you like it if someone called something you wrote ‘simplistic and predictable’ and did not give it five stars?”  Well, honestly, as long as they are being honest and not vindictive or just a generally ignorant ass?  Then I do not care.  Opinions are, as they say, like butt holes.  Everyone has them.

I’m not one to toss around five-star ratings for anything, least of all books.  I’ve only ever thought that three books I have ever read deserved such an honor: Bram Stokers’s Dracula, C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass.  Sorry.  That’s my opinion.  Others have come close, but none has quite hit those heights.

I’m honest.  If you do not like it, don’t visit my site any more.  It is still a free country.

Book Review: The Lost Gate By Orson Scott Card

March 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Warning! May Contain Spoilers!

The Lost Gate is a fantasy novel where the old gods of history were really just mages, albeit powerful mages, who had come to Earth through Great Gates. Here they ruled over the people and often using them to fight wars and settle grudges on their behalf. However, so the Lost Gate’s story goes, years ago a Loki closed all the Great Gates and stranded the once gods here where their powers have been slowly waning. Great premise. That is why I picked this book up and wanted to read it.

The main story centers around Danny, a descendant of the Norse gods, living in seclusion with his family in the backwoods of Virginia. Danny supposedly has no talents at all, making him not much more than a common human and the scorn of the other members of his family who exhibit various skills that are a shadow to what the former gods could accomplish. Then Danny discovers a secret. That secret is that he really is mage. And not just any mage, but a Gate Mage; a Gate Father who is capable of creating gates to anywhere he wants to travel including the original home world of their people. The problem? Gate Mages are to be killed on sight. The story explains why this is and if you want to know why, then go ahead and read it. Danny is sent into self-exile to keep from being killed.

Overall the prose is good. There are many relevant scenes that focus on a young boy coping with both being a young boy and a powerful mage as well as the moral dilemmas his powers pose. The story is well told from those aspects. The problem with this book was that it suffered from a lack of action. The entire book reads almost as if it were a manual designed how to instruct Gate Mages in honing their talents. The book is rife with exposition of Danny learning how to make, control, move, lock, unlock and even finally “spin” a Great Gate. All this drags on drearily from the point where he realizes this is his power to the “climax” at the end. I use the word “climax” generously because what the ending really felt like was that Mr. Card had gotten to a point where he simply wanted to stop the story and needed to wrap things up quickly. If you blinked you would miss the “climax” because it was so short and completed in barely any time. Part of this, I think, comes from the point that Danny is simply too powerful and the system of magic Mr. Card created for this story made it impossible for Danny to not be able to end any conflict, literally, with a thought. Sure, he frets about not being able to do that, but in reality he is able to and finds a way to.

The best part of this story, I think, was not the story of Danny at all. It was the story of Wad back on the home world of the mages. But Wad’s story, while integral and intriguing, was a side story that was rushed through. The ending to Wad’s tale in this book was much more climatic than Danny’s and left me scratching my head as to why I felt cheated in being told so much about this Danny kid while Wad’s side of the story seemed like an afterthought.

Orson Scott Card promises the next book in this series and perhaps it will be better. But I don’t know that I will be reading it unless I am really convinced that the dearth of action which made The Lost Gate barely a tolerable read is corrected.

I give The Lost Gate an average rating of three out of five stars.

How I Rate Books I Read And Review

March 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Ok, so I get a really snarky email last night from someone that was not at all pleased with my review of Ian Irvine’s latest book Vengeance. I gave that book three of five stars which is a rating of average. But this upset person, obviously a fan of Mr. Irvine’s work, claimed that I gave the book a poor rating.

No, if I had given it none or one stars THAT would have been a poor rating. See, on a five star scale, three is average. That means I thought Vengeance was an average fantasy novel. I gave it that rating because of its many faults which I discussed in the review. To get more than an average review, a story has to really inspire me to give it such a lofty rating. To give you an idea as to what would it take to get higher than three stars? Well, Kristen Britain’s Green Rider got three and a half stars from me and The Alchemist got four stars which is one of the highest ratings I have ever given a story.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, The Executioness, the companion to The Alchemist, rated a fairly miserable two stars in my book.

It takes a lot to get me to rate a story higher than four stars. But three stars does not mean the story was bad. I see on a lot of sites like Amazon with reviews of books with people who are apparently very eager to give clearly mediocre books “five star” praise for some reason. Almost every darn book has a host of praise proclaiming it essentially the greatest story ever written. I usually ignore these glowing reviews by people that have obviously not critically read the story they are reviewing. And logic tells us that not every book can be “five stars”. Yet there are the reviews and averages ranging up in the 4.5+ star range for so many books.

I believe that I give the book a fair shake. Three stars, like I said, is an average representation of literature. The book is neither great nor horrid when it gets such a rating. It means that the author told a story and that story was conveyed in an average fashion. The story did not make me jump for joy nor did it so repulse me that I want to have the memory of having read it surgically removed from my mind. Don’t get upset with me because I did not go gaga for your favorite author’s latest release. If you really think his or her book is five stars and among the best books ever written then more power to you. I just rarely see a book that I would consider elevating to such a lofty standard.

And lest you think otherwise, I don’t even hold my own stories that I am working on among those high standards. I am not that delusional.

X + Y * C Does Not Equal A Good Story

January 4, 2012 5 comments

I had, what I consider, one of the most nonsensical discussions with a know-it-all author last night. This author, insists that a good fantasy novel must, and he emphasized the must, follow a very rigid formula.

For example, he said that the opening chapter must have action, the second chapter should be character development, the third chapter was for presenting back story, the fourth chapter had to be back to action … and so on he rambled.

I asked him if he wore a lab coat and mixed his concoctions up in beakers with such a rigid formula for “success”. Still he insisted he was right, despite having just two novels published to his name and neither of which have sold any number of appreciable copies.

How boring it must be to write like this. To lock yourself into such a little box with no room to expand beyond codes that in my opinion do nothing other than force everything one writes to be so similar? That would be boring.

What if, I asked, one’s story was not an “action” fantasy? How would you open with action? He said such things don’t sell. I reminded him, apparently neither does what you write. He got upset and dropped the argument.

It’s A Fantasy Novel, NOT An RPG!

December 28, 2011 Leave a comment

A friend, who recently found out that I was getting into fantasy writing, approached me with some material he too had written and wanted some advice. As if I, as an unpublished author struggling with my own work, am someone to be giving advice, right? Anyway, after about one hundred pages it became clear to me what was keeping me from actually reading his story through to the end; it read like a RPG game not a novel.

I will use the example of Skyrim, since that is the game I am currently playing and it is a constructed like a fairly typical RPG video game. In games like Skyrim you have the overall story arc but it is constantly interrupted by a myriad of tedious, although often compelling, but also at times repetitive side arcs, tasks, and quests. You are trudging through the icy wilderness of Skyrim headed towards the next point of the major story arc when BLAM you stumble on some caves or ruins. Sure, you COULD just ignore them, but you also know how quickly you can gain some much needed levels by clearing out this little distraction, mining out all the corpses for every last bit of loot to sell in town, and then use the gold you get in return to hammer out hundreds upon hundreds of steel daggers which will increase your smithing skill (and hence further increasing your levels). So you ignore the main quest and spend the next hour killing frost spiders, draugrs, and what not.  Then you spend the next hour after that crafting in town before heading back out and stumbling upon yet another distraction (ie. another dungeon location) where you wash, rinse and repeat. This is the way RPG games work.  It is tried and true. Read more…