Thursday, April 17, 2014

ALLIE'S WAR SERIALS ~ a new format for the series! #urbanfantasy

Okay, so this is purely publishing news, but I figured I was overdue to announce these two things on here. One has to do with the Allie's War series. I actually just explaining my thinking on this in an email to a fan who was asking about the release dates for PROPHET: ALLIE'S WAR, BOOK EIGHT, so I'll share some of my answer to her here...

Sorry I've been so late to reply...this week has been a little nuts for me, ha!

I wish I could give you a better date on book 8, but I'm actually trying to work that out now. I had a bunch of things come up this month that are pushing that date off a bit, if only because I have less writing time right now, and I'm kind of drowning in half-finished projects as a result. I'm now REALLY hoping I can get Prophet: Book 8 out by June. Originally I'd thought April was optimistic, May was probable, but now I'm afraid it's more that June is optimistic and July is (possible?...I don't want to say "probable" but it's definitely possible). 


So sorry to make you wait! That's the problem with writing such long books, I'm afraid.

Actually, one of the things I'm doing right now that's gumming up the works a bit is launching the books in a serial format so that people aren't as intimidated by the long books, for one, and two, so that I can release them more often once I'm up and running for the rest. I'm hoping this allows me to move forward without making people wait as long between segments.

Sorry for such a long, convoluted answer (lol), but this is something I've been trying to address for awhile, meaning how to release faster so that people aren't forced to wait as long...

Best,
JC


So, rather than rewrite all of that, I'd thought I'd just share it as-is. : )

I'd been reluctant to break the books up before, if only because I wasn't sure how people would react to cliffhangers, but I've since been persuaded that it's a lot easier on readers to consume these longer story arcs in smaller chunks, and that as long as I still offer the full books and make it clear that it's a serial format, then most people should be able to pick the format that makes them happy.

I'm also going to be releasing them in two-book chunks as "seasons" as well, since the series as a whole breaks up that way, as well.

So here are the first four books in the serial version of Allie's War ~

ALLIE'S WAR, AN URBAN FANTASY: EPISODE 1 (FREE everywhere but Amazon.com, so if you want to see it free there, too, then use the "report a lower price" function on the sales page, and report that it's free on KOBO and GOOGLE PLAY. It will be free on Barnes and Noble too, but I don't think it's up there yet)

ALLIE'S WAR, AN URBAN FANTASY: EPISODE 2 (99 cents)

ALLIE'S WAR, AN URBAN FANTASY: EPISODE 3 (99 cents)

ALLIE'S WAR, AN URBAN FANTASY: EPISODE 4 ($2.99)

Each episode is around 140-150 pages, so almost a full novel in and of themselves.

As an aside, ROOK: ALLIE'S WAR, BOOK ONE is still at the special price of $0.99 for the next week or so. It will be switching back to its normal price (at the latest) in the first week of May, when I re-launch it as "ROOK: ALLIE'S WAR, EPISODES 1-4," just to keep all of the naming conventions in line. So, yeah ~ if you want to pick up the whole book, it's a good time to grab it while it's still at the discounted price!

I'm going to be doing the same with each of the books, before tackling the seasons.

By the way, this shouldn't affect the price of the big books much, and probably won't at all. That wasn't at all the point of this...it's really to address the slower release schedule issue and provide an option for those readers who would rather not be faced with consuming a gigantic book in one go.

So yeah, hopefully this will make everyone happy. : )

(of course it won't, haha, but as long as it makes MORE people happy, I'm good...!)



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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Allie's War Series: Word of the Week Weds (it's practical this week) ~ Al-Hab

Just wanted to share my "Word of the Week" Wednesday in Prexci this week. Here's the link to the post on the Allie's War website: The Allie's War Series: Word of the Week Weds (it's practical this week) 

Full Text Below ~

*

And it's that time again...

Apologies for making it just in under the line this week...it's an odd combination of taxes, production schedule craziness and lots and lots of writing, editing and formatting.

ESPECIALLY formatting.

But here is the "Word of the Week Wednesday"...and even while it's still technically Wednesday. Of course, by WORD OF THE WEEK, a reminder that I mean a word in Prexci, my made-up seer language in the Allie's War series. Again, no promises to teach you anything approaching an actual, usable language...this is really just for fun. : )

So, because I gave you a really bad swear word two weeks ago, and a nice clean, semi-spiritual one last week...this week, I thought I'd give you more of an everyday term, something more practical.

So here goes...the "practical" word of the week:

Al-hab (phrase)

Defin: "Not a problem" (similar to "no worries" or "no big deal" or "no sweat")

Like tonight, I got invited to a wonderful seder meal with my good friends, and when they offered me another almond cookie, and apologized when I said I was full, I simply said, "Al-hab!" and ate the yummy almond cookie.

Of course, now, after multiple such yummy cookies, matzo ball soup, fish cakes, yummy casserole, salad, chocolate and a candied pear, I am thinking perhaps I should have taken their warnings about a lot of food and many deserts somewhat more seriously...

So that is your word of the day this fine Wednesday, with my big matzo ball tummy and almond cookie breath...

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Monday Musing ~ Celebrity Culture and Why It's Not Always A Bad Thing

So, I'm a day late with my Monday Musing...I thought I would get to it at some point yesterday, but yeah, it just didn't happen.

Two other things happened...one, I got my taxes done and filed, (which is what took of the bulk of my day, probably not surprisingly...over twelve hours from start to finish)...and two, I finished a draft of what started off as a short story, and morphed into a full-blown prequel novel, if a short one, for my Quentin Black Mystery series, which I'd planned to launch later this year.

See shiny cover, Exhibit A, to your right ~ 

It's now with the beta readers, but should be out very soon.

The other big thing in writing news...

Well, I'll explain that one later, in a separate post, before I run out of room to muse about anything much at all. As it is, I'm still more or less staring blankly over my first cup of coffee, so this one might be a little more off-the-cuff than usual.

So, what am I going to talk about?

Idols. People we look up to.

Strangely, I realized this was kind of the counterpoint to the whole post about cults and culty behavior, because there is a certain sub-set of minor celebrities who take advantage of human beings' natural desire to look for role models among other people.

I think this is one of those drives that's very easy for certain personality types to misconstrue as weakness, or somehow a lack of having one's own mind.

I even have Galaith talking about that in the Allie's War books, when he's trying to convince Revik to join him in a more interventionist approach to human beings ~

*

“Don’t be offended, Revik,” Galaith says, raising a hand to silence Terian. “It is not you that is the problem. The Seven certainly mean well, but they are judging my race as if it were their own. But humans are not seers, Revik. Humans...the ordinary mob of humanity...do not need more freedom. They do not even want it. What they want, more than anything, is for the world to make sense. They want their lives to have some greater purpose...a meaning.”

The faceless man smiles wanly, looking out over the muddy exercise yard.
 

“They want someone to provide that for them, Rolf,” he says, quieter. “They want this in part because they do not trust themselves...much less their fellow man. Which means, more than anything, they want to be led by someone greater than themselves. They don’t want a committee of their peers. They don’t want the truth to shift with the sands of opinion, or time, or perspective. They want an absolute reality. One that makes sense to them year after year, no matter what occurs outside of them. Whether they control this or not is irrelevant to them. They wish the illusion of control...without any of the responsibility.”

I glance at Revik’s face, watch him thinking about this.


I can tell he doesn’t exactly disagree.
 

Hell, I’m not even sure I do.
 

Galaith watches Revik too. After a pause, he smiles wanly.
 

“Rolf, my dear friend...humans are, quite simply, made to be dominated. If not by seers, then by more powerful humans. In truth, they prefer it.” He gestures broadly over the whitewashed buildings, the rows of uniformed men. “This war is a case in point,” he says. “Is it the honest leader to whom the masses flock? The one who gives them greater freedoms? More responsibility for their lives?” He smiles, shaking his head. “No. It is the one who gives them purpose, Rolf. An enemy. A beautiful dream that tells them all of their problems can be solved. Do they care that this dream is borne of countless lies? No. They do not. No modern human leader has ever been loved as the Germans love Hitler, Rolf. Not Churchill, not Roosevelt. Not since the last of his kind...Napoleon, Caesar, the Emperors of old Asia has a leader been loved like this...”

*

It's something I've always struggled with, personally...in terms of studying history, that is. Meaning, the fact that freedom is so frightening to many of us that we would almost prefer a gilded cage, as long as we're more or less comfortable in other respects. I've also seen that assumption reflected in the speeches and interviews of certain people whose motives, let's just say, I question.

You see something really similar to this impulse in celebrity worship, too, which is sort of the modern-day king- (and queen-) making.

I thought this was a really interesting discussion around the weirdness of our fascination around celebrity, and from a somewhat unlikely source (although he certainly has good reason to have been contemplating it) ~ Jack Gleeson, who plays Joffrey Baretheon on Game of Thrones.

Here's the whole interview, I highly recommend checking it out, if you have time:



For me, I'm realizing that both of these types of manifestations are a twisting of a much more pure impulse in me, one that looks for ways out of my current circumstances into something that's higher, better imagined, more truly myself.

I don't want to be like those people, not exactly...I want to be as much MYSELF as they seem to be, at least to me. Granted, I don't know most of the people I have fan girl type crushes on, but I want to be as fearless as they seem to me. I want to be as authentic, and in some cases, as generous as they seem to me, and as kind.

I want to have real confidence, the kind that means you're not afraid of being wrong, or looking like a fool, or making a mistake. One that can roll its eyes at people who laugh and point, or better yet, laugh with them, or find some way to turn my mistake into something beautiful, something that might help others who struggle with the same thing.

I want to stand my ground against people who want to twist me into something I'm not.

I think that's why I have such a strong negative reaction to people who try to twist that impulse for emulation and self-growth in others. It's a cliche, but it's a responsibility when you're in the public eye. I don't mean that in a "Miley-Cyrus-Should-Put-On-Some-Clothes" kind of way, but more in the sense that you can't use that position solely as a means of accumulating more power for yourself, or you're abusing the charge, as far as I'm concerned.

If you use it to create little fiefdoms of adulation and agreement, you're truly lost.

Anyway, I'm sure this is a topic I'll continue to chew on now and then, since free will and people who try to constrain that for their own purposes is a topic I tend to obsess on more generally.

For now, I'll leave you with some of my own personal idols, at least a tiny snapshot of them at this moment in time...(and this is no where near exhaustive)...


Hope you're all having a lovely post-blood-moon Tuesday...

Let the fracturing begin!


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Friday, April 11, 2014

Language and Dolphins and Seers...Oh My! #AlliesWar #urbanfantasy #dolphins

Greetings, fellow mammals! Care to discuss the nature of time and space?

So, I've been following the research on understanding/translating dolphin language to some degree (although not crazy closely, I admit), and thought this article by the Smithsonian discussing a machine they're working on to translate dolphin language was pretty cool:

This Device Translates Dolphin Sounds into English

I thought this passage was pretty cool, in terms of the language I've played with for the seer race in the Allie's War books ~

"There's no shortage of research on the way that dolphins interact. The animal labels and identifies others in its group with whistles. And in the 1970s, researchers found that Akeakamai, an especially bright bottlenose dolphin housed at the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory in Honolulu, could be taught, through a kind of sign language, to understand syntactic differences, or the manner in which re-shuffled arrangements of hand gestures can be used to convey a particular message."

However, I have to say, in reading this article, I find a lot of things missing, in terms of how language actually works. Meaning, they don't really discuss at all the multiple layers that live inside all symbolic languages, and the types of challenges that would pose when looking at interpreting meanings inter-species versus intra-species. Meaning, words in all human languages comprises much more than the literal meaning of the words, but the entire context, cultural and otherwise, that gives the words significance.

And yeah, that's a mouthful...but what I mean, essentially, is that you can't talk about most words without getting into cultural context. Try explaining "time" to someone who has no concept of how we structure our reality around it, and you'll get some sense of what I mean.

Then think about trying to explain that to a dolphin. Or a bird, for that matter.

More than that (and this is something I've given some thought to in the past, since it was partly thinking about dolphins that caused me to think about the fictional language of seers differently than human English or other languages in the first place) - like my telepathic seers, who operating both on the material plane and in the Barrier, dolphins are animals that use sonar a great deal.

In fact, one could argue that sonar is at least half of how dolphins "see" their world.

Therefore, I would think that sonar would make up a HUGE chunk of their actual communication to one another...especially since sonar transmissions can be shared.

Think about what sonar is - it's essentially a means of taking a (nearly) unfiltered snapshot of some element of your reality. Because this is done with sound, that means it can be shared, as in, you can shoot an exact snapshot of what you saw to another dolphin (almost like the snapshots I have seers send to one another with their minds).

Think about how that might translate for a human being. If, instead of explaining something you saw to a friend, using your own interpretations, selective perceptions (meaning what details stood out to you and how you interpreted what they meant, and what you saw versus what you missed seeing), you could simply snap a picture of that thing and give it to someone else, unfiltered.

Granted, we CAN do that nowadays with photography and video...at least to a degree. But the very building blocks of our language weren't designed around that ability, because in the past we've always had to filter our perceptions through symbols––either spoken words or (later) with pictures scratched in the sand and then written language.

I kind of played with this idea of the seers, too, and how our spoken language might differ if we had to incorporate sensory data from being able to see things directly, meaning 1:1, from within another being's mind, without the intervention of symbols.

Because even with photos and videos, there's a reason why the telephone game got invented among small kids. We don't translate things well in a 1:1 way with one another. The more time you have to interpret things through symbols, the more they get distorted as they are passed from person to person much less group to group and culture to culture. In theory, the distortion would be much more minimal with an animal that uses sonar to communicate...as very little of the original "snapshot" would be altered along any point in the chain.

UNLESS dolphins actually have a means of entering their subjectivity into the snapshots they create via their sonar communications...

Anyway, the possibilities are pretty interesting...at least to a great big geek like myself. : )

And on that note, I bid you a very happy and sunshine-filled Friday...

There's
no shortage of research on the way that dolphins interact. The animal
labels and identifies others in its group with whistles. And in
the 1970s, researchers found that Akeakamai,
an especially bright bottlenose dolphin housed at the Kewalo Basin
Marine Mammal Laboratory in Honolulu, could be taught, through a kind of
sign language, to understand syntactic differences, or the manner in
which re-shuffled arrangements of hand gestures can be used to convey a
particular message.


Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/checking-the-claim-device-translates-dolphin-sounds-into-english-180950472/#tif9MjgopP2j9jKl.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter
There's
no shortage of research on the way that dolphins interact. The animal
labels and identifies others in its group with whistles. And in
the 1970s, researchers found that Akeakamai,
an especially bright bottlenose dolphin housed at the Kewalo Basin
Marine Mammal Laboratory in Honolulu, could be taught, through a kind of
sign language, to understand syntactic differences, or the manner in
which re-shuffled arrangements of hand gestures can be used to convey a
particular message.


Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/checking-the-claim-device-translates-dolphin-sounds-into-english-180950472/#tif9MjgopP2j9jKl.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on T
For invitations to review advanced copies of books, exclusive content and giveaways, first notice of new releases and other updates, join my mailing list, THE REBEL ARMY. Your email will be kept private, you will never be spammed and youcan unsubscribe at any time.