The Greatest Book Marketing I Have Ever Seen

It was the summer of 1997. I had just completed my first year of middle school and my first (and last) year of Boy Scouts. But all of this seemed overshadowed by a book that took place between two episodes of the greatest sci-fi movie series ever–Star Wars!

The novel is called Shadows of the Empire. It bridged the movies Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi together by filling the gap of searching for the bounty hunter that made off with Han Solo’s frozen body. Along the way, we were introduced to the criminal organizations that controlled half the galaxy and met some new characters.

While I wasn’t really into reading books during this time, this book stood out amongst all the rest of the Star Wars novels. It wasn’t just a book release, it was the multimedia event of the decade!

First of all, the whole project was created and pushed out by Lucasfilm which meant it had George Lucas’s full blessing. Not only was a book published, but vast amounts of toys, a comic series, a video game and hell, a soundtrack–practically everything short of a film!

After buying the toys and playing the game, I just had to get the novel and open my mind further into the world of Star Wars and literature. I was not disappointed. Shadows of the Empire revealed so much about Star Wars than any other project, and the fact that its demographic seemed to be for more mature audiences just sort of puts everything that is Star Wars post-1999 to shame.

The idea that no movie was ever made from this novel makes it unique in its own right. I don’t think any other books, short of RPGs, ever had such an incredible marketing campaign going for it. How cool was it that an author was commissioned to write a book and then have all of this lore created for it along the way? When I’m ready to publish my fantasy series, I have every intention of capitalizing on this idea.

There was so much going for it–Prince Xizor attempting to seduce Princess Leia while just before he was sharing a bath with his human-looking android assassin. Dash Rendar, who I thought was a great replacement of fulfilling the “scoundrel” role (sorry Lando) and his ship The Outrider, and the overall story of how the Bothan spies got their hands on the plans for the new Death Star–this book captured the very gritty essence of the original trilogy and enhanced it. This book remains in my library today and will always remind me of “The Summer of Star Wars.”

Shadows of the Empire

What to blog about…

I haven’t submitted a blog in awhile due to life being extremely busy. Between work, reading, planning a wedding, family, camping, birthdays and holidays, it’s hard just to sit down and compose my thoughts on a subject and share it with the rest of the world.

However, that doesn’t mean I have nothing to write about!

During the day, I usually put down an idea in draft form on this page. I recently went back to see how many drafts I have and the count right now is 53–all those subjects just waiting to be blogged about…the problem with most of them is that they have a lasting relevance to them, and some might not even relate to today’s events.

Another issue is offending people in the wrong sense. Feminism is one subject, and being a middle-class white man makes it hard to delve into such topics. People might think I am not for equal rights when in fact the contrary is correct. The thing is, I have always thought of women as being equal to men. The very thought of it not being true among the recent movement, well, I believe it to be a foot in the wrong direction.

And then there’s marriage equality, the confederate flag…why do I always have to talk about controversial things in these drafts? Why not something funny? Why not something cool? Why not something that everyone can enjoy like reading books?

The problem with talking about novels is that I work in the industry, and talking about other people’s work may either be offensive or professional suicide (jobwise.) Another issue with discussing entertainment is the subjective idea of taste. You can’t argue taste. Some people like non-fiction while others science fiction. There’s just no convincing others to like chocolate cake when in fact they hate cake altogether.

Anyways, enough of my lament. The fact of the matter is I NEED TO GET MY BUTT BACK IN THE SADDLE OF BLOGGING!

Sheesh!

Following up on The Deserter

So after nine episodes of my short story being published on here, I thought I would talk about it a bit. If you were fortunate enough to read, then I welcome any feedback you may have.

I wrote this short story because I have a keen interest in the Crusades as well as fantasy. I wanted to create a magic system involving wings where one would hunt down a creature with them being it a valkyrie, dragon or whatever. Each type of wing would have different powers, like a dragon would have the power of fire. This was something to experiment with and so I went with it.

As far as Owin though, I created him with a very simple motive—to go home. The Crusades were hard on everyone, and I figured the idea of desertion would make a good story. No one likes a coward, and wars certainly have them. His motives to get home to Margery would of course have vast consequences after dealing with the mad abbot named Pyr.

Speaking of Pyr, this character is actually based off an abbot with the same name. Pyr, or Saint Pyr was a Welsh abbot who lived in the 6th century. He was known to be unsuitable as an abbot, and one night he got so drunk that he fell down a well and died shortly after being pulled out. Well, that doesn’t really make a good story, so I modified it a bit for him as he encounters Owin almost five centuries later.

And let us not forget our antagonist Sanngriõr. She is based on a real mythical valkyrie with the same name who doesn’t have that much of a background. Only the name came up, so I decided she would be perfect as to not mess with other Viking canon.

In the end though, the story is all about the consequences of one’s action. We reap what we sow, and no deed—good or bad—never goes unpunished.

For future stories, I am currently writing two fantasy books. I want to get these published next, and I am determined to do so. But to follow up on The Deserter, the next story will deal with a woman as she tries to survive the harsh times of prostitution in a medieval English village. Her luck may or may not change though when she meets a certain abbot known for his strange motives.

A Suspicious Yet, Disturbing Trend Among New “Authors”

Over the course of my writing journey, I have made some new friends, gathered insight about the industry (as well as myself,) and have participated in many group forums on social media. All of it has been great, but the latter has made me ponder recently about what makes an author truly successful.

I’m not the only who thinks this. Everyday, aspiring writers are posting to these forums with questions that make me cringe. Most of these questions are elementary like “what makes a strong character,” “how does one go about world building” or my personal favorite “what makes a good story?”

While these are good questions to ask to gain the opinions of many others, I feel like it is futile when trying to write their own story, and instead are short-cutting themselves into trying to “make it” in the industry.

And so I come to the disturbing conclusion of the majority of all new writers out there:

No one, repeat, no one is actually reading!

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All those questions asked can be answered if they actually picked up a book and read it. And I’m not talking about Harry Potter, The Hobbit or Twilight, but other books that their own peers have written. It’s a rudimentary fact that writing and reading go hand-in-hand, and someone should be just as much a reader as a writer—a thief can only catch a thief.

The people answering these questions as well are not any better. They come back with answers referencing Tolkien. Yes, he fathered the modern day fantasy genre, but there are so many other imaginative writers out there that have expanded upon it like Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Terry Goodkind, and Neil Gaiman. It’s rare I see these awesome authors not getting the recognition they deserve by fantasy fans. And let us not forget others like Bram Stoker, Robert Louis Stevenson, Homer, and the one who ever came up with Beowulf from our history.

roflbot Tolkien reference

I feel like if one is writing a novel, they should have at least three books recently read under their belt to get a grasp for what and how to write a story. Reading is research, and while you may not get the specific answer you are looking for, you may stumble upon more than you initially desired. That’s half of the joy of reading—finding the mental gems.

They’re stabbing themselves in the foot, too. They expect that someone should read their book while they aren’t buying and reading any themselves. The staggering majority of these people who put a book out there then have extremely poor sales, and end up begging others to buy their book (trust me I have seen this) and when that fails, they end up giving it out for free.

Jay Sherman Book

I feel like the golden rule should apply here: treat others how you would want to be treated. Except maybe we should amplify that when it comes to the industry: treat others by reading their stuff before you make your own by at least three books. It’s nothing else but respect.

The 2010s – The Age of the Vikings (in Entertainment)

If there was a time to shine for Scandinavians, it’s now. The 2010s have prominently been raided by the Vikings, as far as entertainment goes.

Being a mutt of a Scandinavian descent myself, I’m pretty excited that this is happening. For too long, Vikings have been painted in a very cheesy light; being associated with opera, big horns on helmets, and other oddities that really don’t do justice.

So what is these days? Glad you asked. Let’s start with the big one – Game of Thrones.

Yes, Game of Thrones may have much more going on for it than Vikings. Hell, it’s in a whole world completely! But the roots are there, and they are awesome. The Starks of Winterfell are referred to as “northmen” by other parts of Westeros. The Starks and their bannermen live by a sense of honor, a code, that can most definitely relate to how most Vikings lived by their own religious way back in the day. George R.R. Martin has always been a history buff, so it’s more than likely he based the Starks off of medieval Scandinavian cultures.

In video games, we have Skyrim. Skyrim is the fifth installment in the Elder Scroll series which deals with Orcs, Elfs, and other races. But Skyrim is the main territory of the Nords, and their lifestyles (as well as accents) are definitely Viking influenced. Hell, the whole game land itself is modeled after Iceland.

Iceland and Skyrim comparison

Iceland and Skyrim comparison

Oh, and let’s not forget about our dear hero Thor. I must admit that I was never a fan of the comic book, but recent depictions of him (played by Chris Hemsworth) has me turning my head.

History Channel’s Vikings is the best portrayal yet, and is taking over the imaginations of all fantasy and medieval buffs. Based on true events, we now root for the conquerors with Ragnar Lodbrok‘s ambitious ways, and we all look forward to the next raid on weaker civilizations.

Women have a new hero to look up to as well – Lagertha the Shieldmaiden. Shieldmaidens were female Viking warriors, and they equally shared the fight alongside their male counterparts in the invasions of other countries. Largertha, who was Ragnar’s wife at one point, has gained a lot of attention from women who love medieval, fantasy, and even science fiction today. It’s mere coincidence too that recent grave digs of old and research have found that almost half of all Viking raiders were in fact, women.

Lagertha

Lagertha

Makes sense to me on why the Vikings were so successful and ruthless in their raids: “hell hath no fury like a woman’s scorn.”

Vikings are here and aren’t going anywhere. I raise my horn of mead and welcome them to my my own halls of inspiration. Skal!

Month Statistics

I have decided to measure my writing journey and successes using monthly statistics via this blog. The statistics will include the following:

Number of Words Written

Books Beta Read for other Authors

Blogs Written

Happiness Level

Sanity Level

Current leisure reading

It’s mostly for me to look back and see how well I do along this path. I appreciate any comments and insights you may have.

The Deserter Half-Way Mark

The Deserter episode IV is up. Check it out! http://wp.me/p5DYiw-j

The Story Thus Far

After witness an unjust march to war, Owin has deserted his fellow crusaders in hopes to get home to his wife. After eluding many men pursuing him, it was one last skirmish that led him to a deserted chapel to where an abbot now tasks him with slaying a mythical creature—a valkyrie.

The abbot, Pyr, tells Owin that this is his one way home. Skeptical at first, Owin stays with the abbot as he is provided with plenty of nourishment, time to hone his sword skills, and is given a mysterious silver bracelet that is said to give him the strength to slay the valkyrie. Will Owin believe him and slay this creature of myth to get home safe and sound?

My Red Butt

Over the years, I’ve grown from local grocery-store clerk, to live-sound engineer operator, and finally to my current job as a recording and post-production engineer for audio books. It’s been a great and fulfilling working career, and I’ve had tons of great people to work with and learn from. Yet, there is one person in this world I still do not approve and hate working with–myself.

I’ve had goals, dreams, aspirations, and I still do. Ever since my mother told I was going to be rich someday, which was then perpetuated by my classmates in high school, and hell, a palm-reader, I still find myself struggling with debt, paying the rent, and staying healthy just like every other middle-class citizen in America.

All of that is trivial compared to my one true goal in life: filling my soul with pride. When it comes to an individual who suffers from addiction problems, they are faced with trying to keep their composure and continue on maintaining their life as well as being functional. I for one discover myself finding it difficult to do the one thing where success can only come to fruition which is putting myself out there with a song, article or story.

In essence, painting a red bulls-eye on my butt for all to shoot at.

I hate criticism. And in this day in age, it’s at its highest levels thanks to social media forums. Everyone who is anyone now has a voice they can put out to the world, and the smallest of pebbles being thrown can create some mighty waves.

But it’s unavoidable. Even Neil Patrick Harris, the man who can “host anything” drew criticism for hosting the Oscars–a performance in which I thought he did a damn good job. Yet, people are prone to “cherry pick” the errors and blow them way out of proportion more than they need to be, casting a shadow over the good performance on one of the highest endeavors with a horrible ugly-looking darkness.

After it all though, he still goes on and brushes it off. But is it because he is used to anticipating the harshness of the crowd, a community that demands a being to take a stab at something only to be given hundreds of knives thrown back at them and hoping to keep on breathing after bleeding out from multiple wounds? Or perhaps has he become a husk to such outside influence, the same influence in which can inspire but then berate in the most bi-polar of ways?

Is this the crowd I truly want to perform a song in front of, put a book out in front of, invest in only to be confronted by the most diminishing of returns–my soul?

Unfortunately, there is no other answer than ‘yes.’ Yes, I will never be fulfilled until I do. Yes, I need the chips to fall as they may, and yes the die must be cast. There is no other option in this life than to say ‘geronimo’ and hope your parachute opens as it should.

Or to relate to my previous metaphor, pray the gun squads are horrible marksmen.