New Reading, Song, and Sheet Music

I have added new content to my website, all of which can be found at http://gods-among-men.com/blog/books/book1.

Included is a reading of Chapter 5, Through Persuasion and Force,…, as read by my wife Kathryn.   The direct link to the reading is http://gods-among-men.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Book1Chap5Kathryn.mp3

Kathryn has also completed a new song, called Zephyr.  It is the anthem for the kingdom ruled by the Rihtwis clan.  It can be heard at http://gods-among-men.com/Uploads/Music/Zephyr.mp3.

I have also posted PDF’s of Kathryn’s sheet music for everything she has completed so far.  Here are links to her sheet music.

http://gods-among-men.com/Uploads/SheetMusic/At%20the%20Lady’s%20Behest%20Comes.pdf

http://gods-among-men.com/Uploads/SheetMusic/I%20Remember%20Marcus.pdf

http://gods-among-men.com/Uploads/SheetMusic/I%20Remember%20Marcus%20Reprise.pdf

http://gods-among-men.com/Uploads/SheetMusic/Zephyr.pdf

For those paying attention, yes we have skipped chapter 4, …And Strikes Down the Inner Circle.  I will be getting back to it as soon as I can either find someone to perform a reading of it or free up some time to do one myself.

Rich has offered to do a reading of chapter 7, …And Critical Moments Relived….  I will be sending him the updated text shortly and will post his reading as soon as possible.

In the meantime, I have to incorporate the Magic City Writers’ Group edits to chapter 11, …Cause All to Cry ‘Havoc’!   The reviews of the chapter were very positive, but some of the changes will require a substantial amount of effort to complete.  I expect it will take me a couple weeks to complete that task.

Once I finish with those edits, Lindy has offered to perform a reading of that chapter.

As you can see, quite a lot has been happening all at the same time.  And I still have to resume my efforts to find an agent, revamp my website, find artwork I can display on the website, and get cracking on editing what I have already written for the second book, …Demiurge, Unbound,….

Until next time, have fun and party down.

The Benefits of Reading Your Work Aloud

Today’s Magic City Writers’ Group meeting was canceled, so I have not had full reviews yet on my submission.   I did, however, talk with Lindy and Kathryn enough to have an insight. 

Lindy liked the pacing of the chapter better than my previous submissions.  In our conversation I realized my writing improved in part from the audio readings I had been doing.  

The Rhythm of A Story

Doing an initial read-through does not take long.   A lengthy chapter might take about an hour to read aloud.  A benefit in that reading is discovering where I stumble and unearthing why.  The process often reveals long undiscovered errors and ambiguities hidden in the morass of words and punctuation.

But the real advantage comes in the next step: editing out all the mistakes and retakes until the audio matches the text.  This forces  me to listen to the story over and over, not just read it. 

This experience affected my final edit of the chapter I submitted to the group.  The ear for awkward sentences I developed during the audio readings appears to have help tighten the pace on my writing style and smoothed out some of my rough sentences.  

During my discussion with Lindy about this development she suggested even greater gains could be derived from hearing someone else read the chapters.  I had talked before with Kathryn about her doing some of the voices.  (I don’t do female voices well.)  But I hadn’t considered the possible benefits of hearing someone else’s reading of my work. 

The Parallax Perspective

In college, I learned about the four parts to any story: what the author meant, what he/she actually wrote, the reader’s interpretation of those sentences while reading them, and the reader’s memory of what they liked and disliked about the story as a whole.

Each reader emphasizes different moments, each has unique experiences while reading the text.  This difference is reflected in their voice when they read the text aloud.  Listening to how someone else interprets my words would grant me greater insight into how a reader perceives what I have written.  Which in turn would better inform my future edits.

Both Lindy and Kathryn have expressed interest in reading a chapter.  (Amazing what incessant pestering can accomplish.)  Kathryn has opted to read chapter five, Through Persuasion and Force,…. I expect we will record her reading in the next few days.  Lindy choose the chapter I submitted for review, …Cause All to Cry ‘Havoc’!   The current plan is to record her reading on Sunday after the rescheduled meeting of the writers’ group. 

What I will forgo for the time being is all the special audio effects.  There is value in differentiating between spoken words and thoughts, so I will probably do that much audio editing.  But I think I will not add sounds of thunder, or a horse galloping on cobblestones, or fire burning in the fireplace, and so forth.  While fun to do, that effort is time consuming; and in the end the work must stand on its own, relying solely on the text as written.  Perhaps when seeking diversion I will revisit a reading and add sound effects to create an “enhanced version” for those who like such extras.

I look forward to discovering where this journey leads.

Where I’m At

I am sitting on my back porch, under an umbrella, consumed by a contemplative state of mind that has been circling me for some time. 

The chaos of the holidays gave a welcome relieve from the routine of writing.  I have a tendency to fixate on one idea and hound after it.  Just before the holidays, at the beginning of NaNoWriMo, I finished a major edit of the first book, At the Lady’s Behest Comes….  In the euphoria that comes from completing a major task, I rushed off a query letter to an agent.  My urge to act rashly sated, my calmer brain has had time to grind on the problem of going from author’s draft to published work. 

For the record, the agent never responded to my query letter.

Good Marketing Trumps Writing Skills

One thing made clear in conversations with published authors is that the decision of who gets published is made on business merits, not artistic ones.  To get noticed by agents and publishers, an author needs to show they understand that fact and are prepared to market their own work.

Time spent building a brand is time not spent writing.  But thanks to two years of NaNowriMo I have a reasonable working draft of most of the second book, and chunks of what will be in the third book.   It is a good time to broaden and bifurcate my focus,   especially if it helps me acquire a decent agent or publisher.

Creating An Online Presence

The first step to presenting a good image to agents and publishers is to have a professional looking website.  Boring is better than bad, but of course cool counts for something.  My current website is a glorified blog with links to sparse content.   Closer to bad than boring. 

I am by trade a computer programmer, but almost all my work has been on the Windows PCs, not the web.  Developing applications for Windows keeps a roof over my head, and so that is where I have focused my skill set.  I have recently took up the study of  HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript.   They are skills I must master anyway if I am ever to move over to web development, and doing a simple site that would better represent me and my work is good motivation.

But before you build a web site, or any application, you must have a concept of what it will contain, and how it will display that content.  For example, there should be a landing page with a nice graphic and clear options to take you what content is there. 

Uh…Graphic?  What graphic?  What precisely is this graphic and where the heck and I going to get it?  I know my artistic limits, and graphic design is not my strong suit.  Is this the point to talk with someone with professional experience?  How much money would that cost?    

Content Is King

An “about the author” page is needed, with a picture of me that isn’t blurry and which won’t frighten small children and farm animals.   A high standard. 

Putting my chapters online are a given; but what is the best way to get the user to the desired chapters with the fewest clicks and choices?  

Should I put up documents about the world?  Maps, explanations of the language the wizards speak, background mythology, and the like? 

Should I include information about the characters?  Is so, how much should I reveal about them, their history, their story arcs, etc….  Should I try to get pictures drawn of the characters and  display it next to their bio?

Should I do the chapter readings or not?  I enjoyed doing the first two, but they are time consuming.  The more I learn about how to manipulate the audio the more I play with edits and the longer it takes to complete.  Is it time well spent on something that will attract visitors/readers?  Or is it more spinning my wheels and creating obstacles  for myself?  Slowing me down when I should be speeding up? I’ve held up finishing the reading of the third chapter until I resolve this debate.

Kathryn has started creating music for my story.  Originally to put at the beginning of the chapter readings.  I like what she has done very much, and will certainly include MP3s of it on the  website eventually.

The Call of Writing

In addition to all of these thoughts, I am also preparing for the Magic City Writers edits to my eleventh chapter, …Cause All to Cry ‘Havoc’.   I do not doubt that there will be significant edits after their review, and I will likely use that as an opportunity to revisit chapters twelve and thirteen. 

And from there I might well lose myself in work on the second novel, …Demiurge, Unbound,….  Time spent writing is time not spent building a professional online presence or searching for an agent or publisher.  But it does move me closer to having a fully completed story, even if it is an imperfect draft like the first novel.  That might be the strongest selling point of them all.

I would greatly appreciate the thoughts anyone has on how best to address some of the choices I face.  I am a stranger in a strange land, and am uncertain how best to proceed.

Where I’m At

I am sitting on my back porch, under an umbrella, consumed by a contemplative state of mind that has been circling me for some time. 

The chaos of the holidays gave a welcome relieve from the routine of writing.  I have a tendency to fixate on one idea and hound after it.  Just before the holidays, at the beginning of NaNoWriMo, I finished a major edit of the first book, At the Lady’s Behest Comes….  In the euphoria that comes from completing a major task, I rushed off a query letter to an agent.  My urge to act rashly sated, my calmer brain has had time to grind on the problem of going from author’s draft to published work. 

For the record, the agent never responded to my query letter.

Good Marketing Trumps Writing Skills

One thing made clear in conversations with published authors is that the decision of who gets published is made on business merits, not artistic ones.  To get noticed by agents and publishers, an author needs to show they understand that fact and are prepared to market their own work.

Time spent building a brand is time not spent writing.  But thanks to two years of NaNowriMo I have a reasonable working draft of most of the second book, and chunks of what will be in the third book.   It is a good time to broaden and bifurcate my focus,   especially if it helps me acquire a decent agent or publisher.

Creating An Online Presence

The first step to presenting a good image to agents and publishers is to have a professional looking website.  Boring is better than bad, but of course cool counts for something.  My current website is a glorified blog with links to sparse content.   Closer to bad than boring. 

I am by trade a computer programmer, but almost all my work has been on the Windows PCs, not the web.  Developing applications for Windows keeps a roof over my head, and so that is where I have focused my skill set.  I have recently took up the study of  HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript.   They are skills I must master anyway if I am ever to move over to web development, and doing a simple site that would better represent me and my work is good motivation.

But before you build a web site, or any application, you must have a concept of what it will contain, and how it will display that content.  For example, there should be a landing page with a nice graphic and clear options to take you what content is there. 

Uh…Graphic?  What graphic?  What precisely is this graphic and where the heck and I going to get it?  I know my artistic limits, and graphic design is not my strong suit.  Is this the point to talk with someone with professional experience?  How much money would that cost?    

Content Is King

An “about the author” page is needed, with a picture of me that isn’t blurry and which won’t frighten small children and farm animals.   A high standard. 

Putting my chapters online are a given; but what is the best way to get the user to the desired chapters with the fewest clicks and choices?  

Should I put up documents about the world?  Maps, explanations of the language the wizards speak, background mythology, and the like? 

Should I include information about the characters?  Is so, how much should I reveal about them, their history, their story arcs, etc….  Should I try to get pictures drawn of the characters and  display it next to their bio?

Should I do the chapter readings or not?  I enjoyed doing the first two, but they are time consuming.  The more I learn about how to manipulate the audio the more I play with edits and the longer it takes to complete.  Is it time well spent on something that will attract visitors/readers?  Or is it more spinning my wheels and creating obstacles  for myself?  Slowing me down when I should be speeding up? I’ve held up finishing the reading of the third chapter until I resolve this debate.

Kathryn has started creating music for my story.  Originally to put at the beginning of the chapter readings.  I like what she has done very much, and will certainly include MP3s of it on the  website eventually.

The Call of Writing

In addition to all of these thoughts, I am also preparing for the Magic City Writers edits to my eleventh chapter, …Cause All to Cry ‘Havoc’.   I do not doubt that there will be significant edits after their review, and I will likely use that as an opportunity to revisit chapters twelve and thirteen. 

And from there I might well lose myself in work on the second novel, …Demiurge, Unbound,….  Time spent writing is time not spent building a professional online presence or searching for an agent or publisher.  But it does move me closer to having a fully completed story, even if it is an imperfect draft like the first novel.  That might be the strongest selling point of them all.

I would greatly appreciate the thoughts anyone has on how best to address some of the choices I face.  I am a stranger in a strange land, and am uncertain how best to proceed.