Patrick Rothfuss was my gateway drug

My name is Elliot Parker and I am addicted to High Fantasy.  How did I get here?  Where did it all go wrong? I only read Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, the occasional Sci-Fi novel or mainstream Daniel Silva or the like.  Now I’m here devoting hours and hours to scenery and world building, learning about different species, languages, calendars, religions.  It. Is. Out. Of. Control.  This isn’t me! I love fast-paced plot, blinding action, female protagonists, minor world building.

I remember how it all started.  One day I wandered into the outskirts of my genre by reading Sara J Maas’ series Court of Thorns and Roses.  This is considered an Epic Fantasy and also Teen/YA.  These books were paced slower than I’m used to but still had many of the hallmarks that I call home in my reading space.  I finished the series and began looking around for something else to read.  None of my favorite authors had new releases out, I had re-read my favorite books too many times.  So I started wandering around the “suggested for you” pages on Amazon and GoodReads.  One book kept haunting all my clicks.  The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

Now, immediately I’m intrigued by the series name more than the novel’s name, “The Kingkiller Chronicle”.  The blurbs are not grabbing me, and George RR Martin keeps giving it one line promotions, which also deters me because I’ve tried several of his books with no luck.  I ignore it for a few more days.  Finally, in the most non-committal way possible, I decided to check out the audiobook from the library. That way if I hate it, I can return it with no money lost.

I was not immediately hooked, but I was intrigued.  It starts out in a very “Inceptionesque” (its a word now), way.  It was a story, within a story, within a story. Literally, a guy sitting in a pub, telling a story about being younger and listening to another guy tell a story.   From there it simplifies slightly, just a guy in a pub telling the story of his life.  When you are in the pub it’s third-person, when he’s telling the story of his younger self it’s first-person.  I usually hate POV switches, but this one worked for me.

The action is slow (for me) but the characters are SUPERB! I couldn’t wait to hear what happened next.  I devoted 27 hours and 56 minutes of my time to this book. More than double what an audiobook usually costs me in time.  I listened in the car, on walks with the dogs, at night before I went to bed.  My nine-year-old daughter even got invested and insisted we only listen together so she could hear what happens with Kvothe.

I consumed the second book with equal fervor and the novella, and now I am stuck in the curse of all fantasy readers…” what the h@ll is taking so long”.   At first, I was outraged. Why do fantasy authors get triple and quadruple the time from their editors and publishing houses than any other genres writers get?  But I pumped my breaks for a moment and thought about the books.  There are at least twenty loose ends by the middle of the book, plot lines going you don’t know where, and by the end, they are tied up so seamlessly and beautifully.   I have one main plot and a max of two subplots when I write.  Other authors I’ve seen can manage one main and up to five subplots.  This is exponentially more complicated than that.  So I will wait patiently for the third book to be released.

In the meantime, I have moved onto the hard drugs.  Patrick Rothfuss was my gateway drug.  I am knee deep in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series.  I have no idea what’s going on, I haven’t figured out the calendar, the timelines, the creatures, the magic, or the point of the whole thing. But I can’t stop.  I’m scratching my neck and twitching asking fellow nerds for more high fantasy reads.  Before now I had an intellectual idea about high fantasy because it is the grandmother (see what I did there) to my genre, but now that I’m in it, experiencing it for myself, it is a whole new Shardblade.

My Little Pony: Feminism is Magic

I’ve recently come back into My Little Pony on Netflix.  We (my daughter and I) used to watch it regularly and all the theatrical movie releases as well. I don’t remember having any strong feelings about it either way. Then we stepped away from it for a time, and for no apparent reason, she wants to start watching it again.  Now that the fog of being a new parent has permanently lifted, I see the show through a different lens.   I stare in fascination at the show and the way it portrays its five main female characters.  It is a feminist manifesto….and I LOVE it!

There is no talk of marriage or babies being of any value to the female protagonists. Male ponies exist but are of little consequence to the storylines.  Rarity runs her own boutique business, Apple Jack runs a family business, and the star Twilight Sparkle runs an entire city!  The entire ponyverse is ruled by two single females.  No kings, no princes, only queens, and princesses.  Not only are the overall lifestyles of the ponies based on their own merit and ingenuity, but the storylines tackle situations that most females face and struggle with.

In season 5: Scare Master, delicate kind-hearted Fluttershy was pressured by her friends to become engrossed in Halloween night.  Even though she stated several times that it made her uncomfortable she succumbed to the pressure and participated in the night going so far as to become the best scare master the ponies had ever seen.  In the end, she firmly told her friends that she tried it and still hated it, and wished to be left to her own devices on that night.  How often do women feel pressure to participate in situations that make them uncomfortable? No one ever provides guidance on how to navigate these situations, and it is certainly never presented as acceptable to tell someone no I don’t want to do this anymore.   This is just a small example of the fantastic series.

My heart is warmed to watch this show with my daughter and expose her to storylines where girls are making their own way, navigating difficult situations, cooperating with each other, and creating and enforcing boundaries.  This show has earned a spectacular rating from this woman and mom.

 

Travel, Pitches, and Friday the 13th

Good Morning Blog!  I have been traveling like crazy lately.  My most recent trip was to Washington DC to help advocate for need-based aid in Higher Education.  Alabama has little to no student need-based aid so Federal Financial Aid becomes the de-facto state student aid.  I’m in a group of higher education leaders that have been together for about seven months, we have been educating ourselves as well as polishing our “pitches” to representatives.   I was amazed how close pitching for advocacy work is to pitching a book idea to an agent or an editor.  I guess the underlying goal is the same.  Make what you have to say interesting and worthy of investment to the other party.  Be quick, be to the point, and hook them right in.  Leave them wanting more and coming to you to get it.

A big part of our advocacy work was letting the representatives know that if they wanted more information about anything to do with Higher Education that they could rely on us to provide it to them.  Even the follow-up procedures are similar, thanking them for their time, being sure to personalize everything every step of the way in lieu of relying on an impersonal form letter.  To anyone out there who is pitching or querying, it’s been said a million times before because it is good advice: Do your research!  Doing 5-10 minutes of research on your target, finding out their real name, their likes, and dislikes, looking at their twitter feed is well worth it.  The more personal my queries and pitches have been the more they have succeeded.   The publishing world and government are full of people who are no different from anywhere else, they want to be noticed and appreciated.

Happy Friday the 13th to everyone out there in the ether.  Stay safe and don’t party too hard. IMG_2990

Sh*t is about to get serious

For anyone who has seen my “process” of writing, they know when the paper goes up on the wall, things are getting serious.  Book one consisted of an entire wall in my guest bedroom covered in color-coordinated post-it notes.  Book two has taken a different turn. It has been moved into the Master Bedroom (as well as my writing desk), and I decided to cover the wall in butcher’s paper and use different colored markers instead of post-its.  The entire book will become a detailed outline on this wall that will help me see every aspect of the story and make future edits hella easier.  I am a plotter to the core (as opposed to a pantser).  I make a three-act outline, then a detailed outline, then I will have a scene/sequel outline, finally, I will sit down to write the words.  It seems like nothing organic could come out of this process when I finally sit down to write, but I PROMISE you it does.  Elan and Suvan never showed up in any outline ever and yet here they are. Things will morph and change and rearrange and that is what my wall of words is the most helpful for.  If something gets added or deleted at any point in time I can see the effect it will have on the whole story, instead of just trying to remember where that element may have been mentioned in other chapters.

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Post Spring Break

Good April everyone!  I am back from a week’s spring break in sunny Florida.  I got to drive a Craig Cat, Tour the Everglades, and Parasail! It was an adventure packed vacation.  I didn’t write or market or blog or do any type of author activity.  It was glorious and terrible at the same time.  Now that I am home I will resume normal operation.  I hope everyone is having a wonderful Spring, celebrating it in your favorite ways!302E4B52-F3E1-41BF-B8DA-DDD7B2626B90

Magic Mailing List

When I first started out, growing my mailing list was like running uphill in molasses.  It was hard, slow-going, and exhausting.  I participated in promotions, created some of my own, and even hired a few paid services to get my mailing list and newsletter out there.

For some strange reason for the past month, it’s been growing organically on its own by about 3-5 readers a day! I have no idea how or where it’s getting out there.  I like to think that a little bit of word-of-mouth is starting to generate around my book.

If you are visiting the website and not a part of my mailing list you can sign up here  When you sign up you get a free prequel called the Sins of Saint Anthony.  It’s a quick look at one of the past identities that Evangeline used to hide her powers.  If you just want the freebie but don’t want to sign up for the mailing list, I totally get it!  Here is the link if you just want the freebie  Enjoy!

Bad author! Bad!

Flaying myself a bit today for being a bad author. I seem to only be able to handle outreach OR writing but not both.  I really enjoy interacting with fans, whether it’s in direct conversation or even seeing someone laugh at a Facebook post I did.  This blog is just a spouting of my random thoughts which seems mildly uncomfortable to put out there (like no one would care about MY thoughts), but I am addicted to other authors who just stream of consciousness onto their posts.  Unfortunately, when I am doing outreach activities I am not writing.  I haven’t quite hit that balance of being a great author.  Finding time to write and to market and interact with fans.

So if I get quiet, be excited because I am writing.  Book two has a way of completely sucking me in and then spitting me out all bedraggled and disoriented. Right now I am reading the second book by Patrick Rothfuss: The Wise Man’s Fear.  If you haven’t picked up the first one: The Name of the Wind, I highly recommend it.  I’m not usually an epic fantasy reader but these books have consumed me.

If you feel so inclined, drop a book recommendation that is NOT urban fantasy in the comments.  I try to stay away from UF when I am writing.

Wow! I’m still alive. All kids are gifted

Good morning everyone!  I was inspired by a recent post by my publisher in which a fellow author made a bid for blogging.  I won’t go into detail but basically, the author made the argument that blogging was a pretty low energy, high payback way to reach readers and I thought “that’s me!” So I’m going to try an experiment.  I want to blog as much as I can for a month and see if it see a boost in traffic.  It will have terrible grammar and punctuation, I apologize in advance.  Here we go!

I’m sitting here in the middle of a tornado watch (as per usual this time of year in the south), blue skies and warm air (which is the problem apparently).  My daughter is beside me doing her homework and I was thinking about how often I hear from my parenting peers that their children are gifted.  I am having the same thought about my daughter, she’s gifted…I think.  I’m just in awe watching her proceed through a mountain of homework because there is no way I was doing this level of work at her age.  And maybe that’s it. When I compare 9yr old me to 9yr old her I certainly wasn’t doing this level of work. And that’s all I have right? I haven’t raised any other 9yr olds in the interim.  It is the perspective any of us has unless we have been school teachers.

I’m just trying to sit back and enjoy the ride.  She’s not always going to want me to sit with her while she does her homework.  She still thinks that I know everything, so I’ll bask in that glow while I can get it.  I’m sure my daughter will be fodder for many blogs. She is very gifted compared to me.

Happy 2018!

Happy 2018 everyone!  I apologize for my absence, I’ve been working on the second book and trying to level up my author skills.  I’d like to learn how to edit videos so I can do some more video blogs and interviews with other authors.  It’s a long arduous process but so worth it in the end to have a new skill.

Book two is coming along slowly but surely.  I have no idea how some of the authors I see can produce multiple books every year. I can barely find the time to take care of my animals let alone, outline, write, and continue to market the first book.

Book one has had a stellar launch with lots of people both known and unknown (which is both exhilarating and frightening) coming out to purchase and review the book.  I am going to continue to promote it and get it out to reviewers and bloggers.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and is ready to go for 2018, I know I am. I just need the cold weather to go away 🙂

COVER REVEAL!

If you are not a part of my newsletter then you missed the 9:30 cover reveal this morning.  If you’d like to be the first to receive news and updates on the upcoming release of Demon, Interrupted please sign up here.  Below is the BEAUTIFUL cover for Demon, Interrupted.  Enjoy!DemonInterrupted (1)