‘The Doktor’s Spyglass’ Now Updated Every Tuesday and Thursday

The Doktors SpyglassAfter doing a bit of research and reconsidering my writing process, I’ve decided to change the way I’m serializing The Doktor’s Spyglass.

Instead of a whole chapter every two weeks to a month, I’ll be updating it biweekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays with smaller sections of writing.

This way you’ll get more story, more often, which is how Wattpad readers in particular seem to like it.

You can read The Doktor’s Spyglass for free on Wattpad.com.

Introducing ‘The Doktor’s Spyglass’

The Doktors SpyglassI’ve decided to take something I’ve been working on and serialize it.  It started as a short story but has turned into something quite a bit more interesting.

The Doktor’s Spyglass is a fantasy detective novel, and will be available a chapter at a time on Wattpad.  I will update it with new chapters periodically, but no less often than once a month.

Here’s the blurb:

When an eccentric inventor is reported dead, consulting detective Irik Thijis is called in to investigate. He soon discovers that Doktor Keynish Helg is not as dead as he seems, and that something much stranger than simple murder is afoot.

The Inspection Service of the holy city of Oridos is about as useful as a horseless carriage when it comes to solving crimes, and Thijis is used to sorting out their cases for them. But what he discovers lurking in the Doktor’s mansion soon finds them all out of their depth.

As Thijis probes deeper into his strangest case yet, he realizes that blood and death are only the opening gambit in a play that may cost him not only his livelihood, but his life.

If you like steampunk, noir stories, and hard boiled, harder nosed gumshoes, you’ll probably like this.

The first chapter of The Doktor’s Spyglass is available now on Wattpad.

‘Exile’ Featured on Benjamin of Tomes

Booktuber Benjaminoftomes recently read and reviewed Exile: Part 1 of the Book of Ever on his YouTube channel.  Check it out below:

Religion in ‘The Book of Ever’

Richard Wright, the author of Native Sononce said:

The more closely the author thinks of why he wrote, the more he comes to regard his imagination as a kind of self-generating cement which glued his facts together, and his emotions as a kind of dark and obscure designer of those facts. Reluctantly, he comes to the conclusion that to account for his book is to account for his life.

Where does the writer end and the writing begin?  To some extent every artist puts some of himself, of his or her own life, into his work.  Sometimes this is intentional.  More often, it is an unavoidable side effect of living and being an artist.  It’s certainly true for me.  I’ve discovered that writing is an intensely personal process for me: my ability to write successfully, such as it is, is intimately tied to my own life experience.  As Wright says, imagination serves as a glue and emotion as a designer, but the stuff of writing is memory and observation.  I suspect this is true of most writers.

It goes without saying, therefore, that there is much of me in my first novel, Exile: The Book of Ever.  In some ways, that reflection is literal: the book is set in New England, where I grew up and still live.  In other ways–in most ways, really–that reflection is thematic.  And one of the major themes of the novel is the question of faith.

The main character, Ever, is a young woman who grew up in a deeply religious community, one who managed to survive the apocalypse by remaining insular and holding true to a firm set of beliefs.  During her journey through the story, she often relies heavily on her faith in God to make decisions and maintain hope and determination.

More than a few readers of Exile have commented (with uniform courtesy and general acceptance) that they were surprised by the religious elements of the novel.  The simple presence of a religious theme seemed unexpected to them.  This isn’t surprising to me, and in fact is comforting in a way: I didn’t write the book for a religious audience, and as I’m currently not religious myself, I wouldn’t want to be pigeon-holed as a Christian writer.  I was pleased and flattered to see that my intent had, for the most part, succeeded: readers seem to see Ever’s faith as a part of her character, a driving force and a motivation.

Another theme of the book, and one I hope I conveyed adequately, is that all is not as it seems: that our reality is, in the end, defined primarily by our current perception and understanding, and that these things naturally change as we go through life.  Ever has faith, but by the end of the novel, hopefully it is clear that her exposure to the larger world and her experiences in it have begun to change her.

Faith is a journey that has no end except death, at which point, hopefully, our questions are answered one way or the other.  I was raised Roman Catholic.  I went to Catholic school for 13 years.  For most of my young adult life, I identified as an atheist.  Over the last few years, that atheism grew into something I like to call, tongue firmly in cheek, spiritual agnosticism.

I’m in the process of writing up an account of my long, strange, spiritual trip, but here’s the punchline: about a year and a half ago, for a variety of reasons, I decided to join the Mormon Church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints).  I was baptized, attended for over a year, and went through their temple ordinances.

I am no longer a Mormon (thank all of the many, many Mormon gods, thank Krishna, thank Christ).

Why?  The short answer is because, at the end of the day, I couldn’t force myself to knowingly participate in a cultish church whose doctrines are not only intolerant but batshit insane.

Religious belief for me is a bit like an electron: hard to pin down, and changed innately by the act of observation.  If you asked me what my religious beliefs were, I’d say that the most accurate description of me would probably be that I’m an atheist.  But it’s a bit more complicated than that, and as soon as I define it the questions return to swirling around in their cloud.  Suffice it to say for now, however, that my long-held, shortly-retired, recently-reacquired viewpoint on organized religion is generally negative.

I think my readers are going to be very surprised by the direction Ever’s spiritual journey takes in The Book of Ever.

Bookish Lifestyle Calls ‘Exile’ ‘A Journey and an Experience’

buttonTiffany from Bookish Lifestyle recently reviewed Exile: The Book of Ever Part 1 and gave it four out of five mustaches.  Here are some of her thoughts:

The main character Ever was wonderful and you could tell from the start that she was different and followed her own heart, but she also let on that she believed a higher power was willing it.
  The characters themselves were extremely well written.  There was not one person that I did not feel I couldn’t envision.  Ever was spectacular and original, crafted to gain the readers attention.  Ever is strong willed and is the kind of girl that you want on your side.  Not because she is fearless, but because she is afraid and still moves forward.  This is something that the other POV that you occasionally get, sees when most others do not.  Jared came in a little quick and seemed like her could possibly be a problem (love triangle), but he doesn’t come out that way once you know him.  Beyond these two there are still many characters that stand out, but to even give short details would consume this review.

Marginally Coherent Thoughts on Marginalia

I’m a bit indecisive when it comes to writing in books.  On one hand, I do love books as physical objects, and I prefer to see them well cared for.  On the other hand, there is something tremendously appealing about writing notes in the margins as you read; it makes the reading experience more interactive and therefore more memorable, leading, in my experience, to better retention and deeper consideration of the subject matter.  It’s also arguably important to history: some of history’s most memorable people wrote in their books, and it taught us a lot about them.

In an age where reading is undergoing major changes, the question of marginalia has come up a lot.  Does the rise of e-books make marginalia irrelevant?  Does it make it more or less acceptable?  Are physical books more or less sacrosanct now that so much of our data is stored electronically?

In a 2012 article for The New Yorker, Mark O’Connell references a series of articles by Sam Anderson, New York Times critic at large:

[Anderson] characterized writing in books as a way “not just to passively read but to fully enter a text, to collaborate with it, to mingle with an author on some kind of primary textual plane.” He also laid out his fantasy about how e-books might lead to a new golden age in marginalia, whereby readers could share their own electronic jottings and read those of others:

This, it seems to me, would be something like a readerly utopia. It could even (if we want to get all grand and optimistic) turn out to be a Gutenberg-style revolution—not for writing, this time, but for reading. Book readers have never had a mechanism for massively and easily sharing their responses to a text with other readers, right inside the text itself.

This enthusiasm for an underpraised form of writing is infectious, and he makes a compelling case for marginalia-sharing as a means of giving readers’ observations more currency in the literary exchange. But I think he underestimates the extent to which most readers value annotations precisely because they are a private exchange between themselves and whatever book they happen to be talking back to. Personally, I get slightly edgy when people pick paperbacks off my shelves and flick through them; there’s something slightly mortifying about anybody else reading these earnest or facetious marginal interjections (“V. interesting, this!,” “Austen can really write!,” or “Sure, whatever, Wittgenstein…”)

For me the value of marginalia is entirely personal, in the sense that it is reflective almost entirely of an individual’s own personality and the way his or her mind might have been working the day he or she read the noted passages.  It’s a look into both the past–the history of a person’s reading of a certain book–and the historical present–the immortal interplay between the author’s ideas and the reader’s written response to them.

It’s also a way to personalize one’s library: what better way to put your own personal stamp on a book than to note your thoughts in its margins, thus saving said thoughts for your own future use and for posterity.

Marginalia is a polarizing issue, in my experience: people either love it or hate it.  I’ve met more people who tend toward the latter: to these purists, marking up a book is an act of vandalism worthy of punitive measures.  But to others, including myself, the production of marginalia is the mark of a truly immersive reading experience, one so gripping that you simply had to memorialize your thoughts right then and there.  And not just contemporaneously: geographically.  Proximately.  One might argue that the alternative–keeping some sort of reading journal, in which one can write down one’s thoughts without recourse to marring the pristine page–is simply too tedious, and that therefore marginalists are simply lazy.  But to me the placement of notes right on the page in question makes the ideas presented all the more immediate and alive.

Both those who write in books and those who object to the practice have their flaws, of course: marginalists tend to be a bit pompous, whereas dissenters tend toward the precious.

That said, the e-book revolution certainly does present the opportunity for a marginalia renaissance: the ability to take notes quickly and effectively, anchored to individual words and lines in an electronic text, should make for a interesting canvas over the long term.  We’ll just have to wait and see if the experience is embraced.

For me I find that I usually overcome my inner OCD tendencies and end up jotting notes in the margins, happy to have read with passion, even if later perusal of said notes produces more winces than smiles.

‘Exile’ Around the Web

Exile: The Book of Ever (Vol. 1) has gotten some attention around the old interwebs lately.

River at Cherry Blossoms & Maple Syrup wrote a review and gave it five out of five stars, saying: “The unexpected twists were SO good. I thought that this was going to be a journey book (which is part of why I picked it up, because I’m a HUGE fan of survival and journey stories) and while it was, it wasn’t in the way I thought it was going to be. I thought I had it pegged and then there were two twists that made me SO happy that this WASN’T predictable and made me love it even more.”  Read the full review here.

Bestselling author Jackson Dean Chase also featured Exile on his blog at JacksonDeanChase.com, where you can also read a brief excerpt of one of the book’s later chapters.

My thanks to all!

Cherry Blossoms & Maple Syrup Gives ‘Exile’ 5 Stars

River from the book review blog Cherry Blossoms & Maple Syrup posted a wonderful 5-star review of Exile

The unexpected twists were SO good. I thought that this was going to be a journey book (which is part of why I picked it up, because I’m a HUGE fan of survival and journey stories) and while it was, it wasn’t in the way I thought it was going to be. I thought I had it pegged and then there were two twists that made me SO happy that this WASN’T predictable and made me love it even more.

‘Exile’ Free for Kindle Thursday Through Monday

Exile AMZN-EPUBExile: The Book of Ever is free for Amazon Kindle starting this Thursday, March 12, through Monday, March 16.

If you like survivalist, dystopian YA science fiction, you’ll like this.

Downloads, comments, and reviews are much appreciated!

Centuries after the Fall, the United States has been wiped away. The crumbling remains of the great American empire are home now only to savage, lawless tribes and packs of ravening Damned—the twisted children of the apocalypse. Most of those few who survived humanity’s destruction spend their short lives in a violent struggle for survival. But some light still flickers in the darkness: the Blessed of Bountiful live in seclusion, relying on walls both physical and spiritual to protect them from the Desolation that their world has become. Among them are the Saints, those few men and women born with superhuman abilities that the Blessed see as gifts from God. The violent apostate tribes of the Northeast Kingdom have always been a danger, but up until recently its small size and the vigilance of its people have made Bountiful an unappealing target. As attacks on the community grow harsher and more frequent, however, even the steadfast Blessed are forced to start preparing for the worst.

With her home’s very existence threatened, seventeen year old Ever Oaks, a Saint with the power to heal, is forced to make a difficult choice, one that may come to define her people’s future…

Mark Lawrence is Sponsoring a Self-Published Fantasy Reviewing Contest

mark-lawrence-authorMark Lawrence, renowned author of the excellent The Broken Empire series, starting with Prince of Thorns, has rounded up ten of the most popular fantasy book bloggers on the web and convinced them to participate in a review contest featuring exclusively self-published fantasy fiction.  You can read the details of the contest here, but it’s very simple: you submit your finished book, the bloggers get the chance to decide if they want to read it, and then they sponsor or “publish” it to the next round.  It’s essentially a bracket system, resulting in a final ten novels that will be reviewed by all ten bloggers.  This is an incredible opportunity if you’re a self-published fantasy author: a bestselling, traditionally published author is giving you the opportunity to get your work in front of a group of respected book reviewers.  As Mr. Lawrence said himself, “you can’t buy better publicity than that.”

The reviewers participating are:

1./ Sarah Chorn of Bookworm Blues
2./ Steve Diamond &co at the Hugo winning Elitist Book Reviews
3./ Mark Aplin &co of the award winning Fantasy-Faction
4./ Mihir Wanchoo of Fantasy Book Critic
5./ Lynn Williams of Lynn’s Books
6./ Milo of The Fictional Hangout
7./ Bob Milne of Beauty in Ruins
8./ Ria of Bibliotropic
9./ Tyson Mauermann of The Speculative Book Review
10./ The guys at Fantasy Book Review

If Mr. Lawrence and I lived on the same continent, and I swung that way, and it didn’t constitute criminal assault, I would kiss him for this.  As every self-published author knows, even in this, the golden age of self-publishing, it is still very, very hard to become accepted by the literary establishment.  Most respectable book bloggers aren’t interested in self-published work (usually for understandable reasons), to say nothing of getting your book noticed or reviewed by more traditional publications.  And traditionally published authors* tend to range from openly hostile to politely disinterested in self-published writing, so it’s incredibly spirit-lifting to find one who not only embraces self-publishing but wants to help.  Bravo, Mark Lawrence.  To quote Jorg Ancrath, “This is where it starts. When they write the legend, this will be the first page.”

As someone who chose self-publishing not because there weren’t other options but because I thought it was the best choice for me at the time, I’m overwhelmingly grateful for this kind of effort to reach out to new writers.  It’s rare to find someone who is confident enough in his own accomplishments to be able to serve as a mentor, as a champion.  As a leader, if you will.  Because after all, “You got responsibilities when you’re a leader. You got a responsibility not to kill too many of your men. Or who’re you going to lead?”

You’d be downright dumb not to take advantage of this opportunity if you’ve got a fantasy book ready to submit.  I only wish Karthanas were ready to storm the gates!

* Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, including traditionally published authors who started out self-pub