Jun 14, 2014

Tropes and Titles

Here's today's oddball writing-related conversation:
Me: "Hey, is it weird that I want to be a published author with a fanbase so I can look on TV Tropes and see if my readers listed the same tropes I think the books should have?"

My husband: "No comment."

I'm going to take that as a "yes", but surely other writers have thought the same thing. I'd almost see it as a badge of honor or proof that I made it in the world if people care enough to take the time to poke fun at it. Then again, I write humor. Maybe I see this differently than people who write serious, epic novels. I mean, scenes earlier this week involved pies, sandcastles, and characters trying to one-up each other about which one is the better juggler. Overly serious this is not.

What prompted that tropes observation in the first place was flipping through the site and realizing that the protagonist from my current novel falls exactly into "Beware the Nice Ones". This set me to wondering if readers would see it the same way. In this case, probably. (Sweet, patient, pacifistic painter drives the antagonist to insanity- ripping away his magic and ending up with it himself- out of revenge and pain after said baddie kills someone he cares about. If the protagonist has been a less moral person, he would have killed the villain, which would have probably been a kinder act. Yeah, he's that trope to a T.)

Anyway, I just wonder about stuff like this. Ya know, on the off chance that my series would ever get published and I get fans. The thought of that is almost laughable, but I'm going to keep writing anyway.

Speaking of a series... I do in fact have one! Sort of. I'm still working my way through the first book, but I've been steadily adding notes to the file for the later ones. After I uncovered plot this week that wouldn't fit into the three I had planned, I realized I have enough story lined up to take me to four books. Four books that even have titles. Get that! That's frankly amazing because I can never think of ideas for titles until the last minute or else mooch them off of friends. In this case, though, I kind of cheated; the titles are the magical titles of the main characters.

Book 1: Colorweaver
Book 2: Spellbinder
Book 3: Bladeshielder
Book 4: Shadowshaper

Although one or some of those titles may change depending on if I think of better ways of describing their magics. Technically the first three are a trilogy while the 4th follows different characters years later, but there's some overlap, so it's all the same series.

This means that I'm going to be shifting "Unexpected Inspiration" to the name of the series as a whole rather than use it for a single book because all of the characters are either artists or performers in an artisan-centric culture. I have to laugh because "Unexpected Inspiration" was supposed to have been a simple, silly 30k word short story to give me a break from my other in-progress novel. Instead it's currently sitting at about 115k words and is the first in a multi-book series. A good friend summed this up well by saying "I think you've gotten to the point where you are completely incapable of writing anything that isn't complicated." Guilty.

I'm working like crazy to try to get Book 1 done by the end of the month so I can take some time off and work on my unrelated '12 NaNo novel for Camp NaNoWriMo in July. I'd rather rebel during a camp month rather than actual NaNo, so that will free up November to start Book 2. I'm optimistic! :)


Book Review - The Lineage of Tellus

I'm reviewing the book The Lineage of Tellus - Book 1: Memories & Murder by L J Hasbrouck. I received this from LibraryThing's early reviewer program. (This review had previously been posted here.)

Here's the summary from Amazon:
My name is Ashei Greyhawke and I'm just like you. I go to college, have a job, live with my beloved mother, and have a pet goat named Chewy.

Well, maybe you don't love your mother. I suppose not everyone's life is the same. My best friends Tristane and Marianne don't even have mothers. Now I don't either. I came home last night after a long shift at the tavern and found her dead. She'd been murdered, her heart removed from her body ... but there's no wound to speak of.

Tristane (who's also my ex--it's rather complicated) says it's the work of Sanguinem Magus. Magus is the natural energy that exists in the land I live in, called Tellus. Tris is a mage, but not the kind of mage who would do something like this.

I'm going to find the mage who did.

And then I'm going to kill them.

Memories & Murder, is book 1 of The Lineage of Tellus, a high fantasy series for fans of adventure, dry wit, and broad-minded sexuality.


If you had asked me how I was going to review this book after I had gotten about a third of the way through, I would have told you "maybe two stars". The characters were so flat and seemed to exist to only tell a constant string of sex-related jokes and innuendos. This all but pushed aside the plot and had me rolling my eyes and wishing they'd get back to the actual story. Don't get me wrong, I love humor and lighthearted stuff, but there was just too much of it and it was hurting the story rather than making it more interesting. I couldn't bring myself to care about the characters, but I kept going. I wanted to give this a chance because there was potential with the storyline, if only the characters would stop getting distracted from it.

I'm glad I stuck with it. Somewhere around the halfway mark, the author seemed to find her stride. Probably not coincidentally, this corresponded to the number of innuendos dropping and the characters moving along with the plot. There were still innuendos from that point on, but they were much better placed so that whenever they occurred, I found myself laughing rather than eye rolling. I think that's probably the balance the author has to try to reach: somewhere between humor and plot. Space the jokes out and they have a much greater effect. The characters at this point also started to get more development and became a lot more interesting. They had started out somewhat stereotypical and flat, but they did get some more personality as the story went on. Some of the plot felt a little forced, particularly at the beginning, but overall the story fit together. This book also had something that I thought was unique: illustrations. Spaced throughout the book were pictures of the characters and scenes and these were quite good. It was neat to have a visual of the characters.

I think it's probably a common problem with newish writers that the beginning of the story doesn't end up as polished as the rest; with a few more edits, I think the beginning could have been improved, too. It still read like this was an early book, but I do truly think the author has potential. I'd definitely be willing to read more in the series because I think she's going to keep improving the more she writes.

Overall, I did end up enjoying this book, something I didn't think I'd say at the beginning. I'm glad I did like it because it was a refreshing read; the book I read before this one had been filled to the brim with misogyny and this one was so very much the opposite of that one, which was what I needed. This was lighthearted, which I always appreciate. (I'm not a fan of "dark" fantasy- humor and overall positivity are what I like and this book had both.) I'll always be intrigued by books with "broad sexuality" because I love reading things with an LGBT spin- just please, tone down the frequency of innuendos next time. I'm thinking I'll give this 3 1/2 stars only because the first third of the book didn't pull me in, but I'm confident that I'd give her later books a higher star count. This young author does have potential!