The first steps into self-publishing community

Even though I am still some time and work away from finishing my story, apart from writing, I am trying to make progress elsewhere.

Since I am active Goodreads user (though so far as a reader) I was slowly trying to see if fellow readers and writers alike could help my efforts even without any specificity. Plus, it’s where I’ll most likely start my search for beta readers later next month.

So, I’ve been increasing my activity there. I joined a large and quite active group focused on SF and Fantasy some time ago (half a year maybe) and since then I am doing my best to participate in discussions when I have something to say on the topic.

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Book review: The Path of Flames

So, after several weeks, I finally finished another book. This one took longer than expected, for reasons that were mostly irrelevant to the book. The book itself is good, yet I struggled to really get into it, for reasons I still don’t know.

Anyway, let’s get to the review itself. I’ll try to avoid significant spoilers, though the review will reveal something from the start.

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How do I rate books

Significant part of my blog presence is writing reviews of books I read and at the end of the post, rating them as well. As someone who looks at reviews and to some point ratings when choosing my next read (more about that process some next time), I decided to share a bit how I do that.

First, I understand that the process is subjective for every individual reader and different people will look for different things in books, which will affect the rating and that is discounting the fact that one might choose a books that’s outside of one’s preferences or even out of comfort zone – which will most likely impact the reading experience.

I also have to say that I am quite easily pleased reader. Make me interested in the story and the ending, avoid obvious plot holes and “WTF?!” moments and it’s quite likely I’ll give 4+ of 5 when using Amazon/Goodreads scale. Now, on to some details. Long post incoming.

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Reader’s thoughts: endings

A question I pondered a few times is: what is a good ending? Eventually, I realized that there are several factors, and that is even for the outcome. “…and they lived happily ever after” might sound like a good ending, but it will help none if it’s reached in a way that makes it feel out of place.

Satisfaction

One of the factors is surely satisfaction. I believe that many people stick with a story to see the bad guy defeated and the problems that arose solved. How the story is told is great part and I would say that the more you can hate the antagonist, the more satisfaction you get from finally seeing him meet the deserved end.

Realism

Satisfaction is good, but the bad guy’s defeat is just a part of it. How the story ends is about more than just that. What went on through the story should be reflected by the ending – it would be weird if a land decimated by wars would suddenly turn into “everything is all nice” with his death, forgetting the destruction. Rebuilding takes time and the outcome should probably reflect that if the damage done was massive.

Cost

This goes with what I mentioned above. It’s pretty much inevitable that characters will die on their way to defeating the antagonist, but even those need to have some sense. I believe that death of each characters should have some point to drive the story forward – to make or break someone. The cost of victory should be related to the power of enemy being fought. Too easy victory will make it look like the problem was inflated, but too high cost could be problem as well.

This also opens opportunities for selfless acts of heroes, going as far as the ultimate sacrifice. In a post I made in 11/2017, I mentioned Kyle Reese from Terminator movie as my favorite example. I might even get back to this topic at some point and make a post more about what I think in this regard.

Balance of power

During a struggle, let alone war, factions with different aims will appear and influence those around. When a faction meets its end, they leave an empty spot that someone will, sooner or later, try to fill. Struggles to take hold of this power vacuum can be base for sequels, but leaving obvious loose ends unresolved will only result in disappointment, more so if the end hints that there will be no sequel but leaves unanswered questions.


So, in conclusion, what matters for the ending (and affects my review and rating) is how much sense the ending makes. If the ending is sad but makes complete sense and the story was done really well, the rating will be high.

If the story leaves several loose ends, more so if they are left to be unresolved, even the happiest ending in the world will not save me from taking % off, no matter how much I might wish for the main characters to live happily forever.

Book review: The Wolf of the North

So, I finally got to another book that was on my TBR quite soon after I bought my e-reader… two years ago. Needless to say, I am glad I got to it. Another quick and very good read.

The Wolf of the North starts like underdog story with Wulfric being weak and bullied by older boys in the village and having pretty much only one friend in Adalhaid, girl from the same village. He’s quite the opposite of his father, the village’s best warriors who’s quite disappointed by it.

Eventually, Wulfric starts changing and eventually beats Rodulf, the ‘boss’ of his bully gang, to the point that Rodulf loses an eye and his hopes for becoming a great warrior are crushed forever. Probably very well deserved beating that changes both Wulfric and Rodulf.

Wulfric then starts his training while Rodulf and his father take different path, choosing to pursue wealth and political power instead of physical power and skill with blade.

The machinations of those two eventually start a downhill spiral (won’t spoil the details) and the growing greed of those two causes large amount of grief among the other villagers, Wulfric being one of those hit hardest, of which most was quite cold plan.

At this point I’ll stop when it comes to the story. I must say that I felt Wulfric quite relatable, especially when it came to struggling with his feelings and the hard decisions. The story of Rodulf and his father, with their machinations and growing fall to corruption was likewise well done, to the point of being able to cause countless deaths just to reach their goal.

Small downside was that in the early part of the book, there were one or two points where the shifts to the narrator felt a bit weird. Regardless, second book, here I come!


Read date: 4.-7.4.2018
Published: 8.10.2016
Goodreads / Amazon rating: 4,11 / 4,3
My rating: 95%
Length: 326 pages (kindle edition)

Favorite highlights, part two

A few days ago, I shared some of my favorite highlights from the last two years and with this post, I’ll continue with bits that took my attention in the two years of e-reading. This time with more serious lines. I will skip the “With great power comes great responsibility” type of quotes as I am quite sure everyone read or heard these several times over.


I’ll start with J.D. Hallowell’s books, as I did last time. There is a part that is sorely missing from our world, especially among those with power. Something I see well in my country where many politicians can’t even see far enough to the next elections.

“We need to begin to start fostering the idea among the people that everyone is responsible to future generations for how they leave this world in their own time… We have to convince people to think ahead for generations, not just a few years. They have to realize that what they do now will affect their great-grandchildren.”

And when I’m at that, there was one more far too real thing about it…

“…the concept of fair play doesn’t usually work its way too far into either the military or politics, and this situation was all about both.”

Next two quotes will come for a piece of well-known classic work, Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray.

Our weakest motives were those of whose nature we were conscious. It often happened that when we thought we were experimenting on others we were really experimenting on ourselves.


When we blame ourselves, we feel that no one else has a right to blame us. It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution.

As for the second, I could not agree more. I’m not religious, but I know well enough about it from the times I was visiting psychologist frequently.


And something from D.K. Holmberg about the price of power…

“You say that as if there is something terrible about searching for power, but power by itself is not dangerous. It’s what one does with it that makes it deadly.”


“There’s a price to power, Endric. It’s the same with all things. The question you must ask is whether you’re willing to pay it.”

Paradox of the two quotes? Said by someone seen as power-hungry. Well, I guess he knew about it firsthand.


There are always two ways to say something. Quote from Daniel Ford’s Paladin trilogy, which I’ll most likely re-read by the end of summer before the third book comes out and will post my comments about it.

“It is a rule of leading people, Gideon. You may be confused, or afraid, or overwhelmed, or all three—those who depend on you must never see it. Or, as the Old Baron once put it to me, you absolutely cannot be pissing your pants when your men are expecting orders.”


And something from David Dalglish, to show that harsh changes are… well, harsh.

“Imagine knowing something, knowing it so well that it is burned deep into your gut. You’d question your own name before you questioned this. And then…one day…the whole world changes, and you know nothing.”


And for the last one this time, the revolving doors of nature’s balance will most likely hit humanity in the face, as H.G. Wells knew…

“Humanity had been strong, energetic, and intelligent, and had used all its abundant vitality to alter the conditions under which it lived. And now came the reaction of the altered conditions.”


That’s it for the second part. I might make a third with some favorite lines that don’t fit the previous two groups, I might not…

Two years with ebooks: favorite highlights

Tomorrow, it’ll be two years since I bought my e-reader. In retrospect, decision I am glad for as it brought be back to reading books while as well saving my precious space. As long as it’s not freezing (currently waiting for winter and spring to agree who rules now) I can carry it around pretty much anywhere – a whole small library if I wanted.

Important advantage, even though I am not too regular in using it, is highlighting passages I find interesting, whether they are funny, inspirational or otherwise remarkable.

So, to “celebrate” my two years of e-reading, I’ll share some of my favorite highlights. Since there’s many of them for the two years, this time I’ll focus on the funny ones and leave the serious and inspirational for some other day.

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