Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: book series

It’s International Jane Friedman Day !

Jane Friedman Well, actually, it’s not really “International” Jane Friedman Day—just a day on this blog when I’ll share 6 articles by Jane that have accumulated in my Bookmarks. :-)

If you use my handy Top-Tags Widget (down a bit in the left side-bar) and click on her name, you’ll find this post (’cause I’ve tagged it…) and a copious amount of additional posts featuring a woman who’s said, on her About Page:

“I have a special interest in how the digital age is transforming writing careers, publishing, and storytelling. Rather than taking a dark view of how the Internet era has affected writers’ livelihoods, I’m more interested in how revolutionary change can inspire new business models, and how authorship will ultimately evolve. I believe history is on the writers’ side: they’ve been sustaining their careers in ever more innovative ways since the era of Gutenberg. Furthermore, I don’t think that business and art are at odds—I see how they inform and push each other to flourish.”

And, since digital self-publishing is totally transforming so many folks, I lead my sharing with her article entitled, Start Here: How to Self-Publish Your Book, that has a video and these major sections:

1. A Quick History of Self-Publishing
2.The Most Common Ways to Self-Publish Today
3.Self-Publishing: The DIY Approach I Recommend
4.How Ebook Self-Publishing Services Work
5.Creating Ebook Files
6.How to Self-Publish a Print Book
7.Investing in a Print Run: Yes or No?
8.Print-on-Demand Recommendations
9.Maximizing Your Book Sales
10.More Resources

And, in case you self-publish and haven’t really primed the world to receive your book, here’s Jane’s article, So You’re an Author Without a Social Media Presence: Now What?

Then, comes an article entitled, The Advice to Pursue Your Passion: What Does “Passion” Even Mean?, in which Jane explains:

“This is partly why I avoid the word ‘passion’. It is an excellent way to stoke someone’s anxiety….in the current cultural moment, the word has become ever more fraught—it’s tinged with a value judgment, that there’s something wrong if you haven’t discovered your passion and found the way to make it into your career. The capitalist pursuit of passion is the new horrible form of enlightenment we’re told to chase.”

And, to explore a particular “capitalist” passion that has many writers trapped on their own treadmills, I share her desperately needed article, The Pressure to Release More, More, More Titles.

And, to round out those four tool-box articles with two rather specialized topics, here are:

What Is a Hybrid Publisher? and A Writer’s Guide to Permissions and Fair Use.

If you take those links and study those articles, you’ll be further along the learning curve than most aspiring writers…
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Author Interview ~ Jennifer Morrey

You may know that I’ve jumped into the middle of Wattpad in full Engagement-mode

So much so, that I already have interviews here with three Wattpad authors:   Holly Gonzalez,    J. A. Partridge, and Raphyel M Jordan (here are all the Author Interviews…).

And, here comes number four :-)

~~~  Welcome, Jennifer. First of all, please, tell us about your series, how many books are planned, and any other info you want to share.

Thank you for this opportunity to have an interview! I think the favorite subject of any author is their books…

I’m writing a series called The Ball of Lights. Four books are planned,  two books are completed—available right now on Wattpad, Gallel’s Heir and The Value of Gifts. Book Four is called The Land Beyond The Eastern Horizon. Book 3 does not yet have a name.

The first book, Gallel’s Heir, is the story of what a mother will do to Gallel's Heir protect her daughter from a life she fears, and what a powerful mind mage will do to free a demon she is in love with..

The beginning chapters of Book Three will be posted within the next few weeks. Book 4 has several chapters posted. Before you think I am crazy to post book 4 before book 3—well, it starts with another main character in another part of the world; what is posted takes place towards the beginning of Book 1. The story lines align in Book 4.

Another book, one of my favorites, is a novella I plan to expand into a novel—this is called The Ancient of Dunáya.

Humans believe the well of Dunáya forest is a wishing well, but really drinking from it unlocks and brings to the surface what lurks in the heart. This is from the same world as The Ball of Lights, but 2500 years in the past and (small spoiler alert!) the character Sirah is actually the time mage in most of Gallel’s Heir‘s chapter quotes.

Well! I’ve read Gallel’s Heir—Excellent Book—and you just solved a mystery for me :-)

So, let’s go back in your history a bit—what was your first inspiration for writing?

When I was a kid, I didn’t play with baby dolls or Barbies… They just didn’t interest me. I played with trolls, the ones with the stick-up, colorful hair. I had about 50 of them at one time and created back stories and family groups for all of them. My favorite, Rolletta Neugan, still watches over me on my desk. I still talk to her. My first stories were about her and her family… I made a whole world for them that still lives in my mind. The earliest drafts of my books existed in that world.

Incredibly fascinating, Jennifer…

So, are the sentient species in your novels actually trolls?

Not exactly. Over time, my characters got taller and more human like. Though, I do have races that are blue or gray, in addition to the brown or pinkish groups we are familiar with.

You write fantasy. What do you think of the standard fantasy races– elves and dwarves and orcs and so forth?

If I ever devised a plot where I needed a non-human sentient race, I wouldn’t steal from Tolkien. His Scottish speaking dwarves and snooty, long-lived, and elegant elves were clever back in his day. But really. We are creative people. We should invent our own races.

As far as races like orcs, who are destined to be evil, bloodthirsty, or destructive. I just can’t accept that in my writing. In my stories, free will is an important theme. If a race of orcs existed, then they must have the right to choose to be good and loving like the rest of us.

Again, Jennifer, incredibly fascinating…

So…you wouldn’t read a fantasy story featuring dwarves or elves or bloodthirsty orcs?

I would tend to avoid cliché of any kind. One notable exception, however, is the writing of one author on wattpad: JCKang. His Dragon Scale Lute series is excellent, featuring elves—but, in an Asian setting. Imagine, ninja elves.

Way cool :-)

What do you think of other standard fantasy elements?

What, like dragons or fairies? They certainly have their place in fantasy. Again, I avoid any cliché. And I wouldn’t choose to read werewolf books.

I’ve read one of your books; but, for the sake of my readers here, what magic is left in your world, with no dragons or fairies or bloodthirsty orcs?

A crystal ball is a major element in my series. It is called the Ball of Lights and Truths. “Urim and Thummim” means “lights and truths” in our world.

There are mages who sense the life force,  or “wari”, in living things. Wari is what links the soul to the body and allows the soul to interact with the world. Water mages can sense wari and manipulate it to heal injuries or illness, or steal it to gain strength or longevity.

I well remember the intense issues surrounding wari that Dylin faces in Gallel’s Heir

More about mages, Jennifer?

Mind mages, in addition to their ability to heal, can sense emotions; if well trained they can read or manipulate minds.

The highest order of mage is the time mage, who can sense the flow of time and can sense future or historical events with clarity. In order to become a time mage, a person must devote considerable time and emotional energy, and be at peace with themselves and the universe. They typically have experienced some tragedy that shattered them. They have a link with the Taleni, the Creators.

You certainly have a way to make the reader care about your characters. From where do you draw your inspiration?

I draw a lot of inspiration from groups or individuals I have worked with. I spent many years as a counselor in youth residential treatment. While there, I realized that a young teenager who had experienced the abuse and neglect that Dylin did would most likely turn to self-harm, or cutting. Dylin is the mother who wishes to protect her daughter in Gallel’s Heir.

Some readers have found her cutting distasteful, as if her weakness is somehow unacceptable, while other weaknesses, such as alcoholism or plain rudeness are ok. But I couldn’t remove this characteristic—it is too realistic for a girl of her background.

I have also spent some years caring for adults with disabilities. This is reflected in The Ancient of Dunáya‘s character, Sirah, a person with disabilities who was abandoned by her mother as an infant. She was raised—and abused—by the innkeeper her mother left her with.

I hope with Sirah to show the world the value that all people possess, and that people with disabilities deserve the same dignity and respect as everyone else. We finally live in a world where abuse and neglect are not tolerated.

You share a lot of philosophical ideas, especially in your beginning-of-chapter quotes. What do your chapter quotes add to your chapters, and what do they mean for you?

I typically use chapter quotes to reveal information that would be useful for the reader. I show several prophecies relevant to the series, written by time mages, or reveal information obvious to the characters, but unknown to the reader, like cultural norms. People in Galia often participate in polyandry (the legal union of a woman with more than one man). This is unusual in our world, but accepted in Galia. How would the reader know this, without some way for the author to reveal it?

Many of the chapter quotes are my own philosophies, or my own poetry, rewritten by time mages.

Some of the chapter quotes seem to have a religious theme. Are you a religious person yourself?

Yes, I am a devoted Christian… but I am also an avid science lover, which is reflected in the chapter quotes. I could have been an astrophysicist, if my life had taken a slightly different turn.

My faith, though not Christian, also sees agreement between religion and science. But, again, for our dear readers, how can you be religious And scientific? Aren’t those two realms of knowledge diametrically opposed?

Not any more opposed than the questions Why and How. I am a lover of truth. If I had lived in Galia or Inoplius, I would have become a time mage.

A lot of the chapter quotes, and other themes throughout the books, subtly reconcile science and religion. At the end of The Value of Gifts, the character, Ophia, hears the story of Creation from a time mage. A careful reading of this and the chapter quotes will show I am talking about the Big Bang, evolution of galaxies, evolution of species, and the rise of humans to sentience, but in the form of a parable. Why did I bother to include this? Because Creation has been one of my favorite subjects for a long time and a main reason I studied Anthropology at a major university.

But that is the subject of another discussion. I plan to write a book on it.

I’m starting to understand where some of the “power” of your characters comes from…

Well, moving along. Who are your favorite authors on Wattpad—what works are you reading now—what do you look for in a Wattpad story?

I already mentioned JCKang. Another favorite is JAPartridge (whom you recently interviewed); I was one of the first to complete his novel, Kingdom of The Stone, and he dedicated a chapter to me. I am currently reading his Stone King.

I am anxiously awaiting the next chapter of DAJB01’s Abhorrent Practices.

GreatGustav has a lighter style, and I am reading his Tale That Could Not Be and Defenders of Destiny. This last series is unique, in that he is writing it based on characters submitted by other Wattpad authors; he is using my Casandra, who will be featured in my next series, as well as Minara, The Ball of Lights‘ main villain.

My most favorite author on wattpad is my daughter, Elly. She is seven years old and just learning to spell, but her story ideas are amazing. She shares a Wattpad account with me. Check out her book, Going Into Inoplius, about the adventures of her stuffed cat, Seven.

I am also reading an author called amzolt, who writes emotional poetry and who likes to interview his favorite authors ;-)

What do I look for in a Wattpad story? I won’t read a story with bad grammar and excessive typos. These tell me the author hasn’t put their soul into it enough to make their work presentable for public view.

I look for interesting, unique characters; I try to avoid the cliché fiery redhead warrior princess. Excessive battle scenes get boring; I prefer a psychological connection to the characters. Show me the story, don’t tell me.

Some favorite off-Wattpad authors are: Brandon Sanderson, Diana Marcellas, Orson Scott Card, and Gail Carson Levine. And what fantasy author/reader doesn’t love JK Rowling?

Well, Jennifer, thank you, so much, for shoring with us in this interview. I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed your Gallel’s Heir and I look forward to reading the rest of the series. I’ll also check out The Ancient of Dunáya when I get the chance—build up the “reads” and “votes” and “comments” for a wonderful author like you.

Well, Alex, thank you, again, for this opportunity—the interview and the free promotion :-)


O.K., Folks—Comments and Questions for Jennifer are definitely welcomed…

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When Two Books Depend On Each Other . . .

If you been following this blog, you know I’m working on another novel; and, that the new book happens in the same worlds and time-frame as the one I published back in 2011 (get a free copy here…)

When Two Books Depend On Each Other

Image Courtesy of Marcel Hol ~

I’ve just finished a read-through of Notes from An Alien (the first book), while taking notes to help me mesh the new plot with the older one; and, I must admit, reading a book I wrote four years ago was an enlightening experience…

I found only two typos (though eight were found shortly after publishing…) and there are only two other small corrections I’m going to make.

I also have thousands of words in other notes that I need to read for the third time; then, on to the planning and organization of the plot for Finally, The Story Can Be Told

Once I have a clean-draft, I’ll be wanting a few Beta-readers

Once I’ve published the new book, I’ll be getting back to more regular blogging—probably, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday…

To sweeten this post, let me offer some book recommendations from my favorite fiction author, C. J. Cherryh.
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