Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

The Memory of Earth by Orson Scott Card

So I'd never read anything by Orson Scott Card before. Of course I had heard of him and seen his books all over, but he was just one of those authors I never quite got around to reading. While that misstep has now been corrected, I had to put down The Memory of Earth.

I fully intended to read the book front to back, but something had been nagging me almost since the beginning. Given that I was a newcomer to Card's work, I was keeping an open mind and had no idea what to expect except that he's a prolific author so his stuff must be good, right? The thing is, the book isn't bad, it's just not good. It's a great idea--benevolent supercomputer controls peoples' minds, keeping them from destroying each other like they did literally 30 or so million years ago on Earth. Except that the computer starts to break down and needs help, so it starts to send certain individuals visions (that's how it communicates) saying more or less that it needs help. Sounds good, right?

Except the book really lacks two things: (1) execution and (2) complexity. What I basically mean by #1 is that not enough happens, and, when something does happen, I often thought, "oh, that's nice." Not nearly enough suspense and the characters really aren't engaging enough. #2 has to do with the author's style. It's too simplistic. He tells me that this character is angry, and this one is sad instead of showing it, or something happens where its painfully obvious what's going on, but Card has to come along and throw in an explanatory sentence just in case you didn't get it. It was annoying to say the least.

One of these days I'll take a look at Ender's Game, if only because it's considered the author's seminal work. For now, though, Card fades to the background on my reading list.

Writing Update #7

This previous week I think I hit on some nice writing progress. Overall, 22 pages closer to finishing this first pass edit.

I achieved that from both sides, both increasing the current page that I'm editing from 316 to 332 but also decreasing the total page count from 391 to 385.

Here's the graph:

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A little hard to see that the total pages came down, but the increase in the pages edited is easy enough to see.

Here's the percentage completion graph:

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Unlike the previous week, where it very nearly flat-lined from the week before, this time there's a nice gain, putting me at a completion percentage of 86.23%.

So, what changed this past week? I was more focused. I made a conscious effort to remove distractions and make some good, solid progress. I hate to think that 22 pages in one week is "good" progress, but this is something I do in addition to work, family, house, dogs, and so on. Still, I need to do more, and continue to stay focused on finishing. I'm enjoying the story immensely; it's by far better than my previous novel, both in content and style. I hope it's a sign I'm maturing as a writer and that I'm closer to getting published.

More progress next week.

Tor to Resume Free E-book Giveaways

tor-books-logoLooks like Tor is going to resume their Free E-book Giveaway program where, monthly, they give away a free e-book. No DRM (at least the previous e-books were DRM-free), no strings, no commitment to do anything but download and read.

Here's what they have to say about it in their latest newsletter:

More details next week--but yes, we plan to resume giving away selected e-books on Tor.com, at least one title per month. To download them you’ll need to not just visit Tor.com but register as a user; the downloads won’t be accessible until you do. Registering on the site takes maybe thirty seconds if you type particularly slowly...so Act Now, Act Without Thinking, get over to Tor.com and create yourself a user account today.

Looks like I'll be updating my list of Tor free e-books, and expect information posts about each of these new giveaways as they become available.

There's been some discussion on the benefits of Tor's program, and whether or not giving away one book leads to sales of others for that author. I'll leave such determinations and discussions up to the respective authors. I just like getting the free stuff.

Writing Update #6

This past week was an interesting one as far as my writing is concerned. I finally made the big decision to cut one of the supporting characters. I'd been thinking about this for some time, but it was a difficult decision because I liked the character. He provided some meaning to the overall storyline, too, but not enough that his part couldn't be supplemented here and there by others. So, he's gone.

That cut by itself removed about 7,000 words from my last week's total of 122,866. That along with some additional material needed to fill-in some of the resulting gaps brings me to a current total of 115,664. Still not down to the 110,000 I had determined I needed to get to, but a lot closer.

All of that kind of skews this past week's results. Here's the graph:

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That puts me at a current editing page of 316, down from 329 last week (note the backward progress from that perspective), with 75 pages remaining. That's down 10 pages from last week, so some forward progress there.

Here's the completion percentage outlook:

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I don't like that nearly flat line at the end.

Here's the bottom line: I dropped the total word count from 122,866 to 115,664, total pages went down from 414 to 391, and pages remaining to edit went down from 85 to 75. All told, not bad.

The game plan at this point is to continue moving forward. I had to reorder one scene, but that's nearly done. At some point, I'll have to go back and fix some of those scenes where the missing character is no longer there. I'll probably save that work for my second pass edit.

More next week.

Why You Should Read ARC's

Dark RainEOS Books has a call out for advanced readers for Tony Richards' Dark Rain.

I'm not in on this one only because I need the time to work on my current WIP. Participating as an advanced reader is a great experience, but it’s one of those things you have to sometimes temper your enthusiasm over. Personally, I love being one of the first people to see an author’s finished work. Also, it’s free stuff, and who doesn’t like that?

Ultimately, though, participating in these endeavors (along with a great many other things) can become a distraction. There’s typically a deadline associated with the ARC and its publication date. So you have to commit to a reading schedule. Then, you have to write a review. I like to put some thought into mine, and possibly do a little research about the author in the process. For me, it becomes a more fulfilling process that way. In any case, what this boils down to is time. Time away from other things, like writing.

One way to help deal with this is to limit the number of ARC’s you sign up for. Do one every two or three months, or every six months if that works better. But don’t not participate. ARC’s are a great way to get exposure to authors you might not otherwise read. I, for one, think it is of the utmost importance that a writer read outside of his or her field. It’s a sort of research, both into other content as well as writing style.

As for Dark Rain, here’s what EOS has to say about it:

Raine's Landing, Massachusetts, can't be located on any map. On the surface it appears an ordinary New England small town, but anyone who stumbles in wants to leave immediately . . . and once gone, they forget they were ever there. Real magic pervades this village of shadows, practiced by powerful adepts descended from the original Salem witches. But a curse has made it impossible for any resident to step beyond the town line. Those born here must die here as well.

That sounds awesome.

If you’ve got the time in your schedule, go check it out.