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Welcome to my blog. Here, you will find information about my novels, life in Japan, as well as author interviews, discussions on writing, and more. Feel free to browse and if you enjoy a post, please comment. Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Book Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Lost Era: The Buried Age

I'll be reviewing Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Lost Era: The Buried Age by Christopher L. Bennett. (What is it with him getting stuck with these unwieldy titles? Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Watching the Clock and Star Trek: Enterprise - Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures are two that spring to mind).

The book is part of an umbrella title called the Lost Years, various Star Trek novels that serve as prequels, covering parts of history not shown or talked about on-screen. Bennett's focuses on Captain Jean-Luc Picard, covering about eight years of time, starting with the destruction of his ship the Stargazer, and ending just before he takes command of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

The book deals with an event that affects the galaxy, with literally trillions of lives at stake. The main alien race, the Manraloths, have technology thousands of years ahead of the Federation's, and it borders on super science. An example is using the event horizon of a black hole to store information for virtually all eternity. The technology could have been used as deus ex machina, but Bennett presents it with hard science and in the end, the technology doesn't sound so far-fetched.

Most of the TNG regulars make an appearance in the book, the big exceptions being Crusher, Wesley, and Riker. When Data is recruited for Picard's mission, I was taken aback, thinking the author just wanted a way to bring the characters together; I'd always imagined that the main bridge crew hadn't met before the events of the pilot episode Encounter at Farpoint. However, Bennett points out that most starship captains can pick their command crew, so it makes sense Picard wouldn't just pick his officers from reading their file. Trio and Data have significant parts later on the story, and there are appearances by Yar and Worf. While they seem just thrown into the story at first, their reasons for meeting Picard before serving together on the Enterpise come together nicely and doesn't feel forced. Many characters from various episodes make appearances or are name-dropped, but if you don't know them or forgot about them it's okay, a working knowledge of TNG isn't needed to enjoy this book.

The focus is on Picard and his feelings over losing the Stargazer and his reluctance to rejoin Starfleet. The book tries to cover the journey from Picard the fun explorer to the stern Picard we meet at the beginning of TNG. Bennett does an adequate job and most of the time I could hear Patrick Stewart's voice as I read Picard's lines. Data's lines were spot on, in my opinion, as were Guinan's. Bennett does a little more telling than showing when it comes to characterization but I think he did an adequate job of Picard's journey as a character.

All in all, this a good book and one worth looking into if you're a Picard fan. It gives us another view of his character and an epic, cosmic mission to save the galaxy.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Novel Reuploaded

In a post on Facebook, an author asked whether he should take down his novel and rewrite parts of it based on the two negative reviews he received. It got me thinking about revising and when is enough is enough.

When a physical book is printed, it's finished. Whatever mistakes there are (forgotten characters, confusing plot lines, no period after every sentence) rests with the author. Yes, an editor reads it, and works with the author to make the book the best it can be. But they can only do so much, they have deadlines to meet and solicitations to make and the book must be published. Once it hits the printing press for mass distribution, it's out of the author's hands and into the reader's.

Ebooks are different. They can uploaded as many times as needed, and the newest version is the one that gets put on the virtual shelves. This allows the author to continually revise their story; fix spelling mistakes, add chapter titles, replace every period with a heart, whatever needs to be done to the novel.

But is this the best thing to do? I don't think so. I do admit that reuploading is sometimes necessary. It happened to me with Adventure Hunters. I admit, when I uploaded it the first time in January, I was too hasty. I didn't have anyone proofread it or hire any beta readers. A friend of mine downloaded it and later emailed me about all of the mistakes and inconsistencies that were in it. I took it down and went through all of his corrections, cursing myself for missing these. I must have read those passages dozens of times, how could I have missed all these mistakes? I was also unhappy with the cover and decided to redo it.

After fixing the mistakes I debated whether to rewrite some passages. I had some worldbuilding ideas I had thought of after the initial publication, but I held off. I added a few lines mentioning the three main religions of DosShell but I decided to save my ideas for the sequel (yes, there will be a sequel to Adventure Hunters). I did this for two reasons: I thought with more time, I could improve my worldbuilding and add more details to my world, and I would have more material for my sequel, possibly making it better than the first one. Also, I felt doing major rewrites would just end up hurting my novel.

Which brings me to: when is enough is enough? At some point, the next draft of your novel is going to make it worse, not better. There comes a point when the author needs to put down his laptop and let the story stand on its own. There will always be parts of a story we don't like; scenes that could be better or characters that could use strengthening, a hundred other things. But eventually you have to send your baby out into the world and let it face reality. I'm not saying you should never fix a novel after it is uploaded. If you catch misspellings or a person's name changes throughout the novel, or the cover isn't good enough, fix it. Slight cosmetic changes are okay. Rewriting large chunks or restructuring the third act shouldn't be done.

What about rewrites based on negative reviews? Again, I don't think so. If you are fortune enough to have an editor or a couple of proofreaders or beta readers, they will hopefully catch any mistakes before it goes to print (real or virtual). However, you can't please all of the people all of the time. What one reviewer hates may be the favorite thing about your book for another reviewer. If you are consistently getting negative comments about the same thing from multiple reviewers, maybe you should look at the problem. They may be right. But if you don't agree, it's a wash and the decision goes to the writer.

I also don't advocate multiple uploads with major revisions because of people who have already bought your book. If they don't like your novel in the first place, they will most likely not buy it again. If two friends are discussing your book and there are differences because they read different versions, it may make them decide not to read you again. Would you trust an author who seemed like he couldn't make up his mind about what he wanted to put in his book? Even though most revised editions are free to download again if you bought the book once, will you read it again just to discover one line was added? Probably not.

If you feel you need to rewrite major portions of the book, I'd suggest uploading it as a different edition. Maybe market it as the "unabridged version" or "expanded and uncut" or something along those lines. "The definitive author's edition" sounds good. In this case, it lets a reader know that substantial changes were made.

As always, thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Discount!

For your holiday shopping convenience, I am offering my book, Adventure Hunters, at a discount until Tuesday Japan Standard Time. On Amazon my book will be available for 99cents. If you use Smashwords the book is free. That's right, FREE! All of this is part of a promotion with other authors who are giving their books away for free or at a discounted price for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Adventure-Hunters-ebook/dp/B0071KF6EM/ref=la_B0071UQHX6_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353541650&sr=1-1
Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/126424
Use the coupon code AP57D at checkout to get the book for free.


Check out http://fivestarindieauthors.com for other authors promoting their books

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Book Versus The Movie: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

A few weeks ago I saw the movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. It was interesting and I knew the book had been somewhat popular, so I decided to read it. After finishing it yesterday, I decided to give my view on the two.

The book is told like a biography, using the author's narration, but the majority of it is told through Abe's notebooks; selected journal entries detailing his life. Along with these entries are few photographs. The fact that the book is set up like that, as a "real" account from "lost" sources is fun and seems like a good idea. But the very thing that seems to be fun is its greatest weakness.

It reads like a biography, a dry one at that, and constantly flips viewpoints, as we go from Seth Grahame-Smith's third-person narration to Abe's first-person point-of-view and back again. While the majority of the book is from Abe, the constant back and forth is distracting. It would have been better to stay with one POV. I've never been a fan of first-person and feel that if the book had been told more traditionally, in a third-person POV, it would have benefited greatly. It would have been more of a story, a narrative, than a hodgepodge of notes.

The biography approach creates a series of vignettes, since it covers Abe's life from age nine to his death. This creates a disjointed narrative, entire moths are lost between chapter breaks, characters are mentioned once or twice. It reads more like a summary of his life.

The mash up is interesting, however, and the author gets kudos for weaving fact and fiction well together. The problem with the book isn't its story but its approach...

...Which was not a problem in the movie version. Adapted by Seth Grahame-Smith from his own novel, it is interesting to see the differences between the two, even though they were written by the same person. Grahame-Smith obviously knew what would work for the screen and what wouldn't: instead of trying to cram in as much of his original novel verbatim as he could, he crafted a slightly different story and stuck with a single narrative approach.

While many of the scenes and plot points from the novel are present, many have been truncated, characters eliminated, and in the case of Rufus Sewell's character Adam, newly created for the movie. And most of this benefits the movie. The thing the book was lacking the most was a villain. While Abe was fighting vampire's, there was no one to direct his anger to, only to vampires in general. Without a villain, there was nobody for the reader to root against. Abe's struggles seemed somewhat meaningless.

The movie, while jumping through time somewhat disjointedly, benefits from a continuous narrative and a villain. Adam is a constant throughout the film and a focal point for Abe. The story, and Abe's fights, now of a focus, a goal, something the book severely lacked.

Style-wise the movie is very nice, from the Russian director of the Nightwatch series and Wanted. He knows how to stage action sequences (where else are you going to see a vampire pick up a horse during a stampede and throw it at another person?) and has visual style. All of the actors did a good job with their parts.

 This is a case where I feel the movie is better than the book. The book was unique, but dry and flat. The movie benefits from a straightforward narrative and loads of visual style.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop


Martin Reaves asked me on the Facebook group Master Koda to be on a blog hop. It's something I've never done before. Each author in the blog hop tags five authors (if they can find them) on their blog and gives them an easy interview to fill out about their current work-in-progress novel. Then they tag other authors and it keeps going until they run out of authors. The blog hop sounded fun and it's a good way to meet other authors. Here are two others participating, Steven Montano and Bruce Blake (who tagged Martin Reaves).

HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS
Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:
What is the working title of your book?
The Super School Uniform.


Where did the idea come from for the book?
Two movies: The Masked Girl (check out the YouTube trailer) and Iron Man. The first is a Japanese short film in which a high school girl is given superpowers and must find several kidnapped girls. I always liked the idea of a Japanese girl with superpowers. Then came Iron Man, and Tony has no superpowers without his suit. (Although, when asked by Captain America what Stark was without the suit, Tony replied "Millionaire genius playboy philanthropist.") Knowing that school uniforms are an important aspect of school life, I thought it would be interesting if her school uniform would be the source of her powers. If she couldn't wear it, she was powerless.

What genre does your book fall under?
Action, science fiction, light novel.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I actually thought about this at a few times. For the main villain I'd choose Kitamura Kazuki. My heroine… I'm not sure. I'm basing the look of my character, Takamachi Hina, on a model named Yuzuki Mana.


What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A Japanese middle school student gains a suit that gives her superpowers and she must stop aliens from terraforming the Earth into a copy of their own homeworld.


Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Self-published, via Amazon and Smashwords.


How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I'm still writing the first draft, but so far about 10 months.


What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I don't know of any. But in other media, I'd say various anime and Kamen Rider.


Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to write something completely different after finishing my fantasy novel Adventure Hunters.


What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
As a former teacher currently in Japan, I've peppered my book with many references about daily school life. I hope it will give my readers an insight into a different culture.


There you have it I hope you enjoyed it, and don't forget to check out the other authors tagged for this blog hop.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Adventure Hunters 2.0 Is A Go!

Nope, 2.0 is not a sequel to my action-packed, spectacular, epic fantasy novel Adventure Hunters (ok, maybe "epic" is stretching it, haha) but it is a revised, updated edition.

After uploading it back in January, James Reed, an online friend, got a hold of it and pointed out the numerous errors, misspellings, and mistakes I hadn't caught, no matter how many times I had read the frakking thing. So, I went back, added in his edits, along with a touch of more worldbuilding. There was actually much more I wanted to add to the novel, but I have decided to leave it for the sequel. With more understanding about writing and worldbuilding, I'm expecting the sequel to be better than the first. Btw, the sequel's tentative title is Adventure Hunters Return.

After trying to make the manuscript better, I wanted to make the cover better. I found an awesome landscape picture on DeviantArt by FantasyKnight, who kindly let me use it for free as my book cover. A recommendation by my friend Richard led me to his friend Edward, who composed the cover using FantasyKnight's picture. The cover is much better than anything I could have come up with.

So there you have it. Adventure Hunters is available (again) at most of the major ebook retailers. If you already bought a copy of it, don't worry, you can download it again for free. Which I recommend. If you haven't read it, I recommend it. If you have friends who haven't read it, I recommend it If.. well, you get the idea.

As always, thanks for reading.