Kind Words From Author Robert Lee Beers


robert lee beersA little while ago, fellow author Robert Lee Beers contacted me with some kind words about my space fantasy novel, Jak Phoenix. I always enjoy hearing from other authors and as you know I’ve posted a lot of great info about other independent writers in the past.

Robert had this to say:

I am giving book 1 a five star review for a specific reason: this is a mind movie. Many of the best-selling authors do not offer the escapism this style of writing delivers. Harry Potter, yes, Lord of the Rings, no. I am not comparing Mister Williams to either Rowling or Tolkein, not at all, but I am comparing the prose. Jak Phoenix comers across to me as a sort of Indiana Jones of the galaxy, and the madcap ride of his adventures certainly delivers an enjoyable read. Is it Dickens? Is it Dumas? Of course not. This is reading for an escape, and in today’s world we need this.

Robert Lee Beers is the author of the Tony Mandolin series, which you can read about on his website.

The first novel from the Jak Phoenix series is available free at Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks/iTunes and in the USA/Canada Kindle Store.

MW

Character Collaboration with Jeff Thomason


In March 2012 Jeff Thomason (the superb comic artist behind the Jak Phoenix Universe illustrations) decided to create this stellar graphic depicting his character, Wandering Koala, and good old Jak Phoenix himself in a ‘what-if’ situation. Like everything he has drawn for the Jak Phoenix Universe this one is a wonderful piece of art. Jeff’s drawings took Jak Phoenix off the page and really brought him to life. His article here explains some of the technical details behind the work and is entitled ‘Teamwork in Fiction,” which perfectly outlines the relationship he and I formed through our indie publishing adventures. Thanks again, Jeff!

Matt D. Williams

Author of the Jak Phoenix Adventures

Jak Phoenix and Wandering Koala

 

Be sure to check Jeff’s original article here: http://atouchofjeff.blogspot.ca/2012/03/teamwork-in-fiction.html

Using Words and Pictures to Tell a Story – A Guest Post with Jeff Thomason


Jeff Thomason artist on Jakphoenix.comJeff Thomason stopped by Jak Phoenix author Matt D. Williams’ website with a great guest post! The author and artist discusses the illustrated story and how he is making it work for him. Check out this snippet and then head to mattdwilliamsonline.com for the full article!

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Using Words and Pictures to Tell a Story

Words can be spoken, written, or read. The auditory section of your brain does the processing and interpreting, even if you read black text on a white page. Using words is telling a story (despite what your English teacher said about showing and not telling). There are many advantages to using words and telling including clarity (say exactly what you mean) and economy (cover large periods of time quickly).

Stories can also be told with pictures. The visual part of the brain does the interpreting here. Pictures have the advantage of showing what is happening, whether it is an action or emotion. They also save time by showing a scene and avoiding a lengthy description. The disadvantage is everyone sees something different in an image, so this approach lacks the clarity of words. And the economy—you can’t move as quickly through time nor as effectively with just visuals…

Head to mattdwilliamsonline.com for the full article!

An Interview with Fantasy Author Tracy Falbe


Fantasy Author Tracy Falbe

Fantasy author Tracy Falbe found the time to answer a few questions about her new book and life in general. Take a read – her answers will show you why she’s a writer…

MW: When we spoke last, I found out you had an adventure of your own this spring with a certain natural disaster. Would you like to share a bit about that experience?

TF: On May 29th a severe storm with 100 mile per hour winds hit Battle Creek, Michigan. I personally believe there were tornadoes in the storm but I don’t know if that was officially confirmed. My neighborhood was badly hit. Battle Creek is an old town and most of the neighborhoods are filled with glorious mature hardwoods. In a matter of minutes hundreds of them came crashing down as the storm tore a swath of destruction through the city, smashing homes and taking out utility lines. On commercial streets without the tree cover, businesses lost roofs and many signs were bent over and torn apart. Everyone is amazed and grateful no one died. A person caught outside in the flying debris could have easily been killed.

I think everyone heeded the sirens because of the many tragic deaths farther south this spring. The storm I experienced came incredibly fast and hit like a hammer. The storm did not so much as blow in as come down straight from the sky. Everything went white outside and I could not see beyond my yard as I rushed my kids into the basement. There was a massive roaring sound and I did not hear what must have been the terrible noise of huge oak trees crashing across my street. The storm plastered my house with chewed up leaves and small branches pierced my yard like spears, but otherwise my property was lucky. Four very large hardwoods, two oaks and two maples, directly threaten my home, but bless their woody hearts they stood firm while many of their mates succumbed all around.

What influence will this event have on your future stories? Are we likely to see some reference creep in?

The colossal power of Nature has always had a presence in my writing. I know that my puny humanity and technology are nothing compared to the chaotic might of a living planet. I’ve beheld the towering darkness of an oncoming dust storm in the Mojave Desert. I’ve endured the choking despair of wild fires while ash rained on my home. I’ve been saved from drowning by a stranger when he pulled me from a rushing river. I’ve watched funnel clouds go by and now I’ve cowered beneath one, so, since you asked, I probably should throw a tornado into a story.

This bad storm has also made me reflect on luck. You really can get lucky for no reason. (And doesn’t a hero in an adventure novel need that?) My home was unscathed. Elsewhere in my neighborhood I saw a property where three tall oaks came down and somehow managed to miss that man’s house AND boat as if a loving god were juggling logs for his sake. Across the street from the same place, vehicles were smashed and one house was about cut in half by falling oaks. Anything can happen and there is not much you can do about it.

Tracy Falbe's Rys Rising Fantasy eBook on Jak Phoenix .comTell us about your new book, Rys Rising.

Rys Rising: Book I is launching my second epic fantasy series. The story is in the same world as The Rys Chronicles but I have gone 2,200 years back in time. I’ve created the ancient civilization of Nufal that was an extinct ruin in my first series, and I’m detailing the early days of the rys and the rise of Onja and Dacian as that race’s Queen and King. Much of the action also involves the western tribal kingdoms and the human character of Amar. This epic was a challenge for me to write because it has three races and two civilizations. Also there is a rivalry between religious sects in Nufal to further complicate things. I’m styling the Rys Rising series as a complex epic told from many angles. It also has a greater emphasis on the bad guy. The fantasy genre for me is about having fun and exploring facets of society even if they are deviant. Rys Rising: Book I has a big focus on outlaws, like the main character Amar. My husband even insists that Amar IS the hero despite his lack of good deeds.

Where does this book fall into the chronological order with the rest of the Rys Chronicles?

Rys Rising is a prequel series, so it is the beginning. Because rys and tabre can live for thousands of years and hibernate, readers will get to meet some of the magical characters from the first series and see their original adventures.

Why did you decide to release this in the weekly serial format?

In addition to making Rys Rising: Book I a free ebook download at my websites, I decided to serialize it chapter by chapter to help market the novel. Every time I post a new chapter it gives me something new to talk about in my marketing efforts. Instead of constantly saying “download my free ebook” I can also say something fresh like “go read this chapter.” I also want to make it easy for people to check out my fiction. Reading a blog post is basically effortless compared to downloading an ebook. People like to read excerpts before committing to actually downloading a file.

I’m also hoping as time goes by and more people read the novel that the blog novel version will serve as a place for readers to comment and discuss the content.

Can you give us a hint of what to expect in the next volumes of the Rys Rising series?

Maybe these hints are best expressed in a tag cloud….adultery, awesomeness, bachelor party, betrayal, burning idols, dancers, drummers, duel, dungeon, enchantments, execution, funeral, magic, monsters, politics, religious war, sacrifice, siege, slaughter, swords, vengeance, wedding…Is this epic enough for you?

What kind of a timeline are we looking at for a release?

I can confidently say that Savage Storm: Rys Rising Book II will be published in October. I wish I could commit to getting New Religion: Rys Rising Book III published in time for Christmas, but realistically it could be January. Book IV that is untitled right now should be out in the last half of 2012. It’s half written.

What kind of format will the next installments arrive in?

Ebooks will be the format of first publication. By far I reach the most readers with ebooks, so digital is my priority. After publishing the ebooks I will develop print-on-demand paperbacks and hardcovers at Lulu.com. I just made the hardcover of Rys Rising: Book I live at Lulu http://www.lulu.com/product/hardcover/rys-rising-book-i/17146690 and the paperback version will be live as soon as I examine a proof copy that is en route to me.

What are you enjoying about your independence in the publishing world?

I love most that I am building a business around my dearest creative passion. I love also that I am writing stories straight from my soul and reaching an audience. This is infinitely better than trying to attract the interest of a publisher, which I wasted four years (2000 -2004) doing. Life is too short to leave my dreams in the hands of others.

Are you writing full time now?

Well, writing for me is not a 40 hour a week thing. If I actually write for two hours in a day, it’s a good session. So maybe that is full time for me. I try to write everyday although right now I am immersed in reading, editing, and proofreading Savage Storm and New Religion. I need to get those two novels fine tuned before I can return to writing the final part. This process allows me to absorb the middle of the epic and ponder the nuances so I can draw everything together in the conclusion. I know from experience that finishing an epic is very hard. Writing The Borderlands of Power: The Rys Chronicles Book IV was very challenging. Plus with every subsequent novel I write I push myself to do better. Although readers will make their individual judgments about each novel, I must always be satisfied that my latest novel is my best yet. An artist must always strive to improve.

What else have you been up to?

I have a ridiculous range of interests. I grow and preserve a lot of food for my family, so I’m busy in the garden and the kitchen. I’m always researching organic gardening and experimenting with plants. My goal is to make my yard as productive as possible, and I’m enjoying a good deal of success with that. I’m also an estate sale addict, which means I go shopping in dead people’s houses. Through the winter I plan to start making some upcycled décor from vintage items. I even have a quilting project.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for the interview and I wish you much success with Jak Phoenix.

Free ebook Rys Rising: Book I http://www.falbepublishing.com/braveluck/free-fantasy-ebook-rys-rising.html

Blog serial http://falbepublishing.com/rys-rising/2011/08/02/1-mountain-daughter/

Wattpad http://www.wattpad.com/2160964-rys-rising-book-i-chapter-1-mountain-daughter

Also 99 cents at these retailers:

Smashwords http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/79722

Apple iBooks http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/rys-rising-book-i/id458569652?mt=11

Amazon Kindle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005FYSSSC

B&N Nook http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rys-rising-tracy-falbe/1104808237

New Fantasy Novel by Tracy Falbe!


Tracy Falbe's Rys Rising Fantasy eBook on Jak Phoenix .com

Great news! Fantasy author Tracy Falbe just recently released a new novel — Rys Rising: Book 1

Here’s what she has to say about it:

An outlaw rises to become a dreaded warlord, the terror of kings. He takes the name Amar and seeks to join the Kez, the fiercest mercenary society in the tribal kingdoms of Gyhwen. His fearless ambition is inspired by Onja, a mysterious rys female whose magic has shaped Amar into a loyal friend. He zealously pursues her every command and hopes to join her in her mythic homeland of Jingten. But he knows little about the challenges confronting Onja. She and all rys are the reviled creations of the tabre of Nufal, and Onja longs to expel her hated masters. To liberate the rys, she knows that she will need more than Amar’s help. Onja sees her best hope for an ally in Dacian, a prodigy among rys, but he is loyal to the ruling tabre order and dreams of winning equality for the rys nonviolently. He holds tenaciously to his ideals even as the tabre brutally subjugate him. Will he endure more dark abuses for the sake of peace or reach out to Onja? And what fate is Amar blindly embracing as he kills for her? Like a tree crashing in a storm, all civilizations will crack when hit by the force of the rys rising.

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You should probably head over to her site and download it. Tracy’s work is always amazing.  You can download Rys Rising for FREE in Epub, Kindle-compatible PRC, or Adobe PDF here:

http://www.falbepublishing.com/braveluck/free-fantasy-ebook-rys-rising.html

Tracy has also decided to present Rys Rising: Book I as a serialized web novel. The first chapter “Mountain Daughter” is already live and she’ll be updating the novel on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. Anyone can start reading here: http://falbepublishing.com/rys-rising/2011/08/02/1-mountain-daughter/

Tracy is a good friend of the Jak Phoenix Universe. Show her some love!

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Matt D. Williams – Author of Jak Phoenix, a space adventure novel.

How has technology affected the illustrated story? – A Guest Post by Jeff Thomason


Jeff Thomason stopped by for a great guest post about what he knows best. Take it away….

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How has technology affected the illustrated story?

 

Case study 1: Pulps vs. Comic Books

 

Jeff Thomason artist on Jakphoenix.comSince the beginning of recorded history, people have had some form of illustrated stories, whether they were carved in stone by hand or printed on paper by a machine. While the essence hasn’t changed (still words and pictures) the technology used to create them has and this has brought about changes in the stories themselves. One of the best examples comes from the early twentieth century: Pulps vs. Comic Books.

Pulp Fiction refers to inexpensive magazines and books printed on cheap paper called pulp (hence the name) from 1896 thru the 1950s with their popularity (and sales) peaking in the1930s. They cost a dime (and are sometimes referred to as dime novels) and featured an exciting, full color cover, a quickly written story, and a few black and white illustrations. They were wildly popular and sold well even during the depression. Characters included Tarzan, Zorro, Buck Rogers, Doc Savage, The Shadow, The Spider, Fu Manchu, and many others. They covered every genre from adventure to science fiction, action, romance, weird tales, exotic travels, and spicy fun.

Comic books began in the 1930s as reprints of the Sunday color comics section printed on cheap newsprint at a quarter the newspaper size. They quickly introduced new materials and a new genre: the superhero (who was originally called a costumed character or costumed hero) and included Superman, the Bat-man, Wonder Woman, Captain America, and Captain Marvel. They usually included several stories with each lasting anywhere from one page to 8 pages and sold for a dime.

These two forms shared a lot during the 1930s and 40s. Both were on cheap paper. Both sold for the same price on the same newsstands. Many of the same people were involved in both pulps and comics. Both used words and pictures to tell stories of adventure, action, romance, terror, heroism, vigilantism, and salaciousness. But technology changed the possibilities of form and, as an unforeseen result, the content of the stories.

When pulps started in the late 1900s, color illustrations were difficult and expensive to print. So the pulps were mostly text with a great cover and a few poorly reproduced black & white line drawings. The stories were novel length and featured characters with simple garbs. But by the late 1930s, color illustrations were commercially viable, so comics could be full color with more picture than words. This meant the simple trench coat of the Shadow or the bronze skin of Doc Savage wasn’t enough for pictures. Comic heroes needed bright costumes and colorful foes. Because the stories contained so much illustration, the stories become much shorter and much simpler with several in each issue.

A paradigm example is the comparison of the Doc Savage pulps of the 30s (one of the most popular and successful series) with the Doc Savage comic of the 40s. In the pulps he was strong, smart, and wore regular clothes and traveled in planes and boats. In the comics, he gained a costume and super powers and basically became a completely different character.

Technology also produced another unexpected result: the death of pulps. The four-color adventures proved too exciting for the text heavy pulps to compete with. When readers were faced with a choice between 64 full color pages of costumed clad heroes or 80+ pages of black and white text both for a dime, they chose the one more visually exciting.

You may be wondering what a 60-year-old example has to do with us today. Ah, here’s where the big question comes in. How will technology shape illustrated stories today? The eBook revolution (sorry big publishers, there is a revolution going on whether you like it or not) provides new opportunities and new limitations for stories. Here are just a few:

  • Cost & Length – To make selling a story worthwhile (and to make the binding practical) stories have to be at least certain length, but can’t go over a certain length. Digital files don’t have this limitation. An author can sell a one-page story or a 4-million-page story. The usual limitations don’t apply. This opens up new possibilities for new forms. It also may be the salvation of comic books, which are pricing themselves out of existence due to high printing costs.
  • Layout – eReaders offer flexible layouts and font sizes, which means you can’t guarantee how a page will display. The picture may be on its own screen, or you may have a two page layout showing several pictures and a healthy chunk of text. The play between images and pictures needs to be simpler and more flexible.
  • Size – Comic books have had a hard time going digital, because the text is hard to read on a small screen. Many solutions have been tried such as breaking it into individual panels (which gives you odd shaped pages and loses the effect of one panel interacting with another) to cropping the page to just the essential elements (robbing you of beautiful artwork). In the 80s it was common for toys to include mini-comics. These mini-comics were meant for a small page and work well on eReaders and other small screens if only comic book producers could break from their current template.

 

Of course, eReaders and eBooks are new, so we have yet to see the real possibilities this new technology will open up and the effect it will have on illustrated stories. I, for one, am excited to see what will develop.

Jeff Thomason

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Check out Jeff’s comics on Smashwords

Find Jeff on Facebook

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Check out his website at: http://skyfitsjeff.com/