Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Potpourri of Posts: Ribs, Publisher's Block, and Jewish Future History

The Saga of the Fractured Rib
       To bring this topic to a conclusion and to use my probably least favorite cliche: What a difference a week makes!  Last week at this time I was contemplating a visit to the ER.  By now, the rib has mostly stopped hurting.  I don't holler any more when I twist or bend or get up and down or even when I sneeze (I've only produced one serious sneeze; otherwise I've tried to surpress it).  Deep coughs are still forbidden, so I've been trying hard not to swallow anything the wrong way.   I found that Vicodin doesn't do a damn thing for arthritis pain.  I think the fall made the arthritis worse -- jars every joint in the body.  And so that's that -- enough of boring senior citizen topics!
       PS (added the following day):  I'm starting to get some unusual lower back pain.  I hope that's not some ominous aftereffect that was late showing up.

Publisher's Block
       I have been threatening for some time to publish v.2 of The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head, but I can't seem to get myself into the frame of mind to do it.  The cover and the map are finished, and the book is completely formatted for print.  I'm still contemplating the Glossary -- it's inserted but needs a second look to make sure there are no problems (unless I decide to omit the Glossary entirely -- can't make up my mind). 
       Anyway, I think the reason I can't make myself get into CreateSpace and upload everything and hit that publish button is that nobody is buying v.1.  I am truly puzzled by that fact.  So I'm going to put a question out there to anybody who reads this blog:
What is it about the retelling of myth within a termite culture that doesn't seem to turn people on?
       I would really like some comment on this.  I may have had a couple of comments on Twitter or elsewhere saying things like "Sounds fascinating!" but nobody wants to read it.  People seems interested in myth in general if the pages on my termitespeaker blog are any indication.  I get lots of views on my discussions of myth and on the Bird Myth recountings and on my reviews of books that deal with myth in literature, so I can't think it's a disinterest in myth itself. 
       I have two theories.  First, I keep saying that The War of the Stolen Mother is a spoiler for  Termite Queen, so maybe the people who have bought TQ want to read it first, and it's so long that they don't get to it very quickly.  Maybe after they finish, they will proceed to buy Labors.  Second, people read the sample chapters on the termitespeaker blog and they're put off by the footnotes or by the scholarly apparatus that opens the book.  I admit that my books don't always have slam-bang openers ("Monster Is in the Eye of the Beholder" is another case in point), but I really don't apologize for that.  I happen to like scholarly apparatus.  It gives the book a sense of its time and place.  After all, you're certainly aware that I neither wrote nor edited The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head.  Di'fa'kro'mi the Remembrancer composed it and Prf. Kaitrin Oliva translated and edited it.  All I did was channel it from the future!  (Tongue-in-cheek there, in case you couldn't tell.)
       Maybe I should post up the two opening chapters from v.2, The Storm-Wing.  It starts out a lot faster, especially after you reach Ch. 2.
       So what do you think?  Why does nobody want to read what I think is the best stuff I ever wrote?
Jewish Future History  
       My latest post over on the other blog (Bird Myths, Pt. 3: The Jewish Ziz) is attracting a good bit of attention and an exchange of comments got me to thinking about the section of The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars that deals with the saga of the Jewish people after the Second Dark Age.  For some time I have been pondering the idea of extracting that section and publishing it as a novella.  After the exchange on that post, I did copy the text into a different document and I was appalled to find out it was 123,000 words!  That just goes to show how out of control MWFB really became, and why I could never publish it as it stands!  The Jewish section seemed to me short enough for a novella -- no more than maybe 30,000 words! 
       However that may be, I have gotten interested now in possibly whipping it into publishable shape, so that's another reason I've lost enthusiasm for preparing The Storm-Wing for publication.  I think I would call the book something like Of Fathers and Demons.  I need to shorten it drastically -- I'd like to get it below 100,000 words at the maximum.  Some characters who pertain to the larger novel but have no real function here need to be eliminated.    One of the problems is that it's not really a novel -- a book with a coherent plot; developing, interacting characters; a climax or climaxes; and a true beginning, middle, and end.  It certainly isn't science fiction (although it's future history) and it certainly isn't fantasy.  Its style is really uneven.  It has portions that are compelling renditions of character and it has one sequence where one character tells the life story of another (an absorbing novella in itself), but a lot of it is exposition -- an info dump, if you will, although I hate that term.  The original purpose was to show what became of the Jewish people after the Second Dark Age and what is happening with them by the time of the 28th century.  So there is a lot of one character sitting there and narrating that history to others who aren't familiar with it.  There is much philosophical argument in another section.  Will anybody want to read that sort of thing?  I don't know.  But some parts of it are really good, if I do say so myself, so I may persist.  I think if I ever publish MWFB that section will have to be eliminated for the sake of that coherent novel business that I spoke of above.  And I don't want what I wrote there to be left on the cutting room floor.

       So what do you think?  Would any of you find the story of Judaism in the 28th century interesting enough to read?  Give me your views on this, too!

       I'm going to post this now, and it was hastily put together, so forgive any typos.


  1. I would read that. One, I'm curious about the topic. Two, if I enjoy the work it's connected to, then I'll want to read pretty much anything that's related. That's just how I am. If I like some of it, I'll want to see all of it. I doubt I'm alone in that. Honestly, a series of novellas or shorts pertaining to the future route each religion/philosophy has taken would be incredibly interesting asides or companion pieces.

    1. Thanks for responding! I figured you would be interested. I'm going to plow ahead with it, although I doubt it would ever win any prizes as a novel. I agree that the destinies of different religions and ethnic groups in my future history would make a fascinating series. The Man Who Found Birds has a good bit about Chatholicism in it, and it has sections about Niu Nederlend (founded by Dutch refugees on the coast of southern France after the Netherlands was destroyed) and it has something about native Americans, and some other things. I've always wondered what became of the Mormons. I never did tackle that one. The sprawling, hopelessly out-of-control nature of MWFB makes the whole of it unlikely to be published anytime soon, however.

    2. Good! That gives me time to read what's already published, lol. :) I'm curious to know on the other religions, too. I'd love to see if any of your characters speak to you of some more Eastern philosophies as well.

      In my own future work there are traditionalists who maintain religions and philosophies that society hasn't banned, but in most cases has fallen away from. So far, I'm enjoying the Shinto traditionalists the most. Christianity took a strange merging and began as an amalgamation of denominations on the new world at first, but not even that endured as well as some would have hoped. The Jewish community is quite concentrated and more an extended 'family' to those who maintain the tradition. But those who do, really do.

    3. Yes, please do read my termite books first! Looking forward to a review, possibly?
      There is some material that refers to Hinduism in MWFB (see the Bird Myth post related to Garuda http://termitespeaker.blogspot.com/search/label/Garuda) but I've never studied Eastern religions to any depth - if I ever do, I'll know who to consult!
      There is also reference to Tibetan sky-burial, because my stork aliens practice it.
      You'll find my Jewish community to also be concentrated and like an extended family. I guess I got the right idea from my research! And I'm frustrated lately because, what with health issues and having a lot of irons in the fire, I can't seem to get anything done.

    4. I'm more than happy to review! I've been trying to make it a habit to write one now after finishing a book. That was the main reason I added the review part of my blog, to ensure that I would get it done. The reviews go up on Amazon and Goodreads as well. I haven't reviewed on Smashwords at all yet, but I'm coming across more authors who do a lot of their selling/marketing through Smashwords, so maybe I'll at least start putting a rating and a link to the review up there if I know the author has their book there. We'll see what I can remember to do, lol.

      I have been researching Tibet and following Tibetan affairs for years. I don't know what it is about Tibet, but from the moment I realized it existed, I've been completely drawn to it and to Tibetan Buddhism. My library is full of Tibetan books and music. I've been teaching myself how to write and read Tibetan, but my progress isn't astounding thanks to time constraints of my own. So, I know how that goes, but thankfully I wasn't accosted by a slippery step. That must be awful. My dad has an arthritic back. His condition is degenerative and he has a bone spur. He also 'fell' victim to ice this season and based on his reaction, I can imagine how it must have gone for you. I hope it's just some stubborn bruising and that it heals up sooner than later.

      Very curious about these stork aliens now. And you mentioned Hinduism...I'd love to know more about that too. I'll read about Garuda. I have a Hindu character, who's Anglo-Indian. Family life is very ethnic and traditional for him. He was raised in India until about middle school age, when his English father relocated them back to Britain, where he attended boarding school.

      Anyway, before I reach the length of a blog post on your blog...I'd be happy to answer any questions on Eastern culture/religion you may have if/when you get to your research, including recommending some reading! I think you'll find, as with your Jewish research, that once you start you'll get pulled in. (Maybe you'll even become interested in one of the languages, lol)

  2. I don't dare get pulled into anything new just now! But I'm sure I would be interested in the Tibetan language if I studied that area. I'm very interested in languages and I'm a conlanger, although I'm not as obsessed with constructed languages as are some of that ilk.
    Unfortunately, Smashwords won't allow people to review books on their site unless they purchased them there. But reviews on Amazon and Smashwords, as well as on your website, would be lovely! Btw, the Captain of the spaceship in Termite Queen is one of the Stork People (the Wewana).