Category Archives: Writing

#52 Open Call for the Arcane Arts Anthology

Well met, my friends!

On Monday my Kickstarter campaign to create and publish a science fiction and fantasy short story collection was successfully funded thanks to the generosity of family, friends, and other awesome people.

In addition to the contributions by the featured indie authors, I am looking for story submissions. Here are the details of the open call:

Stories can be submitted in either American English or German until the 31st of January 2016. At least three of the eleven stories will be contributions of this open call.

The length of the stories should be around 5000 words, but anything in the range of 4000-7500 words is acceptable.

We are looking for whimsical, family friendly stories that could be shelved in the fantasy and science fiction section of a book store. The theme of the anthology is “Arcane Arts,” which should be reflected by the submitted stories.

If your story is accepted we will buy non-exclusive world anthology rights in English, German, and translations, as well as audio and ebook anthology rights in English, German, and translations.

Since the Kickstarter campaign did not reach any stretch goals, the advance payment is €50. The advance payment has already been earned out by the Kickstarter campaign. Royalties will be based on 25% of the ebook cover price and 10% of the trade paperback cover price. Royalties will be paid out every June and December. The total royalties will be divided by the number of stories to yield the royalties per story that are paid out to the authors.

Please send your story to arcane.arts.stories@gmail.com with the subject line “[ARCANE] STORY TITLE – YOUR NAME” in Microsoft Word (.DOC), Rich Text Format (.RTF), or ascii text (.TXT) format.

Ideally your document should use the following settings: 1.5 times linespacing, 2 cm (0.7874 inch) margins all around, page width 15.24 cm (6 inches), page height 22.86 cm (9 inches), line indention 1.25 cm (~ 0.5 inch), font size 12 point, justified text, headings should be bold, centered, 18 point.

Here is a Microsoft Word File with the above mentioned format that you can use as a template: Arcane Arts Template.

Please include the following information in the body of your e-mail: the title of your story, your name, your pen name that will be used in the anthology, phone number, and short biography.

Pursue your dreams and see you next time,

Kai

EDIT#1: It was pointed out to me that other anthologies do not require exclusivity, so I removed that clause. It was only there in the first place, because I did not want to acquire infinite exclusivity.

#51 My Five Literary Projects

Well met, my friends!

I’m currently working on five literary projects:

1. Alien Artifacts Anthology

Joshua Palmatier ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to produce two anthologies. One is fantasy with the theme were creatures and the other is a science fiction anthology about alien artifacts. Both story collections are a mixture between submissions by invited authors and open calls.

Normally I prefer to write fantasy, but the excellent topic of the science fiction anthology convinced me to submit a story there instead. I’m particularly proud that the fourteen bullet points of my story equated to more than 5000 words. It’s a good size for a short story and I’m pleased that I overcame my minimalistic writing tendencies. I should hear back in early 2016 whether they are interested in my story.

2. Arcane Arts Anthology

Inspired by the above mentioned anthologies, I decided to start my own Kickstarter campaign. The money raised will be used to create and publish a science fiction and fantasy short story anthology. There will be a mixture of stories by invited indie authors and stories submitted during an open call.

Here is the link to the campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kaiherbertz/arcane-arts-sfandf-themed-anthology

If you want to help out, please spread the word, pledge any amount on the campaign page, and / or submit a story to the open call.

3. NaNoWriMo

Tomorrow the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) commences. The goal is to write a novel or rather a novella, but novel sounds better, of fifty thousand words or more during the month of November. The NaNoWriMo organizers recently changed the rules in the sense that fifty thousand words toward a novel count, whereas before you had to start a new project for NaNoWriMo. I welcome the change, because I always continue to flesh out my work in progress and therefore would not have been able to win before.

I participated in 2012 and added six thousand words to my novel Age of Torridan. In 2013 I did the same and managed another four thousand words. Last year I attended the NaNoWriMo real life writing sessions without adding any new words. One of the reasons why the previous years yielded an order of magnitude less than the goal stemmed from the fact that I only wrote during the weekends. This year I have penciled in twenty full days of writing and will also write a bit on the days when I’m busy. Since the conditions are almost ideal, I aim to win NaNoWriMo this year.

4. Blog Hop

A while ago one of my online writing groups hosted a blog hop of short stories. Each participant would write a short story, host it on their blog, and link to all the other stories. For example, I enjoyed reading Paula Maria de Carvalho’s story “Body Double.”

In November they want to host another blog hop and it would be great to participate with a short story set in my Age of Torridan world. I’m still in the planning stage, but a Leena origin story is the most likely candidate.

5. Seven Stories

One of the ongoing projects, which will be put on the backburner during NaNoWriMo, is my seven first chapters collection. The plan is to write the first chapter of seven different story ideas and to make them available (for free of course) on my blog and in the different writing forums that I frequent.

Hopefully people will read those story beginnings and provide feedback. Even though I would love to turn all of the different beginnings into novels eventually, I should start with the one that readers are most interested in. That’s why the feedback from the audience will be so important.

At the moment two chapters are finished and I’ve started to work on the third.

Let me know what you think and what you’re currently working on.

Pursue your dreams and see you next time,

Kai

#49 Age of Torridan is on Amazon!

Well met, my friends!

After working in the changes suggested by Red Adept Editing and creating the e-book layout, my novel “Age of Torridan” is finally available on Amazon via KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).

Here is the link to Amazon Germany.

Here is the link to Amazon USA.

Here is the link to Amazon Great Britain.

If the links don’t work, this is the short link provided by Amazon (which probably leads to Amazon USA).

I ran a kickstarter campaign to help with the cost of the cover image and this is the awesome image the artist Zelda Devon produced:

Age of Torridan revised low rez

If you are interested in a sample, here is a PDF version of the first three chapters: Age of Torridan Sample.

Since the first week sales are very important for the fate of a book, please help spreading this blog post, for example on facebook, twitter or by telling people about it in real life :)

Pursue your dreams and see you next time,

Kai

#45 The ARCs are here!

Well met, my friends!

Today the advance review copies (ARC) of my novel “Age of Torridan” arrived. Despite my initial plan, I opted for just 35 ARCs, which seems to be plenty.

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Yesterday I tried to find reviewers and sent out six e-mails to various sites. About the same number stated that they would not take a look at independently published manuscripts. Interestingly enough, the elitist book reviews had a very appropriate post up, pointing out some of the terrible covers of self published books. As you can see, my cover is just a photo with a greyscale filter and adjusted brightness and contrast.

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As mentioned in my previous blog post, I already got in touch with an artist to create a proper cover for the release version of the book. Once the cover and the professional copy edit are done, I can put the book on amazon.

Pursue your dreams and see you next time,

Kai

#44 Gearing up for Publication

Well met, my friends!

As some of you know, I’ve been working for a good while on a medieval fantasy novel, inspired by the early Dragonlance books by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. My alpha readers provided feedback, which led to some new chapters. I’m finally in the last stages and am looking to release the book via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and Createspace later this year. Here are the things that I still need to sort out:

1. Sanity Check:

I want to re-read the book once more to make sure that the changes I made in the early chapters do not invalidate the later sections.

2. Optional Line Edit:

A line edit is crucial, but since I’m on a very tight time schedule, I might shorten the line editing in favor of getting the Advance Reader (or Review) Copy (ARC) out the door.

3. Write Chapter Commentary for ARCs:

This is something cool I’ve planned for the ARCs – the feedback from my alpha readers showed me that there were a few subtle issues that only half of my readers picked up on. Since these things were not crucial to understand and enjoy the story, I left the clues as vague as they were. However, I want to provide some background information per chapter to explain what’s going on behind the scenes and what some of the choices were that I made. Since this is not something that interests everybody, I will include this in the ARCs, but not in the final release of the book.

4. Compile List of Book Bloggers / Reviewers:

As I am nearing the release, I want to drum up some interest beforehand. To that end, I plan to approach book reviewers and bloggers with an interest in fantasy to see whether they would like to have (and possibly review) one of the ARCs.

Of course I got so carried away that I only approached fellow authors so far (Rachel Aaron, Danielle E. Shipley, Michelle Proulx, and Kat O’Keeffe), but at least the response was positive, even if they are not in a position to review. Still, the purpose for printing ARCs is not only to give them to reviewers, but also as a thank you to my alpha readers and to give to cool people.

5. Print 50-100 ARCs:

I haven’t made up my mind yet, but right now I think 50 will be sufficient. I need 16 for my alpha readers, keep a few for myself, and then distribute the rest to reviewers and the above mentioned cool people. Since there is an equal mix of people wanting eARCs and actual books, the number 50 should be sufficient.

6. Line Edit:

The release version should be as error free as possible, so I am contemplating to pay someone for the line edit, in addition to my own efforts.

7. Commission a Cover:

I’ve already contacted an old friend of mine to design a cover. If that falls through, the next person to check is Zelda Devon and her fantasy-esque art style, which would be a perfect fit.

8. Format Book as epub / mobi:

When I gave the kindle version to my alpha readers, the formatting was all right, but not perfect. For the release version, I aim to do better.

9. Release on KDP and Createspace:

Even though I plan to have the ARCs done in early March, the cover, formatting, line edit means that the release of the book will be delayed till June. Once I have a more accurate estimate, I will be sure to mention it, either here or on twitter.

Pursue your dreams and see you next time,

Kai

#39 “Skin Game” Launch Event

Well met, my friends!

Today I went to the launch event of Jim Butcher‘s latest book “Skin Game”, which was held at Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach.

I arrived early in the morning, so that I could get a low number for the signing, but several other people had the same idea.

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Still, I managed to snag number fourteen, which wasn’t too bad, considering how many people ended up being there in the evening.

Before the signing there was a Q&A segment. What really impressed me was that Jim Butcher repeated each question before answering it, so that people at the other end of the room would get the full story. I’ve been to Q&A sessions where you only get to hear the answer part, because the questions directed at the author don’t carry far enough into the room for everyone to hear. The complete session can probably be found on youtube, as people were filming. I only want to mention a few of the questions and answers:

Someone asked about another short story collection in the spirit of “side jobs” and Jim mentioned that there would indeed be another one called “brief cases” once he collects enough material. There is an option for a new TV show with the additional point that if it ever gets the green light, Jim Butcher will probably be involved as a consultant / executive producer.

Someone asked about Harry Dresden’s character in the D&D game that he played in one of the books, which prompted a bit of a digression. First, Jim said that Harry plays a barbarian, but would also gets into arguments about how magic should work. This then triggered the confession that Jim Butcher once saw a Star Trek movie with an astrophysicist…

In general he lightened the mood with jokes throughout.

I didn’t even ask questions this time, but someone else brought up beta readers, so he said that in case of his books it’s more of a “beta asylum”, because a regular reader can just turn the page and find out what happens next when there is a scene that makes one turn over the table in frustration. The beta readers on the flipside might have to wait a long time for that next page to get sent to them.

Another good question was about recommendations regarding up and coming authors that didn’t get as much exposition so far. At that, he threw out the name Benedict Jacka.

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When it was time for the signing, I said “I flew in all the way from Europe to see you.” but unlike my trip to the UK to attend the Patrick Rothfuss signing, this time it wasn’t the complete truth. I actually flew to Las Vegas to see Lindsey Stirling, so I did confess that I was exaggerating, but that I did get a rental car and drove from Vegas to L.A. for his book launch.

I got an extra book for Day[9] and mentioned that he plugged Jim Butcher’s books several times on his show and also in his “Why we like it” series, which surprisingly only has about twenty thousand views. I’m very much looking forward to reading “Skin Game”.

Pursue your dreams and see you next time,

Kai

#37 Book review: The Way of Kings

Well met, my friends!

Here is my review for Brandon Sanderson‘s “The Way of Kings”.

The review rules:

I’ll start with the genre and my rating of the book, followed by a synopsis, explaining what the book is about. Since this will be done from memory after I’ve read the book, it may not be entirely accurate. The rating will be as follows: 5 / 5 is reserved for those awesome books that completely blow me away. Think “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss or Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series. 4 / 5 are great books that are worth reading. Most likely this will be the majority of book reviews, as I probably won’t spend the time to write up reviews of mediocre books. Still, for completeness sake, 3 / 5 are good books, 2 / 5 are books I would not read, if I were able to go back in time and warn myself about them and 1 / 5 books are the ones that are so aggravating as to incite anger.

After this subjective rating, I’ll talk a bit more about the book in the actual review and list what I thought was great about it. This will contain spoilers!

Brandon Sanderson’s “The Way of Kings”

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Rating: 4 / 5

Synopsis: A fractured nation of ten provincial rulers is entangled in a drawn out war against a tribe of warriors. At the forefront, this war is about revenge, but it’s equally about securing the plains’ resources in the form of the coveted gem hearts. Two of the three main view point characters are involved in this war effort, but there is a third view point character and some minor view point characters that illuminate the political intrigue and mysterious dealings that will probably become more important as the series progresses. As with all Sanderson books there are several different types of magic in the world, which use the series title giving stormlight as fuel.

Review (without spoilers): My friend Peter mentioned that he did not like Sanderson’s Mistborn books, but loved “The Way of Kings”. He’s a huge fan of epic fantasy books like Steven Erikson’s “Gardens of the Moon” or Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.” Unfortunately I don’t share that fondness, so for most of the book, I was tempted to give it a 3.5 rating. Epic fantasy just isn’t my cup of tea. The rules of story telling become mere guidelines in works of such magnitude. For example, new authors are cautioned not to have two characters, whose names start with the same letter. In “The Way of Kings” every letter is used for multiple names, which becomes a necessity by sheer number of characters. There’s Kaladin, Kalak, Karm, Kadash, Jasnah, Jezrien, Janala, Dabbid, Dunny, Dalinar and Danlan to name a few. Brandon Sanderson even goes a step farther and wrote a scene where Dalinar and Danlan are interacting. Of course when you’re a brilliant storyteller like Brandon Sanderson you can get away with deliberately breaking the rules, but for a reader, who doesn’t love epic fantasy, this is a bit tedious.

However, the last 10% of the novel were so good that I upped my rating to 4. The thing with epic fantasy is that you seem to get 90% build up and 10% payoff. The ratio is much more favourable in regular fantasy, but trust me: that final bit is worth it. Sanderson has cast his hooks throughout the story and when he finally pulled, I couldn’t help but be moved. If you love the genre it’s a must read and even if you don’t, it’s still great and worth your time (but do read the Mistborn books first, if you haven’t done so).

Review (spoilers!): This section contains some spoilers for “The Way of Kings” and Sanderson’s Mistborn series, so proceed with caution. As I have indicated in the spoiler free review above, for a long portion of the book I did not like it as much as I wanted. The reason is the selection of view point characters: I enjoyed Dalinar’s scenes – he is an honest person that does interesting things. Shallan starts out as a crook and only redeems herself towards the end of the book, so I did not care for her scenes all that much. Although I did like Kaladin in principle, the amount of crem he has to slog through was a bit much for my taste. When I read his parts, I couldn’t help but feel that if Brandon Sanderson wanted to turn “The Final Empire” into epic fantasy, all he had to do was make it twice as long and fill up the additional pages with a detailed description of Kelsier’s ordeal in the pits of Hathsin…

As usual, the story is self contained, while leaving enough unresolved points of conflict to keep reader’s wondering how the story will continue in the next book (what happend to Gaz, by the way?). The big ending with Kaladin, despite being burned time and time again, running back to save Dalinar’s men provided a strong emotional pull. Tugging the reader like that is a truly masterful display of skill. It saved the book for me and made me admire Sanderson’s writing even more.

Pursue your dreams and see you next time,

Kai

P.S.: There are five alternate chapters of “The Way of Kings” in the Altered Perceptions anthology. It’s only available as part of an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for the medical bills of author Robison Wells.

#32 Book review: The Spirit Eater

Well met, my friends!

One of my new year goals (I call them goals instead of resolutions, since resolutions carry that stigma of being broken within the first weeks of January) is to read twentyfour books this year, so I figured I might as well write some reviews and turn those into blog posts.

Yesterday I finished reading Rachel Aaron’s “The Spirit Eater”, which is the third book of the Eli Monpress five part series.

The review rules:

I’ll start with the genre and my rating of the book, followed by a synopsis, explaining what the book is about. Since this will be done from memory after I’ve read the book, it may not be entirely accurate. The rating will be as follows: 5 / 5 is reserved for those awesome books that completely blow me away. Think “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss or Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series. 4 / 5 are great books that are worth reading. Most likely this will be the majority of book reviews, as I probably won’t spend the time to write up reviews of mediocre books. Still, for completeness sake, 3 / 5 are good books, 2 / 5 are books I would not read, if I were able to go back in time and warn myself about them and 1 / 5 books are the ones that are so aggravating as to incite anger.

After this subjective rating, I’ll talk a bit more about the book in the actual review and list what I thought was great about it. This will contain spoilers!

Rachel Aaron’s “The Spirit Eater”

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4 / 5

Synopsis: Eli Monpress, self proclaimed world’s greatest thief, and his team are lying low after their risky adventures in books one and two. Their rest is short lived, as one of Eli’s friends is in trouble and he sets out to help him. Just like in the previous two books, during their adventure, the spiritualist Miranda Lyonette is in hot pursuit.

Review (spoilers!): Eli Monpress’s third adventure deviates from the previous books: this time Eli doesn’t go somewhere to commit a crime and Miranda Lyonette doesn’t become the unlikely ally. Overall the book is much darker than the previous installments. It seems that Rachel Aaron found her stride with this book and it nicely sets up the antagonists for the remaining books. I can’t wait to find out how the three big threats – the shepherdess, the demons and the immortal empress – are overcome. My two favourite moments were the inspirational talk given to Nico by Tesset and how Dunelle died. The latter was sad, which is surprising considering the character in question only has a brief appearance and is an object. The Spirit Eater is an excellent, entertaining fantasy story that accomplishes the difficult task of being self contained, while also hinting at the rising stakes of the following books.

Pursue your dreams and see you next time,

Kai

Continue reading

#30 Age of Torridan, first draft

Well met, my friends!

yesterday I added another 349 words to my work in progress “Age of Torridan”. In fact, those words completed the final chapter. When I got home from the writing session, I printed the entire book for the first time. The first draft came in at 73817 words and 242 pages.

I actually thought it’d be something like 250 words per page, but now it seems that it’s more like 300 words per page. Since a “real” book is 300+ pages to me – yeah, it’s a completely arbitrary number – that means I have to add another 18k+ words or so to the book during revisions. Fortunately I’m already aware of a couple of scenes that are missing. My descriptions could be strengthened as well, so I don’t foresee too much of a problem. The only challenge is to go through the revisions fast enough to hand the book to my beta readers before the end of the year. We’ll see how it goes.

It feels great to finally have the printout of the book – I can’t wait for tomorrow’s writing sessions, which will be more of reading sessions. That’s pretty much the downside: since I need to read the book for my revision, I most likely won’t be adding words to it during the rest of NaNoWriMo. Currently I am at 4k there. I already knew that I wouldn’t make the 50k, but it would have been nice to at least exceed last year’s word count.

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted about the new developments regarding Age of Torridan and / or NaNoWriMo.

Pursue your dreams and see you next time,

Kai

#28 Meeting Patrick Rothfuss

Well met, my friends!

About two and a half weeks ago, Patrick Rothfuss announced on his blog that he wouldn’t just be in Brighton, but that he would also do signings and Q&A sessions in Oxford and London.

The Brighton event had been announced at least half a year in advance, but this new itinerary was on short notice. There was an upcoming deadline at work, which would thankfully finish right before those dates. Since I figured I could use a few days off after what looked to be a stressful work week, I decided on a whim to go and bought a plane ticket one week before the event.

On Mondy the 4th of November, I went to “An evening with Patrick Rothfuss” in Oxford together with my friend Laura. This was a long Q&A session, interleaved with him reading portions of his former columns that he wrote over a decade ago. Most of the time he doesn’t just answer a question, but comes up with a long and amusing tale. I tried to think what would provide the best opportunity for such a story among the questions that I had and asked him how he found his beta readers. The serious part of the answer was that back in the days he asked family and friends, as one would expect. Nowadays of course there is no shortage of people volunteering. Eventually he did make some jokes about picking people that are unlikely to forget his manuscript on the train, but I guess you had to be there.

Afterwards he made the time to sign people’s copies of “The Name of the Wind” and “The Wise Man’s Fear”. As you can see in the picture, I am beaming when I sat down.

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This is because A) I was happy to meet Patrick Rothfuss again and B) I had a big imposition for him: as I sat down, I said “So I’ve started this youtube channel…” Unfortunately he already knew what was coming and immediately started shaking his head. I did ask him whether I could hog five minutes of his time on the day after for a brief interview, but his day was already pretty planned out with travel, other interviews and then the signing and Q&A in London. I figured as much and didn’t press the issue. Back home, my friends thought that I should have been a bit more tenacious and that I should have mentioned that I specifically flew in to see him.

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I don’t know, I feel that if roles were reversed, I wouldn’t have agreed to an interview either, simply for the reason that he doesn’t know whether I’m reputable. For instance, in both Oxford and London (and also at the 2009 Q&A in London) he stressed that he would prefer if people didn’t film the sessions, as he doesn’t want his words to be taken out of context. I actually filmed him for about a minute in 2009, before he announced that. I haven’t made that video available to anyone, but I did give him a memory stick with the photos and the video from 2009. It’s really low quality, mostly due to bad lighting and I’ll leave it to him to post it or to hang on to it. I also put the videos of my youtube channel on the stick – on the off chance that he gave me a “maybe” regarding the interview request, I wanted him to see what my channel was about without having to go online. Thus, Patrick Rothfuss is now one of only two people in the world, who has the HD version of my videos…

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Anyway, I shall ask him again at some point in the future via more official channels, once my style is a bit more proven and I have a few more subscribers.

I particularly liked that at both events, nobody asked the dreaded book three question. The signing in London was a dual event together with Scott Lynch, who is standing next to him in the picture.

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It was so busy that the venue Forbidden Planet had already sold out all the books and more or less turned me away. Instead, I made my way to the Q&A venue at the Phoenix artist club. One of the things that wasn’t a question and that came out completely wrong was my remark on him doing things differently in the future. I wanted to convey that it was great to see him in such a nice venue as the Phoenix to answer questions, but instead it came across as more of a demand. However, he announced on facebook that his signing sessions in Spain drew massive amounts of people: In Madrid apparently about a thousand people showed up and it took nine hours to sign books. Given that, I understand that he needs to change his public appearances and that perhaps these smaller events are unlikely to happen in the future. We shall see. In any case, it was great to see Patrick Rothfuss in Europe again after those four years.

Pursue your dreams and see you next time,

Kai

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