Some Announcements

  • Have a flash sale today, February 20th, on the ebook version of Book One.  If you stumbled upon this blog and are curious about Icons, today would be a swell occasion--not to mention cheap--to satiate your curiosity.
  • As we slowly build a reader base for this series, reviews have started to trickle in and so far I am very happy to see that they have been positive. Thanks much to anyone who has given this fledgling story a shot. Your leap of faith is most appreciated. 
  • I am hopeful I can make an announcement on Book Two soon, within the next month or so. Stay tuned... 

Check out The Icons of Man Amazon page!

Check out Robert H. Langan's TwitterFacebook, and Google+!

Book Reviews: The Lost World by Michael Crichton

In the interest of sharing other books I love with you, and so this blog doesn't just become an advert for my own stuff, I have decided to start posting reviews of some of my favorite stories, typically things that have greatly influenced me. We continue with The Lost World, by Michael Crichton. This was the sequel to his most famous book, Jurassic Park. I've probably read it 50 times. It's a great, humbling lesson in how to basically write a scientific thesis will telling an action/adventure thriller. In short, it's classic Michael Crichton. 


the-lost-world.jpg

Michael Crichton is the king of the conceptual thriller. While the current trend in modern sci-fi is to not look to the future, but instead to find ways of explaining what is awry with the present, Crichton instead stands firmly on the event horizon between present and future times, and it is on that cutting-edge where he shows us, again and again, that man's attempts to partition and control nature will invariably fail, and often with horrific consequences. Jurassic Park perfectly highlighted humanity's ignorance--not just with the Frankenstein-esque dangers of playing God, but also how rote, reductionist thinking could not possibly account for all the dangers inherit in bringing back prehistoric animals into a controlled environment. Jurassic Park was as much about the nuances of chaos theory and topological thinking as it was about dinosaurs. It is fitting then that Crichton finds away to meld these topics even further with Jurassic Park's sequel, The Lost World.

The title is of course a homage to the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle classic, and appropriately Crichton's own tale ostensibly has the same premise: a group of scientists determined to find a rumored "Lost World", a remote corner of the world where dinosaurs never went extinct, and where a new theory of extinction could be tested--one that posits that the behavior of the dinosaurs themselves resulted in their own distinction, a self-organizing event that could be explained by chaos theory. But this is just the surface premise. The truth is that this "Lost World" is Isla Sorna, erstwhile secret laboratory for the bankrupt genetics company known as Ingen, and that the dinosaurs that live on this island are factory floor survivors of the disastrous Jurassic Park, which was bombed and destroyed at the end of the first novel (for those who only know Jurassic Park via the films, keep in mind that the books follow their own storyline). 

Among the scientists leading the expedition is Ian Malcolm, who comes off far more severe here than he did in Jurassic Park, but you'll end up picturing a grizzled version of Jeff Goldblum playing him anyways. Malcolm is among those who wish to study the dinosaur population on this island to see if anything can be gleaned about extinction. But when greedy corporo-scientists also arrive on the island to try and steal some dinosaur eggs (WE GOT DODGSON HERE!), the legacy of Jurassic Park begins to play out in a bloody way once more. 

This is a fabulous book. It is leaner than Jurassic Park, which at times would stop to let characters have a dialogue to conveniently explain the more intricate scientific problems at stake--which was totally fine, and worked. But Lost World does this with a bit more nuance. The scientific discussions are still plentiful, but they are couched within the dynamics of the characters talking. This is largely because the characters feel more believable here, and less as devices to espouse certain viewpoints--you care more about the characters in The Lost World than you did in Jurassic Park, and I think that makes a huge difference. 

AN ASIDE: Crichton also seems to go out of his way in The Lost World to retcon certain things he didn't like retrospectively from Jurassic Park: for instance, Malcolm's death in the first book turns out to just have been fake news (aha), and we are assured, quite graphically, that the Tyrannosaurus CAN see you if you don't move. Indeed, all of Isla Sorna (Site B) itself is a retcon to an issue that must have bugged Crichton from writing the first book: Jurassic Park's laboratories were too sterile, too neat and tidy, to be the real thing. Bringing dinosaurs back to life would be a messy process with a ton of failures, and that's what The Lost World gives us. As Malcolm calls it, it is John Hammond's dirty secret.

The action scenes and suspense in this novel are really great, especially in the second half--but the mystery plot early on about just WHERE the Lost World might be is, in my opinion, very underrated and fits into the 'revised classic adventure' feel that I think Crichton was going for. You really feel like this is an expedition into prehistoric times. And naturally, when the dinos finally show up, they do not disappoint. The first time a T-Rex shows up is an iconic moment, and it's a shame the film 'adaptation' (in the loosest sense possible) didn't use it. 

Finally, as usual, Crichton really pushes some unique ideas behind the story, and here I think were some things really ahead of their time. There's a scene midway through the book, where Malcolm argues that there's a lot still to be explained about evolution, about how life forms--that obviously creationism isn't the answer, but that 'natural selection' and microgenetics isn't enough. No doubt some people thought Crichton was picking hairs here, but I think this was brilliant. To point out that ideas of self-organization, chaos theory, and topology could tell us a lot about evolution and why life evolves the way it does was, for 1995--before the human genome had been mapped and it became clear that there was no way there could be a 1-to-1 relationship for every phenotype and gene--way ahead of its time. "Life is like a crystal", Malcolm tells us at one point, and he is right, and the Lost World hammers this point home at every level, from the dinosaurs, to the dire straits the characters find themselves in, to the plot itself. 

Fittingly, the story is like a fractal through which to view the ideas Crichton wanted to share with us. I think The Lost World is a masterful example of true science-fiction, and should be lauded a lot more than it is. 

PS The movie isn't the greatest, but I think it gets a bad rap--God knows it's better than Jurassic World. Also, Roland Tembo is awesome. 


Agree with this review? Beg to differ? Let me know in the comments!

Check out The Icons of Man Amazon page!

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Holiday Ebook Discount! Upcoming Promotions and More

Merry Christmas all. Just a quick holiday update: From Christmas Day through January 7th, Icons One will be available for just 99 cents (!!!) on Amazon's Kindle Store, Kobo, and Smashwords. Furthermore, we will be running promotions for the Kindle version throughout the month of January--simply put, it's going to either be 99 cents or free the entire month for Kobo. So do go ahead and check that out!

Through a rather odd circumstance, I stumbled upon www.tapas.io, which if you don't know is a wonderful Korean-based website for web comics and, more recently, novels. So enamored was I with their setup that I decided to go ahead and post the first chapter of Icons One there. Go check it out, leave some likes and subscribe--but check out the other talents there, because it's a pretty lively place. I was happy with it. 

Our first goodreads giveaway had over 900 requests, I was very happy about this. I'll be running another one next week. You can check out the goodreads page for Icons One here

Time to go polish off a bottle of gin and ponder the meaning of my existence. Again, Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all. 

 

 

Book Reviews: Star Wars: Dark Disciple

In the interest of sharing other books I love with you, and so this blog doesn't just become an advert for my own stuff, I have decided to start posting reviews of some of my favorite stories, typically things that have greatly influenced me. We continue with Star Wars: Dark Disciple, by Christie Golden, which is an adaptation of unaired scripts from one of my absolute favorite TV shows, and what I consider to be the best incarnation of Star Wars, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. 


Dark_Disciple_Star_Wars_Clone_Wars_Ventress_Vos_Golden

For those of us who loved the TV show Star Wars: The Clone WarsDark Disciple is an absolute joy to read. It feels almost like a reunion show for a series that should never have been cancelled in the first place. Fortunately, the Clone Wars live on in this wonderful book, as Christie Golden perfectly captures the tone and feel of the show. 

Dark Disciple is based off scripts for episodes that never aired. The screenplays were written by none other than Katie Lucas--yes, daughter of that Lucas--who had written several excellent arcs for the show. This story primarily features Asajj Ventress, the erstwhile wannabe-Sith and disgraced pupil to Count Dooku; as well as Quinlan Vos, essentially the Jedi Order's resident hippie. To be brief, the novel takes place late in the Clone Wars. Count Dooku has more or less committed genocide on several occasions now, and well, the Jedi Council is fed up. Feeling frustrated and guilty over one of their former kin being responsible for such galactic-wide mass death,the Council begins to toy with an unfathomable idea: orchestrating Dooku's assassination. While some Jedi, such as Obi-Wan, are mortified by such an idea--Anakin, of course, is totally down with it!--ultimately Master Yoda gives his reluctant blessing on the operation (hesitant, yet ultimately capitulating... doesn't that really sum up Yoda in this era?). To conduct the mission, the council gets Master Quinlan Vos, a goofy, enigmatic Jedi who nevertheless exceeds at stealth and undercover ops. Vos in turn reaches out to Dooku's former apprentice, Asajj Ventress, who the Jedi calculate would be eager to exact revenge upon her old master. But when Ventress and Vos unexpectedly develop feelings for one another, their deadly mission becomes dangerous in more ways than one. 

The fact that the Jedi would even entertain assassination is a brilliant way of demonstrating how far they've fallen in the Clone War. Many people who have seen The Last Jediare shocked by Luke's brusque dismissal of the Jedi as arrogant and hubristic, but it's really nothing new. This subtext was throughout the prequel trilogy, and it is brought entirely to the fore in the Clone Wars TV show, and this storyline demonstrates how far astray they really went. Of course the assassination attempt goes horribly wrong, and Dooku--who never comes across more evil than he does in this book, by the way--ends up turning Vos and Ventress against one another, which in turn exposes the Republic and the Jedi to further danger. 

The best thing about the Clone Wars series was how it maintained the complex, intricate world of the prequels, but opened things up in a far, far less claustrophobic space, while telling the story through characters that were given the right time to breathe and be real. Not only are Ventress and Vos really likable through the whole book, but fan favorites like Obi-Wan, Anakin, Yoda and Mace all feel and sound like their television counterparts. You can easily close your eyes and hear and see the TV show playing out before you. Everyone 'sounds' like themselves. There are, of course, plenty of action scenes, and Golden writes them with the proper kinetic and frenetic pace that you would expect from this series. Also characteristic of the show, there are plenty of unexpected encounters between characters you never would fathom meeting--picture Ventress standing before the Jedi Council, for starters--as well as showdowns and throwdowns in properly idyllic settings. It also doesn't hurt that the prose is exceedingly clear and easy to read. Golden absolutely nailed the essence of what made Clone Wars Clone Wars, and I genuinely hope that if further adaptations of unaired shows are made, that she is tapped again to write them. 

If you love Star Wars--and especially if you miss one of the franchise's very best incarnations--then this book is a no brainer. 
 


Agree with this review? Beg to differ? Let me know in the comments!

Check out The Icons of Man Amazon page!

Check out Robert H. Langan's Twitter, Facebook, and Google+!

Book Reviews: Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows

In the interest of sharing other books I love with you, and so this blog doesn't just become an advert for my own stuff, I have decided to start posting reviews of some of my favorite stories, typically things that have greatly influenced me. We start with Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, the final installment in J.K. Rowling's seven-part fantasy series. 


 The original US cover art. Incidentally, I've always loved how the artwork for the  Potter  covers use a scene as a set piece to show off, although you couldn't figure out what until after you read the book. In this case, it's the finale!

The original US cover art. Incidentally, I've always loved how the artwork for the Potter covers use a scene as a set piece to show off, although you couldn't figure out what until after you read the book. In this case, it's the finale!

Deathly Hallows is unquestionably the best of the Harry Potter series. This is not just the 'finale' to one of the greatest stories of all time--this is a thematic masterpiece that perfectly encapsulates Rowling's greatest obsessions as a writer: the confrontation of death, and the struggle to carry on when all hope seems lost. One only needs to poorly know Rowling's background--the traumatic loss of her mother, and living in veritable squalor as she struggled to finish the first Potter novel--to easily see Harry's struggle as her own. 

Having reread this book recently with older eyes, I was struck by the nuance with which Rowling depicts Harry's paranoia over his friends' growing mistrust that he knows what he doing, a paranoia that proves largely correct. This is next-level storytelling at work, and Rowling's ability to give characters extremely primal and familiar hopes, fears, and feelings amid outstanding circumstances may be her greatest ability as a writer. 

Another great touch in this story is the deconstruction of the wise old man, as Harry learns a lot of dirt about Dumbledore in the wake of his death. By midway through the book Harry no longer believes Dumbledore ever even gave a damn about him, and that the old professor left Harry with some halfassed plan with little chance of succeeding. Deconstruction is all the rage nowadays, and one could easily see a modern writer handling Harry's frustration with his late mentor in broad, clumsy strokes, much like how the depiction of a burned out Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi feels rather hackneyed (not to mention contrary to the character). But Rowling handles the demystification of Dumbledore adroitly, for Harry's frustration over what the great wizard never told him is coupled with his sorrow that there was so much he never bothered to ask him. Again, regrets and death pervade Rowling's prose. 

Rowling's skillful deployment of deconstruction is also at play with how she handles the death of major characters, such as following an early battle in the book, when there is an awkward discussion over who will go find a fallen hero's body. There is a almost an element of Clint Eastwood's western film Unforgiven here: for Rowling, death is never a sad reaction and a quick cut to a new scene. Burials are planned, blame is bandied about, and the fallout is always palpable. 

Finally, there's the showdown between Voldemort and Harry. Without giving anything away, I will say that for me this is the most masterful part of the book, and it's a great pity that the movie strayed so far from it. There is a deconstruction of Voldemort himself, who at one point no longer feels like an unstoppable pillar of terror, but instead a cackling Saturday morning cartoon villain--a moment that is coupled perfectly with Harry's 'return from the dead' and his unstoppable march to victory, at last. After fighting a losing battle for many books, to have this swift turn of the tides, and to have the dismantling of Voldermort's mystique play out rapidly before his unceremonious death, was joyful to read. 

Many discuss the epilogue and whether it was poorly handled. To me it's of little concern. The greatness in Deathly Hallows lies throughout the tome. It is an absolute triumph, both as the capstone to Harry Potter, and to the greatness of the woman who penned it.


Agree with this review? Beg to differ? Let me know in the comments!

Check out The Icons of Man Amazon page!

Check out Robert H. Langan's Twitter, Facebook, and Google+!

Interview with the Author

 

When did you first start writing?

Since I was in grade school. I was a big dinosaur dork as a kid, and in 4th grade I wrote this story featuring all my classmates in a Jurassic Park-like setting. Thing was a lot of them got eaten and eventually someone complained to the teacher, and that put an end to that. Since then I've learned the value in creating my own characters. 

I was almost coming up with stories though even before that--I'd act out these stories that were largely inspired by the stuff I watched. When I got a little older--late grade school and into high school--I actually wrote a lot of fan-fiction. Mainly on the Legend of Zelda. One I wrote got a great response from fans, and someone told me "I bet the next full-length story you finish you'll publish." I didn't really think much of it at the time. Going into college I didn't think "I want to be an author." But I would keep coming up with story ideas and writing little things, until finally, years later, I sat down and wrote 'Icons'. So I guess that person was right.

What's the story behind your latest book?

'Icons' is a contemporary fantasy/speculative sci-fi story that takes place in a world called Roslyn. Roslyn is an alternate reality that aesthetically is somewhat similar to our own world--except that the mind or soul is money, called cogs. Once a utopian society, Roslyn has fallen into hard times. Cogs are harder to come by, and the great corporations that vie for dominance in the country--called the machifare--are all failing to find the best path for people to lead happy lives, which in turn generates more cogs to keep the nation prosperous. 

But the real threat comes from Roslyn's enemies: soul-stealing entities called Blood Poachers, who conjure sentient thunderstorms that ravage the world. To combat the Blood Poachers, the machifare deploy teams of metaphysical athletes called Durationists. Durationists can use cogs in extreme ways to manipulate mind and matter. For centuries, they have fought off the Blood Poacher menace. Duration is in many ways the engine of Roslyn's culture: as a sport, as a matter of national security, and a sort of science, because by finding ways to explore Duration, you find new ways to make cogs, and to keep the nation going to strong. 

At the start of 'Icons One', Roslyn's major cities--a source of great wealth--have been safe for some time. When one evening the threat of at storm presents itself off the coast of Metro Reef City--a sprawling, New York-like metropolis--many scoff that the Blood Poachers could strike at the heart of the nation. Only one Durationist, a disgraced player named Lucas from Slag Falls, appreciates the danger. Having once walked away from the Durationist League due to his controversial ideas, Lucas has returned to try and save the Metro Reef--and Roslyn--before it is too late.

This is the first part in a five-part series. Originally 'Icons' was one giant novel--it probably would have easily exceeded 1000 pages--but for the sake of my own sanity it was split up into five acts. Each is a self-contained story, albeit more like a long episode of a TV show than what you might traditionally think of as a novel. This first story introduces the world, some of the main characters, and shows what a Durationist is and what their jobs are. It follows Lucas and his new team on a mission, while also setting up a larger plot going forward.

What motivated you to become an indie author?

Control. I always wanted complete control over what I was doing. I wanted to choose my own cover. I wanted to have total say over the direction of my book. And I wanted total autonomy in the publication process. I am not sure a story like 'Icons' would have survived the traditional route. Originally this was a very big book, 1000 pages. That would have been a hard sell to a publisher. Then I split it up into five-parts, and honestly each arc feels more like an episode of a TV show than what you normally conceive a novel as. Again, I don't know if that would have flown the traditional way. I think I would have been asked to change the story to make it work as a traditional novel, and I would have refused to do that. Going indie was my only choice.

Who are your favorite authors?

Growing up my favorite was Michael Chrichton, but I also read a lot of Star Wars Expanded Universe stuff, so I came to enjoy authors like Timothy Zahn, Michael Reaves, and James Luceno. In 6th grade our teacher read us Harry Potter every afternoon, and I came to love J.K. Rowling, both her style of writing and her success story. Later influences in high school and college included Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, Roger Zelazny, Robert Ludlum, and John Le Carre. I unabashedly like the big names with big series. It's like finding a great band with a huge back catalog.

How do you approach cover design?

For 'Icons' I wanted something that really stood out. With fantasy you see a lot of minimalist stuff, and while I can dig that, I thought I needed a cover that really showcased how dense and action-packed this world is. I wanted to take a specific scene and use it as a set piece. I found a great artist named Chris Puglise (https://www.instagram.com/cpuglise9/) who nailed what I was looking for.

What is your writing process?

I outline, usually pretty thoroughly, but I'm always open to where the story takes me. Sometimes a character or scene just demands something out of nowhere--often it's a thread I never considered but wraps things up really nicely. Those moments seem to be rewards for constantly hammering away. There's always a compromise between my schemes and what the story ends up demanding of me.

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?

Reading. Golfing. Hiking.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

The prospect of making progress with work, even if it's just a few inches.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

Two things. One, when someone reads what you wrote and reacts the way you hoped they would, that to me is tremendously rewarding. One of the reasons I write is because I feel it's the only way I really express myself well. So when someone gets it, it's like you make a real connection with someone. Two, when you slave over a piece of writing, and it comes together, and you look over and see not only how your plan came to life, but also how glimmers of inspiration opened up during the writing process and helped everything come together in ways you never anticipated... that to me is like being in the crucible and coming out with something really special. Writing is a tough gig. There's a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and it's all worth it.

What are you working on next?

Icons Two!

Courtesy of Smashwords

Press Release: The Icons of Man

Robert H. Langan presents his debut novel, The Icons of Man: Book One. Released for Kindle on November 4th, 2017 and in paperback on December 7th, 2017, The Icons of Man: Book One is the first installment in a speculative fiction/YA fantasy series. 

A storm is coming, a city is burning, and the only thing standing between massive floods and a million deaths is an illegal team of transcendental athletes

Horror. Fantasy. Sports. 

A storm is coming. Is your team ready?

Originally a sprawing thousand-page epic, Langan made the decision to divide The Icons of Man into five parts. “It honestly just worked,” he says. “It developed into a five-act story, and so the breaks have always been kind of obvious to me. I just resisted the idea of releasing them piecemeal because I was worried it was taking the easy way out. Fortunately, I had enough friends to convince me I was going to lose my mind unless I started getting my stuff out there,” he adds with a laugh.

Icons takes place in a world called Roslyn, which Langan describes as an ‘shambolic alternate present’. “Basically it’s a very similar world to our own, both in aesthetic and some other ways you’ll see as you read. But there are many things we’d consider supernatural too—the age of the characters, some of the excesses of the environment, and obviously the powers wielded by the Durationists”—Langan’s superpowered athletes who keep Roslyn safe from the sentient thunderstorms, conjured by soul-stealing specters called Blood Poachers—“but the exact nature of the world is meant to become clearer and clearer as the series progresses. Starting out, I rely on very strong, relatable characters to make an insane world feel common and digestable, and then I throw these characters right away into big action scenes with strong visuals. You immediately know what the stakes are.” 

In Icons One, Langan presents us with Lucas from Slag Falls, a disgraced Durationist who walked away from hunting storms, only to return on the eve of the biggest storm to attack Roslyn in some time. “He’s sort of Percival,” Langan explains. “He walked away because he and the Durationist League didn’t see eye-to-eye, but ultimately he can’t escape his duty towards his country.” Lucas is accompanied by his protégé, Gemini from Bedlam Ghettos. “Gemini is, at the start, the perfect student. She’s diligent, earnest, and very impressionable. To her, being a Durationist is like a kid who joins the major leagues. It’s something she treasures.”

Both Lucas and Gemini race to save Roslyn in the face of the coming storm, and along the way they encounter many of their rival Durationists. But there are surprises along the way that erase any garauntee that Roslyn’s superstar heroes can save the day.

“This first book is essentially one giant battle scene,” says Langan. “Beneath it though are some very intricate philosophical ideas. They aren’t so obvious in this first book, by the time we get to books two, three, and so forth, you should have a pretty good idea of what the thrust is here. It’s been a blast to write, and the response so far has been very encouraging. Nothing makes me happier than making a connection with readers.”

The Icons of Man: Book One is for sale now on Amazon, Kobo, B&N, and Smashwords. The retail price for the ebook is $3.99, and the paperback’s retail price is $8.95. More information can be found at www.iconsofman.com.

PAPERBACK HAS ARRIVED!

After a long, long wait, which no doubt many of you have been eagerly anticipating--or maybe you haven't, it's all good--the PAPERBACK VERSION of the Icons One has arrived! 

 Note: crossaints are not paleo

Note: crossaints are not paleo

It takes a few days for Amazon to merge the paperback page with the kindle version, so for now here is the link to the paperback on Amazon.com, where it's on sale for $8.95. For my beloved UK friends, here is the link on amazon.co.uk, where it will cost you £6.79. Europe and elsewhere, I will announce where to purchase as the paperback is distributed worldwide. 

For those of you who have been waiting to buy a paperback copy, many thanks for your patience. The process was a bit more complicated than I anticipated--whether it be developing the full cover, formatting the book, checking for last minute glitches (thanks again Ilse)--and while it was tempting to rush, I knew it was prudent to get everything right so that I could get you the best version of the book possible. I feel we've accomplished that, and I'm proud to say that, finally, I can look at stare up at my own book on the shelf and say--well, I actually have to crane my neck over to look at it, which is annoying, and it's laying on its back atop other books so I can't see it, but you know... I can finally say the first one is here. 

Please remember if you like the book to leave a review on Amazon. It's really the best way for me to keep this going, and it means a lot to get the feedback. 

Thanks again to all who have supported me along the way, especially those of you who came to the launch party! It has been encouraging to know I have never been alone on this road. 

Now that the paperback is here, I will be dedicated to doing my best to get it to readers who might appreciate the story, as well as maintain a website here for anyone curious about the world, just what this crazy blob I've written is about, and what future installments might have to say. 

Stay tuned! 

World Building

Something that occurred to me in the process of writing this series is that I never would have been able to work on it for so long if I didn't genuinely identify with the world I made up. There's a lot of tips about world-building out there for would-be fantasy authors. Many are of course good and useful, especially those that focus on the best ways to come up with the rules and logic of your universe. But a more general rule of thumb occurred to me a while ago, and someone since someone on reddit was asking for world-building tips just earlier, I thought I wouldn't let my two cents go to waste there, and that I'd post my response here as well: 

RE World-building advice

I think this applies to any genre really, but certain sci-fi and fantasy: you better have a core idea, or theme, or -something- that this world expresses that you feel very strongly about. It doesn't necessarily have to be a built-up constructed philosophy, as you might find in a sci-fi novel; I suppose it could even just be a feeling or tone you discover while writing--but it better be something that you really love, and can act as some sort of mooring for the world you're building, because otherwise it's very difficult to tell whether you're going to like tomorrow what you came up with today. You might design a whole plot device or setting that seems really cool the night you wrote it down. Then by the AM it seems like crap to you. And what you come up with might not be bad per se, but you may grow to hate it regardless if it doesn't match what's in your heart.

If you don't have some sort of idea behind the world you feel really strongly about, it's gonna be difficult to put in all the blood and sweat required to see the whole world and story come to life. I personally would think objectively about things in your life, or in the real world, that resonate very strongly with you, and think about how that can be reflected in the world you build--better yet, this should interface neatly with your characters and start to offer information about them and their histories in this setting also. Just a thought.

A Thought Scramble

Paperback Please

The ebook officially launched this past Saturday. I had been hoping to have the paperback ready by then too, but this proved to be too ambitious a feat. Perhaps foolishly I underestimated the amount of time it takes to punt proofs back and forth with createspace, the print-on-demand distributor that I'm using, to end up with an acceptable final version. This made for a launch party bereft of any physical books to launch. Fortunately my friends were not deterred by this, and it was a good time all the same. And if you're one of those friends, thank you for coming out. 

Fortunately, the proof copies did arrive this week--better late than never, I guess--and although there were some things to correct, they came out in pretty good shape:

IMG_20171106_154443_794.jpg

This was 

pretty crazy to actually hold. 

To be sure, there's a few corrections I have to make--which means the paperback won't be published probably for another week. But that aside, I have to say this printed way better than I expected, especially the cover. As you might have noticed, I went for a cover that's a bit different from a lot of titles out there, and certainly what's recommended. I needed something that captured the density of the world, and my artist Chris Puglise (check him out on Instagram) did a tremendous job. But I had heard many horror stories about cover art not printing well with createspace, that it would come out muddled or dark. That was not the case (at least with this proof), and while the color sort of 'sinks' into the matted cover, this gives it a very deep look that I couldn't be happier about.

I have to say, as someone who is a lover of ebooks, who reads most of his fiction on kindle, and who feels like the high standard my post-producer Mike and I achieved with the ebook would be hard to beat, the act of holding a physical copy of something I've spent an inordinate amount of my life writing was... pretty nice. I got a long way to go, both in getting the paperback wrapped up, and getting people to actually read either version of the story... but at least I have proof on my shelf that I'm not completely insane. That helps. 

Hello Reader!

Hello reader, and thanks for checking out the site! I'm your host and author, Robert H. Langan. I'll be posting here from time to time to update you about what I'm up to and the state of the series.

Since we're a week away from the launch (God willing), I thought I'd use this space at first to document the 11th-hour battles that I'm fighting to publish my first book. Not the typical blow-by-blow tutorial of how to survive the Amazon machine and all that. Plenty of that stuff out there. Instead I'd rather give you my, let's say... introspection in this final week and beyond, as I achieve the first tangible step in something I've been working towards for way, way too long. 

Even if things fail disastrously from here on out--say, the book is so bad that it causes kindles to crash, the only people who review it are Russian Troll farm temps, and then I get sued for copyright infringement, so forth--I figure someone, somewhere out there--an aspiring writer, perhaps--might be interested in a firsthand, raw account of what to do in this situation, as well as what not to do. I assuredly can offer much for the second column. 

Normally I'd never write something about myself like this. I would find it boring at best, narcissistic at worst. I've never liked keeping journals. Back in sixth grade, our teacher would read us Harry Potter every afternoon. This was around 2000 or so, when the series was getting very popular here in the States. One afternoon, our teacher read a transcript of a Q&A with kids JK Rowling did on Scholastic's website. Someone asked her if she liked keeping a diary. Here's what she said, right from Scholastic's archives:

Do you now or have you in the past kept a journal? If so, do you believe that it helps in your writing?
I've never managed to keep a journal longer than two weeks. I get bored with my life. I prefer inventing things.

If JK Rowling's life is boring, how can I pretend I'm not? 

(Those afternoon reading sessions also left a deep impression on me because they affirmed that this is what I wanted to do with my life. To write is to raise your voice well beyond what you can really say or do in your real life, right? So why bother with writing about my boring, real life. No one gives a toss--I certainly don't!)

But the pity is, to get the world or you, dear reader, to think this series might be worth their time, I have to show you that I bring something different to the table too. I hate selling myself--I hate the phoniness of it. But I can try and give you something honest and real. That's what I endeavor to do with this space. 

Anyways, it's morning here and I haven't slept--nothing new there, I can promise you--so before I begin to struggle through the day, let me leave with you with a parting music video, something that I think perfectly encapsulates my determination to finish the final leg of this adventure. 

The Final Countdown

Oh. Huh... That doesn't sound quite right. Well, it's a good omen, I'm sure.