Seeds of Hatred, Flowers of Love.
This book is the exception to the rule (that also proves it).
One of the automatic rejections that agents give is for the sentence: “This million word epic fantasy novel was based on a Dungeons and Dragons game that we played over the course of a few years.” So when I read that this novel evolved out of a D&D game, I groaned. When I saw that it had a character list of 80+ characters I groaned again. Then a glossary, sigh.
However the professional formatting did give me hope. Then I started reading. It is clear that the author spent a long, long time editing it. It is easy to imagine that of the half million words this novel started out as, none of them survived without being replaced at least once.
The scenes were well fleshed out and flowed well. Going back over them you can imagine the author carefully balancing getting the right amount of description without slowing things down. Same with the characters and everything else.
The (years of) editing does make this an exception to the automatic rejection, it does also prove it because unless you’ve done so much work after writing the half million word novel based on a D&D game, that you could say the final product is based on a novel that was based on a D&D game, like this was, then the rule holds true.
I will still cringe at the words “Epic” or “Fantasy” before the word novel, but I do like pleasant surprises. This was one of them and I liked it. If you are into “Epic Fantasy” you should love this.
After your first reaction to my review (First reaction is always wrong) and you had a chance to look it over, what did I miss?
Actually, the novel isn’t based off a D&D game, though it’s pretty close as I did build the world and setting with a D&D game in mind Things didn’t pan out that way and I ended up just keeping a few core ideas when I decided to write a story in that setting, which were a mankind liberated from slavery and the elf-like former slavers.
What would you like any one who read my review to know?
Your review expressed your liking of the story, characters and clean editing. But there isn’t much detail for someone seeking clues about what to love (or not) in the novel. I don’t like mustache twirling villains, I hope most of my antagonists have relatable motives and aren’t just stepping stones on the road to greatness for the protagonists.
Without calling out anyone, what would you like any one who read the other reviews to know?
I’d suggest to check that reviewer’s ratings for some novels you have enjoyed (and some you haven’t). For me, that’s a good indication if I can relate to that review or not. There are no absolutes when it comes to what people like or not, and it’s perfect that way.
Of all the reviews of your book, what was the greatest take away, what did you learn about your writing from a review?
I thought I’d written strong female characters, but a few points brought up have shown me how I could make them that much stronger. Also that I need to dial back a little on the number of POVs without betraying my belief that a problem should be shown from more than one side to display the complexity of it.
How do you think you have evolved creatively, while writing this book and after?
I’d say most of the growth came in two stages. The first when I decided to flesh out more the ideas of being consumed by vengeance and xenophobia which had always been in the story. The second is when I started the editing process. Being challenged that way isn’t easy. Letting go of scenes, characters and whole chapters which you enjoyed writing but don’t add anything to the story is a humbling process.
Every author gets bad reviews that miss the mark so completely, that you have to look at the rating to know if it was a positive or negative review. Have you ever looked at the negative reviews of your favorite author and chuckle, knowing that the review could be applied to your work?
Missing or hitting the mark is highly subjective, but definitely. Having reviewed too, I seem to be in the contrarian corner anyway as several novels I don’t like because they rely on Hollywood style tropes (edge of oblivion right into victory), Gary Stu’s of epic proportions or deux ex machinas garner widespread approval. As for favorite authors, there are authors I really like, but it doesn’t mean I will fall in love with everything they write.
I get inspired by B-Movies, I’ll sit and laugh at “Attack of the the Eye Creatures” (Not a typo, that is the name of it) but learn as well, mostly what not to do. What sources inspire you, that you wouldn’t recommend others try?
During college, a bunch of friends and I would hunt for the worst possible looking movies at the video store to rent them (In terms of bad fantasy, I think the Sword and the Sorcerer wins hands down). Can’t say I have any inspiration sources I wouldn’t recommend, though what works for someone and fails for another is never easy to know. My best writing sprees were when I traveled for work.
What is the WORST piece of writing advice you’ve ever gotten?
Hum, come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve received much advice in terms of writing, but “more romance” would fit that bill nicely.
Who is your favorite indie author?
I haven’t read a lot of Indie work, but I really enjoyed Necrotic City by Leland Lydecker.
Describe you ideal fan (the person who would love your book)?
Someone who likes to have several angles to a problem exposed and accepts imperfect characters who do their best with the tools they have.
I mentioned in my review that it looked like years of editing was done on this, is that true?
Yes. I’ve rewritten the book in progressive waves since 2005 (thought to be honest, it started to get serious around 2008-9). It only got professional in 2015 when I hired Ashley Carlson to do copy editing. While her own writing is more YA, it was a tremendous step in improving my manuscript as it challenged every piece of it. After that I entered an extensive rewrite, streamlining some scenes, fleshing out some others, but the book did lose around 130k words during that process (from 310k to 180k). Then I did several passes of proofreading (software assisted), though I know of a few mistakes which slipped through the cracks.
Roughly, what was the ratio of Writing to Editing?
I don’t write full time, and the initial writing was stop and go over several years, so it’s hard to tell with precision, but I know I’ve spent 20 hours a week during roughly 9 months to rewrite/edit, and that’s without counting the rewrites or improvements I’d made before. So I’d guess it has roughly been 1 hour writing for 2 hours editing, and that’s not counting the editing work done by Ashley.
To me this looked like “a labor of love” what advice would you give to someone who wants to do an epic novel like yours?
Write whenever you can, wherever you can. Any progress is better than none, and even if the path looks daunting, as long as you stand still the end doesn’t get any closer.
Where can we find more of your books?
On Amazon and smashwords, but it’s only Seeds of Hatred for now.
What books do you have coming out?
I’m working on the second part, plus I have a sci-fi novel project for either a stand-alone or series of two. I haven’t completed my writing plan for that one yet.
Favorite Cover of one of your books
The folks at Damonza did an incredible job with this cover.
What are your different author pages (Website, Amazon, Smashwords, ect)
I only have a facebook page for the moment.