Posts Tagged ‘books’

A portrait of King Arthur by Charles Ernest Butler. Probably not what he looked like at all.

So this is a bit outside my normal wheelhouse, but I decided to write a post about it because I’m all fired up about the subject (and really, isn’t that the reason we write anything anywhere?).

Recently, I’ve become very interested in King Arthur. Specifically, I wanted to know whether or not he was real, and how this whole story of him, Merlin, Lancelot and Guinevere, his sister/lover Morgan le Fay and his nephew/bastard son Mordred came to be. I mean, do we really believe a guy who didn’t know he was the bastard son of the previous king was taught by a magician, pulled a sword from a stone, had an idyllic kingdom stretching across Europe for a few years, only for it to be undone by his affair with his sister and his wife’s affair with one of his knights, to be gospel historical fact? I wanted to know the truth, and I wanted to know it as in-depth as possible.

This new obsession of mine started after one of the YouTube channels I follow, Overly Sarcastic Productions, produced a video about Arthur lore, and how that got built up over the past fifteen-hundred years (click here to watch the video, as well as here for their follow-up on some of Arthur’s lesser-known knights). These laid the groundwork for me to get interested in the subject, and to want to find out a bit more. From there, I downloaded a lecture  series from The Great Courses company (college level lecture series you can listen to while you work or drive. Definitely check them out, they’re very informative) on Arthur, narrated by Professor Dorsey Armstrong of Purdue University, and an expert on the subject of Arthuriana.

If you don’t have time to watch either video or to listen to Professor Armstrong’s lecture series (though you should at least spend a half hour on that first video), let me do my best to put it really simply: probably ninety-five percent of what you think you know about King Arthur is complete and utter fiction. There’s some evidence to suggest that during the late 5th and early 6th century, the invasion of the Saxons in England was stopped and in some places reversed, keeping the peace for a few generations, and that someone probably lead a war effort that caused that peace.

This figure was probably the basis of Arthur. The name Arthur, by the way, doesn’t appear until after this time period, but then becomes quite widespread among Bretons. This possibly means that the name “Arthur” wasn’t this figure’s real name, but maybe an acronym, abbreviation, or nickname based on a Celtic or Latin name. A number of figures listed in history annals from around or after that time have been pointed to as possibly the inspiration for Arthur, but documentation from that time is scarce, so no one really knows if any of these figures were Arthur or given that name as a title or nickname.

So, Arthur was possibly real. We’re not sure, because there’s only so much evidence. He could be as made up as Harry Potter, and was a folklore character adapted by the Bretons for their current predicament.

Pages from the Historia regum Britanniae, the first King Arthur bestseller ever written.

At the very least, the legend of Arthur cemented itself and grew over time. From a local warlord to king of all the Bretons, and then other elements started getting added on, such as Merlin, who was probably based on a mad bard who lived a couple of centuries after the Arthur figure. Eventually, a man by the name of Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote this huge book called Historia regum Brittaniae, a pseudo-history of Britain that dealt quite a bit with Arthur. It was spread across the European continent, where other writers from as far as Italy, Scandinavia, and Russia started adding their own spins on Arthur’s story and adding their own elements. These elements include Lancelot, who was the invention of a French writer, Excalibur and the Holy Grail, and Mordred being Arthur’s incestuous offspring. And as years passed, storytellers just kept adding elements and remixing the already-available tales until we have all the Arthur stories available today.

It’s like what might happen if, a thousand years from now, George Washington was known as Walsh; his historicity was debated; he was credited not only with defeating the British but conquering the entire continental United States; had Superman’s powers; and was taught by Mark Twain, who’s been combined with Nikola Tesla and has lightning powers.

Yeah, kind of crazy. Also a huge simplification, but it’s a blog post. What do you expect of me?

Like I said, anyone can add to the Arthur canon. Doesn’t mean it’ll be good.

Anyway, it’s just mind-blowing how great an influence one man who may or may not have existed and probably only ruled a small area of land if he did exist has had on Western society. Most likely, if you’ve lived anywhere English culture has reached, you’ve heard something about Arthur. You just probably never realized that there was so much debate around him or there’s no real canon about him, because so much about him is in flux from storyteller to storyteller.

It’s also very inspiring, in a way. You can write almost any sort of story about Arthur, and it can be considered part of the canon (whether or not it’s any good though, is left up to the storytellers and their audiences). The possibilities are kind of endless, as long as you keep an open mind. I’ve already had an idea for a short story involving the historical Arthur figure and the subsequent works written about him. I plan to write it at some point this year and then submit it to my publisher, Castrum Press, for one of their anthologies (they’re doing some anthologies, BTW. Check them out here if you’re interested. All are welcome to submit). Hopefully it gets accepted, and maybe some people will like it. We’ll see.

Whatever you know or believe about Arthur, it’s undeniable that he’s had an influence on the world. His legend is constantly growing, morphing, and mutating. And all from one man, a man we don’t even know if he was real or not. It’s definitely a mind-boggling, cool, and inspiring subject, and I’m so glad I decided to dive into it.

I hope, if anything, this post makes you curious enough to dive in too.

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I swear, this is the last time I’m posting about my Boston trip. Unless I actually did capture ghost voices (or EVPs, as believers prefer), in which case there will be another post. Don’t worry though, that’ll take a while to accomplish, so don’t go to the unsubscribe button just yet. Also, this post will be a quick one…I think. I’m saying that while still writing it, so who knows?

Anyway, as you can tell from the title, this is about the souvenirs from my Boston trip. On Instagram I broke these down by type of souvenir (book, toy, etc), but here I think I’ll separate it by day or location. Why? Just makes more sense that way, it seems.

Independence Day souvenirs.

As I said in my last post, I went into a Harry Potter shop and a comic book shop on that day. I’m a Slytherin (mostly because I’m pure evil), so I bought some Slytherin gear from the Harry Potter shop. Specifically, a sticker and a tie.

The ancient and noble House.

I’m wearing this the next time I wear a tie.

From the comic book store I went a little crazy. In addition to some more stickers, I bought a couple of those Funko Pop dolls. Those who know me won’t be surprised which franchises I bought dolls from.

You know it’s true.

Looks great on my laptop.

My first, and probably my favorite Doctor.

Moonies forever!

Including all the anime figurines I’ve been collecting, I’m building quite the doll collection. And I’m not ashamed to say that.

Salem souvenirs.

It won’t surprise you that most of the souvenirs here are witch-related. They’re also all books. Well, there is a print of the House of the Seven Gables under a creepy moon, but it’s copyrighted, and the last thing I want is a copyright lawsuit on my hands, so forgive me if I don’t post a photo of that here.

Looks cool.

I’ve always been curious.

You knew this was going to be coming home with me.

This will make a great reference material.

I swear, it’s another reference book. I’m not going to do anything evil…probably.

At least you can’t say I won’t get bored or go without reading material for a while.

Lizzie Borden souvenirs.

Luckily, I went easy on the souvenirs here. And of course, they are so totally me.

Because I’m on a true crime kick lately.

 

Not going to lie, this doll creeps even me.

So that’s all my souvenirs. Pretty cool, huh?

That’s all for now…on Boston, anyway. I probably won’t post anything new until the weekend so you don’t get sick of me, but if something big comes up, I’ll probably have to talk about it. In the meantime, I’m going to work on Rose for a little while. Wish me luck, and good night, my Followers of Fear. Pleasant nightmares!

I just published my latest article from Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors. This one is “Gulf Coast Bookstore” and is about a new bookstore in Florida dedicated entirely to featuring the works of self-published novelists. I decided to write a post about it when I heard of it, but I couldn’t find the time until today to write it.

If you get the chance, please check it out, as well as check out the rest of the site. Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors is a wonderful resource for indie authors, by indie authors, and from indie authors to help them write, edit, publish, and market as best they can. You should really check them out if you get the chance.

That’s all for now. Got plenty to do today, so I’m going to get on it. Preparing to go to Germany and all that. Wish me luck, my Followers of Fear!

Many authors these days start blogs or websites or Facebook pages or Twitter accounts or any of the other five-thousand different forms of social media, hoping that not only will doing so let them connect to potential readers, but these said readers will go out and buy their books. It was certainly my reason for starting this blog: I began a blog in August 2011 in order to build an audience so that by the time I published my first book I might have some readers willing to buy a copy. It’s also the reason why I started a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

Contrary to this popular belief though, having a blog or any of the other things I mentioned doesn’t actually lead to decent book sales. There are numerous reasons for this, but I’d like to quote a friend of mine who recently posted about this on her own blog:

It’s like going to a movie theater and trying to sell your books to the people around you when all they want to do is watch the movie. Even worse, there are other writers in the theater trying to do the same thing you are, so the viewers are not just focused on the movie, they are purposely shutting out everything else. The challenge is to get their attention and make them more interested in you and your book than in the movie.

And like Pat, I’m not really sure how to get people interested in my book rather than the movie. While I’m lucky in that I’ve got a decent amount of followers (thanks for following, by the way!), if I charged for every time someone read one of my posts, I think my readership would be much smaller. My books cost anywhere between one to three dollars (if e-books) and a little under six to thirteen and a half dollars (if paperback). Plus I mainly write horror and science fiction, which don’t appeal to everyone.

Still, those aren’t the main reasons that I don’t make a lot of sales through social media. Other authors have had this problem as well, from romance and erotica authors to masters of mystery to sci-fi and fantasy lords and your literary connoisseurs. Like Pat said, every author is trying to get you to buy their books. I just happen to work in a genre known for its dark and macabre nature.

I think that’s the problem though. So many authors are using social media to promote their books that it’s difficult for any single one to get heard and make a lot of sales. The first few people who used blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and any other platform did make plenty of sales (or so I hear), but so many people have caught on that social media doesn’t sell as much as it promises.

It’s not easy to get sales through social media. But you can try.

 

Still, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be on my blog, let alone Facebook or Twitter. Each author discovers success on their own. I’ve known authors to gain many readers of the books and many more readers on their blogs. It depends on how you go about writing your posts, what you write about, and how you promote it, among other things.

Do I know what those things are? Well…I’m a bit better at writing a terrifying story. I don’t know all the tricks. But I’m learning them here and there. I let my readers know about important updates, what’s going on in my life, my viewpoints on important issues. I often share funny or reading and writing-related photos on my FB page.Most importantly, I let people know when I get a new review on Amazon, and use direct links to Facebook and Twitter in case anyone wants to look.

And it pays off. Literally: I got two tax forms from Amazon–one for paperbacks, the other for e-books–and together it wasn’t too bad. And I’ve only been published for a little over a year and a half!

So maybe social media isn’t the direct way to bestselling novels like it bills itself to be. But with practice, hard work, and a lot of luck, you can do some amazing things through it. #BelieveIt

Do you find social media helpful for selling books? Why or why not?

What tricks do you have for selling books through social media?

I decided that I wanted to do a little studying of psychopaths, since I’m writing a novel involving serial killer. I heard about a book by journalist Jon Ronson called “The Psychopath Test” and decided to take a look at it. I learned a lot (but I won’t be doing a review of it for my own reasons):

For instance, while “psychopath” and “sociopath” are practically interchangeable terms, “psychopaths” and “serial killers” aren’t, which I think some people believe. Serial killers may suffer from any of a hole host of mental disorders besides psychopathy (bipolar, delusions, schizophrenia, psychosis, etc), or they may just be motivated by the usual suspects for committing crimes: greed, anger, or for a thrill. Psychopaths are individuals who are unable to feel emotions, probably due to a problem in their amygdala.

I also learned a few things about diagnosing psychopaths, including checklists used to identify psychopaths (which, if you should get your hands on one, you should not use thinking it’s a wonder tool for diagnosing killers; only trained professionals can really make use of those checklists, and usually in tandem with several other tools, including history of violence, interviews with patients, and several other factors. It still didn’t stop me from trying to diagnose real and fictional people, though). And the theory of psychopaths as some of the top people on Wall Street and in major corporations was explored, with some very interesting conclusions.

So, how does this relate to Snake? Well, I can say this much; my serial killer is not a psychopath (though another character certainly is!). However, he probably is suffering from another mental disorder, and I have no idea what it could be, so I’ll have to check it out once I find somebody who can give me an idea of what a profiler might think of my character based on just his murders. If you know anyone like that who could help, please don’t hesitate to tell me.