Revisiting the short story debate

Last night, I posted about whether I should write a novel or have three separate short stories.  After 24 hours of sleep, work, and thought, I may have come to a decision.

The first short story, not one of the three, will be published first.  Later, the other three will be published in one book.  It will not be a standard novel, though.  They will be three separate stories, though they are linked.  Each subsequent story is a result of the previous story.  They are self-contained stories, so it’ll be like a single volume trilogy of short stories.

This is how the plan stands for now.  I can’t guarantee that it won’t change.  I may start writing it and feel that it should be a novel.  It all depends on how the writing goes.

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Important question to myself: Short stories or novel?

I have a bit of a problem. Maybe it’s not a big problem, but it’s got me thinking.  As you may know, I’ve got a short story and novels planned for a science fiction world I’ve created.  I also have ideas for stories within the same universe.  This is where my problem is.  I have three stories in mind, yet they are all connected.  At this point in time, I don’t have an overall plot in mind, but three separate plots.  These stories aren’t long enough to constitute entire novels, yet they may when put together.

In many novels I’ve read, there’s an overall story, but also some subplots, each with its own beginning, middle, and ending.  But they flow together very well.  My three story ideas have no flow.  They’re related, but the characters have no connection with each other.  In essence, they are completely separate stories, though they are connected.  One story leads to the next one.  The second story is a result of the first, while the third is a result of the second.  I may get novellas out of one or two of them, but the third one may be a bit short.  I may just bundle them together as a compilation of short stories with an overall theme.  Or I can release them one at a time, making them available at a low price.  I guess I have a lot of thinking to do.

These stories are very important in establishing some fundamental aspects of this world.  They provide a basis for why things are the way they are.  They also give the world a whole group of characters that’ll make things more interesting.

I think short stories are important, especially for someone who is starting out with self-publishing.  It gives readers something quick and easy to read, and hopefully wanting more.

What do you think?  Do you like reading short stories?

Book Review – Gardens of the Moon

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson is the first book of the epic fantasy The Malazan Book of the Fallen. It’s a lengthy series, so it’s quite an undertaking to read all of it.  And I’ve only just started.

This book was a difficult one to rate.  It’s Steven Erikson’s debut novel, and I could see some flaws early on.  However, my attitude toward the book changed dramatically as I continued to read it.

Gardens of the Moon takes place mostly on the continent of Genabackis amidst a campaign of expansion and domination by the Malazan Empire.  The world was developed for a GURPS campaign by Erikson and his friend Ian Cameron Esslemont, and Malazan Book of the Fallen is a novelization of that world.  The world is completely original.  Unlike other fantasy novels, the cultures and races are unique to this series.  There are no elves, dwarves, ogres, and so on.  Instead, you get the Tiste Andii, T’lan Imass, Jaghut, and more.  Humans are the main race, however.  Wizards and gods take a major role, as well, but they’re not exactly what we would normally expect. Overall, the world is incredibly imaginative.

The ensemble cast of characters is vast.  Ganoes Paran is kind of the hero, though he doesn’t seem to be very heroic.  He’s a soldier thrown into a situation he wishes he wasn’t in.  Tattersail is a powerful mage with many insecurities.  Lorn, the Empress’ Adjunct is also an incredibly flawed character.  Sergeant Whiskeyjack, Kalam, Quick Ben, Crokus, Rallick, Kruppe, and more make some very colourful characters who aren’t always what they seem to be.  That’s one thing that made this book so interesting to read, the reader doesn’t know what to expect from the characters.  They are very well developed through the book, and we never quite know who are really the good guys and who are the bad guys.  With few exceptions, the line between good and bad is blurred very much.  While the characters are strong, it was very confusing for the first quarter of the book.  There were so many characters that I had a hard time keeping everyone straight.

The story has two sides to it.  In the beginning, I found it difficult to follow.  I had no idea what was going on.  But as the plot moved along, things became clearer, and I could understand what was happening.  Basically, it’s a large empire trying to conquer the biggest city on the continent of Genabackis.  But it’s not that simple.  There are many individuals who change their positions, the “good” seem to ally themselves with the “bad,” and so on.  It was incredibly unpredictable.  That should be expected, since this was based on a GURPS role playing campaign.  That’s what made much of this book so amazing to read.  You never knew what was going to happen.  Main characters die, sometimes unexpectedly.  We never know more than the characters know.  It’s like we’re going along with the ride, joining in the action.  It makes it much more exciting.

Like I said before, this was a difficult book to read.  For the first quarter of the book, I wasn’t impressed.  It was maybe going to get three or three and a half stars at that point.  But the rest of the book was a solid four and a half to five stars.  So, what do I rate it?

Four and a half stars.  Recommended to any fantasy fan, especially those who want something new and refreshing.

Reading Indie Books

People question why anyone would want to read an indie book, also known as self-publishing.  With the new age of e-publishing and Amazon making it extremely easy for anyone to publish a book, completely bypassing the traditional publisher, it makes people wonder if the quality is even good.  I would say that they’re right to question the quality.  I often do, too. However, I want to support indie authors.  There are some surprisingly good books that usually go completely unnoticed.

I have already reviewed an indie book on here, and am currently reading two others. The ones that I’m reading are completely different.  One is in print, the other is an ebook.

The print book I’m reading is Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist. It’s written by Baye McNeil, also known as Loco in the world of Japan blogs. I’ve been reading his blog for quite some time, and so I bought an autographed hard copy of his book earlier this year.  I’m reading it slower than I should.  I read it at home, where my daughter often doesn’t let me read anything.  However, what I’ve read so far is very good.  Baye is a very talented writer and author. One of these days, I think I’ll have to make it to a tweet-up that he’s attending.

The other book I’m reading is Voidhawk by Jason Halstead.  I’m reading it on my iPhone with the Kindle app.  This book is an interested one.  It has a unique premise, high fantasy involving elves, dwarves, mages, battles on wooden ships, pirates and more, but all of it is in space.  It’s not high tech.  In fact, it seems completely magical.  This is actually the first indie novel I’ve read, and I’m enjoying it so far.  It’s got a sense of humour to it, so I can’t completely take it seriously.  There are editing issues, such as typos and formatting problems, but it doesn’t detract from my reading experience.  It’s not an amazing book, but it is a fun read so far.  Also, this book is available for free!  You have nothing to lose by trying it.  You may like it. Unfortunately, I’ve been taking my time with this book.  I’ve been reading paper books during my free time on the train and my lunch break at work, while Voidhawk has been what I read when I have to stand on the train.  Bad excuse, but I hope to devote more time to it. When I finish it, I’ll be writing a review.

I have downloaded many other books to my phone, though I haven’t read them yet.  I will review all of them as I finish them.  It’ll be interesting to see how good or bad some of these books are, but I want to give them all a try.

On a somewhat related topic, ebooks are a great way to read classics for free.  As they are no longer copyrighted and in the public domain, they are available for free in ebook format.  Many you can even read on your computer.  But as far as Shakespeare is concerned, I’d prefer to have a paper copy with good explanatory notes.  I’m not so sure if electronic forms of Shakespearean plays have that.

Are you reading indie books?  Please leave a comment and tell me why you do or don’t read indie books.