First customer review of Terra

And it’s a good one!

A really intriguing and rather different coming of age story. Alternate universe, strange portals to travel through and a planet called Terra. Earth, but not Earth. A place where the Roman Empire never fell, although with some very big differences. The first being that power resides in the hands of the priests, who control the portal, the Via. A schism has developed in the priesthood with the head priest (pontifex) attempting to corrupt the ideals of the finder of the portal and original priest of the order.

This is the second book of the series, having not yet read the first story of Larry and his portal hopping I was concerned it would be difficult to follow. It wasn’t. There were enough explanations to give one a basic understanding of what had occurred in the first episode so that the characters motivations could be understood, without destroying the suspense and giving away the previous storyline.

The combination of alternate universe travel, the Roman Empire still existent, some wonderfully complex characters, a high level of suspense and many twists made for an edge-of-the-seat read.

Highly recommended.

One of the many tough things about writing a sequel is trying to make the novel intelligible on its own.  I’m glad to see this reader enjoyed Terra without having read its predecessor.

Let’s dance beneath the diamond sky for Bob Dylan

I once took a course from a Nobel Prize winner.  But this is the only Nobel Prize winner I’ve seen playing electric guitar while people shouted angrily at him for betraying folk music.

Here’s just one example of why Dylan deserves the Nobel Prize:

Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow

There are, of course, hundreds more.

The gig is up

I was intrigued by the Clinton camp’s response to the Times bombshell about Trump’s taxes. One phrase stuck out:

Clinton’s campaign said the report “reveals the colossal nature of Donald Trump’s past business failures” and declared “the gig is up.”

What does that mean: “the gig is up”?  Shouldn’t it be “the jig is up”?  Was the Clinton press team so excited that they misspelled “jig”? (Okay, shouldn’t I be more interested in the future of our nation?)  Google Ngram Viewer shows that “the jig is up” is way more popular, and always has been, although “the gig is up” also shows up occasionally.  But maybe the 2016 campaign will change usage, as with the word denouncement.

Here is a hilariously detailed discussion about jig vs. gig from the CBC.  Just a taste:

Replacing the “j” with a hard “g” (as in “guffaw”) suddenly makes the expression far less familiar, if not actually strange, to the ear and eye.

Musicians have called short-term jobs “gigs” since the early 20th century – especially one-night engagements. But do jobs ever become up? Certainly contracts can be up, which means they’ve expired on a specific date. But gigs?

Although there is no reason we couldn’t start saying “the gig is up” to mean “the gig is over,” the phrase isn’t well established.

“The jig is up,” on the other hand, is cited by lexicographers all over the western hemisphere. Indeed, in his Dictionary of Historical Slang, Eric Partridge points out that “the jig is up” was actually “standard English” until 1850, when it slid down a few notches to colloquial status.

Now that I have that off my chest, I can go back to worrying about our future.

Points of view

Here’s an article from the Times Book Review about the return of the omniscient point of view in fiction:

Most 19th-­century novelists didn’t try to hide their authorial presence. With modernism’s emphasis on the self and the rendering of individual consciousness, omniscience became unfashionable. ­Twentieth-century realists moved closer to their characters and wrote in the first person or limited third.

I have been thinking a lot about point of view lately.  All my novels to date have been told either in the first person or limited third-person (where you can have multiple points of view, but you’re only in one person’s point of view for any one scene).  All of them, that is, until Terra, where ninety percent of the novel is told in the first person, and then in the final chapter I switch to limited third for two different characters.  I worried about doing this, but I did it to set up the next novel in the sequence, Barbarica, which I’m working on now.

Barbarica is structured as a kind of kaleidoscopic limited-third novel — that is, we shift constantly from one point of view to another as the story progresses.  Will this work?  Dunno.  My writing group, which is experiencing this in real time, is getting antsy to see something from the point of view of my original narrator, Larry Barnes.  So, I have finally reached him in the sequence I’ve vaguely laid out, and suddenly I don’t know how to proceed.  Should I go back into his familiar first-person narrative style?  Or should we encounter Larry for the first time in limited third?  I think the decision will be fairly important to the reader’s experience of the story.

So now I’ll end this blog post and make the call.

Writing is hard, by the way.

Terra now available on Kobo, Google Play, iTunes…

For those of you who like to take less-traveled roads, my new novel Terra is now available on Kobo, Google Play, and iTunes.  I’m not sure what’s taking Barnes & Noble so long.

Here’s an article about the market shares of ebook vendors.  iTunes has 11% of the market; Barnes & Noble has 8%; Kobo has 3%; Google Play has 2%; Amazon has almost all the rest.  Oddly, most of my sales come from Barnes & Noble.  I do see a smattering of sales from the other vendors not named Amazon.

I will now start reminding people that customer reviews are the life’s blood of book sales.  So far Terra has none.  I expect that they may be hard to come by, since the novel will be of most interest to folks who have read The Portal.  So it’s all the more urgent for me to browbeat you into both reading and reviewing the thing.

Here’s the plot summary and first chapter.

“Terra” is now available from Amazon!

It took longer than I expected — but Terra is finally here.

Terra is the sequel to my novel The Portal; it extends and deepens the story of Larry Barnes and the cosmic gateway he has discovered to parallel universes.  Here’s a summary, along with the first chapter.

Terra cover

The ebook will be available on Barnes & Noble and other online vendors before long.  A print version will show up shortly thereafter.

By the way, if you read the marketing description of Terra on Amazon, you’ll notice a reference to the next book in the series, which is called Barbarica.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for it to appear, though; I’m about a quarter of the way through the first draft.