What’s in a name?

It’s been too long since I wrote a legit blog. Time is relentless in its march. Still, I want to talk about names. Really, I want to discuss made-up names and words of all kinds. Maybe the benefit of what I’ve learned will help you in your writing endeavors. If not, at least it should be interesting.

If you’ve been with me from the beginning, you probably remember the tragic first edition covers on my first two books. I’m embarrassed to show them now, but it makes a point. (Just to ease my mind, I’m putting the newer versions, too.)

 

 

To this day, the Space Balrogs won’t call my first book anything except, “The Cracide.” Which is what the title looks like on that initial cover. Since then, I’ve learned it’s best not to title a book after a made-up word at all. Not only because I get confusion by people who think the book is about killing God as some kind of anti-religious statement (which it isn’t, it’s about killing a Theocrat who claims to be God), but a lot of people aren’t attracted to the title at all because it inspires confusion more than curiosity.

I went to a book signing where Terry Brooks shocked the entire audience of fans by informing us that Shannara is pronounced Shan-uh-ruh, not Shuh-nar-ra. Every person there had been pronouncing it wrong for decades. I’m guessing after a lifetime of correcting people’s pronunciation of his title, he wishes he hadn’t used a made-up word in the title, too.

Exacting Essence isn’t much better. It sounds cool (to me), but nobody knows what it means. So again, it causes confusion instead of curiosity. So, by making bad decisions in the past, I’ve learned to title books using only common words people already know. It is much more likely to inspire them to want to learn about the book. Here are some better book titles.

 

Uniqueness in titles isn’t as important as getting the reader’s interest. Common words can make a really good title.

I think this has also affected how I think about made up words in the book as well. I have a few in Salvation, because it’s a straight up fantasy and monsters and towns need names. But even though there have to be made up words in it, I think I would advise authors to use as many common words and when they are made up, spell them in a way that’s easy to understand.

Schism is the name of the planet. An actuator is a legitimate machine part. The sense of something familiar being used in a new and “magical” way is more intriguing, I believe, than if I named the planet Blarghdorugh and the machine R.T.C.I. (Reality Transforming Computer Interface). There is a place for fancy made-up words, of course, but less is definitely more.

So what brought this up now? My work-in-progress involves me deciding what to call a city, the people in it, and various aspects of their culture. So I have been revisiting some of the wisdom I learned by past mistakes. The title will not be a word I make up. The city must be called something that sounds like a real city, named as real people would name one. And the characters will have names that are “futuristic” in the sense that they are names people might really use as a result of a real societal evolution… not Zaphanianna or some other nonsense that readers can’t pronounce. It’s unlikely that after people used the name Matthew for thousands of years it will suddenly disappear in 100 years and nobody will be giving it to newborns.

If I save just one author from making the same mistakes I did, this blog will have been worth the effort. 🙂

3 People Made My Weekend

This last weekend at Salt Lake Comic Con’s Fan X was amazing. I only had one panel, but we had a blast. I sold a decent number of books, too. What made this convention so much more awesome? Three people.

Each of them came to me and said something similar. “I bought your book last time and I loved it, so I want more.”

Wow!

It’s happened before, but not so many so close together. The real kicker is, they each had a DIFFERENT book they liked which brought them back: Salvation, Theocracide, and Fractured Earth.

Thank you. A million times, thanks!

I know there are fans out there who read e-books, so I don’t get to meet them at the con. I appreciate all of you. It was all worth it if even a few liked them enough to come back for more. 🙂

Chaos Chronicles Paperback

chaos-chronicles-wrap-cover

Now available in paperback! The Actuator 3: Chaos Chronicles

This book includes amazing stories by 9 authors. It isn’t “optional” like the Borderlands Anthology, though. These stories are machine monks, separated from the main group, and their struggles after the saboteur comes back to wreak more havoc on the world. It’s part of the main story line, so you absolutely must read it before the series climax comes out later this year. If you are following the Actuator series and only want your books in paper, the time has finally arrived.

Read more about the series on my Actuator page or…

Get it now!

Actuator Audiobook!

The Actuator: Fractured Earth is now available as an Audiobook! Read by Roger Wayne of Tantor Audio, you can get it on Audible or as a book on CD.

fractured-earth-audiobook-cover

They went with a different cover, but it’s the same Actuative goodness. The audiobook is $24.99 on Audible, but if you have the e-book already, you can get the audio through Whispersync for just $3.49! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out you should buy the e-book, then the audiobook either way. The book on CD is $29.99. Either one, comes out February 28.

I haven’t listened to it yet, but I’m super excited for my first audiobook to be out!

Final 99 cent sale!

This is the last one! For this week, you can get Schism. This future sci-fi, steampunk, fantasy mash-up is an action adventure with a touch of romance. Designed to be about as long as a movie, it aims to satisfy the reader in just one sitting. You can try it out on sale for less than everything in a dollar store! Grab it.

schism-e-book-cover

If you want more than a quick read, you can also get Thomas Destiny by Jason King and Jon Grundvig on the cheap for just this week. This inter-dimensional fantasy is another fast paced genre cross-over, guaranteed to be fun.

td

 

Sci-Fi Super-Sale!

 

actuator-first-4-books-wallpaper

Today and tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, December 15 – 16, Curiosity Quills Press is putting all their science fiction e-books on sale for just 99 cents each! That means if you haven’t been keeping up with the Actuator series , you can get the FIRST THREE BOOKS for just $2.97. Not only do they have the amazing new covers, the interiors have been updated. So now there’s a new story by yours truly in the Borderlands Anthology, and a free short story included with Fractured Earth. What a great day to be alive! Here are the individual links–

The Actuator: Borderland Anthology

The Actuator 1: Fractured Earth

The Actuator 2: Return of the Saboteur

The Actuator 3: Chaos Chronicles (New this week!)

Want more information about the series before you commit? Check my Actuator Page.

Remember, books made great GIFTS! You can gift them from Amazon. By then the sale will be over and they will think you spent tons of money on them. Spread the love!

20130530-222635.jpg

If you aren’t up for starting a whole series, or you want something a little more in the literary sci-fi area, check out Theocracide. You can’t go wrong at this price, and it’s guaranteed to leave you thinking.Under a Brass Moon Cover

If your not looking for anything deep or even as long as a book, you can get this fantastic collection of sci-fi and steampunk. I have four stories in this anthology. Under a Brass Moon is a gigantic collection of awesome you won’t want to miss. The paperback is $23.00, but you can get it for less than a buck!

 

Go to Amazon now and get Theocracide or Under a Brass Moon, or both for just $1.98!

Evolution of a Cover

The Actuator 1- Fractured EarthIt’s amazing how things evolve over time. When the first Actuator book came out, this is what it looked like. I’ve always loved it, and it gets plenty of attention from people at signings. However, editing shortcomings required us to put out a new version of it within the first year. We added a fairy (Xenwyn) to distinguish it from the first edition.

actuator-1-ebook-coverThis cover served us well for a long time, but eventually my publisher wanted to rebrand the entire series. What they came up with next AMAZED me!

In a more classic sci-fi vein, and geared to better attract the gaming crowd as a LitRPG story, this new cover just blows me away. Here for the first time.

 

actuator-1-e-book-cover

Isn’t that stunning?!!! Here are the other two books in the series so far and their new covers.

Actuator 1-5 E-bookactuator-borderlands-e-book-cover

And book 2.

Actuator 2 Ebook Coveractuator-2-e-book-cover

All these beauties should be up on Amazon this Monday… or soon thereafter. 🙂