Tag Archives: action

The Growing Author

I think it’s pertinent to share my thoughts with everyone on what I learned through the release of my second novel, The Curse of Pirini Lilapa. It was officially published on June 21, but I didn’t have its release party until June 22.

The undertaking in releasing this book was something like I have never experienced before and has made me but luckily I had some experience already in this sort of thing. The hardest part, of course, was the language barrier and communicating my ideas and design to someone whose native language is not English. Luckily, I had met a few contacts who could speak a decent amount of English and worked in the positions I needed them to work in. I knew someone in an advertising agency who could design the inside of the book with her staff. I also knew another person who knew a book printer who could help me with printing books. This, my readers, is known as 關係(Guānxì). It means relationship in Chinese and it is part of the cultural identity that thrives here in China. So many times I have seen this play out, sometimes in bad ways (like when students enter our program because they simply know someone), sometimes in good ways (like my case) but it’s a fundamental idea that one has to be cognizant about while in China. If you’ve ever heard of the phrase “Don’t burn your bridges,” and thought it was just an idiom, it is actually life over here.

In fact, this idea permeates through more than just simple relationships, but it also affects how we are perceived as foreigners. For example, I recently went to a family lunch for the parents of a recent graduate to our program. I had never heard about this lunch until the day before, but no one actually invited me. At 7 p.m. at night I finally get an invitation from a colleague who must have “forgotten” about me (all too common in China), but I refuse the invitation as I already had other plans. Then the father personally adds me and invites me to the lunch. Now, I actually do enjoy these lunches and dinners quite a bit, and I did eventually end up going, but only because the father actually took the effort to invite me. So, there I was, the only foreigner in a room of 200 or so Chinese, and I needed to be there in order for them to have the ability to say that they know a foreigner, in order to give them 關係. Now, how does this relate to the novel? I only mentioned that story to show you how essential it is for Chinese people to have us at events, no matter the event, even if it’s simply taking a picture with you so they can claim to have a “foreign friend.” So, getting back to the book release, I held this event at a coffee shop and when asked how much money it would be to reserve the second floor they said there was no money needed, just that everyone should buy at least one drink and that they would have the ability to take photos of us for use as promotional material. Compared to other places and prices that I looked at in Yixing, this was a great deal and I ended up having my event there. You can see some of the pictures below, but again, it reverts back to this idea of relationships and not only that but “the face” here in China.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

China is, lack for a better word, shallow. They DO care about how you look. They DO care about your skin color. They DO care about your sex. Although they may not say it explicitly, it goes back to their cultural identity and never losing “face” to someone. Face is like reputation, and because people take photos of me, or have lunches with me, or have their coffee shop filled with a bunch of foreigners, they automatically gain a lot of “guanxi” and they gain a lot of face.

 

Another thing that was extremely surprising to me doing the second release of the book is that, since traveling and teaching abroad, I have actually gained more fans than in the States. You think that this would be the opposite, right? Back home people know me, I grew up with them, I have established long-term friendships with them. While that is true, some of my best friends are actually the ones I have made abroad and I think it’s because we have gone through the same thing. We are both living and adapting to our environment and the struggle we share is similar. That is why support is so high here. Even from the Chinese actually. Although they most likely cannot read the book, they still buy it and support me and that matters a lot to me. I also think it’s because when people find out that I’m an author and a traveling teacher it kind of makes me an outlier. I mean, it’s like randomly seeing a celebrity on the street. Now, I’m not trying to equate myself with a celebrity, I am far from rich and famous yet, but it’s not that many times that you run into someone (especially someone so young) who has published a novel—that, too, I believe helps me gain fans and supporters.

The last thing I learned doing this book release was that timing is EVERYTHING. Now, this should be obvious, but it’s even more so when you are living abroad (especially in China). As I have an American fan base and a Chinese fan base, I need to post things on social media at the specific times where it can gain the most traction. Typically for me, this is in the morning (or the night before for America) or late at night in China around 9 PM which will then hit America at 9 AM. This, for the most part, I did successfully; however, I did fail in getting pre-publicity reviews before its release, and I hope that doesn’t really hurt me and my sales for the book. This time doing it I am much more cognizant about the money that I spend in promotion and marketing because the last book cost me waaayyy too much money and I doubt I’ll ever make a profit on it (to be honest, most authors don’t make a profit on their first book anyway as it’s just a way to gain your fan base and establish your credibility). Also, I’ve learned that I waited much too long to release this second book as it has been 5 years or so. I really should keep sequels to no more than 3 years, so I will be much more diligent on this third novel and hope to release it maybe in my early 30s, maybe before 30, who knows, it all depends on where the story goes. I do know, however, that China has given me the time and the economic freedom to publish my books as an author which is fantastic.

Overall, as I turn my nascent author career into one that is hopefully full-time professional career I will need to keep up with the times and learn new things on the way. That is the most exciting part about being an author and a traveling teacher, never growing stagnant. I always have to adapt to situations and it has made me a more confident and competent person than I was before.

Do you have any experiences that have shaped you as an individual? I think we all do. I would like to hear them in the comments if you would like to share!

  • Michael E. Thies

P.S. Also, it’s my birthday June 29th. As a birthday gift to all of my fans I have discounted my books on Amazon from 2.99 to .99 cents. So, download them while you can by clicking on the links here. The Trials of the Core and The Curse of Pirini Lilapa. Also, you can win autographed copies of both books by going to The Guardian of the Core Facebook page, liking the page, and sharing the most recent post with your friends!

It’s Finally Time

Well, it’s the time again.

Normally this is the time where I start to count down the days until the school year ends. How many more weeks do I have to teach? How many more class periods do I have? When are the finals going to be? This year, I am doing that, but I am also counting down to something else—the release of my second book.

I am happy to say that on June 21st of this year, when the sun is at its brightest and fullest, the second book in the Guardian of the Core series will come out. Why this day? Well, in the book the event, Pirini Lilapa, is when the two suns converge, creating a purple aurora in the sky and bringing with it heat, chaos, and beauty. What better day to release it than when our own sun is at its brightest and hottest! Below is a small video trailer I put together to create hype for the book’s release. Watch!

The Curse of Pirini Lilapa takes place immediately after the conclusion of the Trials. Coronation has elected a new apprentice to Guardian of the Core. Since, Zain Berrese, Prince Hydro Paen, and Eirek Mourse have gone their separate paths, thinking each other a distant memory. But, it seems that fate has other plans. As the three travel their paths, they find that their lives are not so separate after all. The persons who they thought they were at the end of the Trials are now tested even more as the suns draw closer to their convergence. To an event known to bring only bad luck, sorrow, and pain. To an event that occurs every 150 years. To an event known as Pirini Lilapa.

Some look to the sky in superstition, others look to the sky in fear, and yet, some look to the sky in contemplation. For in the weeks and days before the suns converge, plots perspire, deities die, and families are fractured as no one is safe from their harsh and heinous gaze. . .

For me, this is a dream come true to see it finally being printed and produced. I feel like a proud father now with this new baby of mine about to enter the world as for many years I kept pushing back the delivery. Now, I feel confident and stable enough to put it out there and as you will notice while you read, the world has expanded and to help you, maps have been included at the beginning of the book and character trees in the back so that you may keep track of all the people.

If you haven’t read book one yet, you can start now and finish it before the sequel comes out in June. Here is the link on Amazon. Also, you may preorder your book now for the Kindle version for only 2.99. After its official release, the price will jump to 3.99. You can do that by clicking here.

Looking to the future, the next thing for me to do is to finish writing the series. I have an idea about how it’s going to end, but that always changes, and is already starting to change in my mind (for I have two possible endings). It has been exhilarating, albeit frustrating at times, publishing the book in China. I have even gotten many people to ask for a Chinese version of the book, which I am contemplating actually about the first book. This could be another way to expand my marketability as an author, so we will see. At the end of the day, I need readership and followers and perhaps that initial investment in having it translated will pay off. What are your thoughts on that? I’d like to know. Also, what did you think of the trailer? Are you excited for the release of book 2!?

Let me know in the comments!

Roll The Bones – Review

I am not sure why I am not able to upload an image on here, but here is my review for Roll the Bones, by Rob May. I give it a 4-star (★★★★) rating. And, here is why:

Protagonist and Dragon Killer Extraordinaire, Kalina Moonheart, returns in Rob May’s novel, Roll the Bones. And along with Kalina, Rob May’s excellent pacing and prose style.

In this book Rob does an extraordinary job of mixing fantasy and adventure, along with mystery. I am not going to lie that when I read this book I thought of Dan Brown, but without the bogged down descriptions. The reason I make this comparison is that Rob keeps his chapters short, allowing us as readers to breeze through the novel all in one sitting—a style very much similar to Dan Brown. Also, the mystery and suspense in it remind me of Brown’s style as well, as well as the ending actually, but since it is not overused and recycled continually it had a strangely organic feel to it.

The greatest improvement that I noticed in this book, compared to the first book in the series, is Rob’s ability to interweave multiple story plots throughout the novel. There is Story A going on with the election, then Story B going on with trying to find a murderer who is killing off consuls in the elections, and finally we have Story C which involves a love interest to Kalina Moonheart, Will Straightarrow and his actions throughout the novel. Now, although this may sound complex, Rob does an excellent job at tackling each story line and interweaving all three of them together into one dynamic resolution.

What jarred me as a reader, though, is when, all the sudden, we get taken back in time (that’s not clearly defined) and Kalina is remembering something that happened with her friend Ben. We go from 3rd-person limited to all of the sudden, 1st person and I didn’t know exactly why the flashbacks always occurred. Usually something triggers a flashback, but sometimes I felt as though these came on arbitrarily. On top of that, some of the scenarios were a little over the top in my opinion. For example, there is a point late in the novel, where Kal is nearly killed by a dragon and the whole place is about to explode and she and her love interest Will are taken to a tower by someone who leaves, Will leaves and both of those individuals make it out okay, but Kal has to parachute her way from the tower. I guess, why couldn’t Kal just leave easily with the rest of them? Why did this person know a parachute was going to be needed? Maybe I missed something, but it was an over-the-top instance that I think could have been planned better.

Now, did these things detract from characterization of Kalina Moonheart, or Rob May’s prose and deftness at crafting a story? Absolutely not. Rob still shows that he has a deft hand in writing and a clear voice in telling, when he crafted this novel.

 

I encourage all of you to check out Rob May’s website: http://www.robertwilliammay.com/

Also, if you want to purchase this book: http://www.amazon.com/Roll-Bones-Dragon-Killer-Series-ebook/dp/B00HUSDVP6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401226328&sr=8-1&keywords=roll+the+bones+rob+may

Review #5 (More good news!)

Hi everyone!

Alright, I know you are all probably getting tired of me posting the reviews that I get on here, but, I can’t help it, this is my debut novel and the amount of positive feedback that I’ve been getting on it has been phenomenal and something I can’t be thankful enough for. With that being said, this next reviewer, Jay Williams, gave it a 5/5 stars and this is what he had to say:

“A well-written adventure in a fantasy world, this novel quickly engages the reader and keeps you engrossed through the never-ending action and adventure. People and places are always introduced with a brief description that helps to form mental images as the story progresses. I was completely in suspense up to the final selection of the apprentice. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series. Thoughts and images of the story and its characters stayed with me long after I had finished the book.”

Thanks Jay for your support. And thanks for everyone who has been behind me on this project of mine 100%. I appreciate it and it means a lot to me. December can’t get here fast enough, nor can my book launch party November 6th.

Until the next one!

Writer’s Block Press

 

Review of Riddick

So, one of my favorite movies ever was Chronicles of Riddick. I thought the whole movie was tastefully done and it had lots of twists and action in it that kept me guessing until the very end. When I heard that a new Riddick movie was coming out I was intrigued. Where did this one fit into the story line? Is it before Pitch Black? Is it after the Chronicles of Riddick? I had to check it out. And I did. Here is what I thought.

The beginning of the movie we get Riddick chronicling his life and what happened to him after he took over the throne. He is in pain and on a planet we have never seen before and the first fifteen minutes are just him showing his survival skills. The beginning could have the pace picked up a little bit. We see him get his dog pet and eventually we see him with his dog grown which raises the question, how much time has passed? How fast does the dog grow? Once the dog is grown he sends a beacon which attracts bounty hunters and finally the action begins.

Now, it’s been a while since I’ve seen the other movies but the connection this one plays is with Pitch Black and a guy named Johns who is never really focal to the story telling but we get his dad who hunts down Riddick in this one to find out what happened to his son. The connection is tenuous at best. The creatures that Riddick and the Mercs face in this movie are pretty unique and entertaining, however, I feel as though its really contrived that they, essentially, are underneath of the whole planet and when it rains a shit-ton come out. Wouldn’t they feel getting walked on? How would they survive if they are just in some sort of stasis until it rains?

The ending is good though, and there is definitely going to be another movie coming out as Riddick tries to find his home (which I thought was destroyed in the first movie, or they showed a clip of it being destroyed I am pretty positive).

Overall, it was a good movie. Worth the investment and when dealing with action-type movies I tend to negate looking at plot and structure and overall plotholes just because if I did that then most movies would get torn to shreds. I give it a 6.5 out of 10 just because I liked the action, but I was expecting more in a sequel to Chronicles, I was hoping for more real action instead of a “filler” movie as I would call it. I am looking forward to the next one though.

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