Tag Archives: futuristic

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!

What is Sword and Planet Fantasy?

Well, when we define things, just as we defined Epic Fantasy last month, we break down the etymology of the (in this case) phrase. And, maybe not so much the etymology (the linguistic changes the word has gone through) so much as the history of the word itself and what it is in our language today. So, in order to define Sword and Planet we must look at both of those terms individually and continue onward from there.

For most readers this should be review but swords are simply weapons. When I think of swords, I think of medieval and King Arthur and battles and war, although I know that swords have been around much longer than those times. The idea, though, is that it is connotative of this sense of historical renaissance.

Secondly, the word planet is, well, a large mass in space that is comprised of many different substances and some being able to hold life and others not. It moves around a sun and is in some sort of solar system. But, more importantly, when we think of planet, at least when I think of planet, I think of space exploration. I think of traveling and what the future is going to be like. I think of things like Star Wars or Star Trek. In essence, this word is very connotative of a futuristic world.

So, when bringing these two words together, we know that we are going to get a type of fantasy that is archaic, yet futuristic. Interesting, yes? I think so. That is why I wrote my own novel use those ideals. (However, to be fair, once I started researching this type of fantasy much more, I would say mine doesn’t necessarily fit in with it for a couple of reasons).

Alright, so now we have the definition out of the way, let’s take a look at what these characteristics are that translate from what we just broke down.

1) There is a hero, usually an Earthman, and he typically uses a sword to fight off an alien race while trying to rescue a damsel in distress.

2) Adventure. Lots of adventure. There needs to be in order to make up for the generally stock-type characters that develop in these types of novels.

3) Anachronistic situations. For example, aliens possessing the technology to use space crafts, but domesticated animals are used for ground transportation.

In fact, bestsciencefictionbooks.com sums up the major happenings of the plot rather concisely when it says in an article, “a chivalrous man is transported from Earth to an alien planet, the Earthman discovers he is the lone human, the Earthman becomes involved in a conflict between two parties (two factions, nations, or species), he picks the side with the most beautiful woman, the woman is kidnapped, the man takes his sword and goes to rescue her and along the way fights off monsters and alien animals.”

Although there are books that would fit this genre that prelude this, the prototype for this type of book was first introduced to us by Edgar Rice Burroughs through his series, A Princess of Mars. Many of you may not be familiarized with that name, but it is the recently repopularized movie about John Carter who is a Confederate officer and soldier, has taken up prospecting in Arizona after the war to regain his fortune. Under mysterious circumstances, he is transported to Mars.

And that is actually where I am going to segue into next week’s blog post. As you know I try to review a new book or movie that fits the genre each month and as my kindle is still broken I haven’t been able to review anything in terms of reading yet, but I will take a look at this newly put out movie, John Carter, and see if it truly does fit these characteristics that we have detailed here.

So, stay tuned for that. Also, I already have a general idea of the fantasy that I’ll be detailing for next month, but if you have thoughts or comments I’d be willing to take a look at them and try to come up with some alternative!

Thanks!

– Michael E. Thies