03 August 2019

Glitches

Note that the last chapter of the audiobook is currently appearing after the glossary and character list. I've put in a request to fix and will let you all know.  When it's fixed, you should be able to download a correct version, but until then just skip past the character list and glossary to hear the last chapter!

01 August 2019

Speaking of Stray...

Audiobooks are quite a process - listening, noting errors, going through a correction round, making those funny square-shaped covers...but here we are at the end of the first stage of a long road!

Thanks to narrator Stephanie Macfie, who fearlessly took on a thousand neologisms, Stray is now out at a whole bunch of different audiobook distributors, including:

Check your favourite distributor to see if it's there.

It should also be available through Overdrive, if you have a library looking for something new!

Hope you all like it.  Next stop, Lab Rat One!

19 June 2019

That time I was reincarnated...

I've been tracking my reading on Goodreads since 2010, with a peak of 159 books in 2011 (I was having a big Rex Stout binge), but halfway through this year Goodreads tells me I've read a grand total of four books.

Now, the site has never captured all my reading, since it's very much focused on traditionally published media (by that I'm not talking about self-published or not - I mean the reading of things that have ISBNs or ASINs or things that there's some kind of formal system of indexing).  I've never tried to track the webcomics I read, or even more formal 'Western' comics, let alone the volume of illicitly translated manga/manhua I tend to read.

Earlier this year, the reading of webtoons led me to a translation site of the vast reams of web novels that often form the basis of webtoons.  These are almost all Chinese, Japanese and Korean language stories that aren't available in English (and thus the translation site exists in a legal shadowland in much the same way as fan translations of manga).  These translations are practically the only stories I've been reading since February.

As the title of this post indicates, reincarnation is the hot trope in web novels at the moment (and for the last few years), combining neatly with the other hot trope, isekai (other world) stories.  Many of these are fantastically indulgent power fantasies, but that's okay, I like fantastically indulgent power fantasies.  Better still, not all of these power fantasies feature your Standard Ordinary Guy Lead.

The three countries these stories are sourced from do have some distinct variants (at least in the stories I read - never underestimate the sheer variety of stories out there).

The Korean stories I read tend to fall into two categories.  Girls who pull fantastic derp faces while lying to mystical creatures who have strayed into modern Korea, and guys in some kind of gaming environment becoming supremely powerful and looking incredibly cool while being underestimated.  [I like zero to hero stories like this so long as they don't turn into harem stories.]

Half of the Japanese stories I've been reading are "I've been reincarnated into an Otome game, and I'm the villain!".  [An Otome game is a story-focused romance game aimed at girls.]  The web novels almost always have the 'villain' trying to avoid the execution waiting at the end of the game through good deeds, while somehow failing to realise that she's made all the people she expects to be her enemies absolutely adore her.  But there are quite a few variants - one where the would-be villainess embraces her role (probably in attempt to avoid the love interest being executed in her place).  The other half are straight isekai or reincarnation (transported or reborn into another world that's not an Otome game).  A good third of these are homages to Japanese cooking, where earnest Japanese strays introduce deprived other worlds to things like spices, and not drowning your food in oil, and other basics of cooking.  Being reborn into your own past and attempting to save the lives of soon to be murdered family members is another common one (Lady Baby being an amusing entry here).  But there's some wild variants - the girl with the magic bear suit, the girl who became insanely powerful killing level 1 slimes, and wildest of all, the girl who saves the magical kingdom by hiring mercenaries from her own world and taking down those dragons with tanks - while wearing a gothic lolita princess dress.

But it's really the Chinese reincarnation stories where I've spending most of my time.  Not least because these are frequently 1000 to 2000 chapter stories, but also because many of these stories fulfil my yen for overpowered female mages (in a sub-genre called 'Cultivation' stories).  I rarely make it to the end of any of these stories, not least because they're often not fully translated, or are still on-going, but I enjoy reading them until I can't take the power ups any more.  They take your traditional zero to hero story, focus it around a female character, and add lashings of slapping, family politics, coughing up blood (a sign of fury/chagrin), epic beat-downs, ruthless pragmatism, and fifty servings of revenge (both hot and cold).

Not all of the things I've been reading are magical power fantasies, however.  "To be a virtuous wife" by Yue Xia Die Ying is this amazingly languorous story about a very lazy 'reincarnee', and is also one of the most nuanced 'tell it in the spaces around the words' stories I've ever read.  If you want to read a story about the heights of formality and restraint, this one's for you.  And there's a series of stories which starts off with a detective and a forensic pathologist reborn as two of three sisters (which, amazingly, have actual endings to the stories, even if they're all interlinked).

If I had one negative for the Chinese sub-set of these stories is that most of these girls are thirteen to fifteen years old (not counting their reincarnated souls), and are considered 'too old' if they hit seventeen unmarried.

Anyway, that's how I've been spending my reading time.  Still working on Tangleways - slow going because it's such a damn complex world and I struggle to turn infodump into story flow.  And I think I'm going to have to go straight into book 3 of Trifold once I finish Tangleways, rather than hop back to Singularity because it's super hard to keep all the details this world in my head.

[Also coming up to a major anticipated game release, which will significantly impede writing progress for a few weeks.]

09 May 2019

Giveaway winner

The winner of the 15,000 stars giveaway is Thumpaholden.  Please email me at mail@andreakhost.com to select your prize!

24 March 2019

15,000 Stars

I first published The Silence of Medair and Stained Glass Monsters in December of 2010.  Since I had a backlog of written books, I've published more than one a year since then.  [Things sure have slowed down once I got back to first drafts, though!]

In 2012 I celebrated reaching 1,000 Stars on Goodreads, and 2014 marked 5,000 Stars.  Now, in 2019, we've reached 15,000 individual ratings on Goodreads (note: not all of these indicate read books - Goodreads lets people rate books that aren't even out yet, and there's a small percentage of everyone's ratings which are empty ratings like that).

To celebrate 15,000 stars, I'll offer a few options:
  • A signed copy of any one of my books.
  • Three unsigned copies of any of my books (actually cheaper for me, heh).
  • A chance to read one of the partials listed on the 5,000 Stars post.  [Sure to be frustrating to the reader.]
  • A chance to read the first chapter of Tangleways.
  • A copy of each of the Touchstone audiobooks when they're released (this will take some considerable time, as there's a couple of months of production involved in each).
Anyway, it's been a ride.  I'm sure I could have more stars if I had a faster writing schedule, and actually did some promo, but this relaxed writing stories and sharing them when they're done is pretty ideal for me.  Glad for all of you coming along with me!

To enter, just comment below.  [Competition closes end of April.]

16 February 2019

Question re audiobook timing

So we're gearing up to actual audiobook production on Stray, and I thought I'd check in with you all as to a timing preference.

Would you prefer audiobooks to be released as they're finalised (months apart), a week or two apart, or all at once?


03 January 2019

Still progressing toward audiobooks

Just a quick update on this, since I know some of you are hanging out for the Touchstone audiobooks.  I'm still saving up for them (I need to save up all the money first, since I don't want to risk needing to change narrators between books).  I am hoping to shift to hiring someone around the middle of the year.

Sadly the Australian dollar is very low at the moment, which means if I go with an overseas producer it will cost quite a bit more than originally expected.  Still, since I want an Australian voice for the narration, I'm looking at local companies first to see if any of them are viable.

02 January 2019

A new year!

I hope it's a happy one for you all.

I'll try to post more frequently this year - I cut myself off last year in order to concentrate on finishing Starfighter, but that turned into way too many months of silence.

I'm currently working on Chapter 1 of Tangleways.  To prepare, I listened to Pyramids twice using Google books text to speak (so convenient).  The Trifold series is such a deep and complex world that even my glossary isn't enough and I will probably listen to Pyramids a few more times over the next couple of months.  Fortunately I really enjoyed listening to it - I think it's probably the best book I've ever written (though I will try to surpass it, of course).

Tangleways brings a greater focus on Eluned, with far fewer chapters from Rian's point of view.  It might even technically count as young adult.

Other than my slow-progress writing, I am reading a lot of manga and watching a bunch of anime.  I haven't really followed anime for a few years, but I'm in the mood for it at the moment, so having a bit of a glom.

Playing Subnautica, which is good, but I'm constantly in need of precious metals. :/

09 December 2018

New release - The Starfighter Invitation

The only thing bigger than the world's first full virtual reality game is the mystery surrounding its origins.  Who is behind Ryzonart Games?  How was such a huge advance in technology achieved?

Taia de Haas loves having her own virtual spaceship, and wants nothing more than to visit every planet in the solar system.  But she cannot ignore the question of whether such a magnificent gift comes with strings attached.  Is the game a trick, a trap, a subtle invasion?  Or an opportunity to step up and fight for her own planet?

Caught in a tangle of riddles and lies, Taia can't resist trying to win answers from Ryzonart's mysterious administrators.  But will finding the truth cost her the Singularity Game?

About the book

This is a story that began life as "Snug Ship" which is a name that I liked a lot (not least because it was easy to fit on a book cover!), but didn't exactly telegraph what kind of story to expect.  It wasn't until late in the development of the story that I decided to change to The Starfighter Invitation - not because I don't like the final title, but because I felt it telegraphed perhaps a little too much.

This was also a book that took me a long time to write - nearly two years - which I can only blame on 'research'.  To write a story about MMOs (massively multiplayer online roleplaying games) I felt it necessary to refresh my memory of MMOs, and so I reactivated my Final Fantasy XIV account.

Pictured is my character (Rennyn).  Although there is some pointlessly revealing clothing, one of the things I really appreciate about FFXIV is the wealth of clothing options that don't involve chainmail bikinis.

In terms of writing speed, that was a mistake.  FFXIV is a beautiful game (with a lot more plot than the usual MMO), but like all MMOs it's designed to be played and played and played.  There is no end, there is just a timesuck of enormous proportions.  Eventually (admittedly after I'd levelled all the crafts to the current max level) I decided the only thing to do was quit cold turkey, and so I logged out one day and never logged in again (though I do intend to pick it up when the new expansion comes out around June).

The Starfighter Invitation covers something of the experience of playing an MMO, while adding true virtual reality to the mix.  The experience of virtual reality is definitely a topic that opens up exploration into the self you present and the self that you feel that you are.  I also spent a lot of time thinking through narrative structure, since I was building the story along the common experiences of an MMO player.  I'm not sure the way I approached the structure will work for everyone, but much of it will certainly be recognisable to MMO fans.

I also spent some time getting into current gaming culture so that I wasn't using completely outdated slang, and now regularly watched Twitch and YouTube as a result.  I don't stream myself, however, as my internet connection is not currently up to it.

The Singularity Game series is an ongoing one, and I'll be swapping off writing it with The Trifold Age, so next up will be Tangleways (finally!).  I would very much like to get Tangleways out in late 2019, but my writing speed has definitely dropped, so I will make no guarantees.

I hope you enjoy meeting Taia (and Dio, who is one of my favourite characters ever).  See you in-game.

Links

These are the currently-available links.  I will add to them as further links (including the trade paperback) become active.

16 June 2018

Hey, an interview

Here's an interview with me over at Pine Reads Review!

On the writing front, still working on Snug Ship.  Everyone's deep in the bowels of a massive wrecked spaceship, trying to decide if virtual reality is all that fun after all.

Snug Ship has a slightly different take on the privacy concerns that Stray looked into - I think whenever you do some kind of connected future-tech you can't avoid privacy concerns.

I might - might - get a first draft done by the end of June.  Then it'll be editing.  I'm at least confident that it'll be out this year, anyway!  Then I'll be able to get on to working on Tangleways, which I'm really looking forward to.

22 March 2018

Long-term plans for audiobooks

Audiobooks have been a not-infrequent request (particularly of the Touchstone Trilogy).  Smashwords has come out with a new audiobook model that seems accessible for Australians, and not too onerous for me to put together.  It's a big initial outlay of money, so I'll be saving up for it, but now have it on my more immediate to-do list (hopefully I'll get some tax back in July to fund at least the first book).

On the writing front, still plugging away with Snug Ship.  This is not a particularly long book, but it seems determined to progress slowly.

You'll notice the blog has been particularly quiet, and this is in part because I've been determined to get the first draft done (maybe six chapters to go [forty down - they're short chapters]), and have cut down drastically on other writing, gaming, etc.  I won't try to set a release date, since my estimates have been invariably wrong so far, but the end is at least in sight.

I like Snug Ship quite a lot, but it abandons some traditional structure concepts, so I'm not sure it will please everyone.

[I've been thinking about the concept of Chekov's Gun a fair bit, and how I prefer to make that gun barely noticeable, or leave it out altogether.  Sometimes the gun is necessary on that mantelpiece, and other times it spoils a story for me.]

Glitches

Note that the last chapter of the audiobook is currently appearing after the glossary and character list. I've put in a request to fix a...