The Falcon of Imenotash has gone live! This novella (just shy of 50,000 words) takes place in a fantasy realm that I envisioned as more like the ancient Roman Empire than anything medieval. However, you let your imagination take hold, because the time really doesn't matter.
The story begins with a provincial queen answering the emperor's summons. We watch Aridis through the eyes of her loyal captain, Edan. Resented and dismissed by the other kings of the conquered nations within the empire, she endures their contempt and petty cruelties with stoic grace.
The emperor commands that she wed and gives her the grace of a short period in which to choose a husband before having the choice made for her. Aridis quickly evaluates her options and proposes to Edan, who is just as startled by his attraction to his queen as she is to her attraction to him. For the first time, they see each other as man and woman, rather than as queen and captain.
They marry in a ceremony not even the emperor can dissolve, due to the mysterious powers held by the monk who performs the ceremony. Incensed by Aridis' quick and irrevocable action, the emperor exacts his revenge by confining Aridis and Edan within the imperial compound until she bears a son which the emperor intends to adopt as his heir.
Confinement, degradation, and humiliation contribute to Aridis' failing health until the emperor sees no choice but to release her to return home--under the watchful eyes of his guard. On the journey, Aridis and Edan escape. The emperor pursues. And there's a showdown in Imenotash.
I'll let you read the rest. Take advantage of the $0.99 launch price which will only last through May 31. The price goes up on June 1.
My younger son graduates from high school today. It's been a rough four years. Join me in wishing my boy a happy graduation and success in his future endeavors.
Author: "Hey, Cindy, I've got another manuscript ready. Are you interested in editing?"
Editor: "Sure. Send it on over."
A week later, the manuscript for The Falcon of Imenotash returned with edits and the following comments from the editor: "Several of the comments were just my observations at different points in the story... like when Aridis turned into a leopard! I wasn't expecting that, so WOW! that was exciting. And when I stopped for the day, I indicated that it was hard to do so since I was enjoying the story so much. ... I love the characters and the plot line. ... simply magnificent! I did not want the story to end."
As an editor myself, I cannot often say that I have such an enthusiastic reaction to a manuscript. As an author, I don't often get such an enthusiastic reaction from readers. So, yipperdoo, this makes me giddy.
The upshot of this is that The Falcon of Imenotash will go live a week earlier than originally anticipated. The launch price remains at $0.99; but, the launch period has been reduced by a week and will end on May 31. Order your copy now.
This delightful news segues into a scenario that many, if not all of us, have dealt with: a new doctor. Our family doctor closed her small practice, thereby obliging all her patients to find new healthcare providers. By the way, I dislike that term, healthcare provider. To make a long story just a little longer, I found a new doctor. It wasn't pretty.
Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I generally avoid the medical profession as though they carried the plague. If I feel the need to see a physician, you know something's really wrong. Otherwise, I subscribe to the notion that it ain't broke and there ain't no need to fix it.
So, the visit to the new doctor ended up with three practically back-to-back follow-up appointments to be poked, prodded, violated, and robbed of my dignity. That doesn't include the "You need to lose a few pounds" comment. Really? Apparently, I'm too stupid to realize I'm fat. That was yesterday. I'm still fuming. I maintain that the medical profession treats women with contempt. I get more compassion and understanding from our veterinarians.
So, the new exercise regimen began today. I walked a mile. It took around 20 minutes. I sustained an elevated heartbeat the entire time. With consistent effort, I'll be able to walk four miles in an hour... eventually. I did it before and refuse to accept that I cannot do it again. I'll research natural/herbal remedies to treat my aches and pains. With luck, the exercise and herbal remedies will raise my metabolism, reduce my weight, and improve my general health.
Hey, it can't hurt, right?
Well, it's finished... or nearly so. I finished writing the story, performed a quick self-edit and revision, and handed the manuscript to a professional editor because I do try to practice what I preach.
The "it" is The Falcon of Imenotash, a 45,000-word fantasy romance which arose from a an idea sparked by a movie. It's not fan fiction, so get that out of your head. The story focuses on a corrupt, all-powerful emperor, an honorable warrior pushed beyond his limits, and a woman grasping for freedom. In my mind's eye, the background resembles the Roman or Byzantine Empires, so you can also forget the typical and ubiquitous medieval background that fantasy seems to demand with consistent popularity.
The word count may change, depending upon the extent of the revisions needed to whip this thing into shape so it's fit for public viewing. And, yes, it has mature content; however, the explicit scenes aren't as frequent as in many of my other books. There's more emphasis on other aspects of the relationship and action. The launch price will be $0.99 and last for a week.
The sole intent of this blog entry, however, is not to sell the book. I drafted a blog this morning for a client on the topic of pricing integrity. The gist of the blog, interestingly enough, mirrored my own professional blog posted on LinkedIn. The coincidence was neither planned nor intended. However, the message echoes something my husband likes to say: "You can have two of the three: good, fast, or cheap." That means:
Fixation on price devalues the commodity or service being sold by setting up unreasonable expectations. Amateurs focus on price, not value.
It's easy to spot an amateur, from buyers with unrealistic (90,000 words in 30 days) to unreasonable ($50 for 100,000 words) expectations to the paranoid (signing an NDA to prevent the ghostwriter from stealing the client's idea) to the unjustified (this idea will be a bestseller). Let's not forget the impatient: "I need to get this book written now, but I can't afford it. So, will you do it cheaply?"
I do my best to educate them. Unfortunately, it seldom works.
I went through this recently. The potential client wanted a book written and delivered within 30 days. I bid on the project and stated that the 30-day deadline constrained the length of the document that could be written, edited, revised, and formatted within that time, especially considering that I had some personal obligations which would occupy my attention and reduce productivity during the last 10 days of the month. She asked me to reduce my bid by the cost of 10 days of production.
Ain't gonna happen. The bid encompassed what I would guarantee to deliver within that time span and was based on the word count of the document, not the time to deliver it.
Needless to say, I haven't heard back from that potential client. If she wants to knock a third off the price I quoted, she'll still find vendors more than happy to produce content for that. There's always someone willing to work cheaply. The question becomes whether you're that someone who wants to build a reputation as the cheap service provider.
In the movie Wall Street, greed is good. In writing fiction, stereotypes fill an important role. Enter the word "stereotypes" in Google and you'll be blasted with a long, long list of articles decrying the negative influence of stereotypes. However, every writer uses them, consciously or not, because they summarize volumes of description and provide a general frame of reference.
The fact is, many stereotypes have a kernel of truth.
A reviewer of one of my books accused the story of relying upon every negative stereotype for some of the characters. However, what that reviewer doesn't know is that the characters in question are based upon actual experience and real people who conform to that stereotype. The reviewer also neglects to mention the prominent presence of characters in that book who defy the stereotypes.
An blog published by Nova Southeastern University by Dr. Donovan A. McFarlane confirms that kernel of truth upon which stereotypes are built: "In fact, what many people hold as stereotypes sometimes prove to be social experiences despite them being generalized across entire groups or populations."
Cogito's Thoughts associate stereotyping with "the ability to notice and extrapolate patterns in seemingly unpredictable and inconsistent chaos." In other words, stereotypes exhibit humanity's ability to generalize which proves useful in criminal profiling. The blog further states: "Social stereotypes are no different than those of the physical sciences that have evolved technological understanding… psychologists and sociologists do it. The difference though is the fact that you and I don’t have Ph.D.’s in the subject matter. That fact alone is what turns us from being taken seriously as objective scientists to being taken as bigots."
For instance, let's veer off the subject of people and jump over to stereotypes regarding dogs. According to an article published on October 10, 2016, in DogsBite.org, "There are at least 10 peer-reviewed studies published in medical science journals since 2009 that show a higher frequency of pit bull injuries than all other breeds of dogs in retrospective reviews of level I trauma centers. As of 2016, all major geographical regions in the U.S. are reporting these same findings as well: northwest, west, southwest, south, southeast, midwest and northeast."
Pit bull fans assert that their favorite breed is no more aggressive than any other breed. Indeed, they provide myriad examples of pit bulls protecting their families and gently interacting with family members. The media have used such statistics to build a fearsome stereotype that has led municipal governments across the USA to ban the breed, levy heightened restrictions and obligations on people who own pit bulls, and require categorization of any dog with a blocky head and phenotype that resembles a pit bull as a pit bull.
People accept stereotypes and prejudices when they conform to their own preconceived notions and biases. Stereotypes become problematic when they are assumed correct and complete without testing for validity. The complexity of humanity will always produce individuals who break stereotypes, who rise above them, and who will never fit the generalizations. Psychologist Steve DeBerry concurs: "The notion of stereotypes have taken a bad rap lately, but they do exist and are a valid construct. The mistake people make is in relying only on the stereotype and not including other information." DeBerry also warns that people "must also pay attention to the source of the stereotype...from whom or where it is coming from."
One cannot deny that stereotypes may and have been used in derogatory fashion to dehumanize and castigate entire groups of people by those to whom such groups appear a threat. Fears about one's safety, prosperity, purity, or superiority cater to using stereotypes that subjugate entire groups of people.
Stereotypes assist in making quick judgments when one has little time to acquire sufficient information to form an educated opinion. The caution comes when, given the time, we do not test those opinions for validity and alter our understanding based on that additional information.
Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.