Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sexual content is not just for the romance genre

I recently had a reader complain about the sexual content in one of my novels. The person declared that he did not want to read romance or erotica. I can understand that, but I don’t write in those genres. If I were to market my novels as romance I would likely get many complaints about not focusing on love enough.

The offense I caused this reader got me to thinking about how self publishing can differ from traditional publishing. Publishers define genres, acquire content that fits criteria or shape it to their criteria, and then place round peg products into round peg holes. Readers learn to expect certain things. Epic fantasy, the genre I write in, was for a long time not a place for bumping uglies. Although I love this genre, I had always imagined that it would be even more fun and meaningful if its characters had a more realistic edge and were allowed to openly indulge in romantic urges.

When I started writing in the late 1990s I had conceived of myself as being published by a publisher, so I kept the content within some of the boundaries I was familiar with from commercially produced fantasy fiction. I worried that if I went too far, a potential publisher would tell me to change things. And trust me the thought of anyone telling me to change something in my novels is anathema to me. Even so, my first four novels were decidedly PG-13. I included sexual situations and love scenes but wrote them politely.

Then in 2004 I discovered the fantasy of George R.R. Martin and was exceedingly impressed, apparently along with millions of other readers. I loved the huge cast of characters, the battles, the intrigue, the magic, but I was also delighted to discover an epic fantasy not hobbled by ridiculous Victorian notions about keeping everyone’s pants up. Epic fantasy had matured, moved out of the house, and was going to live with her boyfriend if she wanted to. Feeling quite liberated, I decided to write my next novels exactly how I wanted to without playing chaperone to my sexual content.

When I do love or sex scenes, my phrasing has become more graphic and my sexual situations are a bit more frequent. I very much enjoy writing my stories this way. I write epics in which years pass in the lives of characters and it would seem quite strange if none of them had love interests or the occasional hook up between battles. Would it even be reasonable to portray a young man who is good looking, rich, and frequently facing death as NOT interested in the advances of women?

Then there are literary reasons for giving characters sex lives. It adds intensity to their lives and hopefully helps readers relate to them and understand their motivations better. For example, of course a hero wants to save people because it’s the right thing to do, but he especially wants to save his lover and mother of his child. Or how about this scenario? Of course that young princess hates the thought of an arranged marriage, and now that exciting outlaw who just kidnapped her would be a great way to get back at daddy. Now that’s much more interesting, at least to me.

But now I return to my marketing quandary. How do I present my fantasy novels to readers? I don’t think I’m romantic or sexy enough to claim the label romance and certainly not erotica. But when I use the label epic fantasy, apparently some people seem to think nookie is off limits, or at best off stage. I understand that some readers never want sex in their books, but how am I supposed to convey in my marketing that my writing is inspired by the full range of human emotions and experiences?

I realize I’ll never please everyone. I never became a writer shaped by the requirements of a product line developed by an outside company. I’m an independent writer self publishing her novels. They are exactly the way I want them to be, but I admittedly struggle with how to package and present them to readers. I’m sure I’m not alone among indie writers with this problem. I guess I’ll just have to go along upsetting the occasional reader who doesn’t want chocolate in his peanut butter. As a writer, I can at least be satisfied that I am provoking strong reactions. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Pictures of my garden

My 7-month-old German Shepherd dog Donna (aka the Wild Hog) patrols the garden that it is her duty to guard from raccoons, rabbits, deer, and any and all nonspecific varmints. She's in training this season because she's just a pup. She tears up land and plants but has kept a family of raccoons at bay this summer.
It's fashionable these days to publish pictures of the food you're growing at home. I've been gardening for several years with many successes and many failures. This year has been especially challenging because of the drought, but with a lot of watering, I'm managing to get a crop. In the picture at the top you can see the line where the water reaches and where the drought has baked brown the land. These pictures are from July 19th so things are bigger and bushier today. We even got a 1/2 inch of rain this week that was a small but welcome mercy. 

It may not look like much is going on but this picture shows growing: corn, beans, butternut squash, pumpkins and a peach tree in the background.

Another view showing the cucumber and zucchini area. 
Another view of the corn interplanted with pumpkins and beans in a traditional Three Sisters grouping. Most of the ground cover is clover. I till my soil only in strategic spots to plant seeds, so I mostly let clover, grass, and weeds grow right along with everything. Keeping the turf intact is very important for nurturing fertility and holding moisture in the ground. Plus it's way prettier than bare dirt and I don't do much weeding. 

This patch shows from left to right: Carrots I let go to seed from last year. Lettuce going to seed, but I am still eating the leaves. I just go pick them whenever I need a salad or lettuce for my sandwiches. Growing it amid weeds and seeding carrots I think has helped protect it from the heat and kept it from getting bitter. Then there is a patch of carrots. They're hard to see. They are tucked up against the tall brown rye that grew this spring. A few potato plants are on the other side of the rye. I know this looks like a mess but I've already harvested countless salads out of this patch and will get many carrots and potatoes in the fall. 
Here comes Donna through the corn. 
Due to early hot spring weather followed by freezes fruit crops were destroyed in my area, but I shepherded a few peaches through the nastiness this spring.

I don't have a good picture right now of my many tomatoes and potatoes and peppers growing. Plus I put in 4 apple trees along the fence this spring. 

Feel free to comment and post links to pictures of your garden. It's more important than ever that people start growing as much food as possible due to the low quality food available at the supermarket and the ever rising prices.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rys Rising gets 5 star review at Amazon UK

My sincerest thanks to the reader who gave ALL of my fantasy novels 5 star reviews in the Amazon UK Kindle store. Apparently this brilliant person is a true fan of my work. Hopefully these reviews will help more readers in the United Kingdom give my fantasy fiction a try. I've had readers in this homeland of the English language for years, back from the days when I could only sell at my website.

Kindle user Avid Reader said of Rys Rising:

"Tracy Falbe is a fabulous writer; she has a way of making the characters real to the reader."

Thank you so much and I'm so glad you've enjoyed my novels. My characters feel very real in my heart and mind too.

You can download Rys Rising: Book I for free right here.

Or get it at the UK Kindle store.

Also, UK readers can get a paperback copy.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Signed paperback copy of Rys Rising by Tracy Falbe up for bid on ebay

Before I announced the availability of the Rys Rising paperback at Amazon and in Europe, I naturally had to order a proof copy to make sure that the paperback looked good in person. It did. This means that I have a lovely Rys Rising paperback in my possession, so I have listed it on ebay as a copy signed by the author.

Because Rys Rising is produced by print-on-demand services wherever you order it, bidding on my auction is the only way to get a signed copy.

I've been selling on ebay for years and have a good feedback rating. This signed copy of Rys Rising ships within the United States. So if you're a fan of mine and would like a signed book by me, visit ebay and buy it. The buy it now price of $15 reflects its actual retail price. If you want to start the auction, bidding starts at a discounted price of $12.

Visit the signed Rys Rising ebay listing.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

New Release! Chapters 1 and 2 of The Goddess Queen fantasy audiobook

You can now start listening to The Goddess Queen audiobook.
Episode 1 of The Goddess Queen fantasy audiobook.

Chapter 1 Fierce Loss

Chapter 2 The Proving Ground


You will recieve 2 mp3 files. Each is about 30 minutes.

In Chapter 1 Fierce Loss Dreibrand grapples with the pressures of his impending fatherhood.

In Chapter 2 The Proving Ground Dreibrand joins King Taischek on a royal hunt and Shan recklessly draws out the Kezanada.

Checkout with your Credit Card or use Paypal. Instant download provided by Digital Delivery App.

Last night I added a new product to my portfolio. I have begun production of The Goddess Queen: The Rys Chronicles Book II as an audiobook. This epic fantasy continues the saga begun in Union of Renegades. Whether you've read the free ebook or listened to the audio version of Union of Renegades, you now have a new format choice for continuing the story as I continue to increase my audio selections.

Because audio is the most expensive to produce, I have to pay for recording in installments. Therefore I will be releasing monthly episodes of The Goddess Queen in mp3 format. Each episode will be approximately one hour of audio and cost $1.50. Eventually the entire novel will be recorded and then I can assemble the episodes into a complete audiobook and distribute it more widely into Audible and iTunes.

Purchasing the episodes as they come out will greatly assist me in financing this project. I have planned for the release of 15 episodes, which at $1.50 each will equal a typical pricepoint for a full length audiobook.

The narrator reading The Goddess Queen is Andrew Wetmore. He is working my fantasy novel into his busy schedule as a side job. Right now he's working on software tutorials and he's liking having some fiction on his plate. He's a writer, actor, and voice talent. His rich voice is very inviting and easy to listen to.

Episode 1 of The Goddess Queen fantasy audiobook.

Chapter 1 Fierce Loss

Chapter 2 The Proving Ground


You will recieve 2 mp3 files. Each is about 30 minutes.

In Chapter 1 Fierce Loss Dreibrand grapples with the pressures of his impending fatherhood.

In Chapter 2 The Proving Ground Dreibrand joins King Taischek on a royal hunt and Shan recklessly draws out the Kezanada.

Checkout with your Credit Card or use Paypal. Instant download provided by Digital Delivery App.
See more details about this audiobook at Brave Luck Books.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Goddess Queen audiobook is happening!

Listeners of the Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I audiobook will be pleased to hear that I am producing the next novel The Goddess Queen as an audiobook.

I am financing production of the recording of The Goddess Queen audiobook in installments so my budget can gradually absorb the cost. This means I will be releasing the novel in two-chapter episodes. Each episode will be $1.50 to download the mp3 files. Each episode will be about one hour of audio, more or less due to variations in chapter length.

Eventually the entire novel will be recorded and I will be able to release it as a complete audiobook at Audible and iTunes.

I will release the first two chapters on Thursday July 19th.

Please follow this blog or go to The Goddess Queen audiobook page and join my readers' list so you can be notified when the audio is available.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Excellent book: Spinning Straw into Gold by Joan Gould

Spinning Straw into Gold: What Fairy Tales Reveal About the Transformations in a Woman's Life
This marvelous book caught my eye because of its title, Spinning Straw into Gold. I instantly recognized the reference to Rumpelstiltskin, one of my favorite fairy tales. I was exceedingly impressed with the thoughtful research and insights of the author Joan Gould that I discovered inside.

Gould illustrates and examines the themes of female transformations and burdens throughout her life as dramatized in fairy tales. I've always loved fairy tales and of course recognized some of the messages about growing up, but I now have a much more profound appreciation and understanding of my own life thanks to Gould.

Her guiding point was that women are ruled by biological transformations that have huge impacts on their lives. The girl matures into a woman. A transformation. The young woman enters a sexual time. Another transformation. The woman bears children. A startling physical transformation. The woman grows old and loses fertility, and transforms into the final stage of life.

Many fairy tales and popular stories address the girl to sexual woman stages because this is the fun and sexy part. But from Gould I learned to think more deeply about the stages of matron and crone. I especially liked her interpretation of the Seal Wife stories. In the Seal Wife, a fisherman catches a seal and brings her on shore. He takes her seal skin and makes her a woman. He hides the seal skin because without it she cannot return to the sea. She is trapped on land with him and becomes his wife and the mother of his children. But one day she finds her seal skin, puts it on, and returns to the sea. The story connects with the general longing of mothers to escape their responsibilities and return to the freedoms lost to marriage and motherhood. Or it can represent the mother who recalls her former self and resumes some of her interests beyond the rigors of diapers and soccer practices.

I also liked Gould's words on the subject of old age. She explained how in earlier days most people did not live long enough to become elderly, so an old woman was considered to have some kind of strange magic keeping her alive. Now that old age is much more common, Gould said that it was a great gift of life for her free of the daily demands of nurturing the next generation as the matron must do.

I highly recommend Spinning Straw into Gold for people who like fairy tales and who really like to explore the deeper realities of life.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Save 18 percent on Rys Rising hardcovers or paperbacks at Lulu

Use code CAUGHT to save 18 percent off purchases at Lulu this week.

Through Friday July 13th, any of my readers interested in obtaining either hardcover or paperback copies of the first three novels of my Rys Rysing series can use the code CAUGHT when checking out to save 18 percent off the cover price. Paperbacks are priced at $15 and hardcovers are $24 plus shipping.

Available titles at the print-on-demand service Lulu are:

Rys Rising: Book I
Savage Storm: Rys Rising Book II
New Religion: Rys Rising Book III

You can browse all these titles at my Lulu page.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Manuscript of Love Lost: Rys Rising Book IV is completely written

Late on July 3rd I wrote the final words of Love Lost. This completed a writing adventure that began in late 2003 when I wrote the first chapters of Rys Rising. Close to nine years later the epic is finished despite substantial interludes of life happening when I couldn't work on it at all.

Love Lost marks my completion of writing eight novels. The other seven novels total 1.2 million words of narrative that I have written and published. I don't know what kind of achievement that is, but it is an achievement that I am proud of. I wish I could say that I cured a cancer or planted a forest, but for some unknown reason writing novels is what satisfies me on a mental and spiritual level. I need to organize the words into stories and channel characters from my imagination into the imagination of other readers.

Authoring two fantasy series may be an irrational pursuit but it has provided a needed outlet for my creative energy for most of my adult life. I'm deeply grateful and amazed by the kind comments I have gotten from readers over the years. Although I'd write novels even if the whole world insisted I should not do it, I have always been significantly boosted by the fact that some people like my fiction.

I'll be working hard the next few months editing and proofreading the novel. I am tentatively planning to publish it in October.

Passages from the manuscript that I am fond of:

Dacian walked along the line of prisoners. Their hopeless fear bombarded his sensitive mind. The terror that his power inspired was both repugnant and pleasing. Repugnant because he longed for love, yet pleasing because their fear proved the totality of his power.


Cruce walked the rampart overlooking the square. This was the place from which estate class people watched the Grand Lumin's Poteny celebrations, and now Cruce was drawing a crowd. He waved to the people and drew a few cheers from the pilgrim sections. Most of them were likely from Kahtep or the frontier and were intimately familiar with his efforts to defend them.

"Why are we up here?" Dayd asked.

"I have nothing to hide," Cruce said. "The people won't be able to accuse me of using sneaky underhanded tactics."

Dayd grasped that he was trying to influence public opinion for whatever it was worth, but she doubted the people would understand the nuances of the situation. "Cruce, most people will have no idea how our rivals have wronged us. They may not even care," she complained.

"I know, but they'll soon know exactly what will happen when I am unhappy with someone. They'll see that the Chenomets are strong. People like strength," Cruce explained.


Loxane noticed how Demeda attracted more attention. Beaming a smile, Demeda waved to the poeple, carefully oblivious to Loxane's annoyance.

When the procession left the village and pulled ahead of the trailing crowd, Loxane said bluntly, "Why people say your name more?"

Demeda took a drink from her canteen. The day was warming up and she would need to keep her throat moist for her singing. She savored Loxane's disgruntled jealousy as she took her time replying.

"Perhaps if you did not slit so many throats they would love you better," Demeda said.

"I kill unbelievers," Loxane argued.

That Loxane was baffled amused Demeda, who doubted Loxane could actually understand her point. Kelsurs in general did not seem to be much bothered by killing and death. Such things were accepted like the setting sun or the moon going dark for a few days.


For a hard hitting and passionate fantasy epic told from many angles, start reading Rys Rising for free.