April 8th Update

So, this past week I began going through a compiled file of Ancient RuinsSpells of Old, and Halls of Power to edit it anew for the Ancient Dreams omnibus. Ignoring the author’s notes and the like, it came in at about 373,000 words, or well over 1,000 pages at even the more optimistic estimates of how many words fit on a page. The Word document I have open is over 670 pages long as well, which is a daunting project. This past week I managed to get through just over 90 pages… which isn’t fast enough. I’m going to have to pick up my pace this week.

Once I complete the editing, and add any sections I decide need to be in it (this is a revised and expanded edition, not just revised), I’m going to be sending it to an editor again. With his other scheduled projects, this means that he’s not going to be able to get the book back to me until the beginning of July, so at a bare minimum the compilation will not be out until mid-July. However, once I’ve got the book done, I can get properly started on Through the Fire.

Now… for a subject I’m somewhat hesitant to talk about, but I want to be honest. I’ve seen a number of people comment on me putting Lilith’s Shadow on the back burner, and I’d rather clear the air where it’s concerned. There are four reasons I’m moving on right now, in the order of their importance to me.

  • A year ago next month, I promised to do the current set of stories I had for Lilith’s Shadow, in the order I released Born a QueenMarin’s Codex, and Down with the Queen, then I was planning to move on to other stories like Through the Fire and Sisters of Radiance. Less than a week ago I changed my mind on Sisters of Radiance so that I can write the books I look forward to the most, but that’s beside the point.
  • For now, Lilith’s story is done. I exhausted the material I had planned in two books rather than three, as the material for the third book was completely destroyed by the events of Down with the Queen. I’ve said that her story is more open-ended than the others, and that’s true. I’ve come up with several ideas for subsequent books.
  • Writing in a semi-modern setting is exhausting for me. I find writing fantasy easy and freeing. For me it’s simple, and the story tends to just flow. Anything close to modern day, or even futuristic, is dozens of times more difficult for me to manage. I simply can’t keep it up for long periods of time.
  • Finally, and this is the reason I was most hesitant to talk about… Lilith’s Shadow simply hasn’t had the success that even the first book of Ancient Ruins had. In it’s first three months, Ancient Ruins sold more copies and was read more than Born a QueenDown with the Queen, and Marin’s Codex combined. Spells of Old and Halls of Power did even better. As much as I hate income even being part of why I make decisions, it’s a simple fact that I have to make a living.

With that out of the way… I’d like to share a piece of Diamond and Tyria by June Jenssen which she completed on Friday. I commissioned this piece as an eventual cover for a short story regarding the fate of Tyria’s church after the events of Halls of Power, but it’s even farther from coming about than the subsequent books of Lilith’s Shadow.

TyriaAndDiamondFinishedSmall

As much as some of you may not like hearing what I had to say up above, I promise that I’m not going to simply abandon any of my series. If it’s going to end, I’ll tell people that it’s over and I’m not coming back to it. That’s only happened for Sistina and Phynis’s story so far, and that still doesn’t mean that I couldn’t write for other characters in that world. We’ll see where things go in the future.

I hope everyone has a great week.

Sincerely,

Benjamin Medrano

5 thoughts on “April 8th Update

  1. Being an author is a harder job than people understand. You have to write about something you have a passion for if you want your readers to invest their emotions into your story. The hard part is, there might not be a huge audience for your passion’s tales, and if you can’t make enough money from your efforts, then why do it, especially if it might end up costing you money in the long run? So, even though I’d be most happy reading about Sistina, I understand that you’re done with that line.

    You have to write what’s good for you, and hope that we, the readers will be interested as well. Since you already have books on the market and can get a better idea of what will sell, and what won’t, go with the story that will be easiest for you to write, and also bring you the biggest payday, I’m sure I won’t be alone in stating, I’ll be reading it! 😊

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    1. Very true on how being an author is more difficult than many people think. I’m fortunate in that I’m not the sole source of income for my household, or I’d have to make much harder choices where writing is concerned. I’m also fortunate in that none of the books have lost money to date, though audiobooks are more of an open question.

      So, with all that in mind… I’m going to try to be honest with all of you readers, as well as to write the stories which inspire me. It’s a finicky balance, that. Worth it, though. I’ve come a long way in a little over a year.

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  2. I’m a pretty new reader of yours, so I figure I can give you my experience with your books. Of course, I’m just talking about my own experience, not everyone’s at large.

    To be 100% honest… The reason why I started reading your books is because of the “Halls of Power” cover. I know, it’s a super shallow reason, but its the truth. An imposing and absolutely glorious warrior angel in the lesbian fantasy book category? There’s no way I could say no to that.

    I did have “Ancient Ruins” in my wish list for a long time but I had never pulled the trigger before. The thing is, the description blurb didn’t catch my interest too much: Main character is a dungeon looking for love..? Not sure how I felt about that. I did plan on buying it someday, but it hadn’t occurred just yet. “Halls of Power” cover is actually the thing that got me to buy Ancient Ruins (although I did only see Halls of Power’s cover after reading Marin’s Codex description, which did actually appeal to me and might have pushed me to buy Ancient Ruins on its own).

    Anyhow, I found Ancient Ruins to be absolutely fantastic. It might have been another book’s cover that got me to buy the book, but its your excellent writing that kept me glued to the book from the start of its unique and interesting introduction to the very last page. Yes, there’s a ton of pretty dark things happening in the book like female elves getting handed over to orcs (I noticed stuff like that happened far less in book 2; readers outcry?), but personally that helped cement Kelvanis as being an absolutely terrifying force. Normally, in fiction evil nations tends to be “run-of-the-mill” evil, but Kelvanis is simply bone-chilling due to that. You actually got to see multiple time just how devastating their actions are…

    What makes it even more significant is that its a believable nation. In most fiction, the evil nations tends to be not believable: You routinely see them kill their own men at the tiniest slight (or no reasons at all, often enough) and be evil to its own member… But here? The Kelvanis have camaraderie with each other. Soldiers that failed but had good intentions are forgiven and sometime rewarded. Messengers carrying bad news don’t get executed. The terrifying Enforcers are friendly with each other, working in close unison like the “good guys” do. The Kelvanis also have to mind relations with other nations: they are strong and powerful, but they aren’t “take the world over” powerful and still have to deal with issues like limited supply or manpower. Kelvanis is a believable nation with believable people… which makes the fact that they are evil slaver bastards even more chilling.

    Without exageration, I’d say that the Kelvanis-Elven Nation wars is one of the best realized fantasy war I’ve ever read. Both sides have good actions and failures, the politics are engrossing, the people in them are interesting. Seeing the raid from the viewpoint of the raiders was also a good idea. Overall, it’s amazing and I absolutely adored it. The dungeon aspect of the book was also interesting: a bit less so to be frankly honest, but still good. I liked Systina in general and the growing aspect. What didn’t grab me much is the whole “Adventurers” thing: Compared to the Kelvanis-Elves conflict, the whole adventurers side plot didn’t interest me much. I did like seeing Systina’s reaction, but the whole adventurers thing didn’t do much for me. Stuff like Daniel’s adventures paled very badly in comparison to things like the hostage exchange. It’s not bad stuff per say, but it’s like comparing 10/10 parts with 6/10 ones instead for me.

    Anyway, back to the main subject. So far, I’ve only read the first two books: I felt I had to take a small break before going in to book 3. Why? Because they were so good that I don’t want to binge through them that quickly and be left with nothing as amazing on my to-read list. Weird logic I know, but that’s how I am. I’ll probably dive in book 3 soon anyway though: I’m feeling the urge to read more quite badly at this time…

    I decided to buy “Born a Queen” to read in that break time. Super hero stuff doesn’t appeal to me much (or current-day books for the most part), but I thought the Ancient Dreams books were so good that I had to at least give it a try. Result? Ehhh… I’m currently at the halfway point. It’s certainly written well and I appreciate that again, the villains are not comically evil. However, I can’t say I’m engrossed in it: unlike Ancient Ruins, there’s no big story hook to grab me yet. There’s villains probably going to do something nasty at some point but the reader doesn’t have information to piece anything together yet, and there’s Lilith and Gina falling in love, but that’s about it. As of 150 pages, there hasn’t been anything that made me feel “I have to read more!” It’s a pleasant enough read overall, but it doesn’t hold close to the same appeal as Ancient Ruins and Spells of Old did for me. Maybe it’s because I’m naturally biased against super hero settings though…

    From a “buy me” standpoint, Born a Queen doesn’t work too well in my opinion. The cover certainly doesn’t have the same instant appeal as Halls of Powers did (or Spells of Old, really)… Wait, for some reasons the cover of the book is completely different looking at my reader and the amazon page..? Did it get changed at some point and the Amazon page one is more recent? Anyway, the old (?) cover looked a bit more “amateurish”, not bad, but not striking. The new (?) cover is super pretty, but there’s a problem in my opinion:

    In the smaller version of the image (the one you’ll see unless you explicitely click on the book), you really don’t distinguish the flying heroine in the back. What you see is a rich-looking girl overlooking a city. It’s certainly appropriate for the book’s content: the problem is that it doesn’t tell you “This is a super hero story”. Despite being very pretty, the small version of the cover makes you think: “This is one of the thousands of current-day lesbian romance books”, and I’d expect that the book probably doesn’t get clicked if its not something a reader looks for especially.

    On the other hand, the product description tells little. Yes, this does explain that it is a super-hero story, but it doesn’t do much in telling you why you should be interested in this one instead of another one. It reads like a very standard super hero story and doesn’t tell much. Ancient Ruins had its own rare “main character is a dungeon” aspect (and a dryad on the cover, which is unique by itself), plus striking covers for following books which brought back attention to itself.

    Born a Queen doesn’t have that: It suffers from having a cover that doesn’t imply it’s a super hero story (so super hero fans might never click the book to actually see the full version of the cover which shows the heroine or the description blurb) , while having only a tiny description that doesn’t tell the viewer why they should buy this super hero book instead of another. Based on that, I’m not surprised that the Ancient Dreams book sold more. Regarding Marin’s Codex, I think it’s simply the fact that prequels tend to sell much less on average since the readers already know what will happen.

    Regarding the Audio books, I think that part of the issue might be that your books tends to have a ton of different characters in them. I listen to the occasional audio book and I would have the opportunity to listen to Halls of Power instead of reading it, but I’m feeling wary at the prospect. The thing is, it’s harder to keep track of who is speaking to who/about who when listening to audio books. I’m pretty sure I’d have problems keeping everyone straight while listening to the audio book: I feel that simpler books tends to work better as far as audio books are concerned. That might be just me, though, and I unfortunately have zero suggestions as to how to get your audio books to sell better. I think you aren’t the only one with that problem though: the vast majority of books in the “lesbian” category that have audio books only have the very first volume in audio book format (implying they didn’t sell well), and out of every book out there there’s a grand total of three series in the “lesbian fantasy or sci-fi” that have more than one audio volume (excluding yours). I think it’s unfortunately a pretty small market at the moment…

    Sorry about this gigantic post! I’m really looking forward to read the rest the your books (especially Halls of Power and Marin’s Codex) and I immensely enjoyed the ones I’ve read so far. Thank you for your great stories, and I’m looking forward to whatever else you feel like working on in the future! I wish you all the best.

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    1. Hello Ayra, and first off, I’m glad you’ve liked Ancient Ruins and Spells of Old so far! Yes, it is a wall of text post, but I don’t mind. I read all of it, but I’m just going to comment on a few things from it to keep things simple on my end. I need to get back to editing the Ancient Dreams omnibus here in a few minutes, anyway.

      First off, on being driven to read Ancient Ruins by the cover of Halls of Power? It isn’t silly. While plenty of people say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, that’s hogwash. Everyone judges books by their covers, and the cover of Halls of Power is one of my favorite art pieces. Born a Queen’s original cover was done by professional comic artists, but it was unfortunately too drab for a book cover in the end, which is why I had it replaced. That alone did wonders for the book on the whole.

      I fully take your point on Born a Queen as well. It was… different to write. In a lot of ways it was an origin story, and the book suffers in part from the fact I simply re-wrote an older story. It’s how I felt after writing it that influenced me to decide not to simply re-write/edit older drafts, but that I’d completely re-write them. Editing Ancient Ruins has also been interesting in showing me where my style might have diverged from where I started. (FYI, I reduced the amount of dark stuff in Spells of Old because I wasn’t in nearly as dark of a mental state when I wrote it, and because I didn’t feel the need to make a point on the subject anymore… plus the stuff with Diane and Tyria was there. It wasn’t fan outcry.)

      Finally, yeah, the audiobooks have lots of characters in them. I’m not sure I was entirely happy with my first narrator, the one who did Ancient Dreams, but Sarah has done a wonderful job of keeping the different characters distinct. I’ve liked her work quite a bit, and if a potential deal with a major audiobook producer falls through on Through the Fire, I’ll likely go back to Sarah for it.

      Now back to editing, and to chew on ways to complicate the story of Through the Fire. I’m really good at complicating things.

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      1. Thanks for the answer!

        By the way, I wasn’t asking for more dark stuff; it’s just that when reading both books in a row, I noticed there was a pretty marked difference between Ancient Ruins and Spells of Old on that aspect (while the rest was mostly consistent). Glad to hear you are in a less dark place!

        Yeah, “don’t judge a book by its cover” is true in concept: the cover really doesn’t tell you anything about the quality of the book itself… the problem is, there’s literally multiple thousands of books available at your finger tips in a place like Amazon. How does someone pick a book to try or at least investigate? Sure, there’s word of mouth and reviews, but that’s limited and often quite biased. If a book has a non-appealing cover, there’s a good chance it’s going to be simply scrolled over, no matter how amazing the book itself might be.

        I think I’ll try the audio sample for Halls of Power: I’ll see how it goes and decides there! I already have the digital “book” version of it, but if the audio version is relatively easy to follow and distinctive, I just might grab it too.

        Two thumbs up for the illustration in this post by the way.

        Best of luck with the omnibus editing and complicating Through the Fire!

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