Topic: Exile in Elsewhen

Come on guys, check out the new novel.  Oh and I've mastered the art of uploading pictures, and, per Kdot's suggestion, got a lot from Deviantart.  I try to make them relevant to what's going on.

Love you all,

Re: Exile in Elsewhen

heh... chapter  9 has put an end to me browsing from work (my boss can see my screen albeit from a distance)

3 (edited by Rachel Parsons 2019-06-06 23:22:15)

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Kdot, I thought of warning people but most are not quite that bad. While I have you on the horn--Dakota is mixed race and I'm having the devil of a time finding pictures of black female soldiers.  Any suggestions? Oh, and it doesn't really matter. The pictures are to get your attention. And they seem to have, in your case.

Re: Exile in Elsewhen

Rachel Parsons wrote:

not quite that bad.

"Bad" was about the last thing I thought. My boss would likely have agreed though he might have asked what it had to do with the sales report I was supposedly working on.

Images of Africain American women and women of colour in positions of strength can be hard to find. Best to just accept what you get or rewrite the scene

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I've already accepted that the pictures I download will not perfectly fit the scene. And this has a long tradition at least in science fiction even when the artist is working for the publisher of the story. It was either Galaxy or If that first published "Skylark Duquesne," a late member of the Skylark series published in the '60s or '70s. Turns out that, except for Earth, humans go naked in the universe. Well, except for the artist who drew a scene that was, in the story, naked but not in his rendition. So Dakota will be black and white, as I suppose is only right for a half-human, half-elfin.

And I'm glad you appreciate the pictures.

6 (edited by Rachel Parsons 2019-07-21 16:02:22)

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The Law of Attraction. I found a number of excellent photographs, some free, some cheap, one I'm deciding whether to purchase. It's free until my book becomes successful, then he wants $100 for it. Several of Dakota that are appropriate, a couple perfect for Rhiannon (actually several, but two, in particular, stand out--that's her!). Barbara is good, and there's even one that works for Heather. The only one now is Diane. The nearest one gives her a distinct nose when she has totally bland features. (Her looks were inspired by a makeup model I saw on TV. Utterly non-existent features. Her face a canvas for the makeup.)  Please, when giving me reviews, mention how great the pictures are. CJ, that might solve your problem of getting five comments in. Just praise the picture four times in a row. (That really looks like Rhiannon; yes, the sword is perfect; her hair could be longer, but looks good, that's just how I imagine her.  There, even gave you the comments.) And I'm sure there will be one awkward sentence or a missing punctuation mark to make up the rest.

7 (edited by Rachel Parsons 2019-07-21 16:05:50)

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Kot said, "My boss would likely have agreed though he might have asked what it had to do with the sales report I was supposedly working on."

Just tell him that sales have soared since using naked women to advertise the product. Perfect tie-in.

I changed Alcippe's picture anyway. I've found a couple that comes with permissions that seemed appropriate.

8 (edited by Rachel Parsons 2019-07-21 16:23:52)

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Gacela:  you asked me to take you step-by-step into what kind of novel I am writing in the Rhiannon series, as you are at a loss as to how to critique them. Think "Young Frankenstein."  YF was both a parodic send-up of the horror genre and a decent horror movie in its own right. It followed the tropes of the horror genre but made them funny at the same time.

The Exile series is like that. There are true fantasy tropes in it. Paranormal romance, descent and then reclaiming one's throne (princes do that all the time, why not a princess), and a quest for exoneration (Exile in Time.) Exile's End is a little different, more like Dorothy Sayers last Peter Wimsey book, where 90 % is their honeymoon (in the book's case, the wedding) and 10% is the mystery that he's supposed to be solving. It's probably the weakest of the series.

The present one has two plots converging and both protagonists have to work out their destinies. Another trope (To paraphrase, "They Might Be Giants," 'there are no masses in New Fairy.')

So it can be approached tropically, but there is a lot of humor there. I've been criticized by one potential publisher as writing humor that lands well but interferes with the serious side. (No examples, of course, were given and that was the occasion of going into self-publishing.) This would be a concern.

One of the features is--What the heck is really going on? How will the characters resolve it, once they figure it out (if they figure it out).

I pride myself on the setting, doing what Fritz Leiber did, make the setting into a character in its own right. The same publisher thought I had created an incredibly detailed fantasy world. So if some detail needs to be added, that would be helpful. That's especially true for the series elements.

I frequently forget that the reader might be coming in for the first time with this novel. There have to be brief backstory elements, which help orient the reader but don't spoil the other novels, just give tantalizing tidbits.  (Like in Jessica Jones and Luke Cage or Agents of Shield. References to the big bang-up Marvel movie where the Avengers take on alien invaders in New York City. "You're one of THEM,' is a trope.)

I hold myself to an Aristotelian aesthetics. The characters must be consistent (unless they are inconsistent by nature, and then consistently inconsistent)  However silly the characters are or the situations become, there must be heroism, the noble side of the m/c's are ascendent, if they screw up, or end up badly, it must be because of a tragic flaw.

Or you can just enjoy the novel and randomly put five "Good jobs!"

Kiss, Rachel.

Re: Exile in Elsewhen

Rachel Parsons wrote:

I've been criticized by one potential publisher as writing humor that lands well but interferes with the serious side. (No examples, of course, were given and that was the occasion of going into self-publishing.) This would be a concern.

Humour getting in the way of the dramatic moment is going to be hard to spot in your own writing by nature as we all have to work to distance ourselves and see our words through another person's eyes. However, I can help by showing you my own mistakes.

When you get time on your hands, consider scene 1 of this v1: … blue-18605
The (roughly) 500 words from the start until she first teleports. During the scene, characters trip over each other, and half-fight, and crack the predictable penis joke. (One character ([G a l i a h])never appears again in the rest of the story which also breaks a writer-reader contract  that if you're going to point out the axe, someone at some point should swing it).

I don't believe there is anything /wrong/ with the v1 approach. But I can certainly get more juice out of it if the characters aren't making fun of themselves. It's kinda hard for the reader to stay in life & death mode if the characters won't take their own situation seriously. She almost need not care about her peril. She says herself "She's leaving to escape the madness" and not primarily because of any implicit danger

In v2 (not posted yet), with the zaniness removed, the MC cannot ignore the reality that she's being hunted by someone faster, stronger, and can who sense her anywhere on the planet. I'll link it here when I get time.

I believe this might be what the publisher was saying. That humour is good but can kill urgency

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Thanks, Rachel. This is most helpful. I still have a question from my experience reviewing your story back when it was titled Rhian the Nude. How can I tell humour from the actual plot? The story indeed seems a serious one. Good fantasy. Excellent world-building. Original characters (who would have thought of a lesbian princess who can't use clothes because of a curse?). I can certainly smell the occasional sarcasm and puns. However, my problem is when elaborate sarcastic or humorous scenes do get in the way of the plot. I can think of the scene when one of Rhianon's allies urinated the throne. I frowned upon that scene and made several comments, then you explained to me the sarcasm and the humour behind it.

It might be me. Maybe I'm too naïve and simpleminded to understand the fine, elaborated sarcasm. The fact is, I so disliked that scene, I couldn't enjoy Rhianon's great moment because this character urinated the throne and I was like "Ewwww!". Again, maybe smarter and more educated readers laugh out loud at that scene, its irony,  and its anti-climatic mood, but I couldn't. The same happens to me once and again with other scenes.

So, maybe this publisher who pointed out that the humour somehow interferes with the serious part wasn't totally wrong and there's a part of the audience who simply can't get it--on the other hand, you may not be writing for that part of the audience, so, who cares? Andy Kaufman comes to my mind. Some of his jokes were so elaborated only he understood them. Proof of this is when the majority of the audience voted for "Dump Andy" because they never understood the sarcasm behind his wrestling thing. His simple jokes, on the other hand, like the foreign man who appeared in Taxi, were acclaimed. Curiously, just as he never enjoyed working in Taxi, he never cared about that part of the audience who couldn't understand him, for he kept on with his personal humour until death crossed his path.

In the same order of ideas, you may prefer to keep the humour because it's your personal imprint and signature, at the risk of not being properly understood but, what the heck?




11 (edited by Rachel Parsons 2019-07-26 16:13:40)

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Thanks, Gacela, for the well-thought-out reply. I admit sometimes my humor might miss the mark or interfere with the more serious moments, but it motivates me to write, is largely what I want to express, and I do write for those who can appreciate what I want to say. (A small but mighty crowd judging from my Amazon sales. I haven't advertised in going on two months and just got another royalty notice.)

The particular scene you are referring to has a werewolf marking her territory. She is part of the alliance to reshape the kingdom. That is how a wolf would do it. OK, fine, let's be PC--wolfen, as 'were' implies a man-wolf, and they are a separate race altogether.  (See I'm doing it even in my responses.) In the latest book, Rhiannon expresses some body-shame, Heather tries to reassure her that she's beautiful, says to Lido, "You agree, right?" He says, "No, she has no pouch or vent (for laying eggs)." She then goes "Mirror, mirror in my hand, who's the fairest in the land?" And the mirror displays Heather's and not Rhiannon's face." Irony.

Humor. Makes a point. It's fun. Until some agent or editor says, "take this out or we won't publish it," I will continue. Does that mean I'm willing to sacrifice my aesthetic principles for money? No, but I'm ready to reinterpret them, just like Hillary Clinton (and yes, I'm doing it again. I just can't help myself).

And thanks for the comparison with Andy Kaufman. A brilliant man. High standards and principles. Sad that he's gone.

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but it motivates me to write, is largely what I want to express,

Well I'd say you got the most important parts down pat

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Thanks, Kdot.

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Very intersting answer, Rachel. I'm learning a lot not only about literature but about life. Thanks for sharing.



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To Prologue or not to Prologue. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous readers, Or to say screw 'em and plunge into the story.

My story, "Exile in Elsewhen" has a prologue. I wrote it because I realized that the central conflict isn't explicitly mentioned until page 90 (Chapter Eight). However, everything leads up to it and has drama itself. Dakota's situation on Mars is conflictual, although it isn't until, what, Chapter Three, that she starts on her real journey. The action leads up to that. Diane's quest to understand what is happening to the world is full of conflict and results in her being present for the major conflict happening. And Rhiannon is brought into it all at this point as well.

The chapters from One on are full of conflict, drama, and humor. So the question becomes--does the Prologue really add to things?  This is fantasy, and readers do expect a long buildup. (Case in point: Gormenghast).

Advice, anyone?


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This is what I think:

From my perspective, there are four kind of prologues:
a) Personal
b) Academic.
c) Background.

a) Personal prologues: The author shares with the reader a personal moment, or the reason why she wrote the book, or the particular feelings the story raises for the author, etc.

b) Academic prologues. These are the prologues in which a recognised voice (such a celebrity of some kind, such as an actor, a known college dean, a politician, etc) introduces the book to readers, usually by praising its content. Sometimes, but not always, the prologue may focus on issues around the book such as the writer’s personal story and motivations. Or the story’s background. I.e., if the story is about WWII, the prologue on the European political situation during it.

c) Background prologues. These prologues provide background to the story. These are the ones I believe some other people in the Premium forum have indicated may be used as Chapter One or Chapter Zero. The Lord of the Rings has a large prologue from the author that is mostly background, and only because the Silmarillion hadn’t been published yet and Tolkien felt the need to update the reader on some Middle Earth details, unknown to the reader, that may hinder the reader’s ability to grasp the whole Middle Earth thingie.

IMHO, what makes this kind of prologues an actual prologue, and the reason why they can’t be turned into Chapter One, is because they provide background that can otherwise be provided within the story, but not at the beginning of it, or else, that can be omitted at all without damaging the story. If you cut The Lord of the Ring’s prologue, you can still read and enjoy the whole story, and grab what the author wanted to transmit, without losing anything.

d) Teasers: In these cases, the prologue is usually an extract—a scene—from a later chapter. This extract either actually exists, or is a scene otherwise not narrated but that took place between two scenes, or chapter, that ARE narrated. It may also be “Had I known…” type of prologue narrated by the MC at a point in time after the whole story has taken place. It vaguely discusses the bad consequences of whatever took place in the story, which might have been prevented by the MC “had she known…” The objective of this type of prologues is to grab the reader’s attention before she has even laid her eyes on page one.

Rachel: from your answer to Dirk, it’s my belief you’re writing a teaser. IMHO, just make sure the teaser is no so obscure it scares readers away rather than luring them to your story.


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I've posted the last chapter of "Exile in Elsewhen." THE COUNTDOWN IS ON. It'll be at least a couple of months before I take it down. I have no plans for other posts until I do. I couldn't have written without your help, and I do need polish. Polish, polish, polish, as Heather might say.

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Spent much of the day coming up with an outline of a plot for Book Six. Yay! I then went back and edited some in Book Five to make it compatible with Book Six. I've given two explanations for why Heather sleeps with Jeb. One is the one she gives Dakota, the other is the one Barbara gives Dakota. Not to keep the reader guessing, but to remove any discrepancies. To give a hint, it happened in "The Big Chill," which, I know, was a long time ago.

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Well, I did write another chapter to Exile in Elsewhen. It's all Kdot's fault. I have it as an epilogue, but because of what he said, I may have it as a prologue. I've rewritten it since a couple of you have read it to make it work either way. References to the name of the protagonist of the chapter have been deleted and what she did (or will do) or is doing (time travel books are fun) have been made vague.

So time to vote:  Prologue or Epilogue?

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So she is not presented as a fighter/hitter so you have some work to do to build her up to throwing a punch

it was clear that both had crushes on J

Wanted to clarify, I wasn't suggesting building on the crush - that part is evident. I was suggesting to build how she decided she needed to resort to violence. That part blindsided me.

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Thanks for the clarification. I did build some increased anger into earlier scenes where both were flirting with Jeb and he responded more to the military brat than the science genius/nerd.