Blogs, Author Platforms, and Connecting (pt 7)

Blogs, Author Platforms, and Connecting (pt 7)

By CorporateM (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Last week I wound up wandering off into Twitter scheduling.  This week, I’ll probably wind up wandering a little, but I plan on trying to cover Facebook.  I’m having to make a nod to Tumblr because it is somewhere in between Facebook and Twitter for activity, I just haven’t had a chance to figure out how to play nice with that platform yet.  Same goes for Google +, so if anyone has suggestions, I’m all ears.

Facebook is actually two platforms in one.  There is the profile, which everyone is familiar with.  You get that when you sign up.  And, there is the Author/fan/business page (page for short), which is a connected, yet separate entity.

What I mentioned all the way back in posts One and Two of the platforming series is doubly important for Facebook.  If you don’t remember, please go back and refresh.

Blogs may not be discovered for a long, long time.  But posts on Facebook can, and often do, get shared quickly and it seems the worse they are, the faster they get shared, liked, or commented upon.  Which means any rants, negative or disparaging remarks, or backhanded complements you put out there will find the person they are meant for quickly.  Not only that, but the posts, once liked or shared, cannot be rescinded.  At least with the blog posts, if you delete the post, it creates a dead link.  But, from my experience, on Facebook, even if the post is deleted, some of it remains in the link created when it is shared.

Before you start touting how hard it is to keep things clean and polite, please be aware I DO feel your pain.  I just had to clean up a small mess before it became a disaster because I made a mistake.  I had a case of a panic-induced rant that the person it was about could have identified themselves in.  It wasn’t shared, thank heavens, but it was liked.  And, to make matters worse, it was on my profile, not the author page.  It was not about anything in my author life, which is why it wound up on the more publicly accessible feed.  I’m human too, this proved it, and I hope I managed to get it wiped clean enough not to come back and bite me later.

That is one of the things to be aware of – your profile feed will be seen by anyone who follows or friends you.  Your page has a much more limited visibility.  And so what you post to your profile is out in public where everyone can potentially see it tonight.  What you post to your page might take a day or two longer if you have a large following that is very active.

Let’s break this down into a little more manageable parts.

Personal Profile news feed

One of the biggest pieces I see, time and again, is that Facebook is a SOCIAL site – that means it’s a place to talk to others, laugh, develop relationships, and possible friendships.  So, if all you’re posting is content about your writing, you’re going to start sounding like a broken record.  A BAD broken record.   If you’re posting that type of content on your profile, it can get very annoying, very quickly.

If you can’t brag about, or talk about your writing, and you’re trying to build a platform, what can you talk about?  Well, here’s where you get sneaky.  Everyone you follow posts something.  Some of their posts are interesting, others not so much.  Some are posts you probably should stay away from, unless you want to become known as a snarky, snappish person, and some you should probably stay away from just because it shouldn’t be out in public anyway.  (Honestly, who needs to know you’re taking a dump right this second?)

That still leaves a huge variety of posts you can, and should respond to.  Try not to fill your friends list with only authors, or editors, or cover artists.  Yes, all of these people read, but you are also looking for people who aren’t in the writing business.  A few of the former can benefit anyone, but if you don’t have readers, then sooner or later, you’ll be talking to a saturated market.  The non-writers are the ones who have the highest chance of telling their friends about you, and your wonderful work(s).  Once you’ve started building your friends list, another good idea is to start organizing it.  That way you can keep in touch with friends and family a little easier.  Don’t try to sort out everyone into this list or that.  Just pull out the special interest ones – like your friends and family.  (And, then remember to check it regularly, since their posts are probably buried in your feed somewhere.)

When you are building your friends list, be aware you do not have to accept every friend request that comes in.  There is an option for the person to just “follow” you.  The upside is that if the person has a habit of posting things you do not wish to see, or find offensive, you won’t see their posts.  The down side is that you won’t be able to interact with them, because the information flow is only one way; from you to them.  I tend to limit who I accept friend requests from to those who are either active in the groups I participate in, or who have at least several friends in common with someone I know and interact with.  I made the mistake early on of accepting everyone who asked, and now my feed is full of romance and erotica authors.  And, I don’t willingly read either genre.  Just a word to the wise for those getting started on Facebook, or expanding their platform to Facebook.

Author Pages

I know there are many who swear you need a page, but with the changes Facebook has been instigating, the effectiveness of a page is being heavily restricted unless you are willing to pay, and pay dearly, to have those restrictions lifted.  If you are just starting to expand your platform onto Facebook, I would strongly advise just using a profile with your author/blogger/writer’s name, rather than setting up a separate page.  If you have a page, then you probably know what I’m talking about, and are already struggling to work around many of the restrictions.

The biggest reason to have a page, at least for me, is the fact that I can schedule posts to go out on the page.  For maximum visibility, I do have to share it to my personal profile, but it means I can write the posts in advance and have them set up to go.  Since it is my page, I see when they go out, which is a convenient reminder to duck over and share them.  I usually don’t do that with the blog posts that feed out, however.  And there is a reason for this that I’ll get to in a later post.

As with anything other part of your platform, you have to answer the same basic questions:  What are you posting?  How often do you want to post?  And how much content do you want to create?  Even if you are just sharing content from your blog, you may wish to supplement that with other information, since you’ll have an almost entirely different audience on the other social media platforms.  Again, that’s something for another post.

There are a few other perks that come with the page, but if you aren’t getting much engagement, then they don’t mean much.

 

Once again, it seems I’ve wound up rambling.  I’ll let you go today, so you can experiment with the ideas I’ve provided.  Let me know what worked, or didn’t work for you in the comments.  I’m still learning, and I’m sure there are many tricks that I haven’t even thought of yet.

Until next time, happy writing!

 

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Blogs, Author Platforms, and Connecting (pt 6)

Blogs, Author Platforms, and Connecting (pt 6)

Drstuey at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

And, we’re back once again to discuss platforming.  So far, it’s mostly been about working on the “backside” of your platform.  Today, we’ve finally built up your original foundation that you are ready to branch out and expand on what you’ve done so far.  There are three key ideas to make this happen.  I’ll try to cover them in a reasonable order, so if it looks like the discussion is going to run long (even for me), I’ll break it up.

Ready to get started?

The first, and easiest way to expand your platform is to reuse content that you’ve been building up on your blog for other areas of the social media platform.  There are many sites that say you “must” do this or you “must” do that.  In some ways, I’ll jump on that bandwagon, and others I’ll say it’s a bunch of hogwash.  About the only “must” you’ll want to develop for yourself is your authenticity.

I know there are bloggers, authors, writers of every stripe and shape who use a screen name or pseudonym for about as many reasons as there are psudonyms.  Do not let the term “authentic” deter you if you are one of this group.  You can still be perfectly authentic, and maintain your anonymity.

For now, we’ll go with the concept of reusing your content.  Yes, I know, I’ve just said that twice in the same screen.  It is because it’s is a good way to get started.

But, how do you reuse your content?

For starters, if you’re on WordPress, and other sites, such as Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, or Facebook, the solution is easy.  Link your accounts together.  You can set it up so there is a two-way information flow, or you can set it up so it is only one way.  For me, since I’m a bit of a glutton for punishment, I’ve set my information flow to flow from the blog out with no return input.  It makes it a little harder to get the engagement from followers, but I follow the concept that the blog is the heart of my platform.  Facebook makes up the blood vessels, and twitter and/or tumblr is the actual blood.  In this circulation model, you don’t want the turbulence from the blood to flow back and interfere with how the heart or blood vessels are functioning.  (I’m still trying to figure out tumblr, and tweet too much to make feeding my twitter feed back to Facebook logical.)

OK, going to back up a second here to that comment about Twitter…

Twitter is a very fast moving platform.  If you don’t have an account, this section may not be important to you.  If you WANT an account, or want to figure out what to do with it, then I highly advise looking through Nat Russo’s blog series Here about twitter.  He’s done an excellent job in breaking down not just how to set up an account, but also some of the basics for that platform.  There is a TON to learn there, so don’t expect to master it overnight.  With the information Nat has published, I’m not going to go into the basics – he’s done it better, and probably much more clearly than I ever could.

However, there is one point I’m going to emphasize now.  If you do feed your blog posts to twitter, and expect them to be seen – you’re going to be disappointed.  Twitter is a constant river of information.  A LOT of information.  I don’t remember the exact number of tweets go out every minute, but I do remember it was huge.  And, your one tweet when your blog post goes out will get drowned out quickly.

Tumblr is similar.  Not quite as fast paced, but still very busy all the time.

For these two planks of your platform, you’ll need to have some strategy to help ensure your posts get seen.  (That goes for all of the social media sights, not just Twitter and Tumblr, but it’s a bit more important for these two.)

The easiest way, and one that can lead to a bad gaff if you’re not careful, is to use one of the third party scheduling apps.  I prefer Hootsuite, but others prefer Buffer, or tweetdeck.  Once again, I advise looking around and investigating the many different options out there before selecting the one that works best for you.

A wonderful friend of mine hosted a guest post for me about how to reuse your blog content for Twitter.  You can find the article over Here on his blog.  For just what to reuse, head on over there.  If you already have an idea of what you want to use, then let’s get to the nuts and bolts of trying to get your content noticed in a good way.

Yes, I deliberately said “in a good way.”  One of the common, and more irritating ways I have run into, ways of getting content noticed is for the author of the tweet to use the same tweet, or some close variation of it, over and over again in a small time frame.  If you are working on a deadline for a release, or campaign, I can understand doing this.  It is a short term, short duration “spam” activity.  It can generate some results, but don’t expect them to be over the top.  Often, if someone starts doing this, and it goes on longer than a couple of hours, that person will either be muted (if they are lucky) or unfollowed.  That is not what you are trying to accomplish.

While being unfollowed on Twitter does not have the same impact as it does on Facebook, it does mean there is one less person you are reaching, and one less potential reader you can engage with.

Using the third party apps to schedule your tweets can lead to this occurring, and is one of the biggest reasons why many would strongly suggest not using them.  However, I believe that most, if not all of you reading this, have day jobs, or other things in life that pull you away from Twitter.  And, keeping your name in the feed is always a good thing.  You just want the attention you are receiving to be positive as well.    So, when you set up your schedule, you have to answer the same questions for Twitter you answered about your posts – how often do you want your content to go out?  How much content do you want to go out?  And, how long do you want to “work” your presence in the stream of consciousness that makes up your followers Twitter feeds?  These answers are important, as they will help define how you set up your schedule.

Since I keep an active schedule on the blog, posting a new post for each of my daily series, I want those posts to be seen.  That means I’ll have to have a minimum of 7 posts per day for each of them.  I choose to run a week behind on when my Twitter schedule picks up the posts to ensure that I have active links to use in the tweets themselves.  I don’t want to risk scheduling a post that hasn’t gone live, and generating a “dead” link for a few tweets – you never know for certain who is going to click on that link and follow it back to your blog post.

And, since just one post will tend to get drowned out in the feed, even if I just posted my seven tweets, I’ll get some exposure, but probably not enough.  I like to run three tweets per day for each of the posts.  That’s 21 tweets to set up for each day.  Since my following is world-wide, I want to make sure everyone has a chance to see the entire set.  Again, I recognize that as readers, not everyone is able to hang out on Twitter all day, or even for the same time every day.  And, so I have a staggered schedule.  I am “on the air” for twenty two hours a day, seven days a week.  When I set up the schedule, I start at 2 AM local, and run until 10 PM local.  That’s a LOT of tweets!

Here’s where the savvy comes into play.  Remember I said I have a staggered schedule?  Here’s what I mean:

Sunday I’ll start at 2 AM with the first tweet of the week.  It’s always the author interview I hosted the week before.  Every hour, I’ll move to the next series – character interviews, the behind the scene posts, the platforming post, a piece of my original work (poem, short story, flash fiction), A book review, and a filler piece to make a total of 7.  The filler usually is an extra book review or second character interview, though I’ve also used a second piece of original work for the slot as well.

Monday starts at 2 AM with the character interview and ends the rotation with the author interview.

Each day will start with the next series in the week, so that each day has a different post series to start the day off.  I then fill in the rest of the schedule in rotation.  It’s a pain in the backside to do in Hootsuite if you’re scheduling each post individually.  There is a work around, however.  I’ve had a few people ask me about it, so here’s the cheat sheet version:

  • Open Hootsuite
  • Go into the scheduler tab (left hand side, the little arrow that says “publisher”)
  • Go to “Past Scheduled” – this should come up with an over view of the current week.  If not, in the upper right hand corner, click on “week” to get this calendar view.
  • Have your selected tweets in a separate program.  I prefer Word, because I like tables.  I’ve also used Notepad and tried to use Excel (Excel didn’t work out too well)
  • If your monitor is big enough, shrink your browser window to just over half the screen so you can have your other document beside it.
  • Start copy/pasting your tweets into the days/times you want them to go out.  The trick is to work a week in advance.  Since Hootsuite starts their week on Sunday, you’ll want to double check the dates.  You CAN work in the current week – I’ve done it – but if you make a mistake everything you’ve copied will vanish when you correct the tweet.  Handy if you’re assembling a super-busy tweet schedule – because you have a fresh canvas just by advancing to the next week, and then coming back to the current one.
  • When you’re done scheduling, head over to the home screen (little house icon with “streams” beside it), and take some time to interact with your the various feeds you’ve set up.

I tend to work in tweetdeck for the interactions, since Hootsuite is delayed quite a bit.  But, I prefer Hootsuite for the scheduling, especially now that they’ve figured out how to enable you to attach images to your tweets.

You can also connect your Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, and Instagram accounts, though if you are using the free version, you can only link 3 profiles.  Each profile also has it’s own fresh page for the schedule, so if you want to set up a series of scheduled posts for the other social media platforms, you can.  I prefer to have a little more personal control over my Facebook, so just focus on scheduling for Twitter.

 

Seeing as this is heading into super-long territory, I’m going to let you go for this week.  Feel free to experiment with what I’ve mentioned, and if you are so inclined, leave a comment below about what worked or didn’t work for you.  I’m always learning, so the way I’ve presented may be flawed, or you may find a way that works better.

Happy blogging!

 

If you’ve missed the previous installment of the series, you can find it Here and the entire series Here

Making the Story Work

By Charles Haigh-Wood (1856-1927) (http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/19563/lot/108/) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This post is sparked from an ongoing discussion with another author friend of mine.  There’s a few things that will come up which make us vastly different authors, yet somehow I am seen as the more experienced.  (Don’t ask me.  I’m still extremely wet behind the ears.)

I have made no bones about the fact that I am an extreme panster.  I’ve tried the plotting idea, and it didn’t work.  I wound up with a pile of words that made no sense, had no plot, and resembled something that even a garden bed would toss out.  I’ve tried the idea of just working for a general concept to center the story around.  That wound up with something that sort of made sense, but with a final result of a story without any punch, and died about halfway through.  The story proliferated the cast in retribution of my cutting back to where things were going as I wanted them to, and trying to rebuild.  That explosive cast growth caused an extremely cliche’ death scene, and left such a foul taste in my mouth I could not continue to even try to write it.  I may eventually go back, and see if I can resuscitate that story again.  If I do, it will be many, many years into the future.

It was not until after I decided not to write that I was able to actually finish my first novel.  I’m still working on the story, so cannot say I have finished that… yet.  As I do not have a catalog of titles a mile long, or even one that would required more than one page, I do my best not to write anything about HOW to write.  However, what I am saying here is something I think many new, up-and-coming, and even more experienced writers have run into:  How to make the story work.

 

For me, I do this by staying out of the way of my story.  When I try to add any type of guidance or leadership, the story retaliates.  If I am lucky, it’s just a bad idea jam that stalls progress for a few months.  In the worst case scenario, it is a complete literary explosion that results in such destruction the story must be declared dead on scene.  Yet, others have found their own way of making a story work while intimately plotting every twist, turn, and idea that goes into their plot.  There has to be a common theme in there, right?

Yes, there is.  And, it is one I think that is so super simple it is difficult to master.  Trust.  Trust that the story will work out, and trust that your characters are strong enough to do what needs to be done.  Without this trust, the doubt, distraction, and lack of surety about the end will creep up to ambush the writer and make it very, very hard for the story to be completed.

This is not to say you will never feel doubt.  Nor do I mean that you will never experience a sense of dread that what you have just finished is something the garden would reject.  What I am saying is that when you trust your story and characters, you are able to forge ahead.  It may only be a word or two for months at a time.  It may be a gully washer of a word added day, but there will be progress.

I am not going to get into details about what this trust entails, because that is between the writer and their story.  I could give a few anecdotes about what I have encountered – but I am not.  What works for me, may not work for you.

There are a few techniques, as a pantster that I am watching work to a lesser degree for my plotter friend.  These I will share, because they seem to be useful to both sides of the great planning divide.  And, this was advice given to me when I found myself staring at a log jam of ideas so big I hadn’t even managed to chisel a single word out of the mess in over a month.

In terms of interacting with people, when you think of trust, what comes to mind?  You ask them to help with something, and you trust them to respond one way or another from past experiences.  You ask them a question, and because you know that person, you know if you can trust what they tell you (or at least how far you can trust it to be truthful.)  Do the same for your characters.  Get to know them, learn who they are and how they think.  For those comfortable working with character sheets – write one up.  For those who prefer something that feels a little more like “visiting in person” find an interview questionnaire you enjoy reading and interview your character.  For those, like me, who prefer to just know the character, then write a flash ficition piece (or two or three) from that character’s point of view.  All of these will help you get to know who (or what) that person is you are writing about.

Will it generate a bucket load of extra information about that one character?  You bet!  Will you want to include all of that extra information?  Umm… probably not.  Will getting to know the character in such depth make it easier to write about them?  Probably.  Will having this type of intimate detail about the character get you through the log jam of ideas you’re facing down?  I cannot answer that.  But, if you trust that it can, the chances are – it will.

So, what do you do when the story turns into a balky, sulky toddler that is throwing a tantrum?  In part, it will depend on what type of general writer you are.  Pansters – give the poor thing room to breathe.  Plotters – perhaps if you eased up on how strictly you were plotting the story it could help.  Otherwise, go back to the flash fiction idea.  It doesn’t matter if your story is told from first, second, or third person.  Pull out each of the key characters and write a flash fiction piece targeted at solving all, or part, of the problem from that character’s own abilities and the material on hand.  Write it from a first person point of view.  In doing so, you are able to evaluate what is driving the characters to solve the problem.

Is this a guaranteed solution?  Nope.  Have I found it useful?  Yuppers.  Have I seen it work for others?  Uh-huh, I sure have.

So, how do you build your trust in your story?  Comment below, as I’m always interested in learning other ways.  (Not to mention, what you say may just be what someone else needs to hear.)

—– Justine Alley Dowsett’s Kadrean Authier Stops By To Visit With The Pukah

 

Everything happens for a reason… Four people. Four very different lives. Four tales interwoven. Meet Kenzie en Shareed, the High Clan Chief’s daughter who is sent south to fulfill a treaty by marriage only to marry the wrong man; Kadrean Authier, the Crown Prince who must come to terms with his new bride, even if he doesn’t much like the idea; Garron D’Arbonne, a noble Lord who has been commanded to marry a cool and aloof princess he doesn’t love; and Vivianne Chappelle, a young and ambitious woman who is in love with her abusive father’s manservant and must find a way to avoid having her entire future decided for her. Fate and wills collide in this Shakespearian-style romantic comedy about good intentions and their unintentional consequences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d like to welcome everyone back.  Today, Justine is returning with Prince Kadrean Authier from Unintended.  Prince Authier, do you have a nickname you prefer?

  • No, I don’t. Though, my fiancée once called me ‘Kadie’ in public, but I think that was in an attempt to embarrass me. At least, I hope that’s all it was…
  • My name is Kadrean

Thank you, Kadrean.  Can you start us off with a little about where you were born?

  • I was born in Authera on the northern border of Ismera. It wasn’t until I was eight that my father, Raymundo Authier, took the crown and it was sometime after that when the family moved south to the capital city to live in the palace.

Since you come from a different world, I’m going to be nosy – are you human, or have any special gifts?

  • Uhhh… human. What a strange question.

Do you consider yourself to be a good or bad person?

  • I’d like to consider myself a good person and a good prince. When my father passes I will be King of Ismer and I hope to do right by my people.

Since you’re the heir, how would you describe your personality to your future subjects?

  • Charming, I hope. In all seriousness though, I’m a meticulous person with good attention to detail. I pay attention to my surroundings and I think I’ve gotten pretty good at reading people. Which really helps in my position, let me tell you.

I can well imagine.  I’m sure that being the monarch brings with it quite a bit of pressure.  How well do you handle the stress?

  • Of course. I have to be. Ismera needs a strong King and I have to set a good example so the people know they can trust me to lead them when the time comes. My father is a strong King, maybe too strong. He can be a bit domineering and harsh, even with me, his first-born. I can stand up to him when I need to though, and sometimes I need to when it comes to protecting my fiancée from his condescension.10.. Do you get along with others?
    Depends who you ask, I expect. People tend to have trouble picking up on my sense of humour sometimes. My ‘intended’ and I got off on the wrong foot when we first met. I think she’s coming around, though.

Definitely a plus.  It’s never pleasant having an enemy in your own home.  Especially when I’m sure you’ve a few in the court.  Any you can (or have) identified yet?

  • I’m a little concerned about Vance Chappelle. I know he’s up to something. There are always malcontents plotting against the royal family, but I suppose the real concern would be war. For now things are peaceful along our borders and I intend to cement that as best I can with my marriage to Kenzie, the Haldoram Clan Chief’s daughter.

What would happen if he were to complement you for no reason?

  • I know how the game is played. Vance compliments me often. Too often, which means he’s plotting something. I think he wants me to marry his daughter, Victory. Which is never going to happen. She’s got a voice like a cat in heat and her perfume is suffocating.

Would you consider her to be your only ally or friend, or are there others?

  • My sister, Margaret, is my closest ally and friend. She’s the only person who really understands me since we grew up together. It’s lonely being royalty, especially with parents like ours. Father is strict and unyielding and not exactly what I would call a ‘family person’ and mother isn’t much better.

What do you do if she insults you?

  • I would smile and laugh along. Margaret has a caustic sense of humour sometimes. At least with me. She’s not usually so open around everyone else.

Do you ever take time away from your duties to play the “what if” game?  If so, what animal would you become if you could?

  • As long as it’s hypothetical, why not? A horse, but not the domesticated kind. A wild stallion like the ones that are said to roam the Saegard Islands. I love to go riding with my sister. It’s one of the few times that we are able to feel free. There’s just something about running over open land with nothing in sight but trees and long grass.

I love horses too, and sometimes imagine myself as one.  In reality, though, is there anything you’d want to change about yourself?

  • Is it unfair to say my parents? I do love them, of course I do, it’s just that my life might have been easier without their constant attempts to control it.

Not unfair at all.  From the way you describe them, I can see where a few small changes would have made a big difference.

Prince Kadrian, thank you for letting Justine bring you out today.  It has been fun talking with you.

 

If you enjoyed the interview, and would like to read Kadrian’s story, you can find it on Amazon here:  Unintended

If you would like for me to host an interview for you, please stop by my Offered Services page, and fill out the simple submission form.  I’ll get back with you soonest to discuss details.

 

Book Review: The Lost Mage

Book Review: The Lost Mage

The Avatar of Calderia: Book Three: The Lost Mage by [Echeandia, David]

 

The Dark sorcerer, Rak`koth, invades Balleterria, bringing death and destruction to the land as he unleashes his vast Imperial armies of ruthless killers and vicious war beasts upon the brave but greatly outnumbered Alliance of human and Elfin defenders. Only they stand between him and certain doom for their peoples as he pursues his malevolent dream of bloody conquest.

Meanwhile, Killian, Ellianthia and their intrepid companions continue their long, perilous quest for the mysterious lost mage, leaving the Plains people behind and following the shining stone ever southward into the ominous black Glass Mountains. Great danger, ferocious beasts, mythical creatures and startling surprises await them as they search for what lies beyond the enigmatic “door above the clouds,” knowing that every day’s delay means that more of their countrymen will suffer and die.

Battered by the enemy’s relentless assault, the Alliance forces led by Gavan, Rillandariel and Mik`kel struggle to survive epic battles fought with deadly steel and arcane magic—and a treacherous assassin in their own ranks—desperately hoping to endure long enough for Killian to return with the only weapon that can defeat the evil wizard and save them from annihilation.

 

 

 

Starting to catch up on promised read and reviews.  This one is another MASSIVELY over due review.  To Mr. Echeandia – I humbly apologize it took so long to get around to this, I know it was promised a very long time ago.

 

Expectations

Since I’d read the second book in the series, there was a sense of what should come in this one.  David did not disappoint.  There’s lots of action, a little romance, and a several surprises along the way.

World Building

One of the hardest things to do when writing sequels is to continue to develop the world in new and interesting ways.  David had an advantage with this, because of the quest style story he was telling.  That kept pushing the boundaries beyond what was known, yet created a challenge to continue the world building with the same quality as the last installment.  Each new setting was sketched in, and carefully developed without losing the momentum the story had built.  As the conclusion approached, the new settings also created their own sense of tension – placing the characters in more challenging situations, or creating a greater threat to their survival.  Very nicely done.

Character Development

Even though this is the third installment, the characters continued to learn and grow.  Sometimes, it was through self-realizations; other times it was through learning additional skills.  There is also a nice bonus, that the characters continued to learn about each other, giving the reader a chance to discover more about the entire cast.

There were a few expected developments, which I expected earlier in the tale.  Most of these involved romantic interactions, which wound up adding a new layer of interest.  Too many times adding such interactions in causes a loss of tension for the story, so this was a nice surprise.  And there were a couple of times I downright laughed due to the results of these changes.

Pacing

Subtly handled, and very well done.  With two interwoven/interdependent story lines, David did a wonderful job keeping the overall story moving while keeping both branches of the story aligned.  In doing so, David allowed the reader to have a short break from the “Oh, no, the sky is falling on everyone” tension, which allowed me a chance to wrap my head around some of the new developments.  And, there were a few unexpected ones, which made turning the pages even more exciting.  (No, I will not go into detail, as that leads to spoiler territory.)

Overall rating?  A well deserved 5 of 5 paws from this pukah.  Even though there are a few overused character types, they fit the story very well.  (I’d wondered about one of the final introductions, and David’s answer to that question actually made me laugh a bit.)  As I haven’t read the first book to the series yet, I’m looking forward to adding it to my collection and reading everything in chronological order!

 

If you’d like to pick up a copy of The Lost Mage you can find it on Amazon Here.  This is part of a series, so while it is enjoyable on it’s own, there are some references that require previous books to understand.  You can find Awakenings, the first book in the Avatar of Calderia Trilogy on Amazon Here, and The Shining Stone, the second book of the Avatar of Calderia Trilogy Here.