Why I’m Not LitRPG

I’m the first one to jump and say that Chaos (un)Controlled is a YA that blends gaming and RPG elements. When I was trying to box my genre for self-publishing, I learned of a newly emerging genre, LitRPG, which encompasses books that involve characters within a game. Basically a blend of literature and role-playing. My first thought was “Oh wow! I’ve finally found an actual niche rather than YA Contemporary Science Fantasy because that’s a mouthful.” Upon additional Googling research and website perusion (yea, I make up words that sound cool; I’m a writer, what of it?), I discovered I was WRONG.

The exemplary Ready Player One is a good fit for that category. Besides that one though, the books I found using this particular tag were far too literal. Like, avatars, hit points, NPCs and all that. And orcs. Chaos (un)Controlled takes RPG elements, but the entire story is not an RPG. I consider it more the story-boarding side of a game before the actual mechanics are introduced. Hardcore LitRPG seems like an extremely niche category not meant to have widespread demographic appeal; it’s meant to draw in those old Dungeons & Dragons and MMO players. I never got into PC gaming, with the exception of The Sims and the wildly entertaining Theme Hospital. I was strictly #TeamConsole, and PCs were generally the platform for MMOs. I remember the first time I got a trial disc in the mail; I believe it was EverQuest. It looked amazing at the time, but it required a subscription and A. My mom was not going to pay this for me and B. She also didn’t believe in putting her credit card online back then. -.- That would have been my PC gaming induction and I missed it.

Chaos (un)Controlled brings gaming elements into a real-life story, but could just as easily be bringing real-life elements into a gaming structure. It purposely creates a realistic world and a dream-like setting side-by-side, putting a magnifying glass to each world and blurring the edges. But I can’t call it LitRPG. Rixa doesn’t sign in with her avatar and follow a strict numerical hit-and-attack point system. She’s not hooked up to the OASIS online. She doesn’t battle harpies and goblins and griffins. She harnesses an internal power driven by focus and emotion. She crosses planes bringing her real life and fantasy life together.

While a LitRPG summary like “involves a character submerged into an alternate reality where characteristics of a role playing game are inherent,” is enticing and almost seems perfect, Chaos (un)Controlled’s storyline seems far different from novels with that genre tag. For now, I continue to remain the lone wolf on the sidelines. YA Contemporary Science Fantasy it is.

Ninja out.

*Fades into the shadows*

(Ya’ll remember fading in chat rooms, right?)

~Tael

Dat Writer Professionalism

Self-publishing should conjure up a desert wasteland backdrop with a hooded figure in black creeping along the outskirts of society. You’re avoiding big corporate publishers and taking your book rights into your own hands! You’re a rebel. You’re a revolutionary! You’re sticking it to the traditional industry route and to hell with all the rules!

Except, no.

The self-publishing world is not as vagabond as it once was, since the road to stand out amidst the millions of other indies who believe in their work is pretty similar to the corporate publishing route.

But I wanted to be an OUTLAW like one of these guys!!

Outlaws

Unfortunately, self-publishing may not give you the badass points you were hoping for. Remember, there’s a widely accepted code of conduct and professionalism for the most success, to help you stand up against those big-name publishers. My approach so far has been to be chill about it, like Spike Spiegel, because who didn’t like Spike Spiegel?? He remained composed, kicked so much ass because of it, and always came out on top. Until…you know.

Months ago, I tried to reach out to a website about possibly listing Chaos (un)Controlled during it’s free period on Amazon. It wasn’t one of the traditional promotion sites; I was trying to think outside the box and it was an NYC website I’d been following for years now. Since the main premise of Chaos (un)Controlled is Rixa climbing a ladder in the New York Public Library while working there as a Page to reach University Heights, it seemed fitting. Here was their response:

NYCOnTheCheapResponse

Welp, I’d gotten many query rejection letters before; I could handle this. I could see they were trying to scold me for my Vash-The-Stampede-like approach. Was my salutation “Hey guys”? Yes. Did I ask for a shout-out from “you guys”? Yes. Did I understand their offense? Nope, not at all. I guess I wasn’t “professional” enough. However, as a long-time visitor of their site and Twitter follower, I hadn’t found their site to be particularly professional at all. The layout wasn’t quality, site updates were only occasional, and they only had about 2,000 Twitter followers, so I hadn’t pegged their business as an uber-polished establishment that necessitated a suit and tie to email them. After that response I realized if that was what they were trying to be, then forget it, I didn’t need them. My whole premise for sticking with them had been their small-business-friendly feel. I love supporting small, non-corporate entities and other indie startups trying to make it in the world. So I stopped following them and no longer visit their site. Remember, I prefer Chucks. And I’m petty.

If someone enjoyed my work, and wants to come up and compliment me like “Yo, dude, bro, guy, your writing is sick, I really dug it,” I would appreciate that to the fullest. My go-to author profile picture is me sipping from a Pokeball mug. My descriptions don’t follow the standard “So-and-so Author was born in New England where she resides with her 3 kids, loving husband and dog. She has written numerous critically acclaimed pieces that have won countless awards from the Society of Great Writers That We Respect for their Professionalism yadda yadda.” Truthtrebles.com is my “author website,” I guess. I don’t try to professionalize my profile, because I’m a person first, indie author second. I’d rather read someone’s words rather than a list of their 30 awards or New York Times Bestseller rankings. I’d rather gain notoriety for realness, and go off guns-blazing like Gene Starwind. Professionalism doesn’t inspire human connection as much as realness.  It will hinder me, but that’s fine. Because outlaws are so much cooler. Especially when they wear peacoats with Chucks. And that’s kind of what self-publishing is all about.

See You Space Cowboy…

~Tael

When Readers “GET” You

Not too long ago, I received an amazing Goodreads review from E. Leo Foster. What struck me about this one is that he really seemed to “get” it. Here’s someone who knows absolutely nothing about me, my upbringing, or the elements (harharhar) that sparked Chaos (un)Controlled, who was able to pick up on the intricacies I littered throughout the book. He understood the layers, and saw that it was much more than just a surface story about a girl with a gaming premise, making me proud that my writing can connect with varied demographics. Check it below!

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1929023533?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Chaos (un) Controlled is an exciting story that fluently mixes so many themes, such as gaming and faith, together into a brilliant novel. The story focuses on a gaming enthusiast teenage girl, Rixa, who discovers ‘a game like’ new world. However, that is only one layer of the story. This novel coaxes the reader into thinking about over-arching ideas of dualism within ourselves and society, about the consequences of our decisions and actions, and the limits -or rather ‘un-limits’ of our power. What separates this story from so many others that merge major themes into a single narrative is the author brought the protagonist and her worlds to life. In essence, the writing made me feel, not just think about what Rixa is dealing with as she navigates and overcomes some of life’s major obstacles. While I felt the character’s emotions through each page turn, the author simultaneously puts Rixa on the same learning curve as the reader. In the story, Rixa learns that to master any skill, she must go beyond just thinking and learning the fundamentals. She, just like us all, must passionately connect to the desire skill by feeling and becoming one with its potential power. I highly recommend this book as its breaks every genre label you try to slap on it. Original!

I’m Impressed by David

And those who know me know I’m not easily impressed. I’m talking about AskDavid.com (no relation to Jeeves). Has it gotten me more sales? Not really sure. Nothing notable to immediately go “AHA!” But their setup and value impresses me. When I initially came across them in one of the many book promotion lists online, I passed them over because it mentioned a membership and I hate joining things. The commitment… >.>

But I finally returned and decided to give it a shot because it’s only $15 for a 6-month membership, and other services I’ve swam through so far charge you far more than that for just a day’s/week’s worth of promotion and little return.

Check out this nifty page they executed for me: http://askdavid.com/reviews/book/science-fantasy/14550

It has an old-school fan-page feel that my humble self admires. THIS looks like effort! Far more than the Fiverr gig I recently bought that offered to tweet my link for 3 days and literally tweeted only the link with the hashtag I gave them (I mean, most gigs like this include SOME sort of wording, and the guy proclaimed he was a goddamned ARTIST). The next day was a RETWEET of his original tweet. That’s #2, I guess. :/ Today, who knows. And that was a $10 gig.

But David…David shows my book cover in brilliant size, prodded me to give a description that differed from my book blurb to connect with readers, linked to my website, Twitter, and the Amazon page, threw my face up in there as well as my meager Amazon reviews, gave an option for people to talk and engage with me…David also gives you access to set up tweets from his Twitter account, AND gives you random little promotion pop-ups on his site. For $15 over 6 months, this is pretty good stuff, and not a price you’ll look back on like it wasn’t worth it. He’s making this fun and I can’t wait to do more interacting with it. I’ll even be able to farm for more indies to read and support here. It’s like a one-stop shop, where you find those rare RPG towns where they sell the items and weapons in the same place instead of making you run to different buildings.

It feels good to be impressed.

~Tael

The Accidental Blogger

Once you start researching self-publishing, an avalanche of tips outpours. Obviously if you’re choosing to self-publish, it’s because you want to avoid the more popular, historical route. Rebellion! But self-publishing has become so normalized and saturated that a prescribed set of guidelines exists here as well.

Do they suggest blogging? No. Not really. But maybe it helps.

Is that how I accidentally started this blog? NOPE. I did it because a recurring piece of instruction was having an author website. Sure, you have your Goodreads page, Amazon Author Page, and BookBub Author Profile, but I guess that isn’t enough. As an indie author you COULD have an entire website dedicated to your literary accomplishments, but it seems like big britches to me. If you’re just starting out, you’re not going to have a full roster of upcoming events, a collection of novels you’ve written, and accolades from the New York Times reviewers to showcase on your professionally designed, visually spectacular, high-traffic site.

I also feel like all the tips suggest that you present yourself as an author first, which is not the case with me. I’m a person first, with multiple hobbies, and this one I’ve invested in greatly. I actually don’t visit the websites of the authors I love. These things didn’t exist when I was younger. I don’t even follow them on social media. I just read their stuff when I’m ready to read their stuff. If I did though, I’d want to learn more about them as a person and not just as an author. Sure, seeing when their next book signing is might be cool, but it’s likely not going down in my city, I’m not traveling to attend one, and even if it was local, I don’t feel a strong urge to have my favorite authors sign my copies. I guess it’s not a big deal to me. I’d much rather either A. See if they’re gonna be releasing any new novels soon or B. See if they’re talking about something personal that I can connect with. I’d rather visit an author’s site to see who they are as a person; what other passions they have, pictures of their pets, favorite snacks, their kids. Anything humanizing that shows they have a life outside of authordom.

The tips don’t tell you that, though.

So when I revived my old WordPress site, I realized it automatically has a blog attached so I I may as well use it. Blogging is generally a writer’s dream, but I always shied away from it because I never had an angle. Sure I could gripe about everyday life, but who wants to really read about some stranger’s gripes? You see that enough on Facebook with the over-sharers who feel they need to tell you that today they ordered a buttered croissant for breakfast instead of the usual toasted bagel.

Most blogs have a focus. Maybe it’s recipes, maybe it’s travel, maybe it’s cosmetics. I feel like the Indie Author Journey could encompass a lot and its relatable. Whenever I’m writing anything, I want it to somehow be relatable. The feeling of connecting to others through writing is incredible.

We are not plastic products put up on shelves, manufactured according to the current self-publishing code. As such, our websites and social media don’t have to look the same or give off a similar vibe. In a medium where personal style should most definitely stand out (HELLO, we’re WRITERS!), I’d rather not be a polished here-is-my-author-page-from-the-bestselling-last-novel-graduated-from-s0-and-so-university-award-winning-Nobel-Peace-Prize-top-reviewed-but-the-review-quote-only-says-something-basic-like-riveting-and-thought-provoking-yet-it’s-still-a-highly-acclaimed-review?

Can I just be me? Without all the airs?

Not in today’s society. -.-

#TruthTrebles

~Tael