March 12, 2021
Happy weekend, readers.
Newest developments on Rahaman Writing:
Since beginning to edit my only published novel again, I have noticed big differences in some aspects of my writing. My style, tone, and atmosphere are the same, however, my grammar, vocabulary, word variation, and other minor (yet important) aspects have improved. This is undeniably due to having to write for a living increasing my proficiency and overall skill; which is awesome! This bodes well for the future since it means that I'm still improving and am becoming more capable of editing my own work, both fictional and non-fictional.
It's interesting to look back at where I was in regards to my writing a year ago. In the March of 2020, I had just published Inner Expanses and was beginning to build Rahaman Writing as well as planning this newsletter, The Rahaman Reader. I've learned a tremendous deal about this industry and feel more equipped than ever to push my career as an independent author to success!
I just need to remember all that I've learned this past year and use it to my advantage in true Dark Lord fashion.
The Baron of Beholders' Writing Tip #30:
Last week, I gave you all a tip about how to come up with names for your characters, cities, and mythical creatures. However, I left out some important bits, so consider this a follow-up to last week's tip!
I use biology for many of my names, though I also use other themes, as should you. Biology is one of the subjects that I know best, so it makes sense for me to rely on it, but I also use visual art, chemistry, physics, astronomy, and music to a great degree as well, despite my knowledge in these areas (except art) not being nearly as strong.
For the best names, rely on subjects that you like the most!
Name cities after chocolate desserts (the city of Éclair), characters after kinds of cacti (the bold adventurer Agave), or mythical creatures after majestic constellations (the fire-breathing seven-headed beaver with wings and lobster claws Fornax!).
In this installment for Of the Sky, Of the Sea, and Of the Stones, Athos witnesses the hunters extract the heart from the dragon skull at his advice. He then gets a lead on where to find a source of local knowledge that might allow him to find what he seeks on the frigid Kioshell island.
Chapter 3 - Of the Sea
March 26, 2021
Good Friday, everyone.
New stuff on Rahaman Writing:
Unusual Tales for the Curious Mind should be done sometime in the late spring...or early summer.
Some things will simply be ready when they're ready. I'm close, I just need to do the last piece of art for one of the 'secret' stories and then assemble everything into one neat file.
And then edit it again. Just in case.
Out of all the stories, Open Water is the oldest. I wrote it a few years before I had even begun to work on Inner Expanses, which was in 2014. So...maybe 2012? It's hard to say since I no longer have the original file; only copies and copies of copies.
This tale of a ship on a frigid sea is the first set in my Sky, Sea, & Stones universe. I was so happy with it that I decided, years later, to begin building the world and writing new stories in it.
Not all of the stories in my collection will be in this world, but a few will be!
Though, my next book, planned for...maybe 2022, will be a full novel set in the SSS universe; one about pirates, sea monsters, and island-sized fossils borne from the chaotic and splendid high fantasy setting of Okeanós.
The Baron of Beholders' Writing Tip #31:
I love nerding-out when writing things in my books because I do so when reading stories I like. It's immensely enjoyable to delve head-first into an interesting world, however, it's important not to get carried away. Some readers may not want to know the entire evolutionary history of a particular kind of lighting-shooting stingray monster, and I need to respect that!
There are times when I notice a failing in this regard in books that I read (but still enjoyed!) that seem like they are spoon-feeding me tiny morsels of lore when I hunger for ancient legends and sinister prophecies.
Conversely, I've read books that do the opposite (which I also still enjoyed!) and dump many pages-worth of lore about a continent's rivers or fields, which, while mildly interesting, doesn't add to the enjoyment of the stories involving things like dragons with hypnotic powers and immortal elves (I'm looking at YOU, Tolkien).
The balance is hard to find, especially if you're proud of what you've come up with (which you should be!). However, a great way to begin to find it is to start simple and expand where needed.
For example, if mentioning the legend about a deity, start with an important detail, like what they were the god/goddess of (the sea, fire, death, etc.).
Then, mention something to quantify their existence, like their form, even if it's incorporeal or intangible.
Following that, introduce a non-vital detail that you think adds to the atmosphere, like attributing phenomena that surround their physical manifestations (storms, explosions, goat-summoning, etc.).
A good place to stop is after 3 things. You can also elaborate more the next time the topic comes up, there's no rush!
This time, in Of the Sky, Of the Sea, and Of the Stones, Athos travels with the hunter-warriors led by the stern Eocar. He gets a lay of the land from observations made on the trek to the house of a supposedly knowledgeable stranger who the fighters of Kioshell seem to think to trust with the dragon's heart.
Chapter 3 - Of the Sea
PLANNING & PUSHING
April 9, 2021
Welcome to the weekend.
New happenings at Rahaman Writing:
Still editing Inner Expanses's 4th edition (page 186/374)
Planning and plotting and organizing
As I edit Inner Expanses, slowly cobble together my short story collection, and maintain my freelance writing, I realize how little time I have to do everything else. I'm woefully "behind" on my reading list (despite there being no deadlines for this) and have been majorly slacking when it comes to social media marketing and advertising. However, there's a time and place for everything, and it actually doesn't make sense for me to try to do everything at once, when I think about it. Doing things in phases can maximize the potential of each step.
I need to finish editing and assembling things first, but after that will come the marketing and advertising (through social media and beyond).
My reading can be done in the evenings after work, as I've been doing, albeit sparsely and sometimes sporadically. I'm almost finished with the book I've been crawling through (though mostly in a positive manner) for the past 6 months. I like it, but I really want to read other things.
Also, I've decided to put some things on hold for a few months while I get my 2 books sorted out. The most relevant for you, dear readers, would be The Baron's Journey. It evolved from a series of 1-page flash fictions into a demonic tale that is planned to be 3 novellas...and also 3 dramatically long poems.
But more on that to come in the summer. For now, I'll be uploading the remaining parts of my journey through the Nine Circles of Hell that I have written, which should be about 2 more installments.
The Baron of Beholders' Writing Tip #32:
Don't push yourself.
Like me, many of you probably feel the need to constantly be chipping away at various projects or creative things. That's great, and objectively an awesome trait to have! However, your brain needs rest.
Try to remember that nothing bad will happen if things take a bit longer. There are no real deadlines, only goals we give ourselves, which are infinitely flexible. The next time you feel the pressure of self-imposed (yet loveable) work, remind yourself that the world moves at a more gradual pace than your mind and desires. And beyond that, the solar system moves even slower, steadier; in a cosmic rhythm. And then, further, beyond that, there is the void speckled with galaxies, where time and space cease to be separate.
Put simply, if you don't write/edit/market/whatever today, it's fine, you can do it later.
The universe won't mind, trust me.
In this installment for Of the Sky, Of the Sea, and Of the Stones, the search for a knowledgeable individual is becoming fruitful as Athos meets the clever Pyloc. The two being to chat, however, Athos is the one providing the most information, though he hopes that this will lead his new acquaintance to share some secrets about The Sea.
Chapter 3 - Of the Sea
April 23, 2021
Good Friday, everyone.
What's new at Rahaman Writing:
Being about 2/3rds done editing Inner Expanses' 4th edition feels pretty good. I can start seeing the end of this project and the beginning of the next, which is to bind together the stories of my upcoming collection.
When done with those, I plan to begin writing my 3rd book (while still marketing the other 2, of course!), though with a bit more downtime. Sometime in the summer, I want to set my schedule out so that I have 1 day off every week as opposed to the 2 days off per month I currently take. Sone success with my freelance writing contract is giving me a bit more financial stability, which I think means that I can afford to relax a little bit more, though not too much.
I don't want to get complacent.
Much like how I tackle each task head-on in The Baron's Journey, I plan to keep kicking ass and taking names.
The Baron of Beholders' Writing Tip #33:
As I write more of SSS while editing Inner Expanses, I've begun to notice that there are some unintentional recurring elements; things that always pop up here and there, regardless of setting or story. One of these things, these self-tropes, is that there's always time spent describing the food (and drinks!) and there are plenty of meal scenes. This is likely due to the fact that my mother is a chef and all throughout my childhood, my parents would insist that we all have dinner together every night (when work didn't get in the way). Such events are an easy way for me to get certain characters to exchange dialogue as well as letting me indicate the time and the mannerisms of the characters in organic, fluid ways. The dialogue itself can be used for any number of reasons; like explaining lore, furthering the plot, and deepening the connection between the characters present.
To get a better idea of what makes your work unique and interesting, I would recommend keeping an eye out for these accidental recurring themes and motifs.
Noticing them can help you see a pattern in your work, which can allow you to dissect these bits and possibly better understand yourself and why you write the way that you do.
This week, in Of the Sky, Of the Sea, and Of the Stones, Pyloc conducts some science while a drowsy and hungry Athos watches with interest.
Chapter 3 - Of the Sea
May 14, 2021
Happy weekend, everyone.
New stuff at Rahaman Writing:
It feels good to be done editing the 4th edition of my 1st novel. I'm happy to say that I think this is the final update for it! I've also decided to take it off of the platforms that were not getting sales and focus on Amazon-only digital publishing. This will allow me to focus more on one platform while taking advantage of the exclusive benefits, which will also cut down on all the work I had to do for the other nearly useless platforms.
I just need to make sure everything looks right in the live version, but Amazon is being annoying in this regard. I got the notification that the contents were updated, however, I cannot see the updates when I look at Inner Expanses on Amazon's online e-reader. I'll have to look into this before I begin marketing or advertising, but the biggest portion of the work, the editing, is done.
The Baron of Beholders' Writing Tip #34:
Routines are important for getting things done in a timely manner as well as for staying on track with one's goals, however, these can take many forms. Little things that are passively enjoyable can be great additions to routines, though, are probably better known as 'subtle rituals'.
As a former smoker (smoked for 12 years and quit in January 2020), I constantly do things with my hands due to lingering habits. While actually typing, this is a non-issue, but when simply thinking about what to write while in front of my computer, I felt restless. I would feel an annoyance in the back of my mind and a craving for tactility, so I did something about it.
A while ago, while doing some cleaning, I found 5 small plastic sharks in an old art kit from my grade school days. I thought these colourful creatures would be nice desk ornaments, so I plopped them down next to my paper tray to guard my important documents. However, as they were sitting there, I noticed that I began to fiddle with them while not typing. This felt really nice; satisfying, and genuinely helped me to focus a bit better.
Since this realization, I now do a little competition between the 5 sharks to see who gets to be my preferred focusing instrument for the day. I roll them on an open stretch of my desk, like dice, and see who lands right-side-up. I eliminate the ones who don't land this way until only a single shark remains (ties get redos until a victor is decided). This little ritual helps me start my writing session off with decisive action, a fun little game, and an ally to aid me.
It can be little things that can increase the comfort and efficiency of one's routine.
If you're having a hard time with some aspects of your creative process, maybe add a little writing ritual to the start of your day to begin things with a few positives.
In this installment for Of the Sky, Of the Sea, and Of the Stones, Athos and Pyloc turn in for the night after a relaxing meal, though their discussion turns to where Athos must travel next in search of lore about The Sea.
Chapter 3 - Of the Sea
May 28, 2021
Good Friday, readers.
Regular everyday happenings at Rahaman Writing:
Planning, plotting, and kicking ass
I've managed to figure out the issue with updating my book on Amazon. Turns out, if the contents are different enough, Amazon won't let you upload that new file under the identity of that specific book.
However, you can unpublish that book and then create an entirely new book that is exactly the same in every way (including the title) and then use the new content file, which, for some reason, lets the ratings and reviews be transferred over.
Weird and complicated, but it works.
Story of my life.
But now I have the knowledge of what to do, and what not to do, in the future. Further updates should be a breeze.
I'll have to sort out all the links on my website, but I've got significant plans for Rahaman Writing: lots of fine-tuning, disposing of useless pages, and adding new content.
If you're wondering why Inner Expanses is worth all the trouble, know that this dark fantasy novel is not only meant to be an interesting and unique story full of vibrant characters and fascinating settings, but is also a violent rejection of the boring, mundane, generic trash that is polluting the market. I'm not going to name names, but I'm sure you all can think of the kind of garbage I mean; watered-down stolen ideas and repetitive tropes that tick the boxes of "what the specific demographic likes".
Inner Expanses is a wild and sinister ride that blends the kinds of brutal monster battles and powerful magic that epitomizes what I believe the dark fantasy genre stands for. Yet, it has humanity, and offers a new perspective; one of change brought on by determination.
If you want to see what that's like without having to buy Inner Expanses right away, you can check out the free excerpt on my website taken from the 3rd Edition (4th Edition excerpt coming soon!).
The Baron of Beholders' Writing Tip #35:
Imperfections can make things more beautiful. Whether it is the flaw in a character that makes them relatable or the rampant chaos of an abstract painting.
Mistakes are meant to be learned from and avoided, but imperfections are not mistakes. The roughness of a stone is not a flaw, but a feature, as is the slight asymmetry of the human face and body. Knowing how to instill imperfections can be tough; this is one of the subtle things that separates a relatable story from a loveable one.
For example, look at a classic piece of literature: The Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit quartet is undeniably in over their heads and starts out being vastly underqualified for the quest they are on, however, you'd be as well!
Everyone likes to think they'd be like Aragorn or Éowyn, but most would fit the role of Merry or Pippin; unfocused and a bit clumsy (at first, anyway).
It's the relatability that lets certain scenes, like where Gandalf scolds Pippin comically, stick in our minds as loveable and worth remembering.
Try to make sure your characters aren't perfect.
Perfect is boring and forgettable. Give you characters flaws, which can be anything! Greed, physical injuries, impatience; there are tons of physical and mental aspects that you can show in your characters to make them more interesting and memorable.
In the next installment for Of the Sky, Of the Sea, and Of the Stones, Athos and Pyloc begin their expedition to the sea temple rumoured to house spirits of the dead and a mysterious mangled monster. They must first, however, gather a party and some supplies.
Chapter 3 - Of the Sea
The Gate Beyond Realms
June 11, 2021
Good Friday, everyone.
New developments at Rahaman Writing:
I've been taking sort of a break from poetry over the last few weeks, as well as from posting content on social media due to simply not giving myself enough time to maintain my presence there as much as I have in the past. This is partially because I tend to sleep in a lot more these days and because I simply have less desire to be social. I'm finding contentment and readers in different ways that are unconventional yet profitable.
Though, I do want to start ramping up my social media presence again as I prepare to release my short story collection for a smooth and successful launch; one that will be immensely more far-reaching and long-lasting in terms of gaining and sustaining readers.
To do that, I think poetry is promising, as I've had some decent success with finding new readers via posting some of my poems on Twitter. Furthermore, I genuinely enjoy writing poetry as a creative outlet and for catharsis.
With that said, I'm going to change things up a bit and begin sharing my more carefully crafted poems in this newsletter first and tweeting about them later. Not in every issue, but once in a while, to make sure my newsletter readers are continuing to get my best content first!
Here's one I wrote a little while ago about how I feel regarding my creative process, and maybe that of a few others. Click on the image to listen to a recording of me reading it.
The Baron of Beholders' Writing Tip #36:
Sitting around for hours at a time can cause some health issues, so if you're a fellow writer or anyone else who works from a sitting position most of the day, please make sure to get up and move around every once in a while! The body needs to move around not only to feel physically better but increase blood flow and help with digestion. Both of these things also affect one's mental state, meaning that a physically active lifestyle results in a more mentally active one; a positive long-term trait for writers and many others.
Put simply, get up every 2-3 hours and do about 5-10 minutes of light stretching or exercise, like going for a walk or even a few push-ups and some time on a treadmill. The activity will increase your brain's productivity while also allowing you to focus on something other than your work for a few minutes, giving you a cognitive break.
In this installment for Of the Sky, Of the Sea, and Of the Stones, Athos, Pyloc, and a pair of monster-crab hunters travel down the only major road on Kioshell Island toward the Pleon Ruins, the first leg on their expedition to the Sea Temple.
Chapter 3 - Of the Sea
Strike While the Iron is Hot
June 26, 2021
Happy Friday, readers.
Work updates at Rahaman Writing:
Completed the final piece of internal art for my short story collection
Began compiling the stories of this collection into a single file
The tale behind the cover above is Tempered and Quenched, which looks at the events and people inhabiting an island in this Sky, Sea, & Stone world (Okeanós). On this island, Xifias, people are primarily occupied with writing and warring in almost equal measure; a literal nation of poet warriors.
One of the important cultural traits of Xifias involves people honing a particular weapon over the course of their life while inscribing important words upon it. These words can be mantras, poems, short stories, or even singular words, however, these bits of weaponry writing get updated as the writer-warrior reforges, repairs, or improves their armament.
This is easily one of the longest and most complex stories in Unusual Tales for the Curious Mind, bordering on being a novella that could probably be turned into a full novel if I wanted. My editor for this tale, a friend of Rahaman Writing as well as fellow fantasy and horror writer Sean C. R. Hill from the blog Shadow & Sorcery, mentioned to me that the earlier drafts of Tempered and Quenched felt like they were missing details, which, I found odd because I had intentionally created what I thought was a new, interesting, unique, and fun setting for a story. When I asked Sean a few questions about the matter, he elaborated by saying that what was missing were details about the more common things that grounded the setting so that the more interesting bits could feel significant as opposed to simply being a foreign setting where people were different.
While editing this tale, I decided to be less worried about keeping it short and more concerned about fleshing out the more relatable parts of life on Xifias so that readers would relate to and care about the people there as well as what happened to them. I did not compromise by inserting tropes, however, but simply elaborated more on the relationships between the side characters to give certain events more passion, sadness, and even humour.
After all the editing, I realized that all of the themes about strengthening one's writing and weapon through experience, resolve, and forge-work in Tempered and Quenched were very much like what I was doing to the story itself while editing. While I definitely planned the story to evoke such feelings in writers who read it, this still caught me off guard because of how on-point the prose was when going over the effort it takes to craft a work of true worth.
Appropriately, this was probably the tale that I spent the most time editing because of how much work it needed and how long it is. In the end, the story was forged and honed to as sharp a state as I can make it.
The Baron of Beholders' Writing Tip #37:
Sometimes, I get so caught up in creating the fantastic that I forget about some fundamentals; things that allow true fantasy tales to fly.
I found that the best way to write better fantasy is to keep things simple. For example, while writing about a character going on an epic adventure, I sometimes start by picturing how they get up in the morning and go about their routine. I rarely write such specific details into stories, as I fear it would be terribly boring, but I certainly keep them in mind while writing other scenes.
However, subtly inserting mannerisms, gestures, and other reactions can be excellent and low-effort ways to get readers to think about your characters as people and not things existing only on paper.
In this part for Of the Sky, Of the Sea, and Of the Stones, Athos and his traveling party encounter an unusual obstacle and must make a detour.
Chapter 3 - Of the Sea
About Inner Monologues
July 9, 2021
Welcome to the weekend, everyone.
New at Rahaman Writing:
Updated the broad release dates of all Future Works
As I plan and plot, there are times when I need to adjust the expected end-date of certain projects. I keep finding more and more ways to improve my writing and market my work, which adds to the time it takes to accomplish everything.
The most recent update to Rahaman Writing saw me push the tentative release date of my short story collection to a full year later than I expected to have it ready for the public.
I wanted to have it out by last summer, but it looks like it will take me to the end of this summer to complete it in a manner that I'm satisfied with in terms of quality.
While this feels a bit like I'm stalling or hesitating, I have to remind myself that there's nothing wrong with polishing a product before publishing.
I have fully assembled all of the stories into a single file and am now editing them once more, and will probably do another spelling and grammar check afterward as well. There were too many typos in Inner Expanses when it was released last year, and I'm never going to let that happen again.
The Baron of Beholders' Writing Tip #38:
One trait that I see in a lot of modern novels written from the first-person perspective is a tremendous amount of inner monologuing. While in small and moderate amounts this can help readers understand and connect with the protagonist, however, this can also weigh down the prose of a book if done in a heavy-handed manner.
Detail is important, but there can definitely be too much of a good thing, especially when the inner thoughts of a character begin reflecting the personal thoughts and opinions of the writer. There's no denying that there's a little bit of the writer in every character, especially protagonists that sometimes end up being a writer's self-insert character. However, a writer's real-world opinions should never dominate the thoughts of a character to the point of inadvertently slowing down the pace of a book.
Another thing about excessive inner monologuing that can negatively affect a story is the breaking of the fourth wall. References by the character to the story being a book, and similar occurrences, make me cringe every time because of how severely my immersion gets shattered. I hate this with a passion as it only harms the piece of fiction it is in by taking the reader out of the scene in an unexpected and pointless manner.
There are some concepts that it's better to show a character doing than to have them think about. For example, when trying to show a character's kindness, instead of having them passively remember doing something nice for someone, write a scene where they are doing that same thing while making sure to include gestures, expressions, and postures for maximum relatability.
When in doubt while writing about your characters' thoughts and feelings, just ask yourself, "Is this bit of information necessary to the development of the story and characters, or is it just how I think and feel about something specific right now?"
During this section for Of the Sky, Of the Sea, and Of the Stones, our scholars and hunter-warriors travel through a frigid ruin once razed long ago by fierce sea beasts... but they aren't alone.
Chapter 3 - Of the Sea
Another Paradigm Shift
July 23, 2021
Happy Friday, readers.
Ongoing at Rahaman Writing:
Still editing Unusual Tales for the Curious Mind (5/13 stories edited [1st draft])
Writing Issue #50 of The Rahaman Reader brought with it an interesting realization. It did not mark any sort of anniversary, as I've changed when each issue gets released from a weekly basis to essentially every other week. This was in order to give me more time for my freelance writing as well as more time to work on my books, which, has turned out wonderfully! I have a lot more time to get things done and this has allowed me to also get more much-needed rest.
This has worked so well, in fact, that I'm going to do the same thing once more! As of August 2021, issues The Rahaman Reader will now be published only on the 4th Friday of each month.
This will give me even more time to finish my short story collection and for my freelance writing while also (hopefully) not diminishing this newsletter to the point where people will stop reading. I plan to continue giving the same attention to detail and high-quality content that I have been so far, just not quite as often as prioritizing other aspects of my life seem more beneficial right now.
Also, as I take a step back and look at the history of The Rahaman Reader over the past year, I realize that I've put out many more issues full of a lot more content and updates than pretty much any other newsletter that I'm aware of or subscribe to myself. This does not imply that I think I'm better, only that I have put more into trying to reach out to readers, albeit sometimes in a heavy-handed manner. With that said, I believe setting a publishing pace for my newsletter that is similar to what others do will be beneficial for both sharing my content and the enjoyment of my readers.
The Baron of Beholders' Writing Tip #39:
Blood is important in all stories revolving around most organisms, particularly humans. Not only does a character's heritage factor into who they are but such things can (and have) been used in storytelling methods for a very long time.
Firstly, you have the cultural, geographical, and biological aspects that define a character in a few ways. In this regard, the blood of a character and their people means their social identity and the traits they possess that are common to their families and neighbours. For example, a character's resilience to cold climates may be due to being raised in a cold place where their family has lived for hundreds of years and has developed a natural resistance to freezing temperatures.
Then, you have non-realistic aspects such as you would see in speculative fiction. The above-mentioned qualities still apply, though in conjunction with magical bloodlines, new properties of the sanguine in a given world (having qualities pertaining to "destiny" or "luck"), or the relation it has to mythical creatures that are involved in a story (like vampires who drink it).
When writing about your characters, remember to think about their blood, as this will likely lead to you fleshing out important details about them, their history, and the setting they live within.
In this part, for Of the Sky, Of the Sea, and Of the Stones, the party traveling to the mysterious Sea Temple full of lore must do battle with a hostile race of sapient crustaceans: the violent and mighty Homarim.
Chapter 3 - Of the Sea