24 March 2014 @ 06:17 am
Indie Discoveries--Andrea K. Höst  
Returned from ConDor in San Diego last night. I think it was the best one ever, so many fast and interesting exchanges my arthritic fingers couldn't keep up with notes. Steampunk overlay, which meant lots of discussion of history, history of literature, blending with genre--my favorite thing ever.

So, home again, and into a new week! I was thinking of beginning an occasional series focusing specifically on indie discoveries. This one is about Andrea K. Höst.

I invite you to talk about her books, about other indie discoveries, and about indie publishing. If you like this sort of thing, let me know, and I'll definitely talk about more indies I'm reading and loving.
 
 
cianthecatcianthecat on March 24th, 2014 01:43 pm (UTC)
I think I will have to try her novels, they sound right up my alley. Thanks for this!
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 24th, 2014 01:46 pm (UTC)
:-) I hope you enjoy them!
whswhs: pic#67542548whswhs on March 24th, 2014 03:24 pm (UTC)
Somehow I'm not surprised to find that you share my feeling that the discussions—both formal, at panels, and informal, in conversations—are the high point of conventions.
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 24th, 2014 03:49 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes. Wasn't it a great weekend? Even though I had to leave early (my daughter needed to be taken to Urgent Care) I discovered my throat was froggy, just from yapping so much. I don't think I talk as much in six months as I did at that con!
whswhs: pic#67542548whswhs on March 24th, 2014 04:48 pm (UTC)
The panels seemed well attended this year, too. The big draws had audiences of over fifty, which is quite a crowd for a small con.
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 24th, 2014 05:00 pm (UTC)
I think the programming is better than ever. I also noticed lots and lots more younger fans and writers. I kinda wish James would do a YA Condor, drawing all those people back. But Steampunk ramifies in so many directions!)
whswhswhswhs on March 24th, 2014 05:29 pm (UTC)
May I quote you to Jim? He works hard at programming, and it's one of those jobs that don't get enough recognition.
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 24th, 2014 06:35 pm (UTC)
Yes! I did try to tell him yesterday, but he was so busy, I expect I was just another distraction.

Really a terrific jobs, and I was hearing it on all sides, too.
Queen of the Skiesqueenoftheskies on March 24th, 2014 03:33 pm (UTC)
It was so good to see you over the weekend. There were many great discussions, weren't there?

I've been considering giving her books a try. I've tried several indies you've recommended and really enjoyed them, so I'll pick up one of her books soon.

I love the recs and hope you continue to discuss indies.
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 24th, 2014 03:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks! It was lovely hanging out. I was chuckling over some of those "guest" stories as I drove home late last night.
Rachel M Brownrachelmanija on March 24th, 2014 05:31 pm (UTC)
publishing has been through such a metamorphosis over the past 200 years that the word ‘traditional’ really seems to mean ‘as has been the practice for the past fifty years

This is a key point that I rarely see mentioned. The entire structure of agents and editors and distribution to libraries is comparatively recent-- and many books considered classics did not have editors as we understand the term now.

I have noticed that certain elements of novels which used to be popular and even standard, such as the omniscient POV or lengthy digressions into character, setting, and backstory not directly related to the main plot, are now often considered book-destroying flaws. I've even seen readers say things like, "Well, it would have been a good book, but it had more than one/more than two POVs, and that's just unreadable for me."

Fashions in writing change, of course. But readers' tastes are shaped by what's available and what they're used to. I wonder if the tendency to streamline a story, to limit the subplots and digressions and POVs, to have only one hero rather than an ensemble, is something that may change now that writers don't have to have their books shaped and trimmed down by others.

I'm not saying all editors hate multiple POVS, or that books are never improved by editing. I'm just saying that when most books must go through a similar process and are handled by large, profit-driven corporations before they ever reach readers, one of the results can be that some aspects of writing become homogenized by the process.

What is the book of Host's that has the mage forced to go home?
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 24th, 2014 06:38 pm (UTC)
Yes--it might be worth talking about how publishing, coming off the distant-third POV so popular in the thirties, and coupled with the streamlined novels of mid-century (sixty thousand words max) developed a readership that has no concept of narrative voice. Thinks the distant third viewpoint represents the author. Thinks that omniscient is head-hopping. Which is a different problem.
Rachel M Brownrachelmanija on March 24th, 2014 07:00 pm (UTC)
As an example of how books are shaped simply by going through the publishing process, I and many other writers I know have been told that we need to cut [x] number of words - not to improve the story or the pace, but because the publisher already announced that the book would be a certain number of pages and the booksellers made arrangements based on shelf space, or because the bookseller has decided that there is a "correct" length for that genre, or some similar and purely business-based reason.

It's publishers, agents, and other non-author, non-reader entities who decide how long a book in a certain genre is allowed to be: see all the discussion of how long YA or children's or romance novels need to be before they can be submitted: if they're above or below a certain word count, agents won't even ask to see the manuscript. Not adhering to a certain word count is considered unprofessional, the sure sign of an amateur.

Those standards are completely arbitrary. But if, say, all YA is between 80K and 100K in length, and that's all a reader has ever read, then a book that's longer or shorter will feel "too short" or "too long," no matter how good it is. But a reader from a time or place which has different ideas about the correct length, or which doesn't consider that a factor at all, will judge by different criteria.
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 24th, 2014 07:31 pm (UTC)
Ah, yes. Price point dictation.
asakiyumeasakiyume on March 25th, 2014 02:05 am (UTC)
Ebooks are good at subverting this because you can't immediately see how long they are.
Estara: pic#2810740estara on March 24th, 2014 09:06 pm (UTC)
It's the second Darest book, Bones of the Fair
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 24th, 2014 09:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Estara--I got so busy blabbing about the rest that I brain gassed that question.
asakiyumeasakiyume on March 25th, 2014 02:04 am (UTC)
I have noticed that certain elements of novels which used to be popular and even standard, such as the omniscient POV or lengthy digressions into character, setting, and backstory not directly related to the main plot, are now often considered book-destroying flaws.

--yes, these used to be things that people enjoyed.

Fashions in writing change, of course. But readers' tastes are shaped by what's available and what they're used to.

And so much this. Things are beyond the pale until suddenly they're not. Like, "no infodumping, please." Well, my dad had a short story that started with, and was punctuated by, straight-out info dumps--the narrator simply bringing the reader up to speed about the history of Venice. It got into Asimov's and was in some best-of anthology or other, I'm pretty sure, which means readers liked it just fine. And yet I remember when he was on a panel that year, how much resistance he got when he said, "Well, sometimes you can just present information."

With the music industry, we can like pop top-40 songs (I do like some pop top-40 songs), but we can also like weird indie music of all varieties, and people acknowledge that fringe music enriches music. And yeah, not all garage bands are great, but some of them are.
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 25th, 2014 02:06 am (UTC)
Infodumps often don't seem like info dumps if the narrative voice relates them entertainingly (Terry Pratchett, Steven Brust) or ties them into the story in such a way that either character or readers, or both, want and need to know them.
asakiyumeasakiyume on March 25th, 2014 05:39 am (UTC)
Yes, if they're entertaining, no one minds.
anna_wing on March 25th, 2014 04:05 am (UTC)
Someone on my LJ friends-list has already tried and liked one of her books based on my rave review in my own LJ, so I'm feeling quite pleased with myself.

When I started reading her books (after seeing your review of "Champion of the Rose") I found them so very unlike what the current US/UK fantasy genre is offering that I was actually surprised that she had found a publisher. Then I realised that she had self-published (not having previously come across this phenomenon). When I read her Touchstone trilogy, I was amused and pleased (I have also read all twelve volumes of the History of Middle-earth) at the Gratuitous Epilogue, which contained much interesting material and was also definitely something that wouldn't have been published otherwise. Previously I suppose it would have gone up on the author's website as a freebie, and before the Internet it would probably never have been seen at all.



Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 25th, 2014 04:06 am (UTC)
That review of yours was splendid. I am not surprised you got someone to try the books.
cianthecatcianthecat on April 10th, 2014 12:52 pm (UTC)
*spoiler alert*
I was secretly hoping Ghost would find them back on Muina.
I loved the Touchstone books, thanks to you guys I've found another great author to read. :)
Sherwood Smithsartorias on April 10th, 2014 01:51 pm (UTC)
:-)
Thomas Yan: pic#35546744thomasyan on March 25th, 2014 07:14 pm (UTC)
I did like And All the Stars, so I just went and bought the Stray/Touchstone trilogy :)
Sherwood Smithsartorias on March 25th, 2014 07:53 pm (UTC)
Yay! I hope you enjoy it!
cianthecatcianthecat on April 10th, 2014 12:50 pm (UTC)
On this recommendation I just finished the Touchstone Trilogy and loved it! I couldn't put it down. Thank you so much for that, it's the best feeling on the world when you find books like that.
Sherwood Smithsartorias on April 10th, 2014 01:50 pm (UTC)
Yay! I am so glad!