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Ask a Demon - Halloween Edition by Ryan Hill

 

Can you hear it?

Angels blowing their horns?

No?

That's because it's HALLOWEEN!

The greatest day of the year, or any year. A day when demons can shed their human facade, revealing the true form hiding underneath, and walk around in our birthday suits. Nobody would bat an eye, freak out, or wet their pants. They'd say, "cool costume bruh," or give us first prize in costume contests.

Me? I look way too sexy to drop my human appearance. I don't feel the need to show the world my demon form and not be judged. I'm secure in my exquisite looks like that.

But I digress.

Halloween has shifted a bit over the years, going from the Irish holiday of Samhain, where humans greeted us with food and alcohol in exchange for letting some of their dead relatives hang out for a few hours. Eventually, the bribes stopped, and the holiday became the one day of the year where it was okay to get mad over receiving a pack of raisins over some candy. Scratch that. It's always acceptable to get mad over getting a pack of raisins. They're disgusting. Worst use of grapes ever.

On to the Halloween questions!

Cinnamon from West Virginia asks:

Why are some costumes called slutty? Most of them seem okay to me.

The companies that make Halloween costumes are morons. Aside from selling outfits named "Slutty Nurse," their business model makes zero sense. They only sell their product one month out of the year! Is that an organization that should be passing judgment on what's considered slutty? Methinks not.

Besides, dressing up as a nurse - especially when you aren't one - is pretty much the equivalent of wearing a nurse costume. The only difference between an official outfit and the "slutty" costume version is a couple of inches.

Have a question for me? Send it to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com.

Jake from Austin asks:

Is it okay to put razorblades in candy?

No. No, man. Don't mess with kids. Ever. The worst parts of Hell are reserved for people who mess with kids: right next to everyone who thought elevator music was a good idea.

Tim from Atlanta asks:

Bartholomew, is there any costume you wish more people wore on Halloween?

That's an easy one. Birthday suit.

Need advice from Bartholomew? Want to know what movie to see this weekend? Send your question to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com.

Notes from a query reader 2 by Ryan Hill

 

My previous Notes from a query reader post was very much a brain dump, an overview of what I've learned while reading query letters and manuscript excerpts. These excerpts are almost always a novel's first few chapters, and in the last post I stressed the importance of having a James Bond-type opening. Something that grabs the reader (in this case, me) by the throat. 

I can't stress this enough. Get into the meat of the story later. Be sparing with your details. If you're introducing a character at the beginning, do it with actions, not descriptions. 

One item I'm starting to see over and over again is a story starting with the main character getting out of bed, starting their day.

Does that sound exciting? Does that make you want to read more? Gee, this character just got out of bed! What will happen next? Stretch? Yawn? GO BACK TO SLEEP?

Don't do this. I'm begging you.

The only author - off the top of my head - that can get away with starting a novel with their main character waking up is Dan Brown. All of his novels start with Robert Langdon being waken up in the middle of the night by a phone call to help with some situation. That's... okay. Something is happening. 

Look, when you've sold a bajillion books like Brown, you can start a novel that way. Until then, show your main character in action. Make them proactive. 

Maybe a lot of writers start novels this way because it happens a lot in movies. The catch is there's energetic music that can be played, and often the opening credits are also rolling, so a lot of filmmakers keep things simple during that span. Novels don't have the luxury of a booming soundtrack. All they have is words. Make them count.

HOOK THE READER. For someone like me, who only reads queries and maybe the first three chapters, don't save your best for last. Put it front and center so I'll want the higher ups to look at the query. 

GOING ROGUE Author Drew Hayes Returns to THE AUTHORDOME by Ryan Hill

 

Two authors enter.

Two authors leave.

Few know this premise better than Drew Hayes, who's gone toe-to-toe, author-to-author, beta male-to-beta male more than anyone else in the known universe. Why does Drew keep coming back? Is it to shamelessly promote himself and his latest release, Going Rogue out today? An innate desire to see how far he can push himself before breaking? Maybe Drew craves competition. Maybe he knows there's no other place that will test his wits like the Authordome. 

Nah. He just enjoys the Authordome, and the Authordome enjoys having him!

Thanks for stepping into the Authordome. You were a part of these interviews before they became the Authordome? Does it feel any different, knowing you've stepped into a post-apocalyptic world of questions and answers?

I mean, I live in Texas, so we’ve pretty much got the amped-up cars and gun part of the post-apocalypse down pat. The only parts we’re missing is worse weather and less traffic. 

Going Rogue is the third in the Spells, Swords, & Stealth series. Do you have a set number of entries in this series, or will it go on and on until it loses steam, like Seinfeld? In other words, the series is about non-playable characters. How long can you play with non-playable characters?

No set number, I’ve just got a general story in mind, and however long it takes to tell will be the series. I doubt it will go past 10 though, I have a hard time imagining it would be fun and fresh in the double digits. But since I’ve got an endpoint in mind, I’d say it’s more Gravity Falls than Seinfeld. Also, you know Seinfeld went out when it was still on top, right? If you want something that limped across the finish line, maybe start using Spin City or That 70’s Show.

Authordome note: Meh. That last season of Seinfeld was butt. Season Nine wasn't so hot either. The rest? GOLD, JERRY!

A lot of series tend to have "threequelitis," where the second sequel in a series pretty much jumps the shark. There's Veronica Roth's Allegiant, Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave series fell apart at the seams, The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest couldn't recapture that Dragon Tattoo magic, and some would say Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay was a far cry from The Hunger Games. Even the Authordome is play on Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, which suffered from threequelitis. How did you go about avoiding threequelitis, or did Going Rogue succumb to the evil?

I think the key to avoiding that issue is to specifically avoid trying to recapture past magic. Don’t try to grab what you once held, instead focus on making it the best story for the characters as they are now, having grown and changed over two previous books. That was my strategy, anyway. Like all authors, I’m too close to give an objective opinion on if it worked, but all the beta-reader feedback so far has been pretty darn positive, so it’s looking like I may have dodged the threequelitis bullet.

Full disclosure: I haven't read any of the Spells, Swords & Stealth series. Does that make you want to lop my head off with a broadsword?

Nah, everyone who knows you is aware that you have terrible taste. Not surprising that you’d have missed this gem of a series.

Is there anyone in the series that's a badass on the level of Brienne of Tarth? Any badass heroines at all? 

It’s hard to compare direct levels without an actual fight, but I have a heroine who is a barbarian wearing demon-hide armor and swinging around a cursed axe like it’s going out of style. I’d say she’s at least a contender for equal badass grounds.

In thirty seconds or less, tell us why your series is better than Game of Thrones. I won't be timing you, so this is on the honor system. Go!

When I promise dragons, damn it I deliver on them. No long waits required.

Now for every other book in the fantasy genre, because I can't think of another series off the top of my head. Go!

Well, I promise I don’t spend entire chapters describing intricate systems of trade and macroeconomics for the fictional kingdoms. That’s got to put me above 70% of the genre right there.

The Authordome can sometimes feel a bit one-sided. Is there anything you'd like to ask me?

How’d you get someone as big as Drew Hayes on your blog?

Authordome answer: Every dog has its day? The sun even shines on a dog's ass everyone once in a while? Something to do with dogs...

Per Amazon, this is a list of the top fantasy authors. In the known universe.

1. J.K. Rowling
2. Shannon Meyer
3. Bella Forrest
4. Diana Gabaldon
5. George R.R. Martin
98. Drew Hayes

Thoughts?

Holy shit, I’m in the top 100? I was not expecting that. Haven’t even had a release in months. Um, I guess to put my thoughts concisely: Woohoo!

Sticking with this, your name recently popped up on author Christopher Moore's Amazon page in the "Customers also bought items by" list. As of Oct. 7, your name seems to have been replaced with... Christopher Moore. Tell me. How does this make you feel? Happy? Sad? 

Honestly just the fact that it happened at all was pure encouragement. I was not expecting to be sharing an audience with Christopher Moore yet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a career goal and something I’m working toward, but one day I plan to take that spot for good. Still, it’s an uphill battle, and there’s no sense in claiming victory before I’ve earned it.

What about the fact that I'm not even on your author page under the same section? Personally, that one stings.

Aw, don’t worry man. Keep at it, and one day you’ll get there.

In haiku format, tell us why we should read/buy/steal Going Rogue:

Five Adventurers
Hijinks, battle, monsters, and gold
Also there’s a pig