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Beyond & Back Again

Recently, (the day of this post, actually), I began one of my annual traditions: re-reading The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings! - I used to do The Silmarillion too, but good Lord, that one takes some dedication!

If you're reading this then you've probably read at least some of my stuff. You've, um... probably noticed how much I enjoy Tolkien's universe (plus a few others). More times than naught, I get flack for re-reading his books. Why is that?

Ok, ok, can I be a picky reader? Yes, most definitely. But there's just something with re-reading a favorite book. I just started Bilbo's most famous adventure today - and already I love it once again. Each time, the experience is new, yet familiar all at once. And while I almost know the story by heart now, it doesn't lessen the anticipation or enjoyment I get from delving back into it again.

This may be a 'no-duh' sort of realization here, but as I was reading the thought occurred to me how it wasn't the book that had changed - the power and feeling Middle Earth gives me; re-reading gave me a chance to mark how I have changed as I've been swept off my feet on my own adventure over the years. I see new connections as I read. New patterns. I enjoy new depths and look for new details. It's a lovely thing. It really is.

Especially as a fantasy writer, it seems like Tolkien is a dirty word, professionally speaking. Saying your next novel is like Lord of the Rings is considered literary taboo. Why is that? If I ever get to where I write a story that generates that much love and devotion, that over half a century later people are still re-reading it, well... that's the dream. That's the goal. It's not a bad thing whatsoever.

Recently, I was able to spend some time with Mark Coker, CEO and Founder of Smashwords. Talking about how the writing industry is actively being redefined (and not always in a good way), it really got me thinking about the balance between 'Making Good Art' and paying the bills. If you're a fellow writer, than I expect you're right here with me. We currently live in a world where it's hard to sell a story for .99 cents. We deal with constant rejection. We have to navigate through the endlessly changing labyrinth of publishing avenues, literary agency requests, publisher preferences, and current genre trends.

I mean hell, right now I have three books in the works, I have to write more or less regular blog posts, market myself, handle my own speaking engagements, create regular newsletters, arrange and do book signings, try and stay on top of what's going on in the writing industry, continue to work with my agent... you know? I'm not complaining, I'm just putting this out there. I mean, is it just me, or do authors and books get chronically undervalued?

This is the truth of it: we, the dreamers and storytellers, are often at the whim of titanic publishing forces and fickle online market trends.

Recently, a fellow author suggested there is a dichotomy between readers and writers. Personally, I disagree. Doesn't everyone and their mom always talk about how writers have to be readers first and foremost? I'm suspicious when people forget the heart of why writers create. I'm unconvinced of the all mighty dollar's inevitable sway over the imagination. Am I dribbling some vitriol here? Sure. A little. Ok, fine, yes. But this is important.

It's important because I don't think anyone, myself included, should be 'writing for a genre-specific audience'. People want good stories. It's all we've ever wanted, to be honest. I'll be hunting for new stories to love in the meantime, while also rereading the enduring classics which continue to shape and form my identity and whimsy each year.

Happy October!

- Ryan


My illustrated and coloring book editions of my short story,

The Trombonist of Munst, will be releasing THIS NOVEMBER!! I'll have signings at Main Street Books in St Charles, MO, as well as my annual Black Friday signing at Quincy Books in Quincy, IL. Come say hey!

Also, I'm happy to announce I've been asked to write for the wonderful folks at Beyond Skyrim!! - Super pumped about that, as I'm a ginormous Elder Scrolls fan.

Let's see here, what else? Oh, if you or someone you know has always wanted their book published but isn't sure how to go about it, let's talk! - The Author Services i offer is all about that! If you're already published, but want marketing help, we can talk about that, as well.

Lastly, I believe the next installment of the Rienspel series (of the first volume, that is), Firehall, is set to release THIS Friday! Pre-release orders are available here.

Per usual, all my books are available here - check out a new read. Recommend to a friend. Enjoy!

I think that's it! Take care! (Now, where did I put that jack-o-lantern?)


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