Thursday, July 18, 2024

Naming characters

Naming characters is always a bit of a challenge. I try to derive from real nationalities that fit the culture of the characters. However, I do make some changes and set up rules.

In the Starfire Angels universe, there are some rules I established when it came to cultures. For instance, Inari names do kind of have a mash between Japanese and biblical names. There's also a general ending of male names of -is, although that's not a rule, just a general style. Their names are also backwards ordered from western names, which the Ethalians copy--familial name then individual name, or what we would consider last-name first-name order. They also are a matriarchal culture, so the mother's familial name is assigned to children.

For other fictional cultures, I used different styles. Since Feri don't use hard consonants (c/k, q, t) their language is softer in some ways, but I wanted it to be a language of beauty, an irony for their warrior and cultish religious discipline. Their name order is another that's unique, a first-name middle-name [of] father-name [and from] mother-name at their fullest. You'll see this in Book 13, SOUL SHADOW, when L'Ni is identified by his full name in his memories.

And sometimes, I name things after real life. The name Zaer was inspired by a real last name I saw and I thought that had just the right sound for the character. 

And in an upcoming book - ALL THE KING'S MEN - I have a horse named after a real horse I knew.

Red (aka Blood) bay horse - red body
with black mane & tail, ear tips, &
lower legs, often the muzzle too. 

(ID 28896658 © Virgonira
- Dreamstime.com)
In this case, the character is an animal and I didn't hesitate to make him identical to the real life namesake. In the case of the horse in the story, Quint was the real name of a Quarter Horse ridden by the men in my stepfamily when I was a kid. Quint was the meanest gelding I ever knew and I kept my distance from him. He would only respect men, until he was a senior and slowed down. He was cowy through and through, though, which means he could turn any cow and went after them like the devil he was.

In the story, the fictional Quint has very little page time but has a big presence like his namesake. I made him a red (blood) bay like his namesake too and just as mean, but a stallion instead of a gelding (the real Quint was a gelding and still as mean as any stallion might be). The fictional horse, however, has a touch of intelligence such as I've seen on some horses who can seem nuts but turn docile when a particular situation requires it. I once had a half-Arabian that did this--completely forward and ready to go for me but absolutely deadhead on a loose rein when a child rode him.

As a horseperson, it was fun for me to feature an equine minor character, and it kind of made up for being chased by that mean gelding I grew up fearing.

The horse in the story has a small part, but he became a big personality within the story and gets to kick some Issan in armor. And the reason there are horses on a planet in another galaxy is explained in the series--transplanted from Earth like the humans, same as the Ethalians.

Now, I just need to write the description for ALL THE KING'S MEN. In the meantime, I thought it might be fun to share some of the background on it.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

PILOT EPISODE: The Promised Land Series

I came across this and am enjoying it more than I expected. Imagine the story of the Exodus from Egypt... The Office style. 🤣

(It helps to have read the Bible to have some background.)


I recognize some of the actors and actresses in this.

Monday, July 15, 2024

For Such a Time as This...

After what happened Saturday, I have debated on sharing this, but feel that now is an appropriate time, given my faith posts and my blog page with the hundreds of links of faith videos, articles, and YouTube Channels. There is a divine providence in the miraculous circumstances that saved the life of Pres. Donald Trump that was pre-ordained for such a time as this:


"And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” 
- Esther 4:14



And for something else to help people realize why we need God more than ever, an excellent presentation about eliminating our sins so that we can grow closer to God:


Sunday, July 7, 2024

It's here... HOMECOMING

The book is finished, uploaded, and already reaching some of the major bookstores.

I finished last night but had some reservations about publishing and waited until this morning, after letting myself sleep on it. I had to be absolutely certain that the book was really ready. Part of that was giving myself a chance to think of any more details like I had done already--things come to me when I'm not actively editing but in that mindset doing something else like household chores.

The other part was debating a couple of places in the book, whether I wanted to keep some sections of backstory (aka info-dump/flashback narrative) in the story about some of the side characters. However, these were characters from the earlier parts of the Starfire Angels series (Dark Angel Chronicles and Revelations). I decided that these characters and their past interactions were worth explaining, because it highlights something more about the Starfire, which readers will know is a key to defeating the Issan deity, and because it offers something about the past of the characters and touches on their links to one another. Those who read the other two series will appreciate the updates more than new readers, but it will help new readers too.

I finally decided that I could either edit it to death or just publish. It's the same old battle. As I get further along on this series, I get a bit more paranoid about missing things or messing up a detail, but I did go back to Remnants and reviewed bits of the Nepur'din information there.

In the end, I feel that HOMECOMING is as good as it could get and any more editing would probably detract from it. It's a fine line between editing enough and over-editing.

It's now available. I'll send out the email notice tomorrow. (I'm still waiting on a couple of retail links.) You can find all the links on the book page as I update them at https://www.melanienilles.com/books/homecoming/.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 4, 2024

About forgiveness... helpful advice (don't let it drag you to hell!)

If you're wondering why I've been sharing more faith videos on this blog, it serves two purposes, one selfish and one in charity: 1) selfish--to keep this blog active in the long gaps between writing updates and 2) charity--to help others discover the fullness of the faith that has transformed my life and brought me closer to God.

Since my writing contains bits and pieces of the virtues and values of my faith, this isn't in opposition to my writing but, rather, a complement to it. My books are written so that all can enjoy them, whether you believe in God or not. They don't preach, or at least I don't think they preach; I try not to preach, but sometimes characters do exert their beliefs, whether I agree or not, just like real people, because it expresses a part of who they are. Preaching the faith is not the purpose in my fiction; the primary goal there is just to tell entertaining stories, but stories without glorifying sin. I simply include heroes/heroines that share my values in some form or another, often deficient in ways that allow for growth, just as we are in real life deficient and (should be) seeking growth. 

I'm sharing this because I found another excellent video in my feed. This is about forgiving others of their transgressions (even politicians, entertainers, and other public figures--pray for their conversions rather than holding grudges or hating them). I needed this and know that everyone can benefit from this. Fr. Reehil's advice is so beautiful in this video that I had to share it and add it to my growing collection of resources on my Faith Resources page. 

There's also some excellent advice at the end of the video about confession. I have to say that it's one of my favorite (although most difficult) sacraments, because I feel like I've had a bath afterwards--my soul is renewed in the cleansing from reconciliation that comes from the confessional. The effect isn't as dramatic as you grow in virtue, which leads to less serious sins and greater sensitivity to the smallest sins. True life is about conforming your will to God's (which can be very challenging--giving up what you want to conform to God's law). You can't rely on feelings for that; rather, it's a matter of reason over feelings, keeping God's commandments in all the minutiae of our lives, down to the least condemnation of our thoughts. It's not easy, but it's so worthwhile! And the confessional is one of the greatest ways to grow in loving God. (Here's a link to help with the examination of conscience.)



Aside from that, I'll be finishing HOMECOMING, Book 17 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds, in the next few days. 🥳

Watch for an announcement post on that.

God bless!

Sunday, June 30, 2024

upcoming print book

I have one more round of edits for Book 17 before it's done, but after finishing the latest edits last night, I decided today to take a break to complete a more tedious job... formatting. 😵

I've been working most of the day on formatting for the print version of Collection 3 (Books 11-15) to set up a hardcover on Barnes and Noble and a paperback with Amazon. Editing is difficult, but formatting is tedious.

And while formatting the file for the interior, I discovered a few formatting issues from the ebooks of these, so I'm going back and cleaning up those files to be sure the ebooks don't have any hidden issues (extra spaces, tabs, returns, etc.). I'll finish these five, then go back to the first ten and give those another pass.

There's always something, but the good thing about being indie is that I can easily make these changes and upload a new file... when I have time, because this is a tedious, time-consuming process, which is why many indies hire it out to others. It's also why I hate setting up print books--a LOT more steps to clean up and then reformat into a clean PDF and upload. Ebooks are just a matter of the DOCX file being directly uploaded. I don't have to worry about where a print page ends and a new chapter begins or where a section break ends and a new book begins (applicable to omnibus editions) or messing up my table of contents with page numbers of each book's starting page in the omnibus collection.

This is why I don't just make print books for all the books I have. I could, but it's also cheaper for readers to buy a 5-in-1 omnibus than individual print books. I can sell the paperback omnibus editions on Amazon for $19.95 versus $5-6 per individual book; and since these are 5-book omnibus editions, that's like getting one whole book free. For a hardcover, it's an even bigger savings. However I do have to keep them exclusive to specific stores to keep the prices as low as possible.

So, if you're waiting on a print edition of the next five books of the Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds series, it's in the works, as I had mentioned this past winter. These are the projects that I work on when I need a break from writing or editing. They require a different set of skills that's more process-oriented than creative in nature. It's a way to switch gears for a while.

I won't finish at this time, but I will work on it again after Book 17 is out. For now, the initial setup is done. I have a final clean-up of the files, then uploading and waiting on approval, ordering proofs and waiting on those, evaluating proofs, likely making changes and going through the approval and proof process again (one more more times), and finally approving the print books for sale. The approval and proof processes, since I like to see actual printed copies, are where the delays really come in.

If you're looking for a more exact time frame, I would expect to see Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds Collection 3 (Books 11-15) print edition available by the time I'm getting Book 18 ready for publishing; in other words, within the next four months.

That's my best estimate. I'll announce when it's ready, and the links will be available from my website at that time. For now, the individual ebooks are available from all major book retailers, and the first two omnibus editions are available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble in paperback and hardcover respectively.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 28, 2024

Book 17 editing... one more week

I keep finding the little things to fix.

That's how progress on Book 17 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds is going. I'm on the fourth round but still finding things to fix, although, as my normal editing progress goes, I am, predictably, at the stage of doing more removing than adding or rewriting.

It's cleaning up nicely, although the first chapter required a lot of work. First chapters always do, though. They should set up everything or at least introduce a question/issue that is the sprout that blossoms fully as the story moves along. Getting that set up requires a lot of finesse.

I'm nearly mind numb from editing, but one more round after this should allow me to be sure the other issues that came up are polished. I had almost forgotten a couple of details from the original Starfire Angels series that became the Dark Angel Chronicles, back when I established the rules of this universe. This one has a lot of continuity requirements since it brings back some of the DAC characters. I didn't want to over-explain things to those who started with this series but get just enough to understand the characters brought just over ten years into the future of that series to interact with Nya and her friends. I typically overwrite and have to cut. It's better than not having enough and having a reader that's lost.

I'm halfway through the current editing round and one more should take me into next weekend, after July 4th. I should have HOMECOMING available by the following week. This is about the time of the 15th anniversary of the release of the first Starfire Angels book. Book 17 of Forgotten Worlds will be the 37th story (or book, if you count a novelette and a few novellas as books) in the series. After this, there will only be eight more books to wrap up the series.

Book 17 is coming very soon!