Tolkien, Plato, and Gyges Walk Into a Bar But Not in that Order

You may have heard of a few little books by Tolkien: The HobbitThe Lord of the Rings, etc.

In these books, a central part of the story is THE ring. You know, the one to rule them all? Well, guess what. Tolkien was not the first to write about an invisibility ring.

Let us back up several steps to Herodotus’ Histories and the story of Candaules, his wife and Gyges. This version of the Gyges story goes like this: King Candaules keeps bugging his bodyguard Gyges about how hot his wife is. Candaules is like hey, hide in this room and watch her take her clothes off if you don’t believe me. Gyges does it. Wife catches him. Wife says you have 2 choices. You can die now or kill my skeevy husband, marry me, and usurp the throne. Gyges chooses the latter.

No ring, I know. Just wait for it.

In Plato’s Republic, he takes elements of that story but puts his own spin on it. Here’s a bit from Wikipedia:

“It told of a man named Gyges who lived in Lydia, an area in modern Turkey. He was a gygesshepherd for the king of that land. One day, there was an earthquake while Gyges was out in the fields, and he noticed that a new cave had opened up in a rock face. When he went in to see what was there, he noticed a gold ring on the finger of a former giant king who had been buried in the cave, in an iron horse with a window in its side. He took the ring away with him and soon discovered that it allowed the wearer to become invisible. The next time he went to the palace to give the king a report about his sheep, he put the ring on, seduced the queen, killed the king, and took control of the palace.”

Allowed the wearer to become invisible. Sound familiar?

So we have Herodotus influencing Plato possibly influencing Tolkien. The legend might even go back further than that.

What does it all mean?

That Tolkien likely read Plato, and that a great many writers, even the best ones, take inspiration where they can get it. Kind of makes me curious about what else Hero and Plato were serving up.

Linkies

https://www.livius.org/sources/content/herodotus/candaules-his-wife-and-gyges/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyges_of_Lydia

 

 

 

 

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Trello for Writing Projects

Hey-o! What a fantastic Tuesday. I’ve been super productive the last several days. I’m back in the recording booth. I took an ever-so-slight…um…4-month(?) break, but it is officially game back on. I’m 16 chapters in and that number will continue to climb. I solemnly swear that I will also get back to my mastering responsibilities, probably this weekend.

BUT that isn’t really what I’m writing about today. Today, I’m sharing a free app that I really like. I should add a disclaimer that the way I use this app probably isn’t the intended use, and there are other apps that are more specific to my purpose, but this is the one I like.

It’s called Trello. It’s actually a team project management app. I do use it for projects, but I don’t have an official team and my projects are stories.

Here’s a sample of what it looks like.

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What you get when you first open the app is a list of your boards. The above picture is a board I created just for you! I can’t put my real ones up because they’ve got titles and character names and stuff, and it’s my super secret clubhouse.

The boxes on the board are cards. Basically they’re fancy lists that you can name and move around and add information to. Below is a screenshot of a card with a little note that I added.

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As you can see, there are some options under the note. I don’t really use those but I can see how they might be helpful.

You can also add pictures and stuff, but I haven’t had a use for that function yet. Here’s a pic of just how jazzy it can be.

trello

I was previously keeping track of all my writing bits and pieces in a document file, which can get kind of long and annoying if I want to check something quickly like a character traits or name or whatever. Trello makes for a nice quick reference.

I did find a similar app called Novelist that’s geared more toward story plotting, but when I tried it, it didn’t feel as free-form as Trello. It kinda had this forced organization vibe that I did not dig as much.

Plus, I can put pretty backgrounds on my Trello boards and that is, apparently, very important to me.

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So, it’s a fun time if you have a hundred projects going on and need to keep them straight. I highly recommend it.

Yes, Another New Cover

Greetings! Okay, last cover redesign for a while, I promise.

I failed with this book. When Pestilence Rising first came out back in 2014 (wow, has it been that long?), I concentrated most of my promotional efforts on getting reviews. I got a few, nothing crazy. I sold like no copies. Even to this day, it isn’t selling squat. I have literally sold 2 digital copies of this book. 2.

The new cover is an attempt to fix that. I’m also revamping the description, recategorizing it, and implementing advertising.

The first cover was…not that great. This is it.

Pestilence Rising jpg cover

I guess it could’ve been worse. It could’ve been one of those horrible covers I sometimes see that look like someone took a bunch of tiny, random pictures and made a half-ass collage with them. Oh, if you’re wondering why my name is “L. Ryan” on this one, it’s because at the time, I was reading about how people would rather read books by men, so some ladies use initials instead of their first names like JK Rowling.

Ahem.

Anyway, so the second cover was a little better.

new PR cover

Still not fantastic or great for the genre, but at least it looks more…artsy?

With the new push comes the new cover. This is the one I’m going to use from here on out.

new pestilence rising cover

I still might monkey around with the font a bit, but I am pleased with it overall.

Hopefully, this new push will help. I dropped the ball with this book, which is dumb because I really did like it. I still do.

I was also thinking about doing an audiobook version after I finish Beneath Oceans of Sky and Love and the Dark. That might be weird, because the main character is male. My voice isn’t overly girly, though, so I might be able to pull it off.

Tune in tomorrow for a super creepy fish post. The fish is creepy, not the post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover Time!

Greetings, lords and ladies! Today, I have a cover.

I’ve decided the current Desmond covers remind me of Scooby Doo, which isn’t a bad thing in my world. I do love me some Scooby.

Ghosts Cover

Soooo, you might have noticed that it’s quite purple. The color violet (yes, I am aware that the shade on the cover is probably not exactly a perfect shade of violet) plays a really important role in the book.

I had to play with the colors on this cover several times because I didn’t want it to look like Barbie wrote the book (yes, I know the book would be pink if the Barbie minions wrote it) or an Easter egg. This is what I’ve settled on for the moment.

I still might tilt the shade a little closer to blue. We’ll see where we land.

The book may be out next week. No hubbub this time, just book. I do plan to stop releasing books that way because it’s not good for sales or rank or pretty much anything else.

Next book: significantly more hubbub.

The Printed Excerpt

I found this thing at Barnes and Noble the other day. I thought it was pretty cool.

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It’s a printed excerpt from a book that comes out in March. There was an author headshot and bio in the front and then several pages of the book.

I have never seen one of these. I do like the idea. I think they would work great as marketing materials at an author fair or maybe an author table at a convention. They’re nice looking and could possibly get someone to pick up at least part of a book and carry it away with them to be read later in a less hectic environment.

mhmm. yes.

 

 

Last Bits

I’m in the process of getting some last-minute stuff together for NanoWriMo. The last bits are: printing a map of Antarctica, doing some more research, and making a graphic timeline of events that occur before the story. I have a written timeline, but pictures are faster to reference sometimes.

The to-do list is delightfully light at the moment. I have completed most of the urgent things within the timeframe I needed to do them. Now, aside from that last-minute preparation, I am ready.

I’m also trying to anticipate distractions and how I might work around them. I just got Destiny 2 for my birthday, so I’m going to have to minimize my quality time with it. I also need to figure out how to make fewer trips to the store. I don’t know how I end up at the grocery store like every other day, but that’s probably a 45-minute chunk out of my evening.

Oh, and social media. I don’t participate much, but I do seem to spend an inordinate amount of time lurking and reading those random articles and lists of things I didn’t really need to know about.

I plan to use the basement as my writing retreat spot. There are fewer distractions down there. Also fewer snacks, so I might have to take some with me. I have gone to the library to write before, but they kind of expect me to keep my shoes on, which is lame.

Okay, kids. I’m off to put together the last bits.

Please enjoy this picture from my hike last weekend. We went to a park called Sodalis. They have magnificently manicured trails.

hiking

 

 

 

Mish Mosh Applsosh

I’ve been listening to the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard. I’m actually on book 2.

It’s a lot like The Hunger Games, and when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. Both stories are YA dystopian fiction. It’s the ruling class versus the lower class. Main character is a spunky female who isn’t satisfied with her situation. Both heroines are thrust into the midst of the ruling class. Both trilogies contain arenas and rebellion. There’s a Peeta-like character and a Gale-like character, a Prim-like character. The list goes on.

It really does.

I don’t have an issue with this. I actually like the books so far, but the similarity reminded me of a podcast I listened to recently. The author on the podcast advised other authors to find books and themes that are popular and mimic those if you want to sell books.

I wonder if that’s what the Red Queen author did, if she took the main plot points and mushed them and tossed in a few extra ingredients.

Is this really what writing has come down to?

I hope not. I have a binder of notes for books and none of those ideas were exactly lifted from popular books, not consciously, at least. I mean, given how many books there are, it’s impossible to come up with an idea that no one before you has ever come up with, but there’s a difference between that and using someone else’s work as a road map.

The idea feels icky to me. Of course, that Aveyard lady is making mountains of cash, so she must be doing something right.

red queen