Rien’s Rebellion – Tech Specs

Rien’s Rebellion is one book in 6 volumes:

  1. Rien’s Rebellion: Kingdom
  2. Repudiation & Refuge
  3. The Committed Ones
  4. Wisdom’s Fire
  5. Redemption & Revolution
  6. Foundation

It didn’t start out to be freeweights, but it grew. I’m not going to lie and say each piece stands alone. This six volume story arc stands alone, but if you pick up Book V before Book I, you’re gonna be lost. That’s why I give away Book I, to get you started. First hit is free, sez the pusher. The other doses aren’t expensive, either. We’ll make it up in volume. The only thing I ask is that you get your first hit from me. Download from me, from the Apple bookstore (Not available as of 18 July 2018) (the best place to get my books because the iBooks reader and the .epub format are the best formats for ebooks), Smashwords (not yet 18 July 2018) or from Amazon in Kindle (not yet 18 July 2018). Anyplace else is not authorized, and that book is stolen. When the store links go live, they’ll be links and the live notices will come down.

However, since Rebellion does clock in at somewhere north of a half-million words — and it’s a story about a civil war so that’s appropriate — here’s the fun thing that starts happening when reaching into epic territory: it stops being necessarily linear. There are four major threads that braid together to make this book: Rien’s story, Laarens’ story, Quin’s story, and Bran’s story. Those are the four major voices. They require each other, but you can read from one perspective only and get most of the story. I leave that option to the reader.

I read early, and voraciously. The summer after kindergarten, I had access to a public library for the first time in my life, and I tore through dozens of Choose Your Own Adventure books. They weren’t great literature, and now, I barely recall the plots (one about the Statue of Liberty in which the protagonist dies multiple times was my favorite) but the idea that the reader can direct the story imprinted itself in my brain.

One of my biggest frustrations with Game of Thrones, both book series and TV, is who I care about. If I could have a series that was just Dany, Arya, Yara, Sansa and Lyanna Mormont, I’d be delighted. I don’t much care about the boys. Lannisters mostly bore me. So do Tullys. The families that don’t bore me just make me murderous. (Freys, Greyjoys, Lannisters, Tarlys) That’s why I bounced off GoT, both books and TV, many more times than twice. (Really. I didn’t know GRRM had a Bran until years after mine – Branir – came into being. The first chapter of Book 1 turned me off so many times I didn’t finish a reading until… December of 2017. And that was a slog I only managed thanks to HBO.)

But I do realize I need those other stories, because no human and no character can have a complete perspective. (When they do, we rightfully call them bad characters because they’re know-it-alls.) Still, there are times I just don’t want to deal with Jon or witness Joffrey. The coolest thing about GoT is the alternate reading orders, like All Leather Must Be Boiled. (And if you haven’t read the Feast With Dragons reading order that interlaces both Feast for Crows and Dance with Dragons, go do that when you’re done with mine.) The iTunes Enhanced Editions make those alternate reading orders very easy.

I publish all parts of Rebellion in chronological order for convenience, and that’s a very good way to read the series. You can read chronologically, or pick a character and follow. That’s why my chapter headings are date stamps. Chapter heads will also tell you the primary voice. Pay attention to that. Chapter heads are not just decorative; they convey information. However, just because Rien knows something doesn’t mean Laarens knows, and vice-versa. You, as reader, get to know everything they choose to tell or show. And sometimes they lie, to themselves and each other.

Since we live in a wonderful, digital world where we’re not confined to the strict hegemony of the printed page. Rebellion was written in a word processor, beta read and edited in ebook readers and its best publication format is an .epub, not paper. The books have internal links to maps, glossaries, supplemental material, and plot threads. If you want to read only Rien’s story without Laarens cluttering up the space, then follow her thread at the end of each chapter. You can always go back and read Laarens’ drivel later. (Or, as Laarens would say it, his plot is the one with the action and the hot sex, while Rien is just writing pleadings, so stick with him.) If a word hasn’t managed to stick in your head, hit the glossary – there’s no shame in looking something up. The map is there because maps are pretty and knowing where places are is useful. Kingdom is the only book that won’t let you navigate by protagonist, and that’s because it’s the first and the intro. (Talk nice to me and I might encode an alternate, special edition.) The later books? 

I’m a strong booster of the .epub format, so I strongly encourage using iBooks on any iOS device, or Smashwords, the Nook app, or Google Play on Android. Basically, I’m saying use anything but Kindle, either device or app. I don’t say this as an author – I don’t really care where you buy your books – but as the technician who does the markup and as an early adopter of ebooks and evaluator of the user interface. I’ve been marking up my own ebooks and other documents since 2000, when I was marking up with PML (Palm Markup Language) for .pdb conversion. Take a text doc, add code, compile. Old Skool. And I’m not saying this as someone who should be on the porch in a rocker, complaining about how the world went to shit since Netscape died and use.net became unusable. I wouldn’t be complaining if I didn’t love the technology and wasn’t trying to push it as hard and far as it will go.

An ebook reader and format should be about as easy to use as a paper book plus a pen and a block of post-its. You should be able to read one-handed, turn pages with one thumb, add a note, add a bookmark, flip to the end-notes/index, and come back to where you left off without having to remember the page number. Given the hardware, you should also be able to read without eye-strain by enlarging your font, smoothing the font or altering it to one that works for your brain, changing the contrast, changing the page color and type color, and have your computer read to you. Add a pair of ziploc bags, you should be able to read in the bathtub.

I’ve used most readers, stuck with them all for longer than was reasonable, and there’s a reason Amazon bought the .mobi standard as their basis for the kindle: it was cheap but relatively easy to lock down for Amazon’s benefit and nobody else’s. Almost 20 years later, there’s a lot of formatting I just cannot do with the .mobi format, and the kindle format doesn’t let me decompile it, as a coder, to get into the file guts. That’s intentional on Amazon’s part, but it makes for badly coded ebooks and user-unfriendliness. (The Kindle software, whether on a Kindle device or an app, is basically an HTML rendering engine that doesn’t allow one to view source code.) The Kindle interface is sketchy on foot/endnotes, doesn’t do well with links, and just isn’t up to the task of a truly enhanced ebook because it doesn’t let you see how the engine breaks the links. It’s the software (and why any monopoly is a bad thing in terms of service). Amazon doesn’t seem to hear author/technician feedback, since people have been telling them this for years and nothing improves the interface. Sorry. If you’re reading on any device other than a Kindle, use any other reader. If you’re on a Kindle, please let me know when you come across broken footnotes and links.

And finally, audio is in the plans, but for now? Sorry, you’re stuck with Victoria reading to you. I’m a self-production house, and like REM, I won’t go into debt and will retain control of my masters.

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