Talking Failed Greenland Colony Blues

Studies and research into Norse archaeology of the Viking Age are really problematic.

Never mind the public misperception of the horny helmets. Never mind the controversy over whether Norse women were actual, in-the-flesh, straight-up Valkyries, or the occasional but collective aneurysm that surfaces every time a new re-enactor comes across this:

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It goes much deeper.

There are excavated Norse sites dating to the Viking Age all over the place. South Uist, Buckquoy, Skaill, Birsay, Jarlshof.

Some were occupied for only a few years, a decade or two. A few, like South Uist, survived into the Middle Ages, more or less. But they ceased to be Norse pretty frequently, and, as noted, ceased to be occupied at all. Not much is said about this: it is occasionally mentioned in the research that the settlement was abandoned after a certain point, but there is not even much speculation about why that might have happened. Usually, the archaeologists wax on ecstatically about the “pristine” context the settlement has, because nobody bothered to build over it.

Erik the Red “discovered” Greenland around 985 AD, when he was exiled from Iceland for three years for killing some people.  The colony survived for 500 years.

L’Anse Aux Meadows was used at least periodically for about twenty years and possibly a bit longer.

 

For some reason, though, whenever Greenland mentioned, it is always as “the failed colony on Greenland”. Always. There are whole National Geo specials about the failure.

Speculation as to why the New World site was not more utilized and exploited is the main topic for L’Anse Aux Meadows. Hardly anyone thinks about how amazing it really was that the Norse got there at all. Nope. The important thing is that they didn’t build a city the size of York, and spread their influence to every corner of the continent.

 

It seems to me that there is real and disturbing problem here and it is this: in those colonies where the assumption is that original inhabitants (the Picts or “Celtic people”) are presumed to have been slaughtered or forced to flee, the colony is deemed a success, regardless of how short the lifespan of the settlement was.

 

In those places where the original inhabitants were not the victims of genocide or displacement, the colonies are deemed failures.

 

If this is not indicative of some very deep-seated problems in how we view the past, then how else can we explain why the demise of a settlement that was in use for less than a quarter century is neither questioned or discussed, but a colony that hung on in very difficult conditions for twice as long as the United States has been a country is a “failure”?

It’s okay. You don’t have to answer right away.

 

I’ll wait.

Author Updates

So far, in writing “The Shades of Winter”, there’s been a suicide mission gone horribly wrong, a mad king, a couple of very crucial betrayals, a mini-rebellion, the return of an ancient evil, and the mother of all storms.

And that’s just the first half.

 

This might be the most action-packed thing I ever write. Can’t wait to see what my imagination comes up with next.

Promote, Publish, Repeat!

Please welcome author Lucinda Moebius.

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I am currently promoting a new release!

My newest book is a non-fiction Self-Help book for authors. I created the book based on lessons I learned about creating an effective book marketing plan.

Publish Promote Repeat: Preparing to Launch your Book Workbook

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071KQDRMS

Promotion is a process. There is no magic formula for selling books. Hard work and dedication are required to create, publish, and market a masterpiece.
This workbook guides you through a three-phased process of bringing your book to a broader audience. Following the steps outlined in this workbook will streamline your prepublication, publication, and post publication marketing process, delivering to you the potential to not only achieve, but maintain, an improved ranking in the sales market.

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About the Author

Lucinda Moebius has been a writer since she was a child and was first published in 2010. Since then she has worked hard to create unique visions and stories. Her work includes novels in multiple genres including: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Children’s Books, Screenplays and Non-fiction. Lucinda has a Doctorate in Education and loves teaching, but her greatest desire is to help others understand how literature and writing can bring enlightenment and understanding to everyone. She offers book coaching and advice to everyone, whether they want it or not.

 

What do you love most about writing?

My favorite part about writing is the magical shiver I get up my spine when I read something really good and I realize I wrote it. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the one who wrote my books or if there is someone else taking over my thoughts and fingers and weaving a spell over the computer. Part of my writing process is to set aside a project once I complete it for at least two to three weeks so when I pick it up again I am looking at it with fresh eyes. When I come across those little gems of word magic in the pages I get goosebumps all up and down my arms and I feel like I can feel a Muse breathing secrets into my ear. I believe in spirits at exactly that moment.

What is your chosen genre, and why?

I don’t really have a chosen genre. I love the written word and write in whatever genre I feel most inspired to write at the time. Currently I have published Science Fiction, Paranormal, Literary Fiction, Self-Help Nonfiction, Poetry and Children’s Concept books.

I have two series in progress right now. One is a Science Fiction Family Saga and the other is a paranormal thriller series.

What inspired you to write it?

I write because I have to. There is no other reason. I need to have the creative outlet to let the voices play and evolve. Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me if no one else ever reads my writing. I love to watch the words spill out onto the page and weave themselves into the magic of a story.

 

Books by Lucinda Moebius

Echoes of Savanna: Book One: The Parent Generation

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006RM66QM

 

Raven’s Song: Book One: T1 Generation

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006YJ92GO

 

Write Well Publish Right

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product

 

Publish Promote Repeat

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071KQDRMS

Feeder: Chronicles of the Soul Eaters Book 1

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0615968325

 

30 Days Stream of Consciousness V. 1

http://www.amazon.com/30-Days-Streams-Consciousness-1-ebook/dp/B01BW8JXBU

 

A Haunting

http://www.amazon.com/30-Days-Stream-Consciousness-Haunting-ebook/dp/B01D7T9CFY

 

Abduction

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01F1DMOBI

Fire and Ice A Love Story

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GGL8QUM

Raising Grandpa

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OPP1FCI

I Know I am Awesome

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QYAQBZI

Oh Brother!

https://www.amazon.com/Oh-Brother-Baby-Coping-Kids-ebook/dp/B01A1PC5YM

Firefighter Jeff

https://www.amazon.com/Firefighter-Jeff-Dr-Lucinda-Moebius-ebook/dp/B06ZZ41W6N

How can we follow you on Facebook?

Lucinda Moebius Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/Lucinda-Moebius-Fan-Page-136358979707547/

SFF Promo Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1132459036786385/

Twitter Handle

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4176363.Lucinda_Moebius

Website: www.lucindamoebius.com

Blogs:

Your Next Favorite Author: http://mynextfavoriteauthor.blogspot.com/

Moebius Musings:  http://moebiusmusings.blogspot.com/

 

Turning the reader off: when “self-promoting” turns into “self-absorbed”

I’m on a lot of social media nowadays.

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It’s something you pretty  much have to do, whether you’re a brand-new, fresh-out-of-the-box indie author or a well-known and traditionally published household name. You gotta Facebook blog, Tweet, Instagram, and Snapchat yourself and your books all over the place. It’s just the way it is.

But despite decades of having been advertised to, it seems that most of us. including all the advertising “gurus” who are now hawking their wares all over the net, haven’t learned a damned thing.

No. Seriously, you just keep doing those things that don’t work.

 

You need to listen to yourself and think a lot harder about what it is your advertising is for.

This is pretty important. If your FB page and Twitterfeed is populated entirely by either people offering to advertise your book (for a price) or other authors hawking their stuff, you haven’t hit your target audience.

And this shotgun approach means that even on retweets, there’s a good chance your cozy mystery is going out to people who only read vampire fiction with a lot of sex.

Those people…they aren’t even LOOKING at your ad.

  • Saturation

Apparently the concept of less is more has no meaning on the internet.

And yet, if you analyze your own response to ad campaigns that are just that little bit (or way too much) repeated ad nauseum, you’ll notice that the main result is ad-fatigue to the point where one actively will NOT buy the thing. Even if it’s what they want. Because it looks old and tired by the time they decide to look for a book about whatever.

  • Overselling

It’s pretty much the most off-putting thing around when an author describes their book as “the best” or “the most” or anything else superlative. You don’t get to say that about your own work. Yeah, you think you’re the bee’s knees.  But no one likes a braggart.

It’s the reader who gets to decide that it’s the best book ever, not you. You don’t get to say “My book is the most exciting new take on Steampunk you will ever read.”

That’s how you wound up with that one-star review. Because you were an arrogant prick who couldn’t deliver.

  • Underselling

The flip side is to do the self-mocking, “my book is awful” ads.

Because people will believe that, and then…well, why would they buy it?

  • Variety

It’s the spice of life, and yet, when it comes to ads on the internet, all I see is the same tagline, endlessly repeated.

Look, if it didn’t make me click the first time, why would I click on the 1001st?

  • Engagement

Engagement is not measured by volume.

Sure, your friends share and retweet your buy-links. Sure, lots of people “like” and “favourite” those posts. But that’s not really engagement.

Engagement means that you make an effort to connect with people as something more than dollar signs. If the only thing you ever post – even on your author page – is urgent pleas for people to buy something, you aren’t selling yourself.

 

There was a time when people didn’t care so much about the personality of the writer. They read a review, or they looked at a book cover and a blurb, and made a choice. They either wanted to read the book, or they didn’t. The closest they got to “knowing” an author might be if you got a radio or tv or newspaper interview.

What they cared about was whether they liked the books.

Nowadays, with all this communication happening, you can’t expect to entice new readers to follow or friend you on social media unless you are offering one of two things.

Either you are just there to increase their numbers or venues for advertising, or you are giving them something of value beyond endless shilling of your books or services.

And those authors who only ever tweet or post the same old buy-links with boring or repetitive or over-the-top taglines – well, I don’t know about anyone else, but frankly, I mute/hide those people pretty ruthlessly, because out of the thousands of tweets or posts I need to wade through every day, those are kind of a waste of time.

A “friend” offers more than a “What can you do for me?” interaction. A “friend” talks about something other than themselves, at least once in a while.

There’s an old saying that to have friends, you need to be a friend.

Meatspace or on wifi, it still applies.

 

*NOTE: The other really important thing about all this is that we know that “word of mouth” is what really sells – and “word of mouth” means that you tell your friends and family why you like a particular novel so much that you are willing to “sell” other people on it.

When you retweet or share, don’t you think it would make more of an impact if you included a few words about WHY you think this book is worth reading?

That’s what you need to do for your author-friends, and what they need to do for you.

 

Pop Music Truths

I’ve got a song stuck in my head, an overplayed, regular rotation, radio pop song, and I’m not too upset by this.

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Keep in mind I have been a Deadhead since about 1966, and that I got taken to the first Beatles concert in Toronto because my parents reasoned that it would be impossible to get a babysitter that night since everyone they knew was going, and you might well surmise that I am full of chagrin, but I’m not.

Because it’s actually one of the more truthful pop sings I’ve heard in years.

It’s called “Blank Space” and it’s by Taylor Swift.

 

I know, right? Not at all the kind of thing I normally listen to (it is a minor miracle that it imprinted onto my consciousness at all) and certainly not what most of my friends think of as “Morgan music”.

There are a lot of reasons I like this song.

One of them is that she is laughing at herself.

I admire anyone with as much privilege as this girl has who can see into herself and see the humour in her own behavior. It’s actually refreshing, considering how many songwriters mythologize their own shortcomings into special virtues, or at the tender age of 20 write those really arrogant, world-weary, advice songs and expect them to ever be relevant six minutes later.

But I also like this song because there’s a core insight in there.

We all behave badly, and never more badly that in our first decade or so of forays into love and relationships. Not just “selfishly/ignorantly badly”, either. We were, especially in our late teens, card-carryingly and mind-numbingly awash in bad behaviours.

We were, to a man and woman, at some point, so insanely, crazily, certifiable-nuts/behaving badly that there is still someone out there paying for the therapy we made them need.

I did it.

You did it.

Don’t say you didn’t.

You don’t know whether what seemed to the seventeen-year-old you was the height of reasonable, measured, rational action(s) were not the ravings of a drooling lunatic axe-murderer of the heart, to someone else.

You don’t know how your carefully-pitched, it’s-not-you-it’s-me break-up speech landed on the psyche of that fifteen-year-old on the receiving end.

And to cap it off, we all make sure to arrange our memories to cast ourselves in the best light possible. We don’t intend to lie, not really, but we do: we deceive ourselves, because otherwise, it can be very hard to continue on in life.

A lot of it is hormones. All sexes are awash in chemical tsunamis from puberty into the mid-twenties. Emotionally, every one of us are short-fuse firecrackers looking for the ignition switch, and – sardonically, and possibly with malice aforethought – Nature has arranged that to coincide with a deep need to start pairing up.

We do a lot of damage, both to the people we try to pair up with and to ourselves, but most of us grow past that.

Eventually.

Both sides of the equation (being the object of craziness and being the purveyor of crazy) are normal. Maybe they are even necessities, as we work out what it is we need or want in ourselves and in others.

It is not, in the end, something to be overly ashamed of, either, unless you are in your thirties and so not-self-aware that you’re still doing it to people, or letting people do it to you.

But I enjoy the song because somehow, despite the absolute cringeworthiness of the accompanying video (all hot, rich people with hot, expensive cars – the takeaway being that you can get away with being horrible to people only if you are wealthy and pretty) it holds that universal experience up to the pitiless light of day and laughs at it.

That’s not a small thing, these days.

 

Voice

There’s this thing that writers talk about called “voice”.

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It seems like jargon. It sounds (hah!) to non-writers like we’re trying to put distance and arcane-ness and mystery between “us” (the writers) and you  (the readers/non-writers), and sometimes in conversation it really does sound so nebulous and obscure that one could be led to believe that we’re just trying to keep non-writers out of the witch’s coven here.

But voice is a real thing. A lot of readers do notice it, consciously or not, because they will get a little ways into a novel and put it down saying “It doesn’t really ‘get’ to me” or “It doesn’t sound like my kind of thing” or maybe just “It’s boring” – even when that first chapter contains an execution, an armed robbery, and a major building collapse.

It isn’t a lack of action, obviously, because there are books where literally nothing of any sizable note happens in the first three chapters, and yet readers are so hooked that they skip dinner in order to keep on reading.

Voice is hard to describe.

It’s partly the way the author writes – a kind of version of “style”, I guess, but not exactly, because a writer could write one way in one book, and quite differently in another book, but still be writing in their own way.

(Margaret Atwood does this handily. Try comparing The Handmaid’s Tale with, say, Lady Oracle, and you can see how different the “voice” is and yet…still recognizably Atwood and no one else.)

Yeah. It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.

“Voice” is two things, really.

First, there’s a kind of internal and shifting “voice” that can be (should be, imho) unique to each character within a book: the way in which a character speaks, acts, views the world. Someone who is over-educated and pompous sounds and feels different on the page than the lonely peasant charcoal burner does.

It’s really tricky to do this without reducing everyone to caricatures, of course: believe me, you do NOT want to write someone as if they have an “accent” that you yourself do not naturally possess.

Nothing kills the suspension of disbelief faster than things like that. If you are not black and/or were not raised in a ghetto in an American city, don’t even try to reproduce that dialect on the printed page. I don’t care how much rap music you listened to when you were fifteen – it will come across as inaccurate, phony, and immature.

Case In Point: I got exactly twelve pages into “The Help” before I threw that book across the room (metaphorically, of course. In my upbringing, mistreating books was considered a violation of human decency. It just wasn’t done.) While the author may have been very familiar with the way people really did sound in 1950s’ of the American South, it does not transfer well into print – it has the condescension of the privileged that was, judging from the reviews, the very opposite of what the writer intended.

Be gentle when you try to show differences of class or race or educational levels. Be careful and light-handed. Give the reader the benefit of the doubt here: assume their ability to “get” the differences without three neon signs and a fireworks display.

 

On the other hand, Voice is also how a particular author writes in a more holistic way: the kinds of language they use, the way they describe things in the sense of “ornate/detailed” versus “spare/subtle”, whether or not they rely on dialogue or action, or are more even-handed, things like that.

There’s the authorial voice that just describes everything in common and cliché’d phrases: “auburn haired”, “tall tree”, “snow-capped mountains”.

There’s the overly creative authorial voice that has to gild the lily at every opportunity: no one ever just says or is things. The characters protest, they exclaim, they whimper – and everyone has ebon-dark eyes like fathomless pools, and sit on loveseats richly upholstered in magnificent blue-and-gold brocaded silk imported from a little-known village on the Yangste.

And while none of these extremes would be inherently “wrong” in and of themselves, they aren’t individual enough to merit the term “voice”, because almost anyone who has made it through four years of standard high school English courses could probably produce this stuff reasonably well, if they really wanted to.

Voice is when you move past those things, when you develop a way of communicating that is both clear and your own, where the sound of the words begins to resonate inside the reader’s mind.

And even if an author changes a lot of superficial style/voice from novel to novel , their fans can tell who it is that’s writing. (When an author teams up with another author, a lot of readers get upset. Why? Because if the voice changes as a result of that partnership, the reader isn’t getting what they paid for. This is a REALLY good reason Regency fans should stop trying to write sequels to Pride and Prejudice. Trust me: it never works.)

Voice is pretty hard to pin down, and all I can say is that a writer who isn’t at least marginally aware of what voice is, and has not read widely to see the possibilities, well, they may write serviceable prose, readable and inoffensive, but they won’t have a voice that readers will recognize and love just for itself.

 

So pay attention to a writer’s voice, or the lack thereof.

It’s what makes you love one author and feel distinctly “meh” about another. Naming no names, but there are quite a few well-known and bestselling authors who really have no voice at all. The prose is basic, the words are simple, the plots are headline with-it, and the characters so stereotyped that quite often, the reader never remembers the authors’ names, even though they buy each one as it is released.

Writer or Reader: Don’t be those guys.