12 – 10

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“I hadn’t thought about it since my first bardic elective last year when it was brought up,” Teal said animatedly as the group strolled through the campus toward the cafeteria, “but Fross talking about Sifanese the other day brought it to mind, which was why I mentioned it in class. Actually, Sifanese is the exception; most languages are cyclical, like Tanglish.”

“Wait, just Sifanese?” Gabriel asked. “I mean, isn’t elvish kind of always the same, too?”

“Not exactly!” Teal replied, clearly enjoying the topic. “Sifanese is unique because it doesn’t evolve; the oldest known manuscripts…actually, Fross, I’m fuzzy on that. How old are they?”

“Writings in Sifanese dating back five thousand years are still archived in Kiyosan!” the pixie reported. “And you’re correct, the language has remained exactly that time for the entire duration, and presumably even earlier.”

“Exactly!” Teal nodded. “And the reason for that is the language, and in fact the culture, are shepherded by powerful immortals. People in Sifan have to deal regularly with the kitsune, and they are very particular about how they’re addressed.”

“Yeah, I damn well know,” Gabriel said sourly. Ruda chortled and slugged his shoulder.

“Elvish, though,” Teal continued, “is an evolving language like the others—in fact, it’s similar to both Sifanese and mortal languages. There is turnover and attrition in elvish populations, which is what drives linguistic evolution. It’s really only the wood elves who tend to live for thousands of years, you see. Elves don’t die of age, but among the plains tribes and drow, where they lead more dangerous lives, they rarely live longer than a few centuries. So the language does shift over time, but at a glacial pace compared to human languages. Human languages, though, evolve cyclically, like I mentioned in class.”

“All of ’em?” Ruda asked. “Cos I gotta tell you, Teal, I had a pretty okay education before coming here, and I never heard about this before.”

“It’s the kind of thing that’s really only interesting to bards, Nemitites, and other linguistics buffs,” Teal admitted. “But yeah. For example, the oldest known writings from the Tira Valley civilizations are the…aw, dang, I always forget that name.”

“The Ocklund Texts!” Fross supplied.

“Yes! Ocklund, right!” Teal grinned up at her. “They’re a collection that have been in a Nemitite temple for thirteen centuries; before that, they were in a dragon’s hoard. And when they were first discovered, they were considered gibberish. Modern scrying has dated them to six thousand years ago, and most experts think they’re actually gnomish in origin. But anyway, they’ve gradually become more comprehensible over time, until they’re completely legible now, because they are in perfect modern Tanglish.”

“Well, slightly archaic Tanglish, now,” Fross corrected. “It was extremely correct a hundred years ago, though!”

“You’re making that up,” Juniper accused.

“I’m dead serious!” Teal assured them. “You can look it up!”

“She’s right,” Fross agreed. “And you can. The Ocklund Texts are the best example in Tanglish, but there are also some really good examples of the same principle in Glassian and Sheng. And the Vastreyovich Manuscript, which is four thousand years old, and is broadly incorrect but generally legible for readers of modern Syrrinski.”

“And so most linguists assume it’s a universal phenomenon,” Teal said. “Languages naturally evolve over time, but for whatever reason, over the space of four to six thousand years, they come back full circle to a point where they’re functionally the same as they were before.”

“Actually, that’s just one interpretation,” Fross disagreed. “Tanglish and Glassian are exceptions because they keep popping up in the same general region, but some languages appear to re-develop spontaneously in entirely new countries. And even those examples may not be completely right; there are indications that some form of Tanglish existed thousands of years ago in what’s now Arkhross. Not definitive indications, but compelling. So it may not be that they come full circle so much as they get periodically reborn.”

“That seems to strain credibility,” Toby observed.

“Yeah, no shit,” Ruda snorted. “You ask me, that’s Vesk playing pranks. There’s no way that could just happen by accident.”

“That’s the consensus, yeah,” Teal agreed, nodding. “Nobody’s believed it’s a coincidence in centuries. There are different theories, but most scholars think it’s either due to the gods in some way, or to the influence of the elves. Elvish does contain the root words for a lot of other languages. And they’re mostly pretty reclusive, but elves do interact with humans in various ways, all over the world. Not constantly, but pretty regularly.”

“Hm,” Gabriel grunted. “Y’know, elvish words are kinda trendy. Recently, I mean, what with modern presses and telescrolls.”

“Yeah, they’ve always had a subtle influence on human culture,” Teal agreed. “It’ll be very interesting to see how that develops with modern communications.”

“Interesting for some people,” Ruda said, grinning.

Juniper came to a sudden halt, going completely rigid. Her classmates straggled to a stop in a loose cluster around, her, turning to frown in unison.

“Juniper?” Shaeine prompted. “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t believe—” The dryad broke off abruptly and took off at a dead run down the path.

“I think we’d better follow,” Toby said, already moving forward.

“Uh, guys?” Fross darted back and forth above their heads. “Full disclosure, I’m a little rusty at fairy stuff in general and this does feel slightly different from what I recall but I think there’s a dryad coming up the mountain.”

“Oh, crap,” Gabriel muttered, setting off after Juniper at a dash. The others came right behind, accompanied by the rhythmic slapping of Teal’s sandals.

“Whoah, where’s the fire?” Chase called as they tore past him on the lawn.

“Hi, Chase,” Gabriel puffed. “Bye, Chase.”

“That’s right, little sophlings, flee! Flee for your paltry lives!” he howled after them, waving his arms. “Fear the Sleeper!”

“Can’t be a coincidence he was the first one hexed,” Ruda commented. Despite her short stature and stout build, she wasn’t even slightly out of breath.

“I didn’t wanna say it cos it seemed mean but honestly I thought it was kind of a shame the only dose of the cure they had got used on him,” Fross chimed, fluttering along above them. Nobody could spare the breath while running to laugh, but Gabriel tried.

They trailed to a halt near the front gates of the campus; Juniper had gone right through, but she had stopped just beyond, staring at the two figures coming up the mountain.

A shaggy-haired man in travel-stained clothing that ran heavily to leather was on the right, carrying a longbow and with a tomahawk, hunting knife, and quiver all hanging from his belt. His shirt was open at the neck and he wore no ceremonial pelt, which would have been insane in the prairie climate, but the bronze wolf’s head pinned to his shoulder identified him as a Huntsman of Shaath. Beside him walked a slender woman with pale green hair and an almost golden complexion, wearing a simple bleached leather dress in the elven style. Both slowed to a stop, staring at Juniper.

“…hi,” the other dryad said after a moment of awkward silence. “I, uh… Well, this is—”

She broke off as Juniper lunged down the slope at them, backing away reflexively, but Juniper hurled herself into her sister’s arms, squeezing her tight and burying her face in her hair.

The Huntsman smiled fondly at the two, discreetly circling around to give them a moment, and approached the gates as the sophomores also trickled forward.

“Persons with no business on the campus are subject to removal at the administration’s discretion,” he read, peering at the sign which had been hung beside the gate at the start of the semester. “The diagram really sells it. Is the little person being kicked off the mountain, or just kicked in general?”

“See, I said that sign was vague,” said Gabriel. “But if Tellwyrn made it big enough to be clear, it’d be all tacky.”

“Mm, I see your point,” the visitor said solemnly. “It’s extremely tasteful as is.” His voice, though deep, was distinctly feminine.

Ruda snorted a laugh. “So, this is a surprise. I don’t think we’ve ever had a Huntsman visit here before. Least, not in the time I’ve been here.”

“Which, in fairness, was a year and a half, not counting class excursions and breaks,” Fross chimed. “Hardly definitive!”

“Probably correct, though,” the Huntsman said, and bowed to them. “I doubt any of my brother Huntsmen have ever found business here, before. I am Brother Ingvar, a friend and traveling companion of Aspen. And of course, you must be friends of Juniper.”

“There’s quite a story behind this, isn’t there?” Teal asked, watching the two dryads.

Shaeine cleared her throat softly. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Brother Ingvar. I am Shaeine nur Ashaele d’zin Awarrion.”

“Oh!” Teal flushed. “Teal Falconer. Likewise.”

They introduced themselves quickly; Ingvar looked more interested with each name, but not overawed by any of them. By the time that was done, Juniper and Aspen had separated and now approached the group, holding hands. Aspen looked a great deal more relaxed.

“Aspen,” Ingvar said pointedly, “this is Gabriel.”

“Yeah,” Gabe said, casually laying one hand on Ariel’s pommel. “We’ve met.”

Ingvar cleared his throat. Aspen sighed softly, squeezed Juniper’s hand once, then released it to step forward. “Hi, Gabriel. It’s been a while.”

“Yup,” he said noncommittally.

“I just wanted to say,” the dryad continued in an earnest tone, “I’m sorry. Y’know, for grabbing you by the neck and threatening to kill you. That was wrong of me. I apologize.”

He blinked. “Wait. Really?”

“Well, yeah,” she said, nodding. “I know it’s a little counterintuitive, but I’ve thought about this and talked it over with Ingvar, and it actually was wrong. Even if you did have your horrible invisible friends scare me, which was just mean.”

Gabriel stared at her for a moment, then turned to Ingvar, ignoring Ruda collapsing against the gatepost in laughter right behind him. “This…is progress, isn’t it.”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” the Huntsman said with a faint smile.

“Um, excuse me?” Aspen said, frowning in annoyance. “You were talking to me. There’s no need to be rude.”

“Right. Well, then.” Gabriel actually bowed to her. “Apology accepted, Aspen. Water under the bridge. We can put all that behind us.”

“Great!” She beamed with almost childlike satisfaction.

Ingvar cleared his throat. “In light of the sign, I feel I should be certain before stepping onto the campus proper. Is it a problem if we enter uninvited?”

“The sign’s mostly to discourage the wrong kind of visitors,” Ruda said, still grinning. “Ever since Arquin got himself paladinized we’ve had an occasional reporter problem. Various other curiosity-seekers have wandered in from time to time. There’s an argument to be made that this University may not be safe for non-initiates, but frankly, Tellwyrn just doesn’t like dealing with nuisances. But nah, guests come up from the town, too, and students’ family members, and nobody says boo to ’em. Long as you act like a civilized person and don’t interfere with anybody…and, now that I think about it, don’t hang around too long without having a good reason to be here… You’ll probably be fine.”

“Civilized person?” Aspen cleared her throat. “Well, I guess that tears it. That was a good thought, Ingvar, but—”

“Aspen,” he said flatly.

She dropped her eyes, muttering sullenly to herself, and kicked at the grass with one bare foot. Juniper gave her a quizzical look.

“In fact,” Ingvar continued, “we both wished to speak with Professor Tellwyrn herself, for different reasons. But there is no rush. Aspen would doubtless like a chance to catch up with her sister.”

“Aw, you guys can stick around as long as you want!” Juniper said brightly. “Honestly, if you’ve gotta talk with Tellwyrn, it’s probably better to do that first, so we have time to chat afterward.”

“Hey, yeah, I like that,” Aspen said, nodding. “Get it out of the way early. I’m sold.”

“Great! I’ll show you where her office is. The campus isn’t big, but you can get lost if you don’t know the way around. C’mon, this way! We can get some lunch after, the food’s surprisingly good!”

“It was a pleasure to meet all of you,” Ingvar said politely, bowing to them. “Perhaps we shall speak again before we depart.” He had to trot a few steps to catch up with the dryads; Juniper’s good mood showed in her exuberant pace.

“So,” Gabriel said, frowning after the little group as they retreated uphill into the campus, “was that…a man, or a woman?”

Ruda snorted. “Arquin, in any situation where someone else’s gonads are any of your fucking business, believe me, you’ll know in advance.”


“Sure you wouldn’t rather talk in your office?”

“I am pacing,” Tellwyrn said testily. “My office has inadequate pacing room. Since you insist on depriving me of the chance to be alone with my thoughts, I see no reason to accommodate you.”

“Isn’t it easier to think in a comfy chair in your office, though? Nice and private.”

“Walking is good for thinking, and this isn’t improving my patience. You’d better have something worthwhile to report, if you’re being this pushy about it.”

“Not really,” Fedora said with a shrug. “But you insisted on me checking in with you regularly, so here I am, checking. Or shall I suspend this policy?”

“Just spit it out,” she grunted.

“Well, as I said, not much to report.” The Inspector jammed his hands in the pockets of his trench coat and slouched along beside her, seeming to have no trouble matching her rapid pace. The upper hallways of Helion Hall were marble-floored, but graced with a strip of carpet down the middle; Tellwyrn kept veering closer, forcing him off it, which he ignored. “For the most part, I’m still stuck analyzing motive and the psychology of our perp, which is the most unreliable and inconclusive of all investigative methods. However, with regard to that, I’ve at least decided my initial theory was incorrect. This character isn’t a serial killer.”

“So you’ve noticed no one’s been killed, have you,” she snorted.

“Serial attackers exhibit an oddly consistent psychology even if they don’t kill,” he said cheerfully. “Lots of rapists, arsonists, kidnappers… Actually, the kidnap almost always leads to torture. Point is, that is a fairly consistent profile. The suave murderer who haunts the chapbooks is pretty much entirely fiction. These types tend to be on the low-functioning end of insanity. Poor social skills and hygiene, as a rule. Also a marked predilection for pyromania and, for some reason, bedwetting. Regardless, you don’t really have anybody on campus who fits the profile. Besides, serial offenders are usually acting out of some sort of compulsion, whereas this Sleeper’s attacks have a cerebral element.”

“Cerebral,” she repeated, narrowing her eyes.

“Mm. It’s a little too early to establish any patterns conclusively, but… Considering who was attacked and which ones worked, I do notice something. This character managed to sneak up on two elves—no mean feat. Masterson, of course, is a soft target, but he was the first one. A trial run, I think, possibly selected on the basis that people wouldn’t be too upset with his being victimized. Where it gets interesting is that Stark fought him off—or more specifically, she was rescued by the intervention of a paladin’s horse when said paladin is nowhere in the vicinity, and let’s face it, that is not a commonly known phenomenon. I certainly never heard of it happening. No, the Sleeper’s a student, one who knows his classmates and is tailoring his attacks to bring each of them down. Stark threw up something he couldn’t plan for. Between that and the highly ambitious but ultimately pointless hellgate thing last year, I believe this kid is…stretching his wings.”

“Wings.”

“Makes a twisted kind of sense,” he said, grinning. “This is what college is for, right? Growing skills in a somewhat safe environment which cushions you from the worst effects of your screwups. You’ve got a student with a lot of power he doesn’t know how to use, teaching himself. The other students at this school make for an impressive set of challenges. Our perp’s a strategist, someone who plans his attacks carefully. If I’m right, it won’t be long before he needs to escalate to tougher prey. Which means your faculty and your sophomores will be in the next set of targets, whenever he feels ready to move on to that.”

“Or she,” Tellwyrn said softly.

“Sure, goes without saying,” Fedora shrugged. “Aside from that… I’ve tried to do more concrete investigating, but your kids have done an impressive job of fucking up my crime scenes. It’s to be expected this character doesn’t leave magical traces, or he wouldn’t be able to block your scrying, but people who rely on magic as heavily as he does always overlook the mundane. So far I haven’t got so much as a footprint or a hair sample, but if this continues, I will. That’s one actually important thing I wanted to bring up with you. I know you’ll be making some kind of announcement to the student body before long; do me a solid and tell ’em to keep their grubby hands off the attack sites. I have to collect evidence, and that means they need to not trample it underfoot.”

“What makes you think I’ll be making announcements?”

“Oh, let’s not play this game,” he said dismissively. “So far the biggest source of student upset seems to be the creepy guy hanging around asking intrusive questions, but they are cooped up on a mountaintop with somebody going around hexing people from the shadows. This kind of situation makes people crazy, and stupid. I’m kind of surprised you haven’t already gotten out in front of it.”

“Professor!”

She stopped and turned slowly to face the new arrivals, folding her arms.

“Well, well, well,” Tellwyrn drawled. “Just look who it is.”

Fedora discreetly moved aside, watching with undisguised interest as two dryads and a Huntsman of Shaath approached.

“There you are!” Juniper said brightly. “You weren’t in your office—lucky I heard you, or we might have had to wander all over the campus! You remember Aspen, right?”

“She’s not one I’m likely to forget any time soon,” Tellwyrn replied. “Hello, Aspen, and welcome back. Believe it or not, it is actually good to see you in one piece. And your old self. I like the dress.”

“Uh, thanks,” Aspen said nervously. She glanced at her companions, both of whom nodded encouragingly.

“You, though, are new,” Tellwyrn added. “Let’s see… Would I be right in guessing you’re Ingvar?”

“Well, that’s a little disconcerting,” he said with a thin smile. “Yes, I am. What else has Kuriwa told you?”

“Just enough to pique my curiosity, as usual.”

“I suppose I’m gratified she treats her equals that way, too.”

That brought an answering smile from Tellwyrn. “Kuriwa has no equals, or so she firmly believes. What brings you two here?”

Aspen drew in a deep breath and squared her shoulders. “Arachne, I wanted to thank you for all the help you gave me. I know you went to a lot of trouble, and even though it was because you wanted information and my whole problem was your fault in the first place, it was still a really complicated and difficult thing you did on my behalf, and I appreciate it. Also, I wanted to apologize for causing trouble on your campus. I was just worried about Juniper. So…that’s it. Thanks, and sorry.”

“I can tell you’re new at this,” Tellwyrn said dryly. “Just for future reference, Aspen, sincerity is good, but like all positive traits, too much becomes a flaw.”

“See, I told him that!” she said, looking accusingly at Ingvar, who just shook his head.

“The truth is, Professor,” he said, “I wished to speak with you myself, if it’s not an imposition.”

“Oh?” She raised an eyebrow. “Well, you’re suitably polite, which beats the hell out of the last dozen nosy jerks who wandered in here. Very well, I don’t see why not. Is this a private matter?” she added sardonically as he gave Fedora a pointed look.

“Private,” Ingvar agreed, “and in fact rather sensitive. I apologize for being a bother, and of course will gladly wait until you have a convenient—”

He broke off, shifting back and reflexively grasping his tomahawk, his gaze on a point behind the Professor now.

“Whoah!” Juniper said, blinking. “Where’d you come from?”

Tellwyrn turned around again, tilting her head inquisitively. “That’s actually a really good question. Have you been picking up new tricks in the last few days?”

“And what do you think this is?” the Hand of the Emperor demanded, glaring at Aspen. “Dryads are not permitted to wander about in Imperial territory, especially this close to civilians!”

“Hey!” Juniper said, frowning.

“You have an arranged exemption,” he snapped. “This one will have to go.”

“Hey!” Aspen exclaimed.

“There is exactly one person here who gets to decide who stays and who goes on my campus,” Tellwyrn said softly. “Care to guess who it is? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not you.”

“I will remind you, Professor, that your precious University is built on Imperial territory and both staffed and attended predominantly by Imperial citizens,” he replied, actually clenching his fists and glaring at her. “You have been extended a great deal of undeserved leeway. It’s time you started appreciating it.”

“Are you feeling all right?” she asked mildly.

“Do not change the subject,” the Hand snapped. “Your students are in grave danger, and now I find you not only wasting time up here, but fraternizing with a threat level eight monster! The Empire will not tolerate this wild irresponsibility! You have the children of nobles on this campus!”

“Whoah, wait a sec,” Aspen said, scowling. “Did this guy just call me a monster?”

Ingvar and Fedora were both frowning at the Hand with oddly identical expressions.

“This is being handled,” Tellwyrn said, still regarding him quizzically. “In fact, you’ve been heavily involved in it. Your help has been much appreciated.”

“Then think about this,” the Hand said, stepping closer to her and staring stonily into her eyes. “The Silver Throne is not a charity organization. There will be recompense for the resources being spent to clean up your mess. And if I don’t see immediate and significant progress in ensuring the safety of these students, your failure to protect them will have consequences. No one’s invincible, Tellwyrn. Perhaps you’re overdue for a reminder of that fact.”

Fedora cleared his throat. “Perhaps—”

“Do you remember when I said I thought very well of the Emperor and his government, and had no intention of harming or interfering with it at all?” Tellwyrn said quietly, matching the Hand’s gaze. “Stop trying to change my mind.”

“There’s a line, Arachne,” he whispered. “You just put a toe across it. Back. Away.”

“Excuse me,” Inspector Fedora said pointedly, “but if I may be so bold—”

“You may not.” The Hand rounded on him, pointing. “You will produce results, or find yourself sent right back where you came from—or stuck in a bottle for the rest of eternity. The Empire chooses to tolerate things like you so long as you are useful, and cause no trouble. I don’t see you being useful right now.”

Fedora blinked languidly, simply staring at him without expression.

The Hand snorted loudly, sweeping his gaze around the small crowd. “Get rid of the dryad and make some progress. Both of you. Quickly. That is not a request.”

Suddenly, he just wasn’t there anymore.

“Um,” Ingvar said hesitantly after a moment’s stunned silence. “Was that a Hand of the Emperor?”

“He smelled…familiar,” Juniper said, frowning.

“You’ve dealt with him before, yes?” Tellwyrn asked, turning to Fedora.

“Him, and others,” the Inspector replied, nodding. “They’re theoretically interchangeable. That’s the point of them, or part of it.”

“Hm. Did he seem to be acting…”

“Dramatically out of character? Yes. Yes, he did. Also, they can’t teleport, or shadow-jump, or whatever that was.” He grinned unpleasantly. “I’ve made very certain to know.”

“Out…of…character,” Tellwyrn whispered, staring into space. “…I’m blind.”

“Oh, how I wish any of the responses to that were safe to say,” Fedora said to no one in particular.

Tellwyrn suddenly turned back to Ingvar. “Anyway, sorry about that. Do you plan on being around long, Ingvar?”

“My schedule is entirely open,” he said, glancing at Aspen. “We do have a sort of mission, but it has no time frame. Why do you ask?”

“I would indeed like to talk with you,” she said, “but if it’s not too much trouble, I’ll have to ask that you wait for a bit. It turns out I need to pay a couple of urgent visits.”

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85 thoughts on “12 – 10

  1. I was just about to ask about the Sleeper talking about Tanglish as ‘bastard English’, which seemed to imply that Tanglish was a offshoot of what we’re speaking now. But in Tellwyrn’s bonus story, ‘Tanglic’ appeared, which at the time I thought was just a reference to Gaelic. Now it seems it’s more than just a reference.

    Man, this story blows everything else on topwebfiction right out the water.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. The bit where Sweet writes ‘fuck you’ while running away from the wreath has Embras pull a Genie out for info.

        The students Elilial gives a demonolgy crash collision course to were trying to summon a Demon too.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. August chapter as usual, D.D.! Finding out what happens next is no less urgent to me than it is to Tellwyrn. I literally can’t wait! Which is literally a problem 😉 If I start making things up and declaring them to be facts, someone slap me or something 😉

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  3. Good morning! Author comment is belated today, as I have a fair amount to say and last night I finished the chapter too tired to function any further.

    So I’ve been doing another read-through, and as with last time, I’m not happy with Book 1. Last time I brought this up, it ended with just an author’s note being posted at the end of the prologue, in part because the enormity of completely re-writing the whole book was too daunting to consider, while I’m trying to keep up a posting schedule. However, this time, I had a more careful eye toward its specific flaws, and I can make some comparatively surgical edits and vastly improve it.

    TO BE REMOVED:

    The entire first chapter. It slows down the story and adds nothing. 1 – 1 sets up the character of Trissiny, who is better introduced later; establishes Paxton, who is just not that important; and describes a ride on the Rails, which I have come to think was a mistake. They work better as a hinted-at threat than something vividly seen. The proper beginning of the story would be the next chapter, with Trissiny’s arrival in Last Rock.

    The introduction scene in Clarke Tower. I’ve matured and improved as a writer since then (that happens when you do something constantly for a couple of years), and in hindsight, that’s just not a good way to handle exposition. The girls make their personalities far more vividly known over the chapters which follow, anyway.

    On balance, I don’t think Book 1 is overall as slow as it feels; it just opens with some slow, unnecessary stuff that drags down the whole pace. Cutting that out will improve it immensely. That material will still be canon, and I plan to put it on the site on its own page, but it better serves as background reading for people who’ve been through the story and want some more detail. For readers being introduced to the world for the first time, it’s mostly an impediment.

    TO BE ADDED:

    An earlier introduction for Darling. He only turns up in the twelfth chapter because honestly I thought that was a throwaway scene, but with him becoming the focus of the B plot, he takes on a level of importance which deserves a better, and earlier, introduction. What exactly this will be I haven’t yet decided.

    Most important of all, clarification on the Trissiny/Gabriel fiasco. It’s never made sufficiently clear that Gabriel didn’t tell Toby exactly what happened, or that Trissiny’s actions weren’t widely approved of. I thought I had implied that in the interactions which followed, especially Toby’s in Book 2, but a number of readers have interpreted it as the narrative siding with her. Which, when I look back over it, is pretty much how it does read, now that I have a couple years worth of distance from my original intentions. That is NOT what I meant, and the implications are troubling, to say the least. So that needs to be fixed; Trissiny trying to straight-up murder a guy for insulting her isn’t her making a moral stand, it’s establishing her as someone in desperate need of growth and self-improvement, and that badly requires clarification. I think I can do this with the addition of a couple of scenes.

    All this will be preparatory to getting the books ready for individual publication as ebooks. That, however, is not on the immediate horizon.

    As someone who has published a previous ebook, which has in the last two years not made me enough money for breakfast at McDonald’s, I am not going to approach ebook publication as something that will help me financially. TGAB books will be more successful, because it has an established audience–but what people don’t seem to get is that this is its ONLY audience. Ebooks do not sell themselves. They pretty much don’t sell at all unless you have something which promotes them. Added to that is the expenses; I’d want to do this properly, the way I couldn’t afford to with Rowena’s Rescue, which means an editor and an actual cover artist. That’s an expense in the hundreds of dollars, all for what amounts to a vanity project and a nice thing for the readers who have requested it. It’s planned, but it is not a priority.

    On a final note, while suggesting to an author that they change the titles of their work is potentially insulting, I think I’ve mentioned before that this story was titled on a whim and I feel no particular attachment to the name. I still can’t really think of a better one, though. Any ideas, helpful readers?

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    1. I honestly really like the title. It’s got that perfect pulpy taste that fits the story, and it’s humourous (irreverence), dramatic (why are the gods bastards?), and unique.

      For what it’s worth, while you’re doing revisions- I actually started reading TGaB twice. Once when I thought it looked interesting, but couldn’t stand the prologue, and again when it was recommended to me from somewhere, nearly a year later, and then I was hooked. Book 1 was a bit rough, but it improved dramatically from there. I honestly think the whole thing with the cultists would fit better later on, as a flashback perhaps. You said you wrote Tellwyrm as a kind of deconstruction of a Mary Sue, but on first meeting her, she really does feel like a Mary Sue, and that’s unattractive to readers.

      So, yeah. I suppose another solution would be prefacing the prologue with something analogous to the blurb on the back of a book, to indicate to the reader that Tellwyrm isn’t going to be our viewpoint? Just throwing out ideas, anyway.

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    2. The Unseen University (or whatever the school is called).
      Trissiny Locke: The Making of a Paladin
      The Gods Must Be Crazy (ok, already the title of an awesome movie, and a sequel, but maybe it’s been long enough)
      What’s this world’s name?
      The Gods Are Trapped
      The Free Will Illusion

      What do you want the focus to be on? Right now the title focuses on the Gods, but they aren’t main characters.

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    3. The Bastard Cadre? Or something to that extent? Because the the entire group is composed of outcasts by some interpretation or another, so while not using the wording I suggested, maybe focusing on that aspect of it?

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      1. I’m terribly sorry, I thought that name sounded familiar, which I then realized was because it’s the name of an actual series, but nonetheless, the rest of my point still stands, I hope it helps

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      2. As to The Bastard Cadre, a) bastard is usually an offensive word, b) not all of them are bastards — Teal, for instance, came from a loving home, and although Trissiny and Gabe and Juniper may have acted like bastards (there’s that pejorative, or negative, use), they don’t act that way now.

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    4. A name helps shape perception, much like a first impression. So you probably want to focus on giving readers the first impression you want in a way that stays true to the story. Like any salesperson, you can’t give a wholly inaccurate picture, but feel free to make it a bit cooler/charismatic/etc. than you might think it is.

      It’s a bit hard without knowing the intended shape of the story. Granted that would be a spoiler.

      “The Spider at Last Rock” might be a good first volume name, but events have expanded beyond that.

      Something like “Infinite Order: Final Log, Conflux” or “The Last Logs of the Infinite Order” could be appropriate. Maybe use the ship’s name (especially if it hints at fantasy)?

      The ship’s systems could be literally omniscient over this planet. But this fails to communicate genre, style, pretty much anything.

      “The Gods are Bastards” hasn’t been enough of a theme so far. Some play on “But Gods Too Are Only Human” would fit this much better.

      Some combination like “Infinite Order: Gods are Only Human” might work… (not that one, way too mushy)

      P.S. On a similar note would you welcome new banner art? Hoarous was quite kind to provide that one, but it may have had its day. If anyone wanted to go through and find good scenes to illustrate you might get some fan art. Heck, maybe enough you could have one of those cool banners that changes every time the page is refreshed.

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    5. I think I see your point regarding the first chapter – when I tell people to go read this story, I usually tell them to read the first 10 chapters and then decide whether they like it or not. Speeding things up a bit might be a good way to catch a few readers with shorter attention span 😉

      On the setup cost for the e-book project, have you considered crowdsourcing? Either simply a kickstarter to fund the costs, or even something like a call for cover art, and if somebody does send in something you like, you can start negotiatingwith them and probably get away with a lot less than what you’d pay an artist that isn’t a fan of your work. Or maybe do both, I mean, at the end of the day its quite similar to the extra chapter donations, only for a different goal, and as long as you communicate the purpose clearly as you usually do, why not give it a shot? 🙂

      great chapter, by the way 😀

      Like

    6. I’d suggest The Gods Are Bastards as a series title, with separate book titles. Book one, The Unseen University. keep with unx as titles, maybe Unseeded danger for book two?

      Also, kickstarter to fund editor and publicist!

      Liked by 1 person

    7. Actually, the person who mentioned calling the book ‘unseen university’ – that is already the name of the wizard school in Terry Pratchett’s discworld novels.
      I’m not a lawyer, but my mum dated one for 12 years, and he liked to talk about intellectual property and copyright laws (which might sound weird, but no weirder than a fifteen year old being interested in that), so while I’m pretty sure this format would be covered by fair use, its possible that before publishing it in ebook form to sell, you might need to consider changing the name, since it is remotely possible you could get sued for plagiarism/copyright infringement.
      Again, not an expert – I don’t even know if you’ve read Discworld, Webb, or whether a lawsuit would actually stick, but there might be a risk with that name.

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      1. It would be a bit hard. Because Pterry basically stole the idea and riffed on it, but not sufficiently to hide the connection (that wasn’t the point). The source is well known and well within the public domain.

        Also… the number of allusions and shout outs per book in his own work… Luck in court! XD

        Besides, the Pratchett estate has yet to prove themselves anywhere near as blinkered or dogmatic as the Herbert estate. 😛

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      2. Good – like I said, I wasn’t sure, but it was something that I noticed, and I didn’t want there to be any chance of something like that happening, since that would be awful.

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    8. People mention a spider theme for the title, but they also say that Tellwyrn is mistaken for a mary sue and it needs to be clear she’s not the protagonist.
      I think the two conflict and that spiders aren’t really that central.

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    9. I like the changes you’ve planned (removal / addition). I believe they would indeed achieve the goal of speeding up the pace and improve access to the story.
      I also like how you want to keep them as canon in the background as additional material, because they are still relevant. I remember back when I first started reading, I actually thought the story was going to be Trissiny-centric, because of how it started off. The changes would probably avoid that.

      As for the ebooks – I like the idea. I would very much like to be able to point friends to those – people I could not get interested in a web serial, but who would read an ebook.
      In principle, I second the idea of a kickstarter campaign. However, since a good and successful kickstarter campaign is not done easily and requires a lot of planning and a lot of time before and especially during the campaign, I don’t know if it’s that good an idea.

      I very much like the title. It’s what drew me to TGAB in the first place. I went to topwebfiction for the frist time to vote for a story a friend of mine writes, and then had a look at what else there was. That’s when I saw it:
      “the Gods are Bastards” – it was unique, it was irreverent. It sounded extremely interesting. I started reading and didn’t stop until I caught up. And then came the scene in the Elysium, where Darling used those words (or rather, paraphrased them). I thought it was hillarious and made a lot sense. So, in short – I think you should actually keep it – unless you or someone else comes up with a VERY much more convincing title. Something else, which makes it sound as distinct and unique as the current title.

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      1. Suggested series title, relying on knowing about the Infinite Order, and vaguely similar sounding:

        The Gods are Hybrid.

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    10. The Gods are Bastards
      It’s the perfect title for the story world; a pulpy western in a setting where the gods might actually show up at the O.K. Corral. If you don’t want to use it as the actual title use it to bring all the books together.
      The Gods are Bastards : The Unseen University
      The Gods are Bastards : The Newest Paladin
      The Gods are Bastards : The Infinite Order
      The Gods are Bastards : OMGWTFKTHANX
      Works well, don’t it?

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    11. Ebook. Yay!!

      DD,

      I have no idea how much publishing costs. Feel free to start a fund for getting book 1 published. As your patreon account has proven many of us would rather not wait.

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    12. My greatest weakness as a writer is names. If I had to make a suggestion it would be something related to threads or webs. The Gods are Bastards is a very memorable name but I can see the problems it might cause to certain audiences.

      Also, while I’m certainly no brilliant artist, I do have a method for cheaply producing covers if you’re interested. I could either give you a basic explanation for free or even do one myself for cheap. (20-30 bucks at most depending on the complexity?).

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    13. Looking at WFG, i just realized that part of your thoughts about Trissiny and it being uncertain about her being moral or not might come from a couple of reviews there, specifically one titled “absurdly feministic”. i just wanted to say, I disagree with pretty much all the points along those lines he raised. could do with a bit of tweaking maybe, but no where near as confusing as that review suggests.

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    14. Titles that spring from the top of my mind, perhaps only as booktitles and not the name of the series:
      Tales of the Golden Sea
      A Spider’s Web
      Extraordinary Misfits
      Gods, Apocalypses and Misfits

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    15. In my personal opinion, I am one of those who really liked the title. It really peaked my interest. If the concern is over the word “Bastard” I totally get it. I also would have a hard time recommending this to some of my friends who are more audibly sensitive. To stay true to the original title, I would merely change that word. I’m not sure what you could replace it with. But, I think the feel of questioning what everyone has come to know and accept when it comes to “gods” is what caught a lot of our interest.

      I don’t know what word could be as strong as Bastards without being another curse word. Just brainstorming quickly: “The Gods are Human” or “The Gods are Flawed” or “The Gods are Weak.” Like I said, in my opinion the questioning of the “gods” is one of the first things that peaked my interest about this. You could even turn it into a question itself: “What does it take to make a god?” or “Can Humans be Gods” or “The Making of Gods.”

      I know in some of my examples above including the word human makes it a little complicated because more than just humans exist in this realm. But, I think I got my point across. I don’t know haha. Just some thoughts.

      This is my first time commenting so just want to say I love the story. Thank you for your time and effort.

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  4. Ahem! I believe the ideal title would incorporate the idea of spiders, and of webs, since the story is made up of elaborate webs of intrigue. So I reviewed some famous quotes about spiders http://www.azquotes.com/quotes/topics/spider-web.html, and I have a couple suggestions:

    “Given the nature of spiders, webs are inevitable. And given the nature of human beings, so are religions”. – Aldous Huxley

    Suggested title 1: The Nature of Spiders

    “Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of government” – Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

    Suggested title 2: Spider Webs for the Mighty

    I think both of these speak to some of the themes the series is exploring. Perhaps this line of thought will inspire others.
    But anyway, since I assume you will be publishing the story arc by arc, you could have multiple spider/web themed titles, one for each arc, and the overall title could be simply “The Tiraas Series” or “Web of Tiraas” or maybe, in homage to “Spiders from Mars” : Spiders of Tiraas!

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      1. I’d forgotten too.

        Something like “Within the Webs of Gods,” “Spiders and Empires” might be solid, but putting the name D.D. Webb beneath that feels painfully punny… Webs really are a motif, so that’s a conundrum.

        “Within the Gods Nets” just isn’t as good…

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  5. Hey Webb, thanks for writing the story, I’ve really enjoyed reading it!

    I’m new here, but I did want to comment on a suggestion left above for a potential new title; the nature of spiders deeply resonates with me, and how I have perceived the story. It encompasses the Web you have built, and hints at things to come… I think it is a great suggestion!

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  6. I agree on the opening revisions, but must disagree on the change in title, as i recall when darling is still being introduced and meets with the queen, vex, and the pantheon at the pseudo-pub, (cant recall the name) i believe it was around there that either darling or tellwyrn in a fit of annoyance either thought or said it, also the shock value of the name and its ability to garner attention sheerly through the use of (debatably) a swear, along with the polytheistic implications it holds (polytheism being rather rare these days) all stand very strongly as an argument to retain the name…

    Tldr: the combined eyecatching abilities of a swear and and implied polytheistic religions are a powerful argument for retaining the current title,

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Much as I enjoy thinking up spidery titles, he does have a point. But only our esteemed author knows how well “The Gods are Bastards” will end up suting the overall theme of the series.

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  7. While I don’t have any good suggestions (I have zero creativity), I do think a change in title would be a good thing. Having a mild curse word in the title has caused difficulties for me in suggesting the story to other people. Others keep suggesting titles involving spiders and webs, but that’s really only been a thing lately, and even then not really prominent. Series title isn’t really as important as book title anyway, and the book titles you have are mostly really good. Perhaps the previously suggested ‘The Tiraas Series’ as the series name. Doesn’t have much punch admittedly, but also not mildly offensive.

    As for Ebooking the series, we all know that crowd sourcing would work. After all, a toothache got you over two thousand dollars. Actually having a polished ebook version of this would likely generate much more. Throw up a kickstarter with a reward of say a free book for every ten or fifteen dollars donated for the rewards. I think you’d definitely get more than enough backers. And if you don’t then you don’t and you go back to the drawing board, since as I understand it kickstarter backers aren’t actually charged unless the goal is met.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. I really like the current title, even if it might not be hyper-relevant to the plot at all times I do think it reflects the complicated relationship the gods have to the world (and its inhabitants) quite well. I also think it is the perfect blend of foreboding, funny and relatable. Not sure how I can properly explain why (at least the “funny” part) but in my head it just kind of makes sense (perhaps “ironic” better captures the spirit of what I mean than “funny”).

    If you do change it though, as others have pointed out, something to do with webs or spiders would probably be a good idea since they (or rather the concepts of them) have such a large presence in the story.

    Also I would like to say that I really liked that first chapter where Trissiny rides the train. I loved how unexpectedly violent riding a train in TGAB turned out to be, not to mention that it does one helluva job of introducing Trissiny and the world she lives in.
    Apart from that though, I do have to agree with you on the other points, especially regarding Darling.

    Whatever you decide I hope things go well for you and that it ultimately makes you happy and content, because when it comes down to it, that’s really the only thing that matters.😊😄

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I must say that book 1 has its problems, but the one thing I still remember fondly from it is Trissy’s train ride. It establishes her as a fundamentally well-meaning (if deluded or ignorant at times) character, while the concept of violent train rides was a refreshing shock. I really, _really_ would rather you keep that part, although it is up to how you feel in the end. Also agree with title change twelve books in being a bad idea.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. “The Gods are Bastards” is fine, and there are enough references throughout to make it a unifying theme. I am going to argue against references to spiders, the Infinite Order, or single characters. For the first two, the title shouldn’t be a brick joke that takes multiple books to complete. Arachne’s name is a nice sleeper hint for the spider reference; anything more serious early would just make people frustrated because it takes so long to get knowledge about it. As far as titles referencing a single character, there are too damn many characters with lots of prominence to say this is a single-character series; that would also make it misleading.

    Liked by 7 people

  10. I think the title should stay Gods-centric, but I am not a fan of calling them “bastards”. We still don’t really know enough about them to call individual gods bastards, never mind the whole pantheon. Something like “In the Hands of the Gods” maybe, or a safe bet like “The Chronicles of Tiraas” if you just need something to tie all the books together.

    I have one question for you, Webb: did you know the “if you support ____, vote for The Gods Are Bastards” blurbs are only visible on the most recent page, making them inaccessible to anyone binging through the archive? Maybe you intended it that way, but I find those blurbs one of the best parts of every update and I was sad when they disappeared from the author’s comment in book 6 or so.

    Now I am not trying to bribe you or anything (I am totally trying to bribe you) but I also made some fanart of Darling and co.! Would appreciate it if you could add it to your site, as I’ve got no place of my own to post these things. https://gofile.io/?c=L4aY3v

    Liked by 4 people

  11. I really like TGaB as a title. The mix of polytheism and a swear word creates a fascinating dissonance that catches the mind. Also, it plays very well with the constant topic of the Gods as Humans. And, as the story progresses it becomes more and more relevant. Now we know that the Elder Gods were bastards in one sense of the world and the new Gods are bastards in an other (kinda). I suspect that as we know more about what happened -both with the Elder Gods and with Ellial- it will become more relevant. I think that as a series title, with smaller book titles it could work very well.

    Now, I make the next suggestion without carefully rereading the first chapter, so I don’t really know how well would it work. Have you considered using Darling’s chapter as the prologue and Arachne’s as a bookend? The thing I love more about TGaB is this idea of a highly connected world where stepping to hard can bring horrible consequences. But the first book reads a lot like: sheltered girl goes to University, saves innocent friend from demonic plot and (maybe) grows as a person. For me, Darling’s introduction at Eliseum was the point where I realized that the story was not about a bunch of kids fighting the evil plot against one of them, but of a civilization at the edge of the abyss. Arachne’s chapter is a good hook to Ellial’s daughters, but it makes Teal’s plot seem more important that it has been until now. Also, it is hard to relate to Arachne in the introduction (she is to Mary Sue-ish if you don’t know her), while Darling’s “o fuck” moment makes it easier to simpatizase with him. I know this suggestion might not work with the structure, but I hope it is useful.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Personally, I’ve always loved the title. It wss actually a part of why I started reading this series. As has been mentioned, it has a dissonance that demands attention. If anything, a possible series title could be, “Aftermath of An Adventurous Age”. I really like alliteration as well, ha ha.
    Beyond that, I believe a well structured kickstarter would be a great and relatively painless way to drum up publishing funds, and if it doesn’t hit the goal, you’re mostly out some time and can explore other options.
    I’ll look forward to an unexpected (wholly expected) Hollywood butchering of the source material in 6-10 years!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The “best” way to monetise and promote the series and Webb’s creative work in general would probably be to approach literary agents. Any worth their salt are paid on a percentage of profit basis, and are therefore incentivized to maximise the authors profit.

        Drawbacks for the author involve the added pressure and stress at first, but since Webb is already writing at a mind-numbing schedule, that may actually be a relief.
        Drawback for us readers would probably not be able to keep up the web-serial.

        My conflict here is apparent: I personally would like to continue to read the webserial for free, but to actually support Webb I can only recommend going the commercial lane towards publishing.
        Additionally, I would really like having the whole Book-series formerly known as “The Gods are Bastards” as hard-cover editions on my bookshelf, preferably signed.

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  13. While there are a smattering of decent suggestions here and there, I really don’t think any are nearly good enough to replace TGAB. As others have said, we readers don’t have enough knowledge of where the plot is heading to make good suggestions, and in the end I don’t think the title needs to be changed in the first place.

    A couple people have commented that the presence of the word Bastards in the title makes it hard to recommended to others. To that I have to say “huh???” It’s a PG rated title, people! It’s not R or even PG-13! This is Disney movie territory still. Do people actually take offense to that word? If that’s the case, is there really any chance of those people enjoying the story anyway? There are worse words than “bastard” coming. Should Webb edit out Ruda completely to appease that audience?

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  14. tara here, posting on behalf of d.d. webb. the wednesday curse continues – the chapter’s going to be late.

    this is not, i should note, the fault of anything he can do anything about. his landlord aka the person he relies upon to use the money he pays them to pay his ISP’s monthly bill didn’t pay it up, so the ISP is currently blocking anyone on that access plan from opening fresh website tabs through that connection until it’s been paid.

    he’ll get the new chapter up as soon as he’s physically able to, which should be friday at the latest, as, if it comes down to it, he’ll use his workplace internet and post the newest chapters from there.

    he thanks you all for your patience, and apologizes for the wait.

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    1. We really should fund a kickstarter for Webb that enables him a better place to live, with a stable internet connection and whatever else he needs to write in peace. ^^

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Basically, since March 2008, if you rent and you are not happy with the internet service that you are paying your landlord for, your landlord cannot stop you from signing up for your own internet package that you pay the ISP directly for. See http://www.nmhc.org/uploadedFiles/Articles/Final_Legislation_and_Regulation/FCC%20Exclusive%20Telecom%20Contracts%20Ban.PDF

      However, given Trump’s expressed desire to gut the FCC and specifically to deregulate the internet, important consumer protections such as this may go away soon.

      Anyway, if your landlord is crappy at paying the internet bill, you have the legal right to sign up for your own internet connection if you want. If you live in the US.

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      1. I believe his landlord is his sister and she has financial problems too which sometimes lead to her getting behind on the bills.

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      2. All the more reason to be paying the ISP directly. Right now she’ll count on his money coming in to pay her bills, then hope that she can pay it back in time. Once she’s back on track, not having extra internet money coming in regularly will help encourage her to stay on target as she won’t be able to rob Peter to pay Paul anymore.

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  15. What’s the whole problem with the word “bastard”, anyway? It’s dropped in strength over the last six or so decades, and is still dropping. :/

    Even at it’s worst, it never came close to “fucker”. So, I don’t get it. Unless you’re in Austalia and parts of Yorkshire, “you bugger” is stronger than “you bastard”, even. 😐

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    1. The problem is with different audiences come different thresholds being “offended”. Me putting “offended” in quotes may already offend some people. And I don’t care, because my personal and financial well being does not depend on people reading my comments.
      But when Webb goes forth and tries to sells he book to a publisher (or publishes it himself), the publisher will probably insist on a title change because it _will_ cost the book audience.
      Some book stores or ebook-plattforms will not feature any book with a title they perceive as potentially “offensive”.

      So, a change in title now, or at least for the ebook publication, makes sense.

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  16. I personally think that you should take care with the renaming. If you’d called this series something like, “The chronicles of something” or “The story of another thing” Or anything that would be a reference to a proverb “Last rocks out of molehills” It would probably have taken longer for me to read it.

    On the subject of re-doing book 1. You should obviously be careful with plotholes. But anyway, I think both Arachne and Darling could be introduced at the start of the book, in the same capacity as Arachne is introduced now. Unraveling the mysteries of spontaneous combustion. Why Antonio wants that information I wouldn’t know though.

    I liked the train ride, by the way =P

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  17. I honestly think the title should stay the same. I saw someone else already mention it but the title is what got me to check this series out in the first place. I saw it in Top Web Fiction while voting up another series and the title immediately caught my eye and I told myself “Yep, I am DEFINITELY going to check that out.” Honestly the word “bastard” isn’t usually what gives me pause in recommending it so much as the “Gods are” part that is attached to the word “bastard.” Granted this doesn’t *stop* me, but living in the bible belt as I do means I don’t go shouting the name in the street. Still, I like the name and I think it would be a shame to change it.

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    1. Same. I like to think my family members are fairly accepting Christians, but I’m still hesitant to recommend this story to them, for that reason.

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      1. Oh I still do but I usually give synopsis first to get them interested, then title. That way I’ve already got them interested. Though admittedly it’s not really a problem for most of my friends.

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  18. Agree with several earlier comments: the title is what brought me here, so please don’t change it. Don’t have an e-reader, much prefer paper, but if you issue TGaB as ebook(s), I may be tempted to try one.

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  19. I agree with several earlier posters that most of the suggested alternate titles are not as strong as “The Gods are Bastards”. Also, that changing the title at this date could erode your name recognition with people who have heard the series mentioned once or twice in other serials’ comments, or noticed it in the list at TWF, but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.

    I suspect that when you start posting TGaB ebooks, you will find that every time you post a new one, the old ones — and Rowena’s Rescue — will sell some more copies as well. That’s the experience of some self-published authors I know. It might help to post on Smashwords and perhaps other ebook platforms as well as Amazon; Smashwords pays higher royalties, though it doesn’t have as large a customer base as Amazon.

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  20. Changing the chapter with Trissiny’s rail ride with Paxton is going to require you to do some re-writing of Paxton’s later appearances.

    I’d echo the comment of someone upthread that the introduction of Arachne would work better as a flashback (perhaps as part 5 of “Along Comes a Spider”?).

    Be very wary about what you are undertaking, as minor changes in one place can have knock on effects on how the rest of the story hangs together even 10 books later.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. If you are not in a rush i can turn the book into an epub for you. I’m also sure at least one reader can make a cover image for each book. You can then have your regular spellcheckers all go over the epubs for errors. That would make it the least expensive. You could then apply for isbns with the money saved and possibly offer a print on demand and epub version. I believe the message will provide you with my email. Love the series btw. Btw im saying id do it for free. But since it’s a lot of organizing it will take me longer than a professional

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I have to admit I liked the rail ride with Paxton, meeting engaging strangers is one of the joys (sometimes hassle) of travel, and it made me sympathise with his position in Sarassio rather than just seeing him as another useless bureaucrat. A nice reminder that whilst all systems a corrupt not everyone in the system is.

    As for the whole Bastard thing here in Australia it’d be a non issue, might get the story classified as ‘young adult fiction’ but that is a very lucrative market.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I have been reading TGaB for over a year now and all I can say is WOW, this story blows so many others out of the water. The depth of characters, the world, everything just ranks so ,much higher than the other stuff on TWF, even better than many published works I have read. I have not commented before, but some of the comments you posted recently have finally made me sign up and do so. I am actually going to post 2 initial comments divided up into TGab comments & more personal life comments.

    First the TGab ones:
    Personally I do not think you should change the title, I speak as a Christian, and while obviously not a monolithic group, I do not find anything offensive about the title. Regarding the beginning, I would second the idea of relocating the Arachne chapter into the Arachne flashbacks, but I would NOT eliminate or too heavily revise the first chapter with Trissiny, I just feel like there is too much worldbuilding going on there that would need to be fit in further down the road causing a huge domino effect of editing for you that would take extreme care to accomplish without missing something.
    For the update schedule, have you considered backing off? I know Practical Guide to Evil is only one day a week and that doesn’t bother me personally, just makes me look forward to Wed that much more! Or maybe doing 2 days per week for 3 weeks of the month and using the final week as an editing week, bonus page week, catch up week, or work ahead buffer week? I know other creators who take off a few weeks to a month around the holidays or after an arc to take a break and/or work ahead on the new content. I think if you could take the time to build a buffer it would create a lot fewer stressors for you when you have illnesses that prevent you from posting regularly.

    Regarding making more $$ from TGaB I would look into what a lot of the online comic folks are doing. Especially those like Chris Hazelton of Misfile & 6 Gun Mage, Brian Patterson of D20 Monkey, John Wigger of Zombie Roomie, & the Foglios of Girl Genius. A lot of these merchandise items other than just their published graphic novels. Chris does special monthly pins, Girl Genius has a ton of physical merch, Brian does shirts, & John has side comics available to Patreons at certain levels. You might also check into Hiveworks, to which all of these except D20 Monkey belong. It is very comic centric but they might open up to having a serial onboard. It appears they offer a lot of additional support in re to Kickstarters & merch, power in numbers & all that. Maybe for Patreon instead of having bonus pages of main content, which seems to overwhelm you at times, you could instead do a certain level and you get a bonus story inside the TGaB universe, similar to what is happening with Practical Guide to Evil. Could add an additional level that would allow you to get some custom prints made, maybe by some of the webcomic artists I listed above, I know many of them do freelance work on the side, make these free to Patreons and then offer them for sale as both digital and hard copies. That would help cover the cost of the art & provide you an additional item for revenue. I am not able to tell for sure, but are you using the free blogspot hosting? If so, you should probably see about using some of the Patreon money to move to the paying side which should enable you to get a lot more in ad revenue. I may or may not make sure I always click ad banners on the stories & comics I enjoy to send more revenue toward the creator . Another possible merch avenue would be miniatures, although this could be a costly setup, maybe fund through a Kickstarter, or again, make new levels on Patreon to unlock some of these things. Check out Trollforged Miniatures they are located in Missouri and do custom sculpts & casts.

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  24. And now for the personal. First, you really need to move. Based on my recall of previous comments, you live in a craphole and have very poor internet connectivity. Those 2 items have a huge impact on your stress levels which in turn takes a toll on your health. If I remember correctly you also live quite a distance from your place of employment. In my opinion, without knowing all details of your exact situation, moving closer to work and to a better condition location would end up saving you money in the long run, even if the upfront costs are more significant. And commutes are a huge time suck as well, you are losing productivity during that time, and again generating more stress. Speaking from experience on that one. Second, I do not know all about your health issues, but one thing I have found personally that helps with them, and with stress levels, is exercise. And I am not saying go out and run a marathon, start with walking a 1-1 ½ miles a few days a week, maybe throw in some bodyweight exercises (check out Nerd Fitness, they have a great beginning bodyweight workout). I find that I stay healthier & more productive and a lot less stressed when getting in regular workouts, and they don’t take any more than 10-30 minutes. Even though we have been having some negative windchills here in Indiana, my wife and I will still throw on some Carharts and go out and walk for a little while & it still makes a huge difference. Also yoga is another good thing for destressing and centering yourself, especially prior to taking on a task or project. Also, yoga & strength training will help significantly with back issues, they have with mine. BTW, I am speaking from personal experience on these health and wellness items, sometimes it is both hard & amazing to look back at where I have been health wise and see how much better I feel now, I feel encouraged and also upset at myself for not doing it sooner. If you would like to talk more in depth about these items outside of the comments you are more than welcome to contact me. If there is no kind of PM system let me know and I can give you my e-mail directly. I think most importantly you should know that we all are here rallying for you and supporting you because we love what you do & what you are creating.

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  25. As long as we’re busy brainstorming I would just like to add that while removing the original title of TGaB has a high chance of having an overall negative effect in some ways that it is still possible to create a new title for the story without altogether removing the original. You could add an alternative title, only used as much as the audience feels like referring directly to it, or you could turn TGaB into the alternative title, meaning the story could be officially called The Adventures Of… but everyone still knows to call it TGaB if they know anything about it and that the original title is still useable in searching for the story.

    You could also play with ‘nesting’ the titles in some ways. Such as having TGaB refer to the overall universe and fanbase while neo-TGaB would be clearly visible on the banners. You could also use one or the other as a subtitle to the main title. I usually find that title and subtitle can be used completely interchangeably in some stories. Also note that just bewcause the webserial is called TGaB, that the published versions don’t neccesarily need to have the same name, TGaB fans will most likely link to them from the webserial anyway, and namechanges are actually common when something is translated over different media, or regions, whatever. Like that game… Fahrenheit?… it has a different title depending on where you live.

    If you keep TGaB as the overall series title and you’re worried about marketability, you can market according to the titles of the individual books instead, the series title is still visible, just mostly ignored by random people who don’t know anything about it or care more about the name of the singular book.

    Suggestions

    As for serious suggestions for neo-TGaB creativity:

    Apocalypsis in divinum

    Thanks Google Translate for a bit of funky Latin. It means something like “Revelations of the Gods”, because of the focus on the nature of the ruling pantheon, the mysteries of the TGaB cosmos and its theological history, and because A Great Doom Is Coming and that is the first thing anyone speaking English is honestly gonna think of if you say ‘Apocalypsis’ in their hearing range.

    But considering I don’t actually want to seriously tell anyone how they should do anything I’m adding unrelated ramblings for the entertainment of your funny bones

    Titles:

    The Gods must be Bastards

    The Practical Guide to Societal Manipulation

    Tertiary Education for the Existentially Confused

    The Amazing Fedora Murgatroyd

    The Grand Adventures of Miscellaneous Characters

    Also a fact that could fit squarly in the socio-economic climate of the Bastardverse:

    Diamonds are manipulated into inflated prices and are an internationallly commercial ripoff orchestrated by a monopoly of mining companies a few decades back and perpetualed by artificial traditions, misconceptions and the soceital eploitation of basic human naivety. The way to tell a real diamond from a platic thing is that is disintegrates if you hit it with a hammer; they’re only ‘hard’ in the way glass is, that doesn’t make them less brittle.

    Marie Antionette was, in fact, less opulent than her contemporaries but was a convenient target of dislike as she had been born and rased outside of the Xenophobic France.

    People in the time of the most magnificent The Great Library of Alexandria already believed (at least argued about it) that the planet was spherical. Notably Erastosthes who lived in 276 BC and measured the North-South circumferance of the Earth accurately enough to only be 2% greater than the actual distance. The notions of the ancients believing in a flat world unanamously was popularised through propaganda against the Church by understandably annoyed scientists (ironic, considering the etymology of the word)

    Also, I really like trains. and don’t take me too seriously.

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