--==( Siblng Magus )==--
I apologize for not posting anything over the last couple of weeks. Things at home have gone from "too distracted" to "everything falling apart". Distractions ranged from watching my nephews to a game a friend got me addicted to. Then, last week - Friday, to be exact - I went to Wichita Falls to pick up my son for the summer. My daughter decided she wanted to stay home with her mama for the first time ever. While a little sad, I knew this could happen. They're thirteen now. They'll be fourteen this December. Sooner or later, they were going to decide not to stay with thier Dad and be bored for weeks on end. <sigh> Now, it's this week, and the truck broke down. It's the only vehicle we have and it appears that the fuel pump may have gone out again (we put in a new one back in March). Everyone is frustrated and getting on each others' nerves.
Currently, I'm working on the new chapter, but (as you'll read below) I'm having problems sorting out details. Once I have that taken care of, I'll be able to quickly move forward again (barring more distractions and problems).
--==( Anonymous Email )==--
I received an email from an anonymous reader last week. I wasn't sure how to respond until I read it again today.
I have been avidly reading your series for quite a while, but I can't help but believe that your latest story, Sibling Magus, has lost its way. As I pondered why my interest has flagged, I came to several conclusions. You are welcome to take these thoughts with however much salt you wish. The first thing that I must say is that in the reboot that you are doing of the masterpc story arc, you have reimagined the sex magus into a version of the white court vampires from the Dresden files. While there is nothing wrong with this, by making them so directly comparable, you invite comparison. While I like your writing, you aren't Jim Butcher, so your story suffers by comparison.
You have a decision as an author to determine the focus of the story and that is where, in my opinion, things are going wrong. Is this story a story of exploration of the powers of the sex magus? Is this story a mystery? Is this story an action story about magical factions? Is this a story of the seduction and development of the relationships between Seth and his girls? If it is the first, then there have to be consequences to his reluctance to use his powers. This reluctance should lead to most of the bad things that happen in the story until he "grows up" and learns to embrace his destiny.
Additionally, the exploration of those powers should be tied to the erotic scenes in the story as you did in the first series (where Ral modifies his girls often to enhance the sexual experience of the participants). I realize that you have had Seth getting trained, but because the trainer and the Sheriff are both the alphas in those scenes, Seth comes across as passive and therefore not the driver of the story causing the plot to lose energy. You would have been better served to have Seth explore as Ral did in the first version of this story and let everyone "ooh and ahh" over it post facto.
If it is a mystery, then the whole architecture scene early in the story was a big mistake. Let's face it, the magical community is in a panic over the situation. If the Sheriff really thought that this model was the focus of the spell, she wouldn't wait for Seth to get his act together, she would have SWAT teamed the thing and blown it to smithereens chapters ago. I realize that you need to foreshadow and hint in a mystery, but you really needed to hide that "clue" a little more. Additionally, if that really is what needs to happen, then there need to be more obstacles in Seth's path to get to the model. The scene never really seemed like it fit with the flow of the rest of the story anyway. It seems to me that it would make much more sense for the model to be the first step in a larger mystery of the lockdown. If it is a mystery, then the erotic scenes need to be tied to the solution (or the clues) somehow.
Recently, there have been discussions of different magical factions. While this is an excellent plot device and can lead to all sorts of cool story, you need to have it presented so that Seth is the one that figures this out. It reads poorly when it is his "trainers" that are deigning to explain these things to us as if we are the only ones ignorant of the political climate. For example, it would have been much more interesting to have someone (Neal? Emily?) actually do an attack on Seth and monologue a little to give all of us an idea of why he was doing it. That is much more exciting than having the sheriff go "oh, yes, I just didn't tell you about all this stuff that I will now drone on about." Even better would be if whatever the attacker reveals is unknown to the sheriff and so all the story characters are equally clueless. This develops the suspense and builds a sense of tension and mystery. In this case, the erotic scenes need to be part of the conflict (for example, the "captured" mage could be part of the organization and provides information after "conversion")
What has been largely left out of this story is the development of the relationship between Seth and his girls. The sheriff, the trainer and the sister have gotten 10 times more narrative time than his girls. What seems missing that has been in previous of your stories is the sense of exploration and joy in relationships. In previous stories, the "magic" was there to enhance the relationships and sexual experience for the harem.
That seems missing in this story. We even learn in the last chapter posted that Seth is bursting with power that he hasn't used, yet he has only used his new bra spell on two of his girls and when confronted by his sister, does it to her but not to the rest of his girls who are sitting right there! Additionally, the readers are not getting much in the way of relationships between everyone.
The girls should be orbiting tighter and tighter around Seth as the story progresses, and we should be seeing some serious "growing up" in his opinion of this girls by chapter 31, yet he is still conflicted and reluctant to use his powers, even to "help" his girls have a better experience around him.
I think you are a good writer and you write great erotica, you just need to ponder what you are really trying to do and not diffuse the story so much that you lose focus. Good luck.
There are a few things I can respond to, but everything else leads into plot summaries and things that have yet to happen or be explained.
Comparing Sex Magus with White Court Vampires: I am a fan of the Dresden Files. I have a copy of the new book (audio book) waiting for me to finish writing Sibling Magus before I listen to it. I agree that I'm not Jim Butcher, nor is my writing nearly as good, however, there wasn't anything in any of those books where Dresden explained all the details about the White Court Vampires. There was plenty left to the imagination and while I can now see the comparison, I can honestly say that was not my intention.
Exploration of powers: It's been a while since I read my Master PC stories, but from what I recall, half of the time anything that Ral discovered about his powers either occurred because his powers made what he really wanted happen or someone else suggested the idea. Seth, on the other hand, has far more self-control both on his powers and his urges. I'd think the years Seth spent in fear of everyone he lived with and had to deal with on a daily basis had something to do with that.
Magus Community in a panic: No one panics for months on end. After a while, they get frustrated and/or adapt to it. Considering it was reported in June and Sibling Magus takes place at the end of October, I can safely say they're frustrated. Look what Emma attempted to do, just so she could be free of the Lockdown and not have to move.
What the Sheriff would and wouldn't do: The one thing I've been trying to point out is how utterly inexperienced Seth is when it comes to Magic. Sure, using his imagination and doing some experimentation (the support spell) has led to something fun, but when it comes to dealing with unknown magic, like the Lockdown, he is completely out of his depth. So, in come two characters who are vastly more experienced but hindered by the fact that they cannot use Magic. Dalton (the Sheriff) would know a spell like the Lockdown wouldn't end just because you blow something up. For that matter, only the most reckless idiots in movies blow stuff up without at least confirming whether or not what they've blown up has anything to do with the problem they're trying to address. Dalton MIGHT be able to detect magic, but she has no means, on her own, of determining what kind of Magic is involved or what spells my be set to protect said target. Who knows? The damned thing might be indestructible. Without using the proper spells (that Seth is learning) she won't know one way or other. Sorry, trying to come up with smarter characters than that.
Hiding a clue: I cannot confirm nor deny whether the Model at the school has anything to do with the Lockdown. For all we know at this point in the story is that another Magus is one of the college students who helped stared the whole thing in the beginning and the Magic Seth detected on it was only an influencing spell set on it such that should the school ever decide to get rid of it, that student would be the first person they call. <shrugs>
Tie the clues/solution to the sex scenes: I agree with this completely. However, since we haven't reached the conclusion of this book, I cannot comment on this further.
Monologist Villains: Yes, it would be more exciting to try to discover the information about the other factions, but then what good is a Sheriff who doesn't know about the political climate? for that matter, Tanner lives near the primary leadership for Texas and the surrounding states; he's bound to find out things he shouldn't. Seth is the one who needs to know these things. Why wouldn't he ask about them? Sure, all his girls would be clueless (except maybe Jordan, but she was such a low power that getting involved would have been about as useful as one of Seth's Fonti trying to help out). This, however, doesn't mean they know everything.
Seth's Relationships with his Fonti: I knew this was going to be an issue going into the story. Before I started, while I was planning things out, I sat down and made a list of something specific each one would be involved in with Seth. I have to admit, not everyone was forthcoming with ideas (yes, I do talk to the characters). Jordan was the anger issue, Milena the doctor visit, Erica and Leanne are about the Halloween party, etc. There are two more scenes that I came up with early on in the planning phase that haven't even come up yet in the story. So, while the story isn't only about the Lockdown - as you've pointed out - I am doing my best to make sure everyone gets some 'screen time". It may not be as much as the new characters, but at least they're in there - unlike in my Master PC stories.
Progression and Time: Sibling Magus only covers four days total. It started on Friday morning, progressed through Saturday, and as of chapter 31 is in early Sunday evening. After a couple more chapters dealing with magical defenses, there'll only be one more "day" for the story before the planned ending. Granted, a lot has happened and most of that has been everything except Seth doing something with his girls, but the way I've seen this book since the planning stage is like this: primary plot is the Lockdown, secondary is Seth learning spell casting and about the Magus Community in general, and third is his relationship with his girls. This doesn't mean Seth doesn't care, but if he continues to do what he has been, then we'd have no story at all.
One thing that bothers me about receiving an email like this, is that I have to explain the whys and why-nots. It means I'm not doing it well enough in the story. So, if anyone has any questions, feel free to ask. And, if the person who wrote this wants to respond further, feel free to shoot me an email. I'll be happy to discuss anything further.
--==( Internet Access )==--
It's that time of month again. No, I don't have a period. At least, not a biological period. Now that I think about it, I know when women live together for a long period of time, they tend to have syncronized cycles. I wonder if that is happening with Seth's girls? Imagine that? A week when everyone turns Seth down (except anyone who wants get get pregnant)??
Anyway. I got the internet bill. It's due on the 26th (as always). I was overdue $40 from last month, so the total is $114.90. Anyone who would like to donate can do so via paypal (firstname.lastname@example.org). Remember, this not only keeps me online so I can post the occasional blog (and hey, a chapter too!) but so I can keep up with critical emails like the one above.
Hope everyone is having a good summer so far.