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Discussion Starter #1
It's time to dive into In Her Name! I decided to go ahead and post the questions this evening so folks can jump in whenever they want tomorrow.

Rules

1. Play nice and have fun.
2. Robin's rule (you can't give the klub leader kilt wedgies...or worse; feel free to throw cupcakes, however)
3. I'll post questions for each section at the start of the reading period, so you can hit them as you go through the week.
4. Feel completely and totally free to bring up other thoughts about the book - the questions are mainly icebreakers for discussion. :)
5. I'll set up a separate thread for spoiler discussions.
6. You can ask whatever you like of me from the author's perspective, as long as it is in line with rule #2 (although I'll waive that if you throw cupcakes) and I can come up with an answer that sounds spiffy. Ha!

And that's really it! Here are the questions for the first section (chapters 1-5)...

Chapter 1:

Why do you think the author put in the moment of Solon finding the picture of the couple who used to live in the house they were using as a base?

Near location 299-305, the Kreelan priestess has the thought "What a pity that animals with such instincts did not possess souls." What significance, if any, do you think that statement has?

Why did the Kreelan priestess cut Reza in the same way he cut her? Why did she take a lock of his hair? Why did she let him live?

Chapter 2:

What insight into the author does Reza's remarks about the House 48 library give you?

What were your impressions of Nicole? Of Wiley?

Chapter 3:

Were you surprised at what happened to Muldoon?

Chapter 4:

Would you have left Reza to check the library as Mary the librarian did? What would you have done? Why do you think the author did it this way?

We again meet again the warrior priestess who appeared in chapter 1, and find out she is named Tesh-Dar. Were you surprised to see her again?

It comes to Tesh-Dar's thoughts several times that humans have no souls because their blood doesn't sing. What do you think this means?

Chapter 5:

What is your first impression of Esah-Zhurah?

When Reza realized he was getting sick from his diet and attacked Esah-Zhurah, what were you thinking would happen?

Bonus questions

A couple of questions that'll be the same for each section:

- What was the most emotional scene for you?
- What character(s) did you like the most and least?

And finally, I'll mention this only now and at the end of the klub: for those so inclined, please do consider posting a reader review on Amazon (or wherever you got the book) to let others know how you felt about it. There's no set style or "right" way to do it, but for indie authors like myself reader reviews are extremely important to let others know if the book's decent (or not). Also, if you enjoy the book (which obviously I hope you do), please feel free to tell your friends about it or otherwise spread the word - that sort of marketing is really important! ;D

Okay, enough of that junk. Let's get to the questions and start reading!! BTW, we have Jan to thank for most of the questions (and if anybody has ideas for more, feel free to post and discuss)!

LET'S GO!!
 

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Mike, can you clarify the ages of the kids for me?  I know there was some revising you did but can't now remember what exactly was changed.  Here's my confusion:  N. is obviously 14 1/2 on arriving at Hallmark.  R. makes a comment about having another 6 years, but that was right after he pointed out that she could get into the academy at 15.  So is he 9?  Even given everything he's experienced that seems young because my recollection is that the Hallmark scenes are 6 years after the first chapter.  Which would have made him only just 3 or so then, whereas I was envisioning him as closer to 6 or 7, certainly no younger than 5 at that time, which makes him 12ish at Hallmark and jives with the description of him as 'young teen'.  So why does he still have 6 years he has to stay there, putting him at 18, when N. can leave at 15.  Did I miss something?  Or maybe I'm just confused.  :)  (It is nice to be able to ask the author what he meant!)

For the record, I have read through Ch. 5 and am enjoying it so far.  Had to stop there to read the next installment of Whiskey Rebels. . .

Ann

Ann
 

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Ok I'm working on the questions. But I hope I can post my own. I loved the first chapters. the book looks very good. My only quibble was the Hallmark planet. It seemed to be a an artificial plot point kind of thing. It doesn't fit into the rest of the revealed human civilization in the story. The two planets we see in the first three chapters, including Nicole's seem like decent, loving places full of mostly honorable people. Yet this civilization allows their war orphans to be brutalized in a slave planet and given no education. Then the orphans are allowed to go tell this story all around the galaxy at 15 or 18....so its not like its a secret. People just ignore this?

Not that similar things haven't happened in the past in war, but it would be much more difficult in a modern information age type civilization than it was in the 1800s or before.

Given the extent of the warfare I would have expected them to go into military schools to be prepared to be cannon fodder.

Anyway, not trying to criticize it just struck me that way as I was reading. Probably more from outrage than anything else. As a former military officer, one of the most important parts of the soldier's "contract" with his country is that he will fight and possibly die for his country and his country will take care of his family.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Ann Von Hagel said:
Mike, can you clarify the ages of the kids for me? I know there was some revising you did but can't now remember what exactly was changed. Here's my confusion: N. is obviously 14 1/2 on arriving at Hallmark. R. makes a comment about having another 6 years, but that was right after he pointed out that she could get into the academy at 15. So is he 9? Even given everything he's experienced that seems young because my recollection is that the Hallmark scenes are 6 years after the first chapter. Which would have made him only just 3 or so then, whereas I was envisioning him as closer to 6 or 7, certainly no younger than 5 at that time, which makes him 12ish at Hallmark and jives with the description of him as 'young teen'. So why does he still have 6 years he has to stay there, putting him at 18, when N. can leave at 15. Did I miss something? Or maybe I'm just confused. :) (It is nice to be able to ask the author what he meant!)

For the record, I have read through Ch. 5 and am enjoying it so far. Had to stop there to read the next installment of Whiskey Rebels. . .

Ann

Ann
Ann -

Okay, I think you must have the older version, but even at that you have to keep in mind that I can't add! LOL! Pretty sad for someone who made it through calculus...

Anyway, the age thing for when Reza is a boy has buggered me repeatedly (I've tried to get this straight about three times - ha!). But this is about how it's supposed to be:

- At the start of the book, during the invasion of New Constantinople, he was 7(ish)
- When we first see him on Hallmark, five years have passed, so he's 12(ish)
- I'll have to go back and look (or one of you all can tell me since you're reading through it with fresh eyes), but Nicole was there for not quite a year, then another six months or so passed after she left. So by chapter 4, Reza is just shy of 14.
- minimum age of entry to the academies is 15; while I don't think I specified it, I think I had in mind that the kids who did the best on the tests and were identified as officer material went as early as that to get additional training. I also didn't really make any distinction between academies in terms of officer training vs. enlisted as we do today - not for any particular reason, it's just how things turned out in this universe. ;D
- I *think* I corrected the other time discrepancies in terms of how long Reza had left vs. Nicole. Again, I'll have to double-check on those.

So yes, in the older versions of the book that some of you have, the ages don't add up very well. This is one of the major bugaboos of being a self-published author: unless you pay big bucks out of pocket for a professional editor, you have to try to be your own own (which is incredibly painful, let me tell you!). This also illustrates the difference between proofreading and true editing: a real editor can see the big picture and find these sorts of pesky things and slap some red ink on 'em! ;D
 

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Thanks for clarifying the ages for us.  I'm still not clear why Nicole could go to the Academy at 15 and Reza would have to wait until he is 18. 

I read the sample and thought I could just pick up where it left off when I got to the book.  Two problems.  I deleted the sample without noting where I left off.  Second, looking at the questions, I'm going to have to go back and read from the beginning. 

Mike, I like your writing style. 
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Chad Winters said:
Ok I'm working on the questions. But I hope I can post my own.
Chad - Absolutely you can ask your own questions!! That's the fun of it - the posted questions are just to help folks get their creative juices flowing. ;D

I loved the first chapters. the book looks very good. My only quibble was the Hallmark planet. It seemed to be a an artificial plot point kind of thing. It doesn't fit into the rest of the revealed human civilization in the story. The two planets we see in the first three chapters, including Nicole's seem like decent, loving places full of mostly honorable people. Yet this civilization allows their war orphans to be brutalized in a slave planet and given no education. Then the orphans are allowed to go tell this story all around the galaxy at 15 or 18....so its not like its a secret. People just ignore this?

Not that similar things haven't happened in the past in war, but it would be much more difficult in a modern information age type civilization than it was in the 1800s or before.

Given the extent of the warfare I would have expected them to go into military schools to be prepared to be cannon fodder.

Anyway, not trying to criticize it just struck me that way as I was reading. Probably more from outrage than anything else. As a former military officer, one of the most important parts of the soldier's "contract" with his country is that he will fight and possibly die for his country and his country will take care of his family.
Okay, lemme see if I can answer this sensibly. ;D

Believe it or not, Hallmark was not a plot device. When I wrote this book, I didn't do it from an outline or story structure as some authors do: it was really a sort of virtual reality experience. After I decided to actually start writing the bloody thing (using a few scribbles I did in high school as a starting point), I would sit down and stare at the laptop for a bit, and my fingers just started typing. I had no idea what was going to happen next until I actually wrote it. So the worlds you visit, the people you meet, the things that happen - all of that was sort of spontaneously generated. That's one thing that struck a chord with me when Jan and I went to hear Diana Gabaldon speak a couple years ago, when she said that Claire just sort of started telling her what happened and led Diana along through the story.

So, back to Hallmark itself. Like some other things in the book, I think it's something of a reflection of part of ourselves (again, even though I didn't consciously intend for them to be). Look around us today, even here in the U.S. - there are many Americans (not to mention fellow human beings overseas), including children, who live in awful conditions. There are plenty of horror stories about orphanages, nursing homes (LOTS of horror stories there), and other atrocious things going on amongst our own citizenry (as a former officer, as I am, consider how many veterans have been treated). These outrages are well-documented and there are plenty of victims to attest to their existence, yet the horrors continue behind barriers of bureaucracy and callous indifference.

As for the Confederation being an information-age type of civilization, it is - to a certain extent. While I didn't go into gory detail on this, communications between star systems is generally limited to messages carried by starships: faster-than-light (FTL) communications were really only possible using the military STARNET system (which you'll see later in the book). So while individual systems were generally highly networked internally, they were bottlenecked in interstellar terms. You'll see references later on to the Central Library and how data was distributed to various planetary systems; this was because of the difficulty in transmitting large quantities of data over interstellar distances.

Now, one could always argue the case that such a bottleneck should have been overcome, but for this universe my fingers decreed that it wouldn't be so. ;D

Back to the military schools: while not everyone went early to the academies for the equivalent of officer training, EVERYONE was supposed to have some sort of federal service: in the military services (including the Territorial Army) or the various branches of the government (doing all the many things a government would have to do in a century-long war). In fact, there will be a scene sometime later on where a bit-part character who hasn't done his federal service gets a verbal wedgie in an important meeting.

Lastly, as for fighting and dying, and then expecting your country to care for your family, I have to express a less optimistic view. The only thing the government is really obligated to do if you die in the line of duty is pay off any SGLI policy you might have and present your survivors with any posthumous medals you may have been awarded. If you haven't arranged for them to be secure financially in case you die, they'll be largely on their own, perhaps with some assistance from the various survivors funds, but that is really a pittance in the end. We train, fight, and - if necessary - die to protect our families in the greater sense and, when the time really comes, to protect the men and women we serve with. But the true welfare of the service member's family is in his or her individual hands - Uncle Sam isn't going to step in and lovingly care for them...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
gertiekindle said:
Thanks for clarifying the ages for us. I'm still not clear why Nicole could go to the Academy at 15 and Reza would have to wait until he is 18.
Well, technically I think Reza probably would have gone at 15 except for the minor incident that takes place in chapter 4. ;D

I read the sample and thought I could just pick up where it left off when I got to the book. Two problems. I deleted the sample without noting where I left off. Second, looking at the questions, I'm going to have to go back and read from the beginning.
If you read the sample before the last revision, it's probably just as well if you hit the first chapters again, as if you're just buying the book now you'll be getting the most recent version. I'm still somewhat perplexed, though, why the servers aren't putting out the new version to folks who delete the old one from their Kindles and re-download. Grr...

Mike, I like your writing style.
Thanks! Does that mean you'll loan me the Kool Atomic Hat?? ;D
 

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kreelanwarrior said:
Well, technically I think Reza probably would have gone at 15 except for the minor incident that takes place in chapter 4. ;D
Yes, I see now it would be best to reread from the beginning.

Thanks! Does that mean you'll loan me the Kool Atomic Hat?? ;D
Nice try, Kemosabe. But I will throw non-lethal Hershey's Kisses.

 

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kreelanwarrior said:
That's one thing that struck a chord with me when Jan and I went to hear Diana Gabaldon speak a couple years ago, when she said that Claire just sort of started telling her what happened and led Diana along through the story.
That's absolutely true for some of my writing as well. The best writing tends to work out this way.

kreelanwarrior said:
If you read the sample before the last revision, it's probably just as well if you hit the first chapters again, as if you're just buying the book now you'll be getting the most recent version. I'm still somewhat perplexed, though, why the servers aren't putting out the new version to folks who delete the old one from their Kindles and re-download. Grr...
Just for the record, I'm still having the same issue too. (As you know, I bought your book months ago.)

Anyway, no matter which version you guys have, I can say that you're in for a major treat. In Her Name was one of the absolute best books I read in 2008.
 

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Chapter 1:

Why do you think the author put in the moment of Solon finding the picture of the couple who used to live in the house they were using as a base?

Not sure, why did you? :p I would guess as a device to create an attachment of sorts between this conflict and some of the greater ones in our history--the exact same scenario probably played out thousands of times in WWII, for example. It kinda makes it feel less whiz-bang intergalactic warfare and more of a small skirmish that is repeated in countless iterations.

Near location 299-305, the Kreelan priestess has the thought "What a pity that animals with such instincts did not possess souls." What significance, if any, do you think that statement has?
No clue on that one.

Why did the Kreelan priestess cut Reza in the same way he cut her? Why did she take a lock of his hair? Why did she let him live?
I think she let him live because he lashed out and actually managed to injure her, despite his size, weight, strength and situational disadvantage; that act of physical agression earned him some respect. I suspect she did both of the other things for remembrance sake: She couldn't let him go without injuring him after what he'd done, thus the matching keepsake on his face; and she took the hair to remember the "animal" that had bested her when he was apparently helpless.

Chapter 2:

What insight into the author does Reza's remarks about the House 48 library give you?

That you're a DTB kinda guy at heart and think all of us Kindlers are silly geese? :p

What were your impressions of Nicole? Of Wiley?
Nicole seems more helpless than the typical orphan, but her connection to Reza is unmistakable. Wiley seems like the stereotypical hollywood high-school janitor, complete with a home in the basement and a stunning array of knowledge (or in this case, books).

Chapter 3:

Were you surprised at what happened to Muldoon?

Yes, I was expecting Reza to be the one opening the door, with the result being a rather bloody fight that didn't really change much.

Chapter 4:

Would you have left Reza to check the library as Mary the librarian did? What would you have done? Why do you think the author did it this way?

Probably not. It singles him out upon his capture, and again gives him a chance to show his mettle. If he'd been in the shelter, he'd have been executed before being carried out.

We again meet again the warrior priestess who appeared in chapter 1, and find out she is named Tesh-Dar. Were you surprised to see her again?
Not particularly, she seemed kinda important the first time she appeared.

It comes to Tesh-Dar's thoughts several times that humans have no souls because their blood doesn't sing. What do you think this means?
No clue.

Chapter 5:

What is your first impression of Esah-Zhurah?

She's an interesting dichotomy--caring and brutal, often at the same time.

When Reza realized he was getting sick from his diet and attacked Esah-Zhurah, what were you thinking would happen?
Either she would beat him into submission and throw him in some sort of prison (more so than he was already in), or something similar to what did happen--he'd earn her respect through confrontation.
 

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Since this is his first time should we give him one more chance to get it right? Or should I go right for the kilt wedgie? :D
 

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Ok, I've made it to chapter 3. Hopefully I can get 3-5 finished before the week ends!

Chapter 1:

Why do you think the author put in the moment of Solon finding the picture of the couple who used to live in the house they were using as a base?

At fist I thought there was a corruption with my download and I was missing some background. Then as I realized I wasn't I was wondering why the heck did he start right here. What the heck is going on..what no back story... Then I started to really think about it (ok it kept me awake thinking about it and at a 2am potty run it hit me) Most of us are dropped into life in the middle of the story. We don't get back ground of our history until we get to school or learn from our parents. Also I realized by Chapt 2 the story was not about the parents it was about Reza and a catalyst as to the major changes in his life. I'm sure as Reza learns (I'm hoping) I will also learn about how/why the war with the Kreelans (man are they creepy :eek:). Anywho even if not (like most stories about my family they don't always go back to the very beginning just to tell their life story (ie what happended to their parents before them, the grandparents, their great grandparents etc.) Am I making any since here?

Near location 299-305, the Kreelan priestess has the thought "What a pity that animals with such instincts did not possess souls." What significance, if any, do you think that statement has?

I'm wondering if she thought they would be worth 'saving' or converting if she thought they had souls. She seemed to see them as only destructive creatures. Ie I guess how we would see a termite. It's got now soul but is very destructive. I also gathered that they did not spend much time learning about humans before they came to this conclusion.

In addition she mentioned that it was because of the weapons that man created that lead to the Kreelans trying to destroy them. So if we only had swords they would have left us alone? Couldn't we still be destructive with swords? But then again don't the Kreelans use weapons that are very destructive as well. Kind of the pot calling the kettle black if you ask me.

then again I don't know the whole back story, so it's purely conjecture :-\

Why did the Kreelan priestess cut Reza in the same way he cut her? Why did she take a lock of his hair? Why did she let him live?

Though they 'seem' to be the bad guys I get the impression they are an eye for an eye type. Or maybe something to remember her by.

I think she kept a lock of hair to remember him by or possible a way to keep track of what happens to him.

I got the impression that she was impressed by his moxy but I also got the impression she wasn't really there to kill but to gather information. Even though she killed two others but I think it was due to the weapons they had/pointed at her.

Chapter 2:

What insight into the author does Reza's remarks about the House 48 library give you?
hmmm guess I need to re read that. Don't get any insight into the author LOL.

What were your impressions of Nicole? Of Wiley?
I got the impression that Nicole was used to being pampered / sheltered, but not a brat. She is a strong and kind personality. Wiley, he's a nice guy who's trying to give the kids a little space of heaven in the hell the live in. But I don't think he's as slow as people think. But then again some of Reza's comments show that he has had a lot of brain damage.

I do have to say I was supprised at the turn of events after the first chapter. I was figuring that the parents were the main characters. But then I didn't really read the description of the book so I'm easily misslead ;D

I'll write more when I get there
 

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Discussion Starter #17
bkworm8it said:
Ok, I've made it to chapter 3. Hopefully I can get 3-5 finished before the week ends!
Hey, it's only Monday - you've got plenty of time! ;D

At fist I thought there was a corruption with my download and I was missing some background. Then as I realized I wasn't I was wondering why the heck did he start right here. What the heck is going on..what no back story... Then I started to really think about it (ok it kept me awake thinking about it and at a 2am potty run it hit me) Most of us are dropped into life in the middle of the story. We don't get back ground of our history until we get to school or learn from our parents. Also I realized by Chapt 2 the story was not about the parents it was about Reza and a catalyst as to the major changes in his life. I'm sure as Reza learns (I'm hoping) I will also learn about how/why the war with the Kreelans (man are they creepy :eek:). Anywho even if not (like most stories about my family they don't always go back to the very beginning just to tell their life story (ie what happended to their parents before them, the grandparents, their great grandparents etc.) Am I making any since here?
How to begin the story is something I went back and forth on several times. But I finally decided to start it off with a "bang," as it were, and build up the backstory in subsequent chapters. I guess that's just a personal preference I have: I think I enjoy books more when things get off to a running start with a bit of action.

In addition she mentioned that it was because of the weapons that man created that lead to the Kreelans trying to destroy them. So if we only had swords they would have left us alone? Couldn't we still be destructive with swords? But then again don't the Kreelans use weapons that are very destructive as well. Kind of the pot calling the kettle black if you ask me.
This will become a bit clearer as the backstory develops. But I think the trick here is that the Kreelans use their advanced technology to try and strip us of ours to make things as "personal" as possible. But they wouldn't leave us alone, even if we just used swords (or nothing but bare knuckles) - they're looking for a fight.

I got the impression that she was impressed by his moxy but I also got the impression she wasn't really there to kill but to gather information. Even though she killed two others but I think it was due to the weapons they had/pointed at her.
Great observation about the priestess being there mostly to gather information! I hadn't actually thought of it that way before. ;D

As for the two she kills, she chose them because they had proven themselves so good in combat. It's tough for this particular warrior to find worthy opponents, it seems...

What were your impressions of Nicole? Of Wiley?
I got the impression that Nicole was used to being pampered / sheltered, but not a brat. She is a strong and kind personality. Wiley, he's a nice guy who's trying to give the kids a little space of heaven in the hell the live in. But I don't think he's as slow as people think. But then again some of Reza's comments show that he has had a lot of brain damage.
In one of the prequels I'd like to write, a good chunk of it will be focused on Wiley!

I do have to say I was supprised at the turn of events after the first chapter. I was figuring that the parents were the main characters. But then I didn't really read the description of the book so I'm easily misslead ;D
Well, let this be a lesson to you - be prepared for the unexpected in this story! ;D
 

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Thanks for the age clarification, Mike.  It's kind of what I figured.  Nicole is 6 months from her 15th birthday when she gets to Hallmark; Reza' a mature 12 ish at that time.  A year and a half later when he gets taken he's closer to 14.

Ann
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Ann Von Hagel said:
Thanks for the age clarification, Mike. It's kind of what I figured. Nicole is 6 months from her 15th birthday when she gets to Hallmark; Reza' a mature 12 ish at that time. A year and a half later when he gets taken he's closer to 14.

Ann
One thing that struck me at one point was about Reza's maturity. A reviewer once commented that he seemed overly mature for his age (this was the original version, when he was 12 rather than 13/14 he should be if I could add! LOL!) when the story picks up on Hallmark, but I wonder. I think a child who had suffered and survived what Reza went through - the nightmare of the invasion of New Constantinople, followed by the depravations he and the others suffered on Hallmark - would make him either unusually mature and independent or a beaten victim. I think it was simply in the nature of his character to be as strong as he was, because of what he is destined to become...
 

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And kids do mature at different rates. I've known 11 and 12 year olds who are more mature than some college freshmen. So 12 didn't seem too young. . . but 9 or 10 strains believability a little. . . .

Ann
 
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