You might notice a slightly new look to the web site. We’re doing some experimenting to try and bring you a cleaner site. I hope you all can sympathize with my long-suffering web master as he deals with my indecision.
In fact, I’m pretty sure some days, he feels like this:
It never fails does it. Been working on”The Sleeping Her“, which is the working title for my novel follow-on for For a Few Gold Pieces More. Unfortunately, as I hit about 8000 words, I realized, the first half of the 2nd Chapter had nothing to do with the second half.
OK, so now I have a third chapter, but I now have to go back and add some more meat onto the 2nd chapter. So, White, what happens between X and Y since Y is now a separate chapter?
Back to the whiteboard.
In better news, I heard my story Crossed Swords was approved by the editor and passed on for inclusion on the anthology. Hopefully there’ll be more news I can release to you all soon.
Terra Incognito is like the gift that keeps on giving. Because I wrote the book, Black Gate gave me the opportunity to keep doing world-building articles for them.
I guess I did OK with my first one.
Apparently I had the #1 viewed blog post at Black Gate for the month of October. Thank you everyone who stopped by to check it out.
And now, time to buckle down on the next two posts I’m planning on doing there.
My publisher just sent me the link showing Terra Incognito on the Waterstone’s web site. Kind of cool seeing the book available for my horde of British fans (all two of you).
Still, this begs the question – does this mean I’m now an internationally published author? *silly grin*
Sent the first set of revisions for a short story back to the editor. Took me a bit to get into the revisions, partly for personal reasons, partly because I’ve been busy with other projects. Still, I think all in all it’s going to turn out OK.
Also found out that another anthology I’d submitted for several months ago seems to be coming to fruition. This is the one I’m REALLY looking forward to seeing the other stories (along with mine) and seeing how various authors treat this franchise.
Still haven’t heard back from one anthology that I submitted to back in July. *sigh* Not sure what’s going on with that one, but I understand the editor is swamped under at the moment, so I’m still keeping my fingers crossed until I either get the contract or the rejection letter.
Also, got some work done on the Theron Chase novel I’ve been kicking around as well as The Sleeping Hero, my novel follow-up to For a Few Gold Pieces More.
Short stories, novellas, novels. Writing and revising. I guess Anne Lennox said it best, “Sweet dreams are made of these.”
In the first part of this article, I was talking about how I was approached to create a series bible that would be used my multiple authors to create The Darkside Codex, Musa Publishing’s shared world. I’ve discussed where the germ of the idea came from and also where I got the ideas for the city of Southwatch. But that’s only the first part. I used all the various techniques I discuss in my new book, Terra Incognito: Building the Worlds of Your Imagination, to flesh out the city once I had built its basic structure. So, let’s return to that idea and see how Southwatch grew from just a few buildings on a small island into something people could incorporate into their stories—
Continuing on, I started identifying people who were needed in the town. I decided Southwatch was a city-state run by a baron. However, he handles the major issues with the Empire that controls Southwatch. There is a Lord Mayor and a city council running the day-to-day operations and then each city district has its own council also. However, beyond that, I began developing personalities any of the writers could use. Some of them are simply names and positions like the Lord Mayor’s secretary, the bartender at a specific bar, two second-story men, etc. Just something a writer could use as a hook for a story or as a background character their protagonist could meet in passing.
Then I started thinking of specific people to populate Southwatch. Here’s where I started adding in the mad scientists, the baron’s secret police, sky pirates, a couple of industrial spies, the military leaders who were stationed by the Empire to protect Southwatch and the southern coast; all of these had more details so they could be potential protagonists or even antagonists for the writers. For my good friend and fellow author, Myke Cole, I created the Imperial Coast Guard and stationed one of the Coast Guard Squadrons in Southwatch.
Another area I provided a bare bone sketch was in the Southwatch Underworld. I came up with the names and areas of interest for several of Southwatch’s seediest characters. However, I left it at that. I am hoping some of the writers will explore these characters. Now if I was writing about one or all of them, it would be safe to say, I wouldn’t want to be on any of their bad sides. I suspect if you dig deep into their characters, you’re not going to like what you see. However, another author may decide one of them is really not a bad person, but they’re as much a victim of circumstances as the people they terrorize. Another person might decide even I wasn’t depraved enough with their story. That’s why I left some of the characters wide open. I want the writers to bring the story each character has hidden away to life.
While most steampunk is set in a variation of Victorian or Edwardian England, we decided this would not be just an alternate Earth but a new world with its own history and religions. We already had the city map, but if this was a new world, I was going to need to start with the macro and work toward the micro. So, first we created the world of Thalia by creating the continents and the oceans. From that, I was able to identify which continent held Southwatch, and I did a larger version of this map, identifying the current Empire of Dalriada and its neighboring lands. Then, we did an expanded map of the Empire of Dalriada and identified the various duchies, kingdoms, and imperial city-states allied with Southwatch.
I decided since Southwatch was an independent city-state inside an empire, the Empire of Dalriada would be similar to the Holy Roman Empire and Southwatch would be one of the imperial electors. Given its industrial power and being a major port city, it allowed Southwatch to have quite a bit of influence within the empire without controlling large tracts of land. This would help the authors concentrate on the city, but give them the ability to include imperial intrigue, foreign spies, or even do a story involving traveling around the globe if they wanted to investigate the entire world.
If you’re going to have a world, it can’t just exist in a vacuum. So, I wrote the history of the lands around Southwatch and wove the history of the city into the over-all history. This helped identify the old lines of nobility as well as introducing events reflected in ancient documents that might be discovered in the bowels of the city or even a potential pretender for the imperial throne who might be living in Southwatch completely unaware of their noble bloodline. Would the current nobles welcome him into their midst or would they dispatch forces to ensure the permanent extinction of the threat?
In conjunction with my work, Celina helped design the major religions in the Empire. She came up with the major religion as well as three minor cults. By designing the religions, she then created the holidays in Southwatch as well as deigning the calendar. It’s an unusual one: twelve months with thirty days per month (five weeks of six days each) and then a short five-day month which is dedicated to the major holy days.
Along with developing the religions, she also designed the most commonly seen fashions in Southwatch. After all, what is the local noble supposed to wear when out and about on the town? What are the latest fashions in filter masks for slumming below the cloud? After all, once can’t be expected to wear just any old filter mask.
Seriously, Celina put a great effort in developing and refining what is standard wear in Southwatch. She helped design not only the clothing for the aristocrats, but helped design the standard uniforms for the police and Sky Rangers as well as identifying the styles of clothing worn by everyday people both at work and at play. Even though a lot of steampunk focuses on the gentleman adventurer or the lady daredevil, even they will be encountering people of all ages and social classes. By determining what the fashions of Southwatch (and by extension, the Empire and beyond), this helps ensure continuity in the various stories to come.
The advantage of having this be a near-Earth-but-not-quite is we can introduce almost anything into the story and make it work. Glass as strong as steel? A rare element that assists in personal flight devices? Androids possessing human souls? Is it magic? Is it super-science? Is it a combination of both? Or is it Clarke’s Law (“Any sufficiently advanced science is indistinguishable from magic”) in action?
Well, the fae might have something to say about that.
Oh, hadn’t I mentioned them yet? Yes, they are the ones who decided to make Southwatch pay for all the pollution they’d been pumping into the sky for hundreds of years. They maintain the winds keeping the cloud perfectly centered above the city. They figure the humans will figure it out eventually. As I point out in the series bible, the fae may be playful or they may be malevolent, but they always have their own reasons for doing things. Always.
Southwatch has been built and destroyed at least three times in its history. There are things that lurk within the bowels of the city and on the outskirts and within the cloud. Some might call them the undead. Some might call them shadows of the past. Some might claim they’re creatures from a different reality summoned by a mad genius and then released into the world for an unfathomable purpose. All of them could be right. However, there are no friendly undead. They do not fall in love with humans. Humans are cattle to be used and discarded. Humans can be agents to accomplish tasks the undead cannot do during daylight. Humans can be toys (sexual or other), but they are not love interests. Remember, some of what we would call undead are not former humans. They think very differently and see humans very differently from the way humans see themselves. This could be fertile ground for Steampunk Horror, especially if the otherworldliness is played up.
In a nutshell, these are the steps I went through to build the city of Southwatch, which was going to be the crown jewel for what I called The Darkside Chronicles. Unfortunately, Musa Publishing closed its doors in March 2015. Still it was a great project to be involved in and it was great seeing how all the different things I talk about in Terra Incognito came together for this project. And this might not necessarily be the final end of Southwatch, but that will have to wait for another telling.
Before we post part two to the Darkside Codex story, I have some general writing news.
Sunday was the first blog post I’ve published at Black Gate. It’s supplemental information for my book, Terra Incognito, about designing a fantasy or historical village for writers or gamers. After talking to my publisher, StarWarp Concepts, they’d like me to collect up these new world-building posts for a Terra Incognito II. I’m certainly not going to argue with that.
Be sure to check out the blog post and post a comment there or here, especially if there are any subjects you’d like to see me cover.
Also, I have finished the first draft of Paladin, at 7,000 words into The Sleeping Hero, the novel to continue the adventures from For a Few Gold Pieces More. I also submitted “Extractor” for an anthology with a new publisher for me. Keep your fingers crossed. I’d really, really like to get this one. *grin*
Also, I’ve seen the first draft of my Kickstarter video and Joshua Orozco at Atomic Canary Studios did a kick-ass job with it. Just waiting for him to add the music and smooth out a few rough spots and we’re hopefully going to be ready to rock and roll with this.
I’ll probably be reaching out to a number of people in the very near future re: my Kickstarter. While I’m not asking anyone specifically to contribute to it, (although I won’t turn you down if you decide to support me), but I am going to be asking many of you to help up the volume on this. Some of you are much, MUCH, more tied in via social media and just reader-bases already, so if you could just direct a few more eyes to the Kickstarter than I’ll be able to generate on my own, you’ll have my undying gratitude.
(Yeah, I know undying gratitude and $4.00 might by a Starbucks coffee, but hey, it’s something!)
In my writing guide Terra Incognito: A Guide to Building the Worlds of Your Imagination (now on sale from StarWarp Concepts), I take readers through the process of constructing a fantasy world from a blank piece of paper. We build and populate the lands, determine the various ethnicities, divide them into countries and tribes, and determine their forms of government, religions, and monetary systems. We also create the cosmology of the world and its surrounding neighbors, and demonstrate how it influences the creation of the calendar in use on the island continent of Aviones.
Many of you may wonder how practical this advice is. Well, to give you a real-world example, let me tell you about the process I went through for Musa Publishing.
In June 2012, Celina Summers, the editor of Penumbra—the magazine in which the articles that comprise the majority of Terra Incognito first appeared—approached me with the concept of creating a shared steampunk-genre world that could be the basis for a new line of novels and novellas. At first, it seemed a little overwhelming—after all, it’s one thing to develop a world for my own personal vision, but it’s another to create a world that anyone could use to develop a story. After taking a few deep breaths, I sat down and began brainstorming some directions in which I could go.
While I’m no expert on steampunk, I know several people who are, and based on their feedback, I realized there are no absolute rules for the genre. It’s incredibly flexible, which is where I see the “punk” part coming from, thumbing its nose at the idea there’s any one way to do it. So, when I accepted the challenge, I decided to develop a wide-open concept. Yes, there would be some staples from steampunk—steam-powered machines, airships, strange science, and intrigue—but I didn’t want to tie this new series into just science fiction or just fantasy. I wanted to create something that could be Urban Steampunk, Steampunk Noir, Steampunk Horror, or even Steampunk Romance. Basically, if there’s a genre out there, I wanted an author to feel comfortable creating a story set in my new world. Heck, if someone wanted to do Steampunk Literary, I couldn’t wait to see it. But first I had to create the framework for all these potential stories.
I remembered a cover I had seen when I attended the convention Archon 30, back in 2006. Alan Gutierrez’s wraparound cover had a woman with steel wings and mechanical arms standing there in a modified kimono on the front and a scene of airships mounting cannons flying over a landscape launching small airplanes from underneath. So, using the cover as inspiration, I knew I wanted to use winged people. Then looking at the airships, I had another inspiration. Being a longtime Trekkie, I was reminded of an original series episode called “The Cloud Minders,” in which the wealthy lived in floating cities while the commoners worked in horrible conditions on the planet’s surface.
Suddenly, I had my idea for the storyline.
What if there was a city where the more powerful, more influential or wealthier you were, the higher up in the city you lived? Thus the city of Southwatch was born. I took two sheets of paper and began doodling. On one page, I built a city with a huge steam plant in the center of the town, dividing it up into various sections. On the other page, I began working on an elevation map, deciding which region was the tallest and which were the lowest. As I played with this idea, I came up with a second one—the Dark Cloud.
Playing the “what if” game of brainstorming, I decided Southwatch was a major industrial city with a pollution problem. However, in Southwatch, the pollution had been affected by strange winds. The cloud of pollution grew out to the city limits and stopped, swirling slowly over the town in a huge fifty-foot mass. So, literally, there was a separation between the middle and lower classes and the (literal) upper class.
The city has a huge fleet of airships stationed above it, moored to the tallest portions of the town. While discussing this idea with Celina, we decided there were two different types of airships hovering above the town. The outermost ring of ships consisted of the standard military style airships, which I decided were manned by the Sky Rangers, the city’s main defenders. The interior ships are made out of a Southwatch unique material called “bessum.” This is a special mixture of glass with the tensile strength of steel. It allows for the building of beautiful airships large enough for “noble” housing. Also, it creates a spectacular visual with a flock of stained-glass airships hovering high above a dark cloud below.
Another thought that came to me while I was envisioning a towering city of skyscrapers. I remember going to the old Chicago Con back at the Rosemont Center. The convention was connected to the four major hotels by these walkways above the highways. They were commonly referred to as the habitrails, since they were completely enclosed to protected conventioneers from the weather. So, since we’re talking about huge skyscrapers hundreds of floors high, no one is going to want to have to go down to the ground floor walk to the next building and then take a steam-powered elevator back up. So now imagine standing on the ground and looking up to see a spider work of enclosed and open walkways between buildings extending up toward a dark, slowly swirling cloud over your head, allowing workers, deliverymen, messengers, and families to travel between buildings, while on the street around you, steam and electric powered cars jockey with bicyclists and a strange contraption that appears to be half-wagon and half horse clops down the street. Under your feet, you can feel the throbbing of the factories and the heavy people-movers taking those who live down in the underground slums from their homes to the steel mills and the factories that build the items that keep Southwatch running.
Oh, did I mention the mechanicals? Yes, along with the mechanical horses that were seen on the street, there are mechanical workers in Southwatch. Designed by the finest scientists (mad or otherwise), there are four different types. There are the winders—simple mechanical devices custom built for their specific jobs and, true to their names, require winding every so often by their human minders. Slightly more advanced than the winders were the myrmidons, generally humanoid in shape, primarily designed to provide military and police support for the humans in Southwatch. Even more advanced are the cybernauts, who serve as personal servants in jobs where the winders or myrmidons would make regular humans nervous. A fourth type of mechanical does not exist officially, but some people claim there are self-aware mechanicals called androids. Most people say androids are a figment of a vivid imagination, but there are those who speak of them in hushed tones and swear they exist. What will the writers who visit Southwatch decide? To be quite honest, there could be one story that swears they do exist and one that says they’re nothing but an urban legend and they both could be right. After all, not ever character in Southwatch is going to have the same understanding of the city or the same point of reference. That’s going to be the great part about doing a shared universe.
And speaking of urban legends, I created seven of them. However, all I did was come up with the name. Who is the Lady in White? Does the White Cliffs Strangler really exist? Are there more than seven urban legends in Southwatch? I certainly hope so for a city that’s been around for over a thousand years. However, that’s left to the writer’s imagination. The writers who want to visit Southwatch can certainly create their own or flesh out the ones I introduce. This was a decision I made to give our authors as much latitude as possible to create their own stories. It was a fine line to walk. I wanted to provide enough details for writers to get a good feel for Southwatch but not put so much detail into it so that the writers can put their own personal spin on this world.
(Of course I have my own opinions on what is what in Southwatch—it is my baby, after all—but that’s the joy of a shared world. I fully expect the writers to come up with ideas I never even considered and plots that will make me smack myself in the forehead, saying, “Why didn’t I think of that!” I’m really looking forward to that happening one day.)
All of this was a good start, but there’s more to tell in Part Two . . .
Home from Rocket City Lit Fest. Actually got home Monday evening, but all I did was grab dinner, visit with some friends, and collapsed into bed.
I’ll have a more complete wrap-up soon, but, the BLUF* is “had a great time, met a lot of cool authors, the volunteers were fantastic, the con committee was outstanding, and the crowd was small but enthusiastic (typical for a first year show).
Lesson learned: Do not schedule a book launch against Alabama football. My launch and opening kickoff were both at 6pm. Guess which one won? (Hint, the one that features multiple National Championships.)
Wednesday was another good day on the writing front. Got a blog post that’s related to Terra Incognito off to review site, finished the first draft of a short story that’s due at the end of the month and wrote another 2800 words on “Paladin”, my story for Origins Game Fair.
Of course, if you’re playing along at home, that means I’m at 5200 words for a 5000 word story and I still have one scene left to write. However, as we say in the biz, that’s what editing’s for. Push on until you hit “the end” and THEN go back and trim that puppy down to size. I already see where I need to move a few scenes around to make the story flow better, but until I finish the first draft, I’m not going to go back and “edit”.
Still, I’m very pleased with the way Paladin is going.
*For the non-military reading this — BLUF = Bottom Line Up Front
Holy frijoles, what a drive. It’s a whole lot further to Huntsville, AL than I thought it was, even after looking at the map before I left the house.
Still, even with construction zones, demolition derby wanna-bes, semis driving side by side up a hill at 45mph, and the occasional bear in the bushes looking for speeders, i arrived this afternoon. I’ll give the convention credit, the convention hotel is way worth the price. I am not kidding when I say my hotel room has more floor space than my first apartment in Monterey. Hell, it may have more floor space than the second one we had three years later. I do not foresee having to worry about space for the book launch party tomorrow evening.
Made it over to the Von Braun Convention Center and got my booth set up. Even after checking my checklist, I find I’m either down a few things OR didn’t bring enough of some things. I swore I had X in my box and I did, but not anywhere near as much as I thought I had (and left the rest on my desk back in Maryland *sigh*). Still, we’ll figure something out and I now know what to specifically look for next time I have a booth.
Hit a local supermarket on steroids called Publix and picked up a few things I needed for the con and the party. Just pulled into my parking place when some people I’d been visiting with during set-up spotted me and invited me to dinner with them. We found a neat hole-in-the-wall Mexican place with fantastic food and had a great time talking about cons we’d been at before (specifically DragonCon), and the comic/book business in general. While this is the first time I’d ever met them, we have enough friends and acquaintances in common that it was easy to find common ground.
Now, I’m enjoying the leftover chips and salsa, enjoying a nice Dragonhead Stout and thinking it’s time to call it a night.
So, Rocket City Day 0 was quite successful. Here’s to tomorrow being the start of a great con.
Oh, and along with all the frantic last minute packing . . . note to self, try not to schedule a book launch and a convention at the same time again . . . I did actually do something useful.
I wrote 2800+ words on a new story for the Origins Game Fare anthology for next year. The theme is Robots and my story is tentatively titled “Paladin”.
I have to say, this is the most unlike me story I’ve ever written, but it draws heavily on an experience I had back in college. I usually don’t write something that draws from my own history this closely – but it just fit the theme of what I wanted to do with the story.
Just got the floor plan for Rocket City Lit Fest in Huntsville, AL. I’m going to be in Booth 410 (2nd top cluster from the left, on the center horizontal aisle).
We’ll be holding the official book debut party for Terra Incognito at 6pm Saturday at the convention (and a little room party later that evening) to celebrate the book release.
So, if you’re coming to Rocket City, be sure to stop by and say “Hi”.
I was incredibly fortunate to get to interview Tracy Hickman for Terra Incognito. He was gracious with his time and his advice for new authors. Our Skype interview went over two hours and we probably could have kept going, but what was initially going to be one column wound up sprawling over into two issues. When we put Terra together as a book, unfortunately, we simply couldn’t fit all of his interview into it, so we decided to take a snippet of the interview and save it for the readers of this blog.
So, without further ado: Tracy Hickman
RW: You have a new book coming out called Wayne of Gotham. Is this your first time doing work with DC Comics? (Note: Wayne of Gotham was released on June 26, 2012, a few weeks after this interview was conducted.)
TH: Yes, this is my first foray into doing work with DC Comics.
RW: Two questions come to mind. One, can you give us a quick synopsis of the book? And two, since we’re talking about world building, Batman is a pretty iconic character. How much research did you have to do into Gotham City and the whole Batman mythos to be true to the character? Admittedly Batman has been through several reboots since the 1930s, but how do you stay true to the feel of Batman?( Read more...Collapse )
To read the rest of my interview with Tracy, which includes his insights on world building, you’ll have to purchase a copy of Terra Incognito: A Guide to Building the Worlds of Your Imagination, available from StarWarp Concepts.
And we’re off and running.
Terra Incognito should be live on the major sites in the next day or so – all depends on how fast the retailers get around to posting it to their sites. We’re certainly hoping it’ll be fully loaded everywhere by the end of the week at the latest.
The .epub is being obnoxious, but it’s been obnoxious the whole time we’ve been trying to get this thing put together. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear it was haunted. Then again, we are coming up on Halloween and my publisher is best known for doing dark fantasy and horror. Perhaps a haunted e-book is quite appropriate.
And then today I came home to find this:
Yep, that’s Terra Incognito at #1 on the Hottest Titles at DriveThruFiction.com.
I think this is a pretty good sign that there’s a market for works on world building.
OK, most of the Kickstarter site is built, a 2500 word blog post is ready to be reviewed one more time before mailing it out and I had a great meeting with a videographer about the Kickstarter video.
It’s slowly but surely coming together. I’m a tad nervous about this, but I’m committed to this, one way or the other.
Oh, yeah, I received my official invite to Origins ’16. Time to start working on that short story too. And editing the story that’s due at the end of the month . . . and writing another one I promised someone.
*cue the music* Oh, there ain’t no rest for the wicked. Money don’t grow on trees.
OK, remember how I said tonight would be a writing night?
Well, it was and it wasn’t. I did get started on a blog post I hope will be going up at a much more popular web site than mine and with any luck, I’ll have it finished and en route tomorrow.
However, the majority of my writing tonight was on the For a Few Gold Pieces More Kickstarter page. Yes, slowly but surely it’s coming together. I was originally going to launch the Kickstarter on 10 October, but it’s beginning to look more and more like the 17th. More to follow.
However, before it ever goes live, I’ll certainly have my alpha reader give it a thorough going-over so I don’t leave parenthesis unbounded or participles dangling. Then I’ll probably bribe/coerce/whine for a few friends to review it one last time before it goes live.
And then? Who knows?
Terra Incognito is at the printers. The E-books are waiting to be submitted to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, iBooks, Driver-Thru Comics, and any other place we can get them into.
All I really need now is information about how to submit them for gaming catalogs. Hey, it’s a book about world-building – there’s a ton of game masters who might want to build their own world rather than using a pre-packaged world. Terra Incognito is definitely a gaming supplement. Just need to figure out the best way to get it in front of a bunch of game store owners.
The Kickstarter for my short story collection, “For a Few Gold Pieces More” is coming together. Meeting with a videographer this weekend to discuss the video for the page, finalizing the rewards, and I’ve started building the page in Kickstarter as well as going over all the information I can find about successful campaigns.
If this fails, it’s not going to fail due to lack of preparation. *grin*
Tomorrow is going to be a writing night, no matter what though. I’m behind on a couple of projects because of all this publishing stuff. Time to get back to what I want to do, not what I have to do.
Finished this latest set of proof revisions. Hopefully that was the last pass, but we’ll see. Submitted a possible better picture for the author bio page, and now we’re at the 90% point on having a finished cover.
Also coordinated with someone about helping do the e-book layout.
One of these days, there might even be writing done in this house, but it’s not looking good for today.
Between this experience and the joy of trying to organize the Kickstarter for my short story collection, if anyone ever asks me if I want to self-publish again, I pray that you’re either faster than me or at least wearing a metal cup.
That is all.
Let’s here it for boring meetings. Thanks to getting trapped in a meeting I had no business being in today, I got a great start on the revised Steel on Target. I’ve written over 2300 words on it as well as completely plotting out what I want to do differently with this version from the earlier one as well as designing the world this story will take place on and mapping out the path of my heavily put-upon cav troopers.
It mostly follows the design of the earlier versions, but I think we found a better place to start rather than in media res, which is how the first two versions kicked off. Also, this allows me to introduce the new technology instead of having to cram it into the first couple of chapters and overwhelming the readers with geek-speech.
So, all things look pretty good and I should be able to salvage a lot of stuff from the earlier versions with some judicious editing (read – show no mercy).
Also doing the coordination thing to ensure Terra Incognito is going to hit its deadlines so I can do a limited release at Brooklyn Book Festival and then the big release of it at Rocket City Lit Fest.
But, now, it’s time to call it a night.
OK. Strikeforce Falcon #2 – “Operation Komodo” is off to the editor. *cues the band*
What next? Well, along with finishing the work on Terra Incognito and For a Few Gold Pieces More, I just fired up the ol’ computer on Steel on Target. Been a while since I worked on this story, so I really need to review where I was, what I want to keep, and how best to get this thing moving on a regular basis.
Steel on Target, you ask? Yes, this is the Military SF story I’ve been working on for quite a while. Got put aside when I was doing all those short stories/novellas for Musa and Pro Se. Now, it’s time to dust it off and get to hammering it out.
Plus, I have a few other irons in the fire. You knew I would. *grin*
Back and (semi-)recovered from Shore Leave this past weekend. It was a fantastic time and it was good to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while as well as making new ones.
Wound up getting there late Friday but still plenty of time to set up before the Meet the Pros. Had fun talking to the people coming by about my stuff (both old and new), but they were showing Guardians of the Galaxy in the ballroom, so the crowd for the Pros was a lot lighter than usual. Unfortunate, but I guess tight schedules are tight. *sigh*
Enjoyed visiting with everyone after the gathering (even if they do close the bar at the Hunt Valley Wyndham way too darn early. *sigh*). Hung around the lobby until almost 2:30 and then drove home just in time for the alarm to go off to start the next day.
(Well, it felt like I had just laid down before the alarm yelled at me.)
The Saturday panels were well worth dragging myself out of bed for. I was on the Alternate History panel where we discussed steampunk, gaslight, secret history, alternative history, dieselpunk and why the heck we write in any of those genres, where we get info, and how do we choose what we want to warp.
That was followed by Writing Tips for Aspiring Writers. We had a varied group on the panel. If the audience got anything out of that panel (and there was a LOT of good advice given out) is that there is no magical button. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another. You have to experiment to see what you’re most comfortable with. Also, you must “write” to be a writer. Thinking about writing doesn’t count. Research doesn’t count (although it’s fun), Plotting doesn’t count. Only writing counts, so get your computer/tablet/pen and paper/papyrus/stone and chisel and get to work!
The Crowdfunding panel was VERY useful for me (and hopefully for the audience too *grin*). Everyone on the panel, but me, had run one or multiple successful Kickstarters or Indygogo’s. I felt like I was in the Shark Tank because all of them started asking me about my planning, how I was going to advertise, etc., etc., etc.. Yikes! However, I now think I’m ready to start moving on this once I get finished getting Terra Incognito out there and can concentrate on For a Few Gold Pieces More.
Last panel of the day was the Writer Beware panel. Good audience with good questions. I have to thank Kathleen David for helping me out on that panel. Her experience as a former editor really helped the new(ish) authors in the audience see how the “other side” of the business sees things.
I didn’t go to the masquerade because I was doing my radio broadcast for the Gaming World Entertainment Network. It was amazing. People would come by and talk to me, but as soon as I asked if they wanted to talk about SF or the con to my audience … poof. It was like watching the Roadrunner vanishing with just that little puff of smoke left behind. Still, the show went well and I had fun visiting with all the off-air people.
Sunday didn’t quite go as planned, but the Writing Short Stories panel was well attended for a Sunday and I hope we answered most of the questions people had. I had hoped to get to do the Historical Fiction Writing Workshop, but it was scheduled against the Short Story panel. *sigh again*
Still, all in all, it was a a fun convention. Of course, the best part about Shore Leave is it’s a fantastic chance to catch up with everyone. Had a fantastic visit with Dayton Ward, Kevin Dilmore, David Mack, Scott Pearson, Allyn Gibson, William Leisner, Jim Johnson before the panels got going on Sunday. Also enjoyed speaking with Rigel Ailur, Glenn Hauman, Christopher Bennett, Peter and Kathleen David at breakfast that morning. Got to hang out with Kelly Meding, Phil Giunta, Steven H. Wilson, Steve Lesnik and Renfield at Meet the Pros, and Dave Galanter, Keith DeCandido, Mark MacDicken, Howard Weinstein, Marco Palmieri Aaron Rosenberg, Danielle Ackley-Mcphail and Mike McPhail, John Jackson Miller, Russ Colchamiro, Michael Jan Friedman, Joshua B. Palmatier, Amy Griswold, and a host of others to whom I apologize for not remembering your names.
Can’t wait to do this again next year.
20 of 34 pages of Operation Komodo edited tonight.
The companion novel to For a Few Gold Pieces More plotted out today and a rough outline is taking shape.
Another noir novel outlined.
I’d say, it was a pretty productive day for writing all the way around.
All right, along with trying to write and trying to coordinate a book release and trying to coordinate a Kickstarter campaign, I’m also still doing conventions this year. Soooo . . .
Here’s my current schedule for Shore Leave 2015:
10pm-12am Meet the Pros (mass signing by the authors in attendance. I will have my latest books if you haven’t picked them up by now.)
10 am Steampunk and Alternate History Salon A
11 am Writing Tips for Aspiring Authors Derby
1pm Show Me the Money Derby
3pm Writer Beware Derby
12pm Writing Historical Fiction Workshop* Concierge
1pm Writing Short Stories Salon B
*Unfortunately, there was a scheduling conflict, so I will not be attending the Etiquette and Netiquette panel at 12pm. Also, I will have to leave the workshop early to make it to my 1pm panel. However, I have no doubt in my mind that Howie Weinstein, Steve Wilson, and (I believe) Robert Greenberger can handle the last half of the workshop without me.
Also, if I can get a good wireless signal, (Hey, you! Stop snickering!), I will do my shift as a DJ for gw-en.com at Shore Leave Saturday evening from 7-10pm and with any luck, I’m going to try and get a few of the authors or guests to swing by and say “Hi” and talk a bit about their latest work with my listening audience and me. If worse comes to worst, I’ll just have to zip home after my last panel on Saturday to pull my shift for the station. Ah, the sacrifices one makes for the adoring fans. (Look, you. I said, stop snickering.)
Still stuck in production hell. This is why I got out of publishing years ago, but it’s still fun in its own way. Been working with a rather patient graphic designer and I think we’re getting *holds up finger and thumb near each other* this close to going final on some things.
Then, I received an email from my artist, Shane Braithwaite, who gave me the last piece of art I had coming before we get ready to go with the Kickstarter.
*Yes, I know that’s my default response to his art. I can’t help it. I’m always amazed at seeing my words come to life.*
So, here’s a sneak preview of the interior art for “The Demon’s Head.”
Maybe this publishing thing isn’t so bad after all.
Had a very productive writer’s walk-about today. Stopped at a used CD store and picked up some new music for my gig as an on-line DJ for gw-en.com. Then I stopped at Bean Hollow in Ellicott City with the iPad and the keyboard, ordered myself a big mocha, and sat down to work.
In an hour and a half, I finished the first draft of “Operation Komodo” (and the choir sang “Hallelujah!), as well as the opening chapter for the fourth Theron Chase story (which looks like it might be the 2nd full novel for the series), and wrote down the outline for yet another story I want to work on down the road.
Honestly, I don’t know what has been my hang-up about “Operation Komodo”. It should have been a rather straightforward story, but I fought and refought this battle with myself forever. But, the first draft is done. It’s just a matter of taking the red pen to it, cleaning up the grammar and tightening it up and then it’ll be off to the publisher.
I had some serious mojo going today and I might still be at Bean Hollow, but family duties come first, so I packed it up and came home at the appointed time.
So, now, I’m settling in to watch the Royals game and will finish the edits to the secret project this evening.
Been a good writing day so far.
(Amended: secret project revised and shipped off to the editor. All good thoughts gratefully accepted.)
After dealing with both my graphic designer and my cover artist, I’m noting something. I’m really trying to avoid becoming that problem writer as far as my artists go. Unfortunately, I have Zero, zip, nada skill when it comes to drawing. Hell, I’m not even sure of my stick figures from time to time.
So, I’m reduced to trying to explain concepts and ideas as best I can, but sometimes it comes down to me seeing the concept art and then going, “OK, that works, but that doesn’t, could we maybe try this . . .”. I really don’t mean to be the “I’ll know it when I see it” customer, but it happens. What I see so clearly in my head is not always the easiest thing to describe in a manner that it can be reproduced by another person.
Two bits of good news tonight:
1) Heard back from the editor for the secret project. He needs me to make some changes to the story so that it fits their style guide, but if I can clean up a couple of things, looks like he might pick it up.
Like I said, this is a property I’ve been enjoying since 1986, so I’m really, REALLY hoping I can pull this off.
2) Heard from Shane Braithwaite. We’re reviewing the first interior art piece for For a Few Gold Pieces More and it’s looking good. We’re discussing a few points, but I think the artist and the writer can come to a happy medium and we’ll both get what we want out of the artwork.
Once I have this, it’s time to start driving toward the Kickstarter launch this fall. Next up – video.
Starting to get a bit nervous.
Finished the final edits to Terra Incognito and now I need to coordinate with my designer to get the book, the art, and all the other information to him.
It’s hard to believe we’ve finally gotten to this point, but it’s time to move beyond an idea to a finished product. I was discussing with Steve Roman of StarWarp Concepts, how we’re going to promote this book – looking at coordinating with gaming distributors, game stores, and gaming magazines as well as regular SF/F outlets. Given that Terra Incognito is a non-fiction book on world building, there’s a natural link to gaming, since many gamers create their own worlds as well as using the pre-generated gaming worlds.
Also, looking into how I could get this out to writing resource groups. Again, I’ve never done non-fiction outside of an academic settings, so I’m trying to determine how to get my work into settings I’m less familiar. Heck, I might even have to see if there’s any academic interest . . .
I never thought I’d get back into publishing after my earlier attempts to do comics back in the 1990s, but sometimes, the path once traveled needs to be traveled again.
OK, didn’t get as much writing done this evening as I had hoped, but that was because I was doing other writerly things – like talking to editors, talking to publishers, talking to artists, talking to convention organizers . . .
Sometimes the electrononic age is a great thing, but sometimes I can also be a time suck. Still, progress was made on multiple fronts and I did get some work done on The Dark Leopard – Freeze Frame
earlier in the day so it’s not a complete wash on the writing front.
However, what stirred all this conversation?
Getting the art for my Kickstarter project – the cover of For a Few Gold Pieces More from Shane Braithwaite.
OK, see, I’m a writer because I can’t draw. So, I tend to gush when I work with a fantastic, (and highly reliable) artist.
So, without further ado, a snippet of the cover. The entire cover will be revealed with the start of the Kickstarter, but the few people I’ve shared this with agree with me that Shane’s art ought to move some books.
Hopefully my writing is up to snuff to match this gorgeous art. *grin*
Spent some time working on my new Dark Leopard story today. Calling this one Freeze Frame and it’s set a few months from the end of Mouse Trap. Really enjoy developing this character and her supporting cast. While it did start out as an homage to another character, it’s definitely taking on a life of its own. Can’t wait to see the revamped costume for her by Rock Baker either.
Also, spent some time today working on refining the outline for the next Theron Chase story. Yes, I know Pearls of Darkness hasn’t been released yet, but that doesn’t mean I should just sit around and wait for it before starting the next one. I’ve gotten some really good feedback, both from readers and authors I look up to, on this one and I can’t wait to open up the shades and see what the streets of Calisia have in store for my intrepid private investigator.
Finally, I worked on “Operation Komodo” this evening. Finally got the final scene ready to write – had to go back and do some work to get the beats right to get all the players where I needed them to be for Strikeforce Falcon’s latest mission. Now, hopefully, I can finish this over the next few days and get it en route to the editor.
Plus, over the weekend, I was talking with April MacDee. We’ve been working on a YA Urban Fantasy for some time, but grad school got in the way (first for her, than me). Now, it’s time we dusted it off, updated a few things and got this darn thing written.
And I’m sure there’s more lurking in the shadows. There always is . . .
Been an interesting Saturday.
Had a nice lunch with friends today, spent a lot of time catching up and just having a great time hanging out.
Then went over to the local B&N and picked up a few books for the family. I know many people buy their books on-line these days, but I still like holding them and flipping through some pages before I make a decision.
The big news was getting the edits back from Joni on the secret project. She caught a few areas I thought were a bit rough, and after I polished them up, I dropped it into an email and zapped it off to the editor. Keep your fingers crossed for No Rest for the Wicked.
Then I spend a big chunk of this evening downloading cd’s into the proper format and building a brand new playlist for gw-en.com. Looks like I’ll be broadcasting this Tuesday from 7-10, EST. Each time I’ve been on-air, it feels like it’s getting easier, but then again, I always seem to find something new to mess up on. But, maybe in ten or so years, I’ll get this thing down.
And tomorrow, time to start a new story. (It’s always time to start a new story . . . )
The second draft of the secret project is completed. Trimmed up several sections and expanded one, so the total so far is 6927 words. While a difference of forty words probably doesn’t seem like that much, remember, that’s the aggregate number at the end. To be honest, we probably swapped out at least 1000 words by the time it was all over.
While I was pretty proud about the first draft, the second one is much tighter and I think I caught a few plot holes I hadn’t addressed the first time (or didn’t have room to do so in the first pass). And even though there’s only forty words of difference, the second draft is two pages shorter when printed out.
Now, it’s time to pass this to Joni and let her take her hack at it. Once I get her edits back, I’ll make the corrections and get this en route as quickly as possible.
Keep your fingers crossed. This is a property I’ve dreamed about writing for for nearly 30 years. I’m hoping this may lead to more (and longer) projects down the road for them, maybe even focusing on this character again.