Weekend Update 16 June 2013

In an unusually rare moment for me, I actually got in several hours of writing time this weekend. I used the time not to work on word count, but to finish the outline for my WIP. I’m not sure how good the outline is, but I know it will change as I write so it doesn’t have to be spot on. Just close enough to keep me going once I start up again. Hopefully this week I can get the word count back on track and get this book moving again.

I don’t have any specific time based goals other than I’d like to get the ebook out this year. For that to happen I need to finish this draft by the end of summer. When you have a day job and a family it’s often difficult to judge how long a first draft will take you. But a month and a half for 2/3’s of a draft is a very short amount of time. So that will probably slip to September.

In other news, I saw the Man of Steel movie with my oldest on Sunday. It was good overall, although I feel it could have been about a half hour shorter if they cut out all the gratuitous building destroying. Also, I don’t recall Superman killing this much before. Perhaps my memory is going on comic book lore. But overall, I really enjoyed it.

Now we’re looking forward to the Lone Ranger movie and the Monsters University movie.

I’m coming down to the last third of The Help novel. Reading it primarily to understand the craft mechanics of the book, but finding that I’m enjoying the story along the way. Go figure. Anyway, very interesting how she writes from three points of view and then switched to omnipresent. Lots to learn here for newbie writers about craft on this book. I need to get it in paperback soon.

Continuing to watch my favorite TV shows on Netflix. I don’t have the time to binge watch, so I catch an episode when I can. This weekend I watched episode 3 of House of Cards and 4 of Longmire and I think 4 of Sherlock. All excellent. I’ve literally tuned out TV in the last half decade. Kids will do that to you. It’s interesting to me how the best dramas appear to be on cable or Netflix now. When will that make a shift to YouTube?

All for now. Big baseball tournament this week here in East Boise, so lots of my time not at work will be at the ball fields. That’s my  son above, at bat this weekend over in Meridian for the Dairy Days tournament.


Thirty Percent Complete

My current Work In Progress (WIP), the first draft of Starforgers Book 2, The Rising, is now 30% complete. After a lengthy pause last month to get the paperback versions of the Star Saga published, I’m now moving back into full-on writing mode to finish this draft. Well, at least after this holiday weekend in which I will be pushing out new ebook versions of the Star Saga books with re-edited text and new covers. Eventually, some time in the next week or so all the ebooks with paperback novels will be linked together at Amazon and maybe some of the other vendors.

In other book related news, I sold my first paperback through Square, the credit card swiping little device that hooks onto your phone. It worked flawlessly and now I have a new way to sell my books that I have on-hand. This will be handy for various public appearances going forward.

I’ve been reading Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran. David’s blog and his two books on Self-Publishing are some of the best most sane advice you will ever find about publishing on the web. If you don’t already have his first book, Let’s Get Digital and are not already reading his blog, do it now. I read many books about writing throughout the year to stay on top of my craft. But if you only read a few, I recommend these two by Gaughran.

The above image is from my cube at work. I don’t have room at home to display my starship models, so my co-workers get to suffer them. Yesterday I turned them both around to view the port side details for a while. That’s the GCU Sokol in the background and the SS Sokol in the foreground. Someday I’ll make proper display mounts for them with varnished wood and brass rods or something.

Am I the only one who wishes Commander Hadfield was still in orbit? I hope we begin to see more astronauts take up where he left off as far as inspiring the public. Welcome home Commander and thanks for inspiring us with your pics, videos and tweets!

My youngest son is saving his allowance for a Google Chromebook. The one that Samsung makes that only costs a few hundred dollars. He’s convinced that he needs it and is just counting the allowance until he can get one. I’ve been looking into how he can continue to learn Python with browser based IDE’s and all the cool Chrome apps that are now available. Chrome OS is getting better all the time and I can see a point where I would be tempted to replace my laptop with one. Since I usually get about five years or so out of a laptop, my next laptop could very well be a Chromebook.

The blogification of Starforgers, Book One of the Star Saga is now complete. You can now read the entire ebook on my blog. The experiment with selling the ebook for only .99 cents is coming to a close. Next week it will go back to the regular price of $4.99. So if you still want to get the ebook for a buck, do so this weekend.




Progress Report – The Rising, Modelling

Getting through the first draft of The Rising is proving harder than I anticipated. Primarily for two reasons. The first is because this novel’s on the opposite side of the thrills and chills dial than Starforgers. That’s not to say it’s boring, just more focused on characters and android driven ideas. More courtly than swashbuckling.

The second reason is that I’ve accepted a new day job and with it came more responsibilities and well, more work. So my regularly scheduled lunch writing periods have just been halved. I need to find a new time to write on a regular basis. This is almost as disrupting for me as taking a new day job.

My other hobby has been completely dormant in April. I have not touched the GA Sokol model. And now I’ve changed priorities and will be building a new model. We’re moving the model pictures from the back of the Star Saga novels to the front and this demands more action. So the current cover shot will include a starfighter battle using a Vickers Victory fighter and two Eight-fighters. One of the Votainion fighters will be breaking apart in Star Wars fashion and that is the model I am starting to build now.

I think we can get away with using the already built Victory fighter and the older Eight-fighter model for the second starfighter in the picture. The above image is a thumbnail of one possible composition. I was going to get rid of the wrap around star field on the paperbacks, but now I’m going to leave it and make the cover art fit that starfield. The unit coin will move to the back of the book.

All of that is subject to change, of course. But that’s the latest plan of attack. I expect to be getting back to work on the first draft this week and spending some time on the weekends building a 1/32 scale Eight-fighter for the cover shoot. I’ll start up a new series of posts on the new model build this week.

Well, that’s what I’ve been up to lately, what about you?




Writing Update

invasion wecand via Compfight

Spent the whole of the last week or two doing a final pass on Starveyors before sending it to the editor. Now I’m diving back into The Rising which will be the second book in the Starforgers trilogy.

I’m on chapter three of The Rising and sitting in the neighborhood of 8,000 words in length. I was afraid that I’d be getting tired of doing this epic 9 book series by now but somehow the opposite is happening. I’m completely stoked to be writing this book in the Starforgers time frame. Small wonder there, considering how much fun I had writing the first book.

Many of the characters in The Rising were in Starforgers, but there are new characters in this book that I think readers will love as much as I already do. The Rising takes place 1-5 years after Starforgers. I haven’t exactly locked it down yet. Probably closer to five. I need some time to have passed so that my main character, Devon Ardel, has some time in grade.

The third book in this trilogy will probably be about ten years after The Rising. The temporary title for that one is Counter Attack. The plan is to go ahead and finish it before taking a break. I would like to see if I can actually write two books in one year’s time. No idea if that’s possible, but its worth a shot.

Taking Stock

The Home Row las – initially via Compfight

Today I didn’t write during my lunch hour. Instead, I read everything that I have written so far on my WIP. Sometimes its good to do that and see if you are achieving the tone that you are going for. Based on today’s read, I’d say that I’m  right on target.

This is the second book in the Starforgers trilogy. It’s called The Rising. The title refers to the humans rising up against the Silicants. The action is confined to a single planet for the most part. There’s some parts set in space, but this is not about the Great War, its about the Silicants and humans. So the war is there, and it’s ramping up, but it’s not the focus.

This novel is more character focused than space battle focused. The tone is darker and more human. The crazy, space opera feel of the first book is only there on the fringes. But this one reads like a dark mystery. Part of that gritty, real life feel is due to the technology in this trilogy being closer to present day than say, Star Trek.

Also, I’ve got some real characters in this one that are fun to write. Including a retired lawyer who lives in the woods and eschews technology. This guy will of course defend the Silicants in a murder trial. A semi-corrupt police chief, a young federal investigator who is naive but quite clever and of course, nearly the entire cast of the first book.

I’m about 10,000 words into the novel so far. I know this month is NaNoWriMo and all that, but I write all year round with the same moderate intensity.  So that means I write a book and a half and publish one every year. My goal is to get to two books published per year.

Writing Update

no denial Don via Compfight

Things are moving right along on the current WIP – The Rising. This will be the second book in the Starforgers Trilogy. Every time I get a lunch break free, I manage to sink at least a thousand words into it. Had to stop last week and map out the coming scenes and chapters. Just a reminder: I don’t brag about word counts, so to keep up with my novel writing progress, please keep an eye on the progress bars to your right. —>

Meanwhile, Starveyors is still out to Beta Readers. I should get some more feedback during the week from them. Then it’s off to the editor’s desk. Still aiming for a late November release of the ebook.

I’m still using Plume Creator for my primary writing program and loving it. If you are a novelist using Linux, you should give it a try.



Weekly Writing Update

Reading in a Cafe - BangkokRonn aka “Blue” Aldaman via Compfight

This week I’ve started sending out copies of my second draft of Starforgers to Beta Readers. Beta Readers are an important part of the writing process for me. Not only do they catch some of the little errors in a manuscript, they also point out where I lose the reader and whether the story is any good at all. If their feedback is good, it makes my Editor’s job that much easier.

I usually pick a mix of different folks to be my Beta Readers, from fellow writers to ordinary readers. Sometimes I even get readers who don’t ordinarily read SF to get an idea how much of the story stands apart from the conventions of the genre. I always get at least one fan to read the manuscript, because they are familiar enough with my novels to spot where I stray from established canon.

I’ve also started hacking on the first draft of The Rising, book two in what will become the Starforgers Trilogy. The Rising takes place a few years after Starforgers and deals with the Silicant uprising. If you loved Starforgers, this book will carry on with some of your favorite characters, both human and Silicant.

For the writer nerds out there, The Rising is my sixth book and the first to be written in the new writer program that I’m testing called Plume Creator.

Going Traditional for The Rising

Be seeing youOliver Hammond via Compfight

I’ve self-published all of my novels up until now. But for my next novel, I’ll be going the traditional route. At least until it’s abundantly clear that I still suck at writing. If I get through my list of agents and nobody is interested, I’ll release it myself. Unfortunately, this means all five of my current fans will have to wait longer for next year’s novel.

The reason I’m trying Traditional next time is because I haven’t actually tried to submit to agents since Tyrmia. That novel was my third and apparently it was just not good enough. The Rising will be my sixth SF novel, so maybe I’ll have improved by then.

Fear not, you can still read the final ebook in the Star Trilogy – Starveyors, this November. But aside for an odd short story, there won’t be a novel released next fall. That doesn’t mean I won’t be writing though. I’ll finish The Rising and will plunge into XiniX after that. XiniX will take the following year to write. If The Rising has not sold by then, you could get a double batch of novels in 2014.

The Rising Enters Pre-Production

Books Jo McCunn via Compfight

My next SF novel is going to be called The Rising. I’ve started the process of mapping out the plot and developing characters for the novel. In the movie business all the work done before principle photography is called pre-production. So for me, my novel is in a pre-production phase right now. Sometimes this lasts for many months, so I can’t say for sure exactly when I’ll start writing it, but probably not before the final edits on my last novel are completed.

Since my writing time is limited, I can’t spend half the day doing one and half the day doing another. I must chose one task at a time. Starting in September, my time will be spent doing the second draft of Starveyors. Then that novel goes to the editor and so on. You could say that Starveyors will be in post-production, meaning editing and formatting for final sale. My goal is to get as much pre-production work on The Rising completed before September, so I can jump right in and get going on it by late November.

The Rising was initially going to be a small story. Perhaps even a novella. But it has taken over a bit and inflated into novel size. It is set a few years after Starforgers and includes many of the same characters. So if you enjoyed Starforgers, you will probably like The Rising.

One of the key threads in the book happens to be a trial where a Silicant is convicted of murder. Thus part of my pre-production involves reading legal thrillers and watching movies with a legal theme. Two films that I have watched already include Anatomy of a Murder and The Verdict. I will probably re-watch A few Good Men, 12 Angry Men, High Crimes and To Kill A Mockingbird. The later film will be in my reading list along with The Firm and The Caves of Steel. If you can think of a particularly good legal thriller let me know, especially if it involves androids.


My Next Novel

Sometimes when you are in the middle of a Work In Progress (WIP) novel, you get inspiration for the next novel. That happened to me this week. After a month long hiatus on my current novel, due to coaching my kids in baseball, I started getting ideas for my next novel.

I continued to write on Starveyors this week, but I listened to the muse on my next novel and wrote down the plot outline for it. The next novel is currently called The Rising. It’s set shortly after the events in Starforgers, Book One of the Star Trilogy and deals with the sentient androids in that story, known as Silicants.

I’m hesitant to say much about The Rising at this time. I spent some time this week working through the plot and defining some of the main characters. I have a really good feeling about the story. Although it’s set in the Star Trilogy universe, it is a stand alone story. My intention was to write it as a novella and release it as an ebook only. But now I’m probably going to keep it under wraps and shop it to agents when it’s ready.

The plan is to start the first draft immediately after I complete the Starveyors first draft. Then iterate with several drafts just like I normally do until finished. Depending on how long it takes me do the first draft, I could be sending out queries early next year.

Normally I’m pretty much a self-publish kind of guy, but sometimes you get an idea that you think might have potential to break out and get sold to the traditional presses. This story is one of those ideas. I’ll definitely be writing more posts about it later, but I won’t be giving many plot details on this one folks.