Possible Tyrmia Cover Ideas

My brother and I brainstormed about the Tyrmia cover art yesterday and came up with some interesting ideas.  Below is a sketch he did that combines several ideas.  I won’t discuss much about it other than to say that this is a very, very early look at one possible idea that we had.

Possible Cover Spread for Tyrmia

We also played around with having the back cover show a scene from the book that was entirely different from the front cover.  Again, very preliminary and not in the least bit final.

Sketch of Possible Back Cover Art

Post Holiday Update

I was fairly productive over the holiday break in terms of my writing and switching over to the single domain name.  This new web site is beginning to come together like I imagined it a few months ago.  There will be more tweaking ahead, but the meat and potatoes are in place and working fine.

I’ve been working hard on the second draft of Tyrmia, my next SF novel.  Chapter One got an extensive overhaul and now I’m following those changes with minor updates that have created a ripple throughout the novel.  I still aim to be finished with this draft in a week or so.  I should still be ready to send it out to Beta Readers before Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, we got our tree yesterday – a Noble Fir.  We are spending Christmas with my side of the family this year down in Arizona.  So we adjusted out holiday a bit early to enjoy the tree before we head South.   The kids wanted so badly to string lights last night, but we had to let the branches fall for a day or so before decorating.

Over the weekend we took the kids to the Festival of Trees downtown and they really enjoyed the magic show and the Banjo Band in addition to all the colorful trees.  On Friday evening Laurie and I watched the BSU Broncos win their latest game on ESPN.  I have to give that network credit for really taking a shine to our fair city.  Boise is really a nice place to live and raise a family.

Thanksgiving feast was enjoyed by all this year thanks in no small part to the fabulous cooking efforts of my lovely wife.  The kids are finally getting old enough to where they actually appreciate the culinary delights that only come around at this time of year.  Which is good, because all this food should not have to be consumed by just two people.

The week ahead brings two Scout den meetings and a Christmas party for the Partner’s in Crime writing and reading group, where I have just been elected Vice President.  Looking forward to the party and the next year of productive writing.

Novel Drafts Explained

This month I’m concentrating on editing the second draft of my next SF novel – Tyrmia.  Currently,  I’m up to chapter 24 out of 60.  I’ve just crossed over into Part Two which mean the story is starting to get interesting now.  Part One had some extensive edits on the first few chapters, but for the most part has been smooth sailing.  I expect that Part Two will be more edit intensive as I attempt to make the manuscript readable for my beta readers.

For me, the second draft is where my novels start to gel into a readable story.  Often during a first draft, things get altered or changed on the fly, as I am writing.  Because just finishing the book is the top priority, I won’t go back and make sure things that I change later in the story are also changed early in the story.  For instance, name changes.  I have a race of aliens that I started out calling Votons, but later changed to Votains.  Some changes are easily fixed in search and finds, others are more extensive.

I also look at characters and structure in the Second Draft, but not as closely as in the Third Draft.  After I compile all the comments and concerns of my beta readers, I usually wind up focusing more on character and dialogue and technical accuracy of things in the Third Draft.  Another important focus on the Third Draft is grammar and other writer specific things.  Because this is the draft that my editor will receive.

Fourth Drafts are the final edits and clean-ups of a novel and involve correcting everything that my editor has found.  It is also the version that is copy edited the closest, because it will become the final version of the first edition.

My goal is to get the Second Draft done by December, so that I can get it to the beta readers before the holidays.  I’ll give them two months to read and comment on it and then I’ll spend two months editing D3.  Give D3 to the editor, let her hack on it for a month and then start the final draft.  The target date for publication of Tyrmia will be September of 2010.  I need to give the press and Amazon etc., about two months to get it out, so the final, final version is due in July.

This lengthy process of writing and drafting usually takes me two years.  I began writing Tyrmia over a year and a half ago.  I would like to get this process down faster, but given the amount of time that I get to actually write, two years from start to print is about as fast as I can move.  This Spring I will be starting to write the next Joshua Jones Mystery and I will attempt to crank that out faster than before.  Perhaps I can get it out sooner than I have with Tyrmia.  In my experience, novels set in SF universes tend to take longer to write because of all the world building.  Mystery novels set in present times are much faster for me to write.  Look for Kill Dash Nine sometime in late 2011.

Latest Writing Progress

Currently , I’m doing a self-edit of Starstrikers in preparation for the Second Edition release next year.  When I finish that, I will hand it over to my editor and she will mark it up.  After all of those corrections are made, the words will be forwarded to the interior designer.  At this point, the book will be reformatted and changes made to the cover to reflect the Second Edition.  I will be releasing it through GB Press this time, instead of Createspace.  It will have it’s own ISBN and be available to order from any bookstore as well as internet vendors.

Meanwhile, I will be coming on the Second Draft of Tyrmia, my second SF book.  Tyrmia is due out next fall and will be my big release of 2010 from GB Press.  I’d like to finish the second draft of Tyrmia by January of next year.  This is when I plan to start writing my next Joshua Jones Mystery novel.  This second installment of the programmer sleuth will be called Kill Dash Nine and should be much grittier than N_P.

With all this on my plate, I will have no time to write short stories and will be doing a minimum of blogging.  My blogging goal is to write at least three posts a week both here and at the book sites of Starstrikers and Joshua Jones Mystery Novels.  One article per month or every other week over at Genre Bender is about all I will be able to manage until next year.

I guess I better get back to work.

Tyrmia Back On!

I’ve been writing again on the SF book that is my current WIP (Work In Progress) – Tyrmia.  I’m currently wrapping up chapter 43.  The first draft is now sitting at around 76,000 words.  The rest of the novel is now plotted and it’s just a matter of slogging through the final 28,000 words or so until the end.  I have set a goal to finish this draft by my birthday in early September.  I think that is an easily attainable goal.  Even with all the hoopla associated with having a new novel come out in August.

Tyrmia Thoughts

I’ve been trying to get back into my Work In Progress, Tyrmia, but it has not been easy with all the work on getting Null_Pointer out the door and ready for launching.  But now that NP is mostly finished, I have to get my head back into the Galaxy Collision universe and back to that lush green world known as Tyrmia.

I’m on Chapter 40 right now, in which our hero must take an airplane ride from the country to the capital city and thus enter a war zone.  The level of technology is similar to WWI, in that the people have airplanes, but they are spindly, fragile machines that leak smoke and oil and lumber along at speeds that would make a jet fighter stall and fall out of the sky.

I love the planes of that period and the challenge for me is to conjure up images of that time in our own history in the mind of the reader, while also reinforcing that this is not Earth and these people are not humans.  I did some brain storming with fellow writer and good friend, Bill Blohm about the action sequence and some motivations for the hero and the antagonist.  All that is left for me to do now is write it.

I really need to get cranking on this first draft, if I expect to publish it next year.  It takes me several drafts to get the story just right and then several more iterations of editing to make sure it makes sense and is not an outright embarrassment.   All those drafts take time, but they can not proceed until I complete draft one.

A piece of art that has been an inspiration to me for this scene is shown below.  The painting is called Pioneer Sky and it is by the artist Radojavor from Deviant Art.  I’ve linked to this guy before, he’s one of my favorite artists.


Plotting and Pricing Books

I spent my writing time this morning mapping out the next four chapters of Tyrmia.  This will take me out of Part Two and into Part Three.  I’m sitting at 32,000 words or so at the end of Part Two.  That seems short to me.  But I’m not going to worry about reaching 100,000 words or some other arbitrary count.  It makes the book far cheaper if the end page count is less than 300.

Null_Pointer came in around 214 pages at 60,000 words and that allowed me to nail the suggested retail price of $12.96.  Anything more than that is a hard sell in Trade Paperback.  Or so I’m told by book store owners.  Which is perhaps why Starstrikers is considered a hard sell, with a new author and a $14.95 cover price.   When I relaunch Starstrikers later in the year, it will be minus the 30 page preview.  Hopefully I can get that one down a dollar or two after that.

I also took a chance on Scribd this week and put the pdf of Starstrikers on sale for $5.00 in their new store.  So far, wait, let me check again for today, yep, no sales since Wednesday.  Curiously, my view counts for the documents I have on Scribd, dropped by half shortly after I put one document up for sale.  What this tells me is that perhaps the people who read stuff on Scribd are not the same people who like to pay for things.  That’s cool, maybe you have to be a name to sell something anywhere.

This is causing me to rethink selling anything on Scribd.  I’ll leave Starstrikers up for sale for one month.  After that, I’ll probably take it out of the Scribd store.  You can already get that novel for free on my website, but far more people use Scribd than come to my book’s web site.  So having it there for advertising purposes, still makes sense.

My next uploads for Scribd will be the Writer’s Editions of both Starstrikers and Null_Pointer later this summer.

Return to Tyrmia

Last night I read about half of Part Two in my WIP that has been on hold for the past five months.  Tonight I will read the remaining chapters.  Trying to get back into a novel that you have not thought much about in that amount of time, is pretty hard.  But trying to get back into a SF/F novel that you had to drop for a while, is doubly hard.

You have to read a good chunk of what you have already read, then you have to re-read all of your notes and then you have to get your head back into the game enough to continue writing.  It’s non-trivial, to say the least.

I actually enjoyed the parts that I did read and that’s a good sign.  I could have read it and decided the whole mess was a waste of time and chucked it into the bin bucket.

Tyrmia is set in the same universe that I created in my first novel, Starstrikers and in subsequent short stories.  It takes place roughly 500 years after Starstrikers.   Even though the story is set in a SF universe, it takes place on a world cut off from the rest of the galaxy and languishing at a technological level the equivalent to our Edwardian times.  Kinda Steam Punk-ish, except they have internal combustion engines.

The reason I stopped writing months ago had to do with my failure to completely realize this level of technology.  I had to think about it for a while and make sure I knew what they could and could not do.  I also had to get the politics right.  Which meant more thinking and more planning.  I still don’t have it all straight in my head or in my notes, but in a week or two, I should be there.  And that is when I will be able to start writing again.

Another thing I realized was that I had written about 32,000 words on it and as far as I could tell, the story was about two thirds finished.  Not good.  So I will be adressing the plot a bit, perhaps adding more subplots and allowing for a more detailed glimpse of the world.  I don’t need to hit 100,000 words, but I do need to get into the 80-90,000 word relm.