Tyrmia Edits Underway

I got the manuscript for my next novel back from my editor yesterday. In case you’ve been under a rock, the book is called Tyrmia. Pronounced (Term-eeya). I’ve already suspended work on Starforgers and dived into editing Tyrmia. The plan is to spend the next two weeks on Tyrmia, working on those marvelous edits. Then I will print it out and begin copy editing. Hopefully I can get another set of eyes on the copy edits. The e-book of Tyrmia should be out before Christmas this year. Possibly late November.

My editor for all my books to date has been Angela Abderhalden. She’s a fantastic author in her own right and a very meticulous editor. My books have all been immeasurably improved by her edits.

Tyrmia is set in the Starstrikers Universe but it takes place about 500 years after the events of that book. The Great War with the Votainion Empire is over and a combined fleet of Votainion and Western Alliance crews are exploring lost worlds and making amends for planets disrupted by the war.  Tyrmia is the planet where humans and Votainions first encountered one another and was then promptly forgotten as war broke out. This is the story of how that planet’s history was forever changed by the war, and how one woman attempted to right the wrongs of her ancestors.

Tyrmia Cover Revisited

Yesterday I sketched out some new ideas for the Tyrmia cover. I was mostly concentrating on covers that made use of simple imagery or perhaps just type fonts. One in particular caught my eye, forgive the pun. The idea was to use a close up of a Tyrmian’s eye and within the pupil area of the eye, have a gleam that is in the shape of a human female – Zerdy the hero of the story.

The title could be placed below the eye and the author name below that. We already had come up with the fonts we liked, so I left those the same. Anyway, I showed the design to a new friend of mine who does digital art for video games. I had approached Jeremy about doing the book’s cover if we could come up with a unique design. My Art Director, Byron and I, had come up with several concepts for the cover art but we just couldn’t find one that would be striking enough and not offend anyone. I let Jeremy take a stab at doing the eye cover and we’ll see what he comes up with.

I really like the idea and I think it could be very visually striking. Which is what you want in a cover as that’s the first thing your reader sees and in many cases is what initially draws them to your book. The importance of cover art for Indie books can not be over emphasized.  The book must look as good as anything a major publisher could do in order for the book to succeed.

Tyrmia cover sketches

The Tyrmians are olive green and their eyes are a saffron color. The shape of the pupil will be something not quite human and the eye itself is slightly bigger than a human’s, so we’re hoping it will shout “Alien” at the viewer, thus signalling that this is a SF book and not a Horror novel. Also, the addition of the woman’s reflection in the eye is spot on to the plot of the book, which focuses on how a human female helps these aliens.

With Jeremy knocking out the cover image, Byron will focus on putting together the many other parts of the cover including the spine and the back cover. About all we can say for sure is that the book will be predominately greens and yellows and will be something you will want to have on your shelf. A prized piece of art as well as a decent read.

More pictures and updates as the artwork progresses.

Weekly Writing Update

This week I’ve been working hard on the fourth and final Tyrmia draft. I’m about three fourths of the way through it. A few months ago I had some writer friends read the last draft and give me their comments. I got some really good feedback and compiled a hit-list of things to look at and or change. As I’m going through this final draft, I’m addressing those issues.

Tyrmia is quite the departure for me and it will be interesting to see if readers who enjoyed Starstrikers will like it. It’s still Space Opera, but it’s confined to one planet and the level of technology on the planet ranges from bow and arrow to Edwardian era technology the equivalent to WWI. Not quite Steampunk and not quite starships battling in space, Tyrmia is kind of doing its own little thing in one corner of the Starstrikers Universe.

I’ve also been thinking about a short story I started to write for the Federations anthology last year and then never finished. I need to finish it because it takes place maybe a year or two before my next novel, Starforgers. It might even be included in the Starforgers e-book as an extra. The story deals with the initial meeting between two main characters who will later go on to forge the Western Alliance – the good guy side of the Great War featured in Starstrikers.

I will get back into this short story and finish it before moving on to the outline of Starforgers.

Tyrmia Revisited

This month is dedicated to polishing up the 4th draft of my next novel, Tyrmia. I have had a handful of writer friends read and critique the 3rd draft and now I get to sift through their comments and suggestions to make the 4th draft the final, pre-edited version.

I have not read or even looked at the Tyrmia draft for the past several months. This is a good thing.  It lets me come at the story with fresh eyes and less attachment. So far I’m rather pleased with how the novel is shaping up. It’s more intimate than Starstrikers, being set on a single planet and involving a slightly smaller cast of characters. Of primary concern during this draft is world building and continuity.

Everyone seemed pleased with the plot and the character motivations after the changes made during the 3rd draft. So now I get to narrow my focus and make sure the little things are correct. My main character still seems to come off as a bit reactive at first, but I’m not entirely sure that is not appropriate for her situation. I will be addressing her needs more in this draft.

World building in a Space Opera novel can sometimes get in the way of the story or overwhelm it in details. I don’t think this story suffers from that, but the details need to be consistent throughout the novel. And that’s where I will be focusing my attentions in this draft. When you write the first draft, your story is cobbled together piecemeal a little bit at a time.  It’s very hard to keep the continuity straight when you often change things as you go. The challenge for me now is to make clear the things that the Beta Readers found confusing.

My spirits are high and motivation is good, so hopefully this draft will go smoothly and leave me with a decent manuscript that is ready for copy editing.

Book Cover Thoughts

There is no denying that a lot of thought goes into designing a book cover.  From font type to cover art many elements have to converge into a design that makes the reader want to pick it up and that hopefully makes the reader proud to own it.  Many SF/F covers have elaborately painted scenes from the novel that bring the story to life.  Some have cutting edge visual effects or graphics that hint at the technical nature of the novel.

If the book is part of a series or set in a universe with multiple books, the challenge is to let the reader know that with graphic design and layout.  You may have a great one-off cover idea but if book two in the series looks like it is set in another universe, it could turn off the reader.  Consistency in design can breed reader familiarity and comfort.

When Byron and I talked about the design changes we would be making for the second edition of Starstrikers, we spent time considering how to make it fit into a three book series and how that series would fit into a multi-book universe.  What we came up with is both unique and hopefully familiar to my new and growing readership.

Starstrikers is the middle book of a three book series set in the Galaxy Collision universe.  The same universe will have short story anthologies and other novels set in it.  But the first trilogy of books will define the look and feel of them all.  So we had to come up with a defining style that would bind all of them into the same universe.

The first series in the GC universe is known as the Star Series.  Starforgers, Starstrikers and Starveyers.  Each novel is set during a different period of a century long galactic war. Starforgers is set at the start of the war, Starstrikers during the middle of the war and Starveyers is set after the war.  Each novel is also a complete unto itself story with an entirely different cast of characters.  But they are tied together by this epic war.

I have always envisioned these novels as being the book ends of the entire GC universe.  Each book defines the style of story telling that all the books in that particular time frame should have.  For instance, Starforgers is about the forging of a new political and military alliance. It takes place at a time when space travel was harder and more difficult.  The stories set in this time frame focus on rugged individuals who cherish their freedoms.  You might think of them like Westerns.  Space Westerns, to be exact.

While stories set in the Starstrikers time frame are more about military struggles and often feature soldiers or conflicts in general.  You might think of them more like war stories.  Because they are set during the middle of an intergalactic war, they more often resemble Military SF.

Starveyers stories are more hopeful and often have themes of prevailing over obstacles or coming together for the betterment of all.  Reconciliation is a big theme.  The two former enemies work together to repair the damages done by the long war.

So with all of that in mind, we decided to do the following:  Bombardier was chosen as the common font for the whole series.  It is used for the titles of the three Star Series books and it is used for the author name in all the other books in the series.  All three of the Star Series books have the same foundation look to them with the stars of space behind a coin of some kind.  The foundations change from Marble to Concrete to Metal representing the progression of architectural foundations that stand for the building of a galactic alliance.

Proposed Spine Art for Coin and Planet Series Books

This drawing shows possible layouts for the spines of the two major series of books set in the Galaxy Collision universe.  The Star Series is on the right and the Planet Series is on the left.  The Planet Series books all have planet names as their titles and are for the most part, set on a single world.  For students of the genre, they are known as Planetary Romances.  The first Planet Series book to come out will be Tyrmia.

You can see right away the common elements in booth series as they are set in the same universe.  The Planetary books will have different title fonts, in this case we use Alpha Modern Male and retain the Bombardier font for the author’s name.  Other similar elements are the planet icon where the Star Series books have a coin icon.  If a reader were to see these two books on the shelves next to each other, they would immediately see the connections between them.  That is the goal.  Reader recognition.


Here we see a mock-up of the new Starstrikers spine.  We’ve added the coin icon and enlarged the spine title to match the cover title.  The Press logo is independent of any books released by the imprint, so it will remain unchanged from books not in the GC universe.

Below is the final version of the Starstrikers cover compared with the first edition cover.  We loved the elements of the initial design, and we felt that they could be improved upon while still keeping the iconic look that we already enjoyed.  The first change was to cut the “From the Galaxy Collision Series” subtitle.  The biggest reason I had the subtitle was to avoid confusion with a web comic that was at the time called Star Strikers.  That comic has since changed it’s name and has enjoyed greater success, so it was less important to have the separation.  Now the only other entity that I know of with a similar name is a sports team from Australia – Star Strikers.  They probably won’t change their name, but they are not a SF novel, so they can keep it.  ;-)

With more room at the top of the book, we enlarged the title to give it more prominence.  Next we darkened the background and made it clear that it was more like concrete.  A crack was added because this book takes place in the middle of a war and things were not always going good for the heroes.

The coin was redone and toned down a bit so that it didn’t compete with the title for the attention of the reader’s eyes.  Because the coin is featured in the book, we made sure it was obvious that it represented the Starstrikers Special Forces team.  We were going to make the coin weathered and worn, but dropped the idea when I realized that the Starstrikers were meant to be a beacon of hope, so to have it weathered would have cast doubt on how effective they were.  Besides, have you ever tried to make a weathered coin?  It’s not easy.

The last element we improved on was the author’s name.  It was decided that the original font size was far too small to help establish a new author’s brand.  So we bumped it up.  The end result of making it bigger is that now you can read the name much easier from smaller, Kindle sized images like the ones above.

The final version of the second edition book cover is both iconic and meaningful and it sets the look and feel for the remaining two books in the Star Series and other books to come, set in the same universe.  This fall will see the release of Tyrmia, the first of the Planet Series books.  I’ll have more details about how Byron and I came up with it’s cover at a later date.

Planetary Romance

Yesterday I stumbled upon a classification of Space Opera that I had never heard of – Planetary Romance.  It’s basically a Space Opera that confines itself to a single, exotic planet instead of many worlds or deep space. I’ll let you read the Wikipedia article for more details.  What interests me about this particular sub-genre is the fact that I somehow intuitively understood this classification when I started to design the universe in which most of my SF stories are set.

My first novel, Starstrikers, is quite properly described as Space Opera.  Although it leans heavily into the Military Science Fiction classification, it still has the planet hoping, intergalactic setting that defines traditional Space Opera.  Starstrikers is the middle book of a trilogy that defines the Galaxy Collision universe.  Each book is set in a different time period and features a completely new cast of characters.  The books follow the start, middle and end of a Great War between two space faring civilizations.  The first book is Starforgers, the second is Starstrikers and the third is Starveyers.  I will begin writing Starforgers this summer for release next year.

But I also have a series set in the same universe, that focuses on just one planet per book.  The first of these “Planet Books” as I have been calling them, is called Tyrmia. Set on a somewhat primitive jungle planet, Tyrmia concerns itself with the politics, geography and ecology of a single planet. It is the first of a series of books set in the Galaxy Collision universe that take place on one particular planet.  Future planet books in the series that are planned include Voton, the home world of the Votainion Empire. Voton could very well be categorized as a Sword and Planet novel as most of the technology is quite primitive.

Tyrmia Update

I’m just starting to dive into the Third Draft of my latest WIP – Tyrmia.  I have a marked-up draft on paper with all the things I and others have found wrong with Draft Two.  I printed it out in 6 x 9 format, because it allows me some space to write in the margins.

Tyrmia Second Draft Edits

After I get through these edits, I will print it out again and then send it off to my writer buddies for some serious critiquing.  Once those changes are made, it’s off to my editor for the final draft.  Hoping to be to that point by early summer, so I can get it out for an early fall release.

The cover art for Tyrmia is being narrowed down to a final sketch.  We’re also working on the Second Edition of Starstrikers and trying to match the two books in look and feel.  Both novels are in the same universe but they are set in different time periods.  I will have two established series of SF novels set in the Galaxy Collision universe, the star books and the planet books.  Starstrikers is a “star” book and Tyrmia is a “planet” book. There will be three star books and they act as book ends to the entire series.  There will be many more planet books than star books in the series.

Anyway, we’d like the reader to be able to identify the books on the shelf with a quick glance.  So they will have similar elements but remain distinctly different from book to book.  Here is a sketch I did showing the spines of both Tyrmia and Starstrikers.

Proposed Spine Art for Coin and Planet Series Books

Both books use Bombardier font for author and everything not the title.  Starstrikers uses Bombardier for the title and Tyrmia will use Alpha Male Modern for its title.  The common elements are the placement of the title and author name and the planet/coin icons.  Colors and other design elements like the space field and the vines are unique to each novel.

This is just one small example of all the thought required to produce your own SF series of paperbacks.  There are many, many more things to think about from text font to chapter title layout and back cover layout.  As we come up with solutions, I will be posting here about them.

Tyrmia Comments and Cover Art

I’m starting to get some great feedback from my Tyrmia Beta Readers.  Already it is clear where I need to start working to make the story better.  I should have a decent road map of what to change and what to leave alone to make the story that much better.  A big thanks goes out to those who have submitted their comments early! If you are following the progress of this my second SF novel, you can see far more details in the forums of this site.  Please take a moment to join us there.

Meanwhile, I’m just about finished proofing the edited copy for the Starstrikers Second Edition.  With any luck, I should be able to get those changes made in the next week or two and send the final text to the interior designer so he can lay them out.  Looking forward to releasing the SE version of Starstrikers this Spring. This will be the definitive version of that book and will be available for reviews.  If you want a free copy of Starstrikers to review for your blog, send me an email and I’ll let you know when it becomes available.

From the Art Department of GB-Press.com, Byron is hard at work on both the updated cover for Starstrikers and the new cover for Tyrmia.  I’ll have more to say about his work in coming days and weeks.  Suffice it to say I’m stoked by what he’s doing and can’t wait to share it with you all.

2010 – Year of Sci-Fi

This year I will be releasing three, count them, three Sci-Fi books for general consumption by the reading public.  Thus, 2010 is indeed, the year of Sci-Fi, at least for me.  Oddly enough, I will not be writing any new Sci-Fi this calendar year.  I will be knee deep in drafts for each of the three books I plan on releasing, but as of now, I will not be writing new material in that genre.  Instead, I will be writing the first draft of the next Joshua Jones Mystery, Kill Dash Nine.

The first book out this year will be the Second Edition of Starstrikers, my first SF book.  It’s been edited and expanded and updated and will have a fresh, new cover and interior layout.  If you have not read Starstrikers yet, hold out for this, the definitive version.  The Second Edition will replace all First Edition books in all formats.  Look for Starstrikers this Spring from GB Press.

The next book I plan on releasing will be an E-book only anthology of eight SF short stories.  Tales from Ocherva Vol I, will be available on the Kindle, Nook and at Smashwords in all kinds of formats.  The stories will focus on the planet Ocherva and most of them will be set in the First Generation of the Galaxy Collision universe.  There will be one Second Generation story and one Third Generation story tacked on because they are in some way related to the planet or the Silicant androids.  I may eventually bring this out in print, but for now, E-book format only.  Look for Tales from Ocherva this Summer, from GB Press.

Finally, the big event of the year will be the release of TyrmiaTyrmia is set in the Third Generation of the GC universe and focuses on the planet where the humans and the Votainions first met.  Fans of Steampunk and Fantasy may enjoy this hybrid SF novel.  You don’t have to have read Starstrikers to enjoy Tyrmia, but it couldn’t hurt.  ;-)  I’m really looking forward to getting this book out there for everyone to enjoy.  It is beyond a doubt my best work yet.  Look for Tyrmia this Fall, from GB Press.

I don’t have exact dates yet for these releases, but as soon as I do I’ll let you know.

More Tyrmia Cover Sketches

Here are a few more sketches from last week’s meeting with my graphic designer brother on the cover for Tyrmia.  These were sketched by me with more regard to concept than looks.  I was attempting to show what the cover would look like with more of a focus on the jungle and less on Szeredy and her ship.  The intent was to place emphasis on her isolation in the wild.  We still have not finalized the cover art yet.

Wide shot of alt cover idea

It’s not very dramatic, but it shows the clearing in the canopy that the plane made while crashing.  Imagine this drenched in sun rays and greens.

CU of Starveyers Coin

This is the unit patch or coin design for the Starveyers.  It had to be realized in case we decide to put in on a patch on Szeredy’s arm for the cover of Tyrmia.  You will see it again on the cover of the Starveyers novel in a few years time.  It has an “A” for the Grand Alliance and a “V” representing the former Votainion Empire.

Darker with text locations

Playing with the cover text placement. Nothing too different there.