Writing

Checking In

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The door creaks open letting in a sliver of light from beyond. The light is then briefly disturbed and followed by a shuffling sound as something moves  through the darkness. Opposite the door and along the path of the shuffling there is a loud thump, followed by a sharp scraping sound.

“Dammit!”

You gasp.

A sudden silence falls over the room and you know you have been heard.

Cautious footsteps echo in the darkness back towards the doorway and its small beam of light.

There is a click and light floods the room.

“Oh, hello there!  You’re still here.  That’s great!”

So yeah, I have had a lot going and coming back to to this space feels like walking into an old closed up room and finding a long lost friend there.  In a good way, not a ‘It puts the lotion in the basket’ kind of way.

“What’s been going on?”, you ask?

Well let’s see. First, I started a new job last month and that has obvious impacts on my free time for the immediate future.  I also started down the path of a Mac user at this new job which has been less than stellar fun. I am working it out but in a corporate environment with a Microsoft backend and little infrastructure in place to support Macs, the experience leaves a lot on the floor. Outside of that the kids started school in September which is its own special brand of chaos in my household. Throw in a few health issues while changing over benefits between jobs and Wa La! there goes a month or more in the blink of an eye.

So now back to writing and some updates that are more pertinent to this blog…

Since my new job involved more drive time and less time in the comforting embrace of the NY/NJ mass transit system I have started listening to Brandon Sanderson’s Write About Dragons lecture series on YouTube. Basically someone had a great idea to cast his lecture series on novel writing and the publishing industry.  It is all on YouTube and even only a few lectures in I highly recommend it. I watched an episode (?) of it earlier this year on short stories which really drove home my ideas and plans for “47 Seconds”.

SEGWAY!

(well that was subtle)

This is still happening.  I have been getting lots of communication from TANSTAAFL Press about their upcoming “Enter the Apocalypse” series.  My short story “47 Seconds” is slated for book 3: “Enter the Rebirth”.  Super excited about that as it is my first paid writing gig, outside of self published work.

In other news, I may have to make some changes to how “The Mason Chronicles” is published now that the Amazon KDP Police are giving me grief that it is available outside of Amazon.  While almost all of meager sales are from Amazon, part of me wants to remove it from KDP for a variety of reasons now that it has probably run its course.  So more to come on that when I make a decision.

That’s all for now. If you know of any other great resources that are in an audio format that I can listen to while driving hit me up in the comments!

I’ll try not to be as sparse.

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Interesting Podcast about Publishing with Brent Weeks

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Over on the Introverted Indie Author Podcast there is an interview with Brent Weeks, author of the Night Angel and Light Bringer Series.  Brent is a great author and has a history of doing funny things on book tour.  For example, he once did a reading of a new chapter for an “Up Coming” book in a series where he killed a major character.  It was completely fake, but he swore the audience to silence so he could get the next group.  For his next tour he did a “Choose Your Own Adventure” reading set in his Night Angel world that was fantastic.  That was on YouTube here.

The interview is conducted by Michael J. Sanford who is an Indie Author (hence the name of his Podcast) and covers the publishing industry from both an Indie and Traditional Publishing perspective.  It’s a good short listen and I was intrigued listening to these two authors discuss their different experiences.

Also worth checking out Mr. Sanford’s work here.

Brent Weeks lives on the Web here.  If you like fantasy, his work is a top suggestion from me!

Connect 2.0, and Other Worlds

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Connect 2_0

Well, that took longer than expected!

As you know, (since I know you follow this little blog religiously) I have been doing some editing.  I finished up Contact a few (ed. several) weeks ago.  So when that was done I turned my sites on Connect.  Same process.  I used the Hemingway App which helps to focus on readability.  I found it helpful to tighten things up a lot.  New version is posted to Kindle and Smashwords will follow soon after I get the reformatted version through the Meatgrinder.  (Seriously that is the name of Smashwords’ program that converts the files to ePub, Mobi etc.)

At this point though now I have to swear off of that stuff.  You can easily turn into George Lucas and keep going back and revising, re-editing, r-writing.  And we all know how that goes.  I am better writer now than I was when I first typed out

No one knew what had happened to the world Before.

Or why.

Or how.

Only that what had been Before was now gone and all that was left was After.

Of course, none of that was Mason’s concern at this moment.

But that doesn’t mean I should be rewriting the book.

Time to move on to some new things.  I will be posting a short story I wrote called “47 Seconds” in this space soon.  After that I have work to do on Conflict, the Mason Chronicles Part III  (Gasp! Spoiler alert!) and I think I have several other good short stories to be told. I want to branch out of the world of After, so expect to see some other places and faces.

Go Then

Good advice, me thinks!

Contact version 2.0

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If you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed that I have doing some edits…

2-18-2016 10-11-50 AMWell I survived and I am pleased to announce that a newly edited version of “Contact, The Mason Chronicles Part I” is now available on Amazon and Smashwords!

So far I have been doing most of my writing without a good editor who doesn’t have the same name as I do.  Editor’s cost money and so far I have been hedging on investing too much in this little hobby of mine.

I still don’t have an editor, but I found a nice option that I think helped me tune up the prose.  I used the Hemingway Editor app in this revision.  It’s a simple tool and it basically scans your text and flags various things for your consideration.  Think of it like Spelling and Grammar check in Word, but where it focuses on things that make it hard to read.  So it color codes sentences that may be Hard or Very Hard to read and it gives you counts on usage of Adverbs and Passive Voice.  It also points out any place that there is a Simpler Alternative to what you wrote.  By no means is it a replacement for a true editor, but I found it helped me zero in on sections of my writing that were not user friendly.  A lot of my writing came up as Hard to read.  Mostly it was because of complex sentences with lots of “and” usage that merged a few ideas together which in turn made the prose less concise and a lot less tight and readable.  Kind of like that last sentence.  See what I did there?

So I pushed the edited versions out and now new readers will hopefully find Contact much more enjoyable and easy to read.  Also if you want to see the difference, I would suggest re-reading the first chapter.  That had a lot of edits.  Makes sense because it was the first one I wrote and I was trying to introduce a lot of complex ideas.  As I made my way through the edits I clearly improved and found a lot less edits were required.  So reading Chapter 1 – Tank, should you give you a good idea of the improvements.

No I don’t expect anyone to re read the book, this was more for new readers.

So there it is, I am working on Connect now and will let you all know how that goes.

 

On Dealing with Internet Reviews

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Making my way back here after the Holidays and catching up on some reviews of my work. Yes some people out there on the internet have actually read my books and decided to comment on them in the various review sections available to them.  As someone who appreciates feedback because I want my product to be the best it can, it’s hard to turn a blind eye.  It’s not all bad (I am but a small fish in the publishing world) but I have to wonder how anyone who garners large volumes of critical attention doesn’t go Jay and Silent Bob on some folks.  (Embedded video is NSFW, just in case the ‘Jay and Silent Bob’ reference didn’t forewarn you.)

Seriously though if you have read my work, please rate it, comment on it, review it, or whatever option is available to you.  Or even comment here.  I won’t show up at your door.  That’s what lackeys are for.

Just a reminder too that my work is on Goodreads, so please feel free to post there, where there is even an Ask the Author section.

Also I have started work on a new short story project and then will probably begin work on Part 3.

On the Sins of a World Builder or ‘Why do those Bunnies have Chain-Guns?”

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Over on iO9 there is an interesting little post by Charlie Jane Anders entitled  “7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding”

In short the ‘Sins’ cover a variety of mistakes a Creator can make when framing out the World of their narrative.  They cover things from 1) Not thinking about basic infrastructure (plumbing, food, waste management, etc.) to 7) Introducing some superpower, like magic or insane tech, without fully accounting for how it would change society.  

8-ciudades-futuristas-fotos-imagens-futuro-city-ciudadesIt’s an interesting read especially for someone who has engaged in this practice from when I was a little 7th grader handwriting a Sci-Fi
Epic on looseleaf.  I completely agree that world building is essential in Fiction and especially Fantasy and Science Fiction, and these 7 sins certainly address the authenticity of the world.  The world that the characters inhabit and that the plot effects has to feel sensible, even if it it is populated by Dragons, Zombies, and Mutant Bunnies wielding chain-guns.  If it fails the reader’s sniff test, then it risks breaking their suspension of disbelief. It becomes an Easter Egg hunt for what else did the author not think off when they created this world, and the story suffers for its delivery to the reader.

However, to this humble writer’s sensibilities, the worst sin when world building is when the creator has done an excellent job avoiding most, if not all of these sins, but they bring all of that detail into the foreground.  I think the best built, best imagined worlds fall easily into the background and inform the reader of the world around them when want to look about. That is not easy to do because you somehow have to explain how the bunnies became mutated, where did they get their chain-guns from and why they took up the chain-guns in the first place.  Maybe every mutated bunny does not want to use their chain gun.  Maybe they want a rocket launcher. Maybe some of them aren’t feeling the chain gunning as much as the rest of the Bunnies.

Stopping the narrative to have two of Bunnies argue the merits of the Chain-gun over the rocket launcher and who made them and why, often just won’t work.  Why?  Because the Mutated Bunnies know all this.  It’s what is known to them and therefore they don’t stop to explain this to one another while the reader listens in.  Have you ever stood on a subway platform and have the person next to you explain what the subway is, why it exists and why you’re all standing there? Ever have someone come out of the bathroom and explain exactly what they just did in there and what happened when they flushed? (well some of you may have if you know ‘that dude’) The reason is because we all know this information so there’s no reason to discuss it. In fact, in some cases social morays actually prohibit you from pointing out or explaining something that is “inappropriate”. We may refer to it, and an alien listener, i.e. reader, might infer from those references what it going on while these two people stand around impatiently ignoring the large mass of people about them and staring down a large tube into the darkness while standing on a yellow line that several signs about them expressly prohibit them from standing on.

The same holds true for the Bunnies. Perhaps Rocket Launcher’s are frowned upon because in 2147 the Exgenys Corporation stole patents and intellectual property from the Inxel Corporation regarding animal super soldiers and various weapons platforms for support of said super soldiers.  The impending court battle led to a separation of the patents whereby the Chaingun patent and Super Soldier serum for Bunnies was awarded to Exgenys.  Not satisfied with the ruling of the courts, Exgenys went on to breed said super soldier bunnies, armed them with chain-guns built for their little but capable paws and unleashed them on Inxel Corporation.  Inxel fought back with poorly remade Super Soldier Squirrel Monkeys armed with Rocket Launchers.  In the end Exgenys and its Bunnies won out, but the body counts of the bunnies was very high at the hands of the rocket flinging Monkeys.
Thus happened the first open corporate military action in what later turned out to be a long series of skirmishes that devastated vast parts of the world and that was referred to as the “Great Corporate War”. That was later relabeled as the GCW I when, after fifty years of peace, a second rash of battles erupted over terra-forming rights for Mars where Mutated Crabs were hard at work and wanted to unionize became GCW II.

See? It’s all very interesting, but unless part of the narrative happens in a history class for the mutated bunnies all these little nuggets don’t come up naturally.  Even then it might be showing the hand of the Author in that the narrative going into the history class only exists to deliver all of these facts to the reader in a nice little package.

Taken From Dizorb.com

For me the best world building is done outside of the narrative. The little details and facts just drop into place as the story unfolds and the characters, or narrator, fill in the spaces as it makes sense. Often through references that don’t give the reader the whole background and genealogical history of the place or person.

I started Contact with two characters, Mason and C’er, leaving the employment of a Caravan Master and setting out on foot to make ‘Contact’ with someone.  They are in the Salts and the Caravan was coming from the Irons and was headed to Metro.  There are “Strongs” under the employ of the Caravan Master who appear to be armed and dangerous men.  These details all come out through the dialogue and interaction of the characters.  I’m guilty of some narrative explanation but I’ll take that because it is an opening scene and I have to make some of the details easy on the reader at the start.  Even still, there is a lot that can be inferred from these details, but each reader will pick up on different aspects.  Some of these details even open up more questions that are threads back to other stories.  Ones that fill in the background of the world, even while they are not part of this particular story.
So what Stories have the best imagined worlds?  Which ones felt the most authentic?  Which ones felt overdone or fake?  Did I do a terrible job in my work with the worlds of After and Before. (I’m a big boy, I can take it)
Speak up in the comments.