Friday, February 29, 2008
When I started the first novella, Freeground, I had no idea that I would write it, edit it, and have it in print in my hands within six weeks. It was a fantastic ride from beginning to end and I enjoyed every step. There was no stress, I knew I liked every bit of it and there weren't many refinements to put in place after. The only thing I was unsure of was if anyone else would like it. I'm proud to say that everyone who has read it has liked it, some of them even love it and I've even heard someone say; "I need to see this on television, or in a movie, somewhere, I just need to see it." That kind of compliment hit me so hard my knees were weak, I swear. Especially when writing it was such an amazing experience.
This time was different. The second Act in this story arc features a lot of dark moments, where the crew is tested in a very real way. I found I had to learn more about my characters, put them through their paces and find out how truly well fleshed out each one was. There was some development, I wrote 70 pages, I scrapped 20 pages, wrote 30 more, scrapped another 10, then wrote 40. It wasn't a matter of going back and deciding; 'nope, that's not well written.' It was a matter of trying a direction and finding out that it didn't take the story where I wanted it to then retracing my steps and starting over again from wherever I took a wrong turn.
Making that kind of decision, to write for hours then realize that you have to start over, do it differently, really tests whether or not you are working on the right story, and your resolve to get it right. I can say that this is the right story, that my resolve is solid. When it was time to figure out where I went wrong, it took seconds. When it was time to stop writing and make some notes on what I needed my reader to see and experience before I blazed another trail, I did, and when it was time to cut entire sections of the work out and paste it into my scrap file (from which nothing has ever returned), there was no question in my mind that it was the right thing to do and there were no regrets.
Now it's finished, and it's bigger than the first Act, it strives to be more and it tells a story that I hope everyone who reads it will enjoy half as much as I enjoyed writing it. It's sitting in the first proof reader's inbox right now, and I hope he gets to it soon. Again, I loved working on this too much to know whether it's any good. It's like looking at your own child, they're always beautiful, you're naturally biased.
Monday, February 25, 2008
You know, there's this little monster that threatens to crush the hopes and dreams of every writer. It's name is writer's block. I haven't had it for more than a couple minutes at a time for as long as I could remember. Sure, I've written myself into corners, where the characters and story have no where interesting or worthwhile to do or go from where they are, that's not writer's block, that's just a major screw up. Normally it involves cutting about 20 pages and being forced to re-imagine that segment of story. That doesn't happen much either, but it does happen.
What happened to me the other day was what felt like the onset of full on writer's block. I was suddenly over come with whatdoIdo? wheredoIgo? Ican'tdothis! WhodoIthinkIam? JossWhedonorsomething? As I was fighting the panic, I said to myself; thaaaat's right! I'm Joss Whedon! What do I, Joss Whedon, do? I call creative partners, talk to my family, and speak with friends. I Go out into the world a little if I have to. So I called the people I always do when I look for guidance and comfort, my parents! I didn't talk to them about writing, just everything else, and like some kind of mamma's boy fanboy kismet when I hung up that phone my mp3 playlist had rolled on over to the Serenity soundtrack and there it was. The next three books in the First Light series had suddenly popped into my head, and I could see the last big damn scene running through the mad movie house that is my brain.
Thanks for the assist Mom, Dad, and Joss Whedon. No wonder he's a big damn star. I think I'll go buy another copy of Serenity but first, I'll finish the second draft of First Light Act 2 and maybe even come up with a permanent name for it.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
You know, I was looking through my old CD collection while I was taking a break from writing, and found that the only two albums I have left from The Tea Party have been liberated. True, I haven't so much as looked at my Tea Party CD's in years, I have them on MP3 and have no need of ye olde plastic disks, but there's something about owning music in it's intended form. It says; "I'm a legit fanboy who gave the record company my cash so they would produce another one of their albums, oh, and maybe the artist got a buck or two in the deal."
I've owned almost every Tea Party CD they've come out with and one bootleg over the last eleven or so years, and every one of them has gone missing. I'm not bitter, it's good that this three piece band got a little further than my neglected CD collection, maybe made it into another person's, and hopefully got stolen from them as well, so they could go even further.
I'm not saying; 'hey, come on over and take my stuff!' I'm just saying that I hope these mobile CD's didn't get stolen only to roast in someone's sun visor.
On the note of supporting what we like, I'll be buying the Tea Party's live DVD tomorrow along with the collector's edition of Serenity, that movie that should have never happened based on the show Fox Television didn't want; Firefly. Everyone should buy a copy of that movie, and if you haven't seen the TV series, buy the DVD set too. Why? It's simple: if we buy enough, creator Joss Whedon may just be able to make another movie or two. If I win the lotto tomorrow, I'll give Joss half if it were enough to make another film. Okay, more than half, I don't need much.
So, what's this post really saying?
The Tea Party is still a great band.
I hope the folks who walked off with my CD's are still enjoying them.
We all have to buy a copy of Serenity, because doing the impossible is worth celebrating, and so are Cowboys in Space!
Get your own damn copies and stop eying mine. Seriously, as if I weren't paranoid enough!
Back to writing....
Thursday, February 21, 2008
So, I'm back at that point again. In the first draft of First Light Chronicles Freeground, I wrote a very quick rough draft as a framework, and then rewrote it using some of the better bits of the original. I ran it through two edit passes after that and there we have the paperback edition.
Now I'm in the same place with First Light Chronicles Act 2, only there's a strong framework that has to support not just Act 2, but Act 3 as well. The writing of Act 2 has become a thing with it's own life, and it's expanding. As though it took a really, really deep breath and refuses to exhale until I admit that I've written a good chunk of Act 3 as well.
So, I'm very happy to say that I'm stepping back a pace, and starting work on Draft 2 of Act 2, and it's still the most fun I've had since I was about nine.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
So many people assume that I write for the vast wealth, that I do it for the fame, that great big house I live in with twelve bedrooms and the Dodge Viper I drive to work every day. Waitasec, I walk to work, have a cozy apartment that I share with a room mate I've been sharing bills with for years, and I self publish instead of sending manuscripts out.
I'd say that in itself is enough to demonstrate that I don't do it for the cash, I do it because I love it! I have been writing sporadically for almost two decades now, more often than not. On New Year's Eve 2008 I decided I would write every day, and so far I've carried that resolution out. So far I've completed a novella and a non-fiction book and there are more on the way. There have also been a number of positive changes in my life since and the good news for the few readers I have out there is that I don't plan on stopping. Writing does many things for me, keeps me relatively happy, sociable outside of work, livable at work, keeps my brain working, boosts my creativity, helps me understand my environment and myself. The one thing it doesn't do is make me loads of cash. It doesn't have to.
Now, that's not to say that I wouldn't mind getting paid, but I love sharing a work that I enjoyed creating, even if the spirit of the work is better than the end product. As long as the person experiencing it enjoys it somehow, my work is done. I move on to new fiction and hopefully the people who like my work follow for a while. I appreciate anyone who is willing to read instead of watch television, at least for a couple hours.
So, as proof positive that I don't do this for the cash but for the personal gratification of doing and pleasure of sharing, I'm offering my latest novella; First Light Chronicles Freeground for $3.00 as a digital download. That's right, you can download it for a loonie and a twonie! Two bits! A silver and copper! I would reduce the cost of the printed copy, but I've got to cover my shipping expenses.
Oh, and Act 2 of that series is going famously well. It's looking like it will be bigger than the first and I'll be diving into Act 3 within days of finishing the second.
Monday, February 18, 2008
This morning I woke up, checked the shipping status on the books on their way from Lulu to discover that they were somewhere in Sudbury. I checked to see if there was a delivery attempt tag on my door and came face to face with the man who had my books! I wrestled the box out of his hands, disarmed him(he kept waving his pen at me!), and when I took up a fighting pose with his pen at the ready he ran off!
So, upon opening the box I discovered that the books (First Light Chronicles Freeground) look great, Lulu did a fantastic job on printing a nice glossy black cover and a very easy to read interior.
Special thanks to the people who pre-ordered your copies, you should have them in your hands in the next couple days (as I can meet with you or ship them overnight). With the proof checked out and the printed edition in great shape, I say to you; if you're interested in buying a copy, please drop me an email, and tell your friends! If you order it from me it comes signed, i fyou order it from Lulu, which I don't mind at all you'll get a nice, fresh copy, or you could always order a digital download for $5.00 and avoid waiting. Ah, the wonders of modern technology!
Back to work on Act 2 of this saga, which is almost finished. Looks like I'll be finishing the first draft this Friday and then I'll be editing it for a week and doing a second and third draft right after.
In all seriousness, I'm amazed that the journey from starting work on this story to seeing a copy in print only took six weeks. It's a joy to see my favorite work treated well by my new publisher and made available to the few people who are interested in experiencing my work. My first novel didn't go nearly as well or quickly. Boo for Trafford Publishing and their $1000.00-$2500.00 publishing packages, slow work and poor internal communication. Hurrah for Lulu, their free publishing service, responsive support team, and speedy service.
As for the blog itself, stay tuned! There are multiple scathing articles about the entertainment industry to come as well as some head scratchy kind of commentary about random things.
Once again I find myself feeling like I could keep writing forever. The story, the characters, the messages behind the second part of the First Light series are overwhelming to me. This is seriously space opera as I've never seen or experienced it. I only hope that everyone reading it when it's finished enjoy it half as much as I loved writing it.
I went into the second book after taking a break from the first for a couple weeks by writing some non-fiction and I had no idea if I could go into writing the second part of the series and feel just as good about it. As it turns out I had no reason to worry. There are moments in this book that make me feel so good about the work, I can't describe it. I have plans for the third book, and I find myself setting things up for the fourth book, the fifth book and sixth book. This gets easier as I write it, so I'll just keep writing.
Oh, and just above and to the left is the logo for the second book unless I change my mind.
If you're interested in taking a look at the first book in the First Light series, it's available in trade paperback for $11.99 or as a download for $5.00. Contact me if you want a signed copy or don't have a credit card to order one, I'll be glad to arrange something for you.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
I'll be looking at other ways to make ordering my books cheaper and easier in the future. If the demand is high enough I'll find a couple places in town that will carry the books as well, but don't wait for that to happen. If no one shows interest by buying a copy, you'll never see it on shelves.
There's another alternative to buying a paper copy; the download version. It contains all the goodness of the print edition without all that pulpy paper and shipping cost. It goes for $5.00, and it's a great way to show your support.
I hope this helps! If you want to grab a copy, have questions or suggestions, just drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyway, score one point for the creative people out there. I believe they should get a piece of every angle even though I think 95% of what is airing right now is absolutely insignificant, pointless, low risk, drooly, fluffy entertainment with absolutely no soul or meaningful direction. Hollywood's favorite flavor is vanilla, it's favorite color is beige, and it likes all it's porridge lukewarm.
Having said that, the shows I watch (and their status) are: Battlestar Galactica (back in April), Numb3rs (Back in March/April), Criminal Minds (Back in March/April), The Universe, Torchwood (BBC, Ongoing), Heroes (Back this fall), aaaand Jericho (Doomed, but airing for the time being).
Anyway, I'm half way through the next act my own serialized fiction, First Light Chronicles: Act 2. Still enjoying it immensely, and even though I think Hollywood is filled with relatively big budgets managed by little minds, I'd still option it for television. I bet if they gave me half the standard budget for a science fiction pilot, I could give them a dramatic pilot and a science fiction pilot.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
I'm happy to be working on the second novel in the series, and my plans for the third, fourth and fifth are starting to firm up. It looks like our crew is in for a bumpy ride.
Friday, February 8, 2008
The advance copy is already gone, and it has been replaced with the real first edition copy. I'm glad to say that the orders are starting to come in, and someone has even pre-ordered the first three books, two of which I haven't finished writing yet.
I've never been happier about a project, and so far the test readers have enjoyed it a great deal. Tomorrow I'm getting back to work on the second book in the series, so I can tell you with confidence that things are going very well all around.
If you'd like a copy it's available at http://www.lulu.com/content/1993570 in 6"x9" trade paperback for $11.99 or as a download for $5.00.
If anyone has difficulty ordering with a credit card, just send me an email and I can make other arrangements for you.
Thank you for your ongoing support!
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Well, I just finished editing Project Moo, and it's time to hand it off to my suddenly overworked editor. I'm really hoping that there's not much work for her to do after I picked through it myself. After it's all set up with the publisher, I promise to let all my fans (I think there are three people who read this blog regularly, one is my Mom, hi!), in on what the book is really called.
Monday, February 4, 2008
As a leap of faith and a trial for my new publisher, I've given them the go ahead to make my first Science Fiction novel in over fourteen years available for purchase. This is the advance edition of the book and will only be available for a few weeks, after that the final edit might go into print. I expect that there may be some changes in the final edit, how many? I'm not really sure at this point to be honest.
What is perfectly clear to me is how much fun I had writing this book. I've written nine full sized novels and a trunk full of novellas that will never see the light of day, a hand full will be published, and never have I enjoyed writing anything as much as I did this most recent work. I enjoyed it so much that keeping it out of print feels like I'm holding in this really juicy secret and my foolishly grinning head is about to explode!
I could write at least nine more. Seriously, I could write this story for the next five to ten years and most likely put out eight books this size per year. Hopefully someone out there has half as much fun reading it as I had writing it so I can have an audience for any future acts in this space opera.
It's an action adventure space opera with some romance, camaraderie, big fricken guns and people yelling "FIRE!!" and "WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!".
Just what I always wanted.
Anyway, please order soon since this version of the book will probably be a short run and I'm trying to gauge interest. I hope this will be the beginning of a series that keeps me busy for years to come and I'm working on the next book right now.
Here is the link to buying the book online in print or as a download:
Thank you for reading the blog!
Sunday, February 3, 2008
The difference this time is that I actually got to know some amazing people over the couple of years I spent online, and I miss them as though they were next door all along. It's pretty surprising how you can form attachments online, it makes the world seem pretty small until you look at the cost of airfare.
Sadly, "tools" like Facebook certainly don't cut it as far as staying in touch is concerned. Besides, as far as social network interfaces go, it's bare bones ugly, populated with applications that are as much spam as they are sad marketing and research tools and I find that for a social network there's very little back and forth even when you are 'speaking' to several friends. That, and I've turned down friend requests from at least a couple dozen people I've never known from anywhere. Spammerific.
Back on topic; I know I'll miss the people in World of Warcraft, the social aspect is what keeps people going back I believe. The game itself is great, but it does wear a little thin for some people. Besides, with two or more hours of writing every working day, then editing and more writing on the weekends along with other normal life stuff I have to get to, logging on just doesn't happen. Do I think of the people I was connected to online? Daily, it's hard not to after spending a couple years on and off in digital nearness with them.
Not spending time online has brought a lot of success that pushes me forward and upward in life though, and that's something I have to prioritize. It just goes to show that growing pains can come in many forms and at any time.
Last week I saw the inside of a bar for the first time in about six months, a few people were amazed I was even still in town. Just being around familiar faces for a bit was pretty good, getting in touch with a few friends I hadn't seen in a while. I still found myself thinking; if all the people I cared about online were there too, well, what a great time it would be.
Well, back to the editing of Project Moo...
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Thus, I named it; Project Moo.
So, at this point I've finished writing the body text (the core of the book and Phase I), and now I go on to edit and extract segments for different uses in other parts of the book.
This is the second work I've completed in 2008, making this possibly the most productive year yet. A novella and a self help book finished (for the most part) in 30 days while working another full time job? Whoa, no wonder no one ever sees me.
Anyway, it's all up hill from here; editing, formatting, getting a copy to my wonderful editor, letting her chop it up and correct things, then proofing, and sending it off to the publisher for printing. Can I just fast forward to the book launch and publicity please?
Back to it then...
Freeground was written as though I were writing a two hour television pilot episode of a new space opera Sci-Fi series. If it's any good and worthy of publishing in print I'll continue writing in the same way. A few of the books might be a single episode each, and if I were to do this for a few years, I'd most likely put out one large book that would be written like a television movie or feature film. I like writing this way personally, even though I know that it is very, very unlikely anyone will ever see this on television, and unless the Freeground novella is really good it won't even see print.
I really hope this first novella is actually worth putting into print, my editor is reviewing it now. So we'll see in a few days, maybe a week or so.
You know, I'm writing this from way up north in Canada, and couldn't be further from real North American entertainment decision makers while still being in North America. Still, I sometimes wonder what the hell the CEO's and Producers who make decisions in our crappy continental entertainment capitol (I'm talking about LA, not Vancouver), are thinking, drinking, smoking or huffing.
I found myself wondering just that as I watched the Sarah Connor Chronicles pilot early last summer. Not only was it terrible, but it included some fantastic acting professionals and was filmed by a fantastic crew. Half the speaking parts were played by actors who could easily be center points for their own shows, had other projects available to them, and are completely and utterly wasted on this over used Terminator franchise. I am so over robots from the future!!! I'd rather see these actors participating in a Gilligan's Island remake! At least they'd be doing something that everyone knew and loved, not the ugly little stepsister intellectual property of sci-fi!
Okay, down to the point. Think waaaay back to the original Knight Rider series. There was this actress who was in almost every episode, she did repairs and work on the hero car; K.I.T. C'mon, you remember her, don't you? Okay, so you don't. Here's why.
The studio used the best actors they could find for the show all around and even though she had her own successful career already, could easily have held her own as a lead actress in another program, they put her behind actors with bigger egos and more to prove. No one remembers her, not because she wasn't very good, but because she was misused in that part. A badly trained chimp could have played her part and made the show more interesting.
My point is that bad roles tend to submerge good actors into failure and obscurity. This is the main reason why they have to cancel The Sarah Connor Chronicles, because if they don't, the only one who will hire any of these actors after they're finished the show is Joss Whedon, sadly another genius that Fox doesn't listen to. (Go buy a Serenity DVD!)
Thank you for reading my rant, if you agree and want to see The Sarah Connor Chronicles canceled, go find an old LED or microchip of any kind that weighs less than half an ounce, plop it into an envelope and mail it to:
sarah connor chronicles
P.O. Box 900
Attn: FOX BROADCASTING Publicity Dept.
Beverly Hills, CA 902130900
and slip a note inside saying:
CANCEL SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES!! NO MORE ROBOTS FROM THE FUTURE!!
I think I'll mail all the parts to my old Amiga 500...
There, I feel better now.