On Writing Longhand

Greetings, Programs!

Your Narrator, writing longhand

One cool development in my personal writing life in 2018 was my rediscovery of my love of fountain pens and in writing longhand. I’ve always found a certain pleasure in writing longhand. It feels as if the words are in my hand as opposed to my head, in a way. Writing by fountain pen is particularly enchanting. The way a fountain pens work is that the tines of the nib spread out just ever-so-slightly when you press the tip to the page, allowing ink to flow between them. In a way it’s like you’re not so much writing but rather painting the words on to the page, with a brush made of metal and just two bristles.

(And, wouldn’t you know it–as I was writing a draft of this post, right about this spot is when the pen I was using burped a bit of ink onto the page. I blotted the ink with a cloth and kept on writing, but here’s the blot itself, a testiment to a minor irritation of using this old-school tech.)

Out, damned blot!

The cautionary tale of the ink blob is to make sure your paper is thick enough for fountain pen use. Liquid ink does, and will, soak through cheap thin paper more readily than thicker, more expensive paper. That blot pictured above? It looks bad and it was a momentary inconvenience–but not one bit of it soaked through to the next page in this pad.

I have not returned at this time to actually drafting my stories in longhand, though I still may at some point. But I have been writing longer pieces this way, as well as generating story outlines and worldbuilding notes and the like. The slowing down of the writing process that comes from writing longhand does enforce a certain slowing of the mind as one works. I do get a little nervous from time to time as my brain starts trying to leap ahead of what the fingers can do with a pen, but generally I find writing longhand a soothing experience.

And ultimately it’s nice to set aside the digital tools and return to a form of writing that has a very definite physical component. There’s a sense in which writing longhand feels like a return of sorts, a getting-in-touch with some earlier form of art. It’s the writer’s equivalent of a carpenter erecting a chair without using power tools of any kind, relying on precision cuts and joinery made with hand tools. I also like to remember that the ink-filled pen at one point constituted a huge technological advance over dipping quills. I won’t be trying those any time soon–at least I don’t expect to–but I do own a couple of glass dipping pens which I’m long overdue to try.

So if your own writing is a bit humdrum, may I suggest: Try writing longhand for a bit! It doesn’t even have to be a fountain pen on nice paper. A cheap Papermate in a spiral notebook is just fine, if that’s how you roll. But you might find that changing the physical feel of the process helps jar something loose in your mind and make the story flow. At least, sometimes that works for me.

See you around the Galaxy, folks!

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News! Site redesign, CKW in ebook, and so on

Greetings, Programs!

If you haven’t been here in a while, yes, I’ve redesigned the site again. I was never in love with the second design I had in place, and finally I decided that it was just plain not something I wanted to keep, so now I’ve redone things. I think I like this design best of all, so far. We’ll see.

As for what’s been going on, well, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and writing. I am plugging away at the manuscript for Orion’s Huntress, and after that I have a pile of manuscripts to edit. And lest you think I kid of exaggerate in my use of the word pile, well, check this out:

A Destiny of Doorstops
Manuscripts, I got ’em!

So yeah, I’ve got a lot of editing to do. Those five binders and folders comprise four books: Forgotten Stars IV, Book One of Seaflame!, the second John Lazarus book, and the untitled kayaking-trip-from-hell stand-alone horror book that has been knocking about my hard drive(s) for a few years now.

What else is going on? Well, THE CHILLING KILLING WIND is available as an e-book! Get it here!

Finally, I continue to write for BYZANTIUM’S SHORES and for THE GEEKIVERSE, and I hope to produce more material at all my sites moving forward. More on that, erm, later.

So that’s where things stand right now. Writing, editing, new e-book, stuff for other blogs and sites. I’m swamped!

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THE CHILLING KILLING WIND: COVER REVEAL!!!!

Well, I could do a bunch of preamble stuff, but why bother? Here it is!

Click to embiggen!

The blurb text reads:

Tonight, former detective John Lazarus will finally put his old life behind him. He has a new job as a teacher, a new home, and a new love. All he has to do is get through tonight’s execution of Roy Edgar Chalmers, the last of the three men who killed John’s wife in a botched robbery. Once Chalmers is dead, John Lazarus will be done with his old life at last.

But tomorrow the murders will start: strange, violent crimes whose only connection is the pair of voices exhorting the perpetrators to kill. As an occasional police consultant, John Lazarus will increasingly suspect that something abnormal is at the heart of these killings. And when Roy Edgar Chalmers, not nearly so dead as he should be, approaches him for help, John Lazarus will realize that maybe his old life isn’t quite done with him….

Release is coming soon, folks!

(And don’t forget to check out the book’s prologue!)

 

 

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THE CHILLING KILLING WIND: Prologue

Here, at last, is the Prologue to my forthcoming supernatural thriller, The Chilling Killing Wind. Next up will be the cover reveal in one week’s time, but for now, meet former police detective John Lazarus as he prepares to go witness an execution….

Continue reading “THE CHILLING KILLING WIND: Prologue”

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Checking In….

Hello, Y’all!

It’s been another month and here we are, right in the middle of NaNoWriMo. How’s it going for me? Pretty well. I’m well over halfway to 50,000 words, which is the target for NaNo–but not for the book in question.

And what is my project? I’m returning at last to Orion’s Huntress, the space opera novel set in the Forgotten Stars universe but in no way narratively related to that series. It is, in truth, my way of writing another space opera without having to build a galaxy from scratch. And hey, galaxies are big, so they can contain a lot of stories. I got about 80,000 words of this book done two years ago before I stalled out with no real notion of where to go with the story. This time I’ve put a lot more thought into things and I am hoping to actually finish the draft. So that’s where things are with that.

What else is going on? Well, over on The Geekiverse, I have a column up extolling the virtues of Die Hard, whose thirtieth anniversary is this year. (Thirty years of Detective John McClane? Wow….) Check that out!

I have other items on the way, including a cover reveal and the first chapter for The Chilling Killing Wind. Those items will likely run sometime the week after Thanksgiving, as I plan to actually issue the book in December! Huzzah!

So that’s what’s been going on. More to come in the next few days, I hope…including a tribute to a couple of storytellers who left this world last week after long, wonderful lives of some of the best storytelling ever. More to come on those.

As one of those storytellers liked to say, “Excelsior!”

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Progress: I has it!

Hey all! Time for a long-overdue check-in as to what’s been going on.

1. First, and most importantly, I’ve finished the first draft of The Song of Forgotten Stars, book iv: The Savior Worlds. Huzzah!!!

THE DRAFT IS DONE!!! #amwriting #writersofinstagram #sciencefiction #spaceopera #forgottenstars #ahhh #huzzah #woot

If you’re wondering, the manuscript wound up just shy of 194,000 words. I aim for cutting at least ten percent of the book’s length at each round of edits, which means that I’ll be striving for a ballpark figure of around 160,000 words for the final draft. But that’s getting ahead of things, as my practice is to set aside drafts for at least several months upon completion before I start the first round of edits.

As to when we might expect a release of The Savior Worlds, I’m guessing sometime in 2020.

2. I had planned to have The Chilling Killing Wind out in the world by now, but I was postponed by my focus on finishing the Forgotten Stars IV draft, and by Amazon’s decision to finally make CreateSpace a part of Kindle Direct Publishing. This is now complete, so I plan to resume work on that front.

3. I continue to write for The Geekiverse, although I haven’t had anything up in a few weeks because of, again, my focus on the Savior Worlds draft. I’m hoping to return there next week, though. See what you’ve missed by me, here!

4. Finally, check it out: I got FAN ART! Wil Meade, who is the son of a fine fellow named Sean Meade who provides highly valuable editing and proofreading services (seriously, my books would be freakishly messy if not for his eyes), actually sketched my trio of Forgotten Stars heroines: Princess Tariana, Princess Margeth, and Lieutenant Rasharri. What I love most about this is how he captures Tariana’s cheerful “Gosh whiz!” optimism and Margeth’s “Oh, would you stop already!” practicality. Check it out!

That’s about all I have going on right now. More updates to come, though! Onward and upward! Zap! Pow!!

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Behold…THE GEEKIVERSE!!!

The Geekiverse is a website run by some Buffalo-Niagara region geeky folk, and I have joined their ranks as a writer/commentator! My main input over there will be a regular column called “Curios from the Outer Rim”, in which I’ll discuss older items of geeky interest (my arbitrary rule is at least 15 years old), hoping to shine some light on things whose initial interest levels have faded or which have even lapsed into a bit of obscurity.

My first installment is a response to one of The Geekiverse’s podcasts, which in turn discussed “The Best Summer Movies”. Future installments are on the way!

I also provided an article for the site about the 2018 Hugo Awards, which were just handed out this past Sunday at Worldcon in San Jose, CA.

Exciting things are afoot! Check out The Geekiverse!

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First Signing, in the books!

So my first-ever book signing is in the rear-view mirror!

The view from the bookstore porch! #booksigning

How did it go? Well…in truth it was a mixed bag. Sales weren’t great, but that is due to a very slow day for foot traffic at that bookstore, which the owner said was highly unusual. He speculated that a local music festival was drawing people away, and he apologized for how slow it was every time he came out onto the porch to see us sitting there.

We had a few sales, but nothing major. That, however, really wasn’t the point. The point was to get our feet wet with this sort of thing, to get some experience that can be applied to the next event, just as soon as that happens. We also did a lot of discussion of the Geekiverse website, which I will be joining next week as a writer (huzzah!). Lots of exciting things are happening…including the release of The Chilling Killing Wind, of which I’ll have more to say next week! (Hint: I may post the book’s prologue.)

Onward! Upward! Zap! Pow!!

signing

(Lower photo courtesy Pete Herr of The Geekiverse. In my defense I wasn’t entirely sure if I was supposed to be smiling there. And also note the photographic evidence that I can, in fact, not wear overalls at times.)

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Announcing…THE CHILLING KILLING WIND

Greetings, Programs!

So it’s not “All Forgotten Stars all the time!” over here. What else is there? Well, how about my next novel, set for release in late September? It’s time to start the buzz on The Chilling Killing Wind, which is a supernatural thriller/horror book.

Obviously I’ll have more to come on that project, but right now I’m in the formatting and book design phase. Then I’ll have to order a proof and go over it. Once that’s done, I’ll assign the actual release date.

But you might be wondering what The Chilling Killing Wind is about, so…here’s the back cover blurb!

Tonight, former detective John Lazarus will finally put his old life behind him. He has a new job as a teacher, a new home, and a new love. All he has to do is get through tonight’s execution of Roy Edgar Chalmers, the last of the three men who killed John’s wife in a botched robbery. Once Chalmers is dead, John Lazarus will be done with his old life at last.

But tomorrow the murders will start: strange, violent crimes whose only connection is the pair of voices exhorting the perpetrators to kill. As an occasional police consultant, John Lazarus will increasingly suspect that something abnormal is at the heart of these killings. And when Roy Edgar Chalmers, not nearly so dead as he should be, approaches him for help, John Lazarus will realize that maybe his old life isn’t quite done with him….

So there we are! Great things are happening! Books are on the way, and don’t forget about my book signing this weekend!

Excelsior, and I’ll see you ’round the Galaxy!

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