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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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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SIGNING!!!

In my ongoing quest to become a Real Writer, I have a Real Writer Event coming up! Behold!!!

Sooo... is it kosher to wear overalls to one's own book signing? (Oh yeah, I'm doing a book signing! Off the Beaten Path Bookstore in Lakewood, NY! If you're within a six hour drive, come over!) #amwriting #writersofinstagram #writerinoveralls #indiebooks

Off the Beaten Path Books is an independent bookstore in Lakewood, NY, on the picturesque shores of Chautauqua Lake. This event is happening under the auspices of The Geekiverse, a local website that’s an up-and-coming one-stop-shop for all your geeky needs. I’ve been slowly coming into The Geekiverse’s orbit (more on that in weeks to come), and this will continue that trend.

So! If you want a signed copy of Stardancer, The Wisdomfold Path, or Amongst the Stars, come to Off the Beaten Path Books on Saturday, August 11!

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[taps microphone] Is this thing on?

Greetings, Programs!

Welp, I haven’t been very good about posting here lately, have I? Three months is…bad. But I’m still around, and still hoping to add more content to this space (as well as others…but nothing I can really discuss yet)!

So, what’s been going on of late?

First, I’m still working on The Savior Worlds: The Song of Forgotten Stars, Book IV. This one has been proceeding in fits and starts. I got off to a great start, and then I faltered as I ran into story problems, then I ironed those problems out and got going again, only to run into more problems and have to stop again. After averaging 1000 words a day through May and half of June, I stalled out completely for two weeks while I tried to figure out where things were going.

I’ve got it mostly figured out, though. Since July 1, I’m back to averaging 1000 words a day, and I hope to get this draft done no later than the 15th of September.

I’ll have more to say about this book as it evolves, but one difficult thing has been the nature of this series and the direction I’m taking. Each book has been markedly different from its predecessors in terms of scope and structure, and that is no different this time out. The overall tale of the saga gets bigger and bigger as it goes, and that’s hard to manage and still keep the focus on the characters. As I noted, though, I have a pretty good handle on the rest of this one.

Second, I’m starting the formatting process for The Chilling Killing Wind, which I intend to release into the wild sometime in September. More announcements will definitely be forthcoming about that, so stay tuned! I’m excited to get this one out and finally start diversifying my output beyond manuscripts in various states of polish on my hard drive.

Third, you may have noticed that I’ve changed up the appearance here, in keeping with my intent to post more regularly. I have a list of posts I want to write, which will help. This site will still be about my books and my writing, but I’m going to broaden the focus just a tad to basically focus on my thoughts on various aspects of storytelling as a whole. I’m excited to be doing this. There will also be additional tweaks on the way as I update the individual pages so that each series or set of books will have its own page.

More to come, so stick around! My immediate goal is to update this site on Thursdays each week, starting today. So tune back in and follow me on the social mediae!

See you ’round the galaxy!

 

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Of jokes and their proper placement

Greetings, programs!

Let’s talk about comedic timing for a bit. I’m not talking about the kind of timing that actors and actresses need to have, in which they deliver their funny lines with sufficient timing that it maximizes comic effect and gets the biggest laugh. I’m more talking about the placement of the joke itself within the story.

You can’t just have a joke any old place. You have to plan these things. If you put a joke in your story’s most emotional moment, it has to be good, and it has to allow for a certain release of the tension of the BIG MOMENT. But I’m not talking about this, either.

What I’m talking about for a minute or two is the joke itself, and when it can happen. Sometimes jokes occur to writers outside of the confines of the story’s timeline, and it’s tempting to throw them in wherever. But you can’t do this. You have to think about a joke, and where it’s going, and why.

Basically, the story itself has to support the joke.

I have a good example here, from the 1987 movie Broadcast News. (This is one of my favorite comedies of all time, by the way.) The movie is about the news division of a television network in the late 80s, and the challenges faced by one producer (Holly Hunter) and one reporter (Albert Brooks) as the times change toward budget cuts and flash over substance. The story isn’t important for the point I’m making, but the relationship between Jane (Hunter) and Aaron (Brooks) is.

These two have been working together for years and have the kind of relationship where they can speak to each other in shorthand, where they can anticipate each other’s thoughts and finish each other’s sentences. They are close enough that it’s amazing that they’re not a couple, a possibility which hasn’t even occurred to Jane until she falls for a new reporter (William Hurt), and has to have things spelled out for her in one of the best declarations of love in a movie ever.

The joke isn’t there either, though.

As the movie progresses, obstacles arise left and right, and it gradually becomes clear that events both internal and external are going to force Jane and Aaron apart. They are going to go different ways professionally, and when they realize that their hearts are simply not going to align anymore, we know that while their friendship might not be specifically ending, it will never be as close as it’s been again.

And then, near one of the film’s last scenes, comes a throwaway joke, a single line, that is very easily overlooked. Blink and you’ll miss it…but everyone I’ve ever known who knows and loves this movie knows this line. Jane calls Aaron and asks if they can meet to talk, and Aaron says this:

“OK. I’ll meet you at the place near the thing where we went that time.”

And she gets it.

This is a great joke and a great line, even though it’s over so quickly, precisely because of where it happens in the movie. If this exchange happens in the first half hour, sure, it might get some laughs, but it wouldn’t be memorable. It wouldn’t be–it wouldn’t feel–true. And that’s what’s great about it: it feels true.

A line like that gives a little hint to us, watching this friendship get slowly pulled apart, that there’s still a little life there, that these two people do still share some kind of connection where they can innately understand one another and comprehend this sort of shorthand that only the very closest of friends can have.

The story supports the joke, which could come any time in the script but which comes when it does because our writer, James L. Brooks, knows exactly where this joke has to come. The joke helps us maintain optimism that Jane and Aaron can still be friends, and the only way the joke can do that is if we’re already invested.

So when you have a joke that serves a specific purpose, you have to be careful about where you put it in your story. Your jokes help create the tone in your story, but your story has to support its jokes too.

And that’s all I have for today. See you around the Galaxy, folks!

 

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