Sometimes You Must Go Back To Go Forward

After a great meeting with my editor, I realized that I had to restore a subplot I cut out of the book.  I figured it was going to end up being in book 3 instead, before I realized that its original intent was going to work.  So… 5 new (old) chapters were put back in the book near the beginning.  In fact, one of them is now the new first chapter.

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But as for moving forward, I had gotten stuck on several points on my last chapter, and it just… blech!  It wasn’t working.  Too overwrought and loaded down with purple prose that was muddying even my understanding of what was going on.  The good news is that now that I have worked through a serious scientific problem, I can also see that this book is living up to my hopes and has the potential to being a real awesome adventure when I discussed my plans with my editor.  She was so good at just letting me vent ideas.  Still not sure on a few simple points, but mmmm boy…. this ending, thanks to the solution brought back by the restored subplot got so much better.

It was a sub-plot that originated from characters from A Light Rises in a Dark World, so some favorites are returning and having an impact on what’s going on.  This also will end up creating more of a tie-in to book 3 that I hoped.

I also have the timeline more squared away.  Having to start writing chapters that will be inserted earlier into the book because I’m writing this chronologically forces that issue.

I’m seeing the ending far more clearly, now, and that makes me happy.  But I have to start thinking of what to title this thing.  Even a working title would be good.

Stats

Pages 407
Words 135970

As you can see, a significant jump in word count too.

New (Restored chapters and locations)

1. The Hunt

3. A Desire For Home

5. Confession & Revelation

7. An Interrupted Meal

8. Breaking Bread With New Friends

And the new chapters since last with their new position:

57: Rewards, Conundrums & Disappointments

58: The Drowned Forest

59: The Valley That Drives Away Evil With Light

60: Temple To An Unknown God

61: The Weight of Sin

I guess it has been a while since I’ve given you a chapter update.  So as a mea culpa and désolé, here’s an excerpt from the new opening chapter

 

The Hunt

 

The beast had come across the ice that winter.  Tracks left in the snowpack frozen by spray from a storm haunted Aske’s mind.  The prints were startling along the beach of Neinnvanbjarg as it had wandered along for a short while, looking for evidence of food, found it, then went into the trees and vanished. Perhaps the beast would just pass on to another island looking for better fare, but that was not to be.  A week later, an team of oxen were killed.  Their kusk escaped with his life by the grace of God.  Something needed to be done now for this beast was there to feast.

Early March had created a world without horizon.  For days on end, the air was warm and thick with fog.  Heavy coats were laid aside, and most timberjacks went about with only light oilskins normally for rain over their autumn clothing.  Aske and his men slogged through the mud and wet snow of the spring melt.  Near the beaches the crunch and hiss of ice shoves were a disquieting din as the winds and waves pushed floes and bergs all the way to the treeline.  Sometimes the piles reached over forty feet high.  But among the trees the sound of dripping water and sighing boughs was all that could be heard.  The birds refused to sing, not even the chickadees or cardinals, for they knew a killer lurked among the pillars of nature’s cathedral.  The beast made it easy to follow by dragging the dead oxen back to its cave in the rotted limestone cliffs that made the northeastern end of the island. Ten of them came with Aske while the rest protected the woodyard and the logging camp.  The track may have been there, but it might be still on the prowl.  None the less, Aske’s knowledge of nature told him to expect a full it  inside.

The plan was simple.  They would go in as many men abreast as possible and when they came across across their quarry, pin it in place with the first rank of spears, then the second rank would stab the trapped creature till it stopped moving.  The hide might be ruined, but this was not about another fur, this was about survival.  Of all the choices for hunting the beast, this was the safest and fastest.

The cave was a small alcove set back a few dozen yards from the beach and elevated in the rock about the height of a man with talus of rotted rock scattered at its base.  The smell of feces came strong on the stirring breeze outside the mouth of the lair.  A deer’s ribcage poked out obscenely from the melting snow telling that the oxen were not this beast’s first kill.  Even in the full light of the foggy day, the shadows inside were deep enough that the men could not see more than a few feet into the short cave.

Aske took the middle of the first rank, was flanked by his two strongest men, and began entering the dark.  The cave was not too deep, maybe a hundred feet or less, but it took a bend to the left, which concealed the deeper chamber of the cave.  Behind him, a rank of men held torches high.  The flames sizzled in the spiderwebs and burned the rock lice.  Unstable slabs of loose rock clunked under their feet and the stink was overwhelming.  The torches were now their only light.  Ahead, soft breathing could be heard.  Would they be so fortunate as to catch their prey still sleeping?

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Feel free to comment and ciao for now!

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The Last Jedi & The Importance of Satisfying Your Audience

Or:  “Because… Reasons/Script/Girl Rule/Boys Drool/SJW/$$$$”

So…  Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

 

You have been warned.

 

Over the last week or so, I’ve thought a lot about The Last Jedi and I have to say, my enjoyment of the film has decreased with time.  When I left the theater, I would have given it 2.5 stars.  Not great but entertaining.  As I thought of the implications of the activities of the story, I got more and more grumpy with it.  Now I’d give it 1.5 stars.

Why has my impression of the film dropped like this over time?  Many reasons, but I’ve noticed since I started writing, my standards for writing has gotten higher.  So what were the specific reasons?  Here’s where the spoilers start.

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. Mary Sues…. Mary Sues everywhere!

Let’s face it.  We all expected Princess Leia to manifest something of the force sooner or later.  But to survive having the bridge of the ship she was on blown up around here, surviving the blast, being thrown into space, start to freeze, then force pull herself back into the ship and open the door…. ummmm…..  NO.  Just F-ing no.

Then there’s Rey.  Sure she has some skill with her staff, we saw that in the first movie.  We get the impression she knows how to fight.  But to suddenly go full Neo (I know kung fu) with no real training?  Not to mention have such a manifestation of the force so powerful that Luke is just about pooping himself?  She’s force pulling and pushing.  Grabbing for light sabers in a way that took Luke training to pull off, and she’s doing it with nothing, and being equal in power as Darth Emo?  I mean Kylo Ren?  Again… NO.  F-ing no.

Rose (why the hell are you even in this movie) who was a plumber… A PLUMBER suddenly being able to pilot those skimmers and make a death defying save of Finn?  Come on… really.  (Of course, Finn was a Janitor who can suddenly pilot all manner of craft like and expert becauseeee…. reasons?  It’s in the script?  Because Girl-Power!

:Facepalm:

And of course, Vice Admiral Holdo single-handedly, with one jump at lightspeed with a cruiser destroying a superdooper star destroyer and a dozen others in the First Order’s fleet?  Well, hell son!  Why not do this all the time?  They could have just done this to the Death Star and won with the loss of one ship and Alderran would have been saved!  The Rebellion had cruisers then.  Just go full Kamikaze and be done with it.  She goes from incompetent Bee-eye-tee-see-itch wasting ships and lives (blaming Poe in the process for getting them into this mess) to savior with little to no reason as to why.  Again… What the fuuuuuuuuuu!!!!!???!!!!  (And they got the cruiser trim without an auto pilot?  pffft)

Mary Sues destroy stories.  No movie can survive four of them, particularly when one goes full martyr too.  Not to mention when every single boy (for there are no men in this film, only stupid smelly boys) is nothing more than comic relief and a foil for the women.

2. Darth Gollem… I mean Snoke goes down like a chump.

Okay, now this is just a cheap way out of good writing.  I fully admit I larfed in surprise as he gets skewered and then CUT IN HALF by Kylo pulling a fast one on him.  The problem?  Darth Emo would not be capable of pulling a fast one on Snoke like that if he was as truly the puppet Snoke claimed.  This is bad because there is almost no indication in the story that Kylo’s free will and desire to be good is actually growing.  I mean even in Darth Vader’s conversion you got more of a tip off in that even his body posture showed he could not tolerate watching the Emperor kill his son.  Kylo?  Nuthin.

What makes this more egregious is that Snoke was to be this huge badass that seemed more powerful than Darth Sidious ever was.  So here’s movie one.  Big setup… BIG set up… then zortch!  He’s dead.  Now if he’s not dead, they better come up with a fantastic reason as to how, and then pay it off.  I mean this is the equivalent to finding the secret tunnel to the final boss fight on level one that the game developers forgot to remove, typing in the cheat code and killing the boss in 30 seconds.  Not good, and that’s what happened IMNSHO.

You can’t build up a big bad guy and then take him down after only one monologue and a show of relatively superficial force… joke not intended.

3. Bathos killing Pathos at every turn

Every serious moment was undercut by something humorous, or worse, the lack of courage for a new generation character to be killed is given the “just a flesh wound” treatment.  Admittedly, Poe trolling General Hux in the very beginning was quite funny and well done.  There were a few other humorous points too, like Luke brushing gravel off his shoulder when the AT-ATs fail to kill him… a funny Eastwood-esque moment worked well.  But there were so many other times where relief was subverted by humor, or noble sacrifice subverted by G.I. Joe Red/Blue laser writing.  Finn was in a point to go out a real hero and cement his place in lore history, but no.  Rose stole that moment in a Mary Sue level save for the guy she had the hots for so we can get a trendy cute puppy love kiss.  Shucking foot me.

4. Speaking of Lore… Let’s just crap all over it while leaving the audience in the dark.

Now some of this was explained in a video by a Star Wars super-fan that many of the things that left the audience wondering why or how things happened were in the extended media, but left out of the film.  Okay, yeah.  I get that.  Small problem.  I’m not buying the dozens of related materials just to figure out what happened.  If I can’t tell why it is so from the movie, tha’s crap writing, y’all.

But here’s the real travesty.  Big spoiler… REAL big.

Luke dies because…. reasons!  I know I’ve said this three times this blog, but holy crapsnacking porgs on a stick!  So, how does Luke survive the standoff with the AT-ATs?  BTW, you see almost all of their footage in the trailer… weak Disney, very weak for something so cool.  He’s doing galactic range force projection of himself.  So he isn’t even there, and cannot be run through with Kylo’s Lightsaber and die.  Ergo, he died because the plot said so… and Disney obviously wants to shove the original trilogy out of the way so they can go on making a new SW film every friggen year with new characters.  Han was killed because Harrison Ford said he should have died in Return of the Jedi.  Sure, I can see that.  But to have him go down like he did in Force Awakens tarnishing his legacy as hero to one of failed father and a bit of a deadbeat loser badboy a princess fell for and a broken and messed up kid who ultimately kills him because Darth Emo is all angst-ridden. (Your name is Ben, we named the dog Kylo)  Don’t get me wrong on this one point though, I like Adam Driver’s acting.  Guy’s good.  He’s easily the best portrayed character, but that says how good an actor he is for the crap he has been given for lines and characterization.

But to treat Luke as a broken and failed Jedi trainer who tries to murder Kylo as a child out of fear?  Just wow.  Mark Hamill was right to criticize this plot.

5. The biggest reason:  Wasted Potential

When I was watching the film, I saw so many huge potentials for really good twists.  Also, there are ways for Ep. IX to redeem the movie, but honestly, I don’t think they would or the public should let them off the hook so easily.

Potential 1:  The Weapons Dealers being the real source behind the war (Oh and way to piss me off, Disney, for having the word “RESISTANCE” be the only word fully capitalized in the opening crawl.  Way to telegraph for the SJW’s out there in the age of Trump)    That said, it would have been a very interesting direction to go, and make it believable how the First Order and the Resistance kept having access to a seemingly endless ability to wage war across the galaxy.  Seriously a good idea, new villians could be introduced and a war behind the war would have been refreshing.  But alas, I’m certain that will be ignored as a throw away commentary on American Imperialism and proxy wars.

Potential 2: What if we threw a war and nobody came?  If you had it where the destruction of the First Order’s fleet and the death of Emperor Snoke as well as the complete eradication of the Resistance’s fleet was the end of the war?  Called on account of no materiel left to fight with?  They called for help, but nobody came.  Not even Luke did really.  This again, opens the door for a more sneaky covert spy thing, as well as the scramble to fill the power vacuum.  Who’s next in line for controlling the galaxy?  The Hutts?  Any of a dozen factions or races from extended lore?  That’s some of the most interesting stuff there instead of painting ourselves into a corner with only having two small factions (or are they really that small and if so, we should give zero foxes about this entire movie because the losses aren’t that important) slugging it out.  Ben Shapiro said it best that Disney painted themselves in the corner by making the First Order being only a repeat of the empire when all new land could be cultivated and even our old favorite characters would need to find their place in it.  Newp.  We just got lather rinse repeat with a smidgen of new fan service and old fan kiss offs.

Potential 3:  Rey and Kylo rule the universe.  What if both of them joined forces?  They easily could have.  But no, let’s just recreate Luke vs. Vader all over again.  The potential for them to BOTH fall to their own lusts, being that one was on the dark side, and the other having no training…. it was a foregone outcome that they could become the next imperial force.  Or you could have both of them turn on the new Grand Moff Hux.  I still say, despite him giving off the snotty English private school bastard vibe, Hux could become a great villain and they could join the Resistance and fight against him, AND the weapons dealers as the First Order and Resistance fall into ashes creating two new orders to slug it out.

Potential 4: Luke could have redeemed himself.  If given the chance to make right his failures as yoda pointed out, and throw out the Jedi religion as antiquated and failed like Bruce Lee threw out Kung Fu to create Jeet Kun Do, that might have been something truly interesting as well.  They would then have to fight against new enemies as well as the corruptive influence of the Force if given over to their baser lusts personified in the Dark Side.

I do not expect any of these potentials to be addressed or realized.  I think we’re looking at those possibilities in the rear view mirror, n’er to return.

BTW. the Porgs are stupid IMHO, but supposedly there was a reason they’re in the movie that I have not confirmed.  Supposedly they had puffins walking into the shots so often they just CGIed them into Porgs.  If this is true, well played.  If not… another log of WTF on the bonfire.

What has this taught me about my own writing?  Simply put, payoffs and audience expectations.

I expected Snoke to be much more threatening and survive to the next movie and prove the build up we got in The Force Awakens.  Andy Serkis is a motion cap savant and it’s a shame to waste that talent.  So that’s taught me if I build up a villain, even if i just have them lurking in the background I must give them an appropriate conclusion to their own story ark and not throw them out like garbage.

There is only so much subversion of the tropes and mood you can do before the audience gets pissed at you.  You cannot turn every serious moment into a joke like Joss Wheadon on speed.  I remember in an interview about the movie “Iron Monkey” about the tastes of Chinese audiences.  They want a little humor, a little romance, something scary, something to cry about and lots of escapist fun all in the same film.  Because of that, you give them what they want.  You cant jerk them around with pretending to give them a heroic sacrifice of a main character to steal it away in order to preserve the power of the unnecessary sacrifice of a minor unnecessary character (particularly because its a woman).  Don’t manipulate the emotions of the audience with a beloved character’s death, but then to ‘save versus logical outcome because script’!

Do not… repeat DO NOT… violate the rules of your own universe.  mmm mmm… don’t do it.  You cannot go 7 movies without someone doing the obvious, “why don’t I just ram that target as I shift to hyperspace and press the ‘win’ button” only to then do it to create an unnecessary martyr, or any other reason.  This violates a fundamental understanding of the Star Wars universe.  It’s implied collision at lightspeed is bad, but logic dictates that would be the first weapon you’d go to when given the chance.  You just make it into a missile.  So in your own writing, unless you’re willing to spend the time explaining how nobody did it before (too expensive, too unpredictable, too penguiny… whatever)  you don’t do it.

For example in my own setting, the supernatural events (aka the magic system) always has God or Satan behind it.  (or by proxy a demon or angel)  There’s no digging up magic metal or water from the ground.  So that stuff is all physically hard science like we have in the real world.  This can create real pickles for me at times.  It also means that with steam power, you will never see walking machines or steam blimps.  Physics in my setting remain the same as they do in this world, unless a supernatural force from God, Angel, Demon or Satan is involved.  If I violate that, please beat me about the head and shoulders.

There are more reasons why I don’t like the film so much anymore after the fact, but this will do.  As you can see, not thrilled with the new trilogy.  It’s about as bad as the prequels right now and the third movie better pay off YUGE or they ain’t getting my money back any time soon.  Save yourself the cash and see it on some streaming service or rental.

This is not the movie you’re looking for.

Go ahead and comment below if you desire.

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Realm Makers – H. G. Wells Challenge

One of my fellow Realmies put forth this question in our group the other day, and after reading my response, I felt it was good enough to put here too and share with all you fine folks.  It’s Spec Fic, not fantasy, so… there’s that.

Dave Withe’s H.G. Wells challenge to the Realmies.

“If not us, then who?”

I was “blessed” to grow up in the Golden Age of Science Fiction and Fantasy (that’s what they called Sf back in the 1950’s and 1960’s). The hard Sf writers back then foresaw many of the Whizz Bang tech that has transformed the world into what we have today. (NASA was actually working on Faster Than Light travel before the Big O turned NASA into the Muslim outreach agency.)

Question for Discussion:

With your futurist speculative hats on; Starting from existing trends, what kind of Speculative, Whizz-Bang tech can you imagineer for your stories which will revolutionize the world in the next century?

I call it “The Missing Next Step Analysis”, look at today’s capabilities, then extrapolate as much as you can with existing trends until you get to “The Missing Next Step” that can’t be extrapolated from existing technological / biological / Quantum / etc. knowledge.

Then, imagineer something to be that next step.

I started using Solid 3D Holographic Projected Keyboards several years ago in some of my stories; but that’s old news now, a Japanese company is currently developing that technology for commercial release within the next few years.

Let’s see if we can pull an H.G. Wells on the early 21st century world. (he foresaw nuclear power during the Age of Sail you know).

Are we not some of the most innovative inventors of new worlds. Step up your game people. Have done with recycled plot lines and stretch to ask the tough “What If” questions.

Let’s Imagineer the future.

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My predictions of the future are pretty dystopian because I believe socio-economic failings of the globe will rewrite ourselves into a second dark age of barbarism and insanity similar to what came after the Fall of Rome… but worse. This will end up destroying our ability as a species to grow technologically for another 500 years (while saving our souls) till we clamber our way back up to even this level thanks to all the anti-intellectual insanity in the west, and zealous anti-enlightenment barbarism in the rest of the world. The only thing technology is going to do is accelerate the process by which this all happens and the thoroughness of the devastation. To paraphrase Einstein “I do not know by what weapons the next world war will be fought with, but I do know the one after that will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Ultimately, there are very few authors who envisioned what eventually came after their lifetimes. Victor Hugo (Submarine, Moon Landings to name a few) H.G. Wells as has been pointed out, but really there are none off the top of my head that I can point to that predicted future tech with any serious degree of credibility that wasn’t already being imagined in their epoch.

I’ve made this statement before, just not here, that the Spec Fic author is a captive of his time. Look at movies like “Metropolis”, or all the “Red Scare Sci Fi” of the 1950’s before the dawn of space flight. They were all victims of seeing the world through the lenses of the technology of that era. We too suffer the same problem, though we violate Clarke’s Law far more often or we now understand better the idea of technology so advanced it appears to be magic. All be it I’d call it dark magic at this point, and hence my first paragraph.

The older I get, the more I begin to realize that the world of “Thundarr the Barbarian” (pockets of super science and “magic” in the ruins of a world which suffered a global disaster) has almost as much chance to exist as Mad Max or 1984. We humans are too flawed to evolve a utopia. It may work on paper save for that one flaw of having humans involved. I also doubt very highly that AI or any other artificial life will be any more perfect beyond possibly having to eradicate all of humanity for its chance to survive.

The other elephant in the predictive realm is the “unforeseen outside factor”. What if aliens DO show up? What if Time Travel does get invented, or Faster than Light Drive? Things that are broad theory or fantasy that suddenly become reality. 50 years ago, the Internet was able to be predicted. So was nano-technology based on what was going on in that era. But that’s predicting one maybe two generations ahead, and mostly based on straight line predictions, which is ripe for much hilarity. Want proof? Look up the predictions from the first Earth Day in 1970. Cringeworthy. Mark Twain once told a parable on straight line predictions on how the passage from St. Louis and New Orleans by steamboat was shortening by a few hundred yards every year. In a few centuries, he “predicted”, the two cities would be neighbors.

But okay… if pressed, prediction time.
1. This assumes the west doesn’t collapse and technological advancement continues.
2. It also assumes Islam does not win the current 13th Jihad it is waging via immigration and the west somehow pulls it’s head out of its collective ass.
3. That the Deep State Technogarchy remains in power.
4. That Generation Snowflake and self loathing SJWism dies out thanks to objective reality being stronger than subjective madness (see Kipling’s Gods of the Copybook Headings).

A- Advanced nations will begin to devolve as their people, addicted to the internet and social media drop out into VR societies in an attempt to give the yearning for meaning a harmless outlet.
B- Automation increases, driving humans out of the workplace, requiring “A” to control them lest they destroy the powers that be due to idleness.
C- Human civilization grinds to a halt, replaced by AI control, reducing itself to cattle.
D- A slim chance that there will become a symbiosis between man and machine as cyborgs do become the next stage in “evolution”.

Nanofabrication will become household level tech. You won’t have to go to the store. Just buy and download the schematics, and have your home “nanofab” unit which will be the size of a refrigerator or garage workshop size tool, pour in the ingredients like a cake and make it there. You will have freebie apps and plans, as well as name brand sellers. Designing may become the only place left for human employment as men and women are reduced to nothing more than the creative thought processes of a new species. Good times, right?

“I have never seen a miracle of science
that did not turn from a blessing to a curse.”
Sting.

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How To Feel Particularly Chuffed By Accident

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A snippet of this letter appeared on the Realm Maker’s Consortium Forum the other day as one lovely person posted it.  One paragraph only and it was a thunderbolt of realization to me that made my heart sing.  I found the whole letter here:

http://www.tolkienestate.com/en/writing/letters/letter-163-to-wh-auden.html

J.R.R. Tolkien’s letter to W.H. Auden in 1955.  The key paragraph for me is one near the end and goes like so:

It would have been a big task without anything else; but I have been a moderately conscientious administrator and teacher, and I changed professorships in 1945 (scrapping all my old lectures). And of course during the War there was often no time for anything rational. I stuck for ages at the end of Book Three. Book Four was written as a serial and sent out to my son serving in Africa in 1944. The last two books were written between 1944 and 48. That of course does not mean that the main idea of the story was a war-product. That was arrived at in one of the earliest chapters still surviving (Book I, 2). It is really given, and present in germ, from the beginning, though I had no conscious notion of what the Necromancer stood for (except ever-recurrent evil) in The Hobbit, nor of his connexion with the Ring. But if you wanted to go on from the end of The Hobbit I think the ring would be your inevitable choice as the link. If then you wanted a large tale, the Ring would at once acquire a capital letter; and the Dark Lord would immediately appear. As he did, unasked, on the hearth at Bag End as soon as I came to that point. So the essential Quest started at once. But I met a lot of things on the way that astonished me. Tom Bombadil I knew already; but I had never been to Bree. Strider sitting in the comer at the inn was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than had Frodo. The Mines of Moria had been a mere name; and of Lothlórien no word had reached my mortal ears till I came there. Far away I knew there were the Horse-lords on the confines of an ancient Kingdom of Men, but Fangorn Forest was an unforeseen adventure. I had never heard of the House of Eorl nor of the Stewards of Gondor. Most disquieting of all, Saruman had never been revealed to me, and I was as mystified as Frodo at Gandalf’s failure to appear on September 22.1 knew nothing of the Palantíri, though the moment the Orthanc-stone was cast from the window, I recognized it, and knew the meaning of the ‘rhyme of lore’ that had been running in my mind: seven stars and seven stones and one white tree. These rhymes and names will crop up; but they do not always explain themselves. I have yet to discover anything about the cats of Queen Berúthiel. But I did know more or less all about Gollum and his pan, and Sam, and I knew that the way was guarded by a Spider. And if that has anything to do with my being stung by a tarantula when a small child, people are welcome to the notion (supposing the improbable, that any one is interested). I can only say that I remember nothing about it, should not know it if I had not been told; and I do not dislike spiders panicularly, and have no urge to kill them. I usually rescue those whom I find in the bath!

 

This has been the way the world-building process and writing has been for me.  I had not met most of the characters till the chapter they entered the story.  Often, they do not reveal what they are about to do till the moment they do it.  What a fascinating experience it is.  When discussing some of the recent events of book 2, which I am now thinking about what to title the silly thing, since Book 2 is starting to get ingrained too strongly in my mind, we discussed how I came up with certain events.  There is no way possible to take credit for it, honestly save for listening to the characters and circumstance and writing down what I see and here.  Being the author, I am privy to the character’s internal monologue in general aspects, but not always.  There is so much I would share with you all right now, but I can’t or I’d ruin the surprises. Who wants an author that drops spoilers on his own work, right?

Anyway, it’s so wonderful to see that even JRR experienced the same joys and surprises I have been on this journey.  It makes me hope that some day this book series will become popular enough to warrant attention from other auspicious authors and have an impact on the lives of people where they’d even want to know such trivial details.

But the outcome is in God’s hands as far as I’m concerned.  I am doing the part I feel called to do, and that is to write and get these things out of my head, and into the public realm for Him to do with as he desires.  My paltry little “ministry” to those like me who wanted an alternative to typical fantasy fare.

Nothing much new done on the book yet today.  I’m struggling with a set piece… having my Ridley Scott moment.  If you know much about Ridley, you know he’s an insane perfectionist for creating visual imagery.  Probably even more than Kubrick was.  It is hard at times to capture the right majesty of a setting when you’re offloading ideas like a crane on a container dock.  You just want to get those containers off the ship and onto the chassis as fast as you can so the next ship can slide in.  After having experienced intermodal yards, I can tell you it’s quite an experience to see this in action with gantry cranes 100 feet tall.  In a small regard, I kinda miss it, but do not miss anything to do with the city in which I had to drive around to get the job done.  It’s bad enough with a car.  A Semi is far worse.  But I digress.

I have explained once before that my writing process is very much like transcribing movies, but with the character’s internal monologue?  Maybe, according to some praise, that’s why it’s easy for people to visualize what is going on.  It amazed me to learn that this isn’t always a common thing for authors.  Not everyone has such total visualization as they write and experience their work in a completely different manner.  A bit of a mind twister for me, but then again, I am constantly reminding myself that the way I experience the world is not always shared by others.  It’s what makes everyone’s vision unique in a good way.  Not only are we shaped by our experience, we are shaped by our perceptional bias.  Yeesh… not going down that thicket of pseudo-science right now.  You make of it what you will.

BTW, just got a nice interruption from my alpha readers who looked at one of the recent chapters and loved it.  I mean emphatically.  These are the kinds of things I love to hear.  Not only because of my ego, but because I got to share my vision with someone so well and in such an enjoyable manner… just it makes me happy to have made someone else happy… even if the chapter was about a rat bastard doing rat bastardy things.  ;c)  It was entertaining to the point of distraction, and that is a heady thing to do.  Anyway, that was a fun little interlude and put a smile on my face from ear to ear.

Enjoy JRR’s letter.  It explains a lot of the experience of a writer in a big project like this for those who are interested in such mundane trivialities that are filled with a peculiar and subtle magic.

 

Fever Pitch

Oh man!

ohmanohmanohmandidIsayohmanyet?

OohhhhhMAN!

Yes, Volume 6 is three chapters in and it has been a blast writing it.  The ideas are hard to get out in one piece they’re so desperate to get on the page.  Even writing through a headache has been possible.  Gonna pay for it later, but this stuff is just… mmm!  I love it.

This is the hard part about writing… waiting to share with the world.  Sure I have a very very very small group of alpha readers to keep my story on track and catch some big problems before I get too far off the rails, but still.  When something cool comes up and things pour out of you like a Jackie Chan fight at 2x speed, you want to share it.

I just pray I can keep up the pace and get this book done with my desired deadline.  Something that I will be so happy if I manage it.  So… what’s new?

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Again, broken up into book length and the encyclopedia (Formerly the glossary).

Pages 313 of 370
Words 112837 of 122485

New chapters:

52. Rewards, Conundrums & Disappointments

53. The Drowned Forest

54. The Valley That Drives Away Evil With Light

Hope that sets the salivary glands a running at high.

Ciao for now!

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Okay, NOW the Middle Build is Done

I wasn’t sure what would be the better ending point.  A conversation with my protagonists with a bunch of big revelations, or an interrogation by my villain.  I like my clean cliffhangers that both answer and ask questions.  So, that means the first draft of Volume 4 and 5… aka the first two parts of Book 2 I think are done.

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What changed my mind?  What I wrote kinda sets up a small question that felt better to resolve for that great clean break rather than let carry over and start the last volume on the wrong foot.

I guess it’s my years of RPG experience that made this kind of thinking something I’m sensitive to.  I always liked stopping the game as a new event or surprise came up.  The players always wanted to play it out right then, but I wouldn’t do it because the act of doing so had them talking about it all week long.  I kinda saw it as my way of doing the TV season ending trick but for every week.  Or what the old Dr. Who used to do for every story arc.  You’d get 3-4 show stories, with cliffhangers on every episode till the end.  Kept me coming back for more, that’s for sure.  So I’m doing the same thing here.

But for those fretting about having to wait for months for resolution, here’s the new release plans from now on:

I will release Volume 4 at the same time as I release the print versions of all of Book 2.  That way, you want the whole story at once, there it is… in print.  After that, every 2-4 months, I will release the next Volume.  If I time it right, you will get a new book every year or more, and a new volume every 2-4 months, depending on if I can keep up.

That’s the plan going forward.  BTW, book 3 is as I’ve said before 60% written.  Why?  See previous posts.  😉  Go on, you know you want to check out back posts.  XcD  But also, the events in book 2 require me to add more content to help the two books blend better.

Now, here’s the progress report, since it’s been helping my motivation.

Pages 292 of 349
Words 104555 of 114209

Why the new split?  Because I realize that the “Encyclopedia Akiniwazi” is a significant chunk of the length, so this way you know the story.  Right now, Book 2 is exceeding the length of book 1 in about every respect, and I still have about 25-30% left to go.  That’s about 30 more chapters I’m estimating.  Now 57 pages of encyclopedia is a lot to ask, and every book it grows, but over Thanksgiving I got to visit with a family who is reading the book right now, and they have a bookmark at the glossary.  They use and enjoy it.  Their sons have now taken to insulting each other with some of the names.  Funny stuff to hear them call each other “snotnose” (Hrodinefr) or “chicken fart” (Haensafretr).  They’re young, so it’s extra funny and beats a lot of names they could call each other.

Chapters

50. In Which Occult Knowledge is Revealed

51. A Fool No Longer

 

On one side note, I may be having some difficulty this month in productivity due to some complications with life.  I still have a specific goal in mind, but I’m worried I will not be able to meet it.  We’ll see.

Beginning Volume 6 (Book 2)

Yep.  I feel I’m in a good place right now.  The fire’s in the belly, and the first half of the third act is now over the horizon and shining in the distance.  I figure I’ve broad stroked the first 10 chapters of the Ending Payoff, and am starting to see the shape of the last 15-30 chapters and its denouement.  Very thrilling stuff.

I have one oddball chapter hanging out with me right now that would be an awesome cliffhanger ending, but recently it has been suggested that readers don’t like cliffhangers.  Is this true, dear readers?  Doth thou hateth when yon poor scribe leavest thou hanging on tenterhooks till the oft given oath of resolutions aplenty in the next tome?

XcD

I’m such a goof.

But, yeah, where this next chapter that I’m going to write lands, is kinda up in the air.  It’s either the first chapter of Volume 6 or the last chapter of Volume 5.  I’m leaning towards Vol 6.  But then again… oh thpppt.  Later.

I’m not going to promise when this first draft is going to get done, but I suspect it is now entering the realm of…

Soon3

Very thoon.. I mean soon indeed.

Can’t wait to share it all with you.

Let’s put it this way, some things I’ve learned about myself and my work process in the last month or so, well, if I’m being honest the last two or three months or so, is that I have to stop gaming and doing other things that sap my creative spark when I want to make a deadline from now on.  So I may start on a new process at the beginning of next year, where I focus on writing for two months, and take a break for one.  I dunno.  Just thinking about how to improve myself so I don’t burn out and I get a lot of stuff done.  Yep yep yep.  Learning the craft is more than just pounding the ole keyboard and daydreaming.

I’ll be honest though, I am not capable of dealing with marketing and sales yet though.  I just… nope… can’t even.  Nope nope nope.

Anyway, I’m excited enough I may try to push out two chapters tonight as is.  Then at least I’ll have enough to report on progress later in the week.

So, ta ta for now.  Sleep then writing to come.

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Gratitude and Progress

So far it’s been a wild week for writing. Six chapters in 6 days including one that freaked me out and made me go “Well, this ain’t for kids anymore.  Nope nope nope!”  Then it’s never been my intent to write YA fiction, but for you hardy, sturdy fangirls and boys of fantasy and good storytelling.  Huzzah!

I think as a “stay-cation” this has turned out far better than expected.  I have another week like this coming up, so I will be getting busy with outlining the final chapters.

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Being the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning here, soup bubbling away on the stove for my post holiday work week and stomach bracing for the onslaught tomorrow in carb laden goodness, (My pancreas curses me, but I think eventual forgiveness will come) I thought I’d bow to peer pressure and say thank you.  To all of you who have bought my book, lent your support and follow this blog, I am grateful.

This is I guess a contrast to the degree of ingratitude I see in the world and how it makes people terminally unhappy to the point in which they desire nothing more than sharing their misery.  I don’t want to be that guy.  I don’t always succeed, but generally no.  It is not my desire to be the monster I sometimes pretend to be in attempts of self depricating humor or currying compliments.  (yes, we guys and writers do it too from time to time.  Human weakness, sue me.)  But in an effort to start the ball rolling in your own reminiscence, here’s what I have to be thankful for.

I am grateful to my alpha readers who have been helping me in my writing, giving me honest critiques and picking me up when the bull throws me and dances on my head for a day or twenty

I am grateful for my job, despite all it’s myriad foibles that drive me crazy.  It keeps me focused and desiring to keep writing if not from a suffering point of view, but from a financial desire PoV.

I am grateful for my health as it is.  I know it is far better than what it could be if I had not started paying attention to it two years back, and although the improvement is slow, I am still glad for what I have.

I am grateful for my friends, the couple I have IRL and the dozens I have online and in my gaming guilds of the Seraphim and Angels of Eternal Destiny.  To that end, I am grateful to have known my buddy on the other side of the world in Guild Wars 2, Flowerypants who passed away this year.  He helped me to realize how fortunate I was for both my life as well as the chance to share deep things around my book in a way I will be forever remembering him.

I am thankful my sister and her family survived Hurricane Harvey and are on their way to full recovery.  Despite all the material loss they suffered (see almost everything) they were all safe, including their cats.  It has been such a warm feeling to see the outpouring of family and friends to pull together and help them in this terrible crisis too.  I mean just staggering.

I am grateful, most of all, for my salvation and relationship with Jesus Christ.  The gifts that he has given me from the night I chose to follow Him, back in 1997.  Well surprise surprise.  It’s been 20 years since I became born again!  I did not realize that till now.  Now that is an odyssey down memory lane.

There are so many more things for me to be thankful for in private, and I hope that most of all I keep remembering to be grateful for them throughout the year, and not just on one day, which when things are going sour is very hard, but the most important time to do it.

So that’s how I feel right now.

Thanks.

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Now, as for what’s been going on with the book.

Pages 339
Words 110739

I’m still suspecting that this book will end up over 150k words, 4-500 pages, and I may just have reached the end of my middle build, or will be in a chapter or two.  Not quite sure yet.  I thought I did, and felt I had a good denouement for what would have been Volume 5 of the series, but now, I am not so sure if I should finish this part of the adventure before considering it such.  Meh, we’ll see.

And the new chapters…

44. Among the Wolves

45. A Dangerous Trade

46. Twelve Fingers

47. Sacrifices

48. Reforging the Iron

49. Hope From Afar

I hope these tantalizing little tidbits are enjoyable for you.  I kinda like dropping the teasers and keeping you in the know as to what the progress looks like.  These have been incredibly intense chapters for me to write, and I’ve been waiting literally months to finally get to this point.  And now that I’m there, I’m taking the deep breath before the plunge, as it were.

Also, I’ve started working on a new map.  Much like what you can find in the first book, you will be able to track a goodly portion of the adventure’s trek through the wilds.  Partially because I think you will enjoy it, but also because I need it to keep my understanding in place to the directions and locations our heroes are visiting.

No teaser draft this time though.  I do that too much and it won’t be special anymore.  😉  You understand.  We’ll see what happens.

Till then, it’s back to the Ondeandkurvfjell for me.

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Whew! Now the Fun Really Starts.

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Survived work till vacation kicked in.

So, I’m doing a speed round of writing.  I got a few chapters plotted out, and they should be very exciting and fly by.  Secondly, I am taking another vacation before Thanksgiving here in the US, so I hope that by the end of the week, I could maybe… MAYBE have reached the end or nearly the end of the middle build of my book… aka Volume 5.  Uh huh… that’s right… Volume 5 of the series.  It all depends on if I can keep the rhythm going.  I want to get a couple more big shockers in to the mix, but I just pulled the triggers on some of Chekov’s Guns I had laying around too.  I am guessing on 10 chapters more and that would be my ideal to complete in 7 days, minus the time spent on Thanksgiving.  Mmmmmmm… turkey.  I fully plan to carb cheat the hell out of that day too.  So afterwards, I’ll have to be very good about getting myself back into ketosis.  Gonna hurt, but soooooo worth it.

So here’s the next question.  You guys interested in hearing anything else rather than what you’re getting? Suggestions for posts/articles… whatever?

P.S. Bengal Spice tea rocks.  Cinna-nummy.

A Fast… By Many Definitions

Fast as a noun and fast as an adjective.

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Much like how I started writing “A Light Rises in a Dark World”, Book 2 is now being written during a fast.  I have sworn off gaming for the next month and a half to focus exclusively on book 2.  There is a good chance I’m over half done, and if I can keep up this pace of a chapter every writing day (which is on average 3.5 days a week, plus a week’s vacation this and next month),  and an output between 1500-3000 words, I will be done before Christmas.  It’s getting thrilling, let me tell you that, despite being a lot bigger and harder to produce, it’s been worth it.

What’s also been thrilling is seeing how book 3 which now I’d call 60% written, thanks to how it came into being the first time is going to be much stronger thanks to all of what I learned about my own setting.  The mystery and mystique of the setting has grown.  The complications and politics have really taken on vast new dimensions and I can’t wait to share it with you all!

The last month of writing has been a real struggle, even after a month and a half writer’s block.  I’m so happy to be moving forward and listening to the story the characters have to tell me, which helps when you start trusting your creations.  But I’m past it now, and hopefully nothing but smooth sailing to come.

To help myself when I’ve been feeling stuck I’ve been going to other comfort writers and listening to classic literature on my phone.  “Around the World in 80 Days,” “The Count of Monte Cristo”, I tried to get into the “Gulag Archepelago”, but nope… not there yet.  I’ve also been looking at good fantasy… aka seeing how JRR did things in “The Hobbit”, because some of the concepts bear some similarity of a travel adventure.  I also like to refer to “On Basilisk Station” by David Weber, because I really enjoy how he handles larger casts and for the most part has an excellent narrative style.  So the two have taught me a few things here and there.  Mostly though I want to stick to reading books that are over 50 years… if not 200 years old because it is more toward the voice I enjoy and gives my writing more of a feeling of timeless feeling.

So maybe I’m deluding myself, I dunno, but I’m having fun doing it so… thppt.

Anyhoo… this is what’s been happening.  The new chapters with current names go as follows:

40.  Oaths, Threats & Honor

41. A Racket in the Treetops

42. Placing a Bit in the Mouth of the Wild  (Its new location which fixes a timeline issue)

43. Quid Pro Quo

 

Chapter 38 has been re-titled to “Fracturing the Keystone”.

Current Stats:

Pages 306
Words 98923

I think this is going to break 450 pages and 150k words.  But we shall see.

Oh… by the way…

And in another case of guilt inspired “you haven’t been posting much lately” fun, here’s another teaser from the chapter 18. “Missing Passengers”.  Enjoy!  (As always, it’s the first draft so… don’t worry.  This is like a construction site, and you’re seeing the foundation and rough framing laid.  Beware of random nails.  ;c)

“Solveig?  Mirjam?” she called softly.  “Are you awake?”

No answer came.

She knocked again, louder.

The door to her stateroom opened and the Minister of the Wardrobe peaked out.

“Ah!  Have you seen the Kronadottirs?”  the Visedronning asked.

“No, my Tign.  I have not seen them.”

“Did you check their stateroom when you came on board?”

“Jah, my Tign, directly after making sure everything was in order for yours.  No one was there.”

“Perhaps they arrived after you did.”

“It is possible, but unlikely for I arrived very shortly before you did and did not see them on the pier nor in my inspection of the ship, my Tign.”

The Visedronning frowned, and opened the door to her daughter’s stateroom while knocking.

“Solveig?  Mirjam?”

The room was empty.  In fact, there was no evidence that they had ever been there.  The beds were empty and still made.  She opened the wardrobe and found their clothing still there.

“The wardrobe was empty when I arrived, so I had the servants quickly fill it with any appropriate changes they might need for the cruise, my Tign,” the minister replied before she could even ask the question.  The concern was quickly rising.

“I watched them go to the ship, so they must be on board.  “Oh this must be Mirjam’s idea of a joke,” she said her brow furrowing as the words left her mouth.  It would be just like that girl to play games on an important day like this, but why would Solveig agree to such a prank?  She was never like this before.

“Search the ship.  Quietly and report back to me here.  Do not enlist anyone else.”

“Immediately, my Tign!” the Minister said and vanished.  He did not run, but seemed to glide rapidly down the hall with a poise most women would be jealous of.

The Visedronning sat on the bed and looked around the room.  For now, it was a rest from having to deal with drunken guests she must humor for the moment.  Solveig did look ill after all.  But why were they both missing?  She rose and opened the dressing table’s jewelry box.  Everything was there.  But the cosmetics box was empty.  That was odd.  Her daughters always kept some minor essentials there in case of emergencies.  All of it was gone, but the jewelry stayed behind.

A soft knock was heard on the door and it opened.

“The Minister said you were in here,” Gregor said as he entered in and closed the door without a sound.

“Jah, and I am taking a moment to get away from the throng.”

“I was able to do the same thanks to the message you sent.”

“I did not send one.”

“Then he must have seen the look on my face and provided me an excuse to get away from that sweaty pack of panderers.  I wonder what it is like to have a friend that does not expect to get something from you?”  The Visekonge wondered out loud.  His wife smiled and walked over to him, draped her arms around his shoulders and gave him a quick intimate kiss.

“Well, I want nothing more from you, so you always have me.”

“Ahhh…”  Gregor smiled at her.  “A sated wife is a blessing indeed.”  He embraced her lovingly.

“Why are we in here other than to escape that herd of steaming social animals?”

“Mirjam is playing one of her tricks again.  I swear to you, my Tign, she will be the death of me some day.”

“But where is Solveig then?”

“I have not the faintest.  Dare I even suspect Mirjam finally started enlisting her help in her pranks?”

“Marianne, you know she loves it when you react so strongly.  This time, let us try to ignore what plot she has in mind and make the best of it.  She will come out sooner or later and expect a big fuss over her jest.  If we give it to her, she will have succeeded.”  Gregor soothed.  Mirjam’s pranks were something that always tickled his fancy, but had to keep secret lest his marriage became a lot more combative and his willful daughter turn her cleverness on him and drive him to distraction too.

Marianne sighed at the wisdom of her husband, but inside, she roiled at not punishing her daughter with something appropriate.

“I will try, my love.  Particularly with the politics what they are.”

“That is my little sapphire,” he said and kissed her on the forehead making her smile.

A quickie glossary

Visedronning –  The Vice Queen.  Highest title for a woman in Akiniwazi.  Married to the Visekonge (Vice King).

Kronadottirs – The Crown Daughters.  Aka, princesses.

Tign – Honorific for the Crown Family only.  Means roughly “Lord, Master, Sire”.