I’ll Pull the Trigger, You Can Lend a Hand

So it’s official.  I’ve got a trilogy emerging in lieu of a book I never expected to have to write to bridge a gap in the original storyline.  It’s going to force me to redo my plans for how to sell my books in the future.

 

Book One: A Light Rises in a Dark World is almost a prequel now in many ways, and I like that, but at the same time, I’m looking at the 240k word trilogy as it’s growing and thinking “When do I get to the original storyline idea again?  This is fun, but… geez!  It’s a lot of fun world building I must admit.  For those who may not know, there are several samples of what is now books 2 & 3 scattered about my posts over the last year.  I think they’re worth a read.

So what does this mean for you, O gentle reader?  It means what shall become Book 2 (Title Pending) will be going into editing this June, and hopefully Book 3 will end up doing the same come July… with Book 4 getting worked on to move the trilogy to completion.  Now Book 4 has one well appointed stage set for it.  It also frees me up in another manner.  Instead of worrying how long the climax was going to be, I am free to run wild.  That is a HUGE load off my mind.  YUGE!  I can also potentially extend to a second act of that book I didn’t expect to write about except as maybe a chapter or two.  So yeah, that’s getting extended and enhanced.

That’s me pulling the trigger and going forth with that decision.  2 books approximately 220 pages long each, 80-85k word count.  Not sure how big Book 4 will be yet, but here’s hoping.  And then what is now becoming Books 5 and maybe 6 which are partially written.  Possibly Book 7 is in there too will begin… or rather restart work in 2019.  This also means that if I play my cards right, I will have Book 2 releasing before the end of the year.  That’s the goal.  We’ll see if I can hold to that.  Depends on certain factors, but confidence is high.  If this all can be accomplished as desired, I would release 3 and 4 in four month cycles after that.  I really need some names for these books.  Sigh….

Okay, so how can you help?  Simple.  I need reviews, comments criticisms and other people talking on my book.  There’s only so much I can do.  If you’re enjoying the first book, please please please, let people know.  Particularly in places where people who read a lot go.  I need reviews on:

Amazon (of course)
Smashwords
Kobo
and Goodreads (really need some more there.)

I’ll just say thank you in advance for any you may leave.  Seriously, this is the best way to let an author know you think their work is worth continuing, and that the series is meaning something to you.  So shout out loud to your neighbors and friends that you enjoyed the book and be the first ones in on the craze before it becomes the next big thing.  Then you can say “I discovered that” and be all smug to your friends.  ;cD

So there it is.  I want to get this out to you guys who have been downloading and supporting.  If support is good enough, who knows where this could go.  Again.  I’ve been peeking, and can see ya downloading.  Thank you for that!

 

P.S…  That means I’m probably going to need beta readers possibly before end of Summer.  heh heh heh.  Yeah, I saw you sit up straight for that one too.  ;c)

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Dynamiting the Key Log

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I’ve been bunged up here with the book lately.  Why?  Because I did not understand my characters and setting well enough to push forward.  It all goes back to adding back in that silly tertiary plotline.  In doing so, it exploded into a wonderland of what’s going on to enrich the setting and the intrigue of what’s going on.  A villain suddenly became much more deep, and even to a certain degree, sympathetic.  I’ve had to create maps to understand the land in which major events for the final conflict will take place, and realize that I have a brand new Macguffin that I never intended would have to be put in with what’s coming.

So what does it all mean?

This single book very well might become a trilogy unto itself!  Yep.  I can see this becoming a 240k word monster that might just be too big for one book.  There are three distinctly unique acts that can stand on their own.  So that’s why this is taking so long.

But now that the key log in the log jam has been dynamited, the writing is moving forward again and a little faster than it had been.  Here’s hoping I can keep it up.

Also, in related news, I have been working on building up an artist studio for not only my writing, but music, video and art.  I hope to put it to good use for book promo videos, and original music and artwork to add in as things move forward with the world of Akiniwazi.  The first big piece came the last week in the form of a new synth.  So I’ve been working hard to balance my creative time between writing and learning on this:

 

And I’ll be hooking that up to a new computer as well so lots of good things happening.  Speaking of good things happening, new chapters are written.  Even though they’re back building, like I said before, this is fleshing out what is to come.  As always the order shifts with the new added chapters.  The numbering is more of a help to keep me straight.

 

Pages 462
Words 165260

31. On Pins and Needles

54. A Casual Sunday Recreation

62. An Oracle Comes

65. Secrets From The Labyrinth

66. Everything Else Must Wait

67. Becoming the Monster

 

Only a few more chapters of the back-added plotline and then the whole thing starts moving as one, just like a broken up logjam… which I hope doesn’t hurt anything as I push on.

Thank you all for your patience and support.  I keep seeing downloads of Book 1 happening, so welcome to those who have found me here and hope you like what you’re reading.  If you can, please leave reviews!  They as helpful to an author on so many fronts.  But more is coming.  I promise!  Lots more!

 

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Updates Coming

I know I’ve been quiet recently.  Sorry for keeping you all out of the loop.  Book 2 is requiring me to learn a lot about storycraft and how to keep an ensemble cast in line, while providing enough pages for them to shine.  Currently the project is around 450 pages plus the glossary and hope to refocus efforts to get the draft done soon.

More announcements coming soon.

Chaos… At Home & Abroad

With all the news going on in the world, it’s been very hard to focus on my writing.  Then again, realizing how big this grew, I’ve been struggling with the scope.  But here are some of the developments going on.

First off, I am going to be attending the Realm Makers Conference in St. Louis this year.  Hopefully I will finish my first draft by then, but we’ll see, right?

Second off, with all the craziness and… shall we call it evil behavior of the information mega corporations, I’m looking for new places to store data and conduct things with social media as I look to divest myself of Facebook, Google and Yahoo.  I am tired of being treated like a cheap commodity and with as much respect.  When this change-over happens, I don’t know.  Thankfully WordPress is owned by Automattic, and therefore I don’t think I will have to look for a blog alternative.  I’m also considering a Discord channel.

Third off, I’m really happy with the growth of book 2.  I recently did a lot of work clarifying the timetable of the chapters, which involved several shifts, and working to make sure characters had time to get from point A to point B and that communication also followed the same rules of physical space.  That’s turned out to be harder than you think.

And lastly, I found someplace that may be a good home for the Encyclopedia Akiniwazi, for free.  I’m still working on it so it’s not ready for release.  It will include the timeline and the atlas, so I hope that there will be a big reveal on that sometime in the near future.

On a plus side, I’ve got “Volume 4 : The Grand Scheme”… That’s the working title… completed in Book 2.  It’s 40 chapters, 223 pages and 81,000 words.  So yep.  A short novel unto itself.

Currently  “Volume 5 : Into The High Places” (again working title) is sitting at 46 chapters but 10 of them have not been written yet so I’m guessing it should end up around 260-270 pages if my average chapter length is in the ballpark, It means this volume might come close to 100k words too.  Uh huh… I know what you’re thinking.  Me too.

As for Volume 6… crap I have no idea.  It’s like I dumped out a 10,000 piece puzzle and the picture on the cover only shows part of the full thing, and none of it edge pieces.  But the scenes I have that will culminate into this whole story… Which BTW was supposed to be a single novel, not it’s own trilogy… Just… I can’t even….

But I’ve also got some new chapters written, so that’s a good sign… they’re just not in any order you’d recognize because I’m having to go back and insert them.  That’s hard to do.  Don’t care what anyone says.  I prefer to write chronologically in the order I expect the chapters to appear.  Helps me from getting confused.

Current Page & Word count

Pages 435
Words 156157

Don’t forget about what I said about 10 more chapters to write on Vol 4 & 5 too for what looks like another 44 pages and 25-30k words.  Book 2 is going to be massive!  Reimar… you caused me such trouble!  Geez!

So some of the new chapter titles are as follows:

A Much Needed Consultation

The Distance of Family, The Intimacy of Enemies

Hooves & Claws & Antlers & Fangs

So as you can see, new chapters are fighting hard.  Several are started but not finished too.  Again, hate writing out of sequence.

And now for another look into the first draft of Book 2.  You’ve been very patient.  As always, mind the loose boards and nails.  Things may change some from the finished product, boilerplate and fine-print insert here.  thppt.  Enjoy!

An Interrupted Meal

The Tavern Off the Pier was a ramshackle place near the town beach. Its main room was dark and smoky with the pipes of the patrons and generous hearth. The dingy gray-brown wood of the posts and rafters made the excellent food hard to believe. Forhors, now Brother Urban sat on a shaky stool at one of the several small round tables alone and finished giving thanks for his food. He then began tearing apart the “Bottle and a Bird” that had just been brought by the serving wench who also looked as run down as the building. The cider was sharp and refreshing, while the chicken was crispy, and dripping with salty fat. Although the day outside was bright and sunny, the wind was still too cold and made eating out of doors uncomfortable. Urban was most thankful for the warm fire that crackled merrily in the large hearth in the middle of the room, attended by the cook who roasted two dozen foul and several cuts of boar and venison on spits.

Licking off his fingers he relished the spicy meat. He did not know how they made it, but after one bite of the crunchy skin, he knew why this unassuming place was so busy. Urban sighed in satisfaction as he kept his own company. The first leg of his trip from Athrvorthfesting had been pleasant, if not a little exciting with the strong winds the knarr had to buck against. It felt good to be on the waves again, but there was so much farther to go, he was right to assume that he would be sick of sailing by the time he reached home. No good would come of to sending a letter ahead. He would reach home at the same time. None the less, he was certain they would be happy with the surprise.

Out through the rippled glass of the diamond paned window several ships jostled for position on the pier, or if they could, they nosed right into the soft beach and lowered the gangplanks to conduct their business. Brother Urban scratched at his new tunic where a seam on the shoulder was not comfortable. It would not do for him to be about in his Forhors robes, and decided to avail himself of the skill of his host’s mother, a talented seamstress, and have new clothes made. It had been so long since he had been out of his office’s vestments, they felt odd to his skin. Even still, he kept some remnants of his office that had been set aside in keeping with the colors of his sect, as to identify himself as a man of God, but not so much as to intimidate the common Forsamling. Ragnarites may be common on the edge of the wilds or large cities, but this was neither. Combine to this the missing weight of his sword on his hip, Brother Urban felt very much out of place.

A crowd of men came in as he enjoyed his meal, raising the pleasant mumble of the tavern to a riotous level. A ship must have just concluded business, and the men set loose to enjoy their wages for a night or two, and sjomenn took up the rest of the tables. Their soot covered faces and arms with freshly washed hands gave their jobs away as plain as could be expected. An off watch boiler crew from one of the steamknarrs at the pier. Brother Urban smiled in return when acknowledged by the passing throng and continued to eat. His trip’s next leg was beginning in a few hours, so he was in no rush.
Then someone outside caught his eye.

Through the same window, a couple stopped. A thin dignified woman, pipe in mouth with a large Skaerslinger man with her. Urban stopped chewing at the sight of the two talking before the Tavern off the Pier. They chatted for a moment, the man nodded, gave her a smile that men reserve only for their loves, and then he walked inside while she hurried off with a ledger under her arm to someplace else.
The Skaerslinger surveyed the room and saw a combination of angry glances towards him which he was immune to, but no places to sit. The big man walked over to the cook working the spits at the hearth.

“How much for a chicken and some roast boar?” He asked, his tone polite.
The cook was intimidated and took a surprised step back as silence now claimed the room.

“These are not for you, savage,” one of the sjomenn said from somewhere in the crowd. Brave enough to give voice to his distaste, but not brave enough to show himself. The Skaerslinger ignored the voice.

“How much for a chicken and some roast boar?” he repeated in the same manner.

“I…” The cook started to say, cleared his throat and tried again with a tone reinforced by murmuring from other sjomenn who had taken interest in what was happening. “They are all sold to those men.” The cook lied as he pointed in the direction of the hostile voices. The blackened boiler crew grumbled but backed up the lie since it meant keeping food from a Skaerslinger’s mouth.

The big man pursed his lips in mild irritation. It was plain that this sort of issue had happened several times before to him.

“Are you sure this is your answer?” there was no threat to the tone, but it was of such a serious nature, the cook looked ready to break even with the crowd behind him. The steamwright came forward and put down a single gold Penning on the thick stone of the raised hearth next to the cook. A half week’s wages for him.

“That should cover our meals and drinks.” His eyes locked onto the Skaerslinger’s who returned the gaze without malice nor fear.

“As you can see, Herr, these are all paid for.”

With a slow nod of acceptance, the Skaerslinger took two steps back and then turned to walk out, head turned ever so slightly as to keep the group of men in his sight just in case they considered violence wise. The door closed behind him and a discourteous murmur replaced the raucous conversation that had existed before.

Images from Pexels.com

Brain Static & the Spiritual Nature of the Internet

Nothing major to report right now other than discovering what things slow my progress and distract me interminably.  I really do not like writing out of sequence.  That’s now a known quantity.  It’s also getting ahrd for me to resist going back and starting to edit.  I must not fall into that trap.  And of course, “Adulting” is never a fun thing to deal with, but I’ve also been noticing a strange phenomenon regarding my time spent online.

I’m an unrepentant news junkie and social media addict, despite my curmudgeonly attitude towards things like Snapchat and Twit-er (see?).  Facebook is something I use mostly for non-writing stuff and keeping up with family and friends, and watching/listening/reading the news often grabs my eyeballs to the point where I get to be jumping from one story to the next, constantly checking for status updates for more information on stories that have absolutely NO connection to me.

What I’ve come to realize is that this has been destroying my focus and ability to hold cohesive thoughts for long enough periods of time to develop understanding.  Kinda bad for a writer to be suffering with.  It’s odd, but I keep wanting to scroll to see if there is something else to watch in my head, so to speak, and I can’t focus on what I’m doing in the moment.  Even doing this post right now is an example of putting off what I should be focusing on.  Now Steven Pressfield (if you write, I recommend you get his blog, some very good and hard stuff) will say it’s good as long as you still get your ass in the chair daily and bang out the words.  If you want to be a pro, you gotta write and you can’t do it save by doing it.

And then I came across this little gem of a video and went:

“Huh…  Self, is this is something that could be plausible?  Why, yes it could be other self… yes it could be.”

 

Okay, okay, before you think I’ve completely lost the plot here, understand that my background took me into this kind of metaphysical experimentation.  To my mind, this corresponds with some experiences I’ve had.  I also have done a fair amount of lay person research into the basics of spiritual warfare/deliverence ministry/exorcism for the basis of my fantasy setting’s “Magic System”.  BTW, I ran across this too in my many youtube research dives:

Very helpful in understanding what the heck I just did with my world.  Using Prayer and the Gifts of the Spirit is a very soft magical system of sorts.  It’s predicated on you not doing it, nor is an unconscious/inanimate resource you can exploit.  It’s about relationships and (ironically) focus and distraction.  Something that I think I need to actually address in the narrative of my story.

So it got me thinking about how much of the distraction I feel is because of the addictive nature through Dopamine hyper-stimulation courtesy of those dirty rotten poopieheads at Facebook and other online social sources, and how much could be spiritual in nature?  After all, I am writing Christian based fiction dealing in spiritual warfare.  Ya think that if this really is the spiritual case the Enemy would not want me writing about such things as would be a crack in the omnipresent pagan influence over fantasy?

Yeah I thought as much too.  So… it’s plausible enough for me to consider how I interact online, and cutting down these “astral links” to specific well guarded gates to my own conscious and internal life.  One thing I’m going to have to force myself to do is get away from video and screen time and put my nose into books rather than listening to them.  I’ve stepped away from physical books over the years, I have come to realize because my eyesight got worse over the last 3 years thanks to hitting that magic age when your arms ain’t long enough and you can’t get the book close enough.  It makes the physical act of reading uncomfortable for me.  Gonna have to bite the bullet and change that habit.

It’s why in my recent guest post for Peter Younghusband, I used only my blog for a contact point.  I’m also really struggling in how this will affect marketing of my books in the future if I decide to silence all my social media save for this blog?  It makes for some hard considerations.  After all, why would I want to enable bad actors (or spiritual forces) by using tools that can harm others just to sell a book?

I cast “Ethical Dilemma”…
:::rolling dice:::
Critical success!
Crap!

So that’s the way it sits right now on the eve to the one year anniversary of the release of Book One of the Akiniwazisaga: “A Light Rises in a Dark World”.  It took me a 40 day fast from all social media and games except for email and this blog to get this whole thing started, perhaps, I must do it again to get Book 2 done.

More later with potentially good news.

Oh hey, one last question.  I put this out to my fans and curious readers who have an opinion.  If you name a character, must you pay off like Chekov’s gun or can they just disappear when they had no attachment to or are a distraction to the plot?  What do you think?

Ciao for nao!

Trip It Up and Down

When I don’t feel like I’ve tripped and fallen into the pond, I feel like my feet are stuck in mud with writing. On the other hand, my Alpha Readers are coming back and really enthused with what’s been put out. I can’t see it of course. That’s the curse of being a writer sometimes and makes it more important to take time between writing and reading so you can gain some perspective again.

Book 2 is progressing still, but as a two pronged attack. I’m having to go back 20-40 chapters and rebuild a plotline that I had pulled, and now keeps getting better and better IMHO as I go. But it’s hard to shoehorn it into areas that don’t disrupt the flow of the story, work well with serialization and all the rest that I have going on.

The second prong had stalled with the main plot till I started realizing what a point of contention would be between the characters…. and it’s a naaaaasty one that I hope will have people cheering and angry at the same time. Ahhh ambivalence… you are so fun. As it is, the characters keep talking to me and giving me good things to transcribe for them. They seem to be getting bored with my downtime thanks to life, the universe and everything getting in the way. Oh I should include my own inability to hear them at times which leads to my Guild Wars 2 inspired brain static. Something I hope to avoid this weekend and crank hard on some new chapters.

But. We are up to 73 chapters. Can I get a “Whoa mama!” from the audience? Still aiming for that 1500-3000 sweet spot which gives a wonderful potato chip feel to the chapters. Before you know it, you eat the whole bag.  Or perhaps that’s just me.

Om nom nom.

The downside is that this is causing me writing fatigue. I’m looking at it going, “Come ONNNNN!!!! Get to the finale already!” But the characters have to tell their story the way they have to. It’s foolhardy to try and make them do something they ain’t gonna. I’ll make it through, and it’s giving me ideas of what’s to come in the future.

I should note that there is now consideration on my part and agreed upon by my editor that Book 2 (Title Pending) may turn into a FOUR volume set!  That’s right kids and kidettes.  So much is going on, I may be unable to pack these into only three parts.  If that happens, it’ll still be worth it.  Trust me.

Without further ado, here are the new stats  (I see it’s been a while):

Including the “Encyclopedia Akiniwazi”… formerly the Glossary

Pages 467
Words 156774

New Chapters with their new numbers:

Inserted Chapters:

22. Tugging at a Loose Thread

30. A City Robed in Black

33. Denied That Which Is Necessary

Moving on from the last end point:

66. In the Deep Places of the World

67. Ashamed Before the Crown

68. Lingering Doubts

69. Dashed Illusions

70. If Given the Choice

71. The Importance of a Name

72. At The Ragged Edge of Disaster

73. In Dark Halls, a Light Shines

We’ll give an excerpt next time.  Gotta keep them special dontcha know?

BTW, in case you didn’t quite realize, The pictures I use are often clues to what kind of things I’ve been writing about in the book.  Just a little extra something for when you read the book you can look back and go “ohhhhh!  That’s what he was doing!”

Obviously Daffy isn’t one of them.

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Reviews by Peter: Guest Post Crosslink

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Dis r nawt hao it gose.  Wai u upseid down?

A few weeks back I met Peter Younghusband on the Realm Makers Forum on Facebook.  We had a few jolly discussions and he invited me to do a guest post for his blog.  Due to a technical glitch, it posted WAY early, much to his embarrassment.  Sorry Peter, It’s a cute story.  So… as I like to say… SURPRISE GUEST POST!

Everything in His timing, I guess.  So with that happening, here’s a link over to the guest post.

Reviews By Peter: Guest Post – Michael Boncher

I would like to point out that he has a pile o pixels devoted to his passion for reading Christian Fiction.  You can spend hours going through book reviews, author commentary on their own work and lots of other goodies for the budding bibliophile in you.

Check him out and give him some love too.

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!

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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