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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Cthulhu's call is my ringtone

Maybe not Cthulhu, but there are evil forces at work. One's that are determined to rip away my last remaining hope of sanity. that is sort of Cthulhu like. I've been a fan of H.P Lovecraft for a long time. I think I read At the Mountains of madness when I was fourteen and blasted my way through the terror-filled volumes from there. I recently read Cherie Priest's Maplecroft book with a beautiful blend of the Lovecraftian tales with Lizzy Borden and her sister, Emma as the main POV characters in a delightfully creepy tale. I got a chance to actually meet Cherie a few weeks ago and had my new beloved tome sighed. It was quite a moment for me as is each time I've had a chance to meet and author.

I've met a few over the years, Michael Stackpole, Kevin Hearne, Peter David and for Shallow Graves I interviewed Jim Butcher, who may be the coolest guy I ever met, especially when we went off on a tangent about classic Warner Brothers cartoons. Loved it. If I can tick Neil Gaiman and Stephen King off my list, I can die happy. Neil I have all five volumes of The Absolute Sandman poised ready for your signature. I'm sure you can't wait.

To me writers are rock stars. To put worlds down on paper and breath life into characters that only existing in the written word has always fascinated me. Don't get me wrong, I like certain TV shows and I'm a serious movie buff, but the joy of holding a book in my hand is unlike any other medium. The author had to pen those pages, had to have those thoughts, dug deep in their own psyche to tell a tale. I personally like genre fiction, horror, sci-fi, some high fantasy, historical fiction, and urban fantasy. Some steampunk, but that's so hard to get right, Cherie is hands down my favorite as she tells a good story in the a world that happens to have these cool, incredible machines instead of the story being about the whiz bang.

I hope I succeeded in doing that in Dex Territory. I just finished the edited copy. I'm passing it over to a confidential source, my wife, for a final rad through and then it's back to publisher for the next step. While the story contains all these fantastic elements, I think I'm most proud of the human aspect of it. I kept it fun, there's a lot of humor, but it's high stakes and wide open for more and greater challenges. It's been a hell of a ride.

I've agonized over the story and editors notes and questioned every word, every motivation all the while my characters are screaming at me about being treated unfairly. Tough shit guys, that's what you're being paid to do. The hardest part was taking some of the things that I was really in love with and dropping them on the cutting room floor. While they are darling to me and my characters find these things important, the reader probably won't find them as interesting. Out they went. We reordered so things and now the book is a sleek 66k words of intensity and gripping action from a bloated 100k words that took the reader down a more meandering path. Some of the character stuff will be explored down the road.

Hopefully, we'll have this gone by next weekend and I can then resume my normally scheduled madness as I work on the next volume and once again hear a familiar call.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Current Future Status as of a Few Minutes Ago

I thought I'd take a few minutes and talk about the last week and change. November 1st starts NanoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I usually participate in it. The goal is the write 50,000 words in a month. It's hard. It takes dedication and it focuses the writer to, well, write. You're not going for quality and you're not going to write a masterpiece, but it can help you get ideas down on paper. Last year, I did participate and wrote down 35,327 very nonsensical words in what I hope is going to turn into a sequel to my novel Dex Territory, currently being ripped to shreds by my editor Terry. He insists it will be a great and humbling experience that should delight readers. More on that in a moment.

Book 2 has given me something to do while waiting for the edited copy. Book 1 gave me a framework in which to play and established the rules. The second book takes it the next step and continues the story while figuring out which rules to break. Like the first book, it's gleefully fun to heap pain and torment on my main character and watch him figure it out and occasionally triumph, but the sadistic side of my nature doesn't stop there, sometimes it's important not let the good guy off the hook and when victories cost something they are most well earned. There's no mistake The Empire Strikes Back is the best film in Star Wars. It was fun watching Indiana Jones get outsmarted by Belloc. You wouldn't be so invested in Frodo if he didn't have a burden to carry and obstacles to overcome, sometimes even getting betrayed by friends. Pain is interesting and watching, or reading about how others deal with it, makes for the best stories.

Enough of that nonsense. What's going on with Dex Territory?

Glad you asked. I mentioned that my editor was tearing it apart. I haven't picked up the story in some time. It sat dusty on a shelf (actually sat in hard drive collecting pixels) and it was a chance meeting that Terry and I crossed paths through a mutual friend. I figured I'd eventually get back to the story one day, but between you and me, I was tired of the rejection and went off to pursue other things. I recently reread it and it was eye-opening. I thought I really had a tight, well-crafted story, and I did! If you look past all the places where I went off the rails, mistakes, gaping plot holes, the excessive use of the passive voice, and out and out contradictions. Actually, I'm rather surprised Terry bothered with it. It's a credit to him as an editor and as person. We're working on this jewel in the rough and I full confidence in this puppy now. It's going to be a rocking good story.

I realize what I absolutely had to have was someone who questioned everything. This story deals with big ideas and I think I'm going to continue forward exploring the big ideas. It's great to put them in a place where you can talk about them. Star Trek the original series did an amazing job of talking about societal issues and I think I've stumbled upon the same opportunity here by using a allegory to talk about issues I care about. We should be more vocal about the things we're passionate about, but somewhere along the way, it became important to be politically correct, to suppress opinion, to be in step with the rest of society. While I believe in following rules, it think it's important to question them in the first place. Kind of like having my story torn apart to find the truth of it.

So, my dear reader, we are coming to the end of the quiet before the storm. The edit is nearly done and should be back in my hands after another quick pass. Then my attention will shift from the next story back to the past. I expect I will earn my 50,000 words without having participated in NanoWriMo this year, but I'm sure all will be forgiven upon the book's release. I will do my best to make sure I take some time to jot down some thoughts as it happens. This is the first and only time I'll get to talk about my first experience. So far, it's exciting and nerve-wracking and I'm questioning everything, I feeling the greatest highs while my ego gets crushed. It's a lot like being in love with someone you don't quite know if they love you back.

Check out TWB Press at You will find a lot a great books. I'm currently reading Terry Wrights Justin Graves book The Gates of Hell and I'm having a great time with it. You'll find my author page there. Be sure to check it out and keep tabs on the Coming Soon section. Comments and feedback are always welcome. Follow me on twitter and friend me on Facebook. My Facebook page is my preferred outlet. I like to talk with folks and not be restricted to 140 characters.