Call Me Crazy Because…

I started writing a Sci-Fi novel, the first of a series for Camp NaNo 2017. Why is that crazy? Because I have two #fantasy novels, one novelette, and eight short stories sitting on the editing pile.

Blame #CampNaNo 2017

During the last week of June, I decided to not participate in Camp NaNo 2017. The sight of my editing list (I’m staring at it right now. It looks like a hideous monster waiting to consume me) was beginning to get on my nerves. As I sat in front of my computer in my writing space ready to work on the dreaded editing backlist, a flash went through my mind like a lightning bolt, a special delivery from the writing muse herself.

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Suddenly I saw a series of Sci-Fi novels based upon a single main character. This is quite a different approach from my current novels. For my fantasy series, The Tales of Tyrennia, I can go anywhere within that world and write about something within a particular Kingdom.

I could’ve made some notes and put the Sci-Fi series on a back-burner for a rainy day, but no-ooooo. People, or should I say other authors made a few Facebook posts about Camp NaNo 2017. Then other authors chimed in about their projects and preparations; the temptations overwhelmed me.

Let The Insanity Begin

I can’t dedicate my usual time during this NaNo session on account of Little Frankie, but so far I’ve completed the first chapter. Also, I must say, the words are coming easier and my first draft quality is a giant stride away from the drafts of my first scribblings. Hopefully, as I hammer this one out, I won’t have to spend as much time on numerous editing passes.

Perhaps, the change has occurred because I haven’t written new material in a long time. I have kept my nose to the grindstone with minute editing details for an extended period of time; those long hours have honed my wordsmithing skills.

In The End

I’ll try to write a follow up post on August 1st and let you know how things turned out for the month. Of course, I’m going to ask the same of you.

What are you doing for Camp NaNo 2017? How many WIPs have you abandoned this month?

History in a Fantasy Novel

The history of your world should play a major role if you are writing a fantasy or even a Sci-Fi novel. Imagine how a reader will feel when they are dropped into a civilization or a post-apocalyptic setting without any knowledge. Surely this scenario can make anyone feel like a stranger in a strange land. History is an essential part of world-building.

Of course, one has to naturally avoid long-winded historical passages when world-building. After all, it’s a fantasy novel not a history textbook. Earlier, I discussed the use of Technology In Your Fantasy World. Dropping such hints tells us where a civilization or society currently stands, but it doesn’t speak about how they got there.

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Reflect for a moment upon Gandalf returning to Bag End to impart his knowledge about the Ring to Frodo. The scene plays out with a sense of urgency rather than seeming conveniently dropped into place as world-building filler material by Tolkien.

In my upcoming fantasy novel, Storm of Divine Light, I only delve into several great ancient battles and religious history. Both are incredibly linked to the main plot and the mystery at hand for the main character.

Another “history” would be backstory for characters. I used some of the same techniques and will discuss the in a future post.

I cringed at the thought of writing a chunk of history and sweated profusely when chapter 3 “Religious Relics Are People Too” was read at a critique. Oddly enough it passed with flying colors.

The trick was to “seed” the history in the previous chapter.

In chapter 2, there are sub-characters discussing and comparing historical notes. The main character listens and sometimes get frustrated by their knowledge. He wants to jump in and ask questions, but feels foolish. Later, he’ll accost one of them alone for the information he needs. His sense of “itching” for more information transfers to the reader. A sense of urgency made everything in chapter 3 flow without the aforementioned “contrived” element and seems perfectly plausible.

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History and backstory have to be present in order for a complete world-building experience in a fantasy novel, but many feel intimidated by it. How about you? How are you handling history or backstory in your novel?

Night Flights: A New Sci-Fi / Horror Short Story

Hi all! So it’s been a while, but at last I have a new release out on Amazon called Night Flights, and I’m really excited to share it with you!

Strange, terrifying images plague the mind of Peter the artist. Are they memories? Nightmares? Visions of the future? What is spawning them, and how is his wife experiencing the same delusions?

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About The Cover Art

Some of my research took me into the 1960’s. Of course I can’t tell what I specifically looked into, because that would be a terrible spoiler. However, that inspired the thought to design a cover reminiscent of movie posters and other cover arts from that era.

Other 1960’s Inspirations

Most of you know from previous blog posts about my favorite films that one of my degrees was in Cinema Studies. In a post about my Favorite Films from the 1960’s, you’ll see the film Once Upon A Time In The West sitting at number fifteen. Director Sergio Leone incorporated an ingenious technique when he would occasionally cut to an out-of-focus image. With each successive cut, the image becomes clearer and clearer, until the final revelation when the shot is completely sharp.

I sort of played with that technique in Night Flights. The main character is an artist who has trouble faithfully reproducing his odd visions on canvas. Of course, you’ll have to read it to discover if he ever pieces everything together. But will it give him an answer?

A Long Road

I started writing Night Flights while travelling from Texas to Idaho. Motels can get rather boring when you’re on a road trip. So I passed the evening time away with my trusty laptop, a cold soda, and some Marlboros.

Moving to a new home brought some other priorities, so I didn’t finish the first draft until a few months ago. After a few critique sessions, multiple editing passes, and beta reads, I can proudly say it’s done.

Of course I’ve written other things during that time that are not yet released. I completed the first draft of my fantasy novel, and have edited the first ten chapters. Also, I’m working on a collection of shorts to be released later this year called “Pressure Points”

Night Flights is a single release because it doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the “Pressure Points” collection. Night Flights is a Sci-Fi / Horror story, and there are no others of that genre in the forthcoming collection.

Go check it out! Tell me your thoughts about Night Flights. Did you have a favorite line or scene? Did it keep you up at night? 🙂

The Dark Side of The Big Bang Theory

My wife has become a #BigBangTheory addict. Therefore, I’ve been forced to suffer alongside for the sake of some couch cuddle time.

While I must admit the show has its humorous moments, I’ve also noticed a somewhat dark side to things. Some of the humor involves one or more members of the group getting a type of sick enjoyment from the suffering of another. For example, when Howard made Sheldon performs all sorts of meaningless and embarrassing tasks in order to meet Dr. Hawking. Of course we share along in enjoyment at that suffering. We laugh at their backstories about bullying and wedgies.

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Photo by Melody Sandoval and used under CC License

To counteract this love of suffering, there is also a genuine lack of joy for the happiness of others. Even during Howard and Bernadette’s wedding, Sheldon still uses Klingon. Amy tries to pull the group together and says that the day is for “Howard, Bernadette, and me,” because she desperately wants to wear a bridesmaid dress and a tiara.

Then there are the personalities. Is there anything more insufferable than Sheldon with his roommate and relationship agreements? After watching some episodes, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t like Sheldon at all. As if his put-downs and legal bullying weren’t enough. He feels that he is always right and bullies others into submission. I had this opinion of him, when at long last he actually said it in an episode. Even when his own legal agreement swims back to bite him, he gets his way.

Penny has slept around a lot, was a bully in high school, and to some extent uses four nerdy guys to get free food and wifi.

Rajesh is afraid to talk to women and the friends do nothing to help him get over it. We had to get weepy over his loneliness for seven seasons, before he gets a creepy girlfriend. His sexual orientation is also in question, due to his love of beauty products. He manipulates his parents for extra money.

***Contact me when the new short story NIGHT FLIGHTS is available***

Howard and Leonard seem normal, but Leonard and Howard are still complete sci-fi geek nerds. Oh, and let’s not forget that Howard is a momma’s boy, despite going to the International Space Station as a payload specialist. Leonard may seem normal as well. His reactions to the eccentricities of other characters give the impression of normalcy. But then he can ignore his girlfriend over a video game and go crazy over a vintage Star Trek toy or comic book.

And then there’s the fact that if you watch the Big Bang Theory, you may believe that there are no Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or African American scientists in the U.S. Also, Italians are only good for making pizza and cutting hair.

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***Get Ragged Souls on your Kindle at Amazon!***

Have you noticed the dark nature of the humor in Big Bang? Or do you politely agree to disagree with me?

 

Star Trek Fan Fiction

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Star Trek Telephone by Alex Kerhead used under CC License

“The Green Gas Giant,” is a Star Trek fanfiction short story based upon the original series during the five-year mission, and it went over well at my critique group. Even younger members who don’t know anything about the original series were snorting and chuckling. It was odd that the day after presenting this piece did the news start circulating about the death of Leonard Nimoy. A few members of our group noticed the eerie connection and mentioned it on our Facebook page. I guess it was just “one of those things.”

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by NBC Television [Public Domain} via Wikimedia Commons

My first visit to a fanfiction website was quite an eye-opener.

I could say that besides traditional publishing there’s the world of independent authors, and then there is the third world for authors, fan fiction. The amount of work was staggering. Then what caught my attention was the size of some of those files.

There are many short stories, which could be expected, but there were also entire novels and trilogies. Besides lots of stories concerning Star Trek, I had to sift through a long column of subject matter from “Glee” to “I Dream of Jeannie” and everything in between (psst…and that’s just the amount of fan fiction dedicated to TV shows).

Naturally, I couldn’t resist but to dive head first into this vibrant literary sub-culture. But what should I write about? For me, the answer was obvious; I decided to write a comical short story based upon the original Star Trek series.

Please remember to drop a few comments after reading about “The Green Gas Giant.”

Short Story Status Report: Stasis & Other Dystopian Tales

I’m hoping to release Stasis & Other Dystopian Tales by March, 2015. Here are the story titles and their current level of completion.

Stasis *extended edition              (Completed)

A Pound of Flesh                              (Ready for Beta Reads)

The Clinic                                             (3rd draft)

Preppers                                             (1st Draft)

Glossies                                               (3rd Draft)

A Most Generous Man                  (Completed)

There is another story that would fit in called Adrift, but I do not think that it will be done in time.

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Editing a Paper by Nic McPhee used under CC License

More short story news items.

I’ve reached a compromise with “The Queen” concerning the #shortstory Little Red Revolution. If it does not get accepted for publication by April, then it will be released as a short story single for e-readers. The Queen and I can see the possibility of some magazine editors shying away from its raucous and raunchy humor.

The first draft of the Sci-Fi / Horror short Night Flights is done. I have to give it at least two more drafts before I have the nerve to bring it to my critique group.

The flash fiction piece entitled Everyone’s a Winner is almost completed. Perhaps I should not refer to it as a flash piece, because it is greater than 1,000 words. Most magazines / e-zines have a strict rule about the word count of a flash fiction story, so I think that submitting it now will be a lost cause. If I can trim it down a bit then I’ll submit it. If I can’t get it under the magic mark of 1,000 words, then I’m going to post it here as a freebie.

Two #StarTrek fan fiction pieces are in the works. The one for TNG is still in its 1st draft (#amwriting). The other which concerns ST original series is ready for a second draft. Both stories are of a humorous nature, because I just can’t resist doing things like that.

What’s your current writing / reading status?

The Special Language of #Fantasy

If you’re either a reader or an author of fantasy then it’s a probable bet that you’ve read The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. You may remember with a smile words like taters, olyphaunt, pipeweed, and eleventy-first. It was this precise nature of playing with words that brought Middle-Earth to life in a very special and unique way.

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“J.R.R. Tolkien, Da Morto” by Daniele Prati used under Creative Commons License.

As part of fantasy world-building, other authors must do the same but in our own way. We should learn from Tolkien and create a #writingtip for our usage. However, we must define what is special about the words. Firstly, you just can’t make up some strange word that is going to act like a speed-bump to the reader. You didn’t need a glossary or a long winded description to recognize “pipeweed”. You knew what it was and recognized Tolkien’s playfulness the second you read it.

Now, the world-building in Science Fiction can be a little different. Remember the tachyon particles from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and how often they were used in the series? People had no idea what a tachyon was; yet, their nature never really had to be explained. #Sci-Fi fans (including myself) just accepted it.

I’ve set out to accomplish the same type of playfulness in the world-building of Tyrhennia in The First Light. Take a look at a scene as two characters have breakfast at the Sword and Anvil Tavern in the city of Mentiria:

Daggorat leaned forward. “You should write a book about the common speech of the three kingdoms. Especially tavern slang.” Cyril responded with a negative grunt. Then Daggorat said, “Back home in Easterly, flatcakes and bangers are roundcakes and porklogs. It could be an interesting book.”

“Certainly not,” Cyril said. “Judging from the intellectual capacity of those three nobnoggins that we refer to as kings, such a treatise would probably start another great war.”

Did you pick up on the meaning of flatcakes, roundcakes, porklogs, and nobnoggins? Readers in the U.K. will recognize banger as sausage, while U.S. readers may not. However, from the use of porklog, the reader should be able to infer the meaning of sausage. Of course, The First Light is not laced that heavily with this type of vocabulary. You’ve just witnessed its most concentrated use in Chapter 1. I don’t do this again until another tavern scene in Chapter 7 and again in Chapter 14 when some characters are studying a map. I couldn’t use the word “geography” in the world of Tyrhennia, so I made up the word “tyrhenostrophy”. How do you feel about word-play for the sake of world-building?