Saturday, October 29, 2016

Story within a story

Story within a story:

The inner stories are told either simply to entertain or more usually to act as an example to the other characters. In either case the story often has symbolic and psychological significance for the characters in the outer story. There is often some parallel between the two stories, and the fiction of the inner story is used to reveal the truth in the outer story.

I've got a scene in Hostile Planet where I do this "story within a story" thing, and I'm writing one now in Neutral Ground.  A few characters are telling stories around the campfire.  (Yes, they're literally in the woods and sitting around a fire.)

It's a cool device, and it's fun.  I just hope it works.  Only my beta readers know for sure, so we'll just have to wait and see.

Neutral Ground currently stands at 37,000 words.  My goal was to finish the first draft by Thanksgiving, and I'm still confident I can do that.

Friday, October 21, 2016


I've got 25k words written for Neutral Ground.  That's over 3k per day on average.  I'm pleased with that.

I bought my domain name.  I also set up some free Zoho email stuff.  It was kind of a bear, but I finally got it to work.  This is in preparation for setting up a mailing list.  I'll be getting a P.O. box in January for that purpose.  For now, though, I've got and I've got a couple of email addresses for that domain.

Firefox updated, and suddenly the "back" and "forward" buttons on my browser got all wonky.  I couldn't click "back" without getting the drop-down menu showing all the sites I had visited during the session.  It was a real annoyance.  I finally discovered that the BetterPrivacy add-on was screwing with it, so I disabled that add-on.  The buttons work normally now.  Even better, the developer for the add-on is working on a solution.  So hopefully I can turn BetterPrivacy back on soon.

Today was the first day that really felt like autumn.  It was cool and windy, and the leaves are starting to come down in earnest instead of just a few per day.

Once this draft is done, I'll have to focus on revision for a while.  I'll have to start lining up advertisers, too, because they all have different requirements for submissions.  Once the new year gets here, I'll start working with the cover designer for the Free Space books.  That's in addition to setting up a mailing list.

So lots of stuff going on.  I'm trying to keep it all straight. :o

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Chugging along nicely

I've got 18,000 words written for Neutral Ground.  Not bad for a few days' work, I think.  My brain's starting to get a little crispy, though.  I may have to slow my roll for a day or two.

Another author has read the first few chapters of Hostile Planet and praised it.  That's encouraging.  I have self-confidence issues, and encouragement helps tremendously.

I've had to build a space navy from scratch along the way.  I've got the following classes of ships in the Agrarian Commonwealth Navy at the start of the series:

Patrol craft

I've got armament listed for each, and the ranking of each ship type's commanding officer, but that's it.  No further details.  I'll add more as necessary, but I don't want to get bogged down in minutiae.

Once I get this draft done, I'll be mired in revision for a while.  Probably until publication.  *shrug*  We'll see.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Neutral Ground has begun!

I've started the first draft of Neutral Ground, the second book in the Wheel of Fire series.  I've got over 3,000 words in already.

It's all because of the outlining.  It really does wonders for my writing speed.  And it makes the stuff I write better, too, since I've already thought it out.  I hate trying to think while I write.  I'd rather get all the thinking out of the way during the outlining.  Then it's basically just "paint by numbers" from there on out.  I outline with my right-brain.  I write with the left-brain.  And never the twain brains shall meet.

I'd like to have this draft done by Thanksgiving.  And I'd like to have the book ready for beta reading by the end of the year.  Those are my goals.

Speaking of beta reading, Hostile Planet is now being beta read.  :D

It's not easy juggling all this stuff at once.  That's five balls I've got in the air: the Free Space trilogy books and the first two books of Wheel of Fire.

Tentative plan is still to publish the trilogy in February and then Hostile Planet a month later.  After that, I'd ideally like to put out a new book at least every three months.  It would be great if I could wrap the whole series up by the end of 2018.  But lots can happen between now and then.  For now, I'm just focused on my 2016 goals.

Anyway... that's all for now.  Back to work.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Good deeds feel good

It's nice to feel like you've really helped out another person.  An author on Kboards needed help with his cover, so I volunteered to play around with the typography.  To be honest, I never really know if what I make is going to be awesome or fall completely flat.  It was great to get such positive feedback from the others in the thread.  And Steven seemed to be thrilled, so everyone won.  :D

Anyway, this was Steven's first cover attempt:

And this was his second:

Then he emailed me the artwork, and I came up with this:

I was quite pleased by the reaction it received.  This cover design stuff isn't easy for me, as I said in the thread, so it means a lot when I get praise from others about something I've whipped up in Photoshop.

I'm not letting it go to my head, though.  I know my limitations, and I'm still hiring a pro to do my Free Space covers.  ;)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Neutral Ground outline

It might just be done.

I've deleted a few scenes near the start that I thought might slow the action down.  And I've added an action scene to a later part and tweaked a different action scene to make it better.  I'll know when the outline feels "right."  Then it'll be time to start the draft.

My goal is to publish at least the first three books of this series in 2017.  That's in addition to the three books of the Free Space trilogy.  So at least six total for the calendar year.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The beauty of outlining

Something's been eating at me.  No, not literally.  All my pieces and parts are intact.  I mean figuratively, and it's because of my outline for Neutral Ground.

It just wasn't quite right.

The great thing about outlines, though, is that they're not whole novels.  If I was a pantser, then I'd be looking at major revisions involving thousands of words.  But with an outline, preforming major surgery on a novel's structure is fairly easy.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and a thousand words of outline is worth ten thousand of novel.

So I rearranged a few things.  Instead of having Character A and B have a conversation in Setting X, I now have Characters A and C having that conversation much later and in Setting Y.  And I may trim down some other scenes, too, that I fear may bog the story down in the beginning.

For me, this is the "creative" part.  This is where I do my thinking.  Once I start the draft, I don't want to think anymore.  I want the actual writing to be more like filling in the blanks.  The prose shows what the outline tells, more or less.

I don't when I'll start this draft.  All I know is I won't start it until the outline is right.