Wednesday, March 30, 2011
The novels page has been updated with Chapters 2 - 4 of the Winter Phenomenon. I added another 8,000 words today and completed a first draft up to Chapter 10. The story is pretty solid in my mind for the remaining 20,000 words or so, but I'm open to major changes.
So, let me ask you a question.
How do you like your main characters? Alive and well, slightly hurt, or extra crispy?
Monday, March 28, 2011
Christopher Steininger has begun a detailed version of the cover art for Lucifer's Odyssey. We have been going through sketches for a week or so, and we're both in agreement that it's time to start on the final (hopefully) version. I'll be sure to post the final up as soon as it is available.
Beta readers are currently working up through Chapter 10. I can't thank you guys enough for taking a look at the novel before it goes into the editor. If you are currently in need of a next chapter, let me know. Unless he gets done with his current works, Derek Prior should start editing the novel on April 10th.
The Winter Phenomenon
Making a lot of progress on The Winter Phenomenon - a series that is completely separate from Lucifer's Odyssey. This is a sort of post-apocalyptic urban fantasy. I think that's the right description of it. There's a LOT of sex right now, and enough sexual tension to choke a walrus, but all of it is hopefully flowing well with the story right now.
I may end up posting Chapter 2 and 3 to the Novels page soon, despite the sex scenes, unless I get specific complaints within the next couple of days. I'm currently working on Chapter 8.
If I maintain this pace, I'll definitely hit the planned December release of The Winter Phenomenon, but I may even get a chance to start on Book 2 of the Primal Patterns series.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Along with other chapter splits, Lucifer's Odyssey has expanded from 11 chapters to 17 chapters, which will give readers more resting points and hopefully result in easier reading. But chapter splits are not the only changes that have been done.
Additional comments from readers were that people were getting lost in the description from Chapter 1 and especially Chapter 2. The introductory paragraph in Chapter 2 has been updated to remove the name given to the vortex that was created and instead tries to focus on what happened when the shit really hit the fan.
In addition, some readers have told me that they were having problems following the timeline of when Batarel and Lucifer arrived in Chaos, and I've added a more explicit description which I hope flows naturally at the beginning of Chapter 2. Additional buildup has been added to hopefully explain why the demon revolt was so inevitable as well.
The interrogation of Michael has received changes. When Sariel had noted how closely the captured man looked like his brother, some readers were a bit unnerved by the nonchalance of the reaction, and that's because I hadn't done a good job at describing what was really going on. Hopefully the setup is a bit clearer in Chapter 1 and the flow is enhanced.
I've expanded the Novels section here on the blog to include the first five chapters instead of the first three. If you would like to sample later chapters, send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
After I finished Lucifer's Odyssey, I tried to get several friends to read it. Often after giving out the first chapter (or even worse the whole thing), my friends would just not read any of it - at least that's what they claimed. I tried to pry them for info, and one of them finally told me "I would really you rather just use said or asked instead of using action words everywhere. It makes it hard to read."
So, I did some digging and found the post linked above. I also found this gem on Nathan's blog, and here's what I have tried to do in my book.
- Use said and asked as the main drive of dialog.
- Do not use non-tags for more than 3-4 lines of dialog. When I'm reading, nothing distracts me more than non-tagged dialog that extends beyond the page barrier, forcing me to try to read back a page to figure out who is saying what.
- Use actions, where appropriate, to break up usage of said/ask to enhance a scene - never to simply avoid said/asked.
- If the conversation is at normal volumes, never resort to words that you feel are normal volume but with emotion like scoff, blurt, etc. To me, this breaks up the dialog and forces me to concentrate on the action word.
The worst thing I feel I can do, as an author, is use action words out of context that confuse the reader. Before you ask, I have read this type of usage in many indie books. For some reason, authors tend to use shout or yelled just because they consider the characters in an excited state and this rarely translates well when I'm reading.
So, what do you guys and gals think of this method? How do you structure dialog? Have you ever read a piece of dialog that just blew your mind with how awesome it was? Do you remember why you felt it was such great dialogue?
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
So, what do you guys and gals think? Should I post the 2nd and 3rd chapters up for all to read, even though they might be a bit racy? If not, it will mean that only Chapter 1 will be available unless you request a copy of Chapter 2 or 3 directly through email (email@example.com).
In good news, I finished up a first draft of Chapter 4 of The Winter Phenomenon, which has some excellent twists, I think!
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
The cover artist is named Christopher Steininger. We have been discussing the artwork direction for about a week, and he was able to get me some mockups this weekend. So far, there have been two samples, and Christopher has just been phenomenal. These samples are included below in miniature - to give you an idea of how they'll look as thumbnails on Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, etc.
We're still hammering out the designs. Currently, another wing is being added (he has 8, and so we're showing the 4 on the left side) and the wings are going to be shifted right. Lucifer will be facing fully forward on this next one, and the wings will no longer be wrapping around again in front of the viewer. Some other small adjustments are being made as well (like the title is currently slightly more difficult to read in miniature).
The editor I am going with is Derek Prior. Derek is a speculative fiction writer and editor and has helped out various writers on the Kindleboards within the past year. Editing starts on April 10th and may take up to two months, depending on how much work needs to be done. I'm currently working on synopses for each universe and doing light passes over the novel to ensure Chicago style is being enforced (which will help us focus on more indepth reviews of the document).
I'm currently planning for a summer release on Amazon, Kindle, and Smashwords. I may also do a paperback version on CreateSpace for POD options.
What do you guys think of the cover art so far?
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Thus, after reading the terrible book, the reviewing author is put in a delicate position. The original author is now wanting a review to be posted, but the reader didn't like the book. From reading the Kindleboards, this has resulted in a lot of retaliatory strikes by the offended original author - even if the reader simply sends a personal message describing some of the problems. Almost a "screw you for telling me that you couldn't get through my book!"
To me, this seems really odd. I come from a field where peer review is not just something that has to be tolerated, it's a way of life. Our papers generally only range from 10 pages to 60 pages in 8-10 pt font for journal articles, but the work to generate that paper might have taken tens of thousands of man hours. You submit your paper to other people that worked on the project or people you trust to give honest feedback, and those people rip your paper apart, and you know what? Your paper is far better, and you get better as a technical writer.
Submitting to a conference or journal might not seem in any way equivalent to self publishing a novel, and you may even argue that because of this difference, indie authors shouldn't have to deal with it well. However, I would argue that indie authors are ignorant of what peer reviewing does for each author involved, and how it can help an author accomplish their goals.
In submitting to a conference or journal, peer reviewing helps an author or set of authors achieve their goal - namely in conveying their research to the conference committees in order to get published. In peer reviewing a book that is to be or has been published, peer review can result in achieving the writer's goal of conveying the purpose and scope of their book to a wider audience in order to naturally get excellent reviews and further the appeal of their work.
Why is it that fiction authors can't see the peer review process for what it is and should be? As a book reviewer, you are there to help the writer become better - to help their books become better. Instead, fiction authors appear to have their egos so tied into how awesome they wrote their book the first time that they can't accept outside help - even if it's for their own good. I don't have a lot of experience in this issue (from a fiction point of view), but I'm getting the feeling from the Kindleboards and from people shying away from commenting on my chapters (which I know need work), that this appears to be a major issue and that authors are genuinely afraid of giving negative to mild feedback.
How do you guys feel about this issue? Do you think the review system is fine as-is? Any chance this will ever go away with indie authors?
Friday, March 18, 2011
After some comments from readers of Chapter 1 concerning conflicts between Lucifer's Odyssey and the biblical canon, I have done some introspection and am looking into composing an Author's Apology or Author's Notes section that explains to the reader where the story is coming from and why aspects of the canon were changed.
You can find the draft of this note here:
Author's Note - currently located before Chapter 1.
Do you think it is a good idea to include such a note at the front the book? Do you feel that such an apology is unnecessary?
The Winter Phenomenon is similar to Lucifer's Odyssey in a few key ways. First, there is magic, and we're once again following a person that others in the story would consider a bad guy. But while you could easily argue, after reading Lucifer's Odyssey, that Lucifer was simply Jehovah's nemesis, the same is not the case for The Winter Phenomenon. In Lucifer's Odyssey, if you are rooting for Jehovah, then Lucifer simply has to be your bad guy; Lucifer is the guy on the other side.
Alex Winter, however, is a bad guy. He's the great-great grandson of the Butcher of Lyons, and people have been out to kill him since he was only a baby. Every one of his family members has been killed off by the time he was five, he was forced to live on the streets and in orphanages, and the experience has left him deeply scarred.
Not wanting to die like his sister, defenseless in the streets, Alex trains to be a duelist under a different name, and then at the age of 15, he begins killing the most celebrated wizards and witches of the era, live, in front of all of Nagusia - the capitol of the magical world. Today, I debut the first chapter of The Winter Phenomenon.
The Winter Phenomenon - Chapter 1
It's full of plenty of flaws and who knows how it will look tomorrow, but feel free to take a look. The chapter will be permanently available in the Novels page, along with other chapters from other works. As always, feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Additionally, Chapter 1 has been updated after I realized that I didn't actually finish Chapter 1's revision during the last round. The pdf has been reuploaded, and you can read the latest changes by clicking the Novels link above, or by clicking the following:
Lucifer's Odyssey - Chapter 1
I'll start from Chapter 1 and read the entire thing through before sending it off to an editor. Let me know if any of you guys feel there are flow problems in any of the three sample chapters. Thanks!
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Chapters revised today: Lucifer's Odyssey (10)
Happiness with revisions: 8/10
Chapters left to revise in this pass: Lucifer's Odyssey (11)
The 10th chapter is a bit long at 36 pages now, but the changes in flow should help - I hope. I feel really good about the changes I made to the grumpy old architect. He won't be anyone's favorite character, but he should be at least more interesting.
In additional news, I'm talking with a talented artist about cover art. I think everyone is going to be pleasantly surprised with the results once we get started. He seems interested, and his work seems right up my alley.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Chapters revised today: Lucifer's Odyssey (2, 5, 7, 8, 9)
Happiness with revisions: 8/10
Chapters left to revise in this pass: Lucifer's Odyssey (10, 11)
To those who are reading Chapter 3 and 4, the next chapters (5 through 9) are in pretty good shape, so let me know when you are ready for the next one.
Also, don't be shy about problems you are finding with setting, characters, etc.!
Edit: I went ahead and revised Chapter 2 finally. It needed a nice, hard scrubbing. I've uploaded the new version to the Novels page. Feel free to check it out!
Extra Edit: Lucifer's Odyssey is now over 100,000 words long... O_O
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Chapter 6? The front of it seemed to be a bad carry over from 5. I actually started on it right after 5 hoping that it would help me break on a good note, but instead I went back to sleep. After awaking the next day and working on some other work related stuff, I came back to the chapter, and I'm glad I did - it got really good later on.
Chapter 6 has what I hope are some great humor scenes and is also really the first of what will probably be many sex scenes in my books - unless I stop writing. Every time I start to do a revision of this chapter, I sort of cringe because while I'm revising other chapters I tell myself that one day I'll probably have to go back to Chapter 6 and completely remove the sex scenes.
Thankfully, I don't feel that way after reading the chapter again. Maybe some of the people reading the book will feel differently, though. You guys and gals will have to be the judge. Anyway, I have no plans of writing romance books or putting an image of my six pack on one of my books (ROFLCOPTER - this is very much sarcasm), but I hope that I can continue to write these short scenes into books and not throw readers off the books completely.
Has a sex scene ever gotten you to stop reading or writing a book? If so, what really set you off about it?
Friday, March 11, 2011
There's some preamble that I should mention here. Chapter 1 used to be large enough to choke a horse. One day, I decided it was all terrible, and so I erased the entire chapter and started over. Twenty some odd pages was more manageable, but there were a lot of ideas that went away with the revision.
That being said, the explanations for what the demons were doing on Earth, how they got there, what they did when they got there, etc. were lost on the chopping block. I felt it was time to address them once again. The result is that Chapter 1 is up to thirty pages - nowhere near as full as it used to be but still hefty and hopefully better.
For those that gave comments or just want an introduction to Lucifer's Odyssey, please feel free to check out the newly revised Chapter 1 below. Comments are always welcome - even if it's just to say that I've managed to ruin your faith in authors or something :D.
Lucifer's Odyssey - Chapter 1
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Lucifer and Sariel sit in a time-dilated pocket vortex, trying to figure out their next moves. Going back to Chaos would be a death wish but returning to Earth doesn't sit well with Lucifer either, and not just because the person trying to destroy his home universe has a power base there. Lucifer and Sariel's brother Michael mentioned an old conflict - one that Lucifer and Sariel have always regretted. After a year of discussion, the brothers decide to visit an old friend.
Happy reading! And if it's not happy reading, be sure to let me know that it needs work. The more information you can give me about what let you down, the better chances I have of making it right!
In HTML, paragraphs are separated via the <p></p> tags. For instance, the first paragraph of this post would be written as such:
<p>This sort of caught me off guard. I made my first websites when I was fourteen or fifteen, and I never would have thought that the publishing industry's new defacto standard would be CSS-driven HTML. For those writers out there that wouldn't know HTML from a hole-in-the-ground, let me explain how simple all of this really is.</p>
An eBook is essentially a bunch of paragraphs chained together with a table of contents to each chapter. A table of contents is just a collection of anchor tags. I had been worried about paying someone for formatting a story for eBook submission, but this just seems too easy - especially since I don't use special characters very often. Still, even if I did, that is something that can be easily remedied with a global search and replace. As someone who has to use LaTex for paper submission to conferences, this is a cake walk!
If you are interested in finding out more about eBook formatting, check out Guido Henke's guide to formatting your own eBook.
Take pride in your eBook formatting
Have you had experience with posting your own eBook? If so, give me some feedback. Have you ran into any unforeseen problems?
If you have read Chapter 1 or Chapter 2 and would like to give some honest feedback, feel free to comment on the thread. I'm actually very humble about my writing. I know I need a lot of work, so don't be shy. I appreciate constructive criticism, but saying "Oh baby bearded Jesus, that is just awful right now. You need more revisions." is just as acceptable and welcome at this point! :D
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Avoiding the pitfall of passive voice
Take a look and be sure to throw some comments her way!
I'm currently hanging out in the Writer's Cafe.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Special thanks to Galena for reading #2 and giving me feedback. Sign up already so others can learn and appreciate the feedback too! :D
His father once told him that he couldn't outrun fate, but as Lucifer looked around at the planet Earth, his prison for over 200,000 years, he realized that he could certainly hide from fate for a while. Of course, he wasn't intentionally hiding from his succession to King of Chaos; who would want to? His cousin Jehovah and his brother Michael had conspired against him by sending him premonitions of Michael's death. Being a good brother, he had gathered his favored demon legion and some of the most powerful demon wizards in the multiverse and traveled with great haste to avenge his brother.
Unfortunately, Lucifer had no idea that killing Jehovah inside of Jehovah's Order, a universe that his cousin had created in the outskirts of the cosmos, would not only cause Jehovah’s inevitable reincarnation into godhood, but it would also cause a chain reaction that would ultimately kill most of Lucifer's legion. Of the Chaos force that had arrived on Earth, only Lucifer, his brother Sariel, his uncle Batarel, and a few dozen guards now remain.
To complicate matters, Batarel and Sariel, both members of the Council of Wizards, the governing council that restricts magical learning in Chaos, refuse to tell Lucifer anything specific about the primal pattern that Jehovah used to create his universe. As the apocalypse - a powerful celestial armageddon that Lucifer and Batarel set in motion to make sure Jehovah's creation would be isolated and destroyed - closes in on the entrapped demons, none of them know just what the future will bring. In the world's last days, Michael - now reincarnated as an archangel - appears to them and tells his brothers and uncle the dark news: the armageddon will spread Jehovah's Order across the cosmos until it reaches Chaos, where it will destroy their entire families, their way of life, and everything fate had prepared for Lucifer.
Faced with the imminent destruction of the entire Chaos universe, the demons execute a daring escape through the cursed Earth atmosphere that burned up their legion many thousands of years ago and make for Chaos as fast as their wings can carry them. But Jehovah is not the only force in the universe that they have to worry about. It seems that fate has another course set for the Crown Prince of Chaos.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Lucifer's Odyssey Chapter 2
His father once told him that he couldn't outrun fate, but as Lucifer looked around at the planet Earth, his prison for over 200,000 years, he realized that he could certainly hide from fate for a while. Of course, he wasn't intentionally hiding from his succession to King of Chaos; who would want to? His cousin Jehovah and his brother Michael had conspired against him by sending him premonitions of Michael's death. Being a good brother, he gathered his favored demon legion and some of the most powerful demon wizards in the multiverse and traveled with great haste to avenge his brother.
Unfortunately, Lucifer had no idea that killing Jehovah inside of Jehovah's Order, a universe that his cousin had created in the outskirts of the cosmos, would not only cause Jehovah’s inevitable reincarnation into godhood, but it would also cause a chain reaction that would ultimately kill most of Lucifer's legion. Of the force that arrived on Earth, only Lucifer, his brother Sariel, his uncle Batarel, and a few dozen guards now remain.
To complicate matters, Batarel and Sariel, both members of the Council of Wizards, the governing council that restricts magical learning in Chaos, refuse to tell Lucifer anything specific about what Jehovah has done here. As the apocalypse, a powerful celestial armageddon that Lucifer and Batarel set in motion to make sure Jehovah's creation would be isolated and destroyed, closes in on the entrapped demons, none of them know just what the future will bring. In the world's last days, Michael - now one of Jehovah's archangels, appears to them and tells his brothers and uncle the dark news: the armageddon will spread Jehovah's Order across the cosmos until it reaches Chaos, where it will destroy their entire families, their way of life, and everything fate had prepared for Lucifer.
Down but not out, the demons hatch a daring escape from the cursed atmosphere that burned up their legion many thousands of years ago, and make for Chaos as fast as their wings can carry them. But Jehovah is not the only force in the universe that they have to worry about. It seems that fate has another course set for the Crown Prince of Chaos.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
*author's note: I have only submitted 4 query letters so far, and they were early last year. After my initial excitement wore down from having just finished the basic storyline, I realized just how much work the novel needed, so I've taken a step back and gone back to the basics. That doesn't mean that the following links might not be useful, just because I don't have representation. These blogs helped me realize that I wasn't quite ready for prime time. There is a lot more work left to be done. I hope you find these links as useful as I have found them.
Name: Nathan Bransford's Blog
Nathan was a former agent at Curtis Brown, a major literary agency, and he shares a lot of great knowledge about the state of the industry, how to write a query letter, synopsis, etc. Nathan has a great sense of humor, and a thriving community of posters who aren't afraid to disagree with his thoughts on the state of the industry. He has now made the switch to being a full time author and has left the agency, but he still has plenty of contacts and plenty of great info on his site.
Name: Query Shark
Most agents simply respond to queries with a "Thank you for submitting, but..." The Query Shark blog is an agent not only just responding to queries with form rejections but also outlining, in painstaking detail sometimes, the pitfalls that the query is falling into - or how well it shines and why. This is a great blog for digging into the mind of an agent and seeing just how differently they approach the querying process (and how you can learn from this to tailor your query letter better).
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
In the coming weeks, I'll probably release the current first chapter of The Winter Phenomenon also and discuss other ideas that are currently on the table.
Lucifer's Odyssey Chapter 1 and Book Cover (Updated 3/6)