Memorial Weekend Short Status Update

Just a short update to say I finished rewriting chapter 18 today of Built for Murder, which puts me 6 chapters ahead of my writing group for critiques. The new draft weights in at almost 60K+ words and 197 pages right now, so we’re doing just fine lengthwise.

Am also working on the finalized cover for Pirates of Misfortune. I’ve selected the final images and now it’s just a matter of combining them into something presentable. In an effort to blend in I went to Amazon and searched pirate stories to review their covers, to see what others were using to sell their stories and I have to say I was a bit disappointed in their choices. Seemed most of them think having a skull and/or crossbones somewhere on the cover makes it a pirate-themed book. I chose the other motif, a pirate chest. There, showed them.

Also, when I was looking for decent images for my cover I discovered that the number of Pirates of the Caribbean image ripoffs are beyond counting. Yeah, I know it’s a popular series just now, but come on, show a little imagination out there folks.

Am working on both An Angry Mountain and Storms on an Opal Sea (again, still, sigh) with renewed vigor as well. Am also plotting out the next Erich Rambles novel tentatively called Festival of Murder using a new character development technique I learned from Libby Hawker’s writing book called Take Off Your Pants.

Also, I’ve added a few excepts to my story pages to hopefully entice people into reading more, ahem I mean by purchasing them from any fine online ebook retailer that distributes them.

Finally, a sincere shoutout to all our veterans out there. While some chickenhawks think they can use you and then ignore you, know that there are many more of us who really respect and are proud of the service you performed for your country.

Semper Fi!

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One Down, Only mumble, mumble More to Go

Pirates of MisfortuneMy first story completion of the year is done!

The previous titled short story, A Pirate’s Fate has been completed under it’s new final title, Pirates of Misfortune. It’s out for review right now and once the feedback is incorporated into the story then it’s off to production.

Note horrible cover mock-up to the right. No wonder self-publishers get a bad rep. Go to a popular photo site and search for pirates. Note percentage of children pirate photos as opposed to useful adult male or female poses in period costumes. Finding something useful for a historical fiction cover is mind-numbingly difficult. My hats off to those artists who manage it on a daily basis.

I’m really proud of this one. It may be the best thing I’ve written to date as far as my storytelling prowness allows. You see, as mentioned in previous posts that I’ve learned so much in the last year that anything written previously just seems lacking in some manner. This one brought all that craft and energy and knowledge to bear and I’m loving it. Now I just need to apply it to my other works in progress (WiP) and I’ll be golden.

And it’s been a year or more since my last completed story, Amaranthine Dreams, was released, so getting back in the saddle feels really good as well.

Am rewriting chapter 17 of Built for Murder today, smoothing out the plot, adding details, making it a real story. That’s like five chapter rewrites in a week/ten days. I’m four chapters ahead of my critique group on the book and striving to add more. If I can keep up the pace the final first draft will be ready Real Soon Now, whatever that implies. It will be ready when it’s ready.

Writing thought for the day: “You can’t edit an empty page.” – Nora Roberts

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Latest Writing Progress

First, I’m not a perfectionist at all. Every story doesn’t have to be perfect to be released. However, it has to be as close to perfect as I can make it in order to satisfy myself. I feel like I’ve grown so much as a writer that stories I conceived and wrote a year ago no longer stand up to final inspection before release. Believe it or not, sometimes at night I think of new interesting plot twists or solutions to current problems that will make a story better. Both cause rewrites to ensure the smooth progression of plot or enhance a character’s bond in the story. I’ve woken at times in the middle of the night with both ideas and solutions and even new story ideas.

Second, as with all projects it seems that 90% of the effort goes into the last 10% or the story. As I learn more I spot more flaws and strive to eradicate them both from initial and final drafts. I’m learning new story telling techniques every week and adding them to my writer’s toolbox.

Third, since ideas are a dime a dozen, I’ve got more than I know what to do with. There are easily another dozen idea notes, short intro scenes, and even partial outlines for short stories, novels, and extended series, all vying for attention. So I’m trying to work on several at once to keep my energy and interest high and which I believe will some reach fruition and enable me to release a few more to the public.

Short story statuses:

  • Completed a pirate story called Pirates of Misfortune, which I plan to offer to my critique group in a couple of weeks. The idea just bit down and hung on so I just had to complete it.
  • The Skar Doorishmurk stories A Savage Meeting and Cursed of Broalle, are plotted and half written, just need to fill in the final scenes and they’ll be ready for critiquing as well.
  • Storms on an Opal Sea, Cold Justice and Spirit Healer for Hire are languishing in the middle of rewrites as I try to strengthen the plots and improve the writing all around. Taking much longer than initially planned, but hope springs eternal.

Novel statuses:

  • An Empire Forgotten is still flapping in the wind with no progress to report. Some day…
  • Built for Murder was re-plotted after initial reviews and being rewritten to use the ideas I received and which should make it a stronger novel when done. Managed a chapter and a half today so things are moving along.

And that’s about it. Plugging away slowly with some hints of daylight appearing on the horizon, but nothing definite to report right now.

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Why I’m Not Getting an Apple Watch

As a full fledged Apple guy I’m sure many are wondering why I’m not considering the purchase of an Apple Watch. As an original Macintosh 128k purchaser in 1984 its not as if I’m adverse to new Apple products. I stood in line to grab my first iPad and again when the iPad 2 was released. I did wait several months for my current phone contract to end before picking up an iPhone but I had several excuses, not the least of which I was working for Nokia at the time.

I’m really anxious to see one live and hear from someone about their experience with it. I have a couple of friends that did order them so I expect to hear interesting stories.
Apple Watch image
Anyway, here are my reasons for not buying an Apple Watch immediately:

  • I’m not a jewelry wearing kind of guy. I don’t wear watches, rings, baubles, necklaces, etc., and haven’t since leaving the Marine Corp. While there I had to wear my ID tags and wore a watch to ensure I would never be late. Almost as soon as I left all that crap went into my a drawer.
  • I don’t need what it provides. Right now, the trifecta of features appear to be health monitoring, glances of events like meetings and mail and incoming phone calls, as well as notifications. I suppose if my job required that I stay on top of those things and respond ASAP then it might make sense, but since I don’t attend meetings, or get many phone calls, and very few notifications, it doesn’t appear I’ll be missing a thing.
  • It’s a 1.0 release. Nuff said! The watches are gorgeous but I’m sorry, they just aren’t slim enough for my taste (see first point above). They look overly large and bulky and while visually appealing the thought of wearing something that large on my wrist doesn’t interest me at all. I’ll wait and see what the 2.0 and 3.0 versions are like before I jump onto the bandwagon. They’ll have worked out most of the kinks by then, just as they did with the iPhone 3GS.
  • They’re expensive. For someone who has no desire to wear something on my wrist and no need for the Apple Watch capabilities, spending $400+ dollars for even the cheapest one just seems, well excessive. Don’t get me wrong, for the amount of hardware and software design and sophisticated features offered on the device its actually a steal and if I thouht I needed one I’d have ordered one all ready. But since I don’t (see second point above) then its a moot issue.
  • It’s a new uncertain market. I love the fact that Apple is trying to open up an entirely new market for themselves and I hope they are extremely successful with it. If it comes anywhere close to iPhone sales the top end Apple Watch Edition ($10-17K in cost) will bring in billions of profit over the next decade. That should cause their share price to rise and my IRA portfolio to grow larger as well. And yes, for full disclosure I do own shares in Apple since I consider them the best run company in the world.

And that’s it. If in the future my situation changes and buying an Apple Watch sounds reasonable I’ll be online ordering one before I can change my mind.

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Lurching Forward Slowly

A Savage Meeting

A Savage Meeting

Zombie-like I continue to lurch forward writing stories. I’ve actually been pretty productive and yet feel that I have little to show at this time. Ideally, what I’d like to happen is that several of the following projects all come together at once and I release them in a tidal wave of awesomeness. Or they drop into a black hole. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.

In my last post I talked about a couple of stories I was starting and I’m afraid it kind of exploded from there. Note the long list of WiP graphs to the right. Note also that most are not close to being finished. Basically, I got thinking about possible stories and bam, all these ideas sprang into my head demanding that I write them. So, lots of new starts and I’m going from story to story and adding verbiage to each as I can. Someday I’ll actually complete one. Hey, it could happen.

One additional thing I’m trying to do is apply some old fashioned formulas to the stories in a further attempt to make them more readable and satisfying to the reader. Basically that means I’m trying to apply Lester Dent’s Master Plot formula to every story. Lester Dent wrote for the pulps and is best known for writing the Doc Savage series as Kenneth Robeson. So the man knows what he’s talking about.

First, let’s talk about the new stuff.

  • A Savage Meeting – Tywynn’s version of her first meeting with legendary hero Skar Doorishmurk.
  • An Angry Mountain – Next we follow Skar and Tywynn as they journey to Worldheart and their encounter with an ancient evil.
  • Killer Economy – a new sci-fi story about a future America where an assassin MMO game becomes the driving force behind the US economy.
  • Cursed of Broalle – How Skar’s clan reacts to his delayed return.

Next up, rewrites of older stories that somehow never quite jelled. In new found bursts of inspiration I’ve taken a new approach to both of the following stories in an attempt to finish them once and for all.

  • Cold Justice – Reworked the main character’s psyche and made changes to the mood of the story to help the conclusion have more of an impact.
  • Spirit Healer for Hire – A new take on this urban fantasy where the final resolution is a lot less confrontational.

Finally, we have the ongoing mystery story that continues to progress. Am busy rewriting the initial chapters to improve the story while trying to complete the initial final chapters where everything comes together and the reveal is complete.

  • Built for Murder – Trying to bring together the last few chapters for a satisfying conclusion.
  • Festival of Murder* – the second adventure of Erich Rambles based around the annual Austin Music Festival is being plotted and character arcs expanded.
  • Staged for Murder* – the third Erich Rambles story will occur during the annual SXSW  conference.

That’s it for now. Looks like I actually got a post done for this month, yea! Now back to work.

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