Where the Writing's at #1

Hi friends! A quick update on some books and such.

 

Ratman Deux: Another Fantasy Noir has a story that is in one way or another, almost entirely put to paper. Now that, at least for me, the dust of SPFBO has settled, I've had some time to digest many of points that the finalist round of reviews brought up regarding Chaos. Suffice it to say, I learned an incredible amount, and the Ratman Deux that appears on the horizon will be a leaner, smoother book than Chaos. All of your favorite Venrick and Edwayn moments are still there, but through some inward looking and ongoing editorial effort, we're going faster, hook-ier, and punch-iest? Anyway. I really want to get this into readers' hands, but I don't want to fall into the traps that partially ensnared Chaos. As proof that at least some part of it exists, heres the cover!

 That's New Sketlin! I love all of the color, light, shadow.

That's New Sketlin! I love all of the color, light, shadow.

Other things in progress: Seven Deadly Friends (working title... maybe?)—a story about six of the seven deadly sins recruiting an everyman schlub to fulfill his destiny and help them pull off a daring heist against Pride—has a full outline, some character writing, and a number of scenes in early to mid stages complete. I'm very excited to sit down and grind out the rest of this thing and send it through the editorial gauntlet.  

Also on deck, a project that is putting some blood back into my very atrophied academic research muscles. Through mighty consumption of dozens of World War 1 memoirs and textbooks, I'm in the outlining and planning stages of a trilogy going by World War Dragon (working title definitely). The quick pitch for the trilogy is a book focusing each on the air, sea, and land aspects of World War I combat, and the grit and horror of that conflict. Also, all of the grit and horror is somewhat amplified by the sudden appearance and deployment (by one side) of militarized dragons. 

Also, Aerodance is getting new cover art. It looks amazing. I'm very excited to share it.

 

Aerodance: A Neon Space FAQ

My debut novel is CHAOS TRIMS MY BEARD, and due to it's selection by Fantasy-Faction as their finalist for the currently-running Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, it is the thing that like, 95% of all the people who would even visit this site know me for.

But at present, it represents only a quarter of the books I've published, and in two weeks, it will be down to a fifth. So today I want to talk about that other thing, in that other genre.

Aerodance Season 1 Cover.jpg

I guess I'll do one of those things where authors interview themselves. Most of my dialog is written through me having a literal, audible conversations with myself (improv! comedy! annoyance to family members!), so it feels natural.

What is Aerodance?

Aerodance is an "episodic" series of twelve novels. Each novel follows its own arc, and each set of four rolls together into a cohesive "season". The individual episodes come out as regularly as I can write and send them through the editing gauntlet, and a season bundle will accompany the 4th, 8th, and 12th.

But what IS Aerodance? I mean like, what's the story like, or what is it similar to?

The story follows the corvette Dragosa and the four or so people who come to crew her. There's some threads that follow the villains on their massive dreadnought and other vignettes besides, but the primary action is centered on the crew. In that way, the structure of the story is somewhere between Cowboy Bebop and Firefly, though with a bit more serialization than either of those narratives. And as one of the characters is a hotshot fighter pilot recruit with a priceless starfighter in tow, there's a bit of the old Star Wars: X-Wing novels in there as well.

Okay, but you literally shoved the word "Neon" in front of "Space Opera" and that doesn't mean anything.

The "neon" comes from the same place that the "episodes" and "seasons" come from. As much as is possible in the medium of novels, the tone that Aerodance aspires to lines up more with the color-soaked Saturday morning/late-night Toonami shows like RobotechVoltron, and Gundam. That is to say, flashy dogfights full of purple lasers and neon red space-contrails, and characters whose dials are turned just a bit further towards bombast, personal honor, and having short fuses in their interactions with their closest friends. That's a broad glossing-over of the unique styles and slants that those late 80's through early 2000's can bring to the narrative table, but as a rule, Aerodance is less the grimy-gray, confronting your personal demons of Battlestar Galactica and more wide-mouth screaming about avenging fallen friends as your neon blue starfighter pew-pews its way through a swarm of enemy ships that look like beetles for some reason.

That's... a lot.

I know, right? It's great and fun in entirely different ways than how Chaos is great and fun.

Anyway, where are you at with Aerodance now?

Episode 4 has one or two more threads and editing considerations to run down, and then both it and the Season One collection will be released on Kindle and Createspace on Friday, March 30th. All 12 episodes are titled and outlined. Major story beats are locked, and there is an ending.

How long are each of the episodes?

The shortest is 55K. The longest is 65K. A Season will fall somewhere around 250K.

Great, and where can I find them?

Episode 1 is 0.99 on Amazon. If you have Kindle Unlimited they are all part of the Lending Library.

Audio books?

I really want to do them, especially for this series and its somewhat rapid release schedule. I'm working on it.

So there was something else I wanted to ask you. You claimed in January that you were going to release a book a month this year. And it's March and you haven't published anything. What's up with that?

Baseline excuses: I got moderately sick for a week or two in January, ended up with more contract work than I expected, and got a new job that I've been training for.

Actual reason: A lot of the feedback that Chaos has received through its SPFBO reviews, and the reviews that rode the sudden influx of interest from the contest recognition, has been invaluable to shaping my writing going forward. Certain issues—pacing and line-editing chief among them—have popped up pretty consistently. I have an embarrassingly large stable of projects that are at the 80-95% mark, but I'm taking a hard look at each of them under the lens that these recent reviews have afforded me.

After Episode 4 and Season One are out, the sequel to Chaos is getting its shine. And then Hammer Squad. And then Tower For Fools. And then Aerodance 5. And then World War Dragon. Hooray! Thanks for reading, and happy Friday!

CHAOS REIGNS!...(ish) A year in review and a bit of ambition for 2018

So as part of Mark Lawrence's Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, CHAOS TRIMS MY BEARD was selected by Fantasy-Faction to be their finalist. I'm still a bit floored about the whole thing, but to say that I'm honored and excited and vibrating with enthusiastic giggles would all be an understatement. The official review from Laura Hughes is here, and another of their judges, Kitvaria Sarene, has put up her own review on Goodreads. To have people responding to and enjoying Chaos in the way that they are, it's mind blowing. And now the other nine blogs in the contest are supposed to score all the finalists, and it seems like many are going to do full reviews as well, so that's really, really cool.

Now, two things from all that above stuff. One, I fully acknowledge that there are like, a ton of hyperlinks there. But I'll be the first to tell you that I have no idea what I'm doing on social media and the like, and that most of these awesome people that are being crazy cool reviewers for my work and the work of other authors and advocating for their favorites and such, these people are authors themselves. So, I'm making "Be helpful and engaged in the self-publishing community" a big goal for 2018. 

Second thing from up there: If you read either review, you'll see that Chaos's biggest strike against is the state of its edit, and how it needs some proofreading love. I fully cop to that, but both of those reviews were written on the copy of Chaos that was available in May. I've since gone over it again and uploaded a cleaner draft, and there's an even more professionally copy-edited version on the way in the first month or so of 2018. I fully, completely, incredibly appreciate anyone who has read and enjoyed the book in spite of its somewhat marred consistency in cleanliness. But, to reiterate, the ebook up on Amazon right now is better taken care of, and a fully polished ebook and paperback are coming in weeks.

So, better edits, better social media-ing for 2018. But as for books, well, we're going to go a little nutty. I published four books, Chaos and AERODANCE: A NEON SPACE OPERA 1-3, in the first half of 2017. And then... nothing. But I wasn't idle at the keyboard. In a bit (six months) of having my dessert before my broccoli and sprouts, I wrote a number of books, near-final drafts of a few even, and then let them sit, happily bounding off to the next project without doing the work to push them out. So, now I've got a backlog polishing, proofing, and formatting. And I've still got a number of projects bouncing around in my head and in my notebooks.

The tl;dr: I'm publishing a new book every month in 2018. Some of these are working titles, and this ABSOLUTELY does not represent a release order, but here they are:

Ratman Deux: Another Fantasy Noir

Aerodance 4: Call of the Void

Hammer Squad

The Shadow Net

A Tower for Fools

Peperoni Fire: An Improvised Heist

(The rest of these are working titles)

Star Crusades: The Quantum Grail

World War Dragon

Fight in Hell

Aerodance 5

Aerodance 6

Aerodance 7

Maybe I'm being overly ambitious (I definitely am), but I wrote just about seven or eight books this year, and only stumbled because I didn't carry them across the finish line. So, I've just got to repeat that while actually getting the works out. And given that we're about to cross over in January, it's the season for grand plans and proclamations. Anyway, this should be fun. Have a safe New Years, and see you in 2018!

You get an edit, and you get an edit! And literally all of my books are going to get edits.

A quick update on all them books what I'm hoping to get squared away by the end of the year. 

 

First (in my heart and this post), CHAOS TRIMS MY BEARD. Earlier this year on a whim I entered Chaos into the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, which is a 300 book/10 blog contest run by all-around good author chap Mark Lawrence. Chaos got slotted in over at Fantasy-Faction and, insanely, has not yet fallen under their review team's exacting axe. It has been nerve-wracking and exciting and a whole bunch of other emotions. Other people, people I've never even met, have read Chaos, and generously rated it and offered their thoughts. The responses have been heart-stopping, mainly because people actually seem to like the super weird thing that is Edwayn's weekend adventure.

And they've also been humbling in that, almost universally, each has mentioned the poor state of the book's edit.

And they're right. I completely own the fact that in some editions "else" is misspelled as "esle" on the first page, and that for some reason, gray/grey are used interchangeably, which is insane because two of the main characters are literally that color. I missed these things and more, and maybe in my fervor to get the book up to snuff for the contest, or because I'd worked on it for three years and I was done, these blemishes got through. Long story short, the version available on Kindle right now (and pretty much every other platform when my current Select period runs out in December--more on that later) corrects the most egregious errors. I'm engaged with Amazon to get an update pushed out to people who already have the book, but it's a somewhat inscrutable process having not done it before. So, I apologize to everyone who had to deal with the errors. An even cleaner, professionally edited ebook and POD paperback are right at the top of my list of things to do before the holidays. Growing pains, and such.

Moving on to HAMMER SQUAD. This book was a pain to write because I went from one POV in Chaos to three or four in Aerodance to even a bit more than that. And it's a fantasy military tale that is kind of Band of Brothers, kind of Tom Clancy-esque special forces technothriller, and also it takes place in Chaos's world like a thousand years before Edwayn. It's super weird, but I like it. I'm finishing up narrative edits by Thanksgiving and then it too is off to the scrutinizing surgeons for some professional proofing. Depending on the length of that process, I'm hoping for a late November/Early December release on pretty much every notable platform as well as Createspace paperback.

Also, let's take a minute for AERODANCE: A NEON SPACE OPERA, both as a series and the next installment. The three currently released episodes very likely need the same polishing love that Chaos is going to get, and making that happen is right at the top of the list. Episode 4: Call of the Void is going to be out just before Christmas as a standalone and as part of the first Aerodance bundle of four episodes. If you've been reading along with the story of the starship Dragosa and its crew but are thinking that maybe Tyto and Rock have gotten too much screen time and you want to see what's going on with Mira and Gunner, well, I hope you like the next book.

So, again, thank you to everyone who has read or is interested in any of these stories. I'm sorry for the sloppiness, and promise to do better. There's a lot books out there, and if you've found yourself reading mine, you deserve to have your time respected. Have a good turkey day if that's something you're going to celebrate, or just enjoy the insane snap-chats of the seething hordes bum-rushing Targets and Walmarts at 3am on Friday.

Hammer Squad and beyond

Summer is winding down, and in the spirit of all the students scurrying back to school and engaging in the high octane deathmatch that is parking at literally any university, I too am taking a hard-charging approach to gridlock and am fixing to get out some fancy new books.

First on the docket, and very hopefully out by the end of September is Hammer Squad. I like the world that Chaos Trims My Beard established, and I wanted to write more in it but not in such a way that infringes on the ongoing stories of Edwayn and Venrick. In the glossary at the end of Chaos, there's a few entries that hint that all was most certainly not well in the intervening time between the Burst and the establishment of the relatively stable society on display in that story. Hammer Squad pulls us back to those first couple of generations after the cataclysm, when humans and dwarves and elves were all eying each other skeptically but maybe thinking about giving it a go together. 

The titular Hammer Squad is a dwarven special forces outfit led by Foreman Dundrear of Hardshoulder. He's full dwarf, a many-decades veteran of fighting above and below ground, and he keeps a few framing hammers up his sleeves just in case he gets separated from his bigger stuff. The story follows one of the first attempts at integrating the forces of the very different societies of elves and humans and dwarves, and I had a fun time crafting what is—at least in part—something like The Expendables but with magic and sledgehammers. It's a military fantasy thriller with covert operations, world-weary commanders, plucky recruits, big explosive showdowns, and some shadowy plotting to nefarious, conspiratorial ends. I hope that you find it fun in the way that Chaos was fun.

After that, we're looking at something totally different in The Shadow Net. It's 206X, and one-time corporate enforcer Lee Bishop is hired to find out why a recently dead socialite is suddenly active on everyone's social media feeds. Thrills! Near-future tech! Brooding! I've got a draft nearly done and then it'll get the polish and shine and be out a bit after Hammer Squad.

Beyond that, before the holidays, Aerodance 4 will get out and pull together the first arc of the Neon Space Opera, and the collection of the first four stories will be available as an e-book bundle. I've also got a massive pile of notes and drafted scenes that, when assembled, look something like the next Edwayn and Venrick story. I was hoping to have it out by summer as the very last page of Chaos advertises, but my brain comes up with good intentions while my fingers scream at all the typing they've suddenly been signed up for. More writing updates next Monday.