Posts Tagged Ghosts of Venus

State of the Writer: June 2012 (belated)

2012 Goal: Query Nickajack.  We’re at a really good place with the book.  We’ve done a restructured outline of the first four chapters (which are now the first six chapters) that reflect some of the character changes we made later in the book, hang a Checkov gun up on the wall, and in general get a lot more done than they were doing.  That’s always going to be the danger of the hybrid writing style we were choosing, somewhere between outline and discovery.  Yes, we were outlining chapters before writing them, but I started chapter one when we were only about to chapter ten in the outline, and at times the outline got as close as only two chapters ahead.  We hit the halfway point of the year at month’s end.  Will we be querying by then?  I’m not sure.  I don’t want to sound pessimistic about the goal, but we do have a month of stepping away as part of our upcoming schedule, so we’ll only have five months left rather than six come the next State of the Writer update.

May saw me get started on a novella, expanding a story I wrote last year called The Ghosts of Venus.  So far it’s a very comfortable experience.  I always wanted to explore the world I made a little more, but never felt like it was enough of a plot idea for a novel.  I suppose this is the madness engendered by reading Ace Doubles.  My wife is even suggesting that I lengthened the partner piece, Vampires of Mars, and put them together as a DL Double.  I have promised the leader of my writers’ group that I’ll at least try to sell the novella length Ghosts traditionally before self publishing.  It’s better for everyone that way.  As of this morning the rough draft of the novella is a hair away from 10,000 words, and just transitioned from act one to act two.  This is right on schedule, since I was overall aiming for 15 roughly 2000 word chapters.

Also in May, I sold a short story to the Weird South anthology (reminds me I need to sign the damned contract, sitting on my printer, when I get home) and the Kickstarter for The Memory Eater successfully funded.  I’ve been promising an interview with the editor, but I’m waiting until the post Kickstarter work for him dies down a little.  However, he does have a paperback proof in his hands, so this is getting closer and closer to real.

State of the morning writing.    So far, this has turned into a rousing success.  Started last Tuesday, I’ve so far only missed one day and have maxed out at just under 500 words.  Total over the five days I’ve actually written: 1983 words, split between Nickajack and Ghosts.  It’s a great 400 word average that would represent around 100,000 words written if maintained every weekday of the year.  It’s amazing how a writing regimen adds up.  The challenge will eventually be making sure I have something outlined and ready for 400 additional words.  This morning I plunged into a Ghosts chapter that wasn’t yet broken into scenes, which isn’t something I wanted to do.

State of the writer’s beer.  I’m getting ready to brew again, but step one is finding one of my ingredients: Oregon brand canned boysenberries.  Their website has a handy list of which grocery stores carry them, which in the Maryland, DC, and Virginia area means only Harris Teeter.  According to their site.  According to my trips to six different Harris Teeters, including ones where I’ve seen the boysenberries before, not so much.  So I’m looking at buying eight cans off Amazon so I can have two cans.  This is all to replicate my most successful Mr. Beer recipe, though, so I suspect the rest of the berries will find homes in future batches.  It’s about the right time to brew again, as we’ll be back up to two beer drinkers in the house by the time we’re ready to pop the first bottle.

Coming up in June.  I’d be thrilled if we can get Nickajack to the point of our one months walk away and I can get Ghost of Venus to a completed rough draft.  In part because that would mean successful multitasking on my part, something I’ve never really tried as a writer.  21 weekdays this month, so I’m shooting for at least 7000 morning words, which is below my current pace, but I don’t want to push myself too hard to his word count goals in the morning.  Tomorrow: My next Ace Double review, as I kick this blog back into action.  And it’s not too late to pick my next Double to read.

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State of the Author: May 2012

Hermes and Maia

2012 Goal: Query Nickajack.  Big progress in April: the rough draft is complete!  It came in at 90,054 words, right at the lower end of my target range for the novel.  This is just the first step, but it’s a big first step, as the entire novel exists as a full length narrative.  The next step is turning it into a first draft.  Especially for something as long as a novel, I consider the rough and first drafts as two different creatures.  The rough draft is the first version of the story that takes the plot from beginning to end with no holes in the middle.  The first draft is the first draft we’re willing to let others see as a completed project.  There are three major steps between here and there:

  1. My wife and coauthor is taking three weeks to punch up Act Three with more description, as there were points in the narrative where I was concentrating more on getting to the end than stopping to smell the roses.  Or to look at, feel, taste, or listen to the roses either.  It’s largely about dividing the labor to play into our strengths.
  2. Rewrite chapter one to fit the theme and conclusion of the novel.  We want to make sure we’ve got good bookends after all.
  3. Redefine a character.  She was: a nurse.  She will be: a Luddite-style reactionary.  As she exists now, the first half of her appearances she’s the one, the second half (after we decided to change her character, and knew the new version would have a far different plot interaction) she’s the other.  So we need to make sure to unify her purposes.

Can we get this all done in May?  Maybe.  May-be.  See what I…nevermind.  Actually, probably not, but I’ll be thrilled if we get the first two steps done, and get the third done by mid-June.  Then we’ll actually consider something that’s altogether new and scary to me: alpha readers.  I’ve never had an entire novel beta read as a single unit.

This also means I’m going to be more hands-off than hands-on for the next two or three months.  Which is fair and I knew would be part of the process of coauthoring.  It makes me twitch a little, but I’m hoping to use that nervous energy to get a few other projects done.  So with that in mind…

Looking forward to May.  Yesterday was day one of the first hands-off period.  I’ve got four projects lined up, though I’m not sure what order they’ll get done in, and which will get pushed back to the month long alpha reader hands-off period.

  1. Find the next destination for Vampire of Mars and kick it out the door.  This one languished awhile before getting an entirely tacit rejection, which was harsh.  My first choice of markets is currently closed, so this will include some research and not just polishing.
  2. Finish the series of eight Nickajack side stories.  I’ve written the first three, my wife wrote the last one, so there’s four in the middle to fill in.  500-1000 words each.
  3. Create a novella-length outline for Ghosts of Venus.  I think it can take it, and I’ve got some ideas for potentially tripling the length.
  4. Create a novella-length outline for Unnamed North Carolina Time Travel War Story.  Plus…come up with a better title.  This is the story that had its origins in my accidental world building, though I may not use quite the same time period.

Novella-length stories will be an experiment for me, which is part of why I’d like to give them a try.  I’ve seen the market for them re-open lately (though largely through self publication) and I think the two stories I have in mind can support longer narratives but not novel length adventures.  I’ve also been considering them thanks to dipping my toes into one of the stronger novella markets of the 1960s, those Ace Doubles I’ve been snatching up (11 more inbound from an eBay auction, though one’s a duplicate).  If I like them, I might bundle them together and slap on this little logo that I made in a moment of insanity when things such as self-publishing something in the style of an Ace Double sounds like a good idea.

State of the Kickstarter.  I’ll be honest, we’re in the doldrums right now.  I don’t want to get pessimistic, but I’m certainly not as optimistic as I was when I suggested throwing some stretch goals into the mix.  I’m still excited about the project.  If you haven’t read the sample, give it a shot.  If you haven’t pre-ordered, please consider doing so.  We’ve got ten days left as of this writing, and still 30% of the project left to fund.  We’re exactly on pace, but that leaves us no margin for error.  I’ll put together a full postmortem, for better or worse, in two weeks when everything is done.

UPDATE: Since writing this earlier today, the Kickstarter is having a great day.  If you’re reading this and you’ve supported us, either today or in the past, I owe you a massive thanks.  We’ve still got a ways to go, but I’m a hell of a lot more optimistic at 3pm than I was at 9am.

State of the Writer’s Bees.  The first nuc arrives this weekend.  Expect a post about them next week.

Everyone have a productive month, and we’ll meet back here in 31 days to say what we’ve all done.

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State of the Writer: September 2011

August has come and gone.  Here in the DC area we got shaken up by an earthquake, brushed by a hurricane, but we’re still standing.  Now we head into another month and it’s time once again for an accounting of who I am and what I’m doing.

Obviously the big news of August was mentioned a few days ago, being first short-listed then ultimately accepted by The Memory Eater.  That puts two of my stories in the pipeline for upcoming anthologies.  I’m still hearing occasional news about Steam Works, and the guy behind Memory Eater is super enthusiastic, so I doubt either will meet the same quiet end as my ill fated first anthology pick-up.  That means I still have three stories out, at least one of which (hanging out at Writers of the Future) I expect to hear news back on this month.

Originally August was going to be about getting back to work on Capsule, but I got hit with the full inspiration for a short story I’ve been meaning to write for awhile called The Ghosts of Venus.  Wrapped up the first draft yesterday, and I’ll say it’s first draft good.  It needs a lot of work, and it’s going before my beta reading group this week.  Speaking of which, check out the new CVS Website.  It’s still a little light on content, but it’s also freshly relaunched, it’ll be growing.

August started with the announcement of the Flashathon, and I’ve been posting new information as I have it.  If I’m counting correctly today marks 50 days ahead of the event.  We’re putting plans in motion to have a few hours of guest inspiration as part of the event, which will be just damn cool if it actually happens.  Details will come faster and faster as the marathon approaches, I’m sure.

September dawns with me not sure what my next writing project is.  We’re coming up on the deadline for the Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations anthology, but my concept for that is still in a very natal form.  I’ve got another story concept that has nothing to do with any current anthology calls but could be good for making a general tour of the journals.  Or maybe this time I really will get back to work on Capsule.  Anything could happen, it’ll probably come down to what inspiration hits me first.

State of the Writer’s Beer:  We’re giving Lazarus Ale a little more time in bottle, so very little New Peculiar was drunk this month.  I’m under a promise not to start brewing another batch until we’ve gone through at least another dozen bottles of our current batches.

State of the Writer’s Blog:  Added several states to my goal of getting visits from all 50.  This month saw the first visits from Alaska, Nevada, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Delaware.  This leaves me just Montana, both Dakotas, Arkansas, and Louisiana to go.  I knew I should have had Renee pop into my blog briefly while she was in New Orleans.  The month also saw the site smash previous viewership numbers with over 275 hits and 400 pageviews.  Those are still tiny numbers, but they rapidly growing numbers.  It was as recently as May that I crossed 100 hits in a month for the first time.  Hopefully with the upcoming Flashathon and publications, numbers will improve that much more.

State of the Writer’s Pseudonymous G+ Account:  I said in my last post about the Google+ pseudonym issue that I would feel pretty safe if I made it to the end of the month.  Well.  I’ve made it to the end of the month.  So either the policy is being very poorly enforced, or initials don’t count towards the pseudonym policy.  Either way, I’m feeling rather more comfortable that the account will remain.

So now, that’s a month over and retrospective given, let’s look ahead.  Onward to September!

September poster product of WPA and released to Public Domain by the US Government.

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The strange places inspiration comes from

I mentioned last week that Urbex intrigues me.  Over in the Ukraine there exists the hole grail of Urban Exploration: Chernobyl.  It’s been getting a lot of press recently due to the disaster at the Fukushima Plant in Japan, mostly in attempts to explain the present by exploring the past and in efforts to quantify one disaster against the other.  It is, after all, vitally important to know which is the bigger disaster.  I guess because the nuclear disaster Olympics are coming up, and this will serve as a qualifying event.

So I started doing what I often do, poking around Wikipedia and following links in articles that intrigue me.  And when it comes to starting with the Chernobyl article, there’s plenty to find.  There’s the city of Pripyat, evacuated just weeks before a new amusement park was set to open.  Abandoned so quickly there are still lesson plans written on the chalkboards in classrooms, and textbooks strewn everywhere in school hallways.  There’s the sarcophagus, a structure that is heading towards failure, tasked to keep the still quite dangerous nuclear rods in place.  There’s just the fact that this area will be uninhabitable by humanity for centuries to come, even under the best of circumstances.

And that’s somewhat amazing.  It’s in part what led to my Fortnightcap Take Me Back a few weeks ago.  The idea that a piece of land could be almost erased, though in a far less literal sense.

And then, in all of that, emerged a story.  And it’s a Steampunk story.  So that’ll be added to my queue, along with stories planned for submission to the next two Innsmouth Free Press anthologies.  I love all three concepts, going to have to figure out a good way to determine which one gets to be told first.

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