Sunday, August 14, 2016

No Excuses


As the title said, I have no excuses for the complete lack of blogging posts in the last four months. (I was even more neglectful of my other blog -- six months there....)

So what have I been doing instead of blogging up a storm? Well, the new Outcasts Ops novel. Over the last four months, Rick Chesler and I discussed the concept, through together an outline, tossed most of that story line out and revised it and came to a general agreement on the second outline. As of this moment, Outcast ops: Watchlist stand at about 20,000 words and nine and a third chapters completed. It's a neat concept, and draws on an idea sparked by a news item we both saw. What is it and how it's woven into the story will remain a secret for now.

What that means is that my outlining on my novels has been sidetracked for the time being as I work on this Outcast Ops novel. A bit disappointing, but I plan to change that with some changes in my writing routine. We'll see how it goes.....

******

The writing update:

The Assassin Prince --- Outline (through Chapter 32)
The Darkness of Shadows --- Outline (through Chapter 16)
Operation: Broken Chains --- Outline (through Chapter 20)

Everything's at a standstill at the moment.....

When I say "Through Chapter X," That means completed chapters. Each of the novels has partially outlined chapters which are not included in the totals above. Any feedback will be welcomed.

*******

Both Outcast Ops novels I co-authored are on Amazon and are both part of the Kindle Direct program. African Firestorm is here: Outcast Ops: African Firestorm on Amazon! For those in the United Kingdom, Outcast Ops: African Firestorm on Amazon UK!! Red Ice is here: Outcast Ops: Red Ice on Amazon!. and for those in the UK, Outcast Ops: Red Ice on Amazon UK! For anyone else, please check your country's Amazon Website (if there is one). Also check out the other Outcast ops novels. Outcast Ops: Game of Drones and Outcast Ops: The Poseidon Initiative.

In addition, Both Red Ice and African Firestorm are now audios! If you're member of Audible, you can listen to them free! The audio versions can be found here: Outcast Ops: Red Ice (Audible) and African Firestorm (Audible) 

Please read or listen and leave a review!

Later!

Craig

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Change in Plans....


As a freelance writer, I am open to taking on other writing projects as I work on my own projects. Two such projects have come up and they will be the ones that get the lion's share of my attention for the near future. MY work on my own novels has not been stopped, but these new projects take the first two slots. It happens sometime, and I will try to work on my novels whenever I can.

The first project is a new Outcast Ops novel! The sales of the four other novels in the series have been strong over the last couple of months, and Rick and I have agreed to start creating a new Outcast Ops novel. The title at this time is Outcast Ops: Watchlist, and while there is no target date, we hope to have it out by the fall.

The second project is a story in a new Battletech Anthology. As I've said before, I've written for several Battletech anthologies, but this one has a new twist on the concept. I won't say more than that for now, but those of you who read these stories will like them.

But that will take most of my attention away from my novels. It can't be helped, but now is the time to get down to work. The OO novel is more plotting then writing, while the anthology story is pure writing, limited in time and word count. So, the best of both worlds.....


*******


The writing update:

The Assassin Prince --- Outline (through Chapter 32)
The Darkness of Shadows --- Outline (through Chapter 16)
Operation: Broken Chains --- Outline (through Chapter 20)

It still progress.....

When I say "Through Chapter X," That means completed chapters. Each of the novels has partially outlined chapters which are not included in the totals above. Any feedback will be welcomed.


*******


Both Outcast Ops novels I co-authored are on Amazon and are both part of the Kindle Direct program. African Firestorm is here: Outcast Ops: African Firestorm on Amazon! For those in the United Kingdom, Outcast Ops: African Firestorm on Amazon UK!! Red Ice is here: Outcast Ops: Red Ice on Amazon!. and for those in the UK, Outcast Ops: Red Ice on Amazon UK! For anyone else, please check your country's Amazon Website (if there is one)

In addition, Red Ice is now an audio book! If you're member of Audible, you can listen to it free! The audio version can be found here: Outcast Ops: Red Ice (Audible) African Firestorm is being recorded and hopefully will be released sometime soon. Please read or listen and leave a review!

Later!

Craig

Monday, April 4, 2016

Why Three Novels at the Same Time?





Because I'm a sucker for punishment?

I don't know. I've worked on multiple Batteletech stories at the same time, writing in several in a single session. I guess it might because being able to switch between projects allows me to stay fresh. I'm not sure it's going to work for novels, but I want to have all three outlined, researched and ready to go to should I need to.

For me, outlining is the hard part --- it's giving the story a rough form --- who did what, and what happened next. The finished outline is a slab of rock -- the writing is the forming of the story details, so it goes from rock slab to completed sculpture. Hard because I am so use to hammering the keys and having only a vague idea of how the story is going to go.

I was told by a fellow writer I should concentrate on one novel at a time. Maybe I will, But I like having that option to have something else I can work on should I become bogged down on the current one.

Am I finding any surprises in the outlining stage? Yes. Darkness of Shadows was only a vague idea when I started outlining, yet that one is forming faster than the other two, background-wise. I may have that one as the go-to should my writing of  The Assassin Prince bog down for some reason. (Which is why I'm outlining all three, to keep the writing on-track.)

My plan to have a couple of three novels in the outline stage at any one, ready to be slotted in should I finish a novel or get bogged down on it. Different genres should help separate them, forcing me to think about it as I write.

That's all for tonight. I see you in another week or so.


*******


The writing update:

The Assassin Prince --- Outline (through Chapter 29)
The Darkness of Shadows --- Outline (through Chapter 14)
Operation: Broken Chains --- Outline (through Chapter 18)

Not as much as I hope, but I was invited to pitch for an anthology, so I was working on that. Still, I did make progress on all three.

When I say "Through Chapter X," That means completed chapters. Each of the novels has partially outlined chapters which are not included in the totals above. Any feedback will be welcomed.

*******

Both Outcast Ops novels I co-authored are on Amazon and are both part of the Kindle Direct program. African Firestorm is here: Outcast Ops: African Firestorm on Amazon! For those in the United Kingdom, Outcast Ops: African Firestorm on Amazon UK!! Red Ice is here: Outcast Ops: Red Ice on Amazon!. and for those in the UK, Outcast Ops: Red Ice on Amazon UK! For anyone else, please check your country's Amazon Website (if there is one)

In addition, Red Ice is now an audio book! If you're member of Audible, you can listen to it free! The audio version can be found here: Outcast Ops: Red Ice (Audible) African Firestorm is being recorded and hopefully will be released sometime soon. Please read or listen and leave a review!

Craig

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Outlining, My Way.......



Here I am again. It's been a good week, and I hope those of you who celebrated Easter had a good, safe Holiday. For everyone else, I hope you had a good weekend.

*******

I have been for years a guy who writes stories on the fly. I haven't been a plotter, at least not until the Outcast Ops novels that had to be outlined so both Rick and myself knew where the story was going.

I have tried a few ways in the past to outline novels,but when it comes down to it, the way I think is working for me best is what I call "Chapter Summery" Method.

That means sitting down and start with Chapter 1. I summarize what happens in that chapter. Depending on how much thought I put into it, the summery may be a single sentence, a paragraph, or several paragraphs. But now I know what happens in Chapter 1. I move onto Chapter 2 and repeat and continuing, summarizing what happens in that chapter. If I suddenly have an idea for a subplot, it's just a matter of going back to earlier chapters and adding the foreshadowing or the subplot threads. Once I'm through the whole  story, I go back and look at each chapter. I expand the summery, adding plot points, characters, and changing things to improve the story's flow.

I'm not bothering with a lot of detail at this point. I'll generally describe the action (A shoots B and C, C goes out the window), but don't go into detail about what B and C are wearing or what they look like. Locations are the same way -- I give it a name, and don't bother describing it beyond that unless there's a reason to. Also, I use a mix of character names and placeholder names when writing these summaries. Once I have chosen a name that fits the character better than the placeholder name, I use the WP's Search and Replace function. But that usually happens after the first outline draft.

In addition, each outline file has notes at the bottom --- bit and pieces of background, things I need to research, questions I need to find the answers to, ect. Things that don't fit directly into the story, but are part of the story. For Darkness of Shadows, I already have about a page worth of notes about this planet, it's technology, and the society on it. The other two have a half-page of notes. If I have a thought or question white outlining --- it goes under notes.

So, that's how I'm doing it --- summarizing chapters and using them to build the story. It's bringing free writing and putting into a usable structure. It may not work for you, but it works for me.....


*******

And the writing update:

The Assassin Prince --- Outline (through Chapter 26)
The Darkness of Shadows --- Outline (through Chapter 11)
Operation: Broken Chains --- Outline (through Chapter 16)

When I say "Through Chapter X," That means completed chapters. Each of the novels has partially outlined chapters which are not included in the totals above. Any feedback will be welcomed.


*******

Both Outcast Ops novels I co-authored are on Amazon and are both part of the Kindle Direct program. African Firestorm is here: Outcast Ops: African Firestorm on Amazon! For those in the United Kingdom, Outcast Ops: African Firestorm on Amazon UK!! Red Ice is here: Outcast Ops: Red Ice on Amazon!. and for those in the UK, Outcast Ops: Red Ice on Amazon UK! For anyone else, please check your country's Amazon Website (if there is one) Both novels have been on the upswing on the sale charts this week, so they are still being read. Please read and please leave a review!

Craig

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Letting Go of A Story


Here we go again......

Progress is continuing on The Assassin Prince, but more about that later in the post.....

The tile of this post comes from what I have been doing lately. I was asked to submit a story to show I could write a longer story. So I did --- A Novella.

A novella is a story between 17,500 --- 40,000 words, and this particular novella is on the upper end of the word count. Now, I have no promise this story will be accepted, or published. I stepped out of my comfort zone somewhere, but I feel the story is solid.

And in that lies a danger that is an insidious one for a writer --- seeking perfection in a story. "Perfection is the enemy of Good" is the quote that fits my mindset at the time. Writers work and work on a story, looking for those imperfections that scream "Change me!" A writer wants every word to be perfect, every sentence to grip the reader, every minor character to be vivid and clear as the main characters, and the story to be spell-binding to any reader who reads it. A perfect story.

There is no such thing as a perfect story.

All story has flaws --- minor ones, hidden ones, the wrong word here, a sentence too long there. Most are either too small or camouflaged by what's around it to be noticed. Other flaws that reader accepts as part of the suspension of belief all readers bring to reading fiction. As long as the flaw doesn't overwhelm the story, they are invisible, spotted only by those who look for them.

In my case, I found myself going through the story several times, tweaking and trimming lines, adding a scene here, a chapter there, and pushing the limits of a novella word count. I had a friend read through it, make his notes and I made changes here and there, moved chapters around like a magician doing a card trick, and did a few other things. After the fourth pass through the story, I said to myself, "I have to let go of this or I will never do so," So, I sent it and I now wait.

There are parts of the story I'm not certain about, and if it accepted, there may be changes needed. I hope the changes, should they be required, are minor ones. We shall see, and I will let you know if and when I hear back.

There comes a time in every completed story that all a writer is doing to it is cosmetic polishing. It comes down to confidence --- is the story, for all it's perceived flaws, a good one? If it is, it's time to send it and get to work on the next one.

Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.” ― Salvador DalĂ­

If you look for perfection, you'll never be content.” ― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina


*******
The Assassin Prince is now outlined through Chapter 23 and into Chapter 24. But my Muse, being the perverse type (and lazy -- she lays on the couch with a bag of potato chips , yelling every so often, "Keep writing!") has decided that one novel is not enough, so I'm now outlying three novels.

In addition to The Assassin Prince (Fantasy), I am outlining The Darkness of Shadows (Science-fiction), and Operation: Broken Chains (Action/thriller). Three different genres, all designed to keep me working with whichever one is speaking to me at the moment. As a way to force myself to keep on track with this, I'll give you an update on the process of all three. So, starting tonight, a progress report on all three to keep you updated.

The Assassin Prince --- Outline (through Chapter 23)
The Darkness of Shadows --- Outline (through Chapter 7)
Operation: Broken Chains --- Outline (through Chapter 12)

Lets see how this goes. Any feedback will be welcomed.

*******

Both Outcast Ops novels I co-authored are on Amazon and are both part of the Kindle Direct program. African Firestorm is here: Outcast Ops: African Firestorm on Amazon! For those in the United Kingdom, Outcast Ops: African Firestorm on Amazon UK!! Red Ice is here: Outcast Ops: Red Ice on Amazon!. and for those in the UK, Outcast Ops: Red Ice on Amazon UK! For anoyone else, please check your country's Amazon Website (if there is one) Read and please leave a review!

Craig

Monday, February 8, 2016

Murphy was a Writer



I really have to stop saying things.......

I've been sick most of the week. First, a 24-hour stomach virus, follow right on its heels by a cold, which I am still suffering through, sucking on a cough drop right this minute so I can write this entry up without hacking up all over the place.

It wasn't a completely  forgotten week. I did manage to outline two move chapters in The Assassin Prince. That puts me at Chapter 17, and it's an action chapter, which mean blocking out the action. I have the traces of the plot-lines for the next several chapters after that, so that will get done once I can stop coughing long enough to write them out.

I've also have the basics of the setting --- the type of society the heroes running around in, and one of its neighbor empires. Bits and pieces of the political situation are beginning to fall into place, as is the type of magic used in each society. Characters are falling into place, and new one are beginning to form. I don't have the technology level quite nailed down --- I am flirting with the idea of having weapons like matchlocks/flintlocks, but the idea isn't in stone yet. I have to see how the story flows first before I can decide one way or the other.

So, not much on the page, but much more in the mind. Other ideas for different series are popping up, but they're on index cards for a later time. The Assassin Prince is what I need to work on before looking at the other ideas.

That's all for tonight. I'm off to bed!

*****

Both Outcast Ops novels I co-authored are on Amazon and are both part of the Kindle Direct program. African Firestorm is here: Outcast Ops: African Firestorm on Amazon! For those in the United Kingdom, Outcast Ops: African Firestorm on Amazon UK!! Red Ice is here: Outcast Ops: Red Ice on Amazon!. and for those in the UK, Outcast Ops: Red Ice on Amazon UK! Read and if you like them, leave a review!

Craig

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Back to work!


Spent a couple of weeks clearing off some writing projects off my plate so I can get back to The Assassin Prince.

I'm going to be splitting time between The Assassin Prince and other projects, but I want to spend on hour a day working on it. Outlining and research will take time, and the other projects will allowing my need to write to have it's outlet.

You may wonder what "Research" I need to do --- after all, it's a fantasy novel, about a place that doesn't exist on this world. But looking back on other fantasy novels, you can see the roots of European middle ages and other eras. While I have an idea of how the main factions look and operate, I want to get a feel for how the real-life counterparts functions and make adjustments to make them unique to my world. Political, military, social --- take it all in, and adjust as needed to fit this world I'm building. Not everything I will be creating will end up on the page, but knowing I've already decided on those matters will make it easier to write when the time comes.

Co-writing both Outcast Ops novels was relatively simple --- it's just taking what is already in the word and using it. Thanks to Google maps, I know enough about locations here on Earth to set the stories against, even though I've never been to South Africa or San Francisco (I can't speak for Rick on either location). I know the team carries H&K MP5s and the submachine guns fire 9mm bullets, while the AK-47 fired a 7.62mm bullet and is an assault rifle. Those are well known.

But a sword? Both the AK and MP5 are used the same way, pull the trigger and it fires bullets until the magazine runs dry. While a katana, a saber, and a gladus are all swords, they aren't used the same way. The first two are primarily slashing swords, while the third is more of a thrusting sword. If I have a Roman-like Legion, with large shields, they are not going to have katana-like swords, because the katana is more suited to a two-handed use (That's why Samurai didn't use shields beyond the code they lived by --- a shield would have robbed them of speed and power when using their katanas.) Now, I could give a Samurai a gladus, but that changes the entire way he fights.

Then I have to take in consideration how the warrior holding that weapon. A Roman legionary fights as part of a team, a unit, an army. He is protected by the men on either side of him, as he protects them. The gladus was designed to stab from behind the safety of a shield, because there's no room for sweeping slashes when you're shoulder to shoulder with fellow Romans. They train day after day on striking a wooden pole until becomes second nature. The use of the gladus is limited and doesn't have the variety of techniques other swords does.

A Samurai, on the other hand, is trained from a young age in the art of the sword. They learn all sort of offensive and defensive techniques and tactics using their swords. They fight individuality, singly or in small groups, in a looser formation, to allow the katanas room to sweep and generate the force to cut into their enemy. There is more of an individual mindset then what a Roman legionary has.

And that just the swords......

Anyway, enough for tonight. See you next week!

*****

Both Outcast Ops novels I co-authored are on Amazon and are both part of the Kindle Direct program. African Firestorm is here: Outcast Ops: African Firestorm on Amazon! For those in the United Kingdom, Outcast Ops: African Firestorm on Amazon UK!! Red Ice is here: Outcast Ops: Red Ice on Amazon!. and for those in the UK, Outcast Ops: Red Ice on Amazon UK!


Craig