Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Week Rolls On

The family member's doing a bit better, but their situation is still taking a chunk out of my writing time. It's not a complaint, but a statement of fact, and family has to help family, right?

But when I've had the time,I've made the most of it. African Firestorm is still moving along -- into Chapter 45 as plotted. But the way I'm writing this synopsis, it's possible that several of these chapters can be put together. Once I get it done, and send it to Rick, and see what he thinks about it.

I tend to write out scenes -- who did what, where and how. I prefer the detailed synopsis, as I've done all the hard work here, rather than in the actual writing. If I know Character A shots Character B, and Character B goes over the rail and into shark infested waters, it's all a matter of plugging in the details -- the ship, what lighting there is, the characters' moods, the backdrop, and maybe even the type of guns the characters are using. It's all adding color and texture to the paragraph:

"A pursues B onto the deck. At the rail, B spins around, gun in hand. A tells B to give up. B snarls and raises his gun. A is faster and shoots B. The impacts knock B back against the rail, and he over-balances. B flips over the rail and falls into the water below. A runs to the rail and sees sharks closing in on the stunned B."

That's the way I'm writing the synopsis, only with character names instead of A and B.

As an aside, I cannot find a book of surnames. I can find name books covering thousands of names for baby and characters, but surnames seem to be scattered across the Internet. I've started keeping a spreadsheet of surnames, culled from every source I can think of. Right now, it's in alphabetical order, and it's going to be problematic when it comes to separating them back out into their origin country's. Still, I have over 14,500 surnames on the spreadsheet and some interesting stats, Once I hit 15,000 surnames, I'll write a post on that,

On the Battlecorp front, the stories are still going, moving toward their climaxes. If my luck holds, they should be done (First draft anyway) in mid-June. At which point I start three more stories and let those three sit for a while.

So, that's it. Despite real life, I'm still writing when I can. Hopefully, there will be some resolution of the family matter by the weekend and life will become "Normal" again.....


Monday, May 26, 2014

Hoping for a Better Week

The family member's incapacitation is looking to be a long-term affair, but things are beginning to settle down to a slightly less disruptive level, and I hope to put in some more words into the stories I'm working on.

Still, I've managed to push all three Battlecorps stories to the 6,000 word mark, and push African Firestorm outline a few hundred words closer to the finish line. With the first OUTCAST Ops novel, Game of Drones, out and doing well, that mean I have to work harder at getting it finished and bounced back to Rick for his workover.

For those who still think the TPBs are the only way to go, I suggest you take a look at this: It's a sobering look at the current state of the industry and how it's changing.

For those who missed it, there's a confrontation between Amazon and Hachette, resulting in both sides digging in and no books from Hachette being sold on Amazon. Here, JA Konrath takes apart the arguments that both Scott Turow and James Patterson make in support of  Hachette.  Warning, Mr. Konrath doesn't pull his punches and I'm fairly sure he'd wearing steel-toed boots. 

All I can say is before signing anything from a publisher or agent, THINK. Then think about it some more. You may be better off publishing it yourself.....

And again, Game of Drones is out and here's the link:



Friday, May 23, 2014

Bad Week Continues

The family member's incapacitation is still the main focus of the family's time, including mine. It's not an easy time or a simple responsibility, but it has to be done and it will be done, just not quickly or easily.

The result is my writing has been disrupted on a scale I'm not use to experiencing. My writing time right now is before I go to bed, after having to deal with the stress of the situation my family finds itself in. It's not easy to focus on the writing, but I have to, because it is the one time of the day I get to think about something else beside the real-life problem that has been dropped on us. It is the one time of the day I feel like I have control over something, even is it's just words on a page.

Right now, any words I put on a page, right or wrong, are small victories. For a few minutes I can forget about the real-world problems, and put myself somewhere else where I decide who does what and why. I'm still inching along on everything, slowly and grudgingly, but it's a life preserver of sanity in a world of insanity, so if you'll excuse me, i need to go hang onto it for a while....


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Bad Week

I wish I had a bunch of good news telling what I was doing writing-wise, but we found out that a family member has became incapacitated Sunday afternoon, and that has thrown out most of my writing time the last several days. It's also thrown my blog writing out the window, which is why this is two days late this week. I won't say much more about the situation, only to add that my family is focusing on the family member above anything else.

What little time I have managed to write has allowed me to forget about the situation and managed to make small gains across the board, But it will be a couple of days before I can really crack down on the writing. But when I do get the chance, I will take and run as much as I can. What writing I have managed to do is going well and I hope to get a major jump on it this weekend.

Also, I will mention that the first OUTCAST Ops novel is out!

This is the series that African Firestorm will be part of. Pick up a copy and see what you think!

Now, I need to go do some writing....


Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Importance of Pre-Work Before Writing

Well, it's better than saying "Update" again, isn't it? (Where's the emoticons when you need them? I need a grin that looks better than :D)

FINALLY got that problem with African Firestorm figured out and that's back on track. Which leads me to what I call "Pre-work."

Don't bother looking for the term, because its one I use to describe what goes into writing a story before I even start. The research, thinking out the basic story, deciding on what elements to include, how the characters should be (in general) and so on. Some people like to write it all down and some just keep it in their minds. I fall into the last group but try to make it up with the summery.

I find that I work best when I write detailed summaries what happens in every section of the book. That allows me to get the chapters laid out, make sure I include everything i need to. When I'm done, I can read it over and make sure I have everything,

I am not a compulsive note taker, and for most of my short stories, write by the seat of my pants. I'm getting better at actually thinking stories through before committing them to screen, but I'm not there yet.

For for a real novel that isn't fanfiction (I've done a couple of those, look for me on under trboturtle and you'll find them), pantsing it isn't going to work. For one, I'm not the only writer on this novel. Rick Chesler's the man who came up with Outcast Ops, and he's the one who has to fix my screw-ups and my meandering. I'd rather not have him working overtime on what should be him just rewriting enough to make sure it flows with the other OO novels.

For another, people are going to be reading it, looking for some good adventure, not a rambling stumbling pile of story. That means working out any and all major story points before tapping away at the keyboard, to try and avoid all that.

And as I just found out, writing myself into a corner is a lot easier to correct when it's only a summery, as opposed to be writing the scene out. I figure that I'm going to have to add another two chapters, move Chapter 42 back to Chapter 44, and rewrite it to reflect the new situation,  The summery is a lot easier to rewrite and adjust than a full blown novel. The more solid everything is before starting, the easier (in theory) the writing will be.

So, take it from someone who's learning the hard way, be sure of the story, then write. I'm use to write then find the story in the words already written. We'll see how it goes......



Monday, May 12, 2014

Research and African Firestorm

I made this time around....

All writing full speed ahead. All Battlecorps stories are @ 5,000 words. The Valiant RPG extra writing is going well, and I'm fining my groove there. The African Firestorm will have to have the last couple of chapters rewritten, to reflect the research I have been doing. Nothing major, but it's taking a little thought. It's more changing a few things and pushing the arrival of the bad guys back than a major rewrite, so it should be done this week and I can move onto the climax.

I talked about research, and I am finding that it's a lot more intense than I expected. That's good, because I love to look things up, but sooner or later, the story has to be written. But the different subjects I touch on in this story is varies from countries, languages, weapons, and cultures. Science Fiction off-planet is easier, as in space, the culture can be anything you want it to be. Same with a lot of fantasy stories. It's wordbuilding in its purest form.

But African Firestorm is a modern-day thriller, which mean making sure the real world details I include are the right details. Yes, the plot is fiction, but realism helps sell the fiction. If the bad guy fires an AK-47, I, as a write have to know something about the weapon in question, even if only ten percent of the knowledge ever reaches the paper. I have to supply enough information so the reader knows the situation is plausible, while at the same time, avoiding an info dump that stops the story in its tracks and gives the reader useless information. Using the AK-47 as an example, I may mention the rifle fires a 7.62mm round and it's a common weapon in most parts of the world, but I can't spend three sentences or an entire paragraph explaining its history or the local variants from around the world.

If my bad guys are a special forces unit from a hostile country, I have to have the right weapons for them to use. The vehicles used have to be the right type for that area, and any sea vessels have to be researched enough to fit the story.

Am I over-researching? Probably, but this is a chance to write a type of story I've always wanted to write, so best to over research then do none and leave the reader wondering if I was too lazy to go look for the information.

That's all for now.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Updating Again and a Few More Writing Blogs to Visit

Sorry, I missed Thursday, but Catalyst, with the Valiant RPG core book, just keeps give me new stuff to work on (and that is a GOOD thing!). Been doing heavy research on container ships, as I mentioned in my last post, and I need to go back and do some minor rewriting on African Firetorm. (basically, which helicopter crashes where.) On the Battletech front, all three stories are still going strong. So, I'm still writing, and I'm still blogging on this and my other blog twice a week each.

Looking over the major writing blogs I regularly visit, I see Dean Wesley Smith has blogged another post on Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing, located at: If you have not read this series, do so. There's plenty of stuff to learn from someone who knows the publishing industries like few people do.

Here's a few more websites with a writing viewpoint:

Michael A. Stackpole has become active again after no real blog posts for several months. He's written for Battletech, Star Wars, and has several novel series of his own.

J.A. Konrath is a writer who has raced down the Independent publish path and shown the way for may newbies. He also doesn't pull any punches about this new world of publishing,

Jennifer Brozek has written for Battlecorps and has her fingers in several pies. Between her and Dean above, you can get a good idea of what goes into a writer's day.

Daily Writing Tips Not a Author's blog per say, but a great place to go get times on grammar and word usage.

That's all for now, back to work!


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Late (and Short) Update

I know this blog entry is late AGAIN. Sometimes it isn't easy to come up with something.  I need to dig into my stack of saved web pages and see if I can find anything useful among them.

African Firestorm is still going through the outline stage and is into Chapter 41, but I'm at the point that I'm working out the steps in a gun battle, and I can't find any good deck plans of a container ship (Were said gun battle is taking place), so I don't know how one of these ships is laid out. If anyone knows of such plans on-line, or has access to a set of Deck plans of a large container ship in an electronic form, I would be most grateful.

Got a first glimpse of the first Outcast Ops novel draft, Game of Drones. I need to sit down and read through it, but from what little I've read, this s going to be an interesting series to write for. If anyone wants to kept in the lop abut the series, and get links to some interesting articles that kind of set the stage for the series, you can follow @OutcastOps.

The Battletech writing is going well, and I finished that additional writing for the Valiant RPG and turned that in. So things are going okay so far.



Friday, May 2, 2014

The Business Rusch Comes to a End

One of the blogs I always visited each week is Kristine Kathryn Rusch's Business Rusch. Every Thursday, for five years straight, Kris blogged about the new world of publishing, and how it's changing. For a neotype like me, I learned a lot from these postings every week, even to the point of saving them off onto thumb drives for rereading later on. For most of the last two years, I learned from this blog.

But sadly, it has come to an end. Kris posted her last Business Rusch last week. The post is here: And while I'm sadden by the ending of such a valuable resource, I can understand her reasons for doing so. I struggle coming up with topics that I can write about without sounding like a complete idiot, but for five years, without missing a week, she wrote about the new world of publishing.

But, as she says in this last post, She's finding hard to find new topics to talk about. The publishing industry of five years ago is not the one of today. The explosion of self-publishing, the appearance of the Nook, Kindle and other E-readers, the collapse of Borders, and the traditional publishing houses (TPHs) reaction had changed the industry so much in those five years.

No longer is the writer force to go to one of the TPHs if they want their book to be seen in bookstores. No longer are they subjected to payment systems that make the IRS system look sane and reasonable. The write, if they chose to be, are the master of their own destiny. They get to chose who to hire as an editor, how the book cover looks, and how to promote it, and at what price. It is the writer who reaps the lion's share of the profits, as they should, without having to get their money from a third party who takes 15% of the revenue. A writer can write what they want, when they want. If they want to write six books a year, they are free to do so. If they want to write short stories or novellas, they are not restricted to a few publishers that handle those sort of stories.

In short, the writer is free, no longer caged by TPH contracts that are stacked against them, or by agents who think they are entitled to their 15%, even though they did nothing to earn it. The writer is free to screw up, learn from their mistakes and move on. It's a learning curve, to understand this new world and avoid the pitfalls that are everywhere these days.

And one of those people who knew the shifting landscape was Kris (Her husband Dean too, and he still blogs about the business side of things --- for now). I learned about the new TPH contracts that are legal obscenity, agents taking their clients' backlists and becoming publishers themselves. I learn what to look for in book services, to realize that writing the story isn't the end of the writer's job, it's the beginning.

Am I an expert? No. I'm still struggling to write a full-length novel, and I may change that thinking down the road. I can write short stories just fine, and I'm thinking about working on a story for one of the Kindle Worlds properties. but I have at least an understand of what this new world is, for which I'm thanking Kris for right now.

Kris wants to go back to her story writing, for which I can only say, may your pen never run dry of inspiration. As for me, I'll kludge along and see if I can follow her path.