State of the Mind: March, 2015

So, what does a couple months of progress look like in editing Project: Embers with my schedule?

A few chapters that have nearly been re-written from top to bottom. I’m not joking, the amount of scenes I have simply deleted and re-written from the ground up is either saddening or staggering.

Perhaps it’s both.

What prompted such a large amount of re-writing? I changed how the protagonist was introduced. In doing so, it set off a chain of events that radically reshaped how the story opens.

The intro starts closer to the main events, it’s got more tension, some characters were cut and rolled into others, etc. All of this simply from changing the protagonist’s intro.

Then there’s the pre-chapter articles, some story threads being removed or altered, building on the personalities of the existing characters, and more.

Editing Blood in the Machine took me some time to do, but Embers is an entirely different beast.

But what about things outside of Project: Embers?

Well, since the re-writes have mostly come to a stop, I am now beginning work on a new project to fill the gap. While I can’t say much about it yet, it is something a bit different with less emphasis on action and more on emotion.

It’s work-in-progress name is Project: Binary.

This project is currently in the planning phase, so nothing has been set in stone yet. However, it has been something that I’ve been dwelling on for some time while I’ve been editing Embers. Thus, I figure it’s time to start jotting down some details and start shaping it up.

I’ve also made a slight addition to the website. In the upper-right hand corner, you will find a small text section detailing my current status on open projects of note. For now, this lists my editing progress with Embers and my planning status with Binary.

Figured it should help keep is visible that I am actually working on things, yeah?

For now, however, the work continues. Embers trudges further along to completion, while Binary starts taking some form. I am eager to see the final state of the former, all while looking forward to crafting the latter.

Until next time, however, have fun.

~ James.

State of the Mind: February, 2015.

It feels like it’s been awhile since I wrote a “State of the Mind” address. Let me check and see when the last one was.

June, 2014

… Well, that was unexpected. I honestly didn’t think it had been that long ago that I wrote one. Then again, I could simply be thinking of the last time I thought about writing one.

Sod it, let’s get on to the new one! To the numerical list of topics!

~

1: I re-made my old LinkedIn profile. No, I’m not sure why, but I did. It’s over here if you want to connect to it.

2: Project: Embers is on-going, though taking some sweet time to get much of anywhere. I’ve basically had to delete the entire intro and rewrite it, so that’s fun. On the other hand, it gets moving faster and the characters feel more natural.

That’s the problem with being like me and having an issue with introductions. Everything doesn’t feel ‘real’ yet, so the end result is always going to be remarkably different. At least now, the characters feel more refined and defined, so things flow easier. It’s also giving me the chance to double-back and fix a lot of my earlier inconsistencies.

As for what how much work remains to be done to the overall draft, I have to A: re-write a ton of scenes, B: delete a small number of characters while making others more prominent, C: change existing characters to fit more suitable roles. That’s all on top of the normal grammatical sweeps and such.

3: I have a new nightly schedule. After dinner, I sit down and write 1,000 words and edit a whole scene (if the scene needs a re-write, they combine). Then, I get to relax and play around or watch stuff. Afterwards, before I hit the sack, I read a short story. Found a couple good ones so far thanks to Apex Magazine, and will probably make a list of some good finds once I have a few titles to add to it.

4: I’ve been checking out the Aeon Timeline software. When I make fictional worlds for sci-fi or fantasy, I constantly dip back and start mapping out the history to make the ‘current day’ story flow better and have reference material. I’ve been using Scapple, Scrivener’s sister program for mind-mapping to do it until now, but it just doesn’t work well.

I know some people have recommended a couple free alternatives, but it comes down to interface for me. Aeon seems to flow well and come to me intuitively, so it’s working rather well. Overall, I’m regretting not looking into it after my first two NaNo sprints where I had coupons, since I will be buying a license.

5: Also in regards to Project: Embers, I am starting the hunt for some cover art. I can’t say much has tickled my fancy yet, but we’ll see if anything comes up between now and when the cover becomes a big sticking point. As tempting as the allure of an illustrated cover is, I don’t exactly have thousands of dollars to throw just at cover art alone.

6: I am currently kicking around some ideas for other stories to write. I’d like to get more works both in publications and on the Kindle marketplace, so I am trying to figure out where I stand with what I have and what exactly to do with it. Time will tell, but if anyone has some feedback, I’d love to hear it.

7: Homeworld Remastered is coming out at the end of the month. No, this isn’t writing related, but the Homeworld series is literally my favorite in all of gaming. 15 years later and nobody has made a sequel or game of its type that is even close to as good. I am literally bouncing with glee at the chance to play it again, especially after so much time has passed.

To me, the series was masterful in its storytelling due to the simplicity and purity of the story, combined with perfect dialogue and musical score. Even the gameplay mechanics (persistent fleet, the difficulty, need to harvest everything you can) add to the emotional drive of the story.

Homeworld, to me, is an all-time classic that truly does deserve this remaster. I am eagerly looking forward to playing it, and might even be letting this schedule slip for a few days while I dive back in with the fleet.

~

So, that is where things are at the moment. Progress is being made, though there is a ton to go. I’ll be trying to stay a bit more active on the feeds, though my nose will likely either be buried in my own work, another writer’s material, or chilling off in a game. Either way, we’re moving forward which is especially important after such a lax last year.

Until the next update, however, I’ll see you ’round.

~ James.

Fireside chat.

Good news, folks!

Fireside Magazine has opened its doors to the public for free online viewing. Traditionally, the magazine has been supported by Kickstarter funding for yearly chunks. However, they’ve wanted to try and move away from Kickstarter and to a more communal funding effort. Thus, the options for subscriptions, contributions, and patreon funding have opened up.

If you want to take a look, check out the magazine’s full catalog over here. If you’re also wanting a direct link to my previously published piece of flash fiction, Reversal, the link is right here. To directly help support Fireside, check out their “Support Us” page.

So yeah, there we go. A couple days late, I know, but things have just been manic. The rig is mostly up and running now, so I’ll be completely on my feet before we know it.

~ James.

First Draft: Done

It’s done.

The first draft of Project: Ember is complete, clocking in at 102,541 words. The project started back on May 18th, so this took almost exactly three months. The average word breakdown comes down to roughly 1,140 WPD.

I might have written down a bit more than I expected to.

Now begins a few days to work on Project: Warcry, but after that, some time off from the writing. A lot of TV shows, movies, games, and so on took a pretty big backseat during this project, so spending a few days to try and catch up on some of it would be nice.

Once that’s over and the editing begins, things are going to get ugly. I need to update my codex on the setting and add in my editing notes, because there’s a lot of work to do in fixing and cleaning it.

The characters have definitely come a long way as well, though it has caused some inconsistencies with the beginning scenes. Intros are always the hardest part for me, not so much the middle or end. The last paragraph or sentence can cause some hang-up for me, but that’s about it.

The characters aren't happy about their treatment.

The characters aren’t happy about their treatment.

Either way, I am thankful to be done with this much of the work. Sure, the long and ugly part is up ahead, but I look forward to seeing a cleaner piece of work come out of it.

Project: Warcry will definitely help tide me over while I work on the editing. Admittedly though, it’s a small project with a very close deadline.

So … yeah, I should probably get working on that.

Either way, one (large) step is done. Now, to move on to the next one and not have a hard time switching processes and story.

I am working on Project: Ember as efficiently as I can, but there’s a lot of work to do on it. Thus, I can’t even begin to guess at what timetable I am looking at for it. I’ll have to get some progress made in the editing process in order to begin guessing at when it might be ready for beta, let alone release.

If you’re itching for some of my own work to tide you over until some of these projects get further along, might I suggest having a gander at Blood in the Machine, or check out Reversal from last month’s issue of Fireside Magazine.

So yeah, here’s to progress. Now, off to take a mini-break for the night before working on Project: Warcry.

Writing is crazy.

Before we begin, let me drop a simple disclaimer that I shouldn’t need to drop, but will do so anyway because this is the internet. This article is my own opinion and a general statement. It doesn’t apply to everyone, it’s not meant to, so on and so forth.

With that said, on with the show!

“Writers are crazy.”

We’ve heard this statement or something echoing it for a long time. Hell, must of us writers will admit that we are more than a little strange in our ways of thinking and that we might not entirely be of sound mind.

It’s also not true.

Most writers you will ever meet are perfectly well rounded and normal individuals. We’re maybe a bit more insular or private in our lifestyles, but nothing you could generally label as, “Serial killer waiting to happen.”

That part I said about being insular and private? It ties partly in with our creativity. We are people who silently refused to ignore the creative imagination we had as children.

Instead, we nurtured our imaginations as we grew up. Using films, books, games, and music, we helped feed it.

This can be applied to all artists. Whether you’re a musician, author, illustrator, filmmaker, etc. At some point or another, people in these lines of work ignored the call for us to stop fantasizing.

The reason people like (and including) myself say writers are crazy is because we are the ones who think of fictitious details. It is not seen as an entirely normal habit for grown adults outside of artistic fields to constantly be thinking of things such as those. Thus, we get labeled as being crazy or abnormal either by other people or even ourselves.

Take for example, my current work on Project: Ember (Under a Falling Sky/Flames & Ashes). I’ve had to think up the people, places, history, cultural habits, technology, countries, and so on that populate the world of the story. All of that, I’ll add, is in lead-up to the actual story of the book.

The first draft is almost done, by the way.

As you can imagine, when broken down like that, it takes a considerable amount of time and thought to create a fictitious world. As the saying goes, “If you want to make a pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.”

This also ties in to how a number of people usually see us as quiet or privately kept. We can easily get lost in thought, so it’s not uncommon for us to seem slightly distant or shut in. We’ve got to keep track of the details in multiple worlds after all.

The truth is that most writers you ever meet are normal, well adjusted people. They might often be the creative thinkers in their households or workplaces, but they’re no more crazy than the neighbor you know who collects stamps.

Depending on how obsessively they collect those stamps, maybe even less so.

So, yeah. I’ve got the fate of worlds, the live of numerous people, and the rules of reality in my hands. I think of creative ways to tell, cause, or allude to people’s tragedies or redemption.

I’m also not crazy, nor are a lot of other writers. We’ll just tell you that we are just so you don’t look at us quite as funny when we start talking about it all.