The State of the Mind: August 2013.

It’s been quite a wild ride for the last month or so. Kinda thinking a monthly “State of the Mind” might be a nice thing to throw together. Gives plenty of time for some new and interesting stuff, yet not spam people’s emails and social media filters.

What’s been happening, you ask? Well, let’s go down the list…

1: I am redesigning the way that people get notified about my posts on Google+. If you follow me over there and have no idea what I’m talking about, give this post a quick check.

2: Work continues on Blood in the Machine, which might be getting a new title. Something simpler and, admittedly, more story-focused. The story itself, however, has had entire new scenes added, thousands of words in new dialogue and details, and has had quite a few of the beta notes taken into account. That said, the work still goes on with it. I am eagerly awaiting the point where I can read my own finished version.

I am quickly approaching the point where I have to start considering my options for editing and cover art. I do know a couple approaches for the editing, but the cover-art aspect actually has me quite beat. I’ll start doing some more research as time goes on, but it’s definitely going through my head.

3: The Veil … yeah, there’s definitely some problems abound with this one. While I’ve yet to hear back from anyone in regards to pacing, it still remains a concern of mine. I still love the story in my head, but it feels out of place as I put it on paper.

I know that if I went back and reworked how it opened, I would have started it much, much later on than it did. That doesn’t mean, however, that I will be abandoning the story. No, I won’t leave the story half-done or abandoned or anything like that. Instead, I’ll write it through to completion, then take a damn chainsaw to cut and trim it before reworking it into a far more coherent version.

Every first draft is shit, right?

You lot said you wanted something episode, so you’re getting it. It just happens to also be a rather transparent example of the Work-In-Progress period of a piece. For all of you non-writers out there that are reading the series and this article, think of it like a learning experience.

If I went back in time, I doubt I’d honestly stop the project from starting even if I could. Instead, I’d have just done it smarter, and perhaps rebranded it less as an episodic piece and more as an “inside the writer’s workload” project.

4: As far as gaming goes … damn, this week is gonna kick my ass. Between Saints Row 4, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and my recent foray into State of Decay, there’s a ton to go around. I’ll probably also post up some “My thoughts on …” articles about a couple of them, so there’s something for ya.

5: For something that isn’t digital, however, there’s health. As some of you might be aware, I recently made a comment on Google+ about my level of fitness. From there, I started changing my eating habits and started working out, and there’s already been results.

I started this whole thing out weighing 242 Lbs at 5’5″, none of that being muscle mass. My main diet, at that point, consisted of frozen foods, crackers, and soda. Yeah, not exactly fun to admit, but it needs to be said.

Since then, I’ve started cooking real food after having cut all frozen food from my diet, and have slowed down on the soda consumption, replacing it with more water and some Gatorade (not the best, I know, but it fills a craving and is better for ya). Now, I’m down to 234, am feeling more physically fit (still dismally bad, but an improvement nonetheless), and have had to tighten my belt a couple more notches.

What’s my secret? I cut down on my portions, I replaced M&M’s and crackers with yoghurt and apples, and am eating chicken made with dry rubs instead of boxed, frozen pizzas. Throw in some water, a bit of exercise every other night at the minimum, and it’s actually been surprisingly effective.

No massive diet overhauls, no P90X, no insanely priced gym memberships, nothing like that. Just a bit of sensibility and shame, along with the voice of a lovely sounding English woman as the straw that broke the camel’s back.

So yeah, that’s where I’m at physically and mentally. Just thought I’d air out some thoughts and let you folks know where things stand and address some topics.

~ James.

The State of the Mind – July 30th, 2013.

Here we are on this Wednesday-eve. ‘Tis the day before another segment of The Veil goes live, I’ve been alone with my thoughts for awhile, and now I wish to talk about them.

Ready? Well, I am, so on we go.

We’ve been at The Veil for more than a few weeks now, quite a bit of progress has been made, but there’s still plenty to go. The problem is, that kind of statement can be made for more than a few projects. Looking at the sidebar, I’ve got seven projects that are currently open and in some form of work.

Seven. Let that sink in for a moment, if you please.

Somewhere along the line, I decided to open more cans of worms than I could sustain. Now, at this point, it’s time to start closing some of them. Let’s face it, there’s not enough room for these current projects, let alone any more that arise.

Where do we begin? Well, let’s break it down.

  1. The Veil: I’ll keep writing for this story at its current rate. The ball is rolling and the action is flowing now, so why interrupt that and put it on the back-burner? Hell not even any good reason to slow down on the upload rate at this point.
  2. Blood in the Machine: This story is a bit of a priority for me. The writing is done and beta reading notes from Susan Miles are in, so it’s time to apply that effort. After the notes are applied, I’ll need to get it looked at for editing (might do an editing-trade for that, or open talks with RJ Blain) and getting some cover art put together (no real idea where to start here). After that, it will likely become my first upload to Amazon. Yeah, that much hope and belief in this story.
  3. Salvaging Life: Another story that I have big hopes for but have had to hold on for awhile. After Blood in the Machine is finished and goes out to Amazon, this will be the second one that gets the “wrap-up treatment.” I’ll expand it from its current size restraints in order to flesh out some sequences and events more, so there’s still more creative work to be done. After that, it’s beta reading, editing, and cover art.
  4. Under a Falling Sky: This story, sadly, has had to take a bit of a back-burner due to the work on The Veil. Once more projects get closed and finished, I’ll be able to return my efforts to this story. It’s barely even been started since the re-write was optioned, so there’s a lot of work to go before this story even gets its first editorial do-over.
  5. Echoes: Susan has volunteered to take a look at this story as well, so I am waiting to hear here thoughts on this one. Her schedule is rather full which actually helps since it’s a bit of a lower priority to me than a few other projects. After she gets a look at it and gives some notes, it’s up to editing and cover work.
  6. Guns of Asgard: I’m still torn on what to do with this story. I’ll likely pursue seeing it all the way through, I just need to get in the right frame of mind to deal with it. It’s kind of odd enough that it needs its own form of mentality to work on.
  7. The elephant in the room, the Dark Stars universe: I really want to sink my teeth into New Horizons, the starting series in the Dark Stars setting. The problem is, I want to start off my solo-stint with a smaller bang, take in the feedback I hear from it, grow from there, and then work on it. Why? I’ve got, thus far, eight books in mind for the Dark Stars setting, and it could easily grow from there. The last thing I want to do is start off with something that long and drawn out, only to have its start-up be shaky and unsteady compared to what would come later. Thus, the earlier mentioned works take a higher priority for the time being.

So yeah, that’s what things are looking like. Soon enough, I’m going to have to go out and start looking for more outside help in the form of artists and editors. Believe me when I say that I am a little shaky about that thought since I have very little idea on where to start. I do have a few options in mind, however, so I’m not entirely lost.

Well, not that all of those thoughts and details about what’s to come are out in the open, it seems a bit more stable of a plan. Now to just get to work and make it happen. Until then, I’ll see you lot tomorrow when the next chapter of The Veil goes live.

~ James.

The battleplan is forming.

Earlier on, we talked about the results of my recent poll. Now we’re gathering around to see what I intend to do with this information. So grab some alcohol, take a shot every time I say something ridiculous, and we’ll all be shit-faced before the night’s out.

If we focus entirely on what the numbers tell me, it’s that folks are either split between what type of content they want to see from me, or they just don’t care. That said, the consensus I also saw was that people want to see me try and make my way onto the Kindle marketplace.

If we look at the discussions that have been popping up in the comment threads every now and then, however, we get a better idea of what folks want. The overall theme was, simply, “Write what you want, but do it for what you feel strongly about.”

At first, this notion didn’t exactly break my old question of, “What, amongst my many ideas that I long to pen, do I feel people want to see first?” Then I read some more feedback and an idea clicked. So, below, I’m going to detail my plan of attack for what’s to come.

~

1) Short stories. Let’s face it, people are busy creatures, so even if a novel from a newbie is horribly inexpensive, it’s a massive time commitment. Something that not a lot of people will chance for a fresh face. To counter this, I will be beginning a staggered roll-out of short material onto the Kindle marketplace. I currently have Echoes, Guns of Asgard, Salvaging Life, and the novelette Blood in the Machine in the editing or reserve line that can fill this role.

2) Novel work. Under a Falling Sky is on track now. The story feels solid, the characters feel tight and gripping to me, and the world feels fitting for the story to tell. Work will continue on UaFS, I will do a number of editing sweeps on the drafts, then I’ll likely solicit other writers for a mutually beneficial trade.

We read, comment, and attempt to edit each other’s works. This will help keep costs down, but also open the story up to a critical set of eyes that aren’t my own. As for artwork … we’ll see when we get there.

3) Free, promotional content. Susan Miles had a great idea that I had given little thought to. As it stands, there are two stories that are available for a free download here on this website. Looking back, however, I can’t help but feel that they’re … lacking. She had suggested offering up some free short stories for anyone to chance upon and read.

I’m thinking of not only going with this suggestion, but taking it a step further. Before I continue on, however, I want to stress that this is not concrete and is open to feedback.

I’m planning out the notion of creating a serial piece of content of unknown length and posting segments of it up on the website at set times and dates. The segments would all be hosted online indefinitely, so anyone at any time could come back and read over the old pieces.

My hope is that this would act not only as free promotional content, but also generate an increase in my readership and in traffic to this website. There’s also the idea of putting it all together, after it’s all wrapped up, and making an “enhanced version,” of it and offering it at the minimum price on Kindle (a buck) while still offering each piece for free on my website.

I’m still building the concept for the story and the logistics of how I could make such a thing possible, with what time-frame, ect. What I can say is that I’d likely see it as the means to bring the character of Alec Rho back and to tell his story in a more proper way than he ever had before.

For those unfamiliar with Alec Rho, likely all of you, his original story was about how he was a normal, every day guy who gained the ability to see and interact with Angels and Demons. From there, his life is stripped away from him as he is pursued not only by the Demons that fear being exposed by him, but also by an FBI agent who is trying to find the truth behind Rho and his seemingly otherworldly abilities while maintaining the law.

Alec’s tale was one I had written my first novel on, but due to my inexperience at the time, it didn’t meet my quality standards so I mothballed the entire thing. The idea of using a serialized piece as a method to rewrite and bring his story back has me rather excited since it has been a tale that I’ve never been able to get out of my head.

4) After the serialized piece’s conclusion and possible future post-completion, Under a Falling Sky would be released on the Kindle marketplace. This plan, then, effectively comes across as a serialized piece to catch some people’s attention and be free content for anyone, gets followed-up by short fiction on the Kindle marketplace to try and create a profile for myself there, then concluded by the release of a full-blown novel.

~

This plan will be a lot of work and effort. It’s going to require that I apply myself to this harder than I have yet in order to be finished before we’re all old and gray. At the same time, it seems like not only the more logical of approaches, but also the most fulfilling to both current and potentially new readers.

That said, this plan is not entirely concrete yet, especially item #3. The details and planning still need to be smoothed out and fully mapped before I start truly bringing this idea to fruition. At the same time, I am also open to feedback on all of the points discussed here and in every facet.

Think waiting that long for a novel is dumb? Want even more short fiction? Despise the notion of having a premium collection of the serialized work while the story segments are free to read? Cool, let’s discuss it and I’ll hear anyone and everyone out on it.

For now, this is the course I am setting. Until everything is firmly set in stone, as far as the details go, this at least provides me with a rough direction to go in. As always, folks, feel free to leave your thoughts either below, in the comments section on your social site, or drop me an email. For now, I have some details to plan.

The news from the lazy front!

So yeah, I think you’re probably all getting the vibe of what is going to be discussed in this post by the title alone. Not exactly like I’m trying very hard to cover it up or anything, that’s just how it is.

It’s been nearly a month since I last updated the page, and not much has happened. I’ve mentally been turning Under a Falling Sky around in my head over and over, trying to create a plot to follow that strikes me as a quality piece. So far, the ground work is there, but it needs some work and refinement to even be something I consider worth starting the writing on.

If I haven’t been working on Under a Falling Sky, what have I been doing then? The answer is: not much. I’ve been working (slowly) on the refinement of Blood in the Machine and trying to get that ready enough for me to consider throwing it at an editor and praying for the best, but that’s about it.

Yes, I’ve been violating the cardinal rule of all writers, “Write something every day.” It just hasn’t been there for me. Part of the reason why, I believe, is in how I manage my time and where I set some aside for writing. Up until now, I’ve been attempting to set aside time for writing during the night time, once I get home from work. By this point, I’m generally kind of beat and tired, just wanting to screw off for what’s left of the day.

That’s changing.

I’m going to try and shift time around on my schedule, setting aside some time in the AM – before I go to work – to write. If that means revamping my sleep schedule, so be it, but progress must be made and it isn’t happening in the PM.

Second thing I’m gonna do? Set my sights in a ludicrous goal. I even already have one in mind that I have a story concept for, I’ve just got to make it happen. Is it brash? Yes. Is it foolish? Quite likely. Is it insane? Probably, but what hasn’t been on this whack-ass journey thus far?

Am I gonna tell you what it is? Likely not, at least not for now. I want to try and take my shot at it first. I’ll just say this: If I actually accomplish this, and it’s a success, I’ll have been grossly underestimating myself.

Well, off to go cause a ruckus. See you guys on the tubes!

The State of the Mind.

Well, this has been awhile. So what’s going on? Well…

1) Flash Fiction submissions. I’ve recently written and submitted two pieces of Flash Fiction out and am waiting to hear back on. Both are technically pieces of contemporary fantasy, though in their own way. As a whole, however, I am actually thankful to be done with Flash Fiction. The restrictiveness of it, while great as a learning instrument, is just unbearable for someone like me. I enjoy having some room to elaborate and unveil things, something that Flash Fiction doesn’t afford you in the slightest.

2) Under a Falling Sky is back in the re-working chamber. Not after a draft, mind you, but on the conceptual front. I’m just not pleased with the current state of the story, so it’ll be being reworked and re-engineered for now. It is a setting and a story I want to show, but it’s just being a little … difficult.

So, why don’t I just shelve Under a Falling Sky in favor of working on the Dark Stars universe? Well, I’d rather not have my first novel out the door being part of a larger, sprawling series which is rather intertwined. So, for that reason, I am wanting to make this story be my debut, but I want it done in a proper way.

3) On the revisions and editing front, I have Echoes which needs a plot revision before I post it up for beta reading. I also still have Guns of Asgard which needs a load of edits and revisions, so there’s that. Then, to round that off, Blood in the Machine still needs some work, though actually only a little. So, as you can see, there’s still plenty to be done.

4) On the gaming front, I’ve actually become quite engrossed in three titles for the moment. I’ve fallen back in love with The Secret World & Diablo 3, while I’ve also been starting to play Defiance. All three are unique and quite enjoyable. In case anyone wants to track me down, I’ll make it easy for ya.

TSW: Vaerys; Defiance: Alec Rho; Diablo 3: Makon#1350.

Anyways, I am off to go grab a few groceries, stew on some ideas for UaFS, and see about getting into trying tea (the proper English way), so I’ll be off for a little while. Ciao.