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Officially Closed

179 posts later, I have officially decided to stick with blogger. Participation has seen a dramatic uptick and it is better aligned with the pages I participate in. This account will obviously stay active while I comment on other people's journals and read Dilbert, but this will be the last post made here.

Farewell, LiveJournal. Thanks for all the fish.

Title, oh no!

So, ruminating on the plot last night and again this morning, I realize that THE TRIAD SOCIETY is the wrong title for this book. The Top Hat Society (Triad Society) won't play a roll in this story like I originally conceived. I think part of me knew this as soon as I said the story had grown to a trilogy. Just from a thematic/climactic progression, the Triad Society should be the focus of the third book. It is the most powerful among the three and the most meaningful for Otwald, the main character.

The story I'm actually writing for the first book (and I'm not writing it open ended as part of a trilogy that must be read as a whole, but as one of three stories that are interwoven but can be read separately) is the Wrench and Hammer Society. What occurred to me while I came to terms with this (as I like the title THE TRIAD SOCIETY more than I like THE WRENCH AND HAMMER SOCIETY) is that the first time we actually see a wrench in the story is with Otwald's roommate Nels. Nels is an engineer obsessed with steamworks and in fact, the wrench is the symbol of the very technology the Wrench and Hammer Society is fighting against. W&H is a workers' rights/unionization/anti-mass production (steam) technology movement. To then include a wrench in their name seems silly.

BUT WHAT DO I CALL THEM? I keep falling back on Hammer and Sickle, which is an obvious non-starter. I want to focus on urban workers' tools, so the hammer still works. I get stuck on things like brushes (street sweepers) or needles. What about a loom? The Hammer and Loom Society? That's all kind of jumbled. Hammer Society by itself sounds like I'm writing a supers book.

I need to figure out a new title both for the book and for the society. They're going to feature prominently.

Any suggestions?
What's the hardest thing to do when you're totally immersed in a manuscript? Stop writing. This week saw over 10,000 words in four days. Not a record (not even close), but a good, healthy start to a new manuscript. And there is more to come! So much more. The story is just built up inside me waiting to come out. It demands attention! And it's a three day weekend, that means writing galore, right?

No, not so much. Today is taking all the stuff we're not keeping to the Salvation Army and the Nashua Library. Tomorrow is packing the closet and a Memorial Day party at by the ocean, and Monday is breakfast downtown with the missus during the Memorial Day parade (Nashua's veterans march in order of war, beginning with WW2 all the way up to Iraq. Watching a 19-year-old march past you is a punch in the gut).

These are all good and necessary things. BUT I WANT TO WRITE! I WANT TO WRITE NOW! RIGHT NOW! WRITE RIGHT NOW!

Here's the story so far. Otwald d'Kilrachen just because the heir to his father's county seat after his older brother was murdered in a supposed mugging. A major technological advancement (steam power) has thrown the city into turmoil, fracturing it into various secret (or not so secret) societies. The Wrench and Hammer Society, trying to unionize the work force before thousands more lose their jobs, the Red Sock Society, a violent offshoot of W&H wanting to overthrow the aristocracy following a massacre at a public demonstration. The Steam Society, a group of peaceful engineers that have seen the future and don't want to lose it because of social unrest. And the mysterious Top Hat Society who seem to be following our main character. What do they want, do you think?

Getting blitzed in a shoddy part of town following his brother's funeral, Otwald narrowly escapes the depredations of the Red Sock Society only to come across three of his classmates raping a girl. If he let the taxi drive on, his life may have continued like normal. But he demanded it turn around. He must intervene. And in that moment, everything Otwald new began to change. He was tapped to be a member of the Top Hat Society, though they call themselves THE TRIAD SOCIETY!

Bum bum bummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!

Yeah I know that's mostly setting, but I've only written three chapters. Cut me some slack. :)

Now if only I had time to write this weekend! Woe is me!!!!

Throwing a Bone to Self-Publishing

The topic of self-publishing comes up so frequently, that I just toss it in the can as soon as I hear it. It's such a small and specialized need that gets far more attention than it should. It always starts the same way, with the caveat of "small market, or specialized niche," but this self-publishing advocate has that twinkle in his eye that says he's working on a mass market novel and self-publishing will be his ticket to internet fame! Blah blah blah.

Today, I'm feeling benevolent. Here's your bone wannabe self-publishers. Self-publishing is not bad. It's a great way to keep control of your content and reach the market you want to reach. You should do it.


(there's a but coming here, you knew that, right?)

BUT, you should only do it if you're going to do the work. And I don't mean posting in blog rolls of agents with links back to your websites or trolling forums looking for a chance to name drop. I mean you're going to WORK. You're going to slave for a long time getting your name and your work's name out in every conceivable venue. You're going to go to conventions. You're going to guest on podcasts. You're going to guest on blog rolls. You're going to get on your local news as a human interest piece. You're going to have an account on every forum under the sun and you're going to participate in all of them so you don't look like you're a troll advertising some drivel you slapped on the web. You're going to build a professional website to deliver it and properly research the necessary ecommerce solutions necessary to safely receive cash and deliver the product to your future buyers.

Effectively, you are taking on the roll of publisher, marketer, and author all in one and if for a second you think it's too hard or takes too much time, then you shouldn't of self-published.

There's your bone.


So, one of the perks of switching to THE TRIAD SOCIETY is that it will be a smaller story than THE SEVENTH SACRIFICE (that was budgeted for 250k words). A smaller story would increase my chances of publication, which is becoming more of a priority if I ever want any of these other stories to get a chance. The market has gotten so fickle (150k is not overly large for a fantasy!!!!! That used to be SMALL!!!! [/rant]).

So, all well and good except that I'm having a lot of success with THE TRIAD SOCIETY. Kilrachen is a wonderful city with a great amount of intrigue and there are just so many stories. This is going to be the best novel ever--wait, what? What's that? There are too many stories to tell? What do you mean? An epic steampunk? Who makes an epic steampunk? Epic fantasy or steampunk, take your pick. You don't get both. And we don't want both. We want a shorter novel that won't get discounted just because it has more than 100,000 words (lame standard for fantasy). So what are you saying? 200? 250? 300k words?



No, not a trilogy! No, not a series either. One book. We're writing one book and it will be no larger than 120,000 words. ... No, I don't know how he comes to terms with the death of his brother, gets the girl, defeats the Red Sock Society, joins the Triad Society, becomes count, and becomes king all in one book. I'm only in chapter two.

Yes, that is a lot to happen. I hadn't planned it that way, it all kind of crystallized while I was writing chapter two. I'll make it fit somehow.

...no I won't. Dammit. THE TRIAD SOCIETY has grown too large for all the different plot points I was considering. I'm not even done with chapter 2 and I'm already past 5000 words. SO, without making any official announcements, I am going to shelve a lot of the plot points for later novels (THE WRENCH AND HAMMER SOCIETY and THE RED SOCK SOCIETY perhaps?) and just write a single story with this character in this setting. Still plenty of space to sort things out, but I don't want this to get so large that everyone rejects it out of hand again. I've done that already and I don't like it.

(Caveat: The word count will be the word count. Agents be damned.)

Cheater McCheaterson

I did something naughty this morning. I wrote something that wasn't THE SEVENTH SACRIFICE. I wrote the first 700 words or so on THE TRIAD SOCIETY. There are a couple reasons for this. First, after fixing chapters 4 and 5, I saw how much work chapter 8 needed and I think my first foray with THE SEVENTH SACRIFICE is a false start. I need to dump chapters 2-10 and start over. I can mine what I've done for the good bits, but I set the pacing all wrong. Sure it's 27,000 words and I haven't even killed Albrecht yet, but the manner in which they're crossing the countryside is too quick. I haven't established enough of the setting. Get in wagon, kick off brake, snap reins, stop wagon, pull on break, get off wagon, avoid fight. There is the substance of what I've written so far.

EERRRRRRRRRRRNNNNNNNNNN No, we don't do that. We write well. We do not write crap. You are heretofore and without delay banished. Go away, first draft. You are now dubbed zeroeth draft for your high proportionality of suckitude.

And I found myself this morning missing the world of the Crescent Sea and the possibility of writing a 1) shorter manuscript that might actually get published and a 2) steampunk, which yes I know is fad-chasing, but I actually like steampunk so sod off. I don't have much to go on other than the list of societies and the political upheaval of the kingdom. But I think I have the chance to make some fun (light) steampunk (heavy) intrigue story. Otwalt, new heir to the Count d'Kilrachen following his older brother's death, is getting blitzed in a bar. He'll encounter the Red Sock Society before heading back to University where all kinds of drama and intrigue are afoot.

Damn, I'm really excited about this. So here's how this is going to work out. Rule 2 is now officially broken. I'm changing manuscripts. This is for two reasons. First, I'm excited about THE TRIAD SOCIETY, and second, I need time away from THE SEVENTH SACRIFICE so I can approach it with a fresh pallet. Right now I think I'd just write the same thing and we all know that what I've written so far is substandard.

If I choose to switch from THE TRIAD SOCIETY, it will only be to revise the first draft of MISTAKEN or to return to THE SEVENTH SACRIFICE. This is rule 2.1 with 2.1 subsection A, a manuscript in violation of rule two may only violate rule two itself if to return to the original manuscript that was violated. Subsection a, if a completed first draft is available for revision, a manuscript in violation of rule two may be suspended for revision of that first draft.

Bam, there we go. Onward, to Reliarach and high adventure!

Chop chop chop

Taking into consideration my wife's repeated suggestions that I take things a little slower until after we've moved, I've been writing more casually this week. Not too difficult to do since my allergies have been terrible and I've been fighting off the plague that's going around at work. I have made repeated attempts to fix chapters 4 and 5. When I write, I keep a second "scraps" file that holds all the text I'm chopping from the Ms. This is mostly from the beginning when the story is still sorting itself out. I might want to use those lines elsewhere, so I don't delete them. The scraps file is usually seven pages long or so. (Ocassionally it's longer if I cut an entire chapter.) Well, the scraps file for THE SEVENTH SACRIFICE is already 14 pages long, half of that from chapters 4 and 5. I cut five thousand words this morning from chapter 5 and wrote another three thousand to replace them. A lot of work on what had already been done, but I can now move on. Those chapters were busted! Now they're road ready. I also cut the entire inner monologue that I had previously expanded. I'm going to play with dementia instead. I'll have to be careful with that. Don't want him to be too stereotypical. Gonna use a lot of stuff from when my grandfather lived with me.

Anyway, I'm enthusiastic again. I had written a contradictory character and not noticed it. That's fixed now. Onward! To demons and dementia!

Out of Sorts

Yesterday? Maybe the day before, I started pondering whether THE SEVENTH SACRIFICE was too large for one novel. There were a few motivating factors for this line of reasoning. First, it's a true epic fantasy. That means its word count is going to be big (I'm budgeting 250k). Few new authors get that kind of word count (I can think of Patrick Rothfuss off the top of my head, but that's it--and his circumstances were not the normal write/query process). So basically I would be writing my third novel in a row to not go anywhere.

What? You might ask. What about WANTED? Yes, you are correct that not all the agents have replied to my queries. I am in that lull between agents that answer queries quickly and those that take their full time limit to respond. In those interminably long weeks, my pessimism takes hold and I assume they're all going to pass or not respond. So, with that pessimism in mind, I put that ms out of mind and focus on my WIP. That's how you get bast the downers, you do something new. In this case, my something new is even less likely to get picked up than what I've already done.

What? You might ask. Write something different. No, dear friend, that's not how this works. The infernal doom machine that is THE SEVENTH SACRIFICE has begun and it will not stop until the manuscript is complete. We do not accept stopping manuscripts after the doom machine has begun. That way lies destruction.

So, back to my point, I considered splitting the three parts of the story into three separate books. I often know the beginning and the end and figure out the middle. Well in this case, I knew the end and kind of knew the beginning and there's a BIG fucking middle. So much so that it's a bit intimidating. What if my beginning isn't strong enough and that middle just falls on top of it and crushes it like a hippo on top of a humming bird?

And in this pondering, I asked myself this question, if they were three individual books, how would I tell the first story? And I did something I haven't done in years. I made an outline. BAM! Events on a page. I didn't even type it. I hand wrote it into my writing book. It's there in ink for all perpetuity for better or worse.

I learned two things. First, the book cannot be separated into pieces. The other books would be lame by themselves. The payoff is the very end and without that payoff there isn't a lot of reason for the readers to keep plodding along. Second, I made a pretty fundamental mistake and need to go back and correct it.

So that's what I did. This morning I went back to chapter 4 and started adding content. AND NOW THAT CHAPTER IS A WRECK! Rule number two, do not tell your reader the rules of your world. This really just be a sub-rule of rule number one, Do not tell, show. So rule 1a is do not tell the reader the rules of your world. Now, writers often get away with this by having one character tell the rules to another character. But I had already used my dialogue exception token for that chapter. Character B told a rule to Character A (that rule being the motivating action for the entire story). Character A then turned around and told Character B a rule. No no no no no. That's not how this is done.

So in an effort to fix my manuscript, I broke it worse. This is not allowed. Bring in the crash cart and prepare for triage. This thing is losing blood and needs immediate attention. There will be no sucking on my watch. You will be good, damn you. Live! Live!!!!


So when Cheshire and Albrecht arrived at Donne's Stable, I had no idea what I was going to do. They needed supplies, and I didn't just want to skip to their arrival in Bath. They had just agreed to work together, they couldn't then just arrive at the next leg of the quest. I need time to build character and relationship. So they go to Donne's Stable, an Old West town in my fantasy novel (the swordfighter call-out for a duel on the street is something already introduced and will matter later).

So that's how the tinkers got introduced. I was bumming around with the bartender being a paranoid jerk and here arrives Puck with his funny accent.

Easy enough? Get Albrecht the mount he needs and move on.

...not so fast. What was supposed to be one chapter has turned into four. I had wanted to introduce religious/social orders that hunted demons in an older age when sorcery was more common. Now I have this little old tinker lady who can't speak a word of [English] pointing a finger and declaring, "Sectarian!" which I just love. Turns out the tinkers weren't gypsies that traveled around doing shoddy work. Once upon a time, they were the support for the sects that hunted demons. That's where their nomadic lifestyle comes from. Specifically, this little old lady's family used to make the armor and weapons for the sect Cheshire is descended from.

Fun enough. Gives me reason enough to reintroduce the tinkers later and introduces some world building.

And this morning, it also reintroduced Quintal's Fivefold Strategy from chapter 1. I mention in passing there that few people still remember Quintal. Well it turns out he was a childhood hero of Albrecht who ran around pretending to be the legendary swordfighter. He's desperate to learn the fivefold strategy and now he travels with a person that knows it all!

Success!!! But wait. No, Cheshire won't teach him. Why not? He promised his Uncle who had taught him. That was why the strategy was fading from knowledge. It's cursed! (not really cursed, just bad things happen so they call it a curse) When the knowledge is exchanged, one of the people will inevitably die by the hand of the other.

That's ridiculous! Cheshire's uncle taught him and Cheshire didn't kill him.


That's right! Cheshire killed his uncle!!! This last part just came to me a few minutes ago while I was trying to eat broccoli. (My wife put it in my lunch--she's trying to kill me!) The thought was so exciting and overwhelming, I almost shouted GOO! at my desk. I instead came here to write it down.

Onward! To adventure!

Double Whammy

I've been in a very "stare at my rejections and wonder if I'm good enough" day. To add genuine sorrow to a lapse in self-esteem, Frank Frazetta died today.

Well shit.


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