For fans of the Voidhawk series, I imagine you’re getting plenty frustrated. First I started #9 and then I took a break to work on something else (Symbols). Now I’m back on it, but it’s taking forever to write. Entirely my fault, but not due to lack of interest or desire. Just increasing demands and, arguably, less than optimal time management. But damn it, I am working on it! Just last night I finished off another 4000 words in fact. The end is near, my friends, but still a week or so out.
And that brings me to my next discussion point. I’m 99% sure I know what my next project is. This wasn’t what I had planned, but for these characters and this series, it’s usually how it works. I’m returning to my Wanted series for another installment. No idea about the title, but I’ve got some wicked-cool ideas on plot and an even more amazing idea for a new character to introduce.
This character has been rattling around in the back of my head for a while, but they never real took on a lot of substance. Some reading I’ve been doing has reestablished the need for this character though, and that in turn helped me flesh them out. Originally I was thinking it would be a woman because that’s a little less common / mainstream, but then I realized poor Carl is surrounded by women and he could really use another guy on his side. Once that decision was made, the character more or less popped into life.
I’d spend time writing more about it, but I need to get back to working on Voidhawk (amongst other things). So consider this a teaser!
Oh, and not to worry, Vitalis and Dark Universe are not abandoned, and neither is my wife’s latest series, Continuum.
That’s a strong title. Perhaps too strong. Nonetheless, I’ve noticed something as I near my 100th published story. A pattern or a trend, if you will. Almost every book suffers from parts where it becomes almost a chore (or in some cases it is a chore) to continue on. And that, my friends, sucks.
When I start a new story, no matter the premise, setting, or characters, I’m excited. It’s a blank book full of possibilities and potential. Anything can happen. And, invariably, it soon does. Beginnings are a mystery waiting to be explored. Action and adventure and excitement and even romance. Yes, I can appreciate romance even considering I may not be plumbed for it.
The end of the book is another fast paced and very exciting time. The characters and sub plots are coming together. Questions are being answered and good things (usually) are happening. It’s fun and vindicating. All that time spent crafting the story and exploring the ups and downs of the characters is about to be rewarded.
The part that can suck? That’s in the middle. That’s when I’ve got different characters doing different things and I start to doubt what’s going on. The end seems so far away and I often wonder if the people I’m writing about will ever make it there. It’s not writer’s block – I don’t believe that exists – it’s a matter of complexities and low points in the story that are necessary. Truth be told, they aren’t even that low, they just aren’t the emotional build up and pending release that other points in the story hold.
Several months ago I read something that I believe R.A. Salvatore posted on Facebook where felt a very similar thing. I shared my empathy with him, but my comment was no doubt lost among the masses. After all, Mr. Salvatore is a NY Times Bestseller and has achieved exceptional success with his writing and sales. I may have the NY Times bestseller title under my belt, but sales these days are in the gutter, so I remain a little fish in an ever expanding pond.
The point is, for budding writers out there or those that feel they get stuck mid way through their book: take heart, it happens to most (if not all) of us. The fear that we’ve overstepped our bounds and that the end we envisioned can’t possibly happen because of what we just did. Well, the good news is, you’re in charge (or the characters are). Either way, the book can and will go on. If the ending changes, then change it. Just keep writing and finding the words to reach that point. It’s like putting one foot in front of the other until you reach your destination. It may seem like a long walk, but no matter how long it is, you can only get there one step at a time.
My current project, Lucky Star, is the 6th book in my Dark Universe series and I’m suffering a minor spell of this sort. I love the new and old characters and I love the story, I’m just troubled about how I’m going to connect where I’m at with where I want it to go. The characters will show me the way, they always do, but that doesn’t stop the frustration of wondering just how, exactly, that’s going to happen.
The answer, as always, is to write on.
Continuing the website rebuild project I’ve added a section on the bottom left. I forget what I called it, but it’s under my newsletter signup form. The content of this section is a single ad chosen randomly among the ads I have on file. So far I’ve got four, one for my wife, a couple of other authors, and another to a new website put up to showcase free reads on the Kindle.
My plan? Millions of dollars in advertising revenue, of course! Okay, maybe not. In fact, I’m not charging a damn thing for this. Stupid? Maybe, but I don’t figure I can justify charging until I know if it does any good. So far the results are disappointing, but I am tracking the number of displays and number of clicks. Then, if things do eventually start working out, I may dig deeper into monetizing it.
But how? Am I going to be one of THOSE guys that charges for ad space? Maybe…but probably not. I’d rather go with an affiliate account and spare my fellow starving writers. That and I have this annoying habit of trying to help people. Sure, my ulterior motive is that if they succeed I can ride their coat tails into greatness, but so far I remain firmly entrenched in the helping others mode.
This experiment did get me thinking though. What other web pages can I build up to help myself and others? The http://www.readfantasy.org ad I added last night really got me thinking. Except that’s already been done now, so what else can I do? Happily taking ideas if anybody has them.
And yes, I need to build up a website for Dawn Michelle too, but that’s going to take a little more time and effort. Meanwhile I’ve still got to write. Rise of the Serpent is coming very soon and I’m on chapter four of Out of the Dark, book two in the Dark Universe series. At this rate I should have Out of the Dark ready to go by mid to late March, as long as I can do my part and my editor and cover artist are available.
Dark Energy? Dark Matter? No and no. It’s the name I’ve settled on for my new scifi blockbuster / bestseller / series. But what’s so dark about it? Are there evil alien necromancers trying to destroy the cosmos? No. That would be weird – even for me!
It’s called Dark because that’s what happens when ships use the mysterious devices sold by Kesari merchants to travel faster than light. These devices have universal hookups allowing a ship to power them and communicate with them, but they have limited ability outside of plugging in coordinates and filling them with the energy needed for the black box to create the FTL bubble around the ship.
Woah— what? Yeah, it’s like that.
Kesari, that’s a race I covered a few posts back. They’re called squids by the other races because it’s a name Terrans used for them and it stuck. It’s not complimentary, the Kesari are merchants and the most alien in their thoughts and emotions, aside from the insectoid Criknids.
Black box? FTL travel? So what does going faster than light mean? It means light can’t catch you. And that means you can’t see it, because it won’t reach you. So when a ship travels at superluminal velocities it’s considered to be traveling “in the dark” or “in the black.” Hence “black box”, even if the FTL engine isn’t technically black.
And thus the series title of “Dark Universe” is born. Without being able to travel in the dark, spaceships and races would be trapped in their own solar systems. Or perhaps between two or three, if they found a relativistic way to travel close to the speed of light. Unlikely, at best. But with the black boxes ships travel hundreds and thousands of light years in reasonable time frames. Right now, roughly halfway through the first book, the protagonist’s ship is looking at close to a week to travel almost a thousand light years. Pretty darn fast! As a point of reference, the Milky Way galaxy is around 100,000 light years across.
Why are they doing this? They’re chasing someone. Why? Well, to even up the score on someone that double-crossed them. Or at least that’s why they think they’re doing it. There are more powers at play than the unlikely heroes realize.
Curious? Excited? Anxious to read more? I sure hope so, because I’m loving the book as it comes out of me. If you’re not on the fence, let me share this little bit I just wrote:
Adan nodded and headed off the bridge. He hurried down the lift and down the hall to his interior cabin. His luck held out and no one else spotted him and wanted to talk to him. After the fight and the repairs, then having to match wits against Tosc and Janna, he’d run out of steam. He opened his door and turned on the light in his cabin, only to see a bumpy form under his blankets.
The voice that drifted out from under the blankets surprised him. It wasn’t Amber, it was Twyf! “Hope you don’t mind, my cabin hasn’t been repaired yet.”
Adan turned the light back off and smiled. Maybe he wasn’t so tired after all.
Yeah, there’s more action than just lasers an space battles and even trysts with buxom alien women. There’s probably going to be some love triangles and girl fights too!
I’m willing to admit that I’m a little scared right now. Ever since Kindle Unlimited came out, my sales have been slipping more and more into the land where good books go to be forgotten. I’m terrible at promotion, I admit it, but my mantra has always been “write more books.” I’m good at that, and I’m closing in on having 70 titles out there now because of it. But with sales falling lower than they were in early 2012, it’s seems like that’s not enough.
The bundle my wife’s story was included in hit the NY Times and USA Bestseller lists (A Cold Winter’s Bite, found in A Kiss of Christmas Magic), but that happened thank to the hard work of a lot of people, as well as a sizeable marketing fun. I don’t have the same resources, so I have to fall back on writing once again.
That’s where the good news comes in. I was planning on writing book 2 in my Serpent’s War series next, but I’ve been smitten with another idea. That and Servant of the Serpent sold approximately 10 copies in the couple of months its been out now, so not many people are clamoring for book 2 yet. If you happen to be one of them, don’t worry – I will write it. Just not yet.
First I want to share my new idea and share my excitement with it. It’s science fiction, to start with, and it takes place roughly a hundred and fifty years in the future. We’ve made contact, you see, and that brought down a whole bunch of visitors.
War? Famine? Slavery? Bloodshed? Not exactly. Maybe not at all – I haven’t even considered the first contact story yet. I’m focused ahead of that a bit, after humanity has joined the space race utilizing alien technology. Humans are the minority, but we’re doing our best to catch up fast.
This particular story will pit a mixed crew on a mission to explore an undiscovered system in search of a mysterious coordinate. They aren’t exactly sure what they’ll find there, and the creature they are escorting isn’t willing to share.
What happens next? Well, that would be giving it away! Arthur C. Clark once set forth the thought that technology so advanced as to defy our understanding would be viewed as magic. To that end, I will say that with the inclusion of alien races and cultures, there is also going to be a fantasy element to the story. Or perhaps it’s merely a new dimension science has yet to uncover? Reality as we know it is going to take a serious twist.
Here there be monsters. In Space.