Monday, February 1, 2016

Book Release: Race the Sky

Race the Sky, Secrets of the Elements Book I, is now available at Amazon.com.

This is the first novel in the series and it works a little differently than some of my other books. There is more of a mystery factor to this book which will carry on to the other books in the series. The book even ends with a bit of a mystery (not necessarily a cliffhanger). This is deliberate because solving that mystery will take an entire book of its own (The Hammer of Amalynth). In fact, the primary antagonist of the second book, Dr. Amalynth, appears briefly in this one.

Regarding the second book, I have a rough outline done, but it will take some revision before I can start in on the rough draft. There will also be more of a science fiction edge to the second and third books. Finally, if one theme could sum up the entire series it would be this: Faith rediscovered, faith rebuilt, faith refined. I'll explore each of those stages in the months and books to come.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Finish Line

This weekend I finished writing and editing a novel about beginnings. It is the story of a storm chaser in search of answers in the sky as well as on the ground. It is also the story of destruction by a false teacher and how it affects those left behind.

Race the Sky is yet another fifteen year novel for me, the other one being Theft at the Speed of Light. Both books had multiple prior versions but this book's iterations were the most divergent, with only the storm chases carrying over from draft to draft. The story has evolved significantly over the years and although I'm going to classify it as science fiction (especially because of the other two books in the series), some elements of the book are eerily similar to real world events.

Within the next couple of weeks I'll have a cover for the book and then I'll post more updates on the series as a whole.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Confluence

Sometimes in the act of writing a book, unusual creative events occur that have no easy explanation. Such is the case with the trilogy of novels I'm currently working on. The first novel, Race the Sky, is something I've been working on for close to fifteen years. The second book, The Hammer of Amalynth, was originally a novel about relativism and the third book, The Fire and the Anvil, started out as a short story collection. Each book had its own individual problems that seemed insurmountable at the time.

But then something funny happened. One night I decided to experiment and I put all three ideas "side by side". Over the course of an hour, many of the initial problems disappeared and plot elements (and characters) from the individual books started solving the problems in the other books. The third book turned into a novel and the Secrets of the Elements trilogy was born.

In my previous post, I listed the probable back cover copy for the next novel, Race the Sky. Like any first book in a series, there is some setting up of larger narrative arcs and several of the characters in this novel will return for the other two. All three books will follow John Sayers (a stormchaser) and Madeline Kinney (a cult researcher). In the second and third books, Dr. Ferganut will join them (from the short stories Dust in the Whirlwind and Firebugs). At that point, the Dust in the Whirlwind and Firebugs will takes on whole new meanings.

More updates will be coming shortly. Race the Sky should be available sometime in January of 2016.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Vista

When hiking up a mountain trail, sometimes it's difficult to see the summit, especially if the mountain is covered in trees. Although it is encouraging to think about the view at the top, often times a hiker has to focus first on the obstacles before them such as tree roots, rocks, and mud. Even near the top, when a hiker knows the summit is near, it can be easy to want to call it day due to exhaustion.

When you finally make it to the top, though, the view can be worth all the effort. That's where things are at with the novel, Race the Sky. There were some unresolved narrative issues with the manuscript up until recently. Suddenly, as if reaching a summit vista, the final pieces "clicked" into place. This all occurred as I was trying to hammer out the back cover copy for the book.

Here, then, is a glimpse of that vista and a working version of the back cover copy:
John Sayers is a storm chaser determined to crack the mystery of the violent weather that is ravaging his home state of South Dakota. He crosses paths with Madeline Kinney, a cult researcher who is pursuing a nefarious "church doctor" across the region. Together, they find there is more to the secrets of the sky and the church doctor than just anecdotes and hard data.
Of course this is subject to change, but it gets the idea across.

More novel news soon. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Editing Update - Race the Sky

Just a brief editing update today. I'm still working through the edits of the next novel, Race the Sky. I figure there are probably at least 2-3 more editing passes left to go. The reason this particular book is taking so long (along with the cover art) is that it sets up the foundation for the other two books to follow. Things are still on track for an early January 2016 release, however. I'll also making an audio version of the first chapter available soon.

After that, a new science fiction short story collection, Windows Out, will be released. The stories are finished, but they still need some editing before I'll publish it. One story from Windows Out, Fermat's Last Theorem of Robotics, is available here.

And...if you haven't seen it, The Chronopticus Chronicles is available here, here, and here. It contains the short story, The Mines of Mars Part I, along with Fractal Standard Time, Ionotatron, and Chronopticus Rising. Here is the book trailer for the entire series, too. This collection is on sale for a limited time.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Power of Posterboard

Today is the first of a few "craft" related posts I hope to write over the next few weeks. In future posts I hope to cover such topics as outlining and rough drafts. These ideas won't work for everyone, but they might be of some use to someone.

One of the techniques I came up with years ago was to use a piece of poster board when outlining a novel. Any thin and cheap piece of poster board will do (I use ones that are 50 cents or less), and a piece that is 12" x 24" or bigger works best. The purpose of the board is to sort out narrative arcs and find plot holes. I find it to be especially useful for novels where there are multiple points of view and multiple story lines going at once.

For example, here is a poster board graph I came up with for the novel, Theft at the Speed of Light:


The final version of the book ended up being different at various points, but the main story "beats" (significant moments) can be seen here. On the left hand side of the board are the character names and along the bottom axis is a timeline. With other books, I've labeled the bottom axis with chapter numbers.

Each curve represents a character's inner journey. Note that not all the points on a particular character's narrative arc end up in the novel. As an author, I need to know what is going on with each character throughout the book at any given moment, but whether I share that or not with the reader depends on the situation. Also, the shapes of the curves are more indicative of the overall "inner condition" of the character rather than representing rising/falling actions. For example, in the graph above, Charles' condition deteriorates as the novel progresses, while Alex's generally improves.

Using this technique can also help spot holes and other potential problems with the plot. In the case of an upcoming novel, The Hammer of Amalynth, I first wrote an outline for the book and then drafted a poster board graph. I quickly realized that the novel needed more subplots and more characters. Had I decided to plow ahead and write the novel anyway, the first draft would have only been thirteen chapters long and in need of extensive rework to make it bigger. I'd rather spend my time fixing the outline at the outset rather than spending days trying to diagnose and fix the issues later on.

Although this isn't a foolproof method, it does tend to help cut down on errors. I also only create a graph after I've written (and rewritten) the outline of a book. After the graph is created I go back and edit the outline further to fix any obvious issues. Then, and only then, will I start in on the rough draft.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Book Release: The Chronopticus Chronicles Box Set

The other day I released the Chronopticus Chronicles box set. This includes the short story, The Mines of Mars, Part I, along with Fractal Standard Time, Ionotatron, and Chronopticus Rising. I decided to keep everything in the order that it was written, mainly to keep the "fractal" structure of Fractal Standard Time intact. It was a fun series to write and at some point it would be nice to revisit the world by writing a new series based on some of the characters.

Other versions of this box set will be released shortly for Barnes and Noble, iTunes, etc.