Sunday, April 9, 2017

Done. Sort of.



I'm very happy to report that I've finished the first draft of part 8, The Dragon Kings. This is the last section of The Lost Star's Sea, which means that both the book and the adventures of Captain Wil Litang have, at long last, wound to their way to their appointed end.

Of course we're far from the end of work on it. I still have a lot of hammering of the words, sentences, and paragraphs to get them into shape for publication – especially in the last two or three sections which are more or less first drafts, and my first drafts are often rather pedestrian, sketchy, and rough around the edges. The first three sections, however, should be pretty much ready to go – one last read through, and then proof reading.

So what's next? This week I'll start my last read through of part 2 (part 1 is The Castaways of the Lost Star) and once I'm satisfied with it, I'll print it out and hand it over to Sally, my wife and first proof reader. Once she's done with it, and I'll make the 100's of corrections she'll find. Corrections made, it will then be ready to be read by my volunteer proofreaders and advanced readers – hopefully by the end of April. Episodes 3, & 4 should follow at a similar pace, every three weeks or so. If all goes well, we're looking at a late summer, early fall release date.


I'll be contacting everyone who's signed up to be a volunteer proofreader/advanced reader when I have the first proofed version in hand. Any one interested in reading the not quite final version prior to book publication, can drop me a note at cmlitka@gmail.com and I'll put you on the list.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Island Trails


Another view of the Islands of the Pela. This time we have a vine bridge spanning a gap. The "broad feathered" natives of the island, with their more articulated and clawed feet can easily use these vines to cross the gap. The painting's so-so, but I think the islands in the distance are an improvement. That's the way it works for me -- learn a lesson with every painting -- and hope I don't forget it.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Boat and Branches


Another very casual impressionist painting from the Pela, of a small trader on the wind. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Market Bound


Another Pela painting. As I mention in a previous post, I can't "see" images in my mind -- just fleeting impressions. I'm thinking by trying to paint scenes from the premise I can construct a vision of the islands of the Pela, painting by painting. We're still very far from what I see in the fleeting glimpses I can conjure up, but I'll keep trying to get it closer to the vision, within the limits of my talent. Still, it's fun trying.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Drift Bound


I've painted for many years. For a while I was even painting as a business -- not a lucrative one, but I did sell my work. I don't bother with selling anymore. I just paint for fun -- just like I write. I'm primarily a landscape painter, and after switching from watercolors to oil and then acrylic, I became an impressionist landscape painter. You can see my work here: http://litka.deviantart.com/gallery/

While I took a year or so off from painting, I'm back at it again, and at the present, I'm combining my art with my writing -- painting pictures that I might use for my book covers. The painting above is my latest effort. The inspiration comes from the end of The Bright Black Sea's first part -- where the Lost Star sets out for the drifts from the Sanre-tay System, and the moon of Lontria.

Now I'm not an illustrator, and this sort of work falls largely outside of my expertise -- but with my publishing budget, it falls to me to do my own covers. Ideally I'd be an expert in Photoshop and Illustrator, and could create a modern looking cover, but I'm not. Still, my books are old fashioned, so perhaps old fashioned covers suit them.

I painted this scene over several times over this past week. The first time I was looking to keep it simple with just silhouettes.


I decided that was a bit too crude and plain, so I revised it, like this. giving color to the Lontria and Sanre-tay.


I tried the using this for the cover, but it had too much light. I wanted the cover to reflect the title, and there was too much bright and not enough black. and I also didn't like the Lost Star just hanging there, so it was back to the drawing boards.



 For this version, I changed the shape and color of the nebula, made the Lontria and Sanre-tay larger, and added the lights of a thousand ships as well. However, I still didn't like the Lost Star where it was -- it was too remote from Lontria, so I made another revision, which I did not photograph, painting over this Lost Star and making it a bit smaller, changing its direction and moving more to the center of the painting, as well as revising the nebula as you now see it. In the end, I didn't think that worked, so I painted over that version to make the Lost Star coming out at the viewer, leaving  the Unity behind -- the painting at the top of this post. Below is the cover I got out of this painting
:


As it stands now, this would be the cover I use when I release its companion volume this summer/fall. I'll keep the current cover so I can see if it makes any difference in downloads. And well, I still have plenty of time to paint more and perhaps better covers before I actually need one.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March 2017 Progress Report


Above are two possible covers for The Lost Star's Sea. On the left I've used my favorite Gimp art filter, “cartoon”, on the right, the plain version. I like both, but I'm leaning towards the plain version because it better matches my A Summer in Amber cover, which I really like. I am trying to keep my covers similar, to give both my books and my “brand” a distinctive look and feel. Still, there's plenty of time to paint more scenes, so nothing is definite. I actually need to finish the book to need a cover, and that's proving to be a bit of a struggle.

I had to start the last episode of The Lost Star's Sea, “The Shadow of the Dragon Kings” over two times, and only have gotten down 18,000 first draft quality words. I don't expect the rest of the episode to go any faster, since the remaining half is just sketched in at this point.

This is rather unexpected. I thought I had this episode well in hand. I was wrong. This summer I'd come up with a way to tie a lot of the loose story threads and mysteries together without getting too outrageously improbable. That delighted me. However, all that takes a great deal of explanation, which – as originally planned – came at the expense of action and suspense. I've had to rewrite the opening half three times to streamline as much of the explanations as possible. I've also had to come up ideas to end the story with far more action than I'd originally planned. I believe I have ideas that work, but they need to be fleshed out and choreographed. For the time being, I'm going to do a second draft of what I have to smooth out all cutting and pasting I did between the three versions. (And to make sure I have it all straight in my mind.) Hopefully in a week or so, I'll have enough details of the last half of the episode to embark on finishing the book. I do need to make sure it all ends up the same place as the original version, since I don't want to change the ending.

All this is for the best – a better ending and a better story. However, I'm now thinking it will take me at least to the middle of April to finish this episode, which will likely push back proof reading of episodes 2 to May. Even so, things could get done for a late summer release, but if it takes until early fall, oh well. Better a better story little later.



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Island Trader


Another painting of the Pela, once again with an eventual cover in mind. I wasn't all that crazy about the last one, and there may well be several more after this one. This piece is more in my impressionist style than the last. I made no attempt at realism. What we're looking at is a small island trader with its sails spread to take advantage of the air currents. I think we're probably looking at the underside of the hull, but then again, maybe not. I guess it doesn't matter. There are several small islands in the middle distance and larger ones, blue in the distance.