Thursday, January 26, 2017

Yes Another New Cover

It's that time again. Time for a new cover for The Bright Black Sea. I've been wanting a more "space opera-ish" cover for some time. I was thinking of having one ready for the release of its companion volume, but that won't be to late summer -- and only if all goes well -- and I really didn't want to wait that long. So this is it. For now. I pulled some 50 old paperback books off my book shelves -- back when they painted paint on paper book covers -- to see how they handled metal and such. However, this type of work isn't my strong suit, and it shows. This is probably not the last cover. I was using thick acrylics for this, and generally illustrators use opaque watercolors for painted illustrations. I might try using liquid acrylics on paper which should allow me to get more details in -- if I can actually draw extra details. Draftsmanship and patience are not my strong suit. We'll see. In the meanwhile, we have a picture of the Lost Star and an Omni-V jump fighter during the extended battle on the way to Boscone. Collect them all!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Beta Readers

The long march to complete The Lost Star's Sea, the companion volume to The Bright Black Sea and conclusion of Wil Litang's adventures is nearing its completion. I'm hoping that by the end of February I will have reached the end, in first draft. Like The Bright Black Sea, and perhaps even more so, this story is episodic, which is to say, its a series of fairly self-contained stories in chronological order. The first episode is the Castaways story that I release last summer. There will be seven more which I am planning to send out one at a time to any beta readers interested in reading them. Castaways is done, and at the moment, the next three episodes are just about ready to be proofread, I need to go over them one last time for a final bit of polishing – hopefully minor. The next two episodes are a bit rougher, in 2nd or 3rd draft mode. With any luck, they'll need only one more draft and then a final polishing. I'm halfway through writing the penultimate episode now, and may even have a 2nd draft of it done by the end of this month. Which leaves only the last episode to write in February/March. I know what I want to do in the last episode so I am looking forward to writing it, so that I'm fairly confident that I'll have a good 2nd/ 3rd version of it done by the end of March. All of which is to say, that I'm hoping to start sending out, episode by episode, versions ready for my volunteer beta readers to go over in April (2017).

I'd like the nearly final version of this book read by volunteers who would give me feedback on the typos they encounter, and the questions or any criticism they wish to offer on the stories. Hopefully by doing this I will avoid the mistakes of my first novels, and will eliminate as many typos as possible. However, like all my books, I plan to release The Lost Star's Sea as a free book, so that I don't even have a free ebook copy to offer to any volunteer proofreader/beta reader. I have only my heartfelt thanks and “editorial mention” in the book itself naming and thanking any proofreaders/beta readers who help make the book better. In the unlikely event that I go to print with any of my books, I would send signed copies to all the beta readers who contribute to this book. But, as I said, this is unlikely, and should not be taken into account when volunteering.

The flip side of this is that because I have nothing to offer but thanks, and will be releasing the book for free, I would be glad to send out these sections to anyone interested in reading the not-yet-final, and slightly rough version with no strings attached. You can simply sign up to receive a copy with no obligation at all to contribute anything in return. They can simply be considered advanced copies.

I will have my in-house proof reader, my dear wife, read through each section before I send it out. I am very prolific with typos and very blind to them, so that I believe she corrected hundreds of typos before I sent Castaways out to my volunteer beta readers – who found perhaps 50 or so more typos and suggested so points to clear up. Which is to say that these sections should be close to publication quality, but may well still have a significant number of typos. They might also have formatting errors, since I will be doing a simple down and dirty epub conversion if you choose to receive the stories as an epub (for reading on you ipad or non-kindle ebook reader or app). (Smashwords and Amazon do their own conversions.) I will also offer it as a PDF for reading on a computer/ tablet as well.

If you think you would like to be a volunteer proofreader, beta reader, or just read an advanced copy of the story, episode by episode over the course of a few months, Send me an email at and I will put your name on the list. (I will only use this list for this purpose. My marketing effort consists of pretty much doing nothing.) I will send out an email when the first section is ready for to be sent out, so that you will have a chance to confirm that you want to receive it – if all goes well, some time in April. You need not commit to anything, and can decide what, if anything you want to contribute after you receive the section.

If you have any questions, just drop me a line. I will provide more details closer to the time when I will be sending out the advanced copies.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

January 2017 Progress Report

I met my December goal by finishing the first draft of the short episode entitled "The Floating Jungle" by the 12th of December. Which was a good thing since the flu knocked me off my feet for a week and the holidays prevented any further writing. After Christmas I went back and re-wrote large sections of it to try to bring it up to snuff.

The first draft is always the hardest, since you are pushing into the unknown. I generally try to get down what happens and as much dialog as possible, but it's rough and often just sketched in. In the second and third drafts I find that I often have to re-write whole sections to not only make them sound better, but make more sense as well. I hate plot holes, and try my best to see that everything flows naturally. The characters can make mistakes and miscalculations, but not to such a degree that it is out of character. You have to make the plot fit the characters, not the characters to the plot. Then, hopefully, after the third (or fourth) draft, I convert it to an epub and read the it on my iPad, which is much more like reading it as a book than on the computer screen. I highlight words and sentences that  need a little work. That done, it's off to my volunteer proof readers.

I'm hoping that The Floating Jungle will be an easy third draft and I can put it in the queue to be read on the iPad. I've started the next to last section, "Long Street, Windvera" with the hope of having a first or second draft done by the end of the month. This was the problem section for quite a while as I did not have a plot for it. I do now, though it is a more modest one than I originally envisioned.

In February I should start writing the rip-roaring conclusion to the Lost Star's Sea and the whole Litang saga. Actually, I don't think it will be all that rip-roaring. Some danger and mystery, to be sure, but I'm looking to wrap up as many loose ends as possible with as much humor as I can bring to the story. There are a lot of loose ends to tie up, and I think I can have a lot of fun tying them up. I already know the last line of the book.

Of course, these last two sections are birds in the bush, and the last two I've written are probably a ways from being good enough, so nothing is certain. I'm hoping to wrap things and release the book up by late summer 2017. Truthfully, I'll be very glad to wrap it up. Right now writing seems to be a lot like work. And I do this for a "hobby", so work is the last thing I want to do. Writing a 300K word sequel to a 300K+ novel is not something I'd want to do again. Indeed, as of right now, I have no plans to write another book. That may change, but then again, it may not.

So that's were things stand at the moment. I'm getting my 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours of writing in every day, so we're making progress. And if you keep doing that, eventually you reach the end. That, anyway, is what I tell myself every morning. (Though once I start writing time flies. It's just getting up and going over to the computer to start the process that takes and effort.)