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Month: May 2016

Cover reveal for Broken Devices

Posted in Artwork, Broken Devices, and The Chained Adept

Broken Devices - Full Front Cover - 297x459

Thanks to my cover artist, Jake Bullock, the cover's ready for my current book. Good thing, too, since it'll be out in roughly a month

Broken Devices, book 3 of The Chained Adept, takes place in Kigali, the great southern empire.

Penrys and Najud are underground in Yenit Ping, the largest city in the world, confronted by a heap of chains. Intact chains, like the one Penrys wears. Used ones.

Since they can't be unfastened, there's only one way to get them off — head first. This, of course, renders their one-time wearers into broken devices.

 

A milestone

Posted in Goals

1MillionI'm reluctant to even mention it, but I've just passed my first million-word milestone. Why am I reluctant?

When I was writing my first novel, four years ago, I had no idea what to expect of the writing life. I was immensely gratified with the production of a book I wanted to read, and my fans have been kind enough to agree, picking up the whole series over time, novels and shorter works.

At that time, a million words seemed an impossible distance away. More experienced authors muttered things like, “The first million words are just a start,” and I couldn't believe them. How could that be?

But they were right. I'm most of the way through my seventh novel, with two more planned for the year, and I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of what I need to learn to grow as a writer. I'm more humble now, but looking forward to the second million, and the third. This post is more of an homage to how I felt when I was getting started, than how I feel now.

BTW — How long does it take to write a million words of fiction? At my current rate of about 750 words/hour, that's more than 1300 hours, one word at a time. At 40 hours/week, that's only 33 weeks. Doesn't seem like that much, when you put it that way, does it?

Making all the plot threads meet

Posted in Broken Devices, Plot, and The Chained Adept

PlotMaze

My series, The Chained Adept, began as an exploration in overall writing technique, that is, the dreaded divide between writers who outline (plotters) and writers who fly by the seat of their pants (pantsers).

I'm an old software engineer and company builder, so (as you might imagine) I'm a natural outliner. Say what you will about software — in the end, if you didn't plan (plot) it right, the program won't run.

Of course, for my first series, I found that as an outlined plot progressed, less and less of the original outline was relevant. In the end, all I was really left with were echoes of the original goals and plot inflection points (the inciting moments, the setbacks, the crises, the resolutions, and so forth). So I thought I might as well start with just that much, or at least the end goal, and try the alternate approach.

The great virtue of writing as a pantser is that, if you don't know how it's going to work out as you go along, then neither do your readers, so you're likely to keep surprising them as you surprise yourself.

KickMachineYou have to trust to your subconscious which has read a lot of books in your genre. It's very good at putting together the clues you've already written (inadvertent or not) and speculating about what might come next. Writing becomes more like reading — you write to see how it's going to come out.

Each time you pause and add a bit to what's been written already, your subconscious adds that to the mix and continues to churn. Every now and then, though, I find I have to give my subconscious a good thump — I've put the coins in the machine, but nothing's coming out.

Right now, I'm headed for a big setback in act 3 of Broken Devices. It's not the final crisis, but it's significant. I've got the villains and at least three other sets of characters all headed for the same general area, with good reasons to be there and serious purposes, and I know what the result will be, but the actual paths that will tie them all together are being a bit… elusive. Like the center of that maze above, you can see the goal but you can't get there down any of the existing paths.

My subconscious is doing one of those whirr-thunk, whirr-thunk moments you get when you turn the key and the car doesn't start. I'm going to be stuck here until something shifts. I need some nice mindless tasks so it can churn away and spit out useful choices that don't depend on implausible coincidences.

Conyers, GA - May 21: The streaks of a rider's headlamp make a winding trail through the woods during the Granny Gear 24 Hours of Conyers 24-hour mountain bike race in Conyers, Georgia.

I've been here before and I know it'll sort itself out, but they don't call this approach “writing into the dark” for nothing.

 

An observation

Posted in Broken Devices, Heroes, Plot, and The Chained Adept

Put your hero in danger and keep them there
Put your heroes in danger and keep them there

So here I am nearing the middle of Broken Devices, and I'm itching to broaden the scope. I mean, we're in Yenit Ping, the biggest city in the world, but it's just not… enough.

Ever notice that if you put your hero in a spot of danger, just a little bit, it has a way of greatly increasing your story options?

We enter the scene with everything all hunky-dory, and we exit… rather differently, as if a wind had blown down all the jackstraws.  Let's see what our heroes (and villains) are going to do about it.