Work, Writing, and Stuff

I am quite glad February has drawn to a close. Been either having to leave work early to take care of family stuff or dealing with work closures because of snow, or staying way too late at work to make up for missed time.

Still, I’m getting writing stuff done. Along with working on plotting out the back half of Murder in Monaco today, I started the first revisions to Skin the Cat, which not only is the penultimate story, it is far and away the longest of the For a Few Gold Pieces More collection. Printed it out and grabbed my own red pen to go to town. I don’t know if I’m making it shorter, but it feels like I’m making it better.

Tomorrow, I’ll be at Bowie State for a prep class for my graduate comprehensives and the several hours of library time doing Thesis research. Maybe I’ll feel up for revising the second half of Cat Saturday night. Or not.

But I’m fading pretty hard now, so I’m going to call it a night.

Every Little Bit Helps

I will be glad when February goes away. I’m hating these long days as I try to make up time for all these snow days. Another 10+ hour day at work. Still, it was a good day at work and during one of my breaks, I think I’ve gotten the story I really want to tell to finish my For a Few Gold Pieces More collection.

However, this evening, I’ve been working on a current project rather than starting yet again another one. I added 3255 words to Murder in Monaco which is a project I can’t really talk about yet until I get the go from the publisher. but it’s tentatively scheduled for release in November, so that’s a good sign.

Of course, I need to spend some time reviewing my galley’s for Wings of Fire and I need to start editing Skin the Cat, but it’s good to get some forward momentum on yet another project.

Little by little, I’m whittling down my “overdue” pile and I can now start working on my “want to do” pile.

Slow, but Productive, Night

Been a slow evening, but I did get some things accomplished. Did the line edits for Wings of Fire and got that returned to the editor. It’s should be going into final layout now.

Also, I updated my resume and sent it and my latest author’s picture to Shore Leave’s guest coordinator. It may take a few days, but I’ll be appearing on their web site eventually. Also conversed with one of the MystiCon people. He followed my Twitter back to here and the reading didn’t go like I thought it would and asked what they could do to make it better. The main thing I can say to improve my experience would be to get real lighting into the room for those reading after sunset.

Also I finished Mission to Kala by Mongo Beti for my African Literature course at Bowie State. He had me up through the first three sections of the book. However, the last section was so horrifically anti-climactic (to me, YMMV). Still, I suspect writing up my two page report on this book will not take as long as the other two did.

Tonight was primarily maintenance mode. Tomorrow, it’s back to work on Murder in Monaco, while I’m waiting on my edits for On Wings of Fire.

MystiCon Wrap-up and Thoughts

And the third and final day of MystiCon is in the books. I had a nice breakfast with April MacDicken while Mark was getting ready for his Steampunk Costuming panel, then made it to the Social World Building panel and the “Tooting Your Own Horn” (aka, how to use social media responsibly without annoying everyone who knows you) panel.

The Social World Building panel was a nice continuation of the Word Building workshop Ashley Chappell and I had done on Friday evening and if we do this again at another con (MystiCon or otherwise), I may incorporate a few of their points. Also, if we do the panel again at MystiCon, I may ask them for 1.5 hours to be sure we have enough time to do Q&A. I think I was still answering questions today from people who were there on Friday.

Then after meeting the MacDicken clan for lunch before they headed home, I made it to my “Opposition in All Things” panel. And, while it was primarily about creating challenges for our characters and discussing rising and falling tension and how subplots can help raise tension and build the character into a more rounded person in the reader’s eyes, we also talked about tension/conflict as in “writing stories in general”, the “writer/publisher/marketing department tension”, the “characters are not doing what I, the author, want them to do”, and so on.

In other words, the last panels of a con tend to meander at times.

Then I caught up with a couple of people who I had only seen in passing earlier in the con, said my goodbyes and hit the road.

Outside of dodging way too many 18 wheelers and getting caught in a mystery traffic jam on I-66 trying to get to the Beltway, the trip was pretty uneventful.

For my first time attending MystiCon, I have to say I was pretty happy with everything. Were there a few things I might have done differently if I were running the con. Possibly. Did the hotel staff try to make corrections when we ran into issues? Definitely and I tip my cap to the staff at the Holiday Inn- Tanglewood for their support (although the elevator nearest my room breaking down at 11PM last night didn’t help pack out this morning, but that was the most inconvenienced I was all weekend, so they’re definitely in the plus column. The guests were fun to hang around with and the dealer’s room had some cool stuff in it. All in all, a good solid B+ for my first MystiCon and I’d not only recommend it, but I’ll probably see if they’ll have me back next year.

So, now, it’s time to wrap things up, go to bed, and deal with work in the morning. *yay!*

(Note: there may be some amount of sarcasm in that last phrase. Please use caution.)

MystiCon – Day Two wrap-up

The second day of MystiCon was a little different from the first. It was still fun but my panels felt a bit off. Probably my personal perception vice reality, but there were still good things, so I don’t want to sound like I’m just grousing.

The first panel was on Writing Military SF. Our moderator did not show, so the panelists decided I should moderate since I was sitting in the middle. Yikes! Normally when I moderate a panel, I try to have prepared questions and have a rough idea how long we’re going to dwell on various topic. Since I was making up the questions off of the top of my head, I felt somewhat uncomfortable about whether we were giving the audience what they were looking for. However, I did get some good feedback, so that was good.

The panel on Creating Memorable Characters was a lot better. Our moderator, Alan Wold, did a great job of ensuring everyone got to talk and he riffed off of our answers to form his next ones, as well as having questions in mind before we started. This was a well attended panel also, so I think we did OK.

The final panel was regarding military training for fight battles, past, present, and future. Again, being the moderator defaulted to being me. However, this was probably the least successful panel of the day. One panelist got called away to help the EMTs, another panelist wasn’t feeling well, so that basically left two of us to try and carry a very vague topic. We got some good questions from the audience, but I’m not sure that particular panel should be on the program again next year, at least not without some fine tuning.

On the good side, I had a ball sitting in the Gallefrey Pirate Radio podcast, led by Davey Beauchamp, The Baen Podcast/Preview panel was very informative, and the panel on using mythology in writing fantasy, science fiction, or horror was well done. Also, the SF Match Game was hilarious. Plus, I attended a scotch tasting hosted by Baen that evening, and that is *always* a pleasant thing. Huzzah for the people who put that together.

I have one panel today at 2:00PM on “Opposition in All Things” – about creating conflict in your story and is there such a thing as too much conflict. That could be a very entertaining panel.

And now, time to go grab some breakfast with my friends and start prepping to check out of the hotel.

MystiCon – Day One Wrap-up

The first day of MystiCon is in the books. Ashley Chappell and I  had a great turnout for our World Building Workshop. We could have had another hour and we still would have only touched on the material available for us to cover. The audience had good questions, albeit not a lot of time to ask them, so we moved the panel out into the hall for those who wanted to hang around to talk.

I had more people at my reading than I anticipated, and I think things went well. However, there were no lights in the room. Apparently when they rearranged it for seating, the floor and desk lamps were taken out. Well, needless to say, since my reading was at 6pm, the room was getting dark. Luckily, I had put all my reading material on my Nook tablet ahead of time, so I could read from the backlit screen. One of the attendees pointed out it looked like a real fireside ghost story because the Nook was bottom-lighting my face. *grin* I read parts of two short stories—“The Price of Conviction” from Doctor Who Short Trips: The Quality of Leadership and The Demon’s Head.

The signing went about as well as I could have hoped being my first time here. They really don’t have the signing area well designated, which is unfortunate. However, I still sold a few things and spent a lot of time talking with people who’d either been at the World Building panel or saw my (Hulk/Star Trek) books and wanted to talk about writing.

Had a great dinner with the MacDicken family. We hit Ben Gui Sushi and did some serious damage there. *grin* Then I hung out in the bar afterward with Ashley and her fiance and a couple of other authors. All in all, a very nice day.

Tomorrow, I have three panels:
1:00PM – Military Science Fiction: Getting it Right – Ballroom D
7:00PM – Constructing a Memorable Character – Boardroom 1
8:00PM – Boot Camp: Past, Present, and Future – Dogwood 2

I think it’s going to be a pretty fun day tomorrow. Heck, I may get to actually use some of the things I picked up in the 15 years I spent in the military. *grin*

Mysticon, we are here

Just a quick note. The drive from Central Maryland to Roanoke, VA was relatively uneventful. The Capital Beltway was congested as always and the rain just west of Manassas, VA brought traffic to a crawl. When you can barely see over the hood of the car, slowing down is usually a “good thing”, provided the idiots behind you start slowing down too. *grumble, mutter*

I’m checked in, unloaded, and prepping for this evening.  My Friday schedule is:

4:00PM – World Building Workshop – Ballroom C

6:00PM – Kaffeeklatch (readings) – Room 533

7:00 PM – Author signings – Signing table

I hope to get a chance to catch up with people tonight. I suspect tomorrow may be a tad chaotic.  Hey, it’s Saturday at a con, when is it not chaotic?  Plus, I plan on using some of my down time here to get some writing done.

(Dammit, stop laughing!)

Reading and Writing

Celebrated finishing On Wings of Steel by doing my college homework tonight. Reread parts of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and then watched an interview with him, as well as him doing a reading from the book. Also watched another professor discussing Achebe’s critique of Heart of Darkness. Tomorrow I’ll get started reading Mission to Kala by Mongo Beti.  Also ordered the rest of the books I need for class tonight. They’ll be coming in over the next few days.
Normally, I’d take a few days off after finishing a novel, but no rest for the weary. So, I plan on finishing the line edits on Wings of Fire before Mysticon this weekend. Then I’ll be doing the final revisions on Skin the Cat to send off to my editor and then working on Murder in Monaco and The Pearls of Darkness Affair—I’m about half done with both of these at this point. Then it’ll be time to jump on Fool’s Cup, which will be the last of the For a Few Gold Pieces More collection for Musa Publishing.
Plus, there may be a couple of other short stories that may be coming down the road.

AND when I’m done with those . . . I need to get back to work on Childhood’s Tears and Steel on Target.

Nothing serious. *grin*

Conventions and Completion

It has been an interesting weekend here at the ol’ hacienda. First of all, my daughter apparently caught a bug that she was more than happy to share with her mom. So far, I’ve managed to avoid the worst of it, but I’m not at 100% or I might have posted this last night.

Saturday and Sunday I was at Farpoint 2014, one of the many SF/F conventions we have here in the Baltimore area. It used to be a fairly heavy Star Trek focused convention, but lately it’s been more open to general SF/F and media. I only had one panel on Sunday (Writing Historical Fiction with Howard Weinstein and Steven H. Wilson) and while we didn’t have the crowd we had hoped for, we had an enthusiastic crowd and I hope we were able to give the attendees some assistance in writing their own stories. I did attend a good panel on “Writing Humor” and there was a memorial for Ann Crispin at the show on Saturday that I attended. I caught up with a ton of people at the show and over all had a ball.

Next weekend is Mysticon 2014, down in Roanoake, VA. This will be the first con I’ve attended where I actually stayed in a hotel for the show in years. I’ve got four or five panels, a reading and a book signing scheduled there. More later this week.

But the big news of the weekend is that On Wings of Steel is off to my editor. No more revisions, no more last minute changes, no more nothing. The revised edition came in just under 102,000 words. Again, I suspect there will be some trimming once the editor gets out the red pen, but that’s typical and I’m perfectly fine with that.

But, the important thing is it’s not hanging over my head any more. I can actually start working on these other projects without feeling guilty that I hadn’t gotten OWOS done.

Of course, tonight, I need to finish all the reading I haven’t done for class tomorrow night, but that was pretty much a given. *sigh*

In the Beginning . . .

Remember when I said I was done with the revisions for On Wings of Steel.

I may have been a little premature there. *sigh*

It’s the joys and the frustrations of working in a shared-universe. You’re always at the mercy of whoever has written in the world ahead of you. If they establish something about the same people/place/thing you’re writing about , well, because they were published first, now their work takes precedence.

<— having Starfleet Corps of Engineer flashbacks.

Ah, the joys of playing in a shared world.

The changes to the story bible aren’t dramatic, but small things now have to be adjusted. For example. I had a certain building in X part of Southwatch, but the other author has it in Y. That means either I have to write something into my novel explaining why they’re not in the building already established OR I have to go through my novel and ensure I adjust things to the new reality. In this case, I like the idea the first author came up with, so even though it’s more work, I’m adjusting my story to match theirs.

I suspect these things won’t happen as often once we have a larger body of work in The Darkside Codex, but the first few books will probably have this whiplash effect on editing until certain items not addressed in the initial story bible get fleshed out.

Yesterday, I wrote up some suggested back cover copy for Wings of Fire and today I got the revised copy back from my editor. Most of what I suggested managed to sneak through. I may not be the best person in the world to write a blurb, I sure have fun doing it, once I get going. The first draft or two usually lack something, because I’m warring between how much to tell someone without spoiling the whole story and how much to tell them to pique their interest.

That, and my blurbs tend to be rather snarky because the main character is snarky and he’s the one who’s speaking in the blurb.

That’s the fun part.

Also, between Wednesday and today, I started working on Murder in Monaco again for another project I’m doing for Pro-Se Productions. That’s my new project, along with finishing the Line Edits for Wings of Fire and the first edits on Skin the Cat.

Busy writer is busy. *grin*