Hand Me My Trench Coat and Fedora

And calling it a bit earlier than last night. 1750+ words added to The Pearls of Darkness Affair. I’m probably going to revisit this last scene and add in some more description. However, I do have the dialogue down and I’m pretty happy with the tones of voices and I think they sound like the people they’re supposed to represent.

Sometimes, the problem I run into when I’m doing a pulp/noir type of story is I listen to a lot of the old radio dramas, which, of course, are very dialogue heavy. That’s usually why I wind up doing them in two passes. The first I try to focus on voices and get the give and take of the repartee down. Then I have to turn off the audio track in my head and figure out what I need to describe and/or elaborate on to fill in the world around the people conversing.

I admit, I do like dialogue. I don’t know if it’s from my time as an actor or my time doing radio, but I have been accused of having two people standing against a white canvas at times. So, it helps to go back through and ensure I’m painting the background and identifying the props to go along with my story.

There are times when it feels like an author is padding by going into “such” detail when it’s not moving the story forward, but setting the stage helps set the atmosphere in the reader’s head. So, there’s always the war of “how much is not enough, too much and just right.”

No one told me writing was based on the Three Bears. *sigh*

Clearing the Decks

Worked on Crossed Swords and The Pearls of Darkness Affair today. Only added about 350 words to Swords, but I was busy looking up things about the era of Louis XIII of France.

However, it was a much more productive evening with Pearls. I added 4178 words and tied together some scenes I’d written earlier. It’s a good feeling to finally be making some progress on this one. I’ve been stuck for a while. I’d written myself into a corner, so I had to step back and redo the outline completely for this one.

Now, that is no guarantee I’ll stick with the outline if something better comes to mind as I’m writing the next section, but I know where I “think” I’m supposed to be going with this story. That sometimes is all the boost I need to get going again. With any luck, the main villains will remain the main villains this time and I won’t be killing them off too early like I did already once with this story. (Bad characters, no cookies.)

Clearing the decks is not always fun, but it’s a good feeling when you stop for the night and can look back on a body of work.
It’s a good feeling to know you did about 4500 words in a day and most of them might be keepers. *grin*

And, FYI, I saw How to Train Your Dragon 2 yesterday at the theater. I think I know another movie that’s going to be coming home to join the collection as soon as its available. Because, you know . . . . dragons!

Catching up to progress (and last minute thoughts)

Got some great writing in on Sword of Fate this week. 5,684 words in two days (Thurs & Fri).

If the back holds up, I hope to finish this story and hammer out the plot points on The Pearls of Darkness so I can get that finished up before Tommy gives up on me completely.

Plus, there’ll be some letters going out today on some super-secret projects that came up at Origins.

I also suspect there’ll be food and coffee consumed today too before it’s all over.

And tomorrow? Dragons!


Oh, and speaking of catching up. I plan on spending some time this evening/tomorrow updating the site. I apologize for letting the front page get a bit out-of-date.


Last minute addendum: I see the Legend of Korra is starting back up next Friday (June 27). I’ve been a fan of many franchises, but the whole Avatar: The Last Airbender and the Legend of Korra story has really captured my attention. If someone came up to me and said, you can write for any franchise that you want but that’ll be the only one you can ever write for again, this one would be my choice.

Honestly, the TV shows have just barely touched on the world. This is a license just begging to be mined.

Catching up after the convention

Origins report upcoming.  Been busy recovering and catching up at work.

However, 1200 words written on Sword of Might and another 2000 words written on Pirate Raid, which is the working title of a new project I just landed at Origins. More on that to follow.

So, again, just because it’s quiet here doesn’t mean I’m not busy.

Plus, I’m also busy learning the rules to Mage Wars.


That would be telling.

Oh, but here’s a hint about Origins:

Cover to the 2014 Origins Game Fair Anthology - "Monsters"

2014 Origins Game Fair Anthology – “Monsters”

Packing and planning

I leave for Origins tomorrow, so I spent this evening running about wondering where the heck I left this and why would I put that there after the last show and so on.  It’s one thing to pack for a convention when you’re driving there and can organize things into separate boxes and such, and quite another when preparing to carry a large suitcase onto a plane. That’s not so easy . . . do I really need this? What if I don’t take enough of that? And for goodness sake, why won’t this box close without tearing up that other thing?

Still, after some running around, I think I’ve got everything ready to go. Just need to finish packing my clothes/toiletries tomorrow and then head for the airport. It’s been a long time since I’ve done multiple shows I’d never been a guest at before in one year, much less four new shows in 2014.  Still, it’s a great opportunity to get out and visit with fans and especially to have the chance to do my Writer Beware workshop. This will be a very different crowd, but I think much of what I have will resonate with the audience. Then again, a gaming crowd might have actual weaponry, so let’s hope I don’t bomb too badly. *grin*  Do not want to have to avoid the +3 holy sword of guest smiting.

I’m really stoked about Monsters, the Origins Anthology I have a story appearing in, being released this Thursday. I haven’t had a chance to see the cover art yet, but I have no doubt it’s going to be pretty darn cool. I’m really happy The Gryphon’s Tale is making its debut there and that my old Shadowhaven project is slowly sneaking out of the darkness where it’s been languishing for years. If I get a good response on this story, I’ll try to put together more tales and see if I can’t get them published while I work on the Shadowhaven novel

(“After the thesis is done, White.”)

My friend Steve Roman of StarWarp Concepts fame will be lurking about Eternal Con up in NYC this weekend. So, if you can’t make it out to Origins, and are in the Northeast, be sure to swing by and harass . . . I mean, visit with Steve at the show.

Pre-convention running around

Started working on a new special project today. More to come on this. It’s just some basic groundwork, so that once the thesis is done, I can jump right in.

Also added 1262 words to Crossed Swords tonight. We’re about 1/3 of the way through with this story.

Oh, and also started getting ready for Origins since I’m leaving on Wednesday. Somehow I figured freshly laundered clothing might be a nice thing when attending a new con/trade show for the first time. First impressions and all that.

And now to fold another load of laundry and call it a night.

Book Expo America/BookCon

The much belated con report. It’s a bit long, so bear with me.

Thursday: Took off early from work to catch the train to NYC. Settled into the quiet car and popped open Capes and Clockwork, a superhero steampunk anthology from Dark Oak Press. It was a rather enjoyable read.

Like any anthology, it has its stronger and weaker stories, but this one had a number of them that were very enjoyable. Unfortunately, one of the stronger entries would have been much better if it wasn’t so blatantly a D&D rip-off. I don’t mind mixing magic and steam in a story, but if you’re going to riff on a game system, try not to use their most recognizable creation. *sigh*

But, beyond that, this was a very strong anthology. I’d have to say my most favorite stories from the anthology were “Keely” by D. Allen Lewis, “Captain Amy and the Steam-Driven Kittens of Doom” by Azreal Wolf, and “Lost Child’s Little Protector” by Herika R. Raymer. All in all, it was certainly worth downloading this book for my Nook and made the trip from Baltimore to NYC go a lot faster. (4 stars)

Friday: Took off from my friend’s house in Queens and headed toward the Javits Center where Book Expo America was held. Here is where relying on one’s memory from a year ago is probably not a good idea. Instead of riding the 7 to 42nd and Times Square, I mistakenly got off at 42nd and Grand Central. Well, let me verify, there’s a big difference getting off on the east side of Manhatten versus getting off the subway near the center of Manhattan. However, once I got my bearings, it was a rather enjoyable walk and I was only slightly disheveled by the time I reached BEA.

Once I arrived, had a chance to catch up with some old friends at the show, to include Aleathea Kontis, and Chuck Gannon, as well as meeting a bunch of SFWA authors I’d never had the chance to visit with before. It was fun getting to visit with the Mystery Writers of America who had the booth to our right and the Horror Writers of America who had the booth just across from us. I’ve met some of these people before at other shows and it was great renewing acquaintances as well as meeting new people.

Really enjoyed visting with Ted Hertel, Jr. from the Mystery Writers of America. We discussed past conventions and getting to meet some of the greats from writing and comics who’re no longer with us. It’s amazing how much comic history is being lost daily. Too many young people, especially those who’re wanting to get into the business, don’t know who the trailblazers were who helped create this medium. It’s kind of sad when you see the Golden Age writers and artists completely ignored at a convention while everyone flocks around the flavor du’ jure. *sigh*

Also ran into Joshua Blimes and Lisa Rogers from Jabberwocky Agency and had a great conversation with them.

While BEA was a lot of fun, there were two personal highlights from BEA I want to mention. One was visiting with a gentleman who worked at one of the libraries from the Jersey side of the city. It turns out he was a big fan of my Gauntlet Dark Legacy book and promised to bring it next year for me to sign. I was surprised anyone remembered the book since it came out ten years ago, but it was a neat feeling just the same. Also, Margery Flax, the Administrative Director for the Mystery Writers of America have asked to see my thesis on Poe when the final version is approved. They want to add it to their Poe collection. Yeah, so now not only do I have to get this thesis past my committee, I have to write it in a way the MWA won’t fall asleep reading it.  No pressure.

After the show, Victoria Strauss, Michael Capabianco, and me went out for dinner uptown and discussed the future of Writer Beware and started discussing some new ways to get the word out there. We also need to figure out how to reach the self-publishers out there and keep our message relevant in this very fluid publishing market.

Saturday: Woke up entirely too early to help Steve Roman with his booth at BookCon. BookCon took over part of the BEA floor (rows 2400-end) and the StarWarp Concepts booth was 3064. Steve and I arrived at 7:20 and Jose Calderon, writer of Tall Tales and the Oswald Chronicles, arrived to give us a hand with the final set-up before the show kicked off at 9:00.

Steve Roman and Jose Calderon discussing the show during a break

Steve Roman and Jose Calderon at the StarWarp Concepts booth – BEA 2014

I think the people putting on Book Con got surprised. I know they were trying to temper the expectations of the exhibitors, but apparently all 10,000 fans who bought tickets showed up. It was a great time for me, but I understand some of the publishers who aren’t used to doing SF/F cons or comic conventions, were overwhelmed by the fan experience.

Steve did a brisk business most of the day and a number of people seemed enchanted by his story about Pandora Zwieback, the heroine of his novel Blood Feud. The fans had a bevy of questions about the series—how he came to write the story, what the reaction had been so far and so on. He also did a good business with some of the ancillary products that StarWarp puts out. To my surprise, he also did a brisk business on Troubleshooters Incorporated, my old comic series that he has collected and turned into a graphic novel. I think it was the second-best selling item on his table at Book Con.

It seemed that almost a quarter of the people walking past the table caught the fact I was wearing my Jon Pertwee shirt underneath my sports jacket. Who realized there were so many Doctor Who fans who’d show up at a regular book convention? It got people who might have passed the booth to stop, though, and we made a few sales that way, so I’m definitely keeping it up. A number of passer-bys gave me props for going “old school” by wearing a shirt with the Third Doctor on it.

Steve Roman introducing Pandora Zweibeck to a new fan - BEA 2014

Steve Roman introducing Pandora Zwiebeck to a new fan – BEA 2014

Book Con was rather short though, only going from 9-3 on Saturday. Considering most Saturdays at conventions are either 9 or 10 until 7, it really felt like we could have done even more sales if we’d have had a full day at the show. Still, for a small press, StarWarp did well and I suspect will do even better at next year’s show when Blood Rain and Blood and Iron will both be out (Pandora Zwiebeck #2 and #3).

Sunday: Headed back for Baltimore on Amtrak. Thanks to an hour delay in Philidelphia due to a police emergency on the track ahead, I had plenty of time to read my Nook. Finished reading “Capes and Clockwork” and then read Black Fedora by Pro Se Productions Black Fedora was three novellas collected under one cover, focusing on Pulp told by those on the wrong side of the law. I enjoyed the first and last story of the trilogy, but the middle story wasn’t really my cup of tea. It felt a bit contrived and I don’t care for villians or heroes who always seem one step ahead of their competition and “can’t be beat”. There’s no dramatic tension in a story like that—after a while my reaction was, “Let’s get this over with”. It’s not badly written, but it didn’t engage me the way the other two stories did.  (3.5 stars)

And that’s Book Expo America/Book Con in a nutshell.

Write, edit, write, edit, submit, repeat . . .

I’m working on my own BEA/BookCon review, but since I’m out celebrating my anniversary, here’s the con report from my friend Steve Roman, the brains behind StarWarp Concepts:

BookCon 2014 Wrapup

However, just because I haven’t done a review of the con doesn’t mean I haven’t been working around here.  (Well, I didn’t do anything Monday – I was out celebrating my 23rd Anniversary with my lovely wife, Joni, that evening.  Hey, even writers get short breaks.)

Shipped Strikeforce Falcon #1: Flashpoint off to the publisher Tuesday night.  Once I get my edits and get them turned back in, Flashpoint should be scheduled to come out sometime in July. More information as soon as I get it from Pro Se Productions.

On other fronts, I added another 1925 words to Sword of Might (which is the new name for “Fool’s Cup“), and 2985 words to Crossed Swords in the Moonlight, which will be appearing in another anthology.

Origins Game Fair is coming up fast, where A Gryphon’s Tale will debut in the Con Anthology Monsters.  Then after Origins, my next convention isn’t until Shore Leave, which is probably a good thing.

Clearing the deck to concentrate on the thesis, one way or the other.