Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Release Date...ish!

It's looking like sometime next week. Maybe Monday, in order to hopefully make someone's Monday less like a... well... like a Monday.  :)

I'm in the process of squeezing out unnecessary words. I am hoping to hear from a few more of my beta readers because I value their opinions, but I really want to get this book out soon.

Here's hoping I didn't just jinx myself by making a prediction!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Progress Report: Getting Closer!

So as of this evening (Monday the 7th), the current draft of Rich Man's War is now in the hands of my trusty beta readers. I have seen a very recent version of the cover art, and I'm thrilled with the progress and excited to see the final product.

At this point, I know I'll need to do one last round of edits to squeeze out every last unnecessary word and to make sure I have all my punctuation straight, but it's looking like it won't be long now. That is, unless my beta readers all come back to me and tell me that these words I've been seeing on my computer screen are all just a giant incoherent illusion and really I've spent all this time mashing keys on my keyboard and telling myself it's a story.

This is always a weird feeling.

But on the bright side, the still-undetermined release date is now closer than it has ever been!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Rich Man's War: Prologue

I feel like I have money burning a hole in my pocket.

I've wanted to share this for a while. I have often thought that having this piece available would propel me into getting the rest of the book done faster. But I wanted to make sure the biggest hurdle was cleared first, and that's the rough draft. That part is done now. I'm on to revisions. I do not know how long it will be before Rich Man's War is released, but I know that the hardest part is done and that I'm more excited about getting it out than anyone else could be about reading it.

For the record, the piece below may still be subject to slight changes and edits for the novel. Regardless, here it is: the prologue for Rich Man's War.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Almost There (kinda)!

An Update:

This is all rough draft stuff, so please don't take this the wrong way.


I got to the end of the last full chapter on Rich Man's War last night. That brings me to 140,021 words and only the epilogue left to go.

Again. Rough draft. I still have to start from the beginning with revisions, and then when I'm done with that hand it to people and see what needs to be fixed before it's ready for prime time.

If I haven't mentioned this before, Rich Man's War holds much more action than Poor Man's Fight. It's a bigger story on a bigger scale, and while Tanner is a very consequential figure in the scheme of it all, he's also just one more grunt in the middle of big events.

When I have the epilogue finished, I will post the prologue here on my blog. I hope to have that done this week, mostly because I have family coming in to visit next weekend and that will surely derail me for a couple of days. So if you're really looking forward to Rich Man's War, watch this space!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Loaded Terms

Once upon a time, when I was younger and I had trouble finding a romantic relationship, I used to say that I was often "friendzoned."

To me, that meant that this woman I liked -- usually already a friend at some level to begin with -- wasn't interested in being anything "more" than friends. It never, ever meant that I should resent her, or that she was a bitch or a whore, or that I should stop being her friend. Never once did that happen. Was I frustrated and disappointed? Sure. Finding a relationship can be hard. Dating can be hard. Sure was for me.

Years later, I discovered that for most people, "friendzone" not only implied that the lady in question wasn't interested in a romantic or sexual relationship, but also that the guy in question turned into a raging, resentful douche about the whole thing. On a personal level, it bothered me a bit that this term, which I thought was a witty and chagrinned but otherwise good-natured note -- 'cause it means we're actually still friends, right? -- didn't mean for much of the world what it meant to me, and that if I kept using it I would effectively be saying something I didn't mean to say. On a broader level, though, was the far more unsettling fact that this was just one more note of all the utterly inexcusable bullshit that women have to deal with on a daily basis.

Just one more drop of juvenile hassling in a sea of unfairness.

So I dropped the use of that term. I didn't have much use for it, anyway, once I wound up on a path of serial long-term monogamy (and, for a significant stretch, polyamory). But I've found in recent years that "nice guy," which I'd always taken literally, also means "total creeper who claims to be a nice guy" for all too many other people. And that bothered me, because I'd gotten that label (with benevolent, literal intent) many times, and it was something that I more or less aspired to. But it has become something else. And thank god I was never big on wearing fedoras, because that's turned into something unpleasant, too.

I write this in part because some readers have taken my urban fantasy books as a "sex fantasy for men" or what have you. Yeah, it's partially erotica, and yeah, I'm a guy and I'm writing from that perspective, but I never set out to write the Men's Sex Fantasy. I certainly hope men like my stories, and I obviously think that sexy stories are for men as much as for women. I also love it when I hear from women who read my stories, too. I want people to like my stories.

I wrote a story that involved a lot of sex, and a lot of sexy women, but I wanted all those women to have agency, equality and independence. It bothered me that when the sequel came out and that degree of agency, equality and independence was even more evident than in the first book, a number of readers were turned off by it. I knew that would happen. I totally expected it. I wrote the story that I wanted to write anyway. There will be more of that, later down the line whenever I get back to Alex & Co., because in my mind the story was always going in that direction. I wasn't bothered that people didn't like that direction; you simply can't please everyone. But I was bothered by the notion that I might have set out to write a Men's Sex Fantasy, 'cause while I understood that some readers might view it that way, I'd never once set out with that as my goal.

As much as I don't want to get super political on my blog here, I felt like talking about this in the wake of the #YesAllWomen hashtag and the responses it has gotten. A lot of the reactions have been angry or super defensive remarks from men. A lot of it has been a matter of trolling, and guys who think they're being funny by making domestic violence jokes or rape threats because, "Meh! It's the Internet!" but this is exactly what people talk about when they refer to "rape culture." It's not a culture that encourages all men to be rapists, or to be otherwise violent towards women -- it's a culture that minimizes the seriousness of that through a lot of "harmless" humor and apathy and bullshit, which in turn minimizes the actual seriousness of actual rape (as opposed to, say, that harmless internet comment).

It's okay to know that #YesAllWomen isn't directed specifically at you if you, as a guy, aren't someone who harasses or degrades women. The point isn't AllMenDoThis. The point is that more than ENOUGH men do this stuff that Yes, All Women have to deal with it regularly.

And it's bullshit. And it should stop. Turns out that whole culture hurts everyone -- men and yes, all women, too.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Progress Report

The rough draft for Rich Man's War just broke 110,000 words tonight. Thought some folks might want to know.

It's a very rough draft. I'm gonna have to go through it again even before I put it in the hands of my trusty beta readers, so I'm not saying it'll be out next week or anything. (And yes, I have trusty beta readers... I hate to disappoint anyone who has or would have volunteered, but I'm much more comfortable with test readers when I can nag them for their opinions and input in person.)

This is the first large-scale space battle sequence that I've ever written, making all the other battles in Poor Man's Fight small by comparison. I realized, when I started out, that I'd better just figure out names for all the ships involved ahead of time even though not even half will be named in the final product, because having to stop and make up a new name whenever I needed one would be aggravating as all hell. And that meant coming up with a naming scheme for each individual type of ship.

I decided that all the corvettes on one side of this fight should be named after dog breeds. But even that isn't a random choice. Bulldog? Foxhound? Harrier? Excellent names for warships. Polish Lowland Sheepdog? Maybe not so much.  :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Process Stories

Writing productivity comes and goes. By and large, I try to hold myself to at least 1000 words a day. If I can make it to that benchmark, I feel like I've been productive. Some days, I can even break 3000... though if one were to pay close attention to my word counts, it's obvious that I don't write every day. Life just doesn't allow for that, even if I'm not at a point where I need to step back and chew on the next step in the story. I also write much better if I have a nice long stretch of time ahead of me; knowing I'll be interrupted in two hours tends to put a damper on productivity.

I'm currently at about 95,000 words on Rich Man's War. By comparison, Poor Man's Fight is at 141k-ish (I don't have it in front of me just now). The "middle" for this book turned out to be a little tougher for me than the middle sections of my previous works, but I'm finally happy with the rough draft and I can move on.

I don't think I'm spoiling anything if I say that Rich Man's War ends with a whole lot of violence and screaming and probably someone's gonna get their feelings hurt. If anything, it will be a much bigger deal than the end of Poor Man's Fight. I'm on the cusp of writing that final arc... like the battle commences on my computer as soon as I have a good long stretch of writing time. (I'm actually away from my home computer as I write this, otherwise I'd be hard at work on it already.)

The biggest difference between writing urban fantasy and sci-fi, at least for me, is the level of detail that needs to be invested in world-building. Good Intentions basically just takes place in modern-day Seattle. The only serious benchmarks that could "date" the story are the references to Facebook (already fading in popularity with younger people) and Wade's service in Afghanistan. Once the US makes a serious pullout from Afghanistan, there's a solid timeframe in which the story must take place, but until then it could be September of any year from 2008 - 2014 (and on). But I don't really have to describe cell phones, or streets, or clothes.

Rich Man's War brings the setting into greater detail, and keeping that consistent is... well, more than a little work. I've tried to nail down a solid timeline, including establishing the year in which the story takes place, but that involved a lot of me wrestling with my own futuristic sensibilities. The biggest issue is the limits to Faster Than Light travel and communications, because that puts time delays on everything. This is all implied in Poor Man's Fight, of course, but in Rich Man's War it's much more of a factor. In Tanner's world, you can't put out a transmission that runs faster than the speed of light. This means that transmissions from one planet to the next within the same star system can have delays of several minutes or even much longer. The only way to speed it up is to put that message on something with an FTL engine and cover that distance... which happens regularly, and is the main method of interstellar communication. Yet even FTL-capable drones and starships have their limitations. For one thing, FTL travel through a significant gravity well like a moon or a planet is a serious risk; you won't really hurt the planet if you hit it (which, to be honest, goes against current scientific expectations), but you'll certainly shred your ship if you come too close.

This means it's about a three-week lag in communications between Archangel and Earth, and communications between other locations naturally run on different timetables. I don't have an Excel sheet with planets and their relative distances or anything, as I don't have all that many locations set up yet. I will likely get to that point after three or four books in this setting, of course... but regardless, keeping things straight once you've set up this sort of condition can slow down the writing.

The setting brings up other questions that I've only touched upon so far: people can live and retain their physical youth considerably longer in Tanner's world, so what effect does that have on a person's relationships? How about their career--when you workers are still young & spry even 30 years into a career, what effect does that have on advancement? This doesn't get a whole lot of attention in the current draft, and I don't believe it will be a center-stage issue even upon revision, but it's a genuine concern.

There's also a certain amount of research to be done. As I've said elsewhere, I'm not writing hard sci-fi, and my urban fantasy stuff is also intentionally comedic, but I like to know how the real world works so that I go off the rails intentionally rather than doing it out of ignorance. Natural Consequences opens with some legal drama, and obviously the interaction between a supernatural world and a legal system is something an author has to make up through imagination, but even then I spoke with four lawyers and a judge. In Rich Man's War, the big corporations are not the same animal as one might find here in the real world, but I try to keep the conditions and decisions to a human level. Several things done by the corps in RMW are straight out of the financial collapse of 2008.

I say none of this to make excuses, of course; the book will be ready when it's ready. But I know a few people were concerned when they saw Days of High Adventure come out and worried that I'm drifting away from Tanner, and that's just not the case. Days was written two years ago. I'm still crackin' on RMW.

As for other future projects: I have a feeling that when RMW is done, I'm gonna have to go straight into the next installment, putting the Good Intentions crowd on hold for a while. Honestly, I first imagined that RMW would complete this story arc for Archangel, Tanner, Casey & all, but now that I'm here I've realized the only elegant way to handle it is to do it in three books rather than two. (That kinda screws up my play on the Civil War-era protest cry of "Rich man's war, poor man's fight!" because now I have to come up with a third title, but alas...) There absolutely will be more of the Good Intentions crew, because I love them dearly, but I've had this story arc in my head for about 15 years or so. It's time to get it nailed down and out there where people can read it all.

I plan to post the prologue to Rich Man's War here on my blog as soon as I've got the rough done and I have my trusty beta readers going over it. I'm greatly looking forward to that... hell, I've wanted to do it for weeks, but I figure it's best to make sure the book really is "coming soon" rather than just being a horrible tease.

Hope it's soon!