Novella, bella, bella amore

For the last month or so I’ve been head-down in my next writing project. Okay, I just lied. I was also applying content edits until a couple of weeks ago, but aside from that I’ve been head-down. It’s surprisingly difficult to write the new story, but that’s probably because it’s really two stories. Each of the four novellas I’m planning will be a two-parter, dealing with two new individuals who become interwoven with the overall storyline.

I think the difficulty arises because, although these are shorter in word count, these stories still require the same amount of initial creative effort. They are complete stories, with the usual rising action, climax, and ending sequence. So what I’m finding is that my daily word count is lower, but I’m moving at about the same pace as a larger story might require while plotting.

Which brings me to another point. I think that the reason why I like starting with a screenplay form is that it’s much easier to revise. I can push a first draft, review the story, revise and rewrite, without plowing through acres of description or internalization. In other words, it’s an even more finely detailed outline, of a sort. This workflow matches how I think: rough in the ideas, then iterate. It’s also how I write code, and in fact the two activities are very similar. In both coding and writing, I start with a (requirements document/story idea), move through high level design (architecture/plot), and iterate over the modular functionality (classes or modules/drafts) until I have something I can (test/read). Then comes the (debugging/rewriting).

This novella introduces two characters, as I’ve said. The first is a French archaeologist named Alexandre. He is known for being a fast worker, often showing up at a new site and finding buried ‘treasure’ within a day or two. The second is a successful art dealer, Hector, who never keeps a piece for himself. Both of them experience awakenings of one form or other, and it’s been a blast finding out exactly how.

An Editing Tidal Wave

A few days ago I received my manuscript with content editing feedback. Now I know what I’m doing for the next month and a half! Unless I lose my mind altogether I will complete this phase of the work and, in early January, submit to my line editor for further corrections. Once I get that back, it’s off to proofreaders (I’m convinced now that I will need at least two of them), and then… *deep breath* Publication.

I cannot emphasize too highly how important it is for a beginning writer to hire good editors. Particularly content editors. ‘Nuff said.

A Novella Idea

Between the books, between the worlds… Following my newly-sensitive nose and exploring a novel idea, as it were: write a short (4-book) series of novellas, each of which explores a *certain topic* that follows on from “The God of Battles.” After the series, dive into a full-length novel, which I am *very* tentatively entitling “The Lady of Light.” Of course, now that I’ve said it, that title will be a bit harder to dislodge if I find something better.

I’m finding that a novella is an interesting challenge. Though I am a flailing infant in the world of creative writing, the space constraints of a shorter form feel a bit claustrophobic. I think the best approach is to limit to one viewpoint, keep the number of settings down to a minimum, and focus on the protagonist’s story arc to the exclusion of all else.

Alpha reading in progress for “The God of Battles”

Rachel, my prime reader and life partner, has been working with me to whip the manuscript into readable shape for submission to my content editor. The work we’re doing together will, I believe, ensure that the editor not stumble over egregious errors. And boy are there egregious errors. This is what comes of working **really** fast on a large, complex story, but I feel confident that this story will be the better for it.

That said, it’s always a little discouraging when one of my little gems turns out to be a crackerjack toy rather than something of polish and depth. There was a little scene that I had to essentially rewrite completely this morning, for example. It was atmospheric, and I thought it introduced a good story idea. But it turned out to be completely confusing for the reader (aka Rachel), so I replaced it with something a bit more mundane but a great deal more comprehensible.

Onward! November 6th is my drop-dead date.

The Rubaiyat of Simon (excerpted from “The God of Battles”)

GoB teaser torso
A Child of War despising strife,
A bitter foe of poisoned knife,
Is bound to bitter stink of death
That plunders him of joyous life.

An Angel spreads her hallowed wings
To seek the hellish nightmare thing
That holds him fast to nightmare task,
That binds his soul to battle’s king.

Rise up, she says, and take command
To lead us all with steady hand
And liberate our frozen hearts
From endless toil at war’s demand.

Yet ever do the mighty strive
To seek the heights lest hellward dive
For power’s sake they bend the world
Insuring they alone survive.

To be continued…

She who hates war must fight: the new book

GoB Teaser head and shoulders
Dr. Angela Cooper, half-Romani psychiatrist and the world’s only dream-walker, loathes war. Far memories of an unimaginable past, of a world decimated by an apocalyptic conflict, have seen to that. So it’s only natural for her to seek to use her unique talent to heal those who have paid a high price on the battlefield and off it.

Dream-walking reveals trauma in personalized forms: animals, features of the landscape, and so on. She is not surprised when she encounters such artifacts in the consciousness of one of her patients afflicted with PTSD. When one of these, a gigantic warrior with glowing eyes, takes an interest in her and her girlfriend, however, events take a terrifying turn for the worst.

Book Two of the Gypsy Dreamwalker series continues with “The God of Battles” in March of 2015!

Meme war?

What do I mean when I use the term “meme war”?

When ideologies clash to such an extent that human beings are completely submerged in the defense of their memes and harm each other because of them, that’s a “meme war.” We’ve been fighting meme wars since the dawn of human culture, but now that we’ve got virtually instantaneous global communication, these wars have escalated. Memes are delivered in so many new, sense-bewildering ways that our psyches are on full alert. This creates stress, and so we fall back on comforting memes to bolster our fading strength.

Those who have made it their business to use memes to dominate the will of others are, themselves, puppets of memeplexes as well.

Advertising has developed a plethora of strategies for delivering content and changing minds. It’s a meme-eat-meme world out there, and it behooves us to wake up and try to choose our own memes more wisely rather than let them be chosen for us. We are never “free” of them; they are encoded in the structure of our brains, according to some researchers. But we can use memetics, itself a “recursive” meme, to become more aware of them.

“The God of Battles” features a meme war. It’s turning out rather nicely, I think. Look for it in early 2015.

Follow up: Sound effects for stories

I’ve enjoyed composing a sound track for the excerpt of “The Soul Thief” I posted on The length of the excerpt is identical to that of Amazon’s preview, and I’ve linked it to the Kindle page.

At one point I needed some Romani fiddle music, and the sound library on Booktrack does not include anything that I liked. However, I found a public domain track with exactly what I wanted and added that to the book. I think it worked really well.

I’d be curious to know if any Audible books are done with sound effects or if they are all narrated without accompaniment. I’d also be curious to know if I *could* create audio books with and without accompaniment. Perhaps even switchable within the book.

Sound effects for stories?

I’m testing a new service called BookTrack ( which allows an author to add sound effects to text. It works by providing an e-reader that runs on mobile and desktop devices, and it allows you to adjust reading speed. The sound effects provide an interesting ambience, though it’s not for everyone. I’m having fun with this!

Here’s a link: