Thirty Days Later is here!

30-days-later-cover

Thirty Days Later, the steampunk short story anthology that I mentioned here launched a couple of weeks ago at Clockwork Alchemy, San Jose, California’s steampunk con.  I am honored to be amongst the talented writers that have come together to create this collection.  The concept is a bit different:  each writer pens two short stories–separated from each other by Thirty Days.

Proceeds from the book will be donated to literacy charities.  You can order Thirty Days Later from Amazon as paperback and for Kindle, and from Smashwords for many other ebook formats.

 

The Anteprologue to “To Rule the Skies”–Redux

Anteprologue cover

Back in September 2014, when I was preparing to launch my first book To Rule the Skies, I posted on this blog, an Anteprologue to the novel, that is, a prologue that comes before the actual prologue that begins the book.  At the time, I likened it to the short between-seasons webisodes that Doctor Who was presenting, or the Marvel One-Shots that served to connect the various Marvel Cinema movies.

I’ve continued to putter on this piece and have now re-written it a bit and fixed what I thought were some inconsistencies.  So, in celebration of 2016 Clockwork Alchemy, San Jose’s steampunk con that’s taking place this weekend, I’ve now published it as a free download on Smashwords. Take a look at it and let me know what you think.  If you like it, you might be interested in the novel that it’s an anteprologue of, also available on Smashwords as an ebook for everything but Kindle, and on Amazon for Kindle and in paperback.

And if you’re at Clockwork Alchemy this weekend, stop by Author’s Alley and say Hi to me and all the other talented authors that will be there.

NaNoWriMo Update

As I wrote way back at the end of October, I participated in NaNoWriMo in 2012 and 2013 and completed the 50,000 words to be deemed a Winner.  This year I was going into it with a different goal in mind–to finally finish the novel I started during last year’s NaNoWriMo, or to at least write 20,000 words towards that goal.  As luck would have it, I heaved myself over both my goal lines yesterday evening, reaching what I envisioned as the end of my novel and topping off at 20,059 words.  I was much less diligent than I had been in previous years, but it worked out.

And when I say “finish the novel”, I mean, of course, “finish the first draft of the novel”.  While I quite like some parts, there are others that definitely need work, including the ending which needs major wordsmithing.  And I am sure that when I read it through again (sometime after the Christmas holidays), I will find plot holes and inconsistencies, characters who change names, and many, many typos.  I know this because I’ve gone through the process with my first NaNoWriMo creation. It’s the flip side of racing through writing a novel in 30 days–it can need more editing than it would have otherwise. And I’m ready for it.

Somehow though, the slower, lazier pace I set this year did not create the “magic” that I had found in previous years:  the magic of spending so much time in the world you’ve created with the characters you know so well that sometimes the story writes itself.  Put the characters in a scene, with the aim of doing something which advances the plot, and sit back and take dictation as fast as you can.

Is NaNoWriMo for everyone?  No, and I read a very good blog post lately that went through the pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages of NaNoWriMo.  Not everyone can sit down and write for a month straight, even if you’ve outlined the plot beforehand.  I’ve done NaNoWriMo because I need the discipline, even if it’s somewhat self-imposed, of sitting down and writing something every day.  Still I find myself wandering off and researching some arcane fact to ensure I get it correct, which is definitely frowned upon in NaNoWriMo.

What NaNoWriMo does provide is an insight into the life of a professional writer.  While I’m not sure if many writers manage to crank out 50,000 words month after month, it’s a reasonable facsimile, and valuable as such.

Will I participate again?  I’m not sure, and December 1 is probably the wrong time to ask that question.  Let’s wait and let the writing settle a bit.  There’s plenty of time–and plenty of words–between now and next November.

Fall First Page Critique Blog Hop

I learned about this from Miss Alexandrina’s blog, and thought it an interesting and useful idea.  We offer up a first page for critique and in exchange, critique the five works above and below ours on the list in return.

So here’s mine:  It’s the first 250 words or so from my present NaNoWriMo work-in-progress, which has a working title of “The Secret Notebook of Michael Faraday”, a prequel to my recently published steampunk adventure novel.

It was unlike anything the boy had ever seen.

He had seen large buildings before, of course. Being from the City, he had grown up in the shadow of the great dome of St. Paul’s, and had even ventured inside once at the end of a morning service when the vergers would not notice a poorly dressed boy. The tall spaces of the great cathedral amazed him, but that building was made of stone, and sat squarely upon the ground. This building was made almost entirely of glass and seemed to soar.

“Come along, Nicodemus,” said Mr. Dalrymple, the boy’s master. “Let’s not dawdle. We have lots to see today.”

The boy, staring slack-jawed and wide-eyed at the wonders before him, could only manage, “Cor…”.

“Nicodemus!”

“Yes, sir,” said young Nicodemus, and followed along behind the man.

The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations was the wonder of London all through the summer of 1851. Since being officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen in May, almost 5 million people had visited and been marveled by its exhibits. Housing the Exhibition was, of course, the Crystal Palace, a enormous building almost a third of a mile long and over 120 feet high.

Nicodemus and his master stopped under the great dome at the center of the building. The space stretched as far as Nicodemus could see in either direction. “What’ll we see first, Mr. Dalrymple? It’s so big!” exclaimed Nicodemus, still straining his neck to look around at everything at once.

NaNoWriMo and the Accidental Novelist

I have participated in NaNoWriMo for the past two years, and will again this year, but more on that later.

To those unacquainted, NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is an event that takes place every November in which participants are encouraged to write 50,000 words of a novel. The philosophy is to just get the words down on paper (or computer screen). Don’t worry about editing; don’t worry about research. Sit your butt in your chair and pour out 50,000 words over the thirty days of November. We’ll deal with editing later. Continue reading

How to Build a World, (or at least how to keep track of it)

A reader entering the world you created.  (Source:Camille Flammarion's L'atmosphère: météorologie populaire (1888).)

A reader entering the world you created. (Source: Camille Flammarion’s L’atmosphère: météorologie populaire (1888).)

Many articles and blogs have been written on Worldbuilding by writers far more experienced than I, such as here and here. Still, some lessons that I have learned may be helpful.

When I began writing my first steampunk novel To Rule the Skies, I had no idea that I was starting in the middle of Professor Nicodemus Boffin’s saga, but at some point I realized that Boffin’s back story would make a fine story in itself. Now that I’m deep into writing another book (the aforementioned prequel), I think a lot about the world I’ve created for my characters to live in (which I call the “Boffin-verse”), and spend a lot of time making sure that it’s all consistent. Continue reading