Making An Appearance

I know it has been a while since my last post but when you have a crisis of faith, it becomes necessary to stop and take stock. Yes, I started doubting my ability to write entertaining stories because I got hung up on where I was on the Amazon Ranking System and the slowing of my sales to date. I took on a second job and scaled back my writing activities accordingly in the hope that the additional income would carry me through my perceived drought.

However, over the past few months, I became more and restless as my lack of creative pursuits began to gnaw on me. Do I leave my characters, both actual and conceptual, languish in limbo? Do the stories that beg to be put on paper stay locked away for a future date?

The answer that I came to was a resounding NO. Stories that need to be written should be written. Characters deserve to be given lives for everyone to enjoy, hate, sympathize, whatever. I write because I love it and to be honest, that’s the only legitimate reason in my mind to put my energies into it at all.

I fell into a kind of production rut and nothing beats the fun out of a pleasant activity than forcing yourself to perform it on a scheduled day in and day out. Maybe other people can do that but not me. I need to feel good about what I am doing and punching a time clock (real or virtual) isn’t something that appeals to me when I am on my own time. I’m not saying that creating writing habits aren’t a good thing. They are. They only turn sideways when one starts to feel forced to operate under them. We are not machines and Life has a way of throwing monkey wrenches into the gears from time to time.

My hiatus had a negative effect on my writing because it’s been going on two years since I started writing the sequel to Parallax and I’m playing catch up to recover lost ground on Parallax: Genesis if there is lost ground at all.

Well, that’s it for now but hopefully, it won’t take me months before I check in again. Have a good one.

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Parallax: Genesis (The Planning Begins)

I’ve been getting a number of messages from people asking me when I’m going to start work on Parallax’s Sequels and though I am loathe to work on multiple projects at once, I’ve decided to dust off the files and get to it.

A little background on where I am at this moment:

Parallax: Genesis takes place immediately after the last battlefield scene in Parallax. Pratt and his crew find themselves trapped in Hyperspace after the ship’s Hyperspace Regulator module overloads and burns out. This poses a dilemma because while the ship’s fusion reactors provide a large amount of power, it is not infinite and when the fuel runs out (exacerbated by unique Time-Space conditions inherent to Hyperspace) everything including their Life Support Systems will shut down. In other words, if they don’t fix the problem, they will eventually drop into Normal Space feet first. Therefore, the first story event in P:G will be a race against time with plenty of opportunities for character development and drama. While I could probably put together a fairly good tale using this by itself, I plan for Pratt and Co to solve their problem and make their way to Earth, where the remainder of the plot will unfold.

This particular sequel is an expansion to the original outline I wrote for Parallax but decided to break into three parts because I felt that it was too extensive for one standalone book.

Storylines: Many Forks, One Meal

As many of you know, I am about 50% Plotter and 50% Pantser because I like to create a framework for a story and then dive in and play within that structure.  I find that combination to be flexible enough to tell a good tale and not burn myself out when a plot goes off-road on me.

The thing is that the initial story idea goes through many evolutions before the finished story is ready to put out there.  We work diligently to interpret and write down the images that hang out inside our minds and that translation process involves an infinite number of mental filters as it grows and prospers.  For example, you’re working on a scene where two characters are having a conversation.  On the surface, describing a conversation is fairly straightforward.

But…

What are circumstances behind the conversation? Is it angry? Are the two characters dealing with an interpersonal issue?  Where are they? Is anything else going on around them?

Each of these questions open new paths that potentially take the story in a new and often unexpected directions depending on the type of story we are telling.  That is both the fun and the pain of it.  I don’t always welcome such forks in the road but I’ve learned that it’s better to explore the alternatives because everything can be edited out later.

In other news, I am still chewing on the elephant that is Lights and Shadows but I see its completion date slipping into Limbo, which was totally unexpected when I started working on it in 2015.  Thankfully, I only planned one book for 2016 so there is still time to get it out there before I turn my attention back to Parallax’s Sequels.

Well, that’s it for today. I should have a Lights and Shadows Update done soon so stay tuned and Happy Writing to you all. 🙂

The Eternal Struggle: Deadlines vs Fun

I’ve made no secret in the past that I am no fan of Deadlines.  They start off simple, get complicated in the middle, and eventually turn into one humongous pain in the backside when time grows short and hair pulling commences.

However, as much as I detest them, they serve a valuable function in keeping us on track and not allowing projects to enter that Bermuda Triangle known as Limbo Land.  My deadlines perform more as goals than ironclad absolutes because when I make them I don’t always consider the curveballs that Life has a tendency to throw at me.  It’s a poor excuse but I’m owning it…heh.

Deadlines aren’t fun and I don’t believe they are meant to be.  They are that stern authority figure standing over or behind you proclaiming that you must finish the job you started.  They are an extension of your conscience jabbing and prodding at you to stop mucking around and get back on task.  They’re also that good friend reminding you that stagnation is the enemy of progress and rarely do good things happen to those who stand still.

Plus, they never end because once a project is finished and released to a hungry horde, another is waiting in the wings to eat up time and effort.

Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way…

Nuts and Bolts

It costs little to nothing to write a good story.  That’s a fact.  We think it, we write it…bang zoom…it’s out there.  We do it out of a love of storytelling and the satisfaction of taking a vague idea and giving it life.  That’s the point of it all.

However, when we take those finished stories and shop them around, money enters the scene.  We pay for office supplies (we do anyway but still), postage, mailing materials, etc, to put our babies in the hands of literary agents and prospective publishers.  It’s how the Traditional Publishing Game is played and there’s no way around it that I have found and I’ve been taking bites out of this particular elephant for a long time.

Self-Publishing incurs many of the same costs with the added joy of having to shop around for a good cover designer, editor, and if you are so inclined someone to assist in promoting your work to the masses. This particular batch of trail mix has an exceeding amount of nuts in it and though you can keep the costs down by doing them yourself, eventually a realization sets in after that first great cover reveal that going back to using the “free” services isn’t an attractive option.

I’ll admit here that I’ve had some Writer’s Anxiety of late concerning Lights and Shadows.  I sit down, stare at the manuscript in Scrivener for several minutes, and then practically dive out of my desk chair.  There’s nothing wrong with the story itself.  It’s as solid as the day I first did the outline. So then why?  I’ve pinpointed my particular dose of anxiety with the cost of a new book cover and a dearth of funds available to purchase said cover.  I’ve since solved that particular issue due to revising my writing budget, but I find it interesting that I would be delayed by something that most wouldn’t consider part of the creative process.  Sadly, when we move our pastime into the realm of income producer, new considerations come into play.

Personally, I’d rather have Writer’s Block…

A Random Literary Thought

Every so often while I’m writing, a stray thought pops into my head and I have to stop and ponder its significance.  Most stray thoughts drift out whence they came and some stick around long enough to get written down. I guess that’s how it works.

Today’s random thought involves retooling Lights and Shadows so that I can fold it into The Parallax Universe as the lead book in a new series that will pick up where The Parallax Trilogy ends.  Of course, that means changing a bunch of stuff (timeline, some characters, etc) to line it all up with the events I’m currently leading up to.  That also means a delay of sorts since Parallax: Genesis and Darkfall haven’t been written yet.  Lights and Shadows was originally intended to be a spinoff set within the same story universe but about seven years into the story future.

Yes, I know that since it’s my story, I can do whatever I want with it.  Yes, I know that retooling L&S has the potential to put it on hold in favor of the Parallax Sequels.  Yes, I know that delays may push the release date way past the end of September and despite the hordes of voracious villagers assembling with pitchforks and torches, I would rather delay a release in favor of a better end result.

My inner voice tells me to consider very carefully before committing to an action like this because internal consistency is very important.