March 2017: a platinum celebration

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Hi all!  It’s March 2017 and it’s a platinum anniversary.  Of what, you ask?  Well, it’s been twenty years since I started writing The Phoenix Effect out in the food court at Solomon Pond Mall before my day’s shift at the record store. It’s the anniversary of the Bridgetown Trilogy, after so many failed starts and misguided attempts to a solid story that evolved through multiple revisions and rewriting into the self-published e-books that are now available to the world.

It’s been twenty years since I went from okay, I’ll write something when I have the time or I’m in the mood to a much more productive outlook of I’m gonna write something every damn day even if it kills me, and made the decision to become a serious professional writer.

So!  What do I have planned for this auspicious occasion?  Well!  Glad you asked!  I’m going to have a bit of fun this month and provide you with fun behind-the-scenes stuff related to the Mendaihu Universe that I’ve accumulated over the years — outtakes, trivia, origin stories, pictures, music, drawings, and more.  I may even write and post the ‘director’s cut’ ending of A Division of Souls, which has existed only in my head for at least three years!

And to top it off, I’ll also be releasing the trade paperback of Book 3, The Balance of Light!  W00T!

Hope you enjoy the festivities!

 

 

 

The Balance of Light is now available!!

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Book 3 in the Bridgetown Trilogy is available at all fine e-book retailers online, including:

Smashwords

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

[Not on Amazon yet, but the Kindle format is available at the Smashwords site.]

 

 

 

 

And don’t forget, you can also shop indie!  My e-books are available at numerous independent bookstores that sell them via Kobo.  Here’s a few great local Bay Area stores for starters:

Books Inc

Green Apple Books [Our neighborhood indie store, one of the best around!]

Copperfields

Out this Friday!

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Woo! It’s finally DONE!

The Balance of Light, the third book in the Bridgetown Trilogy, will be released as an e-book from Smashwords and other nifty e-book retailers this Friday, 10 February!

This one was the culmination of a hell of a lot of years of writing, a nearly five-year hiatus, and close to five years of revision and rewriting.  Ten years ago I wasn’t even sure I’d get this far, but here we are…three books released out into the wild, and all done DIY.

It’s been one hell of a ride, folks.  Sure, I’m glad it’s over and I can now, finally, dedicate the majority of my time to new projects.  But right now I’m just feeling a bit of pride that I believed in this project and saw it through to the end, however long it took.  I learned a hell of a lot along the way — the writing and publishing knowledge that will stay with me throughout my writing career.  I met a lot of cool friends and fellow writers as well.

Yeah, I think I’m gonna stick with this gig.  It’s grown on me. 🙂

Fly-by: We (maybe) have a cover!

Heya!  Been busy working on the formatting of The Balance of Light (which took a lot less time than expected) and the cover layout (which took a lot more time than expected).  I still have the back cover/Smashwords site blurb to write…which is going to be a pain in the butt, but it’s gotta be done.

But LO!  Check it out:

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I already knew this was the picture I wanted and cropping it to size was quite easy; a simple 3:2 ratio (and yes, I may have once again physically used a ruler against my monitor to get it right, as I can’t be arsed to do the math in Ps).  The original picture is a LOT brighter and yellower, so I had to use Photoshop to turn down the brightness and pump up the contrast a bit until I achieved that lovely golden color.  The header and the author line are in the same placement and font, so no big there.

No, the big pain in the butt was the title.

You’d think four reasonably-sized words in Geo Sans Light would be relatively easy to lay out, yes?  Well, the placement was simple enough.  All three books have the same general text layout.  The issue was the color.  Originally my idea was to do the opposite of the cover of A Division of Souls by having a yellow cover with blue text.  I posted it to my Twitter and Facebook for some input…

…and everyone said they LOVE the picture…but the title color needs work.

WELP.  Chalk this up to another learning experience, File Under: Your Brilliant Ideas May Not Work IRL.

Thankfully an artist friend of mine had suggested to work with the main colors of the picture rather than against it, so after much faffing about with the various hues (including a light green, which didn’t work at all), I thought I’d try something daring:  yellow on yellow!  Well, more like the light yellow I used on book titles 1 and 2, against dark gold.  Add a drop shadow effect just to make sure it pops out a bit more, and call it done.

Glad to say, I think it worked out quite nicely!

Let me know what you think!

Fly-by: finishing off a project

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Heya! I’m taking a few weeks off from blogging so I can get The Balance of Light completed and ready for self-publication!

I’m extremely excited to be within spitting distance of one of my biggest goals, to see my trilogy out in the wild like this.  It took a hell of a lot of learning, hard work, and stubborn dedication to get to this point, and it was totally worth every minute.

I’ll post once more when the book is ready to drop, and then we’ll be back to our regular blogging schedule.

See you soon!

 

Okay, now what?

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Hmmm….

I’ve got seven chapters left before I’m done with the final edit of The Balance of Light.  Once that’s done, it’ll be a week or two of formatting, processing, creating the cover, and releasing it out into the world.  It’s looking like that may end up being the first or second week of February at this point.

And then I’m done with the Bridgetown Trilogy.

Then what?

I mean, aside from my next project, Meet the Lidwells!, which I’ve been sneakily working on now and again during downtime.

Nearly everything I’ve ever worked on is more than five years old already; the Bridgetown story will officially turn twenty (!!) in March.  My trunked vampire novel, Love Like Blood, was brainstormed around 2003, written over the course of four years, and finally trunked by 2008.  Numerous other ideas, many of which I’ve also trunked or given up on, were created at our old apartment, which we moved out of in 2009.  I’ve been focusing so much on the trilogy that I’ve only got maybe two or three solid ideas I could work on — if that.

So what do I have planned, anyway?

Well, the biggest plan I have is to try to see how quickly I can turn a project around. I know I can do it — I’ve written and revised past works in a very limited amount of time.  I can definitely work to a deadline.

I also want to try writing something that’s not epic in length.  Lidwells is partly an attempt at that.  I’d like to write some standalone novels.  Not everyone loves a good doorstopper novel, so I’d like to appeal to the quick-reader fans as well.  This will not only teach me how to narrow my focus on the plot, it’ll also be a great exercise in concise writing.

I may even try a short story or two.  Technically I’ve written only one, and it’s pretty bad.  It was my ‘just to see if I could do it’ attempt during a very slow and broke-as-hell summer over twenty years ago.

But do I have any ideas rolling around right now?

That’s a good question.  Technically, no.  I only have the Lidwells project, maybe a reboot of Can’t Find My Way Home…and that’s it.  As I’ve said, this is why I’m making myself do the daily practice words.  I’ve already come up with snippets of scenes, snatches of bigger ideas, and random conversation that may be worth looking into later on.

It’s a bit daunting, to say the least.  Yeah, my subconscious occasionally pops in and reminds me that the only thing I can ever write in this lifetime is more Mendaihu Universe tomes, and if I don’t write them, I won’t have anything at all.  And that voice I usually ignore.  I’ve been in this Clean Slate situation before.  It’s completely natural to be nervous.

But hell, if Lidwells can pop up out of nowhere and take on a life of its own, I’m sure I can make that happen again.

Here’s to hoping.

Bring it on.

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Writing whiteboard, 2017 edition

Here we are, second day of 2017.  The writing whiteboard has been updated, the blogs have been updated, plans have been made.  Sure, January 1 is an arbitrary First Day of the Year, but that hasn’t ever stopped me from the ritual of taking stock of the past and making plans for the future.

So I say this:  Bring it on, 2017.  I’ve got plans for you.

As you can see above, I’ve reinstated the daily 750 Words to the whiteboard.  I’ve also added a second day for ‘art’ — which is actually a catch-all for multiple platforms, including photography, drawing, and more.  The blog schedule remains the same, as it’s been working quite well.

But I also have plans that aren’t on that whiteboard.  Longer-term plans that are currently in my head, waiting to be sketched out on my normal calendar (this year’s selection is lovely paintings my Hokusai).  The release of The Balance of Light, the scheduling of new writing projects, the planning of future ones.

Will this work, in reality?  Well, I have to make it work.  Sure, I’ll be juggling all this with the Day Job and IRL stuff, but I’ve done it before.  I kind of let most of this get away from me near the end of 2016, though for an honorable reason: I had to do some serious longhand surgery on TBoL before I could attack it digitally.  And once that’s taken care of (current deadline: end of this month), I’ll have a lot more time to work with.

I’m also in a good frame of mind to be able to focus on these goals with little distraction.  That was a long time coming, with a lot of false starts and frustration, but I believe I can even further this year.  I’ve got a lot more clarity and focus this time out.  And as mentioned previously, I’ll be attacking the business end of my writing career with gusto this year as well.  It’ll be tough, but I’ll do the best I can.

I plan to be busy, in a good way.  And I’m looking forward to it.

Current Status

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EDITING LIKE A BOSS

So!  Yes.  I am currently going through my galley copy of The Persistence of Memories and will be uploading the finished version to CreateSpace to release the official physical version.  [I will also be checking the e-book version as well to make any fixes there as well.]

I think I lucked out this time, as there weren’t as many formatting errors I had to fix, nor were there as many grammar or plot issues as there were in the first book.  I’m sure I’ve missed one or two things, maybe a misused phrase or missing punctuation, but for now I’m happy with what I’ve done with it.  The plus side is that I’m already about halfway through that book already, so this one may even be out before Christmas!

And then starts Book 3.  That may take a bit longer, but we shall see.  If I remain dedicated to editing and formatting this last book, I should remain on schedule for early 2017.  This one’s worth the wait, folks!  I know I ended TPoM on a cliffhanger, but to be honest, it was more like the end of Bladerunner (the version where it cuts to black as Deckard closes the elevator door).

The Balance of Light is the culmination of everything that’s happened so far in the previous two books.  I did my best to tie up as many loose ends as was needed.  I ended it maybe not on a very high note, but an optimistic one.  That was one of the main points of the trilogy: doing the right thing, despite outside influence.  I hope you enjoy that one too…it was by far the hardest book I’ve ever written, but I’m quite proud of how it turned out.

So.  What’s my next writing project?

Good question.  I’m still not sure!  I’ll let you know when I have a more solid idea!! 🙂

Editing Complete!

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(SPOILERS) The last page of the third book in the trilogy.

Oof.  Note to self: as much as I’m happy that I’ve FINALLY finished galley editing The Balance of Light, in hindsight I probably should not have stormed through the last six (albeit short) chapters in one marathon session last night.  I climbed into bed and passed out around 11 last night.  Exhausted, but happy.

That said…one MAJOR hurdle has finally been overcome!  TBoL was a beast in need of taming, and over the last few months I did my best to do exactly that.  Most of the prose that got the axe contained a lot of chaff to begin with — a lot of lengthy phrases that were culled down to much shorter sentences, a lot of visual cues that were cut, a lot of filler words that weren’t needed.  As this edit took place purely on paper, I have no idea how many words I cut, but I’m sure I cut a lot of them.

So what’s next?

Well, next is the physical printing of The Persistence of Memories.  I have a galley copy here that’s been marked up and everything, I just need to clean up the e-book and prepare the physical copy for release.

Then, one more time with TBoL: create the e-book and physical copy for release.

And that’s it?  No more work on the Bridgetown Trilogy?  I can put it to bed?

Well, not quite.  I have something special that I’d like to prepare for a March 2017 release; something to celebrate it being twenty long years since that first writing session that started it all.  A special e-book release, maybe with some fun extras?  And maybe shiny collector’s edition versions of the physical releases with extra stuff?  Who knows.  But it’s gonna be fun!

And then I’ll have to think of what to work on next!

Creating Covers

So tonight I decided to play around a bit with the cover for The Balance of Light, even though it’s still quite some time before it’s going to see ebook or print.  This one was tough, because I had an idea of what I wanted, but looking for the right picture was going to be a tough one.  I wanted something to balance out the blue/yellow night view of A Division of Souls, so I knew it would have to be yellow/blue and morning.  I had the color scheme down, but the picture was the tough part.

I’ve said before that I really love this part of the self-publishing process; I mean, really love it.  Like, to the point that I may possibly do this as a side-job in the future.  I love looking for that perfect shot.  Trying to get the perfect crop balance.  Figuring out whether to adjust the color or give it a bit of an effect.  Playing around with fonts and text placement.

I’ll be honest, it’s like I’m making fake album covers.  It’s something I used to do as a teenager with my mixtapes and the Flying Bohemians tapes.

Let’s take a quick look at the three covers I’ve made so far:

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The cover for A Division of Souls was meant to invoke a few things:  the setting (a metropolis, teeming with people), the time (at night), and mood (tense and mysterious).  It’s also to serve as a tie-in to the very first scene.  In short, my aim was to say: this is what the book’s going to make you feel.

The cover was also supposed to tie in with the other two books, which means that I also had to think ahead:  what were the other two going to look like?  I knew I’d have to keep a few visual motifs going…a city would have to be involved in all three, somehow; the images would need to evolve, just like the story itself.  In this case, I created multiple ‘lightboxes’ in my Shutterstock account and started looking for pictures that would do exactly what I needed them to do.

The time it took to throw this one together was surprisingly quick, to be honest.  Looking at it now, I can see a few things I should fix, but for the most part it went smoothly, once I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

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The cover for The Persistence of Memories was a bit trickier, and I think it looks better as an e-book cover than it does as a trade paperback cover, but I do like how it came out.  The same rules applied here…in this case the setting was twofold: it takes place both on Earth and on Trisanda, so I chose to do a ‘satellite’ point of view that shows both the city below and the stars above.  Time seems to be fluid in this shot.  It seems to be late night in the city below, blanketed by the similar blue (not exactly the same but close) of the first book, but in the heavens, time is irrelevant; it’s all light and dark at the same time.  It also creates a dreamlike mood, where you’re not entirely sure what’s reality and what isn’t.

The placement of the title was purely serendipity, to be honest; I did not expect the top two words to be in space and the bottom two to be in the planet’s atmosphere.  It just turned out that way and worked out quite nicely.  Funnily enough, once I’d noticed that, I was torn on exactly where I should place it…the other outtake had the title dropped a tiny bit lower, so the “of” is resting right on top of the gray cloud line instead of hovering over it like it is.

 

I haven’t made a solid decision yet on what the Book 3 cover will look like but this is what I came up with tonight:

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I’m still playing around with the font color for the title, as well as the placement of the text.  The picture hints at the metropolis of ADoS, but the mood and the time is different: we’ve gotten through the late night of Book 1 and the witching hours of Book 2, and now we’ve come to the morning after of Book 3.  The yellow of the sunlight is supposed to hint at the yellow font of Book 1, and I’m still trying to figure out which bluish hue would be good for the title (to hint at the blue cityscape of ADoS).

True, it does kind of hint at new-agey books, but that’s kind of the point…the characters and the planet itself has gone through a spiritual awakening of sorts.  And like Book 2, it serves a dual purpose: the physical awakening from that dreamlike state, and the spiritual awakening.

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One thing I learned early during this process was that I shouldn’t merely look for something that ‘looks cool’, no matter how tempting it may be.  The last thing I needed was to look for something shiny, because I didn’t want the casual viewer to say ‘wow, what a flashy cover’ but not completely connect with it or remember it.  I wanted something unique.  Something that stood out from other covers, not because it was the flashiest, but because it was different. Something to catch their attention because it stood out just enough.

These first three are my first attempts at doing book covers, and as you’ve probably noticed, there are no actual people on the cover.  This was a conscious choice; not only is it because of the large cast, but because I also wanted to invoke the idea that it wasn’t just my characters being affected by the story, but planet itself.

My next couple of projects do involve a much smaller cast, so there’s a very good chance I may use people (or silhouettes) on their covers.  I did a brief Shutterstock search for those and found a few ideas to work with, and I’m looking forward to these when I get to that point.  The main drafts of these stories haven’t even been written yet, or at least not completely, so again this was a bit like creating fake album covers!  In the process it’s giving me something fun to look forward to.