Announcing the Launch


youjustgotraidedYou heard it here first: This website right here is relaunching.

We will have launch in T minus ….

7 days.

Next Monday I’ll be swapping this site over to the new one, all bright and shiny and ready to take Elite:Dangerous into the next year and beyond.

Its not just a blog or a place to link to my youtube and face channels. Its going to be a portal to drive connection between you and me, for you to become part of the Garry Clan folklore and for me to share my Elite fiction.

Good combination? I sure hope so. The proof will be in the cake (unless the cake is a lie…)

To help launch the site I’ll be running a competition. More info on that during the week. . . .

Kickstarter

Fantastic Books Publishing‘s kickstarter campaign to audiofy its Elite:Dangerous fiction is going well. We’re a shade under a third of the way there in terms of the funding with alot of time still to run. We’re having a lot of fun in the comments section, even starting up some small bits of fiction. There is a story line behind this kickstarter. A gathering of pilots led by Commander Dan with Senator Drew of the Prism solar system waving the flag. But there are traitors and spies in our midst.

And why is the Garry Clan getting involved?

Even if you have no interest in the fiction or audio books, I highly recommend chucking in a solitary buck (at the minimum) just so you can get access to the daily video updates and the evolving story from that. You’ll get value for money just from that alone. The elite dangerous community is really getting behind us and we also featured in the latest Frontier Developments newsletter.

Novel progress

I received the complete reviewed manuscript back from the publishers last week with instructions to ‘have that back to us in a few weeks will you old chap?’

Holy crap was my first response. My second was to ask for an extension. However, I’ve been ripping through the very minor edits in good time so I’m looking good to have this edit done this year. Here’s the ol’ fancy progress meter to show you where I”m at:

 

Page 254/ 575 (45.4%)

 

Word Count:122,683 (down from 124,644 in the Beta edit)

All the edits suggested by the publisher have been small things, a nip here, a tuck there, but the effect is eye opening. I’m pretty sure this story will be finishing below 120,000 words which will be great. I’m predicting 115k at this stage. We’ll see ๐Ÿ™‚

Commander’s Log
Commander's Log Cover art
A reminder that Episode 11 came out lately where I have quite the discussion on the recent designs coming to light in the design decision forum archives.

So come on in and have a listen to: Podcast # 11: ‘Discourse at Veedze’

(Music courtesy of Stellardrone)

Newsletter

Geez, talk about the last minute. The November newsletter is almost complete, I’m just waiting for you buggers to tell me what engineering design/concepts/ideals that relate to Elite:Dangerous you would like me to discuss. No feedback last week, so should I assume the engineering section of the newsletter doesn’t tickle anyone’s fancy? Anything else you would like to see in the newsletter instead? hit me up in the comments or email me at john_at_andherethewheel.co.nz

Garry Clan Trailer

If you haven’t already seen this, check it out below. Its awesome*, with a killer sound track that really hits the mood of Elite:And Here The Wheel.

*(because I said so).

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Exciting times, coming up guys and gals. Come back next Monday for something very special!

Cheers,

John

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Watch out for the Clan!


Ok, ok, enough teasing. You want the trailer? You got it.

Here it is.

Please remember to like the trailer (if you do indeed like it…dislike if you think its crap) and leave a comment. I’d love to hear what you think.

So this trailer should leave you in little doubt about the direction the new website will be taking. Those who receive the newsletter will be learning a bit more about the backstory of the Clan and I’ll be releasing a lot of new content with the website when it re-launches.

Podcast

Commander's Log Cover art
After a bit of an hiatus I’m proud to announce episode eleven of the Commander’s Log.

In this episode, Commander John Harper retreats to the south-east frontier to get some peace and quiet to finish the novel and bumps into an australian with same firm views on recent Elite:Dangerous game design.

So come on in and have a listen to: Podcast # 11: ‘Discourse at Veedze’

Thanks once again to Stellardrone who provides the intro and outtro music.

Hope you enjoy it.

(Music courtesy of Stellardrone)

Newsletter

As hinted at above the newsletter is underway. I usually have a section on backstory, which is quite hard as most characters backstories are intricately linked with that character arc and to give the backstory would ruin the story. This newsletter will have backstory on the Clan itself and should provide some good interest without excessive spoilerage. (spoil? spoilage? spoili?)

I also write a section on engineering (because I’m a Mechanical Engineer) and how it relates to the Elite:Dangerous universe. Is there anything you would like a bit more understanding of? Previous engineering articles include structural design of gas refinery platforms, heat dissipation in space ships and how to make zero-gee luxurious. If you have an idea let me know in the comments or email me at john_at_andherethewheel.co.nz

Kickstarter

It’s only two days away. I hope you have your F5 key shined and polished and your index finger duly exercised. It’s going to be another exciting one. Fantastic Books along with myself and the other Elite authors are putting together some pretty great content to make it worth your while. And remember: Anyone who has supported ANY crowd funded Elite:Dangerous fiction to receive an ebook and then backs our kickstarter will get a SERIOUS upgrade to compensate. Don’t hold back. Let’s make the Fantastic Four (novels) the biggest, baddest book set this side of the Empire!

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Hope your enjoyed the content tonight. Looking forward to kickstarting with you all.

Cheers

John

Sorting out the Game Plan

And Here The Wheel

November is well and truly on us and it brings with it a few things to look forward to.

I’ve been talking with the insomniac that is my publisher, Dan Grubb (seriously, this guy works so hard he never seems to sleep) about how to move forward with And Here The Wheel. The Fantastic Books collective has some pretty exciting action on its horizon. I’ve mentioned it below and Drew Wagar (another author in the Fantastic stable) has done an excellent post on it on his website.

We have a kickstarter coming on the 20th November to launch what has to be the greatest collection of Elite fiction ever. That isn’t actually saying much as the bar has been pretty low so far, so I’ll rephrase. We have a kickstarter coming on the 20th November to launch what will be known for time immortal as the greatest collection of Elite fiction ever. All four books (three novels, one anthology) are being audio-fied. They are being paper-fied. With enough money they will be hard-cover-fied. There will be limited edition collector packs. There may be physical goodies with the collector packs as well. There will be live action book trailers. There will be awesomeness at every turn so watch out!
kickstarter
The kickstarter will be chock full of videos, audio, trailers and fiction narrative. It’s going to be fun and we want you to come in and join in the fun and if we inspire you, throw us a few bob at the same time.

As reported by Drew and Dan there has been some disturbing reports coming out of the Prism system. The Prism system is core to Drew’s novel of Imperial political machinations. But what about And Here The Wheel? where does it fit into these events which seem destined to threaten the entire Galaxy?

Don’t worry, it’ll be there, represented by a group whose particular skill set should come in handy in bringing balance back to the spacelanes.

Enough of the suspense, Harper! Spill the beans already!

I announced that things were changing quite a while ago and on the Frontier forums people are commenting on how Brooksian my ‘soon’ is becoming, some even suggesting that I may be teaching Michael Brooks a thing or two in stalling tactics.

I’ve confirmed with my publisher how we’re going to move forward and now we have a time table.

I’ll be releasing a new book trailer later this week (fingers crossed) which will answer some burning questions and ask a whole bunch of new questions. This will lead into the kickstarter which commences on the 20th November. After this date we’ll take the website live, linking in with the kickstarter.

I’ve mentioned it before but this new website will be something pretty special. It’ll be a way for you to connect with the core of the novel Elite:And Here The Wheel and take part in deciding the future actions of this particular group that is core to the novel. We’ll be working together and you’ll be getting some free fiction in the process.

I’m keen to shut you up by throwing money at you, but first….
Fry
Many of you have asked a very valid question. What if you have already backed one (or more) of the Fantastic books to receive an ebook copy but you want to also back the kickstarter to get a limited edition collectors pack or simply get it in paper back? Should you be forced to double up and pay twice?

Of course not. We don’t want that. We want everyone to enjoy our novels in the format that YOU want to enjoy it in. ebook, paper, audio, whatever. The whole ethos behind Fantastic Books is giving you the freedom to enjoy it and we don’t want to be a barrier to that.

So the good news is we have a solution. Without going into specifics, anyone who has backed ANY of the successful Elite kickstarter/indiegogo campaigns (not just the Fantastic Books ones) will get a SERIOUS upgrade if they back this new kickstarter. This will ensure that your earlier support of the novels (in which none of us would be here without you – we love you all to bits) will not be wasted or result in doubling up.

I’ll repeat that to ensure I’m being clear. If anyone backed ANY Elite fiction project to get a free ebook and then they back our kickstarter then they will get a free upgrade.

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Ok well it’s late and I’m going to bed. Night all,

-John

Don’t trust this update’s title

Because it has nothing useful to say. Not really anyway.

It’s been another week of hard work but none of it visible to you. Not yet anyway. So there isn’t a heck of a lot to talk about this week but here is a quick run down of where I am at:

Novel
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I haven’t touched the novel this week. Still waiting for feedback from my publisher before I hit the next edit. I’m not getting antsy or anything:) I’m perfectly happy taking this break.

In actual fact I am editing someone else’s novel. A good friend gave And Here The Wheel a rather excellent critique and now I’m returning the favour. He is another Elite Commander whose novel started as fan fiction of Elite and has now morphed into its own world. It is interesting how much easier it is to see fault with another person’s work over your own. The act of critiquing others is good practice for critiquing your own work. Critiquing is an art form in itself. Although I can give fixes to problems I see these are fixes that would work for me. It isn’t my story though, it is my friends. So what I think is a fix might not work for him. What I should actually do is point out why I am concerned about something. He can then take that info and his intimate knowledge of what the novel is and create a solution that fits for him. We will see how controlled I can be on this front ๐Ÿ™‚

Relaunch

Big changes coming.

Big changes coming.

Doing some pretty exciting work here. It has taken me a while but the structure of the new website is now done. Now I’m filling in the content. I am doing some extra stuff ‘around the edges’ to make this a real experience for everyone who visits.

The whole point of this website is for you the reader to connect with me and for me to share with you so you feel involved in the process. This new website should do that and more. It will make you part of the story.

The website will be launching with a pretty awesome competition as well. More details to follow.

Commander’s Log
Commander's Log Cover art

Planning underway for the next episode. I have my next guest organised and we’re trying to agree on a good time to chat. Baby steps, baby steps. . .

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I’d love to tell you about the rest of the things I have been working on but that would just totally wreck the surprise. So I’m not going to do that. It makes this update seem a bit weak but trust me, it’ll be worth it.

Until next time Commanders,

John Harper

The one with the reboot and the accomplishment.


Novel
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This has been a strange week for me. Microsoft Word has only been open as required for my day job. I have not used it at night all week. I have done zero writing or editing. It feels weird. I keep thinking about this big thing missing from my life. I’m not having to devote hours of my life to it.

And then it hit me.

The hard work is done.

In December last year my Indiegogo campaign looked on the rocks. I feel that I had a lot of support but Elite:Dangerous was on kickstarter and I was on a different platform and this different platform asked for money up front. Too many risks for a lot of people. Still, through the extreme generosity of some Elite supporters I got my funding.

Then I thought ‘oh, now I have to actually write this thing’. So in January I started planning the novel down to as fine a detail as I could. I wrote a two page synopsis for Frontier. I developed this into a thirty page document. I created a beat sheet, breaking my story down into sections. I put up the pillars of the basic story structure, the first and second plot points and the mid point contextural shift. I edited my thirty page document. Frontier got back to me and told me I had to change my plans. The back half the story got completely reworked. I even hired a consultant to run through my beat sheet and together we made some minor but important improvements to the plot.

I started writing the novel itself in February. I completed the first draft in three months. I re-read the novel making notes of any howlers or just things I wanted to change, even things that I just wanted to flag for later thought. I then went through and addressed these areas. I then ran the story through another edit.

I sent the alpha readers the story in August this year. I took a few weeks off as I waited for feedback. I got a lot of positive feedback – everyone who responded loved it. Those who didn’t respond I can’t comment further on. Some people just haven’t been able to finish it yet, which is also feedback of a sort.

I took the feedback and completed another highly detailed edit of the novel. In some parts this was just tightening. In other parts this was a complete rewrite. A whole chapter was cut out and a replacement written. Point of views were altered. A lot happened.

During that edit I contacted Fantastic Books with what I thought was a pretty rock solid submission. I was told I would hear back within the month. Six days later I had a contract to sign.

Just over a week ago I completed this titanic edit and sent the manuscript through to my beta readers and my publisher.

I haven’t really stopped since January. I’ve been plugging away night after night, working on this project, because its a dream. It’s a dream come true to be an official Elite novelist. My youth as an Elite fan fic writer could never have imagined this opportunity. (Its still hard to fathom some times!)

But now I have stopped (for now) and the realisation hit me: The Hard Part Is Over.

The job isn’t done. Not even close. I have the publisher’s edit to complete. There will be another one to two edits after that. Frontier Developments have changed a few parts of the ‘history of things to come’ which means I’ll have to change some parts of the story. There is the marketing. There is the social media. There is the local media and marketing angles. There is still so much more to do before March next year. Maybe overall I’m only half way there.

But for me, right now, I’m sitting in the sun in the country* drinking a wine, thinking ‘F*ck Yeah. I’ve accomplished something.’

It feels good.

*I live in the country now. That’s not just a random place I stopped for a wine.

Fantastic BooksFBP_Logo_Tag_CMYK_BANDW

My publisher has been pretty busy over the last wee while. Firstly (And unfortunately) their Indiegogo campaign failed to meet its funding. I spent a lot of time talking to Dan, the CEO of Fantastic Publishing, about crowd funding. Now Dan is coming out with a bigger and badder and more awesome crowd funding campaign. You can read more about it on their latest update here.

To summarise: instead of funding on indiegogo with a widespread selection of books and fans, Fantastic Books have tuned it down to focusing on bringing their four Elite novels to audio, And Here The Wheel included! This will be a focused and professional crowd funding campaign and this time run on kickstarter, where Elite:Dangerous raised its funding.

Fantastic Books has already started looking at doing a book trailer for And Here The Wheel. Dan and I discussed what would make an appropriate scene to bring to life in the book trailer. I came up with something that I think is a little bit special. It gives you a sense of WHO the character is, WHAT he is about, HOW the story will go and WHY he does what he does, all wrapped up in one little package. Powerful stuff. I’ll keep you updated on how that progresses.

Dan has also had a bit of a hand in what is happening below . . .

Relaunch

Big changes coming.

Big changes coming.

Look around this website. The dark colours. The muted title header. The narrow page focus. All of this? Gone, or at least it will be soon.

That’s right, www.andherethewheel.co.nz is being rebooted. A whole new look, a whole new focus, a whole new BRAND, coming at you soon.

This site serves as a good enough blog, a place to update you on my progress, a place to act as a repository for the podcast among other things.

But going forward, into the marketing of the novel, I need something more, I need something driven from the novel, for the readers, to combine the two experiences into something, well, Fantastic.

I’m currently making a new site from the ground up, because I want to connect with you, I want this website to be a visceral experience for you, a reader of And Here The Wheel. I’ll be doing that through new fiction orientated content. You’ll still be getting the same news as before, you’ll just be getting more . . .

Stay tuned.

Commander’s Log
Commander's Log Cover art

Well, I’ve been a bit quiet on the podcast front. Its been ‘heads down, bum up’ time for me getting the Beta draft done. Now I’m catching up. New website, new podcast episode, new newsletter, they are all in the works. And I have a lot of ground to cover. the DDF has been busy, the community has been going crazy and the alpha testing version of Elite:Dangerous is almost here.

So the Commander’s Log will be coming back to life sometime in November.

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Thanks for stopping by. Have a nice week and I’ll catch you next Monday.

Cheers,

John

Trusting the Reader


Lee Child trusted the reader to know without reading. . .

Lee Child trusted the reader to know without reading. . .

A few years back I was at a Dominion Post Writer Series night with the guest of honour the mighty Lee Child. He is, quite simply, THE MAN. If you want to read a novel that makes you stay up all night to finish it in one sitting, then you need not go any further than Lee Child. His skill at suspense is legendary and I have written an article dissecting one of his scenes. (For the record I talked to him for about sixty seconds as he signed a copy of 61 Hours, the cover of which is to the right. We talked about babies and nappies and kids never getting easier, even when they leave home.)

A topic Lee Child covered during the main event was trusting the reader. He said during his time with the TV industry that they had a three step process:

1)Tell the viewer that they were about to be told something
2)Tell the viewer something.
3)Tell the viewer that they have been told something.

I.E smash them over the head with ‘the something’ to make sure they have gotten it. He began his writing career doing the same in his novels, but as he and his writing matured, he decided he would trust the reader to understand without being bludgeoned.

The case in point? The ending of the book 61 Hours. Many who read the book were concerned about the survival of the hero, Jack Reacher but all the information needed to know he was alive and well was in the text. What Lee had done was not spell it out, or for another clichรฉ, join the dots for the reader. The dots were on the page but he left it to the reader to join them.

In some ways this is a risky business, but in other ways it can be very rewarding. The reader feels good about themselves when they figure something out. If an author trusts the reader like this, the reader learns to trust the author back. But trust is hard earned and easily lost. There is a balancing act where the author needs to show JUST enough dots.

How does this apply to And Here The Wheel? I too am trusting the reader. My point of view characters see the world in very different ways and these conflict with each other. One may view his action’s as just while the other sees them as barbaric. One man’s self defence is another man’s needless slaughter.

At one point my main character refers to the nastiness of an ancient battle but gets the country wrong. I’m trusting that the reader has picked up enough dots and figured out my character so they know that the author (me) hasn’t screwed up but in fact this is what my character actually thinks. Its right for him to make this mistake. It feels right that he is wrong.

My hero also talks a particular way, not always correct in his grammar. He wouldn’t get a pass mark at Stanford or Oxford, let’s put it that way. But have I written the novel poorly or is this appropriate for his background? Well this one in particular is a very fine balancing act. I’m not going full on phoenetic or anything silly like Iain Bank’s Feersum enjin but I am trying to hint that his background is different from the other characters without detracting from the reading of the novel.

These things take trust. I’m trusting you to get it. In turn hopefully you’ll learn to trust me not to screw it up.

Editing Progress

‘Editing Round Number 2’ is well underway. Chapters have been sent to Fantastic Books Publishing and they have been returned with comments. I am still going flat-out incorporating alpha reader advice into the latest edit.

Here is this weeks progress meter:

Progress Meter

 

Page 274/ 601 (45.5%)

 

Not as far as I had hoped to get this week. I’ve tried to go ‘balls to the wall’ but I’m running out hours. I am literally doing two jobs at the moment, doing the family stuff and then squeezing in the novel in every spare minute. Its fair to say that sleep has given up on me and gone next door for company. Never mind. I will keep pushing and I will sleep when I’m dead. . . which may be soon if I don’t get sleep. (Talk about a vicious cycle).

Fantastic Books Publishing
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Everything is going great here. As above I’ve already had some great feedback from their editors. Together we are going to make this the biggest Elite novel ever. (or tied for first with Drew Wagar’s Elite:Reclamation).

I’m really excited about the opportunity Drew and I have here. With two books under one publishing wing, both books being marketed as a set and with Fantastic’s, Drew’s and my own social media drive we are sure to get the word out to everyone and hopefully show Gollancz a few things about how to write Elite fiction.

So because Fantastic Books Publishing are doing all this awesome stuff for me, do you think you will be able to stop past their crowd funding campaign and think about chipping in? every dollar helps. Right now they around $23,000 USD behind their target and need everyone’s help. Did I mention they are making audiobooks? Do you want Elite audiobooks? Look this way!

Commander’s Log Podcast
Commander's Log Cover art

Recording happened late last week. Drew and I chatted for nearly an hour about Elite, our novels, Fantastic Books and the publishing process and our plans. We also discuss a certain freakin’ awesome battle scene and we slip in a game of thumb war for good measure. I also have Jamie Treacher, a talented composer, along as well so when I find a spare minute I’ll edit it. Shouldn’t be too far away ๐Ÿ™‚

And because I try to take any plugging opportunity that comes my way, the link for the last podcast episode is below:

Episode 10A “Tianve Terrors”

Supporter’s Page

The eagle eyed of you might have noticed that there has been some changes to the supporters page. I’ve removed most of the support tiers that were previously available. Alpha reading for example is no longer available. I’ve also removed the ability to pre-order the novel. This is no longer care of myself. Fantastic Book Publishing will be looking after this (and honouring all pre-orders). I will be talking to Fantastic later about re-opening pre-orders closer to the launch date.

Because we’re past half way into this campaign to make ‘And Here The Wheel’ a reality I’ve discounted the cost to jump on board as a newsletter supporter. It’s also not too late to sign up for beta reader access but you’d better be quick for this one as I’m looking to get beta copies out early October.

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Thanks everyone for stopping by. anything of interest in this update? Feel free to share it with your friends. Comments as always are appreciated also.

-John