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

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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 🙂

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
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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

Something FANTASTIC is coming

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Things are changing.

Or at least they will be. Soon.

But first I need to finish this edit of the novel. This is taking up approximately 117% of my time.

With such heavy focus on the edit this weeks update is going to zoom in on some of the editing progress.

First, lets start with the progress meter:

Progress Meter

 

Page 421/ 579 (72.7%)

 

Not much apparent progress since last week. But looks can be deceiving….

*Two chapters have been revised electronically based on edits done on paper
*Two scenes have been deleted. (hence the drop in page count)
*One new scene (to replace deleted two) has been plotted, planned and is currently being written
*Some work has gone into some side tasks around ‘Project And Here The Wheel’

Word Count

The edit started around 132,000 words is currently around 125,000 words. That includes some general trimming as well as focused ‘george forman knocks out the’ fat.

Page Count

This edit started at 601 pages and is down to 579. Heading in the right direction. I feel there is still plenty more trimming to go. Having completed the edit on paper its really hard to say what the effect will be on word count and page count. At the moment its just a bunch of red scribble over print. I know a lot of words have been cut out, I just don’t have a feel for the number. We’ll find out soon enough.

I know the first ten chapters will also get a good tightening on the next edit pass as well.

Beta Readers

Yes, I am behind. I pretty much blame the new scene for this. If I wasn’t changing this scene and writing it from scratch then I would have finished this edit by now. But its not about finishing, its about having the best final product. I believe the novel will be better with this revised scene. It won’t change the plot, because the scene hits all the same notes. It just hits them better, in a different and more concise way. It hammers the truth into the protagonist and forces him to look at himself and shows him who he really is.

Across the whole story there have been subtle changes, evolutions to relationships, new angles shown, one point of view character has lost his point of view completely, and his scenes now belong to someone else. Tweaks here, explanation moved or added there, etc. All and all I think the alpha readers will enjoy this new beta version and find it an even better read.

Those beta readers who haven’t read the alpha yet? Well they’ll just get a good old fashioned awesome read. Not bad 🙂

So what is the new timetable? Give me two weeks. This new scene, when finished, will be a draft scene and will need a few coats of ‘looking at’. The last few chapters (which have split to create an extra two chapters) just need to have the edits transferred over to the computer, two to three days maybe.

We’ll get there team, we’ll get there, and I promise you it will be worth the wait!

Space Game Junkie
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Just a reminder that a few weeks back I had a chat with Brian from Space Game Junkie. We talked about Elite, my novel, space games in general and time zones. I tried to explain to Brian what was good about Elite:Dangerous (him being skeptical from the kickstarter) and he had to stop me half way through my passionate spiel. “John,” he said. “Frontier should hire you to do their publicity because on what you just told me I would have totally backed it.”

You can check out the podcast recording over at space game junkie

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Well a short update this week. Got to get back to the editing 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

John

Electrons, Wood pulp or sound waves?

How would you like your novel?

How would you like your novel?

How do you like your novel served up these days?

This is the question I have been asking myself recently as opportunities open up before me.

Paper

My personal favourite of course is wood pulp. I’ve done a lot of work for a thermo-mechanical pulping plant who make paper, but that is not why paper is my favourite medium for a novel.

I think it is because of my mum. Mum loves reading. She read to me as a child. I think of reading and I think of the times I came home at night to see the light on in her room, a book open in her hands but mum well and truly asleep. Its a happy warm nostalgic memory. We often ran out of book cases at home. We didn’t sell the books or give them away though. No, dad just got his builder mate to make another bookcase. Who needs wall paper when you have book cases?

I devoured books as a lad, reading the same things as mum as that was what was available, but eventually branching out into other subjects like science fiction. Sometimes I bit off more than I could chew, like ‘Clear and Present Danger‘ by Tom Clancy as a ten year old, or The sequels to Dune as a pre-teen. Overall though I did pretty good.

So if I’m going to read a book I want it to be paper. It just feels RIGHT.

Ebooks

But what about you? Do you like yours served up as a dish of electrons, a bunch of 0’s and 1’s? Ebooks are cheap to make and cheap to sell. In that way they open up literacy to many (though you could argue libraries do the same thing). In terms of reading an ebook on an ereader I’d really be quite happy to pass.

The only time the ebooks have really worked out for me was for a period of maybe 4 months when my boy had some big issues sleeping and I spent half the night wandering the house with him in my arms to keep him asleep. I had one arm holding my boy and one free arm. Too hard to read a paper book that way but the kindle was just perfect. I read two novels of the Song of Ice and Fire that way (and if you know anything about that series you know how BIG those books are!)

Audiobooks

What about Audio? I’ve come to love the idea of audiobooks. As a user of an audiobook all the work is done for you. You don’t have to turn pages, you don’t have to to do any thinking, hell you don’t even need to open your eyes. Its a lazy man’s dream.

From an author point of view however I think it is an exciting way to add value to your novel.

Compare reading: “You’ll never reach the top of the hill in time,” Robert said in a disparaging tone. (Note: Yuck example but its late and I’m tired so deal with it)

With listening to a man speak in a disparaging tone: ‘You’ll never reach the top of the hill in time.’

All the nuances and flavour are fed directly to you instead of being layered in afterwards. It compacts the story and makes it easier to digest.

Another great advantage to audio books is the addition of foley. Watch any movie or tv series. The music or sound changes when the drama changes. A reveal comes along, a decision is finally made, whatever it is you get a signal it is coming from the sound effects. With audiobooks you can do this too, heighten the drama, give signals, foreshadow, whatever. You can even just add good old fashioned sound effects to reinforce the action.

And Here The Wheel

Everyone is different. I know some people love ebooks. Others love audiobooks to help them sleep at night or get through their night shifts or whatever.

Choice is good.

That’s why And Here The Wheel will be produced in all three formats.* Because all of those Elite fans whose lives will be better after having read And Here The Wheel, have different tastes and different preferences for their literature.

So which is your favourite?

*If its audiobook then we need your help. Audiobooks cost a lot of money. Fantastic Books Publishing are raising funds through a crowd funding campaign to set up their audio division. Everything is in place for recording And Here The Wheel. Actors, technicians, its all looking pretty darn exciting, we just need the money to hit the go button. Please visit the campaign and donate, even if its just a little bit and help my dream (and hopefully yours) come true.

Thank you.

Editing Progress

Here is this weeks progress meter for Editing, Round 2:

Progress Meter

 

Page 510/ 595 (85.7%)

 

The cake progress meter is a lie. That big scene that last week I said I would chop out? Yeah, didn’t really get around to that. Skipped it and moved on finishing the rest of the edit before going back to it. So the total page count is wrong and although I’m up to page 510 in the editing there’s some writing to do in the midst of that. Still its the best overall picture of progress I could come up with.

Commander’s Log Podcast
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Episode 10B has been out for a few weeks now. Thank you to everyone who downloaded and listened. I hope you enjoyed it. Who did you pick as the winner between Drew Wagar and myself? Were you right?

I’ve already had some questions fired at me to answer in the next podcast. Feel free to drop me a line in the comments or on twitter or facebook if you have a question you would like answered. Or, if you can think of a great place for Commander Harper to visit then let me know that too. Its a big universe out there and there is a lot of ground to cover.

I’m also teeing up a pretty exciting guest for the next episode too. Stay tuned for that one.

Episode 10B “Everything is pretty Fantastic”

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Thanks for stopping by. I’d love to hear about your favourite book types.

Thanks,

John

Kill Your Darlings


Your novel will thank you for it. . .

Your novel will thank you for it. . .


If you are a writer then you’ll know the above saying.

If you know a writer then you’ve probably heard them say the above.

Kill your darlings means, in a very loose translation: Although you might be in love with a piece of your writing (a character, a scene, a sentence), you might think its the best damn piece of writing you’ve ever done, full of lyrical metaphors, cunning wit and beautiful description, definitely worthy of a nobel prize, but if it isn’t “doing it” for the novel, then you have to kill it.

Kill. Crush. Destroy. Delete. Annihilate.

You get the idea.

But what do I mean by ‘doing it’? You may remember a post I did a few weeks back talking about character. I said that a character must pull his weight in a story, by bringing more than one thing to the table. Three dimensional characters, the important ones, by default carry their own weight. Its the lesser characters, the sidekicks, the butlers, the dude you meet at the corner store that you need to worry about. Do they need to be there? Can you combine two to make one and simplify the story?

The same is true of scenes. A scene HAS to have a reason. No give on that one. If it doesn’t have a reason or a point then it is not a scene. Its a slice of life or a vignette and it doesn’t belong in a novel.

The reason could be simple like introducing a character or introducing a conflict. If its a good scene it’ll do both at the same time. If its a great scene it’ll do all these things and more.

But there is something else. All scenes in the story should do, at the minimum, this one thing: They should drive the novel forward. They should point like arrows toward the finish line. They are there to complete the character arcs and the journey and get the hero to the end (one way or another).

I’ve been working through alpha reader feedback and completing my own edit of the novel and this week I’ve found three scenes which I’ve ultimately decided to remove or change in shape or form. Why? Because they weren’t driving the story forward. I was cruising in fourth gear, steadily working my way toward the climax (wah-hey!) and then these scenes chuck me back down to second and make me turn a corner.

They are good scenes. They read easy, they are enjoyable and they bring *something* to the table. The last of the three is a pretty massive scene. It was pretty damn cool. I loved it. Robert Garry kicked some serious butt. He did some killa’ damage. If you have heard of Fuck Yeah moments, then you probably have a fair idea of what I”m talking about.

But its going.

I’m going to miss it. It has some really great qualities and it does tick a lot of boxes. It bring a lot to the table, but its almost a side story, a reaction to events rather than a scene of Robert being a proactive warrior and creating events, of driving the story. Remember than in the third quarter of the novel the protagonist should be a driven attacker, a person who knows what they need to do and goes about doing it.

With the scene gone however, it leaves a pretty big hole. I need a replacement scene. The scene won’t be on the same scale, but it will accomplish all the GOOD things that the original scene did, but it will do more. It will drive the hero forward in his journey, emotionally AND physically. It’s probably going to merge with a later scene and become a pretty emotional point for our hero. He is going to realise some stuff. Things are going to change for him.

Its going to be pretty magical.

But you know, without the magic, because this is science fiction.

Editing Progress

Here is this weeks progress meter for Editing, Round 2:

Progress Meter

 

Page 391/ 595 (65.7%)

 

The overall page count has gone down slightly, and this doesn’t include the big scene that’s about to get the chop. It’ll be interesting to see what next week’s progress meter looks like. I’m ripping through the editing and should have this completed in October, ready for the beta readers. Are you excited? I’m excited!

Fantastic Books
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It’s fun having a publisher. You can talk about publishing stuff. March 2014 is coming up around the corner and although I’m still concentrating on the editing I have to think about next year.

Needless to say some pretty exciting things are coming up. Stay tuned. . . (Yes I’m being intentionally vague).

Commander’s Log Podcast
Commander's Log Cover art

Episode 10B finally came out late last week. Only when I uploaded it did I realise it had almost been a month since episode 10A. That’s what you get when you sit around waiting for Drew Wagar, author of Elite:Reclamation to finish his novel. He was worth the wait though, we had a pretty good chat about the state of the Elite books, what information we are waiting for from Frontier Developments and then we get down to business and duke it out, thumbwar styles!

Who wins? Well its my podcast, so . . . you’ll just have to listen and find out.

Where should I head next on the podcast? Anyone have a favourite system that needs visiting by Commander Harper?

If you haven’t listened you can click on the link below. But of course you’ve already listened, haven’t you?

Episode 10B “Everything is pretty Fantastic”

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Thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoyed it. Have you killed any of your darlings? I would love to hear your stories.

Thanks,

John