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 🙂

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

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
Commander's Log Cover art

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
FBP_Logo_Tag_CMYK_v1

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

The ‘Nothing to report’ Progress Report 6/5/13

Slow news week.

Prior to last week I had had Microsoft Office open on the computer all year.

This week, I didn’t. No manuscripts, no nothing. I have not touched the story. A clean break, cold turkey styles. I decided I needed a rest. First for myself, to let my brain concentrate on other things for awhile. But secondly for the story itself. Before I go and start ripping it to shreds I want to get a bit of space, a bit of perspective.

Basically I want to forget the story.

When writing you know all the details, you know both what is on the page and what is supposed to be on the page but you also know something else: You know what you think is on the page but may not actually necessarily positively be there. In your mind all the details are there but perhaps you didn’t write them down as well as you thought or your allusions were too paper thin or whatever.

So if I forget the story (as best I can in a couple of weeks) I should be able to get back to the manuscript with a fresh set of eyes. No, that’s too cliche. Let’s say I’ll get back to the manuscript with a head full of other crap instead. So with a brain thus distracted when I go to review the manuscript it will be quite clear what is and what is not written down. If something is missing I can add it in. If I’ve hit the nail on the head so many times that the nail has gone through the wood and out the other side, I can delete with impunity.

That’s the beauty of editing.

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Although I haven’t been writing the story, I’m never too far away from ‘And Here The Wheel’. I’ve been working on the podcast and episode # 5 should be out this week. Some of the characters will be making cameos in some other E:D stories so I’ve been helping with that. I’ve been keeping up with the forums, helping out Lave Radio and getting involved in other ventures such as Jagged Alliance:Flashback.

What you say? Another Kickstarter? Are you insane?

Well, yes, yes I am. I loved Jagged Alliance as a little teenager. I won’t ever have the time to play this game probably, but I want it made and I want to support it. (Sound familiar?) I even made a ‘teaser trailer’ video for it.

So it hasn’t been a week of rest, its merely been a week of ‘being busy with other stuff’.

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Something I have been thinking about is how do I approach the next step in my manuscript. If you have read my plan You’ll know that I’m behind schedule and that I planned to print out the manuscript to review it.

I am wondering if I’m just being a stubborn old-school editor here. I always like to read paperbooks versus ebooks and I like to do my line edits on paper. But for the first step, simply highlighting areas of weaknesses and suggesting fixes, do I need to print out?

Using appropriate headers to make chapters easy to find, notes, bookmarks and other whiz-bang things kids use these days, can I just toughen up and do it on the screen? A few advantages: it saves me the cost of printing and once complete it saves a step of transferring the notes from paper back to the electronic copy. That is quite appealing.

On the other side, working on paper just feels more comfortable, which is an important factor too.

What do you think? Am I being silly? Is there some tool I don’t know about which makes this alot easier? Any advice / thoughts / blatant attacks appreciated.

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So keep an eye out for the next episode of the ‘Commander’s Log’ and don’t stay away for too long because I should have a few interesting things to say when I start the editing process.