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.

—–

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

-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”

—-

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

Thanks,

John

Time to Jonty up – Progress Report – 15/4/13

I learnt this lesson the hard way: rugby and writing don't mix!  (Credit: NZPA/Dianne Manson)

I learnt the hard way: Rugby and writing don’t mix!
(Credit: NZPA/Dianne Manson)

An interesting week for And Here The Wheel. I’ve released the third episode of the Commander’s Log, a bumper episode that required alot of audio work. I’ve kept writing, as I always do, though I made the mistake of trying it at a friend’s house while the rugby was on. It was an interesting game, but not much writing got done:)

Word Count for the week: 9,051 words. Damn, not much over the weekly goal. It has been a bit of a struggle. In this part of the novel everything I am writing is being thought up while I write. My synopsis is not very detailed at the moment, due to the rush to get it replotted after conversations with Frontier Developments.

I am effectively ‘pantsing’ the story, a term used by writers for those who plan the story as they write or write ‘by the seat of their pants’ instead of planning before hand. It’s an equally acceptable method, but one that doesn’t suit my strengths and definintely isn’t the right method when you are trying to power draft. On same days I’ve actually spent ten minutes or so writing a page worth of synopsis so I can then get on and write the scene the way I like to write. These scenes worked a lot better than those done off the cuff and I’ve made a mental note to really shine a light in the eye of these scenes when it comes to editing time. For now though the draft is still moving forward which is what is important.

Total Word Count: 93,586. Half way through a scene which was one of the first I thought about for the whole story. Its a scene which I love but in the back of my mind I fear I may have to reposition this scene. Then there is the climatic battle and the aftermath. Those are two pretty important scenes which I’ll discuss after I have got there.

 

93,586 / 105,000 (89.0%)

 

Quote du jour:
Robert spun Hayden around and crunched him in a bear hug. Just for a second. “You guys are ok,” he said, then stepped toward Tiwhe and punched him in the shoulder. Hard. “When your boss sends you a message to see if you are alive the decent thing to do is reply and say ‘yes sir.'”
“We’re alive Sir,” said Hayden.
Tiwhe rubbed his shoulder. “How come he gets the hug and I get the punch?”
Hayden gave him a shove. “Because I’m better looking.”

Commander’s Log Podcast

The cover art for the Commander's Log podcast

The cover art for the Commander’s Log podcast

As mentioned above and in the previous post, episode 3 has been released and is available on iTunes and this website. Thanks everyone who has given feedback so far. I really appreciate it. People out there might not realise it but feedback of any sort is very important to writers or anyone who puts their product out in the public. I guess at a base level its a good ego stroke to know that someone cared enough about your work to spend a minute writing a comment, but on a higher level it helps to polish and fine tune the whole experience. Feedback allows me to improve areas of the podcast that might be weak and look at the parts that are great and see how I can make the rest of the cast the same.

Because lets face it. I had never done podcasts or audio editing before I started the podcasts. I’m an absolute rookie. A rank amateur. And feedback is how I get better. Its the same with my writing. The magazines that give feedback on my submissions allow me to tune the story toward something that they require. Every magazine requires something different – different tastes, different readers, different goals, and feedback is a vital part of the process.

So what am I getting at?

Please let me know what you think of the podcast ūüôā Constructive critisism, good old fashioned rave reviews, I’ll even take a slap in the face if you are prepared to swing your arm.

Writers Forum

If you follow me on twitter you would have heard about my publishing contract. The question was raised in the writers forum on whether there would be a contract for all the works of fiction that will be published and the answer was a resounding ‘Yes!’

So as we speak, a publishing contract is winging its may via mail to my house in little ol’ New Zealand.

Yes, you read that right. MAIL, not EMAIL. Frontier want me to sign a printed copy and then mail it back to England. Sure, I don’t mind getting contracts in the mail. I just have to make sure the kids don’t spill anything on it before I can mail it back.

Authors continue to publish drabbles ready for the Elite:Dangerous newsletters. I haven’t done one yet and I’ve been asked by a few people: ‘Why?’

There is a couple of reasons. Firstly my brain is in power draft mode. I’m not in plotting mode – I’m in getting the words on the paper mode and I’m so close to finishing the draft that I want to complete that goal, get it ticked off and then shift my brain into drabble mode, complete that goal, and then shift into the editting phase.

The second reason is quality. If I know what I am writing I can punch out 100 words in a few minutes. That’s nothing. But that’s not the true cost of a drabble. Like any piece of fiction I write I don’t want it going out to the public unless it is as good as I can make it. That means edits. For a drabble, with only one hundred words to play with, that means making sure that each word is the best, most precise word that I can use, that conveys the right connotations and measures. This can’t be done in a few minutes, for me at least.

So I will be doing a drabble, just not right now. And when I do it, it will be somethin I am proud of.

Otherwise the writers forum has been pretty quiet. No new topics popping up, but there has been a bit of continuing discussion on current topics. Nothing particularly news wothy unfortunately.

—–

That’s this weeks report done and dusted. See you next time.

Thanks,

John

Time for a big space battle – Progress Report – 8/4/13

Another busy week – My Au Pair’s parent’s are in town, all the way from Germany, and we have been showing them around. This also means no childcare for the next two weeks so writng time is taking a bit of a hit. Fear not, the goal of 1,000 words a day is still being met, even on the days when I really, really, really don’t want to.

Word Count for the week:¬†9,443 words. Bit of a struggle this week. Distractions galore, including quite a bit of work on episode 3 of the Commander’s Log podcast. Recorded a conversation with a guest Commander and I’ll be editing that then adding some polish and I expect to release the episode late this week or early next week.

Total Word Count: 84,493.  The protagonist has seen the light, and made the right decision at the second plot point. But his life hangs in the balance. . .

 

84,493 / 105,000 (80.5%)

 

Quote du jour:
“Look I know this may sound a bit cliched, but I can explain everything.”
The Agent smiled. “Of course you can, and you will. In a Facece detention centre.”

Commander’s Log Podcast

The cover art for the Commander's Log podcast

The cover art for the Commander’s Log podcast

As I mentioned above I’ve been working on the third episode. It’s going to be quite a bit longer than the other episodes, but if I’ve done my job right you’ll be entertained all the way through. I may live on the opposite side of the world to most Elite fans but if you would like to have a chat on the Commander’s Log please get in touch and we can organise something. I’d especially love to hear from any antepodean fans. Where are you all hiding? Sneak out of the woodwork and come say hello. It’s time we balance out the ‘northern’ views of Lave Radio with some southern reporting ūüôā

Writers Forum

A pretty quiet week this one. The conversation on swearing and profanities continues. Seriously, why is swearing in fiction such a big deal? Everyone has their own opinions of course. Some of the opinions are:

  • Swear words evolve with time so you can’t use the F-word etc in the 34th Century
  • Actually some swear words come from antiquity and if they have survived this long they’ll survive another millenia
  • Swear words usually have connotation and a sound quality that is derived from the experiences of the user and their culture. A space based culture should be reflected in its (crude) language
  • A writers responsibility is to maintain narrative flow, to keep the illusion of reality alive, keep the reader turning the pages. As soon as someone has to stop to think ‘what does this swearword actually mean?’ because it is so strange and unknown, then you have jolted them out of the story and lost them as a reader. maintaining the illusion of reality trumps other language concerns
  • Everyone understands that language as a whole evolves and the words used in a story in the 34th century would be as strange to us as Shakespeare’s ‘old’ english. We can’t write the whole book like that so why would we single out the swear words?

These are all valid opinions, but they don’t really work for me. My opinion is that as an Author you have to do what is right for you. Sure, you can dress it up by saying ‘well my character needs to be authentic so needs to swear like this and that’ but deep down there is a subconcious bias. You want to do it your way and you should. You should do what is natural for you and not make it artificial. That is when trouble begins. Maybe you will lose some people because they don’t think the F-word is appropriate. Maybe you’ll lose some because you didn’t use make up new swear words.

You are never going to please everyone. The best thing to do is make your whole novel as good as it can be and to do that you need to stay true to what you, as an Author, need out of this book. Whatever is true for you is what you should do. Honesty will make the story more true for you and the reader and that is worth more than anything else.

What do you all think? Maybe I don’t have a strong feel for it and everyone else has a different opinion.

—–

Sorry for the short update this week. Too much going on at the moment.

Thanks,

John

This lonely road I’m on – Progress Report – 1/4/13

Sometimes we must walk alone. . .

Sometimes we must walk alone. . .

Another busy week – which sort of makes it just a regular week as every weeks seems to be busy.¬† There is a draft to write, a newsletter to polish, a podcast to either polish and release, or write and do post production on.¬† Then there is the updates to the website.¬† It never ends.¬† And really I don’t think I would have it any other way.

The title of the post refers to the Protagonist and where he is in his journey at the moment. Roads diverge and converge, parting ways for some time before joining up again. Right now, the protagonist is going solo. Kind of not by choice, but he thinks it is what he wants. What happens next? Well wouldn’t you like to know?

 

Word Count for the week: 10,060 words. Yeah, ok.  Some days were bang on the minimum (such as last night when it took me two hours to book flights for a family trip later in the year and I started writing at 11pm at night) and one or two days were the kind of days every writer dreams of, when the words just stream straight from the brain to the finger in a logical and coordinated fashion and the word count rises like an inexorable tsunami (without the destruction. . . well some fictional destruction).

Total Word Count: 75,010.  The Chapters are getting smaller now as the action gets more intense.  There is less explanation and more accomplishment.  The protagonist is hitting his low point, when his demons come to the fore and ruin everything.

 

A Review of the Plan:

The third quarter of the book is becoming a lot larger than I thought it was.¬† The same things are happening that I planned for but they have taken more words to write than I expected.¬† This quarter needs to be balanced with the other three quarters of the book, it can’t stay lopsided in the final version of the book, but this is the draft we’re talking about.¬† Things have to be roughly right at this stage but its far better to have too many words and remove some later than not have enough words and have to fabricate extra later.

The first two quarters have been pretty bang on.¬† The first quarter landed around 18% of the proposed 100,000 words and the second quarter landed at pretty much exactly 50% of the 100,000 words, but this third quarter is going to land around 80% of the 100,000 words.¬† It’s all going to need some fine tuning but right now I’m making a decision:¬† My new goal for the first draft is 105,000 words.¬† Thus my word count progress bar has been updated and is below:

 

75,050 / 105,000 (71.4%)

 

This means that I have 30,000 words left to write and¬†30 days to write them if I am to stick to my original timeframe of the draft being completed¬†by 1st May.¬† This means I will have to write 1,000 words per day.¬† What do you know? Two months through the first draft and I’m bang on target. Based on experience I know that I will definitely be finishing the draft before the end of April. This is getting really exciting!

From day one I set myself a goal of 1,000 words.  I knew this was achievable because I can write 1,000 words an hour, or in a lunchbreak.  I knew that if I dedicated my lunchbreak to the novel I could meet my goal and then have my late evenings (with the family asleep) to write extra words, or as has been the case lately, work on related side projects.

So nothing changes. I’ll be working to the same goal.¬† I’ve¬†released my second podcast this week, which¬†took up a bit of time.¬† With that out of the way that gives me a bit of evening time to work on the novel again before¬†getting back into podcast # 3.

Quote du jour:
“Robert!” the voice boomed from across the dock, loud, long and deep, an urgent vein of pure hatred running through it.

Commander’s Log Podcast

The cover art for the Commander's Log podcast

The cover art for the Commander’s Log podcast

Just a reminder here that Podcast # 2 is out. All episodes are available on this website for direct download or through an RSS feed. I also have them on itunes and youtube, in case thats works better for you. No flashy videos to go with them sorry. My time is better spent writing the story.

I hope all the listeners out there are enjoying the series so far. In the next episode I’ll be taking the Cobra Mk III to another ‘Old World’ and one that will be familiar with everyone. It’s a place that quite enjoys all the edible delicacies that Lave has to offer. I’ll be there to find a member of the Elite community and catch up with him about the last few months.

If anyone else would like to me drop by in the course of the Commander’s Log podcast then email me at john_at_andherethewheel.co.nz and we can organise a visit.

Writers Forum

It’s been a tad busy this last week. I’ve had a few questions for Frontier, along with some of the other writers.

The two main question I have had are:
1) “How do clothes react in a zero-gee environment?”
2) “What are the actual flight mechanics of ships?”

I’ve asked these specific questions because they have become quite important in the current part of the draft. Question 1 is pretty important because the hero is running around his spaceship in a kilt with a sporran around his hips. I don’t think I need to draw a picture here.

Now a bit of background before we go on. Before Elite:Dangerous came along it was implied, and reinforced by fan fiction, that artificial-gravity was a standard technology. People could run around their ships and do all the normal stuff they could on a planet because their decks had simulated gravity.

Well it turns out that this is not the case. Ships do not have simulated gravity. They have an up and down, a ceiling and a floor, but that is because they are intended to spend most of their time docked on a space station (simulated gravity) or a planet (real gravity) In the game the travelling component of time will be quite small, unless you jump into Reidquat and get hammered by pirates.

So how do we get around writing these scenes without it sounding like antics from the International Space Station? Well the easiest answer is that everyone will have magnetic boots. Think the deflector dish scene in Star Trek TNG: First Contact. When you pull the boot upwards the magnetism releases, allowing you to step, and then when you push down the magnetism engages. This provides a suitable analogue for gravity.

But it does not control your clothes, which leads me back to my question. What happens to a kilt in zero gee? Bad things! So I posed the question to Frontier Developments. One possible answer is meta-materials. They know the shape they are suposed to maintain and do so, whether gravity is pulling on them or not. This kind of reminds me of one of my daughter’s Barbie dolls. It has a long ball dress with wire running through it so the dress can be raised or lowered by the twist of a knob (so she can change from Sophisticated ball attendee to Bad-ass party girl raring to go to town – seriously Mattel? Is that appropriate?). But anyway, whether the kilt is laced with wire or something else to make it a meta-material the kilt will be staying where it needs to be and that’s what counts.

Does anyone have any ideas for clothing, bags, etc for zero-gee environments? I’ll take these to the writers forum if there are any good ones.

The importance of the second question should be pretty obvious. This is a novel about a space sim. Ship maneouvres are going to be pretty important to any Elite:Dangerous fiction.

Suprisingly i’m around 70% of the way through the story and I’ve only just had my first proper space melee and even then it was pretty short. Alot of action has been on the ground or in space stations or capital ships. The hero isn’t a pilot. He is a gunner by trade. He is good at shooting people, not flying ships, so naturally the story tends to focus on this. But fear not because his sidekick is the best pilot this side of Andromeda.

This first space battle was written from the protagonist’s Point of View (or POV), not the pilot’s POV. I think this is pretty interesting, as the space combat is quite immediate, yet you are one step removed from the pulling of levers and firing of triggers and so forth. The POV can report on how the pilot is operating, behaving, how they are acting, looking, etc and report on the movements the ships make, when lasers go off etc, but while a pilot may feel a bit more relaxed in the sense that they have some form of control over their destiny, a passenger has no control and this can be a pretty scary thing.

But back to the question. I haven’t got my answer yet, but I’m not waiting around. The novel needs writing. Despite many voices to the contrary I’m actually a big supporter of the Frontier style of space travel. I love it because its real. The laws of physics are the laws of physics. Newton said that ‘Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.’ Normally that external force is gravity or friction from atmospheric drag. In space there is no external force. So to stop going in one direction you have to apply a force in another direction and this is not an instantaeous event. You have to overcome your inertia to change direction.

Relative to your frame or reference. If two ships are in the same frame or reference (i.e hurtling towards Earth at 10,000 metres per second) then they can have motion relative to each other. And once this was understood, this was what made combat in Frontier, for me, quite exciting.

So I wrote the scene they way I would want it to play out, Frontier styles. Its important to note here that I’m not asking Frontier what the game play will be like. We already know this. But I’m asking what the underlying physics are like. There is a difference, and this is important.

What is everyone’s opinions on this? Is there anyone out there like me or is everyone a die hard fan of Elite style dogfighting?

Its live and ready to read.

Its live and ready to read.

Newsletter

This was emailed out tonight (New Zealand Time). I hope you all enjoy it. Please send me your feedback on which version your preferred: PDF or ebook. If you haven’t received the newsletter and you should have please also get in touch.

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Ok, that will do for this weeks update. Thanks for sticking around and talk to you next week.

Cheers,

John

Into the belly of the beast – Progress Report – 25/3/13

A very busy week, and not because of the writing. I’ve been doing a lot of non-writing related work for And Here The Wheel which I’ll talk about below.

Word Count for the week: 8,227 words. Not bad considering everything else I was doing. A little disappointed though. Will try a lot harder this coming week.

Total Word Count: 64,950.  One mega chapter sized scene done and dusted. Time for a regroup before the next brush with death.

 

64,950 / 100,000 (64.95%)

 

Quote du jour:
He’d been as near dead as a near dead person could be. He’d been right there, salvation just out of reach, flailing and stretching and praying a wordless scream as he’d watched the gash in the cruiser’s hull, lights still flashing from within, the cannon’s control waiting silently for their operator.

Commander’s Log Podcast

The cover art for the Commander's Log podcast

The cover art for the Commander’s Log podcast

Thanks to everyone who has downloaded the podcast. I hope you enjoyed it. And thank you to those that left review on Itunes. It took a while to figure out why I couldn’t see the reviews, but once i changed my Itunes shop to the UK they appeared as if by magic. If you have checked out itunes in the last few days you would have noticed that I slipped an ‘Episode #0’ in under the radar. This is a basic introduction to myself, the story and how it came to be. Common knowledge to most of you but perhaps quite important for any new listeners.

I’ll be releasing the second pod cast at the end of the week, which should give you all enough time to finish listening to the Lave Radio before plugging back in for some And Here The Wheel. This episode will be a bit longer. I’d love to hear your feedback on this. Is it too long, just right or still too short? Feedback on the content will also be greatly appreciated.

You may have noticed a few changes. Firstly the links page has been updated with new links and in an easier to read format. I’ve added the podcast RSS feed to the top of the sidebar on the right hand side. I have also added a new tab at the top of the page called ‘Podcast’. On this page I have the link to itunes as well as a direct download for each episode of the Commanders Log, so if direct download, RSS or Itunes is for you, then I have you covered somehow. Hopefully this will address the issues some people had been having.

Finally a request. If you have any questions for me, either personally or on the story and you would like them to be answered on the podcast please get in contact. Either send me a recording of you asking the question or write it in and I can voice the question. I’m very keen to keep this part of the podcast going, as I like involving you the readers and listeners in this journey toward publication. no questions asked, no questions answered ūüôā

Lave Radio

If you’re sick of my voice then you’re plain out of luck. I managed to catch up with the Lave Radio boys while they were recording. I was sweltering in summer heat while they were suffering their coldest day yet. My audio quality wasn’t up to scratch but hopefully I don’t detract too much from the experience. it was great being part of that free for all ‘conference’ that they have. Good job on the editing is all I can say!

Newsletter

If you have been wondering when the next newsletter is coming out, fear not! In between audio mixing for the podcasts I have been working on the newsletter. It won’t be too far away. The newsletter gives extra background information on the writing process and story background in particular. Its another way to add value to those that have supported And Here The Wheel at the larger pledge levels. I have been struggling to find a way to talk about what I want to talk about without revealing spoilers. An option is to reveal spoilers anyway but ear mark them as such so people can avoid them if they want to.

So for those who pledged to the newsletter tier and above, watch your inboxs over the next few weeks, and for those that are interested in receiving the newsletter, the ‘Supporters’ tab at the top explains the support tiers. I’m happy to accept upgrades in support, i.e if you have supported me to get a copy of the e-book then you can pay the difference to upgrade to the newsletter. Just mention on your paypal payment that you are upgrading. I have a list of all supporters and their pledge levels so it won’t be any problem at all.
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Ok, that will do for this weeks update. Thanks for sticking around and talk to you next week.

Cheers,

John