Newsletter # 5

Just a quick announcement that the fifth newsletter for And Here The Wheel has shipped and should be in the inbox of all those who supported the Indiegogo campaign to the Newsletter level or above.

The November newsletter includes a general update with where I am at with the project. I also delve into the backstory of the Garry Pirate clan, include an excerpt from the novel, discuss how the role of ship engineers have changed with the new hyperdrives and finally I include a drabble highlighting an important moment in the protagonist’s life.

Have a read and let me know what you think.

Thanks,

John

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

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

It’s not the end. It’s not the beginning of the end. But it is the end of the beginning.

Closing in on the finish line at the brickyard

Closing in on the finish line at the brickyard


Beta draft complete? Check!
Manuscript with editor? Check!

I am on the downward slope now, ladies and gentlemen. Heading toward the finish line. The famous black and white lines, or the row of bricks if you are an Indy fan.

I’ve been away for two weeks so a lot to cover. Strap in and let’s go. First up, Editing progress:

Progress Meter

 

Page 580/ 580 (100%)

 

Editing is complete!

I’ve actually snuck quite a bit of work in over the last two weeks. I transferred my red pen edits from paper to the computer. I wrote a whole new chapter. This then needed revision because it was a draft scene and the rest of the novel had seen at least three edits.

Then I went back over the last 10 chapters and with a sharp knife gutted the prose for every inch of flab I could find.

Then I went back to the beginning of the novel and inserted a few details, here and there, to balance and foreshadow some elements later in the novel.

Then I had another quick flick through.

Only then did I pass the novel to the beta readers.

. . .

Before and After

A quick comparison of the various edits. The word count has driven a roller coaster while the chapter count has gone up. In between these completion points the word count rose to 132,000 words before being culled. I envisage that when the story is put through the editing machine again it should come out around the 120,000 word mark. I’d be pretty happy with that.

Comparison of Drafts

Beta Readers

So as I mentioned above all Beta readers should have a copy of the novel in their inboxs. This is their opportunity to see an official Elite:Dangerous novel in a near ready to release form. I hope you all enjoy it. I’d love to hear your feedback at john_at_andherethewheel_dot_co_dot_nz

Fantastic Publishing

Two things there. First: Very soon the Indiegogo campaign to create and supply free audiobooks will finish. Not only is this a good cause but it will also mean that ‘And Here The Wheel’ will be released as an audiobook. If anyone has a spare dollar please throw it the way of Dan and his team.

Secondly, the complete novel is now with my editor at Fantastic Books. I have already had some feedback on the first three quarters of the novel. Minor stuff, tweaks, clarification of point of view, small things to make the story just that little bit better. Once I have all the feedback I’ll be going through and doing another edit, complete with any feedback from the beta readers.

What Happens Next?

My editor will finish reading the novel and provide feedback which I’ll take on board for the next edit. I’ll be keeping microsoft word closed for a wee bit though. I’ll have a bit of a break from the writing because I need to turn my attention to other aspects of the ‘And Here The Wheel’ project. I’ve been working with Fantastic Books on this and I have a whole load of things lined up for you guys. This is what I’ll be working on for the next bit and you’ll see some big changes, soon.

Did you want a teaser? Did you see the new background? Alpha readers (and soon Beta readers) will know exactly what it is. The rest of you will just have to wait a little bit longer.

While I have been racing to complete this latest edit I haven’t had the time to work on the podcast. I will be getting back into the swing of that soon as well. The next backers newsletter is also due out soon so look out for that if you pledged to support And Here The Wheel to the newsletter or above.

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So pretty momentous milestone done and dusted. No rest for the wicked though. I’m not just writing a story here, I’m marketing it as well and this is going to start soaking up some time. Looking forward to it 🙂

Ok team, catch you next time.

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