My Writing: 2012

The Young Sorceress (New Cover)I had been putting off writing the book to go between the already completed volumes three and five of Senta and the Steel Dragon.  But at the end of 2011, I finally started.  I varied the formula a bit from previous books.  Instead of following a single character for an entire chapter, I flipped back and forth within a chapter.  The result was that I went wildly off my outline, and by the time I was done, I was exhausted and not very pleased with the final product.  Going back and reading The Young Sorceress though, I like it better than I thought I did.

Once The Young Sorceress was done, I revised the long-finished The Two Dragons.  I changed very little except for the final chapter which was entirely rewritten, and the long epilog I had originally written was removed.  I had decided by this time that I might want to continue the series at a later date, so the epilog had to go.

By the time I finished these two Senta books, I was feeling quite heavy.  I thought I would write something light. I dusted off my manuscript of The Jungle Girl and wrote several new chapters.  I even created a new cover for it.  Then I just became unhappy with it.  I went back and changed it from a first person story to a third person narrative, but in the end, I put it back in the proverbial drawer.

I had long thought about writing another Eaglethorpe Buxton story.  I started in on Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Queen of Aerithraine, which is kind of a continuation of the two previous stories.  By the time I was done, I had not only thought of two more stories, but I decided to publish them all together as a five book set.  The Many Adventures of Eaglethorpe Buxton was published just before Christmas.

 

Characters: Mike Smith

His Robot GirlfriendThe story that became His Robot Girlfriend consisted originally of some short flash fiction and the characters were not very well developed. When I decided to turn it into a book, I completely rewrote it, adding an ending. I had to turn some cardboard people into real characters. In the case of Mike Smith, I just decided to make him– me. He was a school teacher, about five years older than me, when I started, and instead of being happily married with two kids, he was a widower with two surviving children. Personality-wise, language-wise, and description-wise, he’s about as close to me as I could get. As I neared the end, I started feeling a little uncomfortable that he was so much like me, and I began working in little things that made him at least somewhat different. In the end, physically at least, Mike changes quite a bit. Patience really gets him into shape.  Sadly, this has not been a case of life imitating art.

My Writing: 2011

I knew that if any of my books was likely to capture attention, it would be His Robot Wife. His Robot Girlfriend was being downloaded by the thousands each month, despite not being my best work. So I really worked to finish a book that was much better written than the original. I also for the first time had letters from over a hundred people who had questions or suggestions about a sequel to His Robot Girlfriend. That was pretty strange– that kind of feedback was definitely new to me. I spent the end of 2010, and the beginning of 2011 finishing it.  I hoped that by the end of the year it would have sold 8,000.  The sales were a little short of that– just over 4800.

One of the fun things that I noticed at the beginning of the ebook revolution was that people were making and publishing their own superhero stories in series form.  They created covers for them and used existing DC and Marvel heroes.  I thought I would try my hand at it, but wanted to create my own characters.  I wrote the first two chapters and posted them on Feedbooks in 2008, but stopped as I got busy with other projects.  Then in 2011, I picked them up and turned the story into a novella, which I finished and published.  Women of Power was a play on the term “women of color” which was in the news a lot at the time.  Women of Power was a lot of fun to write.

I had been meeting every two weeks with my writers group.  At the time, we met at Borders.  They set up a table for us in the corner of the store.  Then one day, they moved us to between two massive counters of vampire novels.  One of the members suggested I write a vampire story.  I said that my type of vampire story wouldn’t sell.  The more I thought about it though, the more I wanted to write it.  I started on Blood Trade and got more and more dark as I went.  About halfway through, I went back to the beginning and just went totally dark.  And as I predicted, it doesn’t sell.

I finished Blood Trade and wasn’t quite ready to jump back into Senta and the Steel Dragon, so I was looking around for something to write.  I was telling someone that Princess of Amathar was based on the Burroughs books that I loved.  Then I mentioned that before them, I was reading Tom Swift Jr.  I thought I should write my own books like that.  I sat down and thought about all the things I loved about Tom Swift and all the things I didn’t like about the stories.  Then I plotted out the characters and came up with about twenty possible story lines.  Astrid Maxxim was born.  I sat down and wrote Astrid Maxxim and her Amazing Hoverbike in almost no time at all.  I hired Matthew Riggenbach at Shaed  Studios to create a cover (Astrid Maxxim books are the only covers I haven’t done myself).

Finally, I couldn’t put it off any longer.  I got back to Senta and the Steel Dragon

Characters: Norar Remontar

Princess of AmatharSince Princess of Amathar is very much an homage to A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, it’s no surprise that the warrior alien is very much inspired by Tars Tarkas. Norar Remontar is a proud knight of the city of Amathar and befriends Alexander rather grudgingly. But once befriended, he is true till the end. I created the Amatharian names with an idea that they would be very difficult to say aloud– I’m not really sure why.

My Writing: 2010

Tesla's StepdaughtersBy 2010, I had mostly given up on traditionally publishing the Senta and the Steel Dragon books. I entered the Voyage of the Minotaur in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest, and though it made it to round two, it was very disappointing. I was very unhappy with the feedback I got from the publishers who were evaluating the books for that contest. Some of the criticism was valid, but some I felt was very mean and some was just incorrect.

I decided to publish it myself and did. I also decided that Senta and the Steel Dragon shouldn’t just be a trilogy, but a series. The three books I had written (as one long one) took place three to five years apart. I thought I should write books to fill in the void. So my original three books became:

Senta and the Steel Dragon Book 1: The Voyage of the Minotaur
Senta and the Steel Dragon Book 3: The Drache Girl
Senta and the Steel Dragon Book 5: The Two Dragons.

The titles were fairly easy.  The Voyage of the Minotaur is exactly what most of that book is about.  It’s also a bit of a tribute to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  Likewise, The Two Dragons featured two dragons, and was a bit of a tribute to The Two Towers.  Of course, when I later revised it, I added a dragon so there are more than two dragons in the book.  But then, there are more than two towers in The Two Towers.  The hardest title was the middle book.  For a long time, it was The Sorceress’s Apprentice, but my wife thought it might be confused with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  I like The Drache Girl as a title, but I might reuse the original in a later book.

I sat down and wrote Senta and the Steel Dragon Book 2: The Dark and Forbidding Land. It was a real challenge making it fit between two already completed books, but I think it worked well.  It is one of my favorite books I’ve written.

I finished it and published book 2, then revised book 3 again and published it.

I also decided that I would write a quick and short little prequel and so Senta and the Steel Dragon Book 0: Brechalon, was done.

I started in on a book very much in the vein of Edgar Rice Burroughs called The Jungle Girl.  I got about a fourth of the way in and just lost focus.

In the meantime, I was playing a lot of Rock Band on my Wii. This inspired a story that just popped right out of me, seemingly without much effort on my part. It became Tesla’s Stepdaughters.  Originally the band in the story was named Tesla’s Stepdaughters.  I later changed it to The Ladybugs, so I had to come up with something to explain the title, so Tesla’s Stepdaughters became a song The Ladybugs sing.

So, I had five books published in 2010, and I started having visions of dozens of Wesley Allison books or even scores. It was then that I created a new goal for myself: write as many books as Edgar Rice Burroughs before I die.  23 Down, 61 to go.

I spent the last part of the year working on His Robot Wife, a book that I had high hopes would sell well, due to the popularity of His Robot Girlfriend.

Characters: Alexander Ashton

Princess of AmatharI thought I would spend some time talking about my characters over the coming weeks. My first character was Alexander Ashton. It’s been so long ago, I don’t remember where his first name actually came from, but I think it was probably from Alexander the Great. His last name was from a young lady I used to work with, who was one of my first beta readers.

Alexander is a hero in the vein of John Carter and other Edgar Rice Burroughs heroes. He is strong and rediculously formidable in battle, and also very intelligent, but makes the occassional rediculous mistake or assumption that leads to him into danger.  He is very fun to write, and Princess of Amathar is from his first person viewpoint.  Although he frequently expresses doubt about himself, one gets the impression that he seldom really doubts.

I started on a sequel to Princess of Amathar, but at this point I don’t know if I’ll ever finish it or not.

My Writing: 2009

It was about here that I really decided I wanted to be a writer, I guess. Or maybe I decided that it was actually possible.  I had published His Robot Girlfriend as a free ebook, and I put out Princess of Amathar as an ebook.  I was an author.

I realized that The Steel Dragon was way to big to ever be accepted by a publisher, so I split it into it’s three parts and sent them off, trying to get them published as a trilogy. The rejection slips started pouring in.

I was speding so much time sending out letters and queries that I didn’t have too much time to write, but I wanted to write something, so I made up a little story, inspired a bit by Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events. I really liked how the character of Lemony Snicket was part of the story, even though he didn’t appear to be.  I set my story in the fantasy world I had created to play Dungeons and Dragons with my kids.  The same world that I had written a play set in, performed by the thespians at Brown JHS.  Thus Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess was created. I had so much fun that I wrote Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress, based on the aforementioned play.