Motivations: Astrid Maxxim and the Electric Racecar Challenge

Astrid Maxxim and the Electric Racecar ChallengeI had planned for the fifth Astrid Maxxim book to be the Electric Racecar Challenge all along, and had built up to it in the previous books.  As I was writing Astrid Maxxim and her Hypersonic Space Plane, I came across an article about a woman who had suffered amnesia in an auto accident.  I decided that it was how I wanted to start the next Astrid book.  It would be quite a shocker opening.

I wrote the first two chapters and then got sidetracked writing His Robot Girlfriend: Charity.  I got back to Astrid and then got sidetracked again, first writing a few new chapters of Kanana: the Jungle Girl and then writing the entirety of The Price of Magic.  At that point, I looked back at the Astrid book, which was about half done, and thought “get to it!”

Even after all that, I ended up with everything but the last chapter done and got stuck.  I don’t really know why.  I knew what I wanted to write.

One little thing I’ve been playing with is that each last chapter of an Astrid book is named for a Shakespearean play.  I was stuck with this book until I suddenly realized that I could name the rival race car the Cheetah Tempest.  There you go!

Motivations: The Price of Magic

The Price of Magic - NewThe Price of Magic, The Sorceress and the Dragon Book 7, was set up in book 6.  Reading through them, they really feel like parts one and two of a story arc, although that wasn’t quite the way I planned it.  I wanted it to be a bit more open-ended.

The Price of Magic was much easier to write than The Sorceress and her Lovers.  It’s probably the longest book that I’ve written straight through without stopping.  I had just finished His Robot Girlfriend: Charity and started in on Astrid Maxxim and the Electric Racecar Challenge, stopped that and wrote a bit on Kanana the Jungle Girl.  Finally, I set all that aside and jumped back into Birmisia and Senta, and it seemed like that was what I was meant to be writing.

Perhaps what made it so much fun to write was that I was dealing with Iolana Dechantagne Staff as a fourteen-year-old.  I seem to be making a career of writing about teen girls– between Senta in The Drache Girl and Astrid Maxxim.  In any case, I really enjoyed writing Iolana’s portions of the book as well as Tokkenoht’s.  She had not been one of the primary characters up until this point.

When I finished, the pieces of the next book just fell into place.  I sat down and wrote out a very complete outline for it.  It would become A Plague of Wizards.

Motivations: His Robot Girlfriend: Charity

HRG CharityI had been working on an outline for the next robot book, which I planned on calling His Robot Wife: A Great Deal of Patience.  While I was doing that, I came up with a plot line that I wanted to write about.  This probably grew out of my frustrations with writing Kanana the Jungle Girl, which I had been trying to finish, but couldn’t quite, and which also had a similar plot line woven into it.

I could have written this plot in any number of ways– made it an entirely new story or a space opera story.  Knowing that people were clamoring for a new robot book, I decided to go that way.  Of course the story didn’t fit with Patience and Mike, so I created Charity and Dakota.  I decided to throw a bit of the back story that I had been working on for A Great Deal of Patience, along with a cameo by Mike, and there is a quick little book.  As I mentioned the other day, it took me only forty-two days to write.

A Great Deal of Patience ended up changing a lot, because much of what I had originally planned was in Charity.  That’s really worked out well, because I can move the plot along without having to worry about doling out background tidbits.  The story has to be able to stand on its own though and I think it does.  Both Dakota and Charity will appear in the new book, especially Charity, as this is a much more robot-centered story and less human-centered.  Watch this space for more information on the upcoming books in the series.

Motivations: Astrid Maxxim and her Hypersonic Space Plane

Astrid Maxxim and her Hypersonic Space PlaneIt’s a funny thing.  I had started and stopped writing Astrid Maxxim and the Antarctic Expedition several times, but by the time I was done, I was just hitting my stride.  I immediately started working on Astrid Maxxim and her Hypersonic Space Plane.  The previous books had hinted quite a bit about what would be in this book and I just continued on.

This was without a doubt the quickest I had ever finished a book.  I started the rough draft August 24, 2014 and finished it September 13th.  Twenty-one days inclusive.  The very next day, I started on His Robot Girlfriend: Charity, It took forty-two days, exactly twice as long, but still pretty quick.  A big part of this is probably because I just finished a second twelve credit graduate program at SUU, and I hadn’t been able to write much during those months.

The cover for the book went through half a dozen drafts as we got just the right spacecraft and image of Astrid.  Though not created at the same time, this cover and the one for the upcoming Astrid Maxxim and her Outpost in Space fit really well together.

Motivations: Astrid Maxxim and the Antarctic Expedition

Astrid Maxxim and the Antarctic ExpeditionWhen I first wrote Astrid Maxxim and her Amazing Hoverbike, I set for myself a loose expectation that I would write one Astrid Maxxim book a year.  I had written the first in 2011 and the second in 2013, so I was already a year behind.  By this time, I was half finished The Sorceress and her Lovers, and really needed something light to clear my head.

I had always planned to take Astrid to the Antarctic.  There were many reasons for this.  First: Tom Swift (my inspiration) had gone on such journeys.  Tom Swift and the Caves of Ice, and the Tom Jr. story: Tom Swift and the Caves of Nuclear Fire.  Second, I had hinted as much with Astrid’s discovery of the dust-covered chest marked “Antarctic Expedition” in Astrid’s basement.  Finally, the Antarctic is a timely location, with the subject of climate change so much in the news.

I wrote a chapter or two and then set the book aside, while I worked on His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue.  Then I returned and wrote a bit more, only to put it aside to work on The Sorceress and her Lovers.  Once the other book was done, I returned to Astrid.  Somewhere in writing this book, I got off my outline and ended up with a couple of chapters two or three times longer than I had intended.  I went back, edited them down, and renumbered chapters, but in the end, it was still off.  This book has only 17 chapters while the others have 19 or 20.

This book works better as a part of the overall series than it does as a single volume.  Lately, sales of this book and the other Astrid Maxxim books are really taking off, which makes me very happy.  While written for teens, I think it holds up pretty well, and adults might find some nostalgia in here, as I do.

One final note.  Matthew Riggenback at Shaed Studios did the cover, as he has all the Astrid Maxxim books.  We had more trouble with this one than any of the others.  We had a hard time finding an Astrid in cold weather gear.  The first few versions looked even more like they came from a fashion magazine.  Then we had a great background picture, but to get our girl in, we had to cover up either the snowmobile/sled or the base camp.  In the end, we covered up the base camp, which is too bad, because it really looked pretty cool and perfect for the story.

Motivations: The Sorceress and her Lovers

The Sorceress and her LoversIt had been two years since I had published The Two Dragons, but it had actually been longer since I had written a Senta and the Steel Dragon book.  I was right in the middle of writing Astrid Maxxim and the Antarctic Expedition,  but set it aside and jumped into The Sorceress and her Lovers, without really even meaning to.

I had a long outline that was the original epilog of The Two Dragons, so I just followed along with it.  The return of Pantagria, Senta’s baby, and the Coral Dragon were three additions not in the original,  I had tacked her pregnancy onto The Two Dragons at the last minute, and I had created the Coral Dragon while writing The Young Sorceress.  Pantagria’s return provided the main story and set up the next book into what really amounts to a two-book arc.

This book felt a little unsettling for me.  I was writing in this world I had created, but it wasn’t the same.  The more I wrote of Iolana though, the more at home I felt.  This convinced me that she would be a major part of the next book.  Just as I was finishing this story, the plot for The Price of Magic just popped into my head.

Motivations: His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue

PatienceSince His Robot Wife had turned out to be such a good seller and His Robot Girlfriend continued to be downloaded, I had planned on writing several more Patience stories.  I had a vague idea of writing a series of adventures for Mike and Patience as they took trips around the world.

This first in the series, would take them to Antarctica.  I was already working on Astrid Maxxim and the Antarctic Expedition, so I had two very different books in the same setting.  Each of the robot books would have a catchy subtitle that played on the name of Patience.

I wrote the first one which was focused on a mystery.  As I mentioned before, mysteries are not really my thing, but  I did my best with it.  In the end, the story was okay, but I wasn’t satisfied enough to continue on with the series.  I would keep the names at ready, but I decided right then and there that I wouldn’t write another Patience book unless I had a compelling story to tell.

Motivations: Astrid Maxxim and her Undersea Dome

Astrid Maxxim 2I started writing Astrid Maxxim and her Undersea Dome at the end of 2012, about a year and a half after finishing Astrid Maxxim and her Amazing Hoverbike.  I knew that I wanted it to be an ocean adventure, because that was how the Tom Swift books I read as a boy went– alternating between air/space and ocean/other.

The undersea dome seemed such a natural progression for Astrid.  Since the invention of Astridium in book one– a superhard, ceramic material– could be made transparent, one of the first applications would be to create a geodesic dome under the sea.

I also wanted to introduce an ocean scientist to the series– some one who could fill the shoes of the late Jacque Cousteau.  So I created Dr. Feuillée.  He would go on to appear whenever I needed an ocean expert.  I have a few astronauts in the story, but as Astrid herself is something of an astrophysical engineering prodigy, they are less integral to the stories.

I’m very pleased with Astrid Maxxim and the Undersea Dome.  It really sort of cements the central cast of the series.  Astrid has grown to be my second best selling series, after Robot: Patience.  That makes me very happy, because I really love writing them.

Motivations: The Many Adventures of Eaglethorpe Buxton

Eaglethorpe BuxtonAfter finishing the two Eaglethorpe Buxton stories way back in 2009, I had always planned to write a third to finish up the story arc.  I had planned out Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Queen of Aerithraine in my head shortly after I wrote Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress.  I just never seemed to find the time to sit down and write it.

In 2012, I finished writing The Young Sorceress and then polished up The Two Dragons, which had been written years before.  Then I spent a good bit of the year working on 82 Eridani: Journey (as yet upfinished and unpublished) and got about halfway through before kind of running out of steam.  I needed something to get me out of my own head, so I turned back to Eaglethorpe.

I’m always telling my son how to get rich– monetize your intellectual property.  Eaglethorpe was pretty popular, so rather than release a third free book I decided I would create something that those people who enjoyed it would be willing to pay for.  I decided I would write three new stories and bundle them with the two originals and sell it as a single book– The Many Adventures of Eaglethorpe Buxton.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Queen of Aerithraine was written in a few days.  I had the story floating around in my head for years, after all.

Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Amazons took only a little longer.  It was fun.  I had the basic idea, and the setting, like the other locations in EB, had come from the D&D game I had played years earlier with my kids.

I had the most fun writing Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Day of the Night of the Werewolf.  It started with only a title and went from there.  I just made it up as I went along.

I was pleased to finish The Many Adventures of Eaglethorpe Buxton and don’t really have any more stories at least like those.  Since publication, TMAOEB has been one of my slowest selling books, so the monetization hasn’t worked out so well, but if there’s a game company out there or a movie studio….

While I don’t have any more similar stories for Eaglethorpe, I have thought about some other possibilities.  One of them is Eaglethorpe’s Fractured Fairy Tales.  Another is Eaglethorpe Buxton’s Garden of Verse.  Maybe some day.

Motivations: The Two Dragons

The Two DragonsThe Two Dragons was originally the final third of the massive story that I had decided to call The Steel Dragon.  When I turned it into a series instead, The Two Dragons sat for a long time waiting.  When I finally had finished and published all the other five books, I looked at the manuscript again.  The story still worked, but there needed to be significant changes in the ending.

Senta had picked up a dragon egg in book 4 that I hadn’t originally counted on.  I added that.  The original manuscript had a very long epilog that detailed everything that happened to all the characters.  Since it was going to be a series, I had to take that off.  In its place I needed an ending.  I had written a little bit about Senta arriving in Brechalon (originally thinking that this would be many years later), so I added it.  As it turned out, it tied in well with The Sorceress and her Lovers.

By the way, I am still following the information about the characters in the original epilog.

There are actually three dragons in the story, so which two are the ones in the title?  I kind of like mirroring The Lord of the Rings.  In The Two Towers, there are many more than two towers, and Tolkien never explains which two are the title locations.