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: Desperate Poems

Desperate CoverI was a poet long before writing a novel.  I wrote copious amounts of poetry though High School and into my twenties.  I started writing it again in my thirties.  I had long thought about putting together a collection in a book.  Now that I had a handle on the self-publishing process, I decided I would do just that with my poetry.

All the poems I had selected were previously published online at, so it was just a matter of putting them in the correct format.  Since this would be a free book, just a chance for me to show off a bit, I didn’t spend a lot of time on a cover– just whipped it out with Paint.

I haven’t written any poetry lately.  Any free time to write that I have, is spent on my novels.  So, this will probably be my only poetry book, although I have about 1,000 poems written long-hand in a box in the garage.

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.