Sunday, February 28, 2016

A trip to the Black Cross doc.

Well hello there. Welcome to this week. I'll be your host for the however long it takes you to stop reading. Please don't stop reading, I have so many fun things to show you.

So in writing news, great advancements on To Slice The Sky's rewrites and proofreads. Granted I realized I had to completely scrap a chapter and change how it goes since I wrote it mostly in an insomnia haze and it shows. I've begun completely changing the opening chapter as well. I've grown desensitized to the initial shock of the opening, so I've decided to go for something more substantial. That and the original opening is kinda dense and boring. I hope that I've grown out of dense and boring.

I first dreamed the idea for TSTS back in 2009. I finished the first outline in 2011 and the first draft in 2014. So two years past my style has changed a lot and I really wanted to pull away from long Tolkien/Stephensonesque didactic passages. Showing your homework in fiction is just public masturbation, which is a crime everywhere you go. You're supposed to talk about what you learned from your homework. Sometimes it's nice to drop a little hard science in the background, like public masturbation, but no need for it to overpower the scene. I'm not into computer science (and my understanding of most scientific disciplines is general college level anyway), so writing in depth would make me look like an idiot. I don't need that kind of business in my life, so I stick to things I have experience with.

I'm closing in on the last four chapters for proof reading. So far I have about 3 major changes, and I've split up a lot more chapters into smaller chunks. On the rewrite front, most of my effort has been put into continuity and restructuring. Combining both of those aspects created today's offering of 2nd draft writing. This week is Chapter 4, Decker and Trip reunited. I think so far it's the strongest chapter, and I definitely put a lot of work into chopping it up and splicing it together into this new monster.

Before we get to that, started playing Resident Evil Revelations 2 in co-op with my friend. Pretty damn fun so far. Since I'm playing it co-op, I decided to jump ahead into Devil May Cry turf. So I've played through DmC: Devil May Cry and I'm in the back half of Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening. Devil May Cry is a game series that openly hates its fans and wants them to experience as much soul pain as possible. And the abused lovers we are keep coming back for more. Damn you Dante, you SSStylish demon bastard.

Okay, that's enough about games. Here's your weekly dog picture:
"I dream of your blood's warmth."

Here's chapter 4 of To Slice The Sky in its current form.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A mixed bag of nuts and chews.

It took me three weeks, but I've hammered and banged another chapter into readable shape.

Man that was a lot of hard and easy cuts and pastes. Chapter 3 was a complete dump chapter, and still is. But you get to be the judge on whether or not it suffers for it. I trimmed about 1500 words out of it. Had to add a bit more too, but the parts that are added are necessary while everything trimmed wasn't. And this week, my efforts on this current rewrite is what you get to witness. The best part is, all of this hard work is just a foundation for something completely different later. I've already got plans on how to completely change chapter 1 so who knows how that will effect everything that comes after. But this is all future stuff.

As for the here and now, before I copy and paste some genre fiction for you, I beat Resident Evil 5 and am gearing up for Resident Evil Revelations 2. The end of my survival horror fest is coming fast. I also have The Evil Within that I'm going to play after. I've been putting it on hold to do this playthrough and it took longer than expected.

I also smashed through the current gen Grand Theft Auto V. First person mode was nice sometimes. It's useful playing online and killing people with it, that's for sure. Finally playing that puts the nail in the coffin of my huge game series playthrough I started last year. I strung together a chronological order of all the games in Rockstar Games canon (except for Manhunt, because I never played the games in the first place and didn't see a reason to start now). From Red Dead Revolver to GTAV I completed the Red Dead, GTA, Max Payne and Midnight Club series. Also in there was LA Noire, Bully, The Warriors, and all the available DLC packs for the last and current gen titles. So it was a long, fun, open world sandbox experience. And even in some of their worst games, Rockstar games will have something redeeming to them. Not many companies can say that about themselves.

I also gleaned a lot about the sliding scale of cynicism and optimism, and each franchise seems to do better the more it teeters on it. Max Payne is off the deep end of cynicism, while Bully is very fun loving and optimistic. GTA and Red Dead games straddle that line, with GTA being more moderate to cynical while Red Dead is moderate to optimistic. One could argue that it breaks down from the tropes/genres that each series is drawing from (Hard boiled detective, mobster/gangster crime, Spaghetti Westerns, prep school/college comedies) to dictate its place on the scale. But GTA definitely takes itself extremely serious about not taking itself seriously. I do have to hand it to the writing teams of each series that they at least don't pull punches. Each series is potentially offensive to anyone who doesn't want to believe the real world exists. I had numerous times while playing Bully where I'd think, "Wow, that kid's life is ruined forever". And while playing GTAV as Trevor Phillips, "This is what Rockstar thinks of its client base." There's definitely a lot of validity to the company's praise, and I await their next title.

After I finish Resident Evil, I'm looking to break things up with their other franchises Devil May Cry and Dead Rising. I've been a DMC fan since its birth back in 2001, and while I own all 3 Dead Risings, I haven't played a single one. Tsundoku for videogames and all. But my next big playthrough is going to be the entire Metal Gear series in chronological order. And since an official Hideo Kojima timeline exists, I consider that a challenge. I don't know if you've been keeping track, but I tend to enjoy putting stipulations on how I consume media. I guess I want to be told a story from start to finish after hearing it all jumbled up.

Speaking of stories, I'm done talking about videogames. Here's a chapter about a lonely drug addict and a picture of my dog eating a volleyball:

Monday, February 15, 2016

I should not have said that...

This week was eventful. Some of those events were fun and by choice, but some where not. Regardless, progress on To Slice The Sky has been sluggish.

Some work has been put in on proofing/form editing Chapter 10. Not much, because what was going to be a productive day turned into my writing partner/editor being called away for other matters. So that was a bummer to say the least. Especially since we're getting into the nitty gritty of the climax. Where we're proofing is right at the beginning of act 3. The cards are on the table and our plucky heroes are about to pull together their plan for one last ride to freedom.

On the rewrite front: Still hacking apart Chapter 3 into something actually readable. The worldbuilding aspects of it are being leaned up in thanks to the previous releases. After all, I've technically already published 3 chapters out of To Slice The Sky as short stories. Say Goodbye, Hollywood (which covers Decker's story in between Chapters 3 & 4), Sucking Out Loud (a slice of life from Trip & Decker living in Das Komplex between Chapters 10 & 11), and The Clone Wars (what our rebellious clones do during Chapter 9 while Trip and Decker have a road trip across The Wastes). I've even gone over the backstory of an important character, Manner, in Mind Your Manners. (If you're wondering what I'm talking about, you can pick up my short story collection, Urban Legends of the Future, for free in eBook form on Smashwords. I'd appreciate it if you left a review after reading.)

I still have another "Interlude" short to write that happens when Decker and The Clone Wars gang are on the road between chapters 5 & 6 that evolved out of a cut portion of the novel itself. I wanted some way to show that Native Americans were slowly reclaiming and nurturing the blasted out parts of middle America where no one's really settled. I scrapped the part of the chapter for many reasons. Some of them are these:

  1. It was well researched, but kinda hokey.
  2. It had werewolves in it, and I wanted to keep the novel more humancentric.
  3. It originally had the group leaving Clonetown (which is essentially the leftovers of West New Jersey down to Philadelphia) southwards to the ruins of St. Louis to follow the Mississippi river bed up north to the ruins of Dubuque, IA where they cross over the outer border of Metro City. I don't know how well you know American geography, but you wouldn't really dip down south to Missouri since it's a pretty straight shot west from Jersey to Iowa. To be fair, if you're going to New Jersey, Iowa, or Missouri, you have bigger problems than the route you take to get there. I even wrote in a whole argument about why it was dumb they were too far south.
  4. It was pretty much a Wacky Wayside Tribe scene. It was just there to interject action into the boredom of a cross country road trip when all the sights are bombed out buildings, dead plants, and pockets of radiation.
  5. Speaking of wastelands and post-war tribal society, I played the Fallout: New Vegas DLC - Honest Hearts - for the first time after I wrote the scene. I realized the scene was too similar to survive as it was.

So those were all pretty good reasons for cutting it out. The kernel of the scene is going to be the story (travelling group happens upon wary settlement that could use some outside help against a new threat) but the details and structure are completely different. From the notes I have scribbled down, and the original scene, the story's looking to have more of a solarpunk bend to it. When I wrote it, I had this guy in mind as the leader:

Now, inspired by The Many Mothers in Mad Max: Fury Road, I'm thinking of something more matriarchal. Not an all female enclave or anything, but definitely an elder lady keeping things together. That and I feel that the elderly are a rarely explored topic in Science Fiction.

Usually when age is brought up, it's in a life extension context. So you're dealing with people who usually haven't aged physically from biological immortality, "reset" their bodies via rejuvenation/mechanization/genetic therapy, uploaded themselves into a clone/sleeve/machine, etc. or in general made it so they're not really old people. Sure they prominently pop up from time to time, but a majority of SciFi is a young man's game.

Aside from having experience working with the elderly, elder care is a for real issue in the coming years, especially as life expectancy rises. People live to 100 without even trying these days. Of course we have all those parts of the world with ridiculous infant mortality rates that offset the scales, but modern medicine and lifestyle has allowed a lot of people to live a lot of years. Not dying of typhoid by 30 is pretty cool, but still having a bunch of old people sitting around watching TV all day with the volume on max leads to a slew of social issues. It'll also lead to a bunch of olds needing reading material, so why not cater to a growing market?

Aside from that, I've started drafts of a few stories for Wave Two once To Slice The Sky is released. I've also been working on new covers for Urban Legends of the Future and By Starlight - Before Dawn to match To Slice The Sky.

Furthermore, I'm planning on releasing a Wave One Omnibus 2 ways. One is the books separated as per their original release order. The second is in-universe chronological supercut format. This means that the aforementioned short stories at the beginning of this post will be woven in between the chapters they belong too.

Sound frustrating and Disjointed? PROBABLY! We'll see. I'm taking this self-published author thing one mistake at a time. Toodles.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

One bright day in the middle of the night...

"The day of reckoning is nigh."
Hey again everyone who happened to stumble upon this.

The amount of time that has passed and the actions I have taken between these two sentences were great. Particularly the ravioli I ate.

So, yeah, this is a cop out week. How so? Well, for one, this week I finished my rewrite of To Slice The Sky's chapter 2, and went back to chapter 1 as well. I started up some chapter 3 work. It's become sort of the dump chapter for exposition. I'm not really fond of that, but it has to happen some time.

So, yeah, It's been a couple weeks since I posted chapter 1, and now that it's been cleaned up some more I decided let's put chapters 1 & 2 together this week. So, yeah, let's get to story dispensing. Enjoy:

Oh, wait. Here's another picture of my dog so I don't have to look at myself. He is part robot and comes equipped with laser eyes.