Telling the Same Story Twice

Recently, writing my novel in progress, I needed to write the same scene from my previous book for my current one. Both books are in the same series. I felt this needed to be handled carefully because I didn’t want my previous readers to feel like I was recycling the same material.

The important difference was this time it was a different protagonist. That same party the “Tomek” was at in a previous book was an important event for Claymore’s story as well. The timelines of the two novels overlap. I decided this could be a good thing if I handled it right.

First of all, I focused heavily on Claymore’s perspective of the scene, leaving out all elements that Claymore did not experience, and telling things that happened to Claymore there that were not in Tomek’s story. I did include the moment they both talked to each other but still made it different by filtering it through Claymore’s mind and assumptions.

Also, I had Claymore wondering and guessing about Tomek’s reason for being there, just as Tomek wondered why Claymore was there in the previous story.

But Claymore and his ‘Trident’ crime investigation was the theme of the scene this time around. I used the chapter to move Claymore’s plot forward. Claymore finds an important clue there that propels him into a web of danger soon after.

I expect and hope readers that recognize the party from the earlier novel will enjoy the nostalgia and finally knowing why Claymore was there.

Chapter13 final

Here is the illustration of the scene that Tiziana made for the chapter (chapter 13). Tomek and his girlfriend are looking on as Claymore tries to get someone to dance with him. Can you tell how well he’s doing? (It’s a formal party on Zimvia where gowns were required regardless of gender.)

Introducing Supporting Characters

Supporting characters are important in most stories. Chapter seven of my work in progress introduces Phee, the green girl in the picture who is the major character besides Claymore himself (the other green species). I didn’t just want her to show up for no reason. Her existence on the same planet as Claymore changes the whole story.

Chapter seven was originally the first chapter until I found I needed introduce Claymore and establish his personal conflicts first. Then Phee’s appearance could be all about her, and the significant twist she presents to Claymore’s goals and hopes. Phee represents mystery, and evidence that the criminals Claymore is trying to hunt down are way bigger than a few street hoodlums. He still won’t know how big until later.

Introducing Phee properly was so important to me that chapter seven is probably the most carefully crafted chapter in the book. (Though, I’m still an amateur no matter how hard I craft.)

This illustration for the chapter is another by tizianafruiu of freelancer.com. Here Claymore is trying to research the strange planet Phee came from. I think Tiziana did a good job making research look intense.

chapter-7-final

Short Stories in the Appendices are Fun

I have recruited two authors to write short stories for my next novel ‘Claymore’ (one of them is a maybe). I also sent an invitation to Gavin Parish but it is too soon to know if he accepts.

With my last novel ‘Baktu’, I had three short stories added to the book’s appendices, written by independent authors. These stories focused on back stories for minor characters. I gave the credit to the author at the top of each story. It was a lot of fun for me and I thought the stories were great and added a valuable dimension to the book. So I decided to do the same with ‘Claymore’.

I expect it to take four to six weeks for all my planned illustrations and short stories to be done (by freelancers). The novel itself is done except for grammar edits. In parallel, I need to start planning the book cover.

The second chapter to have an illustration is Chapter five. I plan to post on this blog each Monday or Tuesday until Claymore is published and include a chapter illustration with each post.

chapter-5

In this illustration, Claymore is presenting his bill to the legislature of the Azten Empire. He is pushing for more resources for government law enforcement agencies to take the pressure off citizen vigilante work and to create reliable justice. Good luck with that Claymore.

Navinos and Claymore

I am on my last rounds of editing my next book ‘Claymore’ (except for purely grammar edits). I am focusing on minor details like plot details, characterization and descriptions.

While I am at it, I hired tizianafruiu from Freelancer.com to illustrate some of the chapters. I am not illustrating all 49 chapters, just one-fifth of them. I already have three of the planned ten completed. Here is the illustration for chapter one: chapter1

Claymore is the one wearing blue (or is it purple?). His race is ‘navino’. Claymore is eating with his niece and her friend.

Claymore has had subtle connections with Tomek in the Negative Zero and Baktu novels and now he gets his own book.  The novel, Claymore, will start before the Negative Zero novel and end after the Baktu novel and investigate some background mysteries from both of those books.

Below is a previous illustration I had drawn for the same chapter one, except a misunderstanding made it a landscape orientation instead of the portrait orientation I wanted. This was a different artist and you will see her opinion on the chapter 1 meal and what a navino looks like.navito-7

Just for another opinion on what navinos are from another artist, below is the published illustration from my first novel ‘Negative Zero’ of a navino:

Navino 1b Tint z

Claymore and Content Editing

Hello. It has been a while since my last blog post. I have been working on my next novel, tentatively titled Claymore.

A preliminary bit of news is that my published book ‘Baktu’ is now available in audio format.

In my last post I claimed that my last book in the Tomek series was all planned. Well, things change. I decided the plans were too big to fit comfortably in one book, so I planned three books. With the current plan there will be a total of five novels in the series. I have finished the first (sharable) draft of Claymore last Saturday. That does not mean I am ready to publish it. However I am excited by this milestone because it means I can start dragging in help in the form of content editors.

I have been noticing fiverr.com, and decided to try a sample of the service from two specific content editors that are sellers there. For a sample I submitted my first chapter of Claymore to each of them.  The chapter is between 1500 and 2000 words. One cost me $10 and the other was $20. Both of the editors turned out to be good. I want to share one of the results here, in case you want to see what a good content editor does to your draft. Click here: ClaymoreChapter1_developmental_edit_CateHogan

Now I want to sent in my full manuscript for content editing, but I need to fix my chapter 1 first, based on the editor’s input.

When I send in one of my precious documents for editing, I usually go through stages. I don’t know if these stages are typical of all authors (who use content or developmental editing) but I will list mine anyway:

  1. Almost immediately after I submit it, I am impatient to get the results. I monitor my email  several times a day. I am tempted to contact the neighbor girl (when I hire her) or check guru.com, freelancer.com or fiverr.com (if I hired services from there) several time a day, and sometimes I give in to the temptation.
  2. I get the manuscript back and read all the comments and notes the editor made, with feverish anticipation.
  3. And then I feel crushed, deflated. The evil editor found flaws. They have implied that my precious words, that I worked so many months on, of are  defective. You won’t feel that when you read mine because you haven’t given birth those darling  words. I even start feeling rebellious. What to editors know anyway? What is so special about their opinion? I am exaggerating. The editor is usually polite about it, and they do sprinkle in compliments.
  4. I think about it. For a full book manuscript I ponder a whole day on it. I start to understand what they are talking about, and understand why those flaws weaken the story. I start seeing how the book could be so much better if I make specific adjustments to address the various issues they pointed out.
  5. And now I am excited. I can’t want to add all those improvements.

In the specific content editor’s notes attached to this blog, some things you will see are where the editor simply misunderstood. And that is good information too. I don’t want the reader to misunderstand. For example, the editor complained that I had Ramos (the human) looked down to talk to Claymore. Since Claymore has four arms he should be taller, right? No. Navinos have always been shorter than humans in the series. So I need to clarify that somehow in chapter 1. There was another item that was a simple misunderstanding.

Another specific item, and this one is a big deal, is that Claymore is not properly motivated. The reader does not have a sense of why Claymore would take risks, or why helping Phee would interest him enough to make sacrifices. This, I decided was deadly important. Sure Claymore wants law and justice for all (like I do in real life, so I automatically assume the reader has the same feelings). But is that enough? Even if is  a valid motivation, it is not specific enough. (Like she pointed out, there are lots of injustices in the news. What is so special about Phee’s situation?) And even that were his only motivation, I have not properly shown enough of Claymore’s background to show why. I am not sure all of this motivation needs to be established in chapter one, but I think I will try to do it in a prologue + chapter 1.

In any case I am planning on giving this serious attention. I now have planned something very specific about Claymore’s background that I want to write as an exciting prologue, where he loses someone dear to him. And it’s something that not only motivates him to help Phee, but goes beyond that and has specific repercussions in the remainder of the book and the plot. I won’t tell you the specifics of my plan, but I am excited to implement this new idea. The bad news is now I have to write a prologue, rewrite chapter 1, and make adjustments throughout the book. Probably before I submit the whole book for content editing. My schedule slides again, but that’s normal.

Final Tomek Novel Planned

Last week I created an outline for the final novel in the Tomek series. I created an outline of each chapter even. I even wrote a polished draft of two chapters. I will now start writing in earnest. It may take a year to finish the manuscript, and a another couple months to get illustrations and a final round of grammar checking.

The story usually changes from the plan by the time I finish the manuscript, so I don’t want to give too many details about it since they may not happen as originally planned. I have planned three intertwining plots that resolve the dangling series issues:

  • The Golantan Invasion: What happens when the big Golantan fleet arrives at Baktu? Does Baktu recover from local civil unrest in time to be prepared?  Are the Azten forces successful at repelling them? Does the homespun Baktu navy make any difference at all? Does Baktu survive the new overlords?
  • Claymore: What has Claymore been up to all this time? Does he solve the case of  of Tomek’s parents’ murder? How did he get special insight about Baktu? Does Trident kill him? Does he save the Trident kazimons? Does he survive the Trident kazimons? How does he find Trident’s secrets?
  • The Trident Conspiracy: Does Trident survive the Golantans? Do they take over Azten? Do they ever kill or recapture Tomek? Do they attack Baktu? Can they be stopped? Can the planet Zimvia survive their backlash?

I currently hope to make each of the three threads a worthwhile story on their own and make them combine in a way to create a spectacular novel. I am excited about this. I just hope I can make it all work.

Baktu Finally

After what what seemed like forever to me, I have finally published the kindle edition of my book Baktu. It took a while to have all the illustrations created. Now, it is available on Amazon.com here.

The two paper editions will be available this week. There will be a cheaper black and white edition, and a color edition.

Illustrators

All 33 chapters except two have illustrations, and two of the appendixes also have illustrations. See the small thumbnails of the illustrations in above excerpt from the acknowledgments page. I hired eight different illustrators, each with a different style. It was fun having different visual interpretations of the chapters from each of them, and hopefully it won’t be too confusing to the reader. I am excited to show their work. After the fact, I see I forgot to acknowledge one important illustrator: GrayCactus, who illustrated chapters 8, 12, 13, 15 & 33. I don’t know how I missed that. I will need to update the kindle edition of the book to mention Gray Cactus in the acknowledgements in a couple weeks, and hopefully add the two new in-progress illustrations while I am at it.

Also, I really like the short stories in the appendixes of the book. These were written by other writers (not me) and they did an excellent job for me. Each of the three short stories revolves around a different minor character in my book. I think each add some depth to the Baktu world. I am thankful for these writers participation.

It is nice to have this project unleashed into the world so I can finally show it to those who have been waiting, and I can turn my attention to the future big thing.

Baktu Marketing Copy Essentials

createspace.com sells a service called “Marketing Copy Essentials’. I love this service because I can never seem able to summarize my books into something to put on the back cover. I always think my book is too complicated to express in two paragraphs. It’s even worst when a person asks me to my face what my book is about. They obviously don’t want a 30 minute review. What do I say?

Marketing Copy Essentials to the rescue. It took createspace.com about 10 days and $249 and here it is.  This book, titled ‘Baktu’, will publish next month (depending on how fast my illustrators are). Do you want to know what it is about? I am finally glad you asked.

First, the “Tagline“, the “elevator pitch”, the 30 word summary.

The action-packed sequel to Negative Zero finds Tomek on the forbidden planet of Baktu, hunting for the fearsome creature that abducted his friend—and on the front lines of an imperial invasion.

Now if I memorize that, I can answer passing friends or elevator passengers when they ask. Thanks createspace.

And now the book description. createspace says this is what should be my book’s description on the Amazon.com web page. Apparently this needs to be different than the book’s back cover.

The sequel to Negative Zero blasts off with our intrepid spacecraft engineer finding himself mere minutes from being fired upon by two elite warships of the Azten imperial navy. In direct defiance of the Azten Empire of Federated Worlds, Tomek is headed to the surface of the forbidden planet Baktu.

After being stranded on the low-tech planet for almost a year, the human Tomek has found a home—even falling in love with a young Bakti named Spri.

But the Bakti have been keeping a secret from the foreigner—a secret that could lead him to find the creature who abducted his friend Claymore. The same awful secret also holds the answer to why the planet has been isolated by the Azten government for the past two hundred years.

Meanwhile, as Tomek hunts for monsters on the tranquil planet, a civil war has broken out in the empire and the sinister Trident organization hasn’t forgotten about their clever nemesis.

Then there’s the Golantan armada that’s heading toward Azten, crushing all resistance in its path…

With Baktu located at the edge of the empire, how will the Bakti manage to resist an invasion on their own?

I love it. I will need to keep it in my back pocket in case someone asks for an in depth description.

And finally the back cover text that createspace designed for me.

“Baktu.”

It’s the word Tomek’s friend Claymore cried out just before being carried off by a monstrous creature. At the time, Tomek didn’t know what it meant.

Now, in the fascinating sequel to Negative Zero, he’s hovering over that exact planet in his damaged spacecraft—with the Azten imperial navy threatening to destroy him if he continues on his present course.

No life-form may land on or leave the planet.

But Tomek manages a daring escape while under fire, marooning himself on the mysterious forbidden planet.

The ingenious engineer starts out with three goals: find out why Baktu is under quarantine, find the link between this little-known planet and the creature that abducted Claymore, and find a way to escape.

But other intergalactic forces are at work—including a little thing called “love”—and Tomek will soon find himself rallying to the defense of the empire.

Ah, that is nice. I can’t wait to read it. Although technically (since I am an engineer) “intergalactic” is probably the wrong word. I may change that to “interstellar”, since everything happens among hundreds of worlds (if you include the Golantans) but within just the one galaxy.

Illustration Contest for the Baktu Prolog

Prologue.MatiasDC.small

$100 winner by Matias “delcar” Del Carmine

I am making slow progress on my novel ‘Baktu’ which is the sequel to ‘Negative Zero’. I believe I am over half way through the last major revision of the manuscript.  I am still hoping for a July publish date, but it may be August.

It has a prologue, an introductory chapter for new readers, or segue chapter for readers of Negative Zero. I put on a contest at freelancer.com for an illustration for the prologue. I was happy with the results. I picked the $100 winner and selected four runner-ups and bought their illustrations also for $50 each.

The subject of the prologue is Tomek in his damaged spaceship being confronted by two elite imperial ships for trespassing in a forbidden area. After some resistance he puts on his space suit and escapes in his escape pod designed to look like debris when his ship explodes. He makes a hard landing on the forbidden planet Baktu.

The problem, as should be expected, is that the illustrations do not agree with each other on how Tomek and his spaceship look, and the art styles are different. Otherwise I would want to use them all and make a heavily illustrated prologue. I still want to, and am trying to think of a way to present them in the book without confusing the readers. Maybe in the preface or the acknowledgements I could explain about the contest and the different interpretations of the prologue scene by the artists.

Prologue.Abdulrhman92.small

by Abdulrhman Zaki

The featured image above is the $100 winner by Matias “delcar” Del Carmine (MatiasDC).  I enjoyed the dramatic wow effect. This was also a favorite of my friends and family. It shows Tomek in combat with the two enemy ships. For ship  illustrations I asked for signs of damage. The red warning light above Tomek is intended to be the sign. The planet Baktu is visible, with an apparent sunrise or sunset going on.

Next is a second opinion on the interior by Abdulrhman Zaki (Abdulrhma). This shows a situation similar to the previous illustration. However this illustration show lots of cool gadgets and console busyness which is attractive to most science fiction readers. I like it. It also shows a warning projected onto the window, and a ‘loading’ bar which I assume shows the progress of the laser charging. In the prologue, which the contestants had access to, Tomek’s damaged laser cannon takes a long time to charge up, and is a issue in the sequence of events. The planet Baktu, and its moon is further away, so I expect this moment is earlier than the one in delcar’s illustration.

by Dienel96

by Dienel96

The next two illustrations are both by dienel96.

One is the picture of the exterior of Tomek’s ship. This is different than the description of the ship in ‘Negative Zero’, and shows no sign of damage. But it still looks cool. The clouds in the background seem unexpected to me, and not quite plausible in outer space. But then I decided that the Baktu solar system was near a nebulae. Besides, it looks cool and added a mysterious exotic mood. The aurorae borealis going on down on the planet was interesting too.

by Dienel96

by Dienel96

The other picture by Dienel96 shows Tomek in his spacesuit headed for the escape pod. Here is another interpretation of the interior and the console. The console is cleaner and more organized here. The cockpit looks big, larger than I envisioned; you could dance in it, artificial gravity permitting. It looks like it would be more pleasant as a longer term home. I’m sure he was sad to leave it behind.

by nasstaran

by nasstaran

Lastly, in the chronology of the prologue, Tomek is marooned on the surface of the planet Baktu, and the scene is set for the remainder of the book. This last illustration is by nasstaran. So I get a picture of Tomek on the surface of Baktu. Here he is sitting on top of his escape pod figuring out what to do next. This picture is not as flashy and glamorous as the others, but I like it. I like the plants, the details and the moment specific to a moment in the prologue. I like the lonely and tentative mood.