Waiting for the Author’s Proof

I submitted my book cover and interior to createspace.com. They will send me the printed author’s proof (first copy of the book for my review). I already know it will be perfect (from the electronic proof) so I expect to click the “Publish” button. My book should be on Amazon in a couple weeks. It’s exciting.

Last week I told you I would include the first chapter page from the interior of an earlier book (Baktu in this case) which I formatted myself using default Microsoft fonts and styles (BaktuInterior6x9.paperBW.FirstPage), and the first chapter of this new one that I paid to have it professionally formatted (Claymore_Proof_Interior_FirstPage). I am real happy with the professional one. It is clean and stylish.

As I mentioned, the cover is done (by Tiziana of Freelancer.com) and I will feature it in another blog. It’s beautiful.

It’s always a relief to me to have finished a novel. But getting it on Amazon is when it will really be finished. However, in this case, I still need to submit the color version to createspace.com, so it won’t really really be finished until that one is also on Amazon. Color is so expensive on createspace.com that it is hard to recommend buying the color version of a book to friends with a straight face. But Tiziana’s color illustrations are so beautiful that I must publish it.

The featured picture this week is the illustration for chapter 49, the last illustration. This is a moment of suspense when Claymore is injured and fading. One of is nemeses is about to kill his friends that are chained to the wheelchairs.

Chapter 49

 

Book Interior Formatting

I sent my final manuscript to the createspace.com “custom interior” service. This service includes formatting the document to the book’s 6″ x 9″ page size, selecting the ideal fonts and style for my story (influenced by my selected preferences) and placing my 10 illustrations.

I usually do this myself. It’s not that hard, especially since I tend to keep Microsoft Word’s default fonts and header styles. This time my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to try the mysterious service. It costs about $349, so I am hoping for a noticeable improvement from my own simple format. I will show a sample of my chapter one page from a previous novel to their chapter one page after they finish.

Meanwhile, it was a bit of a rocky start since they rejected my manuscript a couple of times for things I thought were trivial, and that they should of been capable of fixing. First, there was a change left from the Microsoft track changes feature, and their rule is all track changes must be accepted or rejected and turned off. It took me a while to find that a space had been added or deleted, or some invisible thing I am still not sure of, and I had not accepted it. Sigh.

The second time they sent it back, they said the title page had a subtitle: “Book Three in the Tomek Universe”, while in the form I filled out I indicated there was no subtitle. In the createspace.com requirements, it listed all the things that could be on the title page, including a subtitle and the book number in the series, which I assumed were two different things. Sigh.

I found it annoying at the time because it delayed the project two days. But I’m still optimistic and excited to see the result. It is due April 26. I will report on the results in two weeks.

This week’s featured illustration is for chapter 41. Here Tiziana shows almost the whole crew of the significant characters. On the wall screen is Tomek and Spri telecommuting to the conference. Tomek and Spri can’t be there in person because they are busy making my next book’s plot happen. The plots overlap. I was hoping for a scene that showed them all, even the tentacled Scod, and Tiziana made it happen. I see paper is still used in the far future, but it’s probably electronic paper, like a flexible and superthin Kindle tablet.

Chapter 45

Writing Obstacles into the Story

For my latest manuscript the editing is done and all the interior illustrations. This illustration featured today is for chapter thirty-one. This chapter has Claymore finding exactly where prisoners are being kept.

When I wrote my first book, my editor complained that I had my character solve problems almost instantly. I learned challenging obstacles are important in a story, something everyone seems to know, but I didn’t back then. Obstacles that are quickly overcome are not really obstacles.

Now I am on my third book, and in this particular case, the character Claymore has spent over half the book trying to find where the prisoners of the evil covert organization are. Here he finally gets a peek into the bad guy’s surveillance room and recognizes video feed of one of the prisoners. Now he can switch to planning the rescues.

I am still an amateur writer, but here I have the produced the most serious struggles for the protagonist. I just wonder if I went too far. Nah. It was a struggle for me personally though. I have a tendency to want my character to be masterful or expert. And I still do that to a degree by making the opposition stronger.

I try to have the character to be strong in some things, but also have some significant flaws that cause him or her problems. In Claymore’s case as an example, he is a bit snobby and overconfident. He is a wealthy and clever lawyer. That is one of his weaknesses that make his problems worse. At a point before this illustration, he is living homeless and broke. While he never gets his wealth back, he does become successful again and makes a difference in the lives of the victims.

Chapter 31 final

When the Writing is Finished

I’m excited to be finished writing and editing my science fiction novel titled ‘Claymore’. I have both of the appendix short stories completed by my guest authors, Siriano Lambert and Gavin Parish. I am waiting for the last one of the ten illustrations then I can send all the interior to createspace.com for them to format into the 6″ x 9″ page size. I will then put my illustrator to work on the cover. In the meantime I can take a break and do something with my spare time other than write.

Siriano

My guest authors each wrote a short story about a different minor character. Siriano chose the minor character Jak, a police officer caught selling confidential police information to an alleged journalist. Siriano is my nephew, and as far as I know, this will be his first work published in a book. He does have writing samples available on different web sites. Here the first paragraph of his short story for Claymore:

Rain tapped softly on the hood of the air car. Jak sat motionless in the driver’s seat, eyes glued to the dash-screen video feed. It had taken so long to get approval for this stakeout that he was afraid the suspect would have moved on before he could get the cam-bot installed. Of course, he’d had to pay for the cam-bot out of his own pocket. That had been difficult to get Melysa to understand, but in the end they had agreed the risk would be worth it.

I was excited to involve Siriano and he came through with a nice story that I feel will enhance my book. Siriano focuses successfully on emotions and relationships. There is action here also. After reading Siriano’s story about Jak and his family, you understand why Jak felt justified in his later actions, even though Claymore wasn’t sympathetic.

Gavin

I had hired Gavin Parish in the past with my novel ‘Baktu’ and enjoyed his results. He chose the minor character ‘Lucy’, a person of a race known for their intellect but physically comparable to cephalopods (octopuses). He went the extra mile and read my other novels for more background information. Here is his first paragraph:

Lucy was in deep water, and wouldn’t have had it any other way. The plajoni home world was mostly ocean, but here on Regalia she had grown accustomed to spending much of her time on dry ground of late. Even so, it felt good to get her tentacles properly wet once in a while, though the level of toxicity in the water was an ever-present concern. Strict antipollution laws had long been in place across the planet, but busy traffic around a major spaceport posed a heightened risk she would be foolish to ignore. Nevertheless, she would only use the breathing filter Scod had given her as a last resort. It went against her instincts to swim with any kind of aid, and she had not liked the fit and feel of the thing when she tried it on for a test run before setting out.

He made blatant and subtle references to several other characters in the Claymore novel and my other novels (in the same universe), including the Baskin Shipping Yards, Death Ray, and others. At the end the amnesia that he gave Lucy subtly explains how she ended up a homeless tramp when she first appears in the main novel. It’s Interesting story of suspense and action.

Tiziana

The featured picture this week is the one Tiziana made for chapter 29. Here Claymore is poses as a customer in a hanger for spaceships. He is actually spying on the bad guy’s ships. Claymore ends up leasing a spot even though he has no space ship. The picture shows the environment, the open ceiling, and the general busyness of the place.

Chapter29final

Sequels as Standalone Novels

Some of the feedback that I got back from an editor on my sequel sci-fi manuscript was that I did not explain particular things, such as various sentient races and what they looked like. This is a sequel, and I did go over those details in my previous books. That means readers of my previous books would not need those explanations again. So it did not occur to me to explain them again. Right?

I suppose the decision is whether the author wants to require the reader to read each book in the series, and in order. I’ve read some first-of-a-series books that ended on a cliffhanger such that none of the major plot lines were resolved. You had to buy the next book to get any resolution. I decided against this. I did design in a series plot line that would require reading all five books to resolve. However, I wanted each book to be a satisfying novel all by itself. So I made special efforts to have a special plot for each book, with the series plot being secondary. This may be an old concept to experienced writers.

Anyway, since I want the Claymore novel to be good and satisfying without reading the previous ones, I took the editors concerns seriously. But then I was still concerned about boring the readers that already know what the races (or other things) look like. So I tried to either be concise, or to explain it in a way that added insight that previous readers wouldn’t already know, or “show, not tell” in a way that was an important to moving the scene or story forward or to show the particular character’s unique personality compared to others of her race. I think I was able to address most of the issues that the editor brought up in a good way.

On another front, the appendix short story for the minor character Jak is almost finished. The guest author just needs to review some editing that was done to his story. It is a backstory that explains some of Jak’s motives and dilemmas. I am excited to include it in my novel.

Tiziana created the illustration below for chapter 23. Here, Claymore, the lawyer accustomed to wealth and power, is penniless and homeless. With help, he has escaped from prison. But the bad guys are monitoring all his accounts. If he spends anything, they will know where he is. The picture shows this scary new experience as he and Phee try to find a place to sleep in a strange city.

Chapter 23 Final version

Short Story Writers

I wanted to update you on the three short story writers I recruited. I had hired three writers to write a short story each about some minor character in my science fiction manuscript for $250 each. For a peek at the formal invitation with requirements and details click ‘Short Story Invitation‘.

So far two of them have picked characters (tentatively). They picked Jak and Lucy. They had been busy with other things when I contacted about this and just recently have been able to turn more of their attention to the project.

I had my manuscript edited by http://www.scribendi.com using their proofreading package (with query letter, etc). It was my first time with scribendi.com for editing, and it was a positive experience. The editor went beyond proofreading and pointed out some important inconsistencies in the story that I intend to follow up on. A great edit even though I was hoping it would be my last one. Below are the comments from the anonymous editor who did the work (not counting the comments in the actual documents). They were glowing and made me feel good.

This is really an outstanding work, well written and well edited. Naturally, I have made grammatical and other editorial changes, but since the text was already in good shape, I’ve focused most of my efforts on spotting inconsistencies, discontinuities, loose ends, and things of that nature. I’ve made copious notes throughout the revised copies of your manuscript, and have also summarized some overall things I noted about the novel at the end of the TRACKED version of the document.

I think I read on your blog that you were looking for short stories from other authors aiming to develop some of the minor characters. This is a great idea and I would love to contribute, though you’re probably looking to finalize content at this point rather than add new material. Nevertheless, reading this novel has really made me curious about the backstories of some characters, and I’d love to help you fill in the blanks.

The attached TRACKED_REVISED version of your manuscript shows all changes and comments. The CLEAN_REVISED version shows just the comments (apart from my overall comments at the end of the work, which I’ve retained in the TRACKED version only). In addition, the query letter aims to pitch your work to your prospects. The synopsis is a concise one-page summary of your novel, highlighting the major points. The outline provides a more detailed summary on a chapter-by-chapter basis, laying out the plot, characters, action points, and ideas in the novel.

It’s been a pleasure to review your novel, and I mean that as fact–it really is an interesting story. Feel free to contact us again for any additional help. You can request me specifically by entering EM1229 in the Editor Code field after uploading your order. If you make further edits to your manuscript and you want us to proofread them, you can just highlight the new/edited sections and include only those in the word count. Thanks for using our services. I wish you success with your novel, and I look forward to seeing it in print.

The editor was wanting to do a short story for me. I was flattered and intrigued. The problem is, scribendi.com enforces the anonymity of their editors. Customers have no way of contacting the editor directly. I am not complaining about their business choices, I am just sad about it in this case. However, once he (she?) saw my meager $250 price tag, he may have changed his mind anyway.

The next illustration I am presenting from Tiziana is chapter 17. Here Claymore is imprisoned by the bad guys. Tiziana went for mood here, capturing the hopelessness of Claymore’s tiny isolated world for the next indefinite amount of time, with death the most probable resolution.

Chapter17 Final

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