One Quarter Done

This is an update to my last post. I am rewriting a short story that lost in a science fiction contest. Above is another illustration I hired someone to make for the story.

I am an estimated one quarter done with the first draft of my longer version of my short story that I am excited about. At 8,272 words for the first fourth, it is still going to be a shorter than a novel, but probably three times as long as it was before.

I usually plan my stories in quarters, where in the first quarter I introduce the setting, the situation, the protagonist, and some of the other important characters and try to build up interest. It ends at a decision point or event that sets the story in a new, riskier direction. Hopefully that is accomplished in this new first quarter of the story or will be in later adjustments.

Calling this ‘One Quarter Done‘ is deceptive because even for people who preplan before they write, the first draft is not the last draft. I had a busy couple of weeks with relatives visiting, my real job, and other interruptions. And next week I will be helping at a week long boy scout camp in a wilderness where the internet is not available. But after that I should be able to make good progress.

I want to share the first part of the story here which is currently the first scene of chapter 1. This may become the prologue or the whole chapter 1. This scene was not in the original short story.

Originally I started the story on the alien planet with Robert newly arrived. That seemed to beg much explaining and exposition. To exaggerate how bad it was, it went something like this:

I looked out my window from my hotel suite in the human spaceport on the planet Sonik and saw all that alien landscape… etc. etc. I had arrived yesterday from Earth … took 13 years to travel here …. woke up from hibernation … in the Procyon star system … outer space, outer space, outer space, etc. Oh yeah, and now I am here.

So I made this new scene where Robert can experience his arrival in a spaceship at the same time the reader is reading about it. This is intended to make the information more a part of the story than being just information. This is my official first draft of the new first scene:

The blurry face resolved to that of the hibernation technician, Uzoma, who had been trying to put me into an induced hibernation for the last fifteen minutes.

“I’m still conscious,” I complained.

“Incorrect wording,” said Uzoma. “You are conscious again.”

I felt cold, foggy headed and miserable still. The intravenous tubes and other cables were still attached to me, but the fluid in the tank I was submersed in was at a lower level. My face was above the fluid and I was  breathing air. Did that mean I would have to acclimate to breathing liquid all over again?

How much torture did I have to go through before I could be launched into space, escape Earth, and be on my way to the star Procyon A, my first interstellar trip. I decided to be patient a little while longer. I didn’t have the energy to do anything else.

“Your blood will be warmed to a normal temperature in six minutes.” Uzoma said. I can then disconnect you and you will be free to go.”

That was alarming. “You mean the flight is canceled? What’s wrong.”

Uzoma rolled her eyes and smiled. “You’re here. On Sonik.”

I was on the planet Sonik? Already? The gravity did feel a little heavier, I think. It was hard to tell. “What’s the date?” I asked.

Uzoma looked at a display panel. “UTC Earth time is 2:52pm, August eight, 2198. Local native time is the second hour of the afternoon, the 9th day of the 7th week of the 17th month, of the 2806th year since people were created.”

That meant I was unconscious for about thirteen years by Earth time. Space ships that traveled at near-light speeds made travel to Procyon possible, but not quite practical. My girlfriend on Earth, Fiona, would be thirty four years old now. My age would be complicated considering near light speed time dilation. And according to medical theory with the stasis of artificial hibernation, I had only aged about one month during the trip. I wasn’t feeling particularly young at the moment.

After a long wait, I had the strength to sit up, and Uzoma helped me out of the tank to a chair. She dried me off and helped me put on underpants and a gown.

“Robert, you’ll continue to feel foggy and weak for the remainder of the day,” Uzoma said. “Your hotel room is ready, your suitcase is already there, and your cargo trunks are in the luggage office by the settlement foyer. After a night’s sleep you should feel fine. Are you ready to be wheeled to your suite?”

I nodded, eager to lay down wherever there was peace and quiet.

There you have it. If you have never seen a first draft before, here is one. Comments and suggestions are welcome. I don’t guarantee that I will obey them all, but I do want to read your insight.

New Short Story

Fairy Concept

I had submitted a short story to a contest last year. Last month I got notice that from the thousands of entries, I didn’t win. Now that the story is mine again, I plan on rewriting it to contain adventures beyond the contest limit of 17,000 words. I want to add more of the perils and obstacles that Robert faces as he attempts to raise the natives of the planet ‘Sonik’ above their current medieval level with education of Earth language and science.

The story titled ‘Shoulder Fairy’ is about Robert Vasquez’ journey to the star Procyon A where humans have an outpost on a world that the natives call ‘Sonik’. He brings hundreds of electronic tablets full of educational apps and plans on being a missionary for education.

The planet has two races of people: small (17 cm) flying people with wings called ‘fairies’ (in Earth language) and the ‘tarlocks’ which are human sized and don’t fly.

Robert finds things don’t go as simply and smoothly as he had expected. There are dangers and medical hazards to living outside the human outpost among the natives. The humans in the outpost present other problems. Robert finds that his definition of success may need to be re-evaluated, and maybe include his own survival.

I expect to publish the work this year. Shoulder Fairy will still be short, maybe half the size of a novel. It is not in the Tomek universe with my previous books. I hope to provide an update of my progress each month. Thank you to any who read my slow blog.

Experimented with Twine.fm

ProcyonB

I commissioned an illustration from an illustrator at Twine for a short story I am planning to self-publish. The guy I hired made me the beautiful piece above.

The Twine experience was a little different than the freelancer sites I have used before. I am still trying to figure out if I will use it more.

Fiverr.com is great for quick typical needs, but if you want something a little more custom or special, they don’t seem adaptable. You would often need to change your project to better match the definition of the job the creator advertises as his/her specialty. You cannot post a job and have creators give you bids.

Freelancer.com is great because you can post exactly what the job is that you want to have done, and the creators will search you out and give a bid, sometimes too many bids to review. This is perfect for me because most of the illustrations or other art I need are custom situations. However, this process can be a little burdensome if you just want a quick little thing. Also, Freelancer pesters you with several small fees during the process so you never know exactly how much the project will cost in advance.

Twine.fm is more similar to Freelancer.com. You post a job, and the creators submit bids. Twine seems more casual and the personnel seems more eager to give you their personal attention to help you through the project. Besides the bid price you agree to with the artist you choose, to pay exactly 20% extra to Twine. I think that is better than a bunch of little fees, but it does seem a little more than I expected. On Freelancer.com they charge the hired artists fees also. As far as I can tell, Twine does not charge the artists any fee, except an annual subscription if they want to enjoy premium perks. Also, Twine specializes in visual arts like videos and illustration, not in writing or other tasks.

I will probably give Twine some more business. I still expect to revert to Freelancer and Fiverr on occasions.

My Illustrator’s Daughter Gets Involved

My latest book ‘Claymore’ has been on Amzon.com for a few weeks in all three formats now (ebook, black & white paperback, and color paperback). Besides my day job as an engineer, I have been a bit lazy since then, playing games and watching shows on Netflix. Soon I will need to start my next project in earnest.

Meanwhile I have had some exposure and sales for the new book, especially with friends and relatives. My illustrator bought an expensive version of the book (the version with color interior illustrations) for her daughter. As you can see in the attached picture, she is really happy to have my story in her hands. (Okay, she is happy to have the illustrations in her hands.) I appreciate her positive response.

TizianaDaughter

I am indecisive about my next project. I have two more books planned and outlined for the Tomek series that I want to complete, but I also want to do a ‘hard science fantasy’ story that I have in my head.

I’ve never heard that term (hard science fantasy) before and I may have made it up. The general concept is a world similar to the one Tolkien created (not too similar, but with magic, magical beasts, and wizards). Earthling astronauts land there and try to make sense of it. I have specific ideas in mind (about the science behind the magic and about plots and characters) but haven’t outlined them in any document yet. I would want the plots and characters to dominate and not have it all about the science. It would be, at some stage, a battle of science against magic where science is losing. Later as they ally with the good guys they learn to meld the two technologies together.

I am sure something like that has been done before somewhere, but I want to do my idea with it.

It’s On Amazon

My latest book is listed for sale on Amazon.com. That seems like the final proof that it’s published and the work is done. I can show my friends that I am a published author with multiple books.

Actually, I still need to publish the kindle version, especially since that is expected to sell the most. And I will publish the paper color version with color interior illustrations, but that will sell the least because of the high cost. But that will be easy on my part, once createspace.com has it formatted.

This is the best moment in writing a book, when it’s done and on sale. Tiziana from freelancer.com designed a beautiful book cover for it.

Cover Claymore

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