The Contest Winner Is …

Beast 1

In my last post, I had started a contest at Freelancer.com for ideas for a specific chapter of the book I am writing. I got 13 entries, but only seven are visible at the link unless you log in to Freelancer.com.

I loved most of the ideas I got and it was a tough choice choosing the one official winner. I chose the entry from Faith I to be the main winner and to get my $100 prize. But then I decided to buy the ideas of three others as runner-up winners (at a lower price they agreed to).

The picture if of one of the beasts pulling the carriage.

The whole chapter is rather long so I divided the chapter writing into four parts:

  1. Entering the Wilderness
  2. Creature Attack
  3. Bandit Attack
  4. Approaching the Destination

Then I set up to write each part individually to keep my mind focused. I seem to do better when I focus on one scene at a time, especially when I am trying to combine ideas from five authors (including myself).

This post will focus on Chapter part 1: Entering the Wilderness.

First here are the four winners:

Faith I

Faith was the grand prize winner. In the contest I had asked for a synopsis of the proposed chapter, and an excerpt of the hypothetical chapter. Faith wrote the whole chapter. She wrote a new part for the previous chapter also, which I added (reworded) to the previous chapter.

Here is an excerpt of her suggested chapter, only the chapter part for Entering the Wilderness, otherwise this blog would be too long. It will already be too long as it is.

By the time we approached the wilderness, the day had already changed to dusk, the forest breeze was rather unwelcoming, and it seemed as though there were no other life forms present save for the trees and bushes. As soon as the wilderness was in full view, the buffalos came to a sudden halt causing the carriage to jolt slightly.

“What’s the matter?” I asked my alternate self aloud as I peered through the carriage window.

I don’t know, maybe the buffalos decided they’ve had enough and stopped for the night. This was followed by a wild laughter and I somehow found myself laughing along.

Meanwhile the others in the carriage stared at me like I was some kind of loon.

After a moment of blank silence, Hunger-tar spoke, “the buffalos are frightened of the wilderness, it gives off bad vibes and the beasts can sense it”.

Again, I wondered what could be so scary to such great beasts, before I could get a chance to ask, I heard the driver and one of the guards outside trying to get the buffalos to move. After several thunderous roars from the beast and yelling from the stage coach operators, our carriage was back in motion.

We proceeded through the narrow pathway of the dark, thick forest at a significantly slower pace than we had been moving earlier. As we went, there was nothing but dead silence, the guards had advised us to keep it quiet so as not to attract

any dangers. Still it seemed to me that everyone was unduly agitated, after all, there was not a single soul in sight nor any sounds except the snapping of twigs and branches as we passed through.

I found myself dozing off after a little while and soon, I was fast asleep. When I woke up, it felt like I had been asleep for years, a feeling that felt all too familiar.

“Oh, he’s finally up!” Ink-san said, and the rest of the crew chuckled. I slowly sat up, blinking my eyes to see all of them staring at me.

“Honestly, I don’t know how you can sleep through this, I mean, doesn’t this place creep you out.” Said Copper-san as she flew over and landed on my shoulder.

Looking out the window, I noticed that it was now nearly pitch dark outside, save for a faint beam of blue light coming from the front of the carriage, I imagined it was what the stagecoach driver used as he guided the carriage. It was at this point that I noticed how ominous the forest was, nonetheless, I decided to put up a brave front. To distract myself, I focused on eating the food we had gotten at the marketplace, the others joined me and for a good while we were all able to ignore the sinister nature of the dark wilderness.

I used many of her ideas in the first part (and second part) of my chapter.

Sasha S

The next runner-up is Sasha S. I use many of his ideas but I didn’t use them for this first part of the chapter.

Ravi N

The next runner-up was Ravi N. I used a few of his ideas. For the first part of this chapter I mainly used the idea of the pink color for the strange forest leaves. This particular wilderness is strange even for the planet Sonik.

Robert, copper san, Ink san, and Hunger tar along with the coach guards and driver departed for the national archives. The national archives was a place that was situated in the middle of the vast forest, filled with unspeakable dangers, but Robert and his group were mostly unaware of this. After travelling for half a day through their carts, the group reached the outskirts of a vast forest. The forest was an entire world of its own, its trees were tall reaching almost the sky, and the peculiar thing about the forest was that it wasn’t green in color but rather had a dark pink hue to it. It looked absolutely beautiful. Everyone was dumbstruck on seeing it, even the people who’ve heard about it before were no exception.

Seeing the peculiar dark pink hue of the forest, Robert asked copper tar if she knew anything about it, but to his surprise, she had no idea about it. After some moments, their carts entered the forest, the instant they entered the forest, they felt a chill which made their hairs stand on back. Every one of them had an idea that this forest was more than just beautiful. The buffaloes of the carts were hesitant to pull the cart inside the forest, but they were helpless against their masters. The group kept travelling but at a considerably lower speed. The forest had different trees, and some peculiar plants, one plant which looked like a sunflower devoured a small leopard like an animal. Seeing that, nothing came out of their mouth. Soon the day was about to set, it wasn’t the time for the sun to set, but the thick canopy of the forest was preventing the sunlight from entering, which led to early sunset. The group decided to camp for the night but at that instant, they heard a roar that sounded very angry, all of them heard it and everyone felt the fear in their hearts at that moment. Hunger tar asked Robert what was it? But Robert was also at a loss, even his other half was a bit terrified. Copper san and Ink san were so scared that both of them were holding Robert’s head standing on either side of his shoulders, the scene despite the situation was looking pretty comical. The buffaloes were all kneeling on the ground, the sound was there only for an instant and wasn’t heard after that. But the buffaloes refused to get up for a long time. The night came and the forest looked even more mystical, the scene felt like it was straight out of a dream. They made supper from their ration, ate and went to sleep. When Robert was sleeping, he could hear the sound of a small child who was sobbing and talking in broken sentences. Initially, Robert thought that it was his other half, but it soon became clear when his other half complained about the same thing. They heard it for a few minutes then the sound disappeared.

Nicolas C

The last runner-up was Nicholas C. His ideas were valuable, and I use a few of them later, but not in this first part of the chapter.

Jimm Grogan

So, here is the first part of the wilderness travel chapter as an example for this post. This is the official first draft of my version of the chapter part. I merged in many of Faith’s ideas and a few of Ivan’s with many alterations of my own.

By the time the wilderness was in the distant view, the day had already changed to dusk.

There were no farms, agriculture or homes in sight, so technically we were in a wilderness already. But the normal wilderness had sparse trees, grass and visibility into the distance. I saw occasional furry creatures scamper away from the road, resembling pikas on Earth.

But up ahead, there was what appeared to be a distinct boundary. On one side was normal wilderness. On the other were dense tall trees raising a canopy of pink leaves, sloping steeply upward from the boundary. It was a wall of trees and brush, with no visibility to what might be behind or inside that wall.

The road led to a dark hole in that wall.

I was appreciating the humor of the wilderness’ name less and less; the ‘Wilderness of No Return’.

As we neared the hole into the dense forest, the chill breeze wafting from the entrance felt unwelcoming. The sky was partly dark already, but as we entered the hole it quickly felt like midnight. The buffalos came to a sudden halt causing the carriage to jolt slightly.

“What’s the matter?” I asked as I opened the carriage to lean out.

Hunger-tar spoke. “The buffalos are frightened of this wilderness, it gives off bad vibes and the beasts can sense it.”

One of the carriage guards turned on one of those ‘ultra-bright’ fairy-sized flashlights I had been giving away as a bonus to fairy’s who bought my tablets. I looked up at him as he climbed down from the carriage roof to the ground.

“We’ll be fine,” he whispered. “I got one of these magic lights some human has been giving away. The beasts will follow the light. Just stay quiet so we don’t attract attention.”

Hey, aren’t those lights reserved for fairy customers? My twin personality complained.

As long as the fairy buys a tablet, she can do whatever she wants with the light as far as I was concerned. I was actually flattered that it found a use in some profession.

The guard walked out in front of the beasts, lighting the way. With the driver’s slapping the reins on them, the beasts started forward again, but slower.

Ahead, I could only see the road and tree trunks and gloom. The ultra-bright light didn’t seem so ultra-bright here, but it worked. We could see.

I closed the door. “Why do we need to be quiet?” I whispered to my fellow passengers. “Whose attention is available in this place?”

“There are evil predators from this forest,” Ink-san said. “Some are attracted to noise.”

I laid back and closed my eyes. “Maybe things will look more interesting in the morning,” I said.

“Really? You’re going to sleep?” Hunger-tar asked.

Oh yes, though my other self.

“Oh yes,” I muttered aloud. My previous worries about Garth finding me had kept awake last night. This was an excellent time to get caught up on my sleep.

A jolt of the carriage awoke me. I opened my eyes tentatively.

“Oh, he’s finally up!” Ink-san said. The rest of the crew chuckled. I slowly sat up, blinking my eyes to see all of them staring at me.

“Honestly, I don’t know how you can sleep through this. I mean doesn’t this place creep you out,” said Copper-san as she flew over and landed on my shoulder.

Looking out of the window, I noticed it was still dark. “It’s not even morning yet?”

“It’s morning,” Ink-san said.

I opened the door and leaned out while Copper-san clung to my ear. I could see the pink canopy overhead. All direct sunlight was blocked by it. But is was light in a pink gloomy way. I could see the road and the tree trunks. The species of tree was different in this wilderness. Besides having pink leaves and being outrageously tall the trunk bark was a deeply textured black.

The guard was no longer walking in front of the buffalo or using his light. We were traveling faster now though approaching a speed bump crossing the road. The dirt was broken in a straight, two-meter wide line straight across the road. I braced myself as the carriage jolted over it.

I closed the door. Everyone inside seemed depressed or worried. To distract ourselves, I focused on unpacking the food we had gotten at the marketplace. The others joined me and for a good while we were all able to ignore the sinister nature of the dark wilderness.

 

 

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

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