Over Halfway done

26,500 words after day 12. That’s despite last night being truncated because after 10-12hr days with a horde of customers on Thursdays, my brain is something approximating Swiss Cheese. At one point last night, I dozed while holding the aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa down. Umm, there were more “A”s.

No, I did not count that as a word. Why are you asking? :/ I deleted it, and then made record of it here, because Internet is forever.

I’m actually pleased with the story so far. Which is good seeing it’s Book 5 of 6, and a project I’ve spent now almost 2 years of pretty much 100% of my writing on. I detoured just long enough to do NaNo on something else last year. Then buried the results because I hated them. The previous year was book 2 of this series. So yeah, longer than 2 years. And since they’re epic fantasies, the shortest was 125,000 words. I can almost see the finish line for the series. But it’s a loooong way off still.

Then maybe I can do some dreadpunk, with a Victorian Indiana Jones. 😉

So What is More Searched Today than “Is God Real?”

“Is Glenn Dead?” Yes, Walking Dead Spoilers Imminent. Well what do I think? Glad you asked. Let’s queue Obi-Wan Kenobi: From A Certain Point of View

Here’s what I think: Aside from the obvious juke-step in The Talking Dead last night, where they did everything but declare Glenn survived, and the fact that Glenn’s actor has, in fact, signed on for Season 7 already, there is this little precedent: Numerous times in the series, Original characters have been bailed out of seeming sure death by new (or almost new) characters. It happened this season with Daryl by Morgan. In the premier Glenn bailed out Rick. And most clearly, Michonne’s revelation saving Andrea. (Some might ask if that helped us.)

It’s an established pattern in the show. Put an ‘untouchable’ in dire peril. Introduce new character to save the fan favorite. We know already that Jesus is set to be unveiled soon this season. We also know that no one is able to confirm Glenn’s fate, which means Maggie is going to hunt for him. It’s what she does. So will she find Jesus? Or will he lead Glenn back home? Either way, I suspect that with the Fall Finale, if not sooner, we’ll discover Glenn managed to guts his way to survival. It’s not like he doesn’t know the protocol.

On other notes: I received Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass the other day. Sorry. But all other reading is backburnered for JB. Especially when we’re talking about Butcher+Steampunk. And oh yes. He knows the genre. And it feels the most enthusiastic work I’ve read in the genre since The Peshawar Lancers (which if you haven’t read, Shame. On. You). I’m halfway through it and enjoying it thoroughly. Proper review to follow.

Also, thanks to another resident Victoriana lover for the suggestion of the Baoer 388. A $5 fountain pen that writes as well as some hundred buck ones I’ve used. Sturdy build as well. I think I’ve finally found a fountain pen I’m not afraid to make an Every Day Carry.

My Writing Has Been a Struggle For A While Now

Such that I’m at the point of thinking I just need to shelve the Epic Fantasy until I’ve gotten the creative juices flowing again and don’t feel like I’m writing just to finish a project. It doesn’t help that I find myself wondering ‘why am I doing this’? waaaay too often these days.

So when I saw this article on my Facebook feed today, I found myself geeked: http://www.dailydot.com/geek/dreadpunk-dragoncon-gothic-horror-fantasy/?fb=gk

Now, I don’t know how different from Steampunk it *actually* is. Penny Dreadful Steampunk is not uncommon to the genre. And most authors playing in Steampunk (Including myself) have indulged in the dark side of the greasy, soot-rain streets more than once. Let alone when I allowed zombies into my Steampunk (Before the Walking Dead made them cool, I might add.) But when I read this, it definitely sparked the idea mill for the first time in a while. I could do this in an 1800ish Auroriverse setting very easily, actually.

But Gothic Horror in Victoriana? Yeah. I can write this. 😉

Editing Project Finished.

My initial foray into the world of professional editing is complete. The last I *heard* the author was happy. But that was before I sent the final chapters on last night. *ducks under desk* You never can tell when you’re swinging that red pen around.

Now I need to get back to editing my OWN work. I’m going to make a final pass at The Iron Conqueror before I sit down and format it for publication. Then I should start having some official looking announcements and maybe even an Amazon page. *gasp* We shall see. I have one other work that will be ready when it gets a reverse cover image and blurb. I made the final run at that a while back. But I’ve wanted the Steampunk to me the lead all along, because I think it’s more market-friendly than my Historical Fantasy.

At any rate, that’s a project I get to strike off my to-do list. I haven’t had as much success with that lately as I’d hoped. Of course, when my current project is a 5 book epic fantasy, it takes a bit longer to get through than some of the other material. 😉 I need to do some book reviews when I have more time as well. I’ve read a few since my last review post. Some one item onto the list to replace the one that came off.

How Does One Define Steampunk

This article is an able try: http://unleadedwriting.com/2014/07/10/what-does-steampunk-mean-10-authors-share-their-vision-of-the-genre/?utm_content=buffer810fe&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

I do not have the time to make my go at it in full here. But there is one phrase that guides me when I write it: “The Future That Never Was.” Even though my Steam is on another world, it’s very much informed by the dreams and aspirations of the Victorian Era. Not that there aren’t problems, and plenty to subvert. But to me, Steampunk, well done, is an OPTIMISTIC genre. Regardless of the politics of the writer, there ought to be hope, vision, and a sense of the ability to make things better.

It’s also a genre driven, if I may say, by the Rule of Cool: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RuleOfCool That is to say: “The limit of the Willing Suspension of Disbelief for a given element is directly proportional to the element’s awesomeness.” Airship dreadnoughts flown by mechanical automatons! Absolutely! Airships that make everything in the world black, disgusting, and sick? Well…you just icked the wow of steampunk. Even China Mieville knew how to skirt this line. Bas-Lug could be fairly depressing. But the monsters and clockwork machines were just that wicked.

At the end of the day, there’s another phrase from Brass Goggles that I loved: “Steampunk is as a Steampunk does.” At its heart, it’s an attitude. And not a dour one.

Am I The Only One Who Thinks

that there are a spate of authors whose works are TRYING to suck the fun OUT of Steampunk?

Books where everything Steam or Airship related is EVIL. Where the main characters are too busy with their angst to have an adventure. Where the wonder of invention and the Future That Never Was is turned into a joyless recreation of their assumption of the Industrial Revolution.

I met Steampunk through the Difference Engine, The Anubis Gates, The Peshawar Lancers, and The Parasol Protectorate. They made me want to write steampunk adventures as well. Sure, there’s a lot wrong with the world, Otherwise what wrongs would our heroes right? But they didn’t get burdened with soul-sucking angst or hate every contraption invented.

It’s almost as if a certain segment of the writing community is afraid that someone, somewhere, is reading purely for fun and Escapist entertainment, and they have to be converted to reading ideological treatises masquerading as fiction. The problem is, Steampunk exists on the Rule of Cool. There is nothing cool, or fun, or interesting, about political narrative overriding fictional narrative. It isn’t enough they are destroying classic Sci-Fi, now they must branch out and neuter every other subset of Speculative Fiction as well.

If you’re asking what books I’m aiming at, well why would I be so mean as to link to them?

Chugging UpGrade

I’ve spent all week on one chapter of the Sword & Sandal. It’s admittedly a long chapter. But not that long (about 6000 words so far, and climbing). To be fair to myself, I’ve spent a lot of work editing. On that front, I should point everyone to this little side project: http://fav.me/d5ylwfa

The Crux is probably best described as my own response to The Dark Tower and Six Gun Tarot. It’s something I did more or less completely for fun, with knowledge that even Weird Westerns set on post-apocalyptic future worlds are still not really marketable. So I don’t have any problem sharing it there. But I love Westerns. And I hated what the second of the books above, in particular, did with the genre. I think there’s enough room to be “punkish” without going all PC. And of course, if you’ve followed me long enough, you know I despise Message Fic.

I wrote this last year. It grew out of a short story character concept that sprang into my head a while before that: http://fav.me/d48a92f which earned me a Daily Deviation on dA. I couldn’t come up with a good story for Phoebe right off, after that. But she wouldn’t leave my head. So I turned back to the Wastes, and mashed up magic, western, post-apocalyptic adventure, steampunk, and a dash of potboiler (though much less than usual), to make what is probably my most straight-out adventure story. It started out with its own magic system, but wound its way into my Auroriverse. I’m not sorry for that. There are plenty of messed-up worlds to write about in it. Even if the current project and my Space Opera are distinct. 😉

It’s the story of a gambler, a gunslinger, and a cannibal (yes, he’s a good guy) in the last bit of civilization for a thousand miles in any direction. And ‘civilization’ is a loose term, when you speak of a world forsaken even by its gods. When one gets out of sight of the city’s gaslamps, anything goes. Really, I had as much fun as anything I’ve written outside my Urban Fantasies.

I tossed aside Brett Weeks Night Angel the other day. I’m fairly certain that establishes me as having fallen out of love with true GrimDark. Especially since I devoured Ringo’s Princess of Wands in 3 days. Yeah, I know, there’s a message in it. But contrary to dedicated message-fic masquerading as speculative fiction these days, there’s a STORY first. And Ringo isn’t Anvilicious about the message.  Besides, some people do need to know that not every believing Christian is the stereotype of a Bible Thumper. I’ll concede faith often plays an important part (and usually positive) in my stories. I don’t think you can be honest to historically-based fantasy without making it so. But that doesn’t mean I either have to make every hero ‘jaded on religion’ and a modernist in disguise. Or a bigot either. Those two character types have become a veritable cliche in modern fantasy, and not even the reviewers call it out. So yes, when Ringo makes a character who isn’t one of either, it’s nice to see. Much like the Carpenters in The Dresden Files.

Maybe this is why I’ve gravitated to Urban Fantasy for my reading these days. Epic Fantasy has been overrun by dark, depressing places I don’t care to visit, with characters that have few, if any, redeeming features. Glen Cook was never as depressing as the people who’ve come after him. Look at his Instrumentalities of the Night series. Sure, there’s a lot of darkness involved. But Piper is far from an unsympathetic character, even as a mercenary. It’s ironic we have to descend to the grime of the cities to find characters we can believe in anymore.

Well, that was an odd way to finish a book.

I tend to be a very linear writer. I have an outline, I think I know where the story will come out when I start it, and I move through pretty much in sequence. Very rarely has jumping ahead to write something and then ‘filling in the gaps’ between worked for me. In fact, just the opposite. Because now I’ve committed my characters to a particular set of actions that must follow, regardless of what their inclinations would suggest. Whereas in the way I typically work, if I see a player fighting against the outline, as it were, I can introduce a new set of circumstances, or a tweak to the flow, and adjust for their ‘grievances’ as it were.

But this time, I got to the end of the sword & sandal, and I realized I liked the symbolism and foreshadowing more than if I included one more chapter with my Legion Commander. But I wanted another chapter with him ‘before’ the end, to show where their plotline was heading. So I backed up and added a scene at the beginning of the final third, rather than at the end.

Then I was going to add a prologue, but it’s one of those moments where I like it when I think about it. But when I start putting it on the page, I say ‘meh.’ So I’ll leave it for now, and maybe things will firm up for one as time goes by. Or maybe not. 😉 In any case, it’s the strangest end for a book I’ve had. Of course, it’s always a little different when you write the ending of the early book in a series. I want a firm ending. But it has to be one that points ahead too. Even with my Steampunk, each book comes to pretty much a full stop. I don’t do cliffhangers or leave GIANT dangling plots. Rather I pick up where the world is from before, and begin to spin a new danger from that. (Though if I ever do a full-on war for the Steampunk series, that might change, hehe.)

So here I am, it’s almost September, and I just finished a book. If I start something new in the next couple weeks, it’ll probably run into NaNo, which means I might not be able to participate in it (not fair if I don’t have at least 50,000 words left, at least). On the other hand, going two months without writing would feel like cutting off my hands at this point.

I might sit down and redraft Clockwork Malevolence, the second Griffin Tales book. On the whole, the plot to that is probably the most convoluted of anything I’ve written. And I think I could make it a little less opaque, without taking away the twists, if I redraft. I’ll have to reread it and decide.

But still, I finished another rough draft. The story came out where it was supposed to. And I like the tale, even though the title isn’t leaving me all a quitterpated right now. I’m sure that will come in time. 😉