August 18, 2017 Goodbye, Commonwealth
Quitters never win, but after five playthroughs (and I don’t want to know how many hours) no one can’t say I didn’t give this game my all. But all for what? If I’d put those hours into a writing I’d have another book.
When Fallout 4 was released I was at a low point and this game was just what I needed. The writing ‘career’ wasn’t going anywhere and the day job sucked. Home life was all I had going for me. Fallout was an escape into false progress, because when you’re playing Fallout (or most any video game) the grind pays off. If I only earned 1 experience point for killing that mole rat, that’s still one experience point closer to the next level.
Unlike most jobs where the grind feels more like treading water, or worse, a slow drowning. Even writing doesn’t always feel like progress. It did at first, but now I’m aware that any word I write has at best a 30% chance of survival and, after all that, the book could never be published. Those thoughts makes it tough to stick with it through the months it takes to finish a novel.
But achievements inside a video game are counterfeit, and real life is exactly that. So I sold my copy of Fallout 4 and I’m going to start phasing video games out if I want to accomplish anything in life. I can’t be trusted with them in the house. I don’t want to look back at my life and say, “Boy, I sure built some settlements.”
Goodbye, Fallout. I’ll never forget you and I’ll never forget that Tunnel Snakes rule. They rule.
April 19, 2017 Outlining The Bliss Gun, an iterative process
While Agent 97:4 deals with her fading faith and failing power. She and Dr Park cross paths with Jennifer and Josh, two teens abducted 34 years ago by astral aliens, twisted into monsters, and released on Earth. The Montauk Project meets Natural Born Killers.
I had a good conversation with my agent this morning about the outline. Which was a relief. Our previous conversation didn’t go so well. These were my mistakes:
- The Title. MKIntra was a play on MKUltra, the US Army psychic warfare unit. A reference my agent didn’t get. More importantly, in a series the titles should have a theme. Following the [feeling] [device] template, I renamed the outline after the secondary antagonists’ weapon.
- More Mind Control. Jennifer originally had mind control powers. So did 97:4’s primary antagonist, in The Faith Machine. No body wants to see the hero fight the same power back to back. I’ve tweaked her power. Now she’s capable of full body possession and astral projection instead of the old order people around kind of mind control.
- Moth Men. I didn’t realize we’re coming out of a glut of giant insect monsters. At least, that’s what been being pitched. Cutting the Moth Men severs one connection to the Montauk lore, but that’s fine. I replaced that monster with a swarm of scarabs wearing a man’s suit. I may replace them again with stone-age style clowns. We’ll see.
- Format. I’m used to writing outlines for myself. Scene by scene breakdowns of the entire book. Fine for me, a painful read for anyone else. Rather than bouncing back and forth between protagonists and antagonist every sentence, I collected the scenes into paragraphs. An outline isn’t a scale model of the book.
Fortunately, the second outline only had a few minor problems, mostly typos and clarity. Taking feedback gracefully works!
Also, my short story The Ginger Jar is available for free on Kindle until Friday. Download it now, before the price skyrockets to 99¢!
March 16, 2017 29 Scenes at 5 pages a scene is 145 pages outlined so far…
… ⅖ths the way there.
February 28, 2017 Appearing on 3/19 at Mysterious Galaxy
Come to Mysterious Galaxy Books’ Local Author Meet & Greet on 3/19 and checkout my hair, it might be different. (It won’t.)
February 13, 2017 Comic Fest Panel: Writers with One Foot in the Door
I’m moderating this Comic Fest panel of San Diegans on Sunday.
Check out our panel of local authors who’ve had some publishing success, but not enough to be able to quit their day jobs. How does one break into the publishing industry? What are the options between small, big, and self publishing? Do you need a degree, or just a computer? Find out all this and more with Tone Milazzo (Moderator), Renee Pickup, Indy Quillen, Chad Stroup, Israel Finn, and Lara Campbell McGehee.
February 3, 2017 Agented
Stepping into the SDSU Writers’ Conference, I was sure it was The Faith Machine’s last chance at traditional publication. I spent the year querying agents by email, 163 of them, and over $2000 on editing. I hadn’t given up hope in the manuscript, but I was giving up on the process. Years of being a single guy have given me a thick skin for rejection, but I was running out of agents to query, and there’s only a handful of publishers with slush piles out there.
Four pitch sessions with editors were my last best chance at vaulting over the slush pile. Three of them requested the full manuscript. I thought I’d use these as leverage with my remaining open queries. Fortunately, Jonathan Maberry, host of the San Diego chapter of the Writers’ Coffeehouse at Mysterious Galaxy, had a better idea. He knew me from the Coffeehouse, and put me in touch with Cherry Weiner (she’s so good, she doesn’t need a homepage).
Days later, she’d read the manuscript and was working on the editors from the conference. My head was spinning. Until now, agents had only given me silence and form letters. Now I have one working on my behalf, and working hard.
If you’re an author seeking publication; email queries aren’t the end all and be all. In fact, they should be your plan B, maybe plan C. Get networking. Get to your local branch of the Writers’ Coffeehouse or such. It’s not a sure thing, but the odds are shorter.
January 21, 2017 When Your Wife Was Out Protesting and You Come Home to…
January 19, 2017 Let’s Pitch Again Like We Did Last Winter
The SDSU Writers’ Conference is fast upon me, starting tomorrow in fact.
There’s three main reasons to attend a writers conference:
- Classes on the business and craft or writing
- Networking with other writers, editors, and agents
- Consultations and advance reading sessions with agents or editors (networking that you pay for)
These ten-minute face-to-face meetings are why I dropped over $600 to attend. They get better results than email. Off the top of my head, about 5% of my email submissions have resulted in a manuscript request. These in-person sessions, 50% or more.
At my last two conferences I went after agents. This year, I’m going straight to editors. This is a little backwards, but I can pitch to an agents anytime. Access to publishers is far more limited.
I’ve rewritten my pitch for The Faith Machine to emphasis Dr. Park. The book is an ensemble cast, but I wouldn’t/shouldn’t try to cover all seven characters and their powers in ten minutes. Now I just have to memorize it in the next 24 hours:
The Faith Machine is a science fiction thriller, a spy novel with a superhero subgenre. James Bond leads the X-Men through a case from the X-Files.
Dr. Ken Park is a Korean-American psychiatrist and spy. Highly skilled, but not a one man army like Jason Bourne or James Bond. In fact, he’s not great in a fight, but he does have a team of six agents, all psychics whose powers are linked to their mental disorders.
So not only is Park the team leader, he’s also their doctor. Unfortunately for him, saving them from themselves involves putting them into danger.
Because they’re not the only psychic spies out there. Every intelligence agency in the world uses psychic power. America recruited psychics. North Korea harvested their psychics’ brains for their power. And the old Soviet Union built psychotronic installations called Faith Machines around the world to weaponize religion.
And that’s where our story begins. When Dr. Park and his team discover a mad warlord is using the African Faith Machine to become God.