Saturday, May 19, 2018

Building a battleship

Worldbuilding is an essential part of speculative fiction, and it’s something I enjoy at least as much as the actual writing. In fact, there’s a visual part of worldbuilding that I’ve come to regard as a natural extension of the visual arts that have always been a part of my life long before I started writing.

While I’ve been writing The Ashes of Home some of my time has been devoted to a massive drawing project. The project is a detailed deck plan of the ancient battlewagon Admiral George Leonard that forms the backdrop to about a quarter of the story.

Because Shayla spends so much time on board this vast battleship I needed a clear idea of the general layout, and enough detail of specific locations to be able to write scenes effectively. I’ve previously posted about the importance to me of visualizing the physical setting as a way of avoiding the dreaded writer’s block.

Of course, I fleshed out enough detail for story purposes ages ago, and I could easily have stopped there. But this project has gained a life of its own, and is close to completion.

Over the next few weeks I plan to talk a bit more about the parallel processes - conceptualizing the ship itself, the influences and thinking that went into its design, and the challenges of converting this into drawing, keeping track of a wealth of detail across two thousand feet in length and thirteen decks.

And in case you are wondering, yes, this is the ship depicted on the book cover.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Weekend Writing Warriors May 6

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post eight to ten sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.
http://www.wewriwa.com/

Concluding a scene from my first book, Ghosts of Innocence.

Shayla has stolen the identity of a newly-appointed senior public servant, and infiltrated the Palace in disguise. She has previously fallen foul of her new boss, Mabbwendig ap Terlion, Master of the Emperor’s Domestic Household, and is confronting her again in the cavernous staff dining hall.

Mabb has been tormenting a series of unfortunate individuals among the hundreds of people crowding the hall. Shayla rescued one of them from humiliation but in turn is expected to provide entertainment. She performed a knife dance, and finished by flinging the knives into the table in front of Mabb. As she catches her breath, a slow handclap starts behind her.

=====

"Bravo!" She recognized Kurt's voice behind her. Other pairs of hands joined in, growing, filling the air with a thunderous cadence. In this culture, a slow handclap is a sign of respect. Shayla's mission preparation reasserted itself. All the cultural differences she'd absorbed settled once more into the forefront of her awareness. She breathed again and lifted her head.

As Shayla leaned forward to retrieve the blades, Mabbwendig murmured, "You full of surprises, Master of Circuses."

"The Knife Dance is a holy and private meditation," Shayla whispered. "You know traditions, you must know that to commission it for public spectacle commands a blood price."


=====

That’s it! This is my last WeWriWa post for now but I’m sure I’ll be back at some point.

It’s been a busy and very tiring couple of weeks. The week before last, I was in Ottawa for a project workshop. Traveling to and from there from Victoria is pretty much an all-day affair. Luckily I missed the ice storms before and the wind storm since. Last week my work calendar was full, just catching up.

On top of regular stuff I organized a Smoothie Day at work, and gave a talk at the Victoria library, which I think went well. I just have one more talk to give next Thursday which I still have to prepare for this weekend.

But the sun is out and I might find time to sit on the deck as well. We’ll see.

Reminder: Ghosts of Innocence is still on special offer, down from $3.99 to just $0.99 in all major e-book formats. And if you enjoy that story, the sequel, The Ashes of Home, was also published last month.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Weekend Writing Warriors April 29

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post eight to ten sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.
http://www.wewriwa.com/

Continuing a scene from my first book, Ghosts of Innocence.

Shayla has stolen the identity of a newly-appointed senior public servant, and infiltrated the Palace in disguise. She has previously fallen foul of her new boss, Mabbwendig ap Terlion, Master of the Emperor’s Domestic Household, and is confronting her again in the cavernous staff dining hall.

Mabb has been tormenting a series of unfortunate individuals among the hundreds of people crowding the hall. Shayla rescued one of them from humiliation but in turn is expected to provide entertainment. She performed a knife dance, and the previous snippet ended: As the music climaxed, on the final beat, the knife and the sword flew from Shayla's hands and buried themselves an inch from Mabb's outstretched fingertips.

=====

Mabb flinched but, to her credit, didn't snatch her hands away.

Shayla stood, head bowed once more, breathing hard. The healing wound in her shoulder screamed at her in protest. She swayed, fighting to bring the room back into focus.

A handclap echoed through her mind. Another. And another, slow and rhythmic.

She squeezed her eyes shut. She was being mocked. Her throat tightened.


=====

Uh-oh! Has Shayla miscalculated? Find out next week.

Reminder: Ghosts of Innocence is still on special offer, down from $3.99 to just $0.99 in all major e-book formats.

Master assassin Shayla Carver has killed many times. That's what assassins do, nothing to lose sleep over, but this mission is different.

She's never killed a whole planet before.

In a time when Earth is little more than a legend, life is dangerous for wayward colonies. Everyone fears the Emperor’s power to order a Cleansing, the burning of all traces of civilization from the face of a planet. Shayla's own home world was Cleansed, and now, years later, she's ready to exact payment in kind.

But her meticulous planning didn't prepare her for living undercover amongst some of the two billion people she's about to slaughter. Ordinary people. Not the strutting Imperials readily dismissed as legitimate targets or collateral damage. Then there's the Emperor himself. An ordinary man with troubles and dreams of his own.

Did this man really order the slaughter of innocents?

Can she?

Now she's starting to lose sleep.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Weekend Writing Warriors April 22

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post eight to ten sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.
http://www.wewriwa.com/

Continuing a scene from my first book, Ghosts of Innocence.

Shayla has stolen the identity of a newly-appointed senior public servant, and infiltrated the Palace in disguise. She has previously fallen foul of her new boss, Mabbwendig ap Terlion, Master of the Emperor’s Domestic Household, and is confronting her again in the cavernous staff dining hall.

Mabb has been tormenting a series of unfortunate individuals among the hundreds of people crowding the hall. Shayla rescued one of them from humiliation but in turn is expected to provide entertainment. She has chosen to perform a knife dance to music from a popular opera.

=====

Slash left, slash right, right again ...The sword and the knife weaved patterns about Shayla's body. She was oblivious to her audience now, fully immersed in the dance, and the story of betrayal and quest for revenge.

The music's tempo quickened. The sword spun in the air above Shayla's head while the knife pointed an accusing finger of steel at Mabb.

Shayla leaped and pirouetted from one side of the central aisle to the other. She whirled ever closer to the high table, blades an almost invisible blur about her face. She now danced mere feet from Mabb, who sat wide-eyed with palms down on the tabletop as if she were pushing herself away from the dervish in front of her.

As the music climaxed, on the final beat, the knife and the sword flew from Shayla's hands and buried themselves an inch from Mabb's outstretched fingertips.


=====

Reminder: Ghosts of Innocence is now on special offer for just $0.99 in all major e-book formats.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Talks ... talks ... talks

It’s been a while since I gave a writing-related talk at the library. Now I’ve got two coming up next month.

Just on a whim I contacted the Victoria Writers’ Society a few weeks ago to see if they’d be interested in The Critique Survival Guide. Seems they would, and I’m now booked in for their regular monthly meeting on May 2 (7:00 at the central branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library if you happen to be in the neighborhood)

That means I have to dust off my speaking notes from 2014, when I first gave this talk at the Sidney library.

OK, then last week I got an email from the librarian in Sidney to see if I could fill their May monthly slot. Way back before Christmas I’d mentioned I could run an evening on worldbuilding if they wanted. Nothing further was said, and I’d forgotten all about it, but the program this year has been going from month to month without much forward planning because they’ve been waiting on library renovations to start, which would put a stop to normal meetings. That hasn’t happened yet, so it seems they needed someone to fill in the next meeting.

OK. I’ve got a bit of time to prepare. No worries ...

I think ...

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Weekend Writing Warriors April 15

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post eight to ten sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.
http://www.wewriwa.com/

Continuing a scene from my first book, Ghosts of Innocence.

Shayla has stolen the identity of a newly-appointed senior public servant, and infiltrated the Palace in disguise. She has previously fallen foul of her new boss, Mabbwendig ap Terlion, Master of the Emperor’s Domestic Household, and is confronting her again in the cavernous staff dining hall.

Mabb has been tormenting a series of unfortunate individuals among the hundreds of people crowding the hall. Shayla rescued one of them from humiliation but in turn is expected to provide entertainment. She has chosen to perform a knife dance to music from a popular opera.

=====

All grace and perfect balance, her raised leg extended behind while her arms closed in again, drawing the points of the weapons down her body.

Shayla had chosen one of the more dance-like routines in her martial repertoire. It would not do to advertise her full mastery of the Shohan Calinda, but she hoped this would not arouse comment. The Palm Tree...lean forward into the Hawk, then the Cobra, back to the Hawk... She recited the set poses, letting the sequence unfold from years of training as the lyrics sang of the poison coursing through the doomed Serpent's veins, and the agony of his awakening.

And hold ... ready for the acrobatics ...

Three forward flips and Shayla planted her feet in a wide fighting stance. The languid grace of the stylized poses gone, she was now the hunter, circling the room. Her blades were fangs seeking their prey.


=====

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Promotion

Now that the second installment of Shayla’s misadventures is out there, I’m branching out for the first time into some actual promotion.

Yeah, this is new territory for me. The very thought of selling and advertising affects me like fingernails on chalkboards.

A whole screeching symphony of them.

*Shudders*

Nevertheless, it would be nice to see a little interest in my work beyond the occasional sale once in a while, and to do that I need to be more active in my promotional activities. So I’m going to try out a few of the paid promotion sites.

When I started researching this avenue I had no idea how many of them there were out there. Bookbub, probably the best known, is out of my reach just yet. By all accounts they are very picky and expect dozens of reviews on Amazon before they’ll even look at you. I also suspect that some sites are more effective than others in generating sales, and some are to be avoided. I’ve tried to research by reading up on authors’ experiences and looking for some consensus on results.

So far I’ve signed up for an entry in Bargain Booksy later this month, and have submitted to Ereader News Today (which may or may not get accepted). And I’m looking into at least one or two more sites to try over the coming weeks. I’ll let you all know how things turn out.

These kinds of promotions seem to work best when they are associated with a discounted price. My efforts therefore will be directed at Ghosts of Innocence, in the hope that readers who enjoy it might follow on and pick up The Ashes of Home.

Ghosts of Innocence will be reduced from $3.99 to just $0.99 in all e-book markets from mid-April through to mid-June.

Fingers crossed :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...