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Inspirational Reads

Sleepy Karl strikes again

May 28, 2006

Redear's mother's name is Sundancer.

Thomas was sick last night. And I mowed the lawn this morning. And it's nigh on midnight.

Chapter three is almost finished.

Word count: 21111
Page count: 69

Wow. I really looks like I made both of those numbers up...

A return to Nicoria and...the other places

May 26, 2006

As you can tell from the title, I've only named one of my lands for this new book. I need to draw the map for it. I have it perfectly drawn in my head. It's one of the clearest times I've ever envisioned a landscape/map/world. Which is one of the reasons why I've found this book to be most compelling and commanding me to write it.

I started a new chapter tonight. I got a whole page into it before I doubled back and wrote the next chapter in sequence. I'm bad about not writing the book straight through. I tend to jump around some, especially if I make sudden shifts in perspective, such as going from Redear and the deer tribe to the Men trying to make sense of the war to the south. Most of my human characters are from the north (or thereabouts) from a nation called Malaris. The other major nation is Nicoria, and there is a war being fought between the two nations (though it's rather one-sided). That's the "back ground" story for The Boar War.

The portion I got through tonight begins to show the real dissent among some of the animal clans, especially why some of them are so pissed at humanity (mostly it's because we don't have a mating season, and their upset they can't be doin' it all the time). I also worked in some character development and some history. Whee! Chapter three is about half finished right now.

Updates:
Word Count: 19813
Page Count: 65

Caught between the Trade Winds

I've gotten very little done this week. Well, on the book, at least.

This week we had a client meeting, and leading up to it, we discovered that the results I had been so proud of weren't the right results (damned reaction acetylenes). So, I had to bust my ass to try a different route to get what we want. With that in mind, I've been going in earlier and coming home a little later. It paid off with the results we needed/wanted, but it still busted my ass. I've been going to bed earlier as a result of this. So, I've not gotten a damned thing written, but I did draw a map. If I can figure out how to transfer it to the computer AND then put it up here, you'll see it. I love maps.

Also, this evening, when I planned on writing, I had, instead, a very hectic thirty minutes that ruined the rest of the night for me. I was using the facilities when it suddenly started raining with my mower still sitting outside and then my daughter got up off my bed to run and throw up but ended up puking in the hallway and then my son was awakened by the thunder and started screaming because he's terrified of storms. So, I got done with the facilities, got my daughter cleaned up, my son changed, tried to silence him with a cookie and then dashed outside to put away the mower. Came back in, Thomas was still screaming, Madeleine was throwing up again, and a pile of corn dog and pink/orange goo awaited me upstairs.

When that was all calmed, I had to load everyone in the car and then hurry off to tutor, stopping along the way for some nuggets for Thomas and a cup of water for Madeleine. I got home and was exhausted, so I put everyone to bed and then sat down at the computer meaning to type away and work on one of the human chapters (I think going back and forth will help me keep things enjoyable enough...I get bored when it's the same characters all the time).

Anyway, I decided a name for the leader of the Elk Clan: Staghorn. Yeah, nothing surprising there, but I really like the name. It's almost as cool as King Stonetalon.

I will get a chapter or two done over the long weekend. I promise.

Two steps back to the beginning

May 22, 2006

I thought I'd carry some of my myspace blogs, especially those concerning my writing, over here. It's easier to see how things happened here, and there's not all those obnoxious pictures and shit like you get on myspace. Here's one of the first when The Boar War was still in the development stages. I've melded two of my last posts from myspace on here.

Well, I had a new idea hit me the other day. It's for (yet another) book that I'd like to write and yet, I still am staring at several that need to be written (or completed, as the case may be).
It's called The Boar War, and it's kind of like a Watership Down-type book (it should be a stand alone story) that could read like a treatise on how humanity treats the environment (I'm not exactly an environmentalist, but I do respect the value of nature and regret that in our need for consummable materials we continue to push back the boundaries of pristine ecology...but that's another show (as Alton Brown would say)).

The Boar War is basically a story that revolves around the plight of the Elk Clan (ironically enough, the Boar Clan makes on brief appearances, but I liked the play on words against the Boer War that was fought in South Africa) and their strange affliction/affiliation with an orphaned girl who wanders into their territory after wars between the humans destroy her village and kill her parents. The mild-manner Deer Tribe (the animals are divided up by their species into tribes but several tribes of similar animals make up a clan, so the Deer, Elk and Moose Tribes all make up the Elk Clan...carry it out with different animals, such as boars, bears, eagles, lions, mammoths, seals...you get the picture).

If anything, it's more a treatise on how we should "all get along". Take a line from X-Men, and it's more or less the Deer Tribe's vision of peaceful coexistance between man and beast.
This is one of those things I ponder on while stuck in traffic or standing in front of my hood watching things stir, when I can't work on my epic works. I still think of those, but occasionally I get an idea I REALLY like.

Chalk The Boar War up as sitting on the very top of the development pile. When I get a break in the action from The Hundred Kings Saga, I might try hammering out a few chapters or whatever and see where it goes (I have several characters already mapped out). More to come on this (and an update to follow on THKS! Yes, I have been working on it!).

Work continues to go forward on King of Shadows. I've re-read (and in some cases re-re-read and even re-re-re-read) the first five chapters (in cluding the revamped prologue) and, for the most part, I'm fairly happy with what I've been able to accomplish. I've still only stretched my page count by five (most of that coming in the prologue).

I'm still staring at the daunting task of trying to get someone to read the book being that it's a first in a series and I'm an unpublished author (to date). That's where the whole idea of the other book(s) I've been kicking around in my mind intrigues me. If I could just concentrate long enough to get one single shot novel done and out the door, then I'd feel a little better.

However, the game plan for now is to continue stitching together the pieces of King of Shadows into a continuously flowing storyline (early on it's easy, though, as the action takes place over years whereas later in the book, the action takes place over a span of a few weeks and even days at times). Once Shadoes is done, I'll focus on stitching together King of Thistles and have it ready in case someone wants to pick up on my story (I'm envisioning a long, drawn out process here, though). With Thistles in my back pocket (ouch!), I'll maybe try working on The Boar War a little bit to see if I can get a single-shot book out there, sell it, and then pave the way for acceptance/purchase of the longer, more epic stories in Shadows and Thistles (unless they're already bought, and in that case I'll put TBW on the proverbial back burner and pick King of Storms back up...in which case I'll have to buy lots of Victory Storm King Stout).

Skulk

May 21, 2006

I've introduced a new character. I had him mapped out long before now, but I had no idea how to incorporate him into the story. While I was working earlier, an entry position presented itself to me, and so Skulk of the Red Fox tribe of the Wolf Clan was born.

At first, I wasn't sure how to work with this character. There are a variety of "archetypes" for foxes, all being sly and shadowy, but I wanted to try and "break the mold", if you will. Skulk's original name was "Skat", but as that is Latin for "shit", I decided not to use it. He then became Bushbrush, but I thought that cumbersome and somewhat typical, making an allusion to his bushy tail. So, instead, I went with more of a "trait" rather than a description of him. Skulk hit me instantly, as he will be used as a scout and a spy throughout the story. Also, careful readers will have picked up on his cameo earlier in the story. For the unenlightened(such as me, ere I began my research into the subject), a "skulk" is the proper name for a group of foxes. Clever, I know. You may shower me with undergarments now.

Chapter two is complete, though it ended a bit more "abruptly" than I wanted, especially with the way the third chapter begins. However, it will work. I'll just have to have one of those "flashback" moments that authors use so often. It will work, dammit. (we'll see in the next few days).

Word count with the completion of chapter two: 17558
(Manuscript) Page count (A NEW FEATURE!!!): 57

Where do we go from here?

May 19, 2006

A lot of times, I credit reading the Lord of the Rings with being the starting point for my desire to write. In a lot of ways, it is the event that caused me to start writing, fantasy literature, at least. When I think back on it, I think about a lot of things I wrote well before I ever heard of The Lord of the Rings, before I knew who J.R.R. Tolkien was, or even that there was an entire genre of books out there centered on medivalism, magic, knights and dragons and magic and whatnot. I can credit none other than Tolkien and his masterpiece for putting me on my current path. However, I was churning out stories long before I ever immersed myself deep in the heroics of Frodo and Sam, Aragon and Gandalf, Gimli and Legolas and a host of others (let's not forget Eowyn, who was so, so hot long before Miranda Otto brought her to the big screen...).

Sometimes, I like to think that I started writing a whole year before I came upon Hobbits and the Shire. I wrote a sort of second-person story about a starfighter stranded on a deserted planet far out in the reaches of space. The main character was you, and you apparently was only going to be read by males, because you were eventually saved by your girlfriend, who was really this blonde girl I knew named Sarah Cline. Sarah, being the good little starfighter she was, whisked you away into the depths of space back to the homebase where you rejoined your friends and continued the fight against the imperial forces ruling the galaxy. Not necessarily original work, but for a fifth grader, I remember the story being intensely complex.

It wasn't that sort of Star Wars-cum-choose your own adventure that kicked it off. I always told a good story. I remember one of my very first in-class assignments in the first grade was to retell the tale of the three billy goats gruff. We also got to illustrate it. I remember making a particularly putrid troll. And I needed two sheets of the giant paper to tell all of my tale. I even named the goats. One of the them was "Horny". It was a much more innocent time. I would have needed a third, but Mrs. Hubbard stopped me at two. As it was, I was the only student to not only fill the paper but also require a second sheet. I often think of THAT as the seminal event in my life that pushed me down the path of wanting to be a writer. I told a good tale, and people listened. Success! I had found my happy place.

I entered these "Young Author Contests" a few times, writing some very intense, very involved plots. I once wrote a poem, sort of, that was more like an epic poem. It told of a band of friends who wandered across this land to slay a dragon and bring the crown back to the king. I think I entered it and didn't even go to the contest. As far as epics go, it did miss a few things, and Doctor Egan would have been very disappointed in it. I notice that it never made his litany of epics during core 3 and 4 lectures. *sigh*

My crowning youthful achievement was called "Aristar the Ranger". It is the story I began writing the moment I closed the Lord of the Rings. I remember the day in study hall well, and I began drawing a map which turned out to be the cover for the book. My friend Asa helped me. And then I began writing and writing. Clearly, Aristar is a mixture of Aragorn, Strider and Ellesar. His brother was also a Ranger, named Dragistar. There was also a guy named Bitumini (whose name was derived from bituminous coal) and a fellow named Uplander who died early in the book fighting goblins. Anyway, we were doing this reading competition in my sixth grade English class, where you had to read a certain number of books a month to get a free pizza or something. Whatever. I only got it done like once or twice, and we never went to get the pizza. Pity. I do love pizza. Anyway, the only restriction was that we had to read a book that was 75 pages or more, so that it was at least a "real" book. I then took it a step further and said "If I write a book that's 75 pages, shouldn't that count as reading one, too?" Soleil Lehman agreed, and so I set about to make the 75 page limit (I think I made 77). I then took the book, reviewed it for the class, and decided to get something more than a free pizza out of it. So, I entered it in the Young Author's Contest (conveniently enough, I was in my final year of eligibility for the contest). I was a run-away winner. I got a nice plaque and a trophy, both of which are gone. I believe I also got a free pizza, or some food prize. I, of course, never got the pizza, either.

However, I was hooked. Writing was in my blood, and thousands of stories became reality in my mind. I have probably started and subsequently shit-canned about fifty stories. Half of the fun in those early days was the drawing of maps and deciding which of my friends would be my main characters. And, of course, how would I end up with the avatar of my current pre-dating crushes? Always quite fun.

The stories came and went, but sometimes the characters would continue on. Aristar and Dragistar are surely dead, buried with the fond memories of my youth. They continue to ride across the northern planes, hunting down goblins and treating with Elves and fighting giant plants in my dreams, but I doubt they will ever see pixelated computer screens. They're very tired. They deserve some rest.

But I am still afflicted by the Too-Many-Stories Syndrome. In case you couldn't tell (don't mind me while I sit down and start a whole NEW book before even trying to get the one/two that I've finished published). But it's fun. Oh, God, it's fun to world build and character create. I know, it's very megalomaniacal of me, but it's a thrill like none other. It's one I wish to continue well into my ancient days, when my grandchildren will come into the den and see a dozen stories by me in oversized, dog-eared paperbacks and hardbound versions. That's what I want. Surely, I'll be a labrat for quite some days. This is, naturally, just a hobby, but one that I do plan to turn into my own bit of fame.

One recent trend I've seen is authors of novels suddenly turning to authors of comic books. My God! How wonderful would that be? To write my own stories and then work on comic book arcs. It would be yet another dream come true, one almost realized when I tried to work for Hall of Heroes, a fledgeling independent comic book company I tried to get involved with during high school. I'm not certain whatever happened to them. I should look them up, I suppose. As any start-up company in its infancy, Hall of Heroes was chaos, madness, and disorganization incarnate. However, they had some good artists (Wally Stepnowski was one of them, who drew this picture of a minotaur-like character named Bull that was effing sweet) and a couple of really good ideas. I pitched a team book toward them, wrote out an episode or two, and the head of the company said he loved my writing. I went home feeling very good. Very, very good. I sat waiting for that phone call. I never got it. Six months later, while I was in a comic book shop on the southwest side of Fort Wayne, I got to talking to some guy about HoH. I told him about how I was going to write for them. He said, "Yeah? Me, too. Bastards never called. How 'bout you?" I suddenly didn't feel so bad, so kicked-to-the-curb. I still wish I had been a little more assiduous and tenacious. However, that ship has sailed. Perhaps, some day, I'll get another chance. We can only see.

Ah, but to get there. My plan had been to start off with my own series, a multi-volume fantasy series from which "King of Thistles" arose. Well, now King of Thistles lays split in half, ready to be pieced together fully. It's time will come. The Boar War will be my first book. Once I finish this in a month to six weeks, I will be more assiduous and tenacious. I won't let the world get me down. Failure is not an ending, it's a hesitation. With The Boar War on bookshelves, that will open the gate for King of Thistles (now King of Shadows) and those books. With them out there, I can work on my other stories (the ones involving the angels and the war against the magicians) and the follow-up stories to the Hundred Kings Saga (tentatively called Alexander's Ragtime Band...well, not really, but my mind is blank this moment). Sometime in there, I'll squeeze in a comic arc or two. Even if I have to start with a start-up independent company.

Well, that's my plans. That's how I want it all to happen. From the beginning, now the end is in place, in sight. I just have miles to go before I sleep. And it all starts with the Boar War. I need to get back to it.

Right after I figure out what happened to Hall of Heroes...

From out of the Void

Christ! Has it truly been over a week since I posted an update?

Lord have mercy.

It's been a hectic week at work. Mostly because the reactions I thought I was getting to go were going through another less-hindered but also, allegedly, less reactive centers. So, we've been trying to find a way around that. It has been only mildly successful trying to find a new path to get to our targets. On the positive side (and it's a real stretch), at least I've done a different kind of palladium coupling reaction.

Okay, working diligently on chapter one. My wife has been off this week, and so we've been trying to prepare for her mother to arrive next week or next weekend sometime. I'm not sure what day it is. But, she'll be here.

I've introduced the Wolf Clan into the story. This pack is particularly viscious toward humans, as the humans have been hunting them because they live too close to the village of Brambley. Plus, wolves are just bad news to have around (in this type of setting for this frame of time) because of lycanthropy and all. You know how it goes.

I tried to catch a demonic, savage light for the wolves. Often in fantasy literature, wolves are painted in really happy, positive light. They're predators, but since they travel in packs, they're smart. Plus, they're dogs, so they're faithful to men. I guess that's the logic of making wolves such popular animals in fantasy literature. But, since this story is being told (largely) from the viewpoint of a deer, I thought it would be rather disingenuous for the deer to hold the wolves in such high esteem. Plus, it made little sense for any other creatures to be there in the story at that time (the Boar Clan will come in later...they're already off causing trouble...the wolves will join them later).

So, the word count total is 15757. Yeah, I haven't gotten a lot done, but this time of year is hectic now that I have a child in school. Plus, the whole coupling reaction thing stress.

Will finish Chapter Two tomorrow night. It should be short...about 15 to 17 pages. I'm shooting for the same amount of pages for three and four should be a longer one. And then five becomes a battle scene. Those are fun to write. This ought to be interesting, because I so seldom write animals in my battle scenes.

Ah, finally, an update. Look for something tomorrow less about the story and more about career aspirations.

I've Seen Way Too Much Ballet

May 10, 2006

It's different when it's your child, I know. But seeing the final song about five times in a row got a little old. Ugh. On the good hand, Madeleine kicks ass at dance. She's wonderful on the stage, very poised and graceful for a four-year-old. Especially when there's an audience she can play up to. On the bad hand...it was hot in there. More happy news is that Thomas actually behaved for the neighbors while they were watching him, which meant that I could keep an eye on Madeleine at the rehearsal and sit there and read the copy of the Watchmen that my friend from work lent me. All-in-all, a successful evening. If you overlook that hot thing and that whole haven't eaten any dinner thing.

Not much to report in the way of the book. I settled on the name of a major character. He's a knight, and he knows whats going on. We'll leave it at that. his name is Sir Michael Sunderman, and he's the son of a noble who, essentially, could get in the way of the regent taking the crown as his own. So the regent sends him off to die. That's how he meets up with Jane. He sees her during a battle and rushes in to save her. Ah, achetypes!

No updated word count. I'm too tired to do anything else tonight.

A Quick Update, an Ice Cream Bar, and Sleep

Not too much to report this evening. I did manage to get some typing done, though I didn't much feel like it after watching House. All I really wanted to do then was make sure my children were okay and maybe hug them close. I did offer up several prayers of thanks that my children were never sick like that when they were born, and my wife never had serious post-partum where she wanted to kill any of us. But, damn, that is just such a fine show (even if my wife DOES have something for Hugh Laurie...hell, after watching the show this long, I have something for him!)

Anyway. I went back, fixed up chapter one a little bit (there's always those things you think about after you're done like "Oh, the cat!" or "I like these words here better") and started in earnest on chapter two. And I laid out the works for chapter five, which might turn into chapter six at some point, depending on where I put one other chapter. So, that's started.

To keep me honest, here is the updated word count: 12542

I hope to be up around 18-20,000 by this weekend, but with Madeleine's recital...I make no guarantees. Plus, I've got a serious Dark Cloud jones going.

Mass Confusion and the Education that Results from Within

May 7, 2006

Making the titles of these is almost as fun as doing the typing.

Sorry to anyone I led astray yesterday, promising updates on the blog here and then finding that my post wasn't actually posted, but saved as a draft. Whoops. I plead ignorance, and for anyone who knows me...you'll know that's a very viable excuse.

Work was continued last night. Polishing chapter one and working on chapter two. Three is also started, and I'm thinking about starting four, but the chapter I have circulating in my mind should probably be shoved somewhere around six or seven, based solely on the timing of the story. I've mapped out where I think the story should break down according to chapters, timing, and what needs to be done. Now, it remains to be seen as to whether I'll stick to the map or not.

Word count as of last night: 10621

I don't know if I mentioned it earlier, but I took a good solid 45 minutes last night to bend excel to my will and do what I wanted (which I thought was simple enough...add all the values in one column...it just goes to show how deficient I am in excel...and that is sad).

Keep tuned. Hoping to hit over 20,000 this week (remember, 80,000 is minimum length for a "novel" and I'm shooting for around 90,000 to 100,000 or about 850-950 manuscript pages, which would give me about 600 to 650 book pages...still long, but no original draft King of Thistles).

A Shot Across the Bow

May 6, 2006

So, this is far more convenient, I'm certain. At least you don't have to wade through a hundred profiles and pictures before you come to the good stuff, which is why you're here, right? RIGHT?

The Boar War is underway. Fear the squirrels in your side yard. Beware the deer prowling at the edge of your property. Trust not the birds, great or small. The Boar Clan is a proud and ancient line, stretching back to the very beginning, when the Mother Goddess placed all the creatures on the land, all the birds in the sky, and all the fishes in the seas. The Boar Clan distrusted Men from the beginning and called for their blood, but Greatback the Mammoth King did not allow the Boar Clan to have their way. Instead, he treated with the Men, brought them peace, and they repaid him with murder.

That's as much of a teaser as I've cranked out so far. It's all explained in the prologue that I've finished and added to my website http://www.geocities.com/thistleking/TBWPro.html Check it out and tell me what you think: thistleking@yahoo.com

I have finally mastered the art of addition in Excel, and so now I have a running word count for the book that I can post here as I work on it, to give everyone an idea of how I keep track of what I want from the book (aside from a satisfying story).

The first chapter is done. It's long, but not as long as some of the chapters I've gone through in King of Shadows. God, I can get wordy. Chapter two is underway. I have about 500 words written in it.

That's all I have right now for you. Notice how this isn't myspace. You should all tell me how great I am.

Current word count: 10198
It is on...