October Memorial and Book 4 Status

I’m hardly the first to say this, but 2016 has been a crappy year in many respects — and October has been the worst for my little circle of gaming/art/writing friends.  On October 8th, we lost Rena Phillips to the cancer she’d been fighting for….I’m not even sure how long, as it stealthily metastasized while we thought she was recovering.

rena

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Authors Answer 99 – That Annoying English Class Question

cropped-pia19912-main_mcam-sol-1099Possibly I think too much.

Question 99 – If something you wrote was read by an English class, how do you think they would answer this common question: What message is the author trying to convey?

Heh, I have wondered this a lot!  And I do write toward certain themes which I think could be easily excavated with a little work.  A major one is that diversity adds skills and value to any group; my army guys start off as just normal soldiers but slowly accrue ‘special’ soldiers, mages, outsiders and former enemies into their group, whereas the villains they’re up against stick with their old ranks and tactics and so can’t really adapt to how the good-guy group operates.  Another message would be that cultural homogenization (especially when forced) robs people of history, community and context for many things that go on in their lives.  I would draw some connections between the actions of my evil Empire and the Native American boarding schools that ran during much of the 19th and 20th centuries to try to get Native Americans to conform to Euro-American ways.  Several characters suffer the after-effects of this, as they feel disconnected from their home cultures but unwelcome in the dominant one because of their origins; two don’t know their own native languages because they were taken away too young.  There are a lot more themes and undercurrents at work in the story, but I think these are the most clearly visible.

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Book 4 Prep: Maps

With the beta readers at work and the cover art being produced, the time has come for me to work on my maps again.  This damn book covers almost the whole of the north, plus it hangs around in Bahlaer for a while too, which means I have to provide more and larger maps than previous.  These, therefore, are my first cuts — the final versions depending on fitting them into the dimensions of the print books, which I won’t muck around with until the editing is complete.

That being said, here’s the main map for the print book:

Book4WorldAnd the color version for the e-book:

Book4WorldColor

I’ve also needed to finish up the Bahlaer city map, and while I’m still not satisfied with it, this should do for a broad area-view of it:

Book4Insert2And the box shown above is the area of main action, as shown below:

Book4Insert3I’m sure I could do the city maps better, but I’m still struggling as to how.  Still, this should mostly get the point across.

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Authors Answer 96 – Required Reading in English Class

cropped-pia19912-main_mcam-sol-1099Ahh, the dreaded high school reading list.

Question 96 – What modern novel do you think should be included in high school English class?

I’m really not a literature reader; my roots are in pulp fantasy and sci-fi and mostly I’m happy to stay there!  However, I think that you can pull a book or two from those genres that will have both high school appeal and be teachable material.  The ones that come to mind immediately are Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (for discussion of consumerism, modern values vs. ancient ones, racism, religion, etc) and Terry Pratchett’s Nation (culture clash, mortality, nationhood, faith and tradition).

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Fun With Paperdolls 2

It’s been approximately a million years since I did art-related things, despite the fact that I have a to-do list with half a dozen maps and far more paperdolls to work on.  However, it takes me almost a day per paperdoll, because I’m bad at designing so I’m constantly deleting and retrying things, plus struggling to figure out how to actually draw them.

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Book 4 Progress Report: July

Just a quick update here!  Rewrites are almost complete — I’m up to chapter 29 of 30, about 20 pages from the end.  Meanwhile, my alpha reader Erica is up to chapter 10 for the intensive editing.  I’m not foreseeing many big changes; the main issue now is cleaning up some character problems so you only want to strangle them when you’re supposed to want to.

Beta readers should be getting the full text within a week or two.

Cover art is still stalled — artist has been having the shittiest of years.  Crossing fingers that no new disasters crop up.  No ETA because of that.

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Authors Answer 89 – Kick-starting Creativity

cropped-pia19912-main_mcam-sol-1099Question 89 – Is there a time, place or activity that helps get your creative juices flowing?

I’ve found that as soon as I get up from the computer, get in the car and start driving to work, I have a spike of inspiration.  It’s very annoying, because trying to scribble notes while in traffic would be a road hazard so I have to wait and cling to those ideas so they can’t escape.  The first hour or two while I’m at work also tends to be fertile brain-time, so I always carry a pen and note-paper.  I do a lot of my conceptual editing then, and pop out new ideas.  That’s one of the reasons I like my Day Job.  Sitting at the computer and staring at documents has a way of oppressing me and turning the creative process rote; letting ideas percolate while I’m shelving books has been very helpful.

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Authors Answer 88 – The Ultimate Question

erestoia-testheaderOne of the most common questions.

Question 88 – Why do you write?

I write because there are innumerable people in my head demanding to have their stories told, now Now NOW!  They nag me all day long, and the only relief I get is when I’m writing.  I’ve had a teeming brain ever since I was a kid, and created a bunch of D&D-style game settings and participated in a ton of collaborative gaming, and all those characters and places I created during those years have gestated into elaborate stories that keep forcing me to the computer, day after day, to type them out.  It’s pretty much my life, and I like it, and I’m glad I finally broke the (self)publication barrier so that I can push on from the origin stories into undiscovered territory.  The fascination and stress of spinning all these decades of notes and dreams into a solid manuscript is what drives me on.

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Authors Answer 87 – Non-Canadian and Non-American Authors

cropped-pia19912-main_mcam-sol-1099Question 87 – It’s Canada Day! And American Independence Day is in three days. What are some non-American and non-Canadian authors you would recommend?

Well, I think most of my non-American reading is in the form of Japanese manga, which might not be what you’re going for, but my absolute favorite manga is Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa.  As for novelists, I am going to run off to Goodreads to see where the people I read actually come from…  Aha!  For recommendation purposes, I would pick Kate Griffin (the urban fantasy pseudonym of Brit Catherine Webb), followed by Garth Nix of Australia.  I also think Karen Traviss (of the UK) has some great original sci-fi that gets overshadowed by her Star Wars and other franchise books.  And of course there’s Erica Dakin, my British partner in (fantasy) crime.

Also Pauline M. Ross over in Scotland!

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Post-Vacation Update

Just a quick update/state of the book post.  I’ve recently come back from two weeks of visiting relatives on the east coast, and as always when I go on vacay, I got very little writing/editing done.  I did manage to go through a chapter and a half, but upon looking it over after getting home, I decided it needed more editing…so I’m still at it.

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