Monday, December 17, 2012

Cyberpunk Pulp Adventure Returns!

Kat and Mouse are back!

Head over to the serial site to read "Entr'acte" now.

If you need to get started reading, get yourself a copy of the Season One "boxed set" for Kindle or for Nook/epub.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Book Giveaway Winner

And the winner is...

...everyone who commented!

lmw, Caroline Thompson, Karen Duvall, Karen/Sisters of the Quill, and Christian Marcus Lyons--you've each won a copy of Taking the Highway!

Congrats to our winners!

Friday, December 7, 2012

GUEST POST: "Crimes of the Future" by M.H. Mead

Today on the blog we have M.H. Mead, a fellow writer of near-future crime fiction, who just released a new novel, Taking the Highway.

Take it away, M.H.


*   *   *

Crimes of the Future
by Margaret Yang and Harry R. Campion
writing together as M.H. Mead

All societies need laws. Since laws tell you what not to do, then they exist because some fool made them necessary. But laws change when society changes, mostly because enough people challenged the laws by breaking them. This is where we come in. Writers are always on the lookout for conflict and what better conflict than a hero at odds with his own world?

We're fascinated by characters who flout conventions, rebels who bend and break the strictures of a new society. We love writing about them because we often ponder how much easier—and maybe more fun—it would be to violate a law rather than follow it. (Harry, in particular, would like to see speed restrictions on the freeway limited by individual permit determined by a test of skill.) In real life, we consider the consequences and the greater good, and we obey the law. But we admit that we get a vicarious thrill when we let our characters break it.

Morris Payne of Fate’s Mirror is an online pirate who steals the privacy and security of other computer networks. Aidra Scott of The Caline Conspiracy is a mother trying to instill values in her son, but she’s also a private detective who will stoop to some B&E to close her case.

Now, in Taking the Highway, Andre LaCroix is a police officer and thus a defender of society. But he moonlights as a professional hitchhiker—or "fourth"—which means he's seen as an element of counter-culture.

In the newly-invigorated Detroit of the future, every highway is restricted to cars with four passengers. Those who come up short must either take surface streets through dangerous neighborhoods or hire fourths to complete their carpools. Part warm body, part social chameleon, fourths have become an accepted part of the commuting landscape. And if fourthing is seen as a bit unsavory, at least it’s an easy way to earn some extra cash. Or to end up dead. Someone is killing fourths and homicide detective Andre LaCroix seems to be the only one who cares. As a cop, he must solve the murders. As a fourth, he must avoid becoming the next victim.

Then LaCroix discovers that the dead fourths were terrorists sabotaging the highways, causing horrific crashes. Worse, his own nephew may be involved. Continuing the investigation paints a target on his family and leaves the terrorists free to strike again. Suddenly, he isn’t sure that bringing the killer to justice is the right thing to do.

Torn between upholding the law and breaking it for the greater good, it's only by combining his talents in both his jobs that LaCroix is able to triumph, and help fourths gain respect along the way.

Society will never be the same.


About the authors: Margaret Yang and Harry R. Campion write near-future thrillers under the shared pen name M.H. Mead. To find out more about them, or Taking the Highway, or if you have a great key lime pie recipe to share, visit them at www.yangandcampion.com


Taking the Highway is available on Amazon, B&N, and Kobo.

*   *   *

GIVEAWAY TIME!!

Get an ebook copy of Taking the Highway. Just leave a comment below with your name/handle and a email address. You have until 8pm PST Sunday December 9th to get your comments in. Then we'll do a drawing and announce the winner on Monday's post.

Quick! Get your entries in!

Monday, December 3, 2012

KAT AND MOUSE Update

The Ladies return with new adventures on December 17.

Head on over to the serial site that Monday.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Progress Notes: End of NaNo, Plus Other Stuff


So how'd I do with NaNo?

No. Didn't make the 50k. Ended somewhere north of 46k.

But...I did get what I wanted written. So that's a "win" in my book.

On to the report...

Tales of Episode #208
We are at
2,824 / 6,000

and at a nice spot to pause for a bit and edit/revise #207.

Jericho Thingie Compilation
Compiled.

Now going into formatting.


(photo: abcdz2000/stock.xchng)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Progress Notes: NaNo, Day 25

Tales of Episode #208
We are at
1,632 / 6,000

and still cranking along. This is a good sign.

Jericho Thingie Compilation
Currently at 24,948 words.

Total wordage for ALL THE THINGS: 34,146

Five days left to go. I'm hoping to break 3,000 words on Episode #208 by NaNo's end.

And then go back to Episode #207 and crank out edits and revisions within a week. Then resume work on #208 and Power Write the rest of the episode, hopefully by month's end.

See, the thought here, based on looking at the coming calendar and schedules, is to resume the serial on December 17th, beginning with the revised version of "Entr'acte" and continuing on with Episode #207. I'm hoping for at least six, maybe seven installments of #207. I should have #208 ready to go by then as well as having another adventure at least partway written.

The Jericho thingie I'm hoping to get finished and formatted by the 15th of December.

Yeah.

That's the plan.

Lots to do.

Time to get my ass in gear.

As for the NaNo part: No, that means I'm not hitting the 50k mark.

But that wasn't really what I was going for, ya know?

(photo: abcdz2000/stock.xchng)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Progress Report: NaNo, Day 8

Tales of Episode #207
Finished, at 7,566 words.  

Tales of Episode #208
Starting this one next.  

Jericho Thingie #2
Finished, at 2,541 words.

And a further update on the Jericho Thingies--those will be part of an upcoming Jericho Files compilation which I'm putting together as part of NaNo.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Not exactly according to Hoyle. But in an earlier post I did say I was going rebel.

So there you have it.  


(photo: abcdz2000/stock.xchng)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Progress Report: NaNo 2012

Tales of Episode #207 (originally #206-B)
More reconfiguring going on.

What I initially called Episode #206-B I now re-dub Episode #207.

We are currently at
6,173 / 7,500
and moving along nicely.  

Tales of Episode #208
To be started after finishing Episode #207.

As I pointed out in the previous NaNo post, I'll be working on a couple of other "projects." To be exact, they involve Doctor Jericho. So...  

Jericho Thingie #1
Completed at 1,050 words.
  
Jericho Thingie #2
In progress. Current word count: 1,955 words.

Overall, I'm rather pleased with the current progress.


(photo: abcdz2000/stock.xchng)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Plunging Into NaNo

After a little urging from LadyAce, I decided to throw in with NaNoWriMo this year.

But unlike the general NaNo Populace, I'm gonna be a rebel.

In pursuit of my 50k words, I'll be working on finishing Episode #207, writing Episdoe #208, and writing (possibly) two other projects. Maybe get in a couple of reviews for OtherRealms Audio. (remember? I'm also reviewing SF/F audio dramas? I talked about that in this post.)

And I gotta say the urging seems to be working. LadyAce and I went to a NaNo Kickoff and Write-In last night in a nearby city and I managed to get words down for Episode #207.

Excellent.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Progress Notes

Tales of Episode #207 
Dead on the table. LadyAce pointed out a glaring bit of bad story logic that I completely missed. And with it, the rest of the story fell apart.

So the entire episode got scrapped.

Instead, certain elements wound its way into a re-working of the bridging episode "Entr'acte" which I have now pulled from the serial's site and will release the reworked version soon.

Tales of Episode #206-B 
I talked about #206-B in this previous Progress Notes post.

We are currently at
4,063 / 6,000
and going slow at the moment.

I highly doubt it'll be ready by the first week of November as I mention here.

Tales of Episode #208 
Waiting to be worked on.


And there you have it, Folks. The slow progress on #206-B is a little frustrating at the moment. But I'm sure it'll work itself out. After all, it did barf itself early on.

I'm hoping it'll re-barf soon.

For now, it is, as Stephen King puts it, like shoveling shit from a sitting position.


(photo: abcdz2000/stock.xchng)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cover Art WTF-ery

Shannon Knight is a fellow AWer. I clicked on her blog link the other day and was cruising the posts when I came across her review of Kelly Gay's The Hour of Dust and Ashes.

And immediately thought: WTF NO NO NO

Wait. Lemme 'splain...

Nothing wrong with the book, the author, or the genre. I happen to be a fan of urban fantasy. And nothing wrong with the blog, the review itself, or the blog owner.

No.

My gripe was with the cover art.

Let me show you it:

Now let me just say that Chris McGrath is a spectacular artist who does phenomenal covers. He's on my Favorite Cover Artists list, right up there with Michael Whelan and Winona Nelson.

Having said that, here's my gripe with the art:

Closer look:


This.

This is NOT proper gun handling, Folks.

It's Hollywood-style gun handling.

Bad Chris. Please don't do this. Ever.

Goes for other cover artists, too.

Please please please do not depict your characters using a firearm in this manner.

Thank you.

Here ends this Public Service Announcement.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Reviews and Balticon

Here's the latest review of the Ladies from Science Fiction and Fantasy Review.

And another from Nelo's Bookshelf Reviews.

And one I recently ran across from New Robbins Valley.

Many thanks to the reviewers for their time.

Now here was something I also ran across recently--the Ladies got a mention in a panel for Balticon 46.

Check it out:
NM-48 Serialized Science Fiction: the New Pulps?
Monday, 11:00 AM, Derby (50 minutes)
Panelists: Andrew Eckhart, Brand Gamblin, P. G. Holyfield, Paul D. Lagasse, Gary L. Lester, D. C. Wilson
Moderator: Phil Kahn
The recent announcement by HiLobrow (www.hilobrow.com) that they would be serializing classic “radium age” novels on their website is perhaps the most high-profile example of an emerging trend in online publishing — serialized science fiction. Is the serial the ideal form for sub-novel length science fiction in the age of smartphones? The range of serial ventures is impressive. For example, Ray Gun Revival (www.raygunrevival.com) publishes original stories by published science fiction authors; Kat and Mouse: Guns for Hire (www.katandmouseserial.com) is a standalone serial novel; Temporal Tales (www.temporaltales.com) publishes serialized stories on Twitter; and Channel 37 (www.channel-37.net) publishes novella-length stories, ongoing series, and anthology-style stories. It’s not just written science fiction that uses the serial format, either: webcomics like Spacetrawler, Valkyrie Squadron, and DRIVE, as well as audio serials such as Tales to Terrify and The Secret World Chronicle all serialize their stories too.
That would've been a fun panel to have attended.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Progress Notes

Tales of Episode #207
Revision Pass #2 is done. I'll do a quick check before handing it off once again to LadyAce and her Red Pen of Editing Doom.


Tales of Episode #208
Opening scene is written. There's some additional plotting work to be done but I think after that, I'll be ready to tackle the actual writing.


Tales of Episode #206-B
The original Episode #207 stalled several months ago so I ended up shelving it and moving the episodes down a slot. What would've been #208 now became #207, and #209 now became #208.

But now it looks like the original #207--which I'm now christening #206-B--has unshelved itself. With a vengeance (thanks to fellow AW cohort Hillary Jacques for that lovely description).

And I say "unshelved itself" because the other night, the next few scenes of that stalled story barfed itself all over my keyboard.

Yes. Such is the thrilling life we writers lead.

Our stories barf on us.

So it looks like this one will go back into the storyline.

Which means a minor ret-con.

Nothing big. Only instead of continuing from "Entr'acte," we'll rewind a week prior and pick up one day after the last installment of "Into The Woods."

(photo: abcdz2000/stock.xchng)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Looking Forward To...

Couple of upcoming movies I'm really looking forward to seeing.

Dredd (in theatres on the 21st)

I saw the Stallone version long ago and while enjoyable, Dredd spent a good chunk of the movie sans helmet.

That's not the Dredd I'm familiar with.

This one looks like Karl Urban is keeping the helmet on.

The. Whole. Time.

Much better.

Les Miserables (Christmas 2012)

This. Looks. Awesome.

The trailer gave me chills.

Here's hoping Hollywood doesn't f*ck it up.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Progress Notes


Tales of Episode #207
As I mentioned the other day, I handed off Revision Pass #1 to LadyAce.

She was fast and got it back to me today with various notes.

Ergo, Revision Pass #2, to be worked on over the next day or three.


(photo: abcdz2000/stock.xchng)

Nuking the Platform

After countless attempts at trying to create an "author's platform" and "provide value to blog readers," I've decided to say "F*ck it."

Dispense writing advice? Provide tips on self-publishing? Comment on the industry or on things SF/F?

Pfeh.

There are others who do a far better job at it. Don't believe me? Just look at the mass of links Charles Tan provides over at Bibliophile Stalker.

Read them.

As for me?

From now on, I'm just gonna do my own thing.

Looking for rhyme or reason?

You'll find them in The Phantom Tollbooth.*

But not here.

Here Be Random Musings.

(photo: By Federal government of the United States [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

*Ha! Ha! Book joke!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

KAT AND MOUSE Updates

Finished the first revision pass for Episode #207 and have handed it off to LadyAce and her Red Pen of Editing Doom. Hopefully she can get it back to me in a week so I can continue the next revision pass.

I also just looked at the calendar and, if I get in the right amount of writing and editing time, the Ladies should be starting up again by early November.

Sound good?

Good.

And, since I'm thinking about it...

KAT AND MOUSE "Season Two Boxed Set." Do I hear "yes"?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Progress Notes

Tales of Episode #207
Draft is finished at 5,722 words.

Letting it sit before leaping in with the Red Pen for Revision Pass #1.

While it sits, I'll likely be doing breakdowns for Episode #208. I want to at least get a nice chunk of #208 written before I release #207.

I'll have to look over the calendar to figure out timing.

Stay tuned.

(photo: abcdz2000/stock.xchng)

Friday, August 24, 2012

KAT AND MOUSE In Print: One Year Later

I released KAT AND MOUSE into the wild in May of 2011. It's now nearing the end of August 2012.

How did the Ladies do their first year?

Between May 2011 to May 2012, KAT AND MOUSE sold 58 copies.

Total. That includes print (via CreateSpace), Kindle, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Apple, and Kobo.

It's...

Well...it's a little sad, I think. I had hoped to sell at least 100 copies.

Then again, I don't think I did as much as I could've done to really promote it. Not really. And for that I only have myself to blame.

And according to my wise wife, LadyAce, 58 is really 50 more than 8 copies. That's definitely a better way to look at it.

It all just means I need to re-think and re-strategerize my promotionary effortings.

(illustration: Marcin Rybarczyk/stock.xchng)


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Progress Notes


Tales of Episode #207
After a long break followed by some B.I.C.* time, we are now at:

3,976 / 6,000

And chugging right along.

*B.I.C. = Butt In Chair

(photo: abcdz2000/stock.xchng)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Update on KAT AND MOUSE

No. I haven't forgotten about the serial. Or about you, Dear Readers of the Serial.

Looks like a long mental break was called for in order to recharge the Creative Batteries.

But I think we're getting back on track. Not yet sure the exact date of the full return. Maybe October. Maybe November.

Still figuring it out.

I am, however, getting excellent B.I.C.* time. This is a good thing.

Check back here for more updates.

*B.I.C. = Butt In Chair

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

In Which I Remind Myself...

I. Write. Escapist. Fiction.

I'm reminding myself because I think I've been forgetting.

Doing so then reminded me of this post I wrote last year, about this very thing.

Plus, doing so also seems to be fixing a few things in my head. For example, Kat and Mouse kicked me in the head last Friday. Or was it Thursday? Some time late last week. Before the weekend.

Anyway, the kicked must've jump-started something because that stalled story is now moving.

So once more, with feeling--

I. Write. Escapist. Fiction.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled day.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Doubt and the Writer

Two fellow writer folks have recently posted about writer doubt, something that I've actually been pondering over the past few months.

You might recall my Progress Report post from three months ago where I note that I hadn't really done much work on the next Kat and Mouse adventure. In fact, as of that post, I hadn't worked on the story in 7 weeks.

Then last month I posted that I may have gotten back on track with things.

However, what I came back on track with isn't fiction, as I point out here.

So why am I bringing up the issue of Writer's Doubt?

Because of my latest efforts, something in my head tells me the Writing Winds have shifted.

And that's where my particular brand of Writer's Doubt comes in. Mainly this: "Have I tapped my story well? Have I told the stories that I've wanted to tell? Is that all the fiction I'll be writing?"

Because each time I try to work on that next Kat and Mouse adventure, I quickly get bored and the words are molassess slow in coming and I keep thinking of other things I could be doing than writing this story.

But comes this part of my brain that tells me "Hey! Write this instead!"

Five months.

It's now five months of no fiction written.

Is this a phase? Something that'll fix itself in my head?

I hope so.

Or I could just shift to non-fiction.

As I seem to be doing at the moment.

So maybe it's not so much "quitting" as "taking another path up the mountain."

Y'think?

(photo: mordoc/stock.xchng)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th!

"Here's to America's colors, the colors that never run. May the wings of Liberty never lose a feather."

Have a great 4th of July.


(photo: The Expired Meter)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Earning Your Audience

The other day John Anealio linked to his post on "25 Ways to Earn Your Audience," which is actually a variation on Chuck Wendig's post of the same name--John's post focuses on musician types.

Read 'em both. Then bookmark 'em both for future reference.

Of the 25 ways, I believe #1 is the most important (and I'm gonna quote Chuck's version):
1. It’s All About The Story

Normally this is the type of thing I’d put as the capstone #25 entry—-"Oh, duh, by the way, none of this matters if you write a real turd-bomb of a book"—-but it’s too important to put last because for all I know you people will fall asleep around #14. So, let’s deal with it here and now: your best and most noble path to audience-earning is by having something awesome (or many awesome somethings) to give them. Tell the best story you can tell. Above all the social media posturing and bullshit brand-building and stabs at outreach, you need a great "thing" (book, movie, comic, whatever) to be the core of your authorial ecosystem. Tell a great story. Achieve optimal awesomeness. Build audience on the back of your skill and talent and devotion. You can ignore everything else on this list. Do not ignore this one.
Working on that.

Now, I just have get going on the next 24...

(And if you have to ask who that is in the photo up there, I will have to revoke your Pop Culture license...)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In Which We Think We're Back


So...it looks like Life decided to derail itself for a goodly amount of time.

But now I think--I think--it's getting back on track.

I can sorta tell because I'm hankerin' to get in some B.I.C.* time.

This is a good thing.


*B.I.C. = Butt In Chair

(photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

More Files

As you can see, Doctor Jericho is back with another installment of The Jericho Files.

In an effort not to inundate you Dear Readers, The Jericho Files will now appear on this blog every 2 - 3 weeks. Or thereabouts.

Oh, inundate them. They love it.

Easy, Jericho.

Easy? You wuss.

We're not having this conversation.

Poncey git.

*sigh*

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Free Comic Book Day!


It's that time of the year again and Wolverine wants to tell you something important.

Now get out to your local comic shop and support them.

Go.

Git.

Now.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Progress Notes


Tales of Episode #207
We are currently at
1,323 / 6,000


As of 23 February.

Yeah.

7 weeks ago.

7 weeks of no episode work.

Which means two things.

Thing #1: Lack of Focus

Thing #2: Distractions

As I've pointed out before, I don't believe in "writer's block."

But I do believe in the aforementioned* Things.

And those two Things can get in the way.

So what's the plan?

The Plan is to regain focus, eliminate (or at least minimize) distractions, and get back to plugging away at the story.

Of course, when the distractions involve partially stress-y Life Happenings, it can be challenging.

But never fear, KAT + MOUSE Fans!

The Ladies will return soon!


*Yes. Yes, I did just use the word "aforementioned."

(photo: abcdz2000/stock.xchng)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hello, My Lovelies

Doctor Jericho here. In Full Sans Pants Glory.

The Jericho Files are going to take a short break. I figure I'd let Abner get a word in for a bit. After all, I let him run that post about writing serial fiction.

For I am a Kind and Generous Master.

Catch up on any entries of the Files you've missed here.

See you in a while.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Four Tips For Writing Serial Fiction

There other day, a fellow writer told me he'd been working on a web serial and asked if I had any advice for him. I sent him a few general thoughts on the matter.

But that reminded me of a piece I'd written for Ezine Articles a while back so I'm gonna pause Doctor Jericho's ravings for a moment and post the meat of that article today.

So...here are my four keys to writing solid serial fiction.
  • Finish the story first
  • Write to a cliffhanger
  • Keep 'em short
  • Move it, move it, move it
FINISH THE STORY FIRST
This is important.

Having a completed story means you've already dealt with all the various plot and story elements that arise during writing. You know the hero's motivation and goal. You know what the villain is going to do. You know who killed the rich industrialist. You've worked out the various tangles and red herrings. And you've got the ending.

This also means that you aren't going to be revising your story as you release the installments. Not something you want to do and I strongly advise against it.

Have a fully written story first.

That takes care of the overall aspect of your serial.

Now, let's look at the pieces that make up the finished story.

WRITE TO A CLIFFHANGER
You want your readers coming back. Period.

The best way is to write to a cliffhanger.

Now, that doesn't imply that your characters are always going to be in harm's way at the end of each installment (although that is the time-honored way). It could also be as simple as a plot twist. For example, the boon companion turns out to be the traitor. The promising clue turns out to be a dead end.

You get the picture.

KEEP 'EM SHORT
This is a personal rule of thumb, but I find it extremely effective. Most blogging experts advise keeping your blog posts around 500 words. For a serial, I advise at least 800 words on the short end and no longer than 1200 words. 800 words is plenty of time and space for a scene.

Additionally, you don't want to assault the reader with a huge block of text, especially on their monitor. That looks daunting and will likely make your potential reader click away.

Instead, go short.

Your readers will thank you.

Which brings us to our last key...

MOVE IT, MOVE IT, MOVE IT
Your story needs to move. Remember: it's a story. Not a travelogue. Not an architectural review. Not a lecture.

Story. Always a story.

If you're thinking of spending 2000 words describing your main character's ornate gown or on the sociopolitical history of the elven kingdom she's visiting, don't do it. Stop. Right now. You will lose your reader.

This is an excellent tip on handling exposition and info-dumps in general but it is vitally important in serial fiction. You don't want to lose your reader. You want to keep them reading.

As a corollary to this, keep navel gazing to a minimum. Use it only to reveal character or some facet of a character or situation. Even then, keep it short and sweet.

And keep your story moving forward.

* * *

There you go, Gang. My tips for writing serial fiction.

One thing I didn't cover in the original article was the platform for the serial story. It's up to you whether you use Blogger, Wordpress, Drupal, or hand-code the site in HTML/CSS. I won't get into the technical stuff of any of those platforms.

Totally your choice.

But the basic tips I outlined above still stand.

Any questions? Post a comment and let me know.

Jericho will be back next week.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Release: 30 Minutes or Less


30 Minutes or Less is a new short story that takes place in Bay City (the same stomping grounds as everyone's favorite gun-toting duo, Kat and Mouse) and involves armed pizza delivery.

Get it for your Kindle now.

Nook version will be available soon. I'll let you know when.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!


It's 2012!

Just 364 days before the world ends, right?


(photo: peterl1084/flickr)