Tuesday, March 31, 2015

On Current Projects (and other ideas)

Welcome to a new look for this blog!  That may or may not mean anything to you, but here it is!

The main new feature I'd like to bring your attention to is the 'Current Projects' box on the left of the page.  I intend to update this regularly to note progress of my various projects as I make headway.

The projects listed are ones that are at or near the top of my list to complete in the relatively near future.  This list may or may not reflect everything I'm working on at the moment, but it should give you a good idea of what's coming.

I'd like to talk about these projects just a little bit today, as well as any other projects I can think to mention, just to give you an idea of what may be coming to a book near you in the coming months (or even years!).

1. Chronicles of Nowhere and a Half

This was a bunch of fun to work on.  I'm glad that I was finally able to publish these stories and share them with all of my dear readers!  Furthermore, I'm again amazed by the wonderful cover art done by S. Joy Troester.

You can read more about my musings on this project in this previous post.

2. Below the Land

This is Universe Adventures: Book 1.  This is a series of fantasy and science fiction adventures that take place in multiple worlds with a variety of characters.  The idea behind this series is to just let flow with the craziest ideas my brain can come up with.  Is it an idea for an epic fantasy tale? Then I'll write that.  Is it maybe a story with a different set of characters that takes place in a sci fi world?  Then I'll write that too!  There's room for all of it across the universe.

The first book in this series follows a group of runaways as they try to understand why a poor girl seems to be cursed with a destructive strength that is a danger to all around her.  People begin to whisper about the long-missing Changers that used to rule the land.

This should be a fun adventure that I'm looking forward to sharing with you all once it's completed.

3. Chronicles of Nowhere Part 2

Part 2.  Book 3.  You follow?  I don't want to give away too much, but this story takes place directly after the end of the epilogue in Crauhnice.  It's ten years after the events of Karl and Serah and Ehirosh and the second invasion of baboons.

Book 3, which is called Raphias, follows Serah's younger brother Laeb, as he and his cousin Jonny seek out adventure in the wide world.  Meanwhile, Ehirosh and Serah are thrust into dangerous times in the lands of Nowhere and Somewhere, as an oppressive government causes the people of Somewhere to make some tough decisions.  Revolution is in the air.

The plan is to publish this story before the end of this year.

4. Strawberry and the Volcano of Dreamscapes

I've never attempted to write a novel like this one before.  It's about a teenage girl called Awbry (she can't stand her given name of Strawberry) and her quest to help her best friend Jake open a restaurant.  The story will show the summer that plays an important role in defining Awbry's life, as well as those around her.

For me, this story has been both a challenge and a joy to work on.  Thanks to a friend of mine who played a huge part in helping me to brainstorm a story like this, I've been able to get to this character called Awbry.  This is probably the most honest and provocative character I've ever written.  I find that she shares many of my own perspectives on the world, but not entirely.  She also has many of her own unique traits and ideas.

I just hope or wish that I can do this story justice and turn it into something that is very enjoyable for people from a variety of demographics to read.  I know I'm having a blast working on it.

Other projects (maybe not this year):

Mystery Traveler - This will likely be a combo of short stories and poems.  It's the next of my more literary books, and it could come out very soon or not until next year.  It's not currently at the top of my to-do list, but if I need a side project, this will most likely be what I turn to.

MyHeart series - This is a trilogy that I've had in the back of my mind for a few years now.  It follows a town that is under a serious threat from a dangerous evil in the lands.  To combat the evil, they try to gain strength under the idea of 'know your enemy'.  Most people unify under this scheme, but others have doubts.

Universe Adventures - There are currently already 5 stories planned for this series.

The Chronicles of Nowhere - There's plenty more to come.  Not everything is as it seems.

Customized Fossils - This is a potential series of novels about life in the Sacred Name Movement.  I've done some work on it, but this will probably be a project that happens when I get around to it and work out the story clearly.  Probably not for awhile under current plans (which are not at all set in stone).

We will see what is to come!

Indeed, much or all of these plans could change at any time.  I believe that the Planner of my life is not really me.  I just try to do the best I have with what I know right now.

Having said that, I hope this reflections helped to provide a little insight into what I am currently working on, as well as some things I'd like to accomplish in the coming months and years.  I think stories are important, and I quite enjoy sharing them with my readers.

So, until next time, enjoy your story!  We all have one to live and share, and they're all important.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Chronicles of Nowhere and a Half Story Memoirs

The Chronicles of Nowhere and a Half was an idea that started one and a half or two years ago.  I realized then that The Chronicles of Nowhere: Part 2 wasn't going to be released nearly as soon as I had hoped.  And I admit that project is indeed very long in coming.

Nonetheless, I wanted to put out something to tide over fans of Nowhere until I could give them a proper novel, and so now I'm finally getting around to it.

I had a few short stories that took place in the world of Nowhere, but wouldn't quite fit into the central story I'm trying to tell.  That isn't to say that these stories aren't relevant to the complete narrative.  Conversely, these tales do further the story, even if only in brief snippets.

So I encourage everyone who has read Part 1 to continue into the world of Nowhere in this volume.  These stories further the intrigue, answer some questions and add to the depth of the characters in this world.

My goal with this blog post is to talk about how each of these stories developed, had unique challenges, and ultimately came to be how they appear in the book as you read them.

So here we go.

1. What Happened to Ezekiel
"After the Baboon War ended, Ezekiel the spotted moose did not know what to do with himself."

I originally wrote this story for a college writing class a few years ago.  Believe me when I say that my classmates, who had to read the story, did not particularly love the fact that I surpassed the 3,000 word goal for the story by almost 5,000 words and gave them an in depth investigative report about a world and history they had not previously encountered. They kindly read it anyway.  My classmates suggested several upgrades to the story, some that I took at the time and others I dismissed.  After all, I knew this story and world much better than they did.

However, as I prepared this story for inclusion in this book, I wondered what I was thinking to dismiss some of those suggestions.  I was able to craft the story with a clearer vision of what I want it to be and what The Chronicles of Nowhere needs it to be.

Regarding the format of the story, I wish I could recall how I decided to tell it from the perspective of an investigative newspaper article.  But once I realized that the question I was asking myself about the story needed research to understand, I assume it only made sense to write the whole story from this perspective.  It was a question that lingered from the end of Suburbanism: A Tale in Seven Movements, and I wanted to address it as thoroughly as possible.

Whatever the case, this was probably the most difficult story to get right.  At least to my level of satisfaction.  I confess that I was making revisions on it up to the very end, struggling over particular sentences here and there until I finally had to shut off the perfectionism and remember that it's a Suburbanism story at heart.

2. Waters Meets Elizabeth Kate
"Standing at the base of the tree and staring up at the hat was the prettiest girl that Waters had ever seen."

This story is partially inspired by the work of the artist Graham Annable.  I was watching a lot of his Grickle cartoons and even watched a playthrough of his mobile game, Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent, which took place in the clutches of a Minnesota winter.  I'm fascinated by his minimalist storytelling style, creating tension through the space of commonplace actions, gestures and tame dialogue.

Long story short, the idea of telling a story that takes place in the middle of winter caught my attention and so I wanted to try it for myself.  "Waters Meets Elizabeth Kate" was originally going to be the first of a series of stories in Nowhere called the Winter Tales.  I didn't get very far with that, but I was nonetheless very happy with the outcome of what I had written in this case.

For me, this story is all about Waters.  Yes, it gives some background into the history of Greeny and Elizabeth Kate, but more than that we get to see Waters' perspective on life.  I had a lot of fun writing this brief look into Waters' character, and I hope it's just as enjoyable for readers.

3. Elizabeth Kate Visits Timothy
"The thawing field produced cold mud with every step.  Elizabeth Kate covered her nose with her hand as she trudged over the soft ground."

This story takes place shortly after "Waters Meets Elizabeth Kate".  There's not much I want to say about this story regarding the creative process, but I will mention that it holds some important clues to another mystery in the story of Nowhere.

This is a story for filling in the holes.  We get to see an earlier version of Timothy Elku.  We get to see Elizabeth Kate's early impressions of Greeny.  We get to see mysterious flowers floating down from the treetops.

Beyond that, I tried to focus on senses other than sight in this story.  I have my doubts about how successfully I pulled that off, but I do recall that it was important craft point during the first draft.  As many of us may know already, there's nothing quite like the smell of muddy farmland early in the morning.  It seemed like a sensation worth evoking.

4. The Fountain Thief
"Out of the shadows on the road, a figure approached the fountain, again dressed all in black, their face covered by a mask of dark cloth."

The Facebook post came first.  About two years ago now, I posted a brief scene from this story on The Chronicles of Nowhere Facebook page.  If I remember correctly, it was at the time the only bit of the story I had actually written.  This scene of Waters confronting the person stealing water from his fountain, and then himself being forced to consider his prejudices, stuck in my mind.

So I wrote out the whole scenario.  Again, we get to see things from Waters' perspective.  I think that perhaps the events of this story play an important role in the lead-up and eventual outcome to the Baboon War.

Along with that, this story is one that is meant to answer a couple questions from Part 1.  However, it also has some 2+2 work for the reader to do, so I'll leave that up to you.

5. Glossary of the History of Nowhere and the Baboon War
"I hope that this glossary provides a good resource for those studying either the land of Nowhere or the Baboon War, as these snippets are much like how I learned about these things during my time growing up right where all of these had happened."

What is this list of people, places and things from Nowhere and the Baboon War doing in the middle of a book of short stories?  I dunno.  But I wanted to include it because this a piece that I'm actually quite happy with.  I might even say proud, though I do my best to avoid that sentiment at all costs.

This glossary was actually one of my senior projects in college.  In a class about Genre, I decided to bend the rules of storytelling and share a very hardcore look into the world of Nowhere.  As you can see in the introduction to the glossary, it is written by one of Greeny's descendants.  It's the glossary to a history text.  It's not meant to be highly entertaining.  It's not meant to reveal much new information.  But it is meant to help build the world in which these stories take place.

I don't know if that's satisfactory to readers, but I hope that you see and enjoy what I was aiming to accomplish.  (I do feel that it fits in well to the overall narrative of CoN and a Half.)  If nothing else, it should work as a serviceable glossary of terms for anyone reading these stories who has become overwhelmed at all by the abundance of characters and places to remember the names of.

And also, to be clear, those page numbers refer to the fictional history text that has the glossary in its last pages, and not to any of the books in The Chronicles of Nowhere.  I tried to make that clear, but it was pointed out to me and I see how it could be a little confusing.

6. The Second Greatest Love Story of the Common Era (or Perhaps the 3rd)
"Thus, Tallus came to a stop on his horse in front of the house where Serah and Shem sat, looked around uncomfortably and sheepishly, and then remained silent."

This story began one day when I decided to get back to my roots.  I pulled out pen and paper to start writing, and the first couple chapters of this story is what spilled out over the course of a couple weeks.  At the time, it felt good to write a story in the world of Nowhere with pen and paper.  Nearly all of Part 1 was written that way.

And having written down that much of this love story, I realized I had something interesting and so I got to the business of making an actual tale out of it.  I don't know if I've ever had a more solid writing session in my life.  And it was somewhere along the way that I had a major story in The Chronicles of Nowhere on my hands.

I nearly panicked and thought this story would be forced to fit into Part 2 instead of Part 1.5.  However, I calmed down, realized that it would fit in well with the tone of this book, and am now glad that I have a significant and fun story to offer in this volume.


I hope these little behind the scenes memoirs on the stories in Chronicles of Nowhere and a Half are enjoyable to you and help to give a little more perspective on the stories.  As always, I had an absolute blast writing and publishing a book about the land of Nowhere.  I hope you enjoy it even half as much as I did!

Chronicles of Nowhere and a Half can be purchased here: Lulu.com