Sunday, July 31, 2011

I'm done!!!

The first draft of my latest novel is finally done. This one took me awhile but after some revision I think I will have a very good story. As you can see from my progress bar to the right I have three projects I am working on now.

City of Roses is a fantasy piece that all the ideas are coming together for. I am going to start world building and outlining. I know it's shocking, but I think I want to try writing something with an outline and see if I like it.
History of Blood is my vampire novel that I sat to the side to finish up Blood Plague(still need to find a better title). The novel follows a vampire through 10,000 years of history. I need to go back read what I have and figure out where I am going. The same is true for the last thing on the list.

Haven was a YA novel about superheroes that I was trying to write for Nanowrimo, but I lost my flash drive. Amazingly enough I found it again and recovered 30,000 words of Haven and about 25,000 of God's War another fantasy novel that I had started. So I need to go back and see what was going on in them. I don't even remember what they were about.
So I won't be writing for a little while just preparing to write, and then I need to pick which of the projects I feel like doing. I love starting a new project so I have a feeling it will be City of Roses but then again Haven is almost half way done. Hmmm...sometimes I wish there were three of me.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Create Space

So while back I sent in a submission for the Amazon break through novel award. I lost in the first round, but I did get a coupon for a free proof copy of a manuscript from create space. I have never used create space and I thought it would be fun to compare it to the printer we are using at PHP. Plus I could get a typed proof copy of my novel Kingdom of the Dead, so that I could do one more edit before I sent it off to TOR.

My verdict on Create Space is that it is very easy to use. It is much simpler than the process we use at PHP. All you really need is Microsoft word (though I suppose another word processor would probably work) and some Google-fu. For our PHP books we use Indesign and adobe Illustrator, which are much more expensive and complex programs.

That having been said it does not give you nearly as much control of the final product. And there were certain things I just couldn’t do on Create space, so the quality we strive for at PHP just wouldn’t be there. So don't look for PHP to change printers anytime soon.

But I can certainly see why so many authors are choosing to self publish through create space and on kindle. (Once you get the hang of it formatting a kindle isn't that hard either). They are both simple ways to get your story out to readers.

Here is the cover of my proof copy, it is on a create space template. The artwork is something that we purchased when we first started up PHP, before we started commissioning custom art. It actually fits a scene in the story pretty well. Total process from start to finish took maybe an hour, and that includes formating the word doc.

PS: I am not going to opt into any sales channels this is merely going to be a proof/editing copy for myself, it will not be for sale.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Captain America: The FIrst Avenger

When I was a kid every Christmas my dad would buy me a box of comics from the Sears catalog. These reprints were bargain priced and you got something like 100 comic books in a box. They were worth nothing to a collect but to an 8 year old who loved to read and loved superheroes they were about the greatest thing he could get me.

Those comics were always a grab bag, they were all Marvel so there was Spiderman, X-Men, Daredevil, and so many more. Amongst all the flashy capes and bright spandex there was one hero in red, white, and blue that always caught my attention. I’ll just surmise everything and say that while he was never my favorite superhero, I do have some fond memories of Captain America.

So this weekend when the wife wanted to go to the Sunday Matinee I was totally psyched to see Captain America on the big screen. Though I do have to admit that after the crapfest of X-men: First Class I was a little worried.

I was worried for nothing. I am glad to report that this movie is good, really good. The wife liked Thor better but this one had a campy retro vibe that I absolutely loved. Think of Indiana Jones with super powers you’ll have a good idea of the awesomeness that this movie is.

The plot was a perfect fit for Captain America. It takes place back in WWII and the whole movie has a retro feel to it. There were plenty of nods to the comics from Cap punching (a fake) Hitler ala the original Captain America cover to Caps super James Bondesque motorcycle. I actually found myself chuckling out loud a few times as if I was in on some kind of inside joke between me and the film maker.

The acting in this was top notch. Chris Evans would not have been my choice for Captain America, but I would have been wrong. He does a great job, I can’t think of anyone who would do a better job. Hugo Weaving was a good Red Skull, though the make up to make him Red Skull could have used a little work. But then again making an actor into a talking skull isn’t easy, just look at Ghost Rider. The creepy way they CGI’ed Chris Evans into Steve Rogers at the beginning more than makes up for the Red Skull's make up. My wife actually thought it was a different actor.

The best part about this movie was how human Captain America seemed. He was a normal guy with exceptional powers trying to do the right thing. He didn’t fight like a super ninja, and he wasn’t all dark and gritty. He was just a nerdy guy fighting for his country who got real buff. I don’t want to ruin anything but Cap ends the movie by showing what a real hero he is. (I am talking about the first ending not the 10 minutes slapped on the end to lead up to the Avengers movie coming out next summer.)

For me this is the best movie of the year, hands down.

PS: Though this is a super hero movie I don’t know that it is a kid’s movie. The children in front of me, maybe 5 years old, didn’t know enough about WWII to know what was going on. Plus there are some fairly violent scenes. There was one scene where a man gets thrown into a planes propeller and is liquefied. Again think of Indiana Jones for violence, ie most of it is understated then a nazi’s face melts off.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Shoot Out

I got my feedback for the first round of the shoot out. The shoot out I am refering to is the PHP summer shoot out. It is a writing competition where all the participants anonymously rate other stories and give helpful comments. The goal is to be the one with the highest score, but no one really cares too much about who wins. All the winner gets is bragging rights. It is more about getting a few good stories to publish than anything else.
I did okay. On a scale of 1 to 10 my scores ranged between a 3 and a 9 with an average of 7. It’s not really a competition but that puts me right in the middle of the pack.

I wrote a fantasy story set in a land I have mulling over for my next fantasy novel. I thought the story needed a few hundred words cut from the beginning but I ran out of time. I don’t know what possessed me to write a 5,000 word fantasy story in a week.

The feedback was a little mixed but everyone who commented on it enjoyed the setting. This shoot out is a little different than some of the other ones. As we rate each other stories we are suppose to write comments about the beginning, the end, and the overall story. Then we are suppose to write one thing the author did well and then one thing they didn’t do well.

Any way here are some of the needs improvement comments from three different reviewers: The story takes a while to get going… revise the beginning of the story to be more succinct..too long an introduction where nothing really happens, a lot of titles for people and things that could have been toned down.

I knew the intro was a little long so this was no surprise and I was a little worried that so many unfamiliar terms might throw a reader off. My excuse for both of these is that this is the first short story I have written in almost a year and I was use to the pacing of a novel. It has nothing to do with the fact that I am wordy with a tendency to ramble.

I really didn’t expect the other half of the reviewers comments on what needed improved: I would actually like it if there was a bit more to this piece, more about the world or maybe even just more in depth about the past Order of Protectors…no suggestions needed…little jumped out in this story that could be changed to make it better.

So there were two people who said that there was nothing that needed changed and one that said that they wanted to read more. I think pleasing half of a group of random writers is pretty good. The one that said that he/she wanted more to this piece also said they would like to read more about his world.

So what I am taking away from round one is two things, first: I should revise the intro of my story to make it shorter without changing too much of the story, and second: the world I created for my novel is a good one.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Quick Summer Update

Hey everyone. Just wanted to check in and say that I am still here. It has been a really busy summer but a fun one. On the writing front not a whole lot to report. I have a story up in the July Issue of Static Movement. It is a fantasy story called Learning the Blade, here is a link if you are interested.  And I have joined the PHP summer shoot out so I should end up with at least three short stories this summer.