World Building Wednesday

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Hello Space Cadet, today I release into the multiverse my first World Building Wednesday where I talk about my process.  This isn’t the only way to build your world, or write a novel, this is just what works for me.  Keep in mind, I have to work around my TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) with my process.  These limitations force me to rely heavily on notes, outlines and a paper filing system where all the world building stuff is organized and collated.

 

First, let me show you how I organize my shiny new idea!  This is a broad outline of my organizational thought.  Each of these steps often leads me to rabbit trails that flavor my story.  And remember, anything can be a source for the idea.  Books you’ve read, movies you’ve seen, the news and conversations with friends.  People you’ve observed in public, conversations you’ve overheard.  The world is your creative muse, use it and abuse it.

 

  1. The shiny big new idea!
  2. What do I need to make the idea work?
    1. Characters (People)
    2. Settings (Places)
    3. Equipment and Gear (Things)
  3. Create the world that the story takes place.
    1. Notes on the history of the world.
    2. Maps where I draw the actual world
    3. Key cultural things such as, but not limited to, religion and political thought.
  4. Research anything you need to know for your story.
  5. Outline this shiny new idea.
  6. Write the shiny new idea!

 

So, to summarize the list above, I start with an idea or a character.  Then I flush this idea out a little bit at a time, with ideas based on what I need for the plot.  I keep going, until I have a kernel of a world.  I flush it out, again, with the stuff I need for the story.  This can include researching things, or just the random thoughts that pop up along this path to creation.

 

One big rule I have for myself is that I leave myself room to tell more stories in the future.  The best advice I ever received on writing was from a stranger at my local Starbucks.  I was sitting there plotting out the various parts of my universe and I had papers spread all around me.  He advised me to “Never paint yourself into a corner.”  This stranger gave me great advice, and I use it with my own world.  Just enough to make the story work, in case it leads to rabbit trails that become different stories.

 

Writing for Tim C. Taylor, however, means most of the larger world issues are already made for me.  This will be a fact for anyone writing in someone else’s sandbox.  That said, working with Tim has been great.  He gives me room to do a lot be creative tinkering, with a few rules I can’t break.  For example, I can’t use FTL (Faster Than Light Travel) when writing in the Human Legion Universe but the characters and plot is open to anything I can imagine.  Mainly, he is focused on historical consistency, not changing the cannon and ensuring I not frakk up the aliens he created.

 

I’ve talked with authors who write in other shared universes, to include a few who write in the Warhammer 40K world and it seems these are universal truths.  It can be a lot of fun, in the same way people enjoy writing fan fiction, but there are some constraints.  You get the benefit of a universe full of possibilities waiting for you.  As you read the books in said universe, those thoughts that tingled in the back of your mind can be addressed.  The what if’s, or what happened to Character X when the curtain fell.  That can be a thrilling proposition for a new author who is unsure of himself. It allows you to get your feet wet in the writing process, with some of the guesswork taken out.  Another benefit, especially for a new author, is writing in a shared world generally comes with a built-in audience. In this the universe creator benefits as well, by having you potentially attract new readers to his will or world.

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Now that we’ve covered the topic in broad strokes, let me drill down to show you how my Sleeping Legion series came to be. I was reading Tim’s book Renegade Legion and ideas kept flopping around in the back of my mind.  What about the Marines still in Beta City?  And maybe they could fix those training hulks floating around in space?  I wrote it all down on a list, and messaged it to Tim.  I asked him to write those stories too!  Wow, sort of arrogant fanboy, no?  At that point in time I was working on his Wiki so we were in contact with one another anyway.  Around this time period (2014) I had already started working on my own New Carthage Republic idea.  I mailed Tim’s publishing house the first chapter and summary, seeking representation.  We already had a working relationship, so why not?  He said no, told me it was a good idea but that he wasn’t open for business anymore.  Instead, he was focusing on his own writing and didn’t have time to run a publishing house anymore.

 

I kept writing, bummed, but still writing.  A week later he contacted me with a counter proposal.  Write in his world on those ideas of mine!  It wasn’t a done deal, but he was prepared to be convinced if I sent him a proposal.  I sent him the proposal for the novella’s we talked about.  He approved and a contract was signed!!!  I even wore a wig, in honor of his British sensibilities.  Somehow those novellas became novels, but that is the origin of the Sleeping Legion Series.

 

In the coming weeks I’ll elaborate more on the world building, from maps to tech and everything in between, so stay tuned!

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.

Introducing the Human Legion Universe

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Hello Space Cadets, today is my inaugural Marine Monday where I slowly introduce you to the world in which I’ll be writing in.  I stole the concept from Corey over at QuintessentialEditor, who does is weekly Wasteland Wednesday where he sells up his post-apocalyptic world!  Grab some popcorn with him, cause you’ll love the show!  Now, back to your newly scheduled program! 

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In honor of my first Marine Monday, I wanted to introduce you to my favorite world!  I was such a fan that I was invited to write in it!  If you’ve read any of my posts, you’ll know that I’ve mentioned that my first set of novels will be written in the Human Legion Universe.  This is a series of novels written by author Tim C. Taylor centering around the lives of post-Earth humans. Their ancestors were given away as children, in return for protection from outside alien incursions. By giving up a million 5-year old humans, whose descendants would be trained into the fighting arm of their new overlords, Earth would become a White Knight client state.  This relationship made Earth off limits to other species in the Trans-Species Union.  If you are looking to understand these excellent works, I’d summarize them as Starship Troopers meets Soldiers, the 1998 cult classic starring Kurt Russell.  The characters are raised/brainwashed from young kids to be nothing but killers, super soldiers, members of the Human Marine Corps.  This book ranges from small-scale rebellion through to epic space battles… from teenage infatuation to the tragedy of doomed love… and everywhere with dark conspiracies that threaten the existence of humanity, the Human Legion’s fight for freedom has been a hit with science fiction readers worldwide. In its first year, the series earned hundreds of five-star reviews, sold 70,000 copies, and hit the #1 bestseller spots for military science fiction and space opera in the US and elsewhere.  Since then the fandom has only grown! Find out more on Tim’s site and give it a go.  I highly recommend it!

 

Don’t believe me, try it out!  If this sounds interesting, and it should because it is awesome, then go get a copy for yourself!  You won’t regret it!

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

PS: Tim has a short story available for free right now!  Check out The Meandering Mayhem of Thogron Throatbiter and enjoy an awesome ride!

The Meandering Mayhem of Thogron Throatbiter (a short story) by [Taylor, Tim C.]

–> The first image is the wholly owned work of Tim C. Taylor and any use of said image must be with permission.  He’s a reasonable chap, ask and he might work with ya!!  😉

–> The second image was a screen capture from Tim’s Human Legion webpage, used with his permission.

–> The last image is from Google’s “labeled for re-use” section of the Creative Commons. 

Shenanigans and Updates

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Hello Space Cadets, how is everyone doing?  I’m well, so is my grandmother!  Thank you, truly, to everyone who sent their happy thoughts into the ethos for my Grandma Handley, it meant a lot.  As a quick update, I should (fingers crossed) have the new look for my website up within the week.  Once it is up, I will let everyone know what is going on with that.  We should seamlessly merge it into this page, since I bought the domain and a premium account from WordPress.  If it doesn’t work as planned, I will direct everyone where to go… but I hope it isn’t necessary.

Here is a quick look at where I want my blog to go.  While I work on getting my professional looking blog and a few articles in every category cued up, I will continue on as I have been.  I have to coordinating with the authors I hope to interview, prepare the questions I want to ask and generally be prepared so I don’t look like a boot recruit.  If any of you have any general questions for the warrior authors or the family series, post them in the comments!

  1. Marine Monday’s: A series of world building from the Human Legion Universe, to include my own Sleeping Legion.
  2. World Building Wednesdays: A series of posts on my writing process, not necessarily the right or best way, just my way.  Dang, now I want some Burger King!
  3. Family Fridays Interview Series: A series of interviews with other writers, editors, agents and anyone else involved in the wild world of books.  The focus will be on how we manage our passion for the written word and our duties to our kinfolk.
  4. Warrior Writer Weekend Interview Series: A series of interviews with veterans who write, edit or have any other role within the wild world of books.  I will try to publish these on Saturday, but the guarantee is that it will post on a weekend!  I want to highlight their service, reflect upon how it has influenced or affected their works and get all fanboy over their stuff!  There could be overlap, as many veterans who write also have families, but the focus here will be their service and writing.
  5. Funny Fill Ins: Basically, I’ll keep the witty and humorous bent that I’ve had so far.  If it doesn’t fit into another category I will post it on a Tuesday, Thursday or on an open weekend day.  I will also post any reblogs on these days as well.

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

Image result for musketsJR

–> As usual, all images are found under Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.

When Novellas Grow Up

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When Novellas grow up to become Novels

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Hello my fellow Space Cadets!  I thought I would write a quick post about my first novel, The Sleeping Legion: The Legion Awakes, and how I got here.  I didn’t start out trying to write novels, in fact, my contract was specifically for novellas that hit the adventure quick, fast, and in a hurry.

However, as I wrote the ideas just sort of grew organically until my novella grew up into a novel.  As I worked on the final scenes for part two I couldn’t help but hear the song “It is the book the never ends, it just goes on and on my friend… Some fool started writing it not know what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because it was the book that never ends…”  You’re sing along aren’t you?

Knowing I couldn’t put it off any longer, I went to my boss with my hat clutched in hand.  I told Tim C. Taylor about my problem of not knowing what, and how, to cut things to the appropriate length.  He read through my rough draft, likely expecting to talk a novice off the metaphorical edge, then sent me a short email that started with the sentence, “JR, we need to talk.

For clarification, I’m a married man and those words often spell my doom.  As you can imagine, I was justifiably nervous.  I heard Tim, in his proper British accent, saying those five words like a judge condemning a man to his demise.  We meshed schedules, synced up our time zone disparities, and planned our Skype session.

On the day of the Skype session, his face was serious as he looked at me through our shared monitor.  After a moment, he said “JR, you aren’t writing the novellas we talked about in our contract–”

Tim didn’t get to finish as I verbally prostrated myself at his feet, telling him I could do better.  I wasn’t sure if I was laying it on thick enough, I needed him to know I was sincere.  I heaped on some more until I couldn’t be heard over the sound of his laughter.  I took a breath and looked at the cruel man who was likely going to burn my dreams.  I imagined him holding a match and burning the manuscript before my eyes.

Then, to my surprise, Tim said, “JR, these are novels.  Keep writing, but we need a new contract.”

And there I was, suddenly a novelist.  I guess in the end, it’s not the destination you chart but the adventures had along the way.

Until next time, stay frosty and remember to keep your powder dry.

Image result for muskets

 

JR

–> As usual, all images are found under Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.

HAPPY UPDATE!

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First, I have to tell you I’ll likely go MIA for a week or two as I address some family issues.  My grandmother, who inspired this pen name, isn’t doing well so I’m driving north like a good grandson should.  Fret not, I will try to write some good posts… however, I’ll be less active on others blogs.  I’ll miss the great posts, so don’t get abducted by aliens while I’m away.  Coming back to your great posts will keep me motivated not to fall asleep while driving.  And never fear, my house will be protected!

 

Secondly, Team Handley will be updating our site soon for a more polished look.  We already own the domain name, so now it is all about figuring out the technical bits.  Worst case scenario, we bring in ‘the professionals’ to get it right but we hope to do it ourselves.

 

Finally, the happy note that I led with.  For those of you who’re friends with me on Facebook will know, my paperback proof of book one came in on Wednesday!!  I’m super excited, and you should be too!!!  Until next time, be safe out there and remember… if you can’t be good, be good at it.

 

–> The artwork from today is original content created by Corey at the Quintessential Editor.

My NaNoWriMo Journey

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Well, I’ve finally decided to give the NaNoWriMo a go.  I’m hoping this will give me a boost in finishing the third book in the Sleeping Legion Series.  It is tentatively titled Operation Breakout, but that is mostly a placeholder.  I just created an account, under the name Porkchop NCR, and set up my account.  If you plan on participating, feel free to add me as a writing buddy.  I can also be found in the Hampton Roads Region of the wild world of Ye Olde Face Page!  As for the name, Porkchop was my call sign in Iraq and NCR is the universe I want to write my own stories in some day.  I think that the booze might have contributed, just a wee bit, to it becoming my official username but once you set it up you’re stuck with it.  Otherwise, you close your account and start a new one and it didn’t seem worth it.

 

My Book Blurb: (Subject to change)

 This is the third installment in the Sleeping Legion Series, written in Tim C. Taylor’s Human Legion Universe.  The dust has settled and the main arm of the Human Legion have left the Tranquility System.  Not all was as it seemed, however, as Marines were left abandoned, forgotten and alone.  Then the Legion wakes up, secures a new home and now must engage in a desperate struggle to wrest control of the Tranquility System from the Hardit New Order.  To make matters worse, they have enemies within the ranks and a hostile human force at their backs.  Can Serendine be secured before they face a war on two fronts?

 

 

NaNoWriMo Prep:

1)      Figure out your basic plot idea or question.

2)      Think about where this question would end, where is the logical conclusion?

3)      Outline the main points of the novel.

4)      Bulk up the outline to include the minor plot arcs and sub plots

  1. I found that adding character arcs to this helpful as well.

5)      Give the outline time to percolate (i.e. don’t wait until the last minute).

6)      Work on any world building that needs to be done, or would help you write more efficiently.

7)      Talk to your family and friends, let them know you might become a hermit for 30 days or so!  Hey, MAYBE you’ll come up for air on Turkey Day!!  That’s Thanksgiving for you non-Muricans!

 

NaNoWriMo Personal Growth Goals:

1)      Increase my daily word count.

2)      Become more disciplined with my daily writing, separate from the other stuff we do as writers. (Blog, marketing, networking, etc.)

3)      This should help me come out of my hermit cave and stick my toe into the ocean that is the writing community.

 

Overall Goals for Event:

1)      Make a substantial dent into book three, and hopefully write all 90,000 words of it.

2)      Have something I can send to my editor so I finish my third novel before 2016 ends.

3)      Have fun writing and never lose sight of WHY I tell the stories.

4)      Make a point to blend this intense writing excursion with daily exercise so I become a healthier me!

 

Want advice from others who’ve been there and done that?  Look no further!  I’ll link to only a few helpful vlogs because otherwise you’ll never stop watching…. and we’re here to write peeps!

 

 

So, that’s MY NaNoWriMo story…. What will yours be?  Will you join me ?  Friend me so we can bust each other’s balls when we slack off?

http://nanowrimo.org/dashboard

EDIT: One of my writing buddies is looking to add people as well.  Feel free to add your fellow WordPress Blogger, mrswintheiser.

Science Fiction Writing

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As an author of science fiction, can I call myself that before my novel is published?  I digress, as authors of science fiction and fantasy, we often have to shoulder the burdens of creating a world from scratch.  If we didn’t do it, it generally means we are writing   In the lingo of us super cool author types, it is called WORLD BUILDING, but basically it means that we have to create a world from scratch.  In other types of fiction, be it modern or historical, the reader already knows the nuances of life.  You say he wore a Hawaiian shirt, BAM, we can picture a Hawaiian shirt.  Tell me he drove a Porsche, I can picture a real life droll worthy dream car.  Say the knight wore armor, I can picture it in all it’s shining glory.  BUT, you try telling me he rode into town on a wee beastie [insert your super cool name here], then brother/sister you better commence to describing that thing in detail.

 

Now that we’ve established the basic concept of world building, lets get into one way it affects writers with armies in their worlds.  I recently read a great blog post by author Joe Zieja about creating the rank and culture of your army.  Things like the various ranks and how the forces are organized.  He titled his post Military in Fiction #6 – Rank and Organization, and I highly recommend you check it out!  I hope you find the piece as illuminating as I did, but either way let’s talk about it!

 

–> Note to Readers:  This post replaces an earlier reblog that might have inadvertently violated copyrights.

–> This image is under available under the free Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unreported license and originally shared through a Wikipedia posting. It was taken by photographer Murray Kerr and uploaded on 13 November 2008 at 13:17 hours.