Warrior Weekend Interview Series

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Hello Space Cadets, like I mentioned yesterday I didn’t plan ahead well enough for an interview series.  I am working on playing catch-up, but let me tell you about what I envision with this.  If you missed it, I’m a combat veteran of the Late Unpleasantness in Mesopotamia.  It changed me, my world view, and the content of the stories I tell.  I’m curious how other veterans in the writing world (authors, editors, publishers, etc.) manage it.  How does it affect their process?

 

One thing that has always been important to me is to support other veterans, so this is my chance to pay it forward.  It is my thanks to the thousands who manned the lines with me.  It introduces them to the world, and lets us reminisce for a few on our shared experiences.  I hope you find this worthwhile, but on top of their military service (for any country), they are readers and writers just like us.  Maybe together we can learn from each other.

 

Since I don’t have any larger post planned for today, I wanted to recommend a book.  When I got back from Iraq my brain injury made reading difficult.  I couldn’t concentrate, the words blurred and I gave up.  Even the large print books weren’t cutting it.  I’d given up, and was listening to my neurologist lecture me again about exercising my mind when he decided to find a solution for me.  If you don’t know, your brain is like any other muscle.  If you don’t use it, you lose it.  When you suffer head injuries, the potential for the loss of said muscle down the line grows exponentially.  To combat that, they recommend brain teasers and the like, in addition to reading a lot.  After much nagging, I set a routine, I wake up and do a Sudoku or crossword puzzle with my morning coffee. 

 

My doctor wasn’t satisfied with a few minutes of mind games so he did some research about an amazing new technology called a Kindle.  It has a few neat features; backlighting, magnification and could read the book to you when you needed a break.  I was convinced, my parents ponied up the cash (gotta love supportive mothers) and I was off to the races.  I started with all of the free books available and narrowed down my searches to science fiction and fantasy.  I’m a huge fan of military science fiction and space opera, always have been since I found an old copy of Heinlein’s Starship Trooper in my local library.  It was old, battered and tucked into the back shelf.  I figured if it was good enough for someone to hide it, making sure it was there for them, I had to read it too.  Since then there have been many other good stories, jaunts through space and the like.  Now armed with a Kindle, I sought out books that fit into that genre.

 

The first successful Kindle search I made from within the device lead me to Terry Mixon and his Empire of Bones Saga.  It was great, made even better by the fact that Terry was an Army guy like me.  Let’s face it, a lot of the military veterans writing science fiction are Navy guys.  They figure SPACE ship, OCEAN going ship…. They’re all ships!  I honestly gave him a chance just because he was from the 101st Airborne too.  I wasn’t disappointed and you won’t be either.  Go check it out!

 

Empire of Bones (Book 1 of The Empire of Bones Saga) by [Mixon, Terry]

 

Finally, I’ll recommend a short story by my boss and science fiction author Tim C. Taylor!  Welcome Home, Janissary is set in the universe I’m writing in, and it is definitely worth a read!  It’s currently free, so you’ll get your money’s worth!!

 Welcome Home, Janissary by [Taylor, Tim C.]

 

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.

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. 

AN ODE TO EMILY

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Hello Space Cadets, today I decided to spill me soul and show you my heart, my one true love.  How do I start?  She was everything, she was life changing and later became lifesaving.  While I was in elementary school, I had a crush, and her name was Emily.  She was sweet, never said a harsh word (that my 6-year-old self heard) and cared about those who were bullied.  People like me, the fat kid. 

 

Years past, I found sports and lost some of the baby fat.  I grew up, reached the age where I cared about those of the female persuasion, but I looked back fondly on her.  Well, more what she meant to me than who or what she was as a person.  Let’s be real, my memories of her were idealized ones, rather than representing who she really was.  When I dated, I would look back fondly my time on the playground with her.

 

Fast forward to Fort Benning, Georgia in the stifling heat of  the summer of 1999.  Our rifles were issued to us.  Our drill sergeants forced us to name them, and like most boot recruits at the infantry school I chose Laura, my girlfriends name.  Training went on, letters dried up and my rifle earned a new name.  “The Biotch That Never Writes.”  Then I received my “Dear John Letter” and my rifle needed a new name, one with less baggage.  Seeking better times and fonder memories, I named her Emily.

 

Emily was a wondrous rifle, full of sass and charm.  She bucked a little, showing her independence, but in my tender loving hands she came through.  I loved her, we made magic and I qualified as expert.  This trend followed through to every rifle I was ever issued, until I got to my time fighting in the sweltering heat of Mesopotamia. Through every dust storm, every combat engagement, and every sleepless night Emily comforted me and brought me home.

 

Moral of this tale, when you find a good woman you hold her tight and don’t let go.

 

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

 brown_bess

JR

 

—> As usual, the two images I used today can be found under Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.

AMERICA’S TOP SECRET WAR: Atropia

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Hello Space Cadets, I wanted to bring you some updates. First, let me update you on my progress in the Great Quest known as NaNoWriMo.  I am currently 11,062 words into Operation Breakout, the third novel in my Sleeping Legion series.  This is a lot farther behind than I would like, but I’m trying not to psych myself up and get in my own way.  According to the scheduled, I should hit 15,000 words today.  I got a late start because I was wrapping up my last novel and getting my editing done.  What can I say, the editor Corey is a slave driver!  I finished my outline for my current project and got it tentatively approved by my publisher Tim C. Taylor on Day 4.  Hey, if your Supreme High Overlord isn’t happy, aint nobody happy!  Since that approval was granted I’ve been writing full bore in a race to the finish line.  Yesterday I wrote 2,416 words and if I can do that for four days I’ll be back where I need to be.  However, over the next two days I’ll again be knee deep into Fortress Beta City for my final editing pass before it goes to a copy editor and is published.

 

While most people are participating in NaNo so they can finish a novel, or to motivate them to just write, I’m searching for something else.  I’m searching for a technique which helps me achieve balance between writing, blogging, family time, exercising and that albatross authors simply call marketing.  Realistically, if I can hit that 2k words a day, I’ll be on pace to become the next big pulp writer of my generation cranking out 5 to 6 books a year!  And maybe, someday, I can roll around in piles of money like the Scrooge McDuck version of JK Rowling!

 

All of this has forced me to rig for silent running, hunker down and pound out words.  I’ve failed, as I couldn’t go cold turkey on the social aspect of writing.  See, told you I needed NaNo!!  But that wasn’t the only reason I’ve been less visible.  (looks around nervously)  I’ve also been silent because I’ve been dealing with Army life again.  Yes, my fat and broken body was recalled to fight in the Army’s top secret war against the dictatorial regime of the Donovian Militants.  Atropia was being invaded and the US Army has been stretched thin with our decade long campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, and more recently bolstering South Korea against the aggressive posturing of The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

 

This left the US Army with a critical manpower shortage, without a draft to re-fill the ranks.  Their solution, recall those who were listed in the IRR (Inactive Ready Reserves).  Basically, we’re calling up the broke dicks and grey beards.  Rest assured, we were resolute in our resolve to defend the Atropians against the evil Donovian Militants, who sought to take advantage of our national distraction in the Middle East.  In a campaign, reminiscent of the short war in Panama known as Operation Just Cause, the enemy was repelled and stability returned to the region.

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Now that I can again return to the tranquil comforts of home and hearth, I shall endeavor to get back up on the writing horse.  Wish me words as I fight the evil muse for every sentence!  But rest easy, we got this!

 

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

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JR

 

—> As usual, the two images I used today can be found under Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.