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.

Indie Author Day

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For all you crazy cats who write, spilling your soul onto parchment in the age old manner of our ancestor, check out the Indie Author Day events all over the country.  I’m lucky enough to live in Tidewater, Virginia so I’ll get to hear author Chris Kennedy speak but the rest of you can join the fun at your local chapters. Find your local event, join the party!

 

INDIE AUTHOR DAY:

  1. Virginia Beach, VA
  2. Everywhere else

 

Contact Chris Kennedy:

  1. Amazon
  2. Webpage

 

–> As usual, this picture was found on Google and is labeled for reuse.  It was posted by The Blue Diamond Gallery, go on down and check them out.

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.

Con Learning

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Since I recently mentioned that I wouldn’t be able to attend HonorCon this year, I thought I would throw up a blog about what I learned at RavenCon 2016. I wrote it immediately afterwards, then promptly lost in among my unorganized filing system. I’m now more organized and have a system, so hopefully this won’t happen again. No, this won’t happen again!

 

Since I want to attend again in 2017, obviously I had a great time at the Raven Con. I also learned a lot of useful stuff that I wrote about right after the Con ended. The Con seemed to be geared towards writers, with a ton of useful panels/classes that helped me immensely. They had everything from marketing in ‘The Age of Amazon’ to editing and world building. I took notes like I was back in college again, arm nearly falling off, and now I want to discuss my thoughts.

Unfortunately, with so many electronically inclined nerds in attendance, the hotel Wi-Fi was basically non-existent so I couldn’t write or edit from my DropBox account. Although, come to think of it, I hadn’t set that up yet. (Note to reader: DropBox is an amazing way to securely back up your files!) Moving right along, this conference was invigorating and I was definitely motivated to get back to finishing my novel. Just the kick in the pants I needed and it worked! Maybe I should find another to push me into finishing book three!

Originally my word count goal was 2,000 words a day, however, that isn’t always possible as life inevitably gets in the way. Hey, I am long winded but even I can’t stop adulting full time!! Without further ado, let me get to what I took away from my first conference.

 

SWAG: The bigger sellers, at least the ones who attended the Con, all seemed to think having things for giveaways at events and on your site are was a must. They had things like coffee cups, phone cases and t-shirts which they sold as supplemental income. It gave them prizes for promotional giveaways and generally just looked cool. As for my swag, I had a buddy make a graphic representation of the unit crest from my book and now we are checking on the legalities of using it. The legalities of art rights aren’t my thing, so I’m letting my editor handle that.  However, for anyone who has access to Ye Olde Facebook, I recommend chatting with the authors there.  The Listeners of the Dead Robots Society had some thoughts on the subject, contradictory to what the experts at RavenCon thought.  They basically suggest your money could be better spent with business card, then any extra cash put into spiffy covers and a professional webpage.

 

PRODUCTIVITY: I received some really great advice on increasing productivity and avoiding the dreaded writer’s block. Such advice was especially good for me as I occasionally get suffer from writer’s block. Well, maybe not blockage so much as my mind tends to wander to other stories and I get things mixed up. Then I have to spend time reorienting myself to the correct story so I can move forward. Basically they suggest that you always stop at a point where you know what scene you’re writing next – this keeps you from psyching yourself out. This makes a lot of sense, so I’ve been using it a lot.

 

BUSINESS CARDS: According to the powers that be, these are a must! Several authors asked for mine when I mentioned I was working on my second novel, but I had nothing to give. I wrote my information down on scrap paper, their convention programs and the back of their business cards, but all for naught. None followed through and reached out, likely because the things I wrote on were easily lost. A nice, clean business card could’ve prevented that and netted me valuable contacts and resources for the future. Instead I am left with a missed opportunity, though not a wasted one since I learned from it. I even received a lecture about these missed opportunities to spread the word about the Human Legion Universe. The anonymous author felt that my loss was SOLELY due to my lack of business cards filled with my contact information.  To be fair though, I didn’t follow through either, which I should’ve done and will do going forward.

 

EDITING: One of the biggest suggestions I came away with was not to edit mid-paragraph. Rather, they suggested waiting until the end of the novel before I went back and edited it. The presumption they were operating off of was that it was a waste of time since you don’t yet know what is important. When you fleshed out the more critical plot points, then you could more accurately target the errors. Also, fine tuning is a tedious process which will slow your word count. What I call ‘the machine gun method,’ where you use the time honored tradition of the ‘spray and pray.’ This is where you ‘spray’ the words on paper and ‘pray’ that the well of red ink dries before your editor is through with your story!!  If you want a good blog, written BY an editor for advice on such topic, click here and follow the link.

 

BOOK BLURBS: Some of the authors suggested making friends with some of the YouTube Book Bloggers to review your stuff. This would help you receive some initial critiques, allowing you to improve your text and raise visibility. This works because it spreads the word to your target audience, though you run the risk from bad reviews so send them final drafts that have been edited! Basically, anyone who has a voice that reaches your target audience should be approached about helping you.  Finding some way where you could help them in return wouldn’t hurt either!

 

INTERNET PRESENCE: According to just about every singe panelist at the convention, this was a must for life in today’s society. The experts in attendance recommended a focus on your blog on one or two topics/themes. This would help you practice your writing chops AND avoid doing the “Buy My Books” route favored by too many. Instead it was suggested that you provide other content to get readers in your door – while providing links to your books. One way of getting traffic to your blog is to write a list of interview questions for bigger authors and mail it to them. You would be asking them to respond so you could post on your blog. The benefit was that you get the association in a Google search, so a Stephen King interview means that your name and his could come up together in a Goggle Search. The benefit to the other author is that they get an open forum to control the narrative, while you receive some exposure. The mechanics of HOW you make sure to link the two isn’t my specialty, luckily I have ‘people’ to handle that aspect of things!!!  Another suggestion was to run contest on your blog where the prize is to have a secondary character in the book, named after you or you get to name some piece of equipment. Basically, fan involvement and connections. The fans get to be redshirt characters and participate in the creative process.  I’m unsure, and it wasn’t mentioned, of the legal considerations of using real people as characters in your novel and it is something I want to look into.  The people SAY they’re okay with things but you want to cover your backside for posterities sake.

 

WRITING GROUPS: The consensus was these groups are a mixed bag. They can be helpful, but you need to be wary of any groups which are more interested in ‘talking’ about being writers than actually ‘writing.’ Further, you can sometimes start to run into trouble as you get more serious about your writing since you might offend those for whom it is a hobby. Basically, if you are interested in pursuing writing as a career, join a group of like minded folk. If, however, writing is merely a private pleasure you should find a group with similar intent so that you can best meet each others needs. One thing they seemed to agree upon was that internet groups were not recommended. It was mostly about the lack of accountability in the way the groups were managed, but it is possible you could find an internet group that actually served its intended purpose, invalidating their cautionary tales. Like I said, they just felt that meeting in real time gives people more accountability for their actions.  While not a writing group, per say, I HAVE found the other WordPress bloggers to be encouraging so that might be an option.  Author Kim Chance has a blog where others can connect to find themselves critique partners which could be a route for you to consider.

 

HISTORICAL MINING: Finally, the various panels of authors felt that you should never forget that you shouldn’t forget to pull ideas for the future out of a shared knowledge of the past. Patterns repeat and can be adapted for futuristic space sagas. This is where my historian training could be a huge asset!! That, and my ability to research. While they didn’t cover this in relation to fantasy, or if they did I missed the panel as I focused on science fiction, the past could also serve as inspiration. If you doubt me, look up this wee phenomenon known as Game of Thrones! 😛

 

I know that this isn’t exactly profound, or even something that isn’t already known, I still figured I’d share it because it refreshed my own memories of the experience of attending RavenCon 2016! If you have any thoughts on these topics, feel free to comment below…. I look forward to hearing from you!