Exciting news!!!!!

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I’m lifting my head above the writing and publishing trenches for a few moments to share some exciting news about an imminent new Sleeping Legion book launch, a new audiobook deal, and more. If you follow JR Handley’s blog, you’ll already know about a novellete he’s been working on called No Marine Left Behind. Well,…

via No Marine Left Behind: a new Sleeping Legion novelette — The Human Legion

World Building Wednesday: Cover Art

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Hey Space Cadets, how are you doing today?  Things are good here, the interview with The Dead Robots Society Podcast went well.  As soon as I know when it’s going to go live, I’ll spread the word.  I tried not to sound like too much of an idiot, but you’ll have to be the judge of that.  And on the writing front, I’m half way done with my short story for the Four Horsemen Anthology.  I’ve also started the outline process for book four, which we’re tentatively titling Maternal Vengeance.  I don’t know the date book three, Operation Breakout, will go live but I’ll keep everyone posted.

 

Now, on to today’s World Builder Wednesday!  Today we talk about cover designs!  I’m no expert, and I’m actually colorblind, so this is a hard one for me.  My friends Corey and MLS Weech are actually much better at this part, so you should check them out if you want an expert opinion on the topic!  To my way of thinking, there are several steps you have in picking the cover for your next best seller, and I’m sure I’m missing a few. So rather than tell you this is the way, let me just say that this was my way. That’s right, the Burger King of cover designs.

 

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The first step in picking out a cover was to figure out my genre, since I know each genre and subgenre have their own idiosyncrasies.  Once I knew where my book would fall in the pantheon of fictional greatness, it was a simple matter of looking at other well received covers in that genre.  I found out what expectations they created, trying to get a general feel for my own design.  This step is the most dangerous, as you could spend hours drooling over art and lose yourself so completely that your wife and kids send out the hounds and form a search party.  Be warned, never browse covers alone!  Seriously, that’s my PSA for the day!!  Don’t do it, you’ve been warned!

 

Once I knew what I wanted, overall, I started to figure out designs for my own book.  How could I come up with a cover for my own book that fit within this niche?  You want to do two things; show your reader what type of book they’re getting, and not create false expectations of your own book. You don’t want pictures of spaceships on your novel if they’re planet bound.  Nor would your cover have some half naked beefcake if you’re writing lesbian erotica.  The cover HAS to show the potential reader what they’re likely to find inside.  For me, this meant considering the overall theme of the book and scenes from within it.  How you choose to go about it is largely dependent on the book you write, but you have to have a starting point for any potential artist you hire.

 

After you pick the general idea you want for this masterpiece, you begin the second most dangerous part; browsing the portfolios of cover artists.  This is another phase that can suck you in, and still your soul.  You could lose days, weeks, maybe even years rousing the artistic awesomeness of the various cover designers out there.  Don’t be that guy, be disciplined and direct.  After all, you have to get this done an expedited manner so you can write the next great American novel there’s always more books to write, so you can’t afford to get sucked into the outer trappings.  I was lucky for this stage, I had another author, Chris Kennedy, lend me his cover designer.  He made it easy by serving as the middleman, but I know this will always be the case and don’t need to learn to stand on my own.  My advice, at least for finding good cover artists, is to start searching now so when you’re ready you just have to reach out.  And find several you like, as you never know when they’ll be available.

 

Just to show you an example of my process for my pending short story, “No Marine Left Behind.”  This story tells Sashala’s journey during Phase Guinshrike of Tim C. Taylor’s Renegade Legion, into Lance’s world in Fortress Beta City.  For this story, I told the artist to give me space Marine’s in bad assed power armor.  I wanted them to be in some burning woods after a shuttle dropped them off, and I wanted the dying Beta City in the background.  This is the progression of the art in question.  Hopefully this helps clear up my muddy explanation of the process!  If not, least you get pretty pictures!!

 

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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 or are screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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Marine Monday: Tirunesh Nhlappo

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Hey Space Cadets, how’re you doing today?  I’m doing good, coming down from my editing high.  Corey and I just spent four hours reading through the first 14 chapters of Operation Breakout, with another longer session planned for tomorrow to get through to chapter 30.  Tomorrow I also have an interview with The Listeners of the Dead Robot Society, one of my favorite podcasts!  I’ll share before it goes live, though I won’t know the exact date right away.  And I’ll try not to look too much like an idiot, I promise!!  Finally, I’ve made good progress on my submission for the Four Horsemen Anthology.

 

Now, on to today’s Marine Monday!  For today’s chat let’s talk about what was leaked to me by our friendly neighborhood LegionLeak source!  We have the official bio of Field Marshal Tirunesh Nhlappo.  Now the important parts!  Remember, destroy this message after reading it so the anonymous source can live long enough to continually feed us excellent intelligence!  Without further ado, here is the leaked document!

Nhlappo 1Nhlappo 2Nhlappo 3

 

Hopefully you enjoyed this sneak peek into our favorite bad assess official dossier.  If you did, stay tuned for next week as we anxiously wait for the latest documents smuggled our way!  And if you wanna drop a little into the LegionLeaks tip jar, they wouldn’t mind one bit!

 

 

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 or are screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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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.