World Building Wednesday: Background Noise

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Hey Space Cadets, hope everyone is doing awesome!  I’ve finished my short stories and am outlining my fourth novel in the Sleeping Legion Series today.  Should be a barrel full of laughs, if by barrel you mean massive body counts.  And if by laughs, you mean manically!  Operation Breakout was high action and Maternal Vengeance will kick it up a notch!  Speaking of high octane, the

 

ddshort story I’m co-writing with Corey D. Truax will be kick ass as well!  Can’t wait to be able to share it with you, but until then let’s rise above that noise and get on with it!

 

For today’s World Building Wednesday, we shall talk about background noise.  See what I did there in that last paragraph?  LOL!!  Okay, in all seriousness I wanted to talk about the use of background noise in your writing.  Nothing too long and drawn out, just a brief discussion.  I’m personally split on this one.  With the use of my Dragon to dictate I can’t have background noise, but I don’t write with just the Dragon.  I still write some scenes the ‘old fashion way,’ especially the more nuanced or complicated ones.  For these scenes, I pick my music to help me create a mood.

 

So, for generic scenes I’m struggling with I like to use playlists of ambient sounds to keep my mind actively engaged.  Nature sounds, campfires and the like.  I’ve also found a few science fiction based ambient noise sites to help get me in the mood for my genre fiction. Sometimes, if I’m feeling lonely I’ll listen to a coffee shop or library soundtrack for my ambient noise.  I will also listen to classical music and any other instrumental to keep the hamster spinning on his wheels.  One place where I found a collection of mood setting sites was on author Kim Chance‘s blog.  Check it out for some really helpful links.  And of course, there is YouTube.

 

When I just need intense emotions, I’ve been known to listen to music that gets the blood pumping.  Sweet beats, kick ass vocals, anything to set the stage for literary awesomeness.  Depending on the mood of the scene, I can listen to ballads, country, folk and anything else light.  When I want action and adventure, I’ll switch to rock-in-roll and heavy metal.  This works when writing the combat scenes, when you want the blood to boil and heads to roll.  Have you used any of these?  Do you have some good ambient noises to suggest?  Then throw a man a bone, leave a comment below!

 

 

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 images owned by JR Handley.

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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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World Building Wednesday: Technology Creation

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Hey Space Cadets, I hope everyone is doing great and voted in my friends Clash of the Covers contest!  I’m still working on the Four Horsemen Anthology and hit a bit of a time snag.  Try not to shudder, but I had to do something disgusting and unpleasant…. I filed my taxes today.  I know, I cried too, there’s no shame in it!  As for the next novel in the Sleeping Legion Series, well I’ll start outlining that this month and writing it as well. I will keep you posted on the progress as I try to bump up my production speeds!  Pulp glory here I come!

 

Now, on to my World Building Wednesday topic!!  Onward I say!  Today we talk about how I figure out the technology of my futuristic worlds.  Let’s start with your restrictions, which is especially important if you’re writing in someone else’s sandbox.  In Boss Man’s universe there is no such thing as FTL because science doesn’t think it is viable at the moment.  That doesn’t mean it is impossible, but because of the perceived improbability of this method, he decided against using it.  Other limitations imposed on your technological development might come from your subgenre; is it space opera, military science fiction or hard science fiction.

 

A famous example of how this played out would be from Star Trek, where they got around the limitations of science as we know it by using warp drive.  This used Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity.  He speculated that the speed of light in a vacuum will be the same from any frame of reference moving at a constant speed. I won’t go all technical (Translation, I don’t know all of it), but basically it showed that FLT wasn’t possible.  However, he speculated that you could instead bend space-time to traverse long distances in an expedited manner.  Then Mexican physicist, and SciFy Nerd, Miquel Alcubierre theorized it might actually possible, without violating the theories of his predecessors.  Way back in the dark ages of 1994!  I mean, they didn’t even have Facebook back then.  Or Myspace, for us old timers in attendance!  If you want to know more, click the links at the bottom of this post.

 

When I write science fiction in my own universe I plan on running with the theory Dr. Alcubierre gave us and traveling faster than light, if not in fact, then in deed.  So, now that you’ve considered your own limitations you need a starting point.  I tend to look at science and technology as we know it and then postulate where it might go in the distant future.  This is mostly guess work, lots of technical research and some good ole fashioned SWAG!  Not that kind of swag, but a scientific wild arse guess!  Okay, quasi scientific in my case but work with me here!  This does require you to know your world so you can have the end points, since the starting points would be today. 

 

How do I stay abreast, well I follow several science blogs that break it down for you Barney Style.  I’ll work on collating it for you as soon as I can.  Another way I use is to pick the brain of my father-in-law, a trained biologist and my dad who’s a mechanic who understands machines.  Then I made friends with people way smarter than I, and let them prevent me from looking like an idiot.  Well, more of an idiot than normal!

 

To recap, basically I do some research to know the limitations I’m starting with and then I guess where things might go in the future.  But that’s how I do it, what is your process?

 

 

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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Faster-Than-Light (FTL) Travel

Interstellar Travel

Warp Drive

World Building Wednesday: Pulp Speed Writing

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Hey Space Cadets, how’s everyone doing today?  I’m doing great, making progress towards finishing Operation Breakout this week and getting into the production cue for my editorial team.  When I know when we have a release date, you can bet I’ll let you know so let’s move on to more exciting topics.  Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of The Dead Robots Society Podcast because it has been very helpful for me.  The proprietors of that fine establishment are willing to bend over backwards to help, all you’ve gotta do is ask.  Preferably in the Facebook Forum! Why do I mention this?  Because it gave me the topic for today’s post.

 

Okay, so for today’s World Building Wednesday we are talking about pulp writing.  My goal when I started writing was to write genre fiction. I have no allusions that my work is high literature, or that it will ever be taught in a classroom setting. I am an unknown unashamed pulp writer, and all I want to do is tell entertaining stories. As quickly as I can, as often as I can.

 

Author, and one of our generations current pulp writers, Dean Wesley Smith defines pulp writers through several criteria.  You have to writes at least 1 million words a year, those words are words which are published. Obviously, if you run your own social media or blog you will write way more. But the only million words to count are ones that’re stories you sell. Another criterion of his was you have to write every day, for the entire year. I tend to like and agree with his approach.

 

But how does somebody do that?  Write so quick, published so much?  I know the first thing you have to do is adopt the Michael Anderle model.  You have what he calls a minimally viable product, which you get to market as quickly as you can.  What is a minimally viable product?  For me, or at least as I apply it on my own work, this means that I accept that the story is King.  I can’t obsess over every word, every sentence, or every paragraph.  At the end of the day, the stories keying in the rest is just details.  This means that when I finish a book, while I love the characters and the setting, I have to put it out of my mind and move on to the next story.  Because let’s face it, there’s always another story, another adventure waiting to happen.

 

 

Is this approach for everyone?  No, probably not, but writing, like life, is an individual journey.  I’ll save you the sappiness, and acknowledge that we walk that journey with friends and family, but in the end, we stand alone.  We are responsible for our actions, and ours alone. It’s a harsh reality that I learned in the Army, one that has followed me into my civilian life.  I think it was the sort of mentality which allowed our ancestors to face the unknown and wander into the sunset.  Maybe I’m wrong, only time will tell.  What about you, are you a pulp writer too?

 

 

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.

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Pulp Resources:

World Building Wednesday: Working With Nuance Dragon

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Hey Space Cadets, how’re you all doing today?  I’m doing great, not as consistent on my walks as I would like but the constantly changing temperature and rainy weather is playing heck on my sinuses.  I also made the excuse to myself that I needed to write because I’m behind on my book three goal but that strikes me as missing the forest for the trees.  I did manage to walk a mile today, which is progress.  I was tired, but I managed it in 29 minutes.  A far cry from my Army days but I’ll get better again.

 

I’ve slowed down on Operation Breakout, but I’ve re-committed to using my Nuance Dragon program to write it.  In the end, it will pay dividends for me even if it slows me down just a little bit.  Ultimately, you have to evolve your writing style to suit your needs.  I injured my hand in my infantry days and it’s been bothering me, which has slowed down my typing.  I’ve also changed how I write my novels over the course of two novels, a novella and a short story.  My writing style has grown and my process has evolved, but my inability to get it on the page quickly wasn’t keeping up.  This has forced me to adapt my approach to my new reality, ergo the Dragon text-to-speech approach. 

 

As I struggled to find a way to make it work for me, I consulted the Dragon Nuance Support Center for help.  I realized that part of the problem was that my older version of Dragon wasn’t interfacing as effectively with Windows 10 and the newest Microsoft Word. Because I have faith that I’ll make the Dragon work for me, I plopped down the $150 and bought the latest version. I didn’t have to pay full price, because they gave me a 50% discount for having the older version. The newer copy arrived on Monday, and I’ve been using it since.  I like that it doesn’t have the same issue with my Word document freezing that my older version had.  I’ve only used the latest version on a few blog posts so far, but I’m impressed.

 

I then started doing some active research on how to make the Dragon work better for me, not the “using it” part but the more practical applications of it.  I researched how to think the story out loud, and have my creativity become a verbal process instead of fingers clacking on the keyboard.  During this process, I ran across Scott Baker’s YouTube channel.  It has loads of great advice in there on how to practically use several of the Dragon’s features.  Additionally, I found the Dragon Riders – Authors Dictating group on Facebook which was jampacked with helpful posts and practical tips (Thank you Terry Mixon for showing me this group!).  If this sounds like something you’re interested in, be sure to check out both of these resources.

 

Finally, I recently found out that Scott Baker has a book coming out soon on how to work the Dragon into your creative process.  He’s been pretty helpful on the Dragon Riders group so I’ll be buying this when it comes out and I’ll let you know what I think.  Otherwise, I don’t want to take up too much of your time, so I’ll keep this post short and sweet.  Instead, I’ll leave you with some cool pictures of dragons!

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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 images owned by JR Handley.

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World Building Wednesday: Personal Health

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Hey Space Cadets, I hope everyone is surviving the snow which has blanketed most of the United States.  For those of you not in the States, well we hope you survived too!  The Sleeping Legion Series books are doing well, and I’m continually amazed by that fact.  I’m halfway through writing book three and hope to have it to the editor by the end of the month.  I’m still excited about this project, and the next two afterwards so never fear I’ll disappear and leave you hanging!

 

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So for today’s World Building Wednesday I’ve decided to talk about something that acts as a companion to your writing plan.  Today I want to talk about our health, there is a proven medical correlation between physical health and mental agility.  I’m not going to lie, the Army over prescribed me cortisone shots while I was deployed to keep me the field.  They continued this as I transitioned into the VA (Veterans Administration) for my medical care.  The excess cortisone combined with decreased physical activity due to my injuries resulted in my gaining weight.  Lots of it.  While my body was wounded and no longer as active as I wanted it to be, my lifestyle choices didn’t keep up.  I kept drinking and eating like I was still running 5 miles a day, though given the delicious microbrews available these days, can you blame me?

 

A quick side tangent; unlike my misinformed Boss Man, I drink my beer in a cold frosty mug as God intended it to be drunk.  Those wacky Brits seem to think we should drink beer warm!  I mean, didn’t anyone go over to the island and tell them we had refrigeration?  Next, they’re going to tell me they still cook with fire, instead of on the stove.  Sigh, it’s a shame but I shall continue to persevere with my 5-Step Plan to educate him on the ways of the beer world.  Wish me luck!

 

Okay, rant over… and now we resume your regularly scheduled programing!  Since I started tracking my daily word counts, I noticed a trend.  On the mornings where I got an early start with a walk, my writing improved.  My neurologist tells me this is because blood flow, oxygen levels, as well as other medical sounding stuff that I didn’t even bother remembering.  Due to this insight, and the knowledge that I can’t keep writing if I let myself spiral into an early grave, I’ve decided that 2017 is the year of the healthier me.  I might never fit back into my Class A’s, but I can get down to a place where my doctors and wife aren’t worried.  I’m 5’9” and weigh in at 341 pounds, this can’t continue.  I promised I’d still be writing when my youngest son is older.  He has it in his head that he’ll write a book with me someday.  To do that, I have to turn this ship around.

 

And I shall, because my kids are worth it.  As writers, we tend to spend a lot of solitary time in front of our monitor clacking away on our keyboards.  This lifestyle of professional daydreaming can lend itself to inactivity and general unhealth.  Let us all endeavor to turn that around so that we might live longer and write more.

 

We can do it.  We HAVE to.

 

 

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 owned by JR Handley.

 

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World Building: Book Dictation

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Hello Space Cadets, today I bring you another World Building Wednesday.  This one will be about my use of the Dragon Dictation Software to write.  I hurt my hand while I served in the Army, the infantry school combative classes aren’t anything to sneeze at.  Right now, it alternates between being fine, tingling numbness and no feeling in two fingers on my left hand.  I can type now, but if I want to think long term as an author I need alternatives.  Hence audio dictation.

 

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Since I struggle to overcome the limitations of my injuries, I went looking for answers.  It was suggested that I might benefit from using audio dictation software to write, so I started researching.  I went on to purchase the Dragon Pro software, bought a decent microphone (Blue Yeti) and plowed forward towards that goal.  The program is very intuitive and easy to use, however, I’ve found that actually dictating my books to be harder than I imagined.  Towards that end, I’ve bought a few books on the subject, which I will try to write about later.  I also read this insightful article about audio narration by the ATMAC group.  They’re a group dedicated to helping people overcome their disabilities with technology, though they seem to advocate for Apple specifically.  While reading the ATMAC ideas, I took them all with a grain of salt but loved the individual ideas so why not.  I hope that it helps you as much as it helped me!

 

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Now that we’ve talked about what we have, let me tell you about how I use narration.  First, I use them to get my handwritten notes, outlines and other supporting documents because they’re mostly bullet points and brief ideas of the progression of the story.  Then I use the program to get the basic structure of the scene written.  Afterwards, I’d revert to the traditional method of typing to clean it up.  Ideally, I would like to get to the point where I could use the program exclusively but I’m a narrator in progress.  My narration hero, Monica Leonelle, is able to crank out over a novel a month using this method.  Someday I’ll get there, but I’m not there yet.  Dramatic sigh, someday.

 

Finally, let me pass on some of the advice on dictating that I was given.  Everyone will tell you that it’s difficult at first but it is a skill you can learn and they’re correct.  I’m constantly getting better and it helped sustain my word count during NaNo when time was short and I was behind.  First, to do narration well you should probably outline the scene before you get started.  Some people will call this your beat, or beating out your scene.  I just call it an outline, but whatever you call it, they help.  Another thing I did at first was writing the scene by hand and then reading it out loud to the microphone.  I found that once I was in the groove, I would be able to keep going past what I’d written by hand.  Not where I want to be, but I’m getting ever closer.

 

I hope this gave you some insight into my process and motivated you to consider the audio narration process.  If you do, pop back by and let’s talk about it!

 

 

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 owned by JR Handley.

   

1.      Dictation: Dictate Your Writing – Write Over 1,000,000 Words A Year Without Breaking A Sweat!

2.      Dragon NaturallySpeaking For Dummies, 4th Edition

3.      5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter (Volume 1)

4.      The Productive Author’s Guide To Dictation: Speak Your Way to Higher (and Healthier!) Word Counts

5.      The Writer’s Guide to Training Your Dragon: Using Speech Recognition Software to Dictate Your Book and Supercharge Your Writing Workflow

6.      Dictate Your Book: How To Write Your Book Faster, Better, and Smarter