Friday, December 4, 2015

Come In

As I came to the edge of the woods, 
Thrush music -- hark! 
Now if it was dusk outside, 
Inside it was dark. 

Too dark in the woods for a bird 
By sleight of wing 
To better its perch for the night, 
Though it still could sing. 

The last of the light of the sun 
That had died in the west 
Still lived for one song more 
In a thrush's breast. 

Far in the pillared dark 
Thrush music went -- 
Almost like a call to come in 
To the dark and lament. 

But no, I was out for stars; 
I would not come in. 
I meant not even if asked; 
And I hadn't been. 

Robert Frost

Sunday, May 31, 2015

A fond farewell

Despite my endless talent for missing deadlines, I wrapped up the final chapters of Beyond the Gates of Övrigmark and posted them to JukePop. It was with a mix of exhilaration and apprehension that I wrote the conclusion to the story. The last few chapters were amazingly fun to write, but I was also reticent to type 'The End.' I've been writing this story off and on for more than a few years now, and I've grown quite fond of the characters. Of course, if you read the ending, you'll notice that I left a rather large hint about the next book in the series. In fact, I actually told you the name of the next book in the series, and no, I'm not going to tell you the title here. You'll just have to pop over to JukePop and see for yourself.

Now that the first story is complete, I'll be going back and rereading it in its entirety to see where I can strengthen the work. The thing about writing serials is that you often start in one place with the mind of going in a certain direction, and then by some happy accident, you end up in another place altogether. I'm sure there are a few loose threads that I didn't completely tie up, and now that I've seen the characters through a range of mishaps and setbacks I've learned a lot about their actual character. In addition to that, I have some great ideas for the second story that I'd like to get down before I move onto my next project. Yes, I'll be saying a fond farewell to the wondrous land of Övrigmark for a time while I concentrate on the follow up to The Sixth Seal, but rest assured I'll come back to her in due time.

Övrigmark holds a special place in my heart. I first began writing it as a gift to my sister after the loss of our grandfather. And even though there is always a disclaimer at the beginning of fiction novels, many of the characters are based on actual people. Alexander was meant to be a reflection of a much younger me, and Hanna is, of course, my sister. Uncle Charles is none other than our grandfather Charles, and Princess Anna is based on our mother. I wrote the character of Isabella with our grandmother Ginny in mind, and Astrid, the wise and powerful unicorn, is an homage to my dear aunt Maggie, who left this world too soon. Unfortunately I'm such a dreadfully slow writer that I was never able to hand my sister a completed work in a timely fashion. The terrible grief of his passing has given way to melancholy and fond remembrances, but I'll always remember the story as an old friend who helped me get through the difficult times. Hopefully my intentions will bring a smile to her face when she reads the dedication I'll be adding to the final print version. Maybe I'll even finish it before Christmas, but you know me and deadlines.

I wanted to do something special to mark the completion of the serial version of the story, so I made a new cover that I think better captures the spirit of the story. I imagine the print version will look a bit different, but Astrid will still feature prominently on the cover. Anyway, here it is in all of its shiny glory. Leave a comment and let me know what you think, and if you haven't read the story because you were waiting for me to finish it, there's no time like the present to get started.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Deadlines, shmedlines...

Like all great writers, I've missed a deadline. I don't think you can legitimately call yourself a writer unless you miss at least a few. What was it that Douglas Adams said? Ah, I remember...

"I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by."

Well, at least my deadline was self imposed, and probably not many people even knew about it at that. In which case, I've just blathered on incessantly about something which very few people actually care about. Sounds pretty much like a typical day for me.

Anyway, the aforementioned missed deadline I am referring to is the final installment of my serial on JukePop, Beyond the Gates of Övrigmark. This past Thursday was its two year anniversary, and I had fully intended to post the last chapter before midnight on that day. I didn't turn into a pumpkin, so I guess it's no big deal, and on the bright side, the imaginary deadline did spur me into action. In fact, it gave me a much needed kickstart and fostered a renewed enthusiasm for the work. So much enthusiasm that I added a few more scenes to the last act of the story than I'd originally intended. So, instead of a total of 42 chapters, it will probably end somewhere around chapter 45.

Astute, and longtime readers of the series, may notice that the last several chapters have been much longer than previous chapters, so you're getting even more for your money. And since the serial is completely free, that's a fantastic bargain. How can you ever repay me you ask? (Just humor me, and pretend you asked) Well, if you've really enjoyed the story, you could go to JukePop and give each chapter a plus vote. Beyond the Gates has only been in the top thirty once or twice, but it would sure be nice to go out with a bang, a last hoorah if you will...even if you won't in fact.

All kidding aside, the last few weeks of writing have been a blast. The words have been pouring out of me, and I've been editing the chapters and posting them as fast as I can. I realize that means the story isn't as polished as I'd like, but the faster I get it out and fulfill my obligation to complete it, the faster I can work on getting it properly edited, checked for consistency, and possibly even expand on it a bit. I'd eventually like to turn it into a printed book with lovely illustrations and maps of each of the worlds. I'm also thinking of creating an interactive version of the book for the iPad, but that will have to wait until I get a few other projects done first.

So I'll get back to writing now. I just wanted to let you know why I missed my deadline, and that I'll be setting a new one. The last chapter of Beyond the Gates will* post by the end of the month.

* Disclaimer - the word will in this particular instance may actually mean should or possibly probably.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Beyond the Gates of Övrigmark is coming up on its second anniversary at JukePop Serials. It was accepted for publication at the site on May 14th, 2013. While I’ve had a marvelous time writing the story and sharing it chapter by chapter with readers, I feel it’s time to wrap up the story and bring it to its triumphant conclusion.

The story is up to chapter thirty-six on JukePop, but I’ve written a detailed outline all the way to the end, and chapter thirty-seven is ready to be uploaded. Barring any last minute changes (or uncooperative characters), there will be forty-one chapters in all. My plan is to have the remaining chapters written and uploaded before the anniversary rolls around, with the final chapter going live on the day of the anniversary. I have no desire to stretch out the chapter releases any further to remain eligible for JukePop’s top thirty. As it is, this story has only made it in once, and I’d much rather give my loyal readers the payoff they deserve.

I’m truly appreciative of those who have followed the story from the beginning and have offered their support and encouragement. It is one of the main reasons I continue to write (that and all of the voices in my head). One day, when I manage to edit the story as a cohesive whole and publish it as a novel, I’ll send signed copies to those original fans. Don’t get too excited though, that day will likely be quite some time off. Not because I don’t love the world of Övrigmark (trust me, it is my most beloved creation, with the exception of my two lovely daughters, and truth be told that was a joint effort), rather, I really need to get serious about finishing book two of the Protectors series. Ana Eloise still has a world (or maybe two) of adventure ahead of her, and she’s been getting increasingly insistent that I get back to work on her story.

Beyond the follow up to The Sixth Seal, I have a really great idea for a dystopian mystery series set in a future North America where Canada has stepped in to take control of the United States and bring back some semblance of order over the recently ravaged country. It will feature a quirky and conflicted Detective Superintendent as well as his outspoken and strong-willed junior detective fresh out of the academy. I’ve already written much of the background material and character bios, and I’m desperately eager to start writing the first mystery in the series, tentatively called, Wind Worn. I have ideas for at least five books in the series. They will be fast-paced, but engaging and enjoyable and fairly quick reads coming in around the 60,000 to 80,000 word mark.

Since these books will be in a completely different genre, I’ll be writing them under a pen name. Well, not really a pen name in the standard sense, I’ll just be dropping my last name and using my first and middle name only. It’s not that I’m not proud of my last name, I am, it just doesn’t fit very well on a book cover. I think Joshua Brann is short and punchy enough to be a proper mystery writer name. I’ll continue to use my full name for my science fiction and fantasy works since I already have a following under that name, and yes, five people can be considered a following.

I want to write at least five of the mysteries, but I can’t realistically get started until I finish Beyond the Gates’ run at JukePop, and finish book two of the Protectors. The Protectors will be a trilogy, but I’m sure I won’t be able to hold off on the mysteries before I’ve managed to finish the other two books.

If by some miracle (or ridiculously gargantuan amount of work) I do manage to get all of these things accomplished, I plan to revisit the world of Övrigmark and continue the adventures of Alexander and Hanna. I already have a rough outline for book two, and there are plenty of jotted notes and ideas for book three.

They say (although nobody knows who exactly) a writer needs to write a million words before they’re truly competent or before they find their voice. I certainly haven’t reached that benchmark yet, but I’m hoping that a renewed dedication to writing on a regular basis will put me on the path. If I could manage to stick to a goal of one-thousand words per day (excluding the occasional day of rest), it would be perfectly within my capability to write a novel every three months, at least the first draft of one at any rate. Factor in editing and revision and formatting, and there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to publish two books per year. By my calculations, that means I have enough writing projects to keep me busy for the next five years.

Guess I’d better quit rambling, and get back to it.

P.S. – I wonder if this 858 word blog post counts toward my million words. I’m thinking yes :)