Aliens are Coming!

The aliens are coming!

Well, they’re sort of aliens and they are sort of coming…

To my Wattpad page.

My next Wattpad project is going to be the first season of The Galactic Consortium.

The Galactic Consortium

This is a sci-fi serial about first contact with an alien race, except they are not truly alien, rather Simian — from the same genetic line as humans. They arrive in space above us in the present day, announcing that they terraformed our planet, sent settlers (us presumably) and now they are back, ready to begin the exploration of our galaxy. What happened in the last forty thousand years, why we don’t know any of this, is a mystery.

The Girl in the Tank

My Working Cover*

My Working Cover*

Less than five months ago, lights appeared in the sky. Days later the ships started to arrive. They call themselves the Consortium. They are human, or at least Simian, descending from the same genetic line as humans. They terraformed this planet centuries ago, sent settlers a mere forty thousand years ago. Now they are back, ready to begin the exploration of this galaxy.

For Cheyenne Walker, Chief Petty Officer aboard the Cambridge, a USS destroyer, the arrival of the Consortium is just one more obstacle to finishing her final tour of duty and getting home to her kids. The political upheaval forces the US into an uneasy alliance with the Consortium against China, and puts the Cambridge on the edge of a nuclear blast.

Cheyenne wakes to find herself aboard the Corelean, a Consortium Medical Evacuation ship. Floating in a medi-tank, she wonders if they really can’t repair the wreck of her body, whether these newcomers are friends or foes and most importantly, will she ever make it back to children?

I will be posting on Sunday, Wednesday and Fridays. There are eight episodes, ranging from 12,000 words to 25,000 words. Each episode has it’s own storyline but they build on each other. Eventually this serial will be published on Amazon and elsewhere, but for now the only place to read it is on Wattpad. Enjoy this exclusive sneak peek.

*The above cover is a working cover. When I go to press I hope to have the funds to hire the wonderfully talented Aidana Willowraven.

Help me with this Blurb, Please

My next release, Children of a New Earth, is with my editor as I write this. Meanwhile I am working on the blurb and cover. I hope to have a cover ready to show soon. For the moment I could use some honest opinions about this blurb:

For nearly thirty years, since the collapse of society, Freedom Ranch has been self sufficient, hidden deep in the Rocky Mountains. Amy Beland has grown up hating the small valley settlement and the survivalist that run it. Now it will be up to her to save them all.

Journeying out of the mountains and into what is left of civilization, they discover that much of what they’ve been taught about the collapse is wrong. They don’t find the enemy they expect on the plains beneath their home, which is good because Amy suspects they may have brought a couple with them.

I know it’s not quite ready for print, but I am not sure what to do with it. Any comments or suggestions would be welcomed. Please and thank you.

Reviving an Old Manuscript with Scrivener

I said I would never be here with you again, not like this. I promised myself you and I are done. And yet I find myself here again. Sigh.

One Strange Utopia was the first novel I wrote all the way to completion. Before that I had dabbled, writing a few pages here and there. After that I was obsessed. That first novel is like your first love, for better or worse it is unique. There will never be a novel writing experience like it again.

Like your first love, your first novel is often rocky. You don’t know what you are doing or what to expect.

And often we look back at our first novel we often cringe. We made so many beginners mistakes. We can’t hardly believe we once thought this was the greatest novel ever.

The moment we realize our first novel isn’t perfect is the day we learn the value of rewrites. Rewrites are the real beautiful part of writing. Rewriting makes our story better. I rewrote One Strange Utopia a full ten times. Not just editing, full rewrites with scenes scrapped, new subplots, major facts altered. It was exhausting work.

I should also say at this point that I consider myself more of a storyteller than a writer. That is part of the problem with One Strange Utopia. Writing is a skill. It is not uncommon for writers to look back on their first novel and realize that its just plain crap. I almost envy those writers. Everytime I look at One Strange Utopia I see how much I have grown as a writer, how much is rough. But the underlying story keeps drawing me back. Beta-readers, critique groups and others who have read it, keep pestering me about it. It’s good enough, they tell me, to keep working on.

I swore I wouldn’t do it. Ten rewrites is enough. I might do some surface editing but no deep rewrites. And yet as I look at this novel again, it needs more work.

Luckily I haven’t just grown as a writer, I’ve gotten smarter. I’ve learned Scrivener.

Did you know that Scrivener can be used to rewrite old manuscripts?

 

A scrivener using Scrivener

Scrivener is an amazing program. It’s so flexible. There are just so many different ways to use Scrivener that just about anyone can use it, on just about any writing project.

Before we begin we need to prep the manuscript for import. You can do this after the fact as well, but I find it easier to do it before. I went through the entire manuscript and added hashtags (#) at each scene break.

 

Add hashtags

Once we have added our hashtags we can open Scrivener and start a new novel project for our manuscript. Once the project is open we go to import –> import and split. This will not only import the document into scrivener, it will divide the document at each hashtag into a separate scrivening.

Import and split

If you didn’t add hashtags, you can still split the document. Read through the document in Scrivener and at each scene break right click and select “split at selection” to divide the manuscript into scrivenings.

Why divide into scrivenings at all?

Scrivener is a great tool for rewrites. First we need to break the story into component bits. There are some strong advantages already. Got some scenes you aren’t sure about. With scrivener you can easily click and drag them outside the manuscript file. They won’t appear in your book. If you decide you do want those scenes later just drag them back in place. Makes it easy to play around with various subplots.

You can also rearrange scenes to improve the story flow, but let’s not do that just yet. There is something else I want to do first.

The Inspector Pane

The real power user features on Scrivener are mostly found on the right side of the screen, in the inspector pane. Beginners and writers writing original work can be content with the binder and task panes, but rewriting is another matter.

The first step in a major rewrite is to go through your old manuscript and do some planning. Project notes apply to the entire document and that is a great place to record general notes about what you hope to achieve in your rewrite.

The top of the inspector pane is the scene title and synopsis. It is possible to auto-generate a synopsis by clicking the button in the upper right corner. That will import the first few lines. That isn’t helpful to me. So I create a title and synopsis. These will show on the index cards in corkboard mode, making rearranging scenes later a snap.

The general tab just under the synopsis has some basic information about the document. I don’t use it a lot. The status field allows you to designate the document “to do” “first draft” or “revised” and can be helpful.

The bottom of the screen has the real cool stuff for re-writing. It can be toggled through a multitude of choices, many of which were designed with these sorts of heavy re-writes in mind.

Document notes apply only to that scrivening and can be used to record notes about what you want to change to re-write in that scene. References allow you to enter the URL for any research sites related to that piece. Keywords allows you to search by keyword. Custom Meta-data is a tool I use a lot. I set up custom fields for point of view character, major subplots, story elements and timeline markers. For example I can set up a custom field for “timeline” and record which events are a flashback and which are after the triggering event.

 

Planning the Re-write

Once you’ve set all that up I start through the document. As I read each scrivening I do several things at once. I use notes, in the inspector pane, and toggle between project notes and document notes to write down things I want to change.

If a new character or place is described I copy and paste those descriptions into a new character sheet or research folder. In this way I compile the same kinds of notes about characters and research I would for an original novel, without any re-writing of these notes.

 

Did you know the task pane can be split into two?

You can set the top pane to have the scrivening you are working in displayed and the bottom to have a character sheet, another quick way of recreating your notes in Scrivening. It can also be used to compare information between two scenes to make sure it’s all consistent.

Another thing I do while re-reading is to fill in the custom meta data I decided to use. I record whose point of view, where I am at in the timeline and any other story elements I want to use in my re-write.

When I am done with this initial re-read I have a compiled a wealth of information. I have recreated most of my character notes and research. I can inspect the custom meta data at a glance. I can see whose point of view predominants, which subplots are heavy and which are weakly covered.

The biggest challenge with re-writes is consistency. If you decide to change a key point in one place, it must change everywhere. That is where Scrivener comes in. Let’s say you decide that a character just doesn’t work. You have to do some major changes to that character. He has to be meaner, taller, more motivated, or perhaps he would work better as a she. Making the change means changing every single reference. The first step is to set up a custom meta data field for characters and then when you reread the project note every scene where that character occurs.

Timeline meta data works the same way. If you intend to move a lot of scenes around, you need to know where each scene fits in the storyline. Once a scene is moved, you need to be able to make sure that scene is not referred to before it happens. Believe me, readers will notice. Just like they notice when a character’s eyes change color or they go from being a huge man to a cute woman.

 

Then the Work Begins

Rewriting is a big chore make no mistake. Even with Scrivener there is a lot of work to do. What Scrivener does is to give you confidence. You can rewrite fearlessly and once. With your custom meta data and notes in hand you don’t have to worry about consistency, you know which scenes need rewritten and how.

The final Scrivener trick before you get started is snapshots. Snapshots create a copy of your current document for history. Select Document–>Snapshots–>take a snapshot to take a snapshot. You can see the snapshot in the inspector pane under the camera icon.

 

Take snapshot

Snapshots let you experiment with your scene, knowing you can revert back to the old manuscript at any time. So if you think the big black male character would work better as a spunky Latina woman, go for it. Use custom meta data to identify the scenes you need to change and snapshots to record them.

Scrivener is an incredible versatile program. Have you used Scrivener to plan rewrites? What tricks did you use? Let me know in the comments.

Update: The novel One Strange Utopia has now been released as Children of a New Earth

Ten Problems with Being a Werewolf

Being a Werewolf sounds cool but there are downsides, too.

Being a Werewolf sounds cool but there are downsides, too.

 

 

 

 

 

Being a shapeshifter sounds really cool, but as we see in the first Bear Naked book, there are downsides. What are the challenges that face modern day shifters?

1. Clothing

Wolf form is differently shaped and sized. Anything you are wearing is probably not going to survive the transition. That’s no big deal when you become a wolf, but it is kind of a big deal when you go back to human. How do you explain your sudden nudity? Not to mention the cost of constantly having to purchase new outfits.

2. Guns

Yeah, shifters are about the biggest bad asses out there. But put a forty five in the hands of a wimp and they can still blow a huge hole in your chest. That sucks.

3. Money

Being a werewolf is a lot of hard work, made harder by the fact that it doesn’t pay shit. Remember what Aaron Leidulf says, “you will always have to balance human needs and human society against wolf needs and society”

4. Humans kind of stink

Having a super sensitive nose is great when you need to track something in wolf form, but let’s face it, do you really want to smell the average human? I didn’t think so.

5. Raw meat

You can survive in wolf form if you need to, and that’s really awesome. But it means hunting and then eating your kill raw, and that is a lot less awesome.

6. Not telling

A lot of cool stuff happens to shifters, but they have to keep it to themselves. You can’t just go around blabbing.

Someone's pet wolf? Or Shapeshifter friend in disguise?

Someone’s pet wolf? Or Shapeshifter friend in disguise?

7. Being part of a pack

Being in a pack has a lot of upsides. Your pack brothers and sisters have got your back. You will never be lonely again. But there are downsides too. Don’t expect a lot of privacy. Or choice, the pack sticks together no matter what. You will spend the rest of your life living and working wherever the pack decides.

8. Pack Hierarchy

Have you noticed that most Shapeshifter fantasies are told from the point of view of the alphas? Why is that? Maybe because being one of the betas or worse still, the omega, isn’t nearly as much fun.

9. Other Werewolves

Wolves are territorial by nature and they don’t all play nice. So get out there and defend your territory.

10. Bears are still bigger

Werewolves are about the biggest badasses out there. But they aren’t the biggest badasses. That spot is reserved for Bear Clan.

What do you think are the downsides of being a werewolf? Do they outweigh the benefits, or not? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

And if you haven’t checked out Bear Naked yet, here is the link.

 

What’s to come in 2014

As we all journey into 2014, here is a quick update on my writing progress and what is to come.

Bear Naked

Volume one of the Bear Naked saga is currently available for free on Storycartel if you are interested in checking out the series. If you are coming to this blog late and the promotion is past, don’t despair. I am eager to see as many reviews as possible of this novel, so send me a quick email and I will probably be glad to get you a copy in return for an honest review.

Bear Naked 2: Wolf Camp

Is well on it’s way. I am working on draft five now. What does that mean? Check here for how I write novels. The short answer is this, it will be ready for my editor within a week or two. The cover designer is back after a short hiatus with the company. She is already hard at work on a cover that matches the first one beautifully. We are not quite ready for a big reveal, but the samples I have seen are gorgeous.

I hope to have Wolf Camp released into the wild this spring sometime.

There is a five book story arc at work in the Bear Naked series. Bear Naked 3: The Hunter and the Hunted currently exist in the form of some scrivener notes. Hopefully I can write that this spring and summer. I hope to release that in the fall some time.

Other Novels

What else is coming down the pipeline? The Mage Chronicles, an epic fantasy set in the world of the Gilded Empire is virtually finished and waiting for editing. The hold up, its nearly twice as long as anything I have published so far. Freelance editing is by the page or by the word, and either way, it’s not cheap. I am waiting to see how sales and personal finances fare before making more certain plans for this novel.

By popular demand of beta readers and friends, my first novel, a post apocalyptic science fiction novel, is back on the docket. I will be rewriting One Strange Utopia this spring and getting it ready for editing.

Rachel Eliason

My other pen name has a busy year ahead of her as well. I have a contemporary YA novel that is virtually ready to go. I am quibbling over the title now, there are titles similar to the working title “Country Girl” and I am trying to find something more unique.

I am planning on releasing another contemporary YA this summer in honor of pride. Rosie and the Slenderman, the story of a gay youth forced to move to a small town to help care for his demented grandmother, is nearly completed and ready for editing.

I am part of a local critique group and they are helping me get my first memoir in order. This one, The Agony, The Ecstacy and the Buddha, One woman’s month in Thailand having a sex change, is slowly coming together.

With four novels and numerous short stories out under at least three different pen names, I will have plenty of marketing and promotions to do as well. Still with what I have in the pipeline I can confidently plan to publish at least four new novels this year.

For long standing readers and fans, what would you like to see me explore? Have you heard me mention a work in progress and thought, I wish she’d hurry up and finish that. If so, leave a comment.

Ten Reasons Why You Should Write Book Reviews

Having a new book out now, I thought it might be a good time to hint about reviews. Here are ten simple reasons why you should write book reviews.

  1. It helps the author sell books. Reviews generate buzz, buzz sells books. Let’s face it, most authors have day jobs and have to squeeze writing in around their work lives. If you want to see more books from your favorite author, give them a hand and write them a review.

  2. It helps author get better. Writers work in a vacuum. They spend months laboring over a piece of writing without any feedback. But the only way to improve is to get feedback. Good reviews, reviews that are honest and fair, provide excellent feedback. Several of the reviewers of my first novel said it had too many typos. They were right. I went back and proof read it again and now it’s much cleaner.

  3. It helps other readers. Point your fellow readers towards books they might like. Particularly helpful are reviews that say things like, “If you liked blank, you might like this.”

  4. Pay it forward. You’ve probably been helped by a review. I know I have. When I am on the fence about a book I will read the reviews. They’ve pointed me towards good books many times.

  5. It’s easy. It’s not a book report. You don’t have to stress over your reviews. “I liked it and if you like mysteries you probably will too” is fine.

  6. It helps web sites. Amazon.com, Goodreads, smashwords, they all have some logarithm that decides which books to put in front of which readers. Their computers use reviews, ratings and people with similar reading/browsing history to make those selections. Make those selections more accurate by rating and reviewing purchases from time to time.

  7. It will help you. Those same logarithms determine what you see when you shop for a new book. Writing honest reviews and giving fair ratings means it is more likely that you will see books you are actually interested in the next time you shop.

  8. It’s like being in a giant book club. Critics often accuse the internet of creating separation, but often it brings people together. Sharing reviews on Goodreads and other social media opens the door to discussing books you really like, or discussing why you don’t like the latest best seller.

  9. Have a voice. Our culture is nothing more than a collection of shared beliefs and ideas. It is created by individuals, and yet many individuals end up feeling controlled by their culture. I think it’s because most of us don’t how we each contribute to the collective ideology we call culture. Well, here is one way. Talking about the books that matter to us is like voting on a piece of our culture. Which books will be remembered in a hundred years? Those that people read and talked about.

  10. It gives you something new to share on social media. A lot of us spend a lot of time on Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, you name it. If you just want to lurk, that’s fine. But if you really want to get noticed on social media, be a power user, you have got to share. But what do you have to share? How about a book review?