About Writers, book promotion, inspiration, reading, Research, Uncategorized

Building the Legend

One SheetG.D. Deckard, the fun loving maniac, asked me to write a post about Legends Parallel. That’s a comic book I write, in case you didn’t know. And I will. But first, since this is a blog, I’d like to start with a story.

On June 13th I was at a meeting for the stakeholders in Chicago’s upcoming Juneteenth event. Juneteenth, a/k/a June 19th, is the anniversary of when slaves in Texas finally found out they were free. Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation became law. It’s a big deal in urban areas. The mayor will be there along with other luminaries. And me. I’ll be there promoting my web design business and selling copies of Legends Parallel. Which led to the following fun moment in my life.

Joan Hollingsworth, a force of nature and head of the committee, announced I would be there selling “adult comics.” She made that pronouncement because this comic series is rated “M for Mature.” It gets that rating due to language, sexual activity, violence, use of college level science, and some seriously adult themes. It hits racism and class warfare pretty hard and the LGBTQ community is represented throughout. Combined, it’s not for kids. But, it’s also not porn. After a brief explanation of the ratings we all had a good laugh and went back to work.

The elevator pitches for Legends Parallel vary based on the audience I’m facing. If it’s a general audience I go with “A man, his mom, and her lover, have to save the world. No one said this shit would be easy.” If I’m around college kids, or in a library, I run with “Just in case you thought quantum physics wasn’t violent, or sexy, enough, we fixed that.”

We use them both online.

Back in 2016 Brian Daniel, owner of Hadithi Sambamaba the company that publishes Legends Parallel,  reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in taking a series of unrelated characters and writing them all into a single story. And, boy howdy, were they unrelated. There were, also, about forty of them. Far too many for anything coherent. After a lot of back and forth we settled on a few characters and a basic story.

I began writing. I wrote words, used punctuation, checked my grammar, declared them all worthy, and sent my efforts to Dorphise Jean, author of Spirit’s Destiny and editor for Hadithi Sambamba. She sent them back, shredded and bloody. You see, I’d written a decent script for a movie, or TV show, but not for a comic. The skills are almost diametrically opposed to each other.

She took pity on the idiot she’d been handed and sent me several examples of properly formatted scripts.

A sample example of my errors. You can write “Bob walks to the window” in a movie script. But that makes no sense in a comic. There are too many ways the artist can interpret the instructions, which leads to confusion. So, instead, you need something like this; “Bob, mid motion, walking towards the open window, P.O.V. from behind Bob, the visible light in the window reveals that it’s dusk outside, there are curtains gently blowing.” This is after you have already set the scene by describing the room, in detail, what Bob is wearing, in detail, and so on.

I learned a lot.

I recommend any writer take a shot at writing a comic book script. Even if it never sees the light of day, they will learn a lot about how to set, and relate, a scene.

Back to Legends Parallel.

After the scripts I wrote passed muster for Dorphise Brian began assembling a team. Sherry Vanilla Hardy, owner of V.Yi.P. modeling agency, arranged for some of her models to be used as the basis for the characters. That was important since the artist, Leslie Tejlor, lives in Hungary and wasn’t well versed in drawing black people.  There aren’t many, as in almost zero, there for him to use for reference. Alexander Malyshev, the artist who is famous for his work on the Russian movie series “Guardians,” did the covers.

By late May the first issue was off to the printer.

I built a basic website and we started sending out copies, digitally and on paper stock, for review.

And we waited. And prayed. And drank. Sometimes contemporaneously.

And reviews started coming in. Good ones. From podcasts, well known blogs, and other creators.

As time went on we upgraded our website, released issue #2, signed a national distribution, and IP development, deal with Nerdanatix, and began finding fans. Lots of them.

Legends Parallel isn’t an easy story to wrap your head around initially. It tells the story of Tom Hill, billionaire inventor who inherited a super suit, and multi-national company, from his dad. His dad’s dead at the beginning of the book but his memory lingers on. One of the things his company has discovered is that the multiverse, first posited by Hugh Everett III in the 1950’s, is real and there are five earths which support human life. This discovery is the underlying premise for the whole series. Each earth has its own stories, its own legends, and they are eventually doomed to collide. Tom and, the only person he truly trusts outside his family, Arumar Singh, try and keep everything controlled.

If that worked I wouldn’t have a story, so you know that much now.

Tom’s mom, Sage Hill, wore the suit and used it to fight crime but, now, she’s in her 50’s and getting too old for that kind of lifestyle. Alicia Yang, Sage’s assistant and lover, knows all the family secrets and is a force to be reckoned with all on her own.

Lastly there’s Stacy Lord, a powerful metahuman (a new breed of human that has been appearing more often lately) who Tom keeps calling Sassy, which becomes an ongoing joke in the series. There are a couple more people on the “good guys’ side” but these give you a basic idea.

On the other side are Oshun, a beautiful assassin and thief who is a mistress of toxins. Her henchman Bes, a metahuman dwarf with a twisted sense of humor. Jack of Spades, a charismatic killer who has a windsock for a moral compass. And Ms. Vin. An ancient metahuman who’s back story plays out over the series.  All she wants to do is rule everything and kill anyone who opposes her. Oh, and she controls a device, called the Gorgon’s Gate, which allows her to visit any of the five earths at will.

You kind of have to pay attention as you read or you’ll get hopelessly lost. Yet another reason it earned an “M” rating.

Issue #3 is in the capable hands of Leslie and we’ll be doing a Kickstarter for issue #4 just so we can get fans some of the cool stuff we’ve been hoarding.

If you want to know more just head over to our website and have fun. There’s neat stuff you can buy, links to the comics, and tidbits about everyone involved. Consider it your one stop shopping mall for all things related to Legends Parallel.

This has been an amazing amount of work but it has led to me working on numerous other titles, and meeting some incredibly talented creators from all over the world. On my Twitter page I say that I have an odd past and an unknown future. All true and I wouldn’t trade it for any of the worlds I’ve discovered.

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About Writers, book promotion, book sales, Research, self-publishing, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Kindle Unlimited

That is, is it worth it to the Author?
Kindle Unlimited (KU) is a subscription service. With Kindle Unlimited, customers can read as many books as they like and keep them as long as they want for a monthly subscription fee.

Author Jon Cronshaw recently asked the question, “Is there anything (beyond the usual wide versus KU debate) that makes wide or KU better?

Author Brian Meeks responded, “That’s a really good question. I’m not sure I can speak to your genre, but I do have some thoughts.

Over the last six months, I’ve noticed something. The conversions I track across all 5 genres in which I write, have changed. It used to be about 50% sales and 50% KU downloads. That’s not the case anymore. The shift has been toward KU.

My data shows 40% sales and 60% KU downloads. This tells me that more people are joining KU and enjoying it like we all do with Netflix. It also makes me think the shift will continue.

There’s one other point that often doesn’t get mentioned. It’s that the MOST voracious readers, naturally, gravitate toward KU.

I hope these thoughts will help you a bit. Good luck.”

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inspiration, Research, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Research Tool: Oculus Go

Oculus Go 2It’s here. $199 takes you into virtual worlds for startlingly up-close research. Float in the Orion Nebula and watch a star being born thanks to NASA’s Hubble Telescope. Look at the world of the 1800s through sepia stereoscope photos. Stand in the streets of major cities and gawk like a tourist.

Oculus Go* is a standalone, portable headset. You don’t need to buy anything else. The world wants to immerse you in free virtual reality. NASA, Nations, the Vatican, NGOs, foundations, zoos, theme parks, the BBC, Al Jazeera, the New York Times, Fox News Live, etc. all benefit from placing you right smack in the middle of what they have to offer. Did I say theme parks? If you haven’t yet, do ride the roller coasters <wicked grin>.

One free app, AltspaceVR, even allows you to set up book launches that can be attended by people from around the world.

This is all new to me as the gadget came on the market just last week. But before I write a scene now, I’m asking myself, can I find that place and go there for inspiration? Or for accuracy? No one needs to write a scene that takes place on the International Space Station without first having been inside it. If you’re not an astronaut, pop the headset on & take NASA’s 3d virtual tour. See it all up close.

*Caution: Should not be worn while operating heavy machinery.

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blogging, inspiration, Research, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

The Writer’s Muse & Inner Critic

Above, Roger W. Sperry, 1913-1994

In his blog “How to Discover Your Writer’s Muse” Harvey points out that creativity springs from the right side of our brain while your knowledge of writing resides in the left side.
“Your writing muse lives in the right side of your brain – the side where all the creative work takes place. The critic lives in the logical left side. The muse has access to your unconscious mind – the place where you dream and imagine and store your hidden memories. The critic has no time for such nonsense. You use your creative side (or your writer’s muse) to supply you with great raw material. Then you use your logical side (or your inner-critic) to make sense of it all and knock it into shape.”

Harvey is suggesting that the more we know about muses, the more we can trust our own. Another way of putting it is, teach the left brain about muses and the right brain can form a useful muse. For those interested, his piece is at:
https://www.novel-writing-help.com/writing-muse.html

And, for those who wonder how much truth there can be in this approach, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine of 1981 was awarded to Dr. Roger W. Sperry, “for his discoveries concerning the functional specialization of the cerebral hemispheres.”
https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1981/

Warning, though. Anyone reading Sperry’s experiments may forever think differently of themselves.
https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/roger-sperrys-split-brain-experiments-1959-1968

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About Writers, blogging, inspiration, Research, Stories, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op, writing technique

Steep and Roll

songwriting 2This is a concept that I am gradually beginning to understand how to use. A friend once critiqued my first novel with:

“There’s so much great stuff in there it needs to slow its roll and steep a little, meaning take longer to explain things and have a nice build up.”
– Chris Gabriel, song writer

Chris explained it as a technique that professional song writers use. It made me wonder how many other song writing techniques could apply to story writing. So, I researched song writing advice and found dozens of tips. Here’s the top 6.

1. Practice. Like any other creative process such as playing guitar or programming synth sounds, lyric-writing is a skill that can be learnt and improved upon.

2. Don’t be disheartened if your lyrics aren’t perfect on the first draft. Many professional writers will rewrite a song’s lyrics dozens of times before they make it onto record.

3. Persevere. More often than not, songs aren’t born, they’re created and sculpted. Don’t expect a song to arrive fully formed; they sometimes take time and you’ll need to work at it.

4. If you can’t quite figure out how to say what you want within a particular line, jot down the gist of it and move on to another part of the song – you can come back to it later. That way, you won’t spend hours wrestling with one small line that might turn out to be insignificant in the wider context of the song.

5. Try to have a clear idea of what the song is about. You should be able to sum up the essence of the song in one sentence.

6. Analyze other songs. Try to pick out the differences in lyrics between your favorite songs and your own and apply any lyrical techniques you learn to your own work.

I think we story writers can learn a lot from song writers. Oh and, if anyone has insight into “Steep and Roll,” please post it in the comments?

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blogging, Research, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Ask me your questions, Bridgekeeper. I am not afraid.

In Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), the Bridgekeeper prevented any knight unable to answers his questions from crossing the bridge. Wrong answers got the knight tossed into the gully below. Think of the Bridgekeeper as your readers – who will toss your book aside if it is not answering their questions.

I write hard sci-fi and I have a WiP with a deadline that hinges on my understanding of something many sci-fi fans know more about than I do: Is quantum superposition universal? Getting this wrong in a hard sci-fi story has the same effect as say, firing seven shots from a six-shooter in an old west tale, or getting the royal succession wrong in a historical novel, or misusing DNA to identify the killer in a detective story. The knowledgeable reader dismisses the story as beneath his reading level.

Asking a science fiction group on facebook, “Is quantum superposition universal?” got me 35 knowledgeable answers. Now, I don’t know more about quantum mechanics than I did, but, I do know what most readers in my genre will accept.

I also learned that readers are not afraid to tell you what they expect from a good story.

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About Writers, book reviews, Research, Uncategorized, world-building, Writers Co-op

A Question For Mimi

Mimi Speake is an historian of sixteenth century Europe & therabouts. She delves into the private lives of such as Bernard Délicieux, the Friar of Carcassonne and Henry of Navarre. Nothing seems to delight Mimi more than to accurately include in her stories obscure details about the financial information of a walled town from that period, or a seminal work on algebra, or even lore about La Fée Verte, the green fairy.
And uh, Mimi is the only historian I know. So, I have a question for her.

Is Google messing with history? Not on purpose. But is that repository of human knowledge fatally flawed because of what it does not include?

I ask because I recently searched for early reviews of Arthur C. Clarke’s first book, Against the Fall of Night, published by Startling Stories magazine in 1948. Despite the story itself being vintage Clarke, the novella was initially panned for its word dumps of the author’s social theories. They added nothing to the story. I know this because I read it as a kid and I still remember my eyes glassing over the pages of preaching.
A few years ago, I re-read it. The book that I re-read said it had been published only because fans had expressed interest in reading Clarke’s first novel. It’s forward discussed Against the Fall of Night’s initial reception (dismal) and included some of those early reviews (bad.)

But Google has unwittingly rewritten history. I cannot find any of those original reviews. The Fall of Night is today presented as if it hadn’t bombed; as if it is just another good book by Clarke, even though he had to rewrite it in 1956 as The City and the Stars.

I know. I know. Google is not a complete history of anything. It is only a collection of whatever bits people put on the ‘Net. (But I wonder how many people think about things that are not on the Internet.)

So, Mimi, if I may follow-up, how do you find information that is not on Google?

And for everyone, a broader question:
To what extent are search engine results and social media the background against which we frame our questions? Do they guide the answers that we accept?
In short, does the Internet shape our collective consciousness?

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