Category Archives: Books/Literature

Corrosive Knights, a 1/16/2010 Update

It’s been a hard couple of weeks, let me tell you.

As the expression goes, sometimes you need a vacation from/after your vacation to recover.

Our holiday vacation was great but boy did we move around. A lot. When it was over and we got back we did some more moving around before finally returning home. The next day it was back to work and its been crushing the amount of it to deal with.

On the writing front, it was only this week that I’ve finally been able to get back into Book #8 of the Corrosive Knights saga.

When I left it toward the end of 2019, I had the first draft done. Understand, the first draft of any work of mine doesn’t necessarily mean all the details are in place and all I have to do is tidy up some sentences here and there and release the book.

In this case, what I had was a very rough map of the book but an incomplete one. There were parts I wrote which I knew I would go back and change and/or eliminate. There were other parts that would require compression or expansion. I left the book in 2019 also knowing that there were more scenes I needed to come up with to add to the overall story.

As incomplete as that first draft of the book was, however, I had my road map and I now knew where/how the book began, played out, and ended. It may sound obvious but when I began this book I had no clear idea of any of those elements.

Truly, I entered the book blind, which can be kinda scary but also incredibly liberating.

As I worked on that first draft, I had a couple of introductory sequences written which I will likely eliminate entirely. It’s the price one pays for figuring out a book on the spot: Your first ideas may wind up being useless.

What they do is get your mind in gear, moving and thinking about possibilities and with that, ideas which might work out.

Slowly, at times very painfully, I’d realize certain things simply weren’t working despite my best efforts. Yet in that failure I often -though not always- found alternatives, ideas that did work and which were expanded upon. It seemed for every idea that failed, there would be another that didn’t, and slowly, ever so slowly, that first draft started to take shape over the course of roughly a year, until just before the vacation I had that one breakthrough that wrapped it all up and made me realize I had a book.

This week, as I stated, I started working on it again after my vacation. Beginning this second draft entails First reading Through my first draft and eliminating all that stuff I said didn’t work, tightening up the stuff that does, and expanding where the book needs it. Plenty of red marker notes, scratched sentences/paragraphs/pages, and much use of sticky notes. Once that’s done I get to the computer and put all those notes into the book while eliminating what needs to go.

In many, perhaps even most ways, the second draft of this book will very much be a part of the formal writing process and, when all is done, I expect the book to contain most, if not all, the elements I need in it.

Thus Draft #2 is like an extension of Draft #1. Perhaps to other writers it may well be that, and they view any draft which involves creative writing versus proofreading as part of the first draft process.

Regardless, for me this is crunch time and while there are moments of elation in going over this draft, there are certain to be plenty of moments of hard, hard, hard work.

Despite what it may seem like, writing ain’t easy. It takes -at least for me- total concentration and no distractions and easily chews up your time.

Yet the most beautiful thing in the world is holding your latest novel in your hand and thinking: I did that.

I can’t wait to feel that again…!

Corrosive Knights, a 12/9/19 Update…!

Big news, for those interested: I have finished up the first draft of Book #8 in the Corrosive Knights series.

I suppose I should once again -and for the last time- show this graphic:

Why for the last time? Because I’ve got to upgrade it. Book #8 is NOT going to be the Epilogue to the series.

But if you’ve been reading my updates, you know this already.

Still, I’ll point it out again: As things worked out and I created more and more Corrosive Knights novels, I came up with a way to conclude the main story line with book #7, Legacy of the Argus.

However, there was still one story I had tucked in my proverbial back pocket, a story that was essentially written out, which I felt would serve as a lovely “finale” -or epilogue- for the Corrosive Knights series.

However, redux, releasing that story meant I would wrap up the Corrosive Knights series and move on into other stories unrelated to it.

It seemed the right thing to do. While writing the final two books in the series, I was feeling the first twinges of what can only be described as fatigue. It’s not easy to juggle so many balls in the air, creatively, and come up with something you feel is worth releasing which adds to the series while never screwing with whatever came before.

I was elated as the end drew near, that countless re-writes and revisions were almost over. I would finish the series, in my mind, wonderfully with Legacy of the Argus then do a few revisions on and release the Epilogue before moving on to other things.

Only… when I actually finished Legacy of the Argus, I not only felt relief that I “stuck the landing” and created a great seven part book series, I also realized the fatigue I felt -perhaps something bordering on being burnt out- was lifted.

Gone.

Completely.

I was so proud and happy of my accomplishments. As I moved on to that Epilogue story, I was hit with waves of second thoughts.

Did I really have to end this series?

I wondered.

Another part of me asked, where do I go from here?

I pulled up the Epilogue and considered it. It was very short, only some 20,000 words long (my novels tend to be 100,000+ words). I worked on a new introduction to it, a way to expand the story and provide some exciting new material.

My mind wandered. New ideas worked their way into my head. Ideas for another story.

It was the first time in quite a while I started up a novel with no clear view of what I wanted to do with it. It was equally clear that I didn’t want to release that Epilogue story.

At least not yet.

So I worked and worked. If I were a sculptor, it would be like getting this massive slab of marble and chipping away at it here and there, not having a clear idea of the statue you were creating, but coming up with concepts that moved you closer to that end result.

Over the past week, and after writing a considerable amount of material, it all came together. I had my ending and it was solid.

More than that: I thought it was terrific.

I was busy these past few weeks, with family over and things to do for Thanksgiving. I likely won’t have too much time to work on the book between now and New Years, as there will be much family fare to do as well.

Nonetheless I printed the whole thing out yesterday and, as time allows, I’ll work on what is now the second draft of this book. I’ll be reading through this massive printout and cutting it down to size before adding stuff that isn’t there which should be.

There’s a lot of work yet to be done but it feels like I’m further ahead than usual. I’m certain this book will be ready sometime in the new year.

And you know what?

I can’t wait.

Changes…

Yesterday we had the entire family over for Thanksgiving and it was a nice, though hectic, time.

Afterwards, the wife, the kids, and I cleaned up the mess left behind and put away everything that needed putting away.

By around 8 P.M. with all that done (some had other places to go, others had longish rides back home, while many were simply early risers and don’t hang out too long), we decided, what the hell, let’s head out to our nearby Target and check out the Black Friday sales.

According to their promo ads and as you can see below, the store opened at a very early 5 P.M.

I recall how in years past we would rush through Thanksgiving and then run out to a store like Target and others hurrying to pick up on that deal you just had to have.

This year, though, we didn’t rush at all. Indeed, when we left at 8 P.M. to go out there, we had two items in mind we were curious to get -pretty good deals, certainly- but we kinda/sorta figured these items wouldn’t be the “hot” items everyone might be going after. As it turned out, we were wrong about one of them and took a subsequent journey to a farther away (but not too far) Target to get said second item -they were able to verify the other store had the particular item in stock- and, after going there, our night of not-so-frenzied Black Friday shopping was done.

Interestingly, we didn’t find terribly big crowds in either Target store. In years past, there were police cars outside the entry and police within, watching to make sure the crowds behaved. And in the past, this was very necessary.

But this time around, and I’ll grant you it was a few hours into the Black Friday opening blitz, things were supremely calm.

Which got me thinking about the way things change over time.

If you look closely at that picture I posted above, you’ll notice that after stating when the Target stores would open and on the bottom of that black circle you have this: Shop deals now at Target.com

The internet, like so many things, has disrupted/changed the Black Friday experience.

I suspect the crowds simply weren’t all that great because the items one might be crazy about getting -even those we wound up getting- we probably could have just ordered online earlier in the day and not bothered with our trek to Target.

In years past I’d look in amazement at footage of crowds tsunami-like entering a store at its opening, of people quite literally fighting for items, and I suspect that while this may still happen, its probably muted somewhat nowadays because one can order these things online.

Which made me think of how many things have been changed of late.

I suppose its a function of aging: As one gets older -and assuming one pays attention- you see changes.

For example, when I was younger, I hung out in malls to check out two types of stores: The bookstores and the music/CD stores.

I’d hang in the bookstore for a while checking out the latest books, then saunter over to the music/CD store and check out what CDs they had (there was a time –damn I’m old- when these stores had records and cassettes!).

With the arrival of the MP3 file, the CD, which took over for both the vinyl record (though that has made a comeback) and cassette was effectively neutralized. While I frown heavily upon pirate copying of artistic works, the reality was that suddenly people had access, both legally and illegally, to pretty much all music via the internet and, seemingly overnight, the music stores disappeared.

Today, Best Buy, Target, Walmart and their likes still have small sections featuring CDs and, ironically enough, bigger sections within those music sections featuring vinyl records.

But the days of the music stores -other than those catering to the vinyl record industry- are effectively over.

The other store I would spend hours in was the bookstore.

As someone who fancies himself a writer, it remains incredible to me that I simply don’t miss bookstores. Once, I had at least two very large ones within less than 20 minutes of me. Borders was the largest, a mega-book/music/video store. When Borders went out of business, I mourned the loss, but not all that much.

By then, I was almost fully into digital copies of books, having a Kindle reader and an iPad for both purposes. When our local Comic Book store also shut down, I realized just how much interesting stuff was likewise available online (again, legally purchased!). I’ve read more interesting comic books in the past year or so than I have in the previous five or more years and the range of interesting titles which are available, and which I can download in a matter of seconds, is astonishing.

This post is not intended to be a lamentation of the “good old days”. While I truly did enjoy the hell out of myself back then driving to brick and mortal stores for music, videos, and books/comic books, and I really don’t like the fact that so many small, independent businesses are no longer able to survive selling these items, as a consumer I’ve never had so much available to me.

Perhaps too much!

I’m into nostalgia as much if not more than most people, but one must also face the reality of the present.

Black Friday, it seems to me, is something that is in the next few years going to change. No longer will we marvel/be horrified by the crowds rushing into stores like we were before and, I suppose, that’s a good thing considering some of the fights/injuries that happened.

It’s also a sign of how things inevitably change.

Corrosive Knights, a 11/25/19 Update…!

Been a while since I’ve offered any updates on Book #8 in the Corrosive Knights series and figured it was time to do so.

This past weekend was something of a breakthrough weekend in the writing of the book and I believe I have a much stronger grasp on the ending I’ll be using within.

The process of writing is an interesting one and, for me anyway, it seems that no two books are written in quite the same way. Often, I have a strong idea for a start and ending and its the pesky middle sections that unite the two that wind up causing me the most mental work.

Usually, though, I do have a relatively strong idea of what I want to write about and often my imagination takes over as I’m physically sitting behind the computer typing.

New ideas flow, sometimes damn good ones, sometimes so-so ones, and sometimes ideas that eventually get discarded.

Over the weekend a damn good idea popped up in my head involving the story’s ending and… we’ll see. I like it a lot, but it may wind up causing me to change quite a bit of the novel written to date.

I’m fast approaching my novel’s usual word count, often just north of 100,000 words, and I do feel like I have the bones of a good novel set up. I’m hoping that perhaps in the next few weeks and certainly before Christmas/New Year’s I’ll have my first full draft done.

Unlike other novels, I feel much of what I’ve written is quite good and doesn’t require considerable revision, at least the stuff that doesn’t relate to this story ending I came up with over the weekend.

In previous books, I’ve had to work really hard on the revisions, making the descriptions sharper and cutting down on repetition. Thankfully, it seems like some of these old bad habits of early drafts are becoming less and less an issue.

Or, to put it another way, perhaps I’m becoming a better first draft writer and am not stumbling in the dark quite as much as before.

What that means, in the long run and hopefully, is that when I do finally finish this first solid draft of the novel, the amount of work needed to polish it up for release should be a little easier.

In pervious novels, I’ve noted its taken me up to 12 drafts before I feel a book is ready to be released. Perhaps this time around it won’t be quite that many.

Regardless, the book is proceeding along and, again hopefully, I’m farther ahead than I usually am in/around this time in writing a book.

I’m excited about it, always a good thing, and I can’t wait to present it sometime in the new year!

Corrosive Knight… A Big Thank You, Part Deux

A while back (you can read it here) I thanked everyone who, to that point, had taken the time to not only read my Corrosive Knights novels, but also taken the time to either write reviews or give the novels a “star” rating which pops up on Goodreads.com.

Since that first posting, I’m beyond honored that my novels seem to continue being both read (almost all the Corrosive Knights novels are available to be read through Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program) and purchased and positive reviews of them keep coming in.

In the first posting, we had 77 ratings for a total score of 4.18 out of 5 stars. Since that point, we’ve moved to 93 ratings and our score remains remarkably consistent, now at 4.17 out of 5 stars.

Hopefully, I’ll soon get to see my books reach 100 ratings… and beyond!

This year has easily been the best I’ve had with regard to people reading and purchasing my novels. Since releasing the seventh book in the series, Legacy of the Argus, back in November of 2018 and redoing all the covers to the books, every day -save for maybe a handful since January- has movement on the books.

As a small time, independent writer, it pleases me to see so many people checking out my works and, of course, enjoying them enough to offer positive feedback. While I’m not so obnoxious to think that my books appeal to everyone, I’m pleased because the impression I’m getting is that those who have tried the books have plunged in deep, reading multiple novels and/or the full run.

To be clear: I can’t “see” who exactly reads the books or the amount of pages each individual reads, but I can, from day to day, see the number of pages of each novel that is read through Kindle Unlimited. And when I see one particular novel suddenly getting, say, 500+ pages read in a single day, I think its a safe assumption whomever is reading the particular novel is enjoying it enough to blow through it.

In my case, if I do so with a novel it means I’m really enjoying it and am eager to get to the end.

I hope the same applies to my works with other readers!

Regardless, once again a BIG thank you to everyone who’s given me their time and read my novels.

I hope to keep surprising and entertaining you guys with my future works!

Corrosive Knights Book #8… a little more

Funny how things go.

Friday I posted an entry and offered for the first time in quite some time an update on Book #8 of the Corrosive Knights series (you can read it here).

I noted the following:

I’d say I’m a little more than halfway -roughly- through writing it

I think its a little more than that!

Over the weekend, a major breakthrough: I finally figured out how to end the book.

I know, I know: Didn’t you already have some clear idea of the story you were presenting, including the ending?

Yes… and no.

Each book I write tends to follow certain paths but they are almost never identical. For many of my books, believe it or not, I have a relatively clear beginning and/or ending but have to figure out the middle and the hard work comes with this connective tissue.

Often it is the middle part of the book that gives me the biggest fits and, when I finally work my way through it, the biggest sense of triumph when the proverbial plan “comes together”.

Then there are cases like Book #8, which started one way and then went into a whole ‘nuther direction…

As I mentioned in that previous post, my original idea was to have Book #8 in the Corrosive Knights series be an Epilogue. It was meant to be a finale that ends the series properly, and truth to tell, I’ve already written a strong first draft of that Epilogue.

Thing is, its really short and I realized it needed to be longer to be a proper book rather than a very thin novella. The previous Corrosive Knights books run roughly 90,000 to 110.000 or so words long. This book, as it stands now, runs something like 20,000 words long.

When I first tackled it, I figured what was needed was more “meat” and that’s what I started to work on. I wanted the Epilogue to be a finale that stands up with the rest of series and helped “close the book” on the series which began with Mechanic and concluded with Legacy of the Argus .

Here’s the thing, though: As I started working on doing this Epilogue Book #8, and I started to think about how I would expand this slight story, the proverbial wheels started to turn in my head and I realized there was another story, not an Epilogue, worth telling.

And with that realization came a second realization: There was no need to so hastily “end” the Corrosive Knights series. For the Epilogue would certainly do that and I realized I wasn’t quite ready to end the series yet.

Thing is, and as mentioned before, Legacy of the Argus sure does offer a very strong conclusion to the storylines written to this point, so if I create another novel that takes place in this Corrosive Knights universe, I felt the need to offer something that didn’t feel like “just” another story, but something which would add to the series in a meaningful way.

Which is why the breakthrough I had this weekend, the conclusion of this story, was so important and why it took me so long to figure out.

I’ve been writing this story for a while now, since shortly after finishing/publishing Legacy of the Argus, and because of the initial nature of the book and its transformation into something else its taken me much longer to get a clear idea of where I’m going with all this.

I soldiered through, writing first an introduction to the Epilogue version, then a new introduction to what would wind up being the new non-Epilogue version of Book #8, then coming up with a whole new -and far better- introduction and scuttling the previous one.

Then, I moved along, on and on, building up scenarios but never quite getting a feel for the book being something worthy of standing on its own and adding to the series in that meaningful way. Mind you, the story was intriguing, even if it felt like it needed that extra something.

I worked hard on it, forcing myself to power through page after page despite worries by the end it might not come together. This is a fear authors have, that their hard work, when all is said and done, will amount to a wiff, a good, but perhaps not great story not worth all that spent effort.

On the other hand, and not to sound too obnoxious, I have confidence in my skills. It takes me a while, sometimes a very long while, to figure out what I’m doing, but with concentration and effort, I usually get to where I want to go.

This past weekend’s break through, my coming up with an ending that puts the novel into a good context within the series itself, did the trick.

Now we have an exciting, suspenseful/thrilling story that anyone coming into this book wondering “Where is he going after Legacy of the Argus?” will feel it adds to the overall story of the series.

Of course, I won’t get into any details as I’m sure the book will go through many permutations as I revise/revisit it and fix it up on its way to being published. I’m still not quite finished with the first full rough draft but getting this conclusion in place sure goes a long way.

Onward!

Ah… Friday… and Corrosive Knights #8 Update…!

It feels like I haven’t stopped moving these past few months… maybe years… and when the weekend is in view, as it is this Friday morning, I can’t help but feel relief and look forward to unwinding.

I suspect I’m not alone in this!

I haven’t offered much information of what I’m doing, writing-wise of late, but suffice to say I’m neck deep into what will be the 8th book in the Corrosive Knights series.

A while back I was offering the following image to give a hint as to what this 8th book was going to be…

Note the “Epilogue” statement.

Welp… it no longer applies.

There is indeed an 8th book in the works and I’d say I’m a little more than halfway -roughly- through writing it and it most certainly will not be the promised Epilogue to the series.

Why?

Because the Epilogue, which as I’ve stated before is pretty much written already (and has been for a while) kinda ends the whole Corrosive Knights series and I’m not feeling like the series should end just yet.

In fact, the ideas I’ve come up with in Book #8 are fascinating to me, a sure sign that the book is “working”. If I didn’t feel excited about what I was writing, I’d have given it up a while ago.

Yet the same things always rear their head when writing: I try my best to deliver a story that will zig when readers think it will zag. A story that will hopefully surprise them with the many turns and, likewise, give them compelling characters along with a compelling story with a strong beginning, middle, and end.

Any hints as to when the story takes place?

Here’s the thing: With the Corrosive Knights series, I have this broad timeline where I can fit in stories. The story could theoretically take place in pre-historic times. It could take place in the 20th Century and from there, five thousand plus years into the future.

So it could take place the very day after the final events of Legacy of the Argus or before the events of Chameleon (those who have read the books know what I’m talking about).

I’ll offer more updates soon enough…!

Suffice to say I’ve found a good subject/plot and am pushing forward as quickly as I can. Once that first good rough draft is done, things will start coming together more quickly, even if I do require considerable polishing before I feel a book of mine is ready to be released.

I’m working really hard on this one and I want it to be ready perhaps by the middle of next year, if I can manage this.

I’ll give it my all!

In the meantime, have a great weekend!

Sad… and yet expected

Yesterday came news that the venerable Mad Magazine, the satirical/smart-assed magazine published since 1952, was for all intents and purposes being cancelled.

Sure, there are a few “ifs” and “buts” to this news, but essentially the Magazine will be producing more and more “best of” editions and stopping the original stuff.

You can read more about this in this article by James Whitbrook and presented over on i09.com:

Mad Magazine is basically dead

To me, and as I wrote on the header above, this is sad but expected news. It’s been many, many years since I’ve read Mad Magazine, and likely well over twenty plus years since I’ve held an original newstand issue release.

But there was a time, back in the 1970’s and into the 1980’s, when Mad Magazine was one of my favorite publications. I loved it so much that I even had a subscription to them and got issues over the mail. Not before and not since had I ever done that, and I still recall the first issue I received in the mail…

Image result for mad magazine king kong

From 1977 and not one of their “best” issues, nonetheless I loved the parody of King Kong (the first remake film, which featured a very young Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange).

I was fascinated with Mad and eager to pick up their earlier issues. Luckily, they would release “Best of” editions which often allowed me to get peeks at the long history of Mad Magazine parodies.

Many years later and at the dawn of the “digital” age, a beautiful CD Rom compilation was released which featured all the issues of the magazine up to that point. Even better, it included odds and ends found in the various “Best of” compilations, including songs and other silliness…

Image result for mad magazine cd rom

Loved it!

A few years after this release they released another up to the moment CD Rom set, but this one didn’t feature all those wonderful bonuses.

When I got the CD Rom edition, I tried to read some of the more recent magazines included in the set but found the humor… just wasn’t as good as before.

Worse, many of my favorite artists and writers were no longer there. Don Martin left the book amid a squabble over royalties with publisher William Gaines and eventually went to work for Cracked, did his own series, and passed away. Sadly, in reading the incidentals regarding Mr. Martin’s situation, I couldn’t help but feel that Mr. Gaines had taken advantage of not only him but many of the other artists he hired from the early EC days through Mad Magazine. Mr. Gaines made plenty of money reprinting older strips and, at least according to Mr. Martin, didn’t offer royalties to the talent who made the works.

Similarly, other artists and writers, such as Antonio Prohias, who created and wrote/drew Spy vs Spy, had also either left the book and/or passed away. What I saw with those later issues were works by people I neither knew nor found all that interesting.

Ah well.

Still, it’s incredibly sad to read that Mad may finally be shutting down. It had a good, long run, but today it competes with memes and comedians who are on TV nightly. The humor it brought forward is readily available in so many media and a magazine coming out bi-monthly simply didn’t have as much of a chance.

Good things, as they say, eventually come to their end, and so too it appears to have happened to Mad.

The dangers of buying digital things…

First, I have to be honest: I LOVE buying things “digitally”.

I LOVE not having the clutter of so many books and movies and the ease by which I can enjoy both through either my cellphone, tablet, or through my “smart” TV.

I LOVE IT!

…however…

Stories like these make me mighty uncomfortable. From Matt Novak and presented on gizmodo.com:

Ebooks purchased from Microsoft will be deleted this month because you don’t really own anything anymore

The title is self-explanatory: Microsoft sold eBooks starting in/around 2017. The service appears to have not done very well and the company decided they were going to stop selling books and, further, delete those that people bought.

Money will be returned by Microsoft to the people who bought these eBooks, just to be clear, and the service seems to have been a flop pretty much from the beginning so not that many people were affected.

However, this does present a sobering thought: What if this should happen with Apple or Amazon? How about VUDU? All my books/graphic novels -and I have a BUNCH of them- are on Amazon. Pretty much all my film purchases are currently being done through VUDU.

What if these services have a problem? What if suddenly all these many thousands of dollars I’ve spent will *poof!* be gone?

Again, I love the digital services. I love the fact that my home isn’t getting filled up with more books and movie boxes.

I love this!

But, seriously, there needs to be some kind of permanence created for these bought items yet I wonder if such a thing could be accomplished, other than downloading your stuff and saving it to increasingly full Hard Drives.

it’s been a blur so far…

…at least for me.

I’m referring to the summer. Truly since the start of May, perhaps even the end of April, things have been on a whirl.

I mentioned a few of the things that have affected me already: The plumbing problems, followed by the AC problems, followed by moving my daughter, followed by getting the bathroom fixed up.

We’re still in the process of the later, but at least all the major stuff is done. There’s still painting to do and a shower door and cabinets to be made/installed but the dust is settling and my poor sinus is starting, at least a little, to relax.

Most importantly, in the last few days I’ve been able to devote more and more time -my regular time, stolen by the above- to writing.

The book I’m currently writing hasn’t quite gelled yet, though each day I can get to it (far too little since late April/early May), has proven a wonderful new adventure.

I’m adding in fascinating details and the overall plot, at least in general, is solid. But I’m a fussy guy and solid isn’t nearly strong enough for my taste.

I’ve mentioned it before but I’ve always tried to make every book I’ve written be as original as I can make it, with as intricate -but not overly complicated- story which will hopefuly shock as much as it entertains. I want people to feel the time they’ve given me was worth it, and I will not accept a work/plot that follows too many familiar or well-worn paths.

I’m not quite there yet but its coming along.

Stay tuned.