Sunday, December 25, 2011

NOVEMBER GIRL ENDING WEEK 22-23

I'm a bit shocked realizing that I've been working on this for 23 weeks. It's quite a chunk of a year and there's lots of ideas that I'm really excited about but I'm going to stop writing on it. I can't concentrate on doing the first draft of this and the second draft of Ghosts of Starpoint Mountain at the same time. It's taken me longer to rewrite the second draft of Ghosts than it did to write the first drafts of Ghosts, the fourth book, and 23 short stories. I'm think the only way I can get things moving is working on one at a time and that's going to be Ghosts. I finished a chapter with a very good plot point and decided to just stop there.
It occurred to me that, even though I'm finishing the book, I don't have to give up on the character and ideas. I've been looking at ideas for the next video to do. I want something I could do in anywhere in Iowa City that isn't a costume drama. I've been working on one called Line Zero, a mystery/sci-fi video. I started thinking that doing a video version of November Girl is a possibility, too. They both have the advantages of the slightly real world setting which would make them easier to shoot. November Girl also appeals to me as it could be done with a smaller cast. Being a mystery I would need a lot more people to make Line Zero work right. It's also a different focus than doing the book and I won't have to sacrifice one for the other.
I wrote the opening scene to a November Girl video tonight.

FADE IN:

(EXT-SPACE ABOVE THE PLANET EARTH)

We are floating in space above earth. Beneath us we can clearly see the North American continent. The sun is just going down over the western horizon. All is silent and peaceful for a while then there 25 bright flashes across the face of the continent. They are burning nuclear explosions lighting up the night at strategic points across the United States.

FADE TO BLACK

Caption: “Two months later…”

Sunday, December 11, 2011

STARPOINT VIDEOS



We shot all the green screen shots the video needed on Saturday and it went really well. I've learned a lot about greens green shooting. I put down the mats and carpets and covered about two thirds of the studio with green. I also got rid of most of the shadows. There were a few left but I managed to move them far enough away the they were out of most of the shots. The only thing we couldn't do is move the actors fifteen feet away from the green wall. The studio just isn't big enough for that.
There were some shots we did on location a few months back that I absolutely loved. They were fantastic and important but, as much as I wanted to keep them, I had to reshoot them with green screen. The problem is we shot them hand held in the forest without a tripod. They were just to unsteady to use with out so much fx work it would take much to long to put together right. So we redid them yesterday in the studio and the Josh and I started the fx work. I got some of the basics down, what I knew how to do, and Josh is now good to go on the harder and more complicated stuff. I also went out this morning and took a few photos of a cemetery to use in the back ground for one of the. It looks pretty good.
Susanna was very patient and it worked out great. We had to do combat scenes and she kept going so there are a lot of great shots to pick from.
There was one non-green screen shot we had to do with Jessica. I was embarrassed to admit that I just plain forgot it the first time around. Luckily it was a simple scene with no dialougue, just healing, and I took a new t-shirt and made it into a worn out and damaged kind of outfit for her.
Another bonus was Susanna and Jessica singing for us. There were links to flash backs in the video that I was going to use visual fx for. Since they are referred to as whispers I thought of doing audio links instead. Then they sang to us when we shot at Riverside and it was so good I want to do musical links instead. I was especially looking for a tone, they won't be loud enough to get the lyrics, just the feel of them, and they took it to heart and made it work.
On a side note I seem to be getting a good reputation at PATV. One woman in the lobby said "You were the one who did the fantastic leather work." and it took me a few seconds before I realized she was talking to me. She'd seen the armor I had made for Susanna's costume. Another guy asked me if I'd help out on his production cause he'd seen what I was doing on mine. It's pretty exciting.

NOVEMBER GIRL WEEK 20-21

Every once in a while I hit a chapter point where I really have to sweat it out. I got to a point where I wanted certain things to happen to add the mystery to November's past and introduce some new ideas. I wrote a chapter and got everything across that I wanted to but it just didn't feel right. In frustration I went a rewrote using the first version as template. It ended up even more of a mess than when I started. For the third try I just tossed out the first two versions and started from scratch. That works much better.
Despite all this I'm debating whether I should keep going or not. As much as I like the character and am excited about the ideas working on two books at the same time is still overwhelming. It's taking away the focus from Ghosts of Startpoint Mountain. It's getting really tempted to just stop on this character at the end of the year and focus on the final books in the Starpoint series.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

NOVEMBER GIRL WEEK 19

It certainly has is a roller coaster writing this book. I have a writing chart on my wall and every week I mark down the number of pages I wrote. Twice so far there have been weeks that I didn't get a full page done. Four weeks I hit more than ten and one week I had twenty. I like this character and what's happening to her. It's just real life has reared it's ugly head and gotten in the way a few times. Hoping that things will calm down when winter sets in.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

STARPOINT UPDATE

Amazon has started a new division called Amazon Imprints which is designed for new and self-published authors. I made a submission to them this week and now I just have to wait and, hopefully, hear from them. I gave them all the info I could think of including the kind review from Judge 35 of the Writer's Digest Self-Published Books contest. I also told them that all four books in the series were written as well as 23 short stories, a website with character sketches, and the video I've been working on. I'm hoping the fact that so much is done will really appeal to them. They know that they will be investing in a finished project and not have to worry about starting something that won't get finished.

NOVEMBER GIRL WEEK 18

It turned out much better than I'd expected. It is hardwired into my DNA to be early. Always. I always have to be early even for work. It used to be, with my old job, I'd just sit and read the newspaper or watch people go by. Now I go in, sit in a break area, and write. I'm getting about a page a day. Not as much as I used to but at least I'm still writing.
On Tuesday I was writing when some guy I didn't know asked me if I was working on my next novel. I said I was and he nodded and wished me luck before he left the room. Very nice.

Monday, October 31, 2011

NOVEMBER GIRL WEEK 17

Sadly, not much to report for this week and I may have to take a few weeks off from this book. There have been some changes at work and I don't have near as much time to work on this book. Hopefully, after I get used to the new job, it will get better and I can pick it up again.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

NOVEMBER GIRL WEEK 15-16

It's really been an off couple of weeks. Getting lots of headaches every day. Finally got my eyes checked and ordered new glasses this week. Hoping they won't take to long to get delivered. I've been writing what I can so it's been irregular. Some days go really well and others it's hard to get much out. It's to bad cause I like what's happening and the way this is shaping up. I'm getting to the point where I feel confident enough to add some of the off kilter characters and start to deal with some real life discussions.
I did find one really big change that has to be made. In the prologue the United States is crippled by 13 nuclear bombs. I had lots of really cool reasons for that number that would be revealed later in the story. Problem is, after 16 weeks, I just realized that that probably wouldn't be enough to leave the U.S. in the state it's in. I need more bombs. I had to start over and come up with a new number of bombs and an equally nifty revelation for it later on. It's kind of a pain , but, at the same time, it's what makes writing exciting.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

NOVEMBER GIRL WEEK 14

I'm afraid I didn't accomplish much this week. Real life and headaches have been taking lots of my creative energy away.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

STARPOINT VIDEOS DAY 2

We shot a lot of footage but didn't get as much done this time. Susy had found a park near where she lives and took a bunch of pictures and suggested we go there to shoot some of the exterior scenes. It was great. There were some perfect locations there.

This tree was huge. It was on it's side and was still to tall for me to see over. Susy got up on it in costume and with the swords for shots. I was worried cause she took off her glasses for the footage and climbed a good 15 feet off the ground to get a good position for the camera. She's really great.






These roots give off a real spiderish feel to them. Susy laid down between them in costume as if she were resting and sleeping and it was a real attention getting image.






We shot the footage for the skeleton battle here. It was great because it was a flat, clear area with trees and hills almost 360 degrees around it so there was a lot of angles we could use. We were getting ready and cleaning it up when a man came in and asked us what was going on. As it turned out this wasn't in the actual park but his back yard. He was really cool about everything and let us stay. He brought his sons, one looked 4 and the other looked 8, out to watch us shoot.
We had two other locations planned to shot but they didn't work out as well. I wanted to shoot a few quick images at the Riverside Theater in the park but there was a wedding there so we had to skip it.
We also went to Al's friends farm to shoot a scene in the barn. Originally his friend was going to be a wounded man in a scene but he was sick and couldn't do it so we shot it with Al. They way he's laying you can't see his face so I have the choice of either shooting somebody else's face and inserting it or going back and reshooting it all together. Will have to see how it looks when I get in to editing. Jessica was coming over great in these shots so I'm hoping I can make it work.
I had to make a tough decision this time. I either had to stay and try to get the footage at the locations and lose studio time or give up the the locations and keep the studio time. I really wanted to finish the tent scenes but I went with the location footage.

My camera man didn't show up so Al and myself did the camera work. He has a steadier hand than I do so he could so the longer shots and I did the closer ones. I also did all of the studio shots. There is a crane in the studio and we could balance that for closeups and steady shooting. I was concerned about one shot because it is so important. There is a speech Susy gives that, ideally, the camera is slowly moving in on her. I was originally shooting Ally's reaction to it and was going to do Susy next time but she was hitting it on the mark so well I changed the position of the camera so I could get Susy's delivery. The first time went okay, the second time I blew it with the zoom, but the third time was a charm. I'm really excited about how that one turned out.
Ally really came through with that, too. She ended up spending a lot of time just waiting for us to get back to PATV to shoot. I feel kind of bad about that. Luckily both Ally and Susy agreed to come back so we can finish it. The next few weekends are full for all of us so it will have to be a week night. They are both going to let me know their schedules and I'll see which day they both are available and I'll take a day off of work.
This is turning out better than I ever could have hoped.

NOVEMBER GIRL WEEK 13

When I'm working on a books I always give it a rating to keep it on an even keel. In the Starpoint Mountain books I decided it would be PG-13 rated and I kept it that way. I remember doing one torture scene that I got carried away on, must have been a bad day, and I went way overboard. I looked back at it and immediately knew I couldn't use it. It went way to far for PG-13 so I rewrote the whole scene and toned it down. I kept it that rating in Welcome to Nowhere as well.
This book is R rated. Definitely. In the other books the characters were sexually active but I never gave them much details. You knew where they'd been and what they did but didn't get details. This one is much more graphic and there is no doubt what they did. The language is also more adult. Not necessarily cursing and swearing, I never like that in books or movies, just more open on blunt.

Monday, September 26, 2011

NOVEMBER GIRL WEEK 12

I wrote the Starpoint Mountain books keeping in mind that they would be PG-13 rated if they were movies. Sexy characters and, on a few occasions, they do have sex but it's all off the page and it's hinted as to what they've done. In Welcome to Nowhere I changed it to a PG rating. It was much more obvious what was going on between them. For November Girl I kicked it up to an R rating. She is a very sexy, and sexually active, character.
I think part of it that everything else is being done differently. I'm taking a whole new approach to this book and it's very exciting. In the past I've done lots of back story for the characters before I start writing. This time I did nothing. I just started and that was it. Anything the reader learns about the character they learn it at the same time I do. I'm also writing it in first person. I've only done that once before and that was changing a short story from third person to first.
The biggest risk on this one, and something I've never done before, is that I have no idea where this character's story will end. Seriously! I had a basic idea how Starpoint would end but didn't know how it would get there. On Nowhere I knew exactly where it was going and how. This time, literally, I'm just making it up as I go. It may turn out to be a fantastic work. It may go no where and be crap.
It's times like this I really love writing.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

NOVEMBER GIRL WEEK 11

A very exciting and productive week for this project. One of my best writing weeks this year actually. Finally got a handle on this character and the world she lives in and it's really picking up speed. I'm kind of tempted to go and start over again. On the other hand I'm thinking of leaving it that way. The character was developing as she went and that makes for good storytelling.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

STARPOINT VIDEOS














We spent a few hours yesterday rehearsing. I put up the set and had the general layout in place. Some of the lighting was good so that everyone could get a good idea of the room we were going to work with. It took me about 45 minutes to put the set together working by myself, could do it in half that with someone else. It looked pr
etty good. We also hooked up the microphones and one of the cameras was running when we were all together and I really got some experience at camera work. The guy I had originally lined up for the shoot is in jail, and most likely will be there for 6 months, so I recruited another. He also is a digital whiz. I had found a glacier photo to use but it had a person in it:










In five minutes he got rid of her and I had a usable background. It's really shocking that that was the same photo and the computer picked it and gave it a natural look that fast.






















Also got the library and the shelf ready. Just need to find good thrones to work with.
I had three of my actresses, Suzy, Jessica and Aly, and one of my actors, Al and we worked through their scenes. We worked on the dialogue, changed a few terms that were anachronistic, and got some details on the costumes. It felt really good and it's coming together. Suzy, Jessica and Aly really hit it off and the harder, more dramatic scenes got worked over and smoothed out. I had been worried about the space because I wrote it thinking it would be in a real, full sized tent, but the one I put together didn't have as much room. I originally thought that we were going to have to go without it but they figured out a way to make it work.
We also worked on the possibility of the fortune teller using tarot cards. We talked about having her use the cards on some of the characters but not all of them. Right now I'm undecided about that route. I like the way it looks and works and there's some use for them but it also kind of grounds it in our world. Got a few weeks to think about that.
The only problem left is casting of the WOMAN IN LOVE and the FARMER. Suzy and Jessica think a friend might do the WOMAN IN LOVE part. I'm looking around still for the FARMER. I don't want to do it but may have to. There is a big advantage to shooting all the interior stuff in one day so we don't have to remount later.

NOVEMBER GIRL WEEK 10

Best weeks writing since I started. It's moving along much better. I had a grip on the character early but it took me a while to develop the world she lives in and how it works.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

STARPOINT VIDEOS

It's coming together quite well. Meeting with most of my cast next Saturday and gearing up for a September 17th shoot. Talked to two people this weekend about taking the parts of the WOMAN IN LOVE and the FARMER. The hard part is still just scheduling everything together. I've been planning on what the next project is going to be and hope to use as many of the same people as possible. Everyone, including myself, is relieved to find out it takes place in a mid-sized midwestern city just a few years in the future. No swords, armor, or complicated locations. We could shoot it anywhere in Iowa City and wear street clothes.

NOVEMBER GIRL WEEK 9

Finally! Hit one of those spots where I had an idea but couldn't get it to work right. I kept rewriting a scene and fumbling around. The day I finally decided that my instincts were wrong and the scene didn't belong there it suddenly came to me how to fix it. Odd how the creative juices flow some days.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

STARPOINT VIDEOS

I've been really worried about the set. It takes place inside a fortune teller's tent and I was worried that it wasn't going to work. I wanted a real tent but they are outrageously expensive and even renting one was going to be more than I could afford. There was also the problem of getting a tent that we could put up in doors without having to pound it into the ground. Suzy and I were talking and came up with the idea of just hanging bed sheets. I found a queen size set that was the right color and gave it a test run yesterday. It looked great! We put these large plastic plants behind the sheet, put a light on them, then put a fan on the plants. It was a diffused light and it gave the shadow of wing blowing through threes juts outside. It worked wonders. I'll have to get a few extra sheets and weather them a bit but it'll work.
The only date available in September to shoot is the 17th but I still have a few more people to hear from before I can settle on that. I don't know if Per will be able to make that day. The actress playing the fortune teller hasn't been heard of for some time so I don't know if she's still interested and will be available. Will have to consider rescheduling depending on what they say.
I talked to Tim at PATV about taking care of the sound and he was interested. He is also talking to a composer who might be able to help with the music. Ideally the music will be something very simple, a few themes for the fortune teller and for Gallif.
After that I worked with Josh on the effects and he's very excited about it. We also talked about giving it play on PATV when it's finished and distributing it to other public access stations. I'm also going to look in to possible local festivals.
It's getting big and I'm very excited about it.

NOVEMBER GIRL WEEK 8

A much better week. It's picking up speed and feeling better.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

NOVEMBER GIRL WEEK 7

Much better week than the last few. It took a while to get up to speed. i wrote a few pages but they weren't feeling right so I went back and reread everything I'd already done, through out what I'd written recently, then started over again.
I'm doing something different that I've never done before for this book. I'm actually writing a synopsis of characters and places November meets as the story goes. I've never done that. I did all of Starpoint with some general ideas of where the story was going to go and that was it. Welcome to Nowhere was the same way. This one certainly is going to be different than anything I've written before. So much so that I want to keep a synopsis of the story just in case I end up coming back to this place or characters. I really have no idea where this is going.
Sometimes I love this part of writing.

NOVEMBER GIRL WEEK 6

Well, the heat's finally breaking so I can think better and be more creative than the past few weeks. I tried writing a bit but it took me a while to get back into the mind frame.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

NOVEMBER GIRL WEEK 5

Another rough week. It's just so hard to think and concentrate when it's this hot. It just sucks the life out of me. At least I've had a few good ideas of things I want her to explore so it's not a total waste of time.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

NOVEMBER GIRL WEEK 4

Didn't get much done this week. The heat just sucks the life out of me at work and it's even difficult to think creatively.
I've been looking back and thinking about how most of the characters I write are women. Doctor Who: Shadows of the Past was about a female character and the main character in the Starpoint series is a woman. The only book I've written in the past six years that didn't have a female main character was Welcome to Nowhere. The main characters in the short stories I've written are male but that's about it.
Part of it, I think, is that it's more of a challenge writing a female character in the lead. It's more fun to poke around in their personality and find things I didn't expect. It just happens more often with female characters. The male in Welcome to Nowhere never did really surprise me or take on a life of his won. He's an interesting character, I put a lot of heart into him, but he never once did anything unpredictable. Gallif, in Starpoint Mountain, was surprising me all the way to the end. November has already made a couple of decisions I didn't expect. That's why I like her so much.
Part of me says I really shouldn't think about it to much. The reason might either disturb me or take all of the fun out of it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

NOVEMBER GIRL WEEK 3

It was a really good week writing. Got lots of work done and have started to expand the world where the story takes place. It feels really good.
I have to admit that Robert Heinlein is a big influence on this book. I've been reading his stuff constantly and it is so amazing it's really opened my eyes to story telling. For the most part I will sit down and write tons and tons of back story for my books. On Shadows of the Past I did a time line of what happens on Earth from the year 2000 to the year 2060 when it takes place. I knew everything there was to know about that character. The same with Starpoint Mountain and I wrote pages and pages of character details about the characters in Welcome to Nowhere including their parents, siblings, birth dates, schools, etc.
When I read the Heinlein stuff I get the feeling he doesn't do that. He doesn't explain what has happened to the world in his stories. They are there and you have to accept them as they are. A lot of the times it'll just be character scenes but they are so amazingly interesting I can't put them down. Sometimes it's hard to remember what the plot was supposed to be as well. It's a unique way of writing and I only hope this is a fitting tribute.

Monday, July 11, 2011

NOVEMBER GIRL WEEK 2

Spent three days doing the first conversation in the book. It wouldn't have been so bad if it were more than just a few lines. Going to have to rethink about the conversations that take place throughout the book. It's early enough in the writing that I can still change it without loosing anything.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

NOVEMBER GIRL WEEK 1

I started November Girl this week by writing the prologue. It's called The Last Ordinary Day and gives the reader an introduction into the world of the story then blowing it up. It may, or may not be, our world and it may take place in the present, or future, or maybe the past. I'm really keeping my options open. ;-)
In some ways I'm going back to the way I wrote the Starpoint Mountain books. I had the main characters, a rough idea, and how it ended and just started writing it. There were lots of surprises in that story and characters didn't always turn out the way I planned them too. When I wrote Welcome to Nowhere I did just the opposite. I knew all of the characters in detail before I started and was limiting it so I couldn't add anymore. It also took place in a limited location so I had to put the place together before I started and once it was going that was it. I'm very happy with it but it wasn't as much fun to write, no surprises, so I went back to the original way. the only difference I have no idea how it ends. I just have the main character, a few rough ideas for others she meets, and a few points I want to make.
I feel like Ed Wood watching Plan 9 From Outer Space. He's so proud of it during the premiere and says "This will be the one they remember me by," not realizing they remember it because it's so bad.
I'm also doing it in the first person. I've only written in that form a few times so it's not like I have much experience at it. I must be crazy! If had any brains I wouldn't do it!


STARPOINT VIDEOS

It's taking shape and looking really good.
I took a workshop and am officially a member of PATV now so I'm good to go. I can operate the HD camera so when we go out to shoot on location I can take care of it. It will be easier to organize with fewer people. I'm hoping that Suzy and I will be able to get together some Saturday morning and go out and shoot some of the scenes, then meet up with Jessica later on and shoot hers.
I finally got to meet with Alejandra and she's very excited about doing the role of the Fortune Teller. I hadn't given that character a name in the script and she asked for one. I told her since she's playing the character she could pick the name herself. She lives in Burlington and it's quite a drive from there to Iowa City, 1hr 15min or so, so I'll be going to Burlington sometime later this month or early next to read through the script and rehearse with her. As with Suzy and Jessica I want this to be as fun and easy as possible for them.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

STARPOINT VIDEOS

I'm getting more involved with the videos and starting to do more of it myself. I'm going to take some workshops at PATV on using Final Cut Pro to edit and then get certified to use the HD camera. I figure that will make things a lot easier cause it's one less person to organize.
I finished the script on Thursday and I'm really excited about it. It's titled Changing Fortunes and goes back to the theme that I used in the books. It only takes one person to change the world.
I met with Susannah and Jessica this morning and they are both thrilled about the shoot. I have one more character to cast and have been trying to get a hold of a woman I met at PATV but haven't heard back from her. They are amazing in what they are doing so I want to make it as easy as possible for them. Also got a hold of Josh to see if he can do some of the effects.
The plan is to do the studio footage, about 90% of the script, in August and wrap everything up by the end of September.

Monday, June 20, 2011

STARPOINT VIDEOS

Had a good week of writing and it's really coming together quite well. It's a lot simpler and straightforward way to tell the story.
We were going to shoot a few minutes of footage over the weekend but it just didn't work out. It was Gay Pride Day in Iowa City so two of the three locations I wanted to shoot at would have been crowded and really difficult to get too.
On the other hand I've got Jamen cast now so my three leads are in place.

Monday, June 13, 2011

STARPOINT VIDEOS

I spent two weeks working on the script for the video. Lots of ideas were coming together and it felt like I really good start. Last week I spent a good chunk of time rewriting the same scene about a half dozen times. It just wasn't working right and I finally had to admit it was falling apart. Neither the story nor characters were going anywhere and nothing was flowing like I thought it would be. Thursday night I finally admitted it was crap. No other way to look at it. It was crap. Luckily, on Friday night, the sky opened and a bunch of things fell into my lap. It's fun being an author.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

WELCOME TO NOWHERE WEEK 22

Finished the last page of this book on Tuesday, May 31. I started it January 1 so it came in 5 months exactly. At about 97,500 words it turned out a lot longer than I expected. I'm very happy with it, I think it works quite well, but I have to admit it may actually be a script in disguise.
It was really an experiment in writing when it comes right down to it. I wanted to do something different from Starpoint Mountain in every way. Instead of doing it in chapters I just kept going and did it non-stop. Maybe that's why it feels like a script.
The other big difference is it's a smaller canvas, on the space station, with a set number of locations and characters. I was really constricted and couldn't add anything like I could in Starpoint. I spent a full month before writing just working on the characters, creating more than I needed then scratching them. Also spent a lot of time giving each of them their own back story so I knew exactly when they were born, family, where they went to school, etc. Working this way there really ended up being no surprises in characters. They ended up exactly the way I intended them to be. I like them, I think they are original and distinct characters but, at the same time, they didn't surprise me that much. Doing Starpoint I had always expected Jakobus to be a comic relief character but he refused to be written in any way other than a noble dwarf. I ended up totally rethinking him and giving him a name that felt better for the character.
Something else I kept in mind was that this was a one spot story. That was it. A beginning, middle and end and no loose ends to go back to. It's really the first time I've ever done that. I knew Starpoint was going to be an epic when I started and left loos threads to go back too. Time Web Tremors was originally going to be a trilogy but it just didn't work out that way. Even the Doctor Who novel was supposed to be part of a trilogy. Perhaps, had it actually sold, I would have followed through on it, but it's going to stay a one shot forever as long as I can tell.
I think I need to change my writing habits for a while. Doing this by hand is fun and it gives me lots of time but it's harder to concentrate on two completely different worlds. I'm way behind on the 3rd Starpoint book and it should have been out by now but I've got a long way to go. Need to concentrate on that a while.
It's a pity cause I have so many ideas bubbling around wanting to be told. The strongest one, the next one I will eventually write, is called November Girl. The way it's shaping up I'll be going back to the fly-by-night writing I did for Starpoint. Toying with the idea of doing it first person,

Sunday, May 29, 2011

STARPOINT VIDEOS DAY 1

We had our first day of shooting for the Starpoint mountain videos on Saturday, May 28th. I took Friday off of work to make sure I had everything ready to go and storyboard a few scenes. I had one part of the costume to finish and found out to late that I didn't have anymore fasteners. I thought about going to Wal-Mart that night to get some more but decided against it. I was up by 6:30am Saturday and left the house about 7:30. It was gray and rainy and didn't look to good but I was still in high spirits. Some famous projects got rained on their first day so I wasn't going to let it stop us.
Did some location spotting in Iowa City. I've been trying to find some tunnels to shoot in but no luck. I did find a really good spot by the Iowa River to go to when we need it. Wal-Mart didn't have the fasteners, lucky I didn't go over Friday night, so I had to wait until Hobby Lobby opened at 9:00. I got them and was at PATV about 15 minutes late.
Per and I did some planning while I put the fasteners on the armor. Suzy called and was on her way, she'd been putting some curls in her hair, when Al showed up. We made our plan for the day and did a final costume fitting on Suzy then headed out to a farm a few miles north of Iowa City.
The farm we went to was great and we were joined by Josh, our camera man, and Al's friend who owned the farm. It was sprinkling lightly but the camera was really top notch so were were still able to film. We shot a few tracking shots of Suzy first. One of them was her walking along a path of dead trees directly to the camera and then attacking it with her sword. I walked along with her out of frame giving her some direction as we went. I had written this short promo with Gallif talking about all that she has lost and wondering why she survived through everything. It looked nto the woods to shoot a combat scene. It involved Gallif going through the woods and knowing she's being followed. The bandit attacks and stabs her in the shoulder, she spins and drops him than kills him. I had it story boarded and we shot it as is plus a few extra shots. I was open to lots of different ideas and Josh, the camera man, came up with a few suggestions and we tried a few handheld shots.
I had Al playing the bandit cause he is very tall and I thought he would look menacing attacking Suzy. Originally, after she downed him, I had her moving the hood off his face with the sword. We were shooting that and Al suddenly moved so the sword tipped nicked his chin. OUCH. Suzy felt bad but Al took it pretty good. It didn't bleed, just a bruise as if he'd been shaving, so there wasn't anything to worry about.
We shot one scene, after she kills bandit, where she is looking around and holding the blood drenched sword in front of her. It looked fantastic. Suzy really made that character come alive at that moment. It gave her a lot of depth and was clear that she didn't like having to kill. We improvised a scene then of her cleaning the sword and walking away. It was a very solemn shot and as she went all you could hear was the branches snapping as she went past. We weren't planning on doing any sound recording and didn't take a boom mic with us but I hope the camera's mic was picking it up.
We finished up for the day, soaking wet but feeling great after that. I was ready to keep going but Al was against that so I took his advice. We did find a spot for the next shooting, a combat scene with skeletons. It would be heavy FX scene and it would be best to do it on a day with lots of sunlight.
Drove back to PATV with Suzy and she was really excited about the day. I was glad she felt good and was ready to keep going and shoot again.
I gave her some of the script that I've written and asked her to see of her sister would play one of the three parts. There was a woman working on Al's video and he is going to see if she would take on the third. I really think the three of them together would work great.
Per and I did about an hour of planning after that and I made a rough schedule of the rest of the shoot aiming for one, maybe two days a month. I want to make it as easy as possible on everybody. I'm keeping in mind that they are all volunteering on this project. The target date for finishing it is August.

MAY:
Finalize Costume
Combat Scene 1 (EXT)
JUNE:
Finalize Script
Finalize Cast
Combat Scene 2 (skeletons) (EXT)
Tunnel Scene (night?) (EXT)
JULY
Set Design
Rehearsal
Character
Scenes (EXT & INT)
AUGUST
Shooting (2 days?) (INT)
Pick ups (EXT & INT)

WELCOME TO NOWHERE WEEK 21


I finished all of the subplots and character arcs and just have two more scenes to write. My goal was to be finished by June 1st and I'll definitely make that.

I have to admit I'm kind of glad it'll be finished. Don't get me wrong, I'm very proud of it and there is some really good stuff in there. I like the characters, I think they are all unique with their own personalities. I think the horror element of it is creepy and something I've never seen before.
The thing is I'm finding it really difficult to work on two drastically different books at the same time. It was okay when I was doing the first draft of book 4 in Starpoint and the second draft of book 3 at the same time. It was just when I started Welcome to Nowhere that I ran in to trouble. They were two different everything. I approached them differently, the tone was different, the canvas was different and it was hard to focus on one. The result is, when I finish this week, I will have the first drafts of three different novels and twenty three short stories all written by hand. One of them is about halfway through a second draft. It's not really productive so I'm going to stop writing new stuff for a while and just concentrate on the rewrites.
It's not like I don't have any ideas coming. Lots of things are really wanting to be written. I've been toying with the idea of "OK, So Maybe Heaven Can't Wait" for a long time. "November Girl" just came together and I desperately want to write it. I'm just going to have to keep them on the back burner a while.

WELCOME TO NOWHERE WEEK 20

This was a good week writing. It's winding up for the finale and lots of the threads are coming together a lot better then I expected. My goal is to be finished by the end of May so I've got 9 days left.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

STARPOINT UPDATE

For almost a year now I've been trying to put together some video promotions for the Starpoint books. It was a lot harder than I expected to find an actress, some just weren't the part and some got a bit flaky on me. per and I were both at Icon and thought Susanna Myers, who was the lead in the opening sketch, was fantastic and had the talent to handle the part. We approached her and spent some time talking to her and convinced her to join us. I made a costume especially for her and I'm really proud of it.
I've been doing some work helping my friend Al do a science fiction video at PATV in Iowa City. I've done enough there that they said I could do my own so I've been working to organize some shooting. My friend Per has always been a part of it and I'm really excited about that. Al also jumped on the bandwagon and has a lot more experience and connect ions so it's really picked up speed. We met last Saturday to do some test shots and planning.
The idea we have is to shoot it in two phases. We'll take a day and shoot exterior footage and of various shots in locations around Iowa City. There is a spot I found along the river we can use and there is a stone wall near campus. Al is going to check out some locations at a park this week.
The second phase will be in studio scenes with a few characters in a script I'm working on. The script is a real trick. I t has to be able to stand alone so a viewer who knows absolutely nothing about the books could understand it and has to be intriguing enough that they'll want to read them. That'll be the hard part but I think I have a really good idea for a story that would take place before the books.
I'm including the picture below even t hough it's blurry but it gives a good idea of Susanna's hair. It is naturally reddish but she highlighted it a bit for the vid s. She is GREAT!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

WELCOME TO NOWHERE WEEK 19

Had another week with lots of distractions from real life. Got three pages done. Actually started to think about what I'll write next but not really sure. Part of me says I should stop for a while and concentrate on getting the ones that are done typed up and published.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

WELCOME TO NOWHERE WEEK 18

I hit a techno-babble stage this week. I've made it this long without really needing to explain how this universe works but now it's become important and has to come out. I made a note to add more of that early on during the rewrite. It's funny how it kind of takes off. It started with: "The energy collected by the solar sails was transferred through gold and silver filters into a series of magnetic bottles." It went from there to "copper covered hexagonal plates" and finally "Lower tanibad band radiation and high scale trucer radiation on the secondary scale."

It's not just bologna, it's Super Balogna!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

WELCOME TO NOWHERE WEEK 17

A lot better week this week. Got a lot more done and things are flowing nicely. I'm thinking it'll be done by the end of May.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

WELCOME TO NOWHERE WEEK 16

I got nothing done this week. A few words but that's about it. Just that real life got in the way and shut everything down.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

WELCOME TO NOWHERE WEEK 15

I got a lot of great character and action scenes this week. It's going really well and I think I'll be done in a month or so.
I was thinking how the characters haven't surprised me in this book like they have in the others. Maybe it's because I spent so much time putting them together before writing. I knew going into it that this wasn't going to be like the other books cause I had limited characters in a confined space.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

WELCOME TO NOWHERE WEEK 14

Did pretty good this week. Got through some complicated scenes and did a brief rewrite on the plot for the rest of the book.

On the bad side I've realized that rewriting Ghosts of Starpoint Mountain and doing the first draft of Welcome to Nowhere at the same time was not a bright idea. It's a lot harder than I expected because I'm way behind on doing the Starpoint rewrite. I thought, since they were so different, it would be easy to work on them at the same time. It really isn't. After I finish Welcome to Nowhere I'll have three full length novels written yet they are years away from publication. I've decided that, after finishing this book I'm not going to do this again.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

WELCOME TO NOWHERE WEEK 13

Have to admit this was a pretty slow week and didn't get a lot done. I confess I'm a slacker cause we were off work and I had a whole bunch of things to do.
On the other hand March was my best month's sales EVER!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

WELCOME TO NOWHERE WEEK 12

This week started out really great then I hit a snag.
I was at the point of revealing one of the characters secret, and very dark, background. I had figured out what they had done and how to break them to finally confess. The problem was I suddenly realized that I need to explain why they had done it. Oh, crap! How did they get into the bad situation in the first place? It had just not occurred to me until the last minute and now I needed a really good back story to get them there.
Everything came to a stop and I was really stuck trying to come up with the back story for that character. I spent three days thinking of how it happened and came up with some pretty silly explanations including involvement in the assassination of a president. WTF! Spent lots of time walking around trying to come up with a good story and finally it came through Friday night. It's a bit far fetched but it really felt good writing it.
Then I started to think about the next scene and wrote down a few notes, then more, and more. Twenty minutes later I had the rest of the book planned out. With luck I'll be there in a month.
It still feels like it's really a script in disguise.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

WELCOME TO NOWHERE WEEK 11

Really good week this week. One of those writing moments I really enjoy when the sky suddenly opens and ll these ideas come out. I was working on it steadily and had a few ideas but couldn't decide which way to take it first. Then all of a sudden I was writing an entire page of notes with about ten scenes on it. It really felt liked the wheels were turning again and I wrote pretty solid for a few days after wards. I flipped the order of two scenes but the the story and characters really moved forward.
I'm surprised how this is looking like a regular sized novel. Most novels are 80,000 words but I've never even come close to that length. Time Web Tremors is just under 107,000 words and that is the shortest I've done. Secrets of Starpoint Mountain tops off at about 170,000. Right now Welcome To Nowhere is about the 50,000 word range and it feels like it's about two thirds of the way done.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

WELCOME TO NOWHERE WEEK 10

Had a better week than last and got things moving again. The strangest thing was that it suddenly started to feel like this story would really work better as a script than a book. Oh, no. I don't want to write scripts! I really just don't have any interest in trying to market a script but having so many characters in such a small location would work on screen.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Time Web Tremors

I've released the novel Time Web Tremors this week. The official release date was March 1st but I didn't send out any notices until the 3rd.
I'm doing this completely different from Starpoint Mountain. I'm really starting with the digital marketing of it this time so I made it available for Kindle and Nook first. I was reluctant for a long time to go with the digital versions but I can't deny their popularity. In February I sold a digital copy of the Starpoint books once a week. Much to my surprise two copies of Time Web Tremors were bought on Kindle before I even told anyone about it. In mid-February I said on FB that I was going to release a new book. That was it. I didn't say when or even give the name I just said I was getting a new one ready. It was a real boost of confidence.
I'm setting up print copies through Lulu only this time. As nice as it can be to have it available through Amazon, B&N, etc it just adds so much to the cost and I want to keep the price down. I have a few regular customers who don't have digital readers and I want to have something to offer them.
It's starting out to be a good year.

WELCOME TO NOWHERE WEEK 9

It's been quite a slow week this week. The least productive one I've had this year. Some things got changed so my writing environment is completely different now and it threw me off kilter a while. I ended up just rewriting and rewriting the same scene trying to get it to feel right. Worst part of it is I'm not sure it's right yet. I'm going to have to take a fresh look at it again.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

WELCOME TO NOWHERE WEEK 8

I had a bit of a shock when I was writing this week. I realized that I've gone a long way in introducing characters and situations but I've never really had any conflict amongst them. Despite the fact that it's clear some of them don't like each other they've all been pretty civil. In other stuff I've written I've worked hard to create tension and drama in the characters but for some reason it wasn't happening here. The problem is I couldn't suddenly make them go at each other just for the sake of it. i also had to remember that conflict does not necessarily mean violence. Took me a few days to finally come up with a reason and had to go back and do some work on a character to make it not such a stretch.
Never be afraid to hurt your characters. Don't be afraid to really piss them off, either.

STARPOINT UPDATE

The Pitch round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest ended on the 24th. I didn't get picked to move to the second round. I'm trying to not be a sore loser about it but I would like to know what some of the winning pitches were.
So I am back to square one. I sent one more email to the publisher I talked to at Icon. Not sure why they've been so quiet but if there is no response to this one I will take it that they are not interested and move on.
Despite all that I'm selling a copy a week on Amazon Kindle. That is really turning in to the biggest market.
I've contacted a couple of big conventions and have two that will put postcards in the goodies bag so I am sending 500 to Balticon and 1000 to Ad Astra.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

WELCOME TO NOWHERE WEEK 7

I did okay this week. Got 11 pages done and was pretty pleased with them. I'm starting to suspect this might not actually make it to a full novel. Novella are usually 20,000 to 50,000 words and it's just not feeling like it'll be that long. I don't know, there could be something coming I don't expect which is always the fun part.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

WELCOME TO NOWHERE WEEK 6

This was a very productive week. Put down over 8000 words and it's the best week I've had this year. I think the thing that was slowing me down was, once they were introduced, I was trying to develop all of the characters on a regular basis and advance them evenly. That is a really bad idea cause it slowed everything down and made it mechanical. I was watching an episode of Jericho and noticed how they keep there main characters going and then move the supporting characters in and out when necessary. Once I broke away from that pattern things really started moving and it opened up.
Sometimes I get carried away and get so involved with exploring these characters I forget about the science fiction part of it. It's the same thing that happened with Starpoint where I'd have to go back and add some of the fantasy elements. It seems so odd because of the way I used to think about writing it was action first and characters second. Now it's the other way around.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

CHUCK CUNNINGHAM CHARACTERS

I had a really shocking surprise this week. I have a beat up copy of the Secrets of Starpoint Mountain in my desk at work. Some nights I'll just grab it and open it at random and read a few scenes. I did it on Wednesday night and read the first scene where Gallif talks about her history. She talks about how she was hurt when her parents and sister were killed in a fire and she never really got to say goodbye to them. Then she talks about how her brother was killed in a riot and she never got to say goodbye to him, either.

SISTER? WHAT THE HELL? WHEN THE HELL WAS THERE A SISTER INVOLVED?

I completely forgot about her. I don't even remember why I had the reference in her. I'd written three novels and short stories and dozens of flashback scenes since and there was no hint of a sister. I made a note and changed it on the master version so it was fixed and no one who has ever read the books has mentioned it so it wasn't a big disaster.
The sad thing is that wasn't the first on. Much later in the book, when Gallif and her party is leaving Primor to head to the ice fields I added another giant character to go with them. I wrote the next two chapters and when I went back just out of curiosity I realized the character never shows up again. Seriously! The character appears and makes this really big entrance and then just vanishes. I was lucky in that I just had to rewrite one scene at the end of the chapter.
The only other instance of introducing characters that don't make it top the final print happened in the second book but it was a completely different reason. In the book they are headed to the Dragon Burial Grounds and, in the prologue, I introduced two characters who were already there. The plan was to have her meet them inside and they would guide them through some of the danger spots to help them find the library. What happened was that, by the time I go there, I had already introduced one character and knew they were going to meet another inside. These characters were both very fun and exciting and the two characters that I had planted weren't really necessary anymore. I also realized it would be much more interesting if the party had no guidance from someone who'd been in there and had to learn from scratch. In the long run it really turned out better.
It's wild and one of the magical things about writing. Lots of times characters will take on a life of their own and do things I don't expect them too. I love it when that happens and that's the time I really feel confident about the writing. So far in the second draft of the third book there haven't been any surprises like that but I keep hoping for one.