Monday, May 31, 2010

The Waiting Game

I did it! I finally handed in my manuscript for Black Earth: The Broken Daisy to my editor at the end of last week. This freed me up to continue work on formatting Black Earth: End of the Innocence for ebook editions on Smashwords. I was having some major problems formatting my Word doc and thought I might end up having to 'nuke' my manuscript - essentially strip it of all its formatting and then go back in and put it all back in - but God willing I was able to get it to work right today. Now I'm just waiting for approval from Smashwords so I can get my ISBN #'s and finalize the ebooks.

*Big sigh of relief* Finishing BE: TBD was a challenge - it is the largest novel I have ever written and/or tried to publish - and I actually came across points where I didn't even know if the book would get finished because the story kept expanding. Now that it is done, I just have to wait for my editor to finish her work on it before I can move forward in self-publishing it. I'm stuck in a waiting period with the ebook too, as the people at Smashwords look my manuscript over to make sure I did everything right with the ebook.

With all of this waiting, I'm left questioning what direction to go now. I do need to work on the cover design for BE: TBD, but my wife needs to help me with that and she works the first half of this week. I need to market my novels more, find some creative ways to get more people to purchase and/or read BE: EOTI so I can get some reader reviews/blurbs to post on my website. I also have the Expired Reality series to overhaul which is guaranteed to be a pretty big project in itself - 2 novels to be re-edited, 1 novel to be rewritten, and a novella that I need to find a place for. There's The LZR Project (which is an extension of the Expired Reality series), which I wanted to release months ago, but the drafts aren't even finished for that yet. I have dozens of books staring at me, books that have been waiting to be read, to be explored, to be perused - Tosca Lee's Demon: A Memoir, Brent Weeks' Way of Shadows and even Koushun Takami's Battle Royale are among the masses.

On top of all that, I have another special project I have been wanting to work on for quite a while now regarding another character in my Expired Reality series. Alas, that one will have to wait a bit until all of the forementioned is finished. No rest for a creator of worlds.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Magna Carta: Tears of Blood

For the last year or so I've been keeping my eyes open for a deal on this game. Even though it got average to low reviews for its gameplay and innovation, I love RPGs and I'm in love with the character art in Magna Carta (done by Hyung-tae Kim). So when I found it at Bookmans used book store last week, I grabbed it with the trade credit I had on hand. The disc is in good condition and the strategy guide, instruction manual, poster and case - all which come with this deluxe box set - are in mint condition.

I've managed to play a few hours of it already and although I like the graphics (which are pretty good considering I'm playing it on my PS2) and the storyline, I'm not certain how I feel about the gameplay yet. The game claims to have over 50+ hours of play, so we'll see how I feel after some more hours are put into it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Update On Black Earth 2

So the time has come to where I have to hand Black Earth: The Broken Daisy over to my editor. Next Friday morning is when I am giving her the manuscript and I am still a fair distance from being finished. I am already a month or so over the point in time I wanted to give her the book. The novel novel's original word count was somewhere around 120,000 and now it hovers around 180,000. I started with over 600 side notes in the Microsoft Word document and I'm below 200 now. I have messed with the time/space continuum and introduced a whole cast of characters before the end of the first book that now I have a lot more than I'd like to keep an eye on.

I've realized that this is the biggest challenge I have ever undertaken when it comes to writing. I probably could have split this book into two and had book two and  three done at the same time, but I'm going to keep it all together as the second book in the series. It will give readers more to embrace while they wait for the third.

Most of the edits that I have left to do are consistency issues - dates, times, character wardrobes - all the little details that not all readers really pay attention to. This is an even bigger project because everything also has to tie in with my Expired Reality series that takes place 100 years from the events of Black Earth.

I'll have the novel done by next week. I think my editor is going to take a month to get her edits done and I should be able to release it to the public in August. Then it's back to the Expired Reality series. I should also have some cover art for everyone to look at in the next month and maybe an excerpt or two.

No rest for a creator of worlds. *sigh* :p

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Stand - (Book Review)

When I first picked up a copy of Stephen King’s, The Stand - The Complete and Uncut Edition, in my local Borders Book Store, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was in for. The book is more than an inch and a half thick and over 1100 pages long. I am still in the middle of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series and those books themselves are pretty long, especially Wizard and Glass. But those seem to pale in comparison to the scope that this one novel tries to cover.

The story was great despite its minor shortcomings. A super virus destroys most of mankind and what’s left are various survivors trying to pull themselves together in a world of emptiness and destruction. The apocalyptic terrain that King created in this book is absolutely amazing. The loneliness the characters felt was loneliness that I felt right along with them. Death is around every corner, the corpses of people hit by the virus hiding in dark houses, along littered highways wrought with steel coffins. They are everywhere, a continuous reminder that life is so incredibly fragile.

The book is separated into three parts. The first part seems to be completely designed to introduce most if not all of the characters and their dreams - either of ‘the Dark Man,’ Randall Flagg, who is calling those with an impure heart to Las Vegas - or of Mother Abigail, a 108 year old black woman, who is calling those of a good heart to an old shack in Nebraska. The second part of the book describes the set up of Vegas and of Boulder, Colorado - the location that Mother Abigail moves her people to. Most of this section is about Mother Abigail’s group and how they enforce law and set up a committee and various other establishments that fell during the apocalyptic outbreak. The third part is the final stand off between good and evil, between the main characters from Mother Abigail’s group and Randall Flagg’s group.

There are so many characters in the story that I’m not going to bother listing them. My favorite was Nick Andros, the deaf mute. The characters were real, they were creative, and they were brilliantly brought forth on the pages of the book. Even when a character was only in the book for a page or two, they felt so incredibly dynamic. The reactions that each character has to the world that is falling apart around them was right on and I could tell that King put some time and energy into making sure of that.

What I love about Stephen King’s writing as I read more of his books is the way he ties in characters from one series into another. Randall Flagg is also the main protagonist in the Dark Tower series and I think he is one of the best villains I have read. He is the embodiment of pure evil, the very core of what is wrong with the world. That being said, I was a bit disappointed with the ending of the book. It felt very anticlimactic. When I expected a final showdown between the characters and one of the darkest beings the world has ever seen, I was bummed at how Randall Flagg was actually taken out of the picture. On top of that, some of the epilogue-style ending chapters seemed to serve no real purpose. I do agree that King should have had the basis of those chapters in the novel in some capacity, seeing how the reader ends up investing so much time into the book, but I think he could have done without some of the long, drawn out scenes he used.

This leads me to the biggest complaint I have about the novel: King has too much exposition in some parts of the book. I understand that uncut means uncut, but I’ve noticed the same thing about King in some of the Dark Tower books as well. There’s just too much description about things that don’t really progress the novel or carry the storyline further ahead.

Another complaint I have about the book is the uneven scenes. I would read very long chapters about one particular character only to get to the next chapter about another character and find the story has backtracked to run parallel with the chapter before it. This made me have to stop and figure out where I was exactly - chronologically speaking - in the book. I think the chapters could have been leveled out a little more evenly and the pace tuned up a bit.

All in all, The Stand is phenomenal and a definite must-read before dying. Put it on your bucket list. Just don’t purchase the uncut edition in paperback if you get headaches easily. The version I purchased from my local Borders had an extremely small font which only allowed me to read it in intervals. I probably would have been better off buying the eBook version and reading it on my computer.

I give the book four and a half stars out of five.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Destiny Project?

I've never really been interested in writing non-fiction, aside from the ten volume memoir I plan to start working on someday. Speaking with a friend last night though left me with the realization that maybe it would benefit many others if I did write a book about the experiences that my wife and I have been through on this journey from me being fired to becoming a known author worldwide.

When God promised my wife and I that He would take care of our rent and all of the rest of our provisions on this adventure, He meant it. And month after month I see miracles that leave me speechless. And month after month, as my human nature comes out, my faith struggles to trust in Him for the next monthly dose of finances. It is life. It is life being lived out in faith.

I'm not sure when I'll start this project. First I have to finish the sequel to Black Earth: End of the Innocence. It's due to my editor 3/4 of the way through May and I'm not even in my final draft yet. Then I have the overhaul of the Expired Reality series I have to work on. Maybe once all of that is cleared from my list of things that should have been done last year, I'll have time to work on it.

I've been wondering what to name it. The Destiny Project, maybe? In hindsight, it would have benefited me to be keeping a journal the last nine months to record everything so I don't have to pull it all from memory, but now I'll know better for next time...