Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Coping with Slow Starts, or Why You Should Have Beta Readers and Listen to Them!

This post is based on recent experience, and I hope the reflections here will help anyone who finds himself or herself stuck in a similar situation.

As we all skip--and sometimes trudge--down the road to publication, I can't help stressing the importance of having our WIP read by critiquers and beta readers.
Dozens of helpful eyes have looked at different chapters of Serving Time, and I still marvel at how many mistakes people catch--mistakes I thought I didn't have. A typo here, an awkward sentence there... if caught too late, these errors can all add up to one embarassing mess! I'm thankful to my critiquers for showing me where I go wrong while I'm still in time to mend my ways. Thanks, guys from Critique Circle!

Being a translator and teacher, I always considered myself a pretty good editor. But that doesn't mean I'll be single-handedly editing my work. I'm too emotionally attached to it, and I sometimes see brilliance in my writing where others go "huh?".

To avoid these "huh?" moments, I recently contacted a professional editor and arranged a day for me to send her my full manuscript. We're thinking sometime in late January. While that might seem far away, it's a good thing. I still have so much to do--and here's why: last week, I gave out copies of Serving Time to five fantastic beta readers, and the results are in:

I have a slow start.

Sure, they tell me the writing is excellent, the characterization is good, but the pace doesn't really pick up until we're too many pages into the book. After hearing this from several of my helpers, my first reactions were hot-headed--and probably what goes through many people's minds when we don't hear what we want.

Let's look at some examples:

1) "My work is great and they have no idea what they're talking about."

2) "But the pivotal point is so clear! Can't they see this phrase here on page 61! It's so clear!"

3) "Other readers will like it and won't mind taking a little longer to get to the central plot."

4) "After everything I've been through, I'm not making any more changes!"

Have any of these thoughts ever stampeded through your head? If so, it's time to take a rest. Take a few days off to distance yourself from your novel. DO NOT start pounding out angry or defensive responses to the people who are trying to help you.

Once you've found your distance and cooled down, you can begin to think about how big of a problem you have, and how to solve it.

Let's review those initital, hot-headed thoughts, but this time after taking a short break:

1) "My work is great and they have no idea what they're talking about."

Your work sounds great to you because you're the author. What parent likes to be told their child is ugly?
Those less-than-pretty opinions are what you received--what you have to work with--and if they're given in a helpful manner, you would be self-destructive not to take them into consideration.

Three of my beta readers agreed that the first few chapters of Serving Time are dedicated mostly to the setup, and it's difficult to see a central plot emerge until we reach Chapter 6 or so. In my case, that means we have to wade through about 19k words out of a 121k book. That means almost a sixth of the book shuffles by before readers fully grasp the main conflict.

Thanks to the watchful eye of my beta readers, I'm now aware I have a problem. And admitting to a problem, folks, is the first step to fixing it.

2) "But the pivotal point is so clear! Can't they see this one phrase here on page 61! It's so clear!"

Again, you are the author and you know this story better than anybody else ever will. What might seem clear to you isn't necessarily going to shine for readers. Giving information to readers is a delicate balance: ensure your public will understand what you want to say without spoon-feeding or patronizing them.

3) "Other readers will like it and won't mind taking a little longer to get to the central plot."

While this may be true in some cases, isn't it still a good idea to listen to advice prior to publishing? Once your book's out there and receiving reviews, you can't really take it back.

4) "After everything I've been through, I'm not making any more changes!"

This is a difficult phase in every writer's life: weariness. But remember: every hurdle you jump now is another hurdle gained. It's okay to make mistakes, as long as you are strong enough to learn from them.
So these are the thoughts going through my head now that I'm aware I need to tweak the first chapters of Serving Time. However, no matter how itchy my fingers get, I'm forcing myself to wait until December to make any changes. Then, with my first NaNoWriMo under my belt and some distance from my novel, I will be able to go back to it and work on it with a fresher mind.

I haven't succeeded in finding much information or help on how to avoid slow starts in novels. These are the two helpful links I've found.

For more information:

Starting a Novel in the Wrong Place, by Agent Kristen
The Slow Start: How to Open your Novel with a Bang, by Roger Colby

Do you have any techniques for revving up slow starts? If so, share them in the comments!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday #2

For my first Six Sentence Sunday, I introduced two goddesses: Present (who prefers to go by the name of Time) and Past.

In the following weeks, we'll focus on the plight of one character from the novel Serving Time: Argo. Everything you will see in Six Sentence Sunday happens before the action in the novel.

In this first scene, Argo's girlfriend breaks his heart.

"Goodbye." She stood at the door, her wavy brown hair tucked behind her ears and her lips thinned to a sliver.

“Please don't go.” Argo couldn't manage to speak beyond a whisper without his voice breaking.
Her comm-link beeped, but she didn't move to look at it.
He's waiting for her downstairs.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

NaNoWriMo NewBie

Well, that's it. I made up my mind.

I'm doing my first ever NaNoWriMo this year!

*Gasps echo across all of blogspot.*

How can I describe the feelings bubbling in my stomach? Excitement's one of them. But then there's also stress (already!), some fear and a whole lot of "Whooooaaaaa, will I be able to pull this off?".

Of course I will, if I set my mind to it! You see, although I might look tough on the outside, inside I'm just another one of those deranged optimists--the type that sits at a funeral thinking "Well, at least we got the family together."

With my first novel almost ready for a professional editor to gnaw it to pieces, what are my plans for NaNo? To write the sequel, of course!

For once in my life, I actually have a title for the story before I begin writing it: Making Time. I couldn't be happier! Okay, okay, I hear you. I might have cheated... just a little. Making Time was the original title for my first novel, which is now called Serving Time. You can learn how I decided to swap names on this blog post: Choosing a Title: Make it, Serve it, Screw it.

I don't want to give away too many details, but Making Time involves a whole lot of demon-on-demon action, a whole lot of searching through uncharted realms, and not one--not two--but three additions to the family.

Are you participating in the madness? What is your project about? If you're a deranged optimist like me, look for me on the official NaNoWriMo page or on Critique Circle. My name's easy to spot.

Happy writing, everyone!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

One Word Wednesday #2

Hello everybody and happy middle of the workweek. Only a couple more days to go before the weekend! But weekends just fly by, right?

This is my second One Word Wednesday. The concept is simple: go to oneword.com and click on "start". You will receive one word and one minute to write whatever you can crank out. Once your time's up, you can share your work with others and see what they came up with.

You can view my first OWW here, and my first OWF (One Word Friday--didn't make it on time for Wednesday!) here.

So here we go with this week's entry! Let's see what word I get...

One word.
One minute.
Your imagination.

This week's word is "solution". I don't use the word in the text, but I use the idea. Enjoy!

There was only one way he could get out of this mess--and, as always, it involved murder. Or wait. Maybe he could try something different... something he hadn't done in a long time. Possession. He could become Eneld, take his body, use his mind. That would work. Yes.

Eneld is a character in my upcoming sci-fantasy novel, Serving Time. He falls prey to... I'll let you guess!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Don't call me baby

In a previous post on name generators, I mentioned the troubles I endure while searching for that perfect name.
Well, for some odd reason, I've been thinking about names all this past week.

No, no. I'm not expecting a baby! I'm actually considering changing some of my characters' names. Many, many people (and some monsters) make Serving Time come to life, and their names range from common options (Martha, Katherine, Robert...) to stranger, more creative ones (Alete Freeborne, Eneld Cross, Koremdor...). However, I'm aware that some of my names need more oomph.

For example, there is a minor character who has a terrible, bland name: Arnold Johnson. I chose it on purpose actually, just to show what a boring sort of person he was. Over time, however, Arnold became more important in my novel, he forged a much better personality for himself, and he even earned the right to a short story explaining how a demon managed to--no, no! I promised myself no spoilers!

I concluded that Arnold didn't deserve to be so bland. He didn't deserve to be Arnold--or Johnson. And anyway, his name was already too similar to anoher one, belonging to a main character: Eneld.
Over the weekend, I chose a new name for Arnold, a constellation which hints at his role in the novel: Argo. I'm all right with Argo, now I just need a new last name. Jot it down on my to-do list!

This isn't the only name I would like to change. My demonologist Robert (who you can see in action here and here) has a rather... uncomfortable last name: Harwood. I immediately see "hard wood" whenever I read it. I guess I'm just that kind of person...

I still haven't come up with a better last name for him, but I'll find something soon. To-do list!

All these name changes made me think... There are several names I love--name I wouldn't change. But were they always that way? What were my characters' names prior to the completed manuscript?

Let's have a look!

Tristan, one of the main characters, was always Tristan. No big story here, sorry! His first appearance was in a short story I wrote when I was about 12 or 13 (I'm 28 now so you can do the math). He appeared as a space bum, travelling from one derelict ship to another with his brother, Seth.

In Serving Time, Tristan's brother isn't called Seth anymore; someone else has inherited that name. The character who used to be Seth is now called Eneld. Can you guess where I got that?

From a Spanish cooking show! I had been thinking about a name change for a few days, and one day at lunch I was watching Eva Arguiñano teach someone how to cook. She mentioned "eneldo", dill, and I liked it.

So who inherited the name Seth? Well, a quirky engineer living on the Jovian colony Ringwall, that's who! Seth is the owner of the Robot Rehab, the one person who can make all your robotic fantasies come true.

But what about the antagonists? Have their names changed too?

Of course!

Verin, the main antagonist who makes Tristan and Eneld's flight to Earth a living nightmare, used to be Quagga. Don't ask me where I got that! Yes, I know it's an animal! Remember I was around 13 when I came up with the main characters, so don't judge my ridiculousness. "Quagga" was always a working name, a placeholder really. Then I did my research and came across the name Verin. Perfect.

Koremdor, the seven-foot-tall cyborg StarCorp goon, used to be Tymothy. I got that name from a person I once met who must have made quite an impression on me...

The name change for Tymothy came about when someone on Critique Circle pointed out that a cyborg goon from the future should have a more unique name. New name, no problem! And you have to agree that "Korem" packs a better punch than "Tym"!

These are just some of the changes I've made over this last year. Names are my bane--heck, I even changed the name of the novel from Making Time to Serving Time!

What about you? How have your characters' names changed over time?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - 1

Happy Sunday everybody! It's a windy and rainy one over here. 

This is my first Six Sentence Sunday post, and I would like to give you a little taste of my sci-fantasy novel: Serving Time.

“Hello, Past.”
“Hello, Present, my dear sister.”
“Here, let me wipe the drool from your chin.”
Past raised her sagging eyelids and gazed into Time’s face. “You still think about her, and what you did to wrong her.”
“You will never let me forget.”

Thank you for reading! Keep your eye on this blog for more details about my upcoming adventure, and the demons and goddesses who make it come to life!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

One Word Wednesday - 1

Well, this week I remembered, so I can post my One Word Wednesday on an actual Wednesday.

The rules are simple: go to oneword.com and you'll see what you have to do.

One word.
One minute.
Your imagination.

The word for today is...

Civilize me? Why would anyone want to do that? I am the gentle sea breeze ruffling your hair. I am a kiss on the cheek, a caress down your arm. Why would you want to take away what I am?

Short because for some reason my fingers weren't working and I kept hitting the wrong letters, ha!

See my previous exercise, One Word Friday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Guest Post: Cloverpuff and Rick Ellrod's Ariane Meadows

Here's Rick getting ready for
a typical morning of swashbuckling
and galleyplanking.
Hello everybody! I am pleased to introduce my first guest post by fellow CCer Rick Ellrod. He is a wonderful author, a thoughtful critiquer, and an all-around great guy.

Today, Cloverpuff hops on over to Rick's sci-fi work in progress, House of Stars.

On to you, Rick!

What's your name?

Hello.  I didn’t know there was an intelligent species here on Tremont that looked so like a rabbit.  I’m Ariane Meadows.  What’s your name?

I’m Cloverpuff, a press agent with New Time Magazine.

I don’t understand much about how human newsgathering works yet – I hadn’t realized talking rabbits were involved.

But aren’t you human yourself?  You certainly look like it.

Oh, yes, I’m human.  But this is my first opportunity to be among large numbers of other humans.  I was raised from a baby by bonvraf.

I see.  And what are these bonvraf?

Bonvraf are another intelligent species.  Longtime members of the Sunmoot.  Their homeworld is high northwest of here.

So, what were you doing when I came in?

I’m unpacking.  They’ve given me a nice office, and I did bring a few things with me.

Who is “they”?

The Leonore Research Institute.  Our team is working for them on this project.

If I told you you had to do some spring cleaning right away, what would you throw out?

(Laughs.)  It’s hard to think of anything I have yet that I don’t need.  I didn’t bring many things here to Tremont – aside from knowledge.  “Who travels far, travels light.”

Look deep into my eyes... Do you have any secrets you'd like to confess?

(Hesitates.)  I haven’t thought about it very much in years, and I don’t talk about it to people any more, but . . . I would like it if I could find out somehow who my parents were.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d like to be a little more daring, more open.  I think I’ll be able to relax better once I’m more used to my own people.

And what do you like most about yourself?

Well, I’m pretty good at math, and I can put it to good use.  Telckrommen himself has said how important my work has been on some of our projects.

Is there anyone you really, really hate? Come on, you can tell me!

No, really, not at all.  Most people have been very kind to me.

Imagine it's a typical Saturday afternoon. What are you doing?

On the trip here I suppose I would have been getting some exercise, which isn’t easy to arrange in free fall.  I haven’t been here long enough to establish a routine yet.  But my roommate Carrie and I are going to a beach party this Saturday afternoon.  I think that will be fun.  A lot of new people will be there.

What's your strongest childhood memory? It can be good or bad.

I remember when I was about four I solved my first quadratic equation.  It was so exciting to be able to do something for the first time.  All the bonvraf were cheering, and my human caregiver – it was Mr. Hanjour, I think.

Well, thank you for your time! Before I head on back to my dimension, can you complete this sentence for me?

If I could be a domestic appliance, any appliance, I'd be a...

I don’t know.  What I really want is to learn how to live among other humans – and being a domestic appliance wouldn’t be a good way to do that, don’t you think?

Come on – just for metaphor’s sake.

Well – perhaps a wristlink.  (Holds up a capable-looking device on her wrist.)  It can do math too – sort of – but you can also talk to people.  I plan to talk to a lot of people here!

Now I'll hop on over to...

Tian Zheng, by John Kang

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cloverpuff at the Devil's Playground

Hello! Oh! Oh no! What is this place? Ash is falling from the sky! What’s that?

*The ground rumbles under Cloverpuff’s feet.*

Readers, a column of flames has just sprouted from the ground! It’s climbing high into the sky! I must have hopped into the wrong place!

*Thumps hind leg.*

Preparing to leave!
This isn't Loki. It's Robert. Work with me.

What are you doing here, little critter? The Devil’s Playground is no place for rabbits.

*Scoops Cloverpuff and cradles her in his arms.*

You cannot leave yet. I believe you owe me an interview.

Oh… uh…

*Looks around. Dozens of shadowy figures march in the distance. Their black hides glisten under the flaming orange sky. Spikes and long tails sway from side to side.*

Are those… demons?

Yes. But don’t worry. You’re safe with me.

What's your name?

Robert Harwood.

What were you doing when I came in?

Catching my breath.


I needed it after my meeting with Abaddon.

I might regret asking you this but… who’s Abaddon?

A demon, and my Keeper. You just missed him. You’re one lucky rabbit… had you come a few seconds earlier, he would’ve set a demon’s bind in your heart as well.

You make pacts with demons?

Occasionally, yes. But this one was worthless.

Okay, let me get on with the interview. The sooner I finish, the sooner I’ll be able to hop out of this place.

As you wish. But I find the Devil’s Playground to be quite fun.

If I told you you had to do some spring cleaning right away, what would you throw out?

*Sets Cloverpuff on the ground.*  

I would free myself of all these binds. They are the work of the demons, and they are suffocating my soul. Many have been with me for so long they are a part of me—a part I sometimes cannot control. But the bind Abaddon just set in place was unwarranted. He didn’t give me the information I demanded, yet he claimed his side of the bargain. Do you know who True Self 603 is?

Uh, no?

His name is Tristan Cross.

Oh! I interviewed him a few days ago! Nice fellow, although he did say something about making rabbit stew that made me a little nervous.

Nice fellow? Naïve creature, you have so much to learn. Tristan is a thief and a murderer. I will never understand why a goddess like Time is so interested in redeeming his soul.
I came to Abaddon looking for answers. I wanted to read True Self 603’s record, maybe then I would make sense of why Time is making me follow his trail. He must have done something in a past life for her to care so deeply about him. But Abaddon says the file does not exist. Lies! Someone has hidden it, and for a reason. I must know what it is.

*Gazes nervously at the demons marching closer.*

Well, I hope you find what you’re looking for. Can we keep going?

I’m waiting.

Do you have any secrets you'd like to confess?
Not any I can tell you.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I think I answered that a moment ago. Abaddon’s bind has no place in my soul.

And what do you like most about yourself?

Who have you visited prior to me?

*A bright blue light flickers from Robert’s mouth.*

*Cloverpuff huddles in fear.*

I visited many people. There's Edward, Piper, Neal, Emariya, Jingjing, Alistair...

From my realm.

*A new light shines off Robert’s tongue. His long, black overcoat slowly billows.*

Only two, Tristan and Time.

So you have spoken to the goddess? What did she say about Tristan?

I don’t know!

Tell me.

*A blue bolt of lightning flashes from Robert’s mouth and wraps around Cloverpuff.*

She said Future tricked her! She said she listened to her sister’s lies and corrupted the one mortal she adored most!

*Robert gazes down his nose at Cloverpuff.*

The one mortal she adored most?

*The blue ray vanishes from around Cloverpuff. Shivering, she looks around.*

What was that?

You asked me what I liked most about myself. I believe I just gave you a demonstration. But don’t let my Commands unsettle you. Go on, I still have time for one more question.

*Cloverpuff wriggles her nose.*

Oh, uh… Excuse me, this is all very disconcerting… Let’s see…

*Flips through notebook*

The next question is: Is there anyone you really, really hate?

*Pulls up the collar of his overcoat.*

Hatred is too strong a word. I will not say there is no hatred in my heart. However, you must not fuel those destructive emotions, little one. For hatred beckons specters, and specters, once they have found you, never leave.
Now excuse me, but more pressing matters require my attention.

No, wait. I’m still not done!

Another day.

*Robert crouches.*

I advise you leave quickly. Once I am gone, the demons will have no qualms coming to you and ripping your skin off, strip by bloody strip.

*He bows his head and with a word, is gone.*

Well. That was—


Uh-oh! He’s right!

*Thumps leg like crazy.*

Gotta hop! Bye! Off to see Jie Yan, by John Kang.

Friday, October 12, 2012

One Word Friday!

Hello everybody! Just a quick and fun post today!

Okay, so I didn't make it on time for One Word Wednesday. Too much pressure at work and too many edits to make on my WIP, Serving Time.

Fellow bloggers and Critique Circle friends Kay Proctor and Lanise Brown participated this week, so I thought I'd also give it a try.

To participate in One Word Wednesday (or One Word Anyday, for that matter!), just go to oneword.com. Click on the Start button, and you'll be given one word and one minute to write whatever pops into your head.

Of course, my entry has to do with the characters in my novel... It could have been better, but hey, that's you get in one minute.

It slid down his chest like a piece of slime, that wet glob of demon spit. He glanced up into the demon's eyes. "That all you got?""We are just getting started." The demon jiggled its rump and lunged against him.Robert laughed.

More on Robert and his demons in my upcoming sci-fantasy novel, Serving Time

*Extra bonus--yay!: I really hope to meet up with my illustrator soon and start working on the drawings of all my characters. Searching the net one day, I came across this picture of Loki. What the! Robert looks and dresses a lot like him!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cloverpuff does what she can with Time

Why do you disturb my passage, fuzzy mortal?

I'm here to interview you! I'm Cloverpuff, the dimension hopping rabbit.

A rabbit? I do not know what that is.

I'm a rodent from Earth.
Ah! Earth! Robert is from that planet. But he is away now, combing space.

I hop around different novels and interview the characters. It's your turn now. Let's get started, all right?

You bore me.

What's your name?

You do not know? Look into my eyes and you shall speak my name.

Oh... my... Your eyes... Ex-excuse me, Bowman but let me steal your line.They're full of stars! The entire universe is cradled between the constellations in her eyes. Dear readers, I can't describe it... Her eyes, are the birthplace of dreams, the sand in the hourglass, the rise and fall of empires.

Good, good. You are not as dim as you look with that hat.

*Dorky, drowsy-eyed grin.* You are my Goddess.

I am Time, ruler of the universe.

*Gasps.* The goddess Time. You're the first goddess I interview! Do you mind me asking... What were you doing when I came in?

I flow through the universe. I permeat everything and everyone. Without me, you would be nothing. Your life would exist. I am the ruler. The one who stepped up when the Logos abandoned all creation. The one who restored order in chaos.

Yes, but what were you doing right now? When I hopped in?

*Gestures toward bureau sitting in the middle of nowhere.* I was putting on the anti wrinkle cream Robert made me.

If I told you you had to do some spring cleaning right away, what would you throw out?

There is a simple answer for that: I would begin with all of Robert's knick-knacks. Look, I shall show you. *Walks across the emptiness.*

*An entire laboratory slowly appears around her, condensing like ghosts.*

Oh, my! How did you do that?

The laboratory is always here. I hide it so it does not jostle my nerves even more. Look.

*Picks up giant glass decanter.*

This is one of the first items I would banish from my plane. Robert leaves his utensils lying all around, and I trip over them when I am concentrated my flow.

*Points to static bicycle.*

Robert does not even need that. He has only used it once in two hundred years.


Yes... I believe it is time for a little spring cleaning.

*Raises hand toward bicycle, hums a deep, sad melody. Tiny blue rays of electricity crackle from her fingertips. The bicycle quivers, rattles and shakes. With a pop, it vanishes.*

Wow! You made it disappear!

I sent it to a different plane. Robert will have to perform many astral jumps until he finds it. The exercise will do him good.

Well, let's continue with the interview. Look deep into my eyes... Do you have any secrets you'd like to confess?

Do not tell me to look into your eyes. They offer nothing but short-lived joy and dreams which will never be fulfilled. Your life is but a speck against the backdrop of the universe. You shall return to the Forge, the birthplace of all True Selves, before my dress completes its next ripple.

Oh... Okay... *Lowers head.* Talk about being a buzzkill. Next question: if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Change? Me? I am the ruler of the universe!

And what do you like most about yourself?

Observe my brilliance. Does that answer your question?

Is there anyone you really, really hate? Come on, you can tell me!

I do not feed my loathing, dear... rabbit. It is a hurtful feeling which has damaged me in the past. Although I do feel disappointment for my sister Future. She fell prey to jealousy and conjured up a false Future to show me. I believed her. I never should have. She made me corrupt the one mortal I adored most...

Imagine it's a typical Saturday afternoon. What are you doing?

Your question is irrelevant.

What's your strongest childhood memory? It can be good or bad.

My childhood was quickly thrust off the Logos' lap. But if I had to choose one particular memory... It is the brief period I spent alongside my sisters, Past and Future. We were young, we didn't know what rivalry was. But then Past withdrew from us, closing herself in her memories of days gone by. Her shoulders sagged and her back bent more and more with every new memory weighing over her shoulders. I rarely see her now. It... it breaks my heart. I do not wish to talk about this any longer.

Well, thank you for your time! No pun intended! Before I head back to my dimension, can you complete this sentence for me?

If I could be a domestic appliance, any appliance, I'd be a...

I do not know of this appliance you speak of. I am Time. It is all I wish to be.

Now I'll hop on over to...

Tristan Cross
Frederick Terra, by Shane Jeffery

Click on Tristan to see Cloverpuff interview characters from other novels!

Time rules the upcoming sci-fantasy novel, Serving Time. Stay tuned for more news and character portraits!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Character Blog Hop - Tristan Cross

This is Cloverpuff, the dimension-hopping bunny! She's been jumping around from one WIP to the next, interrupting the characters and interviewing them. She's a natural-born journalist, and she manages to get answers to all her questions. Because... who can say no to that little face under the hat?

On to you, Cloverpuff!

Hello blog hoppers! My, I certainly didn't expect my hop to bring me here... wherever here is! Nice to meet you. Let's start with the basics, then we'll move on to more complicated questions.

What's your name?

What the hell! Where'd you come from?

Name, please?

Er... Tristan.

I'd appreciate a full name. *Wriggles nose.*

Then I'd have to say Tristan Cross.

What were you doing when I came in?

*Looks down at the wrinkled clothes in his hands.* What does it look like I'm doing? Going through my brother's stuff.

If I told you you had to do some spring cleaning right away, what would you throw out?

What kind of question is that? And how'd you get in here, anyway?

Please answer.

Well, fuck. You got me. I guess I'd throw out that damned throx case--once I get my hands on it. *Drops clothes on the floor and goes back to sifting through the closet.* I know Eneld hid it somewhere. I know he's snorting again. I just have to find the case and then I can make him eat it. How does a smart guy like him end up like this? He promised me he'd quit.

Look deep into my eyes... Do you have any secrets you'd like to confess?


Look deeper... Anything?

Just drop it. Any secrets I might have are in the past, and I'm not proud of them. I moved on.

I'm a dimension-hopping bunny, you have to tell me something.

Okay, okay. A few years ago I used to work for Crimson Quarters. I made a small fortune doing... jobs for them.

What kind of jobs?

If you insist, I can show you. I got a good recipe for rabbit stew.

Moving on... If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I have a bad temper and I usually jump to conclusions. It's got me into a lot of trouble in the past.

And what do you like most about yourself?

I guess it's the fact that I'm an intercolony pilot. I love being the captain of the vessel and having control of everything. Now that I left Crimson Quarters behind, I'm back on track. Damn it. I'm almost back on track. I work for StarCorp now.

Is there anyone you really, really hate? Come on, you can tell me!

I don't usually hold a grudge. I think there are more people out there holding a grudge against me than I remember. There's Therese, from the Triangulate Refuge, there's the entire population of Nightmute... oh, and Alete Freeborne, that ass. I guess I'd have to say him. Never met a bigger ass in my life.

Imagine it's a typical Saturday afternoon. What are you doing?

Saturday? Afternoon? Look, I've been traveling around the Solar System for the last three years, Saturdays and afternoons don't exist anymore. But if I had some time to kill I guess I'd watch this week's episode of E-Wok: Online Cooking with the Pros. Haven't had time to sit down and watch it yet.

What's your strongest childhood memory? It can be good or bad.

*Stops to think for a bit.* I guess my best memory is going to the beach with my mother and my little brother. We used to search for crabs between the rocks. Then we'd all go to this restaurant and share a paella. I miss those days... everything was simple. I had a family. And now? My mother's gone, and here I am, working for StarCorp, going through my brother's stuff to see if he still does drugs. It's ridiculous. Do you know how many shipments of throx I delivered this month?

Er... no.

Five. I deliver the damned stuff and it turns out Eneld's still snorting it. And now I have to tell him it's wrong. Ironic. *Stuffs the clothes back into the closet.* Nothing in here. He must've hidden it in his travel box.

Well, thank you for your time! Before I head on back to my dimension, can you complete this sentence for me?

If I could be a domestic appliance, any appliance, I'd be a...

A Chef-O-Tron 3k. That thing's badass.

Now I'll hop on over to...

Edward Jasper, by Kay Proctor
Piper Toll, by Lanise Brown
Neal Rodríguez, by Marcia Kuma
Emariya Warren, by Kelly Walker
Jingjing Wang, by John Kang
Alistair Leeds, by Shane Jeffery
Time, by Nadine Ducca

You'll find out more about Tristan Cross in the upcoming sci-fantasy novel Serving Time. Stay tuned for updates!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

WIP Blog Hop - Serving Time

Hello everybody. Just a quick and simple post today: the blog hop! 

The rules are simple: answer these questions about your work in progress, and link others at the bottom so everybody can hop over to meet them.

What is the working title of your book?

Serving Time.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I honestly can’t place my finger on it. I started throwing ideas around when I was 12, and the whole universe slowly took shape.

It all began with a short story about two brothers, originally called Tristan and Seth, who ransacked derelict ships to sell off everything they could find. But they pushed their luck too far in the black market and one day they discovered they were one of the System’s “most wanted”. To avoid being caught by the police, they joined forces with Quagga (hey! Give me a break! I was a kid!) to escape their hometown space settlement and make a dash for Earth, the capital of disorder, where anyone with a past can vanish into the crowd.

All the characters, as well as the plot, slowly evolved over the years until, in the summer of 2010, I decided to join a novel writing course and make sense of it all.

Characters changed. Names changed; Seth became Eneld, and Quagga became Verin. Tristan lost his way and became a hired assassin, while Eneld tried to hold on to his dignity as a biorobotics engineers. The plot evolved and became much more intricate. Later on, a goddess, a necromancer and a pack of demons decided they wanted in on the fun. Everybody’s welcome. We’re one big happy family. :-)

What genre does your book fall under?

Sci-fantasy and adventure.

The action is set in a futuristic world in which humanity has spread across the Solar System. Millions of people inhabit colonies in the Jovian neighborhood, blissfully unaware of the supernatural creatures which share their day-to-day life.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I’ll let the producers make that decision.

No, seriously, I can’t imagine any specific actor playing my characters, but I can imagine them in comic books. Loads and loads of comic books! I’d love that.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

One sentence what?

Summarizing my book is an issue I’ll have to confront very soon. I still haven’t been able to pin down the convergence of various storylines in just a couple sentences.

This is one of the reasons why I’m talking about a WIP and not a completed novel.

In a few weeks, I plan to write a new blog post with all the details of Serving Time—and maybe a few illustrations thrown in for fun!

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I will probably self publish it next year, once I’m done with the edits. I originally wanted to find an agent and attempt the “traditional path”, but self publishing sounds more and more appealing the more I learn about it.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About ten months. The second draft, which included substantial changes in plot and characterization (I wasn’t happy with the first draft), took me about another ten months. Considering I was working full time and studying a master’s degree, I’m pleased with how quickly I put everything together.

I completed the second draft the last week of August 2012. I am currently editing and making small character and plot improvements.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Serving Time is a fantasy adventure set in a science fiction world, so making comparisons is a bit difficult.

Some details, such as the space colonies scattered across the Solar System, are comparable to the setting in Isaac Asimov’s novel Nemesis.

Certain silly moments in the plot, as well as the characters, are comparable to some of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels and Jonathan L. Howard’s debut novel, Johannes Cabal de Necromancer.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Déjà vû—see question two! I honestly don’t know who or what my muse is. Since my childhood, I have always loved writing. It was about time I got serious about it.

I guess that through this novel I want to give my vision of the world around us, of life and death, and inner demons. Because we all have inner demons.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

A fellow CCer said: “I write about necromancy. I write about robots. But I don’t write about necromancy AND robots. That would be absurd.”

Well, roll up my sleeves and call me Sally because Serving Time has both!

Next up I tag:

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