Friday, April 24, 2009

It Never Rains...

...but it pours. Everything happens at once. After a long lull, waiting for things to come together, it's all happening right about now.

Here you can see my day's work - the new cover for Legendary Space Pilgrims. I also made the back cover, but I'll show you that another time as this one is tooled for the ARC or advance review copy, which makes it a little less spectacular than it will eventually become. Note: I didn't draw the lovely rocketship - that's a contribution by Brian "Clank" Bennett from Shoutlife.

All day I wrestled with the the pixels and paintbrushes, the spraycans and soft edges, the layers and the lettering. When I first got into graphic design, I became aware of the condition I've named "Pixelitis" for lack of a better term. It's something that happens to your eyes when you spend an extended time period staring at grossly-enlarged sections of images in order to edit them in detail. After a few hours, you look up (well, I do!) and discover that you're seeing the real world as it would be in pixels - your eyes are vectoring in on the square building-blocks that would make up the scene around you if it were part of a grainy zoomed-in JPEG of the type you've been staring at so intensely.

In any case I'm still staring at the pixels to write this, so it hasn't hit me just quite yet.

Other than this cover - which I'm very glad is done! - I've prepared the interior for printing, and I'm just waiting for one more ad-swap page for it to be ready. This is a continuing partnership with The Writer's Café Press, in which advertisements for the other company's books appear in the rear pages of each release, among other things. It provides everyone with more exposure, and above all, is just very, very cool.

Oh, and a few more endorsements still need to trickle in before Pilgrims can be released - but I have four in hand and four or five more on the way. In about another month everything will be on hand.

I've also done almost all the work to get my first novel Faith Awakened ready for its second edition. The two books should release around the same time, both in mid-June.

Tuesday promises to be a big day as I've received word that my starring actor for Fred's book trailer is going to be in town. It better not rain - we have to do scenes in the forest, and mud wouldn't be a good look. In any case I have to finalise the costuming and props for both the cover photo shoot and the video department.

Mud, however, may be inevitable. The southern autumn is gaining force and chill. We'll have to take it as it comes...

Saturday, April 11, 2009


When one of my stories is published, one of the first questions I get, often from people who know me well, is, "What inspired you to write that?" My first response is to wonder if they really mean, "What possessed you to write that?" but it's a good question, and I don't always have a good answer.

The Muse is all about inspiration--what it means, where it comes from, how it gets lost and found again, and whether it's always a positive thing. The story plays with a lot of my ponderings about inspiration over the past few years.

It started out very simply. I'd been writing a bunch of short stories and wanted to write something longer and more complex. The challenge of doing that was inspiration enough, at the beginning. I had the seed of a story--writers are always talking about "finding their muse," or "listening to their muse." What if muses were more than a metaphor for inspiration, and a struggling writer actually found a muse, but it wasn't benevolent?

That question opened the door for a horde of other questions--who was this writer, why was he struggling, what sort of friends and family did he have, who or what is this evil muse, why is it evil, and what does it want? I had to come up with answers, preferably creative answers, for all these questions and dozens more. Every answer led to more questions. I discovered that the act of asking and answering questions was very inspiring and motivating. It took me to a lot of unexpected places.

As I began filling in details, I found myself drawing from life experiences. The story is in no way autobiographical, but bits and pieces of people, places, and situations from my life from childhood through the present day found their way into the story and provided inspiration, in a broad sense, for characters and settings and conversations.

There was also an aspect of inspiration that was less about ideas and more about simple raw energy--the drive to create. Some of it came from within, but there were many times my batteries were spent and needed recharging. Encouragement and support from friends and family were very important. Sometimes I just needed a change of pace or scenery. Sometimes I had to set the writing aside and do something completely unrelated to writing.

The common element in this constant search for inspiration is that I never had to go far to find it. It was always nearby, whether just around the corner or right in front of my face, and it was often both surprising and embarrassing to find a needed insight in a familiar place that I'd failed to recognize because its familiarity made it seem commonplace and unimportant.

There are muses all around us, if we take the time to look, and listen, and feel, and remember.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Don't Give Up Your Day Job

Writing gets me jazzed, but the "day job" buys the groceries, so I find myself constantly making shifts, adjustments, and compromises to deconflict between the two. You'd think it would be as simple as work daytime, write nighttime, but my job involves both odd hours and travel, so it's hard to get into the steady rhythm that all the writing books advocate. So, it's more catch-as-catch-can. I try to do some kind of writing every day, but I usually have to seize the opportunity as it arises.

For example, I'm in Florida this week (which sounds really fun until you factor in non-stop thundershowers and tornado warnings), and I'm working 12-hour shifts, 8am to 8pm. I take a steno pad with me and write on breaks or when things are slow. I transfer what I have to the computer at night, plus check e-mail, blog, etc. It works out.

It's not so bad for writing short stories, but it's harder to map out an extended period of time to do something that takes more intense focus, like editing/rewrite on The Muse. Fortunately, I'm in a lull right now between feedback from my readers, so I can let that rest for a few days, then attack it again with fresh eyes once I get back home.

The good news is that I think I'm pretty close to a final product. There are a couple of minor tweaks I need to make yet, but barring some catastrophic revelation via my last reader, I think I'm about finished, subject to any adjustments Grace requests.