Heroes Inc. Cover Reveal

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So, here it is: the almost-guaranteed cover for Heroes Inc, first book in The Citizen Trilogy. Picture yourself in full superhero garb, standing on a rooftop and looking out over the city you’ve sworn to protect. Assuming, of course, you can actually find any criminals to deal with.

It’s an awesome picture, I think.

This is a superhero novel, though without any lab accidents or radioactive insects or alien babies crash-landing on Earth.

The “back cover” copy: Armed with a super suit, an IT degree, and a little bit of writing skill, our prospective hero plunges into the heroing business as an official field tester for Heroes Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Hamilton Progressive Defense Systems. Criminals and thugs, supervillain wannabes, robots and a giant, he’s got his work cut out for him. And he can’t even manage to pick his own superhero name.

I started out just trying to have a little fun with the sub-genre, but I ended up with ideas for at least three overall stories, all different types of hero stories, and tried to keep things grounded in a reasonably realistic version of our world.

Stolen from the tiny Afterword: nowhere in the story will you find our hero’s name mentioned. This is 100% intentional. You might also have noticed there really isn’t a physical description built in anywhere, other than that he’s obviously in good shape. It’s possible that reveal will come later, but it’s equally possible that it will remain a mystery through all three books.

The cover image, courtesy of Foundry on Pixabay, may be part of the San Francisco skyline, but don’t read anything into that. I wanted an urban landscape and loved the picture. The story could take place there (although snow happens and it gets cold, so probably not), but it could just as easily be Detroit or Chicago or Toronto or any of dozens of other cities. That’s also intentional. Feel free to mentally place events in your home town.

Scheduled publication date is currently 24 May 2019.

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2019 Stretch Goals

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I intended to announce the stretch goals as one-offs, as the regular goals were met or if the stretch goals began to look possible. I’m going to stick to that basic concept, but right now, I’ll admit publicly to the ones that fit the bill right now, all at once. Basically, if it looks like there’s time enough left in the year to achieve one of them, it’s in this post.

And we’ll talk Stretch and Super Stretch goals.

Currently Relevant Stretch Goals

  1. First draft of one additional novel. This is actually already complete. I’ve logged the first draft as complete on four novels so far this year. The original goal was three, with one for the stretch goal. Completed: the last Troll World book, Welkiri Corps, Big Hair Day, and A Matter of Honour.
  2. 8 additional Short Stories edited. I’ve done three of those so far, and, honestly, expect to kick this goal pretty solidly.
  3. 25 Additional Blog Posts. I haven’t actually don’t the initial 100 posts, but I’m a touch over half way there and only a third of the way into the year. It seems reasonable for this goal to be publicly available.
  4. 10 Additional Journal entries. Since the initial was 50, and I’m at 71, I think I can mark the goal complete that took me to 60.
  5. 2 additional short pieces independently published, taking the total goal for the year to 6. As the third is set to go and the fourth is prepping for June, this is a reasonable goal to share.

So I’m only making note of 5 Stretch Goals here, but there are 11 altogether, counting writing, publishing, and Secret goals. Yes, there are a couple of goals that I’m not publicizing at all until/unless it looks like they’re actually going to happen.

Currently Relevant Super-Stretch Goals

And the third class of standard goals is the Super Stretch variety. These are either extensions of Stretch Goals or are things I’ll pursue in the event of something specific being completed. Announcements on these will happen if it looks like there’s time enough left in the year to achieve them.

  1. First draft of one additional novel, bringing the total goal of drafted novels for the year to five. This book is in progress: Fallen Heroes, and will complete the Heroes Inc. trilogy. I’m actually over 1/3 through the plot.
  2. 15 Additional Journal entries, which puts the total goal for the year at 75. I’m not far off of this now, so I don’t think this is an issue.
  3. A second fanfic novel in the publishing queue. This one is possible, as I’ve finished the first draft of A Matter of Honour. Not high on my editing list right at the moment, but there’s quite a bit of 2019 left. Hoping this will happen near the end of the year.

There are only 3 Super Stretch Goals listed here, but there are 12 in total, once again counting writing, publishing, and Secret goals. Others will be announced as they begin to look possible.

At the beginning of the year, I doubted I’d need to make any targets beyond this level, but left the door open. I probably won’t, even if I start to hit the Super Stretch Goals. Instead, I’ll just keep writing and make the targets higher for next year. Rinse and repeat until things start to get to be in the right ballpark.

The idea is that I set the annual goals for what I think normal writing/publishing operations will take me 10 months to do. Stretch Goals are for the last two months of the year if life cooperates during the first 10. Super Stretch are for those times when things flow really well for long enough. That’s working out so far this year, but it’s only May.

Just keep writing.

Be well, everyone.

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2019 Writing Goals Update

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So we’re four months and a bit into 2019. I thought it might be worth touching base on this year’s goals. The writing year is going quite well for me, and I’m hoping for that to continue. Working for that to continue. It occurs to me I should maybe be looking at these goals quarterly to see how I’m doing. As if I don’t have an excel file tracking progress on all of my goals for the year, even the ones I haven’t made public. Still, a quarterly review might be good and help keep me on track.

But this time out:

Writing Goals

  1. Plotting of the four novels. Unified Destiny plotting completed. Scorpion’s Prize and an as yet untitled book partially taking place on Curaçao in progress.
  2. First draft of three novels. Um, I’ve kicked this one already. First draft of the last Troll World book, Welkiri Corps, Big Hair Day, and A Matter of Honour, all completed in 2019. Three of them started this year. The last is a Star Trek fanfic story converted from audio drama scripts which is actually harder work than a regular first draft. Marked complete.
  3. Three novels to final draft. Only one so far: Hero’s Life. I’m working on the Troll World books as a group, so we’ll see how that turns out.
  4. 12 Short Stories. So far, only two complete, but one was an almost 9000-word novelette. A 3000-word short just finished yesterday.
  5. Editing on all of the Undead stories. Done. In fairness, about a quarter of them were at 3rd draft on January 1st. Marked complete.
  6. ST:FU to Final Draft. Complete. Just moved from one draft to the next and it worked out well. Marked complete.
  7. Finish the Haiku book. Still waiting for the lilacs to bloom to get the image I want.
  8. Book-length non-fiction project. I’m listening to the ISIRTA episodes at my leisure, but haven’t really started the detailed level of note-taking this is going to need.
  9. 100 Blog Posts. 51 so far. Half done at less than half the year complete, but it’s still a little lighter than I’d like, overall.
  10. 50 Journal entries. 71 so far. Honestly, I didn’t expect to journal this much. The Stretch Goal (which I’ll talk about in another post) here was 60. The Super Stretch is 75. Thinking that’s going to work out okay. Marked complete.

Which says to me I can mark 4 of the 10 goals complete. Not bad for four months into the year. But remember that I set them based on minimum bench marks, bench marks I’ve been thrashing pretty handily so far. Whether life continues to cooperate is part of the equation.

Publishing Goals

Pushing ahead into the next phase of a writing career is the publishing side of things. Six primary goals set here.

  1. Shop 2 novels to agents and small presses. I haven’t done an awful lot of this yet.
  2. Independently publish 3 novels. One done, one ready.
  3. Indie route on a collection. Graceland is slotted to drop at the end of the month.
  4. Four shorter pieces to be indie published. “Thorvald’s Wyrd” and Turn the World Around have been released. “Babysitting the Taran-Saurus” is ready to go. “Mummy Powder” slotted for June. Three more planned for the year at this point, but I don’t promise that won’t change.
  5. 100 short story submissions to magazines, websites, and anthologies. So, with about a third of the year gone, I should be around 33, right? The actual count is 7 so far. Need some improvement here.
  6. All 7 of my Star Trek shorts will appear on Wattpad and maybe wind up being downloadable PDF files as well. Definitely PDFs involved. Three released so far with the rest slotted one per month beginning in July.

So none of these met, but five of them in very good shape. A little more work needed here, but I’m almost caught up several fronts. Looking to make some additional inroads on the submissions and agent/small press front over the next little while.

Be well, everyone.

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Happy Anniversary to Us!

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06 May 1995 to 06 May 2019 seems to equal 24 years.

In that time, an apartment, two houses, three children, multiple jobs, many pets, ups and downs, tears and laughter, sorrow and joy.

And the ride goes on. Lots of places yet to see on the journey.

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Playing Catch Up

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Spending a little time catching up in the last week. Blog posts that didn’t get edited on schedule, a cover that should have already been designed, internal formatting for a couple of projects that are supposed to become ebooks before summer, and even a couple of serial posts that didn’t get up exactly when they should have.

I’m down to just the uploads, Good Reads pages, and web pages for Heroes Inc and Graceland to be back on the track of where I wanted to be with most of my (ridiculous) goals for the year.

The only one of the primary goals that isn’t on track is the non-fiction book about ISIRTA. I’m listening to episodes, but not yet doing the detailed notes and analysis I should be. At the moment, it’s the achievement that’s most in doubt for 2019 drafting. That’s probably okay. If it happens in 2020, that’s fine, too. I’m enjoying the re-listen, especially those episodes I’ve only heard once.

I should do s Stretch Goals post.

And a review of the Standard Goals for 2019.

Be well, everyone.

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Writing Report for April 2019

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So my word count for April is a more reasonable 70k. A little more focus on editing and a few extra non-commuting days as we convert the basement into an apartment for the oldest child I have coming back for the summer who now has an apartment’s worth of stuff rather than just a room’s worth. Average monthly word count for the year is now just over 75k, and this is an overall pace that makes me happy. Pulling that for the whole year would be 900k, and that will be, by far, the best writing year I’ve ever had at the raw number level.

Accomplishments in April:

  1. Plotting: finished the detailed outline level of Unified Destiny, the 3rd book of the Lords of Creation trilogy. After Fallen Heroes, drafting the 2nd and 3rd book of this set are the next major projects on the list.
  2. Big Hair Day currently at 48,825 words. I think I have 2,000 words or so of plot left.
  3. Fallen Heroes: a little more progress here, as well, with this one now at 23,884 words. I’m around a third of the way through what I’ve plotted here.
  4. Short fiction: a novelette with the working title “Welcome to the Swamp” started and finished at 8,748 words on the first draft.
  5. Editing: Shrine. After finding a good split point that was reasonably close to the middle of what was book 2, I put in the time to read through the whole of the manuscript and add about a hundred comments of things I wanted to fix or expand on.
  6. Still editing: Forest. The second half of what was Book 2 of Troll World, I’m about mid-way through the revision notes draft on this one.
  7. Fan Fiction: the conversion from Audio Drama scripts to first draft prose novel of A Matter of Honour, is about 95% complete.
  8. 10 blog posts.
  9. 12 journal entries.

Total word count for the month of 70,599 and that’s a number I’m entirely happy with.

On the publishing side of my goals:

  1. So is Skip to My Luu. Full-length Science Fiction novel. Ebook at the end of March, and now also available as a paperback.
  2. Turn the World Around. Ebook and paperback files done and uploaded and it’s now available.
  3. Graceland design complete. Essentially ready to press publish on.
  4. Heroes Inc. cover design complete. Most of the formatting done.
  5.  “Babysitting the Taran-Saurus” complete and ready to go. Publication date current flagged as May 15th.
  6. On the fanfic side, “Wolves and Sheepdogs”, a ST:TOS fanfic starring Lieutenant Leslie, is complete on Wattpad or available here.
  7. Also fanfic, formatting is complete for Fractured Unity. Scheduled for June launch on Wattpad and file availability.
  8. Short Story Submissions: 3. Okay, not so close to the goal.

Next up, primary writing goals for May. I’m going to keep them light, and not so I can feel good smashing through them, but because May is looking like a busy month in the real world. Not sure I’m expecting to exceed them by much.

  1. Primary Novel project: I expect to finish the first draft of Big Hair Day in the next few days, vacation notwithstanding. Right now, there’s only about 4k left in plotted words. Should be easy to get to the end.
  2. Which moves Fallen Heroes to the primary project at that point, and with a little over 40k (projected) left of plot, that’s likely to take until sometime in June.
  3. Secondary Novel project: should be Curaçao project that’s been chewing at the back of my brain since we got back. Looking for about 5k words here, due to extra time commitments in May, but I have to finish plotting it first.
  4. Short Fiction: looking for 5k or so in short fiction for the same reason.
  5. Plotting: finish the plotting of the novel where Curaçao figures as a primary setting.
  6. Plotting: Scorpion’s Prize. Some thoughts on a swashbuckling space adventure. Not my usual production, but it’s feeling fun.
  7. Plotting: Strewn Across the Stars. Sequel to Scattered on the Wind.
  8. Editing: Forest, finishing revision notes.
  9. Editing: Palace. I hope to behalf way through revision notes by the end of the month, but we’ll see. This one is a bit longer and isn’t going to be split.
  10. Editing: “Trollsign”. I need to get this one to final draft because it’s on my list of things I want to turn into ebooks this year.
  11. Non-fiction word count goal for the month: 10000 words. Blog and journal, mainly, but we’ll see what happens.

Switching over to publishing:

  1. The standard target of 10 short story submissions.
  2. Keeping working on finding a home for Ancient Runes. Traditional publishing, so this goal is going to get repeated a lot, I think.
  3. Serialization finishes for “Thorvald’s Wyrd”, continuing for Skip to My Luu, and beginning for “Turn the World Around”.
  4. Ebook release for “Babysitting the Taran-Saurus” and Heroes Inc.
  5. Paperback layout for Heroes Inc.
  6. Design and layout for a collection of haiku (yes, really), “Mummy Powder”, and “Design for Conspiracy” (ST:TOS fanfic). If I get to that point, I’m now working two months ahead. Now to push to be three to give myself breathing room.

The total word goal for the month is only 40k, depending on the length of those two short stories, and the publishing side should be doable. I hope it will break 60, though.

Be well, everyone.

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My Son Coming Home

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It’s the 30th of April, 2019 and, just in time for the school buses to be running, we are moving our soon back home. Never mind that we were half an hour early to pick up our truck which was not ready and while they had a record of our reservation, although not at the place we were supposed to pick it up, they did not have a truck held for us. Thankfully, there was one was unloading, that had potentially been flagged for someone else, but our reservation was in first and they honoured it. However, that meant we didn’t pick it up until 1 PM. Two hours loading and a bit of cleaning later, just before 330, we are on the way home.

Well, I say we, but I am driving the truck while my wife takes our son by a different route that also involves picking up his girlfriend, whom we have not met before. I am uncertain at this point how long she’s going to stay, but I am quite certain that she’s coming to hang out for at least a couple of days.

And I am, more or less, okay with that. It’s been, so far, relatively speaking, a long distance relationship for them. She lives in Arden, just south of Highway 7, and he’s been in Ottawa. They met online, which is a super common thing anymore, and it’s so far the longest relationship he’s had that I can remember. I don’t know about her.

Our son has had a rough time emotionally for, well, last few years, really. He disguised it well before he left home, was very eager to get out of the small town we live in but living with his high school friends wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. We are expecting him to live with us for the summer and then we’ll see, but as long as the family dynamic stays good – there are always sibling issues – it shouldn’t be an issue to be longer. He wants to finish school, but there are other things on his agenda, too. It will be what it will be.

But I am driving the 15-foot truck, with basic air and no cruise control. There’s more glass in the back than I would prefer, but there’s only so much space in the SUV if he wants to also included his girlfriend. As a matter of fact, I’ve got two glass tanks in the front with me, along with a boxed it also contains at least one small lizard and the mantid experiment.

The lizard is a long-tailed grass lizard that I didn’t know he had, but which he got free with the pair of Emperor Scorpions I didn’t know he had. All things considered, I wish we had a bigger basement.

I’d like to say it’s a race to see who will get home first, but race is the wrong word. With standard traffic, between the city and home, and me more or less going the speed limit, Google maps projects me at two hours and 20 minutes door-to-door. My wife has an hour thirty-five to go to pick up our son’s girlfriend and then 45 minutes to get home after that, which looks like the same amount of time. She also left about one minute before I did.

We’ll have to wait and see how it goes. It’s not a race, and I do expect to be home first, but not by much. Which is good, because I’ll want help unloading the truck, especially the larger bits of furniture.

Good thing I ate my Wheaties this morning.

Be well, everyone.

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Gen X Loses Again

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So it’s not just my life that sucks. There are lots of us. I’m not saying it’s a Gen X thing, although there are certainly generational things involved in the feeling. The nature of the generational cycles that we had the 20th century such Gen X is never really had the opportunity to have the political power.

That’s still the case. Sometime last year, demographics slipped past the point where the Millennial generation outnumbered the Baby Boomers. The overall size of the Generation X cohort will not outnumber the boomers until sometime in (probably) 2028.

Freely translated, whenever it was the voting age Millennials started outnumbering the Gen Xers, there were still far more Baby Boomers then there were of us.

The old adage used to be the Pig in the Python. Not to put too fine a point on it, and I usually hate sweeping generalizations, and it’s not the whole generation to be sure, but the Boomers have pretty much screwed up the world for the rest of us. My generation never had a chance, and it’s never going to. The Millennials completely recognize that they have to fix what the Boomers broke, and they’ve already started to do that. There have never been enough Gen Xers consistently, and politically we are better off, ground breakers that we were in forcing social attitude adjustments, to hitch our train to the Millennial engine at this point. That should have occur to us a long time ago, recruiting the younger generations to help us try to solve the problems our species is having/has caused, but didn’t, because we are human after all, and therefore not the sharpest tools in the shed.

It’s important at this point in my rant to note that I have no solid data beyond my experience the world to back of my argument for why my generation has no political power. It’s 30 years of slowly accumulated adult observation and reading. Oh, the approximate dates of when the voting members of each generation outnumbered the others or will outnumber the others those are probably taken from legitimate sources, but that’s all. The rest of all this is supposition, opinion, and anecdotal evidence, and therefore worthless in a real argument, just my experience of the world.

That doesn’t make me wrong, but it doesn’t make me right either. What it means is that I’m stating opinion.

But you see things, read things, observe isolated incidents and one-offs that can in fact and do contribute to the whole, even if only a little.

I hope I’m never the guy whining or complaining about some group of people merely because they are older or younger than me. I’m sure that last sentence reads funny considering that most of what I said so far could potentially be taking as a scathing indictment of how the Boomers have run the world. It’s not all Boomers, but it is, collectively, that generation. Collectively, my generation has done shit to make the world a better place, but I’m not sure we’ve had an adequate chance.

Collectively, the Millennials may or may not understand that they’re the only chance at salvaging is. Collectively, Generation Z has an innate understanding of just how screwed they are, though.

I don’t feel like it’s too late to change things, and I very much feel like we, as a species, paying no attention to what generation each of us belongs to, should have the ability, the foresight, and the collective intelligence to come together and fix the problems with our society and our world. We, as a species, have created those problems. We, as a species, should fix those problems, I think we still can. We just have to want to.

It used to be a cliché to say think globally, act locally. I think it’s actually better to phrase it is a question: what are you doing to make the world a better place?

That’s a question I ask myself with increasing frequency. What am I doing to make the world a better place? The answer that comes back is usually along the lines of, “Not enough.”

Be well, everyone.

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Unbalanced News

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I don’t watch the news much.

The news I get comes from mostly online sources, but a lot of the news broadcasts I find rather very slanted or deliberate fear mongering or both even on our national news broadcaster, and perhaps that’s just the way our society works, very much picking and choosing what gets broadcast to target whoever the primary audience is.

Online, I can get a broader variety of things, I can see more of what is available worldwide, not just what the local broadcasters care to show me. No one wants to spend money, so even the big networks only have a tiny handful of people to cover international news.

Even nationally, though, things get slanted horribly to what someone thinks should be the news.

For example, I am continually frustrated by the ongoing Humboldt Broncos coverage.

Now please don’t mistake my meaning. It was a horrible tragedy: a whole bunch of young hockey players lost their lives. But I don’t see why the “hockey players” part is relevant, except because we live in Canada, it is. If I believed for a second that a bus load of soccer players or rugby players or kindergarten students would get the same level of attention, I seriously doubt I would roll my eyes every time another story about one of these young fellows triumphing over his injuries or how one of the families is carrying on after one the kids didn’t make it home. I wouldn’t be happier, necessarily, but I’d probably be less cynical about it.

The real problem, in my eyes, is that here in this country we seem to value hockey above almost anything else. Terrorism, for example. The Humboldt crash had daily coverage for months on our national news broadcaster and on the prime national news show just about every night.

But when a terrorist ran through a crowd of people in a van in downtown Toronto, killing ten people, we heard about it for a week or so, and switched back over to the bus load of hockey players. Finally, just last night, a follow-up story as to how things are doing families.

When another terrorist opened fire with a gun on a crowd of Danforth Avenue, killing 3 and injuring 14 people, a couple of months later, we heard a lot for a week or so, and than once a month for a bit, and now it’s been I don’t know how long since we had anything.

But, you know, hockey.

Quick Google News searches:

“humboldt broncos bus crash” 205,000 results

“Toronto van attack 2018” 153,000 results

“Danforth shooting” 19,700 results

Be well, everyone.

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It’s Easy To Be Angry

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It’s easy to find things to be angry about.

All you really have to do is look around with your eyes open.

I more or less wear my politics on my sleeve and they very simply boil down to people over profit. That’s not as hard to reconcile as you think with the industry I work in, although sometimes it’s more difficult than I’d like it to be. But, people over profit is the primary thing. It’s much more important to me that people are taking care of and that people, generally speaking, put other people ahead of things.

You might guess it’s very frustrating for me to live in North America right now, and while Ontario isn’t nearly as bad as I regard the federal government in the United States, not yet, it’s not even remotely as far behind as I would like. Ideology has its place, but, whether any one particular person wants to admit it or not, not all ideas are not created equal, and some ideas are just bad.

So it’s very, very easy for me to find things to be angry about these days.

I don’t want to spend my life being angry, however, so I want to find things to be happy about, and that’s a lot harder.

So I’m open about my politics, and my particular flavor of lack of religious beliefs isn’t far behind, really. That wasn’t always the case, but those are getting more open all the time and I’m less concerned with what other people think of what I think, only that I’m setting a good example for my family, friends, and the people around me.

But does my own ideology make it harder for me to find things to be happy about? Does it set me up for probable failure when I’m looking? Those are both questions I need to answer, but they don’t mean that I need to change my ideology of her true (ideological changes should come from ideological examination). It may mean I need to look harder, and it may mean I need to get off my ass, stop complaining so much, and actually tried to change the world.

All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to remain silent.

Silence helps the oppressor, not the oppressed.

Silence implies agreement.

I’m not naïve. I recognize that my politics and beliefs make their way to my writing. That’s normal, natural, and human. But even when I’m writing a character who has viewpoints that are complete opposite of mine, I do try to make that character sympathetic if they are the direct antagonist or even if they are partially opposing the primary story arc of the protagonist. Remembering that no one is the villain in their own story, I have put mental guidelines in place to make sure that I’m not demonizing someone in the story just because their character doesn’t look at the world the way I do in the real world.

My blog is a place for me to be more open and honest. So, to be frank, is social media. Politics and philosophy are both fairly open for me and while I certainly believe in healthy discussion and rational argument, I also believe that you can’t, and shouldn’t separate the art from the artist. I tend to think that the stories that I write and put it there can be enjoyed by anyone of any political, philosophical, or religious outlook. It’s almost all genre fiction, so you need the suspension of disbelief, recognizing that you’re not in the world as we know it. If you follow me personally on social media, or read this blog, you get closer to the real me. A lot closer, really, then anyone other than family and friends get. Until the time comes when I push enough of my energy into the idea of open activism for causes I believe to be important, it will be very easy for someone to read my stuff, enjoy it, and find more of it, without ever coming here or to Facebook or Twitter or wherever I might be hanging out electronically. But once you do, it will be a lot harder to escape or ignore what I actually think about things.

So, if you’re reading this, you have a couple choices. You can do something I can’t, separate the art from the artist, pretend you never found what you’re reading, and enjoy myself fiction wherever you find it.

Or you can decide we’re different enough that you can’t possibly support me in any way. I’ll be okay with that, really. Everyone needs to find their own path, see the world through their own eyes.

Or you can decide we’re not too far apart, maybe have little interesting discussion here and there, hang around for a while, read with me.

Or, I suppose, you can decide that I’m completely right about everything, but that seems unlikely.

I think it’s actually considerably more complex than any of those four choices, with as many variations as there are readers. My preference? Whether or not the water is fine, it’s here. Maybe it’s different. Maybe we could talk to each other about stuff, maybe we can teach each other something. Come on in, the water is the water.

Be well, everyone.

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