Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lifehack progress

Well, the revision is about at 25% done. When that's done, I'll be getting a private printing to farm out to some univ. lit student to run through for typos and such. I have no idea what to pay for that sort of thing.
Some have told me that the students don't care; they just want it for their resumes. None the less, paying something does influence a bit of motivation to actually get something done.

When that stage is underway, I can work on the cover(s).. One for the trade paperback, one for the requested hardcover. U promised I'd post an image of what I have so far, didn't I?

Ahh, I should have saved a better level of JPG, but you get the point. The title is also just a holdover form the last over.

As far as some changes that have happened in the story from the first edition:
  • Jonathan Coll gets a bit more focus early on
  • The architecture of Autar has been changed to be less 'Midgar'-ish.
  • Jonathan will no longer be choosing the name 'Anubis'. Stargate made the name too famous. He will instead choose 'Erebus', a similarly themed entity.
  • The character 'Anne' will now be called 'Erika'. My apologies to the real-life Anne I know who was happy to have her name in the book. Blame Richard Dean Anderson.
  • We get to see Regan breaking up with Kris, instead of just hearing about it.
  • Various added little touches that no one will notice. More description, clarification, digits for numbers all changed to full spellings, ('5' becomes 'five')
  • Font size changed from 11 to 10.
  • Formatting made more standardized in terms of paragraphs, tabs, etc.
  • Extras section nuked.
  • The existance of the four sections will be erased, and turned into one whole piece.
  • Table of contents removed.
  • "AZU-" removed from title
  • Due to formatting changes and the loss of the extras section, page count will be considerably lower, resulting in a lower end price.
  • Lancer will have some more elaboration, and more details about them will be revealed.
I think that's it off the top of my head.

Other than that, it's the exact same thing, except:
  • Joss Wheadon is no longer my director of choice, Uwe Boll is.
  • Alisia has been turned into a guy named Al.
  • Regan's now straight, and all traces of lesbian content have been removed.
  • The zombies are now civil war re-creationists with chronic halitosis.
You believe me, right?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Krak in a Can

So far all my posts have had a specific agenda and/or topic.

Today I'm ragged after going to a pretty intense optimist meeting, so let's discuss the substance that helped me survive it.

Krak in a Can.

I have been a life-long pop addict, but one day something new appeared. Jolt Cola. Ah, back in the day, t'was the bad@$$ of pop. "All the sugar, twice the caffeine" in the age when everyone was pushing their diet varieties.

Jolt stood firm, a cry from, and to, the young caffeine lovers. It quickly became the unofficial official beverage of gamers, geeks, nerds, and cyberpunk wannabes who wanted that extra little boost, often in the middle of the night. Sure, it was largely psychological. Who cares?

Then Jolt seemed to recede into the mysterious abyss form which it came. Was it sales? Had I just moved out of their distribution zone? Had the caffeine gods merely forsaken me?

Much time passed. Then, a glimmer of hope. A bottle here or there showing up. Then more regularly.

About this time, Red Bull and its ilk began to rise. Energy drinks that far surpassed the grand old Jolt. These energy drinks sported unheard of, nay, mystical ingredients. Tourine? A blessing form Taurus? Ginseng? Ah, I'd heard of that one in legend...!

Jolt! You cannot let this stand! In the end, there can be only one!

Not yet defeated, Jolt brought us many flavors, many of which suck. Not all did, and they all came in fantabulous new cans! Nearly liter in size, it was one step closer to the adolescent dream
of laying under a 2 liter bottle of jolt, like a big junkie baby under it's bottle.

Perhaps more notable about these cans is that once opened, they can be CLOSED again. Tell me why this has only come to market now? As a wheelchair user, (and someone who doesn't always drink a pop in one shot) the ability to free one's hands by closing a bottle, and being able to put it away, had made cans nearly extinct from my buying habits.

Yet jolt still offered only "twice the caffeine" as the 'pedestrian' pops. Another new flavor now? 'Silver'? Hmm. BAH! An inferior tasting 7-up/Sprite version of Jolt. This would not do!

Finally, Jolt 'Ultra' arrived. It tastes really bland, but gets ya nice n twitchy. Between that, 'NOS', (Also a really cool container) and a few others, 'Krak in a can' has become an important part of my complete bre.... well, no, but they're appreciated greatly.

And Red Bull?

Yeah, that one still tastes like crap.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Wasn't worth the parking space

If you exclude "Lucy Didn't Get It", then "Wasn't worth the parking space" will be my only planned non-fiction. I have a chunk of the first draft down, just as the whim hits me.

Primarily it's about my life as a paraplegic, which started in 2001 when I was injured. Whoops, was that a spoiler?

Anyway, when I started AZU-1:Lifehack, I'd start a conversation about it like "yeah, I've got a book coming out soon," And I could almost hear them think, "Oh, this guy in the wheelchair's gonna write about being in a wheelchair, blah blah blah."

Ever so glad to be able to tell them it was a sci-fi about lesbians fighting zombies. Alright, I never pitched Lifehack like that, but still. It's fun to drop a bomb on people's expectations.

So finally I've relented. But it's going to be a humorous take on it all, as much as I can.

" Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility."
-James Thurber

But that can only be applied to a certain extent. It's not going to be all humor by any means. It's going to recount events through the lens of a smart@$$. Two entirely factual conflicts I've written about for it include me versus the 'demon ramp', and me versus the three evil elevators of GF Strong. Stuff like that comes out amusing if done right, I think.

Behold, the demon ramp:

If the book starts just before my injury, Where does the book end? Well, I'm not going to wait for stemcells to come cure me for an ending, so it will probably have something to do with my new baby girl...
There's Caitlin, glam'in it up. Today she's four weeks and one day old. Anyone interested can go see more about her at the lil site my wife's put up: Cailtin

For a telling of the plight of my life in a wheelchair that's slightly less factual, go ahead and watch the flash I made on the topic a few years back:

And now I've covered all my book projects..! What next.. Hmmm....

Lucy doesn't get it.

Lucy's my dog. She's a beagle cross. Picture a taller beagle, and you've got the idea. All the bad bits, all the barking, and the chewing, but with double normal beagle horsepower.

The only thing keeping the beagle breed from being strangled into extinction is the sad sorrowful look they can give ya.
Here she is showing her cunning. And also here is Leela, who as you may have guessed, is a cat. My cat for sure, Lucy is my wife's dog. Not my any means of ownership- the pets picked.

Anyway, Lucy's going to be the star of my children's book, "Lucy Doesn't get it"

Or possibly "Lucy doesn't understand" Or Lucie... that's my wife Michelle's preferred spelling. And she Spells the cat's name "Lela".. Ohwell.

Anyway, when I get the look for Lucy's cartooney-self done, I'll post it. The book is going to tell all about how various things happen, and Lucy didn't get it.

An example of how it's going to be:
Lucy's mommy and daddy didn't have fur. Lucy didn't get it.

Lucy's ate food in a bowl on the floor. Mommy and daddy eat food up on a table. It smelled much better, but they didn't usually let Lucy even try it. Lucy didn't get it.

One day Lucy saw that mommy's tummy was getting bigger. Lucy didn't get it.

etc. In the end, Lucy meets the newborn Caitlin, and Lucy finally gets it. The finally page will show Caitlin peering at the furry monster sniffing her with its big wet nose.

And Caitlin didn't get it.

Next post I'll yap about the only book project I haven't discussed yet, a non-fiction dealing with my life, "It wasn't worth the parking space".

Ooh, I could have posted a pic of Caitlin in this entry, but maybe I'll hold off for the next entry.


The third sci-fi book I have planned is the least developed so far.

After writing the last short story that would eventually form Lifehack, I wrote another short story that relied on the events in Lifehack, but was a very different story arc. Aside from a cameo by Alisia and Regan from Lifehack, only one of Lifehack's characters was really a part of Echoes.

(Tentative title for the book, by the way.. 'Echoes' unto itself is pretty generic sounding...)


The main protagonist was made up fresh for Echoes, but for the book, after some reflection, I realized that a minor character from Lifehack would be perfectly suited to fill the role, and it would make a lot of sense.

Also, the protagonist in the Echoes short story happened to be named "Caitlin", a name which my newborn daughter has since claimed for herself.

Sheesh, not even a month old, and she's already plagiarizing me.

By utter coincidence, echoes' protagonist's role as a daughter is highly significant to the main story. I hope my relationship with my daughter goes smoother.


Something else being thrown out of the short story for the book is Soledad. Before Soledad O'Brian was a huge name, I heard it, and thought it was cool for a character. I drew some stuff up on my Soledad, and jammed her into the story. She didn't fit so well.

Hey, have a pic of my Soledad:Hawt? Sure. Make any sense in the story? Not a lot. The ideas behind the character might get adapted to a new character, but the end result will not resemble Soledad much.

And I may as well mention that Echoes will break the 2/2-book streak of the protagonist being a lesbian. The protagonist (notice how I'm not dropping the name? I have the name, but I'm not telling, for sake of a minor Lifehack spoiler)

-- anyway, her sexuality won't be an issue, if she even has a sexuality. In the short story I left her and Soledad as close friends, allowing people to think what they want about the future of the relationship. I might do the same thing between protagonist and Soledad-replacement, but with a much lighter touch.


Anyway, that's about all I'm ready to say about Echoes at this point.. I don't know how many spoilers I want to give away. I'll say this though... no romance, much more flashy sci-fi. Kind of the opposite direction I took with Watching Yute, which is high drama, low flash.

Next entry I'll be dipping into the non-fiction books I have on the go.. which will it be...

The children's book about my dog?

Or the fairly autobiographical one that deals largely with my injury/disability with 2 scoops of humor?

Flip a coin...

Watching Yute, and the house of the Rising sun

Although currently on hold while Lifehack is being revised, I'm still really excited about Watching Yute. The first draft is about 30%-50% done. Before I go any further, let's have a pretty picture:
This is a drawing of one of the main characters, Cheryl Lowe. I've been using this pic for some early hype materials. It probably won't be on the cover... While I draw my characters in an anime style, again, here, have a link to my gallery, ) I think I'll keep it away from the actual final book, since I don't want people to look at the cover, see 'a cartoon' and dismiss it as something for kids. Sure, the public is slowly wising up to anime being something for more than just kids, (despite the crap they throw on tv in the afternoons) but still....

Anyway, what's Yute all about?

Yute is referred to a little in Lifehack in terms of a military base, but 'Yute' is actually a region in my world which is largely desert.

Deep in the most arid region, there is a ruined city. Not much is known about it, but it's generally assumed to have been built be the ancestors of the continent's aboriginal people, the Aguei. The most prominent building in the ruin is a large temple, and in this temple is a giant statue of a horned dog. It lays quietly there with a fairy contented expression.

As part of a Federal/Aguei treaty, the military guards the temple, and has a small outpost nearby. As you can imagine, this posting is rather quiet, leaving the personnel there to quietly take their watch, and live with each other.

Here's our hero, Cassidy Stanton:

-she gets transferred to the Yute ruin after impressing the ruin's CO, Marcus. She accepts the offer for a change of scenery, having been freshly dumped by her girlfriend.

Meanwhile, thanks to the events in Lifehack, the government is passing prohibitive laws against nano-technology, which leaves a stress-filled nanite researcher in a panic. He has a project running quietly around the temple that not even his bosses know about. He wants to shut it down, but he lacks any way to get back to the temple, and finds himself deceiving some dangerous allies in order to cover his butt.


Yes, my protagonist is a lesbian again. Why? Lifehack touched on some fun aspects, pushing off from the rehashed hollywood guy/girl relationship, and opening itself to all kinds of orientation awkwardness. In Yute, I want to approach the idea from another angle, a little more seriously, and without the "waaah, the girl I love is straight!" factor.

Really, Yute is a lot more about interpersonal relationships than Lifehack was. It's still a sci-fi, but there's next to zero gunplay, and zero zombies. It's a much slower pace than Lifehack, so I'm hoping it won't throw people off..

Right now, as I said, I'm putting the writing of the first draft on hold while Lifehack gets reworked. This is a bit of a relief, I was getting very close to a very dark, touchy section. I knew it was coming, and had a nightmare about it.

In this dream, I watched some of the worst moments that will be in the story in slow motion, over and over like some Oliver Stone movie gone mad. All the while, the Doors song "House of the Rising Sun" was playing.

That's definitely going on the official, unofficial soundtrack.
(On a side note, Cassidy's favorite song is "No Heaven" by DJ Champion)

Next post will be about the third planned fiction, Echoes...


First Post, AZU-1:Lifehack

Hey folks. I've been convinced to start blogging about my writing adventures, though I intend to hit on other topics form time to time, such as my new little daughter Caitlin, and the experience of hosting international students.

I'm not going to dump everything out in the first post, so this time I'll just focus on my current writing project, the revision of my first book, AZU-1: Lifehack

Pretty cover? It's going to be entirely different when the revision is done. I'll have to post a peek at the first draft of that later. For one thing, I'm taking the "AZU-1" out of the title. It's confuses things needlessly. Here's the official tease blurb for the book:

She lost her brother.
She learnt to fight a legion of the dead.
She spent two years alone, scavenging to survive.
Then to make things difficult, she fell in love with a straight girl.

For those of you unfamiliar with the book, yeah yeah, 'ZOMG, lesbian!' Alright, are ya done? Yes, it's a major part of the story, as the last line implies.

Why did I write about a lesbian crush in a book about zombies? Ooh, maybe you should ask why I wrote about zombies in a book about a lesbian's crush? Deep, zen.

It's really as much about Regan (our heroine) and her crush on Alisia as it is about the zombie problem. I generally refer to the Regan/Alisia thing as the sub-plot, but it's really half the book. Hey, let's have a peek at our heroines for a sec-

This is a bit of an older pic. Click it for fullsize if ya want.

The brunette is Regan Grier, and the redhead is Alisa Terone. Now I have to explain the anime connection, don't I?

2002. I was fresh out of GF Strong physio rehab after my injury that put my in a wheelchair (more on that in future posts, and future books..) and I was finding that my anime-flavored are was getting pretty predictable, so I made a stab at pumping up a detail level a bit.
The first thing I drew was Alisia who at the time, didn't have a name. I didn't have any intention of drawing her again, why does she need a name? She had a snazzy looking sci-fi-ish rifle, and was dressed in blue camo. Head over to my gallery if you want to see more, by the way.
Then I drew a gal with the notion in my head of making a slightly 80's themed 'rocker girl'. Black leather 80s, not neon 80's with huge hair. For some reason, someone told me shw looked like a lesbian, and it just stuck.
I was so enamored with these two designs that they just kept coming. Image descriptions got longer and longer, and.... well, to make a long story short, about four years later, I ended up with a book.

But it needed me to step back get some frank feedback, and revise. A lot of errors were made partly because it wasn't planned as a book to begin with, so now I'm fixing stuff. Making is stronger, faster, better than it was before. They say you always want to tweak this or that, and that a project is never truly ''done ''done, but to be really happy with it, to be proud of it, and let it rest, I have to do this revision.

Meanwhile I have four other book projects waiting to be handled. Next post: 'Watching Yute' and the house of the rising sun!