2017 – A Year To Get Busy

It’s 2017, and high time I blogged again. I’d all but abandoned this medium – life got in the way. A lot of loss. Maybe I’ll write about that on my other blog. Suffice it to say, I’m back in blogging spirits again. Sort of. Kind of. Well, a bit.

Professionally speaking, 2016 started well but ended badly. There was the anticipation of the release of The Five Demons You Meet In Hell, and then there was the launch at Ad Astra. Things were great. I announced a sequel. Then, late in November, Pop Seagull closed its doors, and 5 Demons was orphaned.

It was a good year for fanfic production. I wrote three stories set in the Transformers cinematic universe, two of them featuring the Marvel character Deadpool. Those two got a decent number of views and even a few comments! That was nice, but not enough to significantly increase my brand awareness. If you are interested, you can read them here and here.

Oh, and Apoca-Lynn got one more sale. That brings its total to 9. Still can’t break double-digits. I’ve basically given up on that book. A shame, since I spent a considerable part of last year writing a sequel. And plotting the next several books. Sigh.

I wrote a considerable chunk of Zombie Jesus Day, too. More than 2 thirds. It won’t be much longer now before I write The End on the first draft.

I’m also typing up the third installment of my Merc vs. Metal fanfic. I have big ideas for further installments, too. No doubt that will keep me busy after I put ZJD to bed.

I’ve asked a bunch of friends to beta read an older manuscript of mine, titled Young Nostradamus. I’m thinking of taking the self-publishing route with it, depending on the feedback I get.

I’m also developing a pseudonym. I’m giving a lot of thought to branding, and there’s some stuff I want to write that doesn’t quite fit my squeaky-clean, goodie-two-shoes Timothy Carter name.

That’s all I have to say about that. For now, I’m keeping Timothy Carter and the new name separate. Soon, ‘he’ will be blogging and promoting himself, and I hope the right audience finds him.

2017 looks promising. A year for hard work, certainly. For creating product to put on shelves in 2018 and 2019. A year to rebuild my career as an author.

A year to get busy once again.

I Didn’t Go To GenreCon 2017

Last weekend, GenreCon returned to Guelph after a two-year hiatus. And I wasn’t there.

I went to GenreCon twice before, and had a wonderful experience both times. And, both times, the programming team asked me to come! For an author still trying to find an audience, it doesn’t get much better than that.

I was greatly saddened when the con went on hiatus. When I learned it was coming back, I was overjoyed.

But I didn’t go. There are a few reasons why. I wasn’t asked, for one thing. That meant I would not get a complimentary membership like I had in the past. My request for programming information went unanswered, so I didn’t get a jump on panel selection.

I also have very little to promote this year. Yes, I released The Five Demons You Meet In Hell less than a year ago, but without Pop Seagull to back me up, I’d have to do all the work myself. Normally I’d be happy to do it – I’ve done it many times before – but I’m not prepared to this time. Not for a book that no longer has a home.

In the end, though, it all comes down to money. It would have cost around $500 to attend, with hotel, transport, food and membership. More, if I’d wanted to rent a table to sell books from. There’s just no way I could do it this year.

Hopefully next year my fortunes will have changed, and I’ll have something new to promote. Until then…

Musical Accompaniment

Writing today, I was stuck for over half an hour trying to choose a song for my characters to listen to as they drive off to fight a town full of zombies. I kept choosing and rejecting, writing down possibilities and then crossing them out and trying again.

I have the same problem when trying to come up with a new character’s name.  It all depends on what I want the mood of the scene to be, or what I want to convey. Do I want the song (or name) to fit the mood of the scene (or personality of the character), or be ironically funny for its inappropriateness? In either case, I can’t carry on with the story until I work it out!

In the end I settled for Jump, by Van Halen. And while I was able to carry on with the story after making my choice, I’m still not completely happy with that selection. Other possibilities include Eat It by Weird Al, Enter Night by Metallica, Baby One More Time by Brittany Spears, and the theme song from Sesame Street.

It’s a fluid situation.

 

Character Conundrum

There comes a moment in every writer’s life where they put down their pen (or keyboard) and say, “What the fudge am I doing?” A similar question is, “where the hell is this scene/twist/plot point going?” Most times, the answer you’ll get is, “that’s why you should’ve written an outline, crap-for-brains,” which is a hard thing to hear. Especially if you did write an outline. But I never do. Just not the way I roll.

Anyway, I’m having trouble with a scene in my latest project, ZJD. I have introduced a new minor character, who has conflict with one of my main guys. He has a story reason to be there – he serves a function – but I can’t quite get a handle on how the scene ought to go. And if that weren’t enough, this minor character is insisting on more page time. He wants to go with my main characters into the novel’s climax, and the narrative is bending to his will.

I may have to kill him off.

Why can’t characters just do as they’re told?

Don’t You Remember Creating Me?

Sometimes, we authors mess up big time and forget things we did earlier in our stories. I just realized I completely forgot about a character I’d introduced in ZJD – a character who’s now been absent from the narrative for at least 50 pages!

 

Man, do I feel like a dum-dum. Especially since this isn’t the first character in ZJD I’ve forgotten about!

 

I think I know why. I’ve taken too many breaks from writing this novel. I stop and I start, I write fanfic and then I get back to it. It’s all part of my creative process, but I think my process needs to change a bit.

 

It’s not a good idea for an author to neglect their characters.

More Fanfic!

I’ve written a couple more fanfic stories, posted on Archive of Our Own. As before, I’m using the pseudonym RodimusDoctor.

 

Both stories take place in the Transformers movie universe (or Bayverse), prior to the events of Age of Extinction. One of them features Deadpool. The other features a Dinobot. And both tie in to my Merc vs. Metal series.

 

Merc vs Metal: Masters of Head is a direct sequel to Sideswipe Gets ‘Pooled. I introduce the Headmaster concept into the Bayverse, courtesy of Weasel (Deadpool’s ‘pal’). Weasel has worked with robotics in Marvel Comics, so it didn’t seem too much of a stretch to suggest he might experiment with Cybertronian robotics and their application.

 

The story also gave me the opportunity to detail the fate of the Twins, Skids and Mudflap. Both were absent from the movie Dark of the Moon, even though they both appeared (and died at the hands of Sentinel Prime) in the novel and comic adaptations. Since the movies are canon, I decided the Twins’ fates were still up in the air and therefore fair game for fanfic!

 

The second story is I, Snarl. There are always a lot of characters introduced in the toylines that don’t make it into the films, and AoE was no exception. We see four Dinobots (or Legendary Warriors) in the film – Grimlock, Scorn, Strafe and Slug – and the toyline gave us three more. Two of those (Slog and Slash) I used in the first Merc vs. Metal (and I added Skullcruncher to the mix, because I figured they could use a crocodile). I could have thrown the third non-film Dinobot – Snarl – in there, too, but I saw bigger and better things for him. What if one of the Knights had done something terrible, and went into exile? And what if the bounty hunter Lockdown found him? I, Snarl is the result.

 

What’s next? Well, I actually want to get back to some of my own stuff. I’m into the last third of Zombie Jesus Day, and I’d like to have the first draft written by Christmas. Then, I’d like to start a third Boston Lefebvre novel.

 

There are more fanfic stories on the horizon, however. Merc vs. Metal: Deadpool Gets Primed is coming, and I want to do a story featuring Crosshairs, Hound, and some of the Decepticons who survived the events of Dark of the Moon. Plus, I want to write more Doctor Who. He’s too much fun!

 

Of course, my Muse will dictate which project comes next (though she can, on occasion, be bargained with). We shall see.

Can-Con 2016 – An Overview

Another of my favourite conventions has been, come and gone. Here are the highlights.

The venue was new: the Novotel beside the Rideau Centre and the Byward Market. It’s a nice hotel, if a little cramped. The hallways were difficult to navigate between panels, the right staircases were not obvious, and there were two towers and therefore two different 3rd floors. A bit confusing, but hardly enough to stop the fun.

A new feature this year were the name cards/character sheets. Designed like Dungeons & Dragons character sheets, the id badges provided a game element to the con. Points could be gained by attending panels and readings, getting signed copies of books, meeting new people, and other fun con activities. I myself did not take full advantage of this new element – I kept meaning to update my card and have boss battles with the con organizers, but I just never got to it. Very creative idea, though.

My panels went well. Friday night I had my reading, followed immediately by the Batman vs. Superman panel. There were roughly ten people at my reading, including fellow readers Ada Hoffmann and Timothy(!) Gwyn. I got some laughs, and we were all well-received.

The BvS: Cataloguing The Badness panel was surprisingly civilized. We debated the pluses and minuses of the film, and agreed on quite a few things. Attendance was low for a Friday night panel on a divisive movie, though.

Saturday gave me mixed feelings. I attended a couple of afternoon panels and hung out with friends, then made my way to my Can The Exorcist Work In The Modern World panel at 5. This one didn’t go the way I’d expected – I’d thought the discussion would be about religious-themed stories like The Exorcist and whether they can resonate with secular audiences today. Instead there was very little of that, and most of the time was devoted to the Exorcist novel and movie and what everyone thought of them. And, the moderator warned everyone to be respectful of religious beliefs, which troubled me a bit. It’s not that I wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I did want to speak freely about why I felt Exorcist-type stories could still invoke fear. For me, the realization that the nuttiest of religious extremists were right all along is a concept too terrifying to accept. I managed to make that point anyway, but felt unable to really contribute to a conversation that centred around a movie I saw once (and a novel I hadn’t read) rather than jumping off from it. A shame – I was really looking forward to that one.

The Spam panel would have been a lot more fun if we’d had more participants. As it was there were two of us, and a moderator acting as referee. I’m pretty pleased with the spam story I pieced together, but this event wasn’t as enjoyable as it should have been.

The highlight of Saturday was, of course, the Paper Airplane Contest! Marie Bilodieu was once again running the event with an iron fist of fear, even though her voice was half-gone. I feared her, but I also wanted to give her a ginger ale or something. My plane did a spectacular belly-flop into loserville, but my rendition of Monty Python’sAlways Look On The Bright Side Of Life” was a smash hit (Marie insists participants sing for their paper, or tell a joke or something).

I ended the day with a couple of book trades (those count as sales, right?) and generally good spirits.

I had no programming on Sunday, so I went to hang out and go to the readings of S.M. Carriere, Erik Buchanan and Nicole Lavine. Made a couple of (heavily discounted) sales, too! Less stuff to carry back.

And then it ended. Sadness. But good memories. Not as successful promotion-wise as Ad Astra or last year’s Can Con had been – really hard to sell books without a dealer’s room table.

And that’s it, con-wise, for this year. No SFContario to look forward to, unfortunately. I shall miss my fandom friends. They are a good bunch, and really help to make life worth living!