PUBLISHED! Book one of Space-Farming: Dangerous Weapons

Weighing in at 110,000 words and with four interior illustrations I am proud to announce book one of my space opera.

Charles Meyer, a gambling addict farmer with a temper, is barely holding on. And it gets worse.

He is attacked by disco-pirates, a villainous mega-tycoon, and a corrupt government. Charles gets into gambling debt with the casino.

With so much going on, he joins a criminal gang. Learns the value of friendship–with the help of a religious cult. And eventually hurts everyone he loves.

This is a book about being a tiny mortal bug in the universe and fighting impossible odds. It is blanketed with comedy.

Until the publication of book 2, I will be offering a free copy to readers of writingtemple.com. Sign up to my newsletter (Bottom footer on the left) to get a free pdf copy.

The next step is to get as much free publicity as possible. Submitting it to book lists and the like. Support me as I work on some short stories and book number 2, drop a comment!

Cover Design for Space-Farming #1

Novel #1 of Space-Farming in the Age of the Disco-Pirates was enjoyed by my beta readers. I am proud to publish it, but first the cover illustration, one last fine-comb edit, and some interior illustrations.

I do all my illustrations and covers, for better or for worse.

It will be published January once the final touches are done.

I am working on Vapor Basin part 2. It pales in comparison to finishing this novel.

As promised–the first two chapters.

Tada!

I have a bet with my friends, if they can critique me so it hurts my feelings I owe them a drink.

Obviously, I can’t make the same bet here. I must make a smaller one. If you critique my work so cruelly it hurts my feelings, I will put you in the acknowledgements as a beta-reader. I might put you in the beta-readers regardless, haha, but you will know you are the best. 😉

Writing update

Space-farming in the age of the disco-pirates has 9,999 more words to be edited. Yes that’s right, only four digits. 97959 words had been edited into a second draft. I am happy to say the book is readable. A reasonable person can follow the plot from word one to word 100k.

I’ll finish up this second draft soon and get started on the third draft. Once I edit chapter one again I will re-post it explaining changes from the previous version.

The third draft will see to clarity. Many setups are vague, I want to play those notes louder earlier. In particular, a biker gang (space-bikers) loses trust in their leader, but right now it comes out of nowhere. Putting some work into that will be good.

I feel that the third and fourth drafts will be lightning fast. Especially compared to the second draft. I deleted 15000-ish words of first draft material. And wrote 20,000 words of fresh material. The book is at 108331 words. I am hoping to bring down the word count slightly. 108k words isn’t bad, but I have a feeling the narrative is a bit bloated.

I love the settled title for the book, Space-farming in the Age of the Disco-Pirates. I am really happy that I got a lot of fun things in there. Food-tyrants, Gambling, Heists, Drug running, and of course Disco-Pirates. They are the first and last villains of the book. I love how my initial idea of having one villain, the Pirate Queen Dina, grew into a cast of four villains. Mr. Paulo–casino owner, Prime-President Macka–leader of the free world, and Xercan–the universe’s primary food supplier. I take a great bit of pride in my villains. No by the numbers evil here.

Anyhow, thanks for your continued interest.

That’s all.

A subtle ARGUMENT from resistance.

I love Steven Pressfield’s book the War of Art. In that book he mentions he was tempted to write his perspective as a war memoir. After all he was a fiction writer. Non-fiction was for someone else and he was meant to write allegories.

Well I had a fairly subtle argument in my mind. I was enjoying my writing and I thought: if it is easy it isn’t worth doing. After all the more fear you feel the more important it is to do that thing. So I shouldn’t become an author. Instead I should pursue something I fear like becoming a nutritional supplement entrepreneur. Gah. I would hate that life.

This was further compounded from text in the war of art, I just finished the section saying the more someone fears something the more important it is to do. Nice try resistance. I’m going to beat you even if you use the book that made me aware of your existence against me.

Even if I like writing I’m going to do it. Odd reversal. I’ve been spending most of my time telling myself if I don’t like writing I’m going to do it. The reason for both is simple: telling stories is worth it.

I am about thirty-five thousand words into my second draft. It is working, hell, after the second draft it would be perfectly readable. I want to make it funny, and some jokes are working, but to really make it work I know I will need a third and fourth draft.

That’s all.

More Thoughts on Cliche Stories

I was listening to my favorite rock opera today (Rick Wakeman’s Journey to the center of the earth) and I was reminded of the journey to the center of the earth movies.

There are two that stick out in my memory, the 1959 edition and the modern 2008.

The one from 1959 didn’t rely on a character arc to move the audience. It relied solely on the sci-fi novelty of plunging into the earth to discover mushroom forests and creatures of the deep. Extremely fantastic watching.

However, 2008’s journey to the center of the earth tried to do an abysmal family redemption story. The fake characters turned what could have been (maybe) fantastic scenes into eye-rolling boredom.

Flat characters are better than dishonest characters. Characters like James Bond and Sherlock Holmes are dreadfully flat but due to their expertise make for an entertaining watch.

Rounding Out the Characters in Journey to the Center of the Earth

How can we make the characters in journey to the center of the Earth move an audience while simutanesously retaining the awe of exploring vocanic Icelandic caverns?

It’s dreadfully easy: characters must encounter what they fear.

Everything a characters fears relates to an insecurity, lie, or trauma. That’s why people read fiction, its a safe, fast, and effective way to incorporate the wisdom of others into our life. Characters solving lies and trauma may give us the courage or method to do so in our own lives. If anyone really wanted to learn about the cave systems I would recommend nonfiction.

Why do we watch James Bond or Sherlock Holmes then?

Skyfall was the best James Bond because it presented the first believable fear — being past his prime and decaying fast.

I don’t like Sherlock Holmes, I find him boring and trite. There is little reason to watch Holmes.

That’s all.

How To Refresh Cliche Stories

Introducing fantastic situations turns cliche stories into moving entertainment.

One of my favorite films is Yesterday. It is a romance. Jack Malik’s arc is as cliche as it gets. ‘Success can distract you what matters most: love.‘ If you wrote just that, it would be boring as staring down a wall.

But.

If you wrote this: ‘Even if you are as famous as the Beetles, remember those who love you for who you are.‘ It becomes uncommon sense.

And that is where Yesterday comes in. Jack is a no-name musician that travels from failing gig to failing gig. Ellie Appleton loves Jack despite Jack’s passion eating dust. But Jack is far too focused on what he isn’t to see what he already has.

Then one fateful day, Jack becomes the one and only to remember the Beetle’s music. He uses it to become extremely rich and famous. In the process, he alienates Ellie. Drama and struggle ensue.

In a moment of revelation, he throws it all away and chooses Ellie as his dream.

Now, I’ve only ever watched it once but I remember all that. Good films and books will be memorable.

A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Cliche Go Down

Being the only person to remember the Beetles music is as sci-fi as it gets. Delightfully subtle and powerfully concrete. It is the sugar.

The common sense of ‘not letting success distract you‘ is the medicine. It goes in one ear and out the other.

The magic is wrapping the cliche with the sci-fi and fantastic. We enjoy the glimmer and flash of success and reviving the Beetles but the heart-line of the film is a cliche.

This is not to say that cliche is wrong, cliche advice is often right. But the only way to make your audience read it is to entertain them.

In short, the film Yesterday is the story equivalent of getting a baby to eat by making airplane noises.

That is all.

How to Drink Safely and Responsibly as an Author

The best art is made by a joyful soul. Alcohol is no replacement for meditation and directly confronting insecurities. Always drink with friends that you would trust sober.

The timing of this post is not a coincidence.

No: I’m not going to edit that post, it’s freaking hilarious. My hope is that you read it in a drunken Canadian accent. Then you are off to the races. 😀

The topic of suffering and starving artists has been on my mind for a while and now is likely the best time to post about it.

In the metaphor of this blog, you are the boat. You are the sailing ship that navigates the seven seas to get to the temple of truth. This post is about plugging the holes in your ship and pumping the bilge.

Alcoholism and Art do not mix.

No not drink and write. (Says the guy who wrote yesterday. Ha-ha.) Drinking is for enjoying the company of friends.

But let’s be real, you already know all that. Your problem isn’t a lack of knowledge regarding alcohol, in fact you probably know more than me.

Everyone I’ve ever met has a deep rooted pain buried in their chest like they’ve been impaled by a tree. All you can ever hope to do is painfully remove each sliver with tweezers and drop them in a glass jar.

Don’t water the impaling tree with Alcohol. You’ve got to get it out.

Suffering artists, weather it be the sleep deprived doctor or the titular drunken writer are terrible lies. Your best work and your best life happens when you don’t need drugs to tolerate the pain.

Starving Artists

Closely related are starving artists. You can’t live on a diet of paint.

One of the best painters in the entire world is a man named John James Audubon. Here is a link to many if not all of his paintings. I love his work and bird lovers the world over love his work. I can rant and rave about how brilliant a painter he was but.

There’s always a but.

He never learned to balance his life and his life’s calling. He lived for many years just painting, all of his small stipend went to buying paint. (I don’t believe he ate paint, it was Van Gogh that ate his paints later in his life)

This undoubtedly cut many years from his life. Which means he has angered God, the muses, or the universe (take your pick). He was put on this earth and he chose his life’s calling to paint birds. But because he didn’t love himself first, his life’s calling became his death’s calling. I am grateful for his work. If I knew him I would tell him to be healthy first.

And that’s why I’m here really, you might be in John James Audubon’s situation, and I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t tell you to love yourself first.

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

Context for Yesterday’s post.

After much recollection, I can give some context for the drunken crying rant yesterday.

Covid 19 meant that I haven’t seen my friends for six months on top of three months already. In that time, my best friend got married and Covid stole the opportunity from me to be at his wedding. In the last two days, I took the risk and went to see them.

I meet up with him and his wife and we drank a lot. In total I had eight drinks. Four beer bottles and four fancy drinks. The fancy drinks were double shots of hard liquor in content.

I’m not entirely sure, but I think the waitress cut us off at the last fancy drink so it might have only been seven drinks. We drank a water to pace ourselves half way through. We ate two orders of chicken tenders to also pace ourselves.

We got back home safely and slowly. Being quiet to respect our neighbors. The brew house being a short walk away from my friend’s apartment. I would trust these two people with my life sober.

Got back home, wrote drunk for two hours, watched star trek.

Woke up at 5:30 and started writing again without a hangover. Odd.

I’m going for a morning jog.

That’s all.

The Secret to Story

Character.

That’s it. I’ve believed it for a long time now. Recently, I racked my mind trying to think of anything — anything — that is more important than character. I don’t want to spend hundreds of hours writing a story that no one will read.

Novels are unique in human entertainment because they go deep into a character. Think of a character as a friend telling you their story. We listen to stories because we want to fit in socially with others.

A nonfiction book on auto-mechanics will improve your understanding of cars. A novel (especially fantasy) doesn’t improve are relationship to things, but it does to people. That is why novels are read and why people pay to read them. Escapism is part of the reason, but it doesn’t explain difficult to read stories like the novel, ‘These Lovely Bones.’ Getting into the mind of character and seeing how they tick is what keeps our unconsciousness mind engaged in stories.

So I am focusing on character.

The main character of ‘Spacefarm’

You see I’m hitting some snags while outlining my new ‘Spacefarm’ novel, (Though I think I’ll change it to ‘Galaxy-Farm.’) The character Charles isn’t grabbing my attention. He is boring.

At first I had him anti-social and a loner, but this felt way to cliche and I just wasn’t buying it. Why did he go out to gamble? Why does he explode in anger on people? So I changed him from anti-social to badly socialized — think two year old who won’t share his toys. This has led to way more social telling possibilities, namely his bad friends who are holding him back. Misery loves company. This lets me focus the story. Turns out that his problem is gambling, not his devil-may-care attitude towards others. Everything bad about his life works together to make his life bad — but not unbearable.

He only changes (In the same way you only change) when his life becomes unbearable. An unavoidable collision course with destiny. The refocus on Charles’s problems is necessary to make the struggle fun to read. When Charles’s destiny comes at him like a raging bull it isn’t about him not working with people, its about the kind of people he works with. His new friends, despite being criminals, actively push him towards doing good.

That deserves some clarification. They are criminals in the broad sense of the word. In the same way if you collect rain water for later consumption in America, you are a criminal. The government of planet Iora is corrupt, but I digress.

How can I get Charles from being a cliche bore to a driven protagonist? The answer is simple but requires lots of work. I am reading stories of people with gambling addiction, people with anger issues, and analyzing my own life for examples of both. These will be the problems he struggles with.

Sounds like an awful character right? Yes. But you are going to like him anyway. Because I won’t merely describe his flaws, I want to understand why he returns to his addictions like a dog to vomit. Empathy will create investment, which when Charles is chased down by space-pirates, suspense. Hence the research.

God willing, it will all work together and I can have an exciting novel with a crazy son-of-a-raccoon man everyone loves.

Your Call to Action

  • Character outweighs all other considerations in writing.
  • Research your character’s flaws — they are disgustingly human as opposed to what their fakebook page would lead you to believe.
  • Empathize with those flaws, explain to your reader why a people would act this way.

That’s all for this post. There is more to be said on character. In particular I will write more about developing a characters arc, avoiding generalities, and developing danger to relate to his problem. But I want to get back to outlining my novel.