Sunday, March 18, 2012

Productivity Update...

Here's an update on my writing progress...

Earlier this afternoon, the Lawrenceville group went over the last two chapters of Battle for the Wastelands.  The scene where a character gets his leg amputated was duly applauded, but the group suggested some changes to the ending.  The changes they suggest involve a certain character surviving the crash of his airship--which was brought down by another airship being shot down above it and crashing into the top of the gas-bag--and battling another character on the ground.  They said having another character simply finding him dead at someone else's hand cheapened his story.

The problem with that scenario is that personal confrontations between leaders get less and less likely the higher the technology level.  Hector killing Patroclus and then being killed by Achilles makes sense in the Bronze Age technology level of the Iliad, as do Richard III killing Henry VII's standard-bearer and going for Henry himself at the Battle of Bosworth Field or (I think) Spartacus attempting to personally engage Crassus and getting pretty close before being cut down.

Although the Civil War (the tech level for most of the Wastelands world) featured a Confederate general who was killed in battle (I don't remember his name, but he bled to death from a thigh wound) and another leading a patrol in person and being killed by friendly fire (Stonewall Jackson), it's not like Lee and McClellan ever crossed sabers themselves.

The response was, to quote TVTropes, "Rule of Cool."


Oh well.  Realism can be bent somewhat for entertainment purposes.  The goal is to produce something one wants to read, after all.

Another project I've just started is called "Son of Grendel."  I took a page from James R. Tuck, who wrote a prequel novella entitled "That Thing At the Zoo" that was released before his debut novel Blood and Bullets.  Novellas have historically been poor sellers, but e-readers like the Kindle have helped get around this problem.  No binding and distribution costs, after all.

In Battle for the Wastelands, villain Falki Grendelsson makes a reference to having participated in the suppression of a rebel group that had killed a prominent soldier in the Obsidian Guard, Grendel's personal army drawn from his homeland.  Before the battle, he'd thrown a spear onto the battlefield, which is a Norse tradition dedicating the enemy to Odin.  No prisoners.  To top it off, he'd inflicted the infamous blood eagle on one of the survivors.

"Son of Grendel" shows what Falki had told.  I've plotted out twelve or thirteen chapters.  The final product will probably be 20,000 to 30,000 words long.

I've also written some additional material for Escape from the Wastelands.  Not a whole lot.  Basically I introduce Andrew and his squad doing their part in the advance northward into the crumbling Flesh-Eater empire and exposit some of the stuff that happened in the last book.  I'm going to need to read some second books in a series, like perhaps A Clash of Kings (the second book in A Song of Ice and Fire, sequel to A Game of Thrones), to see how they reintroduce everyone and explain what went on before.  I remember reading ACOK before I read AGOT and wondering who was it who had a bunch of molten gold poured on his head, so perhaps the "reintroduction" is more subtle.

I'm going to need to expand the role of Catalina Merrill some in the series, since she's the only female POV character so far.  Due to her being the concubine of Grendel (and the most restricted of them, since she's not some groupie girl but a high-ranking enemy captive), she doesn't live a very exciting life.  I don't think I can work much into Escape, but in the planned third book Marching Toward The Wastelands, I think I can work in some harem-intrigue subplot.  I've already foreshadowed some of the politicking involved in the first book.

One project that has been lagging somewhat is the screenplay version of my short story "Coil Gun."  43 pages long, out of an ideal length of perhaps 90.  In order to get it the right length, I planned to expand on the role of the protagonist's best friend who is in orbit aboard a powerful American battle-station during the opening night of World War III.  Problem is, I don't have a whole lot of ideas on how to do it.

I intend to go to Los Angeles sometime this year.  I can make it a business trip if I've got a completed screenplay and I've made contact with some agents.  I was originally planning on going sometime this spring, although if I reschedule my trip for early fall, this gives me more time to finish.  I'll look on the bright side--43 completed pages means it's roughly half-done.  :)

For the record, "Coil Gun" appeared in the Kindle anthology Pressure Suite: Digital Science Fiction #3.  This anthology, and others, can be purchased hereDSF has been having some issues with money lately and how soon they can get back to publishing depends on how much money the anthologies make.  You can read all about it here.  DSF was one of the best markets I've ever worked with and I'd like to see them back in action as soon as possible.  I've got one completed story (also set in the Afrikanerverse) I could send them, as well as partially-completed new military-SF story.


  1. Excelent work Matt! Sorry to here about Digital Science Fiction.

    Question: Have you thought of sending it into Analog?

  2. Glad to see 'Wastelands' is coming along and looking forward to 'Son of Grendel' as well. I'm glad to see what you've been working on thus far. I read 'Coilgun' and it was a damn fine read which would make for a fascinating screen play, especially from a short story. I'm wishing you the best of luck breaking into the industry!

  3. @Korsgaard:

    Thanks for the suggestion, but I probably sent my second Afrikaner story to Analog a long time ago, although I'll need to check my spreadsheet. LORE ONLINE's response time is two months, so it'll be May-ish when I find out.

    About DSF, if the four published issues are selling well, chances are they'll be back to publishing sooner or later. I feared the publication was dead.

    @ Stienberg:

    Glad you liked "Coil Gun." I should probably focus on that project more. If I'm not going to do anything publisher-wise with "Battle for the Wastelands" until January (ABNA), I have nine months to finish "Son of Grendel" but if I want to go to LA in the fall, only five months to get "Coil Gun" in sellable shape.