Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Update on the "Wastelands" Projects

Here's an update on the projects set in my "Wastelands" universe...

Battle for the Wastelands-I have received critiques on the finished manuscript from two of my five beta readers, with comments from one slated for later this week.  One beta largely enjoyed the work, although on his recommendation I have switched the order of some scenes at the end and will look for opportunities to add descriptive language.  The second beta pointed out some inconsistencies, namely a character with a wounded leg being able to jump around a lot in a fight scene.  I'll need to fix those too. 

The third beta told me that although he liked the story overall, there are some instances of dialogue being unintentionally funny, the same swear words being used in succession by different characters, and people repeating things they think.  I'll need to see the critiqued manuscript before I know which ones are which, but I could potentially cut a some writing flab there.  This'll give me room for more description without reducing the overall word count (some publishers actually want above 100K words) or allow me to have a leaner manuscript (better for other publishers).

I was also hanging out with a steampunk enthusiast friend Memorial Day and he said a hydrogen airship would not explode like the Death Star.  I watched old newsreels on YouTube about the Hindenburg disaster and confirmed it.  A burning airship will sink flaming to the ground, but not go off with an explosion so large it momentarily blinds the protagonist.  He also pointed out that antagonists with half a brain wouldn't have one airship floating directly atop another one.  So I spent most of last night, when I wasn't distracted by pointless debates on my alternate history forum, rewriting that scene.  We'll still have "airship demolition derby," but it's better this way.

"Son of Grendel"-Over Memorial Day weekend, I finished the first draft of "Son of Grendel," although I'll need to go back and elaborate on some things.  Right now, it's just under 17,000 words.  Once I've sent the last half or so to my Lawrenceville group in early June and make changes based on earlier Lawrenceville recommendations, I will cycle it through my Kennesaw writing group in two 8,000 word chunks, much like how James R. Tuck sent his novels and novellas through.

Escape from the Wastelands-Not a whole lot, although I did include this along with the revisions of Battle and "SOG" to differentiate more between the standard weapon of the world (something resembling a Sharps rifle) and the "Old World rifles" (essentially modern assault weapons left over from the pre-apocalyptic world).  A lot of my reading about the Pacific Theater of World War II will show up here, including enemy infiltrators and some of the awful "little details" of war like digging foxholes in formerly enemy territory and accidentally digging into enemy graves, being unable to leave foxholes due to artillery bombardment and having to throw one's waste out of the hole with a shell canister, etc.

Now that Battle and "Son of Grendel" are (mostly) done, it's time to start writing query letters.  I don't intend to start sending them out until after the final revisions are done in case they get back to me faster than the standard eight weeks and catch me flat-footed, but I should at least start planning them.  I have written queries and synopses before, back when I wanted to pitch a Starcraft novel.  It turns out Blizzard doesn't accept unsolicited material--something I could have found if I'd done a bit more digging on their website--but I think this was good practice.  Hopefully I've still got the letter and synopsis hidden away somewhere.  I've also requested a library book on the publishing process from contacting an editor/publisher to contract, which will help as well.

(If "Son of Grendel" is critiqued by the Kennesaw group in June/July and Battle by the novel-writing spinoff group in August, everything should hopefully be ready to go by DragonCon.  There are a lot of publishers there, although I don't recall many agents.)


  1. You should have them INTENTIONALLY dig foxholes in the graves because the dirt is already broken, thus easier to dig. Plus grave defilement is a disheartener to the enemy.

  2. It's based on an incident in Okinawa from the memoir "With The Old Breed." The author E.B. Sledge was horrified and eventually prevailed upon his superior to dig somewhere else.

    (Imagine having to stay in the foxhole for an extended period and you didn't get all of the enemy corpse out, especially if it's starting to fall apart. The ick factor would be massive.)

    Now, digging latrines on enemy graves--and being sure to leave the bodies in--is something that would piss off the enemy to no end.

  3. This is good news. I wish you luck.

    But I will be following your progress closely in order to learn more about getting in contact with publishers.

  4. You don't need to follow my progress to learn. "Writer's Market" has some very useful (and very large) books with markets to send one's work, instructions on querying agents and publishers, etc.

    There are other writing books as well you can get from the library.

  5. I hadn't heard of this. Thanks for the heads up sir.