Writing Progress Report

I haven’t posted a book progress update in a while. So here is one. The fourth Dome of Souls novel is all but ready. It’s proofread, I have a cover, only thing I need to do is to format it and start the publishing process.
Under my pseudonym, I also have a cover for the latest beast and it is ready and currently at the proofreader. Once I get it back, I have to make the final changes and then that one will be good to go too.
So what’s keeping me from doing the final steps of the fourth Dome of Souls novel? The fifth one! 😉 I’m in the process of writing its first draft and it’s been going very smoothly and quickly and I’m already at 75,000 words. I expect the beast to have between 90,000 and 100,000 words in the end, so not much more to go. I’m pushing for the completion of the first draft to stay in the nice and steady creation flow it is in now. While Dome 3 = Jeronimo and Dome 4 = “title to be announced soon”, took a while to write, Dome 5 is like Dome 2 = The Anatomy of Anarchy, it practically wrote itself, because the story was all very clear in my head already.
It was and is a great pleasure to be writing Dome 5 due to this “the book writes” itself aspect. I’m at it for seven weeks now and I suppose the first draft will be finished after ten weeks or so. That would be my second quickest time ever for finishing the first draft of a novel, the fastest being and probably remaining “To Mix and To Stir”, the second Hagen Patterson novel, which took me a mere five weeks to write.
I’m always talking about the initial drafts here, the self-editing etc. process is so much longer than the first draft. “To Mix and To Stir” remains the fastest book also in the department of the overall process including self-editing, and editing/proofreading by someone else. To Mix and To Stir came out nine months after I started with the beast.
The pseudonym book coming out soon is the second fastest. Since I suppose it will be ready in January or February, it took/will take 13 or 14 months from writing to putting it out there. So far so good! I better get back to Dome 5, because I am itching to finish that first draft :-)
Dome 4 will probably come out in January or February too, once I get around to formatting it 😉 Cheers!

Writing Update

I’ve not announced a writing update in an age! So here is one. 🙂 I’m in the last stages of review for my fourth Dome of Souls novel before I will hand it over to a proofreader. Meaning the beast will come out before the end of the year, I hope. My alter ego (I’m also writing books under a pseudonym) is in the same stage with the (maybe) last installation of a trilogy. Theoretically there would be room for another part of the story, but for the moment it’s done. But back to Regina. So the fourth Dome of Souls novel: Remember when the sacked Keepers of Jeronimo left for the freshly found New Earth without telling the revolutionists back home where it is?
We are making a jump into the future again and a thousand years after the fall of Jeronimo, the Earthlings are finding their lost brothers on New Earth. However, what they find is not exactly what they imagined they would. Evil grin.

I must say I struggled a bit through the writing of this beast, since it represented the challenge of two cultures clashing and how to portray those, which is an aspect absent from the three earlier Dome of Souls novels where everything happened within one culture which was in the process of changing itself from within. The culture clash this time was of course interesting and a new aspect, but I did fight with how to, in my opinion, “correctly” portray such a culture clash. It is however a nice preparation for the fifth book, which will (finally) take us to Bahrein. I’m greatly looking forward to writing that beast and since it’s quite detailed in my mind (at least to a much larger extent than number four was when I started), I think the writing process will be quite fast and smooth for the Bahreinian one, though you never know. I guess I can start working on that beast in autumn.

Other than that there are two stand-alone novels slumbering. One has been shopped around agents already without a result, the other is ready to be shopped around with agents, but I’m not finding the patience and energy to write the agent advertising package for that one.
Both stand-alones have the disadvantage of being rather short, just 65,000 words, and most publishers want stuff that’s longer than 70,000 words. Ridiculous that a story can be judged by something like this, but…
I’ll try to send one off to a few publishers, the other to a few agents and after a while give up and bring them out myself again. Though I’m undecided yet whether they’ll be under my name or the pseudonym.
So, I’m busy as usual and my pseudonym has gotten a few fans on whatpadd, just five people or so, but nevertheless it feels good to get encouragement from people who don’t know me personally 😉
And thus the never-ending writing journey continues!

The Road to Wacken and the Rest of Europe

In three days I’ll be on the road again and I’ll have a full program. At first there will be Wacken, baby, Wacken. That’s where the world’s biggest heavy metal festival happens. It’s a tiny town in German’s most northern state of Schleswig-Hollstein, just below Denmark, and once a year the population of the town swells from 5000 people to 85,000 people when the metal heads fly in. It will be my third time at the festival and I’m looking forward to it mightily.
I just hope the weather will be better than the incredible rain and mud battle from two years ago.
On I’ll go to visit my sister and my Dad for two days and then I will fly to Scotland, since I’ve never been to Scotland yet. I’ll go on two bus tours in Scotland visiting lochs and castles and whisky distilleries 😉
Then on goes the journey via ferry to Ireland. Two nights in Belfast and two nights in Dublin with more bus tours and castles and scenery.
I have decided on this trip rather than going to the World Science Fiction Convention in Finland, because frankly, the convention would only frustrate me. I’ve had enough of aloof agents and publishers and more or less frustrated authors running around begging for attention between a few established authors who get all the attention that the newcomers and nobodies would need. I still want more people to read my books, but I’ve had it with having to do things I don’t like doing for that.
My time is too precious to waste it with crap I don’t wanna do. I love going to places I haven’t been to yet. I wanted to go to Scotland since kinda forever and that seems to be a much much better thing to do than hanging around on a convention that will bring me zero joy.
The weather will be a challenge though! It’s been over thirty degrees for nearly every day in July in Yokohama and now I’m going to places where it’s barely twenty during the day. It feels weird to be packing warm clothing tomorrow 😉
So, beautiful cliffs, green meadows and whiskey, here I’ll come and relax my neck from the highly welcomed headbanging in Wacken before that. It will be a great pleasure to see Amon Amarth for the very first time! (Yeah, I know, unbelievable, but I’ve never seen them yet!) And I’ll see Grave Digger again and Alice Cooper and Powerwolf and and and. Raise your horns, metal heads and rejoice in the holy land of Wacken!

And Then There Were Three

I just received the proof copy of Jeronimo and all looks fine. So I pushed the publication button and the novel should be available on Amazon worldwide within the next few days.
The trio looks good! 🙂
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For Jeronimo, the Keeper’s tower is actually in the center of the picture, but since the picture bends around the spine, just looking at the cover, the tower seems off center. But, I kind of like it because the centrist world of Jeronimo is about to be unbalanced mightily by the course of events 😉
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The trio looks good from every angle and it also shows the mightiness of the Anatomy of Anarchy, which is a bit longer than its two brothers Dome Child and Jeronimo 😉
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I’m already looking forward to add number four to the bunch – I’m writing it right now. The fourth Dome of Souls novel will be called “Red Angel 42”.

I’m now working on the Kindle conversion of Jeronimo. Let’s see how long that will take, since the process seems to be changed compared to a year ago. Well, it’ll work somehow!
In the meantime I’ll have a juka2 (I wish) and enjoy the ride.
Happy birthday, Jeronimo!

Twenty Years of the “Dome”

As long as twenty years ago, I had the first idea for the “Dome of Souls” series.
It all started with the world of Jeronimo, and twenty years on, the story will finally see the official day of light. It has changed a lot over those twenty years.
Here is the gorgeous cover by Katho Sensei.
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Jeronimo started as a television series screenplay, became a role playing game for a few session, then continued as a screenplay.

After Jeronimo, I wrote (in screenplay format) it’s prequel The Anatomy of Anarchy, which saw the light of day last year, then I wrote two sequels, which are not yet published.
Next, I abandoned the whole series and switched from screenplays to novels. I wrote the pre-prequel of Jeronimo, the Dome Child and published it in 2011.
After Dome Child came out, I thought I was done with the Dome for good and turned to other stories, some of which have been published under my name, others under a pseudonym.
But then, in around 2014, the Dome bug bit me again. This story has been with me my entire adult life and it wanted to make its way out into the world. This time I stayed in chronological order and completely rewrote the Anatomy of Anarchy without even looking again at its old screenplay version. I highly enjoyed writing the Anatomy and it flowed very well. I published it exactly one year ago, then turned to the center piece, to the idea and world that started it all and I found rewriting Jeronimo to be a tough job. Maybe half of its original version was scrapped.
In the next few weeks, I’ll proudly publish the new Jeronimo, twenty years after its first version. Many of its characters feel almost like real people to me. I know them for twenty years! Most of all the protagonist of course, Jiroemon, or short Jiro. Jiro actually did not change too much from his original version, but the story around him changed quite massively over the course of time. He’s like my younger brother, kind of 😉

At the moment I am rewriting the Jeronimo sequel from scratch, which is also a tough exercise, since the Jeronimo sequels have to change a lot after the changes applied to Jeronimo. But I’m getting there, I think, 200 pages of the first Jeronimo sequel are already written. At the moment six Dome of Souls novels are concretely planned, three and a half are written. Considering writing time, I might be finished with the Dome of Souls series after twenty-five years. Well, only five more to go and twenty behind me.
Good luck out there in the big world, Jiro, I hope a few people read about you 😉
It truly does feel like I’m releasing my little brother who I cared for and nursed twenty long years out into the wild!
And when you read Jeronimo, you will finally find out why my homepage is called juka-productions, some ten years or so since it came into existence. 😉

Dome Child – Revised and Abridged

It’s almost five years since I released my novel Dome Child into the harsh world out there. Back then I thought Dome Child would be a stand alone and that I would not go back to the Dome of Souls world, which has been with me since – OMG – around 1997 (!). I wrote the Dome of Souls stories in screenplay format and only the Dome Child, which I started in 2007, was originally written as a novel.
Dome Child Cover small
After the release of Dome Child, I thought I was done with the Dome of Souls world, but before long the bug bit me again and I decided to rewrite everything from scratch and this time in novel format.
I wrote four TV series, the first is called Jeronimo (the J is deliberate), the central piece of the Dome of Souls world. Next I wrote a prequel to Jeronimo called The Anatomy of Anarchy, then the two sequels of Jeronimo.
Things stopped there because I was turning away from screenplay format and wrote the pre-prequel of Jeronimo: Dome Child as a novel. A sixth story always spooked in my head but has so far never been written down.
Rewriting the Anatomy of Anarchy from scratch into novel format was much more fun than expected and it changed quite dramatically compared to the screenplay version.

The Anatomy is now finally ready for release and will come out in July (I hope… I’d like to bring it out in June already, but I will be on a longish international business trip plus some holidays that will interfere with the publishing plans)
Taking the release of the Anatomy as a trigger – five years after Dome Child, I took up the Dome Child again and revised it.
I was very pleased that I am still fully behind the story, the plot, and the characters of Dome Child, but the revision was very necessary, since I’ve learned a lot about writing the past 5 years. I reduced the Dome Child from from 397 to 371 pages, deleting some scenes, shortening others, revising wording. None of the shortening affects the overall plot. These are my greatest problems, I think, over-wordy sentences (I blame my German mother tongue for that) and repetition. I suffer from the phenomenon: some things are so “awesome”, they need to be said a couple of times in other words…
I am confident that the revised Dome Child is more compact and flows better now, but the process made me kinda wonder just how much I would throw out if I were to repeat this revision process in another five years? 😉
Anyway, to prepare for the release of the Anatomy – here is the revised Dome Child.
I am contemplating whether to open another Wattpad account (I have one for books published under a pseudonym) and whether to make the Dome Child available for free in that format… for the moment that decision is postponed to July when I’ll be back from that longish business trip/holidays.

All in all I am very happy with having revised the Dome Child and am determined to finally “finish” the Dome of Souls series. Jeronimo is already written anew from scratch (and it changed even more dramatically than the Anatomy), its two sequels that already existed in screenplay format are not yet done and the last novel, the never yet written book, also awaits. Even if I manage to release one Dome of Souls novel per year, it’ll be 2020 until the thing is done! And how knows, maybe number 6 won’t be the last word? You never know with the Dome of Souls.
For now – here is the revised Dome Child and the Anatomy will see the light of day in July 🙂

Writing Progress

I’ve not done a writing progress update in a while, so here it is 🙂

I’m busy as always.
Right now I’m working on the final revisions of the second Dome of Souls novel. The first one is Dome Child and already 4 years old. Now, finally, there will be a second one, I hope the beast will be ready around January or February 2016?
Then I’m also polishing a stand-alone second-world contemporary fantasy which I want to send into the submission gauntlet… Not much hope for such endeavors, but… “never give up, never surrender!”

There is a high fantasy novel lying in the archives of Dark Quest Books with a vague promise at publication, but I haven’t heard from the decision maker yet in the entirety of 2015, despite emailing him some 30 times. No further comment…………….

Then there is stuff going on under the pseudonym! One novel out, one novel under submission under that name and if nobody wants it, I’ll put that one out next. The (very nice) cover for it already exists 🙂
I’ve written part two of the first novel published under the pseudonym this summer, and at the moment that first draft is resting. I have a very good feeling about this part 2 and shall get back to it shortly.

Dome of Souls novel number 3 is also already done (the hardest first draft I ever wrote so far) and will follow the second Dome of Souls novel at the end of 2016, perhaps?

Then I’m going back a bit back to screenplays 😉 I just made scripts out of two of my unpublished short stories for a possible collaboration with a movie maker. It was great fun to go back to the screenplay format after a pause of a staggering eight years. Let’s see if something comes out of this project.

New short stories? No thanks. I just love the longer form and want to write novels, period.

I haven’t submitted anything to agents and publishers for more than 12 months out of frustration and have resumed with that last month, finally, quite disillusioned though about the chances of success.

Nevertheless, the writing continues and I’m eager to finish all the current revising, since I have already a new stand-alone science fiction novel in my head and several books to write in several series – Dome of Souls 4 and 5 and maybe even 6, then books 3 in two series that are at the moment destined for the pseudonym.
= there is a lot to write, a lot to do, so little time, and there is no drying up of the juices in sight anywhere!
Thus are the troubles of the prolific writer, so much to write, hardly anybody to read it………. yet… I’m still saying “yet”! Cheers!

Why I am Bothering to Write Fiction in this Day and Age

Author Kameron Hurley is writing for Locus once in a while and I really liked her latest article, but I feel the urge to write a „response“ from the other end of the spectrum.

Yes, I do have hundreds of rejections slips at home, yes, I have workshopped my work in peer groups extensively in the Tokyo Writers Workshop in the past and also Odyssey Online for five years. Yes, I have leveled up extensively over the past years and my novels now are a lot better than five years ago. Yes, I do believe in continuous learning, refining the craft, etc., and I am sure my novels will be better in five years than my novels are right now. But… I still haven’t „made it“. (let me define having „made it“ as having a major publishing house churning out your stuff and being repped by a reputable agent)
It’s pointless to speculate on the issue of why. Although I can throw a few attempts at reasons into the room:
1) I don’t live in the US or UK
2) I am not a US or UK citizen
3) I am not a native speaker of the beautiful English language
4) I am not good at schmoozing with editors and agents at the few conventions I used to go to
5) I don’t really like short fiction and despite having sold some short stories, I didn’t manage to place them in the two/three big magazines out there, and instead focus(ed) on long-fiction, my real passion.
6) I am not of the kind who loves writing the perfect query letter and the perfect synopsis.

Despite that, I have managed to be published by two small presses in Canada and the US. However, the response times of both publishers are a joke, to put it mildly. I haven’t heard from the publisher in the US in nine months or so, despite emailing him every other week. Their, sorry to say, unprofessional working style drives me nuts.
So, yes, I have resorted to self-publishing – why? To get rid of the stuff! To have it off my desk, out of my mind, done with it, gone, bye, sayonara, to free up space for the next project.

So far all the first books in a series I have self-published went through the submission gauntlet and the workshopping gauntlet. Actually it’s only three – Dome Child, She Should Have Called Him Siegfried and now a space opera published under a pseudonym. I cannot really „count“ To Mix and To Stir and Give Substance to a Thought, because they are parts two and three of the Hagen Patterson trilogy that started with She Should Have Called Him Siegfried.

A fourth start of a series (that I will put out this autumn under that pseudonym) is the most extensively workshopped and edited thing I have written so far. It is good, damn it, a very emotional story in my opinion that suffers only from being fuzzy genre-wise. I call it a second-world historical-fantasy, its second part will be SciFi since it happens 1000 years after the first one. Rejection slip after rejection slip, several almosts and I’m just fxxing tired of them!
Ironically, the books I self-published so far are actually far better edited, workshopped and cared for than the three novellas I managed to publish with small publishers.

I am frustrated with the publishing world, yes, and I strongly believe that the publishing world, as the whole rest of the world, are grossly unfair. On top of that I have geographical and other disadvantages.
I have another book in the pipeline (a stand alone, could be the start of a series though) that I shall send into the submission gauntlet again, whilst pushing out all the other stuff and here is finally why I am in the „game“:

I want to tell stories. I don’t have the ambition to be a master writer like Kameron, I just want to tell all the stories that I have in my head and entertain myself as well as a few other (the dream is many) people with them.
I can’t sit forever on a novel and refine it to death. All novels are abandoned. Maybe I abandon them too early, but there is too much stuff I want to tell to forever linger on the previous book. I’m in it for the fun of writing down a story, I’m in it because it’s awesome to construct entire worlds. I’m in it because I love my characters. For me Jove, Shavendra, Hagen, Al, Juliana, Floyd, Darnar, Talip, Lofgar, Marusar, Jaiah, Sina, Jyrus, Marlan, Hriff and Flin and and and are like people I know and they are asking me to tell their stories. Of course I want people to read them, but I’m doing this to entertain myself, because I laugh, love, and cry together with my characters and I’d like to thank them from the bottom of my heart for their existence, for urging me to write about them and for inspiring me.

The Marketingverse

After some marketing abstinence due to – simply said – frustration, I have returned to the book marketing game and am relearning and first-time learning a few things.
One re-learning is that there is always someone who is leagues better at the marketing (and the writing too) than you are. There are people out there who have magnificent, perfect graphic design web-pages for one single novel. There are others who must be hanging out in twitter 24/7 replying to every new follower they get with a direct message. Surely some of that is automated, but I had a short chat with one of those super marketers and I surely did not talk to an app.

There are also a million people out there who are trying to make money from the hopefuls – you gotta be aware of scammers and darker elements at every corner. Humans can get quite creative when they want something.
Engagement is the magic word of the hour. How do you get people engaged and interested in you? – Tough, since:
My restarted steps into the marketing verse confirm my blog entry from last week, there are simply too many people on the planet who produce too many possibilities and choices. Too many people want to find some self-satisfaction with the art they produce. It does not matter which form of art you are aiming for, all the few spots are taken – I read somewhere during this marketing week that e.g. the BBC uses only 30 actors…

One reason for why the marketing verse is so „loud“ is that you of course see way more producers than consumers. Sure, all the producers advertise more or less noisily for their products, whilst most consumers are rather passive and silent. The producers though, feeling the seeming or real absence of the consumers, shout ever louder and louder, falling victim to various degrees of panic.
Oh gosh! I must have thousands of twitter followers, otherwise I won’t be successful!

It is very easy to fall into that trap and to neglect what’s important, your art.
Like never before I believe that high self-discipline is absolutely critical.
As an artist „who wants to be noticed“ you have to be able to switch off all that noise and to return back to your art. Especially difficult for any artist who works with a computer, since the distractions of your social media accounts are only a few mouse-clicks away.

We have a saying in German – von nichts kommt nichts – literally: nothing comes from nothing. I do believe that the modern day author needs some sort of web presence, but how far do you go? How much time do you invest in all that tweeting, facebooking, networking, pretty homepage building (let alone submitting to the BBC begging for one of their 30 spots together with 3 million other people)? Where is the balance? Many people who „made it“ or who think they made it say that you have to focus on your art and I believe that is true. But if, as a newcomer, you do nothing at all in the marketing department and you don’t happen to be friends or neighbors with famous agent X or editor Y, your reach will be limited to family and friends.

So, I shall balance again, day by day, between what I love most – writing, and what I don’t love – the marketing and learn a bit more now and then.
Don’t laugh, but for me a recent new learning is to put hashtags onto one or the other word (in moderation of course! Irony intended) in your tweets and to do the same with your profile description so that people (= consumers = readers) can find you – maybe.
And I refuse to check now whether I wrote something similar in this blog here already four or five years ago, since that would be just too frustrating…… yes, this blog started in October 2010 and I shall „celebrate“ when the time comes.

The “Out of the Box” Myth

In my day-job I am again and again confronted with the wish for „out of the box“ thinking. Oh, how all those managers wish and starve for their subordinates to „think out of the box“ and produce fresh and new ideas.

But!

1) If you do think out of the box and it goes wrong – oh how big and bad is the blame! As a result, the person who dared to think out of the box, will never do so again, since he or she does not want to hear the blame and accusations again.

For an „out of the box“ culture you need a framework of: mistakes are allowed and OK. A framework that exists in the fewest of places, I dare say.

2) Much deeper than the „mistakes are OK culture“ goes the problem that you cannot demand of a „monoculture“ or of people who have done the same stuff for many years, to suddenly think „out of the box“ – they don’t know how to do it. They will only come up with the same ideas that they are familiar with and that they have used for years. They simply don’t know how to think out of the box and how to transcend what they know.
That’s not their fault, how the hell are they supposed to think out of the box if they never learned it, and if it is not really, truly allowed.

The other aspect, monoculture, does the same thing: It limits you. A homogenous group of e.g. Japanese men over fifty will only generate what a homogenous group of Japanese men over fifty can think of. If there is no stimulus of whatever sort, different gender, generation gap, different nationality, etc., there will be no new ideas but again only all those ideas the Japanese men over fifty have produced over the past twenty years already.

There are of course failed diverse teams. That failure generates mostly from being unable to accept each other as equal partners after all. The older person might still think the younger person is „stupid“ because he/she has no experience yet, even if the older person does not say so aloud and is friendly to the younger person. Diverse teams only function and bring a task forward if they truly embrace each others diversity and accept each other as equal human beings – and hell, that’s difficult.

I am amazed as to the stubbornness with which the cry for „out of the box thinking” remains without ensuring the per-requisits: a “failure is OK” culture, enough time and space to generate new ideas, and functioning diverse teams.

But – where does the cry for „out of the box thinking” come from? Pressure from business and society to gain market share, to „stand out“ in order to be noticed in the „sea of choice“ that we face these days.

This goes back to writing or rather to trying to market your books. Everybody wants to stand out from the crowd and be noticed… in doing so, we are all the same = a monoculture.
I don’t know what the solution to this is and, for example, how I shall manage to make my books stand out from the crowd and be noticed…

But there is another (frustrating) aspect that I realized just last week.
Were you/are you aware of the fact that in 1960 there were only 3 billion people on the planet? And now, only 55 years later, there are over 7 billion? See Wikipedia – world population

No wonder the individual doesn’t manage to be heard anymore and does not manage to stand out from the crowd without a ridiculous amount of luck. No wonder everything’s been invented already and every book has already been written…

Well, but that shall not stop me from keeping on writing, since I get huge personal satisfaction out of it! I just started reviewing my second Dome of Souls novel (part 1: Dome Child) yesterday after letting it be for half a year and damn! It’s good! I’ll publish it this autumn or so.

The Hardest First Draft Yet

Last weekend, I finally finished my hardest first draft yet – the third installment of the Dome of Souls series, whose so far only published member is Dome Child.

The Dome series is with me since „forever“ and once, a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, I wrote them all in TV screenplay formats, then revised them into novels, next abandoned them. Dome Child was originally written as a novel only and represents the very beginning of the series. I wrote it „last“ = ended with the beginning, in 2007 and after endless revisions published it in 2011.
After finishing Dome Child, I turned to other things and started several other series, thinking I would not return to the Dome world. The TV script format version represents my 1 million words of crap, or rather 2 million, and for a few years I was determined not to go back to them.

Let me add that the Dome series is spanning many thousand years of future human history and the four parts that I wrote in screenplay format and the one (Dome Child) that I wrote in novel format, are happening in the same world/universe but at different times and each deals with different characters.
Last year though, the Dome bug bit me again suddenly and without even looking again at the original screenplays, I decided to write the second Dome novel (title is yet a secret, let me call it AA) from scratch. That went very well and I am quite happy with the result. AA was easy to write, since everything in it leads to one big, inevitable conclusion.

Without much looking into the finished AA, I decided to write the third Dome novel right after it, again from scratch. Now this one, let me call it JJ for now, is the central piece of the whole Dome of Souls idea. JJ was the first Dome project and from it spawned all the others in the following order, one prequel (AA), two sequels and another pre-prequel, which is Dome Child.
JJ, the central beast, sits like a spider in the middle and throws its threads into all directions. It is the hen and the egg at the same time. The renewed beast had 120,000 words, but then I discarded an entire story line and went back to about 70,000 words and wrote again up to 90,000, which is the current word count of the „finished“ „first“ draft. I have never rewritten anything so heavily yet and have never fought with a story so much. It feels like I wresteled with Shelob herself! A bit exhausted now, I shall let this draft rest and take care of some other books of the plenty I have still in store, before going back to JJ.

The plan is to release the second Dome novel (AA), which flowed so nicely, around the end of the year and it will be JJs turn then next year. I’m thrilled how I will still like it (or not) when I go back to JJ in a couple of months. JJ must be the natural „end“ of what happened in Dome Child and the second Dome novel (AA) and it also must prepare what will happen in parts 4 and 5 and a probable part 6 that spooks around in my head but that has neither been written in screenplay format nor as a novel yet.
JJ has changed so much since its screenplay days. Almost unrecognizable. I deleted and killed entire story threads and characters, other characters are completely re-invented. I am very relieved that for the moment, I think, I managed to tackle the beast and to whip it in shape. Let’s see if I still feel positively about it when I go back to it.

So, an enforced writing pause will commence now in order to review tons of already existing stuff (7, (yes, seven!) novels, which are written, but not out yet). What a pain – since I have another 3 Dome novels to write. Apart from the Dome series, I have another 6 novels in four different worlds in my head! Kyaaaaaaa…. So much to do, so much to read, so much to write and so little time! 🙂

Hal-Con Japan 2015 Report

It was again time for our local two-day SF convention in Tokyo – Hal-Con to which we invite a non-Japanese writer GoH (guest of honor) who is published also in Japan, plus his Japanese cover artist. The guests this year were Hannu Rajaniemi and Noriko Nagano (thanks for coming!).

For the first time we repeated the venue and the convention happened at the Kawasaki International Center where Hal-Con 2011 has happened with Robert Sawyer as the GoH. The Hal-Con GoH’s so far have been Charles Stross, Robert Sawyer, Alastair Reynolds, Joe Haldeman, Peter Watts and now Hannu Rajaniemi.
On the first day, the highlights were a general interview with Hannu san moderated by fellow writer Preston Grassman, and the bi-lingual reading of Hannu san’s short story „Tyche and the Ants“. Hannu read the English original of course, but as a first for Hal-Con, the Japanese version was read by three young voice actors with alternating parts.

I had a little autograph session in the dealer’s room and thanks to Chie san and Rene san for coming! Lol. Next to me sat a Japanese YA author called Tsukasa Tsuchiya, who had as few guests as I did and we had a good laugh. 😉
During the GoH party in the evening, I tried out part one of two virtual reality demonstrations. Goggles and headphone shut you out from the real world and in part one you are inside a giant robot of Pacific Rim style (Gargantia) and bounce around an attack on two (or was it three) ships at sea. I kinda was expecting a kaiju to appear but was disappointed in that regard 😉

I am pretty resistant to motion sickness but felt a bit woozy despite that from the roller-coaster ride the episode put you through. I tried the other demonstration, the next day, Yamato 2199. You at first get a (longish = too long) tour of the ship’s outside, whilst „standing“ on a mobile platform wearing a space suit. At the end of the tour, hostile forces attack the Yamato and there was a bit more action, if far less stomach turning than the robot experience. The Yamato 2199 presentation also suffered from one of the main reasons for why I don’t like most Japanese anime. A „woman’s“ voice explains things to you and that voice is ridiculously high, cute and sounds embarrassingly stupid. = women are cute and stupid and I do NOT agree with that concept one bit.

The second day of Hal-Con was way more busy for me, starting with an excellent panel right in the morning with Hannu, the Japanese SF writer Taiyo Fujii, and myself, moderated by Rene Walling on writing in a second language. Hannu’s mother-tongue is Finnish, mine is German, and even though Fujii san is not writing in English, he checked an English translation of one of his works in detail.
One aspect we dwelled upon was that in Japanese, Finnish and German it’s very easy to make new words – just add nouns or kanji. It’s also easy to make verbs out of nouns and vice-versa in all three languages. Thanks to that we might be taking more freedoms or have less scruples to take them when writing in English. 😉
Another interesting topic was that in Finnish and Japanese you can hide the gender of a person whilst in English (and German) you have to state whether your characters are he/she/or its, otherwise your sentences do not work.
Multilingual people have a quite different approach to language than mono-lingual ones and I for my part am happy for my German background and Japanese capability, even if it makes my English imperfect.

Next up was a difficult to translate panel where a Japanese colleague and I shared the translating. Meiji University professor of information ethics Andrew A. Adams interviewed Hannu on the subject of privacy and information security in the future. The talk covered the privacy setting concept in Hannu’s novel Quantum Thief, current attempts at hiding or finding information by individuals as well as governments (how we don’t know what really happened at Fukushima nuclear power plant or what is happening between Russia and Ukraine, how individuals try to poison networks by randomly adding key-words like bomb or terrorist to unrelated texts, etc.) and that „lies run twice around the world before truth’s got its boots on“. We need a new awareness of how to deal with information, our own, as well as that of others. It will be interesting to see where the story goes, and how we will deal with our future memory.

Finally, it was my turn and I held my by now „traditional“ reading session at Hal-Con. This time I read from the third and last part of my trilogy around the modern day alchemist Hagen Patterson „Give Substance to a Thought“ and from a soon to be published space opera. (by the way, I’m planning to release this one under a male pseudonym, so the reading was not recorded ;-)) Then I got „grilled“ by one of the fans as to whether the space opera is an anti-theses to „normal“ space operas and whether my Hagen trilogy is an anti-theses to „everyone’s dead at the end of the Ring of the Nibelung“. Well, no, not really, the space opera is mainly about the protagonist’s special hearing and the Hagen trilogy is mainly about the ups and downs of Hagen and how he deals with the unusual circumstances he finds himself in. It was a nice dispute, but I’m afraid I got a little bit in the defensive ;-).
Here is the link to the reading from Hal-Con 2014 from my 2nd alchemist novel “To Mix and To Stir“. I’ll upload this year’s reading soon as well.

The dead dog party (the party for the staff at the end of a convention) was great fun and I successfully swapped souvenirs with another fan and got my hands on a signed copy of Katoh sensei’s (he’s my cover artist) a live paint of the aliens from Joe Haldeman’s „Forever War“ two years ago at Hal-Con 13, yeah.
HalCon13-15
Nothing is decided yet about Hal-Con 2016, but probably see you all there again 😉

Writing Progress Report – January 2015

What’s going on at the writing front? A bit of a 2014 review and an outlook for 2015:
I am still tired of „marketing“ my books but not tired of writing them.
After disappointments accumulated in the beginning of 2014, I sort of withdrew from the submission circus and have not yet gone back into the gauntlet.
In the meanwhile, I finished my Hagen Patterson trilogy and put out the last one – “Give Substance to a Thought” – in November. Before that I put out the revised version of my first non-self publication „Dark Matters“ under the new title of „The Glow of the Dark“. And before that Dark Quest published my novella „That One Minute“, so actually, quite a lot was happening in 2014 even without the submission and rejection madness.

I also tackled a huge project – going back to my „Dome of Souls“ world. The entire project and world is around since the late 1990ties, was originally written in TV script format and I had sort of given up on it. However, in 2011 I published my „Dome Child“ novel, which was never written in script format but right away as a novel. It constitutes the beginning of the whole „Dome of Souls“ idea. At the time, I thought I end this idea with its beginning and was determined to put the large rest into the drawer and turned to other projects.

I made the bill without the innkeeper as we say in German (to reckon without one’s host?), and now the project has come back massively.
The „Dome“ bug bit me again and I wrote, from scratch, without looking at the old TV scripts, the second installment of this series in novel form. It’s become my longest novel so far, counting a proud 140,000 words at the moment (first draft). I am highly pleased with the outcome and the first beta reader liked it too. Now the job will be to revise this beast and put it out there somehow. I am not sure yet how. Shall I send it into the submission idiocy or just show that part of the business the finger and put it out myself? I don’t know yet.

Some hints as to what’s going on with this series:
The 140,000 words beast is not a sequel to „Dome Child“ and does not deal with the same characters.
The „Dome“ Series is my idea of „future history“. I am visiting pivotal changing points in my version of humanity’s future in this series. Usually the demise of an old system and the birth of a new one.
„Dome Child“ dealt with the demise of the times of Bihindi and its religious sects, and marked the beginning of the times of „Lei Lao“, a guild-based political system.
The 140,000 words beast deals with the end of the times of Lei Lao and takes place 500 years after the „Dome Child“, which is set in an unspecified future of humanity after the „second postmodern robot war.“
What connects all the „Dome of Souls“ novels is of course the „Dome of Souls!“ 😉
While Jove Hendricks was the first „Dome Child“, the „Dome“ has become a more common, if still exotic „gift“ that some humans possess. At the end of the times of Lei Lao there is even a „Dome guild“ where everyone who sees the „Dome“ is registered.

Impatient suddenly, I even started with the third „Dome“ novel, which, in fact, is the central piece of the story. „Jeronimo“ is the book/idea that kicked off the entire „Dome“ series. I’m at the moment in the middle of writing „Jeronimo“ from scratch, without looking at the old TV scripts. Since this is the oldest and most central piece of the idea that’s quite a challenging task.
So, there is a lot more „Dome“ stuff to come 😉
I’m very glad that I went back to this world, I sort of feel incomplete without finishing this big big thing that has been with me for such a long time.

But, I have more in store. At the moment writing work on „Jeronimo“ is resting, since I am, for the 100th time, revising another soft SF project, a space opera, which might also be the start of a bigger series. The problem with this beast is, that it’s written in 1st person and I wrote its first draft before I learned a lot more about the craft and am now struggling with the language.
I still love the story, but the execution and language… sigh… anyway, I already asked Katoh sensei for cover art and it’s excellent as usual and I am eager to get rid of this beast so that I can concentrate on the „Dome“.
I am looking at new ways of distribution and am thinking of publishing this space opera myself via Wattpad. Well, we’ll see what happens.
So, 2015 will, in whatever form, see the birth of that space opera and it will see some action concerning the „Dome of Souls“ novels, plus? We’ll see, since there are even more finished novels in my drawers!

Since I am still frustrated with the submission hell, I guess I’ll just let it burn and consume others, and put things out myself again…
Stay tuned for soft SF pouring out from Regina in 2015 😉