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 😉

Japan Writers Conference 2014 Report – Day 2

Day two of the Japan Writers Conference (JWC) (here is the report on the first day) was quite “intellectual”.
It started for me with Gareth Morris Jones’ – Psychogeography. I had again the predicament of long distance from the hotel to the venue and missing the earlier train due to breakfast and check out confusions (it all took longer than expected) and missed the first twenty minutes of the session.
I am still not 100% sure what Psychogeography is, but here is what I got:
It’s about how people see cities over the ages.
In the (distant) past there were no maps and you navigated your city from memory. Only with the rapid growth of cities people started to feel “alone in the crowd” and suddenly it was possible to loose yourself in the city like in the woods.
Nowadays you can do interesting thing like playing games in the city.
E.g. Follow the color yellow – a yellow sign, then follow the yellow t-shirt until the next yellow sign etc. to explore a city.
Have fun with following the map of London in Munich… for example.
For those who like it spookier: make a “crime map” of your city = going to places where crimes happened over the past dozen, fifty or hundred years.
Next spring, open a map, let some petals from a cherry blossom tree fall on it, connect the dots and thus make your route through the city. Follow that path, record it, photograph it, film it, write about it.
I still don’t know what Psychogeography is, but this “drifting purposefully” is something I’ve never done yet and am tempted to try it out. I am most tempted by taking a map of Munich and trying to follow it in Tokyo 😉

Next up was a poetry session again, this time rather about marketing your poems rather than writing them considering where we live – in Japan.
Bern Mulvey, our host at Iwate University, held the session.
The odds for getting published in an established journal are even worse than in short story markets, etc. e.g.
5127 submissions, for a journal who publish ten out of them…
Your first hurdle is the graduate student slush reader…
One very valid advice is (also for long fiction) to start the poem at the key moment. Start revising your poem in the middle and you’ll see that often the beginning of your poem is “nothing but” an introduction. Cut it and start at the key moment.
Again: avoid cliches like the plague.
Again: Focus on details, (don’t spend so much time in your head in the poem).
If you use Japanese words – use the original words and explain them in footnotes if necessary.
Set the scene and do it quickly .
Don’t worry (too much) about meaning it will come naturally in poetry (if you are precise).
Don’t try to be deliberately meaningful.
Don’t use quotation marks in poetry, write dialogue in italics if you really need to mark it.
And don’t forget that sometimes you gotta break your own rules.
Don’t fall for the “I am unique” myth… You are not… we are all unique.
You can’t satisfy everyone, but you gotta satisfy someone.
Going back to submissions: find poets you like, look where they submit, submit to where they are being published.
Start with your best poem in a submission and submit more than one.
Shorter IS better. Write an intelligent cover letter.
Many elements of this advice can be transferred one on one to prose writing too! Thanks for this session, Bern.

The most practical (very useful) session of the conference was Tom Baker’s on “Brevity”. (he had to endure all sorts of comments on whether his session would be brief and whether he was done already, lol, otsukaresama deshita. Tom, if you hold the seminar again, name it “condensing” that’s less inviting comments than “brevity” 😉
Tom’s session on how to condense your sentences – the more meaning you can get into your words the better – was especially useful for me, since I suppose also due to my German mother tongue, I have the tendency to be wordy!
Tom demonstrated a number of tricks on how to reduce “bloated” sentences.
Here just some examples from the fifty, too brief, minutes on “brevity”:
a) use active voice – my goldfish was eaten by a cat (7 words) vs. My brother’s cat ate my exotic goldfish. (also 7 words but much more information conveyed)
b) phrases like “which is, who is, that are” can almost always be deleted
c) ditch the word “located”, you can do without it
d) “one of” can be replaced by “a”
e) you can often leave out “with” – e.g. a woman with blonde hair vs. a blond haired woman
etc.
A great session, Tom, thanks a bunch! I shall go through my yet unpublished stuff and mend what I can.

Gareth Morris Jones held another intellectual session that was even more “cryptic” to me than Psychogeography – Fictocriticism
Ever heard about it? After the session I thought to remember having heard about this before during my university days, but since this is usually not my cup of tea or what I concern myself with it was a nice reminder of things long forgotten.
If I got it correctly Fictocriticism is the combination of the two worlds of
Academic discourse, politics, concepts, analysis, criticism, commentary, theory, etc, on the one hand and the world of creative writing, fiction, drama, personal poetics, poetry etc. in one single text.
E.g. write something then write something about what you’ve written – an interpretation in the same text.
E.g. you have fiction and quotes in between.
Some artists seem to have been feeling to be running out of words and were weary of the cycle of mystification (write an “obscure” piece of fiction), then explain it (by academics), then the writer has to write something new that is even more mystic, to that academics have something to interpret again. Why not do both things in the same piece of writing?
Theoretical writing dropped into free flowing writing – as such some artists try to break down the rules of conventional writing.
The only one thing that I personally like in this category is Frederick Pohl’s Gateway. There are bodies of narrative, then e.g. a space ship’s cargo list, strewn into the text. Wow, there is even Fictocriticism in SciFi? Ha, but it’s a cargo list that Pohl invented. Guess that doesn’t count. 😉
For me “story writer” this is a world quite far and unexplored and that I am, frankly, not much interested in. But it’s fun to get to know what fascinates other people.
At the end of the session we did a little experiment and read bits of fiction (all in the vein of philosophical reflection about the world and us, rather than bits of a story) randomly (decided by lottery) to pictures Garet had taken of Osaka (he walked around for 90 min in a Psychogeographic approach). At one or two pictures the text sort of matched the picture. Hey, we created a work of art at that moment. I guess.

It was an interesting and contrast rich conference and I learned a lot! Thanks to all the presenters and the organizers and looking forward to seeing you next year 🙂

Japan Writers Conference 2014 Report – Day 1

This year’s Japan Writers Conference (JWC) happened in Morioka in northern Japan on the 25th and 26th of October. After being unable to attend last year (I was in the UK at that time for the World Fantasy Convention) it was great to see some old friends as well as make new ones.
Since several conferences/festivals happened in Morioka that weekend, we had a hotel shortage problem and I ended up staying at an old but cozy ryokan some 25 km south of Morioka in a place called Shiwachuo on the Tohoku-Honsen train line. What a nice, sleepy hinterland town 😉
Trains went only once per half-hour and I missed one on the first morning, which resulted in arriving 20 min late for the first session.

Karen McGee talked about the Writer’s Bookshelf.
Since I missed the first half, this is only a partial report. What books do you need/should you have on your bookshelf concerning craft, reference books etc.
Some new tips for me were (aside from e.g. Stephen King’s “On Writing”, or “Self editing for fiction writers” etc.:) “The 10% solution”, “Reading Like a Writer”, in the craft category, and in the reference category: “The Way Things Work”, and “The Negative Trait Thesaurus”.
As for Internet sources: “Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus”, specialist forums like e.g. the “locksmiths forum” (who know a lot about locks) are a good address for information and if you search for settings try: “YouTube real estate videos”

Next I “snuck” into the closed poetry analysis session of David Gilby. (Thanks for letting me hang out!).
Three poets read and discussed their poems and it was quite an intense critique session.
Also as a prose writer you have to choose your words carefully, of course, but as a poet even more so.
There were several deep dives into the meaning of words during this session, leaving me with the re-realization that words are incredibly ambiguous and it’s very hard to convey what you mean to others. Even if you try to be concrete, it’s damn hard to be. And: the more concrete you are, the better. Further: avoid cliches at all costs. Both issues are very much true also in (long) fiction and this session was an excellent reminder of the trouble with words.

After lunch in the university’s canteen, I digested villains.
Hugh Ashton gave a great talk on villains.
Sometimes villains can be abstract things (like “fate” in “Tess of the D’Urbervilles”), or internal (“The Killer Inside Me” – Jim Thompson).
Your “usual” villain though is the antagonist who drives your hero nuts.
Very often you can trace their villainy down to one or two or more of the seven deadly sins (except for gluttony and sloth maybe, but it’s now tickling me to explore how a sloth villain would behave, (not the cute animal of course)).
Another thing you need to take into account is to make your villain likeable = to give him/her some redeeming qualities so that the audience can identify with him/her. They need a motivation and a schtick or a habit.
The same is of course true for heroes, too smooth and “good” heroes are boring, they need something bad about them too to make them interesting.

We explored a couple of popular and widely known villains under the 7 deadly sins aspect.
Lady Macbeth – her candidate of the 7 deadly sins is envy, her redeeming quality is that she develops a conscience
Hannibal Lecter – pride. He’s a true psychopath, but he can also be kind and considerate, and is very smart
Jame Gumb (the other villain from “The Silence of the Lambs” who skins his victims) – lust. There is nothing redeeming about him, but at least an attempt at explaining why he is a monster
Iago – envy. A smart, intellectual villain who uses stealth, not violence
Goldfinger – avarice. But he’s got style and black humor
Professor Moriarty – pride, the “Napoleon of crime”, high intellectual abilities, funny and sinister, camp and clever.
Next up we did a little exercise in which we created our own little villain in pairs of two, which was great fun.

I don’t write YA (and have no desire to do so) but nevertheless attended Suzanne Kamata’s session “YA or Why Not”
We took a look at some examples of YA books and the floating boundaries to “normal” adult fiction (without even touching the new thing in between: the “New Adult” category (where the protagonist is in his/her early twenties)).
One characteristic of YA is that the book stays on story, without wandering off, but the same is true for a lot of (adult) genre fiction too.
One book we looked at was originally released as “adult” fiction, sales were disappointing – now, with a fresh “younger” cover, they try to re-market it as YA. Thus are the politics of the publishing world.

The last session I attended that day was Bob Tobin’s – the Courage to Write
In my personal case, I do not need the courage to write (I do that quite voluntarily all the time) but I am in dire need of the “courage” (or rather the energy) to market my stuff.
Bob gave a few nice hints about how to deal with your worries of rejection, being laughed at etc.:
e.g.: write down the things you are worrying about and literally throw them into the garbage bag, or if that is not enough, rip them up and flush them down the toilet.
Caution vs courage, if caution is 1 and courage 7 on a scale, where are you and what do you need to do to move more into the courage direction?
Ask yourself what stops you and try to silence your own critic. (You are likely your worst critic).
Stop comparing yourself to anyone else and don’t go to “pity city”.
Create a (supportive) community – without jerks in it.
How to react to feedback: If you get bad feedback from a person you respect, ask him/her to tell you more details. If the feedback comes from someone you don’t respect, disregard it, because they don’t understand you and your work (easier said than done). Always say thanks and don’t argue with people who give you bad feedback.
Write about what bothers you most, be it jealously, fear or being ridiculed… That frees you up.
It was a nice motivational session, which we all need sometimes in the hostile publishing world 😉

Read my report on the sessions of the second conference day next week.
And here is the link to the conference video shot and edited by Tom Baker

Soon to Come – Give Substance to a Thought

My latest novel, “Give Substance to a Thought” will soon see the light of day (November, if all goes well).
It’s the last part of my Hagen Patterson trilogy. Thus it is also the first time that I finished a trilogy in novel form. The entire trilogy took roughly 260,000 words to tell (80,000 + 85,000 + 95,000), not bad considering that the first volume “She Should Have Called Him Siegfried” originally was supposed to be a stand-alone.
Give Substance cover small
Funnily, the second part was easiest to write. The first draft of “To Mix and To Stir” took me barely 5 weeks. The first draft of the last part – “Give Substance to a Thought” took about 4 months to write.
I kept the same structure throughout the entire trilogy = Alchemist Hagen Patterson as the main POV in third person limited. Then in each book another minor 3rd person limited POV – In part 1 Hagen’s mother Emma, in part 2 Hagen’s alchemy “candidate” (precursor to apprentice) Lana Hardwood and in part 3 the minor 3rd person limited POV has fallen to the alchemists’ arch enemy – the head of the “governmental agents” – a guy called Andy Mitchell. Further each book has a more or less mysterious 1st person POV who tells her story in present tense. In part one that was Hagen’s potion client Helena, in part two a strange lady who turns out to be Al’s wife and in part three it is an even more mysterious entity from Al’s realm that I shall make a secret of right now.
final front cover small small
Last but not least there are “reports” from the governmental agents. Most of them are to be found in part 1, in part 2 they are still there, but in reduced form. Now, since in part 3 one of the agents is a POV character I decided to not use these reports anymore, except for one. In the prologue myself, the author, is agent no. 1 and gives a bit of a summary in the style of “what happened before”. I wrote several versions of this prologue, once in Hagen’s mother’s Emma’s POV even, but then decided to become agent 1 and do the summary in a “neutral” form. I was thinking for a long time whether to do this summary at all or not, but one of my beta-readers advised me to better leave it in, since the piece is so plot-heavy. Is it??? 😉 If the Hagen trilogy is plot heavy you haven’t read my second Dome of Souls novel yet. lol. Well, nobody has read that one yet, since the first draft was just finished some 2 weeks ago 😉 I would call that one plot-heavy indeed 😉
PP Cover.4334877.indd
Back to Hagen and the rest of the cast.
At the end of To Mix and to Stir is the big revelation of who Al is. Part 3 now deals with the “real” Al and his realm and Hagen is quite torn between his “normal” life that consists of brewing potion, being a father of three children and dealing with the governmental agents on the one hand and Al and his problems on the other. Looking at the end of the book – man, it is quite long, since all those threads need to be brought to a closure (Yes, there will be closure, if with a loophole ;-))
Another thing about structure is the timing and pace of the trilogy. the “Siegfried” novel happened within a span one half a year, “To Mix and To Stir” within the span of a few weeks (I think it’s six, I must check again) 13 years after part 1, and “Give Substance” now takes places within the span of a few days (some two weeks in total) and picks up right where “To Mix and To Stir” left off. Such deliberate scheduling has its challenges but it also provides a nice frame that I could hold on to while writing it. And one more bit about structure: Book 1 started with Hagen’s POV, Book 2 started with the POV of the minor 3rd person limited character – in this case Lana Hardwood. Book 3 starts with the mysterious 1st person POV in present tense. It’s all deliberate…
I had great fun constructing this world and also Al’s realm and I hope you will like the grand finale of my musings about the problems of my favorite alchemist of all times – Hagen Patterson 😉 – And I personally am very very happy with Katoh sensei’s magnificent covers for all three Hagen books! Thank you Katoh sensei!

Writing Progress Report

It’s time for a little update concerning my writing activities.
I would like to be thoroughly occupied with writing the second Dome of Souls novel (the first one was Dome Child) but things are getting in between.
Currently I am at 90,000 words with Dome of Souls 2 SciFi animal. That sounds as if the novel was finished, but far from it. The demise of the Lei Lao system, 500 years after the Dome Child ended the times of Bihindi, has epic proportions and therefore also epic book length 😉 I expect the Lei Lao upheaval to require another 40,000 words or so. My target is to keep the thing under 150,000 words 😉 The beast is huge and I like huge beasts! 😉

That One Minute
The much smaller beast of “That One Minute” – a fantasy horror comedy novella as I like to call it – is “officially” out already since 31st of March… but only in paperback form. Dark Quest is just not coming around to getting the kindle version ready and I am refraining from any “big” announcements as long as the thing is not available in e-book form… sigh…
This is my second title with Dark Quest by the way after “Lord of Water” and I love Katoh sensei’s as always great cover, which is for the first time not a pure “painting” but combinations of several photos (of the lake and mud) plus paintings of the gray hands and the staircases to hell ;-). So, the waiting for the kindle version continues… a painful three and a half months already……………….

Hagen 3
I got the beast back proofread last night (thanks Tom!) and now have to go through it one more time (therefore I cannot continue with Dome of Souls novel 2…) and then start the Createspace process. I already received the magnificent – send shivers down my spine – cover from Katoh sensei. It’s a worthy cover for the last book in the trilogy.
I suspect/hope the beast will come out September/October or something like that. I find the prospect to have to go through it now a couple more times rather unthrilling. I have moved on! I’m now back at the Dome of Souls! Hagen stuff is finished, done, completed! lol…

Then there is the bunch of other novels which are already written but I’ve done nothing with them yet. There are three at the moment, all of them potential starts of other sets of trilogies or series. One is “brand new”, just written half a year ago, and I’ve never sent it anywhere yet, but the other two have gone through the agent gauntlet – unsuccessfully.
I am suffering from a continuing “marketing block”. I just wanna write, not do all this stupid crap of query letter bullshit… I am so “anti-marketing” at the moment that I’m not even working much on my homepage, nor have I even looked yet at the video I took of me reading from Hagen 2 = To Mix and To Stir at Hal-Con in April.
I am tired of being nice and taking all that idiotic, arrogant crap from the publishing industry.
There is just too much stuff out there that goes by unnoticed… mine among it… and too may hopefuls that too many people try to take advantage of you.
I have very limited time for books due to job and the rest of life. Do I want to waste that time doing something I hate = marketing and sliming and being nice and hoping and being punched in the stomach again and again? Or do I want to use that time for doing something I love: WRITING?
2014 is clearly a time of I don’t want to waste my precious time with marketing bogus. Maybe I get my marketing desire back in a couple of months or so, maybe not.
As long as I am only suffering from marketing block and not writing block I am not worried 😉

Oh… there is another book in the pipeline, high fantasy novel with Dark Quest (first real long novel with them)… but considering their speed I am inclined to believe that it’ll become 2016 before that novel comes out…

Short fiction? Sorry, nah… At the moment I have zero desire to write short fiction. I want the big, epic, long, lavish stuff where you have time to construct and destroy whole worlds and where you spend some time with the same characters. Epic is the order of the day 😉 I wonder when I will be able to finish the first draft of my 2nd Dome of Souls novel? Some time around autumn? We’ll see.
Now off to Hagen 3 edit duties.

Hal-Con 2014 Report

Hal-Con has gone into its fifth year and is still going strong 🙂
Our non-Japanese writer GoHs so far were in chronological order: Charles Stross, Robert Sawyer, Alastair Reynolds, Joe Haldeman and this year it was Peter Watts.
Hal-Con is two days long and always in April. Hal-Con means two things to us here, of course it is inspired by Hal 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey but the Japanese pronunciation of “Hal” is somewhat like “haru” which is a word in Japanese and means spring.
So far we changed venues every year and this year’s event was held in the Sanpia Kawasaki a municipal gathering venue. A bit old and moldy but not without Showa-era charm.

Thanks to writing a lot I have currently six books of mine on offer and that starts to be a bit heavy for carrying it in suitcases via public transport, but, oh miracle, I’m more or less driving a car since X-mas, if driving is still a big challenge for me. But, I made it and arrived safely with my two suitcases full of books on Saturday morning. I am not a morning person at all and was thrilled to see whether traffic would be light at 9 a.m. on a Saturday. It is not, which I find very reassuring, no need to get out of bed for driving practice!

I placed my books into the dealer’s room right away, them being: “Dome Child”, “She Should Have Called Him Siegfried”, “To Mix and To Stir”, “Lord of Water”, the anthology “Clones, Fairies & Monsters in the Closet”, and the revised edition of what was formerly “Dark Matters”, now freshly enhanced and re-published under the title “The Glow of the Dark”.

The rest of the day was spent with translating for our formidable GoH Watts san and also with translating a bit at the “Build the World” program. This year we invented a wandering planet that has an alien intelligent core which is off-center and causes weird spinning and highly disturbs the indigenous species of the planet 😉
The day ended with the GoH party and for me with driving home again 20 km including traffic jam thanks to an accident with police and fire-brigade on my route 🙁

The next morning meant a slightly more relaxed driving for me thanks to now knowing the route to the convention venue, but at the gate happened what I had feared. The Sanpia guard man said I have to remove the car from their grounds after the convention is over and need to park somewhere else for the “dead dog” party (the party at the end of a con for the staff , usually with GoH participation). The “dead dog” party was supposed to be held at a restaurant close to the hotel where the GoH stayed, right behind Kawasaki station with no suitable parking far and wide.

Anyway, it was also the day of my two seminars and between lots of translating I held my “indie vs. traditional publishing” program. It was already the third round for this program and I discussed the good and bad points of self-publishing vs. small presses and elusive big presses with the audience.
Next up was my reading. Unfortunately the iBook program on my iPad with the galley proof of my not yet released second Dark Quest Books novella “That One Minute” kept on crashing and I gave up on recording this reading 🙁
The reading for “To Mix and To Stir” went better, since the book is on Kindle and I’ll be uploading it to YouTube soon (if it’s any good, that is. I haven’t checked the recording yet).

Due to my own two seminars I unfortunately missed Peter’s talk on consciousness together with Japanese biologist and author Hideaki Sena. It’s about time that humans can be in at least two places at the same time 😉

I feel honored that Peter had the guts to board my car after the con was over! He folded into my smallish Suzuki Swift and I drove him to his hotel. He survived! 😉 I let him out in front of the hotel and then ventured into a small side street in search for the hotel’s parking that I had been promised existed. I found it in a side street swarming with pedestrians and it turned out to be a parking elevator. There are a few of those in Germany I’ve heard, but I am not sure whether they exist for example in the US, so let me explain. You must drive your car onto a platform (you must aim well) and leave your vehicle and the platform lifts your car to lofty heights where it stores it out of sight and mind.
I told the operator of the thing, well, um, never did this before. He said he’s not allowed to park it for me due to insurance reasons and just drive slowly. What helped was a mirror, which allows you to check whether your tires are aiming for the rails they must go onto and I managed to park Alfie successfully on the thing in creep speed .

That done, I waited in the hotel lobby until someone else came from the con to pick up Peter and me and to guide us to the restaurant. Now that restaurant was a highlight: A wonderfully nerdy place with Star Trek, Thunderbrids, and whatever other SciFi movie memorabilia and of course also a screen where they played old SciFi movies. Astonishingly few Star Wars stuff in the restaurant, but loads of Enterprise models and also an awesome model of the 2001 Space Odyssey ship and and and. During our three hours in the restaurant there was Forbidden Planet on the screen, Star Trek – the Movie (man they were all still so young there) and an “alien invasion” movie from the sixties perhaps, whose title I don’t know. What an awesome atmosphere to finish off a SciFi con. The restaurant is called “Pepper Land” and is right behind Kawasaki station. I’ll surely go there again and am adding some photos of the restaurant below.
The con was over much too quickly and due to opposite scheduling I actually didn’t get into any of Peter’s seminars, which is a bit of a shame.
Next year’s Hal-Con’s GoH and place are not yet decided but I’ll be there again as always, unless heaven falls onto our heads 😉

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Greetings from Hal-Con

Once a year, there is Hal-Con – our “local/international” little SciFi convention in Japan. It’s a 100 people con with a non-Japanese writer as the GoH (Guest of Honor).
This year it’s Peter Watts from Canada.
Day one is already over and I shall report about the Con in blog entries hereafter.
For now – too tired and one more day to go and tomorrow I’ll have my two programs, so see you later. 🙂

The Glow of the Dark

My first book is back out again: “The Glow of the Dark”, formerly published in 2009 as “Dark Matters” by Absolute XPress, an imprint of Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy.
The book’s history is much older than 2009. I wrote the story first in screenplay format in 2001 and I remember clearly that it took me a week to write its first draft – 120 pages in screenplay format.
After the usual rounds of revisions, I submitted it to the Slamdance screenwriting contest, where, oh miracle, it made 2nd place in 2002.
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I flew to Park City for the festival in January 2003, but I was still too young, too inexperienced, green and geeky/insecure to make the most out of such a festival visit. I got a famous 1 dollar option offer from a small production company but declined, thinking other, better offers lay around the corner. I have no clue of course whether any good would have come out of this, but if there is one decision I regret, then it is not having taken that offer.

Other offers didn’t lie around the corner and I wrote to some 100 companies before getting a second. I don’t remember why I did not get back to the guy with the initial offer. Maybe I should have. Anyway, I finally had a second one dollar option and worked together with the producer on some rewrites and things looked good and I was hopeful until I stopped hearing from the guy.

After some digging, I found out that he had been fired, as happens frequently in Hollywood… His successor who took over my project was far less enthusiastic. The thing was not his baby and he didn’t appear to be doing anything with the story.
This whole exercise mounted up to me quitting my job in Japan and flying to Hollywood for three months over x-mas and new year 2004/2005 in a desperate attempt to mend things.

I met with the new producer dude, a complete jerk, arrogant as an asshole-only version of Iron Man, and I bet he was not a stranger to cocaine. He told me he wanted monsters in the story…
I actually wrote a monster version with cthulhuesque creatures in the ocean of the alien planet and one of my friends actually read it, but it was messy and neither I nor the producer dude liked it.
I had dinner with the original guy who had been fired and remember him as a frustrated, desperate, jobless and burned-out guy who was too nice for this business.

It all ended with the one dollar option for Dark Matters dissolved, the rights returned to me, and me leaving Hollywood thoroughly disillusioned but knowing much more about myself and how far I am willing to go and where my limits are. I will maybe write a sort of memoir one day, my three months in Hollywood – a story of shattered hopefuls, but in essence – the place presented itself to me as the harshest, nastiest, coldest and most competitive on earth.

I went on to New Zealand and Australia for a month each before I arrived at the end of my money and returned back to Japan, which, compared to Hollywood, felt like a balmy paradise of humanity.
I returned to Japan also with the decision to make novels or novellas out of my work. Funnily the first thing that I “sold” was Dark Matters. The first edition from 2009 makes me cringe today. I believe in continuous improvement and that every book should be better than the last. I learned a lot since 2009.
I recently read an article in the BBC about a sushi chef in Tokyo’s Ginza. He is a sushi chef for 50 years now and he also believes or strives for every sushi he makes every day to be better than the one the day before. He hosts prime ministers and movie stars by the way. And it’s like that. Writing is constant learning and it will never end.

After three years, Dark Matters sat stuck. I met the publisher at the 2012 world science fiction convention in Chicago again, after initially meeting him in Montreal in 2009 when the book came out, and we made a “deal”: I’d produce a revised version (my desire) and he’d publish it in digital form only, with a new title under a new imprint.
I happily went about rewriting the “horrible” beginner version of Dark Matters. I did so in autumn 2012 and here is a blog entry about that. I delivered to the publisher as promised before x-mas 2012 and was kept in the dark ever since, pun intended.

Nothing bloody happened and a year went by when I finally got an answer out of the publisher. Things are delayed with his new imprint and blah… It will be 2014 or so and blah… Frustrated and pissed off, I asked him to return the rights to me, which he did and sayonara.
It’s been nothing but an endless chain of waiting with this publisher with years going by like farts in the wind and my patience had come to an end.

So, The Glow of the Dark is now “mine” again, and revised and enriched. It has gone up from 33,000 words to 45,000 and I am, as of now, spring 2014, content with the result.
Never say never again, but for the moment I am done with this story and don’t want to touch it again 😉 it has been with me on and off for 13 years and shall be put aside and make way for other books. I salute the Captain of the Luminous and the crew of the Gao and wish them a good journey.
The paper version is now out and the kindle version will follow in a couple of weeks.

Writing Progress Report

So, what’s happening on the writing front?
Quite a lot (as always):
1) Revised version of Dark Matters. After giving up waiting for Edge SF and Fantasy to re-issue the revised version of Dark Matters (they sat on it doing nothing for over a year), I managed to get the rights back and am putting the revised edition out myself now. I’d very much like to have the book ready before the Hal-Con which happens on the 12th and 13th of April. Yuk! That’s in four weeks! It will be quite a race 😉 Let’s see if I (or rather CreateSpace) manage… The new Dark Matters has a new title: The Glow of the Dark and it has grown from 33,000 to 45,000 words.

2) That One Minute – my second novella with Dark Quest Books – is finished, the galley proofs are checked and now it’s up to Dark Quest to release the book. I don’t know yet when that will happen. It’s all a waiting game in this business (pained smile). Here is a bit of an excerpt from what I like to call a fantasy horror comedy 😉

3) Hagen 3: It’s finished, last revisions are happening, the cover is already commenced to the great Katoh sensei and I’m excepting to get it around Japan’s Golden Week at the end of April / beginning of May. The actual book which concludes the weird adventures of my favorite alchemist will probably be available sometime around July or August.

4) My first full length novel with Dark Quest, the beginning of a high fantasy trilogy, is also in the making and it will probably see the light of day some time in 2015.

5) Two more novels are finished for quite a while already: A space opera and a historical fantasy/sf hybrid. Since I am currently pretty tired of traditional publishing attempts, I am contemplating whether to go the indie-pub route as well or whether continue to submit the beasts. With lottery-like odds it is hard not to get frustrated. I shall read some more Dean Wesley Smith advice and decide later.

6) Another contemporary fantasy I have written at the end of 2013 is now in the revision process and I’m intending to submit it to the Odyssey critique service and then again the question what to do with it once it had gone through final revisions. Try the traditional publishing lottery or forget about that and go on my own.

7) Since the books under points 5 and 6 can all stand alone but could also be the beginnings of series, I found myself at a loss as to what to write next now that the Hagen trilogy is finished. Which series to pursue? The answer is apparently none of them!
Instead I have big plans… it’s back to the Dome of Souls, ladies and gentlemen. It just does not leave me alone.
I don’t know yet if I will really write it all again (all that stuff originally written in TV script format (some hints about that here)) but at the moment something is foul in the state of Lei Lao.
It’s the year Lei Lao 898 and thus of course no characters from the “Dome Child” are around anymore. But the Dome of Souls is going strong and messes with the lives of Lei Lao’s, Jove’s, Vana’s and Shavendra’s successors in the conglomerate of Tonasa.

I’m not even looking at my old TV scripts, I’m writing the novel from scratch out of sheer memory, following the main plot lines and letting it have a new, reborn life of its own. It was just vexing me too much to have “Dome Child” as the only “result” of the ten years I have already spent constructing my future history of mankind, which spans many hundred years and which is held together by the Dome of Souls.
It’s amazing to now revisit the characters of the second leg in this (so far) six-legged monster, my hapless heroes Floyd and Marusar, and to let my lovely villain Master Darnar pull the strings again.
I don’t know yet how long it will take me to write this beast anew and how epic (= long) it will be, but I expect it to see the light of day maybe in early 2015? Let’s see how the Dome of Souls and I will be getting along 😉

Query Letter Seminar – Aftermath

Just to mention that for fairness sake. In a very decent move, I got an email today from Writer’s Digest, telling me that I will get a refund for the querying seminar I reported about last week.
The mail came ten days after I asked about their policy concerning people who feel they didn’t get their money’s worth, but better late than never.
Thanks to Writer’s Digest – that’s a good and customer friendly gesture.

Query Letters? – Good Luck With That…

Some time in September I took a Writer’s Digest webinar on query letter writing, which promised, aside from a 90 min webinar session, a critique of your query letter from the agent they hired for this thing.
I submitted my query letter even before the seminar. They allowed you to submit one letter until mid October and then you had to wait for yet another 60 days or so to get a reply from the agent = waiting for a heck of a time.

The webinar itself was okay, but more geared towards beginners and I, as a submission veteran, got only some tiny hints and bits out of it. I knew already more than 90% of what they talked about. I had already expected that and subscribed to the thing mainly because I wanted to have my query letter critiqued by a professional agent.
By the way, the price for this whole show was 89,- USD.

Now, on the 4th of December, this is what I got back as a “critique” from the agent:
“Thanks very much for attending my webinar. You’ve written a good letter, but I would watch your sentences: you start too many with “I.” I wish you the best of luck with your writing endeavours.”

My first reaction to this was: you gotta be bloody kidding me!
For this I have interrupted my query letter drive, for this I waited for over two months, and for this I paid 89,- USD?

Below is what I promptly wrote back to the agent:
“Thank you for your email.
However, I am a bit surprised. Is below all advice you have for me?
How about:
Is the letter too long or not?
Is the synopsis paragraph well structured? Does it raise interest? Does it focus on the right details? Any tips to make it snappier?
Is the “this books was inspired by” line necessary, irritating, or helpful?
Are the credentials well structured and the way they should be?
Do I need to mention my day job?
Is it good or bad to mention the other parts of the series/trilogy even down to hints what they are about?
I would highly appreciate if your critique was giving more advice beyond starting not too many sentences with “I”.
With best regards”

I must give the agent the credit that she responded to my mail. I have also emailed the Writer’s Digest customer service asking what their policy is in case a customer thinks he/she didn’t get his/her money’s worth. So far I received no reply from them.

Here is what the agent wrote back:
“I don’t have your original query anymore, but if that’s all the critique I offered, it was because that was all the critique your letter needed. I’m making my way through 109 query critiques; some of them are five paragraphs long, some of them two or three. A couple of them so far have been just about perfect, and I’ve requested those manuscripts. There’ve been about three where I’ve just had to write one or two sentences, and your critique was one of them. In my webinar I addressed all of the questions you emailed me below. So, to sum up, your letter was a good letter, and if I didn’t mention any issues besides the “I” issue, that’s because I didn’t feel that there were any other issues.”

There are some very interesting and important messages hidden here if I interpret them correctly.

But first of all, even if my query letter is “perfect” apart from the starting too many sentences with “I” issue, there is always stuff to improve and my questions about the contents of the synopsis paragraph, the “inspired by” issue etc. etc. etc. remain unanswered. I still did not receive a decent critique. Maybe my understanding about what a decent critique is and the agents understanding are different, but in my book a decent critique is at least 200 words or so long and you give the receiver of the critique some insight about what he/she is good at, what the strong and weak points are, how to enhance the strong points and how to improve the weaker ones. There are always ways to make something snappier, there are always suggestions you can give. To say your letter was perfect except for the “I” is simply not a critique, full stop, I did not get my money’s worth.

Let’s talk about numbers for a second. The agent has given out a number – 109 query letters. To me the comment about the number of letters = the amount of work, sounds very much like fishing for sympathy…
Since we have numbers, let’s do some maths. 109 times 89,- USD is 9.701,- and most likely there were a few participants who did not submit a query letter. So let’s say there were 120 people who paid 89,- USD each = 10.680,- dollars. Maybe there was even a couple more people who have not submitted a query letter, for example 150 in total – that’s 13.350,- USD and so forth.

I will not start a speculation here about an hourly rate, since I have no idea/proof as to how much time the agent spent on this webinar and the query letters, however, the hourly rate for the agent and the money that Writer’s Digest makes out of this are presumably not the worst.
So all that sweet talk that they do this to support us aspiring writers may be true in some cases, yes, but they are also getting well paid for what they do… Nothing against that, this is a business, but there is a fine line between delivering value for money and ripping people off, not to speak of the work ethic implications of making money by exploiting the wishes and hopes of aspiring writers.
For my taste, this seminar was a rip off and I will not subscribe to any other of this company again.

But now let’s take a deeper look at the contents of the second reply of the agent.
So, my query is “perfect” apart from too many sentences starting with an “I”.
The agent has not requested my manuscript. (Fine by me, this agent is not specialized in speculative fiction anyway and wouldn’t be the right match).
But this reads like my query letter and the whole novel behind it were tossed in the bin because of the one tiny tiny tiny issue that this agent thinks there are too many sentences starting with “I”.

By the way, I counted the sentences starting with “I”: there are six of them. They all refer to my credentials, my day job and the last sentence: I am looking forward to hearing from you soon. Sorry for getting cynical, but what am I supposed to write? My mother’s daughter is looking forward to hearing from you soon?

It is absolutely ridiculous to reject a query letter on such flimsy grounds. How desperate they must be to reject work. Yes, they are overloaded, yes, they look for the tiniest reason to toss your query in the bin. Hell, they are tiny indeed.
If your work is being rejected for such ludicrous reasons it means you are truly playing a lottery. Maybe another agent rejects my “perfect” letter on the grounds of one singly misplaced comma, one forgotten hyphen, or whatever…
In short this whole query letter business is nothing but a gamble with serious and committed writers’ hopes and dreams and bone-hard work.
I do not see a solution to this issue. You keep submitting and wait for luck to strike? If you don’t have that luck, well, tough luck! It is extremely hard to not get frustrated by crap like the above…

The only thing I see that might promise anything is personal relationships. I dearly hope it will help in my case of a World Fantasy Con follow-up-chance. That agent has at least now looked beyond the query letter stage and requested the full manuscript…. Let’s see what happens.
As for query letter, or other “getting an agent” related seminars? Be assured, I am done with those, for good.

That One Minute – Teaser

The cover is released, I hope the rest of the book will soon follow 😉
After Lord of Water, That One Minute will be my second title with US small press Dark Quest Books and I hope it’ll see the light of day in January or so??? Honestly, I don’t know yet when the book will come out. Let’s say, I would not be surprised if there was a delay.
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Nevertheless, the cover is out and it was again done by Naoyuki Katoh and he never fails to surprise me. While the other covers he did for me so far (Dome Child, Hagen trilogy parts 1 and 2 (She Should Have Called Him Siegfried and To Mix and To Stir), Lord of Water) were all drawings, he integrated photos into the cover for That One Minute. It’s three photos in total from one river and two lakes in the greater Tokyo area.

One of the key scenes in the story are happenings at a small lake in a park where the water retreats, gates to “hell” (?) open up and where the story’s hero, Chris Burns, makes first acquaintance with certain ghostly gray hands.
There are two funny things about this cover. I described the scene to Katoh sensei and wanted to have an old fashioned pocket watch with roman letters above the actual scene from the book which shows one minute to twelve. I got my watch and if you look closely my name is inside the watch where otherwise the watch maker’s name would be. I didn’t ask for this, that was Katoh sensei’s idea.

Then I sent the cover to Dark Quest and got another funny surprise when Danielle from Dark Quest got the idea to use the watch as the “O” for That One Minute. I had thus two big happy moments with this cover – a nice start.

Now what’s it all about? I don’t know yet how Dark Quest will label the thing but I like to call it a “Fantasy Horror Comedy”.
Behold, we all exist twice. Once here and now, and once more in a parallel world that is one minute closer to heaven and hell than we are. We lead happy blissful lives here, not aware of the “demonics” and “angelics” playing chess with our souls next door.
Under circumstances I shall not describe in detail here, the complete loser Chris Burns gets transferred into the parallel world where he meets his know-it-all second self, his much nicer wife and where he gets the job to save their world and ours from dark demonic plans.

It’s a tongue in cheek experiment with a lot of POVs. More or less every major and even not so major character gets one or more POV scenes. It’s all 3rd person limited. I wanted to find out how many POVs you can have without confusing the reader. The trick with that is that you have to make clear very very quickly whose POV you’re in at the beginning of each POV change (usually a new scene and/or chapter). I hope I managed to make that clear and I hope nobody gets confused ;-).

I like what Neil Gaiman said during the awards ceremony for the World Fantasy Award a few weeks ago in Brighton. In these days and times with so much stuff out there and “no rules” anymore – just write what you wanna write.
Well, I always write what I want to write, but from the experiment point of view this motto fits all the more to That One Minute than to some other stuff I have written. There is no deep philosophy or message behind That One Minute, it’s just a “movie” that I would like to see and I think that Mr. Undersecretary Adrian Stern from the “Ministry of Spirits” (the bad guy) is just sooooo cool 😉