More News Concerning Céleste’s Progress

CELESTE-fb-timeline-3

Well, things have finally gone the way I wanted them to regarding the cover for my latest W.I.P Céleste. As you can see from the above advertising banner, (click on it and the Kindle cover below to see them in more detail) I finally found someone prepared to come up with the cover quality the story demands to make it stand out from the crowd.

The cover artist’s name is Alexios Saskalidis who can be contacted at https://www.facebook.com/187designz. He was recommended to me by my fellow scifi author and friend, Nicholas Rossis. As you may have guessed, like Nicholas, Alex is domiciled in Greece. He is the one responsible for all of Nicholas’ excellent book covers. I can tell you this, I’ve already told him that he will be getting all my future trade if the eyecatching cover below is anything to go by. He doesn’t come cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but quality is always well worth the price paid in my book, if you will pardon the pun.

I know I’m once again onto an absolute winner when it comes to Céleste, as I was three years ago when I came up with a timely story written around the dire predictions about the end of days when the New Ager fraternity misinterpreted why the Mayan Calendar had ended in 2012, in my novel The Seventh Age (which became a best seller by Indie standards, at well in excess of 200,000 sales).

Since then it has become more difficult to attrack potential readers for any book. This new story deserves to be given the same chance if it is to succeed in what has now become a saturated marketplace. Ask any other full time author you care to name and they will all tell you the same thing; no matter how good the story may be, these days unless a book’s cover attracts the attention of potential readers, you are quite literally wasting you’re time…

Alex has been producing high quality covers for years. Therefore he is full of ideas. In this case he came up with a much better alternative to what I had in mind for the cover. So far, apart from the above banner which is one of three I will be using as pre publication advertising until I finally publish Céleste sometime next year, he has aready provided me with the Kindle version of the cover shown below. Using the material I supplied to him (blurb, bio and my mug shot), he has also created the paperback version. But until I finish writing the book and can give him the final page count, along with the CreateSpace template size I have finally settled on, which will be the standard paperback size, (5×8 inches) understandably he is holding off from sending the finished product to me.

CELESTE cover 8,5 x 11In the meantime Céleste has taken an entirely different direction to the way I originally intended. To begin with I saw it as being a ‘dyed in the wool’ science fiction tale, full of adventure and dangerous situations. But I’ve now gone down an entirely different route, largely thanks to the way the characters are interacting with one another. Apart from the ongoing love affair between Céleste and the mission commander David O’Leary, there are now two more slowly emerging from among the ranks of the remaining crew members aboard Apkallu.

Why have I decided this is the way to go rather than sticking with hard core scifi? Well, I was reading another of Derek Haines’ informative articles the other day concerning what sells in todays world of books and what doesn’t. From the research information he came across, it turns out that by far the most popular genre being bought and read these days is romance, (over 80% of the market). So to appeal to that readership I’m combining the three romances as the main thrust of what is essentially still a science fiction story at heart.

By the way If you think that the stunningly beautiful Céleste looks like trouble as she moodily peeks out at you from the cover, I can tell you that she very definitely can be, especially when provoked. Even though I’ve just finished putting the finishing touches to the fourth chapter, already two of David’s crewmates have fallen foul of her – one of them twice.

Well that’s about it for now. I realy must get back to it, as chapter five now beckons. So far the word count stands at 20,843. It’s pointless me giving you the number of pages as I’ve yet to transfer the text to the CreateSpace Word template I’ve decided on. Having grown heartily sick of Createspace endlessly bleating on about my sending them an A4 sized .doc file, I experimented with a larger size of template the other day and the page count then came out at thirty-eight, way more than the standard A4 page count of twenty-two of the original file. I’ve a feeling that if I did transfer it to the new template at the moment, it would easily exceed fourty pages already.

So in the meantime if you will excuse me, I’ve got the intricacies of three romances to be getting on with.

More later folks,

Jack

😀

Advertisements

A New Science Fiction Story Begins

2578-planets-science-fiction-photomanipulations-fresh-new-hd-wallpaper-best

Well, I’ve started thinking about my next Scifi WIP. At the moment it has no title. That will occur to me much later as the story gradually unfolds. So far all I have is the vague preamble below.

~~~

      There was a time when mankind’s only means of exploring the Universe meant either sending unmanned probes to various locations across our solar system, or exploring beyond its borders by using powerful telescopes, parked in stationary orbit above the Earth and dotted across the planet. That all changed in the twenty-second century when fusion propulsion became a reality, and a way of keeping a human being alive for the duration of any flight, further than the inner limits of our solar system, was finally worked out.

~~~

Out of those few words will come the story itself. How it starts, where it goes, who and how many characters are involved, only time will tell. But one thing I can definitely say is that one of them will have a hidden agenda, which means that the story will, in all likelihood, be dark. Developing he/she or it and their reasoning is the fun part for me.

When will I publish? Next year.

Will it be an eBook or a paperback? Both.

Will it be published using Amazon exclusively? Definitely not! With this one I’ll be publishing the eBook version via Smashwords, and the paperback version via CreateSpace. But all of that is many, many months away.

Will I be asking Chris The Story Reading Ape to come up with an eye catching cover? Yes, but much later on.

Well that’s all for now. From time to time I’ll be publishing progress reports here on my blog.

Spot you later,

Jack  😀

Visualising My Female Characters

When it comes to the female characters in my books, I grow extremely fond of every one of them, even the evil ones. What can I say, when it comes to my fictional women, whatever they want me to say about them, happens. You would comply too if you have ever tried putting words in your female character’s mouth that you know full well she would never ever utter, or tried forcing her into a particular situation which a woman like her would never ever willingly enter into.

Believe me, when you live with one of them in your head as I do each time I write a book, for the sake of your sanity and a quiet life, you do as your character demands. If you think you are creating a character, forget it, your not. They creat and reveal themselves. All you as the writer have to do is listen to what they are saying. Having said that, before you reach for the phone to call the men in white coats to take me away in a straight-jacket, no I’m not mad. I’m just a writer.

It helps me enormously if I can either find a photograph of a particular individual closely resembling who I have in mind, or perhaps even an illustration or painting. For instance, in my best selling scifi adventure novel The Seventh Age, I needed to get a clear image in my head of the principal female character, an alien who tracks and protects the hero Nick Palmer, wherever he goes. It wasn’t until I was reading the late Mac Tonnies’ blog one day, that I came across the artwork for the cover of his book The Cryptoterrestrials, which I immediately bought a copy of, and thoroughly enjoyed reading. Staring back at me from the cover exactly as I had always imagined her, was the hauntingly beautiful face of Ithis, the androgynous alien inhabiting my mind at the time.

515i5uBNARL

When it came to writing my recent novella Cataclysm last year, the story has two strong feminine characters, Arianna a beautiful example of the third gender, who the hero Gilbert Briggs, falls head over heels in love with, and her nemesis Taliva, another member of the same Apex race as Arianna whose ancestors are responsible for creating mankind, as a docile slave race in the novella. In both cases it helped when I found two particular photographs. The one I used for Cataclysm’s cover depicting Taliva, is actually a photo of a mannequin.

Cataclysm

The other photograph which I came across while looking for an image that said Arianna to me is this one. The fact that the beautiful human being pictured is a real life Arianna, is neither here nor there.

64353_605170559495579_385953050_n

On the other hand when it comes to any of my male characters, I don’t need any form of visual representation. I find them much easier to come to terms with. All I need is to get their various physical characteristics, character traits, faults and prejudices etc firmly fixed in my mind for the duration of the write.

As for my current work in progress, The Guardian, when it comes to my latest heroine I’m still looking for a photograph that says Lynne Crawford to me. So if anyone knows of a photograph, illustration or painting, depicting a beautiful full bodied woman with honey blond hair in the form of a crew cut hairdo…

In the meantime the picture I currently have of her in my head will have to suffice. Not to worry. One day soon I will eventually find a representation of her, just as I did for all my others, hopefully before I’m halfway through writing my WIP.

😉

The Sixth Guardian Progress Report

angry_cyborg_w1

This is my creator’s eighth book in twenty years of slaving over a computer keyboard, so pay attention to what he has to say about it humans, or else!!!

Sorry about that, it can get a little tetchy at times, par for the course for something like The Guardian. Your all right, you don’t have to work with it on a daily basis. Now, before it comes back, read on…

***

I’m about to start writing chapter four. I’m more or less happy with the core of chapter three. As I said previously, I’ve begun to ramp up the action somewhat. I’ve also added a bit more for you to surmise about. I’m talking about the relationship, if you can call it that, between Lynne and Adler. I’ve decided to add one of the three new characters – Brett, Cliff and Bayla, into the mix as a possible rival for Lynne’s affections if Adler doesn’t declare his feelings for her one way or another. Which one of them it is, and why, you will just have to find out when you read the novel won’t you. It might be that a love triangle develops – only what I’m thinking at the time will determine what happens between Lynne and Adler. I’m still undecided about that situation at the moment.

I’ve also introduced a few items that they need to protect themselves like LSAT Assault Rifles and the XM25 air burst grenade launcher, as well as the M110 Sniper Rifle, all of them actual weapons, but still under development and testing at the moment, plus C4 plastic explosive, fragmentation grenades and Claymore mines. Even though the story is set in the twenty-second century, twentieth century explosives like C4 and the highly effective Claymore mine, still have their uses in the eyes of my team of ex military personnel.

Meanwhile The Guardian is always somewhere, waiting, watching, hatching plans, and now keeping its eye not only on me, but you too. I beg you, for my sake be careful not to upset it. It is gradually becoming more involved, making its presence felt, not only to me, but also as the story unfolds. Now its time for more thinking. I most certainly don’t want to get on its wrong side by taking some time off for myself now do I.

More later

😉

The Guardian – Another Progress Report

ancient-mesopotamian-sculpt

Is one of these The Guardian?

As I’m halfway through writing chapter two of The Guardian, I need to take a break while I do some more thinking. Without giving too much away, I will say that at this stage in the novel there is an undeniable sexual tension gradually developing between the two main human characters – Adler and Lynne. Whether or not they become lovers, I haven’t decided yet.

I’ve just introduced a third human character Professor Ephraim Adelmann, an old friend of Adler’s. Lynne is not best pleased by his attitude towards women.

Like most of the academics I formerly worked with for twenty-five years at the University of Waikato back in New Zealand, while academically brilliant, Ephraim wouldn’t last five minutes in the real world. His speciality is ancient languages. I based him on a particular academic I have admired for years who works in the British Museum, Irving Finkel, who is an acknowledged expert on ancient languages.

images

          Irving Finkel

I’m finding it difficult not to spill the beans when it comes to clues regarding The Guardian, which is why I constantly need to step back and seriously think about what I am going to say next. In the past, especially with my archaeological adventure The Forgotten Age it was fairly obvious what was going on. As a consequence it was an easy book to write. Well not this time. By hook or by crook I’m determined to keeping you guessing until its time for Adler and Lynne to encounter The Guardian.

More later…

😉 😉 😉

At the moment, The Guardian is a red pen free zone

annunaki

Is this The Guardian? Wait and see…

One of the joys of writing a first draft is that it is a red pen free zone. Until you reach the end of the story, anything goes, incorrect spelling, incorrect punctuation, even the wrong words and phrases – you name it and you will find you have added it. Beginning the first of many editing sessions is the time to take a critical look at what you had initially written over the many months since you started.

By not worrying too much about what you have written in the first draft, it allows you to get that idea out of your head and onto paper, or in my case, this laptop’s screen. Initially you can write the way you think, instead of observing the standard form of English required for the finished product. To look at it another way, just imagine that at this stage your WIP (work in progress) is nothing more than a very long letter to a friend or relative. While it tells the tale, inevitably it is a tad mixed up. Everything you wanted to say is right there in front of you. Now all you have to do is make sense of it.

The time when you have to become your own worst critic comes much later when you begin that first editing session. To achieve this you have no choice but to become totally ruthless – not an easy process when it comes to your literary toddler. But until you delete some passages, replacing them with others. Cut and paste a particular sentence, or sentences, into the correct place, or maybe even totally rewrite a paragraph or chapter, you haven’t edited it properly.

As for my new science fiction novel, The Guardian, I have finally written the core of chapter one in just 1,996 words. In it I have established the three principal characters Major Adler Stevens, Lieutenant Lynne Crawford, and The Guardian itself. All the way through the chapter, the characteristics, quirks, likes and dislikes, all part of the relationship between the two humans, have been revealed. Not so with The Guardian. All you know about it at this stage is that it watches anyone it deems to be a threat, and…

Oops almost gave something away then LOL.

Fleshing out the chapters will come much later, once I have finished writing the first draft. Now it’s on to chapter two for me.

More later, be good.

😉

The Guardian Begins

marsglobe1

Well, it’s New Year’s day in my other home – New Zealand, even though it’s still December the thirty-first here in the UK. So I have begun to write my new science fiction novel. I have settled on The Guardian as the title. For the few who bothered to at least read https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/2014/12/28/the-first-version-of-the-hook/#comment-3442, let alone the six who I am indebted to for offering their opinions, and whose advice I took note of, here is my New Year’s gift to you – the reconstructed Hook and a short extract.

***

The guardian’s dark pitiless eyes surveyed the scene one last time. Satisfied that the threat was finally eliminated, it returned to its duties while awaiting the return of its masters. Three weeks later, while on patrol, something on one of the video screens in the mine operations centre got its full attention. More trouble was on the way. Intruders had just arrived. Until they were dealt with, the guardian could not even begin to repair the damage they had caused. But at least it could finish sealing the entrance to the inner sanctum.

Chapter One

“Why us?” Lynne grumbled, once they had arrived at the Space Port in stationary orbit above Mars. Even though she already knew the answer, she still needed to vocalise it, if only to emphasise her displeasure at being volunteered. She had driven her new boss crazy with endless questions like this during the month long journey aboard the robotic solar-wind powered transport. They both knew that this was likely a suicide mission. “What’s so all-fired important about an automated mining operation on Mars?” she continued, “and why the hell did we have to put up with that stinking ancient transporter. Why didn’t the cheapskates get us seats on something more luxurious for the trip?”
“For Christ sake woman will you give it a rest, quit bellyaching! At the moment I’m guessing that the bastards have downed tools over pay and conditions. You’ve read the brief from Earth Corp, therefore you know as well as I that we are to establish why the Olivine mining has stopped. Even though the system is automated, techs are still needed to keep an eye on the machinery and fix things when they break. Plus the ore has to be brought up here to the Space Port to be loaded aboard unmanned transporters like the one we just arrived on for the return journey to Earth. Which means someone like you has to fly the damned cargo shuttles back and forth. Until we get there, we’re only speculating. The first thing we have to do is talk to the mine boss, David Malcolmson. He and everyone else is housed in an accommodation block just inside the mine in Ganges Chasma, an eastern branch of Valles Marineris.
If you are wondering what Olivine is used for, it is the principal component in the carbon dioxide sequester process back on Earth. You know how bad our atmosphere is, thanks to heavy industry. According to Earth Corp, the last load to arrive back home was six months ago. Before that the mine was sending regular monthly consignments. Any more questions? No? Good. Now quit complaining and get us the hell down there!”
Adler shook his head as he strapped himself into the seat behind Lynne. Why the hell he had to be saddled with this totally unpleasant woman was beyond him. Surely there must have been other pilots to choose from?
As far as Earth Corp was concerned, being ex-military, both Major Adler Stevens and Lieutenant Lynne Crawford were the obvious candidates for the job, and therefore expendable. The CEO of Earth Corp saw no good reason to send one of her own on such a hazardous mission. If they managed to work out what had happened, fix it, and send back a report to say that everything was back to normal, all well and good. If not, someone else would soon be sent in their place. After all, since war was declared illegal, there were plenty like Adler and Lynne to choose from. They had been given precisely one week after their arrival to investigate before they must send that report to Earth Corp.

~~~

The guardian watched the shuttle descend to the loading bay airlock inside the mine entrance from inside the inner sanctum. It heard the unmistakeable sound of the outer door closing, sealing off the mine from Mars’ atmosphere, which is one hundred times thinner than that of Earth, being mostly carbon dioxide, and the hiss as the now sealed loading bay automatically pressurised as oxygen was pumped in to allow whoever was inside the shuttle to enter the mine reception centre. It watched as Adler and Lynne walked across to the door connecting the airlock with the living quarters.

***

So, there it is. With this one, I’m in no steaming hurry. I just want it to enthral the reader all the way through to the end. That requires hours of thought and endless rewriting on my part. To achieve my aim, I’ve given myself the whole of two thousand and fifteen to complete the task.

I’ll keep you all up to date as I progress. Have a happy New Year.

😀 😀 😀