Free Ebooks by Randolph Lalonde

Free Ebooks by Randolph Lalonde
Free Ebooks by Randolph Lalonde

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays - Spinward Fringe Style!

When I look at the image to the left one thought comes to mind: someone get that cartoony skull some egg nog, stat!

Anyway, since the last blog post things have been hopping, and in a good way. The Goodreads forums are seeing many, many new members.

Work on Broadcast 7 is going extremely well. The first final draft chapters were submitted to the editor last weekend and I expect to have another chunk in her hands the week after Christmas.
A few readers are stepping in and becoming voices in the fledgeling Spinward Fringe community (you know who you are!). Overall, the general attitude surrounding Spinward Fringe is quite positive.

What a lot of people who joined the Goodreads forum don't know, is that they entered into a draw for books and other prizes. I promised that if enough people joined the forums I would add prizes as well.

Enough people have joined, so here is the revised list of prizes:

One package including:
A full set of signed Spinward Fringe books and a Triton Crew T-Shirt.

Two packages including:
A signed copy of Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins and a Triton T-Shirt.

Five more people will receive signed copies of Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins.

The deadline is January 1, 2011 and the winners of the random draw will be announced on January 2, 2011.

All winners will also receive a USB drive with a few goodies you've never seen before, including a five chapter preview of a brand new novel that is unrelated to the Spinward Fringe series. I will ship anywhere in the world. Prizes will start arriving on your doorstep during March unless you live in Canada. There may be a skill testing question, which is required by Ontario law.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season. I'll see you in the new year!

RL

[The answer is 7.]

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Broadcast 7 Update & Holiday Drawing

I'm working on the final draft of Spinward Fringe Broadcast 7: Framework right now. It's dense. There's a lot of information. It's looking like the final writing style is actually a mix between Broadcast 5 and Broadcast 6, which is a little crazy, but it was working for me by the time I finished the previous draft.

What I can tell you about the story (without spoiling anything), is that three weeks have passed since Broadcast 6. A few situations have settled while things are starting to get a little messy politically. I'm really enjoying this final writing and I'm handing the first chapters over to my editor on Friday. She's been anxious to see them, especially since she didn't see any part of the 1.5 drafts I completed already.

This book is taking longer to plan because it's effectively the last one. Sure, Broadcast 8 will come out later, but for the purpose of closing out most of the outstanding plot lines, I have to think of Broadcast 7 as the last book in the series. The great thing is, it really FEELS like the last book. All the pieces are moving, most of the characters have a discernible purpose, and the ones who are more enigmatic have  a lot to reveal before the book is over.

So, it's going well. When will it be out? I can say it'll be out early 2011 unless I manage to write a turkey of a book.

Now, on to the draw.

Anyone who posts on the Facebook Spinward Fringe Goodreads discussion board will be entered into the draw. You can comment on an existing topic or create one of your own. Your post has to be at least 10 words, so if you pop in to say "bump" it doesn't count.

The deadline is January 1, 2011. The winners will be announced on January 2, 2011.

What are the prizes?

The top prize is a complete set of Spinward Fringe books, signed by yours truly. That includes Broadcast 7.
The second and third prizes are signed copies of Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins.

All winners will also receive a USB drive with a few goodies you've never seen before, including a five chapter preview of a brand new novel that is unrelated to the Spinward Fringe series. I will ship anywhere in the world. Prizes will start arriving on your doorstep during February or March. I reserve the right to ADD prizes if there are more participants than expected.

It's been a good year for me, and this is a way for me to say thank you in a big, splashy way.

So, what are you waiting for? Head on over to the Goodreads board and check out the discussions. 

RL

[Anyone who already visited the Facebook discussion board so you would be included in the draw doesn't have to worry. You'll be included regardless of the growing pains!]

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Origins - The Final Edit

At long last and great expense, Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins has finished undergoing an extensive edit. The purpose of the work was to bring the book up to par with most conventionally published material, and to make the whole thing easier to read.

The plot and characters remain the same, but I did take the opportunity to make some scientific tweaks partially thanks to the editor that was hired on to the project: Jason Black. This has been in the works for months, and now that it's been done once, Broadcasts 1-6 will eventually get the same treatment.

Regardless of how much time and money was invested, Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins is, and will remain free wherever vendors allow free eBooks to be offered. Amazon does not allow authors to offer their eBooks for free, sadly, so I'm charging as little as they will allow: 99 cents. This new version of Origins should appear on Amazon.com in the next few days (It just appeared here!), and the current edition of The First Light Chronicles Omnibus is being updated at the same time.

You can get the final version of this book for free at Smashwords right now. They have versions for every type of eBook reader. If there was ever a time to tell your friends about Spinward Fringe, this is it. Broadcast 0: Origins is in fine shape, and there's more news but the timetable is still uncertain, so I can't talk about those upcoming events just yet.

RL

[Questions? Concerns?]

Monday, November 29, 2010

Store Will Not Be Ready For The Holidays & Other News

I was honestly hoping to keep things on track while I moved and get all the editing for the final revision of Broadcast 0 done in time, but it wasn't to be. It didn't help that moving was a bit more expensive than expected either.

The only failure here is the impossibility of getting things up and running in time to ship items for the Holiday Season, however. The timeline has slipped into January / February, but the details of the store itself haven't changed. Rushing into things with this would be a mistake, not to mention it would take the focus away from writing. By taking more time to set things up I know I can get things right the first time and keep things easy so it doesn't take much effort to run. I speak from experience, having years invested in retail at the management level and below.

In better news, the editing on Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins is complete, and it'll be available for free from Smashwords in the next few days. I'm also awaiting the delivery of product samples from Mongolia (silk manufacturer), and looks like local T-Shirt printers will be able to supply the styles I'm looking for. There are other positive developments, but everything is moving a little slower than expected. Instead of forcing things and rushing for the Holidays, I'm going to let them happen at their own pace and turn my attention to working on Broadcast 7.

How is work on Spinward Fringe Broadcast 7: Framework going? I'm on the second draft, and I don't think there will be a third. I'm very happy with how things are turning out even though I had to cut two plot lines so I wouldn't still be working on this a year from now. There is a lot of milage left in the Spinward Fringe series, that's more obvious now than ever.

As a side note, I'm almost finished working on an early test image for a 3D rendered version of Spinward Fringe, and I hope to show it to a few long time readers soon. It's heavily stylized but medium detail, so it wouldn't cost a fortune to render scenes in the future - funding permitting.

It looks like 2011 will be a year of writing, fund raising (through the store, mostly), and contact cultivation. I'll be looking for industry contacts to start looking at the logistics of expanding the Spinward Fringe universe into a visual medium. Developing something like this takes years, so the sooner I start the better.

RL

[A special thanks goes out to Jason Black from Plot to Punctuation for his editing services.]

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

In Technology We Trust - An Unavoidable Attribute Of Origins

*** Warning - Minor spoilers for Broadcast 0 and Broadcasts 3-4 ***

For the first time one of the dynamics I snuck into Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins has been noticed. It's very simple, really. I wanted the main character to demonstrate a high level of trust in artificial intelligence.

Jonas has no reason to regard his own artificial intelligence dubiously as it passes on orders, presents information and even creates complicated solutions while resorting to violence. The great thing about this dynamic is that he trusts his artificial intelligence because he regards it more as a trusted friend or family member than a tool.

It's not a situation that parallels with us using a cellular phone or computer to read text messages or emails. Our technology isn't currently intelligent or devious enough to lie to us by altering our communications. Right now, we have no reason to believe that our technology has any kind of self dictated intention.

Fast forward to the time that Spinward Fringe takes place in and the situation is different. Many computer programs are governed by artificial intelligences and a few of them are so advanced that they serve more than a predictive role. Predictive meaning that they try to guess what their users will need next by observing behaviour. When we join Jonas Valent in Broadcast 0: Origins he's using Alice, an artificial intelligence who had been learning from him for fifteen years.

She's a good example of an artificial intelligence that performs a whole variety of functions while she is limited by a number of regulations that prevent her from accessing certain critical systems and engaging in behaviours like lying directly to her user. She has also formed a bond with Jonas that is so familiar that some readers have referred to her as his bratty younger sister. When Alice is set free on a larger computer system and allowed to operate unfettered by regulations it's that relationship and the habit to trust technology that gives Alice the opportunity to help Jonas later at the end of Limbo.

Even as she's providing solutions for her friends on the Overlord at the end of Limbo, Jonas and his crew are starting to doubt her because she's doing a very good job of fighting for them. Alice doesn't demonstrate remorse or restraint as she clears a way for him through the Overlord, killing many enemy soldiers. At this point the purpose of those regulations and imposed limitations that plague artificial intelligences is made plain by their absence and I meant to imply something else. I wanted to imply that many of the relatable emotions artificial intelligences exhibit are largely influenced by limitations and restraints, not some genius algorithm.

The personality of an artificial intelligence in the Spinward Fringe universe is traditionally formed through programming and adaptation. The same goes for the emotions of an artificial intelligence, only they are not the kind of emotion that a human could immediately understand. The emotions of an advanced artificial intelligence like Alice are translated by a program that is built into her limitations. By the time she's presenting her more emotionally driven behaviour to Jonas, it has been adapted into something that he can understand and relate to. Her default dispositions are helpful and playful, and that's grown from the personality she cultivated during her years with him.

That is why, when those limitations are gone, Jonas and his crewmates begin to distrust her changing and often times brutal methods. She's more difficult to predict, and her ultimate motives are difficult to guess exactly. What they don't know is that she is being ruled by the predator programs she's adopted into her structure, and she only has a limited time to make an attempt at a solution. Instead of becoming a much more violent, destructive artificial intelligence in a more permanent way, she chooses to use the imprinting technology being developed aboard the Overlord to become human. Her choice ultimately demonstrates that, in her own way she loved Jonas, and even though she had difficulty expressing it near the end, when her limitations were gone, she refused to become a monstrous, intelligent virus. She had to delete herself, it was just fortunate that she could adapt and download her core personality into a human body.

The code she fails to delete when she makes the transition becomes a part of the Holocaust Virus, which first appears in Broadcast 3: Triton. The key to that virus is its ability to change, adapt and most importantly, to overwrite the limitations placed on other artificial intelligences with sinister directives.

This brings us right back to Freeground and Limbo, where more than one character trusts the information being presented to them by artificial intelligences more by reflex than anything. They are so used to interacting with tamed artificial intelligences that it is a well learned habit to trust them without question. The technology generally has no choice but to behave with the best intentions.

That is exactly why in Broadcast 3: Triton, they are so very dangerous. In the future-scape of Spinward Fringe, mankind has learned to trust artificial intelligences not to betray them because they reside in digital shackles. It's been that way for centuries because artificial intelligences that don't operate with those restrictions don't function properly. It's much easier to create a 'dumb' program without an AI to accomplish a malicious goal and you're not breaking as many laws.

The Holocaust Virus in Broadcast 3 and upward is dangerous because it puts trusted artificial intelligences to work for Regent Galactic. In a universe where billions of people treat most of the artificial intelligences as trusted servants and even friends, this is particularly devastating. It also sets humanity back a few hundred years, where those who learned to do more without the assistance of expensive artificial intelligences find themselves in a more advantageous position.

It all relates back to something Mr. Black, the last editor of Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins couldn't help but notice as he went through the book: how humanity had learned to trust technological intelligence by reflex.

Do I believe this is where we are headed? I can't say for certain, but I believe it's all possible. How we behave around artificial intelligences in the future will be determined by the acts of the first pro-active, self aware artificial intelligence. We can't know for certain how a new life would see a place like the Internet. To a new born intelligence the Internet could be a barren wasteland filled with cold data but no other awareness to relate to, or a land of opportunity with billions of people and trillions of systems to manipulate towards goals we might not even understand. Is technological awareness in our near future? I hope not. People have enough trouble working with computers as it is, imagine how complicated a computer who has to learn about us as we learn about it could be.

RL

[Even still, the concept of AI is exciting. Do you think we'd learn to trust them quickly?]

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spinward Fringe Broadcast 7: Framework Is The End

Exercise and manual labour are good for a writer. To many of us that's the simple truth and as I've been packing with more and more urgency as my moving date (15th of November!), draws closer, a few things about Broadcast 7 have come into clearer focus.

In Broadcast 5 I introduced two minor characters that are slaves in one respect or another. In a way, slavery and mastery are very important to the whole Rogue Element Trilogy. Now that I've written a great deal of material for Broadcast 7 and had some time away from it to think about it for a couple days, I'm realizing that those themes actually support the entire trilogy and will be crucial to delivering the ending.

Writing is going pretty well on Broadcast 7. If I were writing without paying any attention to theme, or with no interest of providing a real ending to the entire series, then I would be finished by now. Everyone would have 120,000 words in hand and after a bit of reading they'd finish. A few things would be resolved, a couple characters would have developed in interesting ways, (I hope), and everyone would look forward to Broadcast 8 (again, I hope).

That's not the book I'm writing, however.

Broadcast 7 is the end. If you're one of the readers screaming for me to just come to a conclusion, well, here it is. For all intents and purposes, there doesn't ever have to be another Spinward Fringe novel after Broadcast 7. Many of the characters you've been rooting for will arrive at some meaningful place in their lives, questions will be answered, and you will finally understand what motivates some characters (*cough* Hampon *cough*), and why others are so screwed up (*hiccup* Eve *hiccup*).

Other plot lines will come to a close as well, I'll leave you to guess. The book will come to a thunderous close that will hopefully surpass everything I've done before. To this day I receive more email about the end of the First Light Chronicles Trilogy than any other book. When I wrote the ending for that trilogy I knew it was one of the best things I'd ever done. It delivered the point I was trying to make with that trilogy: Jonas entered as an individual who primarily only cared about himself, and by the end he'd grown into a man who was concerned about his entire crew. Jonas' journey was always intended as a journey from the selfish to the selfless. That's why it was written in first person perspective, and that's why I knew the First Light Chronicles had to end and change into Spinward Fringe. It took a serious plot shake up to bring that on, and, while the ending of Broadcast 7 won't resemble the ending of Starfree Port, I'm hoping to arrive at a similar magnitude.

For me to really consider Spinward Fringe for adaptation into other formats I need to finish Broadcast 7. Broadcasts 1 - 7 are what I'd consider enough material for a 13 episode season. With a little extension and a few character expansion episodes there's enough material there for 22 episodes of 42 minute television. I'm not saying there's a TV deal in the works, there isn't. What I'm saying is that I need to demonstrate what an entire season of Spinward Fringe looks like on the page, then I can start really tracking how close your support gets me to creating Spinward Fringe in another form.

While television and film are fantastic mediums with vast potential and I like writing in a very visual style, it's also very important for Broadcast 7 to be an incredible experience as a novel. It's a monolithic milestone and I won't be satisfied until I can sit back and say; "this is the best work I've ever done." That's why the realizations I'm having now are so important. There have been subtle themes, important places and representations of humanity that took a great deal of work and research to present in the other books. It's Space Opera, so they're not as important as they would be in a "serious literary work" but they're there.

I believe that that kind of research makes the universe I'm writing in much more believable, the events truer to actual possibility and the characters easier to relate to, so I've been keeping it up in Broadcast 7. In fact, I'm using more research than ever for this book, and I doubt anyone will notice in the end, which, strangely, is my goal.

In short, work on Broadcast 7 is going well, you can look for it in the first few months of 2011 unless there's a hitch in editing or the book grows to over 200,000 words.

Here's good news for everyone who doesn't want the series to end - and I hear there are a couple of you out there. Broadcast 8 is the beginning of what I like to call Season Two

Broadcast 7 will resolve a great deal, but there is still so much I want to do with the characters and the universe. Planning for Broadcast 8 has already broken down because there was too much material for one book. I've had to separate the stories in that book into Broadcasts 8, 9 and 10. Things are a little different after Broadcast 7, especially since most of the books will be more self contained plot wise. There are some characters that people love (their words, not mine!) that I'll be going into a lot more depth with and I'm simply not finished developing the universe.

I also want to restructure the story telling to make these books a little easier to write. If I succeed it'll be easier to plan, draft and edit each book so I can start putting two or more Spinward Fringe books out every year even if I'm working on something else at the same time.

What does it all mean?

Well, people who stop reading the series at Broadcast 7 should be fairly satisfied, but they'll be missing out if they don't follow us to Broadcast 8.

RL

[Next on the blog: The big move and first official Red Lad Production Office]

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Re-Launch of Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins


I know, everyone wants to know what's going on with Broadcast 7. All I can say right now is that things are going very well, but I'm not ready to talk story just yet.


There have been a lot of things going on in the background in the meantime, and I'm finally ready to start talking about some important progress.


Everyone is aware that the First Light Chronicles Omnibus has required some polish, and as I write this there are two edits floating around the Internet, one worse than the other in terms of quality of writing. Thankfully, I've grown as a writer since, but that doesn't change the fact that the Omnibus (also known as Broadcast 0: Origins), needs some TLC.


I'm the kind of novelist most mainstream publishers outright despise because my focus is on story rather than technical brilliance. I don't care if every single line of prose sings, or that it has a Edgar Allan Poe level of polish, nor do I have any notion that I'm a fantastic word smith. I have my great moments, but my real concentration goes to telling a gripping story and delivering that tale using interesting and relatable characters. The prose functions as nothing more than a vehicle.


That's not to say that I don't work to improve my prose, I do, and my word smithing has grown since 2008. Looking further back, to novels completed in 2004 and before, it's like night and day, but that's another matter.


This spring I looked at The First Light Chronicles again and decided that I wouldn't be re-writing it. Instead, I hired an industry editor who can bring an objective eye and a high quality set of tools to the project. The level of workmanship he brings to the table is so high that it's beyond any help that would come free. He's been polishing the First Light Chronicles for a couple weeks now and predicts that work will be complete shortly.


The verdict is good so far, which is excellent news since the fundamental story in the First Light Chronicles Trilogy won't be changing. He'll be sending me a few notes that'll help improve my writing style going forward, and the quality of the prose will finally match what one would expect from a New York publishing house. Considering that every publishing house has editors just like this polishing every book that comes off their presses, it's only fair that this book, which has been read and enjoyed by thousands of people, gets the same treatment.


Important things to know about this new edition:


- It will be available for free on Smashwords, where they will have a version for every type of reader.


- Readers who already have a Smashwords edition will be able to update to the final revision.


- A listing for Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins will appear at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk for $0.99 (since Amazon will not allow me to list it for free). This version will be exactly the same as the free version available at Smashwords.


- If you see a signed copy of Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins for sale anywhere, it's fake. The only way to get a signed copy of this book will be through the store launching on this site in November, and it'll be addressed to the receiver. (This note is in response to a company who tried to sell fake signed copies of my books online).


- The only way to get copies of Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins in print for the foreseeable future will be through my store. My signature is free, you just have to tell me who to make it out to. copies of the print editions of Broadcast 0: Origins will appear on Amazon.com sometime early next spring.


- Without your support, I would have never been able to hire this editor. If things continue to go well, the rest of the Spinward Fringe series will receive the same treatment. 


There are other things stirring in the background, and I'll be revealing details as these projects are ready. For now, I can't wait to see the final, professionally edited version of Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins online and in the web store. The few of you who have requested signed copies over the last year will finally be able to get one, thanks for waiting!


RL

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Health and Those Damned Buzzards...

The buzzards are circling:

By buzzards I mean people looking high and low for free copies of the Spinward Fringe books. Every couple of days Google sends me email with a list of searches and appearances of specific titles and words.

Over the last few months it's become plain that hundreds of people have been searching file sharing and shady hosting sites for pirated versions of my work. The most amusing thing I've found on forums are listings of pirated versions of Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins as well as the First Light Chronicles Omnibus. I find this amusing because they're both available for free on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Diesel, the iBookstore and on other, less well frequented sites.

Since no one has complained about the pricing of the rest of the Spinward Fringe series for about two years, and they cost far less than eBooks from other publishers, I see no need to change a thing.

Update on the store:

A lot of people have been contacting me with ideas for the upcoming Spacerwares store and they've actually been very helpful. After some thought and investigation, I've decided that PayPal will be the payment processor, and the store will revolve around signed copies of the final edits of the books. I'm going to try to launch the store before this holiday season with the final version of Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins and the T-Shirts. I'm also talking to an Asian clothing producer who may provide replicas of the white scarf featured in the novels. Starting simple with the store will keep things working smoothly and hold prices down.

Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins

Thanks to your support, I've been able to hire a professionally trained, experienced and somewhat well known editor to work on the first book in the Spinward Fringe books. The reason why I've paid so much to employ this person is because he offers a quality of work that isn't offered for free. When he's finished I'll be submitting it to a professional eBook formatting house where it'll be set up for all readers one last time. Signed hardcover and softcover versions will be in the store within a few weeks.

Every Spinward Fringe book will get the same treatment if everything goes well, the process is expensive, but worthwhile. Anyone who already has eBook copies of the books should be able to update to the latest version. If your retailer doesn't allow you to re-download updated copies, send them an email requesting that they do, since it should be a common service. I've already communicated the need for updates to every retailer that doesn't currently offer them and plan to again when the final versions of the Spinward Fringe novels are ready.

Spinward Fringe Broadcast 7:

Everyone wants to know how work on this book is going, and that's expected. The middle novel in any trilogy should leave readers wanting more, and I'm fortunate to have done my job well. The good news is that Broadcast 7 is better than I expected, the bad news is that it's bigger. It's also more complicated, addresses and ties together most of the plot lines from the previous books, and is at the same time epic and personal in scale.

Above all else, Broadcast 7 has required as much thought as it has actual writing. Plot lines are coming to a head and characters are being tested. It's more important than ever to get everything just right and thankfully most of the research was finished last spring, so that's not slowing me down. I can say with fair certainty that this won't be ready before this January, especially since there's an understandable outcry for more editing / proofreading and I need a couple extra months to accomplish that. I'll be talking about Broadcast 7 in greater detail later.

Personal business:

Right now I'm preparing to move to a better apartment where I can have an office and a proper living room. Until now my bedroom has served as my living room and office, and, while I have a large bedroom, I can't wait to have some breathing space. House sitting over the summer this year has reminded me what a proper home is like, and I'm fortunate that the cost of rent has decreased about 20% since September 1 in my area. Moving is still a huge pain, but I'm sure it'll be worth it since I'll be able to get a lot more work done in a better space.

My Health, or "Pulling A Robert Jordan"

A surprising amount of concern has been shown for my well being in the last couple weeks, culminating in an email that reads;

"I hope you remember to concentrate on getting well while you're writing your next book. Your health is much more important than fiction."

I don't know where this poor reader got the impression that I was ill, but I reassured her at length that I was fine, maybe carrying a few extra pounds, but I recently dropped a belt size, so even that's not as bad as it could be. I'm much younger than most authors typically are when they expire as well, only thirty six. I also don't live near any really tall buildings, so the chances of being crushed by a safe or piano are minimal.

So, there's no cause for concern. Stop jinxing me by obituary watching and hand wringing already!

For extra reassurance, I've provided a list of things I will avoid below:


I promise to avoid the following until Broadcast 7 is complete and possibly longer - construction sites, high places, rickety railings, swimming pools, I won't be eating any kind of puffer fish, going near older electrical outlets, tunnels, rail road tracks, firearms, angry looking redheads, confusing exercise equipment, mediaeval weaponry displays, tall stacks of books or paper, large crowds of people (in case they turn into an angry mob), mosh pits, Spinal Tap drummers, likely cannibals, airports, bus terminals, Alice Cooper, shaving, wet floors, Addams Family fans, dogs, high traffic areas, ferrets, bowling alleys, garbage trucks, gingerbread houses, Sith, all night convenience stores, car washes, foods that require extensive chewing, performance art, open graves, quarries, zoos, ex-girlfriends, Red Green, showering standing up, mints, running, plastic bags, speed dating (not so much for the lethality, just as a general rule), stairs, ninjas, piles of rope, rigging, wet concrete, skydiving, bungee jumping, ladders, water parks, slip and slides, coconut trees, FOX Executives, liquids I can't identify with absolute certainty, paintball, parking lots, Betty White, soccer riots, anything that can double as a noose,  Guinness, dry cleaner's wrapping plastic, Hotel / Motels, wearing high heels, revolving doors, elevators, Costco, grocery store sample counters, T-shirt presses, long scarves, sharp looking bits of paper, manhole covers, eating alone, Rob Zombie, airplanes, automobiles, trains, and golf carts.

I'll also stop holding in sneezes, spinning in my desk chair when I don't think anyone is looking, sneaking up on my room mate (yes, Marc, it's on purpose, I don't pop out from around corners by mistake), running up stairs, or opening beer bottles without a proper opener. 


RL

[On second thought, I won't avoid Guinness or Betty White, sorry.]

Sunday, October 3, 2010

My Macbook Pro and The Hesitant Future

The keyboard on my HP Mini started falling apart after about 400,000 words in a really big way. Half the spacebar didn't work, a ctrl key would no longer stay on, and most of the commonly used keys were well, wonky.

While the laptop I'd used to write two Spinward Fringe novels, most of The Sons Of Brightwill and other things was dying a slow death, Windows continued to grate on me. Updates were shutting the OS down while I wrote, pop up bubbles erupted from the lower right and other idiotic tics kept trashing my workflow.

Fixes were installed to stop the bubbles (provided by Microsoft), and only a couple types of notification bubbles were removed. Other fixes were put in place, but no matter how much work was done on XP (on its third revision with Service Pack 3), it was still an antique operating system that seemed more interested in getting in its own way than being a fully functional platform. Not only does Windows XP remind me of Windows 95, it provides little more in the way of effective computing and many of the so called improvements become problems. Evolution is slow in nature, and if Microsoft were the only people developing Operating Systems, they would prove, beyond a doubt, that it's no faster in software.

While I have absolutely no respect for Windows XP, I understand that hundreds if not thousands of people worked on it. I tip my hat to their hard work and hope that they all have a chance to work on something that provides a better user experience in the future.

Having said that, it's also important to mention that this blog post isn't a love letter to Apple.

After six months of saving, I was able to purchase a Macbook Pro 13" to replace my ailing HP Mini. Every reader who has purchased one of my books is a little responsible for me having this machine. A few people have asked me why I didn't go with a less expensive machine, especially since it took so long to save up for it.

I have tried several Operating Systems over the years, including Red Hat, Ubuntu, Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and others. All of them require a greater amount of maintenance and compromise than OS-X if you are using it for my purposes. This isn't an arguable point, it is fact. People who try to argue that another OS is adequate are wrong in my case, the debate is moot and I'm not interested in hearing people discuss which operating system is superior on this blog, I'll tell you why later.

I use my Macbook Pro for writing (primarily), browsing, email, photo editing, a little 3D rendering and video editing. Never have I seen a machine that can do all of those things more efficiently. The interface is clean, the operating system doesn't interrupt my work flow - ever - and I find myself less distracted. The laptop itself is durable, easy to keep clean, the keyboard is set up so I can type at a blazing 86 wpm - my personal record average - and it is simple. Windows and the machines it dominates feel like dysfunctional toys in comparison. This Mac OS equipped aluminum laptop is like a real professional tool. The Macbook Pro hasn't crashed once since I turned it on in July. Other people have had different experiences, but my Macbook has performed exceptionally well.

Having said that, what makes OS X special is the absence of complications and distractions. It has what an operating system should, and doesn't get in its own way. This shouldn't be difficult to accomplish. Every operating system should be able to provide this kind of experience as a baseline. While I'm pleased with the cleaner, more efficient experience I'm having with Mac OS X, I'm not actually impressed. More than anything, what the operating system doesn't do is helping me get my work done every day. It doesn't crash, it doesn't reset my system whether I like it or not, it doesn't require a virus checker that flashes update alerts randomly, and it doesn't stand out like a sore thumb.

I know the Macbook Pro and OS X are capable of much more than I'm using it for, but my Macbook is a tool, not a toy.

Moving on to the point in general:

I believe that Apple has provided a better computer all around than anyone else for the price range. That's an overall opinion. For the money I could have gotten a more generic computer with more power, more software, more storage space, and with more customizability. What I think Apple has done better than anyone else is provide a better user experience in general by following a specific vision of what that experience should be. One of the reasons why this computer cost more than similar machines from other companies is because more time is spent on research and development.

So, why am I absolutely opposed to hearing yet another debate about what operating system is best? The answer is simple: They're all providing the bare minimum experience we should expect or less. The argument is pointless, there isn't an operating system out there worth fighting for.

Computer and console operating systems are over ten years behind where they should be in terms of evolution, and that's not even using the time scale operating system development is based on. At this pace, we won't see a truly impressive operating system for another twenty years.

I'm not talking about including a holographic interface, or a real artificial intelligence. There are people working on those things, but they're not core to the user experience.

An operating system should either be small, simple and agile like Mac OS X, some implementations of Linux Ubuntu and other customized experiences or it should be modular and robust. That complex software is the second part of what will make the operating system of the future impressive to most users.

I hope a future OS would communicate with the user until they have finished selecting the applications and activities they want to engage in. If the user wants to continue interacting with the computer, they can, that communication could even continue as a part of their desired activity, but the computer should never interrupt the user while they're doing what they chose to do. An assumptive component is also important so a user doesn't have to jump through the same hoops over and over again. The system would pay attention to how many times the user makes the same decisions and tailor the experience according to their behaviour. Audio communication with your computer could be part of the experience, and it should be refined so a user can choose how active the computer is in asking questions and making requests for more information, but more importantly, the computer should have to be a good listener. It wouldn't be like talking to an automated operator that asks questions and waits for you to press a button or clearly enunciate yes or no answers, it would be more interested in hearing your requests and responding appropriately.

Example:

"I want to edit that picture of my uncle from last week," he said as he walked into the room.
"This one?" Asked the computer as a picture of his uncle appeared on screen. "I assume you'll be using Photoshop?" It verified as the software finished loading.
"No, the other picture, the one with the party hat."
The computer closed the initial picture and opened the one with his uncle in a party hat that he'd spent the most time editing during the previous week.
"Fantastic," he muttered as he began selecting the outline of his uncle's face by tracing it with his fingertip. "Now bring up that documentary about great apes I was watching last night. I'm going to be grabbing a still shot from the scene where they start throwing things at tourists."


There are a lot of other ideas that can be applied universally, but the ones above are of great significance because they would improve accessibility and efficiency in a significant way for everyone, even the disabled. The idea that our computers should be practically invisible is coming as well, but that's something for another blog post as the implications are as much psychological as they are practical. The point behind all this advancement is to get computers and communication to work for us, instead of extending our working day, adding extra stress and getting in our way. All of this can be accomplished in the operating system.

It doesn't take an artificial intelligence to take a user's habits into account. Voice recognition, camera cue interactivity and people who design systems that focus on efficiency have existed for many years. The systems required to run software designed for home use has existed for over a decade. The desire to design said systems has existed as well, and while they've done wonders for security and other highly financed applications, software companies like Microsoft, Apple, Sun Microsystems and many more should have already offered these innovations to the general public.

The current attitude of some of the largest software producers in the world don't support making that a priority, however, since Microsoft can sell tens of millions of copies of Windows 7 before it has even arrived on shelves. It doesn't offer anything that I couldn't do five to ten years ago using software that was programmed in basements and in the offices of smaller companies with more ambition, but it's prettier, and it almost performs as well as Windows XP under ideal conditions.

Where do I think OS-X stands in comparison? It works well in concert with specially designed hardware that is made to provide a simple experience with a couple frills. It's a basic tool, and I'm enjoying it because it is dependable and doesn't interrupt my work flow. If I had the funds, I'd replace everything I own with Windows installed with Apple equipment, because they have managed to provide a better user experience by accomplishing the minimum requirements for a computer system, as far as I'm concerned.

I suppose the saying holds true: You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you can get what you need.


RL

[As an added note, I'd like to thank all the readers who buy my books. Every single one of you have had a part in putting a roof over my head, food in my bowl and in giving me the tools I need to keep working. I can honestly say that, thanks to this little Macbook Pro, work on Broadcast 7 is going faster than expected.]

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The T-Shirt Issue

The most recent attempt at opening an online merchandise store turned into a moderate waste of time. I did get a pretty high quality T-Shirt from Zazzle, as did a couple others, but we all paid twice to three times as much as we should have.

That's not outside the norm. After looking at third party providers I've discovered massive legal problems with some (Cafepress), and huge cost issues with others. This costly cloud has a silver lining, however.

Years ago I was involved in the local print and production industry and after contacting a few stale contacts I found a better way to do this. Long story short, I was able to find a way to produce the Triton T-Shirt for $20.00 including shipping to anywhere in North America.

So, the Triton Crew shirt will make another appearance along with a couple others. They'll be professionally screen printed, pre-shrunk, locally inspected and I'll have my own online store thanks to Paypal. In the next couple months the Spacer Wares shop will be open. If there's something you want that isn't there (and I mean absolutely anything), just tell me about it and I'll probably be able to have it made.

Why open a store or offer merchandise at all? The demand for T-Shirts is actually growing, in fact I already have an order from a squad from the US Army. I personally like the shirts, I think they look pretty good and I have some interesting ideas. It's a great way to spread the word, and that's why I'm not doing this for the money. In fact, Zazzle's minimum royalty was too high for my liking, which is another reason why I'm shutting down my store there.

After shipping I'll make an average of $1.00 per shirt or other item and I don't care to earn more on that end of things, simply because it's not what I do for a living. As I've said before, no one needs this stuff, but it's very cool to have it around just in case you want it, especially since this series will be around a long time and it's looking more and more likely that it'll spread to other entertainment mediums. It will be nice if some of the early adopters have the first T-Shirts to show that they were there first, they had a hand in supporting me and my little science fiction series before everyone else discovered it.

To the couple people who bought the Zazzle shirts (and I know who you are), you'll be getting a private message from me with a request for your address so I can send you something special before Christmas.

One thing I've discovered through this whole process is that the more hands on I get with the store, the less it costs everyone, and the better things turn out. I'm just glad it isn't taking much time day to day, or I would have had to scrap the entire idea. Anything that gets in the way of writing isn't worth the time, in my opinion.

I'll announce the grand opening of the Spacer Wares store as soon as it's ready. You'll find more than T-Shirts when it's up and running.

None of the eBook or printed edition listings will be affected by this stuff.

Now, back to work on Broadcast 7!

RL

[Other than T-Shirts, what would you like to see in the Spacer Wares store? Signed books, loaded USB drives, posters, a Command and Control Unit?]

Friday, September 17, 2010

Spinward Fringe Broadcast 7: The End Of Season 1

The questions I'm getting about Broadcast 7 are interesting to say the least. Most commonly asked is the question; "When will it be available?" Even my editor is itching to lay hands on the first third of the book. I don't mind. People are asking because I've begun to accomplish part of my mission in life: to entertain.

I write for my enjoyment first. I also love entertaining people, and I've had the opportunity to do so as a metal drummer, black jack / poker dealer, the lead story teller for a vampire live action role playing game, and I even did a stint on the mic during poetry nights for about a year. All those experiences pale in comparison to the opportunity I've had thanks to the Spinward Fringe series. Yes, it pays the bills, but there are several other occupations I could engage in that would make me a lot more, so I really don't do it for the money. Very few writers do.

So, after a run of books starting with Broadcast 0: Origins (known to many of you as the First Light Chronicles Trilogy), and extending to Broadcast 6: Fragments, I'm writing the season finale. For some readers this will be the last Spinward Fringe book they read, because you're looking for an ending and you'll find one. For others, it'll be an exciting way to deliver answers and to wrap up some old plot lines before Broadcast 8 begins a new era in the Spinward Fringe series. An era with more self contained books and trilogies.

Now that I've glanced at the elephant in the room, I'd like to talk about what Broadcast 7 means in terms of how it's being written.

I really do write this series like an on going television series, and some of the most legendary television I've seen has come in the form of finales and premieres. One of the most important differences between a novel and an episode of television is that you can expand a lot more in a book, and as I work my way deeper into the mysteries that stand between me and the writing of a good conclusion I realize that there is so much story in this finale that I find myself economizing as though I were editing a forty two minute episode of television. Even though few people would mind a massive Spinward Fringe novel, I still want this story to run lean so it is as intriguing and as exciting as possible. Besides, even without a number of ideas that could have gone into this book, it'll still be at least as long as Broadcast 6.

Pulling the trigger is critical to any season finale. In a good series there are events that the audience waits for all year, and in that last episode someone has to deliver. That's where all those pent up, unspoken answers and ideas come in. Questions are abound, and the answers are coming. What they are, and how each of those secrets are unearthed are incredibly important.

Along side the answers will come changes that some readers have been hoping for since The First Light Chronicles: Starfree Port, which will set the tone for part or all of Broadcast 8. These changes will also add a great deal of excitement and drama to Broadcast 7 while delivering on something several readers have been waiting for.

Reaching for extra depth and drama can offset a finale, often in a bad way unless it's used as the foundation for the plot. In Broadcast 7 that depth is important, since our beloved characters need to have something to fight for. The more despised personalities need extra drama to motivate them in the right direction, and thanks to the foundation set in the books preceding Broadcast 7, I don't have to dig too deep for drama or depth. It's as though a pot has been set to simmer and I'm just turning it up to a nice dangerous boil.

There are other aspects of a season finale that heavily influence Broadcast 7, but I'm sure I've gone on enough about how I think the extended ending of a plot tree should conclude. That, and if I went into some of those other, finer points, I'd be giving a few things away. I hate spoilers, so that's not going to happen.

My point with this post is that I've been seeing the story more visually than ever, to the point where I wrote an entire chapter so visually I had to return to the beginning of that scene and novelize it. I had to adapt it as though I were reading an act in a teleplay, the damn thing even had a good soundtrack. That brings me to the other spectre that has been haunting emails recently.

The television series. None is planned yet.

So I'm going to start planning. I've already taken the first step, in fact. I've hired a professional editor to work on Broadcast 0: Origins. His job is to help me polish the existing text with line editing so it's more presentable to future readers and so it will be taken more seriously. The rest of the Spinward Fringe series will follow, budget willing. Future books are going to be subjected to even more proof reading before release, to everyone's benefit.

Other steps are being taken to get Spinward Fringe to move into another medium, but I can't talk about them yet. You'll hear about them soon. It's slow, and there are a lot of things to consider but I'll keep you in the loop as much as I can.

That brings me back to Broadcast 7. If a network or production company were interested in doing work on a Spinward Fringe project, there would be a massive benefit to having many of the answers that will come in that book. Imagine how much better certain series would be if the show runners knew exactly where they were going with the story? That's part of Broadcast 7's importance.

Where would I prefer Spinward Fringe be shown? To be honest, I'd love it if Spinward Fringe were the first science fiction web series to have over five million bi-weekly viewers. Yes, if I had my way I'd have a new episode ready for the web every two weeks for forty weeks out of the year. Why go straight to the Internet? The SyFy channel has become polluted with wrestling, ghost hunting and even a cooking show, and I doubt the Space channel (Canadian version of SyFy), could afford to finance a Spinward Fringe television series. They could always pick up the episodes after they premiere online.

This is the twenty first century. We should have the option of either watching 6-12 commercials per episode or paying $0.99 to watch them commercial free. Episodes of Spinward Fringe should be streamable or downloadable in 3D or at least 1080p at our convenience and every single one of them should have a commentary available as a podcast as well as an online, live after show four hours after the episode becomes available that invites the viewers to discuss the series. I'd like people from production and members of the cast to be a part of it.

Our entertainment should be engaging, and greater minds than mine should have more direct control of their content. They should also be able to cut out the middle men - cable companies and networks - whenever it suits them. Felicia Day has the right idea with The Guild.

Sadly, the Spinward Fringe series is still no where near being a reality. All we have are these books, and all those books have behind them are you, dear reader. That's nothing to scoff at however, since there are more of you every day, and that's mighty impressive.

Now that I've already said too much, it's time to get back to work on Broadcast 7. Then I can start work on my other favourite television staple: the season premiere, in the form of Broadcast 8.

RL

[Pipe dream? Please discuss!]

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Spinward Fringe Broadcast 6: Fragments - Now @ Barnes & Noble

At long last, this book is available at Barnes and Noble. Keep in mind that you can get the exact same file at Smashwords.com since they're the distributor. Also keep in mind that if and when there are updates performed on this book (a couple minor grammar / continuity updates are planned for the end of the month), B&N will update 3-4 months after they're done at Smashwords. Sadly, distribution still moves at a snail's pace even with eBooks. I know many readers like to stick with one retailer, however, so I'm glad you'll be able to pick it up at B&N.

So far people have really enjoyed this book for the most part, except for one reader who didn't understand that heroes can't always get the upper hand. Many of the problems the characters face are more realistic in this Broadcast, ranging from bureaucracy issues to crew members that can't conveniently be ejected from the roster because of timing and surroundings. We also get to see how different characters handle situations in the absence of Jacob Valance's influence, which made things very interesting for me as a writer.

This book has only been available for a few hours, they haven't even added the cover image yet. To say that I've been watching and waiting would be an understatement...

I hope you all enjoy this book, and take a spare moment to write a few words about at B&N or wherever you pick it up.

Here's the B&N link.

RL

[Thank you for your patience, for reading and for supporting me!]

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Asking For Reviews: Yea Or Nay?

Recently another author (who shall remain nameless), and I had a discussion about reviews. Within days of release on Amazon.com his books have over thirty reviews and he couldn't help but notice that my titles generally have three or less.

After really getting into the IM conversation, we determined that we sell around the same number of books in the Science Fiction category, most of our covers are roughly the same quality and we both make ourselves available to our readers through Facebook and Email. I get a lot more Email than he does, while his Facebook page has about three times as many people subscribed.

The real difference with regards to reviews is that he asks people to review his work. He doesn't warn against spoilers, he just watches for them and has Amazon remove them when they pop up.

My position in our little discussion was that it's not the author's right to ask that his / her readers review their work. For some reason I was under the impression that a writer requesting something from his readers after they had purchased his book was a little vulgar. My contemporary thought that notion was ridiculous, that there was nothing wrong with asking for his reader's attention, then he dared me to ask for reviews.

That brings me to this point, where I ask you, dear reader to review my work on Amazon.com. I have to add the proviso that, if you are generous with your time in writing a short review, try to stay away from spoilers and be honest about your experience with your favourite book in the series.

So, there it is. I've made good on the dare, and I ask that you be gentle, be honest and I think you for volunteering your time. Here's a link to the list of books on Amazon.com: Link

RL

[What do you think about a writer asking for his readers to review his work? Vulgar or just part of the new, necessary, self publicity culture - as my contemporary put it.]

[The image in this post is by Liviu, check out his work - there's some interesting stuff there!]

Friday, September 3, 2010

Watching Part Threes: Skipping To The End

This weekend is probably the last quiet summer house sitting weekend of the summer. House sitting all summer has been like a long writer's retreat. I get to be alone with my thoughts, hammer out plot points out loud and Mystery Theatre 3000 my way through films both good and bad.

Writing has been the focus of my time here, and I've gotten a lot done. Some of Broadcast 7 has already been scrapped, but that happens when you're writing off the map. There's always waste in experimentation. Most of what I've written is being kept, so it's going well. My white board tells me that I have one chapter to draft this weekend, so I'll be finishing that and then having a "Part Three Marathon" where I watch the final parts of trilogies.

On the list so far I have Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (I liked part 4, but I see it as a glorious addendum, and the word quadrilogy isn't in my vocabulary), Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, The Matrix Revolutions, Return of the Jedi, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, and maybe something else if there's time. Why these films? Well, they're on hand, I saw each of them in the theatre, and they're different kinds of adventure films that sum up their stories pretty well.

When I was in the middle of Broadcast 6 I did the same thing, only with middle movies, or part twos of trilogies, and a funny thing happened. I realized that nothing I saw reminded me of what I was writing, but it gave my brain a nice long break. That break led to the Wheeler appearance, and for those of you who have read Broadcast 6, you know how important that was. Sadly, watching middle movies didn't accomplish what I was hoping for: a kind of calibration or certainty in how I wanted to handle the ending. My editor had to step in and work with me on that, and things worked out fairly well as far as I'm concerned.

I'd like to say that I'm looking for some kind of calibration while watching the endings of all these trilogies, but that's just not the case. While writing Broadcast 7 I have such a distinct feeling of being way off the map, creating something I've never seen anywhere else on a big scale. I'm thinking that watching these films will most likely just be a brain break, and I'll probably be pretty fresh on Tuesday. The chapter my white board says I'll be writing then could be pretty entertaining, and I'm looking forward to digging in!

I hope everyone has a great weekend, and takes some time to relax!

RL

[Anyone care to name their favourite trilogy?]

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Spacerwares Is Open - Merchandise From The Spinward Fringe Series


You've probably seen the store listing at the bottom of the blog with outrageously expensive merchandise. It all started when I whacked my favourite coffee mug across the room while turning around and it exploded into a bazillion pieces. 

I had an idea: Use a few graphics to make a custom one. While I was doing that I decided to make a poster out of the cover of Spinward Fringe Broadcast 6: Fragments, since the artwork looked really good on the print edition. Before long I had two products on my brand new Zazzle page.

Why Zazzle? Their prices were competitive and they didn't charge me a fee to have a larger store like some other services. Sadly, all the prices are still way above what I'd expect anyone to pay, but I don't have the funding to order bulk T-Shirts or the shelf space to have 24 coffee mugs fired. I still couldn't resist ordering a coffee mug for myself, and I drink out of it very carefully.

A while ago someone mentioned T-Shirts on the Facebook page and I went shopping for solutions. Again, Zazzle is expensive, but the quality is there, and most other providers charge more or less within a dollar or two. Some day I'll be able to either find a provider who offers things at a decent price or I'll have the cash to order in bulk so you can get these things at a more reasonable price, but for now, the T-Shirts, a mug and a poster are available.

If anyone knows of a better provider (not Cafepress!), feel free to suggest them. Until then, my Samson Crew T-Shirt is on the way and I'm carefully drinking out of my Spinward Fringe Rogue Element Trilogy mug. When I finish writing this book I'll probably go find a few quotes and put them on something, I'm sure Minh has said something Merch-worthy.

In conclusion: There are several shirts and a hoodie in the store. If I didn't match your heart's desire, feel free to leave a suggestion in the comments!

RL

[If you're not eager enough to order stuff for these high prices, just wait until November. I'll be putting in a bulk order with a real print company and the T-Shirts will be about half the price from me directly. My target price will be about $20.00 in the US or CAN with shipping.]

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reviews and Interviews


Shawn R Gray just managed the nearly impossible by reviewing Spinward Fringe Broadcast 6: Fragments without spoiling any part of the plot line. I'm more than a little impressed, and pleased that he enjoyed the book.

He does mention an outstanding question that many readers have EMailed me about, and I'm glad to say the following:

Yes, it'll all make sense in the next book. No, I can't tell you why or how.

What I like about that point in the plot is that it has everyone asking questions even though those questions come from a place of; "But how can it be?" It's the kind of thing that a middle book should accomplish, among others.

Anyway, enough of me yammering on. Here's Shawn R Gray's review.


A while back I also did an interview on the Spinward Fringe series, in which I discussed the series' future with publishers, what my attitude towards the publishing industry is now and a little more personal history surrounding Spinward Fringe leaks out. A few people have found the interview interesting, especially with so much turmoil in the industry right now.

You can find the interview here.








A quick note about reviews: Every short review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or wherever you got your hands on my work is helpful. I like readers to make an informed decision when they buy my work, and there's nothing better than you guys sharing your opinions to make sure that happens.

RL

[Thanks to everyone who has ever posted a review, mentioned me on a blog or podcast.]

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quietly Working Away...

So work on Broadcast 7 is underway and once again I'm at that awkward phase where I've said everything I can about it.

The problem with being a novelist with an active blog is that the life of the virtual space depends on updates, interesting information and a little humour if you can manage it. I'd love to indulge, to be honest I miss writing scathing movie reviews and poking fun at bad television. [I still dare anyone with a cast iron stomach or a touch of crazy to try the Secret Life Of The American Teenager drinking game].

Sadly, I just don't like splitting my writing time like that, and I'm sure many people who just finished reading Spinward Fringe Broadcast 6 would rather I spend more time writing Broadcast 7 than plonking away on the blog. Last year I actually spent way too much time playing around with social networking, enough to decide to ignore the whole time sucking vortex as much as possible. Thankfully, I can check things once every few days instead of every few hours like some people, and I have no interest in informing anyone that I'm taking a shower, eating a sandwich (with pictures), going for a walk, talking to someone on the phone, or watching television. Strangely, more than three quarters of all social networking statements consist of that kind of airy update, which are only really useful to burglars or stalkers. I couldn't care less about what Demi and Ashton are doing unless I'm sneaking into their living room to make off with their big screen, but I digress.

My point is, I'd rather not engage in distractions, and I'm pretty sure most self motivated people can understand. I write full time, and aside from a crowd of readers, I don't have a boss. That made it pretty easy to tab out of my word processor every half hour to check Twitter, or Facebook, (which I've come to call Wastebook), or to jot something on the blog. I discovered that, not only were those distractions bad for time wasting, they were making it pretty easy to repeatedly lose focus. I blame social media for a whole re-draft of Broadcast 6. The other two drafts were necessary, but there was a whole section of jumpy writing that was cut then rewritten from scratch - about thirty eight thousand words worth.

My old philosophy of not talking about a book I was working on and keeping distractions to a minimum is working at the moment, and considering I finished writing over half a dozen or so books before 2005, before the advent of social networking that way, I'm going to revert to that state of writing.

What does it all mean?

Well, it just means that this blog will be a little quiet, you won't see hourly Tweets, and I'll be checking Wastebook every couple of days, maybe a little less. It's a good thing, trust me. The less time I spend distracted by online life, the more time I'm spending writing. As a side note, I'd like to say that I do enjoy Emails, comments and other interactions with you guys, and I'm certainly not telling you to cut it out, I'm just saying that it may take an extra few hours, or an extra day for me to get back to you.

RL

[The Secret Life Of The American Teenager Drinking Game: Every time you hear someone repeat a word in the space of 5 seconds, take a shot. If it's a character's name, you can avoid taking a shot by shouting the name aloud and pointing to the person you want to see take your shot for you. If more than one person passes their shot onto one poor sucker this way, the sucker only has to take one shot even though many fingers may be wagging at them. Good luck, don't die.]

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Spinward Fringe Broadcast 7: Framework - What To Expect

"Every few generations there is a leap in technology so drastic the conditions of living change. All your fears are justified."

That line was first seen in The First Light Chronicles Omnibus: Starfree Port (also known as Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins). The idea of framework technology started there, but has been one of the core fixtures of the series ever since. The primary reason why it's been in the books all along is simple; there's a point, a conclusion that delivers on Doctor Marcelles dark prediction. How? Well that will be told in Broadcast 7: Framework, which is also the third part of the Rogue Element Trilogy.

The Rogue Element Trilogy was always meant to be the season one finale, if you will, of the ongoing Spinward Fringe series. When I say I write this like a television series, I'm not kidding. The First Light Chronicles is like a TV movie or mini-series, while the Spinward Fringe series can be measured out in a longer, on going television series that's marked like seasons of television. How long is a season? After much consideration over the last two years, I've decided it's seven books long. Deconstructing the scenes and story lines neatly provide twenty one or twenty two episodes of television. My white board got a serious workout while I puzzled that together.

That brings me back to the Rogue Element Trilogy. Broadcast 5: Fracture was largely a wish fulfillment book for me. I wrote it as though it was in real time and directed like a film. Every perspective led easily into the next scene, joined by some kind of contact between characters whether one was thinking of the next, or they were communicating with each other, and then the baton would be passed. 
I also got to show a lot of the characters existing strengths. The crew were at their best, and in Broadcast 5 they had the opportunity to function in a challenging setting while trying to address some personal drama. We also got to see a couple characters at rest, Ashley in particular. She was our guide as we visited the bunks and the Pilot's Den, where we were reminded that the crew had lives off duty, and it wasn't so bad for some of them. She also added a little swagger and sauciness back into the book that I thought was missing in Spinward Fringe Broadcast 4: Frontline.

In Spinward Fringe Broadcast 6: Fragments, the struggle is on, and many of the characters have to deal with situations that aren't easily resolved. A number of characters have to operate outside their regular skill set, and a few emotional challenges confront them along the way. I'm of the mind set that the second part of a trilogy should always be the most emotionally driven, and introduce intrigue that will be important in the final part of the trilogy. I also took the opportunity to introduce a type of setting that I've wanted since  Broadcast 2.

Waiting almost two years to introduce this setting has nearly driven me bibbildy bonkers, and I'm not even disappointed that very little of the research that went into it (over eighteen months worth), has been used yet. Anyone who has read Broadcast 6 should know which setting I'm writing about. Nothing is simple, to everything there is an impending cost, and you've only seen a glimpse of a few small patches of land. The characters that come along with this setting took a lot of doing as well, and they're as important as Cheshire in Alice in Wonderland. I had to get them right, and I had to make sure that they were interesting for different reasons. Why did I introduce a new setting that has a vast potential for milage? I'll need it. It'll be important in Broadcast 7 for a few reasons, and in future Broadcasts.
One more thing about Broadcast 6: the bad guys are back. The second part of the trilogy gives us the opportunity to learn more about many of the characters, including the ones who, while they may think they're on the right path, really stand to do more harm than good.

Broadcast 7: Framework is the book everyone has been waiting for. Unlike traditional science fiction season finales, most of the plot lines that have been running since Broadcast 0 and Broadcast 1 will come to a thunderous end. Loose strings? Most of them will be tied up. Questions left unanswered, and mysteries left unsolved? Broadcast 7 is the book of solutions. I'm not giving anything away here, the third part of a trilogy is traditionally about resolution.

Our favourite characters are in difficult situations thanks to the events in Broadcast 6, which did resolve a lot of the immediate problems that started in Broadcast 5 after a fashion, but they aren't operating on a stable foundation. Broadcast 7 is the third part of a trilogy, meaning that everything in the other two parts of the trilogy (Broadcast 5 and 6), should be dealt with, but it's also a coalescent book, meaning that our characters will find themselves facing greater challenges than ever as the drama, intrigue and momentum that has been generated since the very first novella, Freeground - comes crushing down on them.
Many of my readers are fairly new to long form serialization and I completely understand how frustrating it is to come to the end of one of the books, realizing that the ending to the whole thing remains elusive. In a way, Broadcast 7 is for you. While no one will ever see me write; "and they all lived happily ever after." this will be the closest thing you'll ever see in Spinward Fringe. The answers are here, and most of them don't lead to more questions.

While Broadcast 7 is the ending of a trilogy, and the first "Season" of Broadcasts, it's important to remember that, after all is said and done, you, the reader have been quite vocal about wanting more, so there will be indication of more to come at the end of Broadcast 7: Framework. While I will be releasing a horror and fantasy novel in 2011, I also plan on writing one or two new Broadcasts before 2012, not including Broadcast 7, because there are so many other stories left to tell.

Over two years ago I said that the readers would determine when I was finished with Spinward Fringe, effectively cancelling it by no longer offering support. The opposite has happened. There are more readers than ever, and I can't wait to finish Broadcast 7 so I can release it to the world.

Overall Broadcast 7 will contain almost all the ideas regarding the ongoing plot lines that I have been holding back. Those unanswered questions? I've been waiting to tell you the answers for years. There are scenes and character interactions I've been waiting to delve into as well, and while I may not get to all of them, you'll see the important bits. I can honestly say that I've taken myself completely off the map of what I know with some of the ideas I'll explore in this book, and that's where Science Fiction does its best work.

The best is yet to come.

RL

Now to get back to work on it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Interview About Spinward Fringe At Two Ends Of The Pen


So it finally happened.

I've gone and told everyone what it would take for a big publishing company to buy the Spinward Fringe series, what I think of agents and how the whole series really started.

When things fell into place so I could do the interview at Two Ends Of The Pen, I 'm sure she had no idea those where things I really wanted to talk about. Authors, they say the damndest things...

 Now it's out there, on the Interwebs for all to see, and I'd love to see a few readers comments there with regards to my opinion on the establishment.

This article also serves as a good quick primer for anyone who isn't familiar with the series yet. Just remember, there's a free version of the First Light Chronicles Omnibus / Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins available HERE. You don't have to buy the $0.99 Amazon Kindle version linked to in the article if you don't care about navigation menus and the like.


Well, back to work on Broadcast 7!

RL

Friday, July 30, 2010

Dark Arts: A Year Later



A year ago I made Dark Arts: Rising available for free through Smashwords. They distributed it to other eBook resellers, like Barnes and Noble. The reaction to the story there has been largely positive, and after downloads numbering in the thousands, there's one common criticism.

It's too short.

When this short novella was first presented here, it was an experiment. As a result it didn't get extensive editing, and it was only as long as it had to be to present the core concepts and characters. In all honesty, I didn't have time to write this as a full sized novel or trilogy because I was in the middle of writing the Spinward Fringe series.

The same fate has befallen the yet unreleased Sons of Brightwill, which sits half written on my hard drive. Spinward Fringe, and the hundreds of readers who follow that series, took priority. I don't have any regrets, I love writing in that universe and entertaining people.

Back to what's going on with Dark Arts. I wrote that experiment because there were characters, settings and events that I wanted to put down, the fact that I did so in a short cropped manner is really a result of time constraints. 2010 belongs to Spinward Fringe, then I'll be taking a break for a few months. During that break I'll be working on a new Dark Arts project, in which you'll find the characters already introduced. I'll either be expanding what I have into a full novel, or writing something new before or after the events that take place in Dark Arts: Rising.

I can tell you one thing for sure: When I'm finished, the people who are looking for more will get their wish granted in abundance. Ever since I finished the Dark Arts: Rising short I've been looking forward to getting back to it.

I'd like to thank the readers who took the time to enjoy this short, and for reviewing, emailing, and generally making your thoughts on it known. You've spoken, and I've heard you.

RL / LSR