Friday, October 30, 2009

Spinward Fringe: Who Dies?

It's well known to some readers that I listen to the people who enjoy my particular brand of fiction. They're responsible for bringing one of the most treasured characters back from the dead, for getting more than one book into print, and for a decision I made right at the end of Spinward Fringe Frontline that changed the series forever.

I like hearing what you have to say, I love every email you take the time to send, and I've found your criticism useful. You trust me to entertain you every time you pay hard earned money for a new Spinward Fringe book and I can't thank you enough.

Now I'm writing three books one after the other, all Spinward Fringe. The first two will continue and conclude the Rogue Element Trilogy. The third, which is named and planned, will once again break the mold that's forming around Spinward Fringe. This is going to be fun.

For now, I have a job for you, dear reader. Some time in the upcoming books a character will die. You decide who by voting on the list above. The only condition I have is that you've read all the books first. The polls will be open for 30 days and I'll only take this poll seriously after 30 people have made their grim preference known.


[Oh, and the character who dies will NOT be coming back]

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Spinward Fringe: First Fan Art

Marcus Froment, an all around talented artist and tattoo master is trying his hand at Anime. I was quite pleased to discover that he was using Ashley from the Spinward Fringe series as his study subject.

I suppose she'd fit into anime best out of all the characters, being one of the more light hearted characters in the series.

He's posted his first two images already with the promise of more as he refines his Anime style. Click this paragraph to take a look!


[Could this be the beginning of a fan art section here?]

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Spinward Fringe: Fragments

It's been quiet on the site for a couple of weeks, but behind the scenes things have been absolutely nuts.

Before I ramble on about anything else, it's time to announce the title of the next Spinward Fringe Novel: Spinward Fringe Fragments. As the second middle book in the Rogue Element Trilogy it promises to take our characters into unfamiliar situation and to unfamiliar places.

Readers who have already finished the series and have read the Strange Horizons and Close Encounters Living Anthology will have a head start. One of the characters appearing in this book was first introduced there in the Landing In Leeds short.

When will Fragments be released? I expect to have a complete draft by the end of November. A lot of work has already gone into this book, an unbelievable amount actually. The story that flows between this and the final book of the Rogue Element Trilogy is one I've wanted to tell for years, and I'm making sure that I'm bringing everything you expect from a Space Opera and more.

What else has been keeping me busy? The final edit of the First Light Chronicles and built up to re-release is wrapping up this week. It'll be available for free under the name: Spinward Fringe Origins on Smashwords sometime in November, but I'm not treating it like a free ebook. It's getting its own high end book trailer and a new cover. The Omnibus will be updated to match the new edit as well, so if you already purchased an eBook edition of the First Light Chronicles Omnibus, then you can update it for free wherever you purchased it.

So, there's my progress report for the time being. Keep your eyes peeled for more news, I'll keep you up to date as more projects near completion.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sons of Anarchy - A Review Without Spoilers

Last year Sons of Anarchy premiered, and being a curious Canadian, I couldn't help check it out. This series comes from Kurt Sutter, a writer best known for his work on The Shield and it primarily focuses on a biker club called Sons Of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original (or SAMCRO for short).

Their stomping ground is a small fictional town in California called Charming, where the cancerous Sheriff is on the take, the Deputy Sheriff is wise to it and he's biding his time, waiting for his superior to die or step down so he can clean up the town.

SAMCRO makes most of their money running guns up and down the California coast, and to make things a little more interesting, the guns come from the IRA. They keep hard drugs out of their town and have earned the trust of the local residents.

To make things even more interesting the Sons of Anarchy is a legacy biker club. A few of the founders are still alive, but one of the most important figureheads is long dead, and his son, Jax, is the club's Vice President. His step father, Clay, was his biological father's best friend, and President of the club, creating an environment ripe for conflict. Things become increasingly complicated when Jax discovers his father's memoirs, an unpublished manuscript that was written to chronicle the Biker Club's fall into crime and to lament the loss of the original spirit behind the Sons of Anarchy. I'm not giving anything away here, this is all established in the first episode.

After seeing most of the episodes (I'm currently waiting for Sons of Anarchy Season 2 Episode 6), I have to say I haven't been disappointed for an instant. Everything I've seen has been believable, interesting and entertaining overall. There are layers to the story this series tells and my only regret overall is that there are only thirteen episodes per season.

Here's a more detailed look:

Performers / Performances
Here's the majority of the cast: Ron Perlman as Clay (Hellboy Series, Dark Country), Charlie Hunnam as Jax (Children of Men), Katey Sagal as Gemma (Futurama, Married with Children, Eli Stone), Mark Boone Jr. as Bobby Elvis (Halloween II, Spooner), Kim Coates as Tig (Blackhawk Down, Prison Break), Tommy Flanagan as Chibs (Sin City, Smokin' Aces), Johnny Lewis as Kip 'Half Sack' Epps (Felon, The Runaways), Maggie Siff as Tara (Leaves of Grass, Push), Theo Rossi as Juice (Cloverfield).

There are other instantly recognizable faces, each of them bringing considerable talent. As far as a biker drama cast, it's like a dream come true. Looking at the Biker Club sitting around the table you can't help but love the diversity of character, especially when it would have been so easy to cast the show on a shoestring budget with one or two big names and a number of cardboard cutout thugs. Everything is right with this cast and everyone gives it their best. It's an ensemble, and it really feels like each performer is acting to best deliver the scene, not to compete with each other for the camera.

I'm not going to go through a list of names here, few of us follow director credits so the list would probably mean more to me than anyone else. If you're looking for the directors and their credits, check out the IMDB here.

The only complaint I have with regards to direction is that there just isn't enough riding in the show. What I mean to say is that I don't get a chance to see the enjoyment the characters feel at riding down a California highway on their bikes (mostly if not all Harley Davidsons from what I've seen), on a sunny day. Something we see a couple times, but for the most part we have to assume they enjoy that off camera.

Other than that, the direction is fantastic. They use their sometimes small sets in ways that focus on the actors and the more iconic features in the scene. A good example of this is the Grim Reaper carved into the club house table. The President of the club is often shot at the head of the table, which is normal, but they take the trouble to include a part of that carving, giving Ron Perlman's character more weight (figuratively), in the scene. When they do give us a chance to see the bike club roaring down the roads I get a sense of wide open spaces when they're on a California highway and the show does give us the opportunity to witness the biker club rumbling down main street. I've been in one of those long lines of bikes once and at sidewalk level numerous times, it's always impressive and they manage to capture some of that rumble and roar.
As far as dramatic direction is concerned (you know, when the bikes are off screen), it's top notch. They manage to capture and compliment the solid performances this show should become known for and often instill a real sense that the audience is a close bystander.

Kurt Sutter is the primary Writer and Producer, and oversees the overall plot arc while writing most of the teleplays himself. The team surrounding him are at least on par, so the quality of episodes not written by Sutter aren't reduced. The feel of the series is very consistent.

The story arc featuring Jax and his father's memoir feels like it's meant to play long, over more than two seasons. That's good news for this show, considering it provides a good base for the conflict between Jax and Clay, the President of the Club. The dynamic set up in Charming (a fictional town), with the Sheriff, Deputy Sheriff and civilians is fantastic for setting, especially since there's a lot of room for dramatic change. As for the biker club itself? The members of Sons Of Anarchy are diverse and you really get the feeling that they have their own ways of going about things, their own motivations. The women entangled in the biker life are powerful, complex and are most interesting when they're unsure of their place.

Wrap all that up with rivalry and secrecy and you have a winner. The characters and stories in this show make something like Gray's Anatomy look like a dull soap opera.

This is the most fun you'll have without getting on two wheels and taking a road trip. I hope Sons of Anarchy goes on for as long or longer than the Shield. I don't think I'll ever get tired of riding with SAMCRO.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Strange Horizons and Close Encounters: On A Break

There's a lot going on behind the scenes in the Spinward Fringe Universe. Lately I've had to put in some long hours to make an October 31 deadline for multiple projects and that's meant that I've lost pace with the work I wanted to complete for the Strange Horizons and Close Encounters Anthology.

The good news is that work on the rest of the Rogue Element Trilogy is going very well. A lot of the story has been reworked since the completion of Spinward Fringe Fracture, and everything is looking a hell of a lot better.

While work continues on the Rogue Element Trilogy and I get ready for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short. More on that later), I've been spending long hours polishing the First Light Chronicles and most recently Spinward Fringe Resurrection for a full on re-release. Everyone who already has an eBook copy of the books will be able to update their versions for free when Spinward Fringe 2.0 arrives.

The production of the new book trailer is in early stages, and a few actors may be auditioning for voice parts soon. The production class of this trailer will be much higher than the average Space Opera Book Trailer by far, but that means I'm putting a lot of hours in on sourcing visual material, music, and finding the right performer. I hope to have a rough cut finished in the last week of October.

I apologize for the delay with Strange Horizons and Close Encounters, but it can't be helped. Getting all the editing work finished and the Rogue Element Trilogy out before Christmas takes priority I'm afraid. Will I add to the anthology in the future? Certainly! There's also a growing possibility that another writer will be contributing in the future. An imaginative, talented scribe has shown real interest in telling a story in the Spinward Fringe Universe and I should see a submission sometime in the next few months.

It looks like, despite how much or little time I have to dedicate to the Living Anthology, it'll grow.


[If you're a writer who has read the Spinward Fringe Series and would like to write a piece set in the Fringe Universe, send me an Email and I'll be happy to provide you with the submission guide.]

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My Spinward Fringe Career At The Moment

In an earlier post I wrote about editing the First Light Chronicles Omnibus from start to finish.

Since then I've had a few emails come my way voicing the general sentiment of "It's finished! Leave it alone and move on!"

Well, this is a brave new world, where a book or any other electronic media can be improved or changed and in some cases should be improved. I'm afraid that the First Light Chronicles needed more attention. There were some omissions, errors and I had a need to look the book over sentence by sentence so I could improve the narrative overall.

My readers (past, present and future), deserve it. After looking the First Light Chronicles over I had two choices: edit it carefully from beginning to end or rewrite it completely. After speaking to my editor and a couple of proofers I decided to edit. They're working on it with me, making sure I didn't miss anything and giving me their opinions on loose ends as well as characterization. They were dead set against the First Light Chronicles being rewritten. General consensus was that yes, the style needed a little work, but the series was fantastic.

When this is finished in a month or so every version of the First Light Omnibus will be updated with the new edition. A free re-download wherever you purchased it will update you to the newest version. The First Light Chronicles trilogy will also be re-released as Spinward Fringe Origins (Broadcast 0).

The reason for this re-release is pretty simple really. There's a crowd of people who don't understand that what begins in the First Light Chronicles series continues in the Spinward Fringe series no matter what I do on the cover, inside the book or where it's listed for sale. As it turns out I have to make this change so the new market these books are reaching accept them more easily.

One more word on the editing of the First Light Chronicles / Spinward Fringe Origins Trilogy. I'm enjoying it. It's a lot of hard work an long hours, but there's something about going back and reflecting, examining where the story began that is really helping me direct the future of the Spinward Fringe series. This is a labor of love, and knowing that these books will never be edited again drives me to do the best job I can. The proofers feel the same way, I've been told.

What's going on creatively?

I'm still working on the latest book in the Spinward Fringe series (to be named next week on this site), and I'm having a blast with the characters and story. I'm also getting things together for another book trailer which will look vastly different from the last one.

Things are looking good for the Spinward Fringe series, and I couldn't be happier to work on it. There's more news coming, so keep checking back!


Monday, October 5, 2009

A Word On The Printed Word

There were people who thought print would die (books in general, actually), when TV went colour way back when. If I were alive in that day, I think I would have disagreed.

I make my living writing and most of my income, over 90%, comes from eBooks. As an independent it's been a fantastic vehicle. I can offer my work for free, cut out the middle man, and charge comparatively little for most of my titles.

Most of my eBooks are read on cellular phones, and to be honest I've only read one book on my cell, I found it confining. Now I use my iPod Touch, which I find is much better. It's still not quite an eBook reader though.

Soon we'll be seeing a rush of eBook readers, most of them will be cheaper, multi-function and feature real, COLOUR EPaper. That's where I think a lot of the resistance to eBooks and eBook readers comes from, the fact that most people haven't seen EPaper. It's not backlit, so it's easy on the eyes, the picture is very solid and the edges are nice and crisp. You don't get the feeling that you're looking at a moving picture, which is where a lot of the eyestrain people experience on non-EPaper reading devices. LCD isn't a great reading medium for books.

The arrival of colour EPaper and inexpensive readers does signal a broadening of the market, but I don't think the printed book will disappear forever. Publishers are foolishly entrenched in an old business model, where they end up losing money on eBooks, so they'll be resistant. Aside from that there will always be people who prefer turning dead tree pages, and I'm not putting them down. Without them the printed book would die in no time.

I think the printed word will be around for a long time, even if books are one day considered quaint and antique.

Why go on about print, you ask?

Well, after hearing from many readers who prefer print, I've released Spinward Fringe Fracture as a printed book on You can take a look at it in my Lulu store.