Monday, December 19, 2011

Expendable Few Still In The Works

Even though the Expendable Few draft is finished, editors are still reviewing it, they need time. I was hoping our formatters would be able to pencil us in, but there just won't be enough time to get everything done by the Holidays, which are very close at hand.

That being said, the first two thirds of Expendable Few are getting very high marks from the editors. I'm ready to address problems if they come up, and our formatting partners are excited to work on another Spinward Fringe book.

The bottom line is that we have a lot of work done, so the chances of Expendable Few being out in January are very high. The moment the book gets a pass from an editor, and I get on our formatter's schedule, I'll have a firm release date for you.

I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday season. I feel blessed to have so much support, and owe all of you my thanks.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Expendable Few Draft Completion

The Expendable Few novella has become a small novel, and I'm finished drafting. I had several goals and a story to tell with this book, and I think I've accomplished what I set out to do.

Now I'm doing my last editorial pass, and sending chapters to both my editors as I finish polishing. The Expendable Few became a very difficult project. Some chapters took several weeks to think through, and I've never had a short work generate so much cut material. The cut material isn't the result of sloppy writing, most of it was experimental content that didn't work for the story, the characters, or it took the book in the wrong direction.

Like any experimental work, I was actually a little afraid to finish it, and I'm terrified to release it. History has shown me that, as long as my editor(s) sign off on the story, the book will do well, but the jury is still out.

I expect to finish my pass early this week, and the editors are already getting new chapters. Here's hoping that this book meets their standards. If it does, I may be looking at a release around Christmas Day. If the editors tell me it needs a little more work on my end, I expect it'll come out in late January or February.

After Expendable Few is finished I'm taking a month off to clear my head. For the last few months my brain has been occupied with the Expendable Few and Broadcast 7. I've taken some great notes that will help me finish 7,  but I want to clear my head before I sit down and edit what I have, then get to work on the second half of that book. I'm glad I wrote Expendable Few, it was instrumental in figuring out a few things for Broadcast 7 and beyond.

I'll share the editor's verdict once they share their thoughts.

Thank you for your patience,


Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Utopian Publishing System

This discussion started on the Spinward Fringe Crew Facebook Page, and I realized that I had said something in a lengthy response that hasn't been voiced too often in the publishing world. Most likely because it's a pie-in-the-sky idea that no one knows how to bring into being yet.

I call it the Utopian Publishing Model.

I'd love to see a cooperative group lending system come about, where the readers and the artist are taken care of. From what I can see, Amazon is working on something similar but they are missing the mark right now. On the readers' end, they have to have a special type of credit card with Amazon. On the author's side, they have to make the titles in this upcoming program exclusive to Amazon / Kindle. It's not the right solution right now, but the seeds of an open coop are there.

It's the necessity to make money to survive that makes the co-op difficult to develop. How do you provide books for all people regardless of their income, cover the costs of servers, etc... and make sure the author is paid for their work? It's a difficult system to develop, especially since current systems aren't truly accomplishing what they have to.

Publishers have to protect themselves against the inconsiderate few, and it costs the kind majority. The best example is piracy. On average a spinward fringe book is found on a piracy site three times a month. There is also a clear example of legal piracy in the fact that Amazon forces indies to enroll in their lending program when publishing a book. If an indie doesn't enroll, their royalties are cut in half. I don't have anything against the lending program under most circumstances, but enrolling should be a choice connected to marketing strategy and personal prefference.

Those kinds of things make companies (and some authors) too paranoid or bitter to participate in a new system.

Some of these companies also don't understand ePublishing, or their customers, and you'll find an easy indication of their block headed-ness in the way they price their books. Here's a couple example of "grossly overpriced" books:

From my point of view, the price setters of these books suffer from profit and piracy paranoia. They're also setting themselves up for a big fall. Thousands of readers are noticing that price and turning away from that book - for good - so lowering the price in a year won't help sales much. I could go on about strategy of pricing, but you already get the point.

I wish we didn't have to bring big publishers kicking and screaming into the eBook market. The fact that it really did happen that way tells me that future systems where you guys get to read for a few pennies a novel, or nothing at all, and I get paid fairly will be even harder to figure out.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Updates Are Coming! The Updates Are Coming!

The return of Spinward Fringe Broadcast 6: Fragments to is coming soon. This Friday the book will reappear, following that updates will arrive at Smashwords, the iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, and other book retailers.

Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins is also receiving a major update.

These updates are the product of months of work, during which the text of the books were polished and a professional formatting house made sure the books will look great on any device.

The drawback to these updates is that everyone who made notes on their Kindle will lose them UNLESS they back them up on a computer before Amazon sends the new versions to their devices. I understand there are several different ways to save notes and highlights from Kindle, but I'm not expert, so I'm afraid I can't provide dependable directions or advice. If anyone would like to share their advice in the comments section, I'd appreciate it.

On other websites (such as Smashwords), the new version will be available for download free of charge if you already purchased a copy.

Everyone has Sylvie (my busy assistant), and 52 Novels (the formatting) company to thank for the hard work they put in. I can honestly say that both these books are more enjoyable now that they've had the extra work they needed.

Thank you for your patience,


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Signed Copies of Origins Are Available!

After an entire year of delays - some creative, some technical - Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins is now available in print. The text has been updated, the book is laid out to be more tree friendly (uses less paper), and distribution is broader than before.

Unsigned editions are available through for $19.99. They are not pocket book sized, but 6x9 trade paperback editions.

The signed editions come straight from my office, and I'll be sure to mark when they are out of stock. Since Createspace (the people who print these volumes) has increased their shipping speeds and lowered costs, these books have become very easy to keep around.

You can find the signed books in the Spacerwares Home Store. They cost $20.00 plus shipping.

Thank you very much for your patience and support. I'll be shipping copies of these books out to last year's holiday contest winners this week.

[The first batch sold out in about 3-4 hours but I'm taking pre-orders for the next. The details are on the Store Page.]


Createspace (My printer), may not have actually handed the new batch over to UPS yet. Since they were supposed to do that on the 4th of November, and UPS has no record of receiving anything, they're sending a replacement shipment today.

Your pre-orders may be a week late, but they are definitely coming.

As for the books that were already sold, everything will be on its way out of Ontario by the end of this week.

Thanks for being interested in the books, and I hope everyone enjoys them when they arrive!


Monday, October 31, 2011

Dark Arts: Chapter 1

Happy Halloween!

Dark Arts
Copyright © 2011 Randolph Lalonde

Chapter 1

Chicago, 1974

Maxwell stood in the doorway of St. Peter’s Chapel. He couldn’t help but compare it to St Peter’s Church, the big one, the tourist’s trap that endeavoured to ensnare souls as well as cash. After visiting that house of worship it was impossible for him to avoid comparing every church bearing the same name to its grandeur. St Peter’s Chapel was less than a tenth the size of the more well known St Peter’s Cathedral. He pulled a package of Malboros from his jacket pocket and popped one out into his hand.
“No smoking in this house, son,” a monk warned, standing slowly. He backed away from the table of wavering red candles, crossing himself. He was careful to pull his weather worn hood down and keep his face hidden.
“No bother on me. American fags are shite anyhow,” Maxwell griped. He dropped his unlit cigarette in the holy water font by the door.
“Not bothering to tame that Cockney, either. Your father would be embarrassed,” the monk said.
“Da died trying to be something he wasn’t,” Maxwell pressed the smokes into his leather jacket pocket. “Like you, on the verge of excommunication while clergy and law alike go looking into a few sacrifices in Granada. You’ve been busy, Panos.”
“I was in the vicinity, not the perpetrator,” the monk replied, subdued.
“Heard the girl’s father caught up to you. Is that what you’re hiding under that hood? A few new scars?” He hoped to rattle the middle aged monk, to get some kind of feel for who he’d become since he started wandering across the continent. The word was that he’d gone over the edge. He’d become an old world zealot, chasing down supposed practitioners of the old religions and torturing them.
It wasn’t Maxwell’s job to uncover the root cause of the man’s madness, or stop the monk from chasing down his next victim. He was there to bargain for stolen property.
Panos was unaffected by Maxwell’s question and posed one of his own. “Are you any better? Riding around America collecting religious texts for cash?”
Maxwell looked around the chapel, taking note of the fairly average stained glass windows, worn pews and humble Christ carving at the front. “Lets me enjoy the three things I fancy in North America: Harleys, women, and straight roads,” he said. His patience was rewarded as Panos adjusted the front of his robes. An old leather bag that fit the description of the one the book was stored in hung around his neck under his robes. It was held up with a simple strand of twine.
“Who is paying this time?” Panos asked.
“Angelo,” Maxwell said. “I thought I’d have some digging to do when I found you. Old bugger was sure you were dead until I told him about Granada.”
“Nearly,” the monk answered. He tugged one side of his hood, making certain it hid all but his chin.
“Best hand it over. You may be standing in His house, but I’ll guess He’s on my side for once.” Doubt weighed on Maxwell with regards to the wishes of the Almighty. He believed in his Zippo and tin of lighter fluid much more.
“I can’t give it to you,” Panos said. “Not unless you have something to offer, something worth trading.”
“Like what?” asked Maxwell.
“You’ve seen the Eternity Ankh. Where is it?”
“When I was barely past my da’s knee,” Maxwell scoffed. “He sold it for weight, it was pure gold. You think you need something like that to keep you breathing?” He couldn’t stand most of the people he met while he did his job. Superstition and zealous ideals infected many of the collectors. Freaks like Panos were worse, a hair away from complete madness. “Buying in to the folk tales in that book can put you right off your trolley.”
“This book you’re after is keeping me alive, boy,” Panos said.
“World doesn’t work that way,” Maxwell replied. “Now I know you’re barmy.”
“You think you know that much about the world? At the ripe old age of what, twenty?”
“Twenty four,” Maxwell said. “If you’re really walkin’ around at room temperature, maybe you could prove it. I’m sure hanging boy over there won’t mind if you borrow one of his nails so you can show me your blood doesn’t run.”
“Crass,” Panos said. “I’ve no mind to prove miracles to thugs.”
“I’ve got two grand here; it’s yours if you come back to reality, and give me that book,” Maxwell said. He watched the other man, who only spared him a slight twitch of his hood at the mention of so much cash. “That much green could keep you liquored for weeks. Miracle enough for a drunk, monk or no.”
“I haven’t had a drink since I found the Rayo de Luz. It’s not what Angelo thinks it is. This is the Law of the Covenant. He shouldn’t have it.”
“Angelo isn’t the most trustworthy type, but he’s a good collector. He knows what he’s buying,” Maxwell pulled the wad of hundreds from his back pocket and held it up so it couldn’t be missed.
“He should have come himself,” Panos said.
“He had business up north.” Maxwell couldn’t help it any longer, he had to ask. “What’s under the hood, Panos? Give us a peek, mate.”
“The Covenant is delicate. Someone like Angelo can’t be allowed to know the details as they are translated here, you understand?”
“Two thousand American dollars,” Maxwell enunciated loudly, wiggling the thick green wad in the air as he started to close the distance between them. “Enough for you to drink yourself to death, real death. Not this walking dead bollocks you’re believing.”
“You don’t understand,” Panos said earnestly. “I have been saved. This book comes with a purpose, it needs to be protected until a new Covenant is needed, and I think that day is coming soon.”
Maxwell put the cash into his chest pocket. It would make a hell of a bonus if he could get the book without paying for it. His hand went to his right outer pocket then, and wrapped around the small tin of lighter fluid.
“You’re not getting the book,” Panos said, starting for the side door.
In three long strides, Maxwell closed the distance between them and gripped Panos’ brown robes beneath the back of his hood. He nearly let go in disgust as he caught sight of the man’s face. The tip of Panos’ nose was gone, and the rest had been carved lengthwise down to the bone. Through a mass of lax skin and scabs, he could see that most of the cartilage had been removed. How Panos managed to escape Granada in that kind of condition was a mystery.
Maxwell ignored the stench of infection as he held his lighter fluid tin high. It was pocket sized, but there was enough to sufficiently soak someone.
“Let me go!” Panos shouted. He wheeled around clawing.
Maxwell withdrew just quick enough to get away with a shallow scratch on his cheek, spraying the monk in the eyes with lighter fluid. He continued to spray even as the man retreated, almost emptying the can.
Panos screamed, recoiled, and fell backwards over a pew. His hands were over his face, the open wound seeping blood over his fingers.
“Should have taken the cash,” Maxwell said as he yanked the twine necklace free. After peeking inside the attached pouch, verifying that the small, old book was there, he secured it inside his jacket. “Mad geezer.”
His boots echoed as he marched to the front door. Maxwell hoped Panos would stay down, that the warbles and screams would go unheard at that ungodly hour. The sounds of Panos’ suffering were replaced by something else after a few moments, and Maxwell felt a chill run down his spine.
Panos wasn’t whining or screaming, but breathing laboriously through gnashed teeth and the hole that was once his nose made a faint whistle.
Maxwell increased his pace, refusing to look over his shoulder. He was just passing the font when he heard a faint click. In an instant he hurled himself between two old pews. The small church became an echo chamber for Panos furious .45 as two shots rang out. Maxwell hurriedly started working the small book out of its bag until Panos’ cracking voice shouted. “Throw the book to me, and don’t try to trick me by just giving me the bag!”
With a sigh Maxwell tossed the book and bag in Panos’ direction.
“And the money!” cried the monk.
“Wanker,” Maxwell muttered. His ears were ringing. He produced the wad of cash and held it up so Panos could see it. “Do you really want me to throw it?” he asked.
Panos didn’t answer. Instead he crossed the distance to the book. Maxwell watched the man’s shaky hand pick it up from where he lay his head on the floorboards. The monk quickly shuffled over to Maxwell’s row and pointed the gun at him.
“No worries,” Maxwell reassured, holding the money up as high as he could. “Just take this and we’ll go our ways.”
Panos snatched the cash and started to run.
Maxwell pulled his Zippo from his jeans pocket, lit it, got to his knees and tossed the little torch. He’d doused people in lighter fluid before, it was a fantastic threat, but he’d never followed through by actually setting someone on fire.
The monk began to turn back towards him, taking aim.
The Zippo couldn’t have landed in a better place if Maxwell had an eternity to try. In a split second, Panos’ expression turned from rage to panic as the flaming lighter landed in a fold of his fuel soaked hood.
Maxwell ducked as the .45 went off. Panos went up in a blue and yellow plume. One, two, three shots sounded. Even though his ears rang like tinny bells, he could hear the monk’s shrieks as he fell forward, trying to put the flames out.
Maxwell picked up the book and kicked the man over. One more shot rang out as Panos rolled onto his back. He wondered at his luck an instant later when he realized the shot missed. He bent and snatched the smouldering wad of cash. Panos covered his face with both arms, as if he expected a beating.
“You’ll wish you took the dosh,” Maxwell said. The sound of air whistling in and out of Panos’ wrecked nose accompanied his boot steps as he left.
He was two miles down the street, riding his Harley Davidson in the cool night air when he realized his neck was soaking wet. He reached up and felt a bloody trail leading to his upper jaw. Maxwell winced in pain, nearly losing control of his bike entirely as he touched an open wound where that last bullet grazed him.
“Fucking America, too many bloody guns.” Maxwell grimaced as he downshifted and turned down a side street.


[More to come in 2012]

Thursday, October 27, 2011

World Versus Me - An Indie In Need

I am very fortunate. Thousands of readers have enjoyed my work, and that's bought me time to think, imagine and finally write the two books that will deliver a proper ending (for now) for the Spinward Fringe series. The series may not come to an end, but the plot that's been driving it so far will conclude, and I can honestly say that without support I wouldn't be as far along as I am now, and the series would be what it is now.

Time and opportunity are rare gifts, and I remind myself not to waste them on a regular basis. I'm not going to say that I'm not guilty of misusing one or the other on occasion, only that I try to use time and not waste opportunity when they come along. I appreciate what I have been given.

It's that line of thinking that drove me to support World Versus Me - a musical act founded by David Alvarez - when the money started running out as tracks were being laid down for his latest album. I listen to his other albums regularly, at least once a week, when I'm writing.

David Alvarez recorded his previous albums in a home recording studio. He created some amazing music in that environment, but he wanted to record his next album in a proper studio. When I heard he was recording with higher standards in mind, and taking much more time to work on each track (weeks and months instead of hours and days), I was eager to hear it.

Sadly, he can see the finish line but is a hair away from crossing it. In keeping with true indie form, he's created his own opportunity but has run out of time.

In this case, money buys time in the studio, pays for talented professional mixers and engineering people so his next album can live up to his standards. With a desire to hear what his ambition will sound like when it's realized I took some of the support you've given me as a paying reader and donated it to him.

He's earned it, trust me. There are some scenes in my work over the last year that were written while listening to certain songs from Duel (his second album), and nothing else. If I were listening to something else, they would be different, possibly lesser.

As long time readers know, I don't endorse other artists often, and I don't do so lightly. I truly believe that some of us will be going to see World Versus Me at a stadium show some day, and we can all say that we had a hand in giving him a little more time to take advantage of a massive opportunity.

What I'm asking of you today is to go check out his music. You can find samples of it on his Kickstarter Campaign Page. If you like what you hear, donate as little or as much as you like. Many of the donation amounts entitle you to generous returns, so there's little chance you'll walk away empty handed. The Kickstarter Campaign ends on October 31.

Thank you!


[UPDATE] The Kickstarter Campaign just succeeded in raising the $7,000.00 David Alvarez needed to finish the album. I'd like to congratulate him, thank everyone who pitched in, and wish him luck with the final stage of development! [UPDATE]

Monday, October 17, 2011

Expendable Few & Other Updates

There are several chapters in the Expendable Few that I call "the hell segment". This portion has caused more stress, more disappointment and more irritation than any portion of anything I've ever worked on.

I like challenging myself when I write a book but the few chapters near the end of the Expendable Few that I've been working on for two months were an unexpected difficulty. Put simply, I needed something original in place of an event that was originally handled in a very standard way. After the original writing of those chapters I realized that you could take scenes from many science fiction television shows or chapters out of many books and substitute the writing I'd done without any real notice.

So, I tasked myself with executing a scene about boarding a ship and discovering something in a way that I'd never seen before. I had no idea how, but after trying a few things and finally writing the chapters out, I can say that I have something exciting and experimental.

The downsides to that are numerous. The story has been twisted around and irrevocably changed. That's working out to be a good thing now, but it looked pretty dark for a while. The other big downside is that it took a lot longer to do - two months by my estimation.

The good news is that my editors are going to be seeing new chapters this week. I'll be handing in the last chapters as they come out. We're back on track.

Expendable Few many not have grown from it's expected size, but it's a much more worthwhile book than it would have been if I had followed my initial plan.

In other news...

The formatting house we hired to work on Spinward Fringe Origins has finished their first pass, and we're reviewing their work, checking for errors. An updated version of the book should be out soon, and the long awaited printed version won't be far behind. That means there will be signed copies in the store in time for Christmas orders.

The editing work on Spinward Fringe Broadcast 6: Fragments is going well, and we're looking at having that back up on Amazon by the end of November.

Someone from the TV industry has started poking around making inquiries about turning Spinward Fringe into a proper series. Don't get excited, it doesn't look like this person has the juice to get the series into serious talks, but it's something. Just so everyone is clear, Spinward Fringe hasn't been optioned for TV, film, or any other media.

I'll be working on finishing Broadcast 7 as soon as Expendable Few is complete.

I'm sure there will be more news soon, so check back often.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

National Novel Writing Month Sponsor For Sudbury

National Novel Writing Month happens once a year during November across North America and many other parts of the world. Participants challenge themselves to write a 50,000 word novel in rough draft from beginning to end during November.

I've participated before, and found it was a good experience. I won't be starting something new this year because I'm still working on Broadcast 7, and I don't know if it'll be finished in time to start something in November.

I am celebrating National Novel Writing Month in my home town of Sudbury by becoming a sponsor. I'll be paying for a few extras for the group, writing a pep talk, giving a presentation and making sure everyone who sticks with it gets a copy of my favourite book on writing as creative after-care. Sponsoring this event isn't expensive, and it makes me feel like I'm helping other writers out a little.

Why now? The answer, for me, is simple.

We're in the age of information dissemination. It has never been easier for a content creator to share their creations and ideas with the rest of the world. If you're a musician you can create anything from a vinyl record to a website and a spot on iTunes. If you don't like the publishing industry but want your novel made available you can do so electronically, on paper, or create your own audio book.

The age of a billion audience members who all have the power of authorship is here whether we like it or not. National Novel Writing Month is one of the vehicles out there that encourages budding authors to try their hand at writing a short novel in a short amount of time.

The talk I'll be giving in Sudbury will discuss the age of a billion author audience and self publishing. I don't talk about self publishing often because I'd rather discuss my own fiction, but I'm anxious to take this opportunity to inform a group of writers on the pros and cons of taking your writing career into your own hands.

I'll be keeping pace with the writers as I work on Broadcast 7 during November as well.


[If you'd like to see a great discussion about the Billion Author Audience, check out the free and excellent documentary: Press Pause Play]

Friday, September 16, 2011

Incoming Upgrades!

Sometime early next week, a team of migration experts will be copying the hundreds of posts on this blog to a Wordpress site.

Blogger won't be adequate for my needs going forward. With the Spinward Fringe universe expanding, Dark Arts on the horizon with The Brothers of Brightwill coming some time after Broadcast 9, blogger just won't do.

I looked at switching to Wordpress a couple years ago, but didn't really like the results. Since then they've changed a great deal and are working on offering even more services.

During the weekend I spent a few hours building an experimental page and explored most of the features I'd need to create a better experience than what already exists here. The result of the late night project was a web page for a Star Wars: The Old Republic massively multiplayer role playing game, something I plan on picking up as a hobby when it is released later this year. Click here to take a look.

I find the layout tools are more flexible and the results look more professional. When the transition is made you'll be able to access the new site through the following URL's:

Until October 1, 2011, this blogger site will be up to date. After that you'll have to use one of the addresses above.


[If you're planning on playing SWTOR as well, you're welcome to join the Freeground Nation Guild.]

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Spinward Fringe Broadcast 7 & Expendable Few Update - September 2011

 The pressure to get a book out is beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Fortunately, I've experienced pressure before, so the previous statement is more an idle observation than it is any kind of complaint.

The absence of pressure would indicate a lack of demand. So, bring it on.

I can't provide a release date for The Expendable Few or Spinward Fringe Broadcast 7: Framework, but I will do the next best thing.

I've set a deadline for the completion of the Expendable Few. I will finish writing this book by October 7, and attempt to get it to the formatters by the end of that month. Test readers will see chapters during October as well.

The Expendable Few has hit more creative roadblocks and faced more in-process revision than anything I've ever written. In an effort to present a full fledged science fiction novel with all the trappings that I want for this story and the characters, I've increased the book's size to about 80,000 words, and drawn ideas I had reserved for other books in. The book needed it, and as for size, it might become even longer.

There was a time when I just wasn't satisfied with how the second half of this book was turning out, and I didn't know how to fix it. I'm past that now, and am writing the chapters that bring it up to snuff. There are ideas in this book that span politics, technology, character development, and take the book straight into strange fiction. Now it's something I know I'd enjoy as a reader.

There are at least a dozen chapters left, and there could be more. Getting this done before or on October 7 will be an interesting challenge.

What about Spinward Fringe Broadcast 7? It's about to enter its third and final draft. The existing 120,000 words are mostly going to remain the same, with a few additions and slight modifications - but that's what you do when you draft a book you've mostly been away from for a couple months. The work I'm doing on the  Expendable Few novel (formerly novella), has prompted me to up my game for Broadcast 7's last third. That's right, 120,000 words in I'm about two thirds done, so you can expect at least another forty thousand words in Broadcast 7.

Parts of Broadcast 8 may be pulled into 7 simply because there is no reason to keep a couple story lines in reserve. Without spoiling anything, there are whole sections of Broadcast 7 that introduce an entirely new side of the Spinward Fringe universe that I've been waiting to write about since The First Light Chronicles. Introducing that side of things is proving to be very important to the story, and to the development of several characters.

A few people have asked how tightly intertwined are the Expendable Few Novel and Broadcast 7 books? I can only say that you're going to want to read the Expendable Few before reading Broadcast 7. If you don't, you may not know you're missing something, but you will be. Since the Expendable Few is an unexpected novel, it'll be offered for free for all readers on Smashwords and for $0.99 on Amazon for the first month, possibly longer.

I'll be honest, I'm looking forward to finishing my work on the Expendable Few so I can get back to Broadcast 7. Everything is taking longer because I'm more interested in telling stories that best my previous work by far. The simple solutions, easy situations, vanilla characters and settings don't work for me regardless of how long or short they exist on the page. I'm also paying more attention to quality these days, in all aspects of what comes across my desk. So, sorry for the extended wait, I'll try to make it worth your while.


[Next on the blog: Cosmetic and systemic changes are coming.]

Friday, September 9, 2011

Yes, It's True: I'm still a gamer.

With summer coming to an end, and a few things calming down around my office, I once again find myself with some free time. Even with my writing schedule, which is finally back on track now that I've figured a few important plot details out, I still need to come up for air.

Since I sat down in front of the Commodore 64 and loaded my first games from tape, I've been a gamer. Since then I'm sure I've played thousands of games, but the ones that really stuck were the massively multiplayer online sort. Starting with Everquest and going on to many others, this is my favourite digital hobby other than creating my own content. I can escape into an immersive world for hours at a time. I come back with a clear head, a bag of new experiences, and sometimes new friends.

Writing takes priority, don't get me wrong. I wake up every morning and my first cohesive thought is about what I'm planning to write that day. I get whatever I can down, and on a good day brain fatigue doesn't set in until about 1pm. Usually there's some office work to do, calls to make, and that takes up the rest of my day. Then I'm left to pursue hobbies, which include guitar, drums, and other things. Gaming has been sorely missing from my list of pursuits, however, since I've been busy, and I haven't been excited about a game in quite some time.

Then Star Wars: The Old Republic comes along. I've known about this game for years (literally), but recently a few people have been asking me if they'd see me around in that gaming world when it launches, and my answer was invariably yes. I even bought a cheapo PC laptop so I would be all ready to play (there's no PC version, and I'm not willing to install BootCamp on my Macs anymore, they're for writing and other creative pursuits). The next question that comes from readers and friends (often they're the same people), is if I'll be starting a guild, or if I'm already a member of one. Until today I've offered a blank expression as a response - which doesn't come across as well over the Internet.

Let's touch on another point before I follow that up though...

Over the years I've made a lot of friends through online gaming. I've learned a lot from them, had some fantastic times, and still speak to many of these long-range buddies. For some people Facebook or Myspace was their big first experience with social networking and having a large network of online friends. For me it was the Massively Multiplayer Online gaming space, mostly Everquest and World of Warcraft. Even though I enjoy going off on my own often in games, I find it's still better if there's a social aspect. The possibility of meeting new people online (in a game), and taking on a challenge with friends adds a whole new dimension of excitement to gaming.

So, when a couple readers asked me if I'd be forming a guild in The Old Republic today, I couldn't help but think of the fantastic folks on the Spinward Fringe Facebook Page, and wonder what that kind of environment would be like in game when it goes online later this year. I enjoy hobnobbing with the Facebook crowd and check in whenever I can. Imagine interacting with like minded people in an online game? Knowing that I'd download a lot of responsibility to officers in the Guild (much as I have with the Facebook Page), I decided that, yes, I'd create a guild. If there's something I've discovered I like doing, it's giving people who enjoy my company or my writing a place to hang out.

So, it is with no shame that I admit: Yes, I'm a huge [nerd] gamer, and I've created a guild called the Freeground Nation. If you're looking to play Star Wars: The Old Republic later this year and don't have a guild yet, go ahead and check it out. I'm sure I'll spend a great deal of my winter playing this game. Whenever I'm not writing, that is.


[Updates on the Expendable Few, Broadcast 7 and other stuff coming early next week. The work goes well.]

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Editing Week - I Knew It Was Coming

Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to brace yourself for a leap forwards. Right now I'm at a point where I have to remind myself of all the details in Spinward Fringe Broadcast 6: Fragments.

Instead of simply reading the book, I'm taking the opportunity to perform another pass on it, to correct those niggling errors that have been irritating me since the book came out. Broadcast 6 suffered from growing pains, since it was released at a time when how I did things was changing even faster than I thought at the time. A year later it's easy to look back at how my writing and editing processes have taken a step or three forward. Life has changed a great deal around that time for me as well, which was a strain on Broadcast 6's release as well.

Once this pass is finished I'll have a much clearer idea of how the timeline of The Expendable Few applies to Broadcast 6, and it'll be easier to write the next section of Broadcast 7. This edit isn't so much of a chore either, it's more like visiting an old friend. I spent a year writing this book.

When it's complete it'll be uploaded to Smashwords, the retailers on their distribution network (like Barnes and Noble, the iBookstore), and to Amazon. You'll be able to update your copies for free, but beware Amazon users! There is an excellent chance that any notes or highlights you've made to your version of Broadcast 6 will be lost when the update takes place, so find a way to dump those to a file using your PC or other magic computing box.

Well, time to get to work, see you on the other side!


[One more thing... There will be a preview of Broadcast 7 in the new version.]

[If you want the current version for any EReader, it can be found in its many formats here at Smashwords.]

[EDIT: This polish of Broadcast 6 will take longer than a week, and the reappearance of the book on will be further delayed because I am hiring a professional ebook formatting firm to make it ready for its final appearance there.]

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Expendable Few Update

Between The Expendable Few and Broadcast 7: Framework, I'm looking at a variety of writing challenges. It's taking a long time to write both, but they're the most challenging things I've ever written.

Having said that, I've reached a milestone with The Expendable Few. It's 54,000 words long after several cuts closer to the end and it finally feels like I'm putting the the last quarter of this puzzle together. I've been looking forward to this, where I get to go back and write in a few thousand words that will make the middle section of the book feel complete. These are the chapters where everything is already established and I get to set them loose on a developing situation.

After these chapters are finished I'm left with writing nothing but the last four or five chapters right at the end. It's a pretty exciting time for the book, because everything has been figured out and the only thing left is to write it. I expect this book to arrive (be completed), at between 70,000 to 80,000 words. There's a chance it'll go over, but not by much.

You're not alone in waiting to see the last half of the book. Not even Sylvie - my part time assistant (aka 'the Minion'), has seen the new stuff. She asks after new chapters daily, sometimes more. She's joined by my mother, who requests new material every time I speak to her on the phone. No pressure.

I'm just glad I can see the end of The Expendable Few, because I love delivering a story, I can't wait to get this out to you guys. There's a different kind of buzz in writing this book too, especially since 90% of the characters are totally new, some of the bigger ideas are brand new, and the ending is something new to me too. This stuff hasn't been kicking around in my head for  years, it's got an 'on the spot' quality for me because it's only a few weeks / months old. 

When it's all said and done, I hope this book is remembered well as a side car novel that fits alongside Broadcast 6-7 and stands well as a spiritual sequel to Broadcast 0. If you're looking to get a sample, there's a huge chunk of the book in the Goodreads Forum.

Now, back to work...


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Demise Of The Spinward Fringe Series Is Grossly Exaggerated

Thanks to a previous blog post, many people were left with the impression that Spinward Fringe would be coming to a close after Broadcast 7.

That's a miscommunication, it's not over! In fact, I'm sure I'll still be writing Spinward Fringe stories for a very long time to come.

What I was saying was that the current plot lines would be ending in Broadcast 7. Many of the characters would live on in the setting I've carved out over the last three years. Just like a well written television series (imagine one, if you will), many stories come to a close in the last episode of the season. Before the end of that episode you're given a reason to come back for the next season.

In the case of Spinward Fringe, that season begins with Broadcast 8. What do I have plans for? Right now, I have specific plans, preliminary writing and outlining for Broadcasts 8-11.

The release of those books (not the writing), depends on the demand for them. After the last few days I don't think there's a lack of demand, so you can expect to see those books as soon as they're ready.

I may work on something else while working on Spinward Fringe Broadcast 8, however, just to clear my head.

To summarize:
The Spinward Fringe series will not terminate after 7, it will go on.
I'll work on other books between Spinward Fringe novels.
Creative people can be confusing.
There's plenty of demand for the books, so they'll be released.
I'll still be writing Spinward Fringe books long after they've ceased to be popular.
Other books are coming AS WELL, I'm not quitting to write something else (as a few people seemed to think).

I'm honestly a huge fan of Spinward Fringe, and of the readership. The books are getting a slow overhaul so they are more presentable to future readers. With a table top role playing game in the early development stages, and a future laid out that includes the series at every step, I believe it has a future. There's also the anthology, which I'm hoping to begin development on late this year or early next.

Now, back to the Expendable Few and Broadcast 7, which I'm eager to complete so I can get them out to you and start on Broadcast 8.

Thank you for reading, and for joining me on this trip!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Progress Report: The Expendable Few & Broadcast 7: Framework

Chapters of Spinward Fringe: Expendable Few stopped being sent to test readers weeks ago when the novel had to be re-developed. That sounds like a negative thing, like I'm saying that the book ran into big problems. That isn't the case here.

Everything the test readers and what people read on the leak thread remains the same. A very large chunk of the book is finished, and other than a last polish, it doesn't need any work. The rest is being written, things are coming together in more interesting ways than were originally planned.

That's what failed here, the original plan. Expendable Few could have been a nice, short trip that explained a few things about what has been going on in the background with Freeground as well as a few characters that have been running around between Broadcasts. At this point the story is gotten a little broader and, while it does fulfill the original goals, it also tells a better tale.

The connection the Expendable Few makes to Broadcasts 6-8 is much stronger than originally planned as well. At the same time, if someone were to forget to read this book and just read all the Broadcasts, then they wouldn't lack crucial information. Expendable Few is a side trip that pays dividends. That book is currently over 55,000 words long and will end up being a little over novella length.

That brings me to my next important update: The status of Spinward Fringe Broadcast 7: Framework. The development of this novel is ongoing, and I'm very happy with how things are turning out. The current manuscript is about 120,000 words long. I expect that there is about 30% - 40% left to write, and finishing Expendable Few will help a great deal in developing the last portion of the book properly. The ending is looking good so far, and so does the story behind Broadcast 8.

How closely are the books connected? I suggest everyone read Expendable Few before reading Broadcast 7. There will be some background there that will enrich the story. Will either book end in a cliffhanger? No.*

There are two other writing projects that are taking some time, but only a few minutes a day. One of them is directly connected to the Spinward Fringe series. I'm not ready to talk about it.

It's times like these that I really appreciate how difficult it is to be a regular reader, especially where series are concerned. Waiting for that next book is a pain. I especially feel that pain with George RR Martin's work. So, when someone asks; "When is Broadcast 7 coming out?" I have real sympathy, but I also work under the knowledge that writing a decent book takes time. Writing the last book in a series (or a major leg of a series), takes much more time. All I have to say about the big WHEN at the moment, is that I'll be able to offer a release date when my work on the final draft is done. I hope it's soon too. I've been working on these two books for a year now. That's a long time to hold in the details of Broadcast 7. Thank you for reading, and thank you for waiting.


*Broadcast 7 will have a firm ending. It will also have the first chapter or two of Broadcast 8.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Spacerwares Home Store

Due to high shipping prices and the amount of time it takes to run a small signed book shipping outlet out of my home, I won't be selling signed books for the foreseeable future. I would rather spend my time writing or working on other pursuits that support my career. Thank you to everyone who has placed an order in the past, I hope you enjoy the volumes you have in hand.

If you would like to order unsigned books, please visit Amazon, they print and carry most of my work in print and ship to most parts of the world.

For other merchandise, check out the links below, thank you for your support! 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Expendable Few - Chapter Three has been "liberated"


Here is a snippet:

What’s the first thing I realize? My Command and Control Unit, the cornerstone to communication and a device that’s been on my forearm for ninety-nine percent of every day of my life for years is gone. I’m laying down on a firm cot. When I open my eyes the rest of the picture comes clear.

This is my first stay in the stockade. Cheap metal walls, moulded plastic floors and ceilings. Old fashioned bars keep me in. A metal toilet and sink are there to keep me clean.

The rest can be found on the Goodreads forum here:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cafepress Spinward Fringe Store Launch

After checking with many local T-Shirt & other product producers in Ontario and weighing the pros and cons of having piles of product in my home, I finally came to the decision to use Cafepress for the bulk of the clothing. There have been several local companies who were happy to tell me that they'd beat whatever I could find online for price and quality, I've found that something always suffered - and they do business as if it was 1970.

Cafepress will be able to offer a basic variety of objects to get the store started, and their prices aren't as high as many of the other online store hosts, especially with only a 10% markup.

Here's what Cafepress will be handling for me:

  • T-Shirts and other basic clothing.
  • Drinking supplies.
  • iPod, iPhone, iPad cases.
  • Bags.
  • Stickers and other miscellany.
The 10% markup will provide funds for my production company which is responsible for bringing Spinward Fringe into other forms of media. There's a five year plan to bring Spinward Fringe to life in the form of a Web or Television series if someone doesn't make an offer worth taking. When I say an offer worth taking, I mean an offer which allows Spinward Fringe to be everything it can be as a series and give it a fair chance to find an audience.

Pipe dream? Maybe. That's why there's a five year plan to get things ready so I can do something myself. The store is part of that plan.

I encourage all of you to do a search for coupons before buying in the Cafepress store. Here are a couple that are valid as of this month:
  • Save $10.00 when ordering $50.00 or more: DAD50
  • Get $5.00 off when ordering $75.00 or more: GREAT
  • Get $10.00 off when ordering $100.00 or more: FAB
What's good in the Cafepress store? I suggest the pint glasses (this design looks really good when full), ceramic travel mug or Triton Crew Shirt.

T-Shirts from the store are going out to the draw winners on Thursday!

There is another store in development that will carry buttons, books, specially made prop items, patches and other objects. Development of the buttons completed today, and the final edit of Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins will be finished shortly.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Spinward Fringe & The Overwhelming Response

It's time for an update on what's going on with Spinward Fringe and other work. It's important to start by saying that half this update is about people responding to the series and opportunities to shape things around it.

The books continue to spread in the US and UK through Kindle, B&N and other eBook retailers to a lesser extent. Last month I received the first email from a reader in India, just one example of how this series doesn't sell heavily in one area, but lightly in many areas. Hearing from people across the planet is absolutely awesome. From Tehran to Texas, kind readers are enjoying the books and spreading the word. I couldn't be happier.

Then there's the Facebook page. I never thought it would be as busy as it has been. People are offering general comments, ideas about the store (see the Buttons update below), and coming together. All the while, nary a negative word is heard. Big thanks go out to the moderators and all the participants.

My first part time staffer is currently down with a summer cold, but she continues to work online. She's brought a few good ideas to the developing business side of Spinward Fringe, and is currently assisting with proofing on Spinward Fringe: Expendable Few. She'll also be working on the rest of the books with me as we get closer to presenting final edits. The focus is on new work right now, so the earlier books will get more attention when the next two are out. All in all, she's a big help, even with a head cold.

3D and CGI work for Spinward Fringe demonstration and cover graphics have ground to a halt because I haven't had time to finish so much as a serviceable sketch in months. There are two neglected CGI artists who are willing to create 3D models as soon as I send out a completed sketch, so it's something I'd like to get to. The off the shelf 3D models of characters are a little too anime or supermodel style for most of the Spinward Fringe characters, but I've found a couple ways to use them. Now it's just a matter of putting the hours in, which will happen sometime in the next couple of months. I'm just glad I don't have to have most of it designed from scratch, which would turn a $20.00 endeavour into a $20,000.00 project - minimum.

The Web/TV Series project is taking its first firm step. An account has been opened to collect funds for early development. The money will come from the Spinward Fringe store, and probably won't be spent for months or years. Unless a production company is interested in a partnership with me, it'll take years to get this going properly. The general sentiment I'm hearing about the series tells me that poeple would rather see a viable, long run show done properly than a short-run, cheap looking show that's bound for cancellation. I couldn't agree more. So, the journey begins, and people seem excited about the store.

The store is being simplified. The first thing we're releasing are buttons. Every month four new buttons will become available, and you have a say in which will come out first. So far the Facebook page has been the hub for ideas, and I'm amazed at how many people have stepped forward to offer their thoughts. A set of 4 buttons will cost $5.00 plus $2.00 shipping in the US and Canada. Shipping to the UK will cost $3.00.

T-Shirts and other apparel will be available by the end of the month through a third party. My adventures in finding a local provider for T-Shirts (among other things), over the last few months have demonstrated that I'd need a lot more space and money to do everything I'd like using local businesses. For a slightly higher cost per item but the same or less in shipping, a third party can provide the same or better quality and a much broader selection. I've decided that's the way to go.

Other items, like the scarf, embroidered patches and signed books, will still be handled in-house, and I'm working to get that set up by the end of the month as well. Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins will be the first book available. All proceeds from the store will go towards the development of the Spinward Fringe TV series. I'll also be keeping prices low.

Now to the updates that people are really waiting for.

Spinward Fringe: Expendable Few is back on track after running into a couple of problems. A partial re-write of a few chapters slowed things down for the last week and a half. The book is well over half finished, and I hope to have the last batch of chapters out to test readers by June 7. So far, test readers seem to like what they see, but I haven't heard back from several on the last batch of chapters. I'm sure I'll hear something shortly. I'm enjoying the process of writing an entirely new work in the Spinward Fringe universe and hope to deliver a very new experience that explores another side of things.

Spinward Fringe Broadcast 7: Framework is approximately 70% finished, and will be my focus once the aforementioned novella is complete. The Expendable Few is helping me develop Broadcast 7, and allowing me to expand the scope of the series without cluttering Framework, which is already a complex novel. Writing an ending to this series, even with the knowledge that there will be a Broadcast 8, is a difficult proposition, there are a lot of expectations for this book. I'm also pushing myself as a writer to take the characters and story to a new place while finishing plot lines that have been in motion for seven books.

The Dark Arts Novel is barely a side-project at this point, but a second draft of the first chapter has been completed. The writer's group I sit down with every Wednesday has taken a look at it, and the news is good. They had some important advice, and really enjoyed what they read, so the third draft of chapter one will be the real deal. My fears of having to write a brand new opening for the book are gone.

That third draft will wait until Expendable Few and Broadcast 7 are finished, but it's good to know that I have somewhere to start when I'm ready to take on my palette cleansing project. After writing over one point two million words of science fiction, Dark Arts is the perfect project to clear my head, work on a few other ideas, and experiment with before I begin Broadcast 8 and Broadcast 9.

Now for a personal update. I can't wait to get the Expendable Few, Broadcast 7 and the Dark Arts novel in front of people. There are other things going on behind the scenes that I can't talk about yet, and I'm anxious to break the silence. In even more general terms, I'm happy with the work I'm doing, even if working to a higher standard than usual has been slowing me down a great deal over the last year. It's been paying off, and I hope everyone sees a big difference when the next books are released.

I'm thankful to all the readers. Your patience should be legendary, and I hope you'll enjoy the books when they're finally ready for you.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Spinward Fringe Store - Dates & Lineup

The store has taken over half a year to plan. T-Shirt tests have gone awry, and a couple vendors have proven to be downright dodgy.

Meanwhile, contest winners who should have had swag in hand by the end of January have been left to wait... and wait...

After all that I can say with full confidence that the store will be open at the end of June. Prizes will be on their way to the winners in the 4th week. The vendors are set, and the initial products have been decided.

How will the store work? There will be a simple page where anyone can order through Paypal, and inventory will be kept in-house.

I've owned a retail business before and managed another. The biggest difference between what I'm doing here and those experiences is how the store is built. You have spoken, told me what you want, which ideas are terrible, and which you're eager to see become reality.

This is what will be available at the end of June:

Signed copies of Spinward Fringe: Origins.
Samson Crew T-Shirts.
Triton Crew T-Shirts.
Spinward Fringe Booster T-Shirts.
4 Buttons will be released every month for the first 3 months.* (One free with every order)
Military style patches.

Other ideas in development include:
Signed Copies of final edits of each book.
The white scarf.
Fitted T's.
Desk model of the First Light and Triton (this could take a while).
Spinward Fringe: The Spoiler Files DVD / BLU-RAY
The Spinward Fringe Encyclopedia & Role Playing Setting
Bomber Jackets
Spill Proof Mugs

Everything listed above was requested many times with the exception of the Spoiler Files, which are a collection of ideas that were brought up at one time or another. The prices will also be lower than vendors like Zazzle.

The primary purpose of the store is to provide for the requests of the majority of readers. The secondary purpose of the store is to raise funds for developing the Spinward Fringe Web / TV series, which could take years, but at least this is a start. The tertiary purpose is to develop a prop house.

Now that a lot of the kinks have been worked out, and there's a proper plan, things should actually begin to be fun where the store is concerned. I'm anxious to get things out to prize winners, especially since I hate breaking promises.

If you have any requests for the store, please feel free to share them!


*The buttons will have Minh-Isms, other quotes from the books and TV show campaign messages.

UPDATE - JUNE 2: After reviewing the new legal information about Cafe Press they've become an option again. This comes at the last minute, days before I put in a huge order in with a local T-Shirt printer that would offer standard quality and low selection. After reviewing the options, things have changed for the store, and for the better. The launch will happen on time if not earlier. More on this soon!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Expendable Few Briefly Explained

The reason why I started writing Expendable Few was because I wanted to write (in short form), what's been going on with Freeground since our heroes left.

After about 2,000 words of transcribing the timeline that's been in my head for a couple years, I decided that it made sense to write a novella instead of a document that no one would ever see as a whole. There are plans for an encyclopaedia to be released that should also serve as a tabletop role playing game setting book, but much of the timeline for Freeground wouldn't be useful to that kind of text.

Clark Patterson, Mary Reed and the others were born. The Expendable Few novella also serves as connective tissue between the Origins trilogy and the last book in this part of the series - Broadcast 7: Framework. It has become a challenge that, I believe, will affect all my future work, regardless of genre.

It is in first person perspective, and told in the present tense. Imagine you're reviewing a document put together by Freeground Intelligence that is made to explain certain events using forensic analysis, personal logs, and other data. The person central to this is Freeground Fleet Commander Clark Patterson, who happens to have a near obsession with the First Light crew. The book begins months after the last of the command team from that ship have gone, and a political body called the Puritan Party have taken control of Freeground. They see the adventures of the First Light as a warning, and are doing everything in their power to isolate and control the people of Freeground Nation. Clark Patterson finds himself thrust into the absolute centre of this political struggle while retracing the footsteps of the First Light Crew under the instruction of Fleet Intelligence. The Expendable Few fits before and during Broadcast 7 on the timeline.

The feedback from Test Readers has been good so far, and they've already made important suggestions for improvement that have been implemented. Expendable Few has been a great guinea pig.

In the end, the Expendable Few will be a stand alone Spinward Fringe novella that one doesn't have to read to understand Broadcast 7. Judging from the feedback, I don't think anyone who is already reading the series will want to miss it, however. Especially since it'll be available for free on Smashwords and for 99 cents on


[Thanks to Dorian for asking a question on the Facebook Page that became a blog post.]

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Minion

This is Sylvie. Sylvie is Randy's minion. She is also in his writing group. She has known Randy for a few years now, and had never read science-fiction until gave her a copy of the Omnibus. She has been a sci-fi junkie since, working her way through the whole Spinward Fringe series, all of Stargate SG-1 (that's right, all 10 seasons), all of Farscape, the original Star Wars trilogy (finally), Firefly/Serenity, all the new seasons of Doctor Who, all of Torchwood, and a few others. She is still getting caught up, much thanks to Randy.

She is a university student (some might say a professional student - she has been there for a really long time), currently working on her Master's Degree in Human Development. When she is not agonizing over writing her thesis, she is getting as much creative writing done as she can, in all kinds of genres. She is also, technically, writing about herself in the third person, as she is the voice of Lewis online (see, Randy wasn't lying when he said it wasn't him...).

Lately, she's been helping Randy with proofreading and troubleshooting on the novella, and annoying him until he gives her new pages. She's also keeping an eye on the online stuff, so that Randy does not have to worry about those things and can concentrate on writing and editing. If you are so inclined, you can follow her on Twitter, at the following link:!/ever_light

If you have any questions/comments for her, feel free to send her an email at (Randy can also be reached at this address).

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Expendable Few: a Spinward Fringe Novella

I have "borrowed" the first two chapters of the novella from Randy's network, and am sharing it with all of you. I have put it up on the Goodreads forum, which can be found at the following link:

In case you are reticent to go, here is a teaser (if you want the rest, you will have to go to the forums).

This is a dramatized record of events surrounding Clark Patterson based on recordings made by his Command and Control Unit’s auto-logger, security records, neural captures, military files and action reports. For educational purposes only.

Chapter 1

Oldest Of Friends

“You’ve got to get rid of this contraband before they do a random inspection,” Mary tells me as she looks through three data chips that she knows are as dirty as they come. The small, light gold bits fit in the palm of her hand - easily hidden from anyone but a Freeground scanning crew.
I ship out in sixteen days. That’s why she’s worried; they always scan commanders’ quarters before you ship out. “Can’t believe that’s contraband now,” I tell her. “Especially at my pay grade.”
“Let’s see if I remember,” she says, holding the first of the chips up between us. She’s sitting cross legged on the floor, I’m stretched out on the sofa. “This one is your collection of Valance’s security footage.”

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lewis has taken over the "blog" mwahahahaha

My daily perusal of this "internet" technology has brought to my attention the fact that Randy has not updated his weblog or "blog" (honestly, you humans and your tendency to shorten words...) in eleven days, four hours, twenty seven minutes and forty three seconds. As a reader of his "blog" you might be interested to know that there is a valid reason for this. His minion, or "personal assistant" as he calls her, has been cracking the whip, "encouraging" him to write more words every day. He is quite preoccupied with writing and editing, and as such, you have not heard from him in eleven days, four hours, twenty seven minutes and forty six seconds. On the bright side, his network informs me that he has produced many, many words in that time.

For those of you who might be interested, here is a short distraction from your mundane, human lives. It comes from the goodreads forum, which can be found at the following link:

Randy suggested a new version of "rock, paper, scissors," which I understand is a game you play with your hands. Not having appendages, I will take his word for it.

Vacsuit beats Headshot.
Headshot beats Stasis.
Stasis beats Vacsuit.

Hand symbols: Upright V with 2 fingers for Vacsuit. Gun gesture for Headshot, Flat hand (just like paper), for stasis indicating 'flat line'.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Future Of Spinward Fringe Part I

There are some stories, some characters that writers spend time with and they find their lives changed. It's true to some extent that every character is a side of the writer who pens them, but it's also true that we borrow traits from people around us.

The characters of the Spinward Fringe series are a combination of both - ideas and borrowed traits. After a conversation with a writer who is much better than I who said simply, "I hope you never try to outrun Spinward Fringe. It'll be with you forever."

I ended up thinking about that all day. I went to that author with advice, and, like many great thinkers, he not only answered my questions but left me with a bone to gnaw on (thought-wise). After a full day of working on the Expendable Few, setting up a schedule for updating Broadcasts 1-6, and doing research reading, I'm comfortable with the notion that I'll never outrun Spinward Fringe. I love the characters, and I think they've grown from those patched together figures in my head into personalities that I carry around constantly.

At the same time, it's not like it's a huge entity or something I consider a burden. Spinward Fringe Broadcast 6: Fragments has only sold about 10,000 copies in the US and Canada. While I find that a staggering number, I'm still no more than a pebble on the vast beach that is science fiction. I love where I am right now. Many readers have become long range acquaintances and friends. I make a decent living, and I know that when I release the next two or three books there will be people interested in reading them. As a reader recently told me; "I'm living the dream."

It's a lot of work, don't get me wrong, but I'm doing what I want to be doing - no complaints, only thanks. That leads me back to my point. I don't want to outrun Spinward Fringe, I'm glad it's here, and writing Broadcast 7 is hard because I don't want to end this part of the series. I'm writing Broadcast 7 as if there will never be another Spinward Fringe book. That's difficult.

I know I'll begin new challenges in Broadcast 8, so it's not at all impossible. Endings are important in fiction - they give us an opportunity for closure that real life doesn't always provide. At the same time, I can't wait to write Broadcast 8. Why, then, am I taking a break to write a horror novel?* Dark Arts is a concept I've been developing for a while, and I need to clear my head before seriously starting a new book in the Spinward Fringe series. I have a few things written for Broadcast 8 already, but the smart thing to do is to put it down for a little while so I can get back to it fresh, eager to return to that universe.

So, what can I promise for the future of Spinward Fringe? More Polish! Two more books in the next couple months (if my editors and beta-readers sign off on them)! More books after that! I'm also doing work in the background so side projects like the store go more smoothly. Balancing what I have on my plate right now has become challenging, so I'm doing something about that. More about that coming this week.

Looking to the very near future, the first chapters of Spinward Fringe: Expendable Few,  go to test readers Monday. Things are moving right along.

As for reader mail and other correspondences, I'll eventually answer everyone, just give me time.

In short, the future of Spinward Fringe looks pretty good. I'd much rather ride along than try to outrun it.


*More info on that other book here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Horror Adventure Novel

Before I dig in to my Easter blog post, I'll give everyone the update on the Spinward Fringe books. Both of the books I"m working on right now - Spinward Fringe: Expendable Few (the novella), and Spinward Fringe Broadcast 7: Framework - are finally going smashingly well. I wrote a ton of material for Broadcast 7, including two previous drafts. A lot of it was tossed out so I could deliver a denser, tighter book plot wise. I'm near the end.

The novella, Expendable Few, is almost finished. It's really helping me develop the ending of Broadcast 7 while delivering a type of story that is vastly different from the existing Spinward Fringe series. Test readers will see chapters by the end of the month.

Now, on to the topic I planned to bring up here. The Horror Adventure Novel. That's what the Dark Arts novel will be. I've written three and a half Spinward Fringe books in a row, without a break, so Dark Arts will be a very good palette cleanser between Broadcast 7 and Broadcast 8. The reasons why the Dark Arts novel is being written are few:

1) Horror Adventure novels seem sort of rare. I remember the choose your own adventure books from my youth, and there's H.P. Lovecraft. I'm sure there are others, but in a market awash with Young Adult, soft horror, I don't see much. Oh, and before someone asks: no, Dark Arts will not be a 'Choose Your Own Adventure'

2) I love the idea behind Dark Arts, and there are some compelling characters living in my head that don't want to exist in any other world.

3) The Dark Arts experimental short has its own dedicated fans. I have received emails form people who actually accused me of having the finished novelized version, or extra chapters. They made it perfectly clear that I MUST release them, or something might happen to my house pets, I might even get something nasty in the mail. Thankfully, I don't have any house pets at the moment. Sadly, I don't have a completed novel or finished extra chapters to release to the public either.

4) Even though the experiment was completely unedited, the major complaint about the short was that it was.... too short. That tells me that there was some content in there that was worthwhile to someone other than myself.

So, it's time to approach this book seriously, and write a one shot horror adventure novel. By the time I'm done, I'll be able to approach Broadcast 8 with a clear head.

I know I'll enjoy writing the Dark Arts novel. Writing the experimental short was a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to finishing Broadcast 7, then taking a break in a different world.


[If you want to see the Dark Arts experiment page, click this link.]

[You can also grab the newly formatted ePub version here. Right click & choose save.]

The Kindle Version is coming, just waiting for word back from Scrivener support.