Category Archives for "News"

Oct 20

A Ghast in Melchizedek’s Backstory

By terranceacrow | News , Novel Pre-Production

You know how when you’re really into writing — when you forget there’s a keyboard and the words flow unfettered from mind to screen? It’s like establishing a warp field. Until something pierces the field, your creativity’s flowing — but even then, you’re only mostly in control.

Case in point:

I’m working on a scene from Melchizedek’s* adolescence to help me fully envision his backstory. I had a specific goal in mind, and I was happily writing toward that goal. Dek’s was a VR landscape when he encounters an AI ghost that’s supervising some children.

Here’s where things got weird.

I had intended for him to interact first with the ghost, then with the inhabitants of the church/school behind her. I had the several scenes of dialogue queued up. But — and I swear I have no idea why this happened — I got to watch an AI ghast split away from the ghost and confront Dek. As The Spooks Beastiary notes, a ghast is a ghost splinter. The ghost remained on task with the children; the ghast interacted with Dek.

I’ve learned to go with these moments, and by the time the scene was done, a new potential theme and subplot dealing with the ethics of imprisoning an AI, especially an AI that didn’t know it was imprisoned.

Nobody expects the ghast! At least, I didn't. It's cliche, but the creative process is a mystery!

Nobody expects the ghast! At least, I didn’t. It’s cliche, but the creative process is a mystery!

Maybe it’s cliche to say, but I’m still a little in awe of the mysteries surrounding the creative process.

If you’re interested in ready the backstory, I have good news! As soon as I get my e-mail list up and running, I intend to offer the backstory as a gift for subscribing. Then, I’ll periodically “reward”** my subscribers with new backstories, story notes, starship sketches, or other pre-production material. Just think: someday, I may be famous! That stuff could become cool mementos!

See you next post!

* My wife suggested that instead of calling him Mel (as I intended to), I should call him Dek. I think she saved me from forever associating the main character of book one with the TV sitcom Alice, in particular Mel’s Diner. I enjoyed the show; I’m not trying to disparage it. But it’s so not the vibe I’m going for in Divinity Falling.

** I hope it’ll seem like a reward!

Sep 01

Prose Just Got Real: The First Trilogy Has Working Titles!

By terranceacrow | News , Novel Pre-Production

My last post mentioned Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering (you can buy it here — I can’t recommend it enough!). The book’s a wealth of information about all aspects of writing a novel, from the nuances of character creation to plotting. The latter was of particular interest to me, since I had concluded that my writing skills lacked one critical part: I didn’t know how to plot a novel.

Yeah, I’m kinda disappointed with me, too. You’d think by now…

Putting aside my natural tendency to take myself to try myself, convict myself, and give myself a stern talking to, I’ve finished Story Engineering. I’m excited to say that after digesting the chapters about plot, and after applying the architectural principles Mr. Brooks described, I’ve come to a conclusion.

He’s right. There’s a repeatable way to approach plot. And I think I can do it.

That was the last obstacle to me starting my first trilogy. Well, to be completely honest, my first trilogy since high school. That means my excuses are exhausted.* It’s time to get started.

The trilogy’s working title is The Fall of Caerleon. I’m going to grapple with the idea of the purpose of power; of its uses, abuses, and controls; its links to our empirical and mystical aspects. The Conrad family, much like Masayoshi Son, has a long term plan to better humanity. Will that plan survive the enemies arrayed against it? Will it survive the Conrad family?

The first book, Divinity Falling, follows Melchizedek “Dek” Conrad as he struggles to push back the advances of Terran Consolidated Products and its hyper-cash reserves against his company. At the same time, his company is trying to get off world to gain the breathing room it needs to take the family’s plan to the next stage. Which force will be more compelling?

Olympia Dreaming, the second book, follows Jack Conrad’s fight against Aldertraum, one of Earth’s colonies, as it tries to take humanity on a dark but unfortunately familiar path. Can humanity rise above its hard-wired behaviors? Or is it doomed to remain in the cave forever? This takes place a couple of decades in Divinity Falling’s future.

The last book of this trilogy, Founders’ Rising, presents Benjamin Conrad and the maiden voyage of the Resolution. Set just after Olympia Dreaming, the story portrays the conflict between human power and its links to claims of divinity. Can human overcome their ancient tendencies, even in the face of species extinction? Will Aldertraum’s attacks prevail? Are they even the real enemy? Or is our own nature much more deadly?

The problem of human power has always fascinated me. We need power to get things done, to influence groups to come together to accomplish things that individuals can’t achieve. At the same time, our history’s littered with the aftermath of power gone mad. History’s also full of attempts to manage or control power. Most recently, we see the foundation of the United States and the establishment of three branches of government to act as checks on power. We’re witnessing a time when those checks have been attacked and eroded, but that just increases my interest: how can humanity harness its collective will without falling into demagoguery? How can we withstand the corrosive effects of hyper-cash — and should we? If we should, why? What’s the justification? I hope to explore those questions in this trilogy.

How do the titles sound to you? Any thoughts on humans and their exercise of power?

Now, please excuse me. I have some work to do!

* If you’re a writer, you’ll understanding to interpret this not as a statement of fact, but as a desparate plea!

Jul 29

One More Piece of the Puzzle…

By terranceacrow | News

One more piece of the puzzle and I’ll be ready to start working on the arcs for the first trilogy.

No, really! That’s the plan! This time for sure!

Why now? What’s changed since I wrote my last novels?* Well, my wife introduced me to Sterling & Stone. If you have any interest in self-publishing, go check out their site. Right now. I won’t mind! I’ll wait.

They’re busily perfecting the art of self-publishing high-quality works in a number of genres. Even better (as if that accomplish weren’t enough, which it is!), they share what they’ve learned. Watching their videos and listening to their podcasts is an investment that I have no doubt will pay off. I now have an idea of where to start when it comes time to publish the first book. That is to say, when I finish writing the first book.

I’ve reviewed my writing skills, and I found I have a gap. I know how to write sentences. My character development will improve over time. Thumbs up to my dialogue! But I don’t know how to weave a compelling story. I gave myself some homework: find a popular, self-published book on Amazon and figure out why it was popular. Here’s what I chose:

I could nit-pick the book — I hate similes, and I don’t think the writer, A. G. Riddle, ever met a simile he didn’t like. But you know what? I had a hard time putting it down. I was disappointed when it ended. Apparently, I’m not alone. Amazon says the trilogy (which includes The Atlantis Plague and The Atlantis World) has sold over 2 million copies.

Let that number — that astonishing accomplishment — sink in for a moment.

My homework was to figure out why that trilogy has sold 2 million copies — despite me not liking its similes.

I think I found the key in Larry Brooks’ book called Story Engineering:

He does an outstanding job of covering all aspects of writing novels, but his chapter on plot blew me away. He laid out, in clear and concise terms, what a successful plot should look like. He didn’t dictate an inflexible set of rules: he pointed out a clear set of guidelines that define what a successful novel’s plot should look like.

I think this is the last piece I need before starting the first trilogy.

How do I know that’s the last piece? I don’t. Not yet, at least. But I know this: I can’t tolerate any more excuses. My daughter’s out of college. I’m not getting younger (quite the contrary!). It’s time to put up or shut up; do or do not; spread my wings and fly; and <insert your favorite cliche here>.

As I work on the material, I’ll share bits and pieces here in the hopes you’ll see something interesting. Feel free to comment!

Now, time to get writing!

 

* Are you ready for this? I wrote my last novel over 30 years ago. 30 years! That’s like, a lot of time. It took me that long to exhaust my reservoir of excuses! It’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since Olympia orbited the planets of Sirius, or the Resolution was lost…

Jul 04

Wasn’t This an Application Security Blog?

By terranceacrow | News

Yes, it was!

Interstell, Inc.’s adjusting its properties to better serves its customers, so this site, www.terranceacrow.com, is transitioning to a blog covering the challenges and jobs of writing novels.

Realigning Our Sites2

The application security material is moving (and we hope expanding!) at this site: www.interstell.com.

Please visit us there!

And if you’re interested in writing novels, please check back here from time to time!