Tagged: sci-fi

Communication During the Editing Process

Update: the book is coming along swimmingly.

Part of the reason the recent editing of the book is going so well is the clear lines of communication between my editor and myself. Like any endeavor – writing, military operations, power plant maintenance, family – communication is key. I find over-communication tends to be better (though perhaps a little annoying) than under-communication.

Now I’m not going to write a whole lot on this. I am going to put a lot more into “A Tale of Two Editors – Part 2”. But it has been such a good experience that I wanted to cover it.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Throughout the whole editing process this last month, my editor and I have been in regular communication through phone calls, emails, and face-to-face meetings.

Some people may think that this could become cumbersome, even annoying. At times my first reaction is just that.

But the high level of communication has allowed us to deconflict issues we’ve had, reschedule meetings without issue, and to verify next steps and expectations.

Talking through things has allowed my editor to have a much deeper grasp of where I want to go with my story, and the background to it. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable talking about all the nerdy stuff in my book. But the more I explain, the more my editor has been able to guide me in a better direction, and my book is really shaping up because of it.

Now Communicate Some More

I’m going to go back to the possibility of annoyance for a second.

I am very straight forward, concise, to-the-point kind of guy. I want the facts, and then to tackle the solution. I don’t need fluff or prolonged discussion.

Usually.

I quickly found that this would not work in this case.

First and foremost, while my editor and I have gotten to know one another better, we still really don’t know each other well. We have both had to learn to understand how the other operates, reads, and understands things.

While I am a straight to the point kind of person, my editor needs more discussion. That, and I found that greater discussion in greater detail was required so that my editor could really grasp what I am trying to do with my book. It was a bit of a mental stretch for me, but once I got past my mental block, my editor has come to understand my book better and, as I said before, has helped me change it for the better.

For example, I wanted to ensure that the culture of the Star Folk, the main peoples described in my book, had a lot of examples without just info dumping. Info dumps make the writing boring and interrupt the flow. At first I tried to describe this and my editor had a difficult time helping me. But once I described the culture more, where and how I wanted to describe it, and examples of info dumps, my editor was able to give me suggestions and help me brainstorm.

Softy

The issue with this kind of communication is it’s a soft skill. It’s more difficult to make it into a procedure, or to document a process.

I have to understand myself and how I communicate, and learn how the other person receives information, processes it, and communicates back. And I have to do this each time with different people, whether writing, at work, or with family and friends.

As many may know, it takes time, practice, and many iterations of trial and error.

Conclusion

Communication through the editing process has been key to helping my book become better. Sometimes the over-communication has at first seemed unnecessary, but I’ve learned it’s required if I want my editor to really be able to help me. Perhaps if I had done this more in the past, my book would be further along that it is.

The book is, in fact, coming along really well! I wouldn’t normally say that – I would say good, or decent, or it doesn’t quite suck. But I can honestly say the book is making some real leaps to something much more organized, professional, and almost ready for publishing. I will have more updates in the weeks to come.

Until next time. . .

A Tale of Two Editors Part 1

So I’m back into the actual writing schtick. My book previously published under the title “Der Sternvolker” (which, by the way, is terribly improper German grammar; Es tut mir leid) went through a major edit last year, and is going through another one as we speak.

My experience with the two different editors I’ve used has been like night and day. One barely communicated at all, the other communicates a lot. One had a very definitive vision of where they wanted to go, the other looks to me for more guidance.

I’m sure other new writers are going, or will go through similar experiences. Here I will describe my experiences, and welcome input from other just starting authors who working with their first or second editor.

Part One covers my first editor. NOTE: This isn’t a positive or negative, and I attempt to simply relate things as they occurred. I do, however, write several lessons learned at the end.

Editor One

I won’t use names in this article. So the first editor I used shall be dubbed: Editor One.

Editor One was an experienced editor with quite a few titles under her belt, as well as a few titles she wrote herself. I was excited to work with her as she seemed to generally understand the more sci-fi sort of things I was trying to get through, such as Cowboy Bebop and Firefly references. I was in geek heaven. She also had a firm grasp of the Turkey City Lexicon which has become the standard in a lot of writing circles, specifically in sci-fi/fantasy writing.

When I solicited her editing services she sent me a sample edit of the first few pages of my manuscript, and upon receipt of her edits confirmed I wanted her to edit my work.

It was the price tag that hit me: $2,400.

I had just received my tax return back, and instead of paying off some more debt, I decided to take the leap and pay her for her services.

And so the editing began.

I heard nothing for about four weeks.

And then, one day, my edited manuscript appeared in my inbox! I was ecstatic.

I went through the manuscript to see what she had done. It was diced, chopped, sliced, and beaten. And it needed to be. There was so much in my old manuscript that needed work, and that was just downright bad.

But, most of her notes were comments or recommendations. No hard “change this” or “move this here and it will really pop” or “delete this garbage and rewrite it.”

Included in her fee was a 1 hour consultation on her edits. I sought further information on many of her comments, and where things should go and how I should rewrite certain parts. She didn’t offer much. One of the recommendations I remember after asking if I should write a certain part a certain way was, “Really that’s up to you.”

At the end of our conversation I made the comment that I had a lot of deleting and rewriting to do, and she responded with, “And that’s one of the great parts of writing. You get your edits, and then you get to rewrite, sometimes the entire book!”

And that was that. My hour was up and I had exhausted my services with her.

I delved into the task of rewriting my manuscript – again. And then I re-rewrote it, and eventually stumbled upon my current editor…

Lessons Learned

First and foremost I felt some confusion with the process, especially at the end. My thought was that, while the editor can’t tell me exactly what to write, shouldn’t they at least be able to help with how to write it?

And that is where clearer communication would come in. I should have asked more questions about exactly what more of her editing looked like, maybe have check-ins throughout the process to get a feel for what she was saying and recommending, and get clarity on the details of the 1-hour consultation at the end. Maybe ask how such conversations went over with her other clients, what they covered, and what she absolutely would not/could not do.

I did look into other editors before I chose the one that edited my MS. Pricing for the length of my book (110k words) was about the same, give or take $50. With my contracts/procurement background I definitely got a wide selection of pricing and compare their editing styles and what they offered in their services (ie. post-edit consultation). Ultimately she was the best bang for my buck.

Perhaps I should have looked harder for editors, maybe there were veteran editors out there who could have offered better pricing for the same/similar services. And I would recommend to any readers to absolutely do so. Solicit examples and pricing from at least seven (7) different editors, and I recommend going all the way up to ten (10). Understand their editing style, personality, what they will do, and what they won’t do in the editing process.

Make sure everything is clear, and preferably in writing so there are no questions, disagreements, or misunderstandings down the road.

To Be Continued

I am currently working with my latest editor. Part 2 will be posted upon completion of her editing services, upon which time I will write about the experience, and lessons learned.

I hope this is helpful for new writers like me. If you’re a new writer, or even a veteran writer, tell me about some of your experiences – good, bad, and indifferent, and the lessons you learned. Are there any editors you would recommend to others?

Until next time. . .

Geekery – Battletech Fan Fiction – Shards of the Galaxy

I made a thing!

http://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=54289.0

This is actually a project I began back in 2009. (Has it really been that long?) While I love the Battletech canon universe, and the factions and battles that take place in it, I also love creating something my own.

I dreamed up four major factions – disillusioned Lyrans, remnants of Clan Smoke Jaguar on the run, ComStar Explorer Corps deserters, and Magistracy of Canopus Merchants – as well as two or three minor ones – pirates, deserters of the major factions, mercenaries – that all converge on one system in the Deep Periphery around the time of the FedCom Civil War. Each has their own goals and desires, and they will come into conflict.

I have posted about 80% of what I originally wrote. Now I have the arduous task of writing more without notes. (I have no idea where I put my notes for this project…)

It’s already received great feedback on the Battletech forums. Go check it out and let me know what you think!

Until next time!…

Geekery – Eisenhorn: Xenos Video Game by Pixel Hero Games

I don’t get to play a lot of video games these days. We have one TV in our home, and we work very hard to keep the kids’ screen time below 1 hour per day. In fact, that’s why we are moving our youngest to a new daycare that does zero screen time, while the current daycare has them watching movies 2+ hours per day. No 1 or 2 year old needs that much screen time.

But I digress.

Every now and again I will log in to my Steam account on my desktop (gaming computer) in order to play a quick game of Running With Rifles or Terreria, or hop on the Xbox One and knock out 30-45 minutes of Far Cry: Primal or Destiny.

Recently I was introduced to the most amazing game ever! (Well maybe not ever. But it’s pretty darn cool.) Pixel Hero Games has debuted Eisenhorn: Xenos, based off the best selling Warhammer 40K trilogy by Dan Abnett.

Eisenhorn

To really kick off this post, Abnett was the author that got me stuck in to Warhammer 40k, and the Eisenhorn Omnibus was the first Warhammer 40K book I purchased. I was immediately drawn into the world with Xeno, Malleus, Hereticus. And Abnett’s writing took me on a wild adventure with Gregor Eisenhorn and his Inquisitorial retinue. Every page had me on the edge of my seat, and I wrapped up the Eisenhorn Omnibus in just under two weeks. (Which reminds me I need to read it again.)

eisenhorn-01

The video game Eisenhorn: Xenos is true to the book. The story in the game follows right along with the book, with battle scenes and sneaking around. And Pixel Hero Games delivered on the Grimdark goodness of the Warhammer 40k universe. The environments are well built, and there are even times when one can look into the far distance.

05

Gameplay is very linear. You are playing the story of Gregor Eisenhorn and his team straight out of the books. Some on the internet have complained about this. I won’t because I love it. In a world full of sandbox gaming, Eisenhorn: Xenos is refreshingly thematic.

There are also the complaints of last-generation graphics. Apparently it was also made to be played on the iPad? Again, not a big deal for me. Is it not the latest and greatest realistic graphics of newer games? It isn’t. I don’t care. It plays very well and is fun. That’s right, it’s fun without the latest graphics. Shocking, I know. I honestly don’t need the latest graphics for all my games. If I wanted Eisenhorn: Xenos to be super realistic and HD, I would demand they just make the movie/HBO series. The graphics in the video game work great for me.

The third-person-shooter set-up works well. I just got an additional person in my party, and the AI is pretty good. As you work through the game you gather gold which you can use to buy better weapons and such. Combat is real time, and you can use Gregor’s sword or gun/bolt pistol/etc. Of course, Eisenhorn is a psyker, and you are able to use some of his psychic abilities as you play and fight.

So far I am about 5% into the game. (I bought it last week. This should signal just how much time I actually have to play video games between work and family commitments.) I cannot wait to play further into the game, and see what else Pixel Hero Games has done with the universe of Warhammer 40k and with Gregor Eisenhorn’s story!

Have you played through the whole game yet? What are your thoughts on it?

Until next time!…

Geekery – My Rediscovered Love of Dropzone Commander

Twas a glorious four days in August of 2014 when my wife, daughter, and brother made the long, arduous trek to Indianapolis, Indiana for Gen Con 2014.

I went.

I saw.

I gamed.

I have a blog post about it somewhere around here…

During the best four days in gaming in 2014, my brother and I went “halvsies” on the Dropzone Commander two-player starter box. I was immediately intrigued by the game with its miniatures engineered to fit together. Most of the dropships could actually carry the vehicles they were meant to. Everything fit perfectly. The designers are lifelong geeks, and they were, and still are, dedicated to that level of detail.

DZC 13

The universe itself is incredible. The story of Dropzone Commander begins with D+250 with humanity, under the United Colonies of Man, fighting the vile, parasitic Scourge to take back the fertile cradle worlds, the most important of which is Earth itself. In the midst of the chaos are the Resistance fighters on each world, some friendly to the UCM, some fighting for their own power. The clan-like Shaltari, once friends to humanity, now fight for their own aims. The Post Human Republic, a race of advanced humans, fight the UCM and the Scourge, but to what ends only they know.

DZC 10

The gameplay is awesome. It is fast and common sense, yet still dynamic enough to force the commander (player) to sit and think of their tactics, and overall strategy. I have played 700 point games in an hour and a half, and that is quite a few models on the board. I cannot wait to play larger 1,000 to 2,000 point games.

DZC 12

The group I play with doesn’t know the love and joy of Classic Battletech, but I constantly tell them that Dropzone Commander is what Battletech: Alpha Strike should have been. Not the models or the universe, of course, but the rules and playability. While I’m sure playing enough Alpha Strike will help keep the rules fresh in one’s mind, they are easily forgotten. I hadn’t played a game of Dropzone Commander in a year and a half, and I still remembered 90% of the rules. (It had been a busy year and a half, and all gaming went to the wayside with family, moving homes, our wedding, and work commitments.)

DZC 11

I wonder what would happen if Catalyst Game Labs got license to use the DZC system…

Things that make you go: hmm…

On top of it all, Hawk Wargames, the company that makes DZC, keeps their miniatures relatively cheap. I can get a handful of miniatures for $30-$40. This is great for a family man on a budget. I can slowly but surely build the army I want. It may take a month or two, but it’s not like Warhammer 40K where just one squad, or miniature, can wipe out a man’s gaming budget for the month. In fact, the cost of getting started in DZC is $44 for a starter set, which gives you from 540 to about 600 points, depending on the faction.

Even the books are cheap. I can get the first expansion book, “Reconquest: Phase 1”, for about $20 on Miniature Market. That’s a lot better than the $40-$60 I would drop for Battletech’s latest rulebooks.

Below are some pictures of my most recent game (two weeks ago) between my Scourge and an opponent’s UCM.

Though I lost, my Scourge put up one hell of a fight!

Hawk Wargames recently wrapped up a Kickstarter for their space ship battles game, Dropfleet Commander. The smallest ship carries 100 dropships. That is an insane scale. What’s even better is that Dropfleet Commander and Dropzone Commander will be playable together. Talk about epic scale!

I highly recommend Dropzone Commander to anyone who loves miniature wargames on a large scale.

And if you want a play a game with me, I am usually at the Game Shoppe in Bellevue, Nebraska on Thursday nights.

Until next time…

Kickstarter I’m Backing – Rail Raiders Infinite

I don’t normally back Kickstarters. My money tends to go to a specific amount of gaming each paycheck. Like recently, one paycheck went to purchase Saber Heavy Grav Tanks and Razorworms for my Scourge force for Dropzone Commander. Another paycheck went to purchase a Gekko Squadron for my Infinity Nomads. Having a family reduces miniature wargame spend significantly.

So when I do back a Kickstarter it is a special occasion.

To begin, let me ask you a few questions.

Do you like Firefly?

Do you like Wild West Exodus?

Do you like Chibis?

If you answered yes to all (or at least one) of those questions, then Rail Raiders Infinite is for you.

Rail Raiders Infinite is a table top miniature game from Soda Pop Miniatures and Ninja Division where you and your friends play as chibi raiders in a sci-fi western universe and attempt to rob a space train. (Right? Sure.) But beware! Law bots and marshals fill the train and will attempt to stop you. Do you have what it takes?

All salesmanship aside, this game looks like a blast. I am told Soda Pop Miniatures and Ninja Division put out some great games. I love the look and feel of this game. It is very Firefly-esque. And the law bots are something right out of Wild West Exodus. It looks fun and funny and I can’t wait to play it. (Maybe in October 2016? Sure. I’ll believe them…for now. Let’s just hope they’re not like Drake II…)

Even some of the raiders are hilarious. Stretch goal “Canton Cobb” is an ode to Jayne Cobb from Firefly, and “The Typhoon” is Vash the Stampede.

The train itself is a series of tiles. Instead of normal dice, the face of the dice are card faces (10, Jack, King, Queen, and Joker). And there are coins. Coins make every game better, right? Right.

It makes me smile. 🙂

Don’t believe me that this is a great game? (Or looks like a great game!?) Head over to Kickstarter and check it out now!

And give them $50.

Until next time!…

Gen Con 2014 First Exposure Playtest Hall

Finally everything is set for Gen Con 2014! Ship Strike will be available at the First Exposure Playtest Hall, and I have the days and times right here:

Thursday, August 14th
10AM-12PM
1PM-3PM
5PM-7PM

Friday, August 15th
3PM-5PM

If you’re going to Gen Con 2014, stop by the First Exposure Playtest Hall at any of these times and get in a rousing game of Ship Strike! I’d love to meet everyone and see what you think about the game.