Ninja at Law – The mighty pitch

Reposting this as there are only 3 days left to enter. Go get you a book cover, yo!

Ninja at Law (Ages of the Seed, vol. 2)

Life at the tail end of the 24th cee is fairly righteous. The advent of Stringtech mere centuries ago revolutionized the world. Hunger and disease are concepts of the past. Free energy is here for the taking of it and mankind enjoys an unprecedented period of largess, peace and growth.

Tobe Sparkles is about to fuck all that up.

All you NaNoWriMo’ers out there, wouldn’t it be awesome to have a sweet cover for that new novel?

Ana Spoke, who made this awesomeness for her own book…


…is going to do a custom cover for one lucky person.

All you need to do is work up a blurb/pitch for your book, like I did up top there, and let her know by posting a link to it in the comments over here.

She’s taking submissions through the end of the year, then readers will vote to determine the winner. How cool is that?



Unseen draft complete. Excerpt

I finished the Unseen first draft tonight. This is the third book draft I’ve finished off under the wordsurge I largely attribute to NaNoWriMo.

I celebrate with a scene I like that was written for a character I didn’t expect to become a principle, but did anyway. Likely just to spite me. She has issues with authority.

 Unseen is steampunk / post-apocalypse. This scene is where we learn about my unexpected protagonist’s character when it’s nobody but her there to see.

Critical Personnel

The alarm woke her. There was no way it could be morning yet. She felt like she had only just laid down. What time had she gotten to bed, anyway?

It must have been pretty late. She couldn’t even remember getting relieved from her watch station.

The alarm. The watch station.

Verias became alert in a shocking instant. She was on perimeter watch. An alarm. There was a perimeter door open. What was she supposed to do? She was supposed to never have to figure that out! That’s why first years were put on this duty! Because nothing ever happened!
Snap out of it, Verias!

She gave herself a quick physical slap to go with the verbal one.

Thinking back on the brief training, she remember the senior student saying the only reason these alarms ever went off was a dog sensor being off. Just go to the port and re-clamp the dogs to reset it.



Go to the port and re-clamp the dogs.

She noted the port location that was alerting, grabbed a light stick, and ran off to make her check.

As she made her way through tubes that were lighted, unlighted and every variation of semi-lighted, she made a mental note to request the service ways be excluded from mandatory night variations.

She arrived to her target but it was not the port with a loose dog as she expected. This was an open porthole, exposing the Burrow to whatever might wander in from outside. She couldn’t believe it. Who would do such a thing?

It was at that point that she noticed the lights dimming again, and realized it was a general alarm.

A general alarm and somebody sneaking out of a port she was monitoring!

She realized her first duty was to the Burrow’s safety and that meant dogging this port and waiting for reinforcements. But whoever was escaping might be just meters ahead of her! She had to at least see if she could identify them!

Volume three approaching doneness

I caught up on NaNoWriMo goals last night and also realized I’ll be finished with the Unseen draft today. (Clemson won, happiness won, writing may continue.)

I’ll then return to Makers and I will finish that draft this month too.

November has been (/will be. it’s weird retrospecting on something that isn’t done yet) a hell of a month. It began with two books in process and will finish with four drafted and one illustrated. The first two manuscripts are out for early reader feedback and both are getting excellent marks for story and characters.

I’m actually looking at a series of books that are staging for sequential publication. It’s a very heady feeling.

Here’s where I should be at the end of the month, and it appears I need to get serious on researching editing/editors:

Where's there's a plan, there's a graphic.
I’m a project manager. Of course there’s a plan.


I’ve crossed 40,000

I did it today instead of yesterday as I’d expected, but I crossed 40,000 words for #NaNoWriMo. That feels pretty cool. I was writing before NaNo and I’ll be continuing after it, but having that constant goal for new words has shown me I can continue writing new things.

The story for Ages of the Seed is continuing to develop. When I hit a recent bit I kept at it and resolved it. For the story I was supposed to be writing instead of editing a different story like I really wanted to.

I see encouragement all over the place for NaNo and it really is a big help. If nothing else it’s a constant reminder that you could be writing.

So thanks to all of the people who are continuing to cheer on the WriMos. You rock!

And to all of us who are still working at it, what the hell are you doing reading blogs? Get back to writing! ;-P

Found him

I just figured out Daeven, my protagonist for Unseen. It took a long time for me to understand him, much longer than any of my other leads.

It was worth the wait. Unseen is flowing now. I’ll be caught up and past the WriMo goals tonight. I might be now, actually. Scrivener is telling me Daeven just wrote 2000 words.

This may be the most complicated character I’ve ever helped to find a page and I am very excited to find the story that he wants to tell me.



Early reader feedback for Weavers and Ninja at Law have started trickling in and it’s both extremely promising as well as mega frustrating. The promising part is because both books are getting high marks for readability and the storylines themselves. The frustrating bit is because the feedback is excellent and I want SO BADLY to go start fixing the things that are being pointed out.

But I must stay strong! I must resist this fell compulsion! I must NaNoWriMo!

I must also admit that part of the urge to go edit is because Unseen is coming along so much more slowly than those other two. I haven’t been able to fall in love with the protagonist yet and I’m worried that means others won’t either. The genre is also one that’s new for me to write in, for multiple aspects. It’s post-apocalypse and I’ve never done a story for that. It’s also a buddy adventure and I’ve never done one of those. Lastly, the world isn’t fully developed in my head the way the other two were.

But I shall prevail!

Okay, Jim. Get off the damned blogs and go write.


The Elevator Speech

At a party last weekend I realized I had a problem. Friends I hadn’t seen in a long time were interested in my novel and I stumbled over how to talk about it. How could I possibly encapsulate all that I’ve worked on and all that I’m planning into a conversation piece that wouldn’t make eyes glaze over and kill that nascent interest? I’d been parceling everything out through narrative revelation and realized I myself didn’t have a holistic description for it.

I really had no excuse for this. I’ve been doing project summaries and carrying them around in my theoretical pocket for a dozen years in my job. I speak of course of…

The elevator speech! (Saw that coming, didn’t you? My teaser titles may need some work.)

An elevator speech is a short and concise blurb about your project that you have ready for whenever a prospective resource shows interest in it. When you end up on the elevator with the VP of Technology and she asks how your big development effort is going you don’t have to think. You tell her exactly what the status is and where it needs help, and you do it in less time than it takes for the elevator to get to her floor.

I generally have three versions ready at any time for projects I’m working and I think the format will work most excellently for writing projects. I’ll take one of my books through this as an example (and because I need to do this for all of the books I have in process). These are all for Unseen, the third volume in Ages of the Seed and the book I’m currently NaNo’ing.

The one liner

A simple statement that encapsulates. It answers the question “What is it”? This is what you give to casual inquiries to judge whether deeper conversation is warranted.

Unseen is the introductory novelette for the steampunk/noir age of my novel series.

That’s a lot of information with few words. I’ve conveyed the title and genre as well as giving a reference for length. I’ve also related that there are more stories in this vein as well as additional novels. I’ve given them multiple topics they can ask follow-up questions on depending on their interest. If they’re not interested in any of that a longer description is just wasted words.

The Descriptor

This adds status to the statement and fleshes out the description. How is the project doing? Where is it in the process? Where do you need help?

The story follows a young man and the voices in his head as they navigate through an Earth where physics has gone wrong. I’m about a quarter complete and am planning on getting the draft out to early readers for feedback by mid December.

I’ve engaged the story (compared to the book) and communicated progress, completion estimate, current state and that there is an opportunity for their assistance.

The Decimator

The waxing poetic marketing blurb. This is stuff suitable for the back cover and the Amazon description. This tends to work better written, unless you can talk like that guy who narrates all of the movie trailers. “IN a World…” You know the guy.

200 years have passed since the fall of mankind. Life is cheap, brutal and short for the remnants of humanity as they eke out a desperate existence in the deadly Earth their ancestors created. The Cataclysm mankind visited upon itself has taken away its greatest advantage; technology no longer functions in a world where physics is broken.

Life is slightly better for Daeven. Deep in the Burrows he has food, shelter and community, a quality of life that he had thought unachievable. But there is a shadow hanging over Daeven. A darkness that lies waiting in his mind, ever watchful, ever waiting.

Darkness has decided that its waiting is over.

At this point they should be telling me to shut up and take their money.


There you have it. The elevator speech, sized to fit all audiences.

Write what you know, otherwise…

You’ll end up on an NSA watch list as I most assuredly have. In the past 2 days I’ve Googled:

  • How long does it take to choke somebody to death?
  • Phosphate based explosive compounds.
  • Flashpoint of magnesium?
  • Rats as biological weapons.
  • Mosquitoes as biological weapons.
  • How can you train a botfly?

Okay, that last one might not have tripped any flags but I’d still be worried about anybody searching for it. Unless they were writers, of course.

What scary/weird things have you been Googling?