Plans for 2014

Finishing up New Olympus, which turned into a bigger pain in the butt than I expected. I've never had trouble with short stories before, but this time it's taken a lot longer than I expected to put them together, especially the ones where I had to integrate backer created characters into them (it was a neat idea for the Kickstarter campaign but I kinda screwed up the implementation. Mea culpa).

After that's done, I'll be turning to Doomsday Duet. One complaint I've been hearing from many readers is that Armageddon Girl had too many POV characters. I may have been overly ambitious there. I'm considering narrowing the focus of the novel and writing a parallel novel dealing with the stories that are part of the plot but not directly related to the Christine Dark story line. That novel would not be part of the New Olympus arc but would fill in readers on stuff that would happen "offstage" during the events described in Doomsday Duet and The Apocalypse Dance.

I'd love to hear any input (either in comments or e-mail) about this idea. It would mean a lot less (one-third to one half fewer) POV characters in the two follow-up novels, and a fourth novel that would be "optional" for readers. It would follow the deeds of Chastity Baal, Artemis and Swift, and a few others not directly involved in Christine's adventures. Opinions and comments are welcome.
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Published on February 04, 2014 09:46
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message 1: by Jabrwok (new)

Jabrwok I didn't have a problem with the multiple viewpoints, though I'm glad we never saw anything through Kestrel's eyes! I suppose you could've left the entire Artemis/Swift story line out, incorporating their activities into Doc Slaughter or Ultimate's chapters. The Chastity Baal thread seems likely to have growing significance, so unless I'm completely mis-reading that, she probably needs to remain a POV.

In any case, I have no complaints on the multiple POVs score. I AM sorry we won't be seeing any more of the Red Baron:-P.


message 2: by C.J. (new)

C.J. Thank you for the input, Jason. From the e-mails I've gotten, most people seem to be okay with the multiple POVs, with a sizable minority asking for more attention on Christine's storyline. I'll give it some more thought as I go back to the manuscript. Glad you liked the Red Baron story, btw :)


message 3: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Stirling I find that I add 60-120 pages for every viewpoint character. It's always a temptation to add more because they give you more perspectives to write from (particularly useful to avoid "as you know, Bob" lumps and to cover stuff that would be offscreen otherwise), but it can get out of hand real easily.

Back when I was doing my first novel, I deliberately limited it to two viewpoint characters and about a week of time to keep things simple. Of course, I did that one on a manual typewriter, when "cut and paste" meant cutting, and pasting.


message 4: by C.J. (new)

C.J. 60-120 pages per extra sounds about right. I think I could have cut a few of them and it might have made for a tighter narrative. I'm definitely going to pare down the number of POVs in the sequel.


message 5: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Stirling Yeah, I think that would work. Spinning the others off could also; the characters were all -interesting-, but the shifts gave a bit of whiplash sometimes.

Using a villain's p.o.v. now and then is useful to give the readers stuff the protagonists' don't know, too.


message 6: by C.J. (new)

C.J. Thank you. Cutting down on the POVs should actually help me finish the second book faster, since i enjoy writing Christine and Face-Off's section the most (although I have a soft spot for Mr. Night as well) :)


message 7: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Stirling Ah, the creepy villain even other villains think is creepy...


message 8: by C.J. (new)

C.J. That's the guy :) You have some of the best villains out there, my faves including Walker & Hong and more recently Adrienne.


message 9: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Stirling It's actually easier to show someone worse than yourself than someone better, in my experience. All you have to do is get down with your bad self... 8-).


message 10: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Stirling One of the reasons I did the Walker and Hong Team was to show that it isn't personal sadistic cruelty that causes the big problems. As Walker says to Hong at one point, she's a one-off handicraft artist of atrocity, and he's a Henry Ford industrialist.


message 11: by C.J. (new)

C.J. True, and yes, I really liked how Walker was in many ways the perfect perversion of the classical sci-fi Mighty Whitey bringer of civilization ;)


message 12: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Stirling Of course, Marion Alston was a Mighty Whitey bringer of civilization to the savages of Britain/Alba(*).

No, really. Even got the hot native princess and went up the tropical river to rescue the lost explorers.

(*) gay black subdivision, but hey.


message 13: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Stirling Incidentally, the reason ISLAND was published by Penguin is that the previous publisher went ballistic over Marion. Wanted me to change her into a straight white guy from Montana.

I offered to change her into a gay Indian guy from Montana and Swindapa into a blond male, but that wouldn't do and I think he sort of resented the suggestion.

He said, I quote, that he couldn't make the readers eat ***t.

So I yanked it, paid back the advance and walked. I knew it was the best thing I'd done, tho' I was how-am-I-going-to-meet-the-rent broke at the time.

I got an agent, and -he- liked it. As he said to me, there were only two ways to make him read a thousand-page manuscript over a weekend, and I hadn't been there in New York sticking a frakking gun to his head.

He sold it (two competing offers and a third nibble) within two weeks, saving me from eviction, and it's now in its 26th printing, averaging more than two a year since. My editor says they don't even -discuss- whether to reprint at meetings any more.

"I was right
And he was wrong
So I get to sing
The "I was right" song."

I usually don't mind editors making suggestions, but sometimes you've got to go with your gut.


message 14: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Stirling Sorry, that should be "just under two a year".


message 15: by C.J. (new)

C.J. Stephen wrote: "Of course, Marion Alston was a Mighty Whitey bringer of civilization to the savages of Britain/Alba(*).

No, really. Even got the hot native princess and went up the tropical river to rescue the..."


Yeah, I loved the scene where Marion is off in the jungle with her lily-white proto-Celtic askaris :)


message 16: by C.J. (new)

C.J. Wow. Amazing how things turn out. I think the Island series would have been much weaker without Marion in them. And hey, you did produce a white guy from Montana who was fairly heroic (at least in his own mind) ;)

In my (admittedly very limited) experience, a character can make or break a story. Armageddon Girl (originally titled The Armageddon Agenda) didn't really take off for me until I started working on Christine Dark's character, who went from a standard-issue damsel in distress to the main character of the story (inspired by an overdose of Felicia Day movie/tv/web characters). Without that character, I don't think the novel would have seen the light of day.


message 17: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Stirling Yeah, Christine's quirky and unusual. I liked the way her gaming experience fed into what she was undergoing.

One of my pet peeves is characters in a SFnal situation who -don't know pop culture-.

You know, "whatever could those two small marks on the throat be?"

Christine certainly didn't have -that- problem. She's an accurate reflection of the fact that fantasy/SF tropes saturate modern popular culture.

At the same time, she's continually running up against the contrast of -playing- adventure and actually undergoing adventure -- defined as someone else in deep doodoo far away.

Really nicely handled.


message 18: by C.J. (new)

C.J. Thank you, and I totally agree (one big example is zombie movies - most of the appear to happen in an ATL where no zombie movies ever existed, given how clueless the characters are). I really enjoy how so many of your characters use pop culture, from Walter & Hong's gleeful cribbing to (of course) the Rangers in the Dies The Fire universe :)


message 19: by Bill (new)

Bill Reich I didn't think I minded the number of viewpoint characters. However, now that you mention it, I would have liked to have seen more of Christine's and, especially Face-off's PoV.
Faceoff has a hard-boiled detective "feel" that I like quite a lot.


message 20: by C.J. (new)

C.J. Those two are my favorite characters to write - as of the first draft of DD, they do have the lion's share of the page count, although that may change as I add a few more sections in the first rewrite.


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