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Halfway to the End of Nanowrimo (and I’m behind)

Congratulations to everyone doing Nanowrimo! We made it to the halfway point.

Halfway to the End!

Halfway to the End!

As everyone who has been watching the blog knows, I’ve mostly been posting chapters from my current Nanowrimo effort. I’m torn about whether I should continue or if it’s just distracting. Please feel free to comment and chime in.

I’m currently behind (22,007 words vs 25,000 target), but not terribly so. In fact, I’m usually much further behind at this point in November. Here’s what I do to get back on track:

1) Outline – make sure I know where I’m going. I write much faster when I don’t have to think about what to write.

2) Go Back – I know, this is anathema to Nanowrimo, but sometimes, it helps me with my word count and my focus to go back and add a description to a chapter or flesh out or even add a scene.

3) Commit to 1,667 words a day – Basically, I make sure that I will not fall any further behind. I’ll write at lunch. I’ll write in an email and send it to myself. I’ll take full advantage of everything that modern technology has given us.

4) Get some sleep – This may sound counterproductive, but Nanowrimo is a long race. Without sleep, I’m not as creative and it doesn’t work as well.

5) Ask for feedback and/or encouragement – It is amazing how much a support group can do for you.

6) Go out of order – A good friend of mine, author Wayland Smith, once told me, “Write what inpsires you.” If you have a scene in your head, go and write it even if it’s not time for it. We are writing 50,000 words, but there’s going to be a lot of work to turn this into a finished product.

7) Finally, don’t worry about the word count. Just write and have fun. If you get into your story, words will take care of themselves.

Good luck to all! Meanwhile, I’m going to see how close I can get to 25,000 words before midnight. After that, I may work on the other superhero story I’m doing, several things that I’m editing and/or some Mummy stuff…

All the best,

Harry

Still Writing (and this one rambles)

When most people find out that I’m a published author, they are usually surprised. The reactions range from “Oh, I know someone who self-published something too” to “Wow, if you’re an author, why do you still come to work?” After a while, most tell me how impressed they are that I manage to find the time. I often get to share stories with them about their dreams, and I do my best to encourage them.

Of course, just because I write doesn’t mean it’s easy.

I’m an overweight guy in his forties with a kid, a wonderful wife and a mortgage. I have a full time job (which I happen to like), but I struggle with bills and wish I kept up with my lawn better. I’m tired when I get home from work. I want to watch the Voice, the Big Bang Theory, the Walking Dead, etc. I wish sometimes that I played an MMORPG or that I was good enough at shooting games to offer to play Call of Duty with the guys at work. I have a long list of things that need fixing around the house. If I just gave up writing, I’d have a lot more time and could join in a whole lot more conversations about what’s on tv at night.

However, I can’t give up writing. It’s my dream. Sure, I’d love to go and see a movie one day based on a book that I wrote. I’m pretty sure that will never happen, but I can’t let the thought go. I wanted to be a writer since I read my first comic books, like Incredible Hulk #200, Captain America and the Falcon #199, and Iron Man #89 (all vol. 1 just to date myself). I found a journal in 8th grade where I wrote that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I still remember my grandfather, who I call Captain Heckel, giving me a copy of Beowulf. It’s what I wanted to do ever since I discovered books. I want to write Lord of the Rings. I want to make other people happy, to inspire them, to lift spirits, to somehow improve the world a little bit.

I feel called to do it. It’s one of the reasons that I’m here. I’ve quit writing before, a couple of times in fact, but I can’t stay away. Story ideas live in my head. I imagine scenarios and characters. I could fill this blog with novel titles that have yet to be written, and I’m sure the list will be longer in a year. It’s my dream, and it fills me with hope.

I know that if I should be fortunate enough to live to a ripe old age that if my grandchildren or great-grandchildren ask me if I ever had any dreams, I’ll be able to say yes. If they want to know if I tried to pursue them, I’ll say I did. Success or failure, I’ll know that I tried. I’ve always believed that if you try your best, no one came blame you if you don’t succeed.

So, I’ll keep writing. I’ll do a little bit after my daughter goes to bed. I’ll write at lunch for fifteen minutes or half an hour. I’ll try to write a little in the morning or at night when I can’t sleep. I’ll diligently save the words, and slowly, but surely, novels will grow. And then, I’ll go back to them and rewrite and rewrite and edit and rewrite again. 🙂

I hope that everyone who reads this finds a way to pursue their own dream. If it’s writing, fantastic. If it’s painting miniatures, great. If it’s growing the roses that everyone on your street talks about or being the sort of fan of your local college team that everyone respects, wonderful. Dreams don’t have to be pursued full-time and even doing a little bit can make a difference. Just make sure that whatever it is that it makes you happy.

Okay, I’ve rambled a bit. Hopefully, I’ll have some time to write more blog posts. I’ll put another Freedom Squad Nanowrimo up tomorrow.

All the best!

Harry

Preparation for Nanowrimo

As the countdown continues to November 1st, I’m doing my best to get ready for novel-writing. For me, there are a couple of steps that I will be taking to make sure this year starts out well.

Love an idea and outline it –  I want to have an idea and usually I have two or three on that last day. I like having two in case I suddenly have cold feet about the one I decided to do. I’ll do some preliminary research on locations or any trivial facts that I need to get the first day off to a fantastic start. In order to write 50,000 words, I really want to make sure that I love the concept and that I have a basic outline written out. The outline might get thrown out after day 1, but it helps me to have a plan so I don’t run out of momentum. I need to make sure that I love the idea because at some point when I’m trying to write 50K in one month, I’m going to hate trying to write this book. I need to love the novel enough to get over my lack of desire to sit at the computer and type. 50,000 words is a lot of writing.

Support Group Activated! – For me, this means warning my family and friends that I’m doing nanowrimo. It’s always good to tell those close to you what you are planning so they can support you through the process. Recruiting a friend to write along with you can help as well. Before I finished the Crimson Hawks novel in 2009, I fell 10,000 words behind the pace. A buddy of mine was in the same situation. He called me and we both agreed to push each other and do a little extra every day and catch up. Unfortunately, he didn’t finish his book, but he certainly helped me finish mine. Friends have two seemingly opposed jobs: They help make sure I have time to write, and they need to pull me away from the computer before I burn out mid-month. 🙂

Noveling Supplies – A good friend of mine asked me if I had enough caffeine ready for November. It was a valid point. Personally, if you are going to stay up too late increasing your word count, I recommend water and fruit juices as opposed to soda or energy drinks. Coffee and tea work in moderation, but over-caffination (sp?- yes, I know but it should be a word) tends to run me down in the long term. Nanowrimo is a marathon, not a sprint. My writing mentor once told me that you won’t fall asleep if you have to go to the bathroom so drink lots of water. Hydration also keeps the brain working. There’s nothing wrong with a favorite snack as well, and I like to have a notepad around. Writing on paper can change my mindset and help me get through sticky plot issues. Besides, my eyes get tired staring at computer monitors.

Sleep – Of all the things I’ve listed, this is the most important. Just about everyone writes better when they’ve had more sleep. It doesn’t always feel that way, but trust me, sleep is essential. I try to get extra sleep if I can before November 1st, and I almost always take a nap after trick or treating to brace myself for midnight.

There is a lot of good advice out there for potential novelists. Take a look, see what you find, and decide what works for you!

All the best,

Harry (Vashar on Nanowrimo.org)

 

 

 

HeroNet Files Story Excerpt

Hi everyone,

 

Here’s a draft of the first section of my story in HeroNet Files. Enjoy!

 

Ten Years Ago

Trapped in an underground cavern, the hero Orion struggled to free himself from the arcane bonds pinning him against an obsidian monolith. He strained both his muscles and his mind, as his psychic powers tried to unravel the evil magic that held him captive. He didn’t have much time. His archenemy, Doctor Inferno, had already completed the first part of his unholy ritual.

The super-villain paused from his castings and floated over to regard his black-clad caped nemesis. When they had first met, Orion’s hair had been as dark as his uniform, but now, it was as white as the starry constellation pattern on his chest. Of course, Inferno had not changed, at least in appearance. He still wore his tattered purple robes and his skeletal features remained wreathed in hellfire. So many years they had fought, but now, it would come to an end. Despite himself, Doctor Inferno was determined to explain to Orion how he had finally won. He wanted to savor this victory.

“So, Orion,” Inferno rasped, “you can keep trying to find a way to use your mutant mental abilities to defeat my sorceries, but you will fail. Your old team is gone. They were smarter than you. They retired. There is no Citadel of Justice to stop me. No, my old enemy, there is only you, and you are trapped and bound.”

He paused to savor Orion’s glare. Rubbing his skeletal hands together, Inferno continued. “I’ve summoned the Eternal Darkness, a mystical energy source capable of unraveling your world. Think of it with your scientific mind as a black hole unleashed upon this precious planet – a black hole that I will command. It’s coming, and nothing you can do will stop it.”

Orion forced confidence into his voice. There was hope, but he needed time. Perhaps if he spoke long enough, the bonds would break. Maybe help would come. “We’ve done this before, Inferno. You’ve always failed, and I’ll find a way to beat you again.”

Doctor Inferno made a harsh sound that could have been a cough. “Don’t delude yourself. You know that even your science dictates that I should triumph. You call it the law of averages. You defeated me what, six times?”

“Fifteen.”

Doctor Inferno clenched his fists. “Fifteen?” He hissed and coughed again. “Truly? Fifteen! Fine! So, you’ve defeated me fifteen times. Fine. But this time, we are buried in a lair underground, shielded by so many mystic protections that no one can find us.”

Orion smiled. “I found it.”

Inferno’s skull flames flared with his anger. “Yes, you did. You always find people. That’s why you call yourself Orion, because you hunt down injustice. I’m used to it. I knew you would be here, but I have trapped and defeated you. And when the Eternal Darkness comes to me, I shall make you its first victim.”

“You’ve lost, Inferno.”

“How can you say that? I could kill you now. I could win anytime I want. You are helpless. I’ve won.”

“Watch,” said Orion.

At that moment, a twisting tunnel of light formed in the center of the ritual circle. Four figures in costume landed on the stone, ready for action.

“Who dares?” shouted Doctor Inferno. “What madness is this, Orion?”

“New Citadel, attack!” shouted one of the figures. He wore a black costume with yellow flame designs on his gloves and boots and a yellow exploding star symbol on his chest. He threw his cape back behind him with a flourish and ignited a brilliant golden energy blade which reflected off the mirror shades that he wore even in the darkened cavern.

“I was planning on it, Nightstar. Let’s see how Doctor Inferno handles his balance being disrupted,” said a young woman with a domino mask wearing a unitard covered in kaleidoscope of colors.

Nightstar didn’t pause to reply. “Clone, find a way to free Orion. Blazar, help Spira with the evil doctor. Let me know if nuclear energy can overwhelm hellfire.”

Without waiting for Blazar, Spira soared toward the roof of the cave and pointed her hands at Doctor Inferno. The air rippled around the super-villain.

“Foolish child, do you think that you can disturb the sense of balance of one who has traveled realms beyond your ability to comprehend?” said Doctor Inferno. He responded to her attack with a bolt of flame. A crackling field of electricity formed around her, diverting the fire.

Spira looked first at Orion, then around the cavern. She was as surprised as Doctor Inferno. “Where did that come from?” she whispered, even as she used her flight to dodge another flame blast.

While Dr. Inferno focused on Spira, the living nuclear android, Blazar, unleashed his fusion bolts with a roar. However, as they reached their target, a glowing mystical shield deflected them. Realizing the potential danger to his teammates, he activated his control rods to absorb the radioactive blasts into himself. He would be able to fire again in 52.17 seconds, but he calculated a 70% chance that he would be too late to determine the outcome of the battle.

Clone, the man able to be in two places at once, divided and sent his second self, Clone 2, over to Orion, using his genetically enhanced reflexes to leap across the pools of magma, while his first self, Clone 1, moved underneath Spira in hopes of catching her if she fell out of the air. Before Clone 2 could reach Orion, a rocky humanoid erupted out of the ground between him and the world’s most powerful psionic hero.

“My rock elementals should easily thwart any chance you have of saving Orion,” laughed Doctor Inferno.

With a deep rumble, two more rock elementals rose from the ground to join the first.
“Nightstar, we have a problem,” said Clone 2 as he prepared to dodge giant stone fists.

“Is this your plan, Orion? These young heroes? Are they the replacement for your Citadel of Justice? Perhaps one of them will survive to tell the story of your defeat… that is, if I leave anyone in the world for them to tell.” Doctor Inferno laughed maniacally. “What do you think? Should I leave someone to record my triumph?”

There was no answer. Orion was gone. Only the mystical bindings remained.
“No!” screamed Doctor Inferno. “That’s impossible! He can’t have escaped.”

Nightstar spun his sword and seemed to cut a hole in reality which he stepped through, only to step out where Orion had been a mere moment before. He stood defensively in front of the obsidian monolith.

Doctor Inferno now knew what was happening. Orion was invisible.

“You didn’t put this team together, did you, Orion? It was your old teammate, that gadgeteer lad, Poltergeist. I should have known from the girl’s electrical force field. Have you grown up now, kid hero? Gathered your own team of youths? Well, you think of me as a master of fire, but the flames of hell burn cold as well as hot. Ice of Nevermelt, freeze my enemies and bring an end to this.”

1.03 seconds to power, thought Blazar as his systems shut down. Frost covered his body. Ice encased Spira, and she fell toward Clone 1. Perhaps by reflex, Clone 2 summoned his other self, before Spira’s ice block smashed him. Nightstar became a frosted statue and the outlines of another figure in gray and black armor appeared beside him, with one hand touching Orion’s chest in an attempt to share an invisibility field.

Only Orion remained untouched, just as Inferno had wanted.

“Very clever. It was Poltergeist. He’s old enough now to mentor these young heroes. Trying to pass on a legacy, Orion? How did they find me?”
“I’m sure if you try to think about it, you can figure it out. I’ll let you try twenty questions if you’d like.” Orion furrowed his forehead, trying to find some last reserve of psychic power. He was still trying to stall. He looked at the frozen body of Poltergeist, and thought to himself, “Good try, Daniel. I knew that you might one day be the best of us.”

“It is over,” pronounced Doctor Inferno. “The Eternal Darkness is here. I can sense it. I now call it to me!” He raised his hands and more flames erupted from his skeletal fingertips.

Orion focused on the evil mastermind. He had to make mental contact with Doctor Inferno. Despite the bonds, maybe he could fire a single psychic blast and still disrupt this terrible ritual…

Suddenly, Nightstar appeared in the air beside Doctor Inferno, no longer frozen. Before he fell, the young hero struck the super-villain with his blade.

The sword was psychic energy and though it did no physical damage, the thrust disrupted all of Doctor Inferno’s spells, including the one that sustained his physical form. Orion’s greatest enemy screamed, a terrible agonizing psychic scream that Orion felt in the deepest sections of his mind, echoing over and over. The mental feedback made him scream louder than his nemesis before falling to the floor, no longer held by his mystical bonds, unconscious.

Nightstar twisted in the air and landed in a crouch on his feet.

Doctor Inferno’s empty tattered robe landed beside him.

“Orion! Sir, are you okay?”

There was no response. Nightstar was beside him in an instant and put a hand over the man’s heart. He felt a beat. Orion was breathing, and his heart was beating. Nightstar ran a gloved hand through his hair.

“Nightstar, step back. I’ll check him,” said Poltergeist. Nightstar’s mentor, the former kid sidekick of the original Citadel was moving again. Poltergeist carefully checked Orion.

The freezing spell had broken.

“My uniform feels terrible,” shouted Spira.

“What happened?” said Clone.

Orion opened his eyes. He looked from Poltergeist to Nightstar. “Nightstar. Is that right?”

“Yes, sir, that’s me. Doctor Inferno is gone.”
Orion laughed softly. “Nightstar, you just saved the world. I’m not sure what went wrong with Inferno’s spell, but I won’t argue. Good teleporting too,” said Orion with a smile.

Behind that smile, the older hero had come to a realization.

Poltergeist spoke. “Nightstar’s the team leader. He’s the one that located you and his teleportation to bring us here, though I wish the young man had given me more warning.”

Nightstar adjusted his shades. “There was no time,” he said flatly.

“He’s right,” said Orion. “There was no time. He did well.”

Poltergeist nodded. “He’ll need more training. They all will. Just like you trained me, but I agree, old friend, they did well.”

Orion closed his eyes. He didn’t want to say anything. He worried that if Nightstar knew what had truly happened, the young hero might not forgive himself. Orion had made contact with Inferno at the moment of Nightstar’s psychic sword strike. The psychic backlash had quieted Orion’s mind. The thoughts of everyone around him were silent for the first time since his childhood. He wondered if his mind would stay this way. If so, his days as a hero were over. To his surprise, Orion felt a great sense of relief.

He sat up with Poltergeist’s help and regarded the young team staring at him in awe. They would protect the innocent from threats like Inferno.

It was time to hang up the cape.

“As for me,” said Orion, “get me back to your base, let me heal, and then, I have a special lady waiting for me.”

Three days later, Corey Dandridge parked his car in the driveway of his townhome in Sydney, Australia. He had wanted to live his normal life as far away from the United States as he could, where few super-villains bothered attacking. He had chosen Australia.

The media was abuzz with word of Orion’s retirement announcement two days ago in San Francisico at the headquarters of the Citadel of… well, actually, New Citadel, he reminded himself. It would subside soon enough. Maybe he would write a memoir one day.

As for now, there was someone he hadn’t seen in far too long. He unlocked the door and went inside.

“Li? You’re free! I’m home,” he shouted to his housekeeper.

“Dad!” came an excited yell. A blonde-haired twelve-year old girl raced into the room and threw her arms around him. She started crying.

“Corinne, are you okay?”

“I just missed you, so badly. I was worried, really worried, and I needed you. I needed you a lot.”

Li slipped through the room, taking her pocketbook and the roll of bills that Corey handed her.

“Goodbye, Cori, and Mr. Dandridge,” she said. She gave a smile and then left the father and daughter to their reunion.

After the door closed, Corinne released her father. She wiped her eyes.

“What is the matter with you, young lady?” he said softly. “You haven’t cried like this when I’ve been away on business since you were six.”

“That’s because I thought you were away on business, Dad, not fighting for your life against Doctor Inferno.”

Corey froze. “What?”

“Don’t try, Dad. If you are wondering how I know, well, something’s happened.”

With that, she raised her hands in the air. All of the furniture in the room lifted a foot off the floor. In his mind, Corey Dandridge heard his daughter’s voice.

“I need you to teach me how to control this.”

 

Happy July! Souls of the Everwood special on Smashwords!

Hi everyone,

June was a good month for my day job, but I didn’t post a thing here. My apologies. Note to self, never title another post “Waiting.”

I’m still working on Mummy stuff as well as HeroNet Files. I promise to post a cool pic of the cover art for HeroNet Files #1, but you can see it on Blue Oranda here. It’s located in the center of the covers at the top of the page.

Krueger has some good news. First of all, Smashwords is celebrating July with some coupons, so if you go to Smashwords and search for Souls of the Everwood, you will find a coupon code that can be used to purchase the book in just about any e-format you’d like for free. This is only until the end of July.

Souls of the Everwood cover

On another front, Balefire and Brimstone (Krueger Chronicles # 2) has been e-published, but everyone may want to hold off as there are going to be some formatting updates going in to the e-copies. If you have already purchased it, you may want to download again to get the most up-to-date version.

I hope everyone had a good 4th of July!

All the best,

Harry

An Old Friend Returns – Welcome back to Engage the Enemy!

Unfortunately, the free book promotion on Smashwords has ended, but thank you to everyone who picked up one of my books.

One of my favorite stories to tell about my forays into fiction regards a submission that I made to Inferno! magazine. It was a tale set in the grim darkness of the far future in Games Workshop’s world of Warhammer 40K, and it featured my favorite chapter of Space Marines, the Space Wolves. Anyway, I formed a partnership with my co-author who would later write with me as Lee Lightner. Here’s the amusing part of the story – my short story was rejected.

I had received it back and was basically told that it was unusable. I reached out and contacted the editor and to his immense credit, he took the time to tell me what he didn’t like about it (besides everything). I listened to what he said and asked if I rewrote it and returned it to him the next day if he would at least take the time to read it. He said yes. That evening I typed about as fast as I could and stayed up far too late for my own good as I reworked everything. The next day, it was accepted. Ultimately, it led to my two novels, Sons of Fenris and Wolf’s Honour.

Never give up.

Inferno! is long gone, but Engage the Enemy was republished this week by my good friends at Black Library. No royalties for me on this one, but I’m utterly pleased to see a story that meant so much to me reappear. Here’s the link.

ENGAGE THE ENEMY (eBook)

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