I found myself with a rare pair of nights alone at home, since the wife is visiting her family for my SIL’s graduation. I’m using the time to get caught up on HOWLING WILDERNESS, which, like every damn thing I write, is resisting my efforts to make sense.
This last week has been quite productive though. In addition to reducing the length of the Appalachian Trail Classic, I’ve also figured out ways to make the main three characters bounce off of each other better.
One potential pitfall is that I have 26 racers in the Classic and I’m tempted to showcase them all equally. That’s not going to be possible, so some of them will just have to get a passing mention (although I’ll draw all of them at some point.) Tonight I outlined a scene with a character called “Ohio Pete” Hamden–he’s got an important role to play at the end, so it was necessary to set him up at the beginning, but really he’s a second- or third-tier character. So I’ve got to be careful.
As of this writing I’m still putting the final touches on the outline, but once I have those in place the drafting will be smoother than it’s been so far. I just keep hitting the wall every time I sit down to draft because I don’t have all the minutiae in order and that stuff matters in a book like this.
Okay I figured out a lot of what was going wrong with HW.
Since it’s a race along the Appalachian Trail, I needed to double-check the course I had in mind. Looks like for a lot of it the racers won’t be on the current-day AT. It makes sense because they will be on machines and stuff, not on foot like the through-hikers do.
So the trail in the book will follow current-day roads and highways along rivers and such. That makes it about 700 miles shorter than in IRL. Trims about a week off of the original timeline.
That helps me to keep the pacing up. Trim the fat, as it were.
And my wife is out of town for the next two nights for a thing at my in-laws, so it looks like Graham is caffeinating and drafting like a mofo. Updates to come.
For the final week of April I was on vacation. It was nice to stay up late and sleep in and do more of what I want to. Considering retirement now.
I wrote 16,000 words in HOWLING WILDERNESS. It’s coming together. It’s a predictable hot mess, but yeah, it’s coming together. Not going to put a deadline on this one. I’m tired of deadlines. I’m tired of not controlling enough in my own life and my own schedule so I’m just going to do as much of it as I can, as quickly as I can, and go from there.
Maybe if I actually sold books once in a while I wouldn’t have to make all my money off of trucking 50+ hours a week. Whatever.
4 books total, 2 print, 2 audio. I didn’t read as much in April. Spent a lot of time listening to podcasts. I also tried a manga that I’ve heard of and the very first page was the protagonist male plowing some chick who turned out to be a huge demon monster, so yeah, I bailed on that. I’m back into some good stuff this month, including more Tolkien. Why is there so much bad writing out there?
I finished this really cool drawing of me with my Durango as an Autobot. My next project is for a YouTube video.
Radcracker Podcast posts every week, except for this last week. Didn’t record while I was on vacation. EofL audio podcasts are coming eventually. Don’t know when, don’t care.
Latest video is here, I talk about some Sanderson books. Managed to add 10 more subscribers this month. Thanks you guys.
Didn’t exercise and I ate like garbage. I’m going full Nazi on it this month and I’ll report back on Memorial Day. I don’t care, I DO NOT CARE.
I’ve had an idea for the Radcracker Podcast that I want to discuss, I just haven’t sat down to organize my thoughts on it. Short version is that part of the worldbuilding/prewriting for a story involves an aesthetics check.
What does the world of the story look like? What do people wear? In a visual medium, what would the color pallet be? In an audio medium, what kind of music would fit the scenery? Things like that.
Anyway, as I’ve been working on the visuals for the characters, here’s some cool stuff I’ve developed for the two main characters.
ANDREW HARTFORD REEVES, JUNIOR–aka GRAVEHEART
The other focal character is MARY KATHERINE LITTLETON–aka STORMCUTTER. But I haven’t found all of the pics I want to use for her just yet. I’ll save her for next week.
I don’t have any artwork to share on this one yet, because it’s all sketchy blue-line stuff in the rough phase. However, you should know that I’m progressing on both the artwork and the draft for HOWLING WILDERNESS, the next exciting entry in the Engines timeline.
To give you guys a bigger picture, here’s the scope of said timeline.
Engines of Piracy: (1692 AD)
This is a planned trilogy that will replace an old idea I had for a pirate fantasy novel. I realized that several components of the story would work well as an Engines tie-in so I repurposed it as such. Given that it takes place almost 300 years prior to the Liberty trilogy, there won’t be much–if any–character overlap. The protagonist is a Spanish inventor named Tiberio Iniesta, and the antagonist is a British minor nobleman whose name I haven’t decided on yet.
I have other ideas to connect it to the main timeline. Historians will note the year, and when I tell you that it happens in Port Royal, Jamaica, I think you’ll remember a significant event that took place there. It still happens in this alternate timeline but for a very different reason. 🙂
Engines of Liberty (1984 AD)
This is the trilogy I have already written and published. I’ve decided to narrate it for the DreadPennies Adventure Hour podcast, as I will all of these books. Calvin Adler is the central figure of all three books, with love interest Amelia McCracken and antagonist Godfrey Norrington rounding out the big three.
Once upon a time I wrote a novella trilogy called Engines of Winter that took place 10 years after PATRIOT’S GAME, but it ended poorly and I need to rework it. In my head I’m treating part of it like canon, and if I ever get around to it, I’ll make sure to codify the relevant details into the timeline.
Engines of Justice (2034 AD)
This trilogy introduces Ezekiel Duncan “Ezzy” Trench, a member of the Federal Lancer Bureau, whose job it is to hunt down rogue magicians on American soil. He’s a descendant of one of the Rebel Hearts. He has magic himself but he’s approved for use due to his national loyalty.
HOWLING WILDERNESS takes place in this era but it’s not part of the Justice trilogy. HOWLING’S protagonists are a mysterious man known as Graveheart and a young Appalachee woman named Mickey Littleton. The villain’s name is Calico Hind. More as that one comes along.
Similarly I have another standalone called BLOOD RUST that’s about a disgraced bullfighter trying to win back his honor. Only it’s the Engines timeline, so this bullfighter operates mechs and fights against robot bulls.
Engines of Tyranny (2084 AD)
I have to be very careful with what I say about the Tyranny trilogy, because it concludes this alternate timeline in a way that I think is unique. This is the one that will really, flagrantly, definitely connect the Engines timeline to the rest of the DreadVerse.
The eventual goal is to release the individual stories in each trilogy as audiobooks and paperbacks, then release omnibus hardcovers with exclusive illustrations. Each one will have to be crowdfunded. Should be awesome.
Anyway, I’m working on HOWLING, and making it as strong as I can. It’s fun to write and that’s always the key element. Stay tuned.
When you’re a kid in a devout Christian household, your parents tend to drag you to the movies whenever Hollywood decides to cash in on your faith. This was the case in 1998 when DreamWorks released The Prince of Egypt, an animated feature about the Exodus that was intended to compete with the Empire of the Mouse.
I was a high school freshman back then, and I remember seeing the flick over Christmas Break. It was fine–nothing life-altering, as I had already read the book and I knew how the story ended. It was cool to hear Captain Picard’s voice as Pharaoh and it gave the whole ‘killing Hebrew babies’ episode some extra weight when he said “They were only slaves.” Movies of classic stories can bring things to life in a way that the written word can’t.
Still, it wasn’t the kind of thing you ran out to tell your friends about. “Oh BROOOO did you see the part where Moses was like ‘let them go!’ but Rameses was like ‘NAH’ and then…yeah!” But that had more to do with the value I placed on peer opinion, and less to do with the quality of the product on screen.
Which, now that I’ve seen it recently, is pretty damn good. The animation style, while divergent from the expectation that Disney had conditioned into audiences, was consistent and realistic. The soundtrack has aged very well. And while the story of Moses’ progression from prince to prophet leaves you with no surprises, the clarity of Rameses’ motivations gave me a lot to chew on for days.
(Since we’re reading Exodus this week at church, the wife and I watched the movie with our kids, which prompted all of this.)
On that note, I wanted to address one of the most important parts of all this, and that’s the “foreword” that comes up before the movie starts playing. Basically the creators say that this is an adaptation, they made some changes for the purposes of the format, but it’s true to the spirit of the story, and y’all should just go read the Bible for the details.
Perfectly fine. Shoot, it’s downright humble compared to the full-court press gaslighting that you get from Amazon and Disney when you point out that their versions of Middle-Earth and Marvel run completely counter to their source material. Remember when studios respected their audiences, instead of acting entitled to them? Dude.
Anyway, between reading the book and watching the cartoon, I’ve been thinking a lot about Moses and Rameses. There’s a lot I don’t know about them. Was Moses really surprised to find out he was a Hebrew? Not sure. Was Rameses really the Pharaoh during these events? Also not sure. There’s a lot of historical reading in my future.
But the lessons of both these mens’ lives as shown in the movie are very relevant to me. Moses had to go against his upbringing, against everything he was comfortable with, to serve a higher, righteous cause. Even after meeting God in the burning bush he still had to do the hard work of confronting the brother that he loved, and asking him to do the one thing he feared: dismantle the empire he was supposed to guard.
And Rameses! I have a new appreciation for this character. From act 1 we get a clear motivation for this guy: live up to his responsibility. Protect the dynasty that will one day be his. Don’t be the weak link in the chain throughout history. There has to be immense pressure on him.
In a sense these are two men who are both utterly devoted to their deities, one of whom serves an imperial pantheon and the other of which answers to the one true God of all creation. Moses doesn’t want Egypt to suffer but Israel is already suffering and that has to end. Rameses is more loyal to his father than to his brother, and when his gods go up against the Hebrew god, he doubles and triples down in a contest of wills that can only have one outcome.
There are so many lessons in this, and when you can fit so much into a tight piece of writing, man…that’s just good storytelling. Even at the end, in the Red Sea, when the waters close in on Rameses and he throws his hands out like he can stop it…that is an excellent character right there. A villain who sticks to his goals despite every chance and every reason not to. His motivation and his values are clear, they’re just wrong.
I’m gonna keep chewing on this. You should too. Go rewatch Prince of Egypt. Let me know what you think.
You probably saw on Insta and my other pages that I finished the cover art for SHERIFF PORTER. Big milestone, I’m very pleased.
This doesn’t automatically mean I’ll have a paperback edition ready. When I put it in physical form I want it to have interior illustrations, and that just takes time. I will however prepare a Kindle edition.
I’m not a fan of ebooks, I don’t really read them, but I’ll make them available for those who like them. Expect an announcement on that down the road, I don’t have a deadline. Especially not since the audiobook is available for free on the DreadPennies Adventure Hour podcast. (Wherever you listen to podcasts.)