I’m Back! (In the Bat-Cave?)


With life being so busy lately, I have gone literally MONTHS without writing new words. I’ve done some revision work, going over old words here and there on some short stories as time allowed, but I hadn’t written anything new lately. Which then makes the idea of sitting down and starting again kind of intimidating.

What if I can’t do it? What if I try and it sucks? What if I turn on the faucet and no water comes out, just some coughs of dust and dirt and some unidentifiable rat parts?

Whenever I go back and read something I’ve written, I’m always kind of amazed: “I wrote that? Are you sure?”

Getting into the groove and writing is like going into a trance. I don’t remember much about it and there’s a big blank slate of time missing from my memory. Like being abducted by UFOs.

But this week, I finally got some time (and the courage) to write again.

It’s kind of like riding a bike, I suppose. You always know how to do it, but if it’s been a long time, the idea may be kind of daunting. You might be afraid that you’ll fall over and skin your knee. How does one maintain balance like that anyway? What keeps us up on those two narrow wheels? How is that even possible?!

But this week, I got back on that bike, or that horse, or that UFO, and it feels great!

First, I happened to find (by pure luck) that the Black Library currently has an open submission window. This is the fiction publishing arm for Games Workshop and thus Warhammer 40K, Warhammer Fantasy (now Age of Sigmar), etc. And I was excited to see that they weren’t just looking for Space Marines shooting stuff. On their seekers list of genres (still set within their own copyrighted universes, of course), there was also detective, police procedural, and mystery.

And since I enjoy writing noir gumshoe stuff, I decided to take a stab at it.

I found this right before lunch on Monday or Tuesday, and then spent my lunch break swimming laps at the YMCA. So between swimming and driving, by the time I got back to the office, I had a fully-formed idea ready to go!

Now, all they needed was 500 words and a quick blurb/summary, not a whole story. Which is great because who wants to write a whole thousands-of-words story when there’s only one publisher that can say yes or no to it? (Since it’s set in their copyrighted universe.) So I cranked out 500 words easily enough and, BAM, it was 90% ready to go!

After some revisions and some proofreading assistance, I sent that baby out. Now, the chances of it getting selected for a full write-up are pretty slim, but having only spent a few hours on it for an opportunity to get in front of scifi and fantasy readers around the globe? Well worth the time and the risk, if you ask me. I’m not afraid of getting shot down by then. Rejection is a natural part of writing (of life, for that matter), and my thick callus formed long ago. I can take it. It’ll be several months, before I hear back anyway, if ever. No response means—guess, what?—they don’t want it. It doesn’t fit what they’re readers generally pay for. Which, from what I can tell, is generally a younger audience than I usually write for anyway, so… Oh well.

If that happens, I’ll just change the elements of the story that belong only to the 40K setting and make it my own. The story is good without their stuff.

Moving on.

The bigger accomplishment—and much more intimidating monster—was getting back to writing Deus Ex Machina, my next big novel release. I’ve been back and forth on that so many times, and away from it for a very long time.

Last I remember working on it was in a Mr. Doughnut shop in Yokosuka, Japan, while I was on night shifts. This would have been about 10:00 at night and about the only place left open in town, save the bars, which are not quiet, conducive environments for writing. Mr. Doughnut was the only place open till 11:00 and when I was there, it was pretty much just me and the two young Japanese kids who worked there. And some strange, Mr. Doughnut-brand oldie’s station piped over the speakers in English.

Anyway, the submission package for Black Library was a nice distraction and excuse for avoiding DXM. But that was now done. And being Good Friday with nothing much happening, I squared off some time to make this happen.

It took me longer than usual, 2 or 3 hours all told, between reading to catch up, looking through old notes, checking back chapters for details, and everything, but I finally finished chapter 22, which I had started some months ago, and plotted out what happens next in chapters 23, 24, and 25. Which will then be the end of Part II. (I generally go with the three-act structure on my novels.) And it flowed well, I got somewhere, made some new discoveries about my characters and story I didn’t know before, and all was wonderful with the fictional world.


DXM is 60,000 words long now, and I project it’ll be no more than 85K when done. Which puts me about 70% of the way through. I had estimated 80% before, but I guess I was wrong.

Or I could be right—don’t know how long it’ll be until I’m done. But I can say with some confidence that Part/Act III won’t have more than 10 chapters to it. Once we crest that hill, I want it to be pretty much roller coaster speed from there to the end. Shit’s gonna turn bad real quick and force some hard decisions to be made by Spitball and his buds.

The writing should go faster at that point, too. And I hope that a lot of the deadly, hot lava formations from the volcano eruption that’s been my life these last few months will be cooled off by then, making it easier to find writing time.

Still on the Lava List: our damn taxes still need to be done(!!!), checking into the Navy Reserves, taking my semi-annual Physical Readiness Test with them, and finishing the purchase of and moving into our new house.

So, you know, nothing major… (YIKES!)

Also on my list is finishing up and launching my Kickstarter Campaign to help get DXM off the ground. Especially after the said volcanic eruption, I’m going to need some help getting cover art, editing, and voice narration done. That’s still coming, folks, so if you want to help, stay tuned! As soon as I can figure out what the hell I’m going to do for a video, it should be ready to go.

That’s all for now.

(Wasn’t that enough? you’re saying to yourself.)

Happy Easter and enjoy your holiday weekend!

(So what does the picture above have to do with anything? Nothing at all! I just needed some kind of image to go with this. *shrug*)



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