Joshua Unruh Y'all don't want to hear me, you just want to dance

27May/120

THE MAKING OF ‘THE STARS MY REDEMPTION’ PT. 3

You're in for a special treat today, blog-goers. A fellow Kindle All-Star and often frantic Twitter-mate, Tony Healey, aka the Fringe Scientist, has a new novel coming out. It's a science fiction piece that promises to be a great read. Tony's running around a few blogs talking about how the book came to be, and I was lucky enough to host Part 3. Enjoy!

Guest Post by Tony Healey

The Sci-Fi Adventure Novel ‘The Stars My Redemption’ is released June 1st in the Kindle Store.

At times in The Stars My Redemption there is a flashback within a flashback. Writing the book, I found it hard in deciding how to move from one flashback to another. On this one, I turned to Stephen King.

In ‘IT’, King uses the following technique to transition from one time to another.

(1985)

and then the writer transitioned from one time period to another. He picked up his pen and--

(1969)

--writes a cheque.

You see? It’s like in a movie, when someone thinks back to something that happened in the past. Sometimes the screens goes all wobbly, but in most modern films we just get a hard, clean cut to the past. I think that’s the best way. And although I know this device might throw a few readers off, I’m confident that most will get it. Look, if it worked for King in one of his most successful novels, I’m sure it will work for The Stars My Redemption.

I have used the flashbacks in the novel to show you what Abe has been upto. They give you a perspective on the character you wouldn’t have if the flashbacks weren’t present. And come the ending of the book, you will see how important those flashbacks really were. They are part of his arc as a character.

The quote from ‘Tiger’ by William Blake that appears at the beginning of the novel is a direct reference to the original title of The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. He was going to call the novel ‘Tiger! Tiger!’ and I almost considered the same at one point. But I thought it enough to include the quote only.

‘Tiger, Tiger,

Burning bright,

In the forests,

Of the night’

There are nods to Star Trek, Star Wars and other shows throughout the novel. There are also members of the Kindle All-Stars who have been written in. I couldn’t include everyone however, which is a shame. I’d have liked to have worked in all 30 members somehow. None of this was intentional, it just happened as I was writing.

When I thought about the character of Abe himself, I pictured a bald man with a white eye and a robotic arm that had seen more than his fair share of danger. I envisioned him covered in scars deep as tree bark and old tattoos from all four corners of the galaxy. A man who has literally been chewed to bits by the jaws of life. I thought that the uglier I made him outside, the more striking it would be to find that he still had a heart inside. As for his speech? He talks like some people I know or have come across. He’s a common man, and I wanted him to have that common flavour when he spoke.

I hope that readers enjoy The Stars My Redemption, and that they want more. I can’t say that there will be a sequel to the book. It’s a stand-alone novel in many ways. But I’ve left myself plenty of room for another novel set in the same universe, so maybe readers will be seeing more. As for Abe, I can tell you that there will be individual short stories featuring him. I might even write a prequel. He has a lot of history, and there are many adventures that are yet to be revealed. How did he become the most wanted man in the galaxy? I think he did something very very bad, and I think I have an idea what that might have been.

But you’ll have to wait to find out. My next novel is a thriller called ‘Adolf Hitler Must Die’. At the time of this writing I am halfway through it. I hope to publish it August 2012, all going well. I also have a collection of four horror stories I’m putting together called ‘At The Edge of Sleep’. And for years I’ve been filling notebooks with ideas for a Fantasy Series. Well, hopefully I’ll get the time this year to work on that too.

But after that all? Maybe I’ll look to the stars again. See what’s going on.

PART 1 appeared 05/25 at www.apiarysociety.com

PART 2 appeared 05/26 at www.davidhulegaard.com

16Mar/120

Vomitorium

So my son was sick earlier this week. Throwing up, low grade fever, the whole deal. The last time he had a tummy bug was so long ago that he doesn't remember it at all. Cut him some slack, he's four, not tons of life experience to draw from. But because of this memory issue, throwing up was basically the single most traumatic thing that could have happened to him.

Think about it. You put food in their all the time. Food and juice and candy and all kinds of  great stuff. It works it's way out the other end, sure, but it never, ever, EVER comes back out. That would just be...unnatural. If you try and imagine it from his POV, that's pretty scary stuff.

Anyway, the toughest part for me to watch was when he felt better the next day. He was so thirsty and a little hungry that the crackers and strawberry Pedia-Lite I gave him was like manna from heaven. They were simple and good, he wanted them, and they made him feel better.

For a couple hours.

Then it all came right back out.

And he completely didn't understand it. "But the Pedia-Lite made me feel better, daddy," he whimpered. "It was good, I liked it."

Again, you can see why he'd be confused. I gave him those things because they were good for him, I assured him they were good for him. But still, his body rejected them. And so fast that the recycled Pedia-Lite still smelled of strawberry. It was so good for him that it still smelled sorta okay even after it came back out. But now it was tainted no matter how good it smelled. It was good mixed with bad.

Slowly but surely, we experimented. Eventually, good things went in and stayed good on the inside. A week later, you'd never know his entire digestive system had been in rebellion.

Meanwhile...

So a few weeks ago, I started this short story. I was really excited to write it. It was using a character I'd had living in my head for years. And it was going to introduce an all new character that was an idea I should have had years ago. It was going to be Young Adult, like TEEN Agents, but more boy-focused. Necromancers, monsters, blowing stuff up, jet packs, the works.

But I think I jumped into it too fast after TEEN Agents. I mean, that thing went from not existing on November 1 to a polished piece of published work I couldn't be prouder of. But that kind of creative grindstone will wear down any nose. The nub I had left on my face didn't seem up to  the challenge of the short story.

Thing is, I almost never have trouble with word count. I have an idea, a plot and characters, then it's just  a matter of time before I get it on paper. It isn't all gold on that first draft, but the first draft gets done and relatively quickly. I had good things inside my head, it should've all worked out.

I started the damn thing five times. The first four were deleted whole cloth. Nothing from any of them made it into the opener I wound up using. The rest of it was  like  pulling teeth as well. Normally I look forward to my action scenes. After years and years of comics, I can see them in my head as they go. I almost never have to plan them, they happen organically as I go. But this whole thing just drug end to end. It  was lethargic locution.

I wasn't ready to let it go. I kept putting good things down on the paper slowly but surely even though they were tainted with a lot of bad. I sure as hell couldn't put the mess back in and expect it to come out better. It was a hot mess, but it was eventually out of me.

I sent Ajax Stewart in Werewolves of Mass Destruction to a friend and she LOVED IT. She helped me polish it and it was submitted to a Kindle All-Stars anthology (a YA reader for worldreader.org; that's a damn good cause).  La Consigliera of the KAS loves it so much she wants to make it the cornerstone of the anthology.

A week later, you wouldn't be able to tell my entire creative system had been in total rebellion.

I swear I had a point to these two stories. Ah well, I'm sure it'll come back to me.

9Dec/111

JOIN THE RESISTANCE!!

Ladies and Gentlemen! Children of ALL AGES! Direct your attention to the post below!

This is live RIGHT NOW! Go buy a copy here! I'm in this with a bunch of other up and comers (including the ever lovely Courtney Cantrell) not to mention a couple legends of speculative fiction. It's 500+ pages for just a dollar and every single cent of profit goes to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

You can't lose! Not only that, but you can help some kids not lose as well. Thanks and enjoy!

5Dec/110

How high’s the water, Mama? Five Feet High and Risin’

Hey gang! I'm sure my six week hiatus followed by begging for money basically killed whatever readership I had, and I'm sorry about that, but I'm back with a VENGEANCE! Here are some things I've been up to and some things you can look forward to.

  • I won Nanowrimo for the third time this year. I nearly did it before Thanksgiving, too, which was a very new experience. Both the last two times I scraped by with the skin of my teeth. Another new experience was starting on the second draft of a nano novel before Nanowrimo was even over.
  • The reason I'm working frantically on the second draft of a novel I finished one day after Thanksgiving is because, without quite knowing how, it's going to be the first full length novel I've ever published.
  • Sad news: Hell Bent for Leather has been bumped from January 2012 until  later in the year. Happy news: This is to make room for The Secret Life of TEEN Agents (working title), my Young Adult espionage thriller with three female protagonists.
  • Despite the fact that the timeline on TEEN Agents is hella short and sorta freaking me out, I think it's going to turn out really well and with a beautiful cover that's a modern take on Spy Fi.
  • This has opened up a huge opportunity for me on Hell Bent for Leather that I don't think I'm at liberty to talk about yet. Needless to say, it's going to make the book a lot better and also aid in its promotion. Watch this space for more info.
  • I'm also neck-deep in reworking the short story for the Winter issue of A Consortium of Worlds. That's also coming in January, so check it out!
  • We have a cover for the Kindle All Stars book and it's BRILLIANT! I'm so proud and excited to be part of that project I can hardly stand it.
  • Lastly on the Consortium and writing front, please take a moment to visit the Kickstarter page for The Dragonswarm and pledge whatever you can manage. We have some lovely thank you gifts for your pledges and you'll be helping both an amazing cause AND a great book (I'm reading it now).

Now, a little news about the blog, if you please.

  • I will be returning to a regular schedule next week, but it's going to shift to Tuesday/Thursday. A lot of my fellow Consortium bloggers are Monday/Wednesday, so I'm switching it up for anybody that reads all of us.
  • I owe you guys a comic book review. I have a thing in mind and, if I get to do it, it'll rock your socks and be live next Tuesday.
  • I passed on an opportunity to join an anthology of essays and true stories from stay-at-home dads. But it reminded me I've got a few great stories on the front, or at least stories of wicked misfortune that others take joy in hearing. So those tales will be a semi-permanent feature for a while. They won't be the only thing on the blog, but they might be the only thing for a while since I've been thinking about them so much.
  • That said, I've got a couple writing exercises that might make interesting blog posts, so that'll hopefully break up the monotony for those of you that don't care about my (mis)adventures in parenting.
  • I'm also taking requests. If there's anything I've touched on or any questions you'd like followed up on, let me know. Comics, mythology, writing theory, future projects, none of the above, just let me know.

I think that's it...for now. There's a bunch of little stuff (like the holidays and my children) mixed in there as well, so I'm likely to be fairly insane for the next couple months. It's sink or swim, but I prefer the breast stroke!

(That's what she said...)

29Aug/110

Riotous Round-Up!

So you've heard the excuses and seen the dearth of posts, but now it's finally time to explain just what the high falootin' hell I've been doing with myself for the last couple weeks. Well, here it is in no particular order...

  • A Consortium of Worlds, the speculative fiction magazine The Consortium is putting together, will be in the world by the end of September. I'm the associate editor and have a story in it. This is the first time I've ever done a magazine. It's the first time any of us have ever done a magazine. It's the first time a lot of us have ever done short stories. But day-um this thing is going to be sweet! High fantasy, low fantasy, angsty science fiction, and even some steampunk that doesn't make me want to tear my own eyes out.  This is totally going to be worth the thin greenback you have to spend on it.
  • The Kindle All Stars Project got my attention even before Harlan Ellison blessed it. Yeah, that's right, Harlan Effing Ellison. Bernard J. Schaffer, author of the current  number one Sherlock Holmes book on Amazon, is the ramrod behind it and I'm really excited to be a part of it. I have no idea how many stories will be in it, but it'll also be a single greenback and all profits will go to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
  • The story for Kindle All Stars will star Hob Lesatz who you met in a sneak peek last week. The story I gave you a look at, Lesatz for Hire, should be available by September 13. That's another 15k word story full of brutal criminals doing terrible things to one another, all for just another thin dollar bill.
  • I'm going on vacation at the end of next week and plan to write an entire novel while on the road. The novel in question, The Big Sleep Mode, A Copper Lincoln, Robot Detective Mystery, will combine with all the Hob stories to guarantee I don't want to write anything noir fora  good long while.
  • Courtney Cantrell and Aaron Pogue both keep giving books that are about to be published so they can get my feedback on them. And so I can write the back cover copy for them. Oh, go ahead and add back cover copy (or a letter from the editors) to everything I mentioned above. Except for the Kindle All Stars. I just have a bio to do on that one.
  • They're mostly backburnered at the moment, but Hell Bent for Leather will be going to copy edit at any moment and On Leather Wings will be coming back from story edit probably at EXACTLY THE SAME TIME. Because Aaron hates me.
  • In real life news, I'm like two weeks away from being a foster parent. I don't know how that goes in other states, but in Oklahoma it is HELLA HARD. Not hard like difficult, hard like complicated. And LONG. So many classes...so much training.

I think that wraps up the bigger stuff. Imagine that in between each of those bullets there are a lot of smaller bullets with either other projects or links in the chain to make those projects happen. If it seems like I'm complaining, then I'm doing it wrong, though. I LOVE THIS. I can't believe I'm writing this much or that so much of it will be in front of the public eye so soon. And that I'm helping other writers get their stuff ready to sell in the meantime. It's very exciting and I pretty much can't wait to do my bits of it every day.

Come back Wednesday, though, and I'll talk about how I was surprised to find that Robert E. Howard probably couldn't find a market in fantasy today. It blew my MIND. See you then!