• The First Rule of Write Club

    For the past two weeks, when not sending off job applications, most of my time has been spent writing another novel. I had intended to hold off until November and do it as a NaNoWriMo project, but for whatever reason the book said, “NOAP, you will write me NOW!” and so I have been. As of last night, I hit 20,000-ish words at the end of chapter seven, and I’m taking a “creative recharge and look back at the progress so far break” today before attacking chapter eight.

    I have to say, I am very pleased with how the book is coming along, and as far as this story is concerned, it’s about damn time. This story started out as a nugget of my Arclight Adventures comic project, then morphed into my Coventry idea, then emerged as its own thing, then got shelved, then informed the creation of Rough Housing, then got shelved again, and now has finally re-asserted itself with forcefulness that will not be denied. Verity and Tanya want their story to be told, and they want it to be told in the right way, dammit! And when characters yell at me that loudly, well, I’d be a fool not to listen. The book is coming fast, and solid, and fun, but also with a lot more depth and texture to it than I expected. As I tweeted last night, I think this is going to be my best book yet, and this is the one I finally feel is a good candidate for publication.

    The revamped Brigid and Greg novel is another good candidate, actually, and I may put that into the NaNoWriMo slot if this book is finished by then. That one would probably have been finished by now if the house sale hadn’t knocked me out of my groove.

    A major factor in this level-up of my writing craft has been Scrivener, which has turned building an outline/story structure from a horrendous pain into an absolute joy. For both the B&G book and the new one, I have started with five notecards:

    • Act One: Setup
    • Act Two: Conflict
    • Act Three: Rising Action
    • Act Four: Catastrophe/Falling Action
    • Act Five: Denouement

    Drilling down from each of these, I put in 4-6 more notecards with major story beats. On each of the story beat notecards, I then drill down and put 3-5 short scene summaries– not even whole sentences, just things like “Brigid and Isadora argue”. That whole process takes me a few days, and by the time I’m done I have a nice and solid skeleton to start hanging my story on. From there, it’s just writing out each scene as described in the summary, usually in a 500-1,500 word chunk, of which I can write around three on a “normal” working day and more on a really good day. Just looking at the math, you can see what happens: four scenes of 1,000 words each make a 4,000 word chapter; five chapters of 4,000 words each make a 20,000 word act; four acts of 20,000 words, plus a denouement that’s probably one or two chapters tops, make an 80,000-90,000 word novel.

    (Of course, nothing ever goes completely to plan. In the current story, in order to twist the emotional knife on a particular scene, I decided to elevate something that was basically speed bump in my outline into a major catastrophe, which in turn made complications that had to be coped with, but which had not been factored into the original plan. Using Scrivener, that was relatively easy to fix, basically by just shoving in some more notecards for new scenes or chapter. Since it’s just shoving little pieces around at the outlining level, it doesn’t feel like major plot surgery.)

    Anyway, I think that with this book, I will actually be making the transition from perennial dabbler to true professional novelist. Not just because of the quality of this piece, but because I now feel like I have the tools and the experience to repeat the performance. I can now confidently build a novel-length story, and I know both what I want out of the process and what the process will need out of me to pull it off. And honestly, I think that when I actually finish something my writing is as good as anybody’s out there.

    Building an audience, translating these books into earning a living, and all that stuff, is something else I will need to tackle, of course, as is integrating all of this with my desire to keep Suburban Jungle alive. But those are all topics for another day.

    -The Gneech

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  • Her Majesty’s Secret Spellcasters

    So the general opinion is that the “necro” in “necromancer” refers to death– traditionally necromancy is the ability to speak with dead spirits, for the purpose of lifting curses, busting ghosts, whatever. This has led to the image in popular fantasy of necromancers being gothy types who hang around in cemetaries raising zombies and the like. Which works as a trope, but… it could go another way.

    Another meaning of the original root “necro” is “dark.” Not dark as in “evil,” dark as in “obscure or hard to see.” i.e., hidden, secret. Necromancy by that meaning is therefore not “the deathly arts,” but rather “the secret arts.” Which could be anything! The secret art of turning lead into gold? Sure. The secret art of getting that fifth dentist to recommend sugar-free gum? Anything!

    This of course leads me to ruminate on the word “secret.” What are secrets, exactly? They are things you carry with you. Your secretary carries your correspondence (and your secrets). A secretion is something that has been deposited on you. The Secret Service is not “secret” in the sense that people don’t know they’re there– far from it– they report to the Secretary of the Treasury, and they “carry” the President safely.

    (Historical note: The Secret Service was actually founded to combat forgery after the Civil War; it wasn’t until the assassination of Pres. McKinley that they were given the task of protecting the President.)

    This leads me to a vision of a fantasy setting in which an important personage (Queen, Emperor, Prime Minister, whatever tickles your fancy) is protected and served by a small cadre of elite necromancers (in the sense that they study secret arts), sort of James Bond meets Harry Dresden if you like. I can see this working particularly well as a steam-fantasy setting a la Gail Carriger.

    However, I don’t have the time to write this at the moment, so I’m setting the idea free by writing it up here and putting it into your head. I might come back to it later, we’ll see.

    -The Gneech

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  • October Commish — DeWhitton


    October Commish — DeWhitton by ~the-gneech on deviantART

    Followup to this one: http://the-gneech.deviantart.com/art/Dewhitton-Commish-Steampunk-Flying-Fox-312059570

    Our mate the steampunk flying fox takes a break from bug-hunting to maintain the ol’ death ray and enjoy a beer.

    This one took me three tries to ink. Note to myself: charge more for real media in the future!

    -The Gneech

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  • Big Ol’ Art Post!

    While crunching away on everything else, I have managed to do a few bits of art in-between. And here they are! Because I love you.


    Gneech Bizcard 2013 by ~the-gneech on deviantART

    Finally, after however many years, I’ve got revised business cards on the way, with new avatar, the current websites, and a new funny bullet. 😉


    Biggest Little Furcon 2014 Badge Submission by ~the-gneech on deviantART

    Graveyard Greg asked me to do up a Ghostbusters-themed badge for BLFC. The theme is ’80s-tasticness in general, with emphasis on pink and purple, so I went with more of the “Real Ghostbusters” style than the movie guys. And of course, with a GB pic, I couldn’t resist a little self-insert. 😉

    I have no idea who the wolf gal is, but she’s blonde and she’s got glam stars on her cheek– that’s ’80s enough for me!


    Jenny Everywhere 2013 by ~the-gneech on deviantART

    It’s almost time for Jenny Everywhere day, 2013! My submission this year has Jenny catching a ride on a handy airship! I decided to make her human, just to be different, using Nichelle Nichols as my inspiration.

    If any woman ever deserved a steampunk fantasy action show of her own, it’s Nichelle Nichols!

    If you’ve never heard about Jenny Everywhere, check her out: www.jennyeverywhereday.com.

    -The Gneech

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  • Verity as a Furry, Development Pics


    Verity as Furry Development Sketches 1 by ~the-gneech on deviantART

    Verity, who was intended for Arclight Adventures but never actually appeared except for on the cover, re-visioned as a leopard for a story idea I’m noodling around with that would team her up with Tanya. I think I’ve pretty well settled on leopard as her species, but I’m still trying to settle on a typical spotty type, or “black panther” type.

    Thoughts, anyone?

    -The Gneech

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  • So, Yeah, That’s Not Happening

    As much as I hate to do it, I’m going to have to face the fact that Arclight Adventures just isn’t going. I’ve got an overall plot, I’ve got an outline for the current issue, I have scripts even. But… it’s not going.

    The reason is very simple: the art. I don’t want to do it. Doing the art is painful. Every time I try to sit down and force myself to draw for the comic, I suddenly think about how much more fun it would be to go empty the litterboxes, or maybe I’ll be lucky and get sick. This is not a healthy relationship to have with something that is supposed to be a fun hobby.

    So… yeah. I might as well admit it to myself. Don’t expect any more Arclight Adventures, unless there’s someone out there fascinated by the concept who wants to do the art. I’m not happy about it, but I’m even less happy about having this thing dragging me down.

    Sorry to disappoint, everyone. But sometimes you just have to let go.

    -The Gneech

    PS: Before anyone asks, I don’t have anything else in the works for the moment. I think I need to let my creativity lay fallow a little longer.

    PPS: I might retool the characters and setting for fiction later. I do think there’s something of value there. I just can’t do it alone in the current format.

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