Thursday, December 29, 2011

Writing with a cold... and Antonio Banderas

I've mentioned in the past that I do not find NyQuil to be a creative enhancer.  I'm aware that some folks like to alter their state of mind in order to become more creative.  I don't get it.  I can drink a glass of wine and still maintain the ability to write, but I'm fairly certain that I'd struggle to correctly utilize a computer keyboard while drunk.  My hand writing being what it is when sober, I imagine that would be even worse.  Not one to participate in much of mind altering recreation as it is, NyQuil's side effects might hit me a little more than others.  Yep, I admit it - I'd be a cheap drunk if I bothered to get drunk, and NyQuil knocks me for the proverbial loop without too much trouble.  So when I hear that people use cold medicines like NyQuil and Robitussin as recreational mind altering devices, it leaves me a little confused.  Each to their own... but I'm pretty sure a cup of warm milk is a bit quicker if you're looking to fall asleep.  Which is all those things really do for me... make me groggy.

The long preamble is really leading to this: I hate being sick.  I absolutely abhor getting a cold in the winter.  But nothing is worse than having a cold and attempting to fight through it while writing.  I've got this short story for Stories in the Ether that I mentioned yesterday.  It should have been done already.  Honestly, it'll be no longer than four pages, five max.  Yet I'm stuck because I can't think straight.  The night time cold medicine makes me groggy.  The day time cold medicine leaves me overly amped up.  I can't seem to feel like myself enough with the medicine, but without it I can scarcely breath, and end up too miserable to write well yet again.  It's interesting that a paragraph - generally something I can do in a handful of minutes - takes me as long to write now as a page did last month.

Of course, I could always go with one of those Neti Pots, right?  I mean, that'll clear you out, get you breathing right, keep you from passing out.  Clean and simple, isn't it?  Sure... even tried it before a few times.  Actually owned one.  Until I heard about people dying from using Neti Pots.  Amoebas crawling into your brain and what not.  I know, true horror stuff that belongs with Stephen King, not in my bathroom.  And, yes, I know that it's incredibly rare, comes from people not washing it properly (although, the plastic ones are a bit porous, so I'm not positive how clean you can get them - and that's what I had).  The odds are incredibly slim... but folks who know me know that my luck can trend towards the "wow, there's a one in a million chance that happens to that guy."  Not necessarily for the good way, either.  So, Neti Pot is out.  Argument over.

It might finally be time to listen to the Antonio Banderas bumble bee and go pick up some Nasonex.  Oh you bet your carcass that I'm going with the name brand, no matter how much cheaper the generic is.  First of all, if I'm spaying something up my nose - and you're right, that sounds disgusting, and it feels even worse - then I'm doing it with the top notch stuff.  Personally, I'd love to find something natural that you can eat, or drink, that clears you out... but even my beloved Twinings Earl Grey doesn't have staying power past a handful of minutes.  So, yeah, first off, I'm going with the top notch.  But, secondly, I've got to do it because Antonio Banderas said so.  Come on, that has to be him, right?  I've seen enough Antonio movies before.  Heck, I've watched all four Shrek movies (to be honest, Shrek Forever After isn't bad, although I was bummed to find out that Rumpelstiltskin wasn't Paul Reubens.  It just would have fit better).  I've heard Antonio in animated form as Puss in Boots.  This is him as a bee.  Has to be.  And since I'd already trust Mr. Banderas implicitly (hell, you can say no to Zorro, but I sure won't)... trusting him as a bee to clear my clogged sinuses is just a given.

I seem to have fallen off topic.  It was all about getting rid of the cold... writing creatively... but now it's all about Zorro.  Traditionalist or not, the remake was pretty solid.  Oh, I'll probably review it at some point soon (I own both of them on DVD and being sick is great for watching movies).  As big of a fan of science fiction as I am, I'm also a big fan of sword play.  I actually own a couple.  I've got fencers in the family.  Growing up, Zorro was always a hero.  Even had some Zorro action figures.  He'd routinely kick GI Joe's button.  And now Zorro is Antonio Banderas.  He doesn't figure in as my all time favorite actor (it's really been tied as Morgan Freeman and Tim Curry for a long, long time), but when it comes to action sequences, he's as impressive as Christian Bail in Equilibrium (one of my favorite movies).  So with that, I hand you Antonio Banderas in my favorite duel scene from The Mask of Zorro!  (And then an awesome scene from Equilibrium)

Mask of Zorro

Equilibrium

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Series Continues

When I first dreamed up the Olympus Union setting, I was actually working out of a handful of short story ideas.  It expanded into a full novel series as I moved along.  In fact, it was mostly borne out of a related short story series that I had create, which I've mentioned in the past.  Now, however, with two books out and another in the works, I've been putting some serious thought about what comes next, and how the series continues.

For one item, I'm rebuilding OlympusUnion.com and expect to have a new version up in the new year.  It's going to have a slightly more in depth description on both "The Past Repeated" and "Drawing Battle Lines" on my "Books" page (ingenious and creative, I know).  I'm also looking to create a wiki of my own, to help keep track of characters, properties (like the new "states", the Space Stations and such), and eventually add major events.  I'll also collect up the reviews, and any short stories that I put together.

That brings me to the next aspect of what I'm working on: short stories.  As I mentioned, I'm in the midst of putting together my first story for NeverMetPress and their "Stories in the Ether" section.  This little story (which I'm intentionally trying to keep to just a handful of pages) will shed a little more light on why Duncan was imprisoned.  A reader actually explained to me, the other day, after finishing "The Past Repeated" how she went back to re-read the section of Duncan in Athena's Clutch.  She was looking for clues as to why he was put in prison, but noticed that nothing ever firmed up about it.  As the series winds on, we find out that he was put there wrongfully, and was screwed by the government... but we never really understand why.  Well, this is going to be the first step in understanding why.  Further shorts, both for NMP, and for the OU site itself, are going to help us flesh out the world that these characters live in.  I'll help you travel from Luna (Earth's moon, for those who aren't certain) to the sub-oceanic cities, out to Mercury, and back to Mars.

In the mean time, I'm also working on the additional books.  My main dilemma right now: do I make the initial portion of the series into "The Jovian Trilogy" or do I begin with a quartet?  I'm already planning a stand alone book for the Ares Elite.  We'll talk about how one goes from a regular man, and turns into a super soldier.  Justin Brand is the Ares that we know best, but this will introduce a whole new cast of characters as they wind their way down the funnel into the ranks.  That book likely won't have a sequel; however, it will provide me some new characters and situations to expand out into the universe with.  I'm also planning to do something special with Jeremy Hunter, our vigilante mentioned in "The Past Repeated" down in Austin.  As I mentioned before, I'm considering making a "medium story" out of that (a few dozen pages) and releasing it for free.  We'll see what happens, I suppose, won't we?

All in all, there is a lot coming.  At least two new books should appear in 2012.   A new site.  Maybe even some more t-shirts.  It's coming!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Just In Time for Christmas

The first excitement came when I finished writing the second book in the Olympus Union series. Then I was excited after submitting everything to BookBaby as it headed off to be distributed.  Oh, but now things are even more exciting, because it's out... it's on the shelves... and it happened just in time for Christmas!

Now, you already have your copy of "The Past Repeated" - and if you don't (seriously, why don't you?) you can click on that link and pick it up.  That's the beauty of the e-reader: you can go click on that link, pay the 3.99 and have it immediately downloaded to your Kindle.  No Kindle?  Download the Kindle App for PC for free.  You can get it for your phone, too.  But, let's not be silly here.  If you are a science fiction fan, there really is no reason that you don't have The Past Repeated yet.  Besides, now you have some catching up to do.

"Olympus Union: Drawing Battle Lines" is now live on Amazon!  That's right, the continuation of the series is upon us.  Find out exactly what happens to Duncan.  See what Kro's next big job is. Follow the exploits of Captain Justin Brand of the Ares Elite, and meet a host of new characters!  Watch as the tension between the Jovian System's colonies and the Earth-based Olympus Union becomes more heated.  Explore the space stations and colonized moons of Jupiter.

I'm so excited that this is out now.  Near the end of the process, I wasn't certain if I'd finish it before the end of the year, but the timing was absolutely perfect. I'm so happy, and so excited you can pick it up before the end of the year!

Rest assured, Barnes and Noble fans, we have a version for your Nook too.  That's right, the Nook version is live, Amazon just happened to get there first.  And, if you don't particularly like Amazon, and don't have a Nook, you can also get free Nook apps.  Here is the entire collection of Nook apps - for PC, iPad and more. The new book will be out for iPad and Sony, soon; the first book is already out for you.

So, get on out there and pick it up. Give it a read.  Post a review.  Can't wait to hear what you think!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Aftermath

It's been about a week since I last wrote a blog post.  It's been about a week since I finished my second book, "Drawing Battle Lines" and set it in motion to go live.  A week since the folks at BookBaby took the reigns, since I said "now I can focus on writing short stories!" and since I started thinking about next steps in general.  What have I learned in that week?  Wow... my brain decided to take a break whether I liked it or not!

Now, I haven't been completely non-productive.  After all, I do have a day job.  Although, if lots of you folks went and bought a copy of "The Past Repeated" this might be my day job. Here is the Kindle version and the Nook version, the iPad version and the Sony version.  At $3.99, maybe you'll give me the holiday gift of making me a full time writer.  In the mean time, I digress...

So, the day job really ramped up, as it is want to do, for the end of the year.  It's been some twelve hour days, and writing hasn't been too front of mind.  I have had the opportunity to start working on some new items, though.  For instance, sketching out the new website design for OlympusUnion.com has become somewhat top of mind.  After all, I'm about to have two books out, and a lot of characters to mention.  I'm thinking that the site is going to have a glossary of characters for you to look up, and be able to see the solar system in a more fleshed out form, as it is in my mind.  I'm slowly compiling the names of the cities on Mars, the Jovian Stations and their Ministers, the Earth territories, and more.  It's taking some time.

I'm also working to put together some short stories for Stories in the Ether.  For the other writers out there, this site currently has an open call for submissions.  Science fiction, steam punk and fantasy, this is a great collection. I've got a story that I sketched out a few weeks back when I was first told about this from @NeverMetPress that I'll elaborate on a little more later.  Working on sketching out two others, as well, that I'm going to submit... and then I'll be working on some new short stories that will be only on OlympusUnion.com (for you faithful readers).  I'm actually planning to convert them into epub format as well, so that interested parties can download them - for free - for their Kindles, Nooks, Sonys, iPads, Galaxies, or if you're shopping at Radio Shack for a tablet.  Don't forget, there are free apps for the Kindle and Nook that can be downloaded to your cell phone and your PCs.  I've got the links to those on the Olympus Union site right now.

So, where do we go from here?  The main plan is to finish the first story for Stories in the Ether, and then bear down on the website design.  I'm planning the launch party for Drawing Battle Lines (January), looking for my site relaunch (January?) and finishing the outline for the third book in the series.  And then... well, then it's time to get serious and write that third book.  Much as I love George RR Martin, I can't see myself leaving 5 years in between books.  Could you?

Friday, December 9, 2011

From Assembly Line to Show Room

Today I ran through "Olympus Union: Drawing Battle Lines" one more time.  I checked on a few simple things, like making sure the word "station" was only capitalized when in a proper name.  You know, things like Alpha Station, or Station Minister Derek Maguin.  (Folks who have read "The Past Repeated" will recognize both names.) Making sure that the title segments were identical in formatting across the book.  It was really about going around the car and tightening the lug nuts.  Well, the lug nuts are tightened, and the car is off to the cleaners.  I think that I'm going to drop this analogy, at least for a little bit.

So what happens next?  Well, the folks at BookBaby have my baby now.  While I'm still out there, working to get my first novel reviewed (a few more people have offered their services to me, which I'm grateful for; I'll post when that comes to pass)... my new novel is getting the once over for formatting, again.  Fine by me, since those are the people who officially convert everything and put it up on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  For any aspiring writers out there, they get you an ISBN number, do all of your conversion, and set you up with the four biggest e-book sellers (the others are Sony and iTunes).  These folks also are really fantastic and incredibly helpful.  I've emailed them and called them when I've had questions; it's been a while (March) since I put my first book through.  They also continue to evolve, however, and some of the new pieces raised questions which they quickly answered.  I can't gush about them enough.

So go ahead and take a look at the new book's cover, on the right.  While I give a lot of credit and thanks to David A Matthews for taking the photo of San Francisco that I used on the cover of "The Past Repeated" it was my own lack of design talent that led to a much more awful looking cover.  I admit it and accept it. That's why I went for a professional this time around.  I think that the new cover really pops!  It was designed by ProBookCovers and turned around in just a couple of days.  I'll admit, I didn't give Travis a lot to work with, but he managed to come up with this anyway.  He even designed the brand new Olympus Union logo, which I'll be utilizing when I redesign the OlympusUnion.com website.

I'm excited.  I've already started mapping out not only book three in this initial trilogy, but also the books to follow it. On such a natural high from writing, I don't want to stop!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Completion equals a series

For years, I've been explaining to people that I'm writing a book series.  It's an ebook series.  A science fiction series.  You know, I always had that word series in there.  For a long while, however, I was constructing a universe to write my stories in, and I was writing a book.  Just one.  And then "Olympus Union: The Past Repeated" wound up on the Amazon shelves and then the Barnes and Noble shelves and even the iTunes book store.  I had done it!  My creation actually made it to the outside world, instead of names and events that bounced around in only my head.

Oh, but if you looked at OlympusUnion.com you saw me talking about a book series.  And on my twitter feed I kept mentioning a book series.  Even on the Olympus Union Facebook fan page, there was that mention of a series.  Hell, I made the url "OlympusUnionBooks" because I wanted it to feature the multiple pieces of the series... except... I didn't have a series.  I had a book.  A great accomplishment, and one that I'm very proud of, but I had a book. Well, a book, and an outline.  There was this cool outline for something I was alternating between "book two" and "project Exodus" to follow up The Past Repeated.

Well, now I've actually got two books.  Alright, so, Drawing Battle Lines isn't on the shelves just yet.  I only finished it up late on the evening of Wednesday, December 7th.  It's actually funny, because I took a trip with my father and grandfather earlier in the day.  We visited the New York Museum, up in Albany, NY.  Three generations, hanging for the day, and my grandfather quoted President Roosevelt more than once.  He kept saying, "a date which will live in infamy!" which is, of course, from the famous speech regarding the attack on pearl harbor. (Quoted link is actual audio, second link is to the Wikipedia page, for those curious)  That will forever been an incredibly important date in US history.  Here I was, sixty years later, setting it up to be a date that has some significance to me personally.  December 7th, 2011, a date that will live in... moderate obscurity?  Alright, so it doesn't have the same ring to it, but it was the date that changes things for me as a writer.  Two books, now that can count for a series!  I've been writing a book series!

So, I should say that, this morning, I decided to add an appendix to the book.  I'm going to put in the lay of the land regarding the varying properties within the Jovian System and the characters that belong to them. It's something that I noticed George RR Martin do in his amazing Song of Ice and Fire series.  It helps to keep track, but it's really not imperative to the story.  I'm giving it one last read through to make sure it all shakes out the way that I want it to, but really, it's done.  I've already been in touch with the folks at BookBaby and I expect to submit it for processing this weekend.  It'll be on the Amazon and BN shelves by the end of the month, with all luck, and the other two early in the new year.

So, now, I've got this outline for a new book.  It's more of a basic overview, with some of the major points that I want to touch on.  Still, it feels different this time.  This is going to be a trilogy, since I'm trying to wrap up the major story line from "The Past Repeated" in three books.  Of course, I've also started crafting the basics for a Jeremy Hunter book.  He doesn't show up in "Drawing Battle Lines" specifically for that reason.  Oh, and then there is the fairly detailed outline that I've got regarding the Ares Elite, from sign up to final training.  Yep... it's going to be a series.  And now, it actually counts.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kicking Off

Despite the title of this blog, and the fact that it's currently Sunday, I'm not writing about football.  At the moment.  In the blog.  And, yes, I tweeted something in #Tebow earlier today. I'm talking about kicking off my second Olympus Union novel, "Drawing Battle Lines" in a slightly larger fashion than my last launch party.  When I first put "The Past Repeated" out for the Kindle (and shortly after, it hit BN.com shelves and finally the iTunes book store) I threw a launch party at a bar.  The bar was this great little place with a lot of character named "Blaggard's Pub" in New York City.  I've always preferred dive bars to the bigger scene bars, mostly because of what my friends were into, to be honest.  Definitely not into the chain bars, though.  Maybe if the Hard Rock Cafe decided to hang request one of my guitars, or Planet Hollywood wanted to hang a poster up of Kro I'd change my mind.  Not really the point, though.

So, here we are and book two is nearly finished.  "Drawing Battle Lines" will be finished with editing this week.  I'll give it another look through just to be sure I'm 100% pleased with what I've got, but I'm expecting to submit to BookBaby by next weekend.  It takes about two weeks for them to process and to have my book hit the digital shelves. (Amazon seemed to be the faster, with BN coming in between a handful of hours and a full day behind; Apple took the longest.  I do my best to assume it's not personal.)

January, as far as I'm concerned, is going to be my month.  We may get up and running by Christmas (that's the goal) but you can never tell. Plus, why push to get something out under cooked?  So, I'm targeting January, and this time, I'm going to throw two book launch parties!  First and foremost, I intend to throw another one in New York City.  I'll be reaching back out to the folks at Blaggard's again - they did a great drink special for me and we really packed the joint.  I'll be inviting *everyone* who follows me on Twitter or is a fan of my Facebook fan page. Follow me on Twitter at @gbbloom and become a Facebook fan at http://facebook.com/OlympusUnionBooks if you want to ensure an invitation!

I'm planning to do a second launch because a lot of my life long friends, and my family, aren't located in New York City.  I could launch there, alone, again... but that would be without a lot of the people who appear in my Acknowledgments.  The plan, in that case, is to set up a second book launch party in Orange County, NY; a lot of us are here, and those who aren't will have an easier time getting there?  And, where, pray tell, would I be doing that?  Well, I already started speaking to them about it tonight, and they already like the idea.  Folks who live in Orange County, NY might actually recognize that photo to the right.  We'll be taking the second show off to my favorite restaurant: Christopher's Bistro - and I can't even tell you what it's going to be!  Christopher's is so far on the other end of the spectrum from a dive bar, but I'm hoping that a lot of folks will come on out there too.

So now comes the tough part.  Finishing strong so I can kick off the next stage!  Here it is, it's going to happen, and then we can officially call this a true series!  Say, did I mention that I've already started outlining book three?