Greek Key goes live today–the first eleven chapters, at any rate. The cover is gorgeous.
Why’s it “pickled peppers” anyway? You can’t pickle vegetables on the vine…Or can you? she asks, turning to Google… Oh. Hmm…an entire subculture dedicated to the Crabtree effect and aerobic fermentation…BUT I DIGRESS.
So. Last week I asked for feedback on my Patreon and what could be changed or improved. Answers were varied. And thoughtful. And varied. Extremely varied.
Part Eighty Kabillion in my ongoing series: What Is This Thing? What Can I Do With This Thing? and How Can I Make This Thing Better?
If your RSS/email has been bouncy today, I apologize; I’ve been doing some site maintenance, and while I try to disable functions, it doesn’t seem to catch everything.
I’m cleaning up GREEK KEY and…well…
I’m worried about the voice in it, okay?
It’s told from first-person perspective, with Hope Blackwell as the narrator. Hope has severe attention deficit hyperacticity disorder. Keep in mind she’s not just bouncing from one topic to another, as she’s got the variant of ADHD with hyperfocus–when she’s locked on target, she will chase that target until it’s dead.
You’re all aware of the Velveteen Vs. stories, right? Author Seanan McGuire has this world full of superheroes and it…rather sucks for them. Think: 80s X-Men with Marketing and HR departments, insurance premiums, and lawyers fighting against corporations for a juicy slice of that superhero civil suit pie. The majority of these stories are free on her blog, although they have also been packaged in handy collections.
I wrote some short fanfic about the life of a random superhero in this universe. Elliot’s not one of McGuire’s, and that’s lucky for him–she’s cold murder on her characters.
I’m in fact-checking mode for GREEK KEY. This is a middle stage of my writing process, and I refer to it as fact-checking because that’s easier than calling it “Make sure you got this stuff right or certain people will crawl down your throat and lay clusters of Um-Actually Eggs in your abdomen.”
I check nearly every detail that goes into a book, and I still get shit wrong. For example, in STATE MACHINE, when Pat finds the hidden room with the mildewed cocaine, I checked to make sure that cocaine can go bad. Yup! It’s an organic substance, and it will rot over time. But wait, there’s more. My copyeditor double-checked with Derek Lowe of In the Pipeline, and found that cocaine has strong antiseptic properties, so it’s not as likely to mildew unless it’s cut with something that dilutes these properties. Easily fixed with some minor edits…but.
A book is made of a lot of…buts.*
Currently, I’m fact-checking details of provenance for GREEK KEY. I’m fascinated by ideas of ownership regarding cultural property. I’ll point you to this short article, “Provenance Factors for Antiquities Acquisition” by Myren (2010), in which the author discusses the many different ways to perceive ownership of items whose creators are long since dust. I have a few problems with this article, especially the idea that moral claims to items which uphold and preserve cultural heritage are “farfetched” (p.9), but it’s an excellent overview of the issues that need to be addressed when antiquities are bought and sold.
Done reading it? What? No? Okay, let’s take this sourced line: “Recognizing that there are multiple views of cultural property is tantamount to identifying the stakeholders involved” (p.10). Or, how you perceive an unique item with cultural value may reflect on how you think formal ownership of that item can and should be delegated.
From a writer’s perspective, this is freakin’ fascinating. It’s basically a tailor-made opportunity for insight into characters’ motivations.
Hypothetically speaking (*cough*cough*), let’s say Hope, Mike, and Speedy locate a new fragment of the Antikythera Mechanism that’s been in a private party’s possession for the last century. Speedy’s position on ownership is easy: if you can afford to pay the market value of the artifact, then hey! It’s yours. Mike’s position would be that we must strive to enrich the human experience, and that cultural artifacts should be accessible to the public.
Hope’s position is complicated. On the one hand, she needs to obey the law, because OACET. With that in mind, she’d follow the current legal standards used by regional and international organizations to designate the ownership of antiquities. On the other hand, “cultural artifacts” are something completely different to a woman who lives with ghosts. It’s really hard to get emotionally invested in items from the distant past when the dudes who made those items are your drinking buddies.
So I’ve got (more than) three characters with different views on how an item should be managed. I’ve got to get the details for each of these perspectives right, and it needs to be written in such a way that it’s not a teeth-grinding infodump. Fact-checking, whee!
Anyhow. That’s what I’m up to this morning. How are you?
Okay…STATE MACHINE has been out for two weeks, and I’m gradually getting some other projects under control. Let’s do the monthly(ish) roundup!
Novels & Stories
STATE MACHINE is out in ebook, and I’m now working to get the print version finalized. The cover art on this one doesn’t seem to suffer from the same blurriness that MAKER SPACE did when it went to print, so I expect a faster turnaround on this copy.
GREEK KEY is chugging away. Hope is a fun character to write, and I’m a much faster writer when I’m not juggling grimdark themes. Since this one’s about time travel, death and dying, and psychotic residual spirit energy, it’s total pancakes. With syrup, even! Probable release date is Halloween week.
I’ve given up feeling guilty about the delays on finishing the audiobook (she lied). I had something of an epiphany that in order to get this project done properly, I’ve been learning enough brand-new skills to qualify as a second career. I’ve never done anything with audio recordings before, and since I don’t want these books to be rushed, half-assed jokes, I’m doing it right.
(Yes, the Kickstarter was supposed to pay for someone else to do this for me. Once this mess is finished, there’s going to be a very long post about it… /grinds teeth)
There’s only two more chapters left in Act 2, and then this phase of the story is done. I don’t know how I feel about this: Act 3 moves the characters 15 years into the future, but I like them how they are now. I keep telling myself that all things change, that stories have to come to a close eventually… I’m experiencing some honest fear that these fake people who live in my brain will eventually be gone.
Us human beings are weird, guys!
Meanwhile, I’m updating parts of the site that I’ve neglected for ages. The Reader Guide page has been cleaned up, and the FAQ is next on the list.
If you’re the person who sent me this, please email or message me. You won! I have your paperback copy of MAKER SPACE.
People have purchased multiple digital copies of STATE MACHINE and have requested these be placed into the donations queue. I’ve already been sending these out to readers who write to me with financial hardship requests. I’m very glad we can do this.
I freakin’ love this thing! A regular monthly income is such a relief. Thank you for poking me until I set it up.
Based on feedback from the last Never-ending post, I’ve changed the fourth tier goals from dropping the ads to drawing Hope and Pat’s wedding story.
And I think the daily puns are helping me learn how to speed up my drawing process. I’m a tragically slow artist. Every single comic takes me at least 10 hours to complete. If there are multiple characters doing interesting things, just go ahead and cancel my appointments.
Questions? Comments? What am I forgetting?
A brief post on worldbuilding.
STATE MACHINE has been out for five days and is doing quite well (thank you for making this happen!). The post I put up on Monday had several good comments about the structure of the Rachel Peng novels, and questions about the upcoming Hope Blackwell novel. Lemme try and answer these in the time-honored fell swoop:
A GIRL AND HER FED should be considered the original source material. Thus far, the only thing I’ve abandoned is aligning the comic and novels to “real world” time, mostly because I’m a stupid-slow artist and the Rachel novels would take place back in 2007 or so. Nope, our world moves too fast for that continuity nonsense.
(…she sighed, wistfully remembering how she really enjoys that continuity nonsense…)
I’ve also placed one red herring in the comic. It’s in Chapter 8 if you want to start guessing, but that’s all I’ll say about that.
The Josh Glassman Novellas
Short pulp novellas, between 35k and 50k words. Wacky sex comedies featuring our favorite Pornomancer, and told as a retrospective fantasy to Mare. Josh has been married eight times, to seven different women (and Mare twice), and this is how he bedded and wedded each of them. Josh loves who he is and what he can do, and he revels in the collective. Josh and Mare know about the ghosts, so ghosts are permitted, but will only show up if it makes sense within a given story. THE RUSSIANS CAME KNOCKING is the only one out so far.
The Rachel Peng Novels
Full-length novels, between 110k and 120k words. Mystery-thriller format, with a central crime that sets off the action and must be solved over the course of the book. Over the seven books in the series, Rachel Peng takes down Richard Hanlon, the villain who tortured and manipulated the 500 young kids who would grow up to become OACET. These novels take place in the five-year break between Parts 1 and 2 of the comic. Hints of ghosts here and there, but no koalas whatsoever! DIGITAL DIVIDE, MAKER SPACE, and STATE MACHINE are the three books in the series that have been published.
The Hope Blackwell Novels
There might just be one of these? I need to see how it performs before I commit to another series. I’m expecting GREEK KEY to come in around 80k to 90k words. Yes, Speedy will definitely be in this/these. The ghosts will be there, too. Not sure how to categorize this book…the draft is reading like Percy Jackson forgot his Adderall and decided to put on a modern-day reenactment of the ODYSSEY, but it’s only half-done and might take a Turn. Due out near Halloween.
(…screaming sounds forever…) Now that STATE MACHINE is done, getting the audio edits done on the books is my new full-time job. Again. Whee.
Hopefully this gives some general non-spoilery answers to any questions you might have had about the different overlapping series. Now, I’m gonna fall down for, like, six days and maybe twitch a little when Brown pokes me in the eye to check if I’m still alive.