Red Flags in June

Quick Announcement that SHIFT TENSE Part OneRed Flags will be available sometime in June. The manuscript is at the editor and Michal Oracz is working on the first of three new covers, one for each installment. He should have the first completed soon. So if all goes according to plan, the full novel will be released in both trade paperback and ebook at the end of the year.

I’ll post the cover art as soon as I get it.


To Serialize or not to…

Serialize. That is my question.

Several thoughts:

1. I’m a Part-Time Writer
Full-time glass work commands a majority of my creative effort, on top of which comes family, friends, ministry obligations and Life’s usual responsibilities. I strive to write on a consistent basis. I’m part of a local critique group, a member of the Cape Cod Writer’s Center. I’ve got the obligatory notebooks in the car, in the workshop, on the bed stand to catch those random flashes, but fiction is more a pressure-relief valve than a job, and lately carving out time to get my head in a sci-fi space has been increasingly tough.

Serialization spreads out the obligation in manageable increments.

2. SHIFT TENSE isn’t complete yet
I know the second book is the hardest to write. People tell me I’m fussing with it too much. But the fact remains I’m still not happy with the novel’s end. I’m battering my head against the wall tying up the loose ends here. however, the first two thirds of the current manuscript are solid with all the major plot-lines firmly in place.

Serialization give me more time to work out in intelligent climax worthy of the story.

3. Serialization seems a better fit for e-books and the current spec-fiction market
See the earlier post on ‘Wool’ as an example. Serialized stories sell, hopefully build audience anticipation, and generally raise story/writer profile with frequent, compact, releases. With little additional expense/effort, I could release Shift Tense part 1 and 2 over the course of the next six months, release part 3 in the Fall, and have the full novel out at Christmas.

Serialization allows readers to sample the story and grants them the option to continue or cease with minimal cost.

4. Serialization kicks “Shift Tense” out of the house
I already feel like a schmuck, failing to keep my initial deadline. When I finished “Running Black” back in late 2010, I was positive my writing career would rocket into the stratosphere. (BRAAAAAAP! Wrong. Guess again, Pat.) Little did I know about the realities of self-pubbing, marketing, the writing process, juggling competing commitments, etc, etc. I still don’t know a whole lot but now I know more.

Serialization allows me to get the story out there to the readers who have been/are gracious enough to continue to buy my books.

Oddly enough, an early version of ‘Running Black’ was serialized in monthly chapters on Matakishi’s Tea House, a gaming hobby site run by an excellent fellow in the U.K. He formatted the text, added images, and generally made it look much better than it was. It wasn’t until a substantial chunk of it had spooled into the aether that I started hammering out the full-length novel. I have plot arcs and characters for several other novels in different genres clamoring from scraps of paper and Word docs, but I’ve been ignoring them, restrained – right or wrong – by the weight of obligation. I understand the brute reality of ‘work’ in art and creativity. This isn’t all bunnies, hugs and muffins, but I’d like to get back to the challenge and adventure of story telling – the joy of it – rather than treating my time at the keyboard as another chore, fencing with guilt because I missed a deadline.

In the end, if a serialization experiment fails, I can chalk it up to experience and move on. At the moment, the option is under serious consideration and I’m trying to figure out the logistics of such a move.

Any thoughts or experience here?


Bad Words!


Remember that old George Carlin sketch ‘Seven dirty words you can’t say on TV’? (Google it if you want. It was funny when I was 13.)
Apparently there are some words I can’t use as a Science Fiction Writer now, one of which is ‘space marine.’

I’m not schooled in the subtleties of IP and Copyright Law, but shouldn’t the Marine Corps of various nation-states be the plaintiff in this? As opposed to a toy-soldier company? Why didn’t the USMC send a Force Recon team to GW HQ the day after they released their first box of heavily armored sci fi human troops?
I’m starting to wish they did.

I get protecting against infringement in a related area (table top wargames) or goods deliberately piggy backing your IP for profit. But even then it gets fuzzy, particularly over generic terms that have been employed as far back as the 1930s. SPACE MARINE WIKI ENTRY

Thing is, M.C.A. Hogarth’s little ebook has nothing to do with the Grim-Gothic-Darkness-of-the-Far-Future-in-which-there-is-only-War.And-Litigation

Unfortunately, this might be a case of which party has deeper pockets to laywer-up. But if the bullies can dictate terms, (pun) and that’s what it is in this case, what’s next? Star Army? Fire Team? Assault Rifle?

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out – I hope GW Legal rolls all ones – but in the meantime, I have the sudden urge to write a space marine story and sell off any remaining GW figs from my collection. Call me petty.

Current Despot and Reigning Figurehead of the SFFW, John Scalzi, weighed in on the dust-up HERE