September slumps (and updates)

So Septembers come in two varieties for me: incredibly productive, or incredibly unproductive.  This September, thus far, has been strangely both.

The first week or so was insanely productive, especially when it comes to Awakenings, and I have to admit that this past week wasn’t so bad, either.  Epsilon: Broken Stars still requires quite a bit of attention before it’s ready for e-publication, so it may not see digital shelves until October, since the magnitude of the additions I decided to make (and the breadth of some of the rewrites I decided to do) were greater than anticipated–we’re talking the addition of several chapters here and a couple of unexpected subplots, which up the complexity level of the story quite a bit.  My schedule at the store last week basically meant I had to decide between sleeping and writing, and I wisely chose sleep when and where I could (I help a lot with the visual merchandising where I work, and my store manager was out of the business for a week–when we were supposed to be totally rearranging the store–so guess who got to do most of the rearranging by herself.  That’s right.).  Schedules are becoming lighter in that regard…just in time for me to prep for the 16th Annual Grand Valley Renaissance Festival in Allendale, MI, which I’ll be attending with Jude’s Chest again this year.  Something’s different about it this year, though, and that’s me bringing someone who’s never been (and therefore, since I’m there with the booth, will be requiring garb for the trip).

There goes more time.

The upshot is that as a result of the sewing break, that helped kicked some writer’s block in the sorry arse.  I’ve managed to finish Chapter 10 of Awakenings much sooner than I anticipated (I wasn’t expecting to be done with that until next week) and I’ll be able to launch into working on Chapter 11 as early as tonight.  I’ve also been getting some words down on a page for an Awakenings side story, one involving some characters that won’t debut in person in the narrative proper for some time.  The story will either serve as a filler after Awakenings: Book One is completed or will be released as an extra with the ebook version of Awakenings: Book One.

Of course, if I’ve got the cover designed, that means it should be coming soon, right?  Well, sometimes yes and sometimes no.  This is the third or fourth version of the cover that I’ve played with, but it’s the one I’m the happiest with.  However, in this case, I can fairly safely say that Awakenings: Book One should be complete on the website within another few chapters–probably by Chapter 12 or Chapter 13, but we’ll see where the story takes me.  Following that, there’ll be a time-skip forward probably a couple months, then a resumption of the (mis)adventures of our hapless heroes.  I have plans, after all.

Those plans, of course, change as I write onward, but that’s what keeps webfiction fun and interesting, isn’t it?

Speaking of…I was a guest on a podcast that’s available streaming here or as a download from iTunes.  It was a lot of fun, and I love the Webfiction World folks.  They put on a good show (even when they’re put on the spot–hell, especially when they’re put on the spot!).  Keeping my fingers and toes crossed that they do a show based on Jim‘s superhero webfiction idea.

What I’ve been reading

So over the course of the past week or so, I’ve had the opportunity to do a bit of pleasure reading, which is a welcome relief from everything else in my world. The house has been quiet and I haven’t felt incredibly guilty about taking some “me” time to curl up with a good book–or three, in this case. In this case as well, I’m reading something that’s a touch different from my standard fare. I tend to generally keep to fantasy universes for my pleasure reading unless it’s a shared universe such as Star Trek, Star Wars, and Battletech. The sole exception to this has been Jack McDevitt‘s Alex Benedict series, which straddles the line between mystery and science fiction (don’t ask my why I like it so much–it’s probably the beautiful relationship between Alex and his assistant/pilot, Chase).  Coincidentally, in hunting down his web site, I found out that he’s released a fourth book that I’m going to have to pick up when it’s released in paperback (I can’t justify buying the hardcover since it’s out of stock at my local Borders).

Fantasy novels in author-created universes tend to be what attracts me, though in the past few days, I’ve found at least one science fiction series that I’m going to have to start following.

I discovered LE Modesitt Jr.‘s work purely by accident when I picked up The Chaos Balance on a whim at the drugstore–my family had been nagging at me to read something other than the Star Trek and Star Wars novels I’d become addicted to–and my affair with the Saga of Recluce began.  I never did make it all the way through The Chaos Balance, but Fall of Angels got me hooked on the series completely.  I kept reading until after the release of Scion of Cyador and never quite caught up again after that (I don’t know, something about Hamor doesn’t really interest me the way Candar and Recluce did).  Then, the first summer I was home after graduating from college, I picked up one of Modesitt’s science fiction works (as well as a couple books of the Corean Chronicles)–it was The Ethos Effect.

The book was and still is amazing, even reading it again.  I finally picked up a paperback copy for myself a few weeks ago but hadn’t read it because I was waiting on getting to read another book–this one for the first time.

The Parafaith War is set in the same universe as The Ethos Effect, though the latter book takes place more than three hundred years later.  And it was every bit as good as The Ethos Effect.  It centers around an Eco-Tech officer by the name of Trystin Desoll, an outsider despite his family being amongst the founders of the Eco-Tech Coalition.  The Ethos Effect centers on a similar character, though by no means the same, in Van Cassius Albert, a RSF officer who’s too good at what he does and is very clearly an outsider amongst his fairer, lighter-skinned peers.  Both men have to make hard decisions about the fate of the universe they live in, and both pay a price for making the ethical choices they make.  Both books are amazing and I highly recommend them because they’re a good read–so long as you’re not afraid of a little social commentary and intellectual stimulation during your science fiction experience.

Then, in browsing through books on Amazon (I try not to buy on Amazon, though I’ll occassionally use it to check release dates and the like), I came across another series that was often purchased by people who bought LE Modesitt Jr.’s science fiction.  It happened to be Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series.  So yesterday, I picked up the first book, Dauntless, after work and started reading it after I got home.

The humor in The Lost Fleet: Dauntless mixes well with the darkness and desperation of the situation the ship of the book’s name finds itself in.  I do not often find myself laughing or shaking my head and smiling–physically reacting to and interacting with–novels I read.  It’s a very rare thing for me.  But this is what I found myself doing as I began to learn more and more about the situation John Greary, sudden commander of this lost fleet, finds himself in.  I’ve already decided that I’ll have to pick up the rest of the series when I go to work tomorrow.  It’s been a wonderful read thus far and I’m looking forward to making it all the way through–and finding out if Black Jack Greary can actually live up to the reputation that was built around him while he was in cold storage.  He’s sort of a science fiction King Arthur sort of figure–which makes it even more amusing for someone like me to be reading it.