A little rewind on how writing ANDROIDS is going

So I have three point of views in ANDROIDS. Three main characters if you will.

There’s an android that suffers from paranoid delusions owed to budget restraints that created quality control issues during the time of his creation. He thinks he’s an artist and has one friend, a person he turned into a lamp. The lamp/person follows him around and talks to him.

Next is a Praetorian (Special Forces), a man, who thinks that everything he does is uber vital to the team. Has some arrogance issues and is hopelessly in love with another on his team (reciprocated) which leads to a very interesting choice.

The third is the Praetorian Team Lead. A woman with the nickname Mom whom the android has taken a keen interest in.

 

25-May-17:

2k more words done for the day. Up to 29k. Really loving this story. More lamp/man and the Special Forces team left in a pickle.

 

26-May-17:

1k words tonight, bringing the total to 30k. Praetorians, Special Forces, peeps are still in quite the quandry.

 

27-May-17:

1500 more words. Left off w/ someone unwittingly angering a god-like synthetic super soldier. An android. Oops.

 

30-May-17:

5,000 words today…I suppose that man won’t be angering androids any longer.

 

31-May-17:

3k words today up to 39k…Today an android gives odd gifts and good things start happening to our Praetorians. Maybe. Sorta 🤔

 

1-June-17:

6122 words, 44.5k total. More questions, fewer answers. A power player in Vesta Company (a ridiculously powerful criminal enterprise) has a decision to make. Our Praetorians find themselves in between a rock and hard place.

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CARDBOARD HAS NEVER BEEN MORE INTERESTING – HULL ZERO THREE

 

A man pushed open the saloon style doors of Louie’s on Fox. The right top hinge squealed like nails on chalkboard, acting a better entry bell than a bell would. Paint flaked from the wooden slabs in so many places, regulars made it a game to guess what color Louie claimed the door was that day. As the saloon doors flap closed, the hinge making fainter sounds with each flap like that of an animal letting out their last gasps of life, the man walks with steady steps in the direction of the bar. Dirt, brought in by the miners at the coal seam just outside of town and blown in from lack of glass on the window holes and a proper door, rise in small tufts under the heavy steps of the man. A few of the patrons that sit at the five fight-weathered tables like fleas clinging to a dog’s back give the man a once over, and then look back at their liquid dreams in the dirty glasses in front of them.

Two brown fans, fan blades more gray than brown from the caked on dust, turn as lazily as a vulture on a thermal waiting for a meal to die. It does nothing for the blistering heat that envelops the place, but they’re not supposed to according to Louie. It’s about not allowing the air to go stagnant. The man doesn’t know about that, nor does he care, he didn’t pick Louie’s for its cosmopolitan ambience.

He makes his way to a bar stool with a sliver of cushion and fabric so thin the man does what every other patron to Louie’s does, he tries to pull off the fabric like it was a dirty towel Louie left on the stool. When the fabric doesn’t come free, the man shrugs a shoulder, and sits in front of the bar top that takes up almost the entire left side wall.

Gouges, pits, and scraps decorate the deep brown oak bar top with patches of lighter oak, where fights had removed large chunks, joining the display. The metal running along the edge of the front could have been brass, or copper, or any other type of metal. It was hard to tell from the blood and dirt stains on top of the divots and dents. Behind the bartop that would turn away anyone more refined than a raccoon, five shelves were screwed into the roughhewn cedar wall. Dusty bottles with hardly a drop spilled from their confines sat next to near empty bottles of alcohol, the glass hard to see through from the dirt that covered it.

An old bartender behind the bar shambles over to the man sitting and places a glass as dirty as the bottle in front of the man. The inside could be clean, but the man doesn’t hold his breath. If he was worried about his health he wouldn’t have been at Louie’s.

“Cheapest vodka ya got,” the man says. As the bartender ambles away, he sighs, leans on his elbows against the bar, and just stares.

~

Greg Bear is horrible.

Okay, let’s back up here, shine the dirty glass so things are a bit clearer. If you are an author, you know this one piece of advice because it is a constant. Everyone who gives advice on writing says it; be it a blog post, newspaper article, or just shooting the breeze. If you want to be an author you need to know this; and if you just like reading, not writing, it will make sense when you think about it.

Characters in a story are not supposed to be as flat as cardboard.

An example would be the mini-story above. We know one character is a man and he doesn’t care about his health. That’s it. Why he’s there, what drove him to Louie’s, what drives him to do what he does. They are all absent, but the bar is in great detail. So you have a fleshed out background, but a character as flat as paper.

An entire novel is not supposed to be set up that way, yet Greg Bear does just that with Hull Zero Three, and it works. Which is why Mr. Bear is such a cretin. A story is not supposed to be a great read if the characters have the depth of an atom. Yet, Bear takes that given, throws it on the fire, and then writes a story populated by cardboard characters that is a really good read.

There is a reason why the characters are so one-dimensional in Hull Zero Three. To provide the reason would give away what makes the book wonderful, but that doesn’t mean the story is supposed to succeed. Even though the characters have to be cardboard, Hull Zero Three should be boring, but I couldn’t put it down.

For two days I read the book every single chance I got. Two free minutes waiting for the kitchen sink to fill with hot water? I read. Walking from the car to inside, I read. I read at night by the light of my phone, and during the morning while waiting for bread to toast.

The main reason for why the story is so fascinating is that the story is interesting despite being populated by cardboard characters. I don’t have a clue how he pulled it off. No idea.

Hull Zero Three is a great read. It’s really good. I highly recommend it.

Devi is one badass merc – HONOR’S KNIGHT

Honors Knight

 

When I was a kid, around twelve, I wanted to be a mercenary. A person who got paid for fighting, gave allegiance to no one, the ultimate badass. I got older, began playing Dungeons and Dragons, and then wanted to be an assassin, but not just any assassin–a mercenary assassin; which I later found out to be redundant.

I grew older as people are wont to do. My career wishes closer aligning to that of a productive member of society. A videogame journalist was on the table, chosen after falling in love with NexGen–the premier gaming publication that unfortunately folded. I became a Marine on a whim, the journalist swallowed by bootcamp, and once again I wanted to be a badass who got paid for fighting. I wanted to be Force Recon then Delta Force then that super clan destine group that doesn’t exist but gets written about by Robert Ludlum.

I graduated college with a Bachelors in Marketing–funny how life always follows a straight path from A to B–and one thing that never left me throughout the years was that twelve year old who wanted to get paid fighting for a living. It’s little like looking at a Lamborghini and thinking it’s an amazing car and I should have three of them. The practical and rational side of me sees how impractical the car is, how much it would cost to insure, and how very silly it would be to own even one of them. Same goes for wanting to be a mercenary, but that little boy’s desire still burns. That’s where HONOR’S KNIGHT comes in.

Rachel Bach has created a mercenary I can live vicariously through. That, said mercenary, Devi Morris, is a woman and I’m a man is moot as Devi is bar-none the coolest, most kickass, most badass character I have ever read about or seen in a movie. I’m not going to add “for a girl” as a disclaimer.

No.

Put simply. Devi Morris is the biggest and best badass ever to be created.

Devi is smart. Awesome in a fight–be it with guns, knives, swords, hand to hand, or fist to armor. And an in your face, don’t take shit attitude, with a gentle side that actually shows empathy rounds her out. And she’s a mercenary.

Unfortunately I can’t accurately describe how awesome of a character Devi Morris is without reading the books to you; and I wish I could accurately describe how goddamn fun HONOR’S KNIGHT is, though I’ll give it the old college try. Reading HONOR’S KNIGHT, reading about Devi, is just…it’s fun. A better word to describe reading FORTUNE’S PAWN and HONOR’S KNIGHT I cannot find.

I can honestly say, I have never had as much fun reading a book (or series) as I have reading the PARADOX series, which HONOR’S KNIGHT is Book 2 of.

To me, Rachel Bach has created something special with the PARADOX series; more importantly, Devi Morris. As now I can do three things simultaneously while reading the PARADOX series–read because I love to read; have fun doing what I love to do; vicariously live my twelve year old dream of becoming a mercenary.

Should you purchase or do a library check-out of HONOR’S KNIGHT? The answer to that in unequivocal: YES. However, you should read FORTUNE’S PAWN first so you know what’s going on.

 

$3.4 million deal for John Scalzi – good for him

Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi

The first John Scalzi book I read

If you follow writing at all you’ve likely heard of John Scalzi’s enormous book deal. $3.4 million for 13 books that Tor (a Macmillan company) will publish.

I say good for him.

This is great news for the science fiction genre, as it shows that great sci-fi writers will be recognized for their astounding writing. I love his writing, I’ve read most of the books he’s published, and I’m sure I will eventually read them all. His books are positively entertaining.

Sure, I haven’t been in love with all of his books, but I have yet to not be entertained by what he wrote. Take The Human Division. It’s my least favorite of the books I’ve read that Scalzi has written, but I finished in two days. I was entertained the entire time and didn’t think it was a waste of time, not in the slightest.

There are some books I’ve read, and been mildly entertained by, and by the end of it I thought, “I could’ve went without reading that”. Has never happened when I’ve finished a Scazli tale.

… (continued on Page 2)

The catch-22 in the phrase “strong female character”

Strong female characters.

I have a huge issue with that sentence. Issues is the better word.

The first issue is one that is a byproduct of the phrase “strong female character”. So much is being made about the need for strong female characters in books and television that the male character is being shoved to the side.

Therein lies the catch-22.

I will state this blatantly without sugarcoating:

There is a need for women in roles (all forms of media) where they can make smart and bad decisions by themselves, without the help of a quorum of women or a male character who tells them what to do.

However, by not hearing, “You know what that book needs? A strong male character.” or “I really like the hero. A very strong male character.”; what you’re really doing by saying “strong female character” is that all men are strong​ by default and all women are weak by default; and to make it different you have to CREATE fictional men to be weak or fictional women to be strong.

Thereby demanding the creation of said characters, you have encountered the catch-22 and have helped further cement horrible stereotypes:

man = strong

woman = weak

In case you don’t know what a stereotype is. It is a false way of thinking of a group of people or an entire gender. Meaning: woman does not equal weak; man does not equal strong.

Books don’t need strong female characters. They need characters who are strong willed, tough, resilient, badass, good decision makers, leaders and enjoyable who just so happen to be a women.

My other issue is why are people yelling at authors for not including women in their books who can act on decisions they make without input from a man or a quorum of women? I firmly believe that if an author wants to be a backwards asshole and make women weak willed and subservient, they should be able to, it’s the beauty of living in a free country.

You know what you can do to make it so those people slowly get pushed so far out of the limelight they only speak to themselves with their books? Speak with your wallet. Publishers are the ones who push books with badass protagonists who are men and women who are subservient. If publishers see sales decline sharply with those types of books, they will (for the most part) stop publishing them.

I know I won’t buy a book where all women are in subservient roles or made to look like imbeciles that need the man to step in and do the job.

You know what will also help more than a hundred billion tweets, blog posts, and news articles?

Raise your children the correct way. Raise them that ALL HUMAN BEINGS ARE EQUAL. Raise them in a way that, to them, it is common sense that so long as a person is alive that person can be anything; be it a badass protagonist, an astronaut, a world leader, a business leader, a sports star, an author, a cook, anything.

Don’t raise them to think women can do the same things as men. Raise the children to know, for it to be common sense to them that both genders can do the same thing; that gender only pertains to the plumbing you’re working with (I do advise to keep the birds and bees talk till sometime after kindergarten though. Just saying.).


On a closing note:

Would you like to know how to make a woman character strong willed, tough, resilient, badass, good decision makers, leaders and enjoyable?

Make a character who has all those attributes and make the character a woman instead of a man.

The Last Colony – John Scalzi

One thing about Scalzi’s work is how accessible it is. He writes so simple and that’s not a knock on his writing skills. John Scalzi is an incredible writer. Just instead of using a lot of words you have to look up, and long drawn out sentences, his writing is simple and straight forward. It makes for super fast reads that are easy to follow and somehow really good.

The one thing I liked more about The Last Colony than I did about the previous books in the series is the ending. Scalzi has a penchant for super duper happy fuzzy everything is fantastic endings, while a lot of people surely do enjoy those types of endings, they’re not my favorite. This book was a happy ending of sorts but not as fuzzy and happy as the others. I liked it a lot more and like every other Scalzi book I highly recommend this read.

Don’t just read one Scalzi book, read them all. He’s that damn good.

Once thing

Top 10 books I read in 2014

The Top 10 books I read in 2014. Not really in any particular order, except for #1. The Ocean… is by far the best novel I have ever had the pleasure of reading. And The Martian is a book I can’t stop telling everyone to read. Seriously. I work from home as a stay-at-home dad and author, so everytime I see people who aren’t my wife and daughter, I try to work in how great The Martian is and how they should read it.

  1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane – by Neil Gaiman
  2. The Martian – by Andy Weir
  3. Blindsight – by Peter Watts
  4. Redshirts – by John Scalzi
  5. Old Man’s War – by John Scalzi
  6. Leviathan Wakes – by James S. A. Corey
  7. Caliban’s War – by James S. A. Corey
  8. Slaughterhouse Five – by Kurt Vonnegut
  9. Amped – by Daniel Wilson
  10. Sparky – by Jenny Offill and Chris Appelhans