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Phase 1 of Project Mjölnir Underway

Mjollnir - You know, Thor's hammer

I continue to gear up for NaNoWriMo. Looks to be an exciting time. Be sure to check out the Project Mjölnir tab above for schedule and progress updates. Be warned, it’s liable to change frequently.

I have started Phase 1 of the project, busily filling in the outline for the story, working on the characterizations of the races and people we’ll meet. I’m also pulling together my world building notes to draft some of the back stories and history. These are incredibly raw and subject to massive change and revision, but if there’s enough interest, I’ll post some of these for feedback.

Speaking of posting for feedback, here is the promised synopsis. Let me know if this sounds like something you would read.

Technology from the lost Mnoren Empire could save a race, or destroy it!

Twenty-five years ago, Captain Thomas Swift of the Strategic Space Command witnessed the aftermath of Epsilon Eridani Massacre; Terran Sphere colonists slaughtered by the rabidly xenophobic Scorpio Tetrarchy. The planet was scorched and the atmosphere burned off in order to claim a Mnoren technology cache that was not there.

Two weeks later, the infuriated Terran Sphere responded by literally battering a Scorpio-held planet to pieces. But, the intelligence was incomplete, for that planet had been the Scorpio homeworld, the only place in the known universe where the hivemind could reproduce. The Tetrarchy’s death throes wound up costing Swift his wife and only child.

Now, humanity chafes under the supervision of the Orr, the self-appointed inheritors of the Mnoren Empire and chief among the Known Races. The Orr limit the Sphere’s access to advanced technologies for the rash humans “own good”. The SSC views the Orr as weak and indecisive. They order Swift to procure advanced tech, regardless of cost and create a new type of weapon; one to throw off the yoke of the Orr.

As he completes the weapon, Swift uncovers something unexpected and profoundly unsettling: there is a new player in the great black of space. One that is cunning, elusive, better armed and armored. One that appears to violently detest humanity. One that has proven it knows the location of Earth and is unafraid to destroy humanity’s cradle.

One that he cannot stop.

With all the excitement of NaNoWriMo, it’s easy to forget what this is all about; raising money to benefit writing programs for children and adults. NaNoWriteMo is a marathon and like a marathon runner, I am seeking sponsors to help me raise $2500 dollars.

With massive cutbacks in liberal arts funding to public and private schools, now is the time for organizations like The Office of Letters and Light, creators of the National Novel Writer’s Month, to step up and bridge the gap. A $10 donation, the price of a single lunch, can help provide needed instruction and foster a life long love of writing in a child. This donation is fully tax deductible.

I’m also giving a private reading of selections from the novel in January for those who donation here. (If you can’t attend, I’ll be recording it and I’ll be happy to send you a link to a downloadable copy.) There will also be a Q & A session after the reading where you can find out about my creative process.

Thank you for your support!

What is Project Mjölnir?

Mjollnir - You know, Thor's hammer

Life has been intruding a lot lately, the way it always does when you’re not paying it any attention. I’ve been guilty of starting several projects at once and not finishing any of them. I want to finish them, I just lack the focus. I believe I have discovered a way to fix that.

November is National Novel Writer’s Month, NaNoWriMo for short. Check out the link for the low down. The short version is: 30 days, 50,000 words, a lifetime of therapy. Well, perhaps not the last part. I attempted NaNoWriMo two years ago and did not succeed. Of course, I didn’t have a plan.  Now, I have what resembles, on a dark night, in the rain, and fog, a plan: Project Mjölnir.

Standard Caveats Apply

A big part of Project Mjölnir  is NaNoWriMo & finishing a novel. I seem to have a particularly hard accomplishing that. I have a Steampunk novel languishing, half completed because I can’t seem to get past the distractions, so this time I’m not going to try, I’m incorporating them.

Project Mjölnir is a six month effort for me to write a novel, edit it, and finally podcast it, right here on this tiny blog. I’m using it to jump start that creative part of myself that I’ve allowed the demands of living to strangle. Enough maudlin meanderings, let’s get to the *plan*.

Not too long ago, a good friend of mine, Davey Jones, (no, not the captain & no, not the Monkey) and I created a shared universe that we were going to populate and develop collaboratively.  It was a good idea that wound up crushed by reality. Meanwhile, I have all these notes and no story. Cue NaNo.

Great, so why call it Project Mjölnir? Well one; there is a Project Mjölnir in the notes that winds up being central to the plot and two; I think it’s a really cool name. Also, this is starting with NaNo, but November 30th will not be the end of this project. That’s what got me into trouble two years ago. No, the goal this time is to blog about my serialized podcast experience from conception, during this year’s NaNo, to delivery of the audio book, The Hierarchy of Dominance sometime in April 2012.

Along the way, I’ll post tidbits of back story, research and musings about this process. And family stuff. And tweets. Actually, a bunch of stuff.

Why am I doing this, you may ask? My family is a dojo family. We go to karate and after four years, my takeaway from the experience is that old saw, “practice makes perfect”. I’ve gotten better because I do it a lot. Muscle memory and the ability to react without thinking about it.

When I was doing voice work for radio and TV, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, the more you were on the air, the better you got. There is a natural rhythm and flow to working with a microphone. Plus, it’s a rush!

And when I write, the more often I do it, the easier it gets. Whether or not it gets better I’ll leave as an exercise to the reader.

Project Mjölnir is a multifaceted exercise: a story, a blog and a podcast. What will I get out of it? The goal is structured writing habits and the creative spark to finish my Steampunk novel. Okay, that’s the project, what’s the story?

I’m classifying it as fan fiction, military science, fan fiction, mind you, but fan fiction nonetheless. Davey and I borrowed stuff from many sources. We have the Mnoren & Cidri from The Fantasy Trip, elements from MechWarrior, tech from Ogre, GEV & Battlesuit from Steve Jackson games, ships and tech from AMT’s Strategic Space Command universe, including Leif Ericson class galactic cruisers and species & characters from Mattel’s Major Matt Mason line of action figures.

I want to be careful to acknowledge the copyright holders of the products and services I have taken inspiration from, so I’m keeping a list.

I’ve written a synopsis as an exercise for NaNo. I’ll see about getting it posted in the next couple of days. No, I haven’t copied existing story lines, but I did use published material to help develop timelines, back story elements, plot devices and so on; some of which you’ll get to see right here. So, stay tuned!

Finally, here’s my pitch; the National Novel Writers Month is a marathon and like a marathon runner, I am seeking sponsors to help me raise $2500 dollars for adult and children’s writing programs in areas where there may not be any. It’s for a good cause and it’s tax deductable.

The Excitement Mounts …

BBF Postcard Front & Back I still get amped seeing my name in print. Must be an (un) repressed need for attention. I received a package of 100 postcard flyers from the festival on Tuesday. My name is surrounded by the red circle. Really, I’m on there, in tiny print, on the back. Click for a close up.

I don’t think I realized just how big a deal this was until I got the confirmation, parking instructions and “meet at participants’ courtesy room 30 minutes prior to your panel”. Back in the bad old days, when I was the Fox 35 fox, I had to change in the car. Getting out of the vehicle proved challenging.

I’m getting ready for the panel, polishing my take on the genre, fiddling with my WIP and working out exactly what I’d like to say. For those you that attend these events regularly, you probably think I’m being a bit silly and going overboard with the excitement of it all. You may be right. I still think it’s cool!

I’m still waging war on the time suck of my day job. I have a feeling that it’s going to be an ongoing process. After some introspection, there are a couple of things I can do to make the writing process a little easier. One of them is my own expectations.

I need a schedule. I know, I know, it’s constraining, it doesn’t provide for a free flow of ideas, it sets artificial goals. My Twitter bio says “Aspiring author & podcaster. Actual husband, father & martial artist.” I’d like to get rid of the aspiring & actual altogether. I’m terribly goal oriented if I have a minder, even one as artificial as a schedule, so as boxy, constraining and artificial as it is, it is my path.

Besides, with a schedule I won’t have an excuse to not write. I’m afflicted with verbal story telling anyway (probably another reason I’m so stoked about the Baltimore Book Festival).  Once I say it, I don’t feel compelled to write it down. Looks like I’m in the market for a digital recorder. Anyone have any suggestions?

I’ll share more speed bumps and solutions later. I don’t want to come off like Whineakan Skywalker. No, it’s not too late.

While I’m asking for help, does anyone have a good blogging client they would recommend? I use primarily use Windows Live Writer. I’m not opposed to Apple products on principal, but way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I’d tell an Apple user that I used Windows and I was treated like the devil incarnate. Didn’t I know that Bill Gates was the Anti-Christ? Was I stupid? It left a bad taste in my mouth for Apple, a knee jerk reaction I have to compensate for. My daughter has an iPod Touch, all the other apples are in the crisper drawer. All that is my long winded way of saying I’m looking for a Windows solution, not a discussion about operating systems.

Sorry about all that, reacting to a particularly trying day with a vendor. This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.

Long absent … but not dead

main_logoI’m afraid I’ve been infected with a case of the urgent overwhelming the important. My mundane job has been sucking up all my free time lately. Apologies for the long silence. I’d like to say that it won’t happen again. I’d like to say it, but I can’t. Like any habit, if your ignore it long enough you lose your edge; which makes it all the harder to recapture. So, what have I been up to?

It happens, I’ve gotten conformation that I’ll be appearing at the Baltimore Book Festival, Saturday, September 24th and 4:00PM. The Maryland Romance Writers have asked me to participate on their panel, Steampunk: Gear Up for Adventure!

I know, you may be saying, “Gee Paul, you don’t live in Baltimore or anywhere in Maryland. And, you’re not a Romance writer. How did you swing this gig?”

All true, however through the good folks over at writingsteampunk were gracious enough to invite me and I couldn’t accept fast enough. Thanks for the opportunity!

As you can well imagine, the topic will be centered around the writing genre of Steampunk. There are plenty of good articles online that give in-depth insight into this exploding niche. (Naturally I’ll be posting my on take on it shortly.)

There will be readings, including a bit of my WIP, The Order of the Silver Rose. I may even be dressed in appropriate attire. I’ll get pictures, it’ll be great!

Fellow panelists include Karen S. Garvin, Bill Gawne, Elektra Hammond, Lea Nolan and Laurel Wanrow.

If you live in the area, I hope to see you there!

Reviewed: Phoenix Rising By Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel It’s the highly anticipated, often promised, much delayed and completely unsolicited review of Pip and Tee’s Phoenix Rising! Yup, I finally finished it, after a series of fits and starts that won’t be named here.

Grab your brass goggles, pith helmet and Webley … the game’s afoot! From their explosive first hello until the thundering finale, Eliza D. Braun (Field Agent) and Wellington Thornhill Books, Esquire (Chief Archivist) deliver a crackle and spark worthy of Powell and Loy!

I consider myself something of a steampunk purist, if there is such an animal, and this tale suits my Victorian cup of tea quite nicely. Set in a London that never was (sometime between March/April 1894 and January 1901), we have airships, a madcap coach chase through the downtown streets, a secret society bent on world domination, a series of Lovecraftian deaths and steam powered cyborgs!

I wish I’d had the time to sit down and read this all at once! It is extremely well written, with fully realized characters and engaging situations. This is no surprise as both Pip and Tee have rather impressive personal publishing pedigrees. I’m not really sure this qualifies as a freshman effort, even if it is the first book they have co-authored.
Continue reading Reviewed: Phoenix Rising By Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris »

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