Last night, the Black Library Open Submissions Window for the spring ended and I am happy to say that I managed to submit all five of my planned short stories. I ended up dropping Project Long Hunt in the end because while the plot idea was something I would have dearly liked doing, the synopsis and sample didn’t quite come together into anything properly coherent even though it had what the editors generally, at first glance, require us new writers to do: bolter-action. Ah well, it is going to be on the backburner till next time.
These last three months have been one of the greatest learning experiences ever and I am quite grateful to a number of people who have contributed to this.
The most important of these people is Sarah Cawkwell aka Pyroriffic who, after the official Black Library forums closed down ages ago, started the Bolthole for people like me who love the twin GW universes and can endlessly debate them and have an interest in creatively contributing to them. If I had not found the Bolthole when I did, life would indeed have been quite dull and I would be struggling along with totally half-assed submissions.
Next up would be Narrativium, another fellow Boltholer and moderator, whose experience and feedback has been very, very valuable to me, for he pointed out plot-holes and details and other things that I generally missed mentioning in my pitches or did not even consider. I dare say that he knows all my pitches nearly as well as I do, since I pestered him repeatedly for critiques
Then there is everyone else who, at one point or another, helped me with more feedback across the whole line-up of my pitches, including Project Salvation. Big shout-out to Tyrant, Colonel Mustard, BaneofKings, LordLucan, Pipitan, CommanderShadow, Malcador, Raziel, Phalanx and all the others who helped me and contributed their various insights to my pitches so that in the end I had 5 top-quality submissions. (EDIT: I forgot Paul!!!! You are awesome too dude)
I owe all these guys a lot for all their help. You guys rock!
All in all, my five submissions covered three separate Space Marine chapters, none of which have figured at all in the limelight of GW/BL/FW published material, barring one.
The Angels of Retribution got two short stories dedicated to them this time, both very different in terms of settings and entirely different cast of characters. As my own chapter, that I would love to get ‘identified’ with, I sincerely hope that at least one of these is definitely picked up. I am really proud of the Sons of Corax.
The Invictors, who I have portrayed as Ultramarine successors, got one short story dedicated to them which, in my opinion, is absolutely pure blood-and-guts 40k mixed with what I sort of in-my-brain call ‘homage grimdark’. If this one gets published, you will be the first ones to find out what that means.
The Executioners got two short stories dedicated to them for this window, both very different pieces but ultimately connected with the prologue and aftermath of a single event. Set in completely different times and with different characters, I had a ton of fun coming up with the ideas for these two, and a big thanks to one of my Bolthole friends who gave me the idea for the first of these.
And the final week of the Spring Open Submission Window has arrived. As you can see in my related thread over on the Bolthole, people are starting to submit their short stories and novels, stuff that they have been working on for the whole length of the window. It’s nice to see so much creative output and I hope some of these people get in (obviously not all will *wink*wink*).
Just like Project Honour, the sample for Project R&R is proving to be a pain to write as well. I have already discarded over 800 words (collectively) for two different versions of the sample. With the final lap in play now, I’m really short on time too. Not to mention that Project Long Hunt is still MIA. That piece needs a lot of work but I am struggling to find the right inspiration.
Going to be referring to TerribleMinds’ err, umm, suggestions over here to push through this week. Definitely recommend reading that article in full. Beware that the language is quite ‘adult-oriented’. Don’t blame me if you can’t handle a little cursing.
However, none of that means that I have only been letting my soul be sucked away by the submissions window! Hell no!
Take a stroll over to the Bolthole’s General Warhammer-verse FanFic section to check out my new forum project. A WIP of course. Having finally read through all the twelve (now thirteen) sections of LL’s 60k alternate-verse setting, I present to you the Sons of Corax. It is set in the early years of the Age of Dusk, ten thousand years after the fall of the Imperium and the descent of the galaxy into the Second Age of Strife. It’s a pretty cool setting conjured up by crazyman LL and if you read all his background sections for the setting, you see how well this guy can channel his inner Tolkien in setting up the whole stage. Amazing stuff.
Response in terms of readership to Sons of Corax has been quite well and I am really happy with the whole project so far. Ideas just come into play and I write them on the screen. Feels really natural! I already have two sections of the story up, coming in at about 3300+ words. Chapter 3 shall be up today or tomorrow. Come check out the progress!
And hopefully once all the madness of the submissions window ends, I can get back to all my other neglected works which include:
Looking forward to getting back in the groove for War Engagement!
Finally finished the sample for this today. So far, of my three submissions, this has the most dialogue by far. Initial feedback has been quite positive and I am quite happy with how it turned out as well. Like I mentioned previously, picking the the scene I wanted to write for this sample was a real pain but in the end I just picked one and started writing. Actual writing time was perhaps about two hours but I spent about a week agonizing over the scene from start to finish.
But now it is complete and once I get all the proper feedback in, that will short story three sent off to the BL towers. Mission accomplished.
Now that just leaves Project Long Hunt, which is still in flux regarding the synopsis so forget the sample, and Project Salvation, my novel which I haven’t touched in a while because I haven’t had any creative urge for it. Which is slightly depressing really.
I keep wanting to tackle some other short stories rather than my novel which, frankly, is not a good idea. I need to see this through by the end of the month or else it will hang on my head as an incomplete pitch. And I hate incomplete pitches.
So that’s that.
In other news, my second film review is up on 24FPS. I have started a review series that me and Paul are calling the DC Animated Universe Film Reviews Spotlight. Basically I will be tackling the direct-to-DVD animated films starring various DC Comics superheroes as released by Warner Bros. You can find the series write-up here.
My first review in the series is Green Lantern: First Flight and you can find the review here. Paul has already reviewed the film in preparation for the live-action movie Green Lantern 3D, so my review is a second opinion article. You can find my review here and Paul’s review here. Next up in the review series will be Green Lantern: Emerald Knights.
Sarah aka Pyroriffic, our former-and-still Grand Overlord of the Bolthole shared this link today. It is quite an informative piece on what fan-fiction is, its various sub-types and people’s reactions to fan-fiction. I heartily recommend checking out the link. A lot of you aspiring fan-fiction writers will find it quite useful.
A fellow Boltholer, Grenadier has been published! It is a short story titled Heavenbloom from Books To Go Now and I recommend people to give it a go. The direct link is this, and for the Amazonians among you, you can all go here. If you are on facebook, don’t forget to ‘like’ his page here. It’s great to see the folks from The Bolthole getting published, no matter the genre/setting so yaya! If you get the story please don’t forget to review it on Amazon as well! Let’s get the word out there people! Chop, chop.
Ack, another long gap in blogging! My apologies folks. Went away on sort of a family vacation/attending a friend’s wedding to India and the schedule was quite hectic, not to mention that the first five days of this vacation saw me suffer because I had no access to internet! A travesty I assure you.
But I am back though and I have several things to talk about.
First off, the Black Library spring submission window is now more than two-thirds over. I have yet to finish my novel sub (Project Salvation), or the two short stories that I also want to submit for the window (Projects Honour and Long Hunt). Fingers crossed.
I am pretty sure the novel wil not be picked up, for two main reasons. One, Steve Parker is already doing a Deathwatch novel which means my chances are really slim as he is already an established author. Two, I am an aspiring writer which means that in the era of Hammer & Bolter and the Space Marine anthologies I am more likely to get my short stories in rather than novels. But as my friend Ben Warren pointed out to me the other day, best case is that I am marked out as potential talent. Which would be sweet as well.
Secondly, as per my earlier mentions on the blog about doodling a second novel, I have decided it will not be submitted in the current window, but whenever the next one opens. I have yet to finish my already scheduled subs and this would add way too much to my workload. I will continue to work on this once the window is over, continuing to plan stuff for it. It is an idea I really like as the majority of the Angels of Retribution chapter will feature in it. It is going to be full of Space Marine action goodness, which is never a bad thing.
I have also started as well to plan out a second set of submissions. These are all with a very specific theme and event in mind, and are inspired in part from Project Honour. I am really excited for this as its very much untapped territory in terms of published material. I have been told not to plan future stuff like this but I love the entire idea too much and I am far too stubborn to give it up. So yeah.
So far, this ambitious idea spans at least five short stories and a novel, with a second tie-in novel that acts as a sort of prequel and will be a Space Marine Battles novel. I have been scouring the background sources for all sorts of canon information and it has been fairly exciting. I think I will simply call this Project Honoured Duty. Make of that what you will.
Next off, my friend Paul Colbourne from over on the Bolthole who runs a movie review blog asked me to join his site as a contributor. After a very careful consideration that lasted all of 5 seconds, I accepted. My first ‘official’ review is now up – Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D. My review does have a minor spoiler so beware. You can find Paul’s original review of the film here as well.
I am also thinking of doing a spoiler-heavy review here not sure yet.
Saw Green Lantern 3D as well last week. It was superb. Typical superhero plot but thoroughly enjoyable. For the unaware, there is a tie-in video game also out, called Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters. Movie review incoming within the next few days.
Bolthole’s June RiaR comp is finished as well. The voting and stuff all happened here. The feedback I got for my entry, Initiation was very welcome. No votes for me but ah well. The July comp should be going up soon
I have now also finished reading Age of Darkness, the latest Horus Heresy offering. It is a superb anthology. Almost all the short stories are excellent and give us a very welcome and intriguing insight into the beginning of what really happened in the seven years between the Istvaan V Dropsite Massacre and the Siege of Terra. Most of these stories take place roughly two years after the former event so a lot has changed. Next up on the reading list is Victories of the Space Marines which features Sarah Cawkwell‘s Primary Instinct. Looking forward to reading it for some super cool Silver Skulls action. After that I have Legends of the Space Marines and Fall of Damnos to read. Hell yeah!
Gotta go now, but see you all later. Got more stuff to mention! Keep an eye out in the links section on the home page as well. It is going to be updated soon.
Was planning on taking a week’s worth of break from working on the Deathwatch novel, temporarily titled Project Salvation. It was fun procrastinating but things didn’t work out quite the way I had originally thought.
I ended up writing three Drabble entries, two of which you saw here, and an RiaR entry. RiaR is the monthly writing comp on the Bolthole, where you get a prompt and you have about 2-3 weeks to submit an entry (or more if you want) that is between 850 and 1,150 words. I have seen all the past entries since the new Bolthole opened and the quality is just awesome. Not to mention all the unique takes on the GW universes and the prompts.
So here you go.
‘You do know that they will call all of us heretics do you not?’ asked Athenaar. ‘We are committing a great crime against the Imperium, and the Inquisition will not let us go easily.’
‘I know, brother, but we have no choice, for Thulsa Kane has remit from the Chapter Master himself on this,’ answered Vanagar. ‘And in my office as a Death Speaker I answer only to him. What he has said must be so.’
‘We are the Executioners, and we always honour our oaths,’ said Athenaar.
‘Bring your squad Sergeant Athenaar; we depart aboard the Night Hag immediately.’
Fevered chanting filled the air as the worshippers called upon their terrible patron to bless the ceremony. Row upon row of warriors knelt before the altar as High Priestess Marin offered her eternal gratitude to her dark master. They were all dressed in blood-red robes for the ritual of initiation, except for the High Priestess and her entourage who wore white robes embroidered with gold and emblazoned with the mark of their order, a blood-red heart set within a black cross.
At a subtle gesture from the High Priestess, the curtains behind the altar were withdrawn to reveal the prize there, a group of ragged and frail girls cowering in fear of their captors. Ignoring their plight, Marin addressed the warriors gathered before her.
‘This auspicious day marks the start of a new chapter in the history of our Order. Look upon the uninitiated and observe,’ she said, pointing towards the captive girls. ‘Our war on Taipas Prime has reaped a great many spoils, not the least of which are these younglings, younglings who will swell the ranks of our Order in the coming days. Look upon them and observe!’
One of the warriors of Marin’s entourage hauled a young girl to where the High Priestess stood with a wickedly curved blade in her hand. The girl cried for her freedom but was silenced when the warrior smacked her hard across the face, drawing blood.
‘Silence, wretch,’ she warned. ‘Another sound comes out of your mouth and I will cut out your tongue and feed it to the dogs.’ The girl only whimpered, her body wracked by silent sobs.
‘My sisters, this youngling will be our first sacrifice to the great Lord of the Brass Throne,’ she cried, raising her hands towards the ceiling, still holding the blade. ‘May He accept this sacrifice and reward us for our service.’
The girl’s horror grew as she realized what was about to happen to her, and she became hysterical, fighting against the warrior who held her down.
The impassive High Priestess simply said, ‘Hold her down Sister Vatore, and bare her throat.’
The warrior did as she was ordered, tying the girl’s hands to the chains affixed to the altar and muffling her screams.
The chanting grew louder as the warriors all shouted their praises to the Lord of Blood, each one outdoing the other in their entreaties to the mighty Chaos God. Marin lowered her blade to the girl’s throat slowly, enjoying the scent of her horror and desperation.
As the fevered chanting reached its pitch, she cut open the girl’s throat with a swift stroke and a spray of blood splashed on her face. Licking the drops of blood, she once again raised her hands towards the ceiling.
‘O mighty Khorne, accept this sacrifice, our tribute to your eternal glory, and bless us with the presence of your herald,’ she yelled and the entire chamber joined her. ‘Send us your Horned Ones, so that they may feast on our offerings! I beseech you!’
‘Sister Vicus, bring out the rest of the girls,’ she ordered, addressing another of her entourage.
The warrior acknowledged with a nod and motioned to her sisters. The horrified girls wailed and screamed as they were all dragged before the altar where the first girl’s corpse still spewed blood, but their efforts were in vain. Their screams for mercy rewarded them with stern slaps to the face or vicious kicks to their abdomen and many of them simply collapsed. But they were all hauled before the High Priestess regardless of their condition.
Marin personally slit all their throats as Vicus and the others held them down, their blood mingling together into the depressions that dotted the altar, forming intricate designs. The chanting of the warriors continued unabated as they watched the slaughter.
Once the girls had all been sacrificed, Marin joined her sisters in the chanting, their words forming an unholy rhythm. The warriors swayed their bodies in concert to the rhythm, the blood of their sacrifices still pooling together.
‘Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!’ yelled Marin, her cries echoed by her sisters. Over and over again, they yelled the battle-cry, even though their voices became hoarse and some of them could only mumble along.
‘Khorne!’ called Marin once again. ‘Honour us with the presence of your heralds! Give us our reward! We offer these lambs to you in sacrifice, give us our wolves!’
As the High Priestess cried those words, the pooling blood on the altar began to congeal together, rising and forming a mass of blood and gore. Taller and taller the mass grew, resolving into the form of a hunched daemon grasping a sword.
The chanting suddenly stopped as the daemon was birthed into the material world and all the warriors bent their knee before him. Marin herself knelt and lowered her head, smiling at the success of the summoning.
The horned daemon screamed in the foul language of Chaos, yelling a challenge to Marin and her sisters. His skin was the colour of blood itself, in sharp contrast to its forked black tongue and horns.
‘Areth Marin,’ said the daemon, a Bloodletter of Khorne. The High Priestess looked up into his eyes that smouldered with controlled fury. ‘The Lord of Rage is pleased with your sacrifice. You have done well to purge this world of the followers of the corpse-god. Your tally of skulls before the Skull Throne has grown immensely and the Blood God has seen fit to reward you.’
The Bloodletter walked up to the High Priestess and gestured for her to stand up. As she complied with his unspoken command, the daemon turned to the corpses of the young girls upon the altar.
‘Children of the defenders of Taipas, how fitting,’ the daemon’s cackling laughter echoed all over the chamber. ‘A worthy offering indeed High Priestess, most pleasing.’
‘I live only to serve the Lord of Skulls,’ whispered Marin, awed in the presence of the exalted servant of Khorne.
As she watched, the daemon drew a symbol in the air with his sword, chanting in the language of the warp. And as they all looked on, the wounds on the corpses healed and colour began to return to them. One by one, the recently dead girls arose in answer to the daemon’s words, no mark of the violent death they had been subjected to visible on their flesh.
‘Here you are High Priestess Areth Marin,’ the Bloodletter said. ‘This is your reward for exceptional service and a token of Khorne’s favour. Train these pathetic mortals and continue your crusade against the Imperium.’ With that, the daemon’s form dissolved and it vanished from the chamber.
Areth Marin looked at the resurrected girls, reborn as warriors of the Order of the Black Cross and yelled another war-cry.
‘Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!’
Like I mentioned in Victory, Centrestage, I got the first draft of chapter 1 for Project Salvation done. Since then, as of yesterday afternoon, I also have the first draft of chapter 2 done. It’s all clocked up at just shy of 13k words, and I still need to get started on chapter 3 which is going to be about 6000 words minimum. It will be the first proper combat scene involving lots of shooty-shooty stuff and people dying.
Now, in regards to a short conversation/discussion over at Bolthole, I started thinking if the 13k words I had written so far do indeed count as first drafts. They are definitely works in progress but when I got them done, I definitely crossed a very important stage in the schedule. But self-admittedly I knew there were quite a few areas of improvement that I had already identified and knew would come up as well.
Now, what defines a first draft?
The answer to that, I think, is fairly simple. Mind you, I have not bothered to do any proper research on the interwebs about this because, honestly, there is no need to.
A first draft, for me, is the basics of the entire plot, which in this case refers to the plots of chapters 1 and 2. What are these basics? Well, they would be character introductions, settings the themes, developing the tones of the piece, introducing some sort of conflict, as well as introducing the reader to the locales and what not. Plus the immersion needs to be there.
One of the feedbacks I got so far for a scene in chapter 1 mentioned that my immersion was all over the place. Mostly because I was trying a little too hard to make it fit for new readers to Warhammer 40,000 and veterans alike. So I made some mistakes, which in hindsight appear to be quite basic and frankly, idiotic.
But do I have a first draft as defined by myself? I think I do. I am not a professional writer by any means of course and this would be my first time writing a piece for professional publication, but I definitely have a first draft because I have my basics there.
If you can recognize a beginning, middle, and end with conflict in the sample, then that is a job well done is it not? Granted, just one chapter by itself cannot fulfill that but then the sample proper is supposed to be 3 chapters long. And at the rate I have been going, it is going to clock up at around 19-20k words.
Which is a hell of a lot!
My ‘technique’, if you can call it that, is to get all my basics down first and then go back over the piece and do a few things, in no particular order.
- Identify areas that need improvement, whether it be dialogue, or narration, or phrases or whatever else is there.
- Make the improvements.
- Identify mistakes like names, numbers, locations and so on.
- Correct the mistakes.
- Repeat Step 1.
Now, when I sent out my first draft for critiques, I apparently did not do it thoroughly enough and I guess I wasn’t in the proper mindset when I did it. Because when I got some initial feedback and made the necessary edits, I picked up a few glaring mistakes. The kind that make you want to /headdesk.
So today, and maybe tomorrow, is going to be spent going over chapters 1 and 2 again and again until I am sure I have not made any of these mistakes. The people I send out my stuff to critique are quite busy with their own things and it is embarrassing and ridiculous if they read crap like this.
Another one hit straight out of the park, and that is a DLF maximum!
*That would be one of the usual comments from the cricket commentators at the Indian Premier League matches that have been going on for the last month and a half and end today with a Final match later in the evening.*
Anyways, celebrations around because Chapter 1 of Project Salvation, my Deathwatch novel pitch to BL is complete. In its First Draft phase that is. Continuing from my last post where I mentioned that I had to seriously revise the target word count for this, Chapter 1 has clocked at 5317 words. For now. Gonna be sending it out today to various beta-readers of mine at the Bolthole for some valuable critique.
And as one of the lessons learned from this experience, I have revised Chapters 2 & 3 to 5000 words each as the target. No doubt it will increase further as I write the samples but that is OK. I have a better measure of this process now.
In another news, a friend of mine from back in LA just became an uncle, another two of my friends who are now a couple had their first baby this past week, and he is C.U.T.E *pokes fun at Harold Camping* Been SUCH a good week this one.
Also, dear Mr. Chris aka Phalanx has also finished his own Chapter 2 of his novel. That guy is knocking off the word count like crazy. His blogpost over here has been quite insightful although I am definitely not as organized as him. Organization and me just don’t go well together.
One of my fellow moderators at the Bolthole, Squiggle, referred this blogpost from an author named Joe Abercrombie. I have no idea who this guy is or what he has written but that particular blogpost is very, very insightful. It deals with the pitfalls of obsessing over word count and the good and bad of it. I definitely recommend it. I definitely relate given my own ongoing experience with writing a novel.