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Excitement Abounds

So. Two days to go. Games Day United Kingdom 2011.

It is going to rock!

And what’s more, I am going! Hell yeah I am! I have my plane tickets, I have my hotel reservation, I have some local currency. A shopping list of books I wanna get.

And I am definitely prepared to have a ton of fun with all of the Boltholers who are going to be showing up for the event. Although, it appears so far that I am the only one coming from out of country.

The twin Black Library seminars, a “Writing For” and “Art of”, are going to be so much fun, I have no idea how to tell you all about it.

I have still not heard back regarding any of the 5 short stories I submitted during the Spring Submissions Window, and to be honest, I am resigned to the fact that I probably will not. It’s just been too long. There is less than a week left for their 8-week notification time too.

Hence, I am excited that BL is going to be having an area set aside at Games Day where we can submit some new short story ideas. For more information, just check out their latest blog post, which you can find here.

I already have two nice ideas regarding the Invictors and a Blood Angels successor chapter. The Invictors have already seen some time in the limelight as I submitted a short story about them for the submissions window. The Blood Angels idea is totally rocking, if I do say so myself. I feel it really captures the “grimdark” nature of Warhammer 40,000. Victory is not always the victory you hope for and all that jazz as they say.

In other news, Ch10 of Sons of Corax just got posted to the Bolthole. So definitely check that out. The last two chapters (which includes this one) have been mammoth additions to this ongoing project, and I have really had a blast writing the action scenes in there. I am told by reliable sources that the beginning and end of Ch9 is particularly awesome.

I am hoping to do some kind of a breakdown of Sons of Corax soon enough on the blog. Mostly I shall be talking about how the idea came about and how I’ve managed to write so much in such a short time! I am loving this project.

Sadly, my Star Wars/40k crossover fanfic is still in its development stage. Haven’t had much time to work on it, given some real life commitments and working on Sons of Corax.

Not to mention the awesomeness that is Space Marine. I have only played the demo so far and I am really liking the combat mechanics and the gameplay in general. I shall have the full game soon enough. Expect a review on that soon-ish.

Talking of reviews, I posted two movie reviews on 24FPS this past week. The first one is Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, which is my third review in the DC Animated Universe Film Reviews Spotlight. The second one is Captain America: The First Avenger (3D). Do check them out!

Given my novel-related haul at Games Day, I shall have a fair bit of pre-release novels in my hands pretty soon. And I have decided that I am going to review them as and when I finish them. Time to branch out the blog to more than just rambling about 40k and writing πŸ™‚

So yeah, that’s all that. I fly off to London in roughly 24 hours from now.

Excitement abounds!

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Recognition at the Finish Line

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 πŸ™‚

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.

Trepidation

Today marks a big day in two aspects, and I am proud for both of those reasons.

One, I sent off my two short story pitches to BL today for the spring submissions window. *drumroll* *singing* *dancing*

The first pitch is about the Angels of Retribution while the second one is about the Invictors chapter. I am also currently working on a third pitch involving the Space Wolves, based on a passing reference in their latest codex.

Its like a bittersweet moment. This is my first time submitting work professionally, yet I feel a certain uneasiness and trepidation over the outcome of what will happen. Not a very good place to be at right now but I have my hopes up. Like I said before, the least I expect is that I get on a shortlist and that in the end I do get rejected, one of my pitches receives some kind of feedback from the selectors.

Otherwise, the sky is the limit!

Two, I have been promoted to moderator over on the Bolthole. Its an exciting opportunity, not to mention that it involves quite a bit of workload from what I have seen in the mods’ forum. With no prior experience, this may be an uphill task but fortunately the team over there is quite solid, and there are more than a few helpful forumites around.

Release the kraken!

Oh and warseer is finally back up and running, although it feels like there have been some changes that I quite can’t put my finger on.

Writing and Pitches

Dangerous affair, writing. Even more challenging and devious is writing for a pitch when you want to submit to a publisher.

If memory serves, two years ago Black Library had an open window for submissions same time as this year. The topic was their Heroes of the Space Marines anthology. Having done a little writing before, all unpublished and unfinished of course, I thought why not do something for this.

A month later I gave up. I had no idea of what I wanted to write about. The story was barely a page long in word and utter crap. I forget the plot I thought I was writing then but so far I had written about an impending Chaos Marine attack on some world held by the Imperial Guard. I tried to make it cool with the “countdown feature”.

It really was utter crap.

Fast forward two years later to now.

I finished the 1000-word sample, the summary and synopsis for Project: Angels of Retribution (retconned name of course!) in about two months. It took a lot of effort to get right. I was neck deep in an online dictionary/thesaurus, lexicanum, a few of the novels and loads of codices and rulebooks to check various things so all the references made sense. Had to invent a few words too but that wasn’t too bad.

I chose a very old space marine tradition to showcase in the sample and the pitch is about a conflict between two of the oldest mini-factions in the history of the Imperium. I am quite proud of this pitch as I got to talk about in subtle terms about my favourite chapter/legion and primarch.

Then there is my second pitch, which for want of a better working title is called Project: Temptations. As I mentioned before this one is about the Invictors chapter facing off against chaos daemons. Its going to be a really fast-paced piece (the complete short that is) full of bolter-porn and sacrifices and larger-than-life champions.

And it is done. *drumroll*

Indeed. In a day and a half I have finished an entire short story pitch! And incorporated about three-quarters of critique in it as well. Gotta say that I am very surprised how quickly all this came together and how quickly I completed it, compared to P:AOR. Good things like this don’t happen to me very often.

Response to this was very good, with little in the way of any real critique other than awesome grimdark idea like Phalanx mentions on his blog. At least I think he was talking about me here.

He is not the only one to comment that the idea may be a little over-ambitious for a short story and should be a novel instead. As Chris mentions there are three variables involved with writing either a short story or novel or downgrading/upgrading from one to the other.

Time. Experience. Imagination.

Time, I have enough of. Definitely not in short supply. So I can afford to make the idea either a short story or a novel. That’s covered.

Experience, I definitely don’t have any. I have never written a novel. My attempts at the Kinth Series were sparked off of random ideas during a really boring chemistry class in junior year of high school. The half-novel I wrote was without structure, character, theme or plot or anything really. I wrote as things came to mind. So thatΒ  is one vote against writing a novel

Imagination, I have in ample amounts. Even I cannot keep track of all my ideas. So that’s another vote in either direction.

Lastly, I have enough confidence in my fledgling attempts at writing short stories. I fit about a fifth of synopsis plot into dead-on 1,000 words. BL’s page says that final manuscripts for short stories are in the 5,000-8,000 word range. So I am covered there. I am pretty damn confident and I am not going to let anyone say otherwise. Shamelessly I am reminded of a Miley Cyrus song here, Liberty Walk from her album Can’t Be Tamed.

I will indeed be living it up πŸ™‚ And how I approach the story will prove my confidence was not misplaced. Listening to that awesome song has just pumped me even more, hah!

So what were we talking about? Ah yes, writing and pitches.

The weirdly amazing He2etic over at the Bolthole has seen fit to compile this. A list of publishers who are accepting submissions. It is a fairly limited list but I think it is a great idea. I have no interest in any publishers other than Black Library myself.

Once the current BL submission window ends, I will be working on developing my pitches into the full product, whether or not they are accepted. The exercise will be good and as several wise published and unpublished authors say again and again, be prolific with your writing and write, write, write. Truefax.

And in the meantime while I work on those two short stories, to take my mind off things I will also be working on some fanfic for the Bolthole, a Space Marine story that features a DIY chapter fighting against Eldar Corsairs. Perhaps Exodites but not too keen on that stripe of pointy-ears.

My aim by the end of the year is to have completed at least six short stories, which can be anywhere from 45,000-50,000 words all told. Perhaps also start work on a novel idea for BL which I can submit for a window next year. Hopefully there will be one opening up πŸ™‚

I intend to be quite prolific and productive now that I have the impetus and I have my old drive back again. When I was working on The Hunted Prince, the first novel in the Kinth Series trilogy, I had a quarter of a novel and I’d say about 50 pages worth of backstory completed in about half a year. Quite a feat if I say so myself. It was a very good period for me writing wise.

Signing out.

More Names

To continue with what I talked about in my recent post ‘What’s in a name?‘ I had a discussion via email with the awesome Phalanx, one of Bolthole’s resident story-wizzes. The topic was the name I had chosen for the chapter formerly known as Sons of Corax.

It seems that there is a theory related to the name which ties the chapter, having nothing more than the name itself and a really really short blurb in the 3rd Edition Assassin’s codex, with a legion quite dissimilar to the Raven Guard.

The new name for the chapter is Angels of Retribution. And there are wild, very much IMO, theories out there in fandom that they are a Dark Angels successor chapter. The reasoning is that their name fits the convention for other First Legion successors, such as the Angels of Absolution, Angels of Redemption and the Angels of Vengeance. The unfounded theory has proven a little popular among dark angel fans with fanfic and player armies assembled that way.

Its not a bad thing but I am not a fan of the theory either. While there may have been a proper naming convention in place other than ‘oh these names look really cool for these guys’ that hardly should restrict me from picking it as the name for my Raven Guard successors. I considered a lot of names during the renaming process. Some of the ones that really jumped out were –

  • Absolvers – The idea behind using the name that the chapter seeks to help Corax on his quest for redemption and forgiveness for his experiments with the legion’s gene-seed post-Istvaan.
  • Avengers – The chapter is an active hunter of all the Betrayers of Istvaan. These are the Night Lords, the Alpha Legion, the Word Bearers and the Iron Warriors.
  • Crusaders – The chapter has continued the purpose of the Great Crusade, much like the Black Templars have and actively hunts down Traitor Marines.
  • Angels of Retribution – This somehow just fit all the above themes I wanted to get across. Plus, alone among the four names I shortlisted, it really resonated with him. It was a name I could definitely get behind. Not to mention the nice imagery you get when you read that name, particularly in conjunction with the Space Marines’ informal name – Angels of Death. Expect an updated chapter post soon!

As I have said before, names are very important to me when I am writing something.

An old writing project of mine, sparse details to be found here, spawned a madness that resulted in me inventing hundreds of names for dozens of factions. Everything from characters to planets, factions to organizations, weapons to starships and so on. I was quite prolific for that. Sadly the project never really saw much development beyond two large Excel files and about 140 pages in a regular copybook (that’s what us Indians call it). I still have all those files and the terrible amount of research I had to do to come up with names of starships and uniform designs and military rankings and what not.

Then there is the Angels of Retribution I am submitting to BL next month.

Also, the new project I have started. This one is about Space Marines of the Invictors chapter and Daemons. I’ve made more progress on this pitch in one day then I did on the Sons of Corax/Angels of Retribution in two months of focused efforts. My synopsis and summary are done pending review once the sample (currently at 435 words) is complete. And then the rounds of critiques and all.

I really like this pitch. At the moment it is tentatively titled Temptations although the story so far has nothing do with temptations. It was originally conceived as a marines versus Slaaneshi daemons short. I might even develop it into a novel, although that would be a lot of effort which I may not have the time for. Initial response to the story is that it reads better as a novel. I am hoping I can keep it down to a short and still keep it chock full of action and description and conflict.

Oh and the Invictors will be an Ultramarine successor. Although they have little to no contact with smurfies πŸ™‚