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Where things stand with my writing

October 16, 2021 3 comments

Well, the good news is, I’ve now been paid for the concluding volume of the Tangent Knights trilogy. It was cutting it a bit close, which is my own fault for running behind, but the money’s in the bank at last. Also, with TK done, I had time to finally finish revising a couple more Star Trek Adventures standalone games, and I’m awaiting approval and payment on those. So I daresay I’m probably okay for the next half-year or so now, barring disasters.

Things are still a bit iffy going forward, though. I’ve already pitched an idea for more Tangent Knights novels, and I’ve got a couple of new things tentatively lined up with Star Trek Adventures, all of which I’m waiting to hear back on. I expect my projects with both publishers to go forward, but I’m not sure when they’d be likely to pay out. So my long-term prospects are a little uncertain right now, but at least I have time to try to line up some additional sources of income to bridge the gap, if it proves necessary.

You’re probably wondering about Star Trek novels. Let’s just say things are up in the air with those right now, and I’ve learned over the past few years that it was unwise to rely too heavily on them as my primary source of income, given the unexpected delays and slow periods that tend to crop up. So until I hear otherwise, my current priorities are elsewhere — Tangent, STA, my other original work as time allows, and whatever else I can line up over the months ahead. Ideally, I hope to find the time to start writing a third Arachne novel.

Gaining more Patreon subscribers would certainly help. I fell behind on preparing new Patreon content while I was writing TK3, but I’ve been trying to catch up. I’m currently 3/4 of the way through a review of the 8-episode Japanese miniseries Miss Sherlock, which reinvents Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as modern-day women in Tokyo. After that, starting on October 26, I’ll begin covering the mindbending 1998 cyberpunk anime series Serial Experiments Lain, in an edited repost of the detailed reviews I wrote in 2009 for a now-defunct incarnation of the ExIsle BBS, so they probably no longer exist online in their original form. That will carry my review series through to the end of the year, so I’ll hopefully have time to rebuild my inventory.

I’m also working on a new Patreon story that I hope to have ready by the end of October. It’s a character vignette (well, longer than a vignette) filling in a significant bit of overlooked backstory for one of my favorite characters from Arachne’s Crime. Some of it might find its way into the third Arachne novel if I ever get around to it, or at least it might help me flesh out ideas for that book.

Also, I now have an author copy of Tangent Knights 1: Caprice of Fate, so I’ll finally be able to do annotations, which I was waiting to do until I could hear the final version and get the timings for my notes. I want to get the Patreon story finished up before I tackle that, though.

I also have a new Troubleshooter story that I’ve been trying to sell, but a couple of the markets I was hoping to offer it to have dried up recently. If I run out of other options, it’ll end up on Patreon.

I’m wrestling with an idea for what might be a new Hub story. It’s a concept I’ve had in mind for years, a fairly dark comedy premise. I already tried writing it once as a standalone story, but I wasn’t satisfied with the result; it turned out less comedic than I intended. I have an idea for how to take another stab at the concept in the Hub setting, but I’m not sure if the plot specifics can really work there. So that’s still up in the air.

I keep a list taped to my door of the projects I plan to tackle in a given year, and I usually end up disappointed by how few of them I actually get done. I suppose it’s not as bad as it looks, though, since I got most of the biggest things done, except for Arachne 3. The things I haven’t checked off are mostly outlines or tentative short story ideas. My problem is that it’s hard for me to focus on more than one thing at a time. If I were better at multitasking, I could get some of these smaller things done during breaks in the bigger things. But it’s hard for me to split my focus that way. Indeed, part of why I was late with TK3 is because I took a break from it to finish an STA game and it took longer than intended. But then, almost all my writing takes longer than intended.

Maybe I’d do better if I were more financially secure and less stressed. I’m somewhat better off in that regard than I was last year, thanks to GraphicAudio and Tangent Knights. But it’s not as much of an improvement as I’d hoped for, due to various delays. So I’m hanging on, but the long-term uncertainty remains.

New Patreon fiction: “What Slender Threads”

Sorry it’s been a while since I posted a new story on my Patreon. I fell behind schedule on the conclusion of the Tangent Knights trilogy, so I tried to focus solely on that. But now I’ve finally posted a new story, “What Slender Threads,” which you can read here on the $10/mo Fiction tier:

Fiction: “What Slender Threads”

The annotations for the story are also up at the $12/mo Behind the Scenes tier:

“What Slender Threads” Annotations

I say “new,” but it’s more like “unsold.” As I mentioned on the Tangent Knights discussion page, I already had a rough idea for a trilogy I was planning to develop when GraphicAudio invited me to pitch an original trilogy or series, but I had to rework it to separate out the characters and concepts I’d already used in a prologue story I was shopping around at the time, splitting different aspects of the original premise into two separate continuities and two distinct approaches to the idea of parallel Earths. “What Slender Threads” is that story, a glimpse at my original approach, which would have been somewhat darker and more tragic than Tangent Knights turned out to be. In retrospect, I’m glad I ended up taking a different tack, because TK was enormous fun to write. But there are still aspects of “What Slender Threads” that I’m eager to share with my audience, particularly its distinctive take on the nature of parallel worlds. And people who’ve listened to Tangent Knights: Caprice of Fate might be interested to compare and contrast it with this alternative version of the concept (or vice versa).

How to find TANGENT KNIGHTS: CAPRICE OF FATE on Goodreads

It’s just come to my attention that the Goodreads page for Tangent Knights 1: Caprice of Fate is hard to find for people who want to leave ratings and reviews. Apparently it only shows up in my list of books on my Author Profile if you sort by title, not by other sorting methods. I’m not sure why that is, but maybe it’ll get more notice once it starts getting some ratings. To that end, here’s a direct link to its page on Goodreads, under Caprice of Fate (Tangent Knights #1):

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59026840-caprice-of-fate

 

Meanwhile, I’m in the final stages of polishing my draft of the Book 3 manuscript and will be turning it in any day now, completing the trilogy — although I’m hopeful that the series will continue beyond it. I haven’t updated my blog in a month because I’ve been so focused on getting it finished. In contrast to the first book, where I finished well ahead of schedule, I had a harder time with this one, since the storyline has grown substantially in complexity and scope, and I had to make sure all its threads came together properly and were worthy of the grand finale. So I fell well behind schedule and really had to buckle down to catch up. I ended up running a few weeks late, but the folks at GraphicAudio have been very understanding, giving me the time I needed to get it (hopefully) right.

Wasp update

After getting stung by a wasp in my car trunk a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t sure what to do about it. Should I risk dealing with it myself or call an exterminator? I looked online for solutions, and one suggestion was to put a hunk of dry ice in the car and let the carbon dioxide smother the moths overnight. But I’d have to drive somewhere to get dry ice, so that was a Catch-22 of sorts.

It occurred to me that maybe the building maintenance people would have experience dealing with wasp nests and might be able to help me out, or at least recommend an exterminator. But when I asked the building manager, the only advice I got was to buy some wasp spray from the store, since an exterminator would be expensive. Eventually I decided to go ahead and try that, getting it when I walked to the store to get groceries. I was uneasy about all the warnings on the can about how toxic it was and how to avoid letting it get into the drains or on my clothes or skin, but I couldn’t see another option. Anything more environmentally friendly would require searching farther afield, which would require driving.

I had to wait for the right time to use it, though. It had to be early in the morning before the wasps were active, and it had to be on a day without rain in the forecast, since my car was parked fairly close to a storm drain. When the day came, I followed online advice and bundled up to cover my skin as much as possible — a turtleneck and buttoned-up jacket to protect my arms and throat (since getting stung in the throat area and having an allergic reaction could close off the windpipe, apparently), bike straps around my pant cuffs (they recommended boots, but I don’t have any), heavy gloves, a wool hat over my ears, and of course my glasses and a mask. Fortunately it was a cool morning.

The wool hat, by the way, is a gift GraphicAudio sent me after hiring me to write Tangent Knights for them. They sent it last winter, and it was very handy, since it often got cold in my apartment overnight.

I also took the long wooden bar that I’d used to knock away the nest the first time, using it to pry open the trunk from a distance. I spotted the nest after a moment; it was in a different place than before, a bit lower and attached to the body of the car rather than the trunk lid. Making sure the wind wasn’t blowing toward me, I sprayed it liberally with the spray, which was a thick white liquid, not the kind of bug spray I’m used to. I fear that I probably used rather more of it than I needed, since I wanted to make really sure. Once I saw no more wasp activity around the nest, I sprayed other areas around the rim of the trunk and a bit in the wheel wells, and even squirted a bit behind the side mirrors, since I’d seen a wasp crawl into the left mirror cowling (or whatever it’s called) some weeks before.

Then I walked away, since the instructions said to let it sit for at least 24 hours until the poison killed the queen and any returning wasps.  I was concerned that I’d left a significant puddle of the liquid on the pavement behind the car, but I really didn’t know what to do about it; I wasn’t supposed to wash it away or let it go down the drain, and I didn’t know how I could safely clean it up by any other means. The instructions said just to let it sit for a day, and I hoped that meant it would just break down naturally in the environment, and that any animals would avoid it. My car wasn’t parked very close to the building or to other cars, so I hoped it would be okay.

When I got up the next morning, there was light rain earlier than had been predicted, which was of some concern, but I hoped enough time had probably passed for the spray to break down or whatever it did. When I went to the car, though, not only did I see no trace of the puddle, but there was no residue of the liquid anywhere on the car where I’d sprayed it. I’d expected dried encrustations or something, but there was nothing at all. I don’t think the rain that morning was heavy enough to account for that, so I figure it must have evaporated on its own, hopefully well before the rain came.

Anyway, I took the same precautions as the day before, just in case, and pried open the trunk to get rid of the nest. I wasn’t pleased to see that there was still one live wasp on the nest, but it was sluggish and I didn’t see any others. I used the wooden bar to deal with it and scrape off the nest, along with a couple of what looked like eggs stuck next to where the nest had been. Then I used my long-handled ice scraper to try to scrape away any residue of anything around the rest of the trunk, and then I applied a little more wasp spray to various crevices just to play it safe, then walked away for another day — actually a couple of days, as it turned out, since there was more rain the next day.

When I checked back again, I saw no sign of wasps, but I wanted to reduce the chances of a recurrence. So I drove up to the local gas station and used the window-cleaning squeegee and paper towels provided there to try to clean out all the accumulated plant matter around the edges of the trunk under the lid, to make it less inviting as a wasp habitat. (I probably should go to a proper car wash, but I didn’t feel ambitious enough to try that.) And when I came back, I parked in the front lot of the building rather than the rear, in hopes of altering as many variables as possible to prevent a recurrence.

Yesterday I drove to pick up groceries again, still bundling up in my jacket and wool hat just in case, but I saw no wasps around the car even though it was quite warm, so that’s a good sign. (I took off the jacket and hat once I got in the car.) Still, just to play it extra-safe, I asked the clerk to put the groceries in the back seat instead of the trunk. And when I got home (still parking in the front lot, even though that’s a longer schlep for the groceries), I found it’s actually a little easier to collect grocery bags from the back seat than from the trunk. So I may do that regularly from now on, even without wasps to worry about. Maybe some good came of this after all.

I wish I’d at least avoided being stung, though.

TANGENT KNIGHTS discussion page now up

I’ve just published a discussion page here on Written Worlds for my new Tangent Knights audiobook series, starting with Book 1, Caprice of Fate:

Tangent Knights

It includes non-spoiler discussion of my creative process and inspirations behind the series. Even though it’s a pastiche of Japanese tokusatsu superhero shows, I built it largely by cannibalizing and remixing elements from some old superhero concepts I shelved decades ago.

I don’t yet know when I might have spoiler annotations up, since I’m busy writing Book 3, and I don’t yet have a copy of the finished audio to refer to. Stay tuned.

New interview at Bad Girls, Good Guys blog

A blog named Bad Girls, Good Guys, and Two-Fisted Action, the Writing Blog of Sean Taylor, is running a series of interviews with eSpec Books authors, and mine was posted today:

https://seanhtaylor.blogspot.com/2021/08/especs-books-focus-2-christopher-l.html

I talk about Star Trek: Living Memory and the Arachne duology, and also drop some hints about “the new project I can’t talk about,” which was actually Tangent Knights, since the interview was conducted before that project got announced. So it’s not as thorough an interview as I would’ve liked it to be, but it’s got some good stuff in it. So feel free to take a look!

TANGENT KNIGHTS 1: CAPRICE OF FATE is out today!

Today’s the day! The first book in my brand-new, original audiobook series Tangent Knights is now on sale from GraphicAudio, for an introductory price of just $4.99 if you buy digital!

https://www.graphicaudio.net/tangent-knights-1-caprice-of-fate.html

GraphicAudio introduces a spectacular original Super-heroic Action Series available in no other format!

In the year 2046, on the artificial-island arcology of New Avalon, Corazón “Cory” Kagami is a bright but impulsive college student who follows her passions, resisting the will of her mother, Morgan Herrera, head of a tech conglomerate responsible for astonishing breakthroughs. Morgan controls Catchfire Industries, and is effectively the ruler of New Avalon through her near-monopoly of its technology and through the numerous government officials she keeps in her pocket.

In a world where communication with parallel Tangent Earths has brought a disruptive influx of new beliefs and scientific innovation, Morgan promotes a strong defense against threats from within and beyond this world, developing advanced personal armor and weaponry for her cyborg peacekeeping team Fireforce.

When Cory is accidentally empowered with the most advanced armor system yet, Morgan tries to renew her bond with her daughter and train her to be a hero, a decision she may come to regret. Cory Kagami, a fan of Japanese tokusatsu action entertainment, has her own ideas about what it means to be a hero.

© & ℗ 2021 Graphic Audio, LLC. All rights reserved.

Like I said last month, Tangent Knights is my attempt to do for Japanese tokusatsu superheroes (e.g. Kamen Rider, Super Sentai/Power Rangers, and Ultraman) what I did for Western-style comic-book superheroes in Only Superhuman, capturing the colorful, fanciful fun and adventure while grounding it in plausible science and characterizations. Unlike Only Superhuman, it’s aimed at a general audience, age 13-up. I’ve had enormous fun writing it, and the folks at GraphicAudio have been great to work with.

And there’s plenty more to come! I’m currently in the middle of writing a huge, epic action sequence for Book 3, which is also the scene where the deep, shocking secret underlying all the events of the series so far is finally revealed. And I’m still only in the first half of the book!

I’ll have more to say about the creative process behind Tangent Knights later, but for now I’ll give folks a chance to hear Caprice of Fate for themselves. At only $4.99 during this introductory period, it’s a great time to get in on the ground floor!

Announcing TANGENT KNIGHTS 1: CAPRICE OF FATE!

That big super-secret project I’ve been hinting about for months has finally been announced!

GraphicAudio introduces a spectacular original Super-heroic Action Series available in no other format!

In the year 2046, on the artificial-island arcology of New Avalon, Corazón “Cory” Kagami is a bright but impulsive college student who follows her passions, resisting the will of her mother, Morgan Herrera, head of a tech conglomerate responsible for astonishing breakthroughs. Morgan controls Catchfire Industries, and is effectively the ruler of New Avalon through her near-monopoly of its technology and through the numerous government officials she keeps in her pocket.

In a world where communication with parallel Tangent Earths has brought a disruptive influx of new beliefs and scientific innovation, Morgan promotes a strong defense against threats from within and beyond this world, developing advanced personal armor and weaponry for her cyborg peacekeeping team Fireforce.

When Cory is accidentally empowered with the most advanced armor system yet, Morgan tries to renew her bond with her daughter and train her to be a hero, a decision she may come to regret. Cory Kagami, a fan of Japanese tokusatsu action entertainment, has her own ideas about what it means to be a hero.

© & ℗ 2021 Graphic Audio, LLC. All rights reserved.

https://www.graphicaudio.net/tangent-knights-1-caprice-of-fate.html

Tangent Knights is an original series which I’ve created and written for GraphicAudio — a trilogy to start, but hopefully ongoing. Like my previous GraphicAudio releases, Only Superhuman and Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder, it’s a full-cast audio novel with music and sound effects. But while those were adaptations of prose novels, Tangent Knights will be available exclusively in audio form.

Tangent Knights is hard science fiction with a superhero theme, in the spirit of Only Superhuman. Aimed at a general audience (age 13-up), the series is inspired by the transforming armored heroes of Japanese live-action tokusatsu (special effects) series such as Kamen Rider, Super Sentai (the basis for Power Rangers), and Ultraman, embracing not only their distinctive approach to superhero action but their sophisticated story arcs and nuanced characterizations — yet grounding them in (relatively) plausible quantum theory and technological extrapolation, including a fresh approach to parallel-world narratives.

This project has been a life-saver for me, coming along when I was desperately in need of new work and helping to pull me out of the deep financial hole I’ve been in for the past few years. It’s also been one of the most enormously fun things I’ve ever written, as I’ve tried to capture the lively characters, wild action, zany humor, impassioned melodrama, and rich plotting of tokusatsu while keeping it grounded and plausible. It’s been enjoyable to work in a new medium, to learn how to write with sound effects and dialogue subtext cues as an alternative to narration. I’ve also been very self-indulgent, loading the books with in-jokes and homages that toku fans will hopefully recognize, as well as plenty of science fiction worldbuilding and social commentary that I hope will please fans of my previous works. I’m really proud of this one, and I hope people enjoy listening to it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

Tangent Knights 1: Caprice of Fate will be released in CD and digital formats on August 3, 2021, with more to follow. You can hear an excerpt at the link above.

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