Acts of War: Aftershock – Week 20 Update

Twenty weeks into Acts of War: Aftershock and revisions continue. Here’s how the week went.

Progress: I’ve done quite a bit of work on the book in the last week to ten days. I started by going through the manuscript and addressing all the editors’ comments and suggested changes. Most of that consisted of straightforward and even simple changes, but there were a few scenes I needed to rewrite extensively. Next, I wrote three additional chapters designed to increase the presence of certain characters and solidify their role in the plot. This week, I’m going back through the manuscript again, word for word, chapter by chapter, cleaning up the changes I made and making sure they’re consistent throughout the manuscript. I have one major scene to rework in the third act, and then the first round of revisions will be done.

Revision Roundup: Today, I’m going to talk about another of the three major areas of focus for the revisions: character. As I go through the manuscript, many of the notes from the editors address a character’s dialogue or actions that aren’t quite in line with how they’ve been presented both in Flashpoint and elsewhere in Iron Kingdoms fiction. These types of adjustments are somewhat unique to writing media tie-in, where characters, like Lord General Coleman Stryker, Asheth Magnus, and Ashlynn d’Elyse, have been shared by multiple authors. So, even though I might come at a character differently than another author, he or she still needs to be recognizable to those familiar with the setting.

I’ve also been working on adding new chapters that give some characters more time in the spotlight. For example, I added a chapter about Ashlynn d’Elyse that reveals more about her motivations and how she interacts with the Llaelese Resistance. The antagonists can get this treatment too, and the entire purpose of Irusk’s new chapter, for example, is to give the reader a glimpse into why he made certain decisions that, viewed from afar, could be seen as quite villainous.

Mini Excerpt: One of the cool things about Ashlynn’s new chapter is it lets me spend a little more time with some of the awesome and unique troops that fight for the Resistance. The following mini-excerpt focuses on one of those Resistance powerhouses: the Thorn Gun Mages.



The face of one of the buildings ahead exploded outward in a plume of dust and smoke, disgorging a massive crimson warjack. The towering machine lumbered through the remains of the structure that had been hiding it, bringing its arms together in front of its body with a reverberating clang. The jack’s limbs were covered in slabs of heavy plate steel, like shields, and when locked together they made an impenetrable armored shell. Ashlynn knew the Khadoran design well. In her experience, it often lived up to its designation. Devastator.

Lieutenant Waevyr and her gun mages reacted to the appearance of this new threat as they’d been ordered, and their magelock pistols unleashed ensorcelled ammunition in a thundering volley. The Devastator was huge and slow moving, and the gun mages could not miss at such close range. Magelock rounds hit the target in a strobing flashes of blue and red. Some of the gun mages had fired thunderbolt ammunition, but the Devastator was simply too large and heavy to push back, even with the powerful enchantment. The rest had fired incendiary, and flames engulfed the warjack. The fire would have little effect on the Devastator with its armored shell engaged, but Ashlynn knew if she could force it into close combat, it would emerge from its steel cocoon, and the sorcerous flames would take their toll.



You know, I’ve never used that particular warjack in any fiction. I won’t say it’s the only reason I put a Devastator in that scene, but it didn’t hurt. 😉

If you have a question or comment about the book or my writing process, ask away in the comments section below. And if you’ve missed the updates for the previous weeks, you can find them right here:


Acts of War: Aftershock is available for preorder in print and digital from Amazon, and you can buy and read the first book in the series, Acts of War: Flashpoint, right now.

          

 Buy Print – $14.99                                Preorder Print – $15.99

 Buy eBook – $7.99                               Preorder eBook – $7.99

Acts of War: Aftershock – Week 19 Update

Week nineteen, and I am neck-deep in revisions for Acts of War: Aftershock.

Progress: I’m very pleased with the progress I’ve made so far. I’ve revised over a third of the novel at this point, and that includes rewrites of two major scenes. I’m on pace to put this round of revisions to bed in a total of two weeks or so.

Revision Roundup: Today, I’d like to talk about one of three major areas of revision I mentioned in last week’s post: setting continuity. These are often little tweaks and adjustments that ground the story more firmly in the Iron Kingdoms, or, sometimes, fix outright errors. I’ve been working in the IK for seven years now, so I’m very familiar with how things work in the land of steam and steel, but I do make mistakes, and luckily Doug Seacat and Matt Goetz are there to catch them.

Here’s an example a fairly minor continuity issue that I’ve already addressed:

Original text: The Chargers’ cannons went off first, and he aimed the explosive shells at the towers atop the gate, guiding them with his will.

I had been using these cannon blasts to kill multiple foes, and Doug Seacat had this comment on the text: Chargers don’t have explosive shells. Sentinel guns would work better for clearing groups of infantry, whereas Charger cannons are better to hit individual targets harder. If you want light warjacks with explosive shells, have him take Grenadiers instead of Chargers.

Revised text:  The Grenadiers’ grenade launchers went off first, and he aimed the explosive shells at the towers atop the gate, guiding them with his will.

The solution: An easy one. I changed the Chargers to Grenadiers in this scene, changed the words “cannons” to “grenade launchers,” and problem solved. This is one of the small details even someone well-versed in the setting can overlook. You see the word cannon, and you think explosion, but as Doug said, that’s not really what Charger cannons do. Grenadiers, on the other hand, are a great fit for this scene.

I needed to do some additional adjustments in the scene to replace the Chargers (and let the Sentinels mow down some infantry), but it was all pretty easy stuff. I would say about twenty five percent of the changes I’ll be making in the manuscript are similar to this example. Next week, we’ll get into some of the more complicated revisions.

Mini Excerpt: Hey, let’s take those new Grenadiers for a test drive!



The Grenadier swung its mattock at a Winter Guard officer locked in a saber duel with a Resistance soldier. The pick blade of the oversized weapon struck the Khadoran in the back, passed completely through his body, and burst from his chest in a spray of blood. A slight pulse of irritation flowing back through the warjack’s connection with Magnus as the Grenadier hoisted the dead soldier from the ground, now pinned to its weapon, and shook the corpse free like a man trying to dislodge a bit of trash from the bottom of his shoe.



Often when you revise a scene, you end up liking the revision way more than the original. Of course, this makes Grenadiers seem like jerks, which, hey, maybe they are. 🙂

If you have a question or comment about the book or my writing process, ask away in the comments section below. And if you’ve missed the updates for the previous weeks, you can find them right here:


Acts of War: Aftershock is available for preorder in print and digital from Amazon, and you can buy and read the first book in the series, Acts of War: Flashpoint, right now.

          

 Buy Print – $14.99                                Preorder Print – $15.99

 Buy eBook – $7.99                               Preorder eBook – $7.99

Acts of War: Aftershock – Week 18 Update

Here we are at week eighteen into the production of Acts of War: Aftershock. These updates are going to change a bit as I start working on revisions. More on that below.

Progress: I’m starting revisions on the novel this week–today, actually—so my progress reports will reflect where I’m at with rewrites, scene additions, scene subtractions, and all the myriad little tweaks and adjustments that will turn the book into the final product you’ll be reading on July 12th.

Revision Roundup: The editors at Privateer Press have given me extensive notes on what they’d like to see changed or adjusted in the next draft. I’ve worked with all of these folks many times on long and short fiction, and the level of notes and requested changes are what I expected. There’s work to do, but it’s not overwhelming, and much of it entails adding material, which, in my opinion, is the easiest type of revising.

There are three primary, broad-strokes areas I’ll be working on in this round of revisions: story, character, and setting continuity. All three involve changes big and small, and I’ll detail some of those changes in the coming weeks as I work through them, but here’s a little taste. After reading through the draft, the editors at Privateer Press all came to the same conclusion: more Ashlynn d’Elyse. That suits me just fine. She’s a great character, and I’ll be adding a scene or two with the Llaese Resistance leader in this next draft. In fact, that’s gonna be the very first thing I do!

Mini Excerpt: Since the editors want more Ashlynn in the next draft, here’s more Ashlynn in this week’s mini-excerpt AND on the awesome cover of Aftershock (courtesy of the extremely talented Néstor Ossandón).

 



Another volley from the two Destroyers came shrieking down from the wall. The shells detonated in front of Ashlynn, pelting her power field with debris. Her Vanguards absorbed most of the blast, though one of them suffered for it. Damage reports flowed back through her connection with the warjack; its right leg had been severely damaged. She ordered it to fall back and protect the troops behind her.

She was close enough now that Crash and Soldier could reach the top of the wall with their steam cannons. She urged them to fire, and the explosive shells arced high and exploded against the hull of one of the Destroyers. Khadoran warjack armor was thick, but the twin blasts sent the great red machine stumbling backward, and then it disappeared. Ashlynn smiled at the thought of the ten-ton warjack plummeting forty feet to the ground below. Hopefully, there would be Assault Kommandos to soften its landing.



I like to think some proud son of the Motherland, a kovnik maybe, had a bunch of Winter Guard at the bottom of that wall waiting to soften the fall of such valuable equipment. 🙂

If you have a question or comment about the book or my writing process, ask away in the comments section below. And if you’ve missed the updates for the previous weeks, you can find them right here:


This week marks a special occasion. Acts of War: Aftershock is available for preorder in print and digital from Amazon! Choose your preferred format and click the link below.

Preorder Print – $15.99

Preorder eBook – $7.99

Acts of War: Aftershock – Week 17 Update

Seventeen weeks into the production of Acts of War: Aftershock, and the revision process is about to kick into high gear.

Progress: Tomorrow, I’m heading into the Privateer Press offices to discuss revision notes on Aftershock with publications director Mike Ryan and the continuity team, which includes Doug Seacat and Matt Goetz. One of the handy things about living in the same city as your publisher is you can have a face-to-face meetings to make sure we’re all on the same page with any big changes. After the meeting, I’ll start revisions in earnest with a goal of completing them by the end of the month.

The Best Part: Help is on the way. One of the great things about writing for Privateer Press is that I have access to a fantastic team of editors and continuity editors. I can get questions answered on just about anything Iron Kingdoms-related from arguably the best source on the planet: Doug Seacat, the sage of the IK himself. The man is a literal encyclopedia of Iron Kingdoms lore. Mike Ryan and Matt Goetz also help out with continuity, and, even better, all three of them are accomplished writers with a great sense of story and characterization. So, in other words, I’m in good hands, and the changes I’ll be making will only improve the final product.

The Hard Part: No, mine! With revisions on a novel this size, you’re going to have minor disagreements from time to time. I’m not talking about the cut-and-dry continuity stuff that’s either right or it isn’t; I’m talking about more nuanced things like characterization and narrative pace and structure. Occasionally, they’ll want me to change something I’d like to keep. It could be a small detail, like the description of character, to something a bit bigger, like that character’s motivation. Invariably, the editors are open to discussion, and if I can make a good case for leaving things the way I had them, they’ll remain unchanged. On the other hand, the editors often make such a compelling argument, even on a point I’m fairly passionate about, that I’ll come around to their line of thinking or at least find a workable compromise.

Mini Excerpt: As many of you know, Asheth Magnus, one of the heroes (?) of Acts of War: Aftershock, is not a “whole” man. His right arm has been replaced with a mechanikal prosthetic, which, as we see in the excerpt below, he has been known to use creatively.



“I know who you are,” Kovnik Narova broke in. “A murderer, a traitor, and a liar.”

Magnus chuckled. “Well, I can’t deny all of that,” he said. “But I’m glad we’re well acquainted.”

He squatted down in front of the Khadoran, ignoring the pain it wrung from his braced leg. He reached out with his right hand, a mechanikal prosthetic, bulky and crude but effective, and laid it on the kovnik’s shoulder. The man did not flinch or pull away, but he would feel the weight and strength of that hand. “I have some questions for you,” he said and squeezed, not enough to hurt yet. He could feel Dane’s eyes on his back, watching, evaluating.

“I will tell you nothing,” Kovnik Narova said.

“I understand,” Magnus said with a sympathetic nod. “You are a good soldier, and you must say that.” He tightened his grip, and the Kovnik winced. Bruising pressure now. “Here is the first question.”



I recently broke my collarbone, a painful experience, and one that I drew upon quite a bit in this excerpt . . . and what comes after. 🙂

If you have a question or comment about the book or my writing process, ask away in the comments section below. And if you’ve missed the updates for the previous weeks, you can find them right here:

Acts of War: Aftershock – Week 15 Update

Week fifteen! Here’s the update on Acts of War: Aftershock.

Progress: I haven’t been idle while waiting for Privateer Press to review the first draft of Acts of War: Aftershock. In fact, I managed to write another 3,000 words in the form of a short story, a prequel of sorts, focusing on one of the secondary character in the novel. More on that soon.

The Best Part: Looking ahead. As I read through the Aftershock manuscript again, I’m getting ideas for the third book in the trilogy, and I’ve begun to jot them down for the eventual discussion with Privateer Press chief creative officer Matthew D. Wilson, publications director Mike Ryan, and the other folks who make all the Skull Island eXpeditions books happen. The third act is always the BIG one, and even though I won’t start writing book three for many months, I can’t help but get excited about the future of the series.

The Hard Part: Uh, looking ahead. Another two-for this week. As I inch closer to the spectacularly gigantic conclusion to the trilogy, my fragile writer brain reels in horror. I mean, it’s got to be cool, it’s got be epic, and it’s got be, you know, good. That’s a lot of pressure, but like every major writing project, you have to approach it in pieces, one day and one word at a time. Taking it in small bite-sized chunks prevents me from seeing the towering monstrosity of the whole project and allows me to keep my sanity, such as it is. I’ve done that with each novel I’ve written, and I don’t expect book three to be different in that regard.

Mini Excerpt: Today’s excerpt focuses on Asheth Magnus and a confrontation with one of the most feared Khadoran warjacks: the Juggernaut.



Magnus threw himself flat, dragging Legate di Morray down with him. The shell exploded behind them, and intense heat rolled over Magnus’ back. As he scrambled to his feet, he saw why. The Man-O-War shield cannon had blown a hole in the tower, giving him a clear view of the hellscape below. He pulled di Morray up and pressed him flat against the wall with his mechanikal arm. “Are you injured?” he asked. The legate shook his head, but he looked like he might collapse any minute.

The angle of the doorway ahead offered some cover from the enemy, but it obscured their view of what was inside. To make matters worse, smoke poured from the open door and filled the hall with a black haze. Magnus was more than a little concerned about what that meant. “Did you see what’s in the next room?” he shouted to Horgrum.

The trollkin appeared uninjured, and he stood against the wall a few feet ahead of Legate di Morray. “Three Man-O-War and a warjack with an axe made of ice.”

“Juggernaut,” Magnus said. “Fantastic.”



Come on, Magnus. It’s not all bad news, right? Ice axe, sure, but I’m pretty sure Horgrum would have mentioned the paint job if it was Beast 09. 🙂

If you have a question or comment about the book or my writing process, ask away in the comments section below. And if you’ve missed the updates for the previous weeks, you can find them right here:

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Check out the first book in this series, Acts of War: Flashpoint, if you haven’t already. You can still get the e-book at 25% off from the Skull Island eXpeditions website by entering the code ACTSOFWAR1 at checkout.

Acts of War: Aftershock – Week 14 Update

Week fourteen has come and gone, and here’s your weekly update on Acts of War: Aftershock.

Progress: The first draft is still under review with Privateer Press, but this is not unusual for a couple or reasons. First, it’s a big book that a bunch of folks need to read, and that just takes time. Second, its July release date means there are books in the queue coming out well before it, like Orrin Grey’s Godless, which need editorial attention first. Truth be told, I finished the first draft of Aftershock well before the deadline, which is good for me, but it doesn’t necessarily speed up the editorial process. I still have to wait in line. 🙂

The Best Part: Sword nerdery. Writing this kind of fiction gives me plenty of opportunities to indulge my love of historical warfare. One of the things I like most is figuring out how different Iron Kingdoms weapons might be used in combat. Take Stryker’s mechanikal greatsword Quicksilver, for example. It’s meant to be used by a warcaster to crack open warjacks and other heavily armored targets. Though it can be wielded like a sword, to my mind, its use would often resemble certain types of polearms. On the other hand, Ashlynn d’Eleyse’s weapon Nemesis is a completely different story. She’s a renowned swordsman with a sword designed for dueling, and I can turn to various real-world techniques (from longsword to saber) to describe her fighting style.

The Hard Part: A little goes a long way. The last thing I want to do is turn the book into a treatise on sword-fighting. When I write a fight scene, I go back and read it, specifically looking to see if I’ve gone too far down the rabbit hole with my descriptions. I want to keep the action moving, and I don’t want to drop a paragraph of exposition on archaic fighting techniques into my battle. So, I work to show the techniques rather than just tell you about them. (I get to do the telling in a series of No Quarter articles.)

Mini Excerpt: Today’s excerpt focuses on Lord General Coleman Stryker, who has gotten himself in a bit of a pickle. He’s found himself without his trusty warcaster armor or Quicksilver and must rely on the skills he learned in the Cygnaran Royal Guard years ago.



It had been many years since Stryker had used a sword like the one he’d taken from the slain gun mage, but the weapon was similar to the straight double-edged blades of the Royal Guard where he’d received his initial martial training.

The principal guards came back to him in a rush.

Prong.

He held the sword high, point toward his enemy, and caught an axe blow on the strong of the blade. The heavier axe slid away from his sword, and with a quick twist of wrist and shoulder he opened the Winter Guard’s skull with a powerful overhand cut.

The next Khadoran came at him with a rifle bayonet, thrusting at his stomach.

Nail.

Stryker turned his sword, point-down, in front of his body and knocked the bayonet away with a sharp parry. He lunged forward, bringing the point of his weapon back up, and used his momentum to ram the blade through the Winter Guard’s throat.



Split a skull, stab a throat—it’s just like riding a bike, eh, Lord General? 🙂

If you have a question or comment about the book or my writing process, ask away in the comments section below. And if you’ve missed the updates for the previous weeks, you can find them right here:

Acts of War: Aftershock – Week 13 Update

Here we are at week thirteen, and despite a mile case of triskaidekaphobia, we’re one week closer to the July release of Acts of War: Aftershock.

Progress: The first draft is still under review with Privateer Press, a process that can take some time since there a number of people who need to look at the manuscript. In the meantime, have a look at the next exciting release from Skull Island eXpeditions, Godless, the first novel in the Fire & Faith series by the very talented Orrin Grey.

The Best Part: My own little world. While the Iron Kingdoms is an established setting with established characters, but one of the little bonuses about writing a series of novels there is I get to create my own little cast of supporting characters. For example, I introduced many of the men and women that make up Lord General Stryker’s group of senior officers in Flashpoint, and now I get to continue their stories in Aftershock. Some of them have been promoted, shuffled around, given new duties, and so on, largely because of the events in the first book, something I hope to continue in the third. Today’s mini-excerpt focuses on one of these characters.

The Hard Part: Too many choices. Writing a book that’s based on a tabletop miniature game like WARMACHINE has a lot of upsides. I mean, there are so many cool warjacks, troops, and characters I want to put in there. The trouble is deciding which ones. There are essentially three armies in Aftershock: Cygnar, Khador, and the Llaelese Resistance. That’s a whole lot of men and machines to choose from. I have to narrow it down to what makes the most sense for the events in the book, but then, every once in a while, I do indulge myself by including something because it’s too damn cool to pass up. 🙂

Mini Excerpt: Today’s mini-excerpt focuses on one of Lord General Stryker’s officers, a woman who commands some of his most effective troops, the powerful galvanic cavalry known as Storm Lances. This brave storm knight was present during the siege of Riversmet in Flashpoint and continues to serve Cygnar directly under the command Lord General Stryker as the army moves on to its next target.



“There aren’t more than fifty Khadorans guarding that pass, sir,” Captain Archer said. “My Storm Lances can handle them.”

“Of that I have no doubt, Captain,” he said, took Quicksilver from its stand, and balanced the huge mechanikal blade over his right shoulder. “You are more than capable of defeating fifty Khadorans, but there may be more, and you’ll want a warcaster for that eventuality.”

Lissa Archer was a young and talented officer. She’d been knighted at the age of twenty and had spent the last six years serving in the Storm Lances, mostly in combat. She’d been promoted to captain after Riversmet and showed every sign of climbing well beyond her current rank. She was less than satisfied with his answer. “Permission to speak freely, sir?”

He chuckled and shook his head. “You know, there’s a major back in Riversmet who asks me that question a lot.”



Warcasters are often devastatingly effective frontline fighters, which is exciting, if a little nerve-wracking for the officers who try and keep them alive long enough to do all that leading from the front.

If you have a question or comment about the book or my writing process, ask away in the comments section below. And if you’ve missed the updates for the previous weeks, you can find them right here: