Friday, October 10, 2014

NOTES FROM THE AUTHOR!

10/10/2014



An Authors Dilemma

I wrote my first book titled "For Lorne" back in the spring of 2012. The original theme was a young man that inherits his grand father's farm and finds a spaceship hidden in one of the barns. I even had a couple of chapters written and a couple of the main characters defined. It was going to be titled "My Grandfathers Spaceship". Catchy title don't you think?
But, the story had a different idea and kept teasing me to change focus. Then came my first decision on where the story was headed all based on my first sticking point. Sticking points, you know, those things in a story that just reach out like thorns behind the roses and keep jabbing at you.
Anyway, I changed direction and decided to tell the story behind how the spaceship came to be hidden in the barn. Maybe it was left there by aliens and the grandfather vanquished them? Naw, that won't work. That's just an example of some of the thoughts that went through my mind before settling on the present storyline; an ancient alien machine buried in a mine on Engineer Mountain near Durango, Colorado. I picked the setting mainly because we have family living near there and I knew the perfect spot for the setting.
As the story developed, the spaceship became a smaller utility vessel from a larger ship of alien manufacture and its placement meant that it had been buried there for thousands of years; but what circumstances led to its being there?
As those questions mounted up, I added another dimension to the story; the vessel they found actually contained...but that would give away the story! So, along with a sense of closure for what was found inside that vehicle, I created a series of chapters explaining it all.

Now comes the next dilemma; do you devote the whole first part of the story for just the explanation on how the vehicle and its contents got to be where it was found, or space it out amongst the chapters of the main story? I picked the latter, interleaving the chapters to reveal the contents of the vehicle at the same time as the main characters find about them. That was a premise of not giving away a secret until its time.
For those of you not keeping up at this time, the vehicle is discovered by a person who has died before the main story starts. His son later on discovers what his father had uncovered before he dies from a heart attack leaving his whole estate to his favorite nephew; who isn't really his nephew at all. Are we convoluted enough for you yet? Anyway, that's how my first novel titled "For Lorne" came to be. My major critic didn't like the story jumping back in forth in time between the different story lines; but I forged ahead anyway.
Extremely pleased with the outcome, and feeling that the story wasn't really over, I immediately wrote a sequel which I titled "The 5th Agent". Actually the title was my grand-daughters idea after I told her what the story was about. This story also jumps back and forth between the main characters and a shadowy group of people bent on finding out what they had discovered in the mine. Eventually the two story lines and characters converge near the end of the story. There were some threads left hanging from the first novel, which are wrapped up in the second one. After that, they all live happily ever after; or do they?

In writing the first novel I had cut some lines about the early life of one of the main characters. After thinking about it, while working on another project which was published next, I decided to expand on those few words and consequently wrote the next story called "Little Ann". Although not exactly long enough to be considered a novel, it is a complete story in itself and not really science fiction but more of a ghost story. It tells the story of the early life of Ann Lyndes who plays a major role in both books.
There was also another section of that first novel that didn't quite fit. It was more of a branching storyline going in its own direction and not really contributing to the overall purpose of the book. Since I don't throw anything away, it became another story in the same vein as the lead in part of "For Lorne" but occurs after the critical point featured in the first book. I titled it "Colony"; and that is what the core of the story is about. It is roughly about 10,000 words long and unfinished as yet and still sitting on my to do list. "For Lorne", "The 5th Agent", and "Little Ann" have been published as eBooks on Smashwords.com since 2012.

The dilemma continues. I did some thinking, while working through several other projects and always gets me in trouble, and rewrote "For Lorne" pulling all of the alien culture chapters to the front part of the book, dividing it into two separate sections; the first called "Empire and Flight" and the main story becoming "Discovery".
The "Empire and Flight" part ended up being too short in comparison, so I added a whole new section that leads up to the building of the ship and what eventually happens to it and why. This means new, almost unrelated characters to the existing ones, more intrigue and in general telling the story of what really happened to the For Lorne, and pushed the size up over 110,000 words. I published the rewritten novel under the title of "Across the Chasm of Time" in 2013; thus evoking the title of the series.

The dilemma rears its ugly head, again!
I guess I can't leave it alone. After "Across the Chasm of Time" was published, I found myself unhappy with the result and pondered what to do with it next. Itching in the back of my mind was the grand idea to combine "Across the Chasm of time", with all of its additions, and "The 5th Agent" into a single volume. The resultant project took two months to complete and the combined size far exceeded 160,000 words!
I already had the title, "Beyond the Chasm of Time"; even though I waffled a lot, I couldn't come up with anything better and I didn't want it to seem to be a rehash of "Across the Chasm of Time", but a work of its own. It was easy enough to combine the two in the word processor, but then I had to sew them together!
To accomplish that, I rewrote the first section of the second book to form a smooth transition covering the four year interval between where the first book leaves off and the second book begins. Strictly speaking, I just didn't see any need to do any rewrite of the second book beyond that, and the same for the main story in the first book; just edit out the little mistakes and it would be good to go. But what to do with the beginning? Empire and Flight had become an ugly monster that no longer fit well with the rest of the book.
For that I talked with a few people that know about these things a lot more than I do. The key is to draw the reader in with a good beginning, well defined characters but not too many of them, keep the action going, and don't make it too long or the reader will lose interest. Too big, too long, less than 80,000 words, seriously? I believe that a story is as long as it takes to adequately tell it in your own words. There are many stories that span several separate volumes and they work just as well as the shorter ones do. Consider that the movie "The Fly" was adapted from a short story, and then look what they did with Tolkiens "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
I still needed to keep some aspect of the original lead-in story, but decided to strip as much of it as I could and focus specifically on setting the stage for the main story to work from; just simple two dimensional characters, more shadows than anything else, just enough to get the job done.
Again, I don't throw anything away; the pieces cut out had a great story line with well defined characters. I had 10,000 words to start from, but it needed more. Well, the title was easy, "Under the Double Suns" works and its coming along nicely at the moment.

While researching editors and publishers I came across a website that said they would evaluate my book for free. There was much more to the offer, but aside from that I learned many things from that evaluation other than what they told me. I had just passed on a similar arrangement with one of the major publishers of SF. All they wanted me to do was submit a manuscript, 80,000 words minimum, single sided, double spaced, 14 point Times New Roman font, and mailed to them for evaluation. Do you have any idea how many pages that amounts too? I did the math, somewhere in the area of 250 pages, to which they would probably only look at the first few chapters. I deemed that a waste of paper and moved on.

Yes I know, I think too much! Remember I mentioned a story line that was still sitting on my to do list? Yes, that one, "Colony". What if I take all of the pieces that I stripped from the beginning of "Across the Chasm of Time" and "Beyond the Chasm of Time", and use them as a lead-in to what is already written in "Colony"; what would I have? I already knew where the story was going, just hit a temporary writer's block. I'd keep the same title "Colony", and the added stuff already uses the same characters. It seems like a slam dunk, don't you think? After all, they were together to begin with.

Now I'm waffling again. What about if I separate the two original novels from "Beyond the Chasm of Time" back to their original titles? Now why would I do this? I don't know; maybe I think about it too much! At this point I don't know if the readers, if there are any, are confused with my work or not; but it is my work and I love every little piece of it; but for some reason I just can't let this one go.

M. L. Humphrey

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Beyond the Chasm of Time (another Time Chasm book)


Front Cover under construction

*2 July 2014*
     Some people will probably not like this, but I have decided to try and rewrite my first two books into one complete novel; something I've been planning on doing for the last year. I won't give any hints on the changes that will be happening to the storyline, but this new book will exceed 100,000 words in size; my largest undertaking to date.
     In the time since these first two books were first published, I've written several other stories and have hopefully gotten better at it. As I've mentioned before, I've been wanting to do this for sometime and decided to tackle it now.
     I haven't taken the time to work on the front cover; that was another thing that I've since learned, sometimes less is more. Those first two covers were a great learning experience and I definitely went overboard on the second one. This time I'll take my time on coming up with a very appropriate but simple visual experience. How's that for some sophisticated words? The title alone was hard to come up with because the original three were so descriptive; I needed something new and fresh.

     Right now I'm part way through the first merge and slightly appalled at the number of mistakes I made in those first two manuscripts. Grammar was not my strong suit in school but I learn best by doing and I've been doing a lot of that lately.
     The most time consuming part of these first two stories was keeping all of the multiple parts of the story in proper order. In "For Lorne", it was getting the dates in the journal entries to match up with the ages of the people involved. I had several sheets of paper laid out with time lines to keep the events in order. Not only that, I had to create the family trees for all of the families involved with notes as to where and when they entered into the plot.

     With "The 5th Agent", it became even more challenging; in one place I actually had to duplicate the dialogue on both sides of an event as the two separate parts came together.
     If you're big on a lot of science fiction mixed in with a few characters you will probably be disappointed. Don't get me wrong here, the SF portion is the main part behind the story but not as dominant in the storyline as the political intrigue, mystery, and character interaction. I try to make my characters lovable and believable by basing them on real people I know, including myself.

*22 July 2014*
This rewrite/compilation is nearly complete and is enough different than the preceding works to stand on its own. You will also notice that I've changed the title back to its original one. Don't get me wrong, either title will work but it's my painful decision to make.

9/15/2014
The title has stuck, but I've had to shave over 20K words from the combined manuscript shortening the portion dealing with the intrigue behind the fate of the survey ship For Lorne. That included all of the storyline I created when I rewrote it as "Across the Chasm of Time". After all, it's a back story and I've cut it to a minimum.
Did I throw it all away? Absolutely not! All of what I cut out will now be the basis for a new book I've titled "Under the Double Sun". This is my present project and its already half written. I will need to add more storyline and rearrange a few sequences, but it will work fine. I haven't decided how to handle some parts just yet. I've even had the fleeting thought of  pulling all of the ships storyline and putting that on the front end of "Colony", the previous part culled from "For Lorne".

Stay tuned for more!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The House of Ezram



THE HOUSE OF EZRAM - 10/2/2014
These ideas pop out of my head at the oddest times. Sometimes they become just a title on my list of things to do; if I ever get the time!
This particular one has not only made it onto my list of titles, but has also become an incomplete short story. Now that's not a bad thing, it just means that there are more ideas than what I think should fit into a short story. No, that's still not a bad thing, I've already pushed the word count above 5k words and there's still a lot of story line to come. Right now it fits very nicely into a serial type of layout. That means that if it were to be published in one of the Sci Fi magazines it would appear one episode at a time with an ending that leaves you wondering what happens next.

Again, the story has morphed from my first concepts into something a little bit longer than a short story. For those of you that have read "Farmer in the Sky" by RA Heinlein, that ending just left me begging for a sequel.

I don't have a cover thought out yet, that will depend a lot on where the story goes, I've barely begun to tell the story of Hugo Winton and The House of Ezram.

6/2/2014 I really should learn to date these entries.
Well, the story has been completed and it rounded out at 27K words, and by definition classified as a Novella. That's fine with me, there were some things more I could have put in but it would just have dragged from there. This has a very pleasing ending, especially for the romantics.
I've just finished a major edit resolving issues between the different sections; there is still one thread that hasn't been completely fixed yet, and I'll probably find a few more misspelling and inconsistent tense. Two more edits should do it.
The working title is still "The House of Ezram" and all of the characters have been fully defined. More later!

10 June 2014
"The House of Ezram" has now been published on smashwords.com., just under 28K words it qualifies as a Novella in size. The cover is shown above. The golden bird is embossed on a blue booklet the size of a passport. In fact, that is the subtitle as well even though it is not really a big player in the story.

I feel that the story is a complete standalone entity even though I could have added all sorts of follow on parts, they would only weigh it down. The story should leave you guessing how things turn out, but still feel like its finished. True, I could have added more about the perceived villain, but that wasn't the purpose. The whole purpose of the story was always about Hugo and Sally, the setting only served to make things difficult between them. In all, I think that purpose has been achieved. Will there be a sequel? Maybe.

28 July 2014
Considering turning this into a three part full length Novel by adding two separate parts. The first would be called "The King of Ezram", which would be the further adventures of Hugo and Sally, picking up about ten years and three children later. Part three would be called "The Children of Destiny" or "Destinies Children". That title is still a little hazy for now.

10/2/2014
"THE BOOK OF EZRAM"
 This is an update on the previous update. I've started writing "The King of Ezram" section and the plan has solidified into a three part book called: The Book of Ezram, containing three distinct, but consecutive, episodes based upon the theme beginning with the original story.

The first part has already been published on smashwords.com, and serves as the beginning segment. It will be followed by the life of Hugo and Sally 10 years and three kids later as they are finishing their tour of duty, so to speak, as the King of Ezram.

The third section will be titled (still subject to change) Destinies Children. The intent here is to continue shortly after our hero and heroine have stepped down from their exalted position and resume their lives among the normal folk of their realm. Think that will be easy? The title alludes to the antics and adventures of their children along with Vlad's and possibly the use of the dimensional traveler as well. As I gaze into my crystal ball things are still a little misty and I haven't finished part two yet!

M. L. Humphrey

Friday, April 25, 2014

Short Stories of all types

SHORT STORIES OF ALL KINDS

Short Stories of all types is really very ambiguous, don't you think? I have a list of several short story titles such as: "Mr. Klien's other Bottle", Mr. McDonalds Magical Miniature Zoo", "Holding cell", and "The Doctor and Mr. Jones". The first two are titles that peaked my imagination and for now just take up a little bit of memory on my hard drive. Of the second two, "Holding Cell" is a rather bizarre tale that seems to have no beginning, no end, and no purpose; it just is a place I know of near where I grew up at a time before I lived there; that is before the road was paved, probably about 1946. Maybe some day I'll do something with it. The last one, "The Doctor and Mr. Jones" is complete, very short, and meant to shock the reader. That is if you don't figure it out before you get to the end.



"INTERVIEW WITH THE DUNGEON MASTER"
This next entry is an idea I woke up with one morning and it tormented me constantly until I wrote it down. I think the title tells it all, it is a fantasy story taking place in the kingdon of King Fortane involving a reporter named Morley whose assignment is to interview the Dungeon Master. I put this together in less than a week.
This is my first excursion into the world of fantasy as you may well guess by the title. Mr. Gabble, an editor for the local paper in the kingdom of King Fortane, has been given the assignment of doing a feature piece based on an interview with the Master of the King's Dungeon.
Now you may think this seems like an easy task, but Morley had no idea where the dungeon was or how to get there; but he knows someone who may. And that's when the fun begins as Morley literally drops into the dungeons to find himself face to face with the real Master of the Dungeon, Sergeant Klugg.
Together they descend through the several levels of the dungeon as the sergeant gives him the grand tour. Find out what happens to our hapless hero as he tries to survive 'Interview with the Dungeon Master'.
Available now at www.smashwords.com. 

"Another Morley story"
10/2/2014  -Yes, I just couldn't leave it alone. I've started another Morley tale which I have labeled, for lack of a better name, Venus Dea Milo. That title, if the story continues on its present course, will definitely change. Perhaps I'll eventually write a complete volume on the Tales of Morley. Who knows; at this point, not even Me.


"UNCLE PHID'S CLOSET" [The face in the closet]
I started writing this one under a different name, and as yet I don't have it completely ironed out. The story begins in 1927 before fast forwarding to the 1950's then jumping back in time to 1927. No, this is not time travel, but a story spanning generations. The main characters are Phineus Edwards and his grandson Jerry. It's a little rough right now, but it's as good, if not better, than many of the short stories I've read over the past 50 years.I'll report further when I iron a few more wrinkles out of it.

10/2/2014
Well, it's been awhile since the last update, but I've smoothed the story down so as not to jump around in time as much, don't want to confuse my major reader. It's still not ready for publication yet, my present thought is to include most of the short stories into one big volume.

"HIGH JACKED"
My next idea for a short story is tentatively labeled "High Jacked". And, with any early project, that may change as the story unfolds. Unlike my recent excursions into the many aspects of the realm of science fiction, this story derives from two main sources, the movie "UP" and a Monty Python short  entitled "The Crimson Permanent Assurance", and resembles neither one of them or maybe I should say I added a nightmarish twist as I mangled the two entirely separate sources into a story about a young couple and an old house. Of course I will mix in a few 'wee folk' just to make it seem real.
How's it coming, you may ask? Well, let's just say that I've made some notes and created the necessary folders on my computer, so I've committed space at least, for now I'll start writing notes and see where it leads me.

10/2/2014 - No updates on this story at this point.

"RING BELL FOR SERVICE"
This story is a little on the dark side to begin with and is a takeoff on a short story I read too long ago to remember when. It's sort of a travel agency style setting only the stopovers are on other worlds with sometimes not so friendly species. Think "it's Tuesday so I must be on Randor 5". I have written the beginning and every once in awhile I think of a humorous stopover that our traveler encounters. It also, is a candidate for inclusion in a volume of short stories.




Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Galactic Quest: [book 5 of The Cornish Talisman Series]

SPOILER ALERT! Don't read this unless you've already read the first three books in the series.

Let us begin with the situation that Admiral Jasom Kingston finds himself in at the end of book 3: Return to Earth. I'll leave the major details out.

- He has managed to escape from Garlo, with the help of Holly's father, by stealing their flyer; that's a lose end that will have to be taken care of.
- Garlo's stepson Jared was rescued from Obehail using Jasom's flyer after Obehail set the barn on fire. Obehail's body has been found in the wreckage of Jasom's burned out barn and Jasom's old nemesis Herbert Dressler. This man is not only the truant officer and high school gym teacher, he is also the fire chief and the local sheriff. He's everywhere and into everything, and still suspicious of Jasom.
- His high school buddy is getting married, and he has just proposed to Arial.
- Back on the Cornish Talisman and against his mothers wishes, he now must meet with the Ambassador as well.
- What more could happen to our hero?

Well, as hero's go, Jasom has found himself in quite a position with things definitely not going as planned. But wait! What plan did he have to begin with?

Well, that is quite a bit to start with, but I've also added in a lose end left over from "The Crystal Crowns" dealing with the order itself. Have you noticed anything strange about the order yet? You should have, I've alluded to it often enough, and no I'm not going to explain it here, you'll have to read the book to find out what it is.

2 July 2014
No, I haven't finished this story yet! But it's on the burner, even though I've written two short stories and a novelette in the meantime. It is still on my mind as I work my way through to finish it. I have the ending down and several of the plot twists that happen in between. I'm having a little trouble with resolving all of his issues in the beginning. The plot is firm, but I'm overloaded with details!


Monday, December 30, 2013

Betrayal on Gruentok [Book 4: The Cornish Talisman Series]

Temporary book cover




This is the fourth installment in The Cornish Talisman series and picks up, time wise, shortly after the end of The Crystal Crowns. It is mainly the story about Marja Thoma-si and her son Varden. The first half of the book tells the story of the ill fated expedition of Marja and her husband Wilys Qwen on the unexplored world of Relkin 5 suspected of being one of the worlds of the Predecessors, a fact only known to a select few of the Council of Evenset. Any explorers unlucky enough to pick one of these worlds faced a short future.

After being landed on the planet they found very little of interest except for an ever present grass underfoot. That is, until they ventured into the mountain valleys to the east of their base camp. High above, nestled within a high mountain valley, they came upon a city in ruins not shown in any of the scans of the planet. Slowly they ventured through the ruins, looking for any indication as to who had lived here and how long it had been abandoned. But whoever had lived there had taken everything with them when they left, the place was completely deserted.

Then, one day while they were searching through one of the ruins, they discovered a stairway that led down into the bowels of the mountain. At the bottom of the stairway they found a network of mono rails leading off into darkened tunnels with no indication as to their destination. However, one of the monorails was different; larger and heavier, it led directly underneath the mountain. What they found in there was a dormant installation. Things would have gone according to plan, but certain members of the council had planted a spy within their party, and on hearing of the find a ship was sent to collect it. Marja would have been a casualty as well had she not already been sent home when they found out about the spy.

Many years later, after the council members that were involved had been eliminated, Admiral Qwen, who was also Wilys' grandfather, asked Marja to revisit the planet to discover what, if anything, remained. For protection, Admiral Qwen also assigned a small gunboat, to work with the expedition and provide security and protection. But, even within the Admiral's navy there are plots within plots, is there another plant within the crew, the expedition, or both?

This time Marja found things that were not discovered the first time she visited the planet. There was much that the first expedition hadn't had the time to find. Marja's main focus had been to find out what had happened to her husbands expedition and exact revenge for his death. But, was there anyone left to exact that revenge upon? Did any of the expedition survive?

1/28/2014 - First let me say that I have been working on this manuscript, but it has been slow going. I can liken this to painting myself into a corner and having to devise a way of walking on the ceiling to get out. No, it hasn't been that bad, really. I have had to revisit the first book in the series, The Orphan from Space" doing final edits on the manuscript for paperback publication and it has diverted a lot of time and attention from this endeavor. Fear not, I will finish it, somehow. And then I will get more involved with book 5 which is called (at least right now) Galactic Quest. For now, be patient, it will be done by summer; or else. MLH

2/9/2014 - I have resumed work on Betrayal  on Gruentok after spending a lot of time editing The Orphan from Space for republication (see blog on The Orphan from Space). The first half is done, as is the ending, now I just have to fill in the last section that leads up to the ending. Then there will be a few full length edits before I will consider it finished. I was further hampered by changing computer systems and reinstalling my word processor program. I still don't have it setup the way I want it but it will do for now. Who knows, maybe I'll just get used to it the way it is.   MLH

March 2014 - Manuscript has been submitted to smashwords for processing, only had to redo a couple of minor things. So, yes, it is now ready for you to look over. I will say this about this story; unlike the three previous stories, this one does not fold back into the main Jasom storyline; at least not within the time frame of this book. I might refer to it from some future storyline, but that is TBD.

If you've read the book you will find details that fill in some of the background for The Crystal Crowns, the second story in this series.

If you would like to make comments on this or any of my other stories, use my facebook page.
https://www.facebook.com/TheCornishTalisman?ref=hl

22 Sept 2014 - Finished final edits for both "Return to Earth and Betrayal on Gruentok". Both manuscripts have been sent to the publisher and hopefully Return to Earth will be available before the end of the year.   MLH


Friday, November 15, 2013

Colony - [book 3 of the Time Chasm Series]




This is a place holder for Colony, book 3 of the Time Chasm Series.

11/14/2013
For those of you wondering what it is about, I can tell you this much: I have started writing it but have temporarily lost focus on where I want it to go with it.

Colony continues the storyline from where book 1: Empire, and book 2: Flight leave off, delving into the everyday lives of the few hundreds of colonists abandoned on a strange primeval world and fleeing from a volcanic eruption that has claimed the lives of two of their leaders. The growing rift between the older and younger factions that form as they struggle to learn how to live off the land.

Over the next few years their numbers have slowly slipped due to the occasional mishaps and some of the local fauna. It will take several years for their children to grow up, but do they have that much time before they are unable to maintain their numbers and to grow? A rift will only cause them to decline faster.

Then they discover they are not alone. The sounds of drums beating in the night and mysterious tracks through the forests lead them to believe that there is another intelligent species living near them. Will they be friend or foe?

This story will conclude the first half of the planned compilation of all of the Time Chasm books in one large volume.