First editing pass is complete on the manuscript. I’m not sick of the story just yet, which is good, but I soon will be after a few more passes. Time to send her out to some beta readers now. Unfortunately, there are few enough of those in my little circle that can read and critique a book in a timely manner – not due to lack of interest, of course. None of these people actually get paid; they just do it out of the goodness of their hearts. The thing about being a grownup is that your life is busy as hell. I’m grateful to the folks who are willing to lend a hand. To those of my friends lacking the time: I totally get it. Just buy a copy when it comes out and we’ll call it even 😛
I finished writing the second book in the series this morning! Rough draft came in at 155K words. Now on to the misery that is editing…
Well, I crossed the 110K word mark today. Judging how much there is left in the story to cover for this entry, I’m guessing the final count will be somewhere around 130 to 140K, which is alright with me. The good news is that I think I can still have it finished by August, but that’s probably only the first draft. It’ll need to go through a few edits and such.
I didn’t have much of a target length for this book so much as I knew what the plot needed to be and what I wanted to cover. I’m not sure if I’m surprised or not at the scope of this story. I knew there were going to be several more people in it, that I’d have to deal a bit more with group dynamics, and that there would need to be some world building due to the fact that we’re now over a half-year into the post apocalypse and the world needs to be getting harder to live in as resources get consumed.
The biggest challenge by far has been keeping myself limited to telling the story in first person from POV characters. It’s hard because as the writer, I’m aware of everything that’s going on in this world that I’d like to be sharing with you, the reader, and yet I can’t because the perspectives of my characters can’t see much further than the little valley they’ve carved out for themselves. It’s important that I keep it up at least until the end of this book, though. The idea that perspective of the narrator shades the story is a big part of what I’m trying to convey in these stories; giving up 1st person would obliterate that intent.
Should you be interested, you can find the first book in the series at this link. Get yourself up to speed; these stories aren’t slowing down any time soon.
SSgt Blake “Gibs” Gibson is probably one of my favorite characters I’ve ever written. Well, “written” may be putting it strongly. He’s basically just an amalgam of some good friends who picked up a rifle and served.
If you’re ever about to tell one of them, “thanks”, do make sure you’re not being a dick when you do it.
“Easy,” George said. “Gibs is a Marine Veteran. He tends to look out for people. We know this about him. We’ve all benefited from this attitude many times over, lest any of us forget. It’s a little disingenuous to start complaining when the very attitude that makes him such an asset in our group gets directed at some strangers in need.”
“Yes, George, that’s all well and good but the fact remains,” Edgar interrupted. He turned his attention back to me and said, “First off, thank you for your service-“
“Don’t…you…even…try to start in with that line,” I said.
“I beg your pardon?” he asked, genuinely confused.
“That ‘thank you for your service’ bullshit. It’s what a Vet usually hears right before he’s told that he’s basically wrong and irrelevant. If someone’s gonna tell me I’m full of shit, I want to hear it outright. I don’t want to be buttered up with that line. You know how many times I heard that line right before someone told me in the same breath that I was full of shit and didn’t know what the hell I was talking about? I’ll give you a hint: it’s like a big, old, sloppy blowjob in your basic, garden variety porn. It’s foreplay, Edgar, and you’ve just told me that you like it rough.”
I’ve been on vacation out on Catalina Island for the last week and a half, so I’ve been pretty quiet with the whole on-line thing. I’ve read this is a big no-no in terms of social media connectivity – you basically have to keep quacking out into the great big empty if you want to keep people engaged. There is such a thing as decompression, though, dammit.
It’s been good being disconnected. It’s kind of like when I wrote my first book. I wasn’t trying to sell anything or engage with anyone. I was just trying to bang out a good story. This little media disconnect has taken me back to that early kind of momentum. This has been good for the second entry in the Commune series; the book currently stands at 91K words with a lot more stuff to cover before it’s done. I’m still projecting a finish around August (I’d love to have it all done by the time the Audio book for Book One is released), but who the hell knows at this point? The story has already taken enough unexpected turns that I’m giving up on predicting anything. I can say with certainty that book two is available well before the end of this year. As far as the audio for book two? Eh. R. C. Bray is a busy dude. He’ll get to it when schedule permits, I’m sure.
In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to post links to some of the articles and information I dug up while doing research for these books. There’s a broad array of stuff to cover and still quite a bit more to go. Never thought I’d know as much as I do about burning poop…
In addition to the below links, I am indebted to a collection of friends who have served in the Military over the years and who have been gracious enough to consider and answer my questions regarding their lives and experiences. These people include H. S. Brandt (USMC), James R. Clark (US Army), and Brett Nelson (USMC). All of these folks will get a mention in the coming book; they have been instrumental in this whole process.
It’s okay to write about pee-pee if you’re also about the business of developing your characters and plot. That’s my story, anyway…
Commune Book One is available right now on Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble (see the free preview). Book Two (including the epic pissing match in question) will be available later this year.
The last couple of days have seen me diligently researching any and all details I can find regarding field disposal of human waste, including historical measures, techniques, outhouse construction, the utility of pit and burn out latrines, and the safety and sanitation hazards one needs to consider when preparing to shit into a hole. This is what comes of writing post apocalyptic fiction.
Today, I was eating my lunch while reviewing the following picture. It was during this time that I thought to myself, “You know, this probably isn’t what my mother thinks about when she tells her friends that I’m a published writer…”
This morning sees the manuscript at 73K words and my very rough guesstimate is that I’m about halfway through, give or take. The outline, strictly followed, calls it 50% of the way there, but I’ve had additional ideas while in the process of writing that I’ve jotted down. I may include them or not, depending on relevance to the story and how they effect the flow. It’s looking good, though. I’m happy with how things are progressing and the pacing feels right.
You can grab a copy of the first book in the series by clicking the cover below if you need to catch up. Feel free to crack open the free preview and see if this is a story you’d like to dive into. I’m well aware that some people are resistant to starting a series that isn’t yet finished but I can fairly promise you that this one is getting finished. I’ve had the whole series (three books) mapped out from the start; there’s not really any point where I’m running into writer’s block here. I know what the whole story is; I just need the time to write it out. The whole series will be done by early to mid next year. I’m pushing hard to have the second book complete towards the end of August.
I’m a civilian. The only knowledge I have about military life is what I’ve learned from my dad, who was a Soldier, and my other friends who have served, in addition to what I’ve researched for myself.
This presents a hell of a challenge, then, when a major character in my second book (currently in progress right now) is a 12 year veteran of the Marine Corps. The reader spends a lot of time with this guy, so I’ve had to create not just a character, but a character with a realistic military career in the United States Marine Corps.
That shit is hard.
Lucky for me, I have some good Marine friends, both veterans as well as active service members, who can protect me from doing idiotic things. One of them is listed in the acknowledgements of Commune Book One (Hi, Scott); another of them (currently stationed out in Okinawa right now) is looking like he’ll be a big part of me keeping Book Two on point.
I’ve spoken to a few vets on the matter and, so far, they all seem to appreciate the fact that the main thing I’m trying to do is show the most realistic portrayal I can of the military mindset and lifestyle, warts and all. I’m getting the impression that these guys are excited about having their stories told, even if it’s only in a work of apocalypse fiction.
I’m trying to do a lot of things in this series of books, one of which is to honor the service and actions of the men and women of the United States Military in the truest way that I can, showing them as the real, complex people that they are. Call it a fanboy love letter, if you like.
Whether I’m qualified or not, I’m taking on the role of a collector and keeper of stories, here. If you have served or are currently serving and you have stories you want to share from your experiences (pretty or ugly), whether you were in country, on base, or in basic, please feel encouraged to send them my way. If they work out for the story I’m trying to tell, an adapted version may end up in my books (with your permission). Even if they don’t, I’ll be posting them up here at this site (again with your permission, of course – you or I can change names to protect the not-so-innocent).
I don’t know how much range this post is going to have or if there will be a lot of takers but I’d sure as hell like to get as many eyes on as I can. If you’re reading this right now and you know anyone who might be interested, please share this along and direct them to my contact info on this site so they can drop me a line. No story is too small; I’m not necessarily looking for a bunch of top tier operator stories, though if you went out and did that, it’s cool and you’re welcome here too. But the background folks, whether you ran logistics in an office of slung food in the mess, I want you here too. The lowliest grunt who never did anything more than fill a gas tank is still more of a badass than me; you guys are all my heroes, men and women alike. You all have a place here.
I’m looking for human stories. Whether it has to do with your first or last firefight; or that night you got bored, lit your pubes on fire, and ended up in the infirmary; or that wild time in Thailand that you can only vaguely remember. I’m interested in all of it. I’m damned sure not the only one.