Crumbling Empire, Chapter 2 rewrite

Crumbling Empire Concept Cover
Crumbling Empire Concept Cover

See it here.

Added a lot of characterization internal dialogue to permit you to get more cozy with the antagonist.  Maybe she’s got issues. So do you, I’ll bet!  So identify with her.

Also fixed up the dialogue, more markers to clear up any ambiguity. I like to make the reader work, but I’ve been told that’s bad form if you have to back up and re-read something to figure out who’s talkin’.

Who is the toughest audience for military sci-fi? Vets.


I’ve been slowly writing. We’re up to 10 k. I clearly need a word count widget, then people can check in to see the thermometer: “We’re this far toward our goal.” Aw, shoot.

I handed the first four chapters to four military vets: USAF NCO, USAF Officer (in satellites, no less), US Army MP and current LEO, and my steadfast mentor, Canadian Army tanker vet.

The first critique came back, and he’s saying I need to tell more about the environment.  Yar. And that I need to make the speaker tags clearer where I don’t have it. And he hates the scene where the protag removes her armor and lays down her weapon, and I can see why, so that gets a rewrite.

I’ve rewritten some sections and added more thoughts by the protagonist so we can get inside her head a little more, maybe form that emotional connection so we give a flying you know what about the character and read a little further just to see what happens.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I was wandering the net, avoiding work, like you do, and found this quote here on Patientsville:

Although Oxygen demonstrated significant improvements in a number of clinically relevant cases, troublesome symptoms, such as death, may still occur.

Let me run that by you wordsmiths who didn’t get it the first time.

Death is a symptom.

Of what? “Oh Doctor, the patient seems to have died.”

“I see. Let’s see what other symptoms he has, perhaps we can diagnose this tricky condition. It’s probably caused by Oxygen!”

What exactly is a symptom? Obviously, I’ve been using it wrong these past four decades. I’d better get it right with what Patientsville is saying. to the rescue.

1. any phenomenon or circumstance accompanying something and serving as evidence of it.
2. a sign or indication of something.
3. Pathology. a phenomenon that arises from and accompanies particular disease or disorder and serves as an indication of it.
Ummm. Nope. See #3 there? I’m certain death is not a symptom. It’s a result.
Monty Python did a nice job of discussing this, sort of, as an ancillary issue in the dead parrot sketch.
‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!
Yar. So what have we learned today? We’ve learned Oxygen is dangerous to former and current smokers with COPD. (For all those people who smoke and say, “I don’t care if it kills me,” COPD is the application and cause and effect.) We’ve learned death can be symptom of Oxygen use. In fact, every single person who has died has probably ingested Oxygen at some point in their life.
Clint Agrees.
Clint Agrees.

Crumbling Empire [Chapter 3]

Happy Friday. Two more chapters. I revised and reloaded chapter 1 and 2, if you happen to have read the various revisions and such I posted. These are the perma-formed chapters, for now, until someone points out the grammar and spelling errors and tyops, or a developmental editor falls on my work and savages it with their teeth.

Edit: Newly reworked, as of 4/4/15. Formerly 2600 words. Now 3912 words.

Edit: content removed 1/18/16. Email me if you want to read it, in exchange for beta work.

Chapter 1 is here.

Go ahead, comment. It won’t kill you.  And, um, it’s not because I’m desperate. Because I’m not. I’m NOT! Just comment. If you comment, I’ll be your best friend!  C’mon. I’ll give you a cookie! Yeah, I love the “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” books, too.

Polish is expensive, Barbie. Let’s go Shopping


An 80 k novel, translated into Polish: $3,500. US.

You’d think in the tanking economy it’d be cheaper and there’d be tons of desperate Poles throwing themselves at the project for a only a few hundred bucks. I thought maybe I could outsource it like gardening work here in Southern California, which is done mostly by a different nationality. Unfortunately, most of those people of a different nationality cannot translate into Polish, so I can’t exploit them.

On a side note, I also noted that the actor’s guild hereabouts is on strike because they want the people in the 99 seat or less theaters to get paid more.

“Mark my words, wife,” I said, “if they raise the pay on those acting positions, it’ll end up going to the different nationality.”

We imagined a night of Shakespeare at one of the non-conforming budget theaters: “Romeo, Romeo, ¿por qué estás Romeo?”

I did a little more research regarding non-US book markets. Besides our treasured fellow English speakers in Canada, England, NZ, and Australia, it seems there’s a big market in China, India, Korea (south, mostly), Malaysia, and Brazil.  Brazil though is asterisked because their ebook success is because of the government propping it up. Nevertheless, something to think about:



무너져 제국

Looks good, doesn’t it?

Publish in Polish!


Why not?

I’ll bet Polish people would like to read Crumbling Empire, too. In their native language! Imagine:

Łaska Bedell nie kapitan Przed objęciem ogolił pozycję na moście. Było jasne, że był w złym nastroju i jeśli komputery były złe, jeśli przeczucie załogi było źle, wszyscy by się pęcherze ból. Kary dookoła. Misery.

Kapitan uznał informacje na wyświetlaczu. “Oni nie są identyfikowane jako łodzi bezpieczeństwa, i nie są one Imperium. Nikt inny nie ma cztery niszczyciele i dwa krążowniki w tym sektorze, ponieważ ich właścicielem. Cholera, nie ma żadnych innych rządów oficjalne. Kim oni są?” Nikt nie odpowiedział. Oczywiście to było pytanie retoryczne.

“Panie, prep na spotkanie zaangażowanie?” XO zapytał.

“Zrób to. Stacje bojowe, dźwiękowe, stanowisk bojowych Hełm, obliczyć pole przechwytywania i zabrać nas, połowa prędkości, taktyczne dać mi rozwiązanie broni jak najszybciej, a XO, muszę aktualizacji na zespoły kontroli uszkodzeń i broni w miejscu dla ewentualnej walki. Czujniki, zacząć ciągnąć dane na temat tego, co te statki są uzbrojeni i chcę swoje dane milliday temu!” Kapitan wyprostował się i spojrzał na holo statków ponownie.

XO aktywowane stacje bojowe i alarmy zabrzmiał na całym statku, podczas gdy kurs potwierdzeń słychać było taktycznych, steru oraz czujników.Chwilę później, Grace Bedell opuścił orbitę Reville i przesunął się na kurs przechwytujący.

Apparently “Misery” and “XO” don’t translate. 😦 That’s why you need a human.

That, and I probably have some really awful language bloopers in there. Google translate, you make me sad.

Second guessing your manuscript based on other works you see

I read a review of Kathy Tyers’ Firebird series and thought, “this sounds erudite and wonderful.”

Then I looked at my manuscript. I frowned. I considered Firebird. Sci fi, written as a creative project for a doctorate.

My manuscript. Written as a creative project for not-a-doctor me.

I can see where this thinking is going to take me. Not a good place. So ignore the Tyers example and move forward. Get up, get vertical, get off the beach.  But there’s shell fire and machine guns. Doesn’t matter. Get off the beach. Go.

How can I make it better?  Get off the beach. Learn as much as possible. Keep moving.

Clearly I need to finish reading the characterization books. And stop using so many adverbs. Off the beach. Move forward.

Oh, and you readers? Move up and flank ’em on the left side. I want a poet to establish a base of fire here, and start free forming it at the enemy, maybe throw some iambic pentameter at ’em.  I’ll also need some of you short story people to lob in some artillery, maybe some novellas. Get some special forces operators with some haikus to sneak in, and we’re set. We’ll need overhead (book) cover(s) from some artists!

Bubble outlines vs. linear outlines

I was finally conquering my procrastination at 1:30 this morning. The outline in an excel spreadsheet lay before me. It was deeply dissatisfying, because I had all these thoughts and needed to organize them before I could write that one hour sentence, then expand to paragraphs, and do characters.

I’d seen my wife teaching my son bubble outlines, where you draw a circle around something, then write other things and put arrows and more circles. I’m not quite sure if there’s a procedure that they teach you in bubble school. I never had that class, so I made it up as I went.

All the things I knew about the character – some sort of past abuse she’d had on the planet, something mysterious about her origins, issues with the armor, those all came together nicely. I see the sub-plots of the Empire vs. Newcomer, betrayal, conspiracy, insurgency.  I need to fix the protag’s character defects/virtue, and remap all the characters. I found a good antag, and it’s a question of why he is withholding important and useful information. Must remap antag’s character defects/virtues, then introduce him so we can build up that story arc.  I see one major plot line and three subplots which are integral to the major plot line.  I think I can do it as a linear plot, no flashback necessary or prologue or such.

Next: To map out the entire arc of the book. What’s the main conflict? What must be overcome? Once this is defined, I can see what the climax is going to be and then how the rest of the nested sub-plots will contribute.  That major conflict is the problem.