Posts Tagged writing

Don’t Be a Hero is coming November 2nd

On November 2nd, war is coming. My superhero novel Don’t Be a Hero will be flying onto digital shelves in one month’s time. I anticipate it will be up fastest in ebook formats on Amazon Kindle, Kobo, and Smashwords. Over the following couple of weeks it will also show up on Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and in print paperback. A few advanced reader copies are already winging their way to some book bloggers, so hopefully I’ll have some reviews to share with you. (Incidentally, if you’re a book blogger or a reviewer and you’d like to review Don’t Be a Hero, send me an email at

I’m really excited about this release. The idea for this book came about far back in the mists of time, in those heady prehistoric days known as October 2011. I was a young man then, bursting with enthusiasm and hope, not the jaded old grizzly bear I’ve become. I’d been on one of my regular superhero kicks, consuming any piece of media I could get my hands on that had someone in spandex on the cover. As usual, I was loving it. And I noticed something about what I was reading and viewing. The stories were overwhelmingly centered around America and American characters. Sure, there was the occasional British comic thrown in, but the rest of the world was largely unexplored. I took that as a challenge. I wanted to throw in a little bit of myself and my Kiwi culture into the superhero genre. And more than that, I just wanted to write my own superhero universe. Because, really, how cool it that?

Over the next few weeks, the beginnings of a story and a few characters began to form in my mind. I decided I wanted a retro feel for this novel, something that was both dark and filled with flashing neon lights at the same time. A world that looks like the covers of old pulp sci fi novels, with rocket engines strapped to everything. Naturally, I call it “rocketpunk” (trademarked, patent pending). I decided to set the novel in an alternate history version of 1969 New Zealand. The first superheroes appeared during the second world war and changed the world forever. After nearly two decades of protecting the world, superheroes lost public support and began to come under increasing scrutiny. But not all superhumans are willing to lie down and accept their fate…

Into this world my characters were born. Most of the time I craft my characters slowly, building them block by block. But this time, many of them sprang into my head nearly fully formed. This was the case with my protagonist, the shadow-shifter Spook, also known as Niobe Ishii. Spook used to stand back-to-back with some of the greatest heroes of her time. Now she makes a living as a private detective, living on the fringes of society, doing the jobs no one else can. Spook and her partner, the wood-manipulating Carpenter, are the last of a dying breed. But the world still needs heroes, whether it wants them or not. The appearance of the first new supercriminal in a decade is about to prove that.

With my heroes in mind, I began to outline the story. I wrote scene descriptions on index cards, taped them to my wall, shifted them round, tossed out scenes, added new ones. I built up the skeleton of the story and began to fill in the details from there. I’m an outliner—I always like to know where I’m going before I start writing the story proper. So I paced back and forth in front of my wall of index cards for days, working it all out. Every story changes when I actually sit down to write it, no matter how much I outline it before that. That’s inevitable. But, to use a cliché, I like to have a strong foundation before I start building.

Finally, I was ready. I sat down at the keyboard, opened my writing program of choice (Scrivener), and got to work. Life kicked my butt a couple of times, taking away my writing time or draining my energy. Sometimes life’s a dick like that. But sometime around the end of February, the first draft was done at around 120,000 words. Cue giddy laughter and collapsing with a brain that felt like soup.

But, of course, the story wasn’t ready yet. After some time off, and with the feedback of alpha readers, I began my self-editing pass. After that it went to the editor for more structural and line edits, making sure the story worked. Then several proofreading passes. In the meantime, I was organizing cover design and writing other stories as well as dealing with real life. Until finally it was ready. We spent a little while formatting for print and ebook. And that brings us to now.

A year in the making, and now only one month to go until the novel is out there. But the story doesn’t end with this novel. From the start, I wanted this world to be like Astro City Down Under. Decades of history to explore, billions of individuals, thousands of heroes and villains and everyone in between. I have one upcoming novelette set in the Atomverse, and a whole lot more stories running through my head. More than I could ever possibly hope to write. So I should probably stop rambling here and get cracking.

November 2nd. Mark it on your calendars. If anyone still has actual calendars. Or sign up for the mailing list and I’ll email you when it’s available. It’s more convenient than a Bat signal, and it even works on cloudless nights.

See you all in a month.

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September Update: Or, What The Hell Have I Been Up To?

Sometimes time flies. And sometimes time has a warp drive with added jetpacks strapped to its back, and you’re so busy trying to hang onto the damn thing you don’t even realize several months have passed until you find out you’ve grown a beard and you really, really need to use the bathroom.

Which is a roundabout way of saying everything’s been pretty hectic the last few months, and my internet presence has inevitably suffered. But fear not, because despite real life’s futile attempts to make me do grown-up things like “work,” the writing has still been coming along nicely (if sporadically).

So what am I up to? Well, the edits on Don’t Be a Hero, my superhero novel, are all complete, and now we’re going through the final proofreading stage. Then we just need to finalize the formatting for the print and ebook editions, and then on to publication! I’m really excited about this book. It’s been a little while in the making, and I can’t wait to throw it out into the world. Check back in the next couple of days for a cover reveal and a sample of the first chapter for your perusal.

In other writing news, I’ve finished the draft of the sequel to The Man Who Crossed Worlds. I still have to  go through my own revisions before sending it out to the editor, so unfortunately we’re probably not going to make a 2012 release like I originally hoped. But it will come, and it will be awesome.

I also have a novelette (around 12,000 words or 45ish print pages) set in the same universe as Don’t Be a Hero currently in revisions. It’s a fun little piece about a low-rent supercriminal who’s determined to turn his life around when he gets out of prison in a few weeks. But when he overhears a fellow prisoner plotting to murder a beautiful superhero, he’ll have to abandon everything he’s worked for in order to save her.

And lastly, I’m currently about halfway through the draft of a novel that’s a little bit outside my normal genre. It’s a hardboiled YA mystery set in New Zealand about a 17-year-old guy who must traverse a web of violence, love, and illicit sex to find the person responsible for his ex-girlfriend’s murder. It’s a tough-as-nails book, very noir. I’m currently not sure exactly how I’m going to go about publishing this novel. I’ll most likely use a different pen name to keep the genres separate, but I’ll be sure to keep you all updated in case it sounds like your sort of thing.

So that’s me these days. Plenty of things to keep me out of trouble (though trouble seems to find me anyway). Like I said, check back in a couple of days for a sneak peek at Don’t Be a Hero. And if you want to find out as soon as I release any new novels, sign up for the newsletter here.

Stay awesome, guys and girls.

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What I’m Up To At The Moment

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve also been neglecting Twitter and Facebook, for those of you who follow me there. Bad Chris!

Truth is, I’ve been trying to cut down on my internet time in order to get more writing done. I love the internet. I really do. There are so many interesting, hilarious, and occasionally educational things out there that it’s a constant battle to actually turn it off and walk away. So in order to actually use at least some of my non-university-related time for writing, I’ve had to force myself to limit my internet time across the board, and that includes things like blogs and Twitter.

Fortunately, it’s been paying off. Here’s where I’m up to at the moment:

Don’t Be a Hero: First Draft Complete!

Since I finished up The Man Who Crossed Worlds, I’ve been working on my superhero novel, Don’t Be a Hero.  Set in an alternate New Zealand in 1969 after superheroes have fallen from grace, the novel follows the adventures of ex-heroes Spook and the Carpenter as they make a living doing the sort of private detective work that normal humans are incapable of. They think they’re taking on a simple case to tracking down the kidnappers of a metahuman teenager. But they are about to be drawn into the machinations of a supercriminal gathering the remnants of the golden age of superheroes to his banner by whatever means necessary. A supercriminal intent on changing the world forever. A supercriminal with nothing to lose.

Unfortunately, the first draft of Don’t Be a Hero took much longer than I anticipated. My writing slowed almost to a halt over the Christmas period, and it wasn’t until late February that I actually managed to get the damn thing finished. The final word count came in at a little over 110k words, although I expect that will grow a little on subsequent revisions as my endings tend to run short on the first pass.

I have to admit I was feeling a little exhausted by the time I finished. This has taught me that I get a bit run down if a project goes on too long. I’m absolutely in love with the book, but I need to take a break from it before I get started on the second draft. Which brings me to what I’m doing now.

The Man Who Walked in Darkness: First Draft 50% Complete!

The second Miles Franco book picks up about six months after the events of The Man Who Crossed Worlds, and follows Miles trying to pick up the pieces of his life. But he’s only just starting to get things together when the cops show up again. But not to arrest him this time. They’re here to inform him that his friend, the jazz singer Claudia Hennel, has been killed. Haunted by the things he’s done and determined to get revenge, Miles sets out to find the killer. But in Bluegate, nothing is ever as simple as it seems. And the world is changing. All the worlds are changing.

Writing for The Man Who Walked in Darkness has been a lot smoother. I’ve given myself a word count goal per day that means I’ll get the draft done in a reasonable amount of time without burning myself out or compromising other areas of my life.  So far, I’ve managed to keep to that pretty well. My current word count *checks Scrivener* is 47,430 words of an estimated 90,000 or so total. So I’m over halfway there. I’m having a lot of fun being back in Miles’ head, and he is–of course–getting into all sorts of trouble.

The plan is to complete the draft of The Man Who Walked in Darkness sometime during April (fingers crossed), take a short break, then jump back into revisions for Don’t Be a Hero. From then on it’ll be an editing frenzy of Hero and then Darkness. Unlike some writers, I actually enjoy editing. It’s great to have the framework of the story already there, and now I get to build it into something beautiful and awesome. I’m looking forward to it.

If people are interested, sometime soon I might do a post about how I do my outlining and writing. I’ve got rows of index cards stuck to my wall next to my computer to show the scenes, acts, and major characters of Darkness, and it’s begging to have a photo taken. We’ll see what happens.

I almost forgot (actually I did forget and I had to come back and edit this post), if you want to find out as soon as either of these books are released, sign up to the mailing list on the top right hand side of the page. I’ll fire off an email to you when they’re available. Don’t worry, I’ll only email you when there’s a new release and no one else besides me will have access to your address, so I won’t be spamming you. Anyway, thanks guys.

Stay classy, everyone.

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Own Your Story

Lately in my wanderings around the great wastes of the interwebs, I’ve been reading about the concerns some authors have about offending their readers, and how they can avoid it. Sometimes it’s about swearing, or violence, or sex, or religion, or one of a million other issues that could get up the nose of someone or other.

Frankly, I think this is bullshit.

I consider myself a nice guy. Those who know me in real life will know I go to ridiculous lengths to avoid confrontation. If someone overcharges me in the supermarket, chances are I’ll walk out without complaining.

But in fiction, you can’t afford to censor yourself. When you write a story, no matter whether it’s about the cracks in a middle-class marriage or the crazy tales of a coke-snorting, womanizing leprechaun called Samson McLaughlin, you’re ripping out a piece of your heart and slapping it down on the paper, blood and sinew and all. That’s what you have to do if you want to have any hope of reaching someone, or at least, that’s how I see it.

You put this piece of you out there, not as some gross spectacle (although that would make an interesting modern art installation), but to find others who believe what you believe and feel what you feel. That’s what a story is: the formation of a telepathic bond between storyteller and listener, or writer and reader, or director and movie-goer. And if you want to go beyond a cursory surface touch, you have to reveal who you truly are. You have to strip down and open yourself up and let the world examine you.

Many will be repulsed. But if you’re lucky, maybe a few people will see their own soul reflected in yours. Maybe they’ll even hear echoes within themselves they didn’t even know existed. Those are the stories that we remember. Those are the stories that crazy bastards like me feel so connected with, they literally tattoo parts of it on their own bodies.

But when you try to cover up your nakedness by censoring yourself or your characters or your story, you compromise all that. Cutting out swearing or a sex scene that doesn’t fit is fine. Cutting out swearing or a sex scene because you don’t want to offend some hypothetical reader is just taking you one step further away from the people who see the world as you do; the people who want to hear your story. Of course, this goes the other way as well. Putting in a sex scene because “sex sells” just dilutes the truth that only you can provide.

Storytellers of all forms need to take responsibility for their story. Own it. Bare everything. If someone doesn’t like what they see, then that’s their problem. All you can do is spill your blood on the page, put it in a bottle, and toss it out to sea. If you’re lucky, it’ll get where it needs to go.

That’s what I believe.

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