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  • Writer's pictureDavid Jace

September is for Schooling - and Field Trips!

Well, it's been a nice summer kids, but time to go back to school! Which means there will be great stretches of quiet hours during the week for writing- maybe. As it turns out, life is never so simple.

It can, however, be exciting. In October, I am attending DFWCon for the first time, and I am quite excited! There will be lots of great workshops, and new friends, maybe some fun swag, and, most exciting of all, agents there for pitching. A pitch is when you get to tell someone about your book. Someone who can help it along the treacherous path to being published. Which book is getting pitched? Thassodar Jax, and more about that below.

In my last post, I talked about a short story, "One Giant Leap" and a novella The Rise and Fall of Heroes that had not found a home. Since these are both rather niche pieces, I've decided to set them on the shelf for the moment. They may get reworked into full novels at some later date. The world, particularly in Rise and Fall, feels rich with potential.

Thassodar Jax: Galactic Ranger is still out shopping agents, but will likely be my primary pitch for the upcoming conference. In fact, one of the agents that still has the query will actually be at the conference. That just feels like a plot point to me. We'll see what happens.

The sequel, Valentina Garcia: Galactic Ranger, is plotted out and waiting to see what Thassodar does before getting written. Mild spoilers ahead. If you prefer, just skip to the part about Wizard Starship. In the first book, Thassodar, a blue alien Galactic Ranger, and Valentina, a Mexican-American college student, team up to put some escaped alien criminals behind bars (and save the human race). In the sequel, Valentina gets the chance to become a Galactic Ranger herself. But first, she has to pass Ranger school. Unfortunately, she manages to make an enemy of her roommate, become the target of the class bully, and stumble onto a galactic conspiracy to take over the Galactic Rangers and the Council! She's going to need to make some friends to get through this.

On August 1st, I started writing Wizard Starship. In case you missed the last post, it is the story of a group of first millenium (1012 AD) wizards who commission a large cargo ship (think classic pirate ship) and hire a crew to sail into space in search of a new source of magic because Earth's magical element, Arcanium, is running out. The wizards see this as a mission to save their society. Some of the common, "natural" men see it as a chance to change the balance of power and are willing to do anything to stop them. It took off like a rocket. (Pun intended.) Then it stalled. So it hasn't moved as quickly as I'd hoped, but I've got over 40k words of the predicted 100k goal, and I really like where it's going. Honestly, how could you not love a story with both wizards and aliens, spaceships and dragons, magic and mystery? Time will tell.

As if all of this weren't enough, I've taken on a pet project that has developed into way more than I thought it was going to. Long ago, there was a wonderful word progress tracker that featured a cute cartoon that would change his mood and stack of papers as your word count grew and your whim dictated. Sadly, it has stopped working and is no longer being supported. So, I somehow decided it would be a good idea to create my own. Understand, this involves learning two new skills: programming and drawing.

To be fair, I am surrounded by programmers in my family, including my own brilliant wife. For some reason, I have not picked up programming through osmosis by sleeping beside her all these years. But hey, old dog: new tricks. How hard could it be, right? (If you haven't seen the foreshadowing and sarcasm yet: programming is hard. Not impossible, but hard.) So I'm learning to program. However, as you recall, there were two skills to learn. I am not a visual artist. Words, no problem. Performance, I've generally got you there, too. Drawing? Painting? Like I used to tell my students: my stick figures are crooked. Again, though, he can be taught!

So, I got some advice from an artist friend of mine, and watched some videos and studied and started trying to draw Mr. Book. I'll be honest, the first version or two was pretty frightening. Maybe I'll use those if I write horror. But he's come along, and I can now manually generate images like the one of him here working on Wizard Starship. The next step is to learn enough programming to make the computer do it for me! So, between Open Classrooms and Mimo, I'm studying some web development, between everything else I'm juggling! Mimo is the little picture here, showing my progress. It's a DuoLingo style app that teaches programming. Click the link to use my invite code, and you can get some actual benefit from reading my blog!

Eventually, I hope to host Mr. Book on my website, so other authors will have a fun progress tracker, too.

That's what's going on in my worlds. See you next time!

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