Room 3 Week: Day 4 – The Factions

Welcome back once again, folks. Glad to have you here, and if you’ve read all of these so far, then I’m appreciative. Tomorrow I’m going to be outlining next week’s promotions, which include a giveaway and a two-for-one deal. For now, though, let’s look at the last major post for this week…

Those who have read The Corridors of the Dead (first in the Among the Dead trilogy) know that the Among the Dead mythos is populated by a number of factions, some of which “control” the Multiverse, and some of which are vying to seize that control. The factions are somewhat deliberately obscured in both Corridors and Room 3, as we are dealing with protagonists who come at this whole new world from a total outsider’s perspective; I want the reader to experience the same sort of confusion going into this that the characters will experience, and live through the same epiphanies that the characters experience.

That said, some of this lays the groundwork for stuff that will only really come to fruition in book 3, Portal of the Dead, and I figured it might be good to come clean and better explain these factions.

1. The Watchtowers. The Watchtowers are owned and run by the Aetelia, which we humans call angels. Within the structure of the books’ Multiverse, the Aetelia occupy a level of understanding roughly equal to our own understanding of the universe. By that, I mean that they have unraveled a number of major metaphysical mysteries beyond human comprehension – so, in a manner of speaking they’re a rung or two above us on an evolutionary scale and have a far greater view of the stuff that makes up the cosmos, but their knowledge is nowhere near all-encompassing. They don’t understand the nature of God or whether one even exists. They posit a Prime Mover who set everything in motion, but have very little evidence of that. When Matty learns the truth about our reality (that we are all constructs in a giant computer simulation), the Watchtowers are unaware of this truth. They only learn it through Matty’s confession to them. Matty is not, however, the first to know this truth. That brings us to… Continue reading

Maintain the Myth: The Mythology of The Corridors of the Dead Part 1

I’ve talked about the mythology behind The Corridors of the Dead in a few offsite interviews, but I’ve never given the whole story behind the mythology. Buckle in, kids, it’s a long and twisted road to pull all of these influences together.

The story begins back in 1992…or maybe 1993. I’m a little fuzzy on the exact date, but I surely couldn’t have been older than 16. I was an impressionable kid who still hadn’t quite figured out his identity (I think that’s normal for that age). I started talking more to a certain neighbor, who will remain unnamed for his sake. He once told me that he saw something of himself in me, so he took me under his wing, teaching me different ways to think about the world. Through him I learned more about the Socratic Method, Existentialism, Descartes, and comparative religion. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that he had a guiding hand in my development during that time. I know that I wouldn’t be pursuing these ideas in my fiction without his influence. After a time of knowing him, about a year, he revealed to me that he practiced magick. Continue reading

Getting to Know You: The Characters of The Corridors of the Dead, Part 1

Before I get started, just a reminder that today is the first day of our Four Bloggers, Four Books, Two Days promotion. I’ve contributed The Kayson Cycle, and all proceeds from sales of my short story will go to Doctors Without Borders. From yesterday’s post:

Here’s how it works: on November 28 and/or 29, purchase 1 or all 4 of the debut author’s books listed here. Then forward each of your purchase receipts that Amazon emails you, to : and get up to 4 entries into a draw for a $80 Amazon gift card.  That way we have your name and email to let you know when you win!

On top of that, two random commenters picked from two of our participating blogs will receive $5 gift Amazon gift cards . So leave a comment and let us know what you think of the promo, our authors, our works, even just say hi, we’re not too proud to beg. You’d be helping us out and you’d be helping out your favorite blogger, as the blogger with the most comments also wins a prize. 

Now, on with today’s show: introducing you, the reader, to the characters of The Corridors of the Dead. Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive listing; I’m not going to talk about Guard #2, but I think it’s a good idea to get these out there as part of my release week specials. I view these as the equivalent of bonus features on a DVD or Blu-Ray, offering not only information to inform your purchase, but something to deepen your understanding of the story once it’s finished. These will eventually sit up top as part of the Corridors official page. So come with me and learn more about these characters after the jump. Continue reading

Are We There Yet?: Upon Completion

Yesterday was the big, final push for getting The Corridors of the Dead out the door, at long last. The last three days of editing became either a mad dash, or a game of whack-a-mole, depending on how you look at things. I had originally set yesterday as a hard deadline, given the amount of time needed to get the paper proof back and declare myself ready to start taking pre-orders. This was a line in the sand that I set way back when I decided to self-publish: I would not take pre-orders without knowing that the print book was of the highest quality that I could offer. Unfortunately, with having to push the date out from November the 18th back in September, I knew that I was only going to have a window of a few days to offer them. This meant that I was going to have to get everything together by the 22nd at the very latest, with Thanksgiving as my sworn enemy. Continue reading

Checking the Tally: Announcement and Lessons Learned

Morning, one and all. It’s time to chase the rabbit down the rest of the rabbit hole and get this book finished for release next week. I’ve incorporated the edits from my editor and have a few minor issues that I want to polish one more time; I think this thing may be finished by the end of the day tomorrow. In the meantime, I’m working my marketing plan. I’ve banded together with a few other writers next week to make one last push on the Kayson Cycle, between Monday and Tuesday. Promotion details should be forthcoming, and you writers can expect a follow-up once the dust has settled – I know we’re all trying to figure out what works best.

I’m also happy to announce the Corridors of the Dead promotional launch and giveaway. I’m still working out the details – it will be a system where you can earn a certain number of entries by performing certain tasks, but I have to figure out how many entries to each task. Tasks will include items such as writing about the book on your blog or tweeting about the book – also still under review. The prizes, however? Those I’ve figured out:

  1. First Place will be a $50 Amazon Gift Card (one winner).
  2. Second Place will be a $20 Amazon Gift Card (two winners).
  3. Third Place will be a signed copy of The Corridors of the Dead (three winners).
I’m expecting to have all this figured out tomorrow, so keep your eyes open. In the meantime, I think now is the perfect time to examine the lessons I’ve learned from writing The Corridors of the Dead, from inception to today. There are still a lot more to come from the promotional push, but today I really want to dig into things with a timeline of what has happened and the lessons I’ve learned. Continue reading

Six-Sentence Sunday: The Corridors of the Dead 2

I walked down this nasty-ass concrete hallway, the kind you see in abandoned, overgrown bunkers (or so movies would tell me). Someone had strung a string of blue lights hung along the top of the walls. The air was thick and stank of old sweat sock. You could feel the spores producing that smell in the air, ready to invade your lungs and cause any manner of unknown diseases. I had no idea how I had gotten there or where the hell it was, but I was walking all the same, from one unknown place to another.

Somewhere in the distance, a manic drum beat played, its pulses rocking the floor, moving up my legs.

I got hold of myself and stopped walking, looking around, trying to piece together how I’d gotten there. My brain was slippery on the subject, refusing to be pinned down. So I mustered my bravest voice, just a hair above a whisper.

Garbage Day: The Garbagening

Welcome to the second edition of Garbage Day. Mondays are hard enough without having to try to come up with a coherent theme for however many words I typically average, so I try to collect a random mishmash of ideas that come to mind on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, then throw them together to see if it makes something interesting. Sort of a word stew, I suppose.

First item, of course, is that the Star Wars Blu-Rays came out on Friday. I know this isn’t strictly writing-related, but it is site-related, as I’ve spoken before about the changes that have been made. I haven’t had a chance to see any of the changes beyond A New Hope, but I felt I should acknowledge the arrival because as mixed as my feelings are about the franchise these days, trending toward negative, it still has been a huge influence in my life and, along with Tron, was instrumental in making me a writer.

One of the things that I’ve been thinking about as it relates to Star Wars is the Hero’s Journey. You know, Joseph Campbell’s concept of the Hero’s Journey monomyth? If you’re not familiar, a summation of the concept from Wikipedia:

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

Many stories feature this monomyth besides Star Wars. The first Matrix movie, the Never-Ending Story, Ender’s Game, Conan the Barbarian, and even Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure all pay tribute to this concept. It’s a commonly-used trope, so much so that when I set out to write this entry, I was going to rant about how this has become shorthand for making an interesting plot and has become overdone. In a conversation with my friend Rob recently, he cited some movie that I can’t recall, but he said that he enjoyed it because it was the Hero’s Journey all over again. My knee-jerk reaction surprised even myself: I said I felt that it was a bit overdone these days, and I was getting tired of it.

But the truth is, while I might have felt it was played-out and a cheap way to buy legitimacy for a story, I’ve since realized that that is not my problem at all. I mean, hell, In the Corridors of the Dead is basically the Hero’s Journey, so obviously I feel some resonance with the idea still. In fact, I think I lost some sight of the fact that the Hero’s Journey underlies almost every story that we tell these days. Seriously, check out The Godfather, Harry Potter, Slumdog Millionaire, When Harry Met Sally, etc. etc. So my problem is not with the concept itself, or even every story using it. I think my problem is that it’s become perceived as something special when, really, it underlies almost every story. That’s truly what irritates me – that something that is basic to storytelling has become so revered. It was a big thing in the 90s to talk about the monomyth in relation to Star Wars, but I’ve come to realize since that It’s akin to celebrating DNA, I suppose.

On to the next topic. I’ve decided I’m not 100% happy with the current cover for Corridors of the Dead. Don’t get me wrong, I like it. I think it’s well-executed and I think it’s a good cover, but there was always something that never felt quite right for me. It wasn’t the vision that I had for it. So I’ve found a place where I could hire another cover designer, someone who I think understands what I want. After a lot of pondering over what to do with having two competent cover designs, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not fair to throw the first cover out. So I’m going to have to two covers for Corridors. I’ll use the new cover exclusively on Amazon and the print copy (as we’re building this one for dual purposes), and use the original on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and any other site that might pop up. I’m kind of tempted to have a third cover, in fact, so that I have one for the Nook, one for Smashwords, and one for Kindle, but that might be overdoing it.

But I think that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve seen plenty of examples of this in the music industry – buy the album at any given store and you might get a different cover. The more I thought about this, the more I liked it as an interesting marketing angle. And who knows, a re-release might make it even more interesting. The initial sketch of the new cover is very exciting, though. I think you’re going to like it.

I’m roughly a quarter of the way through Entanglements, and it’s bringing out a different side of me, I have to say that. I’ve written several passages now where I can see myself maturing as a writer. I think you might know what I’m talking about – the kind of passage that you write, then look at later and marvel that you wrote it at all. Saturday night, as well, when I really got down to it, something clicked and I really “got” the principle of showing and not telling in a way that I never have before.

Part of this evolution is down to tone, though. Corridors of the Dead is told by a woman who doesn’t read a lot, and while she’s intelligent, it’s more street-smarts. Entanglements is a combination of a novel and a journal “written” by a woman who has authored and self-published a novel and works as a proposal writer. There is also more of a sense of adventure in the first book. Both share suspense, but with the latter being more of a romance, there has to be a different quality to the language – a more languid feel at some spots that allows me to stretch out more. I think the book will ultimately benefit from that.

Also in the very early stages of plotting The City of the Dead. I’m molding my idea around a structure which came to mind last night. More on that in the future.

Picked up my Cover Mock-up…

Wow, this is really happening after all. Pretty excited!