SNIP: Tuesday morning

SNIP

First mug of the tea of the day. There’s not much of the month left and I’m due to have a no-writing period next month, so figured I’d switch to some quick wins rather than unpacking Oakfield just for a few days. I put Oakfield away at the end of July and I’m happy to leave it on ice until November, when my next full writing month swings round. August N-W-M and September so far has been dominated by the final edit of The Social Club and getting it to the point where it was ready for publication (expecting a proof copy sometime next week). So last night I started on Particle Storm, a short story idea that I actually wrote down back in 2003. I’ve also got a folder of ideas I came up with in 3 days, back in 2002, sitting on a stool in the fantastic, magical, inspirational Bainbridge Island Coffee Company (Seattle) so if I can start tackling some of those too in the next couple of days I’ll be massively pleased. Have a great day everyone. Djr

Latest novel in final stages prior to launch: cover complete

Rather excited…

Here’s the cover of the latest novel. This baby’s been cooking since last summer. Fourteen months in the oven but only five months of actual writing thanks to life and stuff. Bizarre. Anyhow, almost done now. Here’s the cover and back jacket blurb. Just waiting to get my hands on a proof copy before I start the formal marketing and promotion process.

Cover for The Social Club a post-apocalyptic thriller set in London by British Sci-Fi Dark Fantasy author David J Rodger

Limited First Edition Coming Soon

Back Jacket Blurb:

The Earth has suffered a cataclysmic event. London survives, but only just, through the authority of the Group that took control nearly ten years ago. When the naked body of a man washes up on the banks of the Thames, the regime in charge tries to dismiss the death as another suicide. Senior Verifier Jadon Purgo has other ideas and as he digs through layers of deceit a gruesome truth begins to emerge…

David J Rodger has crafted a claustrophobic vision of survivalism. The horrors of the world after Yellow Dawn are kept at bay through corruption and the idealism of rewarding success. But the real horror is what lies at the heart of this new London. This is a thriller you will not be able to put down or forget.

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The less glamorous side of writing a novel

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”

Cookie Monster in  The Shining - Here's Johnny

Sugar! I need some freaking SUGAR!!!

So I finished my new novel on Sunday. Yay! Number Eight. All done and dusted. First draft – done. The review – done. The second final review and the final edit – done done done and good to GO. But web devs out there will recognise the concept of building on “local” and then migrating to stage. So I’ve moved my MS into the novel-ready-to-publish format and now discovered about half the freaking tab-indents are waaaay out of whack. No big deal. I just have to go through the ENTIRE document hitting backspace, hard return, re-tab. Again and again, and again. This is the less glamorous side of writing; along with spending day after day sitting in my sky bunker dressed in a shabby wool cardigan that looks like something from Starsky & Hutch.

So, say after me:

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”

Personal blog: 1st September 2013 – Breakfast Club, Writing Month

¦ dialing in from the Sky Bunker ¦

Soft sunlight sloping in through the glass canopy behind me. Back in the Sky Bunker, 14:15 hrs, I just got back from my once-a-month Breakfast Club. A thing I arrange at a city centre cafe for the first Sunday of the month. It’s a nice way to keep in touch with folks.  My chance to say fond farewell to Dan Dixon who is heading back to New Zealand, wife and son in tow. He handed over an entirely unused copy of Warrior Knights (1986) as a belated birthday present. I was almost speechless. Fantastic.

The whole one month off, one month on writing rubric has been a stroke of genius for this year. August was an epic period of socialising. Friends from Spain and others from Newcastle staying for prolonged periods of time. Nights out. Nights in. Some fabulous restaurants and nights of drinking cocktails.  Gromit hunters and rendezvous in quaint English pubs. A chance for me to shrug free from responsibility and enjoy life for a few weeks in succession.

HIAB-X and Sharky Bones McCoy - England 2013 Photo by David J Rodger

Dontcha hate it when friends turn into zombies

HIAB-X and Sharky Bones McCoy are two of my closest friends. We’d arranged to meet at The Raven pub in Bath. Matthias (HIAB) walked in muttering a complaint about some old granny biting his hand. A few moments later he went through a shock transformation as the Infection took violent hold of his mind.  Yellow Dawn had reached Bath. Talk about spoiling a good pint!

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So now I’m settling in for another month of indulgence. After a month off writing I’m back into the saddle for September.  Not jumping back into Oakfield, the novel I was deep into back in July, as yesterday saw my editor and I sitting in the Mud Dock cafe, completing the first full read-through of The Social Club. Scored a few tears from her when she got the sucker-punch that happens near the end. And got a big nod of approval for the final scene.  It’s going to be a killer of a book when it’s done.  I’m very pleased.  I now have a MS riddled with red pen marks.  So my focus for September is going in and fixing what needs fixing (toughening up the main character, tightening a number of scenes, hack and slash in other areas). Aiming for a soft launch in October and then a form book launch (party in Bristol) during November.  Watch this space for news as the book goes through the final processes.

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WiP: 19 days into a “no writing” month

Work in Progress

Technically, none! I came up with a new rule last year after life got a little… difficult, which was basically around giving me some of my life back and not giving so much of myself to writing. Being productive is one thing but writing to the point of obsession is another. Short version of the long story: for every month spent writing I take the following month off.

So I’ve stopped working on Oakfield and Sunder Gloom this month, but I have been progressing with the review / proofing of  the novel I finished writing back in June: The Social Club.  That’s been going really well – due to finish first read with my editor on Wednesday. Got a printed MS with more red ink than I’d be willing to shake towards an angry bull.  So it looks like I’ve got September cut out as a mammoth edit and fixing month for that book – but, if it means I can get to launch it in time for autumn I’ll be a happy chap.

This weekend is the first time this month I’ve actually relaxed. Mainly down to the backlog of other stuff that built up during July.  Playstation (still wading through bloody Skyrim!), watching terrible Sunday afternoon movies, reading, and actually spending time with friends are all back on the agenda.

Managed to find myself in a cocktail bar at silly o’clock on a school night last week – sitting with the barman inventing a new drink.

Continue reading

Back of Book Blurb – Bane of a Writer’s Life

One Upon a Time…

It’s the thing I really dislike. You’ve sweated for weeks and months over something that’s 70,000 or more words in length.  Punchy start that launches well-crafted characters out across story arcs that see them rising, falling, crashing, burning, surviving or dying, and ultimately succeeding or failing as all the threads come together.  And then you have to take all that work and condense it down into a few lines that don’t just read like the contents of a tin of dog food. You’ve got to couch it in terms so compelling that a person might even consider eating that tin of dog food because you’ve made it sound so good.

I’m about to go through an overhaul of all my novel cover designs (bloody 7 of them!), either going for a much muted, graphic template approach or just some typographical first-aid to what I’ve currently got (create a more consistent feeling to show they’re all unique, independent stories, but all part of the same universe).  Working with a freelance designer on this.

But it’s made me review the back of book blurb’s I’m currently using and there is much nose wrinkling on my part. Don’t like what I’ve got. So, I’m in the process of re-writing them. Cue pained expression and a face like a dog chewing on a thistle.

Here’s five of them:

God Seed

God Seed { novel } For acclaimed documentary film-maker, Adam Kyle, this was going to be another feather in his cap. Embedded within a team of highly trained corporate mercenaries, he was covering the start of an operation in England. But when the operation goes terribly wrong, Kyle finds himself battling for his life, his sanity, and maybe even his very soul as a new and dramatic story unfolds, dragging him across the globe…and beyond. It isn’t just his documentary that is at stake, but the fate of every living thing in the Universe. David J Rodger delivers a gut-wrenching and epic journey in a novel that plunges deep into the crawling chaos and takes you to the edge of the membrane of human existence.

BUY > paperback : from LULU
BUY > kindle: US ($), UK (£), DE (Euro)

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Dante’s Fool

Dante’s Fool { novel } Detective Sergeant Louis Cloud is a hard-boiled cop hungry for power and promotion, and he’ll do anything to get it. When a courier descends from orbit and is murdered by an armed gang who rob him of precious gemstones, DS Cloud sets eagerly upon their trail, but he quickly learns there are other forces out there – and things from other realms of reality – that will also stop at nothing to get what they want. DS Cloud’s life is literally torn apart as he plunges headlong towards a terrifying confrontation with one of the sub-princes of Hell. Thrown into this violent mix of corporate corruption and demonism is Natalya Dorganskya; previously the adorable daughter of a now deceased movie-megastar, she has turned to crime to give her the kicks she once got from a borrowed fame and fortune. Once a world-class pilot, her neural network ravaged by custom drugs, can she overcome the torments of her past to defeat the horrors of her immediate future? Non-human things that have come stalking through time and space to take back what she and her compatriots stole from the courier. David J Rodger delivers a dark and edgy vision of the near-future in a novel that reveals the boundaries between the Satanism and the Cthulhu Mythos.

BUY > paperback : from LULU

BUY > kindle: US ($), UK (£), DE (Euro)

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Iron Man Project

Iron Man Project { novel } Former special-forces operative, Vincent Brent, is tough, ruthless and highly trained; he’s now using his skills for whoever will pay him without cashing in the bounty on his head. In this world of the near future, the UN has failed. Wars are fought in boardrooms through attorneys and politics, and on our streets with private armies of military or criminal assets. In Sicily, Jean-Luc Korda, the Chief of Security for one such corporate alliance struggles to survive as hidden forces attempt to manipulate him for their own ends. Both these men find their fates intertwined. In the cross-hairs of powerful adversaries, they must both make decisions of life and death in a choice between command and conscience. David J Rodger delivers a palm-sweating ride in a complex novel that will keep you turning pages until the end.

BUY > paperback : from LULU
BUY > kindle: US ($), UK (£), DE (Euro)

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EDGE

EDGE { novel } Ethan Carmichael, technical wizard and prolific inventor is close to burn out. Taking time out at a luxury snowboarding resort in New Zealand seems like the perfect opportunity to refresh his mind and spirit. But the mountain is a gateway to something much older than humankind, a malign and alien force that even now is oozing back into our reality, hungry for flesh and fear. On the other side of the world, Halo Santana, an unscrupulous concept scout scrambles onto the trail of a new technology that has vanished from a corporate R&D lab. Quickly out of his depth, he enters a frantic race to track down the missing components to save his life. Both men find their fates tangled in a deadly web of lies, treachery and a cosmic horror that comes from beyond the stars. David J Rodger delivers relentless narrative pace in a tense action-packed novel.

BUY > paperback : from LULU

BUY > kindle: US ($), UK (£), DE (Euro)

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Dog Eat Dog

Dog Eat Dog { novel } Ten years after the Earth has been devastated by a viral pathogen seventy per cent of the population is dead and only a handful of cities survive intact. The majority of urban spaces have been abandoned to the Infected, creatures that were once human.  Whilst above, the orbital colonies spin within their artificial gravity wells, helpless observers to the shocking events below.  Mikhail Drobná and Carlos Revira.  Two survivors, both hungry for money and power, and fuelled by a desire to carve their names onto this new world.  One provides services of violence and protection for powerful corporate criminals in New York; the other is a renegade intelligence agent forever running from the demons of his past. Strangers, until events conspire to bring them together. There’s a complex and deadly political power play in progress. Private armies. Corruption and murder on a massive scale.  Both men seek to seize their opportunity at whatever personal cost.  But a cosmic Evil has infiltrated the remote corners of these brutalised lands and it has its own plans. Will these men work as one to defeat it or will their bitter rivalry bring about their destruction. In the end, who will devour who?  David J Rodger delivers a novel of epic vision, character depth and nerve-popping tension.

BUY > paperback : from LULU
BUY > kindle: US ($), UK (£), DE (Euro)

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YOU CAN SEE MORE OF MY SCI-FI DARK FANTASY WORK ON MY OFFICIAL WEBSITE

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WiP: The Social Club – 77,000 words

Work in Progress

¦ dialling in from Sky Bunker ¦

The UK shut down for four days over the weekend. Easter Bank Holiday. I had the luxury of using three of those four days to sink deep into a creative groove with the new novel.  Here’s the updates I posted on Facebook during the period, with insights into the story and where I’m at with it:

  • Current word count 64,000. It’s been slow progress this month for one reason or another and as we approach April, I’m coming to the start of a self-imposed “month off writing”. So I need to get as much done over the next three days as as I can.
  • Yesterday was a wonderfully epic day of writing. I nailed 5,000 words. Aiming to attempt the same today – see how my brain fares. Now on 69,000 words. The bigger plot is starting to emerge as senior verifier Jadon Purgo is brought into the confidence of conspirators – and his “mission” becomes more of a personal desire to find the wider truth about London, and the Settlement, than solve the deaths of two high-ranking officials with the Power of Eight Group. See a tough character twist and buckle under brutal strains.
  • 72,700 words. Jeepers my head feels like its had an accelerator pedal pressed down on it for a couple of days solid. Jadon Purgo is about to be taken into the Dead Zone outside London. Scary times for the man and chance to start weaving in some of the Mythos madness into this story.
  • Now into my 3rd day of solid progress on the book. I’ve not left the house since Thursday night. Most of that time I’ve been up here in the Sky Bunker. Living on coffee and pasta, and until I shaved last night I looked like total bum. Love it though. 73,300 words right now. London Dead Zone ahead.
  • 74,000 words. Engines close to failing. Risk of this bird going down into Dead Zone. Purgo terrified, naturally. Survive the crash and find himself surrounded by Infected
  • 75,700. First sight of Infected swarming through dead city streets.
  • 76,700 words. Dang! That’s nearly 13,000 since Friday. I’m super pleased and loving the visuals. This is what writing is all about. Living and working through the “movie” that is inside your head.

In the end I nailed 14,000 words in three days. Not bad as in the 3 months I’ve been working on the book (on and off since August 2012) I did 63,000 .  So it means in one long weekend I achieved what would normally take me 20 days. Heavy use of my “Da Vinci” method: polyphasic sleep, grabbing 15 minutes every 45 minutes, hour after hour. I highly recommend trying it if you’re a creative.

The Social Club will be the third novel set in the post-apocalyptic survival horror universe of Yellow Dawn – The Age of Hastur; it follows Dog Eat Dog and The Black Lake (which recently received critical review in the Guardian newspaper website UK) – all three of which are separate stories but sharing the one universe.  Another five novels exist taking place in this shared universe before Yellow Dawn wrecked such global havoc and devastation, you can view all of these novels here

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WiP: The Social Club – 58,500 words

Work in Progress

¦ dialling in from Sky Bunker ¦

A Thursday night. I’ve had several good evenings this week. Managed to press deep into the new book despite losing Tuesday night to a mini-session of Yellow Dawn (RPG); no bad thing. :o)

So currently at 58,500 words on The Social Club and have found a groove where the words are tumbling out and the visuals are carrying me through scenes with that euphoric bliss that makes the process of “writing” what it’s all about.

#  # #

Monday 18th March and another week “lost” to other things. Important things but mildly frustrating to be unable to press ahead with the writing. Got an arctic road trip mapped out for later in the year; most of the transportation booked. A few final arrangements to make. Back in Bristol now after several days away. Working on The Social Club tonight. 55,000 words in.

3rd March

Work in progress: The Social Club. It’s been a very productive weekend so far and it ain’t over yet. 48,000 words and counting for this new novel. Time for a Da Vinci break (I use polyphasic sleep routine) and another mug of coffee.

2nd March

March… means I’m back into writing after taking February “off” from the insane creative drive of the last 3 years – and following on from the three months I took off between September and December when everything in my world seemed so… dark.

Taking February off wasn’t easy to do by the way; almost had fights with myself first weekend of Feb when I headed into town to relax — whilst some other part of my brain was scowling, “what are you doing? Get back home. You should be writing!”Anyhow, I really enjoyed Feb. Managed to do a lot of social things and other bits and pieces that would normally be considered “getting in the way” of the creative process. Have I found balance? Who knows. I’ve now got to cold-start the engine and see if the words will flow — or if I splutter and cough dank fetid fumes from lack of use. Whatever, I’m now back into The Social Club – novel #8 – picking up where I left off: Senior Verifier Jadon Purgo in trouble with the Power of Eight Group in a post-apocalyptic version of London, ten years after the event known as Yellow Dawn struck the Earth.

The Social Club will be the third novel set in the post-apocalyptic survival horror universe of Yellow Dawn – The Age of Hastur; it follows Dog Eat Dog and The Black Lake (which recently received critical review in the Guardian newspaper website UK) – all three of which are separate stories but sharing the one universe.  Another five novels exist taking place in this shared universe before Yellow Dawn wrecked such global havoc and devastation, you can view all of these novels here

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Getting back into a creative groove

¦ dialling in from the Sky Bunker ¦

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March. Means I’m back into writing after taking February “off” from the insane creative drive of the last 3 years – and following on from the three months I took off between September and December when everything in my world seemed so… dark.

British science fiction dark fantasy author David J Rodger working on new novel set in post-apocalyptic London

David J Rodger working on new novel set in post-apocalyptic London

Taking February off wasn’t easy to do by the way; almost had fights with myself first weekend of Feb when I headed down to the harbour to relax — whilst some other part of my brain was scowling, “what are you doing? Get back home. You should be writing!”  This is the voice that’s been whip-lashing me all these years.  It’s been highly productive.  Four novels, one RPG (plus a complete re-write for version 2.5) and a major campaign book (Shadows of the Quantinex) since 2007.  But there comes a point when you look at the things you’re not doing with your life whilst focussing so much energy in just one area…

Anyhow, I really enjoyed Feb. Managed to do a lot of social things and other bits and pieces that would normally be considered “getting in the way” of the creative process. Have I found balance? Who knows. I’ve now got to cold-start the engine and see if the words will flow — or if I splutter and cough dank fetid fumes from lack of use. Whatever, I’m now back into The Social Club – novel #8 – picking up where I left off: Senior Verifier Jadon Purgo in trouble with the Power of Eight Group in a post-apocalyptic version of London, ten years after the event known as Yellow Dawn struck the Earth.

You can eyeball my previous novels here: Science Fiction Dark Fantasy by David J Rodger.

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WiP: The Social Club – 42,500 words

Work in Progress

¦ dialling in from Sky Bunker ¦

21:00 hrs and I’ve hit curfew. No more writing after nine o’clock. That’s a rule that’s been in place for years.  I came home from work tonight with a brain that felt squeezed dry.  I’ve had a busy few days – travelling tail end of last week through into the weekend. So I’ve not had a chance to do any writing at all for ages.  And come February I’ll be stopping writing entirely. For a month. Or at least that’s the plan. Part of a new regime to try to prevent writing taking over my life again – one month off for every 2 months writing – to ensure that I get a block of time to do things that involve relaxing, but without feeling guilty about relaxing.  So tonight I got back and felt the pressure. I had enough time to get in some writing but my brain was mush. Hot bath – candles in stained glass cubes and spheres – tunes playing.  Step out, body steaming in the chilly air. Perfect refresh of mind and spirit.  So I got a 45 minute stint done and now I’m grinning.  Creative release. Ahhh blisto.  42,500 words in.  Senior Verifier Jadon Purgo is in the survivor settlement that is London – following the catastrophic event known as Yellow Dawn that happened 10 years earlier.  He’s investigating the body of a man fished out of the Thames. Everyone seems quick to consign the man as a suicide but Purgo’s suspicions are aroused when he covertly discovers that body is actually a senior member of the ruling authority.  He starts digging.  And now he’s just been noticed. Repercussions afoot.

The Social Club will be the third novel set in the post-apocalyptic survival horror universe of Yellow Dawn – The Age of Hastur; it follows Dog Eat Dog and The Black Lake (which recently received critical review in the Guardian newspaper website UK) – all three of which are separate stories but sharing the one universe.  Another five novels exist taking place in this shared universe before Yellow Dawn wrecked such global havoc and devastation, you can view all of these novels here

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Fighting demons and the drudgery of a creative grind

Dialling in from Sky Bunker

16:32 GMT.  Saturday 14th January 2012.  Finally feeling some positive state of mind after a hellish few days; the overhaul of  Yellow Dawn  – The Age of Hastur (2.1) to create a new fandangled version 2.5 has been going 10 months now and it’s really dragging down my spirits.  It’s not like writing a novel.  There are structured systems I need to take into account every time I change something.  Today’s been really tough… I considered smashing my laptop to pieces… so sick of being “stuck” inside this room working on this damned thing.  Is there nothing else to my life?  Honest answer: right now, no.

So I sit here. Hour after hour – a seemingly endless string of days, weeks and months stretching off behind me.  And I’m having to fight the inner-screaming urge to get up and walk away.

And do what…?

I’ve been so tempted to shelve Yellow Dawn and get on with the next novel… but that would be a pathetic euphemism for giving up.  The question I keep asking myself though is this: is it worth all this time invested in it?  The blunt answer is yes.  Even though I despise it – I created this monster back in 2007, the culmination of nearly 25 years of RPG experience and designing my own system and world.  Do I really want to give up now – just because it’s hard?

However, the last hour or so I’ve actually been enjoying the work.  I pulled off a mental sleight of hand; fooled myself into thinking I’m actually near the end.  *thin smile*

So I’m grinding on.  Gritting teeth and using my da Vinci method to keep my brain as fresh as possible for each work period – meanwhile the beautiful winter sun has been and gone and once again the outside world is plunged into a frost-crusted darkness.

Trapped by my own creations?

Oh well… I got myself here.  Only I can get myself out.

sci-fi dark fantasy cyberpunk and cthulhu mythos author David J Rodger

There's nothing ahead of me except a lot more of the same hard work

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WiP: still crunching through the occult & cthulhu mythos chapter of Yellow Dawn

I’ve been working through the occult & mythos magick chapter for nearly a month now.  It’s a beast of a chapter but despite the complexity and mental conundrums, I am enjoying the process. I’ve got hand-written notes scattered through two notebooks dating back to April when I was in New York and the Catskill mountains, and July when I was in Santiago.

There’s nothing wrong with the current edit of the Occult & Mythos chapter as currently in play with version 2.1 of the Yellow Dawn rulebook. I’m just reshaping some of what already exists.

For example, in occult // demonology – I’ve woven in some steampunk themes where “crude” and basic electronic systems can be used to trap and contain demonic entities and batter them into submission using high-frequency harmonics.

photography-c2a6-light-painting-by-dennis-calvert-conjures-up-images-of-occult-or-cthulhu-mythos-sorcerers-and-road-mages-in-yellow-dawn

Image by Dennis Calvert - All Rights Reserved - Click for article and full size

I’m also clarifying the ability for sorcerers to defend themselves:

Any character with 40% or more in Occult can attempt block any Occult Operation that directly threatens their health, sanity or mobility.  This cannot be used against risks that come as an indirect result: flooding, collapsing building, etc.  The target simply make a defensive Occult skill check and then spend magick points equal to the operation being cast against them; a success nullifies the operation’s effects against them; if the defensive roll is a critical success, the effects can be “flung back” at the caster (this cannot be blocked).  A failed defensive roll still costs magick points.

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There’s something similar for Mythos.

I’m making the process of increasing Occult and Mythos knowledge more challenging;

The more knowledge (+ to skill) a document contains, the more potent and disturbing the ideas being conveyed, especially those that bring the reader closer to the truth about our reality.  Coupled with this is the danger of bad spirits, fragmented demons and the monstrous vaporous forms of the Outer Void being attracted to the positive charge created when a human mind begins to study such documents.  It all leads to a state of heightened sensitivity, a feeling of being observed, sometimes nervous tension and even paranoid delusions.  Humans often set themselves on the path of learning without fully comprehending the subtle dangers they’ll encounter by taking such a course.

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Also learning Occult Operations will push characters through their personal fears, force them to cope with their ego when they suffer failure, tackling anxiety, stress and depression – whilst also wrestling god-like narcicism as they manipulate the very fabric of nature.

Right now I’m dealing with a conundrum about Conjure and Dismiss operations, bringing non-human Mythos beings into your local space and time. I’m considering making a change from the current version 2.1 but this needs some deep thinking… time to head down to the city in Rocket I reckon, do the big walk around the harbour and grab a coffee overlooking the mist-shrouded waters.

Djr

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<<<YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY THIS>>>

Sci-fi and Dark Fantasy, Cyberpunk and Cthulhu Mythos – monster discount savings extended to 6th Jan 2012

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WiP: reworking the Occult & Cthulhu Mythos magick chapter plus 15% discount off all paperbacks today

dark art light-painting-by-dennis-calvert-relates to occult and cthulhu mythos magic in yellow dawn RPG

Image by Dennis Calvert - All Rights Reserved

Deep into the overhaul of Yellow Dawn  – The Age of Hastur version 2.1.  Back at the start of December I set four days aside to tackle the massive chapter on Occult and Mythos magick, those four days passed and I’m still crunching through it. Not so much problem solving as attention to detail.  Last April I had a week away in New York and a remote country cabin in the Catskills with my publicist, drinking a lot of whisky and dodging bears, and I had a bunch of ideas about how to enhance the existing magick system.  But giving characters magickal abilities can risk unbalancing the whole RPG system; and too much magick might  wreck the subtle flavours of occult & mythos woven into the fictional universe I’ve crafted through the game system, and the novels it’s built upon.  So I’m using the scribbled notes of April’s deep thinking as touchstone as I pick through the existing systems: magick does exist but it is so rarely witnessed that even when it is, many people fail to believe and prefer to rationalise.  The Occult is wrapped around everything in our world; just most people ignore it in light of mundane materialism and the disease of consumerism; whilst the Mythos is minute, almost never encountered, and utterly destructive in those rare instances when it is.

Finally, LULU are offering a 15% discount on all printed versions of my work today; short stories, novels and RPG.  Just use the discount coupon 18DEC at Lulu’s online checkout.

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Go from aspiration to inspiration. 10 top tips about writing from science fiction & dark fantasy author David J Rodger

Picture of scifi & dark fantasy writer David J RodgerI’m not claiming that my experience and advice is in any way special or unique; but it’s real, from the heart and is how I pushed through all the barriers to achieve my dreams.  So here’s 10 top tips that you hopefully find useful.  I’d like to think that some of them help nudge your writing  from aspiration through to inspiration.

- David J Rodger, Bristol (2011)

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1: Work Hard & Prosper

Feel you need to give up your job and escape the tyranny of a relationship before you can follow your passion to write?  Maybe you do but those are quite drastic actions and typically people don’t take them – leaving them living their lives with frustrated dreams.  I have a full time job, an all consuming relationship and I still make time to write.  I wake up most days between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. and use those silent hours to be creative.  I write during my lunch break at work.  And I write every night between 7p.m. and 9 p.m., sticking to a golden rule of “no computer work after 9 p.m.” meaning I can actually get some time with my lady, and get some time to sleep.  So on average I score between 2 to 5 hours of writing time every single day.  On weekends it’s more.   My writing is a job; one that I love despite there being moments when I curse the day the Muse touched my mind.  If you put in the hours and never give up on your dreams – you can achieve anything.

2: Treat your work as a product

If there’s something wrong with a piece of writing, you need to know before you can launch it to the mass market.  Build a small group of people who you trust to give you honest, critical feedback.  Listen to their nit-picks and act on those you consider relevant, and ignore those you don’t.

3: Be consistent and persistent

Light a fire in your imagination and build up a head of steam.  If you have great ideas – even small ones – write them down and follow them through.  Always keep a notebook handy so you can jot ideas down – and review these jottings from time to time so you don’t less those ideas slip into the vast and sad pool of forgotten gems.  Set yourself goals and stick to them. Write every day. Even if it’s just half an hour.  Review your ideas regularly.  Map out a plan of action for PR and marketing, then review, adjust and respond to it – and never give up.  Writing a novel is hard – but getting people to part with their money to buy it is even harder.   Every time you falter and allow weeks or months to slide by whilst your ideas and plans stagnate, you’re wasting the most precious resource on Earth – you.

4: Create boundaries and guard them jealously

Life outside work with all its trials and tribulations, from partners and kids, to laundry and catching up on your favourite show or seeing friends, can swell to consume your time. Create boundaries by setting aside “me time”.  Slots when your first priority is to write.  Enforce a lock-down during these periods… ignoring everything and everyone that tries to interrupt you. And be rude about it: they’ll soon get the message.  It’s your life and your time and nobody has the right to intrude upon you working on your dreams.

5: Know where your character is “at” before you start each chapter

Answer these questions when you first create your character for the novel or story you’re writing; and then repeat the process in less detail before you start any difficult chapters.

WHO AM I?
EVERY OTHER DETAIL – EVEN STAR SIGN AND EYE COLOUR

WHERE AM I?
IN THE WORLD, IN MY LIFE?

WHAT TIME IS IT?
WHAT IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN

WHAT DO I WANT – to achieve?

WHY DO I WANT THIS?

HOW AM I GOING TO GET WHAT I WANT?


6: Accept that your first novel will likely never be published

But you still need to write it.  Ever had somebody say to you, “Everyone has a novel inside of them!”  Sure, but who wants to read it?   Use your first novel as the training ground and a place to expunge all your personality traits; eventually, wrap the MS up in a plastic bag and stash it in a cupboard.

7:  Be organised

Create a central repository for all facts about the world of your story and the people and characters in it.  Give it an index that makes it easy to find particular details.  Helps prevent you flicking through your MS trying to remember what colour your hero’s eyes are.

8: Be realistic about your business model

Did you forget you’re just a product?  Don’t spend money unless you’re confident of a return on that investment.  The best way to be certain of a return is to build up interest in your work – start small and work up from there.

9: Press Releases and Promotion

Consolidate and capitalise on success.  Even minor ones.  Each and every time something goes your way, you make a tiny breakthrough – or a significant one – every time you get a positive review about your work, tell the world about it.  Write a little snippet on your blog – load it with SEO friendly keywords relevant to your genre, and fire it out.  Most importantly, have somewhere you can stockpile all these snippets of goodness so that you can demonstrate it to punters, agents, publishers or even movie moguls taking an interest in your words and worlds.

10: Be honest and be humble

Shout about your work with pride but don’t ram it down everyone’s throat. And don’t blow out hot air with the pungent aroma of BS.  Just tell it how it is.  Even when things go wrong or you pick up some negative feedback, talk about it… show that you’re willing to listen and adapt your work to improve it.  Your work might be a product, but your struggles to produce it creates a very human story.

About David J Rodger

David J. Rodger (Born in Newcastle Upon Tyne) is a British science fiction & fantasy author and game designer best known for his novels set in a near-future world of corporate and political intrigue. So far he has published five novels; four set in the same world: God Seed; Dante’s Fool; Iron Man Project and Edge, and one, Dog Eat Dog, set in the post-apocalyptic world of Yellow Dawn.

Yellow Dawn is a role-playing game set in the same future world as his novels, ten years after it has been devastated by a terrible mutagenic virus. Rodger’s novels often combine high-tech intrigue and political/corporate machinations with elements of the Cthulhu Mythos, as created by H.P. Lovecraft. Rodger’s contributions to the Mythos include the creation of a new Great Old One in his novel Edge, and the use of the Outer God Nyarlathotep in the novel God Seed. In Yellow Dawn Rodger’s interpretation of the Mythos, in particular the Great Old One Hastur, is a major part of the background material. Rodger has recently published Shadows of the Quantinex, a large-scale campaign expansion for the Yellow Dawn game.

Rodger has also written Cloudy Head, a children’s story illustrated by Kenn-Ole Moen, and Murder at Sharky Point, a murder mystery game. Rodger spent 8 years working for a non-departmental government agency, developing a virtual communications service within the IT Division, before moving into commercial project management for a UK media company. In 2000 Rodger’s presence on the Internet got him a place in the BBC documentary Through The Eyes of the Young, directed by Chris Terrill.

Rodger now lives in Bristol, England, with a Braun coffee-maker, writing from a house on a hill with a view of Earth’s curve.  You can vist his official website at: DAVID J RODGER.COM

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Writing makes way to marketing. Time to see who’s blogging about me and say hello… I need your help.

Now that Dog Eat Dog is finished, and just awaiting a cover design as it sits on the track to launch, I’ve kind of experienced a moment of stepping back from it all and seeing myself from a distant perspective.  I realise that I’ve barely sent out a newsletter or made contact with anyone for a year, if not longer. So I’m looking to kick start a wee marketing campaign.  Fix the SEO on my site.  Run some free-give-aways of my books and RPG, and generally become a little more friendly, approachable and human again.

Here’s a chunk of my work to date:

Novels

RPG

Living in Flames, finished chapter 17. Dog Eat Dog review and edit continues.

Just finished Chapter 17 for Living in Flames, reached 27,000 words. Word count is coming in around half of what Dog Eat Dog was… tighter writing, quicker scenes, and I just want it finished.  I’m feeling a lot more relaxed now that I’ve finished re-mapping out the plot. I have a structure that’s been challenged and now works. I can settle back into a steady pace, one chapter at a time.

Dog Eat Dog – what a bloody excellent book. Sorry, I know I wrote it, but damn it’s good. Yesterday I was reading through a Dead City run. Tension was high.  I had to re-read a whole chunk and actually proof it properly because I’d just sped through on adrenaline first time round.

Walked 9 miles for breakfast

¦ dialling in from Sky Bunker ¦ 14:24 hrs on Saturday afternoon, 24th July.  Strange weather outside.  Periods of heat compressed beneath stormy clouds rising up like castles within the grey murk above, occasional glimpses of blue sky and moments of golden sunshine, because a cold breeze stirs up and makes you shiver.

Listening to King Swamp on vinyl, fragmentary nostalgia to my final summer living in Newcastle, age 20/21, in the fantastic shared house experience of 54 Osborne Avenue, in Jesmond.

Had a lie-in this morning.  Out the house and in town by 9 A.M. Parked up by the harbour-side.  Everything quiet.  Almost nobody around. Perfect.  Did my 3 mile circuit… thinking through the final scenes of the plot map for Living in Flames, visualising the characters, the locations, the motives on each side for being there, exploring the conflicts of interests and points were allegiances could be formed. And then trying to map these into a workable narrative.

I found a real groove of walking and thinking. Ended up doing the circuit three times.  9 miles.

900 calories. Yipee. Means I can eat what the heck I want this weekend.  Good job as I’ve got another foody weekend lined up.

Right now downstairs is awash with the intense mouth-watering smells of a Texas beef chilli.  Took me an hour to prep it and get it all into the slow cooker. It’s going to take 8 hours before it’s ready to eat. Damn! *smiles*  So going downstairs is near torture… the smells making you hungry hungry hungry.  There 1.5 KG of chuck roast (braising steak) in there, chopped into small chunks, browned in olive oil with onions and garlic,  then chilli powder and cumin stirred it, cooked for another couple minutes to get the flavours in… then add chopped tomatoes, chopped chillies, dark beer and beef stock, and a load of red kidney beans.  MMmmmmmmMMmmmm. MMmmmmmm.

I reckon by time tonight comes round I’m going to be starving. In anticipation of this I’ve bought a ton of different cheeses and a bottle of tawny port. An early evening appetiser.  Jo’s away for the weekend but Sharky Bones McCoy is back from Spain, riding a euphoria wave having scored a job there. He’s here for another week or so before heading back Spain side to start work after being unemployed for 18 months!!!

Last night we had dinner at the divine Bordeaux Quay restaurant to celebrate Kelvin’s good news.  Amazing food and impeccable service.

So my weekend is already laid out in front of me.

An afternoon up here, going mental with the smells of Texas Chilli Beef drifting up stairs, brewing large pots of tea in granny style, and pushing on the mapping out Living in Flames and reviewing / editing Dog Eat Dog.

I might do a quick blast into town to recharge my brain with coffee and maybe another 3 miles walking? See how the day goes.

Poirot’s on at 6 pm or so.  That’ll be when I crack open the port and fix a cheese board to sit with in the living room.

Lovely times.

Living in Flames – remapping plot – think I might have cracked it

¦ dialling in from Sky Bunker ¦  listening to the seminal “Where Did the Night Fall” by UNKLE.  Been up for a few hours now.  Extracting mad pencil scrawls from the sheets of paper I’ve been using in Boston Tea Party cafe last few days, putting it down into one of my timeline docs, where I try and nail each chapter in a list of bullet points.  Focussing on the WHY, WHERE, WHAT and HOW.  Scenes in London were the bitch.  I think I’ve saved the damn book now, and got a pretty excellent tight story to write up.  Not quite out of the woods. Still need to map out the actual ending.  Tie off the cluster of plot threads clenched in my fist.