It’s that time of year again…  Clockwork Twist: Waking is…

It’s that time of year again…  Clockwork Twist: Waking is FREE for download on Amazon, all this weekend!  If you know someone who needs more sky-pirates in their, this is the best way to give the gift of silly adventure, without it costing a thing.  And if you already have a paperback copy, why not go grab a free eBook for yourself as well?

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Update on Twist Book 5

Hello, Twist lovers!  I just wanted to let everyone know that Clockwork Twist, Book Five: Inquest, had been delayed slightly.  The editing process is nearly complete right now and then it’ll take about a week to finalize the publishing process.  I’m sorry it won’t be ready on the 17th, but it will be up within the month.  Keep an eye out for the release notice, right here.

However, the first book, Waking, will be free once again on the 17th!  I’ll be posting links to the eBook page on Amazon during the sale, so be sure to share the links with anyone who needs more airship pirates in their life.  Or, just grab a free eBook for yourself, if you don’t already have one.  Every free book that is downloaded helps to get Twist closer to the #1 spot on Amazon that day!

This November 17th also marks the sixth year of Twist’s existence.  If this series was a child, it would have it’s own opinions about the world and a favorite pokemon by now.  That kinda freaks me out.

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Holy hell did I need a break!

I’ve been struggling to finish the first draft of the 11th book in the Clockwork Twist series for almost a year now. I finished the draft of the 10th book in a record 6 weeks, but each of the rest of the books took 4 months or less. But this one… And it’s not that I have nothing to say. The plot is solid, the threads are all coming together, right now the word count is well over my target, but the details keep shifting. And every time they shift, I have to go back and follow the ripples, and rewrite what I’ve already done. Again, and again, and again. I’ve done rewrites loads of times before, but this one just doesn’t seem to settle.

So, rather than let myself get tired of my Twist, I decided to have a short break. I’ve had an idea for another story entirely, running around my head for a while now. It’s not steampunk, it’s not a silly adventure, it’s not an escape, and it’s not anything like what I’ve written before. It’s atmospheric, emotional, and it tackles real life issues that matter to me. It’s also set in space, but that’s really just the back drop. I’ve never actually written any of this new story because I’ve been worried about getting off track with Twist. But, the moment I decided to take a break, writing this new one was all I wanted to do.

And holy hell, this feels amazing. It’s all new! I don’t know these people! I know the world, and I know what I want to say, but it’s all happening now! I can’t wait to get to know them, and their stories, and figure out what happens. I haven’t felt this excited about writing since the first time I met Twist. I so, so needed this.

I will get back to Twist once I’ve had a break with this new story, but right now, I’m on vacation on Mars. It’s amazing to me, how much I needed the break, and didn’t know it. If you’re working on something right now that’s just not going anywhere, I highly suggest you try working on something new. It might be just what you need.

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On sensitivity

I’ve been doing another mental overhaul of my series for themes that have the potential to offend. This is something I do regularly, to make sure that anyone, from any background, can at least enjoy a bit of my silly story without being offended. I’ve been writing this thing for years now. As I grow as a person, learning to be more understanding of humanity itself, I like to check that Twist isn’t accidentally a bigot.

I’ve begun to worry about a few little things that are in the first, already published books. I like to think that my men and women are decently equally portrayed, and race and culture are two things I pay very close attention to, to keep things even. But then there’s this other thing…

So, the first and most prominently seen bi-sexual character in the book is introduced as a villain and a fool. Now, of course, I’d never want anyone to think that I was trying to say that bi-sexuality was in anyway a bad thing. I was also extra careful to make sure that this character was only demonized for separate personality issues and bad choices that helped to make Twist grow through combatting them. And as the story goes on, this character changes and becomes a loving and compassionate friend instead of a villain, while his orientation never alters. This was always the plan.

Now, I know what I’m doing. I know that the character is the way he is because, like everything in the series, making Twist deal with people and situations he doesn’t understand makes Twist grow. Twist is British, so he has to leave home and see the world. Twist lives alone so now he has to deal with a crew. Twist has no idea how to talk to girls, so boom: live-in girlfriend. Twist is straight if rather asexual, so naturally a super flirty bi-sexual character is a logical necessity. But I always worry that, from the outside, readers might not see exactly why I write the things I do. And on top of everything, I’m not even trying to say anything important or make any kind of stand for social equality! This isn’t the place for that. This series is just a silly adventure story about magic and craziness, that people can enjoy without having to dissect or learn anything from it. It’s fluff, nothing more. If you want to learn something, go outside and talk to real people. But even so, was that a bad choice just for initial clarity…

Then it hit me. I’ve already answered my own question. At the beginning of the series, Twist really is not understanding or sensitive. How could he be? He’s been cooped up alone for most of his life. And since the entire story is seen from his perspective, the characters most unlike him are shown as the most unfavorable or dangerous, because Twist is afraid of them because they are different from him. And, looking at what I’m working on in book 11 right now, I see that he’s already changed, just like I always wanted. He’s learned to be compassionate towards everyone, regardless of how different they may look to him. He thinks of others’ wellbeing as much as his own, and has learned that no one can really be judged by how they look or who they love.

So, actually, I’ve stuck close to my own storytelling goals here. But, the reader would have to read all 12 books to see that. From the beginning, the series might actually seem ignorant at times, because Twist actually is quite ignorant. It’s far too late to go back and change things in the first 4 books now, but it still haunts me.

What do you think? Does it matter that Twist, and therefore the narrative itself, gets there in the end? Should I not have tried to show the full progression from ignorant to understanding, and included ignorance at all? Am I too worried about all of this, or not worried enough? I’d love an outside voice on this.

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What’s up with Twist these days, anyway?

I thought it was about time I let everyone know how things are going with the Clockwork Twist series.  At the moment, the first 4 novels are published and available, and the 11th book is in (hopefully) final revisions.  Everything between 4 and 10 is on paper in final draft-form, and I’ve got 12 mapped out, if not on paper yet.

I had planed to start publishing two books a year by now, as well as offering up some other treats as well.  But I’ve had to scale that all back a bit due to reasons beyond the writing.  The writing itself is moving along swimmingly, and at the moment I am devoting most of my time to the actual writing, rather than anything else.  After all, I’d take a bloody good book over a flashy add campaign, any day.

Even with the setbacks, I still do plan to start publishing more frequently next year.  I will also be adding more Jeffery Simian adventures, a possible graphic novel if I can get the funding for a good artist, and even an interactive novel game, all within the world of the main Clockwork Twist series.

But, as is true every year, you can expect a new novel on November 17th, in honor of our darling Twist’s birthday.  This year he’ll be 6!  Or, 166, if you count from the year he was born in the story…

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Time for something new.

Hello lovelies.  Some of you might be aware that I just moved across two states, and have also been wrestling with a multitude of personal dramas.  I don’t want to bore you with details of any of that, but simply explain my silence.

But as of today I’m moved in, most of my demons are trapped in warded circles in the basement, and the rest can bloody well queue up and wait to be dealt with.  I hope to return to regular posts both of the pretty steampunk/reading nooks/pocket watches variety, but also of these new shorter little essays.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not a blogger at heart.  My writing tendencies are much better tuned to banging out long series of novels and less to being social in any way.  But, as much as I’m sure I’d make an excellent hermit and happily continue to write to no one in particular, I realized that I should probably give it another go.

So, here I am, giving it another go.  If you have any tips for a victim of social media anxiety disorder, I’d be glad to hear them.  I promise I’ll try very hard not to run away if you talk to me.

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Book Four : Missing, Cover design

Hello, lovelies!  I have something new and shiny for you.  Feast your eyes on the brand new cover for Clockwork Twist : Missing, the forth book in the series!

Now, you might be wondering, why does the cover look like a view from orbit?  Well, you’d better go and read the description right here.

Want more than that?  Well, the first 3 chapters will appear right here on, starting on the 12th.

You STILL want more??  Greedy…  I guess there’s nothing for it.  You’re simply going to have to go reserve your eBook pre-order, right now.

Mind you, only the eBooks are pre-order-able at the moment, but the paperback is in final review and will also be coming soon.  If the stars align, it will be available on the 17th, just in time for Twist’s birthday.

Writing a series is weird… Part 1

Hello lovely.  I haven’t got any cute images or videos or other cheats today, and I’ve just had a load of announcements, so I thought I’d actually write a regular, rambling, blog post for once.  Fancy that?  A word of comment, first.  I started writing a post about what it’s like to write a series instead of a one-shot, about an hour ago and suddenly realized that it’s way too long.  Which will become hilarious in a minute.  So, this is part 1.  I’ll post part 2 later on.

Before I can really talk about my experience of writing a series, I feel I should give a bit more background about my writing history.  The first book I ever wrote was a sci-fi world-jumping novel, and it took me about a year to get the first draft on paper.  I started it in 1997 and I think I finished it in 1998, when I was a wee little 15 year-old.  Naturally, it was over 100,000 words and horrendous.  #noobwriter  But I re-wrote it about 14 times over the next 8 years (yes, I said 8), until it improved into a solidly mediocre and derivative piece.  Feeling pleased with my moderate success, I moved on to writing the sequel to this first book and was already thinking about it as a trilogy.  As of today, no one outside of my family and mentors have ever seen any of it, and now that I know what I’m doing no one ever will until it gets a massive overhaul.

Now, let’s just re-count what my very first writing experience actually was.  I didn’t start with a short-story.  I didn’t even start with fan-fiction.  I started with a beef-stake sci-fi novel that turned into part 1 of a trilogy before I finished the first draft.  More than that, I was re-working the same story and the same basic plot for years, without really taking a break.  Sure, I was in school and had lots of things going on, but I was working seriously on that book/trilogy for about 8 years solid, and was trying to get it published, right up until I got another idea.

The second book I finished was inspired by my visits to Tokyo.  I went there a few times for vacation with a friend, then studied abroad in Tokyo a few years after that.  The book I wrote about Japan wasn’t sci-fi or fantasy at all, but was just general fiction, about riding the trains in Tokyo.  This time, I had a pretty good idea of how to put a book together before I started it, and I got it into a decent shape and polished enough to start shopping it around to my publishing contacts in less than two years, by 2007.  But since that was so much easier than stumbling about with my first trilogy, I immediately thought I might make the Japan book into a series, and also use it as an excuse to travel.  I could write the same kind of story in any city with trains, after all.  How about Paris, or New York, or Hong Kong?  Splendid!

Then, life hit me square in the nose.  For the first time in 10 years, I stopped writing because I just didn’t have the time.  I still tried from time to time to work up something fun or go back and add more to my old series, just for fun, but I had not series.  Things eventually calmed down in my life and I finally managed to write an actual short story in 2010.  It was about a man who was a projectionist at an old movie theater, and was obsessed with old movies from the 30s and 40s, rejecting modern life for the silver elegance of the past.  I still think it’s pretty good.  And I can’t tell you how thrilling it was to be writing again!  As soon as I finished the story, however, and saw that it came to a neat and elegant end, I felt an enormous sense of loss.  The story was over.  What a horrible thought.  I instantly rejected the idea and tried to stretch it into a book at least, but it just wasn’t there.  I had to let it go.

Desperate now to get back under that cozy, heavy, warm duvet of writing a series after years out in the cold, I picked up Steampunk.  I’d recently realized that all my favorite books and movies fit until that genre title, and was enamored with the whole idea.  But I’d never tried to write in it.  So, after my recent success, I started with a short story.  Before I got ten pages in, it became a book.  But, since I wasn’t used to Steampunk, it wasn’t working as well as I’d liked.  I kept swinging wide over historical fiction, then coming back over pure fantasy, without ever getting the feel for it.  Plus, as much as I liked the characters, they weren’t as good as the projectionist and his friends.  Frustrated, I decided to start over with a new idea entirely, just as soon as I came up with something.

Then, after seeing a fantastic live play that was a Steampunk version of Twelfth Night, something finally clicked in my head and I got a grip on Steampunk.  I went home after the play and wrote the first chapter of Waking.  The moment I saw Twist, I knew something was different.  He was special.  And by the time I was 5 pages in, I knew he needed room to run.  I decided, right there on the 5th page, to go for the series.  In three months (my personal best at the time) the first book was done and I’d started on the second.  With re-writes and edits of previous Twist books to pad out my time, I wrote another two 80,000 page novels in the next year, and two more the year after that.  Last year I wrote three.

So, in the last 17 years I’ve spent 3 not working on a series of some kind.  The only time I ever stopped a story and didn’t just shelve it for later continuation, it was traumatic.  I still miss Steve the projectionist sometimes.  I can’t imagine what I’m going to do at the end of Twist 12.  And no, I won’t just keep going because I watched Lost and I’m not going to do that to you.  There will be an ending, because Twist needs one to be whole.  But over the years, I’ve begun to realize that series writing is very much a comfy mental duvet for me.  Stuck in an elevator?  It’s cool, I’ll just work on pruning my mythology for a minute.  Can’t sleep?  Well, how am I going to get Twist to do that thing he really doesn’t want to do in that next scene?  Red Light?  No problem, I’ve got delicate social interactions between deeply damaged people to sort out.  It’s always there, and it’s soft and comfortable, and as familiar as pumpkin spice.

So, besides some rather obvious emotional issues I might want to stop ignoring, what does all this mean?  Is it possible that some writers just can’t do short while others just can’t do long?  Is it really that different at all?  I don’t know, but I hope to find out.  I’ll continue this idea in a later post.  In the meantime, please share your thoughts on writing in a comment.  Whether you’re an accomplished author, or just dabble in writing, I’d love to hear what your experience has been like.  Or have you noticed anything like this in your reading habits?  Let me know.  And thanks for reading so far.