Revised Draft of Book One/Deviants DONE!

So, last weekend I managed to finish my revised draft of the first book of Deviants. Now I just have to type in 300+ pages of mostly handwritten material, then print it out and do the final revision. Oh, joy!

It wouldn’t be so bad if my handwriting was actually legible, but it might have a silver lining: I’m too lazy to try to decipher my handwriting for superfluous information so I’m automatically getting rid of some deadwood while I type it in. So, “it’s not a bug, it’s a feature”?

Indie Authors – William Hertling

Singularity Series by William Hertling

To continue spreading the love about indie writers, today’s post is about William Hertling, a completely different kind of author than Jay Bell. William Hertling writes near-future science fiction, and his Singularity series starting with Avogadro Corp: The Singularity is Closer than it Appears has an emphasis on Artificial Intelligence and its interaction with humans.

I’ve read a few cyberpunk/A.I. novels, especially older ones, that seem quaint and funny today (*cough* Neuromancer *cough*), but Hertling is not just a writer with a fairly good grasp on human psychology, but also a software developer who has interesting and realistic ideas about how Artificial Intelligence might come about, how A.I.s might think, and what kinds of motivations they might have. The scenarios he writes are all too plausible, made more so by the future world he has envisioned which is not so far from our own. It’s not a big leap to imagine living in the world that he has created, and his overall message is something we should be thinking about.

His novels are classic science fiction, focusing more on the science than the characters, so although the human characters are realistic, their characterizations don’t go very deep. However, his depictions of the A.I.s are some of the best and most realistic that I’ve ever read, so that the relative shallowness of the human characters doesn’t really matter. They are, after all, not really the stars of the show. I am very familiar with computers myself, so none of the technology is strange to me, but I think he keeps it simple enough that someone with a less technical background could understand what’s going on.

I’ve read the first two books of the Singularity series so far and am looking forward to reading the rest. Avogadro Corp deals with a singular A.I. and its birth, development, and interactions with its creator, while A.I. Apocalypse deals with the development of multiple Artificial Intelligences and the formation of an A.I. culture. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the communications between the different A.I.s and the thought processes of the A.I.s while they are dealing with humans.

If you enjoy realistic science fiction, and are interested in Artificial Intelligence, I highly recommend checking out this author and his Singularity series.

Revision Blues

camp-2017-participant-twitter-header

I haven’t been blogging very faithfully lately. I promised to myself I’d try to do at least one post a month but it seems that things change so fast in the news these days that by the time I manage to write a reaction to something, it’s already obsolete, and to be honest some things have been so horrific that they don’t really need a blog reaction at all. I wish that there weren’t so many leaders determined to prove that there is evil in the world, but unfortunately they exist.

On a more positive note, I’m still in the middle of revision on Deviants, and have been doing Camp NaNoWriMo with a goal of at least 1 hour/day doing revision.  I made the decision to incorporate a lot of the backstory into the manuscript, so right now it looks like there are going to be at least two books following the adventures of Simon and Jamie from childhood through adolescence and early adulthood. I may also do a third, which will follow them into old age. So on that front things are shaping up nicely.

 

 

The Unintended Romance

trainstalking by davitydave, on Flickr

trainstalking (CC BY 2.0) by davitydave

While writing Deviants, there was one twist in the story that took me completely by surprise. It not only changed the story I was writing – it changed me, as well.

Deviants started out as a story about Simon, a young man who, after being cast out of the remote, rural commune where he grew up, moved to the slums of a city to seek his fortune. While searching for work, he meets Li, a young woman who grew up as a rich Elite. They work together until Simon has to risk everything to save his (estranged) childhood best friend, Jamie.

As a major subplot, I had planned for Simon and Li to develop a relationship that led to romance … but somehow it didn’t seem to work out that way. Li craved adventure and excitement, and didn’t want or need an exclusive relationship with one person. Most especially, she wouldn’t be interested in tying herself to my timid protagonist Simon, whose idea of a good time was sitting at home with his loved ones and not gallivanting around the solar system looking for the next adventure. They might become good friends, and Li might take him out of his shell a little bit while he might calm her down, but they were never going to be happy together as a couple.

Since I don’t like forcing relationships with characters that don’t really fit together (I’m looking at you, Ron and Hermione!), I removed the romantic element from the relationship. I continued writing, and started developing the backstory of Simon’s childhood and how he met Jamie – a refugee slave taken in by Simon’s rural commune.

As I developed the friendship between Simon and Jamie, there appeared some hints of something deeper between them. I hadn’t really given any thought to making my protagonist gay at that point, so it threw me for a loop at first. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go that route, and if I did, how I should continue. After a lot of soul-searching, I decided that the pull between the two characters was too strong to ignore, and I let them out of the closet.

Up until recently, I hadn’t read very many books with gay or lesbian protagonists in them. Particularly during my childhood and teen years, even though I was a voracious reader, I rarely came across a character who was homosexual or bisexual without being pathological or tragic in some way. There was some bisexuality going on in Heinlein’s books, but he usually portrayed same-sex relationships as “good clean fun but still lesser than heterosexual relationships.” Anne McCaffrey hinted at homosexuality among Dragonriders in her Pern books, but it was only a hint, only for male Dragonriders, and not really something that the characters chose themselves.

I did eventually discover The Last Herald Mage trilogy from Mercedes Lackey, and some of the books from Marion Zimmer Bradley. Here were at last major characters who were definitely, unabashedly gay, lesbian, and bisexual. It was like a revelation, even if many of the homosexual relationships were fraught with suffering and tragedy.

After deciding to let my main character out of the closet, I started doing some market research, and discovered that there is a large variety of LGBT literature out there today. It is easily available on Amazon and encompasses almost every genre from classic literature to police procedurals to erotic romance to science fiction and fantasy (as an aside, if you like fantasy I highly recommend Lynn Flewelling). There are not a few tragedies, but also HEA endings and stable, loving relationships. Today, it is possible to find many role models and examples of people in fiction and in our daily lives who are gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, and everything in between. People who are queer, but who are a part of society instead of being outcasts, and who find love and happiness and success instead of pain and tragedy and ruin.

Through this process, I have not only become a proud supporter of LGBT rights, but have discovered that I, too, reside in queer space. Recent developments in society have reminded me of the potential for the pendulum to swing back, so I hope to add to the growing collection of literature with happy gay and lesbian protagonists to tide us through any dark times that might be coming, so that we can make things get better again.

Finished first draft!

I managed to finish my first draft of Amazon’s Apprentice, so I’m going to put it aside for a couple of months to concentrate on the rewrite and revision of Deviants. During my first read-through of Deviants, I’ve discovered that there are way too many threads, themes and characters in the story as it stands (what happens when you take 2 years instead of two months to write a book!). I think I’ve managed to get my story outline trimmed down to its essentials, which I’ll be using in the rewrite.