Eclectic Ramblings From a Bike Riding, Sports Loving, Novel Writing Nerd.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Silos

Sometimes we get lucky.  Every so often a story comes along that takes over our lives.  It may be a movie, a book, a TV show.  What it is doesn’t matter.  What matters is the way these works transport us.  We get to visit new worlds, explore sides of ourselves we’ve never seen, escape from our day to day.  When we stumble across these moments they make us feel alive, like anything is possible.

Hugh Howe’s Silo universe did this for me.  I first read Wool in July of 2012.  I was in the midst of a reading funk.  I had lost interest in the crime and spy novels of my youth and had been through all of my favorite science fiction authors more times than I could count.  I was looking for something new.  I started searching the cheap books in the Kindle Library.  I figured it was time to give some new authors a shot.  If it was science fiction and it was under $5, I gave it a try.  On about the fourth or fifth book I came across Wool.  It had really good reviews and the premise was intriguing.

It only took a handful of chapters to suck me in. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next in the Silo.  I had been transported to a world that existed in another time and another place.   I felt like I was walking around the concrete encased world of the Silo.  I felt like I knew these characters, had known them for a long time.  I couldn’t get enough. 

Luckily by the time I finished Wool, Howey had published First Shift.  The first of three prequels, First Shift told the story of where the Silo’s came from.  Second and Third Shift led readers right up to the end of Wool.  Stories intertwined, secrets were kept, backs were stabbed, lives were lost.  By the time I finished Third Shift I again hungered for the end Howey promised.  Unfortunately I had several months to wait before the finale.  I spent that time building up my hopes and fretting over the small chance I would be let down.

I had nothing to be worried about.  I awoke this past Saturday to find my pre-ordered copy of Dust waiting on my Kindle.  I started reading and before my family was even out of bed I knew I was going to be worthless for the rest of the weekend.  From the first few paragraphs I found myself transported back to that world I fell in love with last summer.  I could feel dampness of the air in Silo 17.  I experienced terror alongside the characters with each plot twist.  I was disheartened by the all too accurate depiction of our shortcomings portrayed in key characters.  Yet I was uplifted time and again by the personification of our best qualities in others.  I feared for them.  I loved with them.  I lost with them. 

Most of all I dreaded the end as I neared the final pages.

I finished a little under 30 hours after I started.  I could not have been happier with the result.  Dust gave me exactly what I wanted; it transported me to another place and made me care about a group of people that don’t really exist (although we could have a really great existential conversation about that point). 

I felt something else this time though, something I’ve never really felt before at the conclusion of a great story.  I felt lost. 

When I read Howey’s thank you after the last chapter I found myself fighting back tears.  I realized the relationship I had with this world was ending.  Yes, I will read these books multiple times over the years but there is nothing that could replace the first.  I will never again get to imagine where the story might take me next.  I’ll never again get to anticipate the ramifications of character decisions or be taken aback by the masterful plot twists.  This story was special in its telling and I will never get that experience again. 

I have tried to write a review of these books for over a year now.  I’ve come to realize though, I don’t think I can.  Not in the traditional sense.   A large part of what made these stories so great was the lack of knowledge going in.  So much of the emotional heft of the books would be lessened by even a few spoilers.  Because of this I can’t bring myself to write about them in any detail, so I’ll just stick to these descriptions of my experience.  It’s a journey I wish more people would allow themselves to enjoy.

If you haven’t yet read these books, I highly encourage you do so soon.  You will be whisked away to new world to explore the depths of not only the Silos but of human depravity and resilience.  It is rewarding journey that full of twists, turns, laughs, cries, friends and villains.  You will not be disappointed.

P.S.  – After you take my advice and read these books you’ll most likely feel a void where the Silo’s used to dwell.  Well fear not!  Hugh Howey recently licensed his works for use in Kindle Worlds.  This program gives aspiring authors the opportunity to create their own stories within the world of the Silo.  With very few limitations on the content, authors can explore their own storylines, relationships and experiences.  There have already been several stories published with many more on the way.  It is an exciting opportunity to see the universe expand so be sure to check these stories out too.  Or better yet, write one yourself!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Something That Needs To Be Said

Many of you know that I am an avid cyclist.  This of course comes with its own set of risks and rewards.  I've noticed a trend recently that is a bit disturbing and decided to say something about it on Facebook.  After finishing it I realized I wanted to share this beyond my normal FB circle so I'm posting it here too.

Yeah, so some cyclists are a pain. That guy weaving in an of traffic or running the red light is a jerk. Even other cyclists think so. 

Here's the thing, most of aren't that guy. 

You know what I don't do? I don't run red lights. I don't cut people off. I don't cut my way to the front of the line at intersections or hide out in blind spots at turns.

You know what I do? I do get shit thrown at me. I do get passed with no clearance. I do get cussed out and yelled at.

Most of us aren't the jerk that ticked you off. Yet you still treat us all the same.

Here's the thing. You're safely encased in a two ton piece of metal. Nothing I do, no matter how jerkface it is, will come any where near harming you. The worst thing to likely happen to you is being 2 minutes later to your destination.

I'm on a 15 pound piece of aluminum and carbon fiber with nothing between my head and the pavement but plastic and foam. The worst thing that could happen to me..........

Friday, August 9, 2013


Well, after a week of research and outlining I actually sat down and put words on paper.  I now have a working title and two chapters in the book(s).

I had originally planned to write the first draft during National Novel Writing Month in November but I'm chomping at the bits to get working on this project.  I decided I'm going to give Kickstarter a go this fall to see if I can raise some funds to cover self-publishing and advertising costs.  To make that work I want to have the first 2 or 3 chapters written and polished to post for the Kickstarter campaign.  So I decided I'm just going to start writing.  I'll get those first few chapters up and running and then go from there.  If the first draft isn't finished in by November one then I'll use NaNoWriMo to buckle down and finish up.

The goal is to have the first draft written by the end of November.  I'll start the editing and revision process in December and hope to have a final draft ready to go by next June.  That will give me time to advertise, print and publish by my 37th birthday in September 2014.

In related book news, I'll be working with artist Susan VanSant on the cover art.  I've known Susan for a few years through my regular job and she does some amazing work.  I'm really excited about working with her on this project.  She has a style that I think fits really well with the tone of this story.

I'll also be working with New Media Design Studios for help with marketing and some other services.  I went to college with Rivka, one of the owners and they do a great job working with writers via coaching and classes as well as marketing and other services.

It's a pretty exciting time for me here.  I finally feel like I'm in the middle of the project instead of just planning it like I've done for so many years.  I'm looking forward to seeing the end result.

Oh, and one more thing:  I found this silly little progress meter that I'll be using in my sidebar to track progress.  This book is the first of three that I'm calling The Exiled Trilogy. I've set a goal of 80,000 words but I'm really going to let the story dictate when I'm finished.  Either way, this will give everyone a good idea of where I am both with regards to word count and sanity.

Thanks again to everyone for your support.  I'll be in touch soon!


Sunday, August 4, 2013

And So It Begins

Well, after years of talking about it I am finally considering my novel to be officially started.  Yes, I wrote three chapters last year but they will be pretty much totally overhauled as I set out to publish my first book.  I've completely rearranged the character structure and plot outline.  I've begun the blueprint for the book's structure and have a good start on the research.

I was going to wait until National Novel Writing Month in November to start the process but I realized this weekend that I can't wait three months to get started.  This project is burning a hole in my brain and I need to get it onto paper.  Furthermore, I don't want to shoehorn this project into the constraints of NaNoWriMo (50,000 words in 30 days).  I'm still going to use November as a high intensity writing period but I won't be starting from scratch.  I've decided to get the first 1-3 chapters written by the end of September so I can try my luck at a Kickstarter.

Yes, that's right I'm going to try and fund this project with crowd sourcing.  There is a long list of authors at Kickstarter who have funded their first book through the website.  I figured I might as well give it a try.  I'm writing the book either way so why not try to secure some of the funding ahead of time.  I've found some self publishing print shops for paperback copies of the book as well as some quality editors.  Sure, I'll be using my mother in law and a good friend or two for initial editing but if I have the funds I might as well have a pro look at it too.

So, it is official.  I'm finally writing my first novel.  Wish me luck and join me for the journey.  I'll be posting regular updates as things progress so check back often.

Until next time!