Beta Reading – New Reeferpunk Story from David Mark Brown!

I just wrapped up sending my feedback on the forthcoming newest installment in David Mark Brown’s Reeferpunk series of novels.  I also had the pleasure of beta reading his first two: Fistful of Reefer: Reeferpunk and The Austin Job.  His latest work builds on the two previous novels bringing back the main characters and throwing them once again into the line of fire.  This particular story’s setting struck a chord with me (yes, I am intentionally omitting details…) through the vivid descriptions David has created.  His character development continues to be strong amidst a good story.  If you are not reading to provide critical feedback, I think you will find David’s latest story a quick and fun read.

Oh – here’s a hint to anyone else beta reading, don’t use ePub in iBooks.  You can export (email, print) your notes, but not the highlighted sections.  The notes alone are pretty useless without the text to which they refer.  Several hours of transcription later…

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Let the Re-Write Begin!

I am re-writing.  Finally.

No more excuses.  No more indulgent distractions.  Time to buckle down and get going on the re-write.

Rachel’s backstory, though not actually in the novel, was my first task.  Something I had wanted to do following reading Jeter’s “Infernal Devices.”  The whole “inherit a clockshop” thing seemed a little too trite, too cliche.  So Rachel now has a new and better backstory.  Much darker and dangerous than previously.  Even better motivation than finding your fortune in the American Colonies… fleeing a dangerous conspiracy in England.  Unfortunately, Rachel and Clarence are only going to find themselves embroiled in even deeper intrigues.  Sort of “out of the frying pan an into the fire” type of thing.  Can’t let the two of them off that easy now can I?

How is the first revision of “The West Wind” going Don?

Ummm.  Well.  Not so well.

I’ve heard much about the fear and incapacitation caused by a blank page.  I am suffering the opposite.  The sight of a full page of my prose sends me running the other direction.  I keep finding plenty of other things to do…  such as…

I was flattered to be asked by David Mark Brown to beta read his latest work “The Austin Job.”  If you are a follower you recall that I had read and reviewed his first work: “Fistful of Reefer.”  This next installment brings back some “love to hate” characters from the first book and a few “easter egg” references for readers of Fistful to discover.  David continues to develop his narrative skills as he begins to explore the “punk” side of the v1.0 Xpunk genres.  Ever present are the over-the-top characters and action that I enjoyed from his first work.  Expected release date of “The Austin Job” is on or about December 24.

In the meantime… back to not doing what I should be doing…

“The Good, The Bad, and The Dead” by Neil Michael Burke – a Quick Review

Not necessarily a Steampunk story, but fun nonetheless.  I am pleased to have made the acquaintance of this author and enjoyed his first work.  Here is the short review I posted on Amazon UK:

The key element to any zombie literature is the question that must be posed by the author: “Of whom should you be the most afraid – the unthinking, predictable zombies or the desperate living struggling to survive by their wits.”  Neil takes this question and drops it into the most controversial conflict in the history of the United States: the Civil War. North versus South, Brother versus Brother, and now… Living versus Undead. The characters are interesting and the opportunities for conflict and strained cooperation are limitless.  I am looking forward to the next installment.

Revision & Editing – My Approach

After noodling it around a bit I think I at least have a plan of attack, an approach, a Strategy if you will, for going about this whole revision and editing thing.  I fell into a process for writing that seemed to work quite well.  That was pre-blog so you will just have to trust me on it.  Hopefully, the same will happen for the revision and editing.  I am putting it out there for comment, criticism, and for fear that if I don’t write it down, I will not remember it the next time.

The problems I need to address, or that I am hoping this approach will solve, are from the first draft taking over almost a full year to complete.  And from not entirely knowing what I was doing.  The things that could have been avoided by being a *little* more diligent in keeping a “bible” we not avoided… character descriptions morphing, locations being renamed, multiple feints at backstory, etc.  FWIW: I blame NaNoWriMo for that!  The plot also went off in its own direction as well, the whole second half was quite a ways away from what I originally envisioned.  I blame my writing instructor for that – she suggested I write the ending before writing the last half of the book.  It was an excellent suggestion that I *strongly* recommend to others!  Had I not done that, I would probably still be writing the first draft.  There were also things that happened out of order so that they would fit into the self imposed chapter and scene structure.  There is also way too much backstory at the beginning that I would like to move to flashbacks.  All-in-all mostly content issues.   Add to that three POV characters with intertwined storylines and over 120k words which I have no one to else to blame but myself.

Here’s what I am doing:

1. Do nothing.  Yeah, I have heard this quite a bit.  Don’t start editing until you are done writing (check) (though it escapes me why this is not self evident).  More importantly, lock the first draft away for a month or two to distance yourself from it.  Considering it took me a year to write, there are some parts that are more distant than others!  For someone who barely remembers what he had for lunch yesterday I think two months might have been a bit excessive.  My plan of getting caught up on reading during this time fizzled and I found myself writing and editing a short story.

2. Keywords (aka Tagging).  I am using Scrivener that as a really nice tagging capability.  Essentially you can create any keyword (or keyword hierarchy for the overly detail oriented types) and assign those keywords to scenes.  Clicking on the keyword in the “keyword browser” brings up all of the scenes that have been tagged with the keyword.  Really cool.  I created keywords for all of the locations, POV characters, minor characters, extras, means of transportation, etc.  A few more I might add would include character description, character backstory, gadget, etc.  The idea being that I can update a particular detail and have the tool to keep it consistent across all of the occurrences.  So the next time you find your character’s appearance changing and it is not related to the plot – try out the keywords.

… and because I can never say anything in a few words where many will suffice… more to come…

“Fistful of Reefer” (Reeferpunk) by David Mark Brown

Not exactly steampunk, but certainly western…

I got turned onto Brown’s “Fistful of Reefer” by the author himself having bumped into him in the Wild West Steampunk Saloon on S.W.A.G.  We kicked a couple of comments back and forth and he let on that he just released a novel in eBook format.  Intrigued, I downloaded a copy and gave it a shot.  Sorry to say, I had relatively low expectations.  Enough time looking at print-and-play boardgames and unpublished prototypes has left me a little jaded towards anything that has not come from a major publisher.

Well partner, I happy to say I was wrong.  Brown has spun a fun action adventure tale with interesting, believable and diverse characters.  I won’t belabor a full synopsis, but suffice to say it is a story about friendship, good guys, bad guys, lost races, orphans, contraband, hypocrisy, forgiveness and redemption set against a backdrop of a Saturday morning western.  The only thing missing is the Morricone soundtrack.

Reeferpunk?  Sure, why not.  I think the “*punk” breed of fiction lends itself to an ever expanding definition led by imaginative authors finding new ways to mashup the traditional with the unusual.   This is what indie press should be about, authors taking chances and pushing the boundaries.  Sure, there were some technical editing errors here, but the story was interesting enough that I really stopped caring and just focused on enjoying.

I am looking forward to David’s next effort and wish him all the best in his corner of the punk mashup genres.

¡Viva la Revolución!