Category Archives: Brothers of the Zodiac – Air

I apologize

It’s been two or three weeks since I’ve updated this blog. I sincerely apologize because my head has been in City of Heroes nearly constantly.

It’s good to see it back, to play the old missions. Arachnos, Warriors, Council, Sky Raiders, the maps, the missions and contacts – it brought back old memories. Fighting in caves, warehouses, offices…different than Champions Online. I found out some ways to get different perks.

This is OCD in full-bloom. I need to ease up.

  1. I plan on stepping away from the game, attempting to just get on during the weekends.
  2. I need to write again. Something upbeat and fluffy, as something different. It’ll probably never see the light of day, though.
  3. I can grab a couple of characters and write stories about them from CoX. Personally I like Maximillian (Leader of “The Maximum Ride Gang”)–he’s a villain.
  4. I have other characters that I can work on. My writing depends on characters, not settings or plots.

This week, Maxwell Thomas has a book coming out, the omnibus of Brothers of the Zodiac. It’s eBook only, so available on Amazon, Smashwords, Nook, etc.

Death card

The Death card in Tarot means endings and new beginnings. I’ve just finished Grimaulkin Tales (not Grimaulkin Collected – that’s the omnibus edition) and it will be available May 1.

Now I’m working on Blood From a Stone, doing the long and detailed rewrite of the story. It’s not as wrecked as Yellowtree. Yellowtree needs a total rewrite, I think. I might end up parking it in the drawer and starting something entirely new, but I love the title and I can’t let it go.

My next event, hopefully, will be the Providence Book Festival on April 27. I may have copies of Grimaulkin Tales there – no promises. Regardless, they will be available at PrideFest (if the Association of RI Authors has a presence).

Brother of the Zodiac omnibus should be available soon as well. Here’s the first draft of the cover..

The second draft has some Easter eggs and this will be available soon. Blood From a Stone will be under Maxwell’s name because of the subject matter.

I am trying to think of a different story to do. I liked the character of Turbo that I developed in Champions. His brother was a superhero and got injured, so Turbo took up the mantle himself without his brother knowing. I’m not sure if the superhero market is any good when it comes to stories–I know that the urban fantasy series is still going strong. I want to write to market a little bit, because otherwise the book will end up in the remainder pile somewhere. But I don’t want to sell out. It’s a fine line.

I want to write something that I can enjoy writing because after all, I’ll be with it for months. And you, Gentle Reader, will be with it for hours. I don’t want to waste your time on it, either.

Well, first thing’s first – finish Blood From a Stone and then take a look at the landscape to see what’s next. As with the Death card, every ending is a new beginning.

Hard work

On Kill Zone, a blog I read, someone wrote the seven rules of writing. One of them is what I’ve been working on this whole week.

Writing is a solitary and thoughtful process.

Let me explain what I’ve been doing. I’ve been trying to edit. Word on my Windows computer seems to be corrupted, but on my iMac it works fine. I edited a whole bunch of stories for Grimaulkin Collected before trying it on the Mac, and the formatting has come out all screwy.

I have three stories left to write in Grimaulkin Collected (yes, still the same three as last week), and I have one story to edit on the iMac. The thing is the editor has suggested that I engage the characters more in this story.

So in between fighting off exhaustion, being still sick, and decluttering my house, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. The problem with thinking is that I feel that I haven’t been producing. There’s no words on the page. I’ve been trying to think of Ash and his interaction with Mike–because in the story right now, Ash is a paper character.

With all the other stuff going on, it’s very hard for me to concentrate on getting this/these stories done. I suspect that as soon as some of these stressors ease up, I’ll be able to concentrate on getting back into writing again. Hopefully by the end of this week.

In other news, Air’s audiobook should be coming out very soon. I listened to “Libra” this morning and wondered who the hell wrote this–it’s really good. I love when that happens.

No longer a blank page

I finally sat down this morning and went back to writing for Grimaulkin Collected. After being sick for two weeks, I just couldn’t get the gumption to write.

Luckily, I had written the summary for the Knight in the Atheneum, a story of rebellion and return. My goal is to write that story today.

Yesterday I went to the Cumberland Monastery’s Author Expo and sold one Homecoming book. Which was better than some other people. Besides, I was there to network mostly, not necessarily sell books.

I have asked to assist in the editing of our local Association of Rhode Island Authors Anthology this year. I have nothing to submit, to tell you the truth, as my time this year seems to be spent on health and getting the books out for Paper Angel Press.

My newest book, Air, is out under the Zarra Knightley imprint, if you want to check that out.

What I’m reading
Memory and Metaphor.
I normally don’t like sci-fi. but this is really well-written, and is keeping my attention. However, there’s a couple of books I have on Kindle Unlimited that I want to read before my subscription expires next month.

The Snarky Writer
I’ve posted a few things on this page. It’s a fun page to see how the writing life has affected us as writers in strange and weird ways–interactions between friends and coworkers and even strangers.

Professional and Personal

Aircovers are completed and it will be released on February 14.

Front and back cover

I’m writing a story for Grimaulkin Collected but I’m not sure whether to complete the story or leave it as a cliffhanger for a possible novel in the future. If I do that, I will piss off many readers. That’s one thing I don’t want to do.

I have to have a quick outpatient surgery tomorrow and will hopefully not be in too much pain to do some writing. I have until April to get Grimaulkin Collected done. I write a little every day and hope for the best.

A week of nuthin’

This week, I finished the final edits of Air, so that’s on track to be published in February. I also printed out Blood From a Stone, looked at it, and realized that editing it was too daunting, considering the editing I was doing for Yellowtree.

Oh, by the way,. I quit editing Yellowtree because I kept getting so disgusted about what I had written. I kept thinking the whole thing is a piece of crap, so I might as well just rewrite the whole thing, and go back to my original story line of fairies and unseelie and seelie fights, instead of throwing in mermaids and sea tales.

I decided this week I’d take a rest from editing. Instead I started writing up character descriptions and histories from the game I play. I want to write something, anything, daily, so this is a good idea to start. I have three pages of characters to plow through.

I’m also trying to write the Grimaulkin Collected stories, at least part of one a day. I have eight stories that have to be at least 5,500 words each. I have a total, right now, of 3,000 words for two stories. Needless to say I need to add more. Not padding, but subplots.

Oh,, cover reveal!

Pretty, huh? That means it’s real…

Where’s the beef?

I started to revise Yellowtree using class notes I had from a few years ago when I did the rewrite for Grimaulkin, around 2012. Using these notes, I realized a few things.

  1. There’s no conflict.
  2. There’s no antagonist.
  3. There’s no reason for the title.
  4. The sword has nothing to do with the story–it’s a cool prop, that’s all.

Oh, how that hurts.

Now, normally, I would just toss the whole thing in a circular file and call it a day. But I have a story that has to get done, and this is the only one that’s promising (right now, anyway). So I’m going to suffer through the 22 week (compressed, of course) course and do the rewrite as best I can. It will be a better story, because right now, it’s a wreck.

Air is in its final stages and on track. I am also writing Grimaulkin Collected, the anthology with some stories in the Grimaulkin universe. I’ve done Ritter and plotted out Chevalier’s back stories. Now I need to work on the Grey Man from the Atheneum and maybe Mike’s marriage proposal to Scott. I already wrote that in the game–I just have to remember it.

What I’m reading now:

Shiver – Jocelyn Drake and Rinda Elliot (obviously not their real names)

Yes, another Jocelyn Drake book. I liked Deadly Lover so much I wanted to read more by this author. There’s a lot of heavy-handed “cold” motifs in this book. It’s the first in the “Unbreakable Bonds” series, which includes short stories in the series.

However, in this book so far–I’m only on chapter 2.5–I don’t care about the characters. Snow (yeah, see the heavy-handedness?) is too rough, Lucas is too cardboardy, and Rowe is Justin from Deadly Lover. Whoever the writer is for the fight scenes, though, knows what they’re doing. The detail is fantastic, even though my eyes glazed over after page four of the description. I want to write like that when I grow up.

Air completed (V1)

Due to surprise complications at work (basically, IT decided my department wasn’t a priority), I had some free time to finish writing Air. The editor said that I seemed to have more fun writing these. I wouldn’t say it was fun – it was very experimental for me. I wove real history into my stories, using actual historical figures.

But the good thing is, the first editorial pass is complete, with the first corrections in the can. It’s on course to be released for February of next year.

Next is Grimaulkin Collected, an anthology of Grimaulkin stories. I’m going to start doing what I did with Air’s stories–plot them out with enough wiggle room to “discover” the story. Even though my plot cards may not survive contact with the page, at least I have a bit of a guide of where I want the story to end up. Before, I would keep it in my head. Now, setting it down on paper solidifies the ending for me. Also, I can decide whether or not the ending is actually any good.

Switching between Grim’s stories will be Yellowtree. Although I have a story on the page, I can’t seem to answer basic questions. What’s the theme? Who is the antagonist? Why did the protagonist do what he did? Why is the antagonist (if there is one) doing what they’re doing? And most of all, what’s the plot? Until I can answer questions like that, I don’t have a story–I have a protagonist acting and reacting.

So between that and double XP on Champions Online, that’s what my holidays will consist of: writing and gaming. Oh, and reading:

What I read this week:

A new feature of this blog, I think, should be what I read or am reading over the past week. That’s right, I got so much copious free time. Actually my reading time is an hour in bed before my sleep meds kick in.

Be Counted – D.R Perry.
This is a local RI author. She’s really very good, very funny, and, as we say in RI, wicket smaht. This is the second book I’ve read of hers, the first being A Change In Crime. I liked this one, with a couple of exceptions.
1) Errors in name and age. The main character’s sidekick is either named Scott or Patrick. His ex-partner’s partner is named Weintraub or Tierney. The main character himself is, I think, 25 or so, which is way too young to make detective; and his best friend, who is the same age, acts much, much older.
2) Snarky goes so far At first, the snarky comments were amusing. Then they just got irritating. I’m impressed that the author kept up that level of snark, because I couldn’t.
3) Personal preferences. No chapter titles/numbers. Formatting on the Kindle created no indentation of paragraphs. And most of all, the entire novel is in present tense. That is something I can’t do at all and, again, I am impressed by it.
I gave it four stars because I liked the premise, the writing was good, and something I might want to emulate. But, mind you, I didn’t finish the book. Why? The snark level had gotten to me.

Deadly Lover–Jocelyn Drake (in progress)
Okay, so i have a type for romance–enemies that become lovers. I just love to see how other authors can make that twist because I can’t seem to do it. This one is about two mercenaries, alpha males, who are gay, hide it, hide everything from each other even while they circle around trying to pierce each one’s armor. I’m learning a lot about how mercenaries work, how some special ops can quickly go sideways, and how to recover. I don’t think I could write a book on special ops using this book–need to read a lot more Tom Clancy, I’d guess. But this author keeps things tight and tense, and has kept my interest for 35% of the book.

Leaves of Grass–Walt Whitman (up to poem 45)
Whew, fan yourself after reading this! So much masculine love. I needed to read the poems for “Aquarius” (you’ll see why when it comes out). I didn’t read him in college. I remember a long time ago, finding this book in the wild in downtown Providence. I picked it up, leaved through it, didn’t get it, and left it there. Now that I’m older and coming at it from a gay perspective, I can see what he was trying to do. Hot stuff for the 1850’s!

One down, one to go!

Finished “Gemini” for Air yesterday. Now I have Aquarius. I was going to do an abolitionist who teaches free blacks how to read, but as I dug more into what the Aquarius man was like, I have decided to change it to Walt Whitman.

I didn’t know this, but Walt Whitman is considered one of the few 19th century gay icons (Oscar Wilde is another). I honestly have never read Leaves of Grass, but according to some gay history websites, it talks about homoerotic sex. So I picked it up and I’m going to read it (and try to copy the style. Wish me luck!).

I plotted out the story. It will be the last in the series, because its theme characterizes what the entire series is about–true love and humanity.

Next I have to plot out the prologue, get that to the publisher by the end of the year.

After this, I have to work on the Grimaulkin Collected book of backstories. 

A couple of days ago I was contacted by a fan. A real fan! Someone who read my work and really enjoyed it! I was so happy to talk to her via FB and so excited. If anyone wants to be friends with me on FB, you can look for L.A. Jacob and I’ll be happy to be friends with you. Twitter, I do more under Maxwell Thomas (@MaxwellTAuthor) than under anything else. Contact me there, if you like.

Well, back to work. No podcast this week because getting Air finished is top of the list of things to do. I noticed most people are taking the month off anyway. I’ll be back in your ears in January.

At the risk of repeating myself…


This week there’s nothing really new. I’m writing Gemini for Air and multi-tasking about contemplating what to write for National Novel Writing Month. I have some scenes ready to do, but I’m not going to be able to start until the 4th due to ComicCon. Thursday I have to load in, Friday I have to set up and be ready for the VIP, Saturday and Sunday I’m there all day, break down Sunday, and collapse.

I’ve written out some things in my notebook of what to do  once the 4th hits. I’ll be 6000-ish words short at the start, but hopefully will be able to make it up the week after having Veteran’s Day off. I was thinking about dictating it again, but I feel weird with my son in the next room. Or he randomly comes and sits in the same room I’m in and then suddenly, I can’t write. He’s sitting on the opposite end of the room, and can’t see what I’m writing, but I feel weird, like he can see what I’m doing. I have this weird feeling that the stuff coming out is too raw to read, and that he’s judging what I’m writing. From the other side of the room! I wonder if any other authors feel this, too.

I need either silence or just the right music to do my writing, and no one in the room. No one in the house would be perfect. No one in a 10 mile radius is even better. Go figure.

I am all packed for ComicCon. Two suitcases, two retractable banners, and I’m ready. I’m at booth 1637 which, if I can read the map correctly, is either near the bridge to Artist’s Alley  or the loading dock. At least I’m not downstairs, where the internet is nearly non-existent.

After ComicCon comes the Expo, and then after that, a breather. I think I’ll work on writing for the spring months, and then pick up the selling later. I’ll try to get in to the Cumberland author expo, and then maybe something else, but winter and spring is going to be dedicated to writing and editing.