Monday, December 8, 2014

Warning: Rampant Killing

Whoever said the "little darlings" quotation (I see online that is has been attributed to many authors over the years), had it right. As a writer you must be merciless when it comes to editing. I know that sounds a bit bloody, but it's true. You must be willing to cut out the parts (no matter how proud of your writing you may be) that don't serve the story. That awesome metaphor, that cool scene, that great piece of world building - if they don't serve the story, they gotta go.

I've been struggling with this recently. I had been massaging my rough draft and working it and reworking it but I just wasn't satisfied with how TST was turing out. The draft had a lot of cool parts but it wasn't hanging together as a whole. So, about two weeks ago, I got rid of the last two thirds of the book. Yup. Two thirds. I kept the beginning and have started over again. After a moment or two of kicking myself, I feel good about it. That two thirds will reappear in some other work in some other form. I'll use similar imagery and similar scenes in my next work most likely but they didn't fit in TST. So, they're gone. They're gone and I'm free to develop the story as it should be developed instead of trying to shoe horn in those cool parts.

Needless to say, TST (which will be known by a different as yet unchosen title when it's released) will be come out not this month but a few months down the line. When it does come it, it will be a far better book than what I had ready a few months back.

Because I killed stuff.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Joy of Rewriting

I used to hate rewriting. I love the creative flow of putting down the first draft. But not rewriting. The way the ideas, character arcs, plot devices and all the other details that make up a story come through to me is a rush. A high. Definitely an altered state of consciousness that is pleasurable in its own right and made even more so because of its outcome - a completed rough draft (or chapter or section or scene or whatever it is that I'm working on that day).

But then I have to rewrite. The time that flies by as I write the first draft now drags. The eagerness I approached my task as I wrote is now gone. I feel like I'm hacking away at my beautiful work, its precious ideas. I know my first draft is - by no means - perfect. But I see the beauty of its imperfection. Its awkward angles stand out like a half-hewn statue. Its uneven pace is like a toddler taking its first steps. It is a thing coming into itself and that process is delicate and gentle and unique. Never to be repeated in exactly the same way ever again.

However, as promising as the story is at that stage, it needs work. It can't grow on it own. It needs guidance. It needs polishing. I used to hate polishing. I felt like I was grinding down the details that made the story its own creature. I was stripping away its memorable and distinct qualities. Because of that, I hated rewriting. I plodded my way through it. I forced myself to do it. I felt like I was grinding myself down as I polished the story. And, to no one's surprise, the work wasn't as good. The stories were flatter, more predictable, more generic.

But that was four finished books and several dozen rough drafts along with a handful of short stories and their multiple drafts ago. Now, I look forward to rewriting. I am excited to finish the rough draft so that I can get my hands back in the clay, so to speak. With a fresh perspective, a new take, a different look at the material. Elements of the story that I had not consciously put in now jump out at me. I have several "ah ha" moments as I make new connections and the story grows fuller not lesser, more itself not less. Finishing the rough draft for me - now - is the true starting point of the story. The rough draft, as I rewrite it, begins to clarify and crystalize and shine with its own internal light and logic. When that light shines just so, I know the story done.

That's the joy of rewriting.

Monday, November 3, 2014

All Writing is Rewriting and Rewriting and Rewriting

Since my last post I have reworked Time Swerve Terminal significantly.  I received helpful feedback from my main beta readers which has lead me to re-evaluate the structure of the novel. Time travel stories, in my opinion, need to have a strong structure in order to sustain the moving back and forth in time. With TST I have attempted to make the time travel element not just a conceit or a convenient plot device but a inescapable element of the story. Inescapable for the main characters and the world portrayed as a whole.

I have cut some clunky scenes and added new material that helps clarify the main thrust of the narrative. These changes require that I go through the whole of the book several times over to make sure the changes all hang together as a coherent and, I hope, compelling story.

I find that every time I make a prediction as to when the rewriting will be complete, I then encounter another point in the story that begs for new focus. As such, I will say at this point that my goal (not a prediction) is to have TST ready by December.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Delay, Apology and Next Book

I have not released "Time Swerve Terminal" yet because I stumbled across an opportunity to have it checked over by another source, an experienced proofreader of science fiction who happens to live nearby. I meet with him on Wednesday and I'm sure I will take time to go through his feedback on the book. This will set the release back to sometime in October. I apologize to those waiting for it.

Since finishing TST, I have been working on my next book. The working title is "Familiar Monsters." It is about a five people who comprise a dream study group and the strange things that happen to them and their town of Fort Morgan. I have found my writing style adapting as I write FM. It has taken a turn more towards fantasy with a touch of magical realism. This, of course, is how the rough draft is right now and could possibly change (though I think it won't) by the time I publish it.

All for now. Updates will come in mid-october.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Time Swerve Terminal: Update

Over the past weeks I have been checking out a few different ebook marketing/discovery services. I'm looking to generate a bigger buzz for the release of this book than I did for my last one (HSTS). I have narrowed it down to a couple of different choices. I need to finalize some details and this will push back the release of TST closer to the middle of the month than the first of the month as I originally planned.

All for now

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Title Change

Due to there already being a book with the title "Seeds of Memory" on Kindle/Amazon, I have changed the title of my soon to be released book.

The new title for the book is "Time Swerve Terminal."

The manuscript is currently out to my editor and I am working on ideas for the cover. I have a come up with a few options am mulling over which one to go with.

I'll post again when details of the release are more definite.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Update: "Seeds of Memory"

For thhe past few months I have been working on my next book, "Seeds of Memory." I am in the final stages of editing and will publish the book on July 1st.

Here are the first few pages of the upcoming book.

Dr. Jacqueline Estrada was excited. Not the excited you get when you're young and Christmas is just around the corner. Or your birthday. Or the prom/big game. Or whatever. Dr. Estrada's excitement was a grown excitement. A mature thrill of long-delayed expectation. The kind you feel when you're about to walk across stage to receive your college degree. Or down the aisle to marry your beloved. But Dr. Estrada's excitement was fuller even than those. She had worked so terribly long and so terribly hard to get to where she was today. To where she is, "just about to be," she corrected herself mentally. "Just about to be, not quite yet, just about to be."

Her demonstration was a simple one. As all good examples of scientific breakthroughs are. "Have been." Archimedes jumping out of his bathtub. Galileo dropping his iron spheres from the tower. The apple falling on Newton's head. Einstein's dream of traveling on light beams. "The apple story is probably proverbial but it's a good one nonetheless." Dr. Estrada, thirty-two, daughter of immigrants, single, shy, naïve in that overly book-learned way that academics have and just about to change the world. "Just about."

She wore her starched, white lab coat like a shield. It fended off both self-doubt and unwanted suitors with its utilitarian formlessness. Donning the coat every morning was her private ritual. When the coat was on she was all business, details, serious. She surveyed the visiting dignitaries aligned in a Spartan row behind the observation glass. "There's no need for such dramatic precautions, "she thought. But the security team said otherwise.

Military security for a military project. That's the one element she'd change. The one element that didn't mesh with her vision of how this day would play out. In her mind, she'd stand before an expectant crowd in the hallowed halls of a venerated institute of higher learning to unveil her invention. But her funding applications had fallen on deaf ears. Whispers of bigotry behind the grant rejections hardened her already granite drive. "If not a university then a private donor. Or NASA."

Two and a half years later, two and half years of begging for monies to complete her project, she ended up in Albuquerque, NM. Kirtland Air Force Base, to be exact. Kissing cousin to Los Alamos Labs a bit farther north in the cloud shrouded mountains. Shades of the Manhattan Project hung like unwanted yet instructive didacts as she drove back and forth between the two laboratories on a weekly basis. Ghostly tales that rose up from the not-yet-completed landscape of the high desert. Watching the sunset's broken-sharded beams turn the sky into a hyper-real, three-dimensional kaleidoscope of aquamarine, pale pink, stirring blue and dusky rose, Dr. Estrada thought not for the first time or the last, "It's like god was called away when he was making this part of the world and he hasn't come back yet to finish what he started. Or, perhaps, he left it for us to finish."

She pulled the sharp, narrow lapels of her lab coat, brushed a wayward strand of hair back in place behind her ear and signaled her assistant to turn on the microphone so the gallery could hear her. She pointed behind her to a gleaming, stainless steel table atop which sat two objects. At one end was the slightly more rectangular than a true cube, obsidian super-processor. At the opposing end was the artificial astrocyte and neuron conglomerate suspended in thick, clear gel as it wrapped around the rods and beams of an inert scaffolding. The grayish pink of the "artificial brain" turned the intersections of the scaffolding into fuzzy squares. The rectilinear shape of the super-processor was mimicked by the blocky checks floating inside the gel. "It looks not a little like a moldy Rubik's cube," Estrada mused.

She focused on the faces behind the glass and said tersely trying to control her excitement, "On one end is the most advanced computer the world has ever seen. On the other end is the first of its kind artificial brain." She tsked softly as she thought, "'Artificial brain' is not accurate but it's a good label for those who aren't familiar with the neuroscience involved. 'Freeform neuron embedded, sensory integrated processing system' is a mouthful after all. More accurate but a mouthful."

She glanced at the floor and clasped her hands behind her back as she stepped deliberately closer to the glass separating her from the gallery. Chestfuls of tiny medals and little ribbons stared back at her. Expensive suits and military uniforms all cut from the same dower gray. Splashes of color from power ties and their female counterpart scarves declared, "Convince us." She looked up at the concrete slab of a ceiling and, also, at the source of her inspiration. Her ideas always felt like they came down to her from some, unknown and unknowable source high above.

She began, "Not to bore you with details, the past few decades of research into artificial intelligence has pursued one of two paths." She pointed back to the ends of the table in turn. She liked pointing. She felt commanding when she pointed and the eyes of the gallery followed. "Develop a means for consciousness to arise from silicon chips. Or develop a human brain that is as powerful as our supercomputers." She spun on her fancy heels, the ones she saw in the window in Santa Fe months ago and had been saving for this very occasion. "Both paths have met with - at best - limited results. It was my insight," she paused to let that sink in, "to combine the two approaches in order to develop a system, an organism that embodied the best aspects of both. What you see before you is the first stage, shall we say, perhaps the first rung on the next evolutionary ladder."

A murmur of disbelief shimmied out from behind the glass. She had expected that. She had wanted that. "Yes, I know. A bold statement. But a supported one as I am about to demonstrate. In order to understand, truly understand the significance of this development you must remember that down at the foundational level of reality, past atoms and sub-atomic particles, past the whole of the particle zoo as some of my colleagues like to call the quantum world, reality is built on information. Bits, microbits, nanobits and bits and bits and bits of information." 

Estrada allowed herself a knowing chuckle at her own joke. "It's even funnier if you know information theory," she thought then refocused on the gallery. "The universe is more akin to a great thought than the result of a massive explosion. An infinite web of information ties everything - via quantum entanglement and superposition - together. And I do mean everything. It is my assertion that if we can build a 'brain,' for lack of a better word, that can process even the slightest bit of the infinite information web in a direct and tangible manner then we can unlock the secrets of the universe. They, I firmly believe, won't even be secrets anymore. What up to now has been shrouded in mystery to even the brightest minds of our species will under the combined processing power of my Blended Intelligence read like an open book. A book of the universe. A book we can flip through to find out anything we want to find out. Any question we can conceive, the blended intelligence will be able to answer."

Dr. Estrada quick-stepped back to the table and its components. Her excitement was starting to get the better of her. "Time to stop talking and give 'em a show." She sat at a small console set to the side in order to give the members of the gallery a full view of the demonstration. She checked the readings trailing across her monitor. All were nominal. Just as it had been the hundred other times she ran this experiment. She primed the energy input for the system, held her hand up to the gallery then brought it down as she tapped the "combine" button on the screen. In moments the separate intelligences would merge into one coherent operating system. A new, blended intelligence unlike any other before in history.

As she brought her hand down, giant sparks erupted from the gel surrounding the artificial brain. Estrada was knocked to the ground. The stainless steel table began to glow red-hot. All Estrada could think as she clambered up from the ground was, "What has gone wrong? This has never happened before." Before she could approach the table, strong hands hooked under her armpits and dragged her out of the room as she fought against them. Her last slice of vision as the heavy, lead-lined door shut behind her showed the component table starting to melt under its own weight, as it grew hotter and hotter still. A lone question danced through her mind before she was hustled into the protective bunker at the end of the hall, "Where had all that excess energy come from?"

Monday, May 19, 2014


Use the links under "Pages" for more information on all my books or visit:

Cameron McVey

Friday, April 4, 2014

Blog Tour

I am excited to announce that "Hold Still the Sky" will be on a blog tour starting next Monday, April 7th.

The details of the tour can be found at this link:

This is the first time I've done anything like this and I'm a bit nervous about. Nothing like opening your work to scrutinizing eyes to get the adrenaline flowing. I'm looking forward to the feedback and hope to do this process again for future books.

Monday, March 31, 2014

New Book: Seeds of Memory

I have just completed the rough draft of my next book, "Seeds of Memory." I am aiming for a June 1st release date. I will be sending it out to editors soon and going through it myself (several times over) for the next couple of months. When it is in decent shape, I'll post a free selection on this blog.

Also, shortly before release I'll add a page to this blog so you know what it's about. For now all I'll say is this: "Seeds of Memory" is a twist on time travel with artificial intelligence and genetic manipulation.