What I'm Working On At The Moment
*Battle for the Wastelands
*"Coil Gun" Screenplay
Last Thursday, my Kennesaw writing group reviewed the entirety of Battle for the Wastelands. Got some good critiques (grenade explosions don't throw people, they shred them) and some out-of-left-field critiques (including one suggestion to have the Merrill army destroyed in the climax and have Andrew and friends set out on their own). Revising accordingly, with the deadline DragonCon. I did get a request from a publisher last year for the full manuscript when it was done and I might send it out earlier.
One suggestion was to cut POVs to reduce overall word count, since the current draft is 105,000 words (the draft they reviewed was 104,000 words) and many novels of its type are much shorter. I have a rather specific vision for the overall series and much of the material is set up for stuff that happens later. Radically changing the story at the moment isn't going to fly. However, fat lot of good plans for later in the series do if one cannot sell the first book.
I've also decided to retitle the later Wastelands novels. Escape from the Wastelands is now Battle for the Wastelands: Escape, while the planned third novel is Battle for the Wastelands: War. This is in the vein of my friend Alex's upcoming novel Clean, whose full title is technically Clean: A Mindspace Investigations Novel, as well as my friend James' novella That Thing At The Zoo, which is subtitled A Deacon Chalk Occult Bounty Hunter Novella. Heck, look at the Pirates of the Caribbean films and how the first one had the subtitled The Curse of the Black Pearl, while the subsequent films had subtitles as well. A nice, distinctive series name like Mindspace Investigations or Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty Hunter is good branding. Although Andrew Sutter is the protagonist, he's not so central to the story that I can label everything "An Andrew Sutter Novel." Heck, Andrew isn't even in Son of Grendel.
I've also gotten a lot of work done on the "Coil Gun" screenplay. Current page count is 77. A friend of mine who is a TV writer out in Los Angeles says that the bare minimum is 90 pages, so I need 13 more pages from somewhere. I got it to 77 pages by starting the story out much earlier with the Afrikaners capturing some ethnic-Indian Australian commandos assisting Indian rebels and the angry response of the Afrikaner government to that. I don't think I've adapted all of the material from the short story into the screenplay just yet--for example, there's the Afrikaner spacecraft carrying multiple nuclear warheads deployed against Albuquerque--but I'm probably going to need to come up with some extra stuff. All I can think of is a new subplot involving a character's wife who is a teacher, but I haven't developed that much.
I haven't been working on a whole lot else at the moment due to the primary revising Battle is taking and various real-life job issues.