Writing: The Maraude Series
This living page is going to be set up to document my processes in starting my oldest story as I commit it to a series of novels that might span 20 or 30 books.
The basic idea of Maraude begins at the establishing of the creator of the CIA's Division M from his beginnings as a Corporal in the 355th Fighter Wing. At this point I have to make completely sure that I say this: ALL of the characters in this series are fiction, though some of them may be based on myself and people I knew when I was growing up in Arizona, these characters are fictional and the later main character, Rich, is not me and this is not an autobiography, by any means. The 355th is an outstanding group as are the sister units at neighboring Sky Harbor where much of this story begins. My father served in the AG in Sky Harbor and was beside many of the great men that are now in leadership around the country.
So with that out of the way, I mean no ill to those units and this is not a finger pointing session. This is fiction. A What If?
Now, as I continue to stroll through the world of self publishing, I realize there is much I did not know. The more I learn, the more I need to learn. Perfect for my personality.
Let's begin, shall we?
Most Recent Update
June 25, 2013
Again a long hiatus, but this time a strong effort is being made to organize my research files to a point where my writing won't suffer so badly from tunnel vision. Also, this vacation from writing entirely has given me time to read several authors that I have been meaning to read. I was blown away by the approach to character development by George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones. While Maraude is nothing like GoT, as far as a genre or by content, they are similar in the effort to create a new perspective on a world we think we already know. In this effect, I have added POVs for four more of the main characters in the series from the very first book.
You will now hear of Dale's struggle to become a society member and Andre's struggle to attain his grandfather's favor. But added are Dale's sister (the FBI agent and unwilling participant), Three of the main house heads, Viktor Valnaiya, Gwendolyn Bonholm-Turolt, and James Fallfayer. Then to top it off we get to see the inner workings of the Magestra's slave network from the perspective of a trainee Lahab, or Blue Guard, Emelia.
So, a total rewrite is in order and you might expect this is going to blow the original 300 pages out of the water. Also, I had the first draft of the second book, Badger Down, already written as well, so applying this method will bring Badger to completion faster than most novels because it was already massaged to a good work of around 70,000 words to start with.
Stay tuned for more updates! (And a little closer together LOL)
February 19, 2012
I haven't been by here in a long while, so I thought it would be a goo thing to tell you a few new happenings. Astro is in the final draft, I finished my mechanical notes just last week. Badger Down will be needing a cover soon as well, I will post that here when I have it finished. Badger is about 10 scenes from a final on the rough draft. Astro came in at roughly 77,000 words and I expect Badger to be in the 65-70K range as well.
Still shooting for a three month interval. But I am going to be three months ahead of schedule. Astronomical should be ready to hit Amazon and Barnes and Noble by the end of the third quarter, so by April 1st you can get your hands on an electronic copy of it. No print versions this time for a while. That was a costly mistake.
I will be starting the rough for Charisma around the first of March and it should release by October, giving me almost nine months to finish New Blood.
Yes you are guessing correctly, the entire arc for the series is finished and weighs a grand total of 33 books. But there is room for dozens of anthologies and Spotter's Guides along the way.
September 9, 2011
I find that as Nanowrimo rolls closer, I was supposed to be finished with Astronomical and started on book two, Badger Down for Nano this year. The "Laptop Incident" where the entire first 12 chapters of Astronomical were erased during a power failure, while OpenOffice was doing an autosave and was unrecoverable. Sixty-five pages of 30,000 words or so ended up as 8 pages of "#######"
So a new (hand me down from my brother, Thanks Mozz!) computer later and we are rolling along, only I noticed a couple of deficits in my original story. I had started the book in Korea during Shinerique's and Dale's dogfight. It didn't seem to flow right, so I am now adding that whole chapter back in piece by piece in the new second chapter (old third) as back story. Another deficit was, that with the story only being told through Dale's eyes, it was becoming bland. I had already set up an instance that the Jerome Society has Dale to kidnap one of the champion fighters, so I have decided that since Andre is such an integral part of the next two books, and that Rich is to be his replacement eventually, that I should make Astronomical his story too.
So other than a few esthetic name changes to help with readability and a toning down of the original "military language" even though there will be some, I think I am back on track.
Even so, this has become a backburner subject at the moment as I am now gathering my voice actors for Stage's audio book and dramatic audio book and CD. I will be working on some book trailers very soon and will post them to the appropriate pages when finished.
May 13, 2011 I have started wading deep into chapter two. Some of the issues that have come up are Diane and Dale's accents during speech are different than the grammar and usage in Dale's main narrative. I still try to keep him British but am having a hard time not trying to put his Sean Connery accent into the main narrative. I feel the main narrative needs to be fluid and readable.
For reference on another story (actually Stage's sequel Wyldheart) I have just read Black Will Shoot by Jesse Washington. The point of reading this book was to gain insight into writing a genre of character and still make the character readable. In Black Will Shoot, a young black journalist goes deep into the heart of the Hip Hop scene and finds himself in a lot of trouble. His brother, a one hit wonder producer turned crack-head, turns out to be the only person who might be able to save him. The story is laid out in Marq's narrative of his gathering pieces for his story, and a letter written to him from his brother Dante.
I said all of that to say this, if you can not keep your character "in character" then do not write from that character's perspective. I have chosen to "air" Astronomical from Dale's eyes completely. There will be no other characters to voice. Well, other than dialogue from the narrative. In future installments, it will become necessary to voice Dale as a "bad guy" and Rich as the hero and even a deeper "bad guy" for the story being written. Astronomical is a piece of a much larger puzzle and is mainly for creating the huge character that is Dale Pennington. Much like the first chapter of a book sometimes being a preface, that is what this book is, the preface of the entire Maraude story. It is why Dale started the Omegas and ultimately Division M.
May 6, 2011I have just completed my out line in plot form according to the stats listed below. As soon as I create some character backstories for the Omegas work will begin on the first chapter.
Also, I am going to be creating the book cover. I am also taking submissions for this if you would wish to try. At this point, my choice will get a free hard cover of the book when completed. Stay tuned for more possible gifts in the contest.
It had to happen...
Maraude is a work of fiction. Names, characters and actual history of certain places and incidents of this author's very vivid and long term imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidence, even though many of the base personalities of these characters could be based on former friends. Also, locations are designed to emulate an approximate source, there is no Dunntara, Paradise Ranch, Hell's Gate/Riggs Ranch. The townships, military personnel, military facilities, military units, Intelligence, Political Parties and secret societies mentioned are used in a fictional tense only.
Also, I have to mention that there are some very sensitive and potentially controversial subjects breached in this series, including white/child slavery, drugs, mafia, and use of children as expendable military units and sex slaves. I try not to get too visual about my descriptions but for this story to work properly and bring these subjects to peoples minds that they do happen and are something we need to be working toward preventing, I have to keep them prevalent.
The entire situation of the Blood Rings and the Indigo/Blue Guard/Red Guard/Champions/Refuse/Reserves is instrumental in telling this story. I can only do so much to tone down these implications. So:
WARNING: This work of fiction presents violent situations where young children are killed, sometimes for sport. Several times during this series children are introduced to drug use and are subject to sexual situations. A few times during the outset of this series children will become pregnant. These are NOT Young Adult stories and are not intended for the squeamish.
You have been warned.
Anyone who knows anything about my Maraude novel concept knows Dale Pennington is the bad guy that haunts Rich through the whole series. But Rich is not in the first novel. This is about the decision that allowed Dale into the Circle of the Jerome Society and allowed him a sneak peek into the operations of the Illuminati.
But the book itself is not the purpose of this lens. No. I am about to show you the tear apart of an established story and rewrite it with purpose, voice, and many years worth of creation of a story that could span just as many years worth of your reading it.
The decision has been made to approach each book with one of Maraude's characters as the voice, telling you the story through their own eyes. Which will be a drastic change for me as I have always written and told the story through Rich's eyes. This has been a turning point also in the story as I will be able to divulge back stories as each book progresses rather than just throwing at the reader in a boring exposÃ©.
Also with this new direction I have decided to use several of the new tools I have found. After the kick in the pants(er) by Larry Brooks this past year, I have moved into a new stage of my writing. It has helped tremendously with my Wyldheart sequel to Stage. So I am using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson (but not his software... yet) along with Larry Brooks' Six Core Competencies and several others of the six or eight blogs that I follow regularly now.
So with that, I have started a new project on webook.com.
Just picked this one up myself, and as usual he is beating me to death. So much information that I will have to read it two more times before I say I understood it all. Awesome book! It is going on the shelf next to Webster and Rogets...
Pantser Or Planner?
Larry Brooks has coined an old term to describe people like me who write simply by typing the words on the page. Writing by the seat of your pants or a Pantser. He says that so much more time could be saved if you do the research first and write a complete outline of the entire story first. Then all you have to do is fill in the blanks and you have a complete story. One that doesn't need five edits and rewrites to make it publishable. Now a book can be written in a month or two rather than a year or two.
More options for your readers!
Which one are you?
It started on a cue card taped to my server, the list of info that I need to create for each chapter. It has now been printed out and put into a three ring binder for easy access. Each chapter has similar list that has been made for the whole book. Your list for the book should be as such:
1. Voice: Yes it's that important! First thing! Who speaks through the whole book? Who's eyes are you looking through, even if you pop away to be omniscient about another character, who is the focal point?
2. Tone: While there are many schools of thought on this, this is how I see it: Patterson's Maximum Ride was toned in the language of Max's fourteen year old voice. Janet Evanovich's Wicked Appetite was toned to Liz Tucker's 20-something voice. Which means to me, to have a successful voice the tone needs to be set in the voice and mind of the character telling the story. Dale Pennington is a British ex-patriot Korean and Vietnam veteran working in the US Air Force. He will be a strong but very British toned voice.
3. Dateline: While I will be applying this to the book in a chapter by chapter basis as well, it is good to have a feel for the time line of your story. Astronomical is set in the early to mid seventies. Research into the military culture of the seventies as well as the elite underground are going to be essential. Also, the vehicle styling, what jets were flown by the 162nd in 1974, what kind of guns were available, Government policies that governed the dark ops (if they are available) are important too. As my preface is set in the Korean War, it is important to know what kind of dogfighting styles were possible with the Sabre versus the MiG 17. Also, it became important to know some of the history of the Korean War. I had fully planned on Dale being stationed on the Midway. As it turns out that would have been historically incorrect. There were only three of the Essex class carriers in Korea. I chose to use the Bon Homme Richard instead as it would have been used in that area during this particular timeline.
4. Ending Point: Where does this story end? Of course this is a familiar point for me as the very next book will be dealing with how Dale brings Rich into Division M.
5. Characters: Who are the main characters for the book? It would also be good to include the archetypes so you do not end up with an off character point later in the story. Consistency is key.
6. Purpose: While not a problem for most of my books, this one will be designed to have many off shoots into the further storytelling for later novels. This is the back story of all of the later novels! It has to set the theme and almost certainly most of the tone for the entire series. So, it is essential that it is created the same way one would craft a chapter.
And that is the list for the book overview. These questions answered, a more complete synopsis can be created. Which is the ultimate step one for the Snowflake Method. Your overview sentence. That tagline that will grace your paperbacks back cover above your picture. It is that important to nail this down! Everything builds from it.
The Chapter List
Just as important
This is the direction I am going to write this one, and as I am sure it will work, it will be what I use from now on. You see, you need to know what each and every scene is doing to your story. If it does not push the story forward, it is not necessary. It's much faster to cut it now, than when your prospective publisher says, "It's too fluffy."
1. Voice: This is the POV of what ever character is seeing this scene. It can be third person easily. Though an entire story first person can be achieved. Or two first person POVs interwoven into the book can be very compelling if properly planned for.
2. Setting: Or location. Or timeframe. Is very different from Scene and dateline. Chapter Two of Astronomical is "set" at Sky Harbor in Phoenix, but the actual scene moves all over the base.
3. Scene: This will change as it becomes valid to do so. Chapter Two of Astronomical begins in Dale's small office away from his home base in Tucson. But it is his office for tactical training between the Fighter Wing and all of the other squads that will be participating in the upcoming maneuver. By the end of the chapter however, they are in a limousine headed for the Verde Valley.
4. Characters: Who is in this scene? This is a brief, easy to find list for your own convenience, though later is a spot on this list to show why they are in this scene.
5. Dateline: This is the actual date, for reference later, should you need it.
6. In This Chapter: A spot for the Chapter Synopsis. Handy huh?
7. Backstory: This is where all of your characters are congregated to tell why they are there. If they are not necessary for the story to continue, then flush them.
8. Chapter End: What happens at the end of this chapter to set up the setting and scene for the next in this time line of the story. Of course that means that you might opt for the second first POV of your story to start at this point. The "Bad Guy" might show his face in the next chapter, but you will have a starting point for the forthcoming story about these characters and what they did to get to this point. Make it flow, with out holes.
9. Purpose In Story: What does this chapter do for the whole story in general? Does it follow the six core competencies? Is this the chapter that shows the lull before the second plot point? Is this the chapter that breaks a new character? Tell that spot here.
10. Tid Bits: This is a spot I reserved for research and cultural tidbits. You may not need it, but it can come in handy when needing to reference what notebook you wrote down that web address for Specs on the MiG-17G... Save yourself some time and write down the web address when you find it! Makes life much easier when your characters are talking to you and you need the words to flow.
Yes, you are still allowed to pants your story, after you make it flow properly. The words can still run free, you just now have made your dots to connect to solve the puzzle much faster. You will complete your novel faster by making these small lists. 100 to 250 words about each chapter will save you heart ache and time later.
Spending a week here, will save you six months or more later.
And think of this: After this much prep work? There will be no writer's block!
A Growing List
The characters for future installments of Maraude
I will give my list of books that are completing the story arc thus far. Each story unfolds a character's story and journey but also pushes to overall story arc. The first book's design is to show that Dale did not start out evil but the power started to corrupt him to the point of destroying his family and ultimately breaking Division M apart. The best way for me to point out this story plan is a design similar to a CSI-styled show. It has a definite theme, and each story will bring us another step closer to the finale, but where I plan to differ: Each story will have a different voice. Dale will tell Astronomical. Maria will tell Badger Down. Rich will tell The Black Mountain Vigil.
With this understood, here is a listing of characters and their relationships. Keep in mind also that this story will cover five generations of Division M.
Dale Pennington - a highly decorated Air Force Pilot and Officer who becomes a CIA district head and is allowed by the soon to be shown powers that be, to create a Division of his own. This division becomes his passion. His focus. He quickly sees the potential of power and chases it with everything he has.
Barbara Pennington - Dale's first wife, who stands beside him until she is killed by a sniper from a rival government official.
Margaret Pennington - Dale's second wife, who is worse than he is. She allows him to delve deeper into the underworld of this office he holds.
Victoria Pennington - Dale's first daughter. An original Omega, the first to get a qualified kill, much to Dale's dismay, who has been training his son for the moment.
Phillip Pennington - Dale's second child and only son. An original Omega. A peaceful character who just wants to be left alone to read his books.
Nikole Pennington - Dale's third child. An original Omega. A natural born strategist, who probably will take Division M as her father steps down.
Amanda Pennington - Dale's final child. The result of a drunken rampage where he forces himself on his next to oldest niece. Amanda becomes a delusional and unstable operative.
Liam (originally David) Dawson - FBI liason to the CIA. And Dale's brother in-law. Effectively the one who gets Dale started in the CIA.
Anne (originally Diane) Dawson - FBI agent and Dale's little sister. Goes along with everything until she realizes her own daughters are some of Dale's main operatives.
Angela (formerly Divina) Dawson - The oldest daughter of Liam and Anne. Other than a trainer for the athletics part of Division M, she doesn't hold a large part of the story and is killed early on.
Crystal (formerly Andria) Dawson - Amanda's mother and the second child of Liam and Anne. Becomes the last of the family to survive.
Maria (formerly Stephanie) Dawson - A heavy player in the story as she is Rich's girlfriend and they later have Tara together right before her death.
Leslie Dawson - Not a big character as she was only a baby when she died in the car accident.
Brock Embrel (formerly Dart-LawdÃ©) - Marries Crystal shortly after Rich leaves Division M. Rich's best friend.
Andre Chavez - The first champion that Dale has in his arsenal for the fights, kidnapped during a raid on a rogue Society family in Cuba, is eventually who Rich comes to replace.
Catherina Montoya - Andre's own Blue Guard. Is killed as they are leaving Cuba trying to protect Salvadora.
Salvadora Chavez - Andre's little sister. Is killed at the airport as they are leaving Cuba.
Rintaro Toshio - Andre's Sensei, later trains Maria, Julie, and Rich.
Rich Sabre - The entire story's main character. Brilliant strategist and was trained by an Apache Medicine Man to fight. Has an ability to relate everything he does and sees to colors and sounds. But has several core personality problems that Maria and her cohort Julie use to their advantage until they become attached to him in a way they can not turn away. He has Gender Identity Disorder and the two girls use this to create a stigma about their own team within Division M. He has a second personality by the name of Tia Muldowney. Tia, Maria, and Julie are known as the Trio. They begin taking jobs outside of Division M and get Dale in trouble with the powers that be.
Julie Rainier - The third wheel of the Trio. Like Rich, is not related to the Omegas who later became Division M. Later before Rich marries Anne, he and Julie have a situation which leads to her having Tara's sister, which she names after Maria's little sister Leslie.
Now, other than some core recurring characters for support those are the main characters of Division M for about the first six books or so.
Other main characters include:
Shinerique Exandrov - Dale's counterpart in the KGB/Spetsnaz, who also is instrumental in helping to create Division M and make it an international United Nations entity rather than just a CIA division.
Viktor Valnaiya - Shinerique's cousin who is a backing entity in keeping Division M working, even though he runs a Society of his own in Russia.
Vladimir Exandrov - Becomes Dale's best friend, who is also the father of Grigorii who later marries Tara Sabre, but that is about 15 books from now.
Dmitri Exandrov - Shinerique and Vladimir's younger and flamboyant younger brother. A thorn in everyone's side eventually/
Annaleece Sabre - Rich's wife in later stories. She does not adhere well to the rules of the Jerome Society and after Rich has kept JS a secret from his family for so long, the fact that he has three daughters before their own young marriage, troubles her deeply as to what else he has not told her.
Rico Sabre - Rich's only son, who later becomes a driving force in Division M.
Reece Sabre - Rich's youngest daughter, who also later pushes her father back to work.
Thomas Tait - Tara's first husband who is killed in Afghanistan prior to September 11.
Camyron "Roni" Tait - Tara and Thomas' oldest daughter. Believes her grandfather is a coward for running and does everything in her power to keep him at a distance from herself and her "blood" sister.
Marizza "Izzi" Tait - Tara and Thomas' youngest daughter together.
Emily "LiLi" Exandrov - Tara and Grigorii's daughter after Thomas' death, Rich's youngest grandchild by the Division M family.
Leslie Sabre-Rainier - The daughter of Julie and Rich who is hidden from Rich. She also has a genetic disease that stopped her from having proper growth hormones and she refused treatment. At the time she is reintroduced to the story (About book 15 or 16) she is 21 but looks like she is only about 10 or 11. She also is an avid race car driver and has had a spinal injury from an accident and can't really walk without braces. So she spends most of her time either in a wheelchair or training so that she does not attrophe.
Gabriel Tait - Thomas' cousin who is an original Division M member, but is never considered part of the leadership and resents Rich and the Trio for keeping him one the bench.
Careesha Jean (CJ) Winningham - Rich's own Hell's Gate operative who also has a child by him in a later book. She tricks him into a drunken disorderly just as he is giving her her freedom from her slave contract with him.
Corina Sabre - Rich's unknown daughter who was born between Tara and Lesley. She is as close to Rich's original Tia persona as possible, but develops an ophellian love for her father which eventually fatally backfires.
Most of these characters will be telling at least one of the stories if not more, so that they can give a detailed version of their own backstories.
The Book List
Look for It To Grow
Astronomical - Colonel Dale Pennington is a respected service man. When his CIA agent sister, FBI liaison brother-in-law, and the man that shot him down in Korea, a Spetsnaz Agent come to visit him, his life becomes a tangled web of struggle. As he searches for his place in this strange new secret society who values slave children more than money, because they have so much money that it doesn't matter anymore, he has an opportunity to find and kidnap one of the Jerome Society's best ring fighters Andre. As Dale and Andre both find their small paths to dominance, they cross paths and agree to a kinship. Will it be enough to survive the Jerome Society?
Badger Down - Maria Dawson, the niece of Dale Pennington, is called upon to enter a slave-like relationship as the champion of Andre. In order to bypass the rules of the Jerome Society's lethal ring fighters, so that Andre can resume as a fighter and reclaim the honor of his former title. Maria is to learn to fight quickly or she and Andre will be executed at the next match.
The Black Mountain Vigil - Enter Rich Sabre. A introverted little boy with two passions, fighting and cars, or so he thought. As soon as he sees that little strawberry blond girl for the first time, he has to follow her. And Maria has a mission to bring this young warrior into the fold.
Charisma - Julie Rainier isn't an average girl. She was purchased from Hell's Gate, a ranch run by Sheriff Riggs, that specializes in all things illegal and is protected by the Jerome Society. She had been heavily trained as a sniper, and from her earliest memory that has been her only passion. Until Rich and Maria come into her short life. Follow along as Maria, Julie and Rich's alter ego, Tia Muldowny create the legend known as The Trio.
Detrimental - Little Vickie Pennington has a problem. Her cousin and her boyfriend have become all her daddy talks about. During a security detail for the university, she is contacted by an outside source called White Dragon. This source lets her in on the university's little secret. It is actually a government sanctioned research facility using a dormant volcano for a series of scans of the earths core. Will she give in to the temptation of working with White Dragon to satisfy her contempt of Rich, Julie and Maria?
Eternal - Rich Sabre and Nikole Pennington have never liked each other. To try to ease the tension and apprehension Dale sends the two of them off on a mission. A mission that will tell them the true identity of Sir Walter Whittham.
Jackpot - Rich and Dale encounter a strange young man during a raid on an encampment in Baja California. Bryan Chelty cons the two of them into sparing his life on the prospect that he knows where a gold mine is. The thing is, it is the mother lode, but it isn't gold.
Forgotten - Crystal Dawson and Rich's alter ego, Tia, partner up for this wild ride through the catacombs of deceit at the hands of the Jerome Society and what they are truly capable of.
Insecurity - Things begin to unravel for Division M as a mission goes south and some operatives are lost. During the rebuild of morale a secret event is allowed for Division M to participate. Sir Whittham reveals his true form to the members of Division M. Morale collapses and Dale goes feral. Will this be the end of Division M as we know it?
Too much more would be spoilers to the whole story and as these books become available and as my readership increases (I hope), this will eventually be taken down to avoid any back lash. These few stories represent only the first ten years of the past 30 years of Division M. The story continues to Rich's grandson nearly 30 years from now, so yeah, lots of side stories to write about too, not to mention all of the side characters that have stories too. . .