Author Archives: Gerald Brandt

June 2015 Goals

First, a summary of how I did on last months goals.

  • (100 %) KeyCon is coming up fast.  I’m on several panels, and I have a reading planned.  I’ll be reading fromThe Courier, due out in March, 2016 from DAW.
  • (70%) Complete and polish the first 50 pages of the second Courier book, tentatively call The Novice.
  • (70%) Complete the scene list for The Novice.

So, not too bad, I guess.  My reading at Keycon went okay.  I’ll need to practice more before the books launch.

For June, this is what I hope to do:

  • Attend the Rocky Mountain Writers Retreat, and write write write.
  • Finish polishing pages for Courier 2.
  • Complete outline of Courier 2.
  • Create simple small synopsis for Courier 3.
  • Get Courier 2 package to Sara at kt literary, and maybe the brief synopsis for Courier 3.

That’s quite a lot, especially considering this post is late — it’s already June 10!

May Goals

I’m going to steal a page from Chadwick Ginther‘s book, and try posting monthly goals here.  I’m hoping that  going public with my goals will on a somewhat monthly basis will not only help me keep them, but help me understand why I didn’t achieve all I wanted to.

 

Keep in mind that these are my writing goals only.  Anything else doesn’t really belong here, and a lot of it can interfere with the writing.

  • KeyCon is coming up fast.  I’m on several panels, and I have a reading planned.  I’ll be reading from The Courier, due out in March, 2016 from DAW.
  • Complete and polish the first 50 pages of the second Courier book, tentatively call The Novice.
  • Complete the scene list for The Novice.

It doesn’t sound like much when listed out, but there’s a ton of work in the last two points.

Cover Artist for The Courier

cover_reveal_rockstarThings are moving along here.  Sheila Gilbert, my editor at DAW, and I had a great discussion about the cover design for The Courier.  She wanted to get Cliff Nielsen, the artist for Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones series, Tanya Huff’s The Silvered, E.C. Ambroses’s Dark Apostle series, and many, many more.

His dark and gritty work is simply phenomenal, and I’m really looking forward to what he comes up with.

You can see some of his work here.  and here.

Keycon 2015 Schedule

I’ll be at KeyCon in Winnipeg again this year.  Here is my tentative schedule:

Sat, 10am- Your Query Package
How to ‘lure’ in an agent and/or editor

Sat, 12pm- Reading (with Adam Knight)
I’ll be reading from ‘The Courier’, my novel coming out from DAW next March.
I’ll be sharing the hour with Adam Knight.  I’m not sure what he’ll be reading.

Sat, 4pm – Establishing Setting
I don’t have a long description for this one, but the title is fairly clear, I think.

Sun, 3pm – Blue Pencil Sessions
If you have a work in progress, or something you’re ready to submit, I can take a look at the first few pages and give you my opinion on them.

Times may change, keep an eye on the updated schedules at the Con.

This promises to be a great year at KeyCon, hope to see you there!

Agents

Getting an agent is hard.  Getting a publisher can be harder.  But what happens when you strike gold?  These are my rambling thoughts on what changes…

Everything and nothing.

My process was a bit backwards.  I received an offer from a publisher before I got my agent.  Strange, but true.  My first thought was ‘great, now I can get the agent I want, I already have a deal.’.  The first thing I did was email my top three agents.  It didn’t take long to get my first three rejections.  Then I emailed my next three, got rejected, and continued the loop.  So I’ll start by saying, even if you have a contract in hand, it’s still tough to find an agent.

The agent has to love what she reads.  Yes, in my case the deal had been made.  It’s an easy 15% for the agent, right?  Wrong.  A good agent isn’t going to go for the quick 15%.  She’s going to look at your career.  She’s going to want to represent you, your next book, your next next book.  That means she has to believe not only in the novel you’ve already sold, but in you as a writer.  And the only way to do that is to love what you’ve already written.  So, if you do things backwards, like I did, the battle isn’t over.  In the end, did I get my ‘dream agent’?  Yes.  And she wasn’t on my list.  Did I get an agent that I love, that love’s my work?  You betcha!

One of the weirdest changes for me, once I ‘got the call’ from my agent, was the reversal of what I was used to.  Suddenly, there’s an agent that responds in a form other than rejection.  In fact, she loves your work.  So, what’s changed?

First, you have someone that believes in you and believes in your work.  There is a sudden shift in the way things happen.  Instead of you trying to sell what you have, the tables have turned.  The agent is trying to sell herself to you.  Let me tell you, that is a heady feeling.

Once you’ve agreed to work together, the agent now goes out and tries to sell your book.  You don’t have to ‘knock on doors’ anymore.  Heck, if you want, you don’t even have to see rejections anymore.  Your job is to write the next book, and the one after that (on top of all the web site, twitter, facebook, etc stuff).

Some say the agent is like your employee, that she works for you.  I think it’s more of a two way street than that.  An agent is your partner.  You work together to sell your book.  Your agent may help you with ideas for the next novel, may help with plot points.  But it’s still up to you to do the work.

So what changes?  Everything and nothing.

Novel Sale

I’ve been sitting on this news since November, 2014.  Finally, here it is.

I’m very pleased and excited to announce that I have been picked up by DAW Books. Sheila Gilbert took a look at The Courier and requested a few changes.  Once I did the changes for her, she read the completed novel again and made me an offer at the World Fantasy Convention, November 2014.

Since the offer was made, I’ve secured a couple of wonderful agents, Sara Megibow of KT Literary Agency and Jerry Kalajian of IPG (for Film/TV).

I am currently doing more requested revisions, this time under contract.  I’ll let you all know the status of the novel as time passes.

There’s a pretty good story behind this, my first, sale.  Come and talk to me at a convention one day, and I’ll tell you all about it.

 


 

This is the Publishers Weekly announcement:

The Courier, the debut novel by Gerald Brandt, was acquired by Sheila Gilbert at Daw in a preempt. Sara Megibow at KT Literary brokered the sale, her first at the agency. The book, which is set for 2016, takes place in Los Angeles in the near future and follows, Megibow said, a motorcycle courier who “escapes to the meanest of streets after witnessing the murder of one of her corporate clients.”

Booking for Conventions

I’ll be at a number of conventions this year.  I’ve booked, and will be attending the following:

Keycon in Winnipeg, Manitoba, CANADA
When Words Collide in Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
WorldCon (Sasquan) in Spokane, Washington, UNITED STATES
World Fantasy in Saratoga Springs, New York, UNITED STATES

I’ll update my events calendar and any panels I’m doing once I get more information.

Switching to a Standing Desk

Last week I decided to try a standing desk.  I had been sitting behind my computer for the last 6 days, about 10 to 11 hours per day.  My back hurt, my posture was horrific, and I was just feeling horrible.

A friend of mine had switched his work desk to a standing one quite a while back, so I started doing some research.  After a few days I decided it was time to give it a shot.

I decided to go cheap to start.  I mean, who knew, I may have hated it.  Searching the web brought me to a number of pages showing a cheap Ikea standing desk make of a Lack side table, a couple of Ekby shelf brackets, and a wooden shelf.  I have a two monitor setup on my desk, each monitor is 27″.  As luck would have it, we had 2 Lack side tables in the living room.  I stole them (with permission from the wife) and made room on my desk.  The Lack tables are the perfect height for monitors.  The top 1/3 of the monitor is at my eye level (I’m 5’10”).  I didn’t want to spend any money yet, so I stacked books in front of the side tables and place a board across them for my keyboard.  It was wobbly, and collapsed a couple of times during my week test, but it worked.  I had some interlocking foam mats lying around as well, and I put those on the floor so I could have something soft to stand on.

IMG_1082

My first full day at the standing desk was Monday.  I started at 5:45 AM and ended my day at 16:45.  Pretty much a regular amount of time at the keyboard.

It was heinous.

Even though I spent 50 to 60% of the day sitting, I was in pain.  My calves hurt.  My feet hurt.  My back hurt.  My neck hurt.  My shoulders hurt. My…  You’re getting the picture, right?

Later that evening, most of the pain was gone, except for my lower back.  I almost gave up.  But I had told myself I’d go a week and see how things were.  So I soldiered on.

Tuesday started out about the same.  Looking at my notes, I see this line:

6:48 AM - This may not be a good idea.

I had all the pains of the previous day, with a new one.  My heels hurt.  That’s right, my heels.  Really really badly.  I struggled through, still reverting to sitting for 50 to 60% of my workday.

By the end of Tuesday, I was feeling better.  Except for my damn heels.  My neck and shoulder pain had gone.  My calves felt okay.  My lower back was still bad.  And did I mention my heels?

Wednesday rolled around, and I found myself looking forward to walking into my office and starting work.  No need to pull up the chair and settle in.  Just walk in, stand at the keyboard, and go.  The feeling didn’t last.  I went to make a mid-morning coffee, and as I was walking back to the office I started thinking about settling in and getting to work.  Of course, there was no place to settle in to.  Standing desk.  Oh yeah.

By noon I was hopping from foot to foot.  My heels didn’t just hurt anymore, they were on fire.  I looked down at my feet, nice and cozy in a pair of socks, and thought maybe I should try shoes.  I put them on, stood at the desk, and smiled.  The heel pain was substantially less.  My best guess is the arch support the shoes provided helped.

I made it to the end of Wednesday.  My heels still hurt, as well as my lower back.  But it was tolerable.

Thursday was better.  The shoes truly help.  By the end of the day, I still had heel and lower back pain, but again, it was tolerable.  I was finding that I looked for any excuse to leave the desk though… Get a coffee, just wander.  Whatever.  My productivity was down.  In hindsight, that may have been because I was doing taxes.

So now it’s Friday.  I still hurt, but it gets better everyday.  I find I sit when someone comes into my office, on a bar stool so I don’t sink right down.  My heels still hurt, and my lower back.  But it ain’t bad.  I stand about 80% of my workday, and sit or walk around the rest.  I’m almost never standing still, unless I’m really neck deep in typing.  I’m usually bouncing from foot to foot, taking a step backward and then forward again.  They say having a small foot rest helps.  I’ll try that next week.

Did I just say that?  Next week?  I must be mad as a hatter (to be cliché).

KeyCon 2013 Schedule

The following is my fixed schedule for KeyCon:
(updated for Dealers Room Schedule)

Blue Pencil Sessions

Saturday May 18  1:00 PM to 4:00 PM  Executive Boardroom on 13

I’ll be monitoring the Blue Pencil sessions, keeping track of time and making sure the next person is ready for their session.  This might not be the best place to talk to me, but you never know.

In a Minute

Saturday May 18  5:00 PM to 6:00 PM Ambassador B on 11

A game show where participants have 1 minute to discuss a topic given to them by the moderator, without hesitation, deviation, or repetition.  I’ll be the time keeper for this panel

Paperback Writer

Sunday May 19  1:00 PM to 2:00 PM Ambassador G on 12

Try your hand at writing the first line of a novel after seeing the cover and hearing the summary. The best first line wins the novel!  I first did this at SFContario last year, and it turned out to be enormous fun.  Participants can remain anonymous if they prefer.

 

Bundoran Press Table

Dealers Room

I’ll be in and out of here during the entire convention.  

Saturday May 18 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Sunday May 19 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM

I’ll be manning the table.

 

If you see me wandering around the con and want to say hello, please do so!

 

WordTsar Update 2

UPDATE:  GO HERE

 

Previous Posts here and here

An update has been a LONG time coming.

I’ve been using WordTsar in all of my work for the last year.  It hasn’t lost data, and it hasn’t crashed.  It’s also not complete, and has a couple of bugs.  It does exactly what I need to get my work done, and when I need something else, I code it.  And although that method works for me, it doesn’t work for getting something out the door.

So here is what I plan to do.  I’ll finish the next feature set and make an Alpha Release available to a limited number of registered testers.  The release will be for Windows, Linux, and OSX (see below).  It’s called Alpha because it is not feature complete, and it’s only been tested by one person.  What I’m looking for from my testers, is continual feedback and feature requests.  I’ll try to get a voting system in place to rank the features, and work on them in order.  Features will be limited to items that are available in Wordstar 7.0d only.  Once WordTsar gets a bit more feature complete, I’ll allow feature requests for items not in Wordstar.

I’m looking for active testers, people that want to use WordTsar and make it better.  If you just want to play to see what it’s like, please don’t register as a tester at this time… there will be an opportunity later on in WordTsars development cycle.

To register as a tester, send an email to register@wordtsar.ca with the following items:

  1. First and Last Name
  2. EMail Address
  3. Why you want to test
  4. What you bring to the table as a tester (Wordstar experience, nostalgia, etc)
  5. Operating Systems you’d like to test on.

You’ll receive an email in return specifying whether you have been accepted as a tester or not.  At this point, I don’t see anyone being turned down, but you never know.  Your email address will be added to a distribution list I can use to send announcements.

For my part in this tester/developer relationship, I’ll do my best to get new releases out on a regular basis, and get a working Wordstar clone out the door for you.

Let me state again, WordTsar is not feature complete.  It has a fair amount of the command keys, below are screen  shots of the control menus.  Anything in italics is not done.

blockandsavemenu editmenu onscreenformatmenu printcontrolsmenu quickmenu

For DOT commands, the following are implemented: .ls, .lm, .rm, .mt, .mb, .oj*. , .pa Any other dot commands can be entered, of course, but are not acted upon.  Bringing the file into Wordstar will work.

Styles are not implemented.  They are very high on my todo list though.

Printing is not implemented.

Spell check is implemented under Linux only.

Very basic RTF import and export are implemented.  Import sometimes has issues.

So, as you can see, very basic indeed.  Essentially, I haven’t worked on WordTsar in a year, since as I said, it does what I want/need.

 

A Word on Fonts

Wordstar fonts are whacked.  Wordstar knows a little over 200 fonts.  The fonts are only available based on the printer you have.  Modern computers have laser or inkjet printers capable of many fonts.  Mapping fonts between Wordstar and WordTsar is a pain.  In order to facilitate font mappings, this is what WordTsar currently does.

  1. Try to map the Wordstar fontname to a system font name, using a Levenshtein distance algorithm.  
    1. If a good match is found, that font is used for the display.
    2. If no match is found, use a system selected font based on the font characteristics
  2. When a Wordstar file is loaded, the selected font is remembered, so when the file is saved, the same font is put back.
  3. When you select a font in WordTsar
    1. The font displays as selected.
    2. When the file is save, the fonts characteristics are saved in the Wordstar file, and Wordstar can select a matching font.
    3. When the file is loaded, it’s possible for the system to select a different font, based on font characteristics.

 

Basically, font handling sucks.  That being said, Wordstar 7.0d handles its file format elegantly.  I can create a new ‘sequence’ that properly stores WordTsar fonts, and have WordTsar read them back.  Wordstar will ignore the sequence when the file is loaded.  I’m not sure what it does on file save yet.  In order for WordTsar to be able to handle modern font selection properly, the Wordstar file format needs to be changed, but it can be done in a backwards compatible format.

1 –  All three versions are at the same feature level, except for the following:
OSX: Slow screen updates and somewhat flakey cursor (carat).
OSX and Windows: No spell check.

2 – All test software will be binaries, no install files, and some possible hand creation of files.  It should be straight forward, but don’t expect anything fancy yet.