Monday, September 25, 2017

Courting Disaster: Character Takeover

Let me tell you the story of how my upcoming release Courting Disaster: StarDog 2 came about. It's kind of a twisty tale...just like the novella.

Instead of me rehashing my initial struggle, here's the video that explains how I ended up writing for Pets in Space 2, better known as Embrace the Romance.

Clearly a case of two characters asserting their strong wills on their author. It happens. (I think most authors can relate.)

It's true that Captain Navene Jagger and Ketsia Tayah were always destined to be together. They were two minor--but important--characters from the novel, Inherit the Stars. The ironic thing is, they never met in the novel. At least, not on the page. You'll find out a little more about what went on behind the scenes in Courting Disaster.

Jagger was actually Sair's (the hero's) nemesis in Inherit the Stars, as the former fiancé and co-ed flight academy roommate to Drea, a.k.a. Captain Mennelsohn who pilots the iconic prototype stealth ship, Specter. Jag was doggedly determined to win Drea back and probably not the most likable character in the novel.

I had my work cut out for me in turning him into a true hero.

Courting Disaster takes place three years (calendars) after Inherit the Stars. In the opening, Jagger is still pining for his lost love. He alternately blames himself and the universe for his loss.

To make him into a hero, I had to get deep inside Jagger's head to uncover the lonely, longing soul that lurks there, completely shielded by the competent, ego-driven, upwardly-mobile military captain the universe sees.

Jagger's pride is about to meet its Waterloo.

Ketsia Tayah was a teenage Tectolian slave owned by the Ithians in the novel. Young, beautiful, naïve, tragic, but utterly charming, she was a victim of terrible circumstances and someone Sair took under his wing when he self-appointed himself as her guardian. (There's more to that of course, but I'm going to avoid spoiling the twists in Inherit the Stars. *grin*)

Let me share a little something with you--a snippet the world has never seen before (with the exception of one or two critique partners in the long ago and probably forgotten).

This is a scene I wrote nearly ten years ago, and it's from the manuscript for the final novel of the series, Inherit the Vengeance. In that novel, the Courting Disaster adventure would only be told in brief retrospect. Courting Disaster evolved into the full story, with the addition of a feisty little StarDog who had a cameo in the original Pets in Space story, StarDog.

(Haven't read the first yet? Grab your free copy right here: StarDog )

First reveal of two short excerpts from future novel Inherit the Vengeance:

Conversation between Drea and Sair:

"About Jagger and Ketsia." Drea jacked a hand on her hip. “I know your paternal instincts are going to come out, and I’m not sure how Jagger is going to take that.”

Sair clenched a fist at the mention of the Carduwan captain’s name. Senior captain now, and on a direct course for an admiralcy, or so the House of Planets rumor turbine said. That near-catastrophe in the Bradley Rift had turned into a political game-changer...and a major rocket-boost for the man's career.

Drea had been in love with Jagger once. She still loved him as a friend. After five calendars, Sair was still coming to terms with that. And now. Ketsia.

Scene between Sair and Jagger a short time later:

Sair motioned Jag closer. “Let me fix your tie.”

The captain stepped up to him, straightening his spine and dropping his gaze.

Sair tugged the knot loose. “One word of advice.”

“What’s that?” Jagger’s expression radiated tension, like the man was prepared to duck a swing.

“Don’t even think of doing to Ketsia what you did to Drea.”

Jagger made eye contact and gave a Sair a slight nod. “Everyone's allowed one huge mistake in their life. Mine was being such a selfish ass that I lost Drea.” He fingered his tie when Sair finished and stepped back. “I'll never make that mistake with Ket.”

“Good.” Sair gave him a solemn nod. “Because if you hurt Ket, the galaxy won’t be big enough to hide in.”

Jagger’s eyes twinkled and his mouth twisted into a wry grin. “From you, or from her?”

“Both.” Sair held back a smile. “And don’t take that as an idle threat.”

Inherit the Vengeance won't be released for at least two years. There are other stories in this series--or universe--that need to be told in order for the reader to understand the history and high stakes of the continuing adventure.

So while we're on the subject...

Inherited Stars--Okay, it's a Series and a Universe

So you may have noticed my split personality about my Inherited Stars Series...or Inherited Stars Universe...or Inherited Stars Series Universe.

I recently had a long talk with myself about how to deal with this dilemma and the discussion went something like this:

Me: Will I make up my mind already about Inherited Stars? I call it a series, a universe and a universe series. I think I may be confusing readers, so...which is it?

Me2: Well, it's really both.

Me: No, no, no. I need some consistency. Pick one.

Me2: That's difficult. Because if I call it a series, that's confusing, because the series spans four different timelines and readers generally expect a series to involve familiar characters and a continuing storyline.

Me: So it's really not a series.

Me2: No, it really is. These different timelines are all interconnected.

Me: reality, it's several connected series.

Me2: Not really. Because it's a huge saga that spans history and generations, and each timeline in the series--er, universe--adds its own piece to this overarching tale, and there are references in each story to things that happen in other timelines.

Me: I'm beginning to see why readers might be confused, because we, the author, very certainly am.

Me2: So how do we fix this identity crisis?

Me: Let's start at the beginning. How many books have I released in the series?

Me2: Three. Soon to be five.

Me: In which timelines?

Me2: Inherit the Stars, StarDog and Courting Disaster are all Timeline 3. Farewell Andromeda is Timeline 4. The upcoming The Outer Planets is Timeline 1 and soon after, I'll be kicking off a trilogy in Timeline 2.

Me: So it sounds like Timeline 3 is my anchor. It's been the focus. It has the most stories to date, they are in the same time and share some of the same characters, amIright?

Me2: Iamright.

Me: So that's the series. The Inherited Stars Series is aka Timeline 3. That's the timeline I made central because it happens at a very crucial point in the history of the universe. All the other books are related and will add backstory and frontstory to the over-arching saga, without being an actual part of the series that shares the same characters, hence they are Inherited Stars Universe stories.

Me2: Hey, I think I like that!

Me: Of course I do. So, to recap. The Inherited Stars Series is a part of the bigger Inherited Stars Universe, but readers will know when they pick up a story in the series, it's going to include Sair, Drea, Jaeo or one of the other familiar characters, right?

Me2: That's right.

Me: And when they pick up an Inherited Stars Universe story like Farewell Andromeda or The Outer Planets, they'll know Sair, Drea, Jaeo and company will not be in the story, but there will be definite ties to the series. Yes?

Me2: Yes!

Me:  I think I've solved the conundrum.

Me2: And so do I.

Coming Tuesday, October 10th -- a new story in The Inherited Stars Series
Courting Disaster: StarDog 2
released as part of
Sequel to both
Inherit the Stars and StarDog (free on Instafreebie)
10% of all pre-orders and first month's sale will go to benefit
Me: I do realize I now have to change the series banner above as well as the cover of The Outer Planets, right? 
Me2: Yeah, I do. *sigh*

FREE   *   FREE   *   FREE   *   FREE   *   FREE   *   FREE

The authors of Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 are offering a chance to win a FREE PRINT COPY of the story collection which includes 12 all new stories, 11 of which are new additions to science fiction romance series. This book is YUGE! All you need to do is go to this site and answer one simple question (hint: the answer is just above in bold print) for your chance to win!
Me: Have a great week!

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