Unsung Hero of the HALO Franchise

It’s only fitting as Blue Team makes it’s reappearance in HALO 5, to remind fans that much credit is due someone who has been largely overlooked and forgotten. In fact, there wouldn’t be a Blue Team at all without this guy.

indexIn 2001, Eric Trautmann was part of the team that brokered the deal to create the first HALO novels. He was also my editor on the project, and for anyone who has seen one of my first drafts this is a true Herculean labor (the one with the stables). Most important, however, there was a point when the novels were ordered killed and Eric T saved them.

I was halfway through our crash dive schedule to get the FALL OF REACH out in seven weeks when Eric T tells me…

Eric T: The powers that be don’t want the novel anymore. They’ve ordered it killed. They don’t want a backstory for the Master Chief. They want him to be a blank so gamers can just fit into the avatar.

Me: (choking on my 18th cup of coffee that morning) What!? (panicking) What do we do? I’m halfway through this #*%&(% thing.

Eric T: (annoyingly calm): Don’t worry about it. Keep writing. I have it covered.

Me: How do you have it ‘covered’? I’ve only got three weeks left!

Eric T: Here, have another cupa coffee. Keep typing…

So Eric T went away, and in what I can only characterize as a cross between UN diplomacy and the bargain Vito Corleone made to get Johnny Fontaine out of his original contract (i.e. he made them a deal they couldn’t refuse), like magic the objections just … vanished.

The rest as they say is history: More than a dozen HALO novels out, and 2 million copies sold by yours truly alone.

So, next time you’re entertained by all the HALO fiction out there, please give respects to Mr. Trautmann, and if you’re in the area visit his and his wife’s amazing store in Olympia. (the best comic/card store on the West Coast in my opinion).

Salute.

PS: okay , okay — if you really want to hear about Eric T’s Sillian deal in his own words go here: link.  Click the “direct download.” Halo story starts around 17 minutes.

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Createspace Proof

I got the proof for THE ENCHANTED KNOT last night. Almost perfect.

EK CS COVERTo my eye the printed cover, however, is a tad darker than the electronic version. That’s to be expected I suppose since this is ink on paper rather than pixels and light. Next time I might adjust the gamma by a few percentages. It’s so close, though, that I’m not going to mess with it (and Syne tells me I’m slightly colorblind, anyway).

Other than that, it’s crisply printed on cream-colored (not that dull “recycled” paper colored) pages. Nice heavy paper weight. Tight binding.

Overall equal to, or exceeding, the quality of my “professionally” printed trade paperbacks.

 

EK CS INT

The only downside: a dollar or two more than the trade paperbacks printed in large quantities. This is because these are one-off print jobs, so no bulk discounts.

All that’s left is to give the text a once over—making sure all chapters, pages, and words are accounted for—and then I’ll release the electronic and print-on-demand version next week!

Omertà Senza Famiglia.

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Old (new) E-books

This was long overdue.

I’ve had the publishing rights for my first three novels for a while. This happened before publishers cared and e-books became a significant source of income. Try getting your publication rights back today, though, and you’re in for a fight (a story for another time).

In any event, Pawn’s Dream, A Game of Universe, and Dry Water are now available as e-books.

This took a bit longer than I thought — scanning the old books, working with freelance editors, and designing new covers.

Off topic: pre-1998 there were no electronic files to get back for these books (hence the scanning). All final edits were entered by the original publisher in a cryptic proprietary   format for the giant machines used to print books in that long-ago ancient era.

 

Pawns-Dream-300x200Pawn’s Dream was my first novel, a contemporary fantasy, which set the stage for the mortal magical families in my universe (see also the Mortal Coil series, and the upcoming, The Enchanted Knot, also in the same world).

 

 

 

 

 

A-Game-of-Universe-300x200A Game of Universe is a grail quest set in the far future with a corporate assassin as an unlikely hero. Long out of print, with physical copies going as much as $200.00, you can now get the electronic version for a steal.

 

 

 

 

 

Dry-Water-300x200Dry Water was nominated for the 1998 World Fantasy Award. Larry Ngitis comes to Dry Water, New Mexico, a town with a reputation for hauntings, unexplained weather, and vanishing treasure hunters. A shy author and reluctant psychic, Larry has the unsettling ability to see how people will die.

 

 

 

 

So, if you haven’t read these yet–what are you waiting for?  🙂

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Outline Time (again)

So, I finished editing THE RESISTERS book #2 for Random House—and I finalized a new book proposal and my agent is sending it out to publishers this week.

… What’s a writer supposed to do now?

Start a new project, of course!

If you read the writing-process posts on my blog, you know I incubate book ideas anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. This particular project falls into the “years” category. I started kicking this idea around in 1994. I fiddled with it now and then… but I just recently figured out the last bit of the narrative puzzle and this story is rising from the grave and ready to be written.

While I could write an entire book on how I write books, my process goes a little like:

1) Collect notes and work the idea from a bad, cliched one–to an okay one–to one worthy of writing.

2) Herd those ideas into a primitive narrative arc.

3) Further refine ideas onto 3 x 5 cards according to Robert McKee’s methodologies. (see his fine book, STORY, on how to do this).

NOTE: If you’re an “organic” non-outlining writer, I have the utmost respect for you, but please stop reading this post now; you’re eyes are about to melt.

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4) Assemble these story “beats” into a chapter structure. This involves spreading out all those 3 x 5 cards on the floor.

NOTE: lock up your cats/dogs/toddlers during this phase—trust me.

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5) Write a rough outline based on these chapters.

6) Write the darn novel.

I just drafted to the end of the outline. I’ll polish that this week, work out a few kinks left…and then I’ll be off and writing fiction once more! Yay!

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Top Four Writing Influences

Roger Zelazny–Multiple Hugo and Nebula (and just about every other major genre award) winner. One of the greatest wordsmiths of all time in my opinion, and he did it without ever sounding pretentious!

Harlan Ellison—Literary giant and curmudgeon with a heart of gold. For being Harlan and for his ability to infuse stories with his unforgettable voice.

Robert A. Heinlein–Science Fiction Grand Master. I’m especially partial to his early “juvenile” books.

Walt Disney–Creative genius and a sterling example of how to market, brand, and build an empire out of one’s intellectual properties.

So…who’s influenced your writing?

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