Bootlegging on the Meet the Character Blog Tour

IN THE HOPE this will track back to an originator of this meme, the Meet the Character Blog Tour.

Here goes:

1.) What is the name of your character?

Gabrielle Francesca East (Dolly)

2.) Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

She’s not even real. She’s an artificial person: the melding of an anima fished out of the River of Souls by the Goddess Aphrodite and a manufactured (“autocloned”) body. The anima is that of Dolly’s ancestor and karmic predecessor, also named Gabrielle Francesca, the most successful Childe of the East in history or out of it.

3.) When and where is the story set?

The core of the story is begins in February and March of 1998 on the campus of East College of the Americas, in Central Ohio. The wider epic goes from the beginning to the end.

4.) What should we know about him/her?

Dolly is insecure, unstable, cocksure, fearless, terrified of failure, strong, brittle, highly intelligent, irreverent, inexperienced, much like a newborn, determined, unstoppable. Her principle lesson at this early stage of her life is that physical strength is less important to victory than strength of will.

5.) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

She has been tumbled willy nilly into the middle of an epic conflict among the God which has been going on since the Stone Age.

6.) What is the personal goal of the character?

First, to survive, then to thrive.

7.) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

Dolly’s story is an epic, spanning, possibly thirty novels. (That estimate may be low.) The first novel is for sale: The High T Shebang (The Baby Troll Chronicles Book 1) The work-in-progress has a working title of Discovery, but may be called The Origin Protocol on publication. It is being snippeted on the author’s blog, The Baby Troll Chronicles.

Discovery Rev 3: Ch3, Sc 2 & 3

DAY LATE A COUPLE HUNDRED DOLLARS SHORT. Thanks to those of you who bought a copy of The High T Shebang during the Human Wave sale last weekend. Your custom is greatly appreciated. Thank you. Othewrise, shame be upon thee who did not. We experienced our favorite (so far) sharp upward spike in sales. But, then again, zero to one is a sharp upward spike, innit?

This week’s snippet is a bit confusing in that there are two discrete story elements being introduced. The convo between Dolly and Pete is the start of a longer set piece which exposits a good bit of Pete’s back story. The tale is a brief one, but affecting, so I’m told. The second bit is the wrapping up of the carried-over “previously on…” sequence that segues us from the [as yet unpublished] novel Genesis, which ended at dawn the morning on which this current novel opens. It should be clear from this that they will not remain so in the finished work, but are plopped down here in the narrative as a kind of a place-marker — several steps up from [insert name].

The Pa’a-um

The Gabrielle Dolly

“Pete,” the dolly said. “Tell me about your father.”

When Pete had been silent for a longer time than felt comfortable, the dolly’s innate courtesy overcame her insatiable curiosity and she thought to ask:

“Is it OK? Are you allowed to tell me about him?”

“Yes,” Pete said. “It’s alright. I just… I have to think how to say things I… I had put aside. When we take up the sword, you see, we leave all that behind — family, friends, the society of our people in the Pa’a-um. The Guard becomes our Pa’a-um, and we’re supposed to forget about what went before.”

“What does that mean, Pa’a-um?”

Pete blinked. “Place of the Spirit,” she said, sounding surprised that it needed to be explained. “It also means home, village, safety, — no — sanctuary.”

“Oh,” the dolly said. “I wondered. I hear it so much.”

The Troll nodded. “It is our name for the Center… where the spirit of our People resides. There is a physical place we call Pa’a-um, where the frell may never come, because that which lives there is wholly and solely of the People. But it is also a spiritual place, the Pa’a-um is the place where your Pa’a resides.”

“Home is where the heart is,” the dolly murmured.

Pete chuckled. “Yes. Cliched and vastly oversimplified, but true nonetheless.”


A Word Ma’am?

Petra Alexandra Troll

When the dolly finally let her go — it was that kind of a hug and Pete looked into the emerald eyes for a long time during it — Pete turned to the Goddess.

“A word, Ma’am?” she asked diffidently.

Aphrodite visibly shifted her attention from… wherever it had been (Pete couldn’t have said where that was) to Pete. She lit her face up with a smile that was at once both totally focused on Pete and utterly disengaged — a sort of a royal We of smiles.

“Of course, Petra,” she said, rolling the r’s just so. Not a how may I help you? response, but more deigning to assist.

“I’ve been out of touch for the last twelve hours, getting… the other Gabrielle here and handing her off to… well, to you…” Pete waved a hand vaguely in the direction of the HQ building across the parade ground where she had put the dolly into Aphrodite’s hands barely a quarter-hour before. “How is Dr Drummond?”

Aphrodite nodded once and said, “Ah!” in a tone that implied, So that’s why you’re bothering me.

“I, too,” the Goddess said, “Have been out of touch for somewhat longer. I have however, seen that Mitchell has recovered from the blow you gave him…”

Pete winced at the memory. But he really had been asking for it.

“… and has been released from the Med Center on his own recognizance — against medical advice — and, as far as I have been able to determine, has returned home to Cincinnati to rest and recuperate.”

“Ah!” Pete replied, with a somewhat less arrogant connotation to it. “Thank you. Well, then, if that’s all…?”

Aphrodite nodded and made a wave of genial dismissal.

Pete turned and walked off toward the parked motorcycle. She didn’t exactly miss the dolly’s start toward her and manifest desire to speak with her, but felt unsure she had permission to speak with the girl, now that her part in things was done. She kept going. However, she waited a moment, sitting astride the bike, tugging at the gloves to get them all the way on, adjusting the helmet’s strap, but the girl didn’t join her, so, eventually, she started the bike up with the electric starter and drove out of the lot. She kept the engine at a low idle, waddling along part of the way balanced on the big hog between her widespread legs, threading her way through the crowd as she followed the one-way semi-circular driveway away from the mess hall and toward the BOQ. As she passed, she saw no sign of the dolly, though she looked — rather pointedly, she thought.


The Human Wave Labor Day Weekend Sale


NOT A WHOLE LOT of discussion of the Human Wave in speculative fiction lately, but people are working quietly in their own corners. Now denizens of Sarah Hoyt’s Diner group on Facebook, regulars at According to Hoyt, and members of the Conservative / Libertarian Fiction Alliance are joining together for a grand sale. (Yes, the Baby Troll Chronicles is participating.) This weekend, with the inevitable spillover. E-books — unofficially from the Human Wave – are on sale for $2.99 or less at Amazon and other fine booksellers Friday the 29th through Monday the 1st. An authoritative list of the participating works can be seen at den mother Amanda Green’s site.

Please. Support your local author. Get some wonderful reading in return. It’s a win-win.

Our participation can be located by clicking the link at far right-top.

I’m Binge Watching Nikita on Netflix

AND AM IN THE LATTER THIRD of Season 2. It occurs to me as I watch the show and think about the producers’ storytelling techniques that one of the things you’re suppose to do in modern character-driven fiction is find the fractures in the character’s soul. Take Dolly, for example. We’re starting her story arc, with The High T Shebang, a couple-few weeks after her “birth”. You might think she’s too young to have taken enough from life to HAVE fractures.

But, really, she’s 168 years old, if you go from the date of birth of her previous incarnation. And she had an adventurous life, starting when she was still in her teens, responsible for the long-term operations of a global trading firm, traveling the world in a small ship with a tiny crew, getting into all manner of trouble and fighting her way out. Plenty of space to take damage — if she can remember it.

Or… In this current lifetime, she will inevitably take damage — the hammer blows that start cracks, the tectonic shifts that induce fissures. The pain. The war wounds. The heartache. The weltschmertz. And, as I write and you read, we get to follow along as she takes these hits, and garners these fractures in her soul.

Not speaking in a religious sense. It’s not necessary to involve religion — superstition or not — to acknowledged the existence of a soul and the effect the actions of it has on the universe.

But always remembering C.S. Lewis — You are a soul. You have a body.

Discovery Rev 3, Ch3 Sc1

THIS WEEK’S SNIPPET We start a new chapter. We have introduced the characters, the situation. Here, we move events along, and start setting up Dolly’s first jeopardy, as well as Pete’s. This one’s about a thousand words and is the first from Pete’s perspective.

An Extended Evolution

Petra Alexandra Troll

Pete took several steps back, leaning away, one hand raised in a warding gesture. The dolly met her eyes with a slight note of panic in her own expression. Not that she was afraid, but that she was unsure what portended. Then there was the flash-bang of a God teleporting out and Goddess and Man girl were gone. Pete straightened slowly, sniffing at the tang of burnt ozone.

“Time to get rolling,” she said to herself. She mounted the bike, collapsed the kickstand, and bounded up then came down on the starter arm. The Harley rumbled into life and settled into a contented-feline purr. She toed it into gear and, with a twist of the throttle, slewed the bike around and headed back toward the side road around the parade ground to the mess hall.

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The Cover Aftermath

::SIGH:: Life is being a right bitch right now. But then, the most interesting things that go on in our lives always seem to go on in times of trial. The deadline approaches. I need to get some long-planned edits done on the MS file of The High T Shebang before Tuesday, so I have a well-tested book uploaded to Amazon for sale in time for the thing next weekend. I must admit that I intended to try more. But, as we say at the Patch Factory, the deadline is the most important specification to ANY job. And the deadline for this one approacheth toot fucking sweet, so I have to pull the triggers on all the various parts of it that are ready enough.

As the saying goes, the perfect is the enemy of the good. This weekend, I’ll be doing the edits and rebuilding the MS file, and getting it in shape for paper publification at the same time. Carrying over to during-the-week, I’ll be making the book layout in InDesign and pdf-ing it. Probably go through several iterations of testing at Create Space.

cvr hi-t rain 0814cvr hi-t plain 0814
Meantime, Here’s the final-enough cover. Left WITH rain, Right WITHOUT. How do we prefer it? And another thing… Is Dolly a superhero?

Going to be Crazy

I PLAN ON PARTICIPATING in a group promo-sale over the Labor Day weekend with the gang from Pointy Boots, According to Hoyt, Mad Genius, and PJ Media. It means that The High T Shebang — new cover and all — will be available for Kindle at the popular price of $2.99 (cheap and for a limited time only). It also means — though not on account-a-coz — that a trade paperback edition will be available — if not for immediate order, for pre-order by then. I have bought the ISBN and done the preliminary setup. Since I used Named Styles in the canonical MS file, I should be able to make a .pdf in InDesign with little problem. Potential delays will be entirely due to production turns. I fully intend the paper edition to be for sale by next weekend.

There will be a snippet Saturday, but there will also be announcements here, as we-all will be mutually plugging each other. Our very own Amanda Green has set a deadline of Tuesday to have all information for the sale to her, which means I may not have some of the links, etc., over this weekend, so, to be sure, TBT and all that, WATCH. THIS. SPACE. (Or the top of this column, in case of scrollage.

A Third Way of Plotting

MY PRINCIPLE PURPOSE in operating this blog is to write about the creative process. What moves and excites me, both in the foreground — what people see standing out in the middle of the room — and in the intimate detail — what they get sitting on the benches and staring for hours.

Last week, I was rebuked somewhat by my peers. Not by readers, mind you, at least, few folks admitted to having read the book. In designing the cover for The High T Shebang, I had several things in mind. (High School friend, Bozo, asserted that he had though a graphic designer had gone crazy with no purpose in mind. I pointed out to him that there is always a meaning.)

First, of course, was to make of the cover art a good marketing piece for the book. It has to send several signals, both subtle and not-so- about genre, and the story. Without, it should be said, giving the story away. No spoilers, please.

Second, it has to be, in and of itself, attractive. Not to merely avoid driving the potential buyer away in droves, but to excite a demi-erotic desire to own this work as art. To excite cupidity in the viewer.

And, Third, I sought to provide for the reader a window into the story, or else a mirror on it, to which the reader might refer whilst reading the book, and puzzle out the meaning of images and symbols. Sort of like album covers on old vinyl records in the ’60s.

Nobody bought that.

Several times a day, this writer, that one, or another will address the method of choice for capturing the story as narrative. Some are what’s called outliners. These lay out in advance the entirety of the story — to whatever level of detail. I used to call a similar process fractal reiteration. That is, wandering through the story from start to finish, adding more levels and layers of detail in each pass through the thing, until one has the complete whole. I conceptualized FI in a sort of platonic ideal, wherein one would complete a pass with utter discipline and attention to the fullness of the protocol and keep on reiterating until the story was complete at all levels with no gaps in the fabric, and all threads complete in their perfection.

Others fly by the seat of their pants — colloquially called pantsers. These start with an idea — a snapshot, a scene, a face, a line of dialog, a bit of movement — and build out from that. Stories built this way can just grow “like Topsy,” but need not must in all ways and cases. This method is seen by many as being “more organic,” inasmuch as the story seems to grow naturally — from the writer’s perspective, although a tight and squared-away story can grow in any wise from any seed.

The last couple of years, I have worked what seems to me to be a third way. I start with a notion of a complete story. The current work in progress, for example carries, in its founding concept, the seeds of its plot line and the needful developments of character, setting, and plot for it to run to its conceptual conclusion.

It is hard for me to keep so complex an image in my mind — in RAM, so to speak — so I have to create a sort of virtual memory, a sort of a plot outline, written down, to serve as a guide to me as I work through the requisite scenes of the story. So I get an idea for a line of story to follow and I write down a page or two of paragraphs about each development. A collection of log lines, so to speak, for the scenes in this story arc. As the fleshing-out bits occur to me and grow to fullness in my mind, I write them down, each in the text part where it belongs, until a scene, a chapter, a book, and a volume are all complete.

It seems to speak to the difficulties I face in maintaining continuity at the same time as forward progress. But now, I am tired, and it’s a school night, so I’m off to bed. Have a great Wednesday.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?


BEFORE WE GET TO THE SNIPPET tomorrow, I want to invite you — AND THAT INCLUES YOU LOT ON FACEBOOK — to take shots at the cover for The High T Shebang. I’m concerned that it may have been a major cause of my poor sales over the past ten months. (And a deep thank you to all who DID buy the book, never forget that.) As I may be participating in a REDUCED PRICE SALE over Labor Day, I thought to devote some time this weekend to making an attempt at improving the cover image.

First, let me tell you about the book and explain the choices I have made. The story centers around two parallel plots. The overt plot is that a team of special operations types are dispatched to New Zealand to corral some escaped experimental clones. The why and wherefore are explained in the book, but not relevant to the cover. The not-quite-subtextual plot is that our lead characters, who are newly involved in a sexual relationship, are engaging — they suspect — in intercourse a good deal more frequently than normal. The reason for this, they discover over the course of the story, is that they have been covertly dosed with hormones — including testosterone — to increase their sex drives, for reasons yet to be adduced. That is part of the wider, multi-volume story arc, though clues have been laid and foreshadowing shadowed to the fore.

The elements of the design, therefore are to exply (If by implying, you make something implicit, to make something explicit, you exply it — that’s Dollish.) these elements of the story. The battle takes place over a large family compound on a peninsula between a river estuary and the Pacific Ocean on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Thus the map in the background. One of the hormones used to dose the leads is testosterone, thus the hexagon motif and the model of a testosterone molecule and the High-T in the title. The silhouette of the lead character firing a pistol in a comic-book action pose refers to the climax of the story, and is the one element with which I am the least satisfied. The two arm-ring tattoos down the left and right margins of the cover refer to the two cultures in contact (albeit slightly) in the novel — the Maori thorn tattoo on the left refers to the native culture of New Zealand, to which some of the secondary characters are connected, and the Greek arabesque down the right side refers to the fact that the secret society to which the leads belong is classic Greek in origin. The row of identical blondes in fake camo and shouldering improbable M-16s refer to the climactic battle in which blonde clones of black-and-white-era Hollywood starlets (a touch of silliness, if you ask me) are teleported onto the aforementioned peninsula in an attack on our leads and their friends.

All very abstract, but maybe a bit too literal. I dunno.

So: there it is. Tell me what’s wrong. The stated genre is contemporary urban fantasy, sub-genre myth/gods and goddesses. Possibly more apply. I’m intended to fix that and the blurb while I’m at this new cover. I shall also have to come up with some art for the back cover for the paper edition, which I am hopeful of being able to have available by Labor Day weekend. But that can be an abstract wallpaper design, if I like, as it needs to serve as a bed for the blurb and other back cover matter. I’d like to have an iconic bust of Dolly (the female lead) to use on the spine of all books about her. But that’s going to take a lot of work and a quantum improvement in my digital painting skills.

I’m not at all unhappy with the visibility of the art at small size. I just wonder if the cover telegraphs enough about the story to intrigue people into trying it, and whether it telegraphs the right things about genre, etc.

Please comment here or on Facebook.

cvr hi-t 0814Update: The discussion happened over on Farcebook. If I didn’t hate FB so much, I’d shutter this blog (BabyTrollBlog is already a ghost town because: lazy). I made some mods to the design — et, violas — based on the input. It’s not complete, but I’m pleased with the improvement. So far. There’s more I want to do, but this is a quantum leap from my perspective.

Then, Saturday night, I was watching a movie (Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, thank you for asking), when my tablet — which sits on the arm of the couch — bleeped to announce an arriving email. From Jaime. The Alpha reader. With embedded permission to post here. Which I am doing, as a faux comment. With my reply. As soon as I figure out how to bypass the login procedures for attributing posts. I know it can be done, but I’ve forgotten how…

Discovery, Rev 3, Ch2, Sc 3

Here we go. Seems as though late is becoming the pattern, rather than the anomaly.

Melancholy Baby Troll

The Gabrielle Dolly

The dolly’s education had been thorough. The knowledge and wisdom of the ages had been crammed down her intellectual throat, both while her body was growing to maturity in antistasis, and, since her Genesis, she had been loaded down with an academic burden that would have staggered the most precocious over-achiever (which, in truth, she was). Yes, were the exams available, she could have passed with flying colors any equivalency exam for PhD.-level learning in several diverse disciplines. However, there were gaps — even serious gaps — in her knowledge.

For example, she was clinically depressed, but didn’t know it.

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