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|Tuesday, January 31st, 2012|
|A Boy Sticks a Feather in his Mouth
(cross-posted from blogspot)
So, by way of introduction; my name is James (Jim) Gilmer and this is going to be my blog that's focused on my personal writing. This writing includes work that I do for Black Library, which is the fiction arm of Games Workshop.
What I intend to talk about is how I got started in writing from my first days deciding to try out for the Clarion Writer's Workshop class of 2000 where I met soon to be published New York Times Best Selling Author Karen Traviss (writer, journalist, scriptwriter for the Gears of War video game, and more) who is one of my dearest friends despite being separated by an ocean, as well as the amazing editor and writer Chris Evans whose Iron Elves novels are wonderful fantasy mixed with Sharpe's Rifles.
While I was there I had the honour of learning things about writing from some wonderful people such as Sean Stewart, Maureen McHugh, Greg Frost, Chip Delany, and others. Not to mention some wonderfully talented writers who rounded out my class.
I've been supported by my lovely wife, Elise, as well as by friends too numerous to mention, but special mention must go to the main who has been my best friend since kindergarten; Bryan S. Dean. A brilliant father, teacher, friend, and humanitarian who taught me that life will beat you down but you always get back up, and on that note, the list wouldn't be complete without my father, who taught me that it's a good life if you don't weaken. Even if he doesn't quite understand the science fiction stuff I do, he's never been less than absolutely supporting and on the shortlist of people I consider my heroes.
There's also the many people who've shown me kindness and given me chances from my editor Christian Dunn to my friends and artists in their own right Shea and Jules, and not to mention all the wonderful friends I've made over the years who are just massively creative people and who I wish were not scatter to the four corners of the earth. I'll be talking about many of them as I go on.
So...this was the introduction, next time I'll talk about what I'm working on now and we'll jump back and forth between what I'm working on now, what I've worked on in the past, and how I got started in this crazy business.
The Future is Coming Down Hard...
"Jet Boy Jet Girl" The Damned
|Thursday, August 18th, 2011|
|WH40K: Letting my brain catch up with my fingers
I'm clicking right along with WH40K SNIPER, only there's been one aspect of the story that was bugging me. I don't know if other writers run into this, but there was just something that felt...off...about the story. It wasn't something big that jumped out and yelled "Here I am! FIX ME!", but instead it was a little grit that had gotten in. Something very basic that had threatened to snowball.
In some ways I was probably overthinking the problem. It's been a long, hard summer with family members having health scares, myself having some bad health (and recently taking a tumble that left both my knees badly bruised and took a few layers of skin off), and in general life kept throwing things in my way.
However, I was clicking along writing...except for that grit in the story. I'd kept trying to figure out what it was. One danger that I think writers face is hitting a certain part in the stage of any story and losing faith, but this wasn't it (although, there is a certain intimidation factor at joining a roaster that includes some great writers...to say I feel like I've been invited to sit at the big boy table is an understatement), but instead it was just something that was OFF.
And, because this is how writing works, it finally clicked tonight. And it happened where many great thinkers have their ideas, in the bathtub as I was soaking my sore knees and considering why I kept feeling this nagging sensation about a plot point.
I had been over thinking something. It was one of those things that in reality was just the pea under the mattress, and I've been throwing more mattresses on top and not realizing what it was (yes, I'm mixing metaphors and mangling this example, I only get one writing breakthrough a night) and finally I realized my mistake.
It's going to take some rewriting (I rewrite a lot anyways...for every 10K I write assume there's several thousand words I discarded), but in the end it's really just simplifying things so that they don't snowball later.
It's one of those little things you don't notice until you're further down the road. It's not so much that there was a gun on the mantle as that the gun had a trigger guard and I'd been fumbling with it through the story.
It'll take me a night of writing and editing to correct, but it'll make for a MUCH better narrative.
I'd been throwing myself at the writing in an attempt to force a breakthrough, but here's what might be the best lesson I can pass on, and it's one that Karen Traviss tried to teach me and it's the hardest to learn sometimes:
There are times you really do have to walk away. Do something else. Go for a swim. A run. Play a game. Read a book. Take a break from writing. Your unconscious knows what needs doing, and sometimes it's just waiting for an open line to ring you up and tell you that you'd missed something obvious. You'd roadblocked your narrative. You left the parking break on.
Whatever metaphor you want to use, it's about letting yourself relax and trusting that skill that got you this far to kick in and fix something.
There is something to be said for being relentless with writing, and there is something to be said for doing the job and putting your head down, but if the engine's making noise or something doesn't feel right it's time to pull over and check things out.
It might be different for every writer, but for me it's really taking that step back and letting my brain catch up with my fingers.
|Tuesday, July 26th, 2011|
|SDCC in brief
I had a wonderful time at SDCC this year, and I spent most of it with Karen Traviss. We talked about the good old days, the bad old days, the fact that we seem to be in some sort of 'trading places' movie as she's writing all American and I'm writing English English now (although she still can't be arsed to use "gear" instead of "kit").
Several websites that cover 40K seem to think I'm British, and I think it's either Amazon or Amazon UK that thinks I live in the UK.
Which did raise an interesting point from Karen about how many Americans have or do write for Warhammer 40K. I'm not sure how to feel when Karen says; "Yes, but your sensibilities are English!"...hmmm, quite.
Well, pip! pip! Oh, me trousers! And all that.
I was lucky to have my good friend Shea Standefer living in the SD area and her parents are absolutely lovely and allow her nerd friends to stay at their place. Their house is the very definition of a "home", to the point that a wandering gypsy like me finds comfort in it. It's one of the few places I feel comfortable resting my head, and her father's coffee is worth the visit alone.
Made some lovely new friends, some contacts that run from vapourware to having potential, but honestly this was really about enjoying the time with friends I've not seen in quite some time.
Now back to the keyboard to finish SNIPER and work on HOW TO FALL, a crime story I found myself fiddling with, as well as making some decisions about which direction to take my OC work (HOW TO FALL is original character, but I'm not sure how it's going to shake out...I use it to get my fingers moving before jumping over to WH40K and SNIPER).
I've also finally nailed down the meta-arc, or at least what I'm pitching as the meta-arc, for the next two books after SNIPER. While it may change, I'm considering the subtitle to these books THE RIFLES, which refer to the fact that the snipers serve in a Rifle regiment.
I've never lacked for ideas, it's just getting them refined and down on paper when there's a hundred of them all clamoring for attention that can be difficult.
|Wednesday, July 20th, 2011|
|SDCC here I come!
I'm off to SDCC this year, and it looks like a great year to go as friends from the UK including Karen Traviss and Antony Johnston are making it over, along with others I've not seen in some time. I've also got a few lunches and dinners with publishers lined up to chat about possibilities (to quote Karen Traviss; "A contact isn't a contract", but contacts are always useful).
Charlie Huston is going to be there this year, and I'm a huge fan of his pulp books and especially his crime novels in the Hank Thompson trilogy.
SNIPER is at the halfway point although I need to go back and edit the first half so that it's more in line with the lingo and feel of the Warhammer universe in a few places. There were scenes where I didn't want to get bogged down trying to come up with the right "Warhammer Word" and so slipped in place holders, and now it's time to go back and fix that.
I've also got a short story that I put on the back burner that is a sort of prequel to SNIPER as well as a crime novel I've been fiddling with in my spare time (HA!) called HOW TO FALL.
I keep saying that I'm going to start keeping up with the blogging, and I really do mean that every time I say that, but somehow it manages to never come true...still, one lives in hope!
So, off to SDCC and more on SNIPER when I'm free to talk about it.
|Friday, June 17th, 2011|
|What I'm writing and watching
I'm about 25K words into SNIPER and just about to finish up what I consider the novel's first "book"; Invasion. After this, which culminates in a brutal fight to get across a bridge before it's blown, it's on to the second part of the book; Resistance, which has a lot of scenes I'm really looking to write.
I've also put the finishing touches and just need to go over a short called "Light from a Dead Star" that I will be pitching, and I don't want to say much about that besides there are ties to SNIPER there.
My current viewing pleasures have been the first season of Supernatural which is AMAZING!
Also, the Sharpe series of movies with Sean Bean are absolutely stunning and the 32nd Rifles in SNIPER owe a small nod to Sharpe's regiment.
My new day job is as a field service rep for a lab company out of Boston that keeps me driving all over the Bay Area and sometimes down to Fresno. The benefits are wonderful and the novelty of having an expense account is quite interesting.
I'm going to try to blog a bit more (I always say that) but I will also be as this year's SDCC, along with Karen Traviss who is flying in, and it seems like more and more friends I've not seen in some time are making it. I'm really looking forward to it, mainly for the seeing old friends part of things.
|Wednesday, April 13th, 2011|
A quick follow up on Warhammer related material.http://iamtw.blogspot.com/2011/04/scribe-awards-and-grandmaster-announced.html
IAMTW is "I Am a Tie-In Writer" and is a group, somewhat like SWFA, but for those of us who deal with...well, tie-in work and franchise work.
I was exceptionally pleased to see the Warhammer fantasy novel WARHAMMER: BLOODBORN: ULRIKA THE VAMPIRE by Nathan Long listed as being up for the Scribe awards. There's some great authors in IAMTW and the Scribe awards are finally a way for those of us who have for too long been ignored by the snob...errmm...literary SF community to get some recognition for our work.
There are very few vampire stories that interest me anymore (Charlie Huston's Joe Pitt novels deserve mention, as do the books of David Wellington) and Nathan's Bloodborn novel was a great take on vampires in this particular setting.
If you haven't heard of the Scribe awards, check out the above link.
|First WH40K novel out in 2012
I've just had the outline for the first of my Warhammer 40K novels. More info in the coming weeks and months, but there will hopefully be some short stories out (and a novel that was converted into a novella due to circumstances beyond my editor or my control) either in the anthos or the webzine Hammer and Bolter before the first novel drops.
Once I have everything confirmed and get an all clear as to what I can talk about I'll have more to say, and I've been thinking of using my blogger account for a dedicated professional writing blog, but in the meantime...it's an honour to say the least. Not only did I get the joy of having my first WH40K story in the FEAR THE ALIEN antho and shared a ToC with authors like Dan Abnett, Kick Kyme, Matthew Farrer, Andy Hoare, Aaron Dembski-Bowden and other writers I'd be happy to share a drink with, never mind an anthology, the story itself was well received by fans (and, obviously, my editor).
To say it's intimidating to join a group that includes Dan Abnett, James Swallow, Sandy Mitchell, Steve Lyons...well, you get the point. These are some great authors, and it's a pleasure to join the ranks.
The other pleasure has been working with a great editor. I know many authors with stories of editors from hell, but I hit the lotto jackpot with Christian Dunn, who gave me a shot to show what I could do and slowly broke me in. He's the rare type of editor that's meticulous while working with the author, and encouraging without codling me. He nailed the bits I felt were off and just has been a joy to work with. I already count myself a better writer for working with him.
He's patient, but direct, and he reads EVERY word of my outlines (which considering how large the novel outline I dropped on him was is impressive) and he has an astonishing way of picking out the weak parts and suggesting how to shore them up or change them without throwing the whole thing over.
In short, it's been a great experience.
So, watch this space and with any luck I'll be able to share some more info in the coming weeks and months.
And suddenly we're off to the races.
|Thursday, February 10th, 2011|
I have all my comments set to Moderation, but has anyone else been getting a sudden spike in spam comments lately?
Oddly, the always come to the post about reactions to FEAR THE ALIEN that contains the reviews and links.
It actually reminds me I should probably use this blog more but currently I'm studying for my California Fluoro license and a bit busy.
|Monday, October 4th, 2010|
|Reactions to "Unity" in FEAR THE ALIEN
All thanks to Christian Dunn, who is the type of editor that every writer wishes he could have, the sort that leaves you a better writer at the end of every project. Having heard plenty of horror stories, I am more than acutely aware of how lucky I was to get a diamond geezer like Christian to break me into franchise work and the big leagues, and a compliment from him actually feels well earned (not that he doesn't give them, but I feel like he'd tell me if something wasn't working).
So, if you'll indulge me, some reactions to "Unity", and in these hotlinks you'll find reviews of the other excellent stories that grace FEAR THE ALIEN and make me look even better by being lucky enough to share a TOC with some of the best writers in the business.http://threecolorminimum.blogspot.com/2010/09/review-fear-alien-part-ii.html
"James Gilmer's "Unity" was another weird story, but in a very good way. This reminded me of some of Stephen King's old short stories. This was very dark, and had a very, "horror" feel to it. It is the tale of a space marine and an IG sniper trying to regroup after a failed attack on world that had just recently been taken over by the Tau. Boy to the Kroot seem like bad-asses in this story. I can't go too much into it without spoiling anything, but Gilmer did an excellent job of building the suspense and finishing it the way the story really needed to end."http://www.thefoundingfields.com/2010/08/fear-alien-reviewspoilers.html
"This story was interesting because of its portrayal of the Tau and their Kroot allies. The Tau are shown to be uncaring of humanity and will gladly sacrifice them to preserve their Tau forces while preaching that their deaths are for the Greater Good. And to keep the Kroot sweet they pay them off with live prisoners and dead bodies for feeding.
I give Unity a 3.5/5 for a good story and showing the true dark side of the Tau. It was only a matter of time."http://civilian-reader.blogspot.com/2010/09/fear-alien-edited-by-christian-dunn.html
"There are two levels of alien in this story: first, and most obviously, Tam experiences the considerable ‘otherness' of the Tau forces (and he really does experience it at the end); secondly, there is also his Raven Guard companion, so different physically and in temperament, that it would be almost impossible not to consider him ‘alien'.
The story is well-crafted and builds to a fine ending. Gilmer's writing is great, reminiscent of thriller writers as much as sci-fi authors. Would be interesting to see what he could do with something novel-length."http://emperyan.blogspot.com/2010/09/review-fear-alien-edited-by-christian.html
Unity by James Gilmer
This is a fantastic telling of a few guardsmen and a Raven Guard astartes on the run on a world lost to the Tau Empire. This is probably one of the best depictions of the Tau and the author does a fine job in making the reader guess how it all will end. 4 Stars
|Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010|
|Review of FEAR THE ALIEN and my story "Unity"
Nice review of the antho edited by Christian Dunn, who has utterly spoiled me for editors and is the type of editor that every writer should have...the kind who teaches you something every time you work together and makes you a better writer with each comment and discussion.
Anyway, lovely review of "Unity" at the above site:
"Unity by James Gilmer
This is a fantastic telling of a few guardsmen and a Raven Guard astartes on the run on a world lost to the Tau Empire. This is probably one of the best depictions of the Tau and the author does a fine job in making the reader guess how it all will end. 4 Stars"
(note: looks to be a 4 star system...so I'm quite happy as you can imagine)
In other news I hope to start a wordpress site or a blog specifically for my writing. I feel like I'm pretty spread out at the moment with LJ, FB, and unused Twitter, and more. Consolidation in the near future, I think.
|Wednesday, September 1st, 2010|
|Okay, so maybe it's next week....
....slight confusion as some people are getting FEAR THE ALIEN early from mail order and/or some stores (methinks people who work at said stores), so it may not be out until next week.
I'll double check in the morning as I'm about to fall asleep at the computer ;p
|Tuesday, August 31st, 2010|
|FEAR THE ALIEN is out now!
I recieved my author copies last week and now...it's OUT!
WARHAMMER 40K: FEAR THE ALIEN featuring...well, a LOT of cool people, and somehow I snuck on in there too.
My story "Unity" featuring a Raven Guard Space Marine and an Imperial Guard Sniper on the run behind Tau Empire lines is included in a wonderful paperback which features stories from (drumroll); Dan Abnett, Nick Kyme, Matthew Farrer, Aaron Dembski-Bowden and more.
Sharing a TOC with Karen Traviss when we did essays for SmartPOP!'s HOUSE, MD anthology was cool enough, but to share space alongside writers who are not only shining stars in the Warhammer 40K universe but also many others (Abnett's crop of Marvel Cosmic Comics he's been doing with Andy Lanning are the best damn comics I've read in a dog's age) is a singular honour, and hopefully I keep up my end with "Unity".
At the moment Black Library (and my editor) have loads of very cool stuff going on, and I promise I'll actually start using LJ again (yes, I was seduced by the Facebook allure...but I'm a wordy bugger and need room to stretch).
So...more news on future projects as soon as I can share, there's some things with the editor at the moment but to say everyone is busy is an understatement.
Oh, I'd be remiss if I didn't recommend people check out the new HAMMER AND BOLTER webzine from Black Library. The first issue will be free and will feature some very special stories. More on that the next time I post (promise it'll be soon) and if you pick up FEAR THE ALIEN and have access to Amazon or Barnes and Nobles or any of the review sites...or, hey, if you just want to talk about it on your own blog, FB, whatever...we, and I mean not just me, can always use the love, and having read the other stories I think this antho is a cracking collection that every Warhammer 40K and SF lover should have...even if it doesn't have a Space Marine on the cover ;p
|Tuesday, March 16th, 2010|
|The Gilmer/Standefer Word and Picture Factory
Our apartment is now an assembly line of glorious art. My wife gets mention on the food angle for keeping us fed, and a few feet away glorious SW sketch cards are being created while I pluck away at the outline for my stand-alone Warhammer 40K novel.
Black Library continues to be great to work with. My editor over there, Christian Dunn, showed my initial pitch and synopsis for a [redacted due to NDA] novel around the editorial team and within 24 hours of submitting I had a thumbs up to do a full outline and chapter by chapter summary.
The first novel's chapter by chapter is already turned in and awaiting approval by a third-party vendor who has to sign off since it's an adaption of their product, and once I get that I can write it out.
The novel that was just approved is all my own though, and came out of an idea from the short story "Unity" that will be in FEAR THE ALIEN, but is not sprung off those characters. I would really like to see this novel spingboard a series, but you never know.
And down the line I have one more adaption that I'll be doing to combine with the first adaption, and if I can talk them into it, a short story connecting things, and that will be published as a full novel.
The short is out in September and I have no idea when the novels will be out.
Meanwhile, there's a couple of creator owned projects I'm thinking about doing, but I have to set those aside until I get the WH40K books under my belt.
It's going to be a busy few months, but a very GOOD busy ;p
|Friday, February 19th, 2010|
|Short story and novel sales to Warhammer 40K
It's been a wile, but I can sort of talk about some of my professional writing work again. At the moment the ink is dry on the sale of "Unity", an 8K word story, to Black Library for their FEAR THE ALIEN anthology set in the Warhammer universe.
I've been VERY pleased, to say the least, with dealing with them. My editor, Christian Dunn, is a class act and a wonderful editor who has been an absolute pleasure to work with in every respect.
"Unity" was more or less my test run, and Christian came back very pleased and said that for someone who didn't know the universe, my first pass was one of the best he'd seen from a writer new to the universe.
I was then asked to do a novel on the strength of the short, which is actually going to be two 50K~60K word novellas published as one novel. This will be an adaption of a 40K product that I can't talk about right now right now. The two novellas are connected but as of yet I'm not sure how tied together they'll be. I may end up writing a short connecting piece if needed.
I've written the chapter by chapter summary that has been sent to licensing for approval, and when I sent it in I asked the editor to think of me if he had anything else.
Within 24 hours I had an email back telling me to pitch him another novel, the concept of which we had discussed during a Skype conversation, and based on what he's seen of me so far he's ready to take the risk of already getting me working on this new project while the other gets approved via legal and the other company involved.
So, "Unity" in Sept 2010 in FEAR THE ALIEN.
Two 50K word novellas that will combine and be published as a single novel.
The new novel that I'm writing the pitch for.
All for WH40K.
I'd also like to see about getting some Warhammer Fantasy work down the line, and once I start getting things out with my name on I'll be looking at selling some creator-owned novels and maybe shopping around for some other franchises to work in.
As it stands; there's plenty I'd love to do in WH40K, so hopefully I'll be there for a long time to come.
|Sunday, December 20th, 2009|
|My story sales
So...I return with good news. Soon I'll make a post about how my life has changed in just a few short months, but it's late and I actually want to go to bed, so I'll leave you with the good news that I have sold an 8K word short to Black Library, owners of Warhammer 40K, for inclusion in their Warhammer 40K anthology FEAR THE ALIEN which is out in 2010.
I'm also in the middle of negotiation on some novel sales, including two 50K novellas that will be adaptions and WFH and a novel that will be original characters in a WFH universe.
More on those when things are signed, ink is dry, and I can talk about them.
Next time I'll tell you what I've been doing, about moving to the greatest place on earth, discovering someone who has quickly become one of the most important people in my life and is more of a sister to me than my own sister ever has been and who saved my life and who I would gladly lay down in front of a train for (not hyperbole, when you discover good, honest, and true friends you should cherish them for what they give you), and in general all the wonderful things that have happened since that person asked; "Are you still think of moving out to the west coast?"
Story for another time though...as I'm off to bed.
|Friday, October 2nd, 2009|
|Four thousand words in four hours.
With corrections as I go. My error rate is starting to tic upwards and I'm starting to wind down. I think I'm going to hit 6K with this short, which is right between the range that the editor wanted. I could push it to 7K if I really wanted to, but with shorts it's important to know when to stop and what to leave out, and I've already snipped out lines here and there.
I almost gave up the ghost at 3K. It's 330am now...and I'm going to push on! Wheeee!
I chucked the original outline for the short out, so it now doesn't resemble the original idea in anything but theme and basic idea.
I toyed with finishing to dash it off before the weekend, but I know I'll want to do rewrites over the weekend and get it in Monday. No hard deadline creeping up that I know of, as it was partly a spec story, but it sold on the strength of the pitch, and by god I'm going to thrash this out of myself if it kills me.
|Tuesday, September 8th, 2009|
|Come on Die Young
Cody - Mogwai
Of all I knew, her held too few.
And would you stop me, if I try to stop you.
Old songs stay 'til the end.
Sad songs remind me of friends.
And the way it is, I could leave it all
And I ask myself, would you care at all.
When I drive alone at night, I see the streetlights as fairgrounds
And I tried a hundred times to see the road signs as Day-Glo.
Old songs, stay till the end.
Sad songs, remind me of friends.
And the way it is, I could leave it all
And I ask myself, would you care at all.
|Friday, August 28th, 2009|
|Everything that keeps us together is falling apart...
Stuck in my head...also just read BLANKETS, so depressing music is perfect mood music. If you haven't read BLANKETS, it's an utterly awesome brick of a graphic novel that I absolutely could not put down, but it's utterly heartbreaking.
And to the subject line:
|Tuesday, August 25th, 2009|
|The Revolution begins in your head
"Your head's like mine, like all our heads; big enough to contain every god and devil there ever was. Big enough to hold the weight of oceans and the turning stars. Whole universes fit in there! But what do we choose to keep in this miraculous cabinet? Little broken things, sad trinkets that we play with over and over. The world turns our key and we play the same little tune again and again and we think that tune's all we are."
— Grant Morrison (The Invisibles Vol. 1: Say You Want a Revolution)
|Tuesday, August 18th, 2009|
|Congrats to Keiron Gillen!
He's now writing a six-issue stretch of Marvel's THOR.
Gillen also wrote the excellent PHONOGRAM comic from IMAGE with art by Jaime McKelvie. I highly recommend it, and my wife even loved it (my wife loves some comics, but she's very much not a typical comic book reader).
He's already worked for Marvel before having done some X-Men antho stuff, some Dark Avengers:ARES work, and some other work, but this is his first (AFAIK) turn on a flagship title. Kieron has been around parts of the same bits of the web as me for ages, from the old WEF forum to the VHive, and it's nice to see him doing well. I'm pretty sure I pimped his PHONOGRAM when it came out, as well has having pimped Jaime's excellent Suburban Glamour when it was released and then collected.
It looks like Billy Tan, best known to me for his Uncanny X-Men work with Ed Brubaker, will be doing pencils for Gillen's six-issue run. I'm very much down to seeing what he has whipped up for his THOR duties.
Always nice to see people I know, even on a passing basis, do well, and Keiron has been working away for some time, so it's nice to see him cracking into the so-called "flagship" titles.