Welcome to my worlds!

I'm James Maxey, author of fantasy and science fiction. My novels include the science fantasy Bitterwood Saga (4 books) the Dragon Apocalypse Saga (4 books), numerous superhero novels including Nobody Gets the Girl and the Lawless series, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collections, There is No Wheel and Jagged Gate. This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public. If you'd like to get monthly updates on new releases, as well as preview chapters and free short stories, join my newsletter!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Dragon Apocalypse Book Four, second draft: More than half done!

I've got fifteen chapters rewritten. My first draft was only twenty two chapters, so I'm well past the halfway mark even though I'll be adding chapters on this draft. I'm still a little fuzzy on whether or not to add a few scenes, but I expect this will probably wind up being 25 or 26 chapters long.

My biggest challenge with this draft is turning out to be the difficulty of juggling all the plots. I've got Slate and Sorrow off on one adventure, Gale Romer and her children tackling another quest, Infidel's daughter Cinder teaming up with the ghost of Father Ver for a major plot thread, and the Black Swan pursuing a goal that takes her into conflict with all the others, eventually. I've got all the plots figured out nicely, and know where they intersect. But, since all four plots are unfolding at the same time, there's a real challenge to figuring out what information to present in what order. I'm tackling Cinder chapters and thinking, hmm, maybe this should be before the Romer chapter. But the Romer chapter needs to be before the Sorrow chapter. And the Sorrow chapter works best if its before the Cinder chapter. Yeesh.

The problem is that a reader's attention is like a small door. If every one of my plots try to jam into the door at the same time, none of them are getting through. Oh well. I'll get it worked out. And, if it's not working... there's always draft three.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Cinder: Book Four of the Dragon Apocalypse. The second draft begins!

I've used my three-day weekend to plunge into the second draft of my fourth Dragon Apocalypse novel, Cinder. I just finished the third chapter, and am mostly happy with how things are turning out. My biggest difficulty is still the sheer size of the cast. I've got seven Romers, Brand, Bigsby, Slate, and Sorrow in Hell, along with Walker, a trio of demons, and a hundred rescued pygmy slaves. Trying to craft smooth dialogue with so many players on stage is challenging.

Fortunately, from this point on, most of the chapters have the cast splitting up and a lot of the scenes only have two or three characters to deal with.

The most important thing I've written so far, however, is the outline I cobbled together Friday morning. Looking back on the first three novels, I realized I had left out a pretty major plot thread I'd introduced all the way back in the first book, and had to figure out where I was going to weave it back in. To be honest, I'd considered introducing the thread while writing the first draft of this book, but decided to leave it out because the plot was already fairly complex. Now that I've had time to think about it, though, it's the only plot thread that can truly bring the novel to a satisfying conclusion. The ending I had in mind did a nice job of wrapping up the main plot thread of this book, but left a lot of the characters kind of hanging. Now, I know how to write a final scene that will have just the right balance of tragedy and hope that gives all the characters left alive at that point a role to play.

The next two weekends have back to back science fiction conventions, Illogicon in Raleigh and MarsCon in Williamsburg. I'm going to do my best to keep the book rolling forward despite this. If I can produce three chapters each week, I should have a full second draft by the end of February.