So, About Everything . . .

Better late than never.

I didn’t even post about THIS. Blog updating is a habit I dropped out of, for which I apologize. So! A few things have happened, obviously. The convention trips ended last month with a guest spot at Grand Rapids Comic Con, which was a lot of fun (I’ve never been to Michigan). This year was a good convention year; although I only went to a few I was able to see friends I hadn’t seen since 2019. Also, conventions get me out of my cave and remind me there are actually real people who read what I write. Your comments on the WtC Facebook page help, but face-to-face contact is what we’re evolved for; it’ll be a few hundred millennia before we’ve adapted to getting dopamine-delivering social contact off of remote interfaces.

Some words on Joyeuse Guard.

First, once again, I apologize for how long it took. This one really beat me up. Unlike all but Book I, it was a process-book rather than a problem-book. There was no overarching conflict driving the plot(s). Rather, Book 9, which takes place over the course of nearly a year, became one huge Epilogue to Book 8, which told the story of a crisis that lasted less than a week and left Astra and company with a New Situation to navigate. The main reason for the format it took was Oz.

Ozma and Oz is a classic example of a character and their story getting away from you. Back in Book III, Young Sentinels, I had decided to use the common superhero-comics trope of the Obligatory Magical Hero. Just about every superhero team seems to have one. The Justice League? Zatanna. The Avengers? Wanda. The Teen Titans? Raven. Etc. So, a magic-user with a mysterious past and questionable (at least mysterious) ethics or goals? My first sketched character had been an annoying witch whose magic would drive Wiccans and Harry Potter fans up the wall; a magical system no deeper than what you see in Saturday morning cartoons, no understanding of her own power beyond “It’s magic!” It was horrible. Be glad you never met her. She rode a broom, had a black cat, etc.

Then came Ozma. I was also looking to fill another comic-book trope; the import-character from another fiction. They’re rare since they typically have to be in the Public Domain, but they’re fun when they happen, and I wanted to bring one in as a way of starting to build my superhero world’s “multiverse”–again a huge comic-book trope. Looking back, I think the choice was inspired, but I had no idea what a headache she would become.

The problem I had created for myself was I’d established a strong secondary character whose Big Goal was at best tangentially related to everything else going on with Hope. And since I’d committed to having each book move things along so my characters grew (close to four years have now passed since a freeway overpass got dropped on Hope), I needed to advance Ozma’s campaign to retake the Emerald Throne while telling the story of Astra and the Young Sentinels/Joyeuse Guard. I did manage to shoehorn in two big advances for Ozma, with The Oz Job in Team-Ups and Crossovers and the use of Oz’s special properties to solve one of the crisis in Repercussions, but I realized that constantly arranging things so that recurring use of Oz to advance plot arcs in the main story lines would feel contrived at best. And there was no way I could have made one of the WtC books purely about the Oz Campaign. The Troll Champion and the Stone Man of Oz and The Trickster and the Nome King of Oz were my desperate escape from my dilemma.

And they were a lot of fun. I hope you enjoyed them.

For the rest of the stories . . .

From the moment I decided on doing another “anthology” book, I’d intended A Christmas Carol to be the second or third story in. A few readers have had a problem with that, for which I apologize, but I didn’t want a recurrence of the Omega Night problem. Characters and events in a book series should never refer back to events that happened in a side-story that series readers may not be aware of; seriously, since writing Repercussions I’ve gotten occasional more than one comment indicating the reader hadn’t read that little piece of flash-fiction. I’m going to work on a new “edition” of Villains Inc. that includes it as a bonus story at the back, but that won’t fix the existing problem. So A Christmas Carol went in.

Repossessed was pure fun, a challenge to myself. I hope everyone enjoyed Mal and Shell thwarting a villain without anyone else even knowing about it.

She Wears the Cape was written to give the readers a look at the new Joyeuse Guard a few months after the Chicago Attack, but in the spirit of never doing just one thing I took the opportunity to introduce a new character (Azma), have fun, showcase a few more capes sprung from the fertile imaginations of others (Sam/Childe, Gulliver, Imperator, etc.). And I found myself getting geopolitical. Didn’t start out that way, just happened. And of course I’m going to use what I built there later.

Deadly Dubrovnik Days. What can I say? 1) Getting to use Daydream was a treat and I hope I portrayed his use of his power as his creator intended. 2) At last I got to tie up the dangling loose end of Ibrahim Darvish and Atifa/Mistress Jenia.

And a Wedding, Take Two. Rule 1 of writing weddings into superhero stories. Make sure the villains can’t show up. But they will anyway. Or Something Else will go wrong. This is not an inviolable trope, but I lampshaded it hard anyway. Hope everyone enjoyed it.

SO! What does the future hold?

“Always changing, is the future.” (Yoda said it, but I stole it for the TA.)

I’m committed to writing two WtC books next year. Book 10 in the mainline series, but also a new non-series book, Capes. Quick teaser; a young man named Kingston James Parks gets his breakthrough and it’s . . . underwhelming? He’s a teleporter, max range thirty yards, and he must be able to see or picture his arrival spot well enough to picture himself in it. He’s limited to whatever he can physically carry. Also he’s never been in a fight in his life. A D Class breakthrough with a power not exactly geared to flamboyant heroics, what kind of cape-career can he even have? A sticky question, because he desperately needs to get one.

Capes is intended to shine a light on the world of street-level capes.

I have other projects of course, but Capes and Book 10 are the top priorities. So closing out, I hope you all enjoy/enjoyed Joyeuse Guard (comments/feedback always welcome and I’d love to hear what your favorite stories were). And have a merry Christmas!

MGH


35 thoughts on “So, About Everything . . .

  1. I very much enjoyed this most recent book. It felt like a long epilogue told in anthology form and showed how life keeps moving even after the big dramatic stories.

  2. I liked Azma and hope that she shows up again.

    Oh, I wonder what power-set she might like to have. 😀

  3. i like Ozma on the team. Is it implied that everyone knows she may leave temporarily or permanently to go do Oz stuff? I hope that no one complains that she pulls spells/miracles out of her butt. I’d say that so far it’s been one or two notches below being contrived. Making a killer ghost temporarily alive is the obvious solution for that situation.

    Give your D class Teleporter the ability to go straight up. That might come in handy.
    If he needed to ‘port a 300lb Ajax could he be held or does his power demand he do the holdng?
    (He’d only need to for 1/2 second.) (Ha ha! Make it Slamazon!!) (Lift with the legs!)

    I’m looking forward to reading more of Astra’s misadventures!

  4. I was very annoyed that JG did not come with a Table of Contents! (I am easily distracted by minor issues.) So, I disassembled it, added a ToC and reassembled it. Much better. Love the book, George.

      1. It had a Table Of Contents.

        Part of the problem was that on first glance, only the “dispossessed story” showed in the TOC.

        The other entries existed but were “under” the entry for the first story.

        When I converted the kindle version to epub version, I was able to adjust the entries so all showed up.

      2. Hi Paul! I ass-u-me you used Calibre to change AZW3 to EPUB. I used it to disassemble AZW3 to “HTMLZ” (zipped HTML). There was no ToC in that. I added one, and used Mobipocket Creator to reassemble a PRC/MOBI file, and Calibre to change a MOBI to AZW3, full circle.

        Table of Contents
        Front Matter
        Repossession
        Interlude I
        The Troll Champion and the Stone Man of Oz
        Interlude II
        She Wears the Cape
        Interlude III
        The Trickster and the Nome King of Oz
        Interlude IV
        The Troll Champion and the Stone Man of Oz
        Interlude V
        Deadly Dubrovnik Days
        Interlude VI
        And a Wedding, Take Two
        Back Matter

      3. Don’t know how you read the Kindle version but I saw the TOC in my Kindle For The PC. 😉

      4. @garysjordan: Did both links in your TOC for “The Troll Champion and the Stone Man of Oz” go to that story,or did the second go to “A Christmas Carol”?

  5. Across the last month, I’ve been thinking I need to search Marion Harmon books and the website to see what’s up and when I can read Joyeuse Guard, which I read the first chapter of somewhere a while back. (probably a newsletter of yours.)  Of course, being someone who is name-challenged (just like most people), George, I couldn’t remember your name and the stack of Marion Harmon paperbacks wasn’t at hand for me to reference (it’s part of the reason I get the paperbacks, too).   Thank you. KEEP WRITING. tc

  6. I really enjoyed this book. As an author do you find people locating typos after publication rude? Just curious, I believe we’ve talked about it but I wanted to verify just in case.

      1. Loved the book! A Christmas Carol is one of my all-time faves. Thank you for such a wonderful Christmas present to all of your fans.
        In the spirit of making things better/typos, a building where planes are kept is a Hangar, a wire or plastic frame that keeps clothes in a closet off the floor is a hanger.

      2. The ones I recall offhand without rereading were in the Christmas story you had a lot of what I seem to recall in its earlier release mentions of yokai’s replaced by yoni. I’ll go back and reread and get the handful of others I found.`

  7. There are only three possible answers to what you have in common with Donny Osmond and Mitt Romney. 1. From Utah 2. You are a Morman o 3. You like Purple Socks.

  8. Noticed a couple of changes in A Christmas Carol. An extra line about the HWB base in Kazakhstan. Ozma and Brian are in a different part of Oz.

    But now it fits more firmly into that year, I could almost hear it snapping into place.

    And suggestions for Kingston:
    1: First aid training, including a fireman’s carry.
    2: A general physical fitness routine to increase stamina/endurance as well as strength.
    3: Speed training for the teleporting, possibly including orientation (if you have to see an enemy to teleport behind them, it’s nice to be already turned to face them when you appear.)
    4: Pick a local martial arts studio and begin training. This also helps with (2) above. Choose carefully if there are choices.
    5: Push your power’s limits, and don’t assume that other people’s limits apply to you until you’ve checked. For example, almost everyone I’ve seen in the WtC universe with an escape power either must bring the bonds or have the escape attempt fail. (feel free to point out any I missed, but TA/DA, all known vampires, etc) What if only your own intent matters, and you *can* ‘port out of someone’s grasp or out of the duct tape? Borrow the rescue training dummy, lay some lumber on top (more than you can carry at once), and try to ‘port the dummy clear, before you have to try it on an accident victim.

    And best of luck on your new career!

  9. I will read it when I get around to it. And will probably enjoy it but I don’t feel any urgency to read it since you made me hunt to find that it was out.

  10. After much reflection, I think that possibly the biggest event in the book (other than the first appearance for the second time of the Man with the Bag) is this:

    Shell told a reporter that she was an AI.

    Admittedly, the US government seems to have known since *Small Town Heroes*, but now everyone will know.

  11. I can’t say I’m enjoying book 9 at all so far. This could well be where I part ways with this series. Came to read about Astra, and seem to have a book in which she is not even a side character.

  12. wait… does he have to see the target zone, WITH HIS OWN EYES? or can he teleport anywhere within 90 feet that he can get a real-time visual on, BY ANY MEANS? Are mirrors, web-cams and telepaths acceptable sources of visual information?

    Also, is he limited to whatever he CAN carry, or to whatever he ACTUALLY IS carrying?

    If a baby is trapped in an air pocket, such that he COULD lift the infant with one arm, if there was room to get his arm in there and actually pick the baby up, but there isn’t…..

    Can he touch the baby with one finger, and then teleport the baby and himself out to a space 3 feet adjacent, where he actually can hold the baby properly?

    Also, does his body’s position and the relative position of his cargo remain constant across jumps, or can he depart in one physical position but arrive in another physical position?

      1. And I haven’t even started on the abuse-of-physics type questions….

        Is Momentum preserved?, and is momentum’s absolute vector changeable?

        What is his fastest reliable cycle time to complete an entire jump and begin a new one?

        can he fake flight by teleporting? can he fake running? can he play velocity games a-la “Portal” ? can he dive-bomb?

        Come to think of it, “Abuse of Physics” would be a really awesome Cape-name. There are SO MANY possibilities, depending on EXACTLY how his powers work…

  13. Loved the book.

    I do have two nit-picky comments about Daydreamer:
    His frequent use of “Jawohl” sounds off to a native speaker. “Jawohl” is in my experience only used in two ways: By a member of the military inn reply to an order from a superior, and outside of the military in an ironic or sarcastic fashion if somebody barks orders at you. Somebody like Daydreamer wouldn’t use the word.
    When you introduce Daydreamer you write that he doesn’t speak English and add rhetorically “why would he”? Well, having gone through the German school system, he very likely would as leaning one (or even two) foreign languages is part of the curriculum. And for most pupils, that first foreign language is English. The drops would still be a good idea as he would be unlikely to be fluent.

    1. I’m getting ready to submit an edited file for the Amazon ebook (among other things, rearranging the way it does the Table of Contents), and have thought about “Jawohl.” I take it that “Ja” would sound much better, more casual?

  14. Any estimate on when an audiobook version will be available? I really enjoy the series but never have time to read in physical format so for me it is audio or nothing… I understand there is a delay but it would be nice to have a time frame on how much,

  15. I like the sound of Kingston Parks. Astra has had problems with room to grow without getting into politics, the new guy is starting in a better place.
    I’ll do a typo check on Joyeuse Guard before the New Year, but not this moment.

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