Update from the Terminal

It’s been a little while since I’ve given an update on things in general, so a post like this is overdue. Anyone who keeps up with me at all knows I don’t blog terribly often, but when I do, I try to give my entries a little substance. My aim with this entry is to provide a little insight into the many things I have on my literary plate.

Firstly, and what I’m sure most people are curious about, is Enemy One, Epic’s fifth installment. Progress on the book is going very well, as it’s currently Outlaw Trigger length but still with a ways to go. Though my original plan was for this to be a book somewhat longer than the first two, I was hoping to keep it under the lengths of Hero and TGB. Being as far into the book as I currently am, that may or may not be the case.

Enemy One is, without a doubt, the most difficult book I’ve ever attempted to write. One of the biggest challenges has been that, to be perfectly honest, it hasn’t even been the book that I’d expected it to be. TGB ended on a fast note, leading me to assume that book five would pick up with that same tempo. In actuality, the Enemy One experience has been quite the opposite. The more I wrote, the more it occurred to me that the natural transition from the frenetic conclusion of book four was the literary equivalent of a long, deep breath. Much needed to be digested, both by the reader and by the crew of the Fourteenth. An attempt was made to maintain E4’s action-heavy finale’s pace, but it just didn’t feel “right.” So I did what I felt was best, discarded any preconceived notions of what I felt readers expected, and just wrote the way the story asked to be written. In my experience, writing bears the best fruit when stories are given free reign to direct themselves, with me acting merely as a mediator between thought and keyboard. I think this approach as served Enemy One well. The tagline of “Run” still applies. But the concept of running is multifaceted, not simply relegated to literally running through city streets firing assault rifles. A story that would simply be that would be style over substance. As in all Epic books, there are action sets sprinkled throughout book five. They just have a purpose beyond being “action for the sake of action.”

Epic 5 is going to be different. I’m well aware of the notoriety of fifth installments (Rocky 5, Star Trek 5, etc.). Enemy One could very easily fall into the “weak link” category of the series if it were forced into the same mold that was used for TGB. Because of this, the approach has had to be different – and careful. There is a story to continue, but Enemy One can’t be The Glorious Becoming Part II. It has to stand on its own, with its own merits, its own uniqueness, and its own pacing. What has this led to? A book that is far deeper, and far more psychological, than I ever could have anticipated. It has the potential to be the most thought-provoking installment in the entire series. The first four books in Epic are the intro. The last three are the journey to finality. It’s Enemy One‘s job to link them together. If done the right way, this transitional book can be mesmerizing. Don’t ask me for a release date. I’m writing every day, but the editing process for this book will be longer than most. It’ll be done “when it’s done.” I anticipate that being in 2015. As always, bear with me.

Epic is not all that I’m working on! I’m actually juggling a whopping five writing projects right now (Enemy One included), meaning that there will soon be some non-Epic lit out there by yours truly.

One of these projects, I can’t talk about yet. But it’s big. That’s all you get.

I’m also in the beginning stages of a second novel series that I can’t talk about too much at this point, only to say that it’s a major change of pace for me and something I’ve wanted to get to for a very long time.

Then, there’s a story I’m working on that…look, I’m just gonna be honest. It’s chick-lit. My wife was watching a Hallmark movie one day, I plopped down on the sofa, got sucked in for a bit, then made the dreaded statement, “You know what kind of story I bet this channel would love? Something about…” As it turned out, the idea was good. Really good. “I have to do it now” good. So now I’m stuck. All I can say is that if I told you the idea, too, you’d be like, “dude…yeah…that one’s a winner.” I hate chick-lit. Nicholas Sparks is my bane. This will be interesting!

The last item I’m juggling is purely conceptual. It’s about gangster rap and vegetables. There’s really not much more to say.

And so those are the goings-on as of 2015! Oh, and we’re having another baby. This is gonna be one heck of a year!

I’ll write more as the above things develop. In the meantime, I’ll be cranking out Enemy One and the many other things I’ve got on the burners. Stay tuned, people!

-LS

Enemy One’s Chapter Zero has Arrived!

Of all the official “announcement” type messages I’ve relayed to the fan base, this may be the one closest to my heart as it concerns the Epic community. This is why this particular message is going across all platforms: the blog, the mailing list, the forum mailing list, Facebook, Twitter, deviantART…everything. For me, and for Epic, this is as important as it gets!

As the header indicates, Chapter Zero of Epic 5: Enemy One, has been released, and you can read it on the Epic Universe Forums. You can find the very thread containing it right here. You’ve been patient enough with me as I’ve dealt with life and health issues; you don’t need to wait for something new any longer, even if a finished fifth novel is still a little ways away (mid-2015). But while I do want to talk about Chapter Zero, there’s something much more critical to Epic that I want to talk about. That something is the forum hub itself.

Quite simply, the reason Chapter Zero has been released there is because I want Epic’s fan base to go there. I want you to see what the forums are about. I want you to see what they can become – what they need to become – for Epic to become the expansive universe it was always intended to be. Bar none, the most important aspect of anything worth being built is the aspect of community. It’s getting people together. Talking, laughing, debating…being there, sharing a sense of commonality in something they all enjoy. I could write four hundred novels, but without you, both the singular and collective, it’s a fruitless labor. The Epic Universe Forums were made for you.

Though there have always been sporadic posts here and there on the forums, on most days, the waters are calm and the visitors few. If life is full of trial and error, my experience in building up the forum community has been mostly the latter. I’ve over-designed it. I’ve underused it on a personal level. I’ve relied more on hoping its very existence would draw users in rather than giving them solid reasons to visit and engaging them when they did. All of those failings are on me. I’m ready to overcome them.

The design of the forum has been simplified. Rather than a section dedicated to each novel, you’ll simply find one for all of them: The Epic Octalogy, dedicated to discussing the eight books that will comprise Epic’s core series. Beneath the Epic section, you’ll find the Forum’s Off-Topic, for anything and everything not related to Epic. Talk sports, talk politics, talk current movies, games, or events. It doesn’t matter. Be heard! I’ve always felt, and I still do, that it only takes ten consistently active forum members to keep a place relevant. I want you to be one of those ten! Check in, start up a convo, whether in Epic or Off-Topic, and light that place up. If you’re not up for starting a new thread just yet, check out some of the many that are already there. Toss in your two cents! We want to hear it!

If you’ve tried to plug into the forums already and simply found a lack of new Epic topics to discuss, rest assured – the speed at which books are being written is picking up. Despite the long span of time since The Glorious Becoming, Enemy One is being written right now at a record pace. The plan is to release a new installment every one to one-and-a-half years, which would wrap the core series by 2019-2020. That’s not far away!

Which brings us to Chapter Zero of Enemy One!

You guys have waited long enough for something new to talk about. Chapter Zero will definitely give you reason to talk. Of all the questions I’ve received from fans after they’ve read The Glorious Becoming, the most numerous (and enthusiastic) begin with, “What happened to…?” That’s what Chapter Zero is all about.

Obligatory warning: this is Chapter Zero in draft form, untouched by an editor. The final version is bound to have small changes here and there. But these won’t be story changes. They’ll be a word here, a word there, a grammar correction, and a rephrased sentence or two. Any differences you’d notice in the final version of Enemy One would be minor and of no plot-related consequence. I’m confident enough in it to share it early. Get ready, because the game is changing!

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts in some forum posts! Let’s get this place rocking.

 

-Lee

The Dawn of Destiny Audiobook

After 4.5 long years, the Dawn of Destiny audiobook is finally available! The nearly ten-hour, eardrum-blasting album can be found on on CD Baby at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/leestephen.

Over thirty actors participated in this project, which includes a full soundtrack and sound effects. The aim was to put you there, and this puts you there. Thank you to everyone who waited so incredibly patiently for this album to be produced. The end result is something I think you’ll find truly special. Now snag some headphones crank up the volume! This beast of an audiobook is ready to roar.

Preview some clips from the audiobook below!

 

 

TNBT Cast: Adam Gregory (Scott Remington)

Scott was five feet and eleven inches tall, with a body as toned as one would expect from a soldier fresh out of Philadelphia Academy. He was a handsome young man, or at least she thought so. And her opinion was the only one that mattered.

Scott was five feet and eleven inches tall, with a body as toned as one would expect from a soldier fresh out of Philadelphia Academy. He was a handsome young man, or at least she thought so. And her opinion was the only one that mattered.

 

Want to know what this is about? Check out this blog entry!

Though the pace of these entries has slowed down (I view this as more of a long-term thing as opposed to a bunch of quick hits, just ’cause hey – it’s fun that way), but I wanted to be sure I got this one before the audiobook dropped. I teased this in the last entry, so those who have kept up should have known what was coming. Epic is not Epic without Scott Remington…and we have our Scott Remington.

I’m going to be honest and admit that I wasn’t even sure I’d cast Scott in this series. He’s hard because he’s Scott, the “face of the franchise,” so to speak. He’s also the reader. As people read the story, they’re reading Scott’s head, his thoughts, his transitions from one idea to the next. I had feared that he’d be far too personal a character to put an image to. I am exceedingly happy to say, I was wrong.

 

Excerpt from Epic 3: Hero

Beside Scott, Nicolai kissed his blood-encrusted dog tag—the one belonging to the man he’d presumably murdered. Scott would have been disgusted if he hadn’t grown used to it long ago. He looked sidelong at Svetlana. She would never have experienced anything like this before. This was a different situation than the one she’d been in previously with the Fourteenth. Now there were twice as many Nightmen in the unit, and they were ten times more radical than the Nightmen before them, Anatoly and Baranov. This new crew took totalitarianism to the extreme.

At that moment, Scott did something that surprised even himself—he gently squeezed the back of Svetlana’s neck. Unspoken reassurance. For a moment, he felt her tension release.

“Coming down hot!” Travis yelled from the cockpit.

Scott latched on his faceless helmet. It attached to the clamps of his armor. He stared through its interior view screen, where a transparent map of the church appeared. He watched as Svetlana removed her helmet briefly to pull an insulated layer of rubber over her head. The blond tips of her hair disappeared, and she slipped her helmet back on.

The Pariah’s inertia shifted. They were about to drop.

 

I came across Adam Gregory, ironically, while looking to fill another role in this casting series. The moment I saw him, that search I was on (and I don’t even recall who it was for) came to a halt, and I said to myself, “That’s Scott – I’ve got to reach out to this guy.” He was extremely gracious about the concept of this casting series and was completely down with my tabbing him as Scott for this entry. Believe it or not, this all went down over a year ago! Just goes to show you how time flies.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about Scott the character, because if you’re a fan of Epic, there’s nothing I can tell you that you don’t already know. If you’re not among the Epic faithful, all you need to know is that Scott Remington is the protagonist of this entire novel series. Not one of the protagonist. He is the protagonist. So putting a face to the name – even for imaginary purposes such as this one – is a really big deal. Without spoiling anything (and Epic fans just know this), Scott is a man of strong faith who has been to the depths of emotional hell and back, and who has a dark streak because of it. He describes himself in Dawn of Destiny as a “nice guy with a guy,” but I think we all know there’s a lot more to him than that. He’s a battle-scarred soldier with an inclination to take things over because, well, he can do it and you can’t. He’s a one-woman man who can’t seem to escape love-triangle-infused personal demons. In other words, he’s a very challenging cast. That I was able to ask for and receive Adam’s blessing for this is very, very meaningful. So I’m going to turn my focus for this entry on Adam himself, because he’s got some ridiculously cool things going on!

What most people who already know Adam will know him from is Bold and the Beautiful, where he played the role of Thomas Forrester for several years, and the CW’s adaptation of 90210, where he played Ty Collins. You can find ample information about those shows online, as they’re both ginormous and have massive, massive followings. But what I want to touch on in regards to Adam is something different that people may not know about – something called The Janus Project.

 

Adam Gregory is a bad, bad man.

Adam Gregory is a bad, bad man.
(he’s actually not)

 

The Janus Project is listed as a psychological fantasy thriller, which is a category in and of itself that catches your eye. Off the top of my head, I can’t remember ever hearing a title listed as that sort of “genre” before, so it’s immediately intriguing. There’s a lot of info about how and where the film is being produced, and the tagline for the trailer, which you can see below, is pretty direct: The relationship of SHANE, an ex-special ops soldier, and LEXI, a gifted psychology student, is tested as supernatural forces threaten to transform reality as they know it. Targeted by this evil, an ancient secret society called The Vii, SHANE must overcome the trials of his past to embrace his true self and unlock his power.

 

 

You guys should know by now that I’m a big fan of being different and taking chances. That’s one of the allures of this project to me. It most decidedly looks different, and as far as independent films go, budgeting one for between $10-30M is a pretty big chance. So I have this one slated as one I’d like to see, however it ends up being distributed. I can say this with all certainty: I’ve seen a lot of independent films advertised, as I tend to run in those circles with moderate frequency. This is hands-down the highest-quality one I’ve seen, judging by the trailer and sheer size of the production. I almost don’t even want to call it independent, but it is what it is. The production value is definitely several steps up from what you’re likely accustomed to seeing in indie film. I don’t mean that as a slight in the least to other indie projects! This one just seems to have a truly titanic budget to work with.

There are other projects, of course, that Adam has either in the works or being released, such as Saints and Soldiers – the Void, which released about a month ago, all of which you can learn about by tracking Adam on IMDb or at his Twitter account here. What you’ll find (and it’s always refreshing to find this) is a normal guy doing the whole husband/daddy thing when he’s not busy on set. I can relate to him on a lot of these counts, as we both have toddlers at about the same age. You’ll find a lot of kid photos, and family-related tweets, which is always just nice and a reminder that people aren’t the roles they play. I’m so grateful that I was able to discover Adam and that he was kind enough to lend his likeness to Epic’s little casting series.

It’s getting those blessings that makes this casting series what it is – something above the norm of just sticking people’s photos on a blog entry. Hearing back from someone I contacted and hearing that they’re game for this just makes it special. Adam is a perfect Scott Remington, from his look, to his style, to who he is as an individual (he, like Scott, is a man of strong personal faith). It actually can get a little bit frustrating, as finding these spot-on actors and actresses just makes me want to start filming a movie! But that’s a good kind of frustrating. It’s the kind of frustrating that makes you want to push harder and reach further. Slowly but surely, we’re getting there.

Thank you, Adam, for your willingness to be a part of this. I’m excited to see what Janus has in store.

No more casting entries in the immediate future, folks, though I have some targets on my hit list! But there will be a kind of “Season 1 summary” entry coming up, just kind of recapping where this unique little set of entries is now. There will be more to come at some point!

Take care, people!

Enemy When?

The question was posed to me today whether or not I’d get back to writing Enemy One now that the audiobook was completed and only waiting for release. The answer to that is an emphatic yes. I have a lot of ground to cover, and I want to cover it quickly. I wrote today for the first time in a very, very long time, managing to get in almost five hundred words in the span of a toddler’s 90-minute nap. Five hundred words may not seem like much, but five hundred words a day would duplicate TGB in less than a year. Not only do I not intend for E5 to be that long, I absolutely plan on writing more than five hundred words per day.

Five hundred words per day is my target minimum, and my target length for E5 is 120,000 words (in-between DOD and Hero). If I meet my minimum, E5 will be written in 240 days, assuming E5 is indeed 120k in length. For those curious, that puts E5’s finish date at May 21, 2015.

Don’t treat that as gospel. Just like on some days, my word count might be 3,000-5,000, there might be some weeks when writing anything at all is just not a possibility. Life never stops or slows down. If you don’t believe it, have a kid. But here’s the promise I want to make to you: I will work my tail off to get E5 finished as quickly as possible. I will never sacrifice quality for quantity, but quantity nonetheless is an area I’m putting more emphasis on now than ever before.

Enemy One has been a challenging experience, to say the absolute least. It may surprise some to know that I’ve already written about 100,000 words’ worth of the book, so there has been great effort taking place on my part to write Enemy One even though the fruit of that hasn’t materialized for the reader. You see, the problem with those 100,000 words is that, so far, they’ve only comprised of the first 10,000 words of the book. More has been deleted and rewritten in E5 than with any other book, bar none. I write, I realize it’s awful, I delete. I write, I realize it’s awful, I delete. The cycle has gone on and on since TGB‘s release. There have been a lot of factors to this. First and foremost, though I hate even bringing it up, getting cancer did a number on me mentally and emotionally. I just did not want to write Epic. Some might find it curious that I’ve actually written a few other projects during that same stretch of times, including the Xenonauts novella (Crimson Dagger) and a yet-unannounced project that is BIG. I can only offer this as an explanation: Epic is my heart. I can write other things rationally, methodically, like a job. But Epic has always come from deep within, and every time I reached deep within while dealing with cancer, I found sadness. I tried to write nonetheless, but the results were never good, and so they were deleted.

Enemy One follows TGB, and that in itself has been a huge problem. I knew what was going to happen in Enemy One to the point where it became boring to write, and when you’re writing while bored, the writing will be boring. I was going through the numbers. They do this, then they do this, then they do this, etc. etc. It wasn’t even Epic anymore. It was the same kind of self-published drivel I’ve fought my entire writing career to separate myself from. It would have sparked review headlines like, “Was this even written by the same author?” and I wouldn’t have been able to refute them at all. It was a predictable story that was just going through the motions. I can’t write something that I know will turn out like that.

You see, there comes a problem with planning too far ahead, because you become so familiar with the story, the writing becomes more a chore than a passion. It’s a catch-22, because without a plan, you literally have no idea where you’re going, and the story reflects that. I actually tried that, too, scrapping the plan entirely and just writing with no direction. It didn’t work. 10,000 words deleted (again). Just the same, the plan I had was no longer exciting me, so I wrote a new one. It’s the one I’m working through now, and it’s great. I’m not just saying that. It has many elements of my original vision for E5, but with much stronger foundations, convictions, and flat-out excitement. It was a fresh coat of paint that Enemy One desperately needed.

I do know where Epic is going. It isn’t a directionless tale with no ending in sight. The series has an ending (which I know) which will take place in either 7 or 8 books. I know what will happen, for the most part, in those books. I just don’t know if E7 will be enough to wrap everything up. I’ll see when I’m finishing E6. But it has a plan. I just try not to look at it too much.

So those are explanations and a general update about where E5 has been, is, and is going. This is kind of a crossroads for both the series and the Epic brand. You’ll know what I mean in time. Just know that things are getting back to good, this writer is trying hard, and there’s no reason to be anything other than optimistic about Epic’s future.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting about the progress I’m making. I want you in on this journey with me! I’ll never spoil things, but on occasion what I’m writing might spur a thought which I’ll share. I like to be interactive, and your interactions mean more than you’ll ever know. Thank you for bearing with me, thank you for always being an encouraging word, and thank you for being a part of Epic. You’re as big a part of it as Remmy himself.

I’ll post again soon!

-LS