2023-07-31 Newsletter

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Scott E. Pond Designs Newsletter


July has been a July to remember. Between some family emergencies, life and home arrangement changes, trying to stay as healthy as possible, county fairs, and a bunch of other life and work stuff, it has been a challenge (yet again) on the creative front. However, we have made some progress, as you can see below.

Graphic Design News

In the last month, there hasn't been a ton of work on the graphic design front, but we are making headway on two main projects.

First on the docket, we're making some progress on the next book in Paul E. Cooley's.THE BLACK series. For The Black: Outbreak, we have the interior fully updated and laid out. For the cover, we have a spine-tingling idea that we're running with. While the relaunch of first two books--The Black and The Black: Arrival--have a subtle, almost creepy-but-you-don't-know-why-until-you-look-closer vibe, we are going with something a little more... shall we say... in your face for this one. We really wanted to capture the reader's attention... and I think we're nailing it. As I said to Paul, I think you all are going to poop yourself. But in a good way.

On the personal front, I am plugging away on my next direct-to-Amazon workbook, the Character Builder Workbook for writers. One of the things I have always struggled with as a writer is keeping track of details for each of the characters. What color were their eyes? How old are they and when/where were they born. Where was that tattoo? I've tried many ways to do this and it comes down to getting some kind of tracker that I can record the information in (and to stop fiddling with the tracker design). So I've been working for the last couple months on finalizing the layout of my Writing Bible for Characters. Here's the deal: there will be three main versions of it, one for multi-book series, one for duologies and trilogies, and one for single novels. Each version will have space for capturing the details for your main, secondary, tertiary, and mentioned characters, along with character maps, groups and organizations, and information on best practices. If that weren't enough, we'll also have smaller workbooks to allow your to capture limited numbers of just primary, secondary, or tertiary/mentioned characters, without all the extra stuff... that way you can mix and match and configure your character bible collection in whatever way you wish. I have a little more work to do on them, but we're in the straight stretch... more on that in the next newsletter.

The Writing News

A little on the progress of Dark Rites, my supernatural/police procedural novel.

The first draft Dark Rites continues along at a good pace. We are currently at about 141K total words out of the anticipated 220K for the first draft.

In the last month, even wth some of the challenges we have had, I've been able to add another 10K words to the manuscript. If you have been following along at home with the drama, fun, and festivities, you'll realize that 10K words (roughly 333 words a day averaged) and is miracle and quite an accomplishment.

If the regular stuff weren't enough, early in the month I had a document hiccup and lost around 3K words. Initially, in actuality I lost over 12K words, but was able to recover most of them due to the weird way I write when on the go. Unfortunately, that set-back was a bit demoralizing, as you can imagine. I now have a new process of backing up the work and then backing up the backup to ensure I minimize the chance of it happening again. So in reality, I have written around 13K words, since I had to recover the remaining lost 3K after the disaster.

Included in that rewrite was the new prelude for the book. Originally, I had a different starting chapter written (I still have that chapter, but it occurs later in the story now). After noodling it a bit, I felt the original just didn't have the hook I was looking for, the initial bit of action to draw the audience in.

When crafting the opening salvo of the stories I have in mind, I always go back to the movies that captured my imagination in my youth. Star Wars: A New Hope. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. If you think about those stories, part of the reason they hook you is that they start with an action sequence, as though the story was already in progress and you are literally jumping in halfway through the mini-story. THAT is what was missing in my original opening... that action hook. So, enter the new prelude.

I've included the first couple paragraphs of it here for your enjoyment... and perhaps as a hook, eh?



Dark Rites: Prelude


6:47 PM – Friday, 11 July 1973


“Looking for this, Protector?” a man said, slipping out of the crypt entrance. “You’re a little too late.”

Dan stopped in his tracks, not even ten yards from the tomb opening, his eyes instantly tracking the source of the raised, familiar voice.

The rain was incessant, coming down in sheets and beating a primitive tattoo on loose, rough soil, which drank the water like a sponge. He was drenched, the water soaking through the faded green canvas of his old army shirt and through the T-shirt beneath, chilling him. His left hand gripped the sword sheath, the tattered oiled canvas wrapped around it to protect the valuable weapon within. His hair, already straggly, was plastered to his head and neck and hung limply in clumps in front of his eyes. He unconsciously pushed it back from his face, slowly, allowing him to see better.

Just barely above him, about thirty-five feet up the rock-strewn embankment, was a man he never thought he’d see again.

Dan’s eyes were instantly drawn to the man’s hand. Dangling from it was a crudely cut, palm-sized, crimson gemstone on a thick, tarnished bronze necklace of interlocking links. The crystal seemed to suck in the fading afternoon light, as if feeding hungrily from it, while leeching out an inky blackness around its edges. A lazy yellow glow oozed around its interior, trying to pull Dan’s eyes into its depths. He pulled his eyes away with effort, forcing them onto the man's face, boring into his eyes.

The eyes of his enemy.

Dan could barely control the rage that came bubbling up from the depths of his being, from the center of his soul.

A knowing, malicious grin spread across the man’s features at Dan’s obvious shock upon seeing him.

“Crispin, you fucking traitor,” Dan snarled, his sword clearing the sheath without conscious thought.



The Writing Process

Writing is an interesting process for me. As a visual designer and someone who more often than not thinks in visuals and pictures, I often cannot just rely on my mind's-eye or mental imagery to keep track of everything. If that weren't bad enough, as a navy-trained electronics technician and nuclear reactor operator from way back, I am a planner by nature. Sure, when I am in the throes of writing a scene, I can throw down with the best of the pantsers, but to get there I have to plan, plan, plan.

These two aspects end up costing me quite a bit of time. But necessary time I think, at least for me.


Character Tracking

Characters? I need a list of them so I don't cross my wires. I like to keep track of the details. Because of this, I need to have a master tracking sheet for all the existing and potential character names, small details such as DoB, roles, and relationships, and which stories they end up in. Toward this end, I needed to create a master character tracker spreadsheet to make it easier for me. If they appear in a story of mine (or if a new name comes to mind or if someone volunteers for tribute), they end up on the tracker. So far, I have over 380 names on this... and the list keeps growing. Main characters, minor characters, or just someone mentioned to glimpsed in passing... they all end up on here.

Story Outlining

If that weren't enough, I am a definite planner/outliner. With the complexity of my stories and how many moving parts I like to juggle, I have to plan out the flow of the book from start to finish and plan out the details of what happens in each chapter and each scene. Due to this, I have a separate tracker for each story for the outline. As things change and grow, so does the outline tracker. Here is an example from the beginning of Dark Rites. As you can see, I need to know the date and time, location, and who is involved, along with potential word count and eventual audiobook run time.

Keeping Track of Details

As I mentioned earlier, I need to keep track of character details, which is the main reason I am creating my Character Writing Bible Workbook. Aside from that, though, I am a stickler for details and keeping things accurate. Is there a building that the character spends a lot of time in and action takes place? I need a building map. How about a town or a city where the story unfolds or the character travels a lot in? I need a town or location map. How about precious or special equipment? I need visuals to be able to consistently represent it in word form. Due to this, I end up getting side tracked to create maps, drawings and illustrations, and to research details of real-world and fantastical things to both educate myself and to keep track of what the heck I'm trying to describe. Below you can see some of the collateral I have captured for the main character of Dark Rites, Dan, and another character for a different story. I've drawn out a map of an island, the same location where Dan confronts Crispin in the Prelude to Dark Rites. I have Dan's house, his and his mother's cars, and two mystical devices he uses in the Institute stories. I also have the houseboat and motorcycle of the other character, one who may or may not end up in the Institute series or may end up in her own series in the same universe... haven't decided yet.

Product Showcase

One of the things I am going to do going forward in each newsletter is to feature or showcase one of the many products I have available through various outlets. It's a chance to see what I have available and to see the different kinds of things I dabble in.

I am a huge fan of role playing games and am a long-time player of Dungeons and Dragons (started in 1983 back in Pennsylvania... sheesh, forty years). As a fan, player, and RPG collector, I wanted a tee shirt that really showcased my love of the game and RPGs in general. Hence was born the Run D&D tee. I have seen multiple versions of this round the web, but I wanted one clean and as well-laid-out as possible since most of what I saw were... cheesy... at best. I ended up creating this version for myself but then liked it so much that I made it available for the general populous. Right now it is only available through ETSY, but eventually it will be over on Amazon Merch-On-Demand.

PRICE: $20 plus S&H

LINK: https://www.etsy.com/listing/1123286194/vintage-run-dd-dnd-d-and-d-tee-shirt-t


Well, my friends, that's all I have for this time around. I'll try to be more frequent from here on out... but you know how it goes: you never know what will distract me next.


As always, you can comment on this newsletter or contact me with any questions or thoughts.

Stay safe and frosty, my peeps, and I'll talk to you next time!


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