Friday, December 21, 2018

After Borealis, a Monster comes.

The 'HMCS Borealis' series ended with Red Space, but that's not the end of the story.  New lives take centre stage as familiar ones fade into the background.  In my next book, the spotlight will fall on an older Palani woman named Zura Varta.

Zura Varta is a living legend among the Palani.  For over eight hundred years, Mahasa (General) Varta has led the forces of the Palani empire.  She's fought two genocidal wars against the relentless Horlan, as well as lesser conflicts against the Jaljal, the Humans, and others.  She's feared and respected by friend and foe alike, for her unflinching readiness to do what needs to be done, and to accept the sacrifices necessary for victory.   
But twenty years after the Borealis, things have changed.  There's no place in the peaceful new galactic neighbourhood for old warriors like her. 
New Fraser is a new human colony at the far edge of the Burnt Worlds.  The Palani are sympathetic to the Humans' crushing refugee crisis, and have permitted colonies on a few of their grave worlds.  Rich, well-connected refugees go to prosperous colonies; the destitute and desperate end up somewhere like New Fraser...
...and New Fraser is about to meet its new military governor:  Mahasa Varta.

The book has the working title Monster, and the first draft is done and ready for editing.  It's the first in a series tentatively called 'Hybrid'.  As well as introducing some new faces, we'll have the chance to catch up with some familiar friends.

But for now, it's time to spend the holidays with family and friends.  I hope you all have a great holiday, and may 2019 bring you all kinds of awesomeness.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Mrs. Lloyd was right.

Here in my part of the beautiful and spectacular Great White North, we've managed to avoid the wet, messy weather normally associated with autumn.  We've done this -- it's rather cunning -- by skipping autumn completely.  In a few short weeks we've gone from "Good grief it's hot" to "My face froze and fell off".

While this grey murk is going on outside, occasionally punctuated by snow blowing horizontally, I've been inside scribbling.  I've defaced half a dozen large notebooks with my indecipherable writing. 

I remember a report card I received, back in Grade 5.  This was around the time of the opening of the Great Pyramid, when grades were given on a scale from A to F.  My grade for Penmanship was a U.  Apparently, Mrs. Lloyd had some grave misgivings about my handwriting.

10 points for every word you can make out.

Despite this terrible hardship, progress is being made.  I now have 60,000 words of the next book, which has the (occasionally-changing) working title of 'Monster'.  It's the first book in the new 'Hybrid' series, which takes place several decades after the events of the 'Borealis' series.  We'll be meeting Mahasa Zura Varta, a legendary Palani general who has been given an unexpected new assignment.

More details will come later.  Right now, I need to go translate my chicken-scratches into English.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Relationship Advice

Every now and then -- not nearly often enough -- I head to the lovely state of New York to spend some time with my dark heart of sin bestie, Lady Murderbeam.

In order to get there and back, I have to cross the border between Canada and the United States, which involves a brief conversation with an agent of either the US Customs & Border Protection or the Canada Border Services Agency.  Who are probably now reading this.  So, hello!

The agents are always faultlessly polite and highly professional.  Sometimes I might meet one who's a bit surly for some reason, but I smile and behave myself and it's all good.

Once in a while, an agent will offer me relationship advice.  Seriously.  I'm not making this up.  The following conversations have all happened at the border at different times over the years.  Word for word, as best as I can remember:

#1:  US CBP
- Where are you headed?
- Rochester.
- What are you doing there?
- Visiting a friend.
- (leaning forward, smiling)  Is it a laaaaady friend?
- What?  Yes?
- Good for you.  Off you go.

#2:  US CBP
- Where are you headed?
- Rochester.
- Who are you seeing there?
- A lady friend.
- How long have you known her?
- Seven years?  Eight?
- Eight years?  (laughs)  You're way more patient than me.
- What?
- Have a good time.  Drive safe.

#3:  US CBP
- Where are you headed?
- Rochester.
- Who are you seeing there?
- A lady friend.
- (looks into the back seat)  Are you bringing any perfume, jewelry, or flowers?
- No.
- Why not?
- Uh... I'm going to get something on the way to her place?
- So you should.  Bye now.

#4:  Canada BSA
- Where have you been?
- Rochester.
- How long have you been gone?
- Two weeks and a bit.
- Who were you seeing?
- A lady friend.
- For two weeks?  Wow.  You must really like her.
- Yeah, she's pretty special.
- You should go back again soon.
- I hope to.
- Good, good.  You can go.

If you travel back and forth between Canada and the US even a little, you should look into the Nexus program.  It involves being a sort of 'trusted traveller', meaning that they've already checked and have determined that no, you're not the droid they're looking for.  It's cheap and speeds things up a lot, and I'm totally not paid to say any of this.  Plus, the Canada-bound Nexus crossing is pretty relaxed.

#5:  Canada BSA (Nexus lane)
- We good?
- We good.
- Bye.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Teenagers & Dragons

I recently returned from spending a little while with my object of unholy intent super-bestie, Lady Murderbeam.  Her home is a busy place, full of comings and goings.  There's always stuff happening.

In her house, one particularly fun source of entropy is The Child(TM), who is working her way through her senior year in high school.  In addition to the demanding schoolwork, she is navigating the web of high school social drama.  A thousand young people, all trying to figure out who they are, and who their friends are becoming, and with whom, and what to do about it.  I'd forgotten just how terrifyingly complicated it could be.

While I was there, I was given the opportunity to join The Child(TM) and some of her co-conspirators for a quick game of Dungeons & Dragons.  I started playing when I was their age, and I haven't played in a while, and I sometimes make poor choices, so of course I agreed.

Holy crap.

It's like raw unfiltered id, communicated entirely in memes.  A constant barrage of references, of pop culture and movies and anime and music and their own shared repository of in-jokes and anecdotes.  There's no way I was that smart when I was 17.  Sure, I was driving a car at that age, but I'm pretty sure I was still an idiot.

As for the amount of D&D adventuring that was actually accomplished, it wasn't a lot.  But because it's funny to me, and for no other reason, here's a summary:

The characters met in a small town.  After some discussion about whether the characters would be allowed to have pets, we proceeded to the militia barracks to learn about the quest.

When the militia captain's office was described, the enthusiastic storyteller mentioned a computer monitor on the desk, before realising it was a bit anachronistic for a medieval-themed adventure.
This led to discussion about the nature of the computer, and the revelation that the 'mouse' on the desk was, in fact, a real mouse.  The mouse was immediately stolen by The Child(TM)'s character who, for some reason, put it in their mouth and started to gnaw on it.  This led to the party being kicked out of the barracks.

Fortunately, we'd managed to find out about the quest, which was to investigate a troublesome griffon in a nearby field.  Spirited debate ensued about whether or not the griffon might be tamed and kept as a pet. 

On the way to the griffon, we were ambushed by a group of wolves.  Immediate attempts were made to tame the wolves as pets.  These efforts continued as the wolves started to eat the characters.

For my part, my character hid behind a rock to observe the outcome of the taming/eating.  Rolling a 'stealth' check produced a critical success.  Delighted by this, the still-enthusiastic storyteller declared that my character had willed himself out of existence entirely, shifting to another dimension where time and space had no meaning.  This was my main contribution to the adventure.

There was then additional discussion about pets, following which the game broke up, as the teenagers had school the next day.

You know what?  The whole thing was a huge success.  I should play more often.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Uncommon Language

George Bernard Shaw said that Britain and America were two countries separated by a common language.  Or something like that, anyway.  I've also seen versions of that quote attributed to Oscar Wilde or Sir Winston Churchill.  Okay, so maybe a lot of people have said it, but I wasn't one of them.

There are a number of differences between the version of English used in the United States, and the versions used everywhere else.  I've seen the 'everywhere else' versions called 'Oxford English', or 'British English', or 'Commonwealth English'.  Canada's version of English is a bit of a mash of both American and Commonwealth, because of course it is.

Because so many people weren't wondering what the main differences are, I thought it would be helpful to take a moment to explain one of these differences.  You could use this handy information to correct your professor/teacher/nurse when they get it wrong.  Before long, you'll be ignored celebrated for your brilliance!

-IZE versus -ISE

Many of the words that end in -ize/-ise came from the French language.  While William the Conqueror is often credited/blamed for bringing French to England, we know for a fact that French people were already in England at the time of King Arthur.

Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelled of elderberries.

In the US, most of these French-originated words end with -ize.  Elsewhere, the -ise ending is permitted, or even preferred.  It has to do with the stolen French words having been verbs ending in the suffix '-iser', which in turn had their origins with the Greek suffix '-izo'.  Something like that.  Both sides are convinced that their preferred version is more correct, and that the other side is a bunch of uncivilized poopyheads.

Examples of words affected by the -ize/-ise fiasco are:

  • organise/organize
  • centralise/centralize
  • advertise/advertize

There are a few words that are always -ise in all versions of English:

  • exercise
  • promise
  • enterprise

There is at least one word that is always -ize in all versions of English:

  • capsize

Also, there are related words that make a similar switch, between -yze/-yse:

  • paralyse/paralyze
  • analyse/analyze

And, of course, there are some words for which the -ize/-ise thing doesn't apply at all:

  • dog
  • pudding
  • sandwich
  • gazebo

It would probably be best to memorize all this, in case there's a snap quiz.

Stay tuned for some undetermined time in the future, when we'll explore another of the quirky little things that helps English remain virtually unlearnable to others.

Here are some websites featuring people who know what they're talking about:

Friday, August 10, 2018

Trees and other projects

There's a saying that goes along the lines of:

"A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they will never sit."

There doesn't seem to be much agreement on who said it first, or who thought it first.  Or even who first thought that they might like to think about saying it. 

Humans are always starting new projects and building new stuff.  But it seems to me that most of humanity's biggest projects are built in timeframes that fit within a single lifetime.  The people who started it will probably be around to see it finished.

The capitalist system seems to encourage even shorter timeframes, with a preference for projects that can be completed quickly -- within the next quarter -- to satisfy shareholders.

When I left my previous job, I was asked to leave a to-do list for my replacement.  So, y'know.

I don't know how long it took to build an average ziggurat, but the Intertubes says that the Pyramids took around 20 years apiece.  If I started hauling blocks now (and maybe started eating properly once in a while) there's every chance I could live to see my own pyramid finished.

Maybe it's difficult to convince someone to devote their time, labour, and money to a project that they'll never see done -- and that might be abandoned after their death, never getting finished at all.  There are exceptions, like cathedrals that took centuries to build, but the people who built them may have had faith that the cathedral would be done eventually.

So, if the scope of the projects humans undertake is somehow influenced by our life spans, what about alien races with different life spans?  If an alien race lived for a thousand years, would they be more likely to undertake larger, grander projects?  Would we see temples and monuments and other public works on a scale beyond anything humans have ever built?

Or maybe they'd work at a different pace, knowing they had plenty of time and there was no need to rush.  Their projects might be no grander than ours, but just accomplished really, really slowly.

What I'm saying is, I think the motor-vehicle licence office is run by aliens.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

What's For Lunch?

I got a question the other day:  "What do the Dosh normally eat?"

Because I am clever and quick on my feet, I of course answered right away:  "Buh?"

When we go on vacation, people often tell us to be careful what we eat or drink, because our stomachs might get upset.  So what would it be like going to another planet? 

Everything we eat is current or former living matter, with the possible exception of that cheese stuff that comes in a spray can.  Anyway, it all (is/was/came from) a living thing, and all of it is native to Earth.  If we went to an alien homeworld and scarfed down a Blargburger-with-splenge(TM), the bacteria in our guts might not have the faintest clue what to do with it. 

(top row) Blargberger with splenge
(bottom row) Splengeburger with blarg
Not my image.  I got it from Pinterest.  No idea where they got it.

Any space-faring civilisation depicted in science fiction must have agriculture of some sort.  As a species, they lived long enough to achieve space travel without starving to death.  Do they have animals they eat for food, or plants, or weird non-plant-like things?  Maybe they get their nutrition by slurping up the highly-nutritious slime that grows on rocks on their planet.  Yum.

Perhaps they've developed something new.  People around here talk about so-called 'superfoods', like kale, or quinoa, or (in my case) pizza.  Maybe the aliens have developed a One Perfect Food that satisfies all their nutritional requirements, tastes awesome, and is made in an environmentally-sustainable food extruding apparatus.

Maybe it comes in a spray can.  I'd try it.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Red Space: Now Available!

Happy Canada Day!

I'm delighted to announce that Red Space, the fifth and last book in the HMCS Borealis series, is now available.

Here's the short version:

They may already be too late. 
Earth is losing the war against the Horlan. The crew of HMCS Borealis is on a last, desperate mission to turn the tide. Travelling to another galaxy, they have rescued scientists in search of a miracle, and gained an unexpected ally... but all at a terrible cost. 
With no contact from home, the crews of the Borealis, Sagan and Nirupak may be all that remains of humanity. Struggling with their losses and despair, the crews prepare for what lies ahead. But hidden in the darkness of a hostile galaxy, something else has taken notice.  
Against impossible odds, the Borealis sails one last time to fight in a war that may already be lost, and to come face-to-face with an ancient mystery.

Find a copy of Red Space here (universal link), or at an individual Amazon store:

It's been a long, fun adventure, and thanks to everyone who has come along for the ride.

But the ride isn't over with Red Space.  There will be more stories from that galaxy, from a different time in its history.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Northern Grandeur

Here in the North, it's almost summer.  Our igloos have begun to melt, and everything is soaked.  Soon it will be time to follow the herds of caribou (and the zombie marmosets) as they migrate up to the highlands.  We will watch over them, and as they graze we will sing the ancient songs of fear and panic once sung by our ancestors.

Or it just means there's no hockey, and I don't have to wear a jacket while barbequing.  That's okay too, I guess.

Red Space is now out for one last round of external editing.  My brother is an actual, I-kid-you-not poet, and has a gift for individual word choices that is infuriating inspiring.  Why would a character look at something, when they can peer, or gaze, or glance, or behold?

Canada Day is July 1st.  Canadians celebrate the day in 1867 when some of the leftover North American colonies asked Britain if they could become sorta independent, and everyone seemed okay with the idea.  Anyway, that's the day I'm hoping to release Red Space.

After that, I've got two ideas in my head fighting over who gets to go next.  One is set a few years later in the Borealis universe, and the other is an entirely different setting.  Both of them have interesting characters who are trying to get my attention.  I'm going to spend some time with them, and see which one reaches critical mass.

I've had a few people ask if they could hire me to proofread and/or edit some of their own work.  I'm shocked flattered that someone would think I'm good enough.  If you like my style and you think you'd like to do that, then:  (a) thank you, and (b) sure, why not?  Drop me a line and we'll sort something out.

I better hurry.  The marmosets have left without me.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Red Space: Cover Image

I have the final version of the cover for Red Space, the fifth and final book in the story of HMCS Borealis.  Here it is:

Editing continues, with more feedback coming in from the awesome and spectacular Readers Of The Apocalypse.

At the moment, it looks like I'm on track to release the book around the end of June.  Assuming, of course, we aren't invaded by ninja robot space pirates or something.  Hey, it could happen.

Quote of the day:

On the red carpet at an awards show:
"Wonderful dress. Who are you wearing?"
"My neighbour."

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Editing Is Still Awesome

The much-honoured Readers Of The Apocalypse have been looking at a draft of Red Space (last book in the HMCS Borealis series) and they've been providing feedback.

They're all enjoying it, which is great, and their main issues have been around details of technology and continuity.  Things like, "how are they able to [spoiler] if the [spoiler] is [spoiler]?" and "why isn't anyone wearing pants in chapter 13?"  These are good questions.  Especially the one about pants.

One slip-up I make -- and the sharp-eyed Readers pick up on it -- is that I sometimes repeat sections.  I might be thinking, for instance, that Dillon and the Chief need to talk about coffee (hey, it could happen).  I write a scene, and include the conversation.  Then, a few days later I'm writing a later scene, and remember that Dillon and the Chief need to talk about coffee.  I effectively write the same scene again, having forgotten that I already took care of it a few days ago.  This isn't a fault of the book, of course:  it's a fault of the brain that I use when I do most of my writing.  If there's one thing I've noticed, it's that my brain has been involved in every dumb decision I've ever made.  It must be defective or something.  Unfortunately, it's out of warranty.

At the moment, I'm standing by for some more feedback.  I'll be gathering it all up into a new(er) draft, which I'll review while I start polishing.  I'm also getting close to having a final cover for the book, which I'll share here once I'm satisfied with it.

I'm also accumulating a pile of scribbled notes for my next book, which is getting ready to take up residence in my head.  But more on that later.

Quote of the day:

"I'm tough, I can take care of myselAAAAAAIEEE!"
- Lady Murderbeam, playing a very new, very squishy character

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Editing Is Awesome

I've just come back from a couple weeks spent in lovely New York State, where I was enduring enjoying a working vacation at the home of my favourite misanthrope.  I'll refer to her as L.B. from now on, because online privacy is important.(1)

Apart from vital pursuits such as Nephalim Rifts, proper nutrition, and social-anxiety hell, we learned how to sign up for driving school.  It was a very busy and exciting few weeks.

As part of this extravaganza of productivity, I'm almost done the first edit of Red Space, the fifth and final book in the 'HMCS Borealis' series.  There's a hell of a lot of red ink all over everything, evidence of the slicing and dicing that will carve the draft into shape.  I hope to have a new draft ready for the Beta-Readers Of The Apocalypse before the end of the month.

In the meantime, my brain is excitedly giving me ideas for the next book.  The current plan is to visit an urban-dwelling druid, who can manipulate technology the way her ancestors manipulated nature.  I can't wait to learn more about her.

1.  That is to say: it's important now, since the Bond-villain CEOs have noticed some people starting to pay attention.

Quote of the day:

"There's just a whole bunch of kill."
- L.B., playing as the wizard Seare

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Borealis 5: First Draft Complete

After several days of intense scribbling and staring at the ceiling (a vital part of the process), I'm delighted to report that the first draft is finished.  The fifth and final book in the Borealis series is now ready for the torrents of gore editing.  I'm very happy with how it's turned out.  Of course, now is the time that I read through it again and ask myself, "Whose handwriting is this?  I can't read this scribbling."  And that's how editing begins.

It's currently at 75k words, which makes it the second-largest book in the series.  I don't know what you'll do with this information, but I felt like sharing.  Also, because I'm me, I'm compiling some pointless interesting statistics about the series that happen to amuse me.  I'll share them later.

Quote of the day:

"Well, shit."
- Captain E.J. Smith, RMS Titanic

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Borealis 5: Even More First Draft Progress

I'm delighted to report that the writing continues, with words all over the place.(1)  The first draft of 'Borealis 5' is at 60,000 words and counting.  It's full of stuff; I'm happy with it.

In related news, I can also report that my handwriting is getting worse, and is pretty much incomprehensible scribbling at this point.  I'm happy with that, too.

Once the first draft is done, it will be time for the reign of blood editing stage.  Someone way smarter than me (not a high bar to clear, but still) once said that a first draft is just filling the sandbox with sand, and that the sand castles don't get made until editing starts.  They said other smart stuff too, but I wasn't paying attention by then.

For those thinking of trying their hand at writing, you're in luck.  My fellow accused bestie Lia Black has a new blog called 'The Palimpsest Pen' where she offers helpful(2) advice for those who are thinking of picking up a pen.

1.  Not like that.  Ew.
2.  And by 'helpful', I of course mean 'catastrophic'.

Quote of the day:

"If it's on the Internet, it must be true."
- Julius Caesar

Friday, March 2, 2018

Have you ever noticed...

I spent about twenty years working in corporate environments.  I dwelt in cubicles, toiling away for some of the least-respected companies in Canada.

In that time, I noticed a lot of things going on.  Things that make cynics feel entirely justified in their cynicism.

For instance, there were a lot of military- and war-themed metaphors.  At one point or another, I heard all of these used in the workplace:

  • execute on a strategy
  • launch a new campaign
  • drop the bomb
  • take the hit
  • attack a problem
  • capturing market share
  • fall on my sword
  • provide cover
  • targeting a market
  • lead the charge
  • managers spending time in the trenches
  • battleground markets
  • employees as troops

Why is that?  Is it an unspoken admission that the job isn't fulfilling?  That what they're doing lacks drama, or nobility, or any identifiable moral purpose?  I don't know, but I do know that mentioning it meant I "wasn't a team player".

Maybe it was just a function of the time period.  I've been away from the corporate world for a few years now, and for all I know they now use Pokemon-based metaphors.  I think I'd very much prefer that.

Leveraged synergistic paradigms, I choose you!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Borealis 5: First Draft Progress

Work continues on the first draft of the fifth/last book of the Borealis series.  I've currently got a bit more than 30,000 words, and I'm about a third done.  It's going great, and I'm happy with it.

I expect it's going to be bigger than Realm of Elinth or Loyalties; it might even wind up being the biggest book in the series.  There's a lot of stuff going on.

In other news, I've had people asking me about my experiences in marketing my books.  I'm not an expert, but I can share what I've tried and the results.  I've just finished a promotion on Amazon that introduced the series to new readers (hello!).  Once I have some more data I'll compile my results in a blog post that will, in all likelihood, contain math.  Just saying.

In other, other, news, today is the day after Valentine's Day, also known as 'Half-Price Chocolate Day'.  Just FYI, the LD50 dosage of chocolate (theobromine) is about 450mg per pound of body weight.  That works out to about 80 lbs of milk chocolate for a 150-pound person.  So you're going to want to stop well before that.

Sources:  National Geographic, Wikipedia, and some scribbling on the back of an envelope.  I'm not actually a doctor, or scientist, or whatever.  Obviously.  I mean, look at me.  I can barely keep myself alive on a daily basis, let alone other people.  

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Future: Immortal Godlike Mice Slobs

I spend a lot of time staring at the wall contemplating the future.  Not as in 'what should I have for lunch', but as in 'what will humanity be doing in a hundred years'.  Story ideas are lining up inside my head, waiting their turn to get out, and sometimes they try to grab my attention by suggesting something weird.

Here's something that was making the rounds on The Internets a little while ago:

  >  Developmental drug shrinks fat cells without suppressing appetite
  >  Galveston researchers develop drug that shrinks fat ... in mice
          (links open in new windows, for no particular reason)

The gist of it (or, more accurately, what I've decided the gist of it is) is that some researchers have developed a drug that reduces fat regardless of the subject's diet.  At the moment, it only works in mice.  So presumably, laboratory mice are able to stay slim despite a diet of tiny little cheeseburgers.

Like I said, the articles did point out that this only works on mice.  There didn't seem to be any mention of what would happen if a human tried taking the drug.  Maybe, if a human took the drug, nearby mice would become slimmer.  We should conduct tests.

Where could things go from there?

Suppose the drug could be made to work on humans.  We would have a generation of people who remain slim despite eating whatever they want.  There's no need to promote healthy eating any more, if we could just take a pill to mitigate the consequences.

What else is possible?  Since we're thinking about the future, why stop there?  Doing cardio and other exercise has effects on the body; what if a drug was developed that provided the same effects?  An hour of exercise, in pill form?    How about something that reduces the effects of aging?  Is that possible?

  >  Scientists reveal a giant leap of anti-aging
          (link opens in a new window on someone else's computer)

So there's one possible future:  an entire generation living and eating like slobs, and being slim and fit despite it all.  All of them living to be 120 without even trying.

But the mice get to do it first.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The thing about a series...

Here I sit, ready to begin writing the last book in a five-book series.  Three years ago, if someone had told me this is where I'd be, I would've wet myself laughed at them.  It's been a great journey, and I'm trying to be careful to finish the story properly.  The characters deserve a satisfying conclusion to everything they've been through.  They also deserve a stiff drink.

While writing the series, I've noticed something about the process that struck me as interesting, even though everyone else will think it's completely obvious. 

At this point, most authors immediately run and crank out a 'How To Write A Book' book.  But not me.  I think the planet needs another 'How-To' book like it needs a black hole.  Besides, I don't think creative endeavours of any kind are 'one size fits all'.  The same approach won't work for everyone.  I read that somewhere.

Tell you what, though:  I'll number my sections, so it'll feel like an expensive 'How-To' book that offers blindingly-obvious advice in a poorly-organised manner.

1.  Do I need an outline?

When I started working on Burnt Worlds years ago, I was confronted with the terrifying dilemma of whether or not to create an outline.  My clever decision was to just waffle back and forth and avoid making a decision.

As a result, I wound up with a stack of random notes that, I told myself, was assuredly not an outline.  I then proceeded to fly by the seat of my pants.  I created characters and sub-plots with wild abandon, and everything seemed to turn out just dandy.  So that was that.

2.  No, that wasn't that.

People started asking for a sequel.  I already had some ideas for a bigger story, something that Burnt Worlds would fit in, and I started fleshing it out.  Which sounds rude, but isn't.  Anyway, I determined that the series would be about five books when it was done.  I started writing Book 2, but ran into trouble right away.  I was being constrained by the events in Book 1.

3.  'Constrained', not 'Restrained'.  I made that mistake once, at this strange place downtown...

When I originally wrote Burnt Worlds, it was as a standalone book.  I was going to publish the whole story at once.  While writing it, if I wanted to add a new event near the end of the book, I could go back and modify the earlier parts of the book to prepare for it.

But with a series, I was effectively writing a very big story and publishing it in sections.  Publishing each section was like shooting a gun:  I can aim my next shot, but the previous shot is already gone; it's not coming back.  So if I'm working on an event in Book 3, and realise that the characters should've mentioned it in Book 2, it's too late to change it.  The previous book has already been published and read.

Because of this, I think a series absolutely requires an outline.  Trying to fly through the whole series by the proverbial 'seat of the pants' will almost certainly end in trouble.  You need to know the big things that are going to happen later on, so you can prepare for them.  You don't have to outline everything to death, though some lunatics people do, but you gotta have the basics figured out.  With each subsequent book the need for an outline grows, until there's just too much stuff to hold in your brain all at once.

4:  World-building is all about detials.

It's the same thing for world-building -- even more so -- and for the same reason.  If you're writing a series, you're going to have to keep notes.  I don't see a way around it.  Write everything down:  names, descriptions, personalities, events, locations.  Writing a series of books is going to take a year (or two, or three), and you're not going to remember it all.  You've created a world where the story happens, and you know the broad strokes about how everything works, but it's the details that'll trip you. 

If you offhandedly mention in Book 1 that a character is tall, they should still be tall at the end of Book 4.   If Bob wants to kill his brother Doug in Book 2, you're going to have to do something about it at the family dinner in Book 5.

If, back in Book 3, you mentioned that rhinoceroses could fly and were explosive, then people should still be hiding underground in Book 7.  I know I would be.

79:  Conclusion.

This is a blog post; I don't need a conclusion.  Except maybe to say that, if you're writing a series, you're going to need an outline.  And you're sure as hell going to need notes.  All this may strike everyone as unbelievably obvious, but I did mention that up front.

And for God's sake, keep an eye out for the rhinoceroses.