Tagged: Divided Man Series

Like Sands Through the Hourglass

December is coming to a close, which means it’s time for our annual Year in Review post, 2017 edition.

At the beginning of the year we rather optimistically predicted that we might finish up both Son and Grandson of Science novel, and at least get a start on the third Music novel. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! We were so fucking naive!

While we did manage to get the last two Divided Man books polished and released, we didn’t even come close to finishing the Science novels. Jen was already frustrated at our lack of completion last year, so just imagine how thrilled she is now that it’s a whole year later and we’re still not done!

So what did we accomplish, if not everything on our wish list?

In January we had a belated launch party for Miss Brandymoon’s Device, and fretted a bit about what we would do once we finished writing our current trilogy of trilogies. February was spent editing various Divided Man books.

March brought the release of Tenpenny Zen. Yay! 

In April we seem to have wrapped up the first draft of Son of Science Novel, and were somewhat disappointed by its size. In the months since, we have added a bit more to it and, you’ll be relieved to learn, it now checks in at just a hair over 104,000 words. That’s still a bit slight, but is much less frightening. It’s now closer in size to its Mama.

Along with flowers, May brought major edits to Elsewhere’s Twin, and an important decision about the Music novels. And some delicious Greek food.

June was full of chainsaws — real ones, this isn’t an editing metaphor. When we got done bitching about that, we diagnosed some of what was missing from Son of Science Novel and finally got started composing Grandson.

By early July we’d already banged out 11,000 words for Grandson, which begs the question of why it’s still not done. Some of the blame should lay with Elsewhere’s Twin, which needed more edits before its release.

In August we took a road trip to attend a concert, and had a wonderful time. The band was great, and we used the car time to brainstorm ideas for the Middle Music novel. We also topped 20,000 words on Grandson of Science.

All we could talk about in September was the release of Elsewhere’s Twin. Have you seen the gorgeous cover? Our first trilogy is complete! We felt quite the feeling of accomplishment. We’re very proud of those books and all the work that went into them.

October had the new novel’s word count at 40,000, which is nothing to sneeze at. It also had us jetting off to Europe, which we didn’t talk about until November because we like to keep you guessing. And as soon as we got back from overseas, we turned right around and ran off to a writing conference.

And here we are again, back in December. Grandson of Science Novel is sitting pretty at 70,000+ words, which many people would consider novel-length. Just not us. Apart from that being far too short to fit in with our other work, we’re nowhere near done telling the story we set out to tell.

Our 2017 was quite successful, with the editing and publishing of two novels, the completion of a third, and a really good start on a fourth. Just try telling Jen that. She needs to recalibrate her expectations to be more in line with reality, and Kent is doing his best to help her with that. Maybe 2018 will be the year she finally gets it figured out.

Write Like Your Parents Will Never Read It

… But, um, they probably will.

It all depends on your subject matter, and on your parents. In our case, with books featuring so much vivid sex, profanity, violence, drug use, and trashing of religion, we felt pretty confident encouraging our moms not to read our stuff. (That didn’t work. It probably never does.)

Despite all our subtle warnings, our moms still wanted to read the books. So, we had to hand them over. Jen told her mom, “Kent wrote all the yucky parts,” and Kent told his mom to blame those sections on Jen.

The weirdest thing happened. Our moms liked the books.

Sure, they sort of have to. It’s in the mom job description. Of course they’re proud of us as writers. But we knew — or thought we knew — that our content wouldn’t be to their tastes. First of all, they don’t read much science fiction. And as mentioned above, it’s all stuff we’d never bring up in front of them. And we surely wouldn’t use such caustic language with them. They’re our moms!

We just don’t quite know how to process all this, and we probably never will. Happy to have happy readers? Absolutely. Glad not to have upset our moms? You bet! Wondering how well we really know these women? Little bit.

Having a writing partner means being able to disavow the parts your mom doesn’t like.

Our Nest Feels Empty

There’s a certain silence in the Writing Cave these days. Fewer characters are clamoring for attention, plot complications are down by a third, our writing lives have fewer distractions. And yet, the feeling is bittersweet.

As we mentioned last week, we’ve just released the final book (so far) in our Divided Man series. We’ve been living with Fin and Rook and their friends, family, and enemies for a long time and it’s distinctly weird to be done with them. That parenthetical “so far” up there at the top of this paragraph hints at our separation anxiety. Maybe we aren’t entirely ready to let go of the Tanners after all.

It feels a little like sending our kids off to college. We prepared them as best we could, and when the time came we launched them out into the world. We miss them, and the house feels distinctly empty without them around, but it was time for them to strike out on their own, to make their own marks.

New characters will come along to fill the void left by the Tanners and Tenpennys and talking lava lamps, it will just take a while for us to get to know them and become attached to them in the same way.

When our sons left home, we got a dog. Is it a coincidence that now that our first series is complete we’re talking about getting another?

Happy Anniversary!

One year ago today we released our first novel, Miss Brandymoon’s Device. It’s been an exciting and momentous year for us. We’ve finally gotten our hard work out in front of an audience. The financial rewards are, so far, very modest. It’s the other, less tangible rewards that we’re basking in. We’ve racked up some reviews, we’ve added newsletter subscribers, we’ve enjoyed conversations with our readers. It’s been a really busy year, but an incredibly satisfying one.

Just a couple of weeks ago we released our third novel, Elsewhere’s Twin, in ebook format, and we’re thrilled to announce that it’s finally available in paperback, too. Since we’d been through the process twice before, we thought we were old pros. We thought that ordering a proof copy was a mere formality. So when the proof arrived and there was an issue with the cover it threw off our schedule. After a bunch of fiddling and phone calls and reformatting we finally have the cover looking how we want it. Which means it’s ready for you to enjoy!

Elsewhere’s Twin is the final book (so far) in our Divided Man series. Since we’re self-publishing, we do all the steps ourselves. Editing and polishing Divided Man has pulled us away from writing the new Science Novels more than we anticipated, and more than we like. We’re planning to slow our pace a little bit for the next set of releases so that we have ample time to make everything the best that we possibly can.

But right now we’re just basking a little bit in the glow of our accomplishment. Go Team Skelley!

Today’s the Day! Elsewhere’s Twin Arrives!

Perhaps this was mentioned once or twice, but it always feels nice to do things thrice!

Elsewhere’s Twin, book three of the Divided Man, is available now.

Prophecies Don’t End With Happily Ever After

Fin and Rook never wanted to be heroes in the first place, so it’s no wonder they did a sloppy job of it. All the same, they thought they’d earned a bit of downtime by averting the enslavement of the entire human race. And, Willow’s return should be the best news imaginable. But it’s hard to fit the pieces back together without cutting yourself on the edges.

It would be easier with fewer distractions. The alien spiders have discovered the prophecy, and disapprove of the reluctance of those called upon to fulfill it. Rook’s demonic inner children remain at large in her mind, with ambitions. Meanwhile, a new adept takes instruction in the attic of Threshold House, offering Severin another chance to assault the Collective Id, while the nanotech body jewelry falls into yet more wrong hands. Every player is trying to upend the board.

To learn the true nature of this shifting game of shadow-selves, Rook and Fin traverse hellish mindscapes and duel bizarre new adversaries alongside familiar ones. Every answer leads to new questions, with the fate of the world hanging as the ultimate riddle.

But Rook and Fin are driven by something far more important.

Elsewhere’s Twin Sample

We’re excited to announce that Divided Man book 3: Elsewhere’s Twin will be released Friday, September 22. That’s just a week away!

UPDATE: get the ebook now at Amazon.

Completists rejoice! Elsewhere’s Twin brings together the characters from the first two books, and closes out this plot arc. There might be more Divided Man books someday, but for now we’re giving the survivors a breather and turning our attention to the Science novels.

But how will you wait an entire week without a heaping helping of the promised sex, doppelgängers, and the Collective Id?

We’re reluctant to share the entire first chapter because it’s chockablock with spoilers for both prior books, so instead of a whole appetizer we’re proud to offer an amuse bouche.

SPOILER ALERT: This novel picks up immediately after the events of Miss Brandymoon’s Device and Tenpenny Zen.

ELSEWHERE’S TWIN: a novel of sex, doppelgängers, and the Collective Id

Of course it had to be both.

Snow or sleet on its own would be bad enough, but the universe had a sense of humor, alternating between the two with startling frequency. Rook Tanner shivered. Neither she nor her husband Fin were wearing coats.

A patrol of mercenaries ran past them toward the devastated cathedral, weapons drawn. Rook knew that should be alarming, but she’d already used up her adrenaline. The mercs worked for Fin’s half-brother Kyle and would presumably be interested in whoever left him in his broken state.

“We can’t be here when they come out.” Rook tried to ignore her throbbing headache and the tang of acrid smoke in the air.

“I’ll talk to the aliens,” Fin said. A quick and traceless exit was called for. The space-spiders routinely transported people to and from the asteroid belt, so sending Fin and Rook home to Webster should be a snap.

Fin closed his tired green eyes, his forehead scrunched in concentration. Rook could see the puncture marks where she pierced his left brow on the day they met, and it made her a little sad he wouldn’t be wearing a hoop there anymore. That hoop’s hidden technology had corrupted his dreams, but it was also the thing that brought them together.

Small ice pellets settled in Fin’s dark hair as he communed with his friends on the asteroid. Rook stamped her feet and regretted her bare legs.

Fin snorted and opened his eyes. “They can’t help. They say they’re too drained from the fight.” He sounded unconvinced.

Rook threw a look at the smoldering shell of the once-grand glass cathedral. She wanted to be far away before the mercs came back out. “Let’s get to the highway. We’ll hitch a ride.”

Fin nodded.

They jogged across the grounds of the Shaw Ministries compound and made their way to the main road.

A stoner couple in a blue Geo Metro were the first samaritans not to take offense at their burnt carpet stench, or the bloodstains on Fin’s shirt. Rook and Fin shared the tiny back seat with a heap of food wrappers and a friendly brown dog.

The drive from Donner to Webster usually took an hour, but the hellacious winter mix pelting down on the mountain road made the going slow.

Three hours trapped in the weed-and-wet-dog-scented car with an endless supply of Phish left Rook carsick. Fin fell into an exhausted slumber, but Rook’s throbbing head and queasy stomach kept her awake. She replayed the terrifying mental battle Fin and Kyle waged in the cathedral — and in her mind — obsessing over the traitors inside her head who almost tipped the outcome into disaster.

When their clown car finally made it to Webster, they stopped for gas about a mile from Fin and Rook’s bomb shelter hideaway.

The precipitation was a mere flurry and Rook was desperate for fresh air, so they thanked their chauffeurs and set out on foot. Immediately, the snow turned into a drenching five-minute downpour, changed briefly to sleet, then settled into pinprick needles of ice. The wind knifed through Rook’s sodden black sweater and rattled her frozen hair.

“We’re almost there,” Fin said through chattering teeth.

Rook looked up at him in the illumination from a nearby porch light and smiled weakly. His lips looked as blue as hers felt. His dark hair clung to his forehead like unruly seaweed. At the base of her skull, the signal that connected her mind to his thrummed steady and comforting, and blissfully unchallenged.

Trudging along the suburban street through the slush and darkness, Rook hugged her soggy sweater tighter against herself, like pulling on wet socks for warmth.

“Chez Tanner.” Fin gestured to his father’s large, bland house, the only one on the street not lit up. He led Rook off the sidewalk into a clump of pine trees. Her go-go boots sank into a slushy, muddy quagmire, but she couldn’t care. They would soon be inside. Beyond the pines they squelched across piles of wet, compacted leaves under naked trees that afforded little protection from the wind and ice and returning rain.

“I’m so cold,” Rook finally allowed herself to complain as Fin hauled open the hatch under the bushes. He hugged her with his free arm, and she tilted her face for a kiss. His lips were frozen, but his tongue was hot and probing.

“Don’t slip,” he warned as Rook started down the long ladder.

The only light in the bomb shelter was the warm gold and red glow of Vesuvius, their lava lamp. The feeling of entering a furnace was a welcome one. Rook pulled off her dripping sweater, leaving herself topless, her nipples hard as ice. It felt good to be back in their little pocket of tastefully decorated 1950s nuclear paranoia. The hatch clanked shut and Fin climbed down to join her.

“Why, Mrs Tanner,” he said, “you seem to have lost your shirt.”

“Lose yours too, and your pants. We need to generate some body heat.”

“I like the sound of that.”

Shadows shifted. They weren’t alone.


Elsewhere’s Twin continues its sojourn in its chrysalis, preparing for its glorious emergence next month as a beautiful butterfly of prose.

Grandson of Science Novel is chugging along, approximately a quarter of the way to the first draft finish line.

Sibling of Music Novel, which is next in line for composition, is like a snowball rolling downhill, getting bigger and bigger, collecting more and more plot complications and character details. Soon we’ll have a full-blown avalanche of an outline on our hands.

We’ll talk more about each of those in the coming weeks. Mark your calendars!

Right now we’re splitting our time between writing, brainstorming, and research for a variety of projects. Our current research topics include brain structure, the history of the New York City skyline, cancer, the Mandela Effect, and birth videos. And there’s a TV show that touches on subjects somewhat similar to some things we’re working with, so we’re binging our way through that to make sure the similarities stay in the realm of “slight” and don’t require us to restructure anything. So far so good. And it totally counts as research. It’s not a distraction, honest!

Plus, of course, we’re keeping up with Twin Peaks. Our son comes home every week to watch with us. No, your family is weird.

Shifting Gears From Revision to Composition

Last time we gave you an update from the writing cave, we were deep into a revision pass on Elsewhere’s Twin. This week, Kent wrapped up his edits. Jen had crossed the finish line well ahead of him, as was the plan. That manuscript can now take a well-earned rest before its final read-through and polishing.

We’ve already returned our focus to writing. It’s sometimes tricky to get the brain back into writing mode after dwelling in revision-land for a while. (Yes, just the one brain. We share.) The road trip must have been just what we needed, though, because this time we seem to have hit the ground running with it. Grandson of Science Novel just crossed the 20k word mark. Woohoo!

Now to write some more.

The Grit Gets Finer

Elsewhere's Twin by Rune SkelleyThe next book we’ll release is titled Elsewhere’s Twin. It’s the third Divided Man book, following Miss Brandymoon’s Device and Tenpenny Zen. We’re thrilled at the prospect of having the completed series out.

With its publication date looming, we’ve been pushing to get through another editing pass. Jen built up a head start, and Kent is coming through in her wake. This gives us each a better chance to catch things, really lets two heads be better than one. We notice different kinds of issues, which is great. We cover more of the spectrum.

This manuscript has already been revised a few times, so the major surgery’s been handled. What we’re doing now is line edits, mainly. Jen has a bit of an advantage, going first, so she’s been trimming more words out than Kent has. It’s working out to about a 5:1 ratio.

We’re pleased to see that pattern, because it means the book is in really good shape. It’s being polished now, not reshaped. Each successive edit has produced a smaller impact on the word count than the one before it. The bulky tools have been put away in favor of more delicate instruments.

  • chainsaw
  • machete
  • scalpel
  • coarse-grit sandpaper
  • fine-grit sandpaper <– we are here
  • silk handkerchief

Editing with a partner makes the process much more efficient, if you have good teamwork.