Tagged: Tenpenny Zen

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.

The Circle of Life

Earlier this week we launched our latest book. It’s called Tenpenny Zen — perhaps you’ve heard of it? Now that all of the champagne corks have been swept up and the fancy alcoholic milkshakes have been drunk, it’s time to look ahead.

As we’ve mentioned in other posts, it’s important for us to keep several projects in motion. When a draft of a novel is resting before editing (or between editing passes) we need to have different works to turn our minds to. Publishing the Divided Man Series means we have less fodder for that. We’re currently sitting on 4 novels that are at least at the first draft stage, so we’re not in danger of running out. Yet.

But as Jen finishes up the major edits of the final Divided Man book and we look ahead to pushing it out into the world this fall, we start to become a little bit nervous. If we don’t plan ahead, we will run out of finished novels to rotate between.

For quite a few months (in between editing and polishing the Divided Man books, and designing their covers, as well as writing Son of Science Novel) we’ve been batting around ideas for our next story world. The Divided Man books are done, at least for now. The Science Novel series is plotted to the end, and that’s what we’re working on. The Music Novel series is 2/3 done. What comes next?

I hope it’s not too spoilery if we say Ghosts. Ghosts are next. We’re both drawn to the general concept of a ghost story, but it took a lot of brainstorming to figure out how to put the Rune Skelley twist on it. We don’t want to tell a standard ghost story. There are a lot of writers out there who do that very well. So how to take some of those tropes and make them our own?

As is often the case with us, inspiration came from an unusual source. In this case, an article on Cracked. We’re obviously not going to say here what the article was about, but when Jen read it, a whole Vegas Strip’s worth of lightbulbs went off. There were a few fascinating nuggets in the article that acted as a catalyst to bring together almost all of the nebulous ideas we had floating around. It all crystalized into the most beautifully twisted story world. Jen typed it up and sent it off to Kent at work, and it sparked his fevered imagination, too.

We spent a good chunk of time that should probably have been spent writing Son of Science Novel bouncing ideas off each other and getting very excited. It felt great!

The circle of life continues.

Tenpenny Zen – First Chapter Sneak Peek

Tenpenny Zen won’t make its illustrious debut until Monday, March 20. That’s an agonizing 3 days away! We know that you will spend your weekend at home, staring at the clock, desperate for something — anything! — to make the time pass faster.

Don’t fret, faithful reader. Rune Skelley has your back. Here, for the eyes of none but the elite minority of humans known as “Internet Users,” is a sneak preview of Chapter One of Tenpenny Zen. Treat it as the holy relic it is, read it over and over until you have memorized every word, and then, come Monday, you will be primed for the full experience.

Dig in!

Tenpenny Zen

a novel of sex, cults, and an interdimensional henge contraption

Chapter One: Nice Town

Control subject EE may be exhibiting the traits we hoped to see in Group Sigma. Work continues toward establishing a reliable set of tests and measures for subject EE, but several measures are already in place, including surveillance gear in the school and the house.

Project Lullaby archives, 1962

JUNE 1973

Strapped down on her back on a black slab, Ester Elizabeth Finch felt like the dead frog from last year’s biology class. At least this year she’d be taking chemistry. Plus she’d turn 18 in November and her dad could no longer drag her to this asinine research program.

At first today seemed like the same familiar nonsense. Friendly but vaguely creepy men in white coats wanting her to guess what playing cards they held, make the marble roll, tell them what color light was shining on her hand within a box. Hypnotizing her and interviewing her about weird stuff she didn’t know while a lie-detector ran off its record of the answers she made up.

But then they wanted to give her a physical. A complete physical.

They apologized that no female nurses had clearance to examine her. When the doctor left, she couldn’t find her clothes. She was still wearing the stupid hospital gown.

Next they told her they needed a scan. It was a very sensitive machine. Any little movement would mess it up, so they needed to strap her down. They attached electrodes to her temples and forehead. It had now been over 15 minutes since any of them said a word to her. About half a dozen very creepy men in white coats drifted around the chamber, looking at the consoles and conferring excitedly, green-faced in the glow of their data screens. Ester caught isolated fragments of their speech.

“…resolution is awful compared to x-rays, but it images soft tissue…”

“Did you calibrate this scope?”

“…dripping serotonin today?”

“No. The synthetic.”

“…got it on-scale now. Jesus.”

“Hold off on that drip. We’re not…”

“…that can’t be right…”

“But the instruments agree. It must be.”

“Dial back another couple pegs. The synth has quite a kick.”

One of the men pushed an IV stand over to Ester’s left, and dabbed her arm with a cold swab before inserting the needle. He twisted the valve to start the drip, tossed a heartless little grin down at her, and strode off.

All the chatter ceased abruptly as a line of tiny green spiders began streaming down the IV tube and into Ester’s veins. Her chest constricted. She couldn’t scream.

[ Continue Reading ]

Cover Reveal: Tenpenny Zen

Mark your calendars! Tenpenny Zen, the second book in our Divided Man series, will be available on Monday, March 20.

Our books tend to defy categorization. We’re labeling this one as Cyberpunk although it might more accurately be called Shroompunk. For some reason Amazon doesn’t consider our newly invented genre legit. Yet.

And now, may we present to you the gorgeousness that is the cover of Tenpenny Zen:

Tenpenny Zen: a novel of sex, cults, and an interdimensional henge contraption.

Check back next week for a sneak peek at chapter 1!

The Home Stretch

The end is in sight for two of our current open projects, and it feels damn good. Tenpenny Zen has been resting quietly in a drawer, awaiting its publication date later this month. We’ll pick it up this weekend and give it one final read through to make sure our last round of edits didn’t introduce any embarrassing typos, but other than that the manuscript is ready. Kent spent most of this week’s work sessions hammering out the back cover copy. It’s a completely different style of writing, and we haven’t had a lot of practice with it yet. Kent persevered even when Jen wrinkled her nose at some of his early efforts, and we’re quite pleased with the result he arrived at.

With all those pieces falling into place, expect the cover reveal next week. It’s gorgeous!

While Kent was toiling away on one type of nonstandard prose, Jen was intent on another. Two nights ago she finished writing the stubs for the rest of Son of Science Novel. Up until now the ending was basically “stuff blows up.” We knew who survived and who didn’t, other big picture things like that, but now we know most of the details. Not all, obviously. That’s what the actual writing is for. But now we have the finale broken down into beats, and we know whose point of view we’ll experience those beats through. It’s a complex series of events, and having this roadmap will make the writing go a lot faster.

With any luck (and fewer distractions now that Tenpenny Zen is all but finalized) we’ll be in a good position to sail through the rest of Son of Science Novel’s first draft.

Either of us working on our own would not be able to accomplish nearly as much as we do working together. We find having a writing partner invaluable. How about you?

A Plethora of Piñatas

So you’ve just finished your first draft. What happens next?

Obviously you celebrate, but after you sober up or get back from Disney World or whatever, then what?

Then you put that manuscript aside for a while. You do other things and try to forget everything you wrote so that when you do look at it again you have critical distance.

Critical distance is among the most important skills for an author, and also among the most difficult to master. It’s what allows you to stand in the reader’s shoes, what enables your own work to surprise you sometimes. And that’s crucial when you’re ready to edit. You need to be able to see the plot holes, the out-of-character moments, and the places where motivation is thin. You need to be able to spot the story beats that are obviously contrived.

That last one can be tricky because all the story beats are contrived, obviously. You wrote them.

So, like we said, you need critical distance. How do you achieve it? Just reading something else is good, but what you want to do is fully engage your faculties. Reading is too passive for this. Nothing will restore your own work’s ability to surprise you faster than editing or writing a different piece. It’s not enough to just look away from a project for a while. You need to actively push other stuff through the system. You need to overwrite that part of the hard disk.

We’ve had a lot of success achieving critical distance by having three series, each set in its own story world. While Miss Brandymoon’s Device was resting between editing passes, we could write the Music Novel. While Tenpenny Zen was tucked away in a drawer we could plot out the entirety of the Science Novel. We’ve been rotating through those three series for a couple of years now, and it’s worked well. Now that we’re publishing the Divided Man series, though, we suddenly have fewer open projects.

It’s really exciting to have our work out there in front of people, and it feels really good to have the end in sight for that series, but it does mean that we need to figure out what our next new thing will be. We don’t want to turn around one day and find that we’ve run out of material, and we need to always have something on the back burner so that there’s always a productive way to get that necessary (dare we say critical?) critical distance.

The Best Kind of Busy

The Writing Cave has been a buzzing hive of activity lately, and it keeps getting busier. So busy, in fact, that some of our operations spilled over into the Auxiliary Writing Cave.

We’re in the midst of writing Son of Science Novel while actively editing Tenpenny Zen (sequel to Miss Brandymoon’s Device), and planning the edits for the third book in that series. When we’re not doing any of that, we’re in early discussions for the third Music Novel and the big scary question of Whatever Comes Next And Probably Will Be Kind Of Supernatural. (Wow! We’re going to have to come up with a more concise name for that!)

As if all of that wasn’t enough, there’s a new demand on our time, and it’s one we weren’t entirely prepared for. Fan mail.

Woe is us, right?

A few months ago we went to see David Sedaris, and we were very impressed with how available he makes himself to his fans. He’s there before the show signing books, and he stays after until everyone in line has had their turn. He talks to everyone and it’s a very friendly interaction.

We decided that that’s how we want to engage with fans of our writing. Right now the flow of emails is just a trickle, but we have little doubt it will eventually become a tsunami. It’s important that we work it into our schedule now so that it becomes a habit.

If you want to fawn all over us, or berate us, or just say Hi, email us at HeyRune@runeskelley.com or just hit up the comments. We’d love to engage with you!

Predicting the Future – 2017 Edition

It’s time for everyone’s favorite activity: Strategic Planning!

What do we plan to accomplish in 2017? And how hard will this post make us laugh when we dust it off and look at it at the end of the year?

Kent, Jen, and Lady Marzipan took a nice long walk yesterday, and in between long, lingering sniffs of all the mailboxes in the neighborhood, we talked about how we hope to spend our time in the writing cave this year.

First and foremost, we’re planning to publish two books this year, sequels to Miss Brandymoon’s Device. Tenpenny Zen will be out in March, with the third novel to follow in late summer or early fall. There will be a lot of busywork involved with prepping those, which will keep us distracted from actual writing. But it’s kind of necessary if we want to release a quality product. Which we do.

Our second highest priority is knocking out the first drafts for Son and Grandson of Science Novel. We’re currently something like halfway through Son, and we’re planning to just steam ahead and write them both back-to-back (interrupted only by the fiddly stuff needed to release Tenpenny). We’re notoriously bad at predicting how long it will take us to write a novel. Jen seems to think that if we really knuckle down it should only take one long weekend, whereas Kent is more realistic and assumes it will take forever. Hopefully we’ll land somewhere in the middle and finish up by summer. Maybe.

After that, well… After that it gets a bit scary. With the Divided Man series published and the Science series resting comfortably as a first draft, that leaves only the Music series. We like the elegance of trilogies, even if we try not to officially label things that way – who knows when we might feel inspired to tell more stories set in our various fiction worlds? Currently the Music series has two completed novels, which means it needs at least one more. We have a few notes about what that third story might look like, and yesterday while we were out getting lunch and taking care of a friend’s cats we talked through those ideas and expanded a few of them. We don’t know yet what form the third Music novel will take, but we have no doubts that we’ll figure it out.

But then what? After we wrap up the Music series, we run out of map. We’ve been living with these three story worlds for a long time, and it’s unsettling to think that we might be done with all of them as soon as this year.

That might be catastrophizing a bit because it’s highly unlikely we’ll finish three novels in one year, and even if we do, there’s still all the editing.

But. But! We’re still sailing off the end of world.

So, if we’re smart we’ll devote a couple of lengthy conversations to exploring what comes next. Road trips are a fruitful time for that, which means we’ll need to plan a few of those. Where will the new year take us?

Happy New Year, everyone!

Keeping Busy

r-avatarA quick progress update from the writing cave.

In addition to the ongoing prosification of Son of Science Novel, this week we began a read-through of our next release.

Tenpenny Zen is scheduled to come out in March. It’s book two of the Divided Man series, following Miss Brandymoon’s Device. (which was released last month — did you get yours yet?) The manuscript has been edited a few times already, but we feel it needs one more polishing pass before we put it out there. The first step is to reread it, so it’s fresh in our minds. Once we complete that, we’ll have to park Son of Science Novel to focus on revisions to Tenpenny Zen.

And we’ll take this opportunity to wish you Happy Solstice!