What Do I Name This Thing?

Sometimes it takes me a while to find the name.

When I first began work on The Source Chronicles, it was my unnamed Fantasy project.  I began my glossary so I could track the characters, and I called it The Source.  This would, in turn, lead me to find the plot, whereby my mysterious sorcerer was questing to find an ancient something called The Source.  He would be called the Seeker.

Seeker of The Source  would be completed, and I had even acquired an agent to shop it around.  But he was not normally an agent for YA or Fantasy, and after I think two years, we ended our association.  Then it was suggested I hire Lone to edit my work, and my writing would never be the same.

I am a far better writer and editor today because of all I learned from Lone’s edit of Seeker.  Further, since I was already done with Book 2 and starting on Book 3, she suggested I give the overall series a name.  With a suggestion from my best friend Kristin, The Source Chronicles  was born.  Seeker of The Source  became Seeker – The Source Chronicles Book I

Lone and I have long since lost touch, but I found an editor for both Finder – The Source Chronicles Book II, and Clouds of Authority, my Steampunk novel (and first book of The Vapor Rogues series).  But for Harbinger, which covers a great deal of characters and time, I am beginning to work with a new editor.  Thus far, I suspect she may also help me to grow as a writer and editor.

In addition to regular blogging over at The Ramblings of the Titanium Don, and editing Harbinger, I have been working on an epic sci-fi adventure.

The Space-Opera with No-Name.

I have been working on this sci-fi opus for more than a year.  I have created an incredible number of characters, worlds, starships, races, and many unique names.  There have been battle scenes, character development, plotting, and both the use and rejection of numerous tropes.  This is the kind of sci-fi I would love to watch on a screen, and it’s a whole lot of fun to write.

Yet after all this time, a name eludes me.  Sure, it took me some time to come up with Seeker’s original name, but I do not recall it taking me this long.  I wait to be inspired, to find the title that will not only excite me, but entice you to want to read it.

Drawing by MJ Blehart

There was a professor of mine in college who said every name an author creates has meaning.  From my own work, I can tell you that this is bullshit.  Certainly there are writers who place meaning in names, and that is a part of their mystique.  But many of us simply create names out of randomness.  That’s how I work, at any rate.

The title of the novel is important.  If it turns out this is going to be a series, or I feel the need to create other stories in the same universe – and I might – the series will need a name as well.  On the one hand, this can be somewhat frustrating.  But on the other hand, this is part of the fun of writing in general.

Eventually I’ll also have to work out cover art, but that won’t be for a while.  So far, I have drawn the top-view of one of the main starships in the series, and I will eventually find an artist to render this better than I can.

A rose by any other name…

Names have power.  How many tales are out there where someone hides their “true name” so as not to give away their power?  It’s an intriguing concept, really, because we humans are almost obsessed with giving things names.

I write because I feel a need, akin to breathing, eating and drinking.  Writing is a part of who I am.  I am signed up for an online group and class to improve how I work and earn as a writer, and will likely post something about that down the line.  There is always work to be done.

I know that eventually I will have a name for this novel.  There is always a name to be found.

Thank you for staying abreast of my work.

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How Do I Earn a Living This Way?

I want to earn a living wage through writing.

Yet for most of my life, I have been told that this is a pipe dream.  Various people have told me that to earn money as an author is tricky at best.  I should be realistic.  It’s important I recognize that I still need to hold down a day job.  Most writers never earn enough to make their living off this.

MJ BlehartI do know a number of other writers who have day jobs.  They do something that earns them their primary salary, and the writing is a side-gig, but still their true passion.  There is no doubt in my mind that to write for money is not easy.

I have had two short stories published in anthologies by a small press.  There are multiple novels I have placed on Amazon in both book and Kindle form, covering the genres of fantasy, sci-fi/Steampunk, humorous autobiographical narrative, and a hard-to-define fiction akin to the work of Paulo Coelho.  I sell a few here and there, but my monthly earnings at best currently might buy me a single meal at a decent restaurant.

Because I firmly believe that Consciousness Creates Reality, I am certain that I can manifest the life I want.  I’ve never been meant to work in an office space.  Frankly, working in an office frequently goes badly for me.  I am simply not a very good drone.

Perfect example.  At a job years ago, they told us that if we had suggestions for improvements to make them.  Well, I did.  They didn’t want to hear it.  Wasn’t long before I was out.

Focus and concentration are required to earn this way.

While it is important to develop tools to better market what I have already published, and to that end I read a bunch and partake in webinars.  But for me, the real matter is maintaining my focus and concentration.  Eyes on the prize, as they say, if I want to get there.

More than once I have consciously created the reality I desired through focus on no other outcome but success at my goal.  I defied odds and manifested my reality.  With real focus and concentration, I can take the thought, feel it out, and act to make it happen.

I am aware this can come across as hippy-dippy, hooky-spooky, new-agey bullshit.  Yet because I have successfully done it before, I know that I can do it again.

The trick is singular focus.  I have to keep my eyes on the prize, and not allow myself to be distracted by what other people think, or my own issues with my abilities and skills.  It’s important that I not allow myself to sabotage myself.

I write my three blog posts to The Ramblings of the Titanium Don weekly.  Further, I intend to work to post to this webpage more frequently as I strive to make more progress as a writer.  To that end, I participated in a webinar today to learn some new skills to make more of my career as a writer, and I am continuing to put the work in to go where I want to go.

Nothing worth having is ever easy.  There are many ways in which this is going to force me out of my comfort zones.  But I know that I can do this.  Thank you for coming along on my travels.

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Do I Lead a Double Life?

I sometimes feel as though I lead a double life.

On the one hand, I am MJ Blehart, writer.  I seek writing jobs and to further my reach as a published sci-fi, Steampunk and fantasy author.  Further, I blog three times a week, with an occasional extra (like today’s political rant).

Double LifeOn the other hand, I am Malcolm Bowman, Brigantia Principal Herald of the East Kingdom of the Society for Creative Anachronism.  Voice herald, fencer, occasional archer, frequent volunteer.  I have held my Kingdom office for almost a year now, and been a part of the game for 26 years as of this fall.

For a long time, years ago, there was a pretty wide difference between who I was as MJ and who I was as Malcolm.  This was the cause of some problems, because to a large degree I was having a lot more fun in my persona than in my real life.

Why am I bringing this up?  Because recent events, I feel, have made Malcolm stand out more than MJ.  I don’t feel the need to get into a ton of detail, but Malcolm has taken a prominent place in my life that feels as though it is greater than who I am in the mundane world.

I know that this is not how my life really works, but I sometimes feel as though I have been more successful as a SCAdian than as real person.

This is something I have certainly seen in others.  There are a couple of people I know who, outside of their SCAdian persona, have no other discernable identity.  They live for their time in the medieval world, and nothing else matters as much.

I am striving to lead a singular life.

Double LifeWhat this brings up to me is that I need to focus on how to equalize my Real Life with my SCAdian life.  Part of that involves not measuring my successes as separate, but as equal.  When I succeed as Malcolm, I succeed as MJ.  My real life gets boosted by my SCAdian life, and not overshadowed by it.  Not unless I allow it to be that way.

I am certain that this stems from that period I when I was one of the people who had more in the way of my SCAdian world than my Real Life.  I cared far more about achievement in the SCA than I did about my career, relationships, and so on.

Escaping real life is good.  The SCA is an outstanding hobby, and I have made incredible friends that way.  But most of the time I am MJ Blehart, a writer striving to find a larger audience and further advance my career.  Life has recently handed me a chance to do more as a writer, and I am working on making the most of that I can.

MJ Blehart and Malcolm Bowman are the same man.  The former spends a lot of time at a keyboard in front of a couple monitors, the latter spends time behind a pair of rapiers or standing behind the thrones being loud.  Both of these personas make up the sum total of who I am, and I need to do better with seeing them as equal partners.  I have a single life, not a double life.

How Am I Breaking from Typical Story Tropes?

It’s fun to break away from the typical story tropes.

For years I have wanted to write a sci-fi “space opera”.  An epic along the lines of a Star Wars or a Star Trek, but as unique as I could make it.

One of the problems you face with these things is that there have been numerous epics created.  Beyond Star Wars and Star Trek, you get Babylon 5, Farscape, Firefly, and on and on.

Star Wars happened “A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away.”  As such, the humans are not from Earth.  I like this idea a great deal, and rather than rehash all of the sci-fi books, movies and TV shows where the Humans are from Earth in the future, my humans come from somewhere else.

This opens up a great deal of options for my sci-fi.  I can create star systems, worlds and alien races with no ties to anything but my own imagination.

One of the things I most love about sci-fi and fantasy is that there are few actual rules.  Yes, with sci-fi you need at least vague plausibility in your technobabble and such.  Fantasy, however, has no actual rules.  You can do whatever you want, when all is said and done.

Playing with 21st Century tropes.

One of the things I loved about The Force Awakens and Rogue One was the ways they took a new approach to things.  The main characters were not white guys, but women and ethnically diverse actors.  They were all strong, mixed characters both likeable and not, and added a new dimension to the series.

Along the same line, Chuck Wendig defied the norms with several of his characters in his Star Wars: Aftermath series.  In all of these instances, several people lost their minds, and got upset because for whatever reason they think sci-fi is supposed to focus on white male heroes.

Drawing by MJ Blehart

This is the 21st century.  Sci-fi in the past broke many barriers along the way.  The original Star Trek provided the first interracial kiss on television.  Given many of our modern societies’ issues, I applaud taking new approaches to the material.

As I began to write my sci-fi epic, I took several different steps to my approach.  First, my humans are not well described.  Male, female, and maybe at some point a reference to height, but I never reveal their hair color or skin tone or any other descriptives.  As such, my reader can imagine them however they choose.  It is all open to interpretation.

Further, I figure if they ever make a movie of this, ANYBODY could be cast in any role.

I give a lot more attention to my aliens.  But that’s because they need more description.  One race, however, has no gender definitions.  As such, I even invented new pronouns for them.

As if I wasn’t having enough fun with my story, I made a few other choices.  One of my primary characters is a middle-aged lesbian woman.  Another is a thirty-something omnisexual male (omnisexual because he has no preference not just regarding straight or gay, but towards non-humans).  Mind you, there is no sex in the novel (I feel no need to write sex scenes) but the topic gets discussed among the characters.  My aliens are not all humanoid in appearance, and even those that are may be sexually compatible, but cannot reproduce together.

Writing is joy.

I have had the desire to write a sci-fi epic space-opera for some time now.  I am thrilled to be playing with this story, and looking forward to completing and sharing it soon.

What am I Currently Working on?

I began to work on my fantasy series, The Source Chronicles, in 1997.

I was at work, bored, and tapped out this scene that popped into my head.  Then, two more scenes were written, and now I had three main characters, and the story began to take shape.

As I worked on the novel I first called Seeker of The Source, my characters took on qualities and identities I had not entirely expected them to.  Before I knew it, I ran into a major dilemma.  My villain ceased to be the bad guy.

My best friend from High School and I had a conversation when I was blocked, and he made a point that opened the channels, and the story continued.  In time, Seeker of the Source was completed.

I edited this, to a point, and moved on.  The prophecy I had written was broken into four parts, and I knew that meant there would be four books.  I began to write Finder of The Source.

I had acquired for a time an agent.  He did his best, but frankly when he took me on I was outside his normal genre.  This made it very hard to get where I wanted to go, and in time we parted ways.

Editors can change everything.

Lone was a friend of a friend.  She is a professional writer and editor, and agreed to edit Seeker of The Source.  At this point, Finder of The Source was also completed, and I had begun to work on Harbinger of The Source.

Lone did more than just edit my novel.  She taught me so much about the craft of writing, as well as how to edit writing, that my work would never be the same.

She taught me to choose a singular narrative, rather than jumping between characters without a break of some sort.  Lone gave me insight into better world building, and the series got renamed The Source Chronicles  (which is partially credited to Kristin, the friend who introduced Lone and I).   She taught me how to do better sentence structure, stronger character actions, and more.  Overall, I became a far better writer and editor, and cannot express how much this has meant to me over the years.

Since publishing the first two novels in The Source Chronicles, Seeker and Finder, I have continued to work on the series.  Deep into Harbinger, it occurred to me that it would be a long, long novel.  As such, I split it up, and Guardians was born.  The prophecy received an edit, adding a fifth section to match the revised number of planned novels.

Two years after publishing Finder, and more than that after taking a break from The Source Chronicles to work on The Vapor Rogues, my Steampunk series, and the as-yet untitled sci-fi epic I’m currently working on, I returned to Harbinger to start editing, before I send it off to a professional.

I have concluded my edits.  One of the most fascinating aspects of this process was finding where what I had learned from Lone got employed in Harbinger.  It was a subtle shift, but I saw it rather clearly.

Writing is a practice.

Once I send Harbinger off to an editor (and I am looking for a new editor), I intend to continue work on the sci-fi novel.  I also intend to continue Guardians, where I left off about five years ago.  My goal is to have it complete within 2 more years, and then the final novel of the series, Healers, will be written.

I am striving to do as much writing as I can.  In addition to my work on my novels, I blog three times a week at The Ramblings of The Titanium Don – my blog about Conscious Reality Creation.  Positivity, Pathwalking, and Crossing the Bridges between the worlds I live in and have created along the way.

I will set up an e mail subscription service to this blog soon.  Thank you for tagging along on my writing adventures.  Welcome, also, to my new and improved website.

New and Improved

Welcome to the new and improved MJ Blehart.

Photo courtesy of MBH Photography

I have been saying for some time that I would update this website.  After giving it a lot of thought and consideration, here it is.

This is still a work on progress as I develop the site.  Welcome to my worlds, and please enjoy!

Please note – all writing and photographs are ©MJ Blehart. Please do not use any of this material without permission.