V-Log: The State Of The #Scifi #Novel I’m #Writing As Of Sept. 12, 2018

by Shelton Bumgarner

I am starting from the beginning of my novel yet again, but I’m going to be re purposing a lot of material I’ve already written. I’m slowly getting a sense of what this story is about, even though I still need to do a lot of backend hard work that I just haven’t managed to do yet.

But we’ll see. I have one really strong chapter written and it’s just a matter of sitting down and doing the work.

Here’s a sample of the one chapter I’ve managed to write that’s pretty good.

Tagger looked up as he drove and watched as the thousands of small pods he’d just seen fall from the sky along what he assumed was the Virginia – North Carolina border slowly bury themselves into the ground.  He went just across the affected area that was now rumbling, parked his car and stood in amazement as an enormous wall-like structure began to slow ascend from ground nearby. He snapped out of his rever long enough to notice that Nuk had also driven across the border and was standing next to him.

The wall was what looked like 30 feet deep and was quickly reaching at least 30 feet in height. It was slow and steady in its growth and they watched a few cars attempted a last ditch effort to cross the ever-growing wall. Titanic sounds could be heard to their left and right as the the wall destroyed everything it its path towards the sky.

In the middle of all of this, he hear the sound of a strange push notification on his phone. He looked down and saw a new app with a strange icon of three interlocking stars on his smartphone.

He hit the app’s icon and it quickly began to sink in the significance of all of this. According to the App, the wall was the handy work of a galactic spanning civilization which called itself the Galactic Collective. As he watched the wall in front of him grow taller and more imposing by the moment, he struggled to comprehend it all.

It was First Contact. Humanity wasn’t alone in the universe, after all.

A small, curious crowd began to assemble and walk towards the gigantic black wall. After about 10 minutes of constant growth, there appeared to be some stabilization in the height of the wall. It registered that Nuk was live streaming all of this with her phone and without thinking about it, he slowly walked up to the towering wall and placed his hand flat on its surface. This scene became quite historic in the coming days, with nearly a billion views on YouTube  in a week. For his part, Tagger’s mind was having difficulting processing the sheer enormity of what he was seeing.

The first notification on the app also noted that the area surrounded by the wall would be immediately evacuated. How this was going to happen, was unclear. Tagger and Nuk looked in shocked as the realized they were now walled off from the rest of the world. From his initial inspection of the First Contact App, there were some basic things immediately apparent — the Galactic Collective not only was well-versed in human civilization, but they had particular interest in English speakers. The First Contact App was only available in American English, required at least a limited knowledge of some basic Western concepts and seemed directed specifically at what traditionally would be referred to as the Western World.

Tagger then noticed Nuk frantically making phone calls as all of this was happening. It sounded like she was on the phone with her editor in New York City. Once the call was over, she looked at Tagger, her eyes enormous.

“Tagger,” she said. “You’re a star now. Like, a huge star. You’re the first person ever recording touching proof of alien life.”

The shock was beginning to wear off and Tagger looked at Nuk. She was a striking brunette with long black hair that reached past her shoulders

They heard a slow humming sound from the interior of the wall and they looked on in amazement as large holes could clearly be seen forming in the wall in front of them. In a moment something clicked in Tagger’s mind and he started racing to his car. “Get in if you want to live!” he screamed at Nuk.

Within seconds of them closing their car doors, there was a loud “whoosh!” sound as millions of microscopic black objects zoomed past their car. After a moment, the thick black cloud produced by these snowflake-sized probes could be seen dispersing into the cityscape ahead of them. Without thinking, Tagger gunned the gas and made his way through the city.

Whatever the mission of the black cloud, it was sufficiently distracted at the moment that they could make their way safely through the now abandoned streets of the city at high speed.  A small backwater of about 40,000 souls, this was the most excitement the city of Danville had seen since it was the last capital of the Confederate States of America in 1865. The city had seen far better days and up until a few minutes ago appeared doomed to quietly shrink into oblivion.

Driving towards Tagger’s house, they looked intently around them in constant fear they would see the black cloud again .

V-Log: Idle Rambling About The State Of The #Scifi #Novel I’m #Writing

by Shelton Bumgarner

I’m just trying to talk my way through the novel at this point.

V-Log: Mulling The State Of The #Scifi #Novel I’m #Writing In The Context Of Its Wall Plot-Point

by Shelton Bumgarner

In this one, I talk a lot about the status of my novel as a first draft as well as the presence of a wall as a plot point.

V-Log: The State Of The #Scifi #Novel I’m #Writing As Of Sept. 9th, 2018

by Shelton Bumgarner

This is the farthest I’ve ever gotten writing a novel in any serious manner and really the point is I need to shut up and get to writing. I have all this free time on my hands and I need to just do it. I have to stop making excuses.

V-Log: The State Of The #Scifi #Novel I’m #Writing As Of September 8th, 2018

by Shelton Bumgarner

As an added bonus, here’s the first scene of the novel as it currently stands. It’s going to change dramatically going forward, but I’m such an extrovert, I can’t help myself and feel like giving you a glimpse of what the novel is going to be like.

Tagger Wendt began what would arguably be the most significant event day in human history to date in his late father’s home just outside the small town of Chatham, Virginia. To say he was at a crossroads in his personal life was something of an understatement.

Though 35 now, he’d lived a solid 10 years as an expatriate in Seoul, South Korea. He had squeezed the experience for every opportunity it offered. During the course of his decade in Asia, he’d grown to be a very large fish in the very small pond of the Seoul expatriate community. By the time he left upon learning of his father’s death, he had been in no particular order, a DJ, the lead singer of a rock band, a TV personality, a college-level English instructor, a magazine publisher and a writer for one of the two major daily English-language newspapers in the country.

His father’s death had been what he felt was a wake-up call. If he didn’t do something about his life now, he was destined to be one of those bitter expats that settled in Seoul who hated the place but never managed to leave.

Coming back to the States after such an adventure had immediately resulted in significant reverse culture shock. He just did not know what he could do next. He had half a mind to move to New York City and try his hand there, but he felt he needed to center himself for just a bit before attempting something so dramatic.

It was a lovely summer Saturday and old habits dying hard, he decided to do some day drinking. He remember that there was a great dive bar called Lee’s Retreat just across the border in North Carolina and he proceeded to make his way there. It took just about 40 minutes, but soon enough he was pulling into its driveway just about 11:30 a.m. July 1.

Lee’s Retreat had been a honkytonk 10 years ago and it appeared it still was. It was notorious for its Thursday night wet tee-shirt contests and shady cliente. But he was used to expat dive bars and so he felt quite at home as he passed its small open patio, pushed its front door open walked up to the bar and ordered a drink.

He took a moment to appraise himself in the mirror behind the bar. He was decent looking, at least in his opinion, though he had a bit of scruff on his face that gave him a slightly unkempt appearance. His black hair was short and he smiled back at his 6 foot self approvingly.

The TV news was on and had the usual mass chaos and natural disasters. He did notice, in passing there was mention of some unusual activity in the satellite graveyard high above the planet. He did not think much of it as he grabbed his whisky on the rocks and on a lark decided to mosey on out to the patio.

He was looking forward to a calm, relaxing afternoon of drinking.

V-Log: The State Of My Novel For Sept. 7th, 2018

by Shelton Bumgarner

Some thoughts.

The State Of The #Scifi #Novel I’m #Writing As Of Sept. 5th, 2018

by Shelton Bumgarner

This is about the point where I usually quit when it comes to writing a novel, but I’ve taken the idea of “know when to rest, not quit” to heart and so I’m hoping to use the time I’ve taken off writing to recharge my batteries. I think that’s the key issue to writing a novel — you have to appreciate that it’s marathon, not a sprint. There will be times when you maybe don’t go as fast as you have been going.

Part of the reason I’ve slowed down the last few days is not only is summer over and I realize I have some serious life-issues to address, but I’ve come to a point in the novel where it really has hit me that there will be people who poo-poo the entire conceit of the novel because of where it’s set. If was set somewhere sexy like LA or NYC, then a lot of the media elite would get off on seeing the infrastructural of places they actually knew being used for something dramatically different. And, yet, once you get into the universe I’ve built, it doesn’t make any sense that places like that would be used. There’s a very specific point to where I’ve set the vast majority of the novel, not just in its own way its my own personal historic geography that I know really well.

Meanwhile, I keep thinking up all these other great novel concepts that would distract me but for the reason that I can’t think of a plot for them. So, my attention comes back to what I’ve been working on the last few months. The story has changed so dramatically from what I thought it was going to be originally that it’s quite something. But the point is to just keep going. I have a really strong concept and a plot for once, so I need to buckle down and keep going.

Only time will tell, I guess.

Writing Popular Fiction In The Age Of Trump

by Shelton Bumgarner

I’m writing a scifi novel and while I’m trying my best to be as middle of the road as possible, it’s quickly becoming apparent as a first time novelist that it’d difficult to ignore the political environment of my times. While this novel as always been something of a liberal’s fever dream of First Contact, I time and again I find myself drawing upon the surreal political events seemingly happening with rapid abandon around me as I write.

It goes without saying that today’s political environment produces surreal events at an alarming rate. As a would-be professional daydreamer dealing with the fantastical, you sometimes find it hard to compete. The novel I’m writing is meant to be my personal Stranger In A Stranger Land or, if you really want to push things Atlas Shrugged. The first of a proposed trilogy, it is extremely political in a way that I could say turning off a lot of conservatives if it’s not handled properly.

As such, I’ve done everything in my power to make at least one character — the female romantic lead — a sympathetic conservative figure. My goal is for her to be a mixture of Andrew Sullivan and Alexa Chung. I wanted at least one character to be “famous” at the beginning of the story and that’s what I managed to come up with.

My fear is if I’m not conscious of how my how my personal politics might come off in the context of the novel that the entire endeavor risks being written off as something of a liberal Turner Diaries. As you may recall, the Turner Diaries was, I think, written in the early 90s and it was influential in extreme Right wing circles because it was something of a Right wing political screed against the centrist politics of the day.

Regardless, my novel has nothing in come with that Turner Diaries other than it definitely expressions my personal political worldview. It takes so long to write a novel, and there’s so much work involved, that you as the author find yourself struggling with issues you never thought you’d have to face. Making sure you get a concrete political worldview in the novel without turning off 48% of your readership is tough.

But, like I said, I’m trying my best. While I’m going to try to get this novel published in the traditional manner, I’m fully prepared to self-publish if need be. I really believe in the concept and this is, by far, the farthest I’ve gotten in writing a novel to date.

Today I hope — hope — I can spend all day writing and reading. The muse is quite fickle with me and I tell myself in a really conspicuous manner I’m going to do all this writing and then turn around and do next to nothing other than listen to music and stare out into space.

The State Of The #Scifi #Novel I’m #Writing As Of Sept. 1st, 2018

by Shelton Bumgarner

The last few days I haven’t gotten much writing done because I was thinking about what was going to happen next in the novel. But I think I at least now know the problems I have to fix for the story to progress. I have been toying with some other novel concepts, but I really like this one and I have invested so much time in it, it doesn’t make any sense to just quit without at least trying to move the story forward.

I have to work today, so I’m going to have about six hours to think about these problems.

The State Of The #Scifi #Novel I’m #Writing As Of August 31st, 2018

by Shelton Bumgarner

Some thoughts.