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Nathan Rux

The Process

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Nathan outlining at the beach, May 2016

So, it’s been about two months since my last blog post.  A long silence from me, I know.  So, why no posts?  Well, I have been in writing mode for the next book.  My energies have been directed there and the blog has fallen by wayside, as a result.  Well then, where are we at on that?

Good question.  I have now finished the rough draft of the next book, titled The Mirror Initiative.  It continues the story started in New L.A., but I’m trying to shape it in such a way that it can stand on its own.  I want the story to be good on its own, but if you have read New L.A., you’ll get more out of it.  We’ll see how good of a job I did soon enough.

The next step is the editing process.  Right now, I’m taking a week off to decompress and separate myself rom the story so I can come back and look at things from an objective standpoint.  I’ll then do a read through, where I already know I’m going to make some revisions while doing that.  Meanwhile, my primary editor is busy reading through the rough draft.  After I decompress and do my read through, I will start meeting with her and we’ll work our way through the book making more revisions.  As a new draft comes together from that process, I will start sending copies of those to my two other editors.  One of them, my wife, will make what I call the “I don’t get it” pass.  She reads through and anything that she doesn’t get through the text, we’ll discuss and make revisions to make things clearer.  Finally, the other editor does a proofreading pass, making sure things are spelled and punctuated correctly.  Finally, I read through one last time and make sure I’m happy with it after all the revisions.  After that, I put it all together and put it into production.  That step usually involves commissioning a cover and then converting into e-book formats.  I get back an e-book proof that I then go through and make sure it all still looks good.  After I approve the proof, it gets distributed to wherever you end up buying your e-book copy from.

So how long is this going to take?  Well, for New L.A., from finishing the rough draft to releasing to the world, it was 3 ½ months.  But part of that time was during the holidays, which slowed the process up.  My personal goal is to have it out by Thanksgiving, but we’ll see how it goes.

And what am I’m going to do in the meantime while not editing.  I’m going to start working on the third book, which will complete this “trilogy”.  Right now, I know where that story will start and where it is going to end, but there are details in the middle I need to figure out.  I’m also going to do some world-building for an off-shoot story that is connected, but takes place in an entirely different setting.  So, I’m staying busy and we’ll all see how this goes.

Briefly Unretired

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Programming Sound Board while the kids rehearse

I’ve briefly mentioned before my previous career doing Sound for professional theatrical productions.  I’m retired from that business now, for a multitude of reasons.  But, in a nutshell, my time in the business had passed.  And it took me awhile to accept that.  And it wasn’t an easy process either.  I don’t think I really got passed it until I finally threw myself fully into writing New L.A.  Now, I look at it as a part of my life that is passed. It’s kind of like when you graduate from school.  When you were in school, it dominated your life.  But when you graduated or left school, your life drastically changed.  You have moved on to a new phase of your life.  And that is what happened to me.  I moved on to a new phase of my life.

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Wireless Mic rental package set up in front of the booth while Michelle programs lights.

For the past week and a half, I have briefly revisited my old life.  A friend of my wife and I ran a two week theatre day camp for kids.  It built up to this last weekend where the kids did four performances of The Little Mermaid Jr. in our church space.  My wife and I were asked to run tech for these performances and we agreed.  Now, for the sound end, this wasn’t a simple little tech job.  It was almost a full blown musical for me.  They rented seventeen wireless mics to put on the kids and I ended up spending a good day programming a show into the sound board.  The only thing that kept it from being a full blown musical is I didn’t have to deal with an orchestra or band as the show was tracked.

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Little Mermaid Jr. Finale…photo by Heather Polk

Initially, I expected I would be writing that this experience has proven to me that I had moved on from my previous life.  Part of me was viewing doing this show as taking me away from writing my next book.  I expected I would be writing that my theatre flame had died and my heart wasn’t in it anymore.  And that was the kind of things I was feeling going through the tech process, particularly after my wife put in an all-nighter programming lights for the show.  But then, during the second performance, something happened.  I started playing with the mix, trying to make it better, and having fun with it.  I was having fun doing the show.  And I realized that the fire is not fully out.

So does this mean I’m coming out of retirement?  Nope!  I think both my wife and I have moved on from that life and are enjoying laying down some roots where we are.  We also both have new passions.  She, her work with our church; me, my writing.  But there is enough of a flame that I am looking forward to the opportunity to do more shows like this.  In fact, there is talk of possibly remounting this show in a couple of months to raise some funds.  I look forward to it.

Show done by Bay Area Performing Arts and Casting

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Ariel and Triton…photo by Heather Polk
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Ursula…photo by Heather Polk
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My wife Michelle before a performance.

 

Character Origins: Lady Chameleon

Rarely seen, yet her presence is felt from a long distance.  Thus is the nature of the Lady Chameleon.  And she is one of my all-time favorite characters I have created.  When I figured out a way a version of her could exist in the world of my book, I was very giddy.  As always, I will cover how the character evolved in my head, and won’t necessarily give anything away about the book.

Beginnings

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Lydee Chameleon, Imperial Agent

The Lady Chameleon was originally created as an antagonist in my second Star Wars campaign in 2001, the one using the D20 rules and taking place in the Prequel era.  She was the leader of a criminal organization called Chameleon, and was primarily an information broker who was making a play to become one of the bigger and more powerful organizations in the galaxy.  And she became the antagonist my players hated the most.  Whenever my players encountered her, they would prevail, but yet they never really felt they had beaten her.  She was always playing a deeper game.  The beauty was she wasn’t always in their face, but was always working in the background.  It was a major highlight when they were able to finally take her down, once and for all, some four years later.   Though they did let her live, so maybe not once and for all.

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Lady Chameleon, City of Villains

For me, she was always fun to play when she came up in the story.  And in my head, she became a living breathing character.  And I think she was for my players as well.  Years later, I was playing City of Villains with my best friend online and we were talking about making a team, or what would be a guild in other games.  I suggested we call it Chameleon and he coldly and firmly stated, “NO!”

After Star Wars

Even before the campaign was over, I was starting to branch out in her development.  In 2003, I wrote a short story that was basically the backstory for my campaign and told the story of the main NPC, Jedi Master Talek.  In that story, I wove in some backstory for the Lady Chameleon and started fleshing her out more.  Since that time, I have written some more short stories based on my Star Wars campaigns, and she plays a part in some of those stories.

But since that campaign, she has mostly lived on as characters I play or play against in video games.  In late 2008, I tried out City of Villains, and the character I first created for that was the Lady Chameleon.  About a year and a half later, I created her as a Nemesis for my first Champions Online character.  In late 2011, in the MMO Star Wars: the Old Republic, I created an Imperial Agent named Lydee, who is a part of the Chameleon legacy, and is modelled on the Lady Chameleon.  Since then, she has popped up as characters I have played in DC Universe Online, Star Trek Online, Neverwinter, Skyforge, Tera Online, and World of Warcraft.  Have we seen the last of her?  Probably not.

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Lydee Chameleon, Star Wars the Old Republic

Bonus

Here is the last version of the Lady Chameleon’s Star Wars D20 stats:

Lady Chameleon: Adult Female Human, Scoundrel 4/Noble 4/Crimelord 10; Init +3 (+3 Dex); Def 22 (+3 Dex, +9 Class); Spd 10m; VP/WP 88/14; Atk +11/+6/+1 melee (1d3, punch), +14/+9/+4 ranged (3d4, Blaster [Sporting]); SQ Contacts (x4), Coordinate +1, Exceptional Minions, Favor +2, Illicit barter, Inspire Confidence, Inspire Fear -6, Lucky (1/day), Noble bonus class skill (Gather Information), Precise Attack +1, Resource Access, Tainted; SV Fort +7, Ref +14, Will +14; SZ M; FP: 5; DSPs: 9; Rep: +18; Str 11, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 18, Wis 14, Cha 16.

Equipment: Blaster [Sporting], Comlink [Encrypted], Credit Chip, DataPad [Personal]

Skills: Appraise +25, Bluff +27, Computer Use +18, Diplomacy +26, Disguise +20, Entertain (impersonation) +11, Escape Artist +7, Forgery +18, Gamble +23, Gather Information +29, Hide +7, Intimidate +22, Knowledge (streetwise) +25, Listen +6, Move Silently +7, Pilot +7, Read/Write Basic, Search +8, Sense Motive +26, Sleight of Hand +7, Speak Basic, Speak High Galactic, Speak Huttese, Speak Neimoidian, Speak Ryl, Spot +8

Feats: Impersonator, Infamy, Influence, Skill Emphasis (Bluff, Gather Information, Sense Motive), Trick, Trustworthy, Underworld Connections, Weapons Group Proficiency (blaster pistols, simple weapons)

Notes: Exceptional Minions: 36 levels

Chameleon Clone Bodyguard (Soldier 4/Scoundrel 1/Loyal Protector 7) (x3): 36

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Lady Chameleon, DC Universe Online
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Lydee, World of Warcraft
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Lydee, Neverwinter
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Lydee, Admiral of the USS Chameleon, Star Trek Online
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Lady Chameleon, Nemesis in Champions Online
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Lydee, Tera Online

Been a Long Month

Today is the first day in a long while that I have been able to sit back a take a deep breath without some outside demand on my time.  The sun is breaking through outside after being pounded by rain all day yesterday by Tropical Storm Colin.  My travels are done and I’m starting to recover from the toll it has taken on me, not only physically, but emotionally as well.  I got a good night sleep last night, the first night back in my own bed and it was quite comfortable.  A lot has happened in this past month, more than I originally expected when last I wrote on this blog.  So where do I start?  Probably from the beginning and diverge when I have to.

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Over St. Petersburg, Fl

The month started the morning of Friday, April 29th.  My mother-in-law had a friend in Newport Beach, Ca. who was moving to Florida.  A place about a mile or two from our place to be precise.  I agreed to fly out to Southern California and drive her car across country for her while she flew to Florida a week or two later.  So, the morning of April 29th, I took off from Tampa International Airport heading to John Wayne Orange County Airport, by way of Denver.  My one hour layover in Denver was interesting because it was snowing and it was the end of April.  That alone just blew my mind.  But it was exciting to me because it had been just over three years since I had last seen snow.  I’ve been living in Florida and it doesn’t snow here.  And my flight was a little delayed taking off to Southern California because the plane had to be de-iced.

I get to Southern California and take a cab over to the lady’s place in Newport Beach.  The car was already loaded and ready to go.  She gave me some money for the road, I threw my bag into the car, and I was off heading back to Florida.  In Friday afternoon Southern California rush hour traffic.  UGH!  I eventually got out of Southern California and stopped for the night in the middle of the Imperial Valley.  It had been a stressful day.  But I was treated to a beautiful sunrise the next morning rising over Yuma, AZ.

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Sunrise over Yuma, Az

Now, my original plan was to drive straight through to Florida.  That plan changed shortly before I departed to Southern California.  One of my aunts who I had been close to and was battling cancer took a turn for the worse and was in the hospital.  My Dad, who was in the middle of preparing to move (more on that later), flew out to see his sister (my aunt).  I decided to make a detour, even though I had been looking forward to driving road I had never driven before (namely I-10 between where I-20 split off and Houston).  I took I-20 when it split and headed for Dallas.  And I am so thankful that I did.  I spent a couple days in Dallas visiting and supporting family as best I could.  My aunt came home to hospice care and I took my Dad to the airport before continuing on to Florida.  The hope was that I would see my aunt when I came through again in a few weeks.  It was not meant to be as she passed away a week later.

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New Smyrna Beach, Fl

I got back home to Florida and back into the loving arms of my wife.  I got a few days at home before we took off on a bit of a mini-vacation.  My wife is the Director of Connections at our church and she had put in a lot of hours at work getting the church ready for Easter as a renovation project was wrapping up at the church.  Our pastor, her boss, decided to give some of the staff who had put in the extra time a vacation at his vacation home on the east coast of Florida, just a couple blocks from the beach.  They just had to book the time with his wife.  So, in early May, we took a three day vacation to the east coast of Florida and had a good time relaxing.  And I was able to outline a few chapters while sitting out there on the beach.  But that was the last break.  We got back and we had to pick up the lady whose car I drove across country at the airport.  And then I was on a plane the next evening heading for California (again!).

A couple of paragraphs ago, I mentioned my Dad was in the middle of preparing for a move.  He & my Mom flew out to Florida in March to catch Spring Training.  While here, they decided to look at some houses and feel out the market, as a move to Florida was something they were thinking of doing maybe a year or two down the line.  Well, they fell in love with the last house they looked at and put in an offer for it.  And it was accepted.  So they were now moving to Florida.

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Broke down on Hwy 17

I flew out about a week and a half before they were leaving California to help with any last minute packing, as well as help my brother move into an apartment.  And I also wanted to see some of my close friends still in California one more time, as I don’t know when I will next be out there.  My brother’s move took more than I thought it would (he has a lot of stuff).  Then we drove down to close to Santa Cruz for a game night.  At least we tried to, as my brother’s truck decided to die on Hwy 17 going over the Santa Cruz Mountains.  But we got it towed and my best friend, Duane, came out and got us to game night.  And that was a lot of fun.  Drinking and Settlers of Catan is an awesome combination.  The next day was a hassle as my Mom had to drive down to get us and we had to do some running about to get my brother’s truck scrapped.

 

The rest of that week is a bit of a blur as the movers came and took away most of my parent’s stuff.  What was left, we took downstairs to a staging area for the Budget truck we were renting to drive across country.  My wife flew in very late Sunday night and early Monday morning, we picked up the truck and loaded it up with everything that was left.  And that was very tiring work.  My parent’s place in California is built on the side of a hill with a very steep driveway.  Going up and down that driveway gets very tiring very quickly.  Finally, we loaded up the last of the things early Tuesday morning and we got off on the road.

 

For the trip across country, we had a two car caravan.  Usually, the Budget truck would be out front and my parent’s PT Cruiser would follow.  Also note, in the PT Cruiser, we had two pet cages holding my Mom’s three cats (one big cage and another smaller cage).  Travel was a bit slower than we would have liked.  And we were stopping in the Dallas/ Ft. Worth Metroplex for a family gathering in honor of my aunt who died (see several paragraphs up).  The trip to Texas ended up taking three full days and we were all very tired at the end of it.  We spent three days in Texas, the third of which was the family gathering.  My brother flew out from California, which made possible something that hasn’t happened since at least the 90s.  All the cousins on my Dad’s side of the family were all in the same place.  For me, that was a highlight of the trip.

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The Rux Cousins

The next morning, we got my brother and my wife to the airport before getting on the road.  My wife had been driving with us on the first part of the trip but had to fly home to go back to work.  So, the last two days to Florida, we had to work out a rotation system of drivers.  It work and we made it back to Florida, even with a longer than expected stop in Tallahassee so my Dad could take care of some stuff related to the house deal.  We got back to Florida and they closed on their house and we unloaded the Budget truck.

And now I am home.  This past weekend, my church celebrated its 35th anniversary, and it was a bigger production than usual.  And I was running sound for it.  So, that extended things a bit.  But now, things are starting to quiet down.  The movers are scheduled to deliver my parent’s stuff to their house tomorrow.  I hope to get back to working on the next book soon (tentatively titled The Mirror Initiative).  All the driving did give me a lot of time to work a lot of stuff out in my head.  And I was very excited to find my binder with my original notes for the world my book inhabits at my parent’s place.  The extra reference material will come in handy.

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PCU World Reference Binder

Well, this turned out to be a wall of text (though I have pictures to go along with it).  I’m hoping to do another Character Origins next week, this time with the Lady Chameleon.  It’s a post that I wanted to do two months ago, but stuff happens.  Until then, be safe.

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Sunrise over Texas
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Deicing planes in Denver
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Outlining at New Smyrna Beach, Fl
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Drinking and Settlers of Catan
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View of eastern Arizona from Budget truck.