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Behind the Scenes

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.

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.

Lady Chameleon
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

Upcoming Crazy Month

I was going to post another Character Origins this week, but things in real life kept getting in the way.  And they are going to continue to get in the way for the next month.  This is also impairing my writing schedule for Book 2, as I’ve been distracted to actually sit down and get some chapters written.  But, I’m still thinking stuff out and making notes.  And despite the upcoming crazy month, I will have a lot of time to brainstorm and troubleshoot in my head.  Just not going to be able to actually write anything.  Planning to go into hardcore writing mode during the summer to make up for it.

The crazy month starts this upcoming Friday, April 29th.  I’m going to be doing a lot of traveling during May, both flying and driving, and should reach a conclusion on Memorial Day.  It’s going to involve two cross country moves and a whole lot of the southern part of this country.  It’s going to be an adventure, which you can follow along on Twitter, if you are so inclined.

My Twitter feed is normally fairly inactive as I never feel like I have anything to tweet.  That’s going to change on April 29th.  I plan to take and tweet pics during my travels.  So follow along with @NathanRux.  Expect the first tweet early in the morning on the 29th.  #crazymonth

April 17, 2000

In the world of my book, New L.A., April 17, 2000 is a very important date.  It is on this date that the event that turned Los Angeles into a 20-mile wide crater happened.  It is on this date that events were set in motion that led to the story told in the book.  But why this date and how did it come about?

Origins

Before New L.A., I started another story that took place in this world.  The tentative title of that story was Lost Souls, and it was basically the story of twin teenage girls who discover that have incredible abilities and the discovery of the secret organization that keeps people with abilities from becoming public knowledge.  I got a ways into that story and I consider what I did write in that story canon for my world and referred back to it when writing New L.A.  My plan was to have the world discover the existence of these Paranormals, and that Los Angeles would pay the price.  But I never quite got that far in the story.  Close, but not quite.  So, when I decided to revisit this world, I knew I wanted that event to have happened and that was the springboard for the actual setting itself.

So, why April 17, 2000?  How did I come up with that date?  Once again, I went back to the original story.  In that story, I started each chapter with a journal entry written by one of my main characters, Terry Stonewall.  These were mostly her reflections on the events happening in the story and I thought it was nice little thing to have.  One of the last chapters I have finished had the following entry, which I will warn has never been edited.

Until today, I had never realized how sheltered my life was.  Yes, I had known there were individuals out there that were less fortunate than myself, but I had never been exposed to them before.  Even the less fortunate at school didn’t seem to be that bad off from my point of view, but I was viewing them in the school environment.  Today, I saw the environment they must’ve lived in and I was shocked that people could live that way.  I still have a hard time imagining what their life must’ve been like growing up living like dogs sometimes.  Makes my problems seem a little insignificant, as I’m sure any one of them would love to trade places with me, as I have the power to do something about my life.  The power of my mind.

                                                -Terry Stonewall

                                                   April 16th, 2000

As you can see, I dated each of these journal entries, to give an idea of when chronologically the events in the chapter happened.  Where did I originally get the dates?  Honestly, I picked them at random when I was first writing this 15 years ago or so.  This journal entry had the date April 16, 2000.  I decided, based on how events were going to unfold linking what happened in that story with the new story, the event that destroyed Los Angeles was going to be the next day.  After that, it was a matter of doing a little research and finding out more about that day, like what day of the week was that (April 17, 2000 was a Monday).

For me, it is important to get as many details as I can right.  Am I going to get everything 100% right?  Nope!  But, I try to get as much right as I can and whatever I don’t get right, I will consider it artistic license.  But I know there are people out there who will call me out on the details and I will do my best to get as my of them right as I can.  But, mistakes will be made as I am only human.  As are we all.

Mid LA
A graphic my wife did that fairly accurately depicts where the crater that New L.A. sits in exists.