early outlines, brainstorming, & other miscellanea
Some of the guys who inspired me to create Jake Mudd.
John D. MacDonald — Travis McGee
Lee Child — Jack Reacher
Alex Raymond — Flash Gordon
Joss Whedon — Mal Reynolds
George Lucas — Han Solo
Philip K. Dick — Rick Deckard
Concept images to inspire Tiffin, the gadget girl from Eon who joins Jake’s crew as mechanic / gadgeteer
Short list of writer tools I use:
Scrivener, the awesome writing program
Vellum, quality book formatting
Roland R-05 digital audio recorder for dictation occasionally
coffee — Yes, I know I listed it twice.
Some of my favorite places to write…
JAKE’S LOG — date unknown
Don’t even ask me what day it is. I just spent who knows how many nights locked inside a busted shuttle, buried halfway underground. I wasn’t sure which was going to run out first, life support or my patience. Finally decided to blow the whole ship up. Rigged the fuel cells. I figured, die underground or die from the explosion. A toss up. But when it came down to it, I didn’t have anything better to do. Lucky me. Now I’m lying on the ground half-burned and riding out a massive headache. Whoever happens to be coming this way, hurry the hell up!
Early Brainstorming for the Series Covers
just a snapshot of some early noodling out ideas
• Each book should say JAKE MUDD ADVENTURES BOOK ONE or JAKE MUDD SERIES BOOK ONE or BOOK ONE JAKE MUDD SERIES w/ appropriate number on the cover; should be consistent across all books in the series
⁃ Maybe a Jake Mudd logo w/his blaster (a sci-fi handgun) in silhouette or a single color, such as gold, as part of the logo (not pointing at the camera/reader or anyone else, due to Amazon’s ad policies/restrictions), could make JAKE MUDD ADVENTURES & BOOK ONE part of the LOGO w/his blaster in it
• ?Maybe, maybe not: Jake on each cover, even if it’s just a figure in the distance or silhouetted
• FYI, Jake and his AI ship Sarah are in all of the first 5 books
• Needs to be clear that it is sci-fi, but not just a spaceship on every cover in the series; it is sci-fi adventure & probably some space opera-ness too; Flash Gordon meets Firefly meets John Carter of Mars meets Jack Reacher (on the Jack Reacher, I mean in terms of solo man tough guy, some attitude)
Possible cover-specific elements:
• Deadly Cargo
⁃ Reddish rock and dirt planet, no structures in sight, some rock mounds, mountains in distance
⁃ Story takes place predominantly on a planet which is mostly barren, with dirt and rock, has a lot of reddish color and has massive storms
⁃ mainly want to indicate (for book 1) that almost the whole book takes place ON the planet, not in space, he’s only in his ship at the beginning and end of book 1
⁃ Maybe include Jake’s ship Sarah (which is about Millennium Falcon-sized, but shaped completely different and bulkier; large enough to carry it’s own shuttle) is in orbit around the planet (maybe have it in the background, in space)
Notes to Cover Designer for Forced Vengeance
The process with my cover designer is a back-and-forth one. So, more communication happened, but here is a good chunk of what I gave them before they started the drafts for me to review. There’s an early rough outline of the story below too, which was given to the designer for reference.
• Background elements (options, or elements drawn from plot details below):
◦ Massive space station, that is basically a city (so, it must be huge compared to the size of Jake’s ship (from cover of book 1); his ship would just be a tiny ship in a dock on the space station by comparison
▪ The space station city has many different parts of town, including the underbelly of society. It plays host to a great variety of alien races from across the galaxy. It’s largely a lawless place, with strongmen and factions carving out their own particular places in the city.
▪ Could use a shot of the space station in space (w/ space background, or an image somewhere within the space station city, if the latter, then preferably a shady and busy part of the city.
◦ Could include Jake’s ship (same ship as from cover of book one), but it would need to be really small or clearly very much in the foreground with the massive space station in the background
◦ Death match arena at bottom of sci-fi-style Colosseum (hundreds of spectators (many different alien races) in stands above the arena floor); Jake faces off against 2 or 3 alien creatures before ultimately fighting his old merc rival Hyde.
▪ Hyde: “…wore a black and gray uniform that was torn in a few places and anything but crisp and clean. Dark green skinned, he churned his jaw and lipped his lips with a forked crimson tongue before speaking.”; A fierce fighter. Easily enraged.
◦ Could include Jake and Hyde or neither, or just Jake. But, it could work well without them too, if you go the route of more the space station only. I’m open initially to see what you come up with.
◦ Use same fonts as on book one (but can change colors/textures as appropriate) for title, author, and series title.
◦ Use same or close to same position of title, author, and series title as book one.
◦ Use same or similar lower portion of cover (image portion below title) as book one, to help establish cohesive look across series covers.
◦ If you think differently on these last points, I’m open to your ideas.
• Plot description (not the back of the book text or official blurb/description; it is just for notes for cover):
◦ Jake travels to a space station city to secure a new anonymized Galactic Shipping Registry license on the black market, so he can continue operating under the radar. (His last one was compromised, though he didn’t know it at the time, leading him into the mess that happened in book 1.)
◦ With his ship docked, he makes he way through the shady streets and back alleys of the space station city to make the deal.
◦ Unbeknownst to him, Hyde, an old enemy from his mercenary days, has tracked him down, and is in the space station city too.
◦ Through payoffs and dirty deals, Hyde frames Jake for a murder on the space station, a murder Hyde committed.
◦ Jake faces trial by combat in the city’s death match arena, his chance to exonerate himself and claim his freedom. He’s forced to wager his life and his ship, in a series of fight-to-the-death match-ups with the galaxy’s worst (alien) criminals.
◦ He doesn’t know who’s framed him at first. Once he wins his freedom in the arena, he sets out to get what he came for, but he also wants to find out who’s behind the murder(s) he was framed for committing.
◦ Wading through the cesspool of the city, he uncovers who’s responsible, Hyde (who he didn’t know was in the city until this revelation). At great risk to himself, he gathers the evidence against Hyde from the city’s dark corners and brings it to light before the space station city’s authorities, to bring down Hyde. Hyde’s been hunting Jake for years, and Jake has had enough of it.
◦ Even though the evidence against Hyde is now clear, Hyde invokes his right to face his accuser (Jake) in the death match arena. By right, Hyde declares Jake’s new Shipping Registry license and his ship as the prizes Jake will forfeit (as recompense) if Jake loses.
◦ Even as the two face off, Jake’s ship is in danger of being taken (by Hyde’s men). Jake must defeat Hyde to save himself, and in time to save his ship.
early outline for the 14K novelette (subsequent changes were made)
Jake, pig man [kind of a Jabba the Hut character], slave girl, Faklu, enslaver guy & his henchman (in gun stand-off scene) [they work for the pig man]
Where are they?
• CHAPTER 1, Starts with a 4-person gun standoff.
◦ A key scene that is both tense and a bit funny.
◦ A man w/a slave girl in-tow has his henchman pull a gun on Jake, to force Jake to hand over the package (without payment).
◦ The slave girl (that apparently has had either a romantic moment with Jake, or is for some other reason very sympathetic to Jake) pulls loose from her enslaver and pulls a gun on the henchman (She took one of the enslaver’s two guns.)
◦ Enslaver pulls his other gun (the one the slave girl didn’t take) on the slave girl.
◦ Jake has the package on him that he came to this planet to deliver, but the guy with the gun on the girl doesn’t want to pay for it; he just wants to take it from Jake, at gunpoint (of henchman).
◦ Jake pulls his gun on the enslaver, to stop the henchman from shooting him and the enslaver from shooting the slave girl.
◦ So, there is a 4-person gun stand-off.
• CHAPTER 2, Jake, in that moment, decides to rescue Allie from Gammon, because she stood up for him in the gun stand-off, and because he figures she’s probably useful for him to escape, and he can’t be a heartless bastard.
◦ Gun standoff resolves in a messy way.
◦ Gammon’s reinforcements arrive and Jake and Allie are massively outgunned, they run, but are pursued. They leave.
◦ They fight their way out of the abandoned storage yard and the last outskirts of the town
• CHAPTER 3, Allie takes Jake to a safe place to avoid Gammon’s men. Where? The home of an older lady,
◦ The old lady is wonderfully pleased to see Allie again (it has been some time—since before she ended up with Gammon). Allie does not tell the old lady details about her time with Gammon, and so Jake does not bring it up either, out of politeness and deference to Allie’s lead.
◦ Over the course of the day/evening Jake and Allie are there, the old lady tells Jake more about Allie (from what she knew of her a while back (before Allie ended up with Gammon), and Allie also tells Jake more, but not about how she ended up with Gammon, that subject is not broached in front of the old lady.
◦ The old lady leaves them in the home while she goes off to take care of some of her business; she says goodbye to Allie before she leaves, since the plan is Jake and Allie to stay only one night. She asks Allie not wait so long before the next time she visits. Allie promises. The old lady privately says something to Jake that indicates she is more savvy about things than she lets on, but she talks with Allie only about as much as Allie seems to want to talk about. The old lady says something that indicates she knows Jake must be a man tested in some of the harder ways the galaxy has to offer, and she asks him to look after her, at least until she figures out where she belongs. He agrees, because it seems like the right response.
• CHAPTER 3 continued, After the old lady leaves Jake and Allie alone, Allie opens up to Jake and explains how Gammon saved her long ago (how long?), and from what or who, and how she became attached to him for a long time because of that (a bit of the Stockholm Syndrome, but don’t use the term, just make it clear that is what she was going through, and was why she didn’t try to escape before.)
◦ Jake questions Allie about what the old lady mentioned. She reveals who she was to her people and why she now feels compelled to return to them and take up her role/responsibilities with them.
⁃ During which Jake finds out she is much more significant than he previously thought. She’s a key figure among the people she came from. So, Jake realizes he’s done a good thing that has farther-reaching ramifications than he originally thought/intended. Turns out the woman is quite competent and a strong protagonist in her own story.
⁃ She gives him some information about what this part of this world is like in terms of the lay of the land—that there are villages and small towns, each mostly isolated from the others, each of a very different character and people, each trying to get by and avoid contact with the other villages/towns/peoples out of fear, distrust, danger, etc.
⁃ Her village does not have the sort of more advanced development as some—ex. No ships, no communication equipment, but they prefer it that way, because they want to remain isolated. However she and a few others in her village have encouraged contacts with some of the other villages:
⁃ She was part of an effort to reach out to other villages and peoples (not the one Gammon is in and not the one the Pig Man king is in), to establish (in some cases) and strengthen (in other cases) relationships/ties/trade/mutual defense agreements with other villages/towns/peoples.
◦ He tells her he needs to get back to his ship. (He does this before there is any more romance.)
⁃ Jake and Allie don’t have their second romantic interlude in this chapter. It happens chapter 7.
◦ She asks him to stay with her a bit longer, to help her get to her people (which are through the woods/jungle in a town a fair distance away, but reachable on foot). She tells him she’d feel safer if he escorted her there. She doesn’t feel safe traveling alone, with Gammon and his men surely looking for her. She says she’ll go it alone if she has too, but would rather he go with her.
⁃ He feels obligated to help her out (even though he really wants to get back to his ship), because he isn’t a total jerk.
⁃ He asks whether she can’t just contact her village and have them meet her or send someone to pick her up. Or whether it wouldn’t be easier to get transport to her village, using some vehicle or craft from the area they are already in.
⁃ She explains that her village does not have any communication equipment, and that she wouldn’t risk flying there, even if she knew how to pilot a ship, because the location of her village must remain secret from the unfriendly towns and peoples.
◦ He agrees to help her, but tells her he’ll leave once she’s safely there.
• CHAPTER 4,
◦ They set out toward her village.
◦ Gammon’s men find them and pursue them. Gammon has a team of twenty or more men with weapons after them, on foot.
◦ Allie and Jake end up running through the jungle/forest to avoid capture or death by Gammon’s men. There’s no time for Jake to contact his ship Sarah for help. She’s in orbit, and can’t get to the surface to do anything in time.
◦ They are cut off from the path they need to take to get to Allie’s village. They take another way through the thick jungle/forest, not knowing where they’re headed, just running to avoid Gammon’s men.
◦ Allie sees some markings on the trees in the forest/jungle and realizes what they mean. She warns Jake the way they’re going leads to a place they should avoid, that it’s too dangerous and no one from the town goes there. Jake asks if that means Gammon and his men won’t follow. She says they probably wouldn’t because the people of the area they are about to go into don’t take kindly to outsiders. Under imminent threat from Gammon and his henchman, Jake convinces Allie that they should cross into the dangerous territory.
◦ to avoid the imminent threat from Gammon’s men, and hope/try to avoid any notice from the people that live in the area, the people that she says are even more dangerous.
• CHAPTER 5
◦ Now they have escaped pursuit by Gammon and his men (for the time being), but are in a new even more dangerous territory (the land of the Pig Man king, not introduced in person until Chapter 9), and they must make their way out of the area, and get back on the path to her village instead
◦ What dangers do they face?
⁃ Some natural dangers, such as alien flora &/or fauna
⁃ Pig Man king’s scouts, that they manage to avoid/concealing themselves from detection
• CHAPTER 6
◦ They are ambushed by the Pig Man’s men (don’t reveal Pig Man in this chapter). The ambushing aliens (similar to pig man) don’t speak a language either Allie or Jake understand.
⁃ Jake and Allie are captured (maybe using net traps),
◦ and surrounded by spearmen.
◦ Jake and can’t get to his blaster (she doesn’t have Gammon’s anymore—lost it in river) before they have spears pointed at their throats.
◦ So, they are subdued by the spear-wielding aliens and put into cages.
◦ Jake’s weapon and comm device (which is broken anyway) are taken from him, (his entire holster belt was taken).
◦ Their captors make camp next to the cages that hold Jake and Allie.
• CHAPTER 6b
◦ The captors, as they’re getting their fire going, prod Jake and Allie, apparently checking them for tenderness. The captors gesture toward the fire and discuss amongst themselves (in an unknown alien language). From the pointing at Jake and Allie and to the fire, Jake figures their captors are discussing cooking Jake an Allie over the fire. His suspicions are confirmed when one of their captors returns from the woods and sets up two large wood tripods and a giant branch (that would hold a man) across it, over the fire, and another of their captors digs through his pack and pulls out a long rope made of plant fibers.
◦ Jake and Allie figure out how to escape. They fight off their captors. The ones that weren’t killed they lock up in their own cages (after knocking them out). Then they leave them and head out of the Pig Man’s land. After several hours travel (toward Allie’s village), they cross a great ravine, on a precarious rope bridge. Allie notes that the ravine is the natural border that the people that ambushed them will likely not cross.
• CHAPTER 7
◦ Likely safely out of the Pig Man’s lands, now exhausted, they take an evening’s rest in an abandoned (run down, and so clearly not used for a long time) forest hut, with a plan to trek the last couple of many miles to her village the next morning. They are all but there, she tells him. She thanks him for getting her there safely. She assures Jake that once in her village she will be quite safe, that they have more than adequate means to defend themselves, and in fact are well hidden from the outside world, that there is no danger of her village being attached by the same people that ambushed her and Jake, nor by Gammon and his men.
◦ Why does she leave him there? He tells her he needs to get back to his ship, now that he knows she is safe. (He doesn’t want to make the commitment to her any stronger by meeting people in her village. He thinks of his ship Sarah, and how he needs to get back to her.) Allie accepts his response that they will part ways from there at the forest hut. She says she’s happy to have known him.
• CHAPTER 8,
◦ DON’T WRITE THE FOLLOWING; DEALT W/ IN FINAL SCENE:
⁃ Slave girl leaves late in the night, before Jake is captured (caught while still asleep), but her leaving is referred to in final chapter. So, don’t write the part where she leaves (that would be redundant)
⁃ Jake’s capture happens ‘off camera’, since it is referred to & slightly detailed in the final scene; so, don’t have the actual scene wherein he is captured. Instead, go to the below (last scene)
⁃ Jake wakes hanging from a tree waiting for some beast to come and eat him. He was captured while slumbering, after the evening with the slave girl (who had left by then). The big bad/king pin character is yelling at him in alien gibberish, while Jake is hanging from vines tied around his ankles.
⁃ Then the beast comes to kill and eat Jake. He gets loose of the vines binding him, and manages to kill the beast in a skin-of-his-teeth sort of way. Then he makes mention of his ship Sarah, to which he now can return.
• NEW CHAPTERS:
⁃ Mable with a shotgun
⁃ Jake getting back to his shuttle
• CHAPTER 9