According to my copy of Word, Returning has reached 56,000 words. So it's officially a novel at this point, albeit, one still lacking the last three or four chapters. I know what happens in them. I just haven't finished writing them yet.
That won't be the end of it. Once the book is complete I'll need to print it out and go over the manuscript two or three times looking for all those silly little goofs that always seem to creep in. Writing "escape" when you meant "escaped," for instance, or leaving off the odd "ing" here and there. You're also looking for the bigger goofs. It can be a little jarring when you're reading a novel and suddenly realize that the author has lost track of who's talking and has a character answering his own question.
Naturally, as the basic writing winds down, and the editing starts, I still need people popping in to my Indiegogo campaign. Visiting is nice; donating is nicer. It would be cool if authors could just turn out books on a regular basis and make a living at it, but that only happens to a few, and, so far, I don't seem to be one of those. Maybe I should write about billionaire bondage freaks, huh?
Some of the money raised is going to go toward basic stuff, such as making sure the author eats regularly. That's hard to guarantee, what with paying the mortgage on a house in Georgia and rent on a townhouse in Ohio. It's only in the last year and half or so that the rent on the house has been higher than the mortgage. Logically, I should move back there and stop paying rent up here. I might even do that, but Mom is 91 and I don't really want to move an extra 500 miles further away right now.
That's not the only reason to raise money, obviously. Because of the perks system, any such campaign has a secondary function of selling copies of the book. Depending on the size of the contribution, it could be a Kindle book, a paperback, or even a custom-made leather-bound edition. There are potentially t-shirts, polo shirts, and baseball caps to produce. There's even a $200,000 level (which is a lot to give on a $10,000 campaign), but there's only one of those, the perk is a two-year option on the film rights, and I seriously doubt anyone is going to claim that one. Maybe later, after the book has been published.
I'm going to need a proper cover designed. What's on this post, and the previous one, is probably okay for basic fundraising, but it needs to be better if I want to sell books later. I've got someone working on that, and I'm quite sure he expects to eventually be paid for the job.
Meanwhile, I suppose it's fair to ask what's happening in the book? Not to it, but in it.
To start off, there's a good deal more back story. Originally, the story started with the astronomer in Greenwich noticing the energy burst when Warrior emerged from jumpspace out past the orbit of Saturn. Now it starts 86,985 years earlier, with the ship getting ready to leave. Then, for a while, it alternates between the ship and events back on earth. A reasonable explanation is provided for the disappearance of an advanced civilization. There is some coverage of the Second Constitutional Convention, which begins the conversion of the United States into the theocratic dictatorship the evangelicals have been trying to bring forth for so many years.
There are a few jokes that some people will get, and others will wonder about. In 2126 London, Sara Ellsworth is a bit puzzled by a billboard advertising Series 121 of a television show she's never seen, because it's being censored in America by then. The presence of an oddly dressed young actor and a somewhat more conventionally dressed young woman on the billboard may give a hint as to which contemporary BBC program is still around more than a century from now. Two drunks arguing the merits of Number 87 versus Number 92, and anyway, Number 95 is who we've got now, so stuff the others, might be another clue.
Like any novel, this one has a lot of characters. Some appear only briefly. A few are there for a minute or two and then are gone. Doctor Tuttle, the Greenwich astronomer, is one of these. She notices the ship emerging, gets a bit of news coverage before they figure out what's actually happening, and that's about it. Some are, so far, only mentioned in passing, like the ephebophile Southern Baptist chaplain at the internment camp, and just as well, because letting him get away with anything would be in rather poor taste anywhere, and might even be illegal in a few countries. If you're not quite sure what an ephebophile is, watch Family Guy. Certain crew members get more page space than others. Sara, the young HAM from Denver who gets involved by accident, is more important than she originally was.
I've been thinking about how long I've been working on this book, and it's a very long time indeed. The basic idea dates back to the mid 1970s. Back then, I created the entire Gehunite civilization, originally as a swords and sorcery milieu, but later developing into a technological culture and finally a space-faring one. It just never quite hung together.
Then the modern GOP came along, with their penchant for lying about everything that might negatively affect their masters' profits, and their thralldom to modern commercial religion. Frequent calls for a "convention of the states," ostensibly to propose anti-abortion and anti-gay amendments, but obviously capable of simply throwing out the entire Constitution and starting over, suggested someone might just manage to pull this off, and sooner rather than later. Donald Trump's early-term enchantment with ruling by decree, rather than going through Congress, figures in as well, though obviously no current politicians are mentioned by name. The Returning 2019 new Constitution, after all, gives the President that power, though it does curiously make it effective only after 2025.
Just in case the incumbent gets reelected, you know.
In any case, a theocratic, totalitarian United States, where getting an abortion or being homosexual could get you executed, provided a nice villain. Making the President a fifth-generation evangelist, and one who recognized, at least inwardly, that he was really just a remarkably successful con man in a long line of successful con men, adds something as well. We try to be realistic. Or as realistic as possible, given the speculative nature of the novel.
In any case, I can certainly use your support. So drop in at my campaign. Look around, see if any of the perks appeal to you. Contribute for one of the perks, or just make a donation. If nothing else, you'll get your name in the book and on my website.