The Veil War

"and then I was like, 'Holy crap, goblins!'"

Category: Discussion

And now for something completely different

I have come up with a scheme to combine alternate history, the civil war, steampunk, planetary romance novels and the singularity in one cohesive whole.

There will be aerial ironclads. A global war. Victorian spaceships. (Well, Late Victorian shading into Edwardian Spaceships.) Venusian jungles, the Dying World of Mars and the mysteries of the Jovian Moons. North Polar Adepts. The Ten Thousand Worlds of the Martian Old Ones. And one small boy.

You may applaud.

Question for you, the dear reader

Here’s something for you to consider. I’ve just been editing the final chapter – #36 for those of you keeping track at home – and realized that it’s coming in at nearly 4000 words. Over the course of this whole thing, I’ve aimed at 2000 word chapters, and usually failed. Most are in the 2200-2700 range. A couple broke 3000. But 4000 is pretty big. There were a few things I needed to take care of…

So, I put it to you. Do you want the whole big thing next week, or should I break it up into two chapters and post them separately?

Make your opinions known in the comments and I’ll do whatever the majority chooses, almost as if this were a democracy or something.

What would a Veil War Kickstarter look like

Fabulous feedback on the last post, thank you all.

In response to Ian and Allison, especially – my thought about Kickstarter was not that it would replace all the hard work and relentless progress you discuss (and exemplify) – but rather purely as an adjunct to it. As an additional means of advertising, rather than purely a means of making money off my writing directly. Between the hundreds of readers here on this site, plus facebook, twitter, boards, etc – it was my thought that I could, potentially, gain enough traction on a modest kickstarter campaign to achieve some success.

Also, looking at successful (and unsuccessful) kickstarter campaigns – it seems that Tobias Buckell has the right of it:

I think there are three things that make for a Kickstarter success:

1) An intriguing product

2) Created by an entity that has proven it can deliver it

3) Created by an entity that has a following (or publicity reach)

Any two of those create an atmosphere where I think success is more likely. Hit all three, you’re likely to see something interesting.

To which I would add that being able to create a compelling kickstarter campaign is a necessary fourth thing. A lot of the less successful campaigns have decidedly non-compelling awards. I would argue that I have #1 and as soon as I finish the novel, #2. I certainly do not have an internet-scale following, but it’s not exactly zero, either.

As for the campaign itself, here’s what I tentatively imagined as a Veil War kickstarter project:

$5 Mention in the credits (included in all bigger awards)

$10 eBook (included in all bigger rewards)

$25 Trade paperback

$35 Signed trade paper

$50 Limited edition signed hardcover

$75 Artwork – nicely matted and so on

$100 Red Shirt – you will be named, and then killed

$150 Red Shirt + Signed Hardcover + Artwork

$200 Minor Character – you appear, as yourself, in the story.

$250 Minor Character + Signed Hardcover + Artwork

$500 Bonus Story – 2000+ word story, all for yourself to do with as you choose

$750 Supremely grisly and/or heroic death

$1000 Super double-plus mega pack – all smaller rewards in one awesome package deal

I’d also thought that perhaps some other things could be worked in:

  • various types of merch, the sort that is easily created on CafePress or similar sites and based on the artwork.
  • access to background information and projected storylines.
  • meet with the author personally or via internets

Don’t want to overload it, really – but it seems that there are a fair number of people who like being patrons, and will actually pull the trigger on the larger awards. The big question of course is whether any of those people read the Veil War.

My thinking is that if it works, fantastic! I get money, additional publicity, feedback, and a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart-cockles. After it’s over, I go on and put the book up for sale on Amazon and proceed as normal. If it doesn’t work, so what? I finish the editing and so on and put the book up for sale on Amazon anyway. It seems perfectly complementary, and wouldn’t in anyway interfere with what I would be doing regardless, and might actually help it along.

What say you?

In 10 Days…

Two weeks of vacation for the last week of January and the first of February. More Veil War!

When I found out that I wouldn’t be telecommuting anymore, it had been my hope that I might be able to squeeze out some writing. That has, sadly, turned out not to be the case. I need moderately big stretches of time to write, and those just don’t exist in the new dispensation. (Small silver lining – thinking, editing and planning are possible. Fer instance, I now know exactly how to fix chapters 9-17, and I’ve substantially improved 1-8 with some stellar feedback from a friend and former Marine.)

Seeing as we are so very close to the end, those two weeks will be enough to finish Lewis’ story arc at a bare minimum. I also hope to complete the other elements of the story – the ones that have not been posted here, but will make the story a complete novel. It is my sincere wish to be able to type “the end” sometime early next month. To be sure, that will not be the end of it. There is the editing to be done, the rewriting, the proofreading – but the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter at long last.

You may have some questions.

Does this mean the end of the Veil War? Not at all. Corny as it is, the Veil War will be a trilogy.

When will the excitingly titled Veil War II start? That depends on a number of things – most crucially, how quickly I can finish the clean up of Veil War I. My goal is end of Spring.

What’s VWII going to be about? Magic, ultraviolence, ‘splodey-splodey, dark forces, suffering and Coleman saying goofy shit. While VWI is set in the first couple weeks of the invasion, VWII will cover a broader range of time about a year in to the war.

Will you keep publishing online for free? Right now, that is in fact part of the plan.

Part of the plan? Once Veil War I is cleaned up, I want to sell it. Moving forward, I will continue to publish parts of the ongoing story for free.

Well, what’s the other part then dammit? That’s the big question. With a complete manuscript, I could submit to an agent/publisher and maybe two years from now you could by a book. Or I could throw it up on Amazon five seconds after I finish it. There are pros and cons with each method. Yet… I feel that traditional publishing is dying.

So what’s the other part then dammit? Right now I’m leaning toward the possibility of a kickstarter campaign, followed by sales on major online distributors.


Now, I have some questions for you:

  • Would you be interested in a kickstarter campaign?
  • What sort of bonuses would entice you to pony up your cash?
  • How high, or how cautiously should I set the goal? (Things I’d want to cover with the cash would include copy-editing, regular editing, artwork…)
  • Do you have other suggestions?
  • What price point is most comfortable for you for an eBook? (aside from free) That is, where do you feel decent price for a good story meet?

Collectively, you all have been extraordinarily helpful in the writing of the Veil War. Without the slightest hint of exaggeration, I can say that I have been staggered by the level of support, advice, feedback and information that has been showered upon my head. I think that you will likewise be just as amazingly helpful in getting the finished product out there.


Beyond thinking about the weapons and techniques of destruction we might aim at the invader, how would we organize? A civilian resistance army might be composed to a large extent out of veterans, and to be sure there are many civilians who have served in combat over the last ten or more years. But any ad hoc organization will not have the traditions and structure of a regular army unit.

People caught, away from home and threatened with death will fight back. How will they organize? Will they use the internet? The infrastructure of the United States outside the areas of enemy control will remain largely intact – and even in areas they have overrun, communications and power may remain operational for days or even longer depending on a variety of factors. Smart phones and laptops with cellular data links will still be functional. Twitter and Instagram could be an enormous source of valuable intelligence should anyone be able to handle the firehose of information that would be uploaded in the immediate aftermath of the invasion.

Could services like twitter be used to organize not flash mobs, but flash armies? (or at least flash platoons or companies, conducting flash-ambushes?) Would wiki pages located on servers out of harm’s way be useful ways to aggregate intelligence? Forums with upvoting tools, like reddit, could allow crowd-sourced sorting of raw intelligence and insight both. Geocaching games could be adapted to means of supplying troops on the run safely. Armies could be dispersed until almost the moment of battle, organized by sms, email, twitter and googlemaps.

What else can you think of?


Seeing as the remake of Red Dawn looks to be leaning toward the suck – North Koreans? Srsly? Let’s consider what would happen if something entirely more plausible happened: Goblins invade.

The story we’ve been telling here is only half the story. The men that Captain Lewis commands in the Middle East are highly trained members of the United States’ armed forces. Marines, for the most part, but also USAF, Army and Navy. (No coasties, as yet.) This is one advantage that they have in their fight against the forces of darkness – their discipline and training has allowed them to keep fighting in the face of the powerful magic that the invaders have at their fingertips. And of course, uniquely they have had the assistance of friendly forces who also have access to magic.

The invasion is world wide, of course. While Lewis fights in Iraq and Saudi Arabia; Europe, Asia and North America are also under attack. The Veil crosses the northern tier of the United States – starting in Washington and moving east across to Chicago, then dipping down to West Virginia before moving across the Maryland panhandle and heading up just inland of the coast to meet the Atlantic in the neighborhood of Boston. For the most part, there are not large numbers of military units in these areas. There are no fortresses or walls. Each state has its national guard, but many of those units are deployed overseas, or located out of state for training or other purposes.

What weapons could a resistance employ against the invaders? What sort of improvised munitions could be readily devised from supplies obtainable at the local Lowes, Walmart or Farmer’s Exchange? More to the point, how quickly could these weapons be created and deployed?

If the Veil went right by your house, what would you do?

Because Dragons Should Have Lasers

Ian asked me to spin up some post-hoc rationalization for Chapter 24, and I was glad to oblige. The result can be found over at Action!, Ian’s blog for advice on writing good action scenes. He wrote the book on it, after all. Check it out.


Behold the Orc

Here is an interesting, if annoying article: Ecce Orcus! An Argument for Humanizing the Orc. Hidden behind a morass of politically-correct fog, there is there a good point. Orcs shouldn’t be nothing more than evil minions.

In Tolkien, Orcs were perversions of the elves and inherently evil – or at least thoroughly predisposed to violence and badness and therefore easily harnessed by evil. In most fantasy literature that orcs or goblins appear in, they tend to follow Tolkien’s pattern as they do in most other ways even as they fail to give them as much personality as Tolkien did.


Maps Update

In the comments to my crude, hand-drawn map DMRGrimes asked where exactly this so-called “real terrain” actually was.

It’s right here.

You’ll have to scroll out a bit, but all the key locations are there.

And while we’re at it…

Just this week I got an advance copy of Ian Healy and Allison Dickson’s upcoming novel The Oilman’s Daughter. Steampunk adventures in space, with pirates and – I am told – atomic steam forklifts. How awesome is that? Pretty damn awesome. As a beta reader, it is my understanding that I am to resist my temptation to make edits and only make general comments on the story. Nice ones, so Ian’s feelings aren’t hurt. Should be fun, and this will be only the second novel I’ve read since last fall. So I guess I’m coming at it fresh.

And speaking of Ian and Allison – if you haven’t, check out their Really Big Idea posts. (And all the others. And then buy all their books.) Click here for the series list. Lots of good stuff in there, and a long reading list for me once I finish Veil War.