My Tribute to Clive Cussler

I found my first Clive Cussler novel in a thrift store. I was there with my Mom as an unwilling young teenager, spending my time sifting through hundreds of tattered romance novels trying to find something that might appeal to a reader whose primary fodder up to that point usually involved dragons, swords, and spell-slinging. What I found was a bright-white paperback in surprisingly good condition with a large, bold-print title. Treasure. Reading the back, I saw two things that intrigued me: an oceanic theme and a James Bond-esque plot. I took the book home, not knowing that I was about to be introduced to an entirely new genre of storytelling.

In addition to themes of espionage, adventure, archeology, and cars, I soon found that the adventures of Dirk Pitt all had an oceanic flavor that I couldn’t get enough of. In fact, throughout high school, I was convinced that if I had to choose a career other than writing that I would choose marine biology. This came from a passion for the study of animal adaptation (a passion that powerfully impacted Lost Under Two Moons) as well as a love for the mystique of the ocean. With the possible exception of Robert Louis Stevenson, I can’t think of another author that tapped into that passion for the sea more than Cussler did.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that The Adventures of Keltin Moore would not exist without Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt. Pitt was my first exposure to an ongoing series of adventure stories that featured a recurring cast, a formulaic narrative, and a stand-alone-style chronology in its installments. Granted, Keltin’s stories have more narrative thread between each story, but Clive Cussler was the first author I read who opened up the possibility of a series that you could read out of the order of publication.

As I delved deeper into the series, I soon learned that not all of Pitt’s stories were created equal. The first half-dozen or so were too rough and unpolished for me, and towards the end it was clearly evident that the passion had gone out of the series. But there’s a sweet-spot from the mid-eighties to I’d say the early aughts where the stories pop from the page with a reassuringly familiar formula.

Speaking of which, I know that some people may immediately assume it’s a criticism when they hear the word “formulaic” when describing a series of books. However, formulas are not inherently bad. In a literary sense, they are simply a narrative structure that the author uses, knowing that if they follow this structure, they will likely illicit a similar response in the reader each time the formula is used. The reader (whether consciously or unconsciously) knows this too. It’s why we say things like “I feel like a good scare. I’m going to read a paranormal thriller.” Or perhaps “I just want to feel good. I’m going to read one of my favorite Regency romances.” In my opinion, I think formulas are fine as long as the author is willing to experiment with elements that are not a part of the regular formula or uses unrelated stories to try something new and different.

It’s been years since I last read a Dirk Pitt adventure, mainly because I’ve been working through a large stack of recommendations that I’ve received over the years. However, I think it may be time to put some ocean-themed adventure back into my literary life. I think I’ll start with Treasure.

 

As always, thank you to my wonderful patrons:

  • Randall Hodgson
  • Brenda Hayward

If you’d like to become a patron and gain access to sneak-peaks and shout-outs, check out my Patreon page here:

https://www.patreon.com/lindsayschopfer

The Love Letters of Into the North

Letters have always been one of my favorite things to write and read in the Adventures of Keltin Moore. For me, they’re right up there with the beast hunts in terms of enjoyability. Like candy, they take a long time to make, are enjoyed far too quickly, and I always want more. After setting a precedent for featuring correspondence between various characters in The Beast Hunter, I felt secure in continuing Keltin and Elaine’s budding relationship through their letters.

Of course, including the letters did require some extra considerations. For instance, I had to train myself not to think in terms of instant responses. I’m definitely an inbox-watcher. I struggle with feelings of frustration and anxiety if someone doesn’t reply to a text or e-mail within a day. Still, I do have some experience with old-fashioned correspondence. During my 2-year mission on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico, my only way of corresponding with my family and friends was through written letters, so I know what it’s like to see an envelope with real handwriting on it inside my mailbox.

While letters in Keltin’s world would definitely take longer than modern communication, I didn’t want to take that idea too far. After all, if letters are the primary form of communication for a society, then it stands to reason that they would have developed in such a way to make the mail system as robust, reliable, and efficient as possible. Even when delivering letters to and from a boom town in the far north, I figured it was safe to have Keltin expect reliable deliveries every few weeks.

While this delay of responses meant that I couldn’t write the letters like a long-distance conversation, it did allow me to let the characters say what they were really feeling much more easily. In addition to the relative security of writing to someone rather than speaking face-to-face, the time-delay in delivery would allow each sender to take their time with their responses. I envision Keltin and Elaine taking hours carefully considering each sentence as they write it, perhaps going through multiple drafts until they have expressed themselves to the best of their abilities. This idea allowed me to step away from the informality of dialogue and really indulge in more elegant prose.

A big influence for Elaine’s letters in particular came from Regency romances, my wife’s favorite genre. While most of the reader’s time is spent with Keltin in the rough and rural parts of the world, I try to give a small glimpse of the upper classes through Elaine’s correspondence. The contrast between her elegant speech and Keltin’s more rustic style is something I particularly enjoy.

I once teasingly asked my wife if she would like Keltin’s stories better without all the beast stuff in-between the romantic things. She replied–quite correctly–that it would make Into the North into a short story. Still, it’s a short story I wouldn’t mind reading on Valentine’s Day.

 

As always, thank you to my wonderful patrons:

  • Randall Hodgson
  • Brenda Hayward

If you’d like to become a patron and gain access to sneak-peaks and shout-outs, check out my Patreon page here:

https://www.patreon.com/lindsayschopfer

Keltin Moore Sneak Peek Party!

 

 

AUGUST 1 UPDATE: We’ve hit the 5 review goal! Keep going! 🙂

I’m offering a group reward to my fans to help me build up my reviews of The Adventures of Keltin Moore. Honest reviews on Amazon are critical to an author’s success, so to encourage my fans to let others know what they think, good or bad, I’m offering the following challenge.

This challenge is to increase the reviews across the series as a whole, which includes The Beast Hunter, Into the North, Dangerous Territory, or the series as a whole. Only reviews posted on or after June 1, 2019 will count towards the challenge. 

Once we’ve met a goal, I’ll reveal the associated prize in a live video at an online party hosted by the Fans of Lindsay Schopfer Facebook Group on August 14 at 7pm PDT.

Here are the goals and prizes available:

At least 5 new reviews –  I’ll reveal a special sneak peek at the plot of book four in the Adventures of Keltin Moore.

At least 10 new reviews –  I’ll give a first look at some of the new specialty ammunition Keltin will be acquiring in book 4.

At least 15 new reviews –  I’ll reveal a special sneak peek at the plot of book five in the Adventures of Keltin Moore.

At least 20 new reviews – I’ll provide some insight into one of the most asked questions about the series. A sneak peek into the future of Keltin and Elaine’s relationship.

So get reviewing, Schopfer fans. I believe in you!

Note: While it is in no way required, Amazon does give priority to reviews that have a verified purchase associated with them.

Lindsay Schopfer Fan Art Contest 2019

 

 

July 9 – The entries are up! Click the following link to cast your votes: 

Fan Art Entries on Facebook

July 1 – Due to popular interest, we’re extending this contest another week and adding some additional categories!

Enter now to be a winner in the first ever Lindsay Schopfer Fan Art Contest! Now through July 8th, submit original works of art in any visual medium based on my published characters and stories to lindsay@lindsayschopfer.com or via a private message to Lindsay’s Facebook Author Page.

July 10th through July 17th all entries will be posted to Author Page on Facebook where the number of likes will determine fan favorites! Winners and finalists will be announced and displayed in a special video on Lindsay’s YouTube Channel, as well as being displayed on a special page on his website. Read below for additional rules:

All entries must be the original work of the artist.

All visual mediums can be submitted including drawings, paintings, sculptures/figurines, computer-generated art, and cosplay.

Works featuring erotic content, excessive gore, and vulgar imagery will not be accepted.

Prizes include bragging rights, display of artwork at blog.LindsaySchopfer.com, more bragging rights, the opportunity to display artistic prowess, and a virtual high five from Lindsay.

By submitting to the contest, the artist grants Lindsay Schopfer non-exclusive, ongoing rights to display and/or alter the submitted artwork for promotional purposes.

The Journal Format of Lost Under Two Moons

I had never written anything in journal format before Lost Under Two Moons. In fact, I hadn’t even ready much in journal format up to that point. I preferred a solid, sensible detached-third-person narrative style, and had used that for all of my prose fiction since grade school. But Richard Park’s story in Lost Under Two Moons turned out to be quite different.

First, some history. When I turned nineteen, I put all of my other life-plans on hold and went to the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico to serve a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It was during this exciting, frightening, and often lonely time that I became a dedicated journal-writer. Every day I faithfully recorded the major events of the day, along with many emotions which often had no other outlet. Whenever I felt feeling alone or isolated in a familiar yet foreign environment, I gained a deep appreciation for the process of recording my thoughts and writing through my difficulties.

I didn’t think of any of this consciously when I started the first real draft of Lost Under Two Moons. I was simply trying out an experiment on a project that had failed to ever get past the first page or so of an attempt. I chose an empty, heavy-duty spiral notebook and began writing entries as if I were stranded on an alien world. Nearly two years later, I had the entire first draft contained in that now ratty, war-torn notebook. I still have it.

There were some unique challenges that came with the journal format, but the biggest problem was how to handle physical danger. After all, what tension could there be if we knew that the protagonist not only survived the latest adventure but was apparently healthy enough to write a detailed entry in his journal about it? My solution was to draw from my experiences on my mission. While I was rarely in real physical danger on the reservation, the extremes of stress and emotion meant that some of my entries were erratic, scattered, and even cryptically fragmented. This gave me the idea that while Richard might still be able to write about his day, we don’t know what condition he is in while he’s writing. I could also use the way that he wrote to add tension and tell more than perhaps even he realized he was saying. The ending result proved to be very visceral and surprisingly personal for me.

Would I use the format again if I were to write the book over? Absolutely. It’s the only way I could tell this story. Richard’s adventure is as much one of the heart as it is of the body, and while the process was much harder than a regular narrative would have been, I think that the worth of it is clear to open-hearted readers.

Character Spotlight: Grel’zi’tael the Sky Talker

I thought I’d take a little time to give a brief look at one of the supporting characters in the Adventures of Keltin Moore.

How did he come to be?

The Loopi refugees in The Beast Hunter needed a leader and Grel’zi’tael was it. I felt it was important to show that the Loopi followed Grel’zi’tael primarily because they trusted his wisdom, rather than blind obedience like the soldiers follow Baron Rumsfeld. This contrast was a minor and more subtle reflection of the larger conflict between the soldiers and the beast hunters in general, one of the more important subplots in the novel’s second act.

What purpose does he serve in the story?

Grel’zi’tael is definitely a wise advice-giver in the story. He’s there to be the voice of calm reflection, full of compassion and insight. There’s almost a theatrical formality to the way he speaks, which is probably a throwback to all of the Shakespearean theater I’ve participated in over the years. On the other hand, he’s also got a genuineness that keeps him from feeling too melodramatic  or stiff. He’s like the old family patriarch that sits quietly in the corner during family reunions, happy to simply smile and watch the great-grandchildren play while ready to give a sympathetic ear to an adult that wants to talk about how things are really going for them.

There are a few moments where it seems like he’s got some sort of precognitive powers, but I’ve purposely left those vague and undefined. I like to leave it unanswered how much of that sixth sense is a result of his abilities as a Sky Talker vs. his natural insight and wisdom.

How did my vision of him change over the course of writing him?

Honestly, not very much. Most of the supporting cast and minor characters in The Beast Hunter stayed fairly consistent from conception to their published form, and all of the returning characters for Into the North were pretty firmly established already.

Where might his arc be headed in the future?

I see a great deal of Grel’zi’tael’s original purpose being assumed by Bor’ve’tai as the younger Loopi continues to grow and mature. Beyond that, it’s hard to expect that this much-older character will be going on too many more physically taxing adventures, so he’s probably going to be gently fading into the background to some degree.

Are there Holidays in the World of Keltin Moore?

Yes.

Wow, that was an easy blog article. See you next month!

…oh, did you want me to say more? OK. 🙂

Actually, I’ve thought about holidays in the Keltin Moore stories for a long time. I think that the values of family and spending quality time together would fit in well with this series, and I’m actually planning on including the first officially recognized holiday in book three. Called the Harvest Celebration, it’s meant to commemorate the last day of bringing in the crops and the start of the winter season. While it is most commonly celebrated in rural settings, plenty of urban households across Riltvin, Krendaria, Drutchland, Malpin, and elsewhere also observe this special holiday. While some cities have standardized the specific day of observance, nearly all rural households observe it on the actual day after the harvest is officially over.

The observations of the Harvest Celebration are pretty flexible depending on the household. Decorations prominently feature elements of locally grown crops and are meant as a sign of plenty and prosperity. The majority of the Celebration centers around a feast. The traditional dishes vary from region to region, though they almost always feature a large meat dish as the centerpiece with plenty of sweet and savory dishes to accompany it. While it isn’t strictly a religious holiday, there are traditional prayers of gratitude which are offered and a general spirit of good cheer.

You’ll get to see all of this play out in book three of the Adventures of Keltin Moore, which is coming along nicely, by the way. Definitely out by 2019.

In the meantime, you might consider giving the gift of one or more of my books to somebody for this Christmas season. Just a last-minute shopping idea. 🙂

Merry Christmas!
-Lindsay

Cosplay Advice for the Characters of Keltin Moore

Halloween is coming up soon, and with thoughts of costumes and cosplay on my mind, I thought I’d answer a question that literally swarms of a couple of people have asked me: How to dress up as the characters from the Adventures of Keltin Moore.

Keltin Moore

I’m purposefully vague in a lot of my character descriptions, just because I want to make it easier for readers to put themselves in my characters’ shoes. That being said, Keltin does have some distinct articles and accessories. Most distinctive is his hunting coat, which could be a duster or similar style long-coat in earth tones. He also wears a hat, which I always envisioned as somewhere between a fedora and a cowboy hat – I’m still trying to find one for my own costume. If weapon-props are allowed, Keltin carries a long hunting rifle, a revolver in his belt, a hunting knife, and of course the Ripper, which is essentially a sawed-off glaive or similar pole-arm.

Jaylocke of the Weycliff Wayfarers

The Weycliff people are nomadic entertainers, so Jaylocke’s outfit is likely part-traveling clothes and part-stage costume. He’s described in The Beast Hunter as wearing a vest covered in buttons, which is actually a secret tribute to a gypsy character from the first stage-play I ever wrote called Love’s Folly. Jaylocke’s props are less defined than Keltin’s. He could carry a rifle, the Ripper, or a similar medieval pole-arm weapon. Oh, and a grin. He needs to be grinning. 🙂

Elaine Destov

Elaine comes from a higher class of society than most of Keltin’s associates, but she’s done her fair share of killing beasts as well. A mix of fashionable, yet functional clothes would be good (see General Tips below for the appropriate time period and location). Her weapon of choice is a rifle.

Bor’ve’tai

Good luck with this one! Bor’ve’tai is a Loopi, a sort of ape-man based on the gibbons of southeast Asia. Unlike Chewbacca, he wears the clothing of a laborer on top of his furry body. His favorite weapon is a woodsman’s ax.

General Tips

While the world of Keltin Moore is steampunk fantasy, the steampunk elements tend to be more subtle then other works in the subgenre. A lot of the more fantastic accouterments that punks enjoy (mechanical arms, over-sized wrenches, googles, etc.) don’t really fit in the reality-based world of Keltin Moore. Use late-19th century fashions of both rural United States and Eastern Europe as a general style guide.

Oh, and if any of you come up with a costume for any of the characters of Keltin Moore, please send a picture! I’d love to see it!

Big Changes Ahead!

You may have seen my latest blog post where I expressed some concern about how things were going in my writing world. I’ve taken the time to figure some things out, and I feel like I’ve come up with a plan that will be productive, fun, and sustainable. Here are the most important updates…

New Publishing Schedule

I no longer have a set release date for the third Keltin Moore novel, though my goal is to have it published within a year from now. I’m also working on a separate novel intended for literary agents and traditional publishers, which should also be done within a year.

Audio Books

After several successful book-selling events, I’ve been able to save enough money to invest in the equipment necessary to record audio book versions of all of my published titles. This process will take some time, however, since I’ll have to do my recording at night after the twins go to sleep.

Blog and Mailing List

Many people know that I frequently struggle with any kind of nonfiction writing, which includes blog posts and newsletters. To conserve valuable time and focus on my strengths, I’m planning to do the following:

  • Sending out a quarterly newsletter e-mail, rather than a monthly one
  • Reducing my scheduled blog posts to once a month, rather than once a week
  • Reserving most announcements and future updates for my mailing list and Facebook, while focusing on more meaningful content for my monthly blog features

YouTube?

Now that I have some higher quality recording equipment, I’m considering expanding my YouTube channel to include more fun and interesting content. I could do videos answering fan questions, giving bonus content to my stories, sharing writing tips, and maybe even some fun stuff involving the life of a writer and the stories in video games. Be sure to let me know if this is something you may be interested in!

Summary

  • Keltin Moore 3 is still coming!
  • Audio books are coming!
  • Sign up for my quarterly newsletter for future updates
  • Let me know what sort of things you may want to see on my YouTube channel

Yes, I’m Still Here

I’ve been lying low for a while now, but I wanted to write a brief update for two reasons. One, to silence all these rumors that I’m either dead or hiding out in darkest Peru (I’m sure SOMEONE suspected either of those); and two, to give a brief explanation of how things have been going in the world of Lindsay Schopfer, Author-At-Large.

Unfortunately, there’s been some disappointments. I’ve had to cancel my book tour for 2018, and I’m not sure how soon the third Keltin Moore novel will be coming out. My mailing list has also been hit hard by the new GDPR law as everyone who has signed up in the past has to manually opt-in or be removed.

As a result of these difficulties, I’m taking the time to reevaluate a lot of what I was doing in my efforts to be a successful author. I’m not ready yet to share what may be changed, but I will say that I’m trying to find ways to promote myself that won’t burn me out or take too much time away from my family, teaching job, and writing. I’ll be making more announcements once I’m through researching, experimenting, and praying for guidance.

One experiment I can share now is something I’m trying out at the Brass Screw Confederacy next month. Reaching back to my days of writing and acting for the theater, I’m planning to do a short, one-man-show in character as Keltin Moore where I’ll be telling some never-before heard tales of his adventures. I have no idea if this will be a one-time-thing or if I’ll expand this idea in the future. For now, it’s simply exciting to try something new and blow the dust off some skills and talents I haven’t used in a long time.

I want to thank all of my friends and fans for your patience as I work to figure some things out. In the meantime, you can show support by reading and sharing my stories, subscribing to my mailing list (be sure to opt-in!), and checking out my Guild of Adventurers. Thanks again, and see you all soon.

-Lindsay