Wednesday, October 14, 2015


It's been quite a year; DOPS V, Psalmsinger, came out in May of 2014, and then I took a lengthy break from DOPS, though I finished D5 after releasing Collin O'Daurc. D5's final cover is posted below--folks may recall I was having quite a time deciding on what to put on on there. Ironically, one of the cover prospects, a big portrait of Falco and Akele (which I muttered resembled the art in a comic book or graphic novel--not a bad thing but not appropriate for DOPS), has been scheduled for the frontpiece of DOPS VIII! Yep, D8--you read that right.

But, first things first--here's the D5 cover (though the DOPS V-release is old news by now):

And in answer to a question regarding the lion's profile, that's Ossian, the giant lion/tiger/jaguar cross who is acting mascot of Hiram Cochrane's tramp freighter, the Psalmsinger. I've also been asked why I had "flipped" the big poppy on the back cover, since those who saw the layout in its original pre-flight state evidently preferred it reversed. I had to mirror the image to accommodate the bar code, alas.

Though there's only been one posted review of D5, fans of the DOPS series cite this as one of their favorite volumes; the general consensus is that it's simply a lovely story, poignant in its way, in that it does bring to resolution to Cass & Lawrie's long-languishing relationship with all its (sometimes funky) twists and turns. (This in turn opens a whole new can of giggly worms, of course.) And, I'm inclined to agree that it's a beautiful book; I've been surprised every time I've re-read it, which is more times than I've read any of the others, even D4 (Espiridion), which was until then my favorite. 

NOW--BIG news. (Well, sort of. If nothing else, it was expensive.)

Collin O'Daurc is going to the big book fair in Frankfurt, Germany! It will be displayed in both the adult Fiction both, and with Young Adult books. And, in its final format, it got a bit of a cover update, which I think is an improvement in that it includes everybody's favorite giant monkey, Tully.

I re-read the book a month or so ago, and I have to agree with readers--while it's definitely not my usual style (which most folks assume is DOPS-style), it IS a groovy read, and fer sher one of a kind.

But, rolling right along...
D6 and D7 were released in August, on the 13th and the 20th, respectively.

My friends (some of whom are DOPS fans) know the story of how this warp-speed release schedule occurred.

DOPS VI, Nightingale, stalled at about 225 pages and sat there while I finished what's come to be known as "The Monkey Book" (Collin O'Daurc). That Falco-and-Akele cover was lurking on the sidelines too, since I figured that since I didn't use the sucker on D5, I might possibly get away with sticking it on (to?) D6. (Ah....NO.)

D6 is a pivotal book in the DOPS series, because that's where the Cass/Lawrie and the Abel/Baron/Pilea storylines finally cross. And, it pulls heavily on material I wrote back in the 1990s and early 2000s. As I believe I've posted (a looong time ago) the first written material in DOPS, with the exception of a couple scenes in D2, had D5 as its time-frame starting point. So, I had to go back and write all that stuff which led up to it (i.e., D1, 2, 3, 4 and some of 5). And of course, I like the new stuff better than the old stuff, especially since I'm having to stick characters like Mario, Gaston and Cap'n Cholley, who originally didn't exist, into the old material I'm currently updating in D8, which is a nuisance.

More about D8 in a bit.

Anyway, I had a certain amount of material I had to cram into Nightingale, which takes its name from the Great Lady Kanga in the African Congo caldera of N'Dolo. And when I finished cramming, I had an enormous bloated tome that was only about 18 pages shy of 1000. Yep, a thousand pages long, I kid you not. And, not a dull moment anywhere (chock full of fights, actually, as books with both Baron and Pilea tend to be), at least I hope not.

Well, I got the illustrations done and the manuscript designed and pulled together, and got ready to submit it--only to be told by the printer that 823 pages is their limit! (Aw, nuts. Yeah, I actually did say that.) This left me with a dilemma that I had to solve, and fast, since I'd already given notice that the book was coming out. And I stick to deadlines whenever possible, even my own private deadlines (just good discipline).

The choices were obvious; I could either chop off the extra pages and splat them onto the beginning of D7 (which was supposed to be The Drums of N'Dolo), or I could split D6 approximately in half, wherever the story best lent itself to allowing a break. Lazily, I tried all sorts of ways to finagle this, but nothing doing--I was royally screwed either way, since I'd still end up creating extra illustrations...and as anyone who knows me will tell you, I do NOT like to draw, though I'm a professional illustrator and designer among other things. And, I draw exclusively on a computer touchpad, in Paint Shop Pro though I use Adobe PhotoShop's filters and model in ZBrush on occasion. I don't use a graphic stylis/tablet, or a mouse. Which means it's even more of a pain in the yutz than the pen and ink I used to to use.

Thus, I split D6 in half, which meant that D6's second half became the new D7, and the old D7 will be the new D8 and D9, since I can't possibly cram all the rest of the original DOPS material into 1 book instead of 2 and still close out the DOPS series before the second series begins (yep, there is one).

I grumbled massively as I did all this, of course, for new illustrations weren't the only inconvenience; I now had to come up with a new Epilogue for D6, and a new Prologue for D7--as well as a new title, cover design, frontpiece and dedication page for D7. And, I hadn't been able to come up with a design for Nightingale in the first place, since Falco/Akele were no way gonna cut it.

I was also grumpily burnt out by this time, and so I took the wussy way out; I scrounged up two of the "emergency cover" icons I'd squirreled away in case of DOPS-burnout. They were good drawings; as covers they may or may not, well, suck. 

The "emergency" D6 over:

The cobbled-together "emergency" D7 cover

Hopefully, everyone will assume that StormFlight refers to the ordeal spawned by the killer typhoon of D6/7, and NOT the Standard Poodle kennel owned by Ken and Cheryl Takamura! It IS the same name, granted...but hurricanes it IZ; Poodles it iz NOT.

Both poster-boys are Aroyo, btw, but he looks really stuck-up on D7's cover.

Thus ends the saga of the one-that-became-two, and it's not something I'm anxious to repeat, though if D8 keeps puffing up the way it is with the insertion of the original material....I think I see a crack forming..........

But, regarding D9 (old D8); The Drums of N'Dolo finishes out the DOPS series, in that most of the main characters go their separate ways before re-convening (though in very different settings) in the JaVaReyo series, which takes up where DOPS left off but now takes place mainly in South America in stead of North, as with DOPS. The Quad will still be featured, but the emphasis shifts south for the JVM books. 

Also...there's a vicious rumor going around that Lawrie dies in D9, which is the catalyst for the new series. Mmmm, could be...but then, how could J2 be titled Ai-Domingo???

Incidentally, you may have noticed new alliances forming in D6 et al (e.g., Baron and Everett, and the shifting of John Birdee's character to prominence); there was also the intro of Kanga, Deacon Moldau, Raul (Taloosi's husband), Hiram, Nat, Ossian and the crew of the Psalmsinger in D5, and in D6/7, Emilio Juarez and his flight crew of the Sea Knight helicopter ("Flopsy"). These are characters who will figure prominently in the JaVaReyo series (named after Marisco's former estate). Also  present are Lawrie's clan, the Lawrentias ("Lawrie" being an anglicized version of the Lawrentia name). And, risen to main character status are Caupoc, Ramon and Jean-Michelle, with a good deal more being seen of Marisco as well; and Mary Beth and Akele aren't forgotten by any means.

So, that's my book update after a looong absence--but, a lot's been going on after all, so I hope I am forgiven.