James McGowan Reader Group: Unorthodox Cartography

Hey, hey!

During my summer of revising and rephrasing, I’ve realized two things.

One: The preceding sentence had far too many “re” words.

And two: I needed to make a few new maps for novels and novellas that are in the hopper, like The Breakers, Jagged Pieces, and The Game War.  I also need maps for plotting and outlining purposes as I figure out the story beats of the next swath of novels.  The Players of the Game saga will expand beyond Trojis and Sufrinzon.

I’ll detail the process of making one map that will be showing up in the fourth main novel.  I fully admit the method I used was on the ridiculous side.

I magnified and printed a section of the existing map of Jeea, the main super continent of Trojis. I laid it on top of a glass coffee table, placed a blank sheet of paper over it, the shined a maglite underneath it, and traced the land masses, seas, and rivers with a pencil. Then I scanned it and added all the proper noun names in Photoshop.

My wife found the flashlight part most amusing.

It reminded me of my childhood days of watching teachers present things on overhead projectors.

The other maps were way easier, as I just needed to make them up from scratch. However, all of them will need a whole lot digital beautifying by my graphic designer brother. (Hey, Tony!)

It shows an atypical, non-text component of my creative process.

And it’s a sneak peak into things to come in Book 4: The Breakers.
Players of the Game Works in Progress
The great ProWritingAid edit-o-rama has reached its end.  Penciled maps are made.

The next big thing begins.

The second draft of The Game War is in progress.

To start, I’m pasting the chapters from Word into Scrivener with summary descriptions.  Once that’s finished, I’ll start the revising the prose, cutting out parts, adding others, and rearranging their order.

I’ll need to determine a better way to track productivity stats than the word/page count I used on the first draft.  Maybe how many chapters I revise.  Maybe something else.

The nose is back on the grindstone.

Players of the Game Rephrase Quote of the Month

“Hey, lounge lasagnas,” Fernallus said. “Keeping saucy?”
Recommendation Corner
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

This book has an interesting premise. A small minority of people actually live their lives over and over in cycles.  They die and are born again in the same year and their memories of the past lives emerge around age 3 or 4.

Jonathan Hickman did something similar with Moria MacTaggert in X-Men when he retconned her into a secret mutant a few years back.

In this book, Harry August continues to be born again and again in 1918 and usually lives to the 1990s or so.  But not always. 

There is peril. 

A way exists to kill these immortals.  Other time-looping immortals can kill their parents before they’re born.

And someone starts doing just that as the course of history starts to change.  Advanced tech starts coming decades too early, and the accompanying environmental problems come with it.

Harry determines that it’s another time-looping immortal, and he must do something to stop it. In this life or the next.

Very well written and Peter Kenny did a great job narrating it.


This is one of my new favorite Christopher Nolan movies.  I put it up there with Memento, Dark Knight, and Inception.

Chronology is again played with, but I think it works well with the three focal points of the Strauss Senate hearing in the late 50s, Oppenheimer’s infamous security clearance meeting in the mid-50s, and the buildup to Los Alamos and Trinity in the 30s and 40s.

Cillian Murphy shows Oppenheimer as a flawed man who’s a genius, but also a reckless womanizer.  Everyone does a fantastic job.  I didn’t even realize Robert Downey Jr. was Strauss until the credits rolled.

Really heavy stuff with the implications of theory colliding with reality at the advent of the atomic age.  Highly recommended.

(And I did get my Barbenheimer bingo card checked a week later when I saw Barbie.

It was a fun and silly movie, but a bit preachy at times. 
Still, America Ferrera’s monologue in the third act was good fodder for discussion with my wife.  Yes, women do feel everything she described.

And that’s valuable to know.)
Promo Corner
Get a Bunch of Fantasy Books on the House
Get a Bunch MORE Fantasy Books on the House
Check Out the Players of the Game Series on eBook and Paperback
That’s all for this time. Stay smart.  Stay safe. Jim
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