MUST CHUG CASE OF 10W-40 FOR THE L O N G  H A U L

Christopher McKitterick

Novels



THIS PAGE LISTS my book-length works, including several now underway. Check back for updates and news! Like everyone else, I also wrote a practice novel or two not listed here; no need for details except to say I learned some things about what works and what doesn't. Ahem.

Want to get a glimpse inside? Click the links to read sample chapters or full downloads of my released work. I'll continue uploading works as they reach publication!

The Galactic Adventures of
Jack & Stella

Near-future YA SF. When a brother and sister reach adolescence, they begin to "remember" things they never studied - ancient, secret keys to the universe buried in their DNA. To protect them from capture and perhaps save their lives, their mother sends them on a road-trip to danger and discovery, where they learn they were born into an interstellar game of politics where worlds stand in the balance. This revelation drops them into the middle of a millennia-long galactic conflict that threatens not only to destroy humankind, but throw all of galactic society back into devastating war!

While on the run first across Kansas and then to other worlds, they must discover whom they can trust: their parents, their friends, their alien supporters, the vast galactic AI network, or just each other. Along the way, they must also evade powerful forces, build a stardrive, and save Earth's population from a winnowing plague unleashed upon our people - and meet new friends. By the end of the first book, they have become capable of reprogramming the human body, traveling to the stars, destroying entire planets - and surviving on their own. Their actions toss all of galactic society into turmoil, and Earth becomes the symbol of danger to many intelligent species, and a symbol of hope and change for others - but only if they can survive.

This trilogy of books follows our heroes across the galaxy as representatives of humankind, traveling to alien worlds - some inhabited by strange and wondrous beings, and some ruined by the last war - while facing crises that they can only solve by building alliances, mastering their new-found talents and controlling the vast powers they're beginning to sense within, learning to rely on friends and allies, and especially learning to understand and trust one other.

The Galactic Adventures of Jack & Stella
progress:

NEWS

  • May 12: Almost up to 90,000 words. Since last month, I cut about 4000 words from the end of the manuscripts and moved it into the manuscript for Book 2. Also did a TON of revision throughout the book, because of a) significant re-imaginings of two major characters, and b) two new action scenes. Writers might find this interesting about revision: Despite cutting a great deal during the revision process, the word-count always increases at the end of a day of revision. Today, after cutting many hundred words (and of course changing hundreds more), the overall word-count went up by nearly 200. SF Grand Master (and my mentor) James Gunn has always said, "Writing is revision," and I've come to strongly agree with him.

  • April 12: MILESTONE UNLOCKED: Today I crested 80,000 words! While doing a physics experiment at the University of Kansas, Stella found someone to crush on. Of course, the wonderfulness of her day is about to be crushed....

  • April 2: Today, I wrote another 1000 words, bringing the total word-count up to 74,000. But more importantly, I've OUTLINED THE REST OF THE NOVEL. This means I can now confidently say I'm only 20 scenes from the end, and some of those scenes are already fully fleshed-out. Let's call it one month from putting a wrap around the first draft. EXCITED. Can I get a "woohoo"?

  • March 31: Almost reached 73,000 words... which is 3k more than I'd initially estimated the book would be, but it's so much richer now. Jack & Stella finally get to "meet" their biological father, albeit via a 14-year-old video, and then collapse after their second day of hell. At least they're free.

  • March 23: Gunfire! Creepy interrogators! This finally puts Stella over the edge of what she's willing to stand, and begins hunting for a way to tear down the tottering ruins of the adult establishment. Oh, and I've begun work on an interstitial scholarly piece about how AI came to be in Galactic Society, which contains speculations on its aims and the future: Terminator or Beneficent Power? We'll see.... Word-count update: 68,500.

  • March 4: Jack discovers that he and Stella possess information that could save humankind. And threaten all of Galactic Society. Word-count update: 64,500.

  • February 17: Writing all-new scenes lately! Thanks to a roadside interlude today, Stella glimpses the relationship between dark energy, the multiverse, and baryonic matter. Like you do. Word-count update: 55,821.

  • January 7: Another Snow Day! This means KU is closed for business... which means more writing! Jack & Stella is now up to 49,775 words - that's almost 1200 freakin' more since yesterday, and close to ten grand more than my last update here! I've almost reached the psychologically important 50k threshold. More importantly, the revision has progressed another 12 pages. I'm only 9 pages away from writing all-new scenes - an even-grander psychological threshold! It's thrilling to be only a day away from jumping into uncharted waters.

    Snow Day also means I had to shovel a crap-ton (that's a technical term) of snow from the sidewalks this morning. In many places, the snow was deep enough to spill into the tops of my foot-high snow-boots, soaking the feet. And the wind was so bitterly cold that my molars were frozen beneath my windburned cheeks. This afternoon, it's only 10F in Lawrence, Kansas, with a wind-chill in the negatives... so I was sort of an idiot to try to dig out this morning (click the link in the first paragraph to see a shot of the back yard). At least it's beautiful to look at, and sunny. AND THE BOOK IS ROLLING ALONG!

  • January 6, 2014: Crested the 40,000-word mark! You might be thinking, "Gosh, Chris, you've only written 4000 words since October; why the excitement?" Well, after getting super feedback from my three most-trusted writing advisors, I started afresh, changing the way the book handles POV, changing the opening scenes, cutting some scenes while adding others, and generally revising the hell out of this thing. After a bit of grumbling and sagging confidence, it all came together better than ever, and things are blasting along famously now! Sure, the total word-count is only up four grand, but I've probably written more like 20,000 words since September. So I'm taking this as a win!

  • October 1, 2013: Back in the saddle after the semester's initial overwhelmingness. Right now, the book is at a good place to show to my critique partners, so I'm working on the agent letter and outline at the moment. When it gets closer to submission, I'll be sure to post!

  • September 16: I first started working on this novel in 8th grade, stealing away during lunch hour to write in the library of Ortonville High School. I managed to get about 100 pages in before realizing that I was not yet equipped to write a decent novel. Nevertheless, the ideas and at least one character always stayed with me. Then, late in 2011, I realized that the set of ideas I was toying with, the characters that I couldn't stop thinking about, and the story I was starting to develop were all based on what I had begun years ago! Here's a shot of the original on top of a sort-of recent printout:


Click the image to enlarge the photo. Sorry, still pretty unreadable - even in person.

  • It obviously had to be YA, but I would treat the work as any other piece of adult fiction I write (only with younger characters - like Jonathan in Transcendence - and with less language and sex because, well, that's how Stella & Jack & Tully roll). Bam! Within a year, I had the book (which later clearly had to be at least a trilogy of books) outlined and had begun writing. Fun side-note: It seems I set the action in 1987, FAR IN THE FUTURE, PEOPLE.

  • September 5: Crossed the 36,000-word mark! Working on all-new scenes now that I'm happy with the early material. Wrote a ton of notes en route to San Antonio, plus a bunch there, too, while listening to intelligent and insightful speakers. Also got a lot of inspiration from being around so many pros. This is why we go to cons.

  • September 1: Gave a reading at this year's WorldCon in San Antonio (LoneStarCon 3) - thanks to all who attended, and thanks so much for your kind enthusiasm! It was a pleasure.

  • August 26: Up to 33k words now - much of which is all-new! Thorough revision of this first sections after really getting to know and understand Jack and Stella better (and everyone else), which of course led to my needing to revisit all their dialogue and interactions. I've come to realize that this book is more about Jack and Stella's relationships than about than plot or story or cool ideas. Every writer says their stories are "about character," of course, but with Jack and Stella and their friends, every element of the book hinges on character interaction and growth. Interesting to see this happen; I guess I've reached the moment when my "characters come to life," as they say. The process of writing is truly being able to suspend one's disbelief so well that the writer honestly believes in these fictional characters while writing, or else they come across as wooden or flat. Yes, writers are crazy. Anyone who argues that is in denial.

    Also addressed the usual making-it-better stuff. And I now have new character outlines and several thousand words for Book 2!

  • July 5: The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction's summer program is a wrap, and with that I'm back to it!

  • June 1: Donated another Tuckerization to the AboutSF charity auction at ConQuest, where I also gave a reading. A second Kansas City fan's name becomes just as central as it was in another author's work.

  • March 25, 2013: Progress continues - just completed revising the first chunk of the novel and sketching a rough outline Book 2 and some of Book 3.

  • Nov. 12, 2012: Our young heroes have been tracked down and taken into custody by their stepdad and other operatives of the Alien Management Unit of the NSA. Right now, they are being subjected to interrogation and tests - which, because the results are inconclusive, are threatening to escalate to brain biopsy.... The notes document has reached 18,000 words - including further fleshing-out of Book 2.

  • Oct. 28: Of note to people interested in the writing process: While the book's wordcount has finally breached the 20,000-word milestone, the notes document has also just surpassed 17,000 words. That's only the .doc file, not counting dozens of pages of hand-written notes. Taken together, Jack & Stella technically comprises nearly a novel's worth of writing so far. Huh. And still I regularly encounter challenges where I need to stop and re-outline scenes before jumping back in.

  • Sept. 19: Just a note to report that progress continues. Wordcount went down despite continued writing: such is the nature of the work. The notes file has nearly doubled in length this year, and I'm in the middle of a new set of scenes that drop Jack & Stella into the world of adult trouble....

  • June 4: Jack and Stella have been kicked out of their home, hit the road, and had an emotional bombshell dropped on them.

  • May 25: Reading at ConQuest! Also donated a Tuckerization - a local fan will make (a bit more than) a guest appearance in the novel!

  • May 23, 2012: Outline complete! and Draft underway!

  • More news and updates on my blog, under the tag Adventures of Jack & Stella, and on my Facebook and Tumblr accounts.

Empire Ship

Hard-edged far-future SF. A menace from the ancient past threatens galactic civilization. Aboard a world-sized Empire Ship, a boy comes of age in a society that sharpens men into weapons while the ship's Captain plans to resurrect the Empire. Meanwhile, a woman launches a mission to destroy the threat and must decide how best to save the human species. Along the way, she works to save her father from her boss while teaching a couple of borderline-psychopaths about loyalty and love... sorta.

Click here to read an excerpt.

NEWS

  • Just finishing revising the final draft, then off to agent-land! Planned submission: early 2014.

  • Novel complete!

  • More news and updates on my blog, under the tag Empire Ship, and on my Facebook and Tumblr accounts.

Transcendence

Amazon | Kindle | Powell's
Barnes & Noble | Nook

Hadley Rille Books

Click here to read
sample chapters.

Click here to download
the entire novel - free!

Near-future cyberpunk/space opera/coming-of-age/new-wave philosophical action SF. Humankind rushes toward self-destruction, and must evolve or die. Our perspective: a scientist exploring an alien artifact on Triton, a teen-aged hacker in a city gone mad, three actors manipulated into igniting interplanetary war, the de-facto ruler of half the solar system, a soldier fighting in Africa to entertain his audience, an artificial intelligence facing personal crisis, and a cast of billions.

Here's a little of what I was trying to do with the book.

Now available in trade paper and hardcover editions at fine bookstores and directly from the publisher, Hadley Rille Books; the Nook and Kindle editions are also available. If you would like to download the full novel in various ebook formats - free - click here!

Want to see some photos of the launch event? Here you go!

NEWS

  • February 25: Tonight at 8:00pm at The 8th Street Taproom in Lawrence, KS, the PBR Book Club discusses my novel, Transcendence! Can't wait to hear what people think. Organizer Nathan Hutchcraft sez anyone who's read the book is welcome to attend (you don't need to be a member), so I hope to see some of y'all there, too!
  • January 9, 2014: Transcendence was chosen as the PBR Book Club's book of the month for February!
  • August: Second Edition is now available. You can identify it by a lovely quote from Library Journal on the top of the front cover, plus some minor revisions throughout. Trade-paper Second Editions lagged behind by a few months.
  • March 31: Hadley Rille Books is holding an April Fool's ebook sale; everything's 99¢! (No foolin'.) UPDATE: Amazon seems to have kept the sale going....
  • February 9, 2012: Just got my royalty statement and learned that Transcendence has earned out. Hooray! Thank you to everyone who has purchased a copy. If you haven't, well, why not take a trip to your favorite bookstore ;-)
    December 23:
    Happy Holidays from Hadley Rille Books! All HRB ebooks are on sale for only $2.99 or less, including Transcendence in both the Kindle edition and the Nook edition. Get 'em while they're hot!
  • December 13: This story is an example of science fiction becoming reality: One of the features of Transcendence is how cyberspace - especially in a virtual-reality world - enables worldwide collaboration, including choirs of millions. And now choral composer Eric Whitacre is doing something just like that, only not live! 
    November 23:
    Happy Birthday to Hadley Rille Books! To celebrate six years in the speculative-fiction publishing biz, they're now offering many of their e-books - including Transcendence - for only 99¢! This includes both the Kindle edition and the Nook edition.
    For a limited time only: Offer ends November 29, so act fast!
  • March 5: Now available for the Nook.
  • February 28: Transcendence gets a positive Publisher's Weekly review.
    February 13, 2011:
    Nice review on Shoestring Theory's "Books You Should Read" segment.
  • December 23, 2010: full HTML version is now available for free download.
    December 6:
    Book launch article in The Oread.
  • December 5: Transcendence gets a nice Library Journal review.
  • November 26: Article on the Lawrence Journal-World about Transcendence, mostly accurate *g*
  • November 25: full ePub version is now available for free download.
  • November 22: Live e-interview with the Lawrence Journal-World on the topic of piracy and writing in the Digital Age.
  • November 18: Post about "Piracy, freedom, and making a living as a writer" - also, I finally upload the whole book (in .pdf format) here for free download.
  • November 16: I discover the book has already been pirated... just hours after the Kindle edition was released.
  • Friday, November 5: Book launches today! Reading and signing at the University of Kansas Jayhawk Ink bookstore (aka Oread Books), from 4:00pm - 5:30pm. Party afterward at my house. (You can tell if you got a First Edition if your trade-paperback or hardcover copy has the Jack McDevitt blurb but not the Library Journal review).
  • November 3: Editor delivers the first hardcover - woohoo!
  • October 18: Jacket design complete, with new blurb from Jack McDevitt. Off to press!
  • September 17: Book launch set - so excited!
  • July 17: First batch of advance reader copies made available to Campbell Conference attendees as a special "pre-release" edition (you can tell if you got one of these if your trade-paperback copy has neither the Jack McDevitt blurb nor the Library Journal review).
  • July 7: First advance reader test-copy shipped to Eric.
  • July 4: Best birthday cake ever.
  • July 1: Printer typography set and ready to go.
  • June 30: Cover design complete!
  • June 23: Cover art contracted.
  • June 17: Edits complete and off to my editor.
  • June 15, 2010: Cover design meeting with designer Melissa Lytton and Hadley Rille Books editor Eric T Reynolds.

More news and updates on my blog, under the tag Transcendence, and on my Facebook and Tumblr accounts.

Want to order a signed and personalized copy directly from the author? Drop me an email at cmckit@gmail.com

Time Clogged with Space

Medium-future SF. Two hard-drinking spacecraft pilots wreck their supercargo ship on an alien planet and stumble into a secret interstellar war. While dealing with the fallout, one man comes to terms with losing his son while the other falls deeper into the external drama.

Status: Draft complete, needs revision.

One Good War

Near-future SF. A disturbed software engineer tells two parallel tales: The first is his personal story of coming of age in small-town America; the other is an adventure arising from first contact with aliens and conspiracy to commit terrorism on a vast scale... and why he ended up saving the human species he sought to destroy.

Status: Draft complete, needs revision.

Breakthrough

Near-future SF. Beings from another universe tunnel into ours and download a vast amount of data into one man's mind. They tell him that they hope to save their vastly superior civilization by enlisting us in a grand scheme: For those willing to help, they promise eternal life and paradise... but - even if they can be trusted - the price might be the destruction of our universe and surrendering our humanity. Our protagonist must decode the aliens' agenda while human civilization shudders under the revelation he offers. Only when he recognizes that he holds the key to unlock the passage between our universes does he realize how he can save both... but time is short as the Earth teeters toward self-immolation: Religious ideologies first reject the news and then fight to incorporate what they have learned into their structures, economic and political structures are shaken to their roots, and our protagonist faces not only the loss of his world but the woman closest to him if he cannot solve the problems he has caused.

Status: Outlining phase.

The Vivisectionist

Modern SF-horror. One of our main characters is "the Vivisectionist," a self-styled superhero... and serial murderer. He decided at a young age to use his power to sustain life (while doing horrible things) for good; that is, to remove bad people from the streets, torture confessions out of them, distribute their detailed confessions, and then transform his subjects into tools to help perpetuate his mission. The other main characters include a man who receives one of these confessions - a recording of his child's murderer - and a cop who discovers the Vivisectionist's identity.

Status: Draft begun, researching.

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