NaNo 2020: Another Fail… or was it?

2 Dec

So to say it’s been busy at work has been an understatement. Don’t get me wrong, most nights aren’t that bad but let’s just say that I spent my first day off sleeping. That still left me with 2 days to do just under 20k, but all in all I looked at what I have done and the revision I need to do, so as of right now, I definitely lost the 50k challenge…

…but I have the previous two projects I did in 2018 and 2019 to edit respectively, and more than a decent start for the other WIP. That is to say nothing of the project I’ve been keeping under wraps that I want to revise.

I gave myself a list of work to get done before the end of the year back in September. Let’s just say that it’s looking realistic right now. Not 50k on Rogue Healer 4 or anything like that, but if I plod along revising Titan’s Ascent and rewriting the aforementioned mystery title, so long as the region doesn’t fall apart I’d like to take my usual holidays in January and given no one is going anywhere, butt in chair working doesn’t sound too far off.

The big complaint I have about this year is that I haven’t done as much drawing or painting as I ought to have. I think a big part of it is feeling a little creatively tapped, I seem to be much more editorial brain than creative brain, but my inking is better and I don’t think I’m any worse off.

As for the reading challenge: I’m going to keep it simple. A small press or Manitoban author every month. I started The Eye of the World only because I needed a new audiobook for driving to work, but the goal right now is also to get through as much of that ‘to-read’ pile on goodreads as I possibly can. I always seem to add more when I’m done, so wish me luck.

Mini Win – And Why does this take so long?

23 Nov

So I officially put the “THE END” at the End of Chimera today. I started it for NANO 2018, and I got to the final act and hit a wall. Not just any wall – shoot, I’m a Plantser – combination plotter and pantser – so wrote the ending, which I’ve had to change a little, but it gave me an idea where I wanted to go.

Basically I had an idea for how they would get to that point, but it didn’t seem smart enough for me. I’m not saying every ending needs to be smart, but what I had was unsatisfying, especially considering the lead up. I didn’t like the climax, and the problem, ultimately, was that I needed to develop the technology of not one but two forces that oppose our heroes. They oppose each other, and I highly expected them to go against each other and allowed our underdog heroes to skirt around them. It didn’t go as planned, but I’m somewhat satisfied at how it played out. More revision is needed, of course, but at 85k I’m sitting at a nice length and I can shorten and lengthen as needed.

The premise of Chimera, is that humanity learned to punch portals in not quite deep space and have been terraforming several suitable planets for a few hundred years, however it’s unknown to the general population. The problem is that there’s factors in these planets that make them not quite great for the general public outside of their biospheres, so it’s easier to start modifying the human genome to make subspecies to inhabit these potential planets. Everyone’s pretty much a cyborg by this time (very minor implants, think of it as having your cell phone implanted and you’re constantly connected to a variety of what they call ‘underwebs’ or grids if you are military) but there’s still many human modifications that are very illegal, as they tend to be invitro or so invasive the general population abhors them. Since several planets have been terraformed, the powers that be can modify the people they send there without real consequence.

My main character, Cheyenne, is sent out for some what she assumes is routine maintenance and she’s there in case the autopilot malfunctions and she needs to take manual control when their civilian-class transport is starting to malfunction. They’re pulled into this other part of the galaxy, and because she’s outside the main transport, she and a handful of other pilots and engineers are able to limp to the nearest life-permitting planet, and the powers that be don’t really care about them anyway. The planet is terraformed and they’ll be okay, but once their shuttles hit the planet they’ll be unable to breach the atmosphere and, they know even if they manage to make it to the portal back to our atmosphere, they’re too far from Earth to limp home with the life support. They know they’ll either be found out and willing to be saved or caught by the local wildlife/free range humanoids and dealt with.


I had to do a lot of research and think about how I wanted to approach it. Right now, the plan is to write book 2 and make it a duology, but I’ll be really honest I’ll probably focus on the NANOWRIMO other projects and get around to this one after I knock Titan’s Ascent down to size.

I know I tend to say each project takes about a year, but here’s the conundrum: Some projects take far less, other projects take much more. I’ve abandoned projects before, I’ve left projects and come back to them. I’m about to revisit and revise a project which, I thought I was just about ready to self-publish at the time (unedited, that would have been fixed) but I was just starting into my paramedicine and that, so I figured I should learn about real trauma, real injury and I’m glad I waited. It sucks because I think with any project, you can look back and go, “Hey, this could be better. I’m a better writer now than I was.” And it’s true, but that being said I think a big part of being an artist is knowing when the project is fit for the public. Knowing that yeah, you might have done better, and there’s no excuse for rushing out a poor project. But, you also need to get over yourself, and think about the next one, and how you’ll improve on your next title.

But in general, I’m feeling pleased with the project and I got more ideas floating around for it’s sequel than Rogue Healer 4, but that being said I haven’t really been focusing on it as much, so I haven’t hit flow yet. The shorts are coming along fine, and the way my tours are split up I’ll have a few days at the end of the month to catch up. I’m hoping to finish early so I can revise Titan’s Ascent, then go revise an older project.

Oh, and I self-pubbed a short story, “Straw Man” on Kobo exclusively for now. I’ll probably put it on Smashwords and other places in the coming weeks. I’m still learning, and my plan is to work on a full size Ebook. I made a few practice, smaller ebooks with ‘chapters’ (Stories with pictures) so I feel confident enough to get it done. I’ll post when it’s all available.

Not Quite at Year Round Up

14 Nov

We still got about six weeks left.

I’m pretty sure most of us weren’t anticipating the 2020 we had. I hope you and yours are safe.

My province went from doing very well to right now, having some of the worst if not the worst per capita new cases in the past month and a half. There’s not much we can do right now, other than take personal responsibility and care for each other. I know it’s hard, and we can’t control other people. I kind of learned with my job is it’s my job to try and help people to the best of my ability. I’m lucky, as I haven’t been affected financially and I feel trained for this and, I think I have always known there’s only so much I can do.

We’re going to get through this. Whether the concern is physical health, mental health, financial strain, or even loneliness; we’re going to get through this.

Writing Thus far:

Dreams of Mariposa came out earlier this year. The book tour went out the week after lockdown, so that was… different. It’s been weird, because many events have taken their show online, but R.J. Hore and Larry Flewin and I typically go to a few shows. Right now, all we did was the Shelmerdine Farmer’s market because it was outside and the numbers were really good in the summer. I don’t have any hard copies of DoM, and I’m not going to ask my publisher for any until she’s ready.  Honestly, I fell behind on the marketing so I should probably get back to promoting DoM.

Witchslayer’s Scion is not out. We’re really close, and like with Tower of Obsidian, I don’t mind waiting and doing it right. I had to resubmit the second book in the proposed series, and I technically finished the rough draft of Book 3 in August (Tentative Titles Magus’ Gambit and Titan’s Ascent respectively). Unfortunately, it was sitting at +160K, which isn’t the longest I’ve written but that’s a little long for the publisher. I suffer from too many ideas and not expanding them, so I’m in revision. Doesn’t bother me, I said series not trilogy but I have the feeling another plot I really liked it getting chopped. Honestly, this could be the shortest book in the series if I just focus on one plot, but remains to be seen. I chatted with the publisher about a few other projects I’ve written. I’ve been writing books and stories since before High School – not well but not the point – and I made a list as to what needs to be revised/rewritten and, hey if I’m going to be at home, I’m going to get to work on some of these projects. My plan is to work on more manuscript related to NANOWRIMO (see below) and edit TA bit by bit once I catch up. I’m behind, but seriously writing 5k in a day isn’t a problem so long as I’m caught up on sleep. We have been too busy at work for me to work on it then, so I will have to do it on my days off.

Ebooks: I learned! Still not great, and my problem was honestly I needed to practice with some novellas before going for the full meal deal. I’m a firm believer in hiring people, but you get burned a few times and you just want to do things yourself. I figure I should be able to at least make a basic ebook without junk code. I’ll post some links soon.

NaNoWriMo: I’m cheating again this year. I still haven’t finished Chimera, and I’m technically working on some novellas, other projects and Rogue Healer 4. My plan is now that I’ve gotten another major task out of the way, get away from the newer projects, and finish Chimera. Let it percolate. The other projects can take their time, as I’m going to be working more on revising other projects I think in December/January as opposed to finishing a fourth book in a proposed series. If they sign Book 2 and ask for Book 3, then I light a fire under the kiester.

Reading…?

So I already read 52 books this year. Some years I don’t make the goal, and other years I blow it out of the water. It depends on the book length, not the amount of books, but audio books has made it easier for me. My partner and I were carpooling, but she’s going to be off for the next year so I’m driving by myself.  Sounds like my new partner is renting a place in town, so he won’t need to carpool at all.

Normally I prioritize reading local and small authors, and I still do, but I have been in a bookstore twice since March and both times weren’t for me. I’ve been using Manitoba Elibraries and decided to work on finishing up series I started. I don’t mind waiting for the next book in a series, but it is nice to look at my ‘To-Read’ Pile on Goodreads and at least change the ones near the top of the list. I typically end up adding just as many as I finish, so the number remains about the same.

I like doing themes in years, and I’m torn between making next year all about Trilogies or reading Wheel of Time (12 books, 12 months) but I can’t decide. I tried to read WoT when I finished reading all of Discworld and they were a little heavier than what I needed at the time. Ironically, a year later I got introduced to the Malazan books, and then Game of Thrones. I’m not planning on going back to school any time soon; I like the idea of seeing how a series is plotted, but going through trilogies has a certain appeal to me as well. I know, “Why not BOTH?” short answer is I’d almost rather go through the trilogies series by series. Reading a specific length helps me write a specific length. Believe me: I loaned my niece Card’s Ender’s Game and she obliterated it in three and a half hours yesterday (I gave her the book and the movie)  and I know what it’s like to finish off someone’s year’s long work in an afternoon but, I’m leaning towards some three-act structures. That isn’t to say I could do a bunch of trilogies and change gear mid way and read an entire series in order as opposed to a book a month; I ordered the last three books in West’s House War series but I’m not tempted to do a complete reread yet.

Like I said above: I have about a month and a half to figure out what I want to do for 2021 and I do feel like I’ve made decent progress with the writing, even if I’m not as far as I’d like to be. I don’t think it’s been an easy 2020 for most people. Be patient and kind and love each other.

Fantasy Settings – Beyond the Medieval

21 Oct

I’m going to start with other works, and then discuss mine in another post.

What do you think of when you hear ‘traditional fantasy’?

Lots of folks think castles and knights, dragons and princesses with the funny dunce caps (they’re called hennin). I love traditional fantasy, and don’t think we need to put the fantasy in the here and now to make it relevant to today’s audience. I’ll be the first to admit that I thought Underworld was great because it was bringing the fantasy to the modern era, but then I kind of backtracked when urban fantasy hit the market, or rather, got really popular. It didn’t help that it was seen like Twilight and paranormal romance, so there was admittedly some backlash and, some people had a very set idea of what they thought of as ‘real fantasy’.

Thing is though, that around the time I was graduating high school and studying for my undergraduate, there were a bunch of rather popular series taking place:

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – kingdoms, but hardly medieval fiefdoms. Take one look at the Shire aesthetic.

Pirates of the Caribbean – Piracy and swashbuckling lends itself to fantasy very well, but we’re in an age of gunpowder and exploration. I’ll talk piracy in another post.

Star Wars – Fantasy IN SPAAACE.

Harry Potter – A secret wizarding world, basically set in the 90’s. You don’t notice because we’re mostly at Hogwart’s or Diagon Alley or at least something fun and magical. Even the wizard experts about us normies aren’t certain what to make about rubber ducks.

Okay, how about books? I know that there’ve been films made by the following, but going strictly with books:

His Dark Materials (Phillip Pullman) – In addition to the multiverse, we start out in a steampunkish alternate Uk with armoured polar bears.

The Dark Tower (Steven King) – Once again multiverses, but central protagonist Roland comes from Midworld, a rather western aesthetic.

Discworld (Terry Pratchett) – AH HA! The first few books definitely play around with more traditional fantasy conventions, featuring characters like Cohen the Barbarian. Over the course of 30 books, they definitely move away from the sword swinging to something that resembles something rather British and Dickensesque, depending where we are.

None of these are fringe stories no one’s ever heard of. Going into more, Conan the Barbarian is set in an ancient age, which had kings and princesses and monsters, but the cultures were like the previous versions, so your Stygians would become Egyptians and your Shemites would become Semites and so on and so forth.

So why is it that there’s this pervading idea that medieval fantasy is fantasy, or at least stock fantasy?

I suppose we could point our fingers at western literature, but it’s not really that simple. What happened during the ‘dark’ ages was that we lost quite a bit of literature, not because they were always burning books, but because if you wanted something preserved over a few centuries it had to be written by hand. A lot of our knowledge of old pagan tales had rather Christian slants to them, because it was most likely to be monks and what they considered the ‘noble pagan’ works.

But consider how we view stories like Heracules or The Iliad and we like to place them in Greek antiquity, but if we were to consider how they were viewed, some of the mythos might be considered quite aged by the time the Romans were taking over much of the known world. It’s not entirely wrong to place these stories in what we understood as say, Greece and Rome at the time, but it’s not like there would be the modern world as we know it.

Same with the romance of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. We don’t have any solid proof that such a figure really existed, and if he did, Arthur or a figure like him would be more than likely like the 2004 film, where they’re remnant Romans (willing or otherwise) or a few generations removed, not quite established in other interpretations.

2004

Admittedly, this wasn’t my favorite as I thought they made Arthur a weenie. Eva Green was why I watched the first season.

This isn’t unique to western literature though. From 1001 Arabian Knights, the story of Aladdin was originally set in China. However, it’s pretty much China in name only.

Hence, old stories are placed in generic antiquity – even I’m guilty of thinking that Conan’s stories would have been around the time of Jewish Founding Father Abraham, even if we’re well before that time period if we go by source material. (Hyborean Age being around 10,000 BC).

What do you think of my statements concerning how we in the west view fantasy? There’s dragons in plenty of mythology throughout the world; knights are relatively new additions to legends if we want to get technical.

Summer Wind Up, Goals for the Rest of 2020

9 Sep

I don’t know what the weather was like where you live, but we had a beautiful summer. I miss seeing some of my friends, but I made the most out of the COVID related restrictions by enjoying the great outdoors. I’m planning on at least one more kayak trip, weather permitting, it’s supposed to warm up later this week but there was frost on my car yesterday morning after night shift, but it was warmer this morning, so my tomatoes and other veggies have a little bit more time.

I know I said I was giving myself two weeks off for a break for Rogue Healer 3, but I might continue for a bit yet. I got another round of edits back from Book 1 and my aunt finally got around to a kid’s project I sent her, so the plan is to get the Witchslayer’s Scion edits back by the end of this four days off as well as get my house in order, and use what she gave me to revise and then I can start to develop that kid’s project properly. Taxes are due at the end of this month (farming community) so after they’re done I got minor house repairs, but I have maintenance to do in the meantime. I mentioned another project to the publisher so I have to revise it, so as of right now, here’s the bottom writing half of 2020’s game plan:

  1. Get the edits back to Cassie. Try to get it so she can publish it for the end of this year, so if she wants something try to do this first.
  2. Upload those ebooks (Strawman and Garnet and Silver) As well as make a print plan for Garnet and Silver, and while I’m at it figure out the cost to print #3
  3. Edit the Mermaid Stuff. I found an editor-editor that’s not my aunt. Draw a decent map and figure out a cover.
  4. Revise Book 3, Titan’s Ascent. After talking with Cassie, she would prefer I stop creeping up the word count and try to keep my projects in and around 130k max. She’s okay with me continuing a series or doing a spin off, and I’ll be the first one to admit it never seems like I’m writing just one book when I’m doing these epics.
  5. Revise Other Project. This is probably not that bad; I mostly need to cut and possibly split the content into two.
  6. Finish Chimera. Needs. An. Ending. Once I do that, I do the percolate thing like I’m doing with Rogue Healer 3, only I am probably going to revise and rewrite because it’s been percolating all summer.
  7. Write 50k new project in November. Either new book or those two novellas. This might be related to #5.
  8. Book a review tour for Dreams of Mariposa. If we are game for end of year, book another Book Tour for Witchslayer’s Scion.

Sounds terrible but it ain’t. I got hung up on banking stuff for ebooks, and I think my formatting for ebooks isn’t terrible. And as much fun as it would be to start a ‘new book’ I might just do the novellas or use the word count on another project, and I can start clean again in January for either Book 2 Chimera or Book 4 Rogue Healer, or just focus on that other project because really, I’ve been sort of sneaking in to work on it anyway. Also, I haven’ done any oil painting it seems like all summer. This won’t stand.

Reading wise I am ahead of my goals, and it’s all thanks to Elibraries. I figured I’d be doing a lot of rereading, as I’ve been in a bookstore like twice sincethe major shut downs. I have a few print books I want to get to sitting upstairs, but I get distracted when I got a hold for an ebook or audiobook. Also, my beta reader randomly loans me different titles, so we haven’t swapped as often as we have been. If you’re ever curious why I sometimes read 50ish books other years I read 70ish books, I will politely point out that I’m currently listening to an audiobook that is only two hours long, and have been listening to an audiobook which is more than 20 hours long. I can reread The Screwtape Letters in an afternoon, or take two weeks to read a fantasy brick.

How’s your 2020 goals looking now that we’re on the back half?

Cover Reveal: Witchslayer’s Scion

3 Sep

What do you think? The first in a proposed Sword and Sorcery series, I’ll give a definitive release date when I know it.

Titan Slain / The Dreaded Hump

24 Aug

So I was going to post a month ago basically saying, “Yeah, the novel’s basically roughed, I just have the handful of scenes to rewrite and like two to write but I basically know what happens” and here I am, sitting at a 162k rough draft, realizing I’m really going to have to reign in the B Plot (again) but acknowledging it’ll be fine. I’m a better writer than I was even ten years ago. This time, though, I’m not touching the manuscript for at least two weeks short of Ron asking for a swap.

I like setting goals but know that life  happens. If I say, “At this rate, I’ll have it revised and workable by Christmas, plus all the other projects I wanna do.” Yeah – no, probably not. Late March/Early April 2019, my sister and I rented my parent’s time share up near Clear Lake, MB, but they had to go back the day I came (Spring Break), and I was by myself for a few days, and I figured I’d do the writer retreat thing and finish editing the rough draft of Magus’ Gambit. I had to go back a day early for union related stuff, but thought I was finished… just a little tweaking, make sure I got the timelines right. I didn’t submit it until the following fall – part of it, granted, was moving and me getting a shiny new kayak.

So realistically – assuming I don’t get thrown into quarantine for a month – if I leave it alone, let R.J. Hore beta the entire thing, then leave it for an additional few months and start editing it after NaNoWriMo, I’ll have a decentish draft by the end of my January holidays, so aiming to have it edited several times by spring is realistic. Still, happy dance about being done a working draft, my reward is focusing on another project and hopefully gaining the mental distance so I can revisit Titan’s Ascent. Finishing a novel feels great. Getting to finishing always kind of sucks, mostly because of what I call:

 

The Dreaded Hump

Know what feels great when you’re writing? Writing “The End”. At least, it would if I wrote in the book’s intended order – quilter over here typically kind of develops an idea for an end goal relatively early in the book’s creation. I typically do leave “The End” for the very end, but know what doesn’t feel great? Those final scenes, especially when you’re not exactly sure what you want to happen. Because I didn’t write them sequentially, these scenes might take place anywhere in the novel.

How is this different than Writer’s Block? I’ve posted before I’ve written myself into a corner, but it’s not the same as The Dreaded Hump. Writer’s Block is more like, you aren’t sure what to do and how to do it. The Dreaded Hump is soldiering through the muck because you know the general direction – but it’s only after the fact that you realized there was a much nicer, cleaner way, and it’s more scenic, you know? Sort of like midway through the novel, where you are kind of meandering and you write a scene, only to go back and change it because you were like ‘meh’ about it or hated it but knew you needed to just write out a version of events, so you can later write the ‘good’ version. Heck, you might even have written some scenes you like, and you realize that given the size and scope of the novel, you can’t dedicate that much time to the idea. Out those fun, impulsive ideas go – in with a more tame version, grumble grumble  – not saying you’re deleting those scenes completely; if you’re me they go in a file folder and will probably to be explored in another project. It’s different than what I’ve been experiencing in the past few months – even if I’m lying to myself about ‘almost being done’ or that I’ll be done by Day X. Gone is the fire and fun of this new and amazing project, as well as the sense of accomplishment of finishing. You know you’re making progress… sort of. The end’s not in sight, but you’ve sunk in enough time and words to know that you might as well at least finish the project.

It’s the hours you spend in the gym, or practicing your instrument. No one sees the real work you put in here.

The segments that make up The Dreaded Hump sometimes might be a great scene – on draft 4 or 5. How it helps to give yourself permission in your busy schedule is to think of it like you’re sketching out the frame work, and you need to fill in the details. It’s fine if you know it’ll work and you can do some hard research to make sure you fill in the blanks. Realizing you made a critical error and it’s a genuine plot hole and you have no idea how to go about fixing it, without majorly changing the book? That’s hard.

Writing garbage shouldn’t be confused with doing research and, if you just want the project to die already, take a break. Philander with another idea. If you are creative in other ways, it might be the time to dip your toes, or see what other artists have done to get around similar situations. For me, I respond to physical activity, so spending some time in nature if I can definitely helps.

But finish it. Unless you’re under contract, there’s really no time limit to any of this. And it sucks, putting your baby into the world and letting it get rejected time and time again, but let me ask you: Would you rather have a finished project to have rejected, or a bunch of half-finished and barely starts?

To Split or Not To Split?

17 Aug

Growing up I hated cliffhangers. It usually wasn’t a big deal if I could get the next book in the library, but it wasn’t always the case. The best example I can think of was how in this old Conan the Barbarian Comic, Conan, Belit and their sea-faring army are drugged by the leader of the people they just saved, and we’re told that they’re going to be sacrificed. I didn’t know how they got out of it for years, because it was my dad’s old comics and he’d have a good run of sequential issues with maybe just the one missing, and then ten or so would be missing, and then we’d be in a completely different adventure. Comics tended to follow that serial format, basically it was meant so you tuned in the next week or bought the next magazine.

The internet has made life rather comfortable, as we can marathon old tv series as opposed to making it an event for a two-part episode (Provided your VCR worked. I sound old), and I was able to look up how Conan and everyone escaped(it was a real cop out) but I get it. It’s the same when I’m watching bad reality tv shows: They cut to commercials just when we’re about to find out who won or if the offer went through. Make the audience emotionally invested, so we’ll stay tuned.

It’s so freakin’ cheap and books are supposed to be smarter than that.

If you’ve been following along over the course of the last few months, you know I’ve been ‘Got a titan to slay!’ and what not for Rogue Healer 3. I was initially making good progress and figured I’d be done the rough draft before summer. July was a decent month and I hammered out a lot of core parts, and I even gave myself a ‘You’re gonna nail this, go work on something else and let it percolate’ meanwhile we’re in the middle of August and I’m at just over 151k. Is it done? Well… almost all the scenes are written. Almost, because they’re a hodgepodge of me tweaking this and that; the reality of quilting is you think you want turquoise but you really wanted teal, so it doesn’t exactly vibe. I still have a titan rampaging, even if I have the aftermath of it being defeated written. Stuff will be cut, but I’m also thinking to myself that I could easily give myself another 10-30k.

The previous two books were about 135k, and both felt relatively complete and at the same time feeling like that they were segways into the next installment. I didn’t know if I’d ever sell Book One. This time it’s not a last hurrah, I want to write a five book series, and while I know it can be expanded with novellas and shorts, I don’t want to do that other than to supplement.

After I signed Witchslayer’s Scion, besides starting work on Magus’ Gambit, I wrote a novella that basically served as an inbetweequel for Witchslayer’s Scion. There was something I wanted to expand, but I couldn’t legit a flipping detour in an already 135k novel. Fantasy and science fiction already allow a wide swath, with most contemporary novels being around 70-110k, with fantasy allowing for around 120k for a first time author.

So I’m at the novel and a half stage and thinking I could expand things. So Book Three, Working Title Titan’s Ascent, I’m thinking I might cut this into two parts.

I don’t want to do it with a knife. If I was to change the story for say, a tv series, we’d still want there to be mini climaxes and something to look forward to. The framing and the timing of the episodes would change. It would again change if we were going for a three-act film. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, option One, is try to keep the final draft around the 150k mark, and see what the publisher says. She hasn’t signed Book 2 yet, and I figured I wouldn’t ask until I have the follow-up to chuck. Option Two is be a Precious Artist and go as long as I feel the book needs. Option Three, is go with option two, and intend to split it into two parts, and talk to the publisher. Honestly, I could probably give two 80k novels in ‘part one, part two’ but I’d have to reframe so that part one isn’t all the exposition and lame or vice versa.

80K is still a novel, and shoot add a short story or novella and the length is there. I guess I got to finish a draft before I get ahead of myself, but still: provided I’m being honest and telling people that they’re essentially buying half a book? Assume I’ll try not to sacrifice quality and insist that the release happens in short succession.

When Words Collide – Online 2020

14 Aug

So I’m not sure when I’m going to be around for WWC online, because I’m on nights s so I need to rest some time. Yeah yeah, ‘Sometimes you go sometimes you don’t!’ I wasn’t planning on this year because one of the guys in my station has major seniority and he always takes time off in August. The rotation has to really work out or all I get are nights off, and I could go on abut scheduling and how I never get the stats I want, but it’ll sound like kvetching. I don’t mind working through the pandemic, neither.  We’re very lucky in Manitoba to have relatively low numbers and, I’ll be honest, I’ve been able to be ‘socially distant’ on things like playing tennis and kayaking for the nice part of the year. It’ll get cold and we’ll all bunker down again in a few months, so my main complaint is looking through my old pictures of travel and realizing it’s probably not going to happen until around 2022 (*le sob*).

So writers, readers – those who are just interested in learning about smaller publishing houses, even ethical concerns and some science associated with some literary theory – this is an awesome way to reach out and meet likeminded folk as well as generally network.

But as for me, I’m going to be posting a ton of writing related videos on FB, mostly from Youtube. I encourage you to post back.

For tomorrow, R.J. Hore and I will be at Shelmerdine’s Farmer’s Market (weather pending, it looks fine so far) selling books. I still only have the one title in print, working on it. I have two ebooks ready to self-publish, I need to go to the bank and get some info. Lazy lazy. One’s really just a short story, but you get the idea.

 

Focus

29 Jul

Don’t you love memes?

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So despite or maybe perhaps because of quarantine, my niece is writing a book and now she’s told me that she has another idea for a different book. She tells me she’s writing a page a day (sort of) and is torn between what idea she’d like to do.

I’m encouraging her with both projects. That way if one’s feeling dry, she’ll have something else to dabble with. Maybe one’ll spark and she’ll write a ton, then get tired of it and go back to the other one. Maybe she’ll have so many ideas, she’ll have to pull some of them. At her stage, it’s important to just write. And sometimes, it’s important for us writers to do it too – to strike while the iron is hot, and jot down the ideas or a scene or whatever, so we can come back to it.

Now, that doesn’t mean you should be frittering off in endless directions and have five ‘on the go’ novels with no end in sight. Pick one and try to finish it. But is it stagnant? You have writer’s block? You really want to do something else? Obviously this isn’t if your last book ended in a massive cliffhanger or you have a deadline in your series. But, if you’ve been writing for a while and you think you can end the book in reasonable amount of time, by all means philander with another idea. But finish the book you’ve been spending the last few months on, unless you know it’s an absolute dud.

Most writers I know have tons of ideas, and ideas by themselves are important, but there’s more to it. The stick-to-it to make a scene really work. There’s a lot competing for the prospective reader’s attention; the least I can do is ensure I’m providing a certain quality to my writing – so that means I’m going to rework scenes and make the best novel I can. I have ideas I can’t get to for years – the reality is that a book is a long commitment, even if it’s a relatively short book compared to my usual bricks.

My usual way of dealing with a plot issue I can’t solve was to do something repetitive, preferably active, and let my brain sort it out. At the end of all things, passions turn sour simply because it’s no longer fun; I feel great after a workout but believe me, getting motivated to do it some mornings? Hah! You might want to sew an outfit, but you have to go through the tedious process you don’t like – whether that’s restitching something or doing a long, arduous task that seems like zero fun, and will anyone really appreciate and notice all the hard work I’m putting in? Sometimes monotonous tasks are relaxing; my partner at work crochets. When we’re not running calls and have some down time is when we get to chill out. I typically read, write, edit, but some people I know practice musical instruments or do crafts. 85% of the time, she’s relaxed as can be, feet up, enjoying making a blanket or a scarf. When she’s on the home stretch, or she’s wondering if she needs to redo that last segment? I wish I could be more objective and helpful when she wants honest feedback. You can tell when she’s done with something – she gets frustrated and just wants to be done with it – afterall, it’s been freaking months, often times with her undoing weeks worth of work in a single pull if she doesn’t like the way it’s going.

I think that’s part and parcel of being an artist, is that unless you’re being told from on high what to do for money, you typically see the flaws and faults in what you’re doing, and either just want to be done with it, and the next project… well, it’s going to be amazing. Your magnum opus, the project that will define you as a writer. You need to finish what you started, so that your skill level is better for that next project.

Leave it in a desk for a while, start to write the next project, let it breathe, but finish it. You might have abandoned another project for it, once upon a time. Revise, edit, repeat. Do your writer thing. Tower of Obsidian was the seventh book I wrote, and Dreams of Mariposa was under contract after Witchslayer’s Scion. I got nothing on markets and I’m writing a third book for a series the publisher seems kinda meh about.  I’m not abandoning other ideas to work exclusively on the series, the way I see it is that the longer we take to publish the first book, the less time readers have to wait between books should I get the series option.

So by all means dabble in another story. But finish your book. You’ll be glad that you did, instead of having to revisit and relearn the rules you made yourself when you come back to it in a few years. As for me, I need to take better notes for future me.