Friday, December 7, 2007

I must never allow myself to become despondent

I must never allow myself to despair. I must never allow myself to quit. I must keep going, even when it seems not worth the effort. I must never give up.

Remember this feeling, the hand rising to wipe the dirt off your chin, sore muscles sliding under skin as you pick yourself up. This is the distilled essence of being human. Never shy away, never stay down. Never let it go.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Done with the second edit

I got Aaron's, Matt's, Andrea's, Krystina's, and Trav's back. You guys did an AWESOME job and I could not have done it without you. So thank you, if you're reading.

So we had the initial writing, which was about 55k, the edit, which clocked in at 70k, and this second edit, which hits at 75k. It could probably benefit from one more go through, but I worry I wouldn't survive, so I'm closing the book on this and moving on.

Now, all that's left is write a GOOD query letter (anything but that schlock I have now) and a good synopsis, and I'm ready to query. Finally.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Revision notes - Day 2

Or whatever. Re-did the Nico fight, think it's much better.

Next up, cutting Renaud's enslavement bit and moving straight to him with the water. Be sure anything important gets moved somewhere else. Over all much better flow. It will need one more read-through before send off, but you can do that at the end of the real third revision.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Revision notes - Day 1

Well, actually day 2.5. I've written out my descriptions and started in on the ending. So far, I've fixed the scene where Karon knocks down the doors, smoothed out the Josef fight. This morning, I completely redid Renaud's speech explaining what the pillar was, and I think it's much better, much less info-dumpy. I also took out the blood magic thing, I can save that for another book or add it in a lesser capacity for this one later. I also had Renaud go into the pillar, which solves the whole "where is Renaud during all of this?" question AND is super creepy. This changes a lot of stuff down the road, but I think it'll all work out for the better. This climax has to flow properly, or there's no fun at all.

Next up: Battle of lava and sewage, then Nico. Don't forget to keep an eye on the ACTUAL text edits now that you're not writing new stuff.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My read through is done!

And MAN, do I have a lot to do:

1. Go setting by setting and character and write out general descriptions to use in the edit. That way, all my descriptions will be uniform. This is especially important for interior settings.
2. Edit the ending and make all noted changes. This is the most broken part, so do it first.
3. Start at the beginning and start making the edits. Do a chapter a day, each in its own document before adding it to the final file. Don't skimp on this, and don't forget to edit the ending again (this should be done mid December, DO NOT rush on this, you need the best book you can write).
4. Give fresh edit to Matt and Trav to go over.
5. Start querying!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

right on schedule!

And I'm done (well, finished anyway) with the first go through right on schedule. Two months exactly, even with all the nonsense. Today, I will send the draft to the printers and then hand it out. Maybe... MAYBE they'll have it back to me on time.

In the meanwhile, my task is to

1. Do all the crap at work I've been ignoring -_-...
2. Write a query letter!
3. Write a synopsis!
4. Sit on both (seriously, you only get one shot, don't jump the gun)
5. Do all that map making and world building and what not for the next Eli novel.
6. Do all that map making and world building and what not for the next OTHER novel.
7. Don't obsess.

Now, off to get things done!

Friday, October 26, 2007

danger, TL:DR

Ok, the hard part of the edit/rewrite is, as of 12 this morning, DONE. Left-to-dos as follows:

1. Edit final chapter (duh) - mostly polished, minor editing. Should be doing it right now, actually :P. DONE

2. Go through the words listed below - seriously, I can't REALLY need to use suddenly twice a chapter... DONE

3. Codify the world - make sure everyone's names are consistent all the way through, check the details, do anyone's eyes change color? Are Miranda's rings on the right fingers? Do her spirits change names? Does Renaud gain/lose an arm somewhere? Etc. This really should have been done during this edit, but it wasn't. Spot check as best you can and then save the real combing for Edit 2. DONE

4. Go though all the sections where I talk about magic and make sure I'm a) giving enough information for understanding, and b) not overstating or over-explaining and that each explanation matches the speaking character's world view and knowledge. - this includes both Miranda talks in the beginning, Eli's talk in the clearing, Miranda's talk to the king, Coriano's talk, and the stuff at the end. DONE

5. Go back over the beginning - this part is the most stylistically different, make it more like the rest of the book.

6. Go over all the new sections and make sure they make sense - including new Coriano/Renaud transition section, the walk under the city, and the ending. You've got 16k new words, make sure they're good. Also, watch for wordiness. You get wordy when you don't know what you're talking about.

7. Save, reformat, and clean up everything to go in a Bel Jean's book to hand out for reader copies - on the list: Trav, Tim, Steven, Andrea, Matt B., Aaron, Krystina, and Emily (8 total). Check price of copies, this may not be practical. Emily needs one for sure, though. See if Alex can get you a discount :P.

While the book is out with beta readers in November, my job is to:

1. Codify the world - draw maps, add roads, write out spirit naming conventions, etc.

2. Plan out the second novel thoroughly so I know if I need to add anything in this one. I want a scene by scene with all major events mapped out. Don't start writing it, just make sure you're not shooting yourself in the foot.

3. Write query letter, synopsis, and finalize your agent list (the fun part!)

When I get the reader copies back in December (hopefully) I need to:

1. Go through the novel line by line, applying the codifications listed above.

2. Read through everyone's notes and implement the best of them, fix problems people point out.

3. Get the manuscript agent ready.

THEN, in January, I...

1. Query until I sell it - my goal, 1 acceptance or 30 refusals by my birthday.

Monday, October 22, 2007

9 days until the end of the edit...

and god, do we have far to go.

Rewriting the climax to be more climatic, then going back to edit it to make sense.

Once that's done, I have a special project:

I will go back through my novel and make sure every instance of:

suddenly (31)
then (153)
next (33)
very (66)
the (300+)
! (too many to count)

and all dialogue tags that aren't "said" actually need to be there.

God, it's time to learn to write.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Novel 2 Stats

Started: May 4, 2007
Finished: August 25, 2007
Total days: 113
Total wordcount: 54,654
Average words per day: 484 Waaaay below my 1000/day goal. But, there were many days off and many hardships. Oh well, at least it will be easy to do better next time!

aaaaaaand DONE!

I finished draft 1 of novel 2, tentatively titled "The Spirit Thief" at 10 last night. It clocks in at 54,600 words, which is too short, but I'm not worried. I skipped over a lot at the end, and I'm going to be adding several scenes in the edit. The final word count should be around 65-70k, putting it in prime marketability range.

Now, it's time for two weeks off while I move, plan novel 2, do some world building, and figure out how to solve all the problems I glossed over in this draft. I've got my work cut out for me.

Here's the schedule (Monday to Monday):
8/27 - 9/10: Move in, world build, brainstorm for edits, let the work sit. Brain storm for book 2 to see if I need to add any set up.
9/10 - 10/8: First edit, fix all plot issues, get my word count up, fix characterization, add in foreshadowing, basically turn a rough draft into a finished draft.
10/8 - 10/15: Let draft sit again, write first draft of query letter, synopsis, etc. Put together a spreadsheet of agents to contact.
10/15 - 11/5: Second edits. This is the final sweep, clean up readability, word flow, check pacing, grammar, etc.
11/5-12/3: Print up and hand out reader copies. Do spot edits, revise query letter and synopsis.
12/3-12/31: Incorporate reader comments, do one final read through chapter by chapter, prepare queries for mail out.
1/2: Mail out first batch of queries. After that, mail out 5 queries per week until it sells or I get sick of being rejected.
1/3: Start writing new book.

A nice, spread out schedule, I think. This time I want to be SURE the book is as fantastic as I can make it before mailing it out. For right now, though, I'm going to take a breather and bask in the glow of doneness (and type out some of these ideas that have been poking at me lately).

Two novels down, infinity to go.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Break on through

At last, this morning I finally wrote some new words. The end is in sight!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


So here I am, 2 major scenes from the end of my novel and I hit a brick wall. This is the CLIMAX, where all the twists are revealed and everything comes to a head, and my villain refuses to work with me. All I ask is a little evil pontification, why is that so hard? Normally, it's the EASIEST thing to write, but it just won't come this time.

So, here's the plan. I'm going to go through what I've already written and make a road map. Then, I will add foreshadowing and villain development where it is needed (like a literary hotfix). That way, when I reach this current tangle again, I'll have a fully developed, well foreshadowed villain coming up with his own lines, rather than a cardboard puppet I shove lines into. Everybody wins!

Sadly, this pushes the complete date back by another week at least, most likely, but the book will (hopefully) be much stronger when I begin the edit.

I'm well ahead of my September first deadline anyway, so I can afford to do it right. Assuming, of course, that I don't slack off. No room for slacking off this late in the game!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

getting the wheel rolling again

After the death of my Godfather, things have been so slow. Now only did I have a lot on my mind, but I stopped right in the middle of a hard bit.

Now I have to keep going, 1000 words a day, until I’m done.

Boats against the current and all that. Ugh.

Friday, July 20, 2007

so this week has been a bust

BUT, as soon as Harry Potter is read, I will be the writing master! Nothing shall stand in my way!!

Half way there, just a bit more...

I'll still be done by September. I have to be! Avatar Season 3 starts then, and if I'm not done by then, it'll eat me whole!

The plan:

Done by September
Edit 1 done by October
Let it sit a few weeks, another edit done by mid-November, then off to readers.
Readers have it until right before Christmas, then I spend Christmas slowdown adding in comments, fixing problems, etc. Also, this is when I'll draft my query letter, synopsis, and get my first 30 pages in crazy good condition.

JANUARY - start mailing queries, start on the next novel.

Thursday, July 5, 2007


"Those who say they want to be writers, and aren't writing, don't."
- Earnest Hemmingway

The only writing quote that matters!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Go go gadget writing!

1000 words a day for the last week, and MAN, do I feel good! Today I saved the file at just over 15,000 words, which means I've only got 55,000 left to go to meet my target of 70k! At 1000 a day, that's 55 days (yay for easy math!), which should put my end date in the last week of August, 4 weeks ahead of schedule ^____^. Of course, a LOT can go wrong between now and then. I could reach the end of my story at around 50,000 and be forced to ADD MORE SHIT. The mind boggles! Looking at the scenes I have planned, I get the feeling I'll reach the end somewhere in the 60-70k range, which would be just about perfect since I'm going to have to add a bit more information to the early chapters. Over all I'm kicking ass, taking names, chewing gum, etc., etc.

Writing happiness is the best happiness!

Friday, June 29, 2007

finding what was never lost

Today (instead of working) I read a fantastic article about writing. I won't pontificate further, the author makes his case far more eloquently that I could.

In the space between my last novel and my current one, I went through a lot of words. Many worlds were built, peopled, imperiled, and thrown aside in fits of ennui. I was bored with it all, bored with endless world building and complicated histories, bored with the vital, core practices of writing.

This terrified me, and I spent most of the first part of this year ignoring it. After all, I was doing everything right. I got up every morning at 7 and diligently wrote until it was time to go work, where I would make maps and fill in my wiki until I went home and wrote some more. Such is the process, I thought, by which every novel is built. Only I was failing. My writing was horrid, painful, and, worst of all, dull. This sparked more terror. If I was bored with writing, I was bored with life. "You are failing our Great Ambition," my inner teenager screamed constantly, "How can you go on?!" And the secret was, I couldn't. Not as I was. And that was more frightening than the boredom.

Then, one morning a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the stupidly simple answer. I would just write something else. Something fun. And I wouldn't worry about if the writing was good or if I knew where I was going. I had a book series I'd been half planning for months, but hadn't really written anything down for, so I decided to try that. I didn't have a map, and only one character actually had a name when I opened the new file, but I knew how it began, and that was enough for one morning's worth of work.

I loved it, I was giggling and writing faster than ever before. I ended up being late to work because I had to finish off the scene. It took me six months to lose my joy of writing, but only 2 hours to find it again.

I'm 10,000 words into my new book, and it hasn't always been as easy or fun as that first day. Right now, for example, I've written my way into a corner that would not have been here if I'd planned this novel like I did my others. Free fall writing is not without its disadvantages. But I haven't been bored. Sometimes, I can feel the boredom creeping when I'm working my way through some particularly weighty square peg that needs to go in a round hole. When that happens, I just pick it up and move on. Perfection is a moot point at this stage, so is worrying and pace. All that matters is flying free with the story.

Writing is fun again. Sweeter words were never written.

Monday, June 11, 2007

number love

It's my big secret, I love numbers when they're about my novel!

Please note the new progress bar on the left. It tracks my progress towards my weekly wordcount goal. Hopefully, swift movement on the smaller bar will stimulate the growth of the larger, meaning more happy for everyone.

It's all about breaking this huge, overwhelming project into bite sized chunks. I can finish this novel by September if I can make my weekly goals. I can make my weekly goals if I write 6250 words every week. That's only 1200 words a day if I want to take weekends off, or 800 words a day if I write every day. And suddenly, the novel's not so scary.

Of course, writing words doesn't finish the novel, telling the story finishes the novel. But it's a good way to make me sit down and pound the keys every morning, and that's how you walk the path.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

banging rocks together

I’m having a large dramasode with the end of my first chapter. I’ve been more and more unhappy with the way things are going. Or, rather, I know where the story is supposed to go, I just can’t get it there. Every time I sit down to write, I’m overwhelmed with angry apathy. I feel like I can’t do it, that I’d rather be doing anything else, that I’m failing my great dream. And always, there’s the clock. I’m not writing enough words per hour, I’m not writing enough words per day, OMG I’M NEVER GOING TO FINISH.

As I said, major deeeeerama.

But this morning, after a lot of flopping around in bed and being unhappy, angry driving while being unhappy, and desperate unhappy internet searching, I began to figure it out.

It’s no secret that I suck at grammar. I can’t explain why a sentence is the way it is, or why a phrase is incorrect, but I’ve read well enough and extensively enough that I can feel my way along 95% of the time. The trouble is, I’ve extended this to the actual writing part of writing. I don’t know why things happen, or why characters make decisions, I just know that it feels like they should. Every scene I write is like banging rocks together in the dark and hoping for a spark to see by, yet not knowing WHY the fire sparks the way it does.

Sticking to the outline and muddling through isn’t good enough anymore.

I have to get inside each scene. I have to know why it has to be written that way, and what I’m going to get out of it. I have to remember that my characters AREN’T ME, I can’t look at their situations and then have them do what I would do. Who’s the POV for the scene? Who’s head am I in? Why should I do it this way?

This means I have to know my world, my story, my plot, and my characters better than I know them now. I have to be able to ask a character WHY they acted as they did, and expect a response. I laid the ground work, created the world, but now I have to let the people who live in it tell me the story of what happens. I can’t worry about “will it sell” or “who will like it.” I have to write for the story, and edit for the reader.

It’s time for writing to be fun again.

Monday, May 28, 2007

day jobs vs. real jobs

I have a job that pays the bills pretty well doing work I generally enjoy. There’s good potential for promotion, and the company is growing. Since I have no plans to leave any time soon, I guess this could be called my career.

I don’t think of it like that. I work a day job. My REAL job is what I do on the lap top in the mornings, at night, and on the weekends. I work for money, I write because it’s what I want to do.

I could work a lot more hours than I do and make a lot more money. It’s a well documented fact that more money = more better, but I refuse to cut into my writing time.

This is a very stupid thing to do. I’ve been writing at least 5-10 hours per week for the better part of three years now. Now, I have yet to see one red cent from any creative writing I’ve done, so that’s well over 1000 hours of unpaid work. If my writing were an actual business, I’d be so far in the red by this point I’d never get out.

This is why you don’t get into writing for the money.

But this is the career I was born to, and even if I never manage not to suck at it, even if I never make enough money to support myself, I’ll keep doing it. There’s just no way I could stop.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

still alive...

Getting over some major sickitude, but I also did a little bit of writing.

So, after trying my bold new plan of trying to write to plot points, I discovered a few things.

1. The plot points are always farther away than you think.
2. It's very hard to start and very easy to become distracted when you don't have a concrete daily goal.
3. Only writing 200-300 words in 2 hours is not the way to write a novel in any realistic ammount of time.

SO, I'm back to daily word counts. Will this cause bloat? Oh sure, but at least I'm getting something done.

Maybe what I REALLY need to do is become a better editor. I know I can write, if I can learn to edit, then maybe I can become a novelist for real this time.

Friday, May 18, 2007


The problem: Been sick, been writing nothing. Already off schedule.

The solution: Stay late and get some writing done. Trust my voice and stop double guessing. Just tell the story, it's that simple.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

God help us

In 9th grade, I was introduced to the concept that, within the world of the story, the write is all powerful and omnipotent. This is may be true, but it does not stop the characters from talking back, sulking, and sometimes digging their heels in and refusing to move until you agree to do it their way.

Of course, considering their god is easily distracted from weaving the fabric of creation by videogames and snarky blogs, it's probably good that SOMEONE around here is keeping things on track...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I hope someday someone writes a review like this about me


One quote that really got me was

It's rare to find an author who dares to put so much humanity in a fictional character. Fantasy authors in particular tend to follow a nasty trend of distancing themselves from their protagonists in order to focus on developing a world, or to avoid developing their characters via realistic (and thus, horrifying complex) emotions and relationships.

I always have this problem with distance. My characters are just players in the world I have. But with Nathan and the Periana, it HAS to be more human. This is all about bucking authority and the right way of doing things in order to save what you didn't know you loved until you lost it. Nathan has to be as proud as he is genius, and his love for Lira and the Periana has to be real and startling.

I have to get Nathan to talk to me before I can begin.

Monday, May 14, 2007

today was not my best day

I'm angry and tired and hungry and I haven't written anything of value. But, even so, I learned something interesting today.

While spacing out on my drive to work, I try to let my brain jump from story to story, filling in the gaps. It isn’t serious world building by any stretch, but it's where I get some of my best ideas - the ones that make me forget that it's 30 minutes to the office and I'm already 20 minutes late.

But today I thought to myself "what will you do if Novel 2 doesn't sell?" The answer came right on top of the question, "I'll write another one."

And if that one doesn't sell?

I'll write another one.

Why? I asked myself, why put so much of yourself into this? Why not give up and play some videogames, read great books, see more movies, clean your house, spend time with your family and friends? Writing makes you so angry sometimes, sometimes it makes you cry with frustration. Why the hell would you want to keep giving your time to something that may never pay off? Even worse, why the hell would you KEEP DOING IT, even after you've failed?

Because I can't not write. As soon as I ask "what will you do?" the answer is definite and instantaneous, "keep writing, keep trying something new."

I just keep thinking up great stories. In all the world, nothing gets me as excited as a great story. And seeing other people's great stories just adds fuel to the fire to get my own down somehow. But I can't draw, and I don't want to share the creation of my story with the multitudes required to make a movie. So I write, because it's all I can do to get the stories out.

And if I never get published I'll be devastated. I'll be crushed and depressed and defeated.

But I'll still keep writing.

The clever rat, once zapped, doesn't touch the electrified panel again.

I guess I am a very stupid rat.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Thus, by knowing my weaknesses, I overcome them

I slashed the surface tension quite well last night, but still only got a few hundred words. This wasn't because I was distracted, focus was good. I attribute the low numbers to my new writing style which focuses on story goals rather than word count goals, and on weekly achievement rather than daily.

On novel 1, I set my goal at 1500 words per day. At first it was hard, but eventually I was able to get 1500 reliably, then I started getting 2k, then 3k, etc. I was exultant, I was a REAL writer! My word count was off the charts!

And that was the problem.

Novel 1 weighed in at 206,000 words. Yeah, she was a porker. But I reassured myself with the promise that I would cut while I did my big edit, so that big count didn't REALLY matter. So I set to cutting, and got the sucker down to 180,000 words...

Yeah, this is when I learned that I SUCK at editing.

See, I'm an extreme case of "can't see the forest for the trees." I couldn't make the big cuts I needed to because I LIKED all the parts of the novel. I'd put so much WORK into them, I couldn't just abandon them. But, like a chronically obese beauty queen, the novel suffered from the extra weight, and I just couldn't get it into shape.

Looking back, I'm convinced this happened because of the goals I set down when I was writing. Now, there were other problems, don't get me wrong. But the most rejectable element of the novel was the flabby writing. This happened because I used a daily wordcount as my benchmark, with no upper ceiling. I'm a verbose person by nature, and I like to exceed expectations. So, when faced with a daily wordcount, it was only natural that I do my best to meet it everyday, even if the words I used to meet it didn't necessarily need to be there. I exceeded my daily goals but failed to meet my ultimate goal of writing a publishable manuscript.

Now, this would have been OK if I was a good editor. Lots of writers follow the “get it all down then chop out the crap” school of novel production. But I’m not a good editor, especially for my own work. It was lose-lose all around.

But, despite my other flaws, I’m too lazy to go repeating the same mistakes over and over. So this time, I’m setting new goals. Instead of daily wordcounts, I’m doing weekly story goals with fixed wordcounts – one chapter a week, 5000 words per chapter, 20 chapters for the book. This shifts the goal from so-many-words-per-day to “I have to get this much story into this small space, how do I do it?”

Of course, this method is starting slowly, it’s a lot harder than my other way of writing. But the results are already better. I’m focusing on tight, precise story telling – fitting the most story into the smallest space – for a taunt, exciting book. Thus, by setting the challenges to work against my flaws rather than accommodating them, I can focus on the real point of this whole adventure: writing a publishable novel. (Because, really, if I wanted to write just for myself, I’d write fanfic and be done.)

Monday, May 7, 2007

Surface tension

My greatest daily struggle for writing is just getting started. I set aside time, sit down to write, and suddenly everything in the world is more interesting than writing. It literally takes me 30 minutes of alt tabbing between my document and the internet until I settle down and start really writing. Once I get rolling I'm good, and I wonder why the hell it took me so long. So I resolve that tomorrow, I will get started right away. But, of course, I don't, and I waste another 30 minutes trying to get back into the zone.

I’ve started call this 30 minute buffer my "surface tension." Every time I sit down to write, I have to break through the membrane of thought which separates the real world from the world of my novel. Of course, this little hiccup would be no problem if I had all day to write, but when I’ve got 2 hours to get my goal of 1200 words, 30 minutes is ¼ of my total time wasted, which isn’t something I’m willing to put up with. So my current quest is to find a way to break through faster.

So tonight I’m going to try 2 new things:

1) Eliminate distraction – write on the lap top with the internet turned off, sitting far away from all interesting books.
2) Calm my mind and get into the world while I’m driving home, so I can walk in the door and get started.

We’ll see how these work.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Time to try something new

For Novel 1, I didn't really have a writing focus other than to tell the story. My guiding vision was a clear window that showed the story perfectly to the reader with as few author-opinion wobbles as possible. This was an interesting idea, but it fell flat because transparent prose is nothing prose.

For Novel 2, I'm going to try something new. First, I'm going to try and get down as much as possible as fast as possible. Take a bare bones, just-the-facts-ma'am approach. Hopefully, this will let me get the pacing right the first time and get a better handle on the length, because DAMN, can I be long winded.

After I finish the quick and dirty version, I'm going to go back and add another layer using what I've learned from the story to really round out the world and the characters. Think of it as 2 draft 0.5s merging to make a first draft. Then, I'll set it aside for a month before editing.

Using this method, I hope to build up before I cut down, and come out with a novel that's both structurally and prosaically superior than Novel 1.

So, we'll see how this works. It could fail, or I could fail, flail, and dump it. It's worth a try, though.