Late last night, I dragged myself, weary and bloodied, across the NaNoWriMo finish line.
Well, not bloodied, but I was quite tired when I got there…especially since at one point Scrivener had my word count at 50,200 but when I plugged my text into NaNo’s validator, it came back with a result of 49,850. So I had to stay up a bit and do a little extra work to get myself over that line. I could have just done it today, but when I’m that close, I just want to kick it into gear and get it done.
So after three consecutive years of falling short during NaNoWriMo, I’ve resumed winning. Huzzah!!!
What now? Well, I only have about 46,000 words of a book that I’m targeting for around 200,000, so there’s a lot more writing ahead. (Yes, you read that right–46,000 words. Part of my NaNo total is roughly 4500 words of a scene that I eventually realized needed to be scrapped, but for the purposes of NaNoWriMo I never delete scrapped material, I just relocate it because it’s still work I did. I mean, a movie’s deleted scenes still got filmed, so that’s still work that got done.)
I am looking forward to backing off the pedal a bit in terms of writing. Cranking 1700 words a day tends to be my upward limit before my brain starts getting all jangly, and to get that much writing done I have to reduce my reading, which never makes me feel good. I find that when I enter a reading slump, a writing slump inevitably follows because the reading is what fuels the writing. I’ve been reading, but not as much as I would like and I’m happy to get some of that time back.
I’m also hoping to get back to things like updating blogs…but for now, as always….
Goodness, I’ve really let this site go fallow, haven’t I? Over three months of radio silence here. That’s not because of any bad developments or anything like that; just that I’ve been plugging along with writing and not really saying much here. I should change that, I think.
But anyway, here’s what’s going on:
I’ve been prepping a lot for NaNoWriMo 2017. For the uninitiated, that’s National Novel Writing Month, set for November when writers the world over, amateurs and professionals and folks in the middle like me alike, all commit to attempting to produce 50,000 words of something in a single month. This will be my sixth year of participation, and I am greatlyhoping to post a “win” this year. There’s no shame in not hitting the 50K mark, but I made it both of my first two years and then missed the mark three years in a row. 2015 was a special case, as my writing time for the month was greatly impacted by our six-day trip to New York City for Thanksgiving that year, and 2016…well, let’s just say that certain events in the world that began unfolding in November last year sent me into a massive slump.
Oh, and my project for NaNoWriMo? I’m starting Book IV of The Song of Forgotten Stars, titled The Savior Worlds. I haven’t done any new work in that series in a long time and I’m itching to move onto the next phase of the story. To that end I’ve been planning and…outlining. Yes, outlining. Me, the pantser-to-rule-them-all. Well, if Forgotten Stars is one big story, then the first three books have told the first act. Now I’m entering Act II of the BIG STORY, and as such, I need to have a better idea of what the BIG STORY entails. Hence, planning.
That being the case, I’ve temporarily shelved the project I was working on, Orion’s Huntress, the all-female Firefly-meets-James Bond-in-space thing that I’ve been working on. I have a lot of notes and material put together on that book, so when I return to it, I shouldn’t have too much difficulty getting back into its swing.
Also, I’ve started preparing The Chilling Killing Wind for publication, hopefully to come in December (but, more likely, January). I’ll keep you all posted…including when I put up some sample chapters!
On the subject of NaNoWriMo itself, my usual advice stands, which you can read here. I wouldn’t add much at all to this, except to reiterate: Have fun! NaNoWriMo shouldn’t feel like pressure.
See you around the galaxy, and I promise to check in more frequently!
Hey, everyone! Hoping everything is going well. If not, then I hope that your enemies are at least doing less well!
I’ve been thinking a bit about process lately. That’s something that we “aspiring” writers tend to think a lot about, in my experience. We think about word quotas and what time of day we should work or how many hours we should spend. We think about which word processor to use and which computer or which pen and which ink on which paper or in which journal. And for the most part, that’s fine! Most writers I know aren’t operating under the impression that finding the exact right way to work will suddenly unlock the writerly heavens and let the words flow forth in a torrent. They do, however, want to find the process that leads to the most work getting done with the least stress and obstacles.
Again, that’s fine. Most professional, full-time authors that I know of seem to have fairly settled processes by this point. They know the way they work, and they keep doing it because it works. Published, full-time authors always seem mildly bemused by questions of process, but here’s the thing: it helps to get a glimpse of what the life is like. Many of us are still in the early phase that Stephen King describes in On Writing: balancing a cheap typewriter on our knees (or maybe a piece of wood across our knees) as we tuck ourselves into the corners of our laundry rooms. It’s nice to hear that there is a stage when you have a room of your own, with a desk and a door you can close, into which you can disappear for as long as it takes to produce your 2000 words a day.
This is kind of like that scene in Bull Durham, when Crash Davis describes what it was like to be in the Majors:
I think that’s part of why so many of us like hearing about the processes of those who have “made it”, or at least seeing photos of their workspaces.
There’s something else here, though. It’s also about learning tips and sharing ideas. It’s about sharing bits of process.
In my day job, I do a fair amount of carpentry. Not enough that I consider myself a carpenter, but a decent amount. I often work with guys who are actual carpenters, and one thing I’ve noticed about carpenters over the years–every single one I’ve ever known–is that no matter how good they are, no matter how experienced, they are always excited to see something new. They’ll take a long gander at another carpenter’s toolbox, to see how he organizes it. They’ll notice that another carpenter might be doing something just a little bit differently–marking a piece of wood for cutting, perhaps–and they’ll say, “I should watch her do that because her cuts are always really accurate.” It’s about learning new tricks to do with wood or maybe a new joinery technique: “Hey, my dovetails are never as tight as they should be and yours are always perfect. Mind if I watch?”
I think that’s a big part of why writers are so fascinated about process. It’s the nuts-and-bolts of the job, the actual part of doing the work that doesn’t boil down to character questions or literary techniques. (Don’t get me wrong: we’re keenly interested in that stuff, too!)
Talking process is basically the writers’ version of talking shop.
(A note on my own process: for several years now I’ve been getting up at 5:30 am to make coffee and then write for about 45 minutes or so before I leave for work. Lately I’ve noticed diminishing returns from this practice, so I’ve changed it up the last few weeks: while I still get up at that time, I no longer write at that point in the morning. The laptop stays closed. Instead, I read. Dedicated reading time is every bit as important as dedicated writing time. Reading is part of the job, so building it into my schedule is a good thing. Now, I’ll likely change back to writing once we get to November and NaNoWriMo, but for now I intend to keep up with my morning reading. In the small hours, before it’s light out, when the house is silent and the coffee mug is warm? That’s a great time to get some reading done, folks.)
What I’m working on: With Amongst the Stars out and The Chilling Killing Wind in the hands of a capable beta, I’m back to Orion’s Huntress. I’m currently re-reading the existing material and rewriting a few small bits of it before I return to drafting the rest of the book.
What I’m reading:The Explorers Guild, Vol.1, by John Baird and Kevin Costner. (So far I’m digging this one. It’s a bit of a throwback in terms of writing style, so your mileage may vary. It’s also a gorgeous book with some of the best book design I’ve ever seen. I’ll review it on Goodreads when I’m done but I’m sufficiently jazzed by the book design that I may write a post here just about that.)
Paris: The Secret History, by Andrew Hussey. History book about Paris, but from the viewpoints of the city’s often seedy underbelly. Engaging read thus far.
The Memoirs of Hector Berlioz. I’ve been meaning to read Berlioz’s memoirs for over thirty years. Time to get it done.
The Three Musketeers, Dumas. I love Dumas and I’m re-reading this, with the intent of reading the entire series of books about these iconic heroes.
These last three titles, by the way, are a part of a reading experiment I’m doing wherein I pick a few books that have very short chapters, and then I read a chapter a day from each. In this way it takes a long time to get through a book, I admit, but reading in short bursts is a valuable skill, and in the case of 19th-century novels, it’s a nice way to capture the feeling of serialization that the first readers had.
Well, half of 2017 is in the books! Wow, that sure went fast. So what’s coming down the pike? I’m glad you asked!
1. In terms of book releases, the next project on the horizon is THE CHILLING KILLING WIND, which is the supernatural thriller long code-named GHOSTCOP. I am hoping to release this book in September. This book will launch a series of novels featuring former police detective John Lazarus and his strange encounters with the supernatural. It is currently in the hands of a couple of very capable beta-readers, so we are hopefully on pace!
2. In terms of drafting new books, I am resuming work on ORION’S HUNTRESS, which you’ll recall is a new space opera series set in the same universe as THE SONG OF FORGOTTEN STARS, but with little to no plot overlap. It’s a big galaxy, and all of that. I don’t have a targeted release date for this book yet, but it won’t be until late 2018 at the earliest.
Then I plan to stick to space opera and return to my beloved Princesses and their pilot. It’ll be time to start working on FORGOTTEN STARS IV, for which I’ve already started generating plot notes and such. The next books in the series will form a tighter arc than the first three, so I’ll need to plot things farther out. In fact…gasp!…I’m thinking of outlining these books.
I know. It’s like it’s not even me anymore!
After a draft of FORGOTTEN STARS IV is done, then I plan to return to SEAFLAME!, the fantasy-adventure long code-named THE ADVENTURES OF LIGHTHOUSE BOY. I’ve been waffling on this project because I have Book One drafted, but the whole story is told in two books, so I’ve been trying to figure out if I should draft Book Two before doing any editing, or do an edit of Book One first and then draft the second. I’m leaning strongly to the latter, with both books getting some much more serious editing later on after both are written. SEAFLAME! is basically one very long book that I am splitting in two, and once both are out, it will be done.
I expect that all of this work will take me far into 2018, so after that, who knows? Maybe FORGOTTEN STARS V, maybe a third John Lazarus book.
3. And let’s not forget about editing! The major editing project will be getting THE CHILLING KILLING WIND ready for publication, and I have a draft of THROUGH THE PALE DOOR (the sequel) done, which will require some very heavy lifting. There’s also the afore-mentioned SEAFLAME!, the first book of which will receive a light edit before I draft the second half of the story, and I also have a draft of a supernatural thriller involving a doomed kayaking expedition in the wilds of Alaska. (This last is a one-shot, no series, no sequel.)
So I am not lacking for projects to keep me busy. In fact, I’ve booked myself probably well into 2019 at this point. Yay, me! And, whew.
I do apologize for how long this took. This book’s formatting was quite the hassle in terms of getting it all to render correctly in e-book form. Scrivener is a fantastic piece of software, but the “compiling” part of the job is ZERO fun. In fairness, I’m not really sure how they could make it any better than it is, and there is always some aspect to ANY job that is the pits.
(If you MUST know, this book eschews numbered chapters in favor of “viewpoint” chapters, with each chapter headed by the name of the character whose viewpoint we are now in. If you’ve read George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books, you know how this works. Getting all that to compile correctly, without Scrivener adding chapter numbers, and generating a proper table of contents, was a HUGE pain. But I got it figured out in the end! And I wonder about people who compile even more complex works, in terms of structure within Scrivener where you can have entirely separate scenes to compile into chapters and then into parts and then into novels…yikes!)
But there we have it. The ebooks are here! Huzzah!!
And there will be another announcement toward the end of next week, so hold on to your hats!
The Geekiverse is a cool website, based in Buffalo, that focuses on all manner of geeky stuff, from games to movies to music to books. They’re a neat bunch and I’m excited to be featured on their site. Go check it out!
(Meantime, I hope those of you who are waiting for the e-book of Amongst the Stars will continue to be patient. I’m running into some formatting problems that are giving me fits, specifically with regard to the book’s structure and how it works into a usable Table of Contents. I’ll get it figured out, I promise! More to come on that hopefully later this week.)
And here we are with the final of the teaser chapters for Amongst the Stars! The book launches on May 25, in paperback first and then with the ebook to come a few weeks later. Here, the plot starts to thicken….
(And did you read chapters 1 and 2? If not, what are you waiting for!)