Updates and a Quick Trip around the Writerverse

Time to bring you up to speed on my progress, and highlight some other writers’ goings-on!

Writing at the Reinstein Library. #amwriting #overalls #vintage #Key #HickoryStripe #scarf #r2d2

One: I wanted to publish GhostCop in July, but I’m pushing that to September because I’ve been mulling things over and I realize that I want/need to tweak a few things. It’s all minor stuff, but stuff I need to address so as to make the book more resonant (I hope). I’ll tackle those revisions (shouldn’t take more than a few days) after I finish first edits on Forgotten Stars III.

Two: Hey, what about Forgotten Stars III? Well, I’m a bit behind where I wanted to be by now, but I still hope to get the book to beta-readers by mid-April. I hit a mini-slump last week (in general writing terms), and I had consecutive chapters that were, shall we say, a bit problematic. These chapters required a bit more editorial heavy lifting than I’m used to. Luckily, as I write this, I have moved past that particular obstacle! Huzzah!!

Three: Lighthouse Boy continues a-chugging along. This book is going to be enormous, so I’m leaning toward breaking it into two books anyway. The draft is currently at about 175,000 words, and there will likely be another 25-30K before the draft reaches a logical break point in the story, so I’m probably going to call BOOK ONE done and and start writing a GhostCop sequel.

Four: Oh, did I mention that I have the title for GhostCop? No? Well, I have the title for GhostCop. I’ll announce that later in the summer, when my plans for that book’s release start to ramp up.

Five: What’s after that? Well, I’m planning on a break from the Forgotten Stars series after Book III. I’m actually planning a second series of space operas that will take place in the exact same universe, but they won’t be a part of the Forgotten Stars story at all (in fact, they may not even take place at the same time as those books) and they’ll have a more adult tone. I’m thinking a mashup of James Bond and Firefly. We’ll see. I already have ideas for these, and I’ve even started character sketches (which is something I rarely do, but I thought I’d give it a shot this time).

Six: There is no six. That’s about it.

And now for some goings-on with other writers I know and love!

::  Writer Jenna Woginrich has posted an excerpt from a book she’s writing about her relationship with her horse, Merlin. Woginrich is one of my favorite online personalities, and she’s a damned fine writer. Her dream was to live on her own farm and being a part of a farm community, and she decided some years ago to do just that. If you’re in want of inspiration for tenaciously grabbing hold of the life you want, check her out.

I still remember parking it on my parents’ wrap-around porch and telling it, no, promising it, that I would write about it someday. There on the slate-blue paint leaning against a white railing I promised a bike from Kmart that I would write a book about her. So that’s what I’m going to do. Kind of.

Let’s hit the wind.

::  Ksenia Anske on being denied her brain:

Because I was born a woman, I was the second sort from the moment I got out of my mother’s womb. I was abused. I was underfed. I was neglected. I was dismissed. I was told I was wrong, no matter how hard I tried to please. But worst of all, I was denied my brain.

Powerful stuff.

::  I have to admit that I am long past the point where I find inspiration in the rejection letters of big-name writers. But hey, check out JK Rowling’s rejection letters from her Robert Galbraith novel, if you like that sort of thing.

::  All-around fab person Briana Mae Morgan wrote a play called Touch, and she posted it, one scene at a time, on her blog. Here’s Act I, Scene I. (It’s in two acts. I can’t vouch for it because I haven’t read it yet, but Briana’s awesome, so I’m sure it’s fine.)

::  Sara Letourneau on the astonishing masterpieces that are the three scores to the Lord of the Rings films, by Howard Shore. She names favorite cues and everything! Good stuff. That music is amazing and makes for great writing music as well. (That reminds me…write a post about music and writing….)

That’s all for now. See you around the Galaxy!

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What happens when you’re done?

So what do you do when you finish writing a novel? What happens after you publish it?

I can’t speak for every writer out there, but for me, the answer is clear: I start the next one.

There was a teevee show about ten years ago, called Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It was created by Aaron Sorkin, and was his first big project after The West Wing. In all honesty, it wasn’t very good, for a lot of reasons, and it only lasted a single season. But there were some wonderful moments in it, including one that’s my favorite.

If you didn’t see the show, it was about two men, a writer and a director who are creative partners, who are brought in to basically reboot a late-night teevee comedy sketch show (basically a fictional Saturday Night Live) that has gone off the rails and whose former showrunner had to be fired after a spectacular on-air meltdown. As they start work, the writer guy (played by Matthew Perry) sets up shop in the old showrunner’s office, and he discovers a digital clock on the wall that counts down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds to the next episode’s airing. It’s a constant reminder, in big red electronic digits, of the next deadline and the constant pace of time draining away toward that deadline. “Oh man,” Matthew Perry says. “No wonder he went crazy.”

The rest of the episode focuses on the production of that first new episode, with lots of struggles along the way, but in the end, the episode airs successfully despite the production difficulties. In the episode’s final shot, Matthew Perry is in his office, watching the show go on, and he’s smiling with his sense of accomplishment…until he glances at the big red digital clock, which is already ticking down to next week’s show.

That’s a little like how it feels to me when a project gets finished. I’m not really one to take long breaks from writing, so usually when I finish one phase of a novel’s life – first draft, first edits, second edits, proofing, design, publishing – I shift immediately into the next one. As soon as I finish something, I can feel the big red digital clock in my head, already ticking down on the next thing. Now, I don’t have a specific deadline in mind most times, but I do move on, sometimes within minutes.

Writing for me is almost compulsive. When I have a rare day on which I don’t write at all, I feel really weird about it – even during the bout of the flu I had this past February, during which I lost two days and felt well and truly awful about it. I suppose, in this regard, I’m wired like Anthony Trollope, whose writing regimen Stephen King describes thusly (in On Writing):

At the other end of the spectrum, there are writers like Anthony Trollope. He wrote humongous novels (Can You Forgive Her? is a fair enough example; for modern audiences it might be retitled Can You Possibly Finish It?), and he pumped them out with amazing regularity. His day job was as a clerk in the British Postal Department (the red public mailboxes all over Britan were Anthony Trollope’s invention); he wrote for two and a half hours each morning before leaving for work. The schedule was ironclad. If he was in mid-sentence when the two and a half hours expired, he left that sentence unfinished until the next morning. And if he happed to finish one of his six-hundred-page heavyweights with fifteen minutes of the session remaining, he wrote The End, set the manuscript aside, and began work on the next book.

Once in a while I think that maybe I should take a vacation from writing, but…well, how could I? I’ve got stories to tell! Some days I find the work harder than others, and some days I do procrastinate a little (I recently skipped an entire day on editing Forgotten Stars III just to finally catch up on some blog posts, so I could have something to post for once). But I do, pretty much, work each and every day, even if just to get 500 words written. Forward progress is forward progress, after all. And like I said, I’ve got stories to tell.

How about you all? How do you handle the “I’ve just finished” blues?

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Well, I got busy and then I got the flu and then…yada yada yada, I guess. However, if you recall, last month was “AuthorLifeMonth” on Instagram, so here are the rest of my entries!

Day 12 of #AuthorLifeMonth: Killed Darlings. This is how the first novel I wrote began. It was an Arthurian epic fantasy that told the story of Arthur's return to Britain in her time of need. I had a lot of nifty ideas for this story, some of which I stil

Day 12 was “Killed Darlings”. “Kill your darlings” is a common bit of advice for writers; it means that you can’t get overly attached to things in your writing, if removing them would make the writing better. It also means letting projects go, which is what this represents: my first attempt at writing a novel, an Arthurian fantasy called The Promised King. It was intended as a duology, and I actually got the first one, The Welcomer, finished and posted it online in blog form. But some stuff happened in the mid-2000s, and as way leads on to way…I doubt I’ll ever come back this way again. I did learn a lot from writing that book, though.

Next is Day 13, “Favorite Books in the Genre”.

Day 13 of #AuthorLifeMonth! Favorite books in genre. Here are two books each from SF, Fantasy, and horror/supernatural. These are all amazing books.
Here we have two books each from my preferred genres: fantasy, science fiction, and horror. I could take variants of this photo all day and still have books to use!

Day 14 was “Favorite Cover”. I figured this meant favorite cover of our own, but I only have two and I can’t possibly pick between them, so I went elsewhere: the wonderful cover for Nicholas Basbanes’s book A Gentle Madness, which is about book collecting:

Day 14 of #AuthorLifeMonth brings us to Favorite Cover. I love both of mine and they are meant to look as part of a larger set, so I'm interpreting this one as "favorite cover to someone else's book". This, the cover to Nicholas Basbanes's wonderful A GEN

Who wouldn’t want to read that!

Day 15 was “Swag”. All I have right now are business cards.

Day 15 of #AuthorLifeMonth: Swag! All I have right now are these business cards. I plan to have bookmarks printed later this year. Maybe buttons, too! #amwriting

Day 16 was “Where you write”. This photo is my workroom at the day job; I often use my thirty-minute lunch period as a writing session.

Day 16 of #AuthorLifeMonth! One of my main writing spaces is my worktable at The Store (home of the day job), where I've taken to using my 30-minute lunch breaks for writing. I also like cafes and libraries, along with the deck of my house. This year I'm

Yes, it’s cramped, but I do tend to do well in tight spaces. (Not that open spaces freak me out, or anything.)

Day 17 brought us “Where You Relax”. I love to kick back and read at home, but there’s also some very real spiritual revitalization to be found in the woods and forests and along the rocky streambeds of Western New York. I’ve always enjoyed hiking, but the last year or so, with the dog as my partner…it’s becoming nearly an obsession.

Day 17 of #AuthorLifeMonth: Where I relax. For me, it's all about the forests of WNY and Erie County. This is Sprague Brook Park, one of my favorite haunts, a bit farther away from Casa Jaquandor than most. Hiking in nature "regrounds" me, if that makes s

Day 18 was “Research”, so here’s a part of the background work for The Adventures of Lighthouse Boy: the poem “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes. Reading in the genre is research, for me; I like to get an idea of what kinds of tales can and have been told, as well as seeing if I can figure out various tricks of those trades.

Day 18 of #AuthorLifeMonth (which I missed): Research! I don't do a lot of direct research, in the usual sense. I look things up as I need them, or I do a lot of "grab bag" reading and let the brain do its witches' cauldron thing. I also try to read in th

That’s it for now. More to come, sooner than later!

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On “Forcing It”

I’m a firm believer in writing every day, even on the days when the mere thought of sitting down at the computer to write makes me want to stick my head in an oven. There are times when we just don’t want to do what we’re supposed to do, and when we face with a distinct lack of enthusiasm things that usually fill us with joy. It’s just too easy to let one “I’ll write tomorrow” become a sequence of them; once we lower the bar just a little, it’s all too easy to keep on lowering it. Next thing you know, you’re one of those “I only write when the Muse strikes me” folks, and except for the ones that are brilliant prodigies, those people usually don’t come to much in the writing world.

However, there are times when you simply can’t write. Maybe you’re traveling and you’re away from your computer all day. Maybe you’re going in for surgery. Or…maybe a very fast-moving bout of the flu comes along and knocks you completely on your ass for two days.

Guess which one of those happened to me this past weekend!

Yeah. Here’s how I documented my high degree of irritation in my Productivity Log:

February was mostly a good #amwriting writing month, except for those last two days. I'm on the mend, though: 780 words today! Hey flu, you can GFY now.

The symptoms started manifesting Saturday evening, and through Sunday it was clear that I was going through a wringer. That was the first day I didn’t write, because it was getting harder and harder to focus on anything other than avoiding coughing (by this time my throat was so raw that any cough felt like being stabbed in the neck). By Monday morning…oy. I spent most of Monday either in bed or on the couch, and by the time I dragged myself in front of the computer in the evening, nothing made sense and I couldn’t summon the energy to touch the keys. I quite literally couldn’t even force a few words out.

Hence the zeroes.

I was still quite sick on Tuesday, but by then I knew that I was recovering — this was a really fast-moving and fast-burning flu, as I’ve noted — so late Tuesday night, I took a go at it. Part of me was thinking “Dude, we’re not ready, don’t make us do this,” but the other part vetoed that part and so the struggle started. It wasn’t the easiest writing session I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t as hard as I had feared, either, and I got 700 words. Which is over my quota.

Today I went back to the Day Job, and I continue to mend, which is nice. I had my usual 6:00 am writing session as usual, for the first time since last Friday, and I hit quota again there, too. The only hiccup, really, is that I can’t do any editing work tonight on Forgotten Stars III because I did some editing work today during my lunch break and left the friggin’ editing notes on the current chapter there. But that might be a good thing, because you’re getting this post! I keep intending to post more frequently here. I have to get better at that…

…but now, I’m gonna go upstairs and watch some teevee with The Wife.

Situation returning to normal, though, and soon, all systems should be functioning!

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