Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A big test

Today I'm being tested. I have grocery shopping to do, I need to cook dinner tonight, and we need to go through our lease. This means that I need to get in writing whenever I can. And I might just have to work late.

All I know is that I want to get through, at the very least, chapter 10 today. And I'm still working through chapter 9.

Now, since we don't have anything for breakfast, we're going to get food. And yes, I know it's late for breakfast. I'm starving!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesday Trip!

A group of us went up to a park in the mountains this afternoon. We had hot dogs and bratwursts! Now, I know what you're thinking. "Giles, don't you have editing to do?"

Well, yes! And I got chapter 8 finished. And I got started on 9. Things are coming together.

I'm also excited because we planned a camping trip for July 12. I ratcheted up the intensity on my self-imposed deadline to be finished with this round of editing before that day. No matter what. That means I have to stay up late if that's what it takes. Work weekends, if I need to. And I'm still going to get daily blog posts up, and go to work when they call me in.

Anyway, Hell's Kitchen is on... so I'll see you all tomorrow :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Monday Monday!

I love editing... sometimes. Today, however, I'm working on a couple of difficult chapters. Five really got me stuck, but I worked through it. Now six is giving me the same problems, and it's too hot to think. I'd love to just power through it, like I did with one through four, but that would end badly.

I have very little to say today, and I don't know what I'm going to talk about this week, but everyone should try to have a great week! Do something fun, and do something productive. If both of those turn out to be the same activity, then that's awesome!

Personally, I think my wife and I will go on a bike ride today. Happy Monday!

Friday, June 25, 2010

TGI Frickin' F

I tell you what, I am VERY grateful for the extra work this week at my day job. I honestly did not expect to work much this week, and next week really could be slow. The only down side is that, with the three baseball games my buddy took my wife and me to, I didn't have ANY energy or free time. So I couldn't get up early to work on my book.

I did get almost half of chapter 5 edited, but next week I'll be back at it. I have another work day today, and it may only be a half day, but I have too much to catch up with to bother sitting down to edit... especially when I'm still so groggy I'd probably ruin the chapter rather than fix it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How to write a book:

On the forums, one of the most common pieces of advice you can find is how to write a book, and why your method is wrong (again, I won't say which ones because many of the people on the forums are nice, it's just the people who stand out that I'm mocking right now). Guess what... they're all wrong! If their method doesn't work for you, it doesn't mean you'll fail, it only means you need to find your method.

I've written posts about how I write, and many, MANY writers have written articles on how to write, so if you're new, or you're looking for another way to approach this craft, just do a Google search. My best advice, though: don't listen to any failed "authors". And by that I mean people who are bitter that their only publishing credits are self-published titles that sold less than half of the print run.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Work again...

I just got the call to head in to work. My quick update: I got chapters 1-4 edited and revised yesterday. I planned on getting at least 5 and 6 done today, but now I have to work. I only got about 3/4 of the way through chapter 5.

Ah well, I'm definitely grateful for the opportunity to earn a living.

Monday, June 21, 2010

How I deal with feedback

I know it's a big deal to get someone else to read my work and give me feedback on it. I value those individuals very highly, and I KNOW that I wouldn't be able to make my books what they need to be without their critiques. But there's more to getting and using feedback than just looking over my beta readers' notes.

First I have to make sure that I'm comfortable with the story. After all, I don't want to send out a book that more than likely undergo serious changes. Any improvements that I can make on my own are gotten out of the way before I seek help. This is also important because most of the people who do the critiquing don't have a lot of free time, so their probably only going to have the time to read through it once. I never want to waste their time and mine by giving them a version of the story that will provide useless notes.

When my critiquing friends are doing their work, I try to take time off... you know, play some video games, read a book or two, send out query letters... that kind of stuff.

Then I get the feedback notes! My first reaction (after biting back untrue comments about the reader's parentage) is to keep the notes in my e-mail folder until I actually sit down to edit. I'll glance over the notes now and then, but I like to tackle them one at a time, focusing on the areas the notes point out as problematic. I go through each one in order (I'm a little OCD that way), and sometimes I make several passes at each section to make sure I get it right.

I follow all of that up with my own read-through, making more edits as I go, and if I'm happy with the book, I start querying. Otherwise, I find more people willing to read through and give me more critique notes...and repeat the process.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Long WEEK

I got called in to work yesterday, too. So that's why I haven't had the time to make any real updates. I shouldn't be working Monday, so I'll give a more meaningful update then. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lot's of hard work

Yesterday I got called in to the day job. I expected to be there today, but they wanted me there a day early instead. So I didn't have time to do ANYTHING. I spent the entire day moving things around the warehouse and adjusting shelves (like the ones you see at CostCo or Sam's Club).

Today I finished reading through Todd's WiP. It's really good, especially for a first draft. Look forward to it. Sure, there were some things that needed to be worked on, but it's only a first draft. Knowing Todd, they'll be fixed soon. And the book will be one that you'll need to pre-order so that you can read it AS SOON as it's released.

I also got a bunch of notes back from a couple of my beta readers. That's awesome because I want to get back to revisions on my novel. Not this week, though. Today I have a killer headache, and tomorrow I need to clean my apartment. It's WAY overdue. But on Monday, I'll jump into revisions like a hot man jumps into a cold pool!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I know, it's not how it's supposed to be done.

I'm thinking of starting my query for my WiP. No, the book isn't finished, yet, but hear me out. I REFUSE to send out the query before this book is complete. And so should you. However, as I come to the end of Todd's WiP, I find myself with a lot of free time. I'm still waiting for beta readers to get back to me. I don't want to do edits until I get their perspective on my book. So, since writing query letters takes me so long, I figured I'd get a jump start on it.

I know I'll fight the process from beginning to end (not because I don't want to, but because I'm just not good at it), so this will just keep me on a tighter schedule and allow me to send the book out with a high-quality query letter at a decent time. It will also give me the chance to reexamine the overall plot of the book, give me some perspective on the plot, and I'll have a better idea of how to move forward with my edits. I think it will be the most productive thing I can do with my time while I wait for those readers to get back to me.

Especially since I'm still not ready to write Flatiron City.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Are you scared?

No? Good.

That's half of the impression I got from Twilight. Yes, I finally got around to educating myself. Not by reading the book, of course. I've been listening to it on CD. My conclusion? Well, I haven't reached the end yet. I'm more than three quarters of the way through, though, and I still don't see any plot. All I hear is a constant Verizon-like repetition of Edward asking "Are you scared?" and Bella responding, "No. You're beautiful, and dazzling."

I found her use of the word "was" to be too constant. I know there are places where this word is the only option, but different sentence structures that require her to use active verbs would make the story itself more engaging.

Oh, and adverbs and adjectives are our friends...just like salt on french fries. But you know what happens when you use too much? It becomes over-salted! Her adverbs and adjectives are just too strong, and in my opinion, it's killing the story.

I can't give it a real review, partly because I'm listening to the audio and I'm not finished with it, and partly because I just don't know what's going on. I know I can't really be fair, either. I don't think the book is bad, but I don't think it's really that good. At least, it could have been better.

Oh yeah, are you scared yet? No? Well you should be. I'm dangerous!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Weekend!

Okay, almost. Yesterday, I managed to write 3 query letters! And this morning, I already got one rejection :( Not to worry... I still have three that have not been replied to, and I have a second book that I'm writing that will hopefully open doors that my first book has not.

Beta readers are chugging their way through my WiP right now, and I'm chugging my way through Todd's. But the biggest news for today is... WORLD CUP STARTS TODAY! The one game that I REALLY want to see, though? Yeah, it's tomorrow at 12:30. United States vs. England. And guess where I'll be...somewhere between Hot Springs South Dakota and Denver.

I'm hoping I can get to Cheyenne in time for the second half, at least. :P

Well, have a great weekend. I'll see you all on Monday!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lost in thought

Yesterday I suddenly realized how many blogs out there are written by aspiring authors. I wonder, sometimes, why am I writing this blog every day? I know it's important to build a "following" so that when it comes time to get published, I can tell agents and editors that I already have a fan base. But recently I haven't written anything that helps me create much of a fan base.

Sure, my book reviews have earned me a great deal of traffic, and I enjoyed writing them so much that I want to write more. But that's not what I do. I write fiction.

I'm kinda tired of parroting the same old writing advice, in part because I'm sick of reading it over and over and over and over again (but if you're new to writing, seriously, the advice is invaluable! Go read some!). At this point, I don't have much to add to the overwhelming stack essays on how to create engaging characters, how to create good conflict in your story, how to remain relevant to your audience, and so on.

I don't want to become a narcissist, either. Sure this blog is partly about my journey toward publication, but I want to have dialogues with my readers.

I'm just not sure what to blog about these days. Perhaps I'll write more shorts from Flatiron City and post them here. I may even take down that site and re-write some of the shorts that are up there. We'll see.

Today I need to run errands, send out at least one query letter, and read more of Todd's WiP.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

At last!

I got this version of the WiP done...and it's just over 45k words! :D That's 1k over my original goal (even though I want it to be longer...and it will be after I finish polishing it). Anyway, I got the latest edition off to my beta readers, and now I will take the rest of the week off from this project, send out a few query letters (maybe), clean the apartment, read more of Todd's WiP, and work the day job.

Speaking of the day job, I get to work a half day today, and then I'll be in all day Friday for a local show. After that, Emily and I are driving up to South Dakota to deliver equipment to a client up there. I'm SO happy that my wife is out of school for the summer because I didn't really want to make that drive by myself :)

The only bummer to this delivery is that I need to figure out a way to catch the England vs. US World Cup game on Saturday. I may check with my boss and see if it's alright if I stop along the way back to watch the game. Otherwise I need to see if someone will DVR it for me.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

What happened to my brain?

I started this week unsure of what my work schedule would look like. As a result, I've had difficulty focusing on my writing the last couple of days. Part of me expects to get called in to work, and the other part is desperately trying to get as much writing done as possible. I KNOW I'm working all day Friday, and that includes an over-night drive to South Dakota to make a delivery. But there's the possibility that I'll get pulled in to help out around the shop on Wednesday and/or Thursday. I just don't know if/when that will happen.

To top it off, my wife is on summer vacation. Since her work schedule makes it hard for us to spend time together during the school year, I want to spend all of my time with her now. But I also want to get my WiP finished by the end of June or the middle of July.

I'm writing this blog with the hope that my brain will mellow out after I've spilled my thoughts. But I have so much to do, and I REALLY want to move forward with this book, especially since I'm almost done with this draft! Oh how I long for simpler days...but then again, simpler days never gave me the opportunity to write as much as I've been able to recently.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Review: Changeless by Gail Carriger

In her first book, Soulless, Gail Carriger introduced her readers to a Victorian London that only Bram Stoker and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle could have concocted on a weekend together in the Scottish Highlands. While Changeless is only her second book, her voice rings out over the Fantasy landscape with a unique and talented individuality that will set her apart from other writers for decades to come.

One of the difficulties of writing a sequel is re-introducing characters and events from the first book in a way that keeps the reader from growing bored or throwing up their hands and growling, "I already know that. Move on with THIS story." However, Carriger handled that challenge with the skill and grace of her own Lord Akeldama, touching only briefly on past events to remind her readers about them and then immediately relating them to the story at hand.

While some novice authors may stick to a familiar formula that glares at the reader throughout the story, Carriger abandoned the pattern Soulless followed to create something new for her world. Her characters, as a result, were required to mature as people, stretch their own talents, and face new challenges that forced them to become stronger men and women.

And just as with her previous novel, Changeless only features scenes that are relevant to the story. Even the "side-plot" scenes that appear to be unrelated at first glance eventually integrate themselves into the main story-line.

Personally, my wife and I have been reading this book together (okay, we swapped from time to time) and we couldn't help but quote the book to each other whenever something gut-busting and hilarious appeared on the page. As a result, it took me a long time to get through this book. I laughed so often throughout this adventure that I'm surprised I haven't lost my voice.

My only disappointment is that I have to wait several months before I can read Blameless (the next installment in the Parasol Protectorate). Seriously, go pick up this book. You will laugh yourself silly while enjoying a tense, edge-of-your-seat story that will keep you surprised up to the very end.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Short post!

It's Friday! And I have to work the day job :) As a part time employee who likes to have enough income to pay my bills AND do fun stuff, that makes me happy. Yes, I'd still rather make money with my writing, but I'm very grateful to have a job right now. Especially in this economy.

Anyway, I have to go in early, so I don't have time to say much. Just have a great weekend, and I'll see you all on Monday!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Oh, Twitter!

When I first signed up for twitter, I did it to follow two people. Soon there-after, I realized I could actually use it for networking, and I started to follow more people who interested me, shared posts on writing, and who I could converse with about this whole writing thing. I don't do twitter just to get people to follow me, and as a rule, I don't typically follow people who post about things I'm not really interested in.

There are people who I've followed (using the follow-back policy) who would update every five minutes with whatever their child was doing at the moment, followed by what they would rather eat instead of writing, followed by... you get the idea. I know you can build lists, but when I log in to twitter, I want every update I'm interested in to be on my front page. I don't want to sift through pages to see what everyone is doing.

My other big policy is that if I follow someone, I do it ONLY because I want to see what they have to say. If they follow me back, great. Hopefully don't annoy them with some of the more random statements I make. But when people follow me, and then unfollow, and then refollow me just to get me to follow them back, it's kind of annoying. Don't follow me to get me to follow you.

I don't really care about how many people follow me. If you like what I have to say, great. If not, feel free to unfollow. And if I like what you have to say, I'll follow you, even if you don't follow me. :D

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Nervous Twitching

Okay, not quite nervous twitching, but I'm getting a little...um...what's the word? Concerned, I guess, that my WiP might not be long enough. It's just under 40k right now, and by the end of the day it'll jump over that mark, but I want to break 50k, at least. If I add anymore plot, though, the story is just going to wander in circles and get boringly long.

I know I'll get something figured out, and when I hear back from all of my beta readers (still waiting on two. One's on vacation, the other one probably has more important things to do at the moment) I'll have a better idea of what needs to be added to the story.

Now that I slept in, got a blog post up, and read some other blogs, it's time to hit my book! More critiquing for Todd today, but that will come later.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

I did it again...

I sent out another query letter. Which always makes me nervous. I'm a perfectionist, and if the letter won't guarantee publication, then I have doubts about it. I know it's ridiculous, but that's just the way my mind works. It didn't stop me from sending the letter out! I think it's actually a good letter this time, too. In fact, you can read it in the newly updated Synopsis page.

Last Friday, I sent my WiP out to a few friends to give it a once-over. One friend actually got back to me within HOURS. (While I'm on the subject, I want to thank J. L. Jackson for reading over my book. Drop by her blog and say hi!) Anyway, after thinking about the second draft of my novel, I came to the conclusion that it's still too short. I spent half the weekend mulling over ways to make it longer without just filling in with pointless narrative, and I came up with another plot to add to the story. This isn't a sub-plot, either. I realized that the main plot, while full and complete on its own, isn't complex enough to make for a great book. It would work for a Middle Grade novel, but not Young Adult...and this book is too violent to be MG. Today (and the rest of this week) will be filled up with these re-writes/additions. I'm excited! It makes my end-of-June [self-imposed] deadline harder to reach, but I think I might be able to do it.

Oh yeah, and I have to get Todd's WiP finished by the end of the week so that he'll be able to jump in on his second draft when he gets back from vacation.