Friday, September 28, 2012

Three Days!

Only three days left to enter the Sensory Deprivation Contest!  There are still 19 slots open, too.  Get your submissions in, and you could win a giftcard or a critique.

Since it's Friday, I'll leave you with that reminder.  Have a great weekend, I'll see you Monday with a new Charity of the Month!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Never Miss Deadlines!

I read a story yesterday that gives me even more motivation to meet deadlines when I get a publishing contract.  (Click the link to find out why Penguin is suing several of their authors for their advance... plus interest!)

I don't know how big this story is, and I have no idea what the outcome will be.  But as someone who works for a contract company (we are contracted by clients, they pay us and we do work), I'm actually offended by the lack of productivity from these writers.

I understand that writers, especially writers who have full time jobs alongside their writing careers, may miss deadlines.  But some of the authors named in the lawsuit are 9 years late on their books.  9 YEARS!

From what I remember (and I could be WAY off base, here), it's not uncommon for established authors to miss deadlines.  I don't know how the money situation works out for the authors (whether they forfeit some cash or not), but I do know it makes a lot of work for the authors, editors, and marketing department.  And they're not four or more years late!  I don't have a lot of conclusive evidence, but a story that stands out to me is Jim Butcher's Ghost Story.  They had a release date, a cover, and even a first-draft approval.  But something bothered Butcher and/or the editors.  As a result, Butcher (who said he didn't want to release a crappy book) delayed the release of Ghost Story.  And I'm sure it sucked for everyone, including the fans.  (I know I hated having to wait.)

Personally, I hate being late.  I ALWAYS want to be on time.  Or early.  And as a writer, I can't imagine getting paid to write a book that I won't write.  I'm not saying these authors intended to take money without producing a manuscript.  But at what point do you admit to the publisher that you're not going to be able to produce the book they paid for?  When do you renegotiate for, perhaps, a different book?  Or when do you just return the money with a sincere apology?

As an outsider, I clearly don't have any answers to those questions.  I don't know how it works when you have a contract and a paycheck.  I'd love to hear from those of you with more insider information, and I'm interested to see how this unfolds.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Big, Long Sigh

I honestly wish I had more to say today.  But this is a good thing, and a result of working hard on my writing.  The most I can say at this point is, "Stick with it!"

I'm making a lot of progress, and I'm loving every minute of it!  Brewing is taking up some time, too, and I'm pretty sure the world is coming together in a way that makes my life a lot of fun.  Sure, there are some challenges I still face, but after years and years of hard work, I'm in a spot in my life where I feel like I can mentally relax.

Because there's no way to physically relax with how much I have going on.  Still, a good thing!

Now go!  Get some writing done :D

Friday, September 21, 2012

Loving Your Book

The other day, one of the agents I follow on Twitter (I forget who) asked a great question (I'm paraphrasing, but the point stands): Are you sending your pages because they're the best they can be or because you're sick of reading and editing them and just want to get "this part" over with?

Over the last week and a half, I've been rereading and editing my book.  I have my reasons, and I'm not going to go into specifics right now, but suffice to say I NEEDED to reread the pages.  What did I learn?

First of all (and I mean this in all serious humility) my writing doesn't suck!  Is this book going to win awards?  I have no idea.  Will it be a bestseller?  I can't see into the future, so again, I don't know.  But do I want to tear out my eyes every time I pull it up on the screen?  NO!  I ENJOY reading my book.

There is a part of me that wishes I didn't have to read it again, but not because it's a painful process.  I'm still in love with this book.  I still enjoy sitting down to edit it.  The story, the prose, the characters all make me excited!  But even Harry Potter (which is one of my all-time favorite series of books and WAY better than anything I've ever written) needs to spend time on the shelf, away from my eyes so that I can return to it one day and relive the pleasure found on those pages.

What's the point I'm driving at?  You should love your writing!  Your ideas should make you excited.  When you think about sharing it with an agent, a critique partner, your friends and family, you should be overjoyed!  Just like when you told them about that great novel that inspired you to sit down and write in the first place!

If you get sick every time you sit down to go over your pages, there might be something wrong with it.  I learned that the hard way with Defender of the Crown.  And I didn't see what was wrong with that book until after I finished The Dragon's Nephew.

Make sure you're genuinely in love with your book.  If that's not the case, maybe it's time to break up.  You don't want to spend the rest of your life with a book you hate.  Because you HAVE to read it at least half a dozen more times before it's published.  You won't have any choice in that.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Time is Running Out

The contest is only open for 11 more days.  There are still 19 slots open, and I will not proceed with judging unless there are at least 4 entries.  So go read the rules, write a VERY short story, and send it away!

And don't forget the prizes :).

Monday, September 17, 2012

How to make time

It's funny how much I've been able to accomplish over the last several weeks, even without giving up other commitments.  Sure, I haven't played video games or watched TV as much as I used to, but other than that, I've still been able to have fun.  And with my wife, no less!

Something my friend Aaron Ritchey said at the conference really stood out to me (and I'm paraphrasing here): if the amount of free time I have is more time than it takes to boot up my computer, I'm going to sit down and work.

That's how I've made time to write.  Any time I that I have ten minutes or more (because I'm not going to boot up my computer for less than five minutes writing), I sit down to work on my book.

Okay, in all honesty, I'm not NEARLY that efficient with my time, but I'm getting much better than I used to be.  Remember, we all need to spend some time to rest, but if you spend an extra twenty minutes a day writing that you would otherwise spend flipping through the news, goofing off, or anything else that takes away from your writing time, then you could add almost two and a half hours a week to your schedule!

So what about all of you?  What have you given up in order to make more time to write?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Um... Stuff...

Life happened. I couldn't access the internet all day, so there's no real update. See you Monday! Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Paying Attention

It's ALWAYS important to pay attention to what you're doing, even in the realm of writing.  When you're driving, distractions can kill (DON'T TEXT!).  When you're working a crane at a construction site, distractions can kill.  When you're baking a cake, distractions can kill... your cake.  And the same is true with manuscripts.

I say this because I recently received a rejection from someone whose query guidelines ask for 50 pages of the book.  That's basically a cold-query with built-in partial.  Now there are many reasons why I could've received a rejection, but if forced to guess, I would have to say that I missed some GLARING continuity errors!

How could this happen?  I wasn't paying attention.  I found these errors just this week while going through and making changes based on feedback I received at the conference.  Sure, they only commented on the first ten pages, but other people want to see more of my work.  I figured it wouldn't hurt to go through and make sure it's as clean as it possibly can be.  And I found some issues.

Missing words or misplaced commas (if they're few and far-between) may not do a lot of harm in the long run, but I felt like a complete newbie when I found sentences that pointed back to conversations I wrote out of my book.  Honestly, if I was an agent considering that work, I would've rejected it, no matter how solid the rest of the writing was.

Again, I only got a "Dear Author" response, so there could be many reasons why I didn't get a full request.  But poor writing is always a good indicator.

Now lest you think that I'm here to complain, I'm not.  I'm excited because people DO want to read my book!  And I'm laughing about the mistake I made because it was an easy fix, and I can only blame myself.  Beating myself up would be a waste of time.  I learned my lesson, and I hope to pass on a grain of wisdom to all of you.

Now I'm off to work.  I'll pay attention today because I'm probably going to be driving a truck.  Or operating a forklift.  The only deaths I plan to cause will be fictitious characters in novels that I write.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Book Review: Thomas Redpool Goes to Hell by Todd Newton

Thomas Redpool Goes to Hell is a religious satire by my friend, Todd Newton.

It begins on an elevator ride down to Hell with what should be a completely unrelatable character who saw sins in the Bible as more of a "to-do" list than a "do not" list.  Throughout the narrative, Redpool's innermost thoughts confirm that he is the worst kind of human being and deserves every bit of suffering he might receive.  But the narrative voice and well-thought-out characterization kept me rooting for Redpool up to the very end.  At not point did I think to myself, "You know, this guy needs to be punched in the face."

The overall plot intrigued me, as well.  I won't ruin it for you, but the twists and turns it took kept me engaged, and I found satisfaction in a wrap-up that left no dangling threads or unanswered questions.

As far as satire is concerned, I laughed at a few jokes, but it wasn't as funny as I'd hoped.  I know other readers found it funny, so I may have missed the jokes.  And for the record, I did not find a single page of that book to be offensive.

Overall, I think Thomas Redpool Goes to Hell is a good book.  Would I recommend it?  That depends.  I certainly wouldn't warn anyone to stay away from it, but as such a niche book that deals with what is still considered a touchy subject, I think I would have to know your tastes before I told you, "Go get it!"

Personally, I enjoyed it.  And if you like satire, go ahead and pick it up.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Conference time!

I'm getting ready for the RMFW Colorado Gold conference.  I'm excited because this my second year, and I know more people who will be there.  I don't get to see other writers in person very often (except for my buddy Todd, but we rarely talk about writing.  And my critique group, but we don't get to socialize that much).  I'd originally planned on writing a review of a book I just finished, but I can't concentrate this morning because of the conference.  So that'll come on Monday.

In other news, the contest is still up and running, and all 20 spots are still open.  I'll send a confirmation email back to all entrants, so if for some reason you don't get one, let me know in the comments and I'll work to fix whatever issues there might be.

Now I have to start getting my stuff together, so I'll see you on Monday!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Charity of the Month: Compassion International

One of the things I love about Compassion International is that they have so many programs that help so many different people.  I've been working with them for over seven years, and in that time I've had the opportunity to help out with AIDs relief, tsunami relief, malaria prevention, and a plethora of other programs that go a long way toward improving the lives of poverty-stricken families all over the world.

I'd encourage you to head on over to their site, look through their programs, and consider giving.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Executive Decision

I have decided to delay the post for Charity of the Month.  It's a holiday in the United States, I know many people are avoiding the internet, so we'll see you on Wednesday.  There WILL be a new charity on Wednesday!

Now I'm off to work on my WiP while brewing Pumpkin Ale.