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Posts Tagged ‘priorities’

NaNoWriMo is an annual event in which thousands of writers commit to writing 50,000 words in the month of November. (Actually, why November is something of a mystery to me. That’s a fairly busy, distractable time of year, but I’m not in charge.)

I’ve never done NaNo–and I’m not officially doing it this year, either. Mostly, this is because I know I can write that many words in a month when everything is right. BLOOD WILL TELL was like that.

Blood Will Tell Cover

I think I wrote that entire first draft (probably about 80,000 words) in six weeks. What a roller-coaster ride that was. But I also know that, for me, trying to force the words when something’s not right or the story just needs me to take more time with it won’t lead to anything productive.

But I feel like I need to give myself some more specific–and frequent–goals to really push me on WAR OF MAGIC.

WarMagicBlank

(I really need to go ahead and put the title on that cover.) NaNo breaks down to about 1667 words a day, which should be totally doable.

So, I’m unofficially doing NaNo this month. I’ve committed to posting daily check-ins for NaNo on one of the writers’ forums I belong to. That should help.

Of course, 50,000 words won’t finish the draft. I’m at about 30,000 words now and the previous books in the series have run over 100,000 words. But it’d sure take a big chunk out of it.

Wish me luck.

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Whew! Despite a couple of busy weeks, I’m on schedule to get THE IGNORED PROPHECY (sequel to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE) ready for beta readers next month.

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TIP is now down to 109,000 words. Just a little more cutting to do and a couple of scenes to revisit and it’ll be good to go.

Other than that:

  1. I’ve started the process to get THE SHAMAN’S CURSE made into an audio book through Audilble (ACX). I’ve even got my first audition.
  2. I’m just starting on what will eventually be my new writing space. Digital CameraLots to do before this will be ready, of course. I’ll be working from the top down, more or less. So I need to paint the ceiling and replace the malfunctioning ceiling fan. (I have the paint and the fan.) Then I think I’m going to sponge a pearl glaze on the walls, to cover up some of the unevenness in the paint. Also, you can’t see it very well in the photo, but there’s some sponged acanthus leaves in the corners. I want to add some more of that, too. Then the old carpet (at least fifty years old) has got to go. And finally, I can start rearranging the furniture. Still have to figure out what I’m going to do with that china cabinet. Oh, and one of the closets is going to become a built-in book case.
  3. I’m also preparing to put THE SHAMAN’S CURSE on Kindle Select. In general, I prefer to make my books available as widely as possible, but TSC has been selling orders of magnitude better on Amazon than anywhere else, so it makes sense to give this a try.
  4. Oh, and next week is WriteOnCon and the week after that the school year starts and I go back to work.

Better get back to work.

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I don’t want to speak to soon, but it looks like things might be stabilizing around here.

Oddly enough–and odd things do happen in old houses–it’s possible that at least part of my computer problems may have something to do with variations in the electricity. Both computers (even the one I would have sworn was dead) have improved when plugged in in a different room. That’s how I was able to recover my files earlier this week. Big sigh of relief.

I can’t leave whatever computer (both deskt0p models) I’m currently working on in the other room because the internet connection is here. (No WiFi here, yet.) But, that’s something that can be changed and I’ve been intending to set up an office in the other room anyway. So, it looks like those plans just may have gotten a higher priority.

Also, the reason I’m posting late today is that it looks like I’m actually about to rejoin the ranks of the employed (part time, anyway). That’ll make a huge difference around here. And, not coincidentally, still leave me time for my writing.

There are still a lot of things on my plate, but maybe, just maybe, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

So, now, it’s back to work on my current projects. And next time, hopefully, I’ll be able to actually post about writing.

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November is National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo for short or sometimes just NaNo. Thousands of people commit to write 50,000 words in a month or an average of 1667 words a day. They virtually disappear from any other writing communities for the duration. November is a very slow month on most writers’ forums.

I have never done NaNoWriM0–and no, I’m not doing it this year either. I don’t feel I need to. I proved to myself a few years ago that I can, in fact, write a novel in that space of time if the story is ripe and ready to be written. BLOOD WILL TELL was actually the first novel that was like that for me. It’s a heady feeling when a story comes together that way and writing it feels like opening a spigot and just letting it flow out onto the page (or the screen). But the truth is not all novels flow like that. And, even when they do, when a story is ready to just pour out, you have to write it while it’s hot or risk losing it (been there, done that, too). Somehow, those times when the story is just ripe for the picking never seem to happen in November for me.

In any case, I’m pretty firmly stuck in revisionville this November. I’m working on the second drafts of both BLOOD IS THICKER (about 90% done) and THE BARD’S GIFT (about 33% done). I also have three short stories that need revisions–“Becoming Lioness”, “The Seeker”, and one I can’t tell you the title of because, if I ever get back to it and find a better ending, it may be my next Writers of the Future entry. That one could use some polish but what it really needs is a good ending that doesn’t feel like it just sort of fades off into the sunset.

I expect to go back to writing a first draft at the beginning of next year. I’ve got a few stories brewing in the back of my head to choose from. Will it be the story I already have outlined (and I never do outlines)? Or the shiny new idea that twists all kinds of fantasy staples around and sets them on their heads? Or the fairy-tale retelling? I’ll have to wait and see what’s calling to me when I get there.

So, to all my writer friends out there who are doing NaNo: good luck. And I look forward to hearing from you and reading some of your novels on the other side.

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Well, by now I’d hoped to have e-published BLOOD IS THICKER, which is the sequel to BLOOD WILL TELL. That’s not going to happen until sometime early next year.

Partly that’s because I didn’t get to it as soon as I hoped, because the first draft of THE BARD’S GIFT took longer than expected. Partly it’s because the first draft of BLOOD IS THICKER is just very, very rough. It’s going to need a lot of work and I won’t release it until I’m happy with it, bottom line.

On a brighter note, I’m making better progress now that I’ve decided this first revision pass is going to be strictly to fix plot issues. That decision has freed me up to work a lot more smoothly and not get hung up on things that are basically cosmetics. Not that those craft issues aren’t important; far from it. It’s just that I can’t do everything at once on this one and that was keeping me from making any progress at all. Once the story is right, the cosmetic and mechanical issues will be so much easier to fix.

I have given a little thought to the eventual cover for this one in my spare time. Even looked at a few images. Having found that gorgeous magicl night sky for the background for the cover of BLOOD WILL TELL, I think the next two will also feature other kinds of magical skies–and that’s all I’m going to say about that for now. You’ll have to wait for the cover reveal.

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Well, unless lightning strikes, it looks like I’ll be in revision mode for most of the rest of this year. Being more or less the three-quarter mark of the year, it’s a good time to make plans and set goals.

  1. MAGE STORM: I actually completed the revisions on this ahead of schedule. I’ve got one reader for the revised version and I probably need to look for one or two more. Then, of course, incorporate anything coming from the revisions that I feel is right for the story. I’m feeling really good about this one. So I’ll also need to go back over the query and synopsis. This one is likely to go out to agents again early next year.
  2. BLOOD IS THICKER: I’ve started the revisions to this one. This is actually the first round of revisions and in places it’s probably one of the roughest rough drafts I’ve written in quite a while. I wrote the first draft early last year and had a few alpha readers on it, but I haven’t touched it since last May (busy with the first draft of THE BARD’S GIFT). Now I need to read through it and incorporate as many of the revision notes as I can. Then I’ll be able to see what to do with it next. This is the sequel to BLOOD WILL TELL.
  3. Time permitting, I have a couple of short stories I might take a second look at. “Infected With Magic” is the short story that spawned MAGE STORM. It also got me an honorable mention from Writers of the Future. I won’t undertake another round of revisions on it, though, unless I can figure out a better ending. Endings are still my Achilles heel when it comes to short stories. I can land a novel no problem, but short stories, especially ones under 5,000 words, are just a lot harder for me. I’m more likely to take another pass at “The Seeker”. I’ve gotten some feedback on this one recently and I think I finally have a better idea of what I need to do with it. We’ll see.
  4. There’s also a novelette, “Becoming Lioness”.  I’m going to put this one up to my writers’ group in October. After I shine up whatever they find, I’ll probably e-publish it. It’s an awkward length for traditional publication and it’s already been to most places I’d be willing to send it. It just came back from the last one after 230 days on submission.
  5. Then it’ll be time to get back to THE BARD’S GIFT and get it shined up for the writers’ group to read in January. Fortunately, that one is a pretty clean first draft. It needs the usual (for me) things added to it–antagonists motives and a stronger presence of the antagonist, setting descriptions, etc.–but I think the draft will stand pretty well without major plot changes. At least until after I get a few reader reactions.
  6. If I just get an itch to start something new, I’ve got the outline for THE SHAMAN’S CURSE/MAGIC’S FOOL (I don’t know which title I’ll choose for the third time around) to play with.
  7. I also really need to use this time to set up a marketing plan for the things I’ve e-published. Something I really should have done first, I know. But I know me and I knew I wouldn’t do it without some skin in the game. Now that my head’s not completely in the first draft of THE BARD’S GIFT every time I sit down at the computer, maybe I can make some headway on this. I’m going to have to start laying out concrete, short-term goals to get it done. Marketing was never my favorite subject.

Well, that ought to be enough to keep me out of trouble for a while.

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If you’re here looking for my GUTGAA Pitch Polish entry, go here.

I’m within sight of finishing the first draft of my YA alternate history, THE BARD’S GIFT, probably next week. So it’s time to look up and start thinking about what I’ll work on next, while the first draft cools a bit.

I have plenty of choices. Revisions to MAGE STORM are certainly at the top of the list. I have another story in first draft that I need to get back to, BLOOD IS THICKER, the sequel to BLOOD WILL TELL. And there are a couple of short stories that I need to polish up. I have a pretty good idea what to do with all of those stories. And that’s certainly enough to keep me busy until I can go back to work on THE BARD’S GIFT.

But, even though I may not start working on it yet, there’s one more story I’ll at least be thinking about as I try to figure out what to do next. This story was my first completed novel (if you don’t count the thing I wrote in college–and I don’t). In that incarnation, as THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, I thought it was a mainstream fantasy. Now, that version has so many serious flaws, I’m not even going to try to list them here, but, in spite of those flaws, I still love the characters and the whole arc of the story (which was always intended to be a series).

Therefore, last year about this time, I started a rewrite, this time as middle grade. I called it MAGIC’S FOOL and had even started the sequel, MAGIC’S APPRENTICE. The original story had to be changed, of course. Some elements had to be dropped and in order to tell a complete story in about half the length I had to choose a different central conflict. I like the results and was planning on going back for another round of revisions and then polish it up.

That was until WriteOnCon, where I found out that agents and editors don’t want stories with main characters betweeen twelve and fourteen years old. Bummer. My main character in MAGIC’S FOOL was thirteen. (He had started out as fifteen in THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.)

So now, I have to go back to the drawing board and decide what to do with this story. It’s not an easy choice, like MAGE STORM, in which I can easily change or delete a couple of elements and make the protagonist younger, say around eleven. Thirteen was already pushing the limits on just how young this character can credibly be.

So, as far as I can see right now, my choices are:

  1. “Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead.” Just ignore this age limit or maybe delete the one or two references to the protagonists age and go ahead with it as it is. This feels a little like trying to swim upstream (even more than is normally the case).
  2. Keep the story as it is now (more or less) and just make the main character a bit older. Go back to fifteen as he was in the original. To do this credibly, the story would have to be expanded by about half again as much (from around 50,000 words to somewhere around 75,000 words). There are things I could expand. There are also a couple of subplots that could easily be added–and which would add depth to the overall plot. I’d be betting that agents and editors really mean it when they say they want boy YA stories.
  3. And the third possibility would be to go back to the original story line and central conflict. I’d still have to rewrite it, of course. That would actually be better and easier than trying to revise it. This version has what may be a more satisfying central conflict. That’s a draw, frankly. Now, I could still go two ways with this. I could still try to make it YA. There really aren’t any plot elements that are inappropriate for YA, although I might handle one of them a bit differently. Or I could just leave that alone and let it be a mainstream (adult, but not in a sexy way) story.

I’ll be giving this some thought as I work on the other revisions I’ve got stacked up.

 

 

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