Thanks NaNo.

But I really don’t think I’ll be done by November 12th. *chuckles* Of course, I don’t expect to be.

4500 words on day 1 was a nice start. But the general plan from here one is 2000 words a workday, save Thursdays, where if I can squeak out a thousand, I’m doing well. (Work is crazy for me then, and typically leaves my brain dribbling out my ears.) Then rack up 3k on the weekend. Of course, that still puts me at 20k at the end of next Sunday, and going over 50k on November 20th (the earliest validation day, as I recall).

The point is this: One of the things people rag on NaNo about is it being ‘speed writing.’ It really isn’t. 1500 words a day, every day, will get you close enough to 50k in a month to make it with a couple bigger days thrown in. That’s not a sprint. Not even close. That’s less than Stephen King’s maxim for ‘real writers’ in On Writing. It doesn’t require ramming speed recklessness. It simply requires consistent effort. Something which anyone writing novels really needs, since the Doubt Monster will otherwise come and swallow up your half-finished manuscript.

Sure, you’ll have to edit, so it really isn’t ‘done’ in terms of publication ready. But it’s a lot harder for the DM to critical hit that completed rough draft than it is the thing that’s one-third to half-finished. Messing with that, before you’ve seen how all the plotlines shake out, isn’t editing. It’s tinkering. Make editing its own phase. Separate from writing. It’s neater that way.

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Editing Project Finished.

My initial foray into the world of professional editing is complete. The last I *heard* the author was happy. But that was before I sent the final chapters on last night. *ducks under desk* You never can tell when you’re swinging that red pen around.

Now I need to get back to editing my OWN work. I’m going to make a final pass at The Iron Conqueror before I sit down and format it for publication. Then I should start having some official looking announcements and maybe even an Amazon page. *gasp* We shall see. I have one other work that will be ready when it gets a reverse cover image and blurb. I made the final run at that a while back. But I’ve wanted the Steampunk to me the lead all along, because I think it’s more market-friendly than my Historical Fantasy.

At any rate, that’s a project I get to strike off my to-do list. I haven’t had as much success with that lately as I’d hoped. Of course, when my current project is a 5 book epic fantasy, it takes a bit longer to get through than some of the other material. 😉 I need to do some book reviews when I have more time as well. I’ve read a few since my last review post. Some one item onto the list to replace the one that came off.

Book Review: The Widow’s House, Daniel Abraham

The latest entry in The Dagger and Coin series by author: Daniel Abraham finds the strong point of the series where it has been: Exceptional Characters. No one makes living, breathing, flawed, believable, and yet sympathetic figures like Daniel Abraham.

Geder is by turns bloodthirsty and compassionate, and believable in each role. When he makes his confession at the end of the book, my heart felt for him, despite everything. Cithrin goes through despair to find a weapon to use against the enemy. But one entirely different from that Marcus Westin and Kit sought. Even the Dragon, Inys, proves to be both more and less than expected.

Despite this, I found it slightly slower going at first for this book than the previous installments. It felt like a lull until the first battle. And then the plot begins to move, but never at a pace that even matches the 2nd and 3rd books of the series. This isn’t a bad thing, as this leaves room for the internal machinations on each side. It also allows a fascinating and intelligent discussion of markets and currency that most fantasy writing, even literary fantasy, would not be learned enough to indulge in. And it’s done entirely in character, and with legitimate character conflict, so it never feels like a ‘lecture.’

What knocks this book from 5 stars for me has nothing to do with the author as such. But the editing. It is, frankly: Slipshod. Duplicated words, misspellings that *spellcheck* would have caught, but the editors were too lazy to fix. After all the time Orbit (through their Overlords at Hachette) has spent telling us how important authors find their editors, and professional editing is, to turn out a work as POORLY edited by this in a major release is frankly pathetic.

I can always tell when a series has changed from ‘Investment’ to ‘cash cow’ in the eyes of the publishers. Because they stop caring about editing, since they know it’ll sell no matter what. Wheel of Time and Game of Thrones both contracted this illness, and both bloated, with WoT in particular becoming error-filled in the middle volumes. The errors Orbit let through are as bad as anything I found there. And it was only the skill of the author, over their incompetence, that makes this a Four Star book instead of one I angrily tossed across the room.

Something I’ve Discovered

Devoted Editing to two straight books in full rewrite mode saps the enthusiasm. I’m almost to the end of the second now. So there’s no reason to set it aside. But I don’t think I’ll do this again. Write one, rewrite one works better for me. Especially since I usually am editing a project while I write anyway. Though nothing as full-bore as I’ve done the last couple months.

I started compiling notes for Book 4 of the Hellenistic Fantasy. After the full-scale war of the last book, this one will be a bit more maneuver and counter, though with a dark adventure for a second plotline. Yalissa’s not-so-pleasant discoveries continue to accumulate. But at least she gets to ask questions in person this time around. Not sure she’s going to like the answers, though.

I made pilgrimage up to Sporting Park in Kansas City to watch Sporting KC throttle Toronto FC 4-1. It’s always fun to watch a game there. In fact, I’d call it the best venue for any sport in the country. And the team is the defending champs, so no reason to complain there, either.

But my real countdown is to vacation in Hawaii. Three weeks tomorrow. I lived there for three years back before Tarien Cole was a name to use. I’ve missed it often, but hadn’t had a chance to go back yet. It’ll be sad to miss the rainy, stormy, part of the year for sun and the beach. Oh darn. I may even get some writing done on it. If my wife will let me. 😉

Times Like These Remind Me

That if I wanted to do ANYTHING else, other than be a writer, I should probably do that. The frustration of having to salvage work I had finished. Real life illness and loss, and then work piling on top of that. I guess I can hope that with all the stuff that’s happened this month, there won’t be anything that can get in the way of NaNoWriMo.

I’ll be set up to finish the second Sword & Sandal over the Thirty Day Frenzy this year. And having gotten sick, I was able to do some reading last week. Specifically Under a Graveyard Sky by John Ringo. The first book of a fast-moving zombie story (28 Days Later style Infected-Living Dead). It’s a fun read. Before that, I’d read the second Verity Price novel, which was a good read. But not as fun as the first.

I’m supposed to write a couple short pieces this week. But I’m so far behind I haven’t had a chance to think about them yet. Maybe I will once I get the notes from my Sword & Sandal out of the way this weekend.

Oh, and can I say, the craziness of CONCACAF on Tuesday night was one of the most EPIC sporting events I’ve ever seen. Americans rooting for Panama. Mexicans rooting for the USA. Panama rooting for Costa Rica. And the US, with SUBS, rallying to win a game they had nothing but pride and auditions to play for, earning their best record in the Hex of all time. But when Graham Zusi scored that goal, it was complicated. I never want the US to lose. But Mexico missing the World Cup? oooo, that would be so beautiful. All I can say is GO KIWIS!

Salvaging August

A host of real-life issues kept kicking me in the head all month long. They call them the dog-days for a reason.

But I finished the first book of my Sword & Sandal series. And I like the story and all three main characters. (There are, of course, a host of additional characters, as befits any Epic Fantasy.) I went straight into the second book, tentatively titled Chosen in War. I’m into the second chapter of it, even though I didn’t have a great week writing.

I also finished reading two books this week, and I can safely say I recommend them both. Of course, one of them, The Tyrant’s Law, by Daniel Abraham, is the third in the Epic Fantasy The Dagger and Coin series. It’s a bit slower than the first two. But it develops the characters well and sets up a promising confrontation for the last two books. The other book was It was the Best of Sentences. It was the Worst of Sentences. It’s a simple, pithy grammar and style guide. I’ll recommend this over the style guide you’ve probably seen in classes and celebrates a half-century of telling people WRONG grammar advice.

I’m going to try to set up a Table of Contents for The Iron Conqueror to set it up for epub this weekend. Then I’ll give it a final once-over before sending it off. I wanted to get this done before now. But formatting is about as far from what I wanted to do with all the other stuff as I could imagine.

For a bad month, it wasn’t unproductive. That has to count for something, right?

 

Well, that was an odd way to finish a book.

I tend to be a very linear writer. I have an outline, I think I know where the story will come out when I start it, and I move through pretty much in sequence. Very rarely has jumping ahead to write something and then ‘filling in the gaps’ between worked for me. In fact, just the opposite. Because now I’ve committed my characters to a particular set of actions that must follow, regardless of what their inclinations would suggest. Whereas in the way I typically work, if I see a player fighting against the outline, as it were, I can introduce a new set of circumstances, or a tweak to the flow, and adjust for their ‘grievances’ as it were.

But this time, I got to the end of the sword & sandal, and I realized I liked the symbolism and foreshadowing more than if I included one more chapter with my Legion Commander. But I wanted another chapter with him ‘before’ the end, to show where their plotline was heading. So I backed up and added a scene at the beginning of the final third, rather than at the end.

Then I was going to add a prologue, but it’s one of those moments where I like it when I think about it. But when I start putting it on the page, I say ‘meh.’ So I’ll leave it for now, and maybe things will firm up for one as time goes by. Or maybe not. 😉 In any case, it’s the strangest end for a book I’ve had. Of course, it’s always a little different when you write the ending of the early book in a series. I want a firm ending. But it has to be one that points ahead too. Even with my Steampunk, each book comes to pretty much a full stop. I don’t do cliffhangers or leave GIANT dangling plots. Rather I pick up where the world is from before, and begin to spin a new danger from that. (Though if I ever do a full-on war for the Steampunk series, that might change, hehe.)

So here I am, it’s almost September, and I just finished a book. If I start something new in the next couple weeks, it’ll probably run into NaNo, which means I might not be able to participate in it (not fair if I don’t have at least 50,000 words left, at least). On the other hand, going two months without writing would feel like cutting off my hands at this point.

I might sit down and redraft Clockwork Malevolence, the second Griffin Tales book. On the whole, the plot to that is probably the most convoluted of anything I’ve written. And I think I could make it a little less opaque, without taking away the twists, if I redraft. I’ll have to reread it and decide.

But still, I finished another rough draft. The story came out where it was supposed to. And I like the tale, even though the title isn’t leaving me all a quitterpated right now. I’m sure that will come in time. 😉

Because Grammar is Fun

Because Grammar is Fun

Editing The Iron Conqueror, I’ve danced on this question a few times. I own several grammars, and none of them have agreed on this. One of them even makes the amusing contradiction “As a general rule, use ‘s.”

Unless, and then the exceptions come. One of which was “If pronunciation becomes awkward.” (Arguably always true.) Another was, “If including the ‘s would create another syllable.” *facepalm* You either hiss it and sound like a snake. Or it’s another syllable!

So that source just threw out its own ‘rule’ in practice. Even the Grand Dominatrix of Grammar: Kate Turabian imposes multiple variations. And that’s all well and good if you’ve had the misfortune of writing a Thesis according to her slide-rule calculated form, as I have. But most of us, as AUTHORS are not interested in such self-flagellation for non-academic purposes.

So at the end of the day, what do I say on this? Meh. I use James’. But whichever way you do it, be consistent. It’s the only sane approach.

Flexing the Editing Muscles

I had significant distractions this weekend, so there was no chance of doing any new writing until a few moments ago. Thinking that tending to this might encourage my creative impulses, I (hunts for the next word) pluck at the keyboard and hope my brief discomfort provides you with solace, entertainment, or both.

We saw Despicable Me 2, and despite not thinking I would, I liked it. I also liked the interview with Steve Carroll where he said he had no great drive to do dramatic works, and enjoyed his comedic life. It’s always good to know what you’re good at.

The distractions that stole my focus (coming in threes that all start with the same letter), forced me to catch up in my editing on the project that convinced me to begin this blog. What would that be? Ah! I’m not ready to tell quite yet. But I did make five chapters’ worth of progress. I’m almost halfway done with the rewrite, and I touched up the map to fix earlier errors and generally aid in its readability.

I also viewed the preliminary of the reverse cover last night, and I like it. Now I have to write the blurb to go with it. But I am getting excited. *wrings hands together with evil glee*

Editing is less enjoyable than writing to me, but easier. I suppose I have a good idea as I go through how I wanted the words to sound, and as I reread them, it becomes easier to put them in place than when I was just trying to get them on a page the first time around.  I can’t say there’s anything ornate about my process. I don’t tear each sentence down and start it over. I do drop a lot of dialog tags, as a goodly percentage of them are explained by accompanying action. I also try to set the flow so that I alternate between name and pronoun, and only add in a third descriptor when it’s either appropriate, or there are simply too many uses of the character’s name in succession. Or when 2 people are speaking of the same gender, then I may drop “she” from one, and include a title of some sort.

I just answered a question about Book 2 of my Sword & Sandal’s plot as I wrote this. One of my problems was why a certain character would stay in a place as long as I had her. What about her quest if she’s staying there. Just now it hit me that she sees a way to end her quest prematurely. To fix things before they get out of hand.

Does it end well? Welll, it is book 2 of an intended 5, you take a guess.

Still, that’s a ways away, seeing as I’m not halfway through the first book. If you want to meet the characters from that, you can find one story here: http://fav.me/d6bpie2, and the other here: http://fav.me/d68o3n5

On a completely unrelated note, good to see Landon Donovan on the pitch and playing well for the USMNT. Sure, it was Guatemala. But while I agree LD should have had to play his way back into the squad, we’re going to need him in Brazil.