Friday, January 31, 2014

The End

Everyone says that the middle of the novel is the toughest. I discovered that for me it was another part.

The End.

Once I got the story rolling I could just go on forever. The characters don't want to stop. They take the wheel and roll.

Sticking to the story outline I got to the end of the story but how and where to tie it off?

In this case it is very important because going in the reader knows there will be a sequel. It has to end at a logical story point. But it also has to end in such a way that the reader WANTS to return for the sequel.

--It was a tough job. I hope I managed it.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Coffee

I love my coffee.

As I write this it is 5:35am and I am sipping an excellent fresh cup of coffee.

I try to keep myself to one pot of coffee per day.

I do my blogging for an hour  early in the morning and I work on my book in the late afternoon after work.

I Love the days when I can sit in my bathrobe, drink coffee and write away sipping hot cuppa-Joe!

Yesterday I had one of those days when I was just not in the mood. I was longing for the Zombie Apocalypse so I could shoot people in the face that so desperately deserve it!  Instead of eating comfort food I should have had coffee and started my  Zombie Novel!

--Time for another cup...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Maps as a Tool

Middle Earth from The Lord of the Rings
I love maps.

I'd completely wallpaper a room in the house with maps if I could get away with it. I'd love a map room!

Anyway, I use maps a lot as a writing tool.

It is good to know how long it would take a character to travel somewhere on foot or horse back or in a car.

It helps me know what they may see if they look to the horizon, the weather or even the moon(s) in the sky. Even floor plans and building layouts help me sort out action and business.

--I love maps. You should too. Love them NOW!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Writers Workspace

I think that the place you write is very important. Here is a few features I like in a good workspace:
  • Minimized distractions. No TV. No Facebook. 
  • Be comfortable.
  • I like to play music that is inspiring.
  • No open apps except Scrivener.
  • I limit my Internet to research for my book.
  • I set aside 2 hours at a time the same time of day, everyday.
That is a photo of my den at home. The funny thing is, I don't write there. I sit in my recliner with my laptop, literally in my lap.

--I am sitting there now!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Killing Them Softly

What kind of killing will you write?
I kill a lot of characters. I mean LOTS.

Lots of different kinds of characters die in lots of different ways. I have murders, even mass murders, accidents, heroic sacrifices, old age, combat causalities and even assassinations.

I had included a lot of friends in my novel that I would introduce and then kill. It was fun writing them. On the edit phase they were cut out though.

Every killing in my story has to be for a reason. Does it forward the plot? Does that murder develop the character of the murderer or even the victim or witness? Every different way people die can be useful in different ways.  Does it establish conflict? They can show the depth of evil of a character, they can show heroic sacrifice, fragility, victory, and many other things.

--In fact, every paragraph needs to be as meaningful.



Sunday, January 26, 2014

Quotes of the Week

“Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
― Mark Twain

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”
― Saul Bellow

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
― Mark Twain, The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain

“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it.”
― Lloyd Alexander

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
― Sylvia Plath

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
― Ana├»s Nin

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”― Robert Frost

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Can't Find My Damn Camera

I bought a really nice Nikon digital SLR camera with a ton of bells and whistles.

I had the idea that I might try to take a few photos that could be candidates for a my book covers.

I even have a full set of studio lights including the silver umbrellas and remote flashes, and gel lighting and backdrops.

But I can't find the damn camera! Oh the humanity! Photography was to be my excuse to get out of the house and away from the computer.

--Maybe in the lab...

Friday, January 24, 2014

Writers Read

Last year I only read 71 books. My goal is usually 100 books but last year my back surgery put my reading on pause for two months.

I am currently reading S by J.J. Abrams. It is a multi-dimensional fictional noir mystery. It's complicated and full of awesome weirdness and mystery.

I realized that The Ship of Theseus is the perfect metaphor for my life. Does something which has had all its components replaced remain the same?

My wife says that I have had entire refits done twice already. She calls me, "The Changling". When I was 5 years old, 25 years old, and 50 years old I look like completely different people. I am The Ship of Theseus.

-- By the way, I am currently replacing major parts of my skeleton with metal...


Thursday, January 23, 2014

How Much Do Writers Earn?

I saw this article on How Much Do Writers Earn? Less Than You Think!

I actually can say I am not surprised at all.

--My goal is to move from column one to four as soon as I can!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Political Correctness or Lack There Of


As I have been going over my novel I realized that anyone that suffers from the affliction of political correctness will probably have a stroke while reading this story.

It has mass murder, torture, child abuse, S&M, sexism, rape, racism, and stone cold vengeance. It also has some really hot sex.

I know people that it would leave apoplectic.

--I will send those people free copies for Christmas.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Psudonyms

I considered using an Pseudonym when I published my book but I decided against it. No reason to really. Not now anyway.

Some authors publish under more than one name. Even Steven King had a secondary name, Richard Bachman.

I may actually consider using one for other genre books. I have outlines for a mystery novels, young adult, zombie, comedy and even maybe a romance.

--I would probably use this as the author photo for a psudo!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Writers Groups

Years ago when I was trying to write a Tech Noir Mystery novel, I attended a writers group pretty often. That group was at my favorite library twice a month. They still meet and I will be attending once again in the next few weeks. I really liked that group because it had published authors, new comers, poets, novelists, fiction, non-fiction, historic and others.

I always found that a good writers group helps me in many ways. I learn to be a better writer as people provide feedback to the shared pieces, not just mine. I can get feedback regarding my own works that can make them better. It gets me thinking about writing and encourages me to write.

We have a revived Writers Group at my church as well. Interesting people and stories and very social. We are just at the initial stages of getting organized.  It will be fun!

--I plan on revisiting that Tech Noir Mystery.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Quotes of the Week

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
― Madeleine L'Engle

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though.”
― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
― Stephen King

“If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”
― Toni Morrison

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Scrivener

Writing a novel, research paper, script or any long-form text involves more than hammering away at the keys until you’re done. Collecting research, ordering fragmented ideas, shuffling index cards in search of that elusive structure—most writing software is fired up only after much of the hard work is over. Enter Scrivener: a word processor and project management tool that stays with you from that first, unformed idea all the way through to the final draft. Outline and structure your ideas, take notes, view research alongside your writing and compose the constituent pieces of your text in isolation or in context. Scrivener won't tell you how to write—it just makes all the tools you have scattered around your desk available in one application.

I credit this tool with helping me hammer through my first draft!

Scrivener also has a ton of training vids on YouTube:



--It's a GREAT tool and only $40!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Writing about Food

Happy Friday to both of my readers! It's a long weekend for me and I should get a lot of work on my editing this weekend!

As I am reading my book on the edit it is making me hungry. Dammit!

It is a survival story. He goes from survival rations in the story to eventually wonderful meals that make my mouth water.

The food itself is a symbol in my story and carries a larger meaning. I won't give away anything here.

--Dammit, now I am starving! 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Inspirations

I got this little quad copter for Christmas. It's actually a surveillance drone. It has a nose camera.

It transmits live video back to the controller. I can even record that video on an SD Card.

I am actually able to fly it in the house now without crashing to much. As long as I don't fly it into family  members hair it's cool.

Anyway, for my book, I took the concept of this little guy and extrapolated it into the future 300 years. Tiny surveillance drones driven by artificial intelligence.

--Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. -Arthur Clark

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Took a Day Off

I have been so excited about finishing the book I have been working on the initial edit a lot. 

Last night was the first evening I did not review a couple chapters. I missed it.

I am currently cutting on this edit. I am still running long. I should get throught the cut in another week or so.

The next pass through will be for content, pace and balance. There is actually four stories that come together one at a  time.

--It's fun reading it again.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Silver Lining

It is a strange road at times.

It is odd that one of the major contributing factors was a severe back injury.

I hurt my back really bad the year before and it got to the point where I could not do anything active.

Trapped in my recliner with my imagination and my laptop, I started writing. A year later the first draft was done.

Funny thing is I thought that I would have a hard time reaching the minimum target length of 60,000 words. I turned out to be way more verbose.

--Let's just say I turned a lot of lemons into lemonade...

Monday, January 13, 2014

Where do I write?

The picture to the right is the computer lab in my house.

When I started writing my book I thought that I would be doing most of my writing in there.

Nope.

The distraction factor was far too high. Too many music mp3s, movies, TV, web sites and lava lamps.

It turns out the place I wrote most of my book was in my living room, sitting in a comfy recliner, a laptop literally on my lap competing for space with my cat. Soft music playing as background. No email, no Facebook, no cell phone.

Based on the number of backups (I run one at the end of every session) I spent about 211 days writing in 2013 in total to finish this book. About 2 hours a session, resulting in 192,000 words. Average of 909 words a session.

--Editing and revision stats would be more difficult...

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Still on the Cut

I am about half way through on the cut review. I have already cut out about 71,000 words.

It is getting tougher now to trim.

My goal was to get to 105,000 words. It has been recommended to me that it was a good length for a first novel I have been told by published authors.

A big problem is that I keep adding text in the revision. I love some of these chapters and I feel that I am too close to them.

Steven King said that after his first draft was done he would put the draft away and move to his next project and come back to it months later for the edit and revision. I might do that eventually after this trilogy.

--Back to work.




Saturday, January 11, 2014

Smashwords

I was chatting online with a friend and fellow author Marko Kloos. He actually one of the guys that inspired me and made me think I could actually give this a shot.

I read his self published Kindle eBook Terms of Enlistment and loved it.

He pointed me to Smashwords.com! It's great for self publishers as well as readers.

--Check it out!

Friday, January 10, 2014

What are the Odds?

I found out today that 17% of the population actually says they are going to write a novel. Only about 1% of the population actually finish a complete first draft.

Fewer still get published. Even though Self Publishing is now possible. It is a bit complicated, but not too much for me anyway.

I also read that most self-pubs are never really proof read or edited enough and suck because it that!

--I have made it this far! Now to power through.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Kindle Format

In prep for the Alpha readers I decided that I would now take the time to figure out how to format the book into a Kindle eBook ready for self publishing.

I did a little Googleing and saw some instructions. First I downloaded and installed two apps. KindleGen and KindlePreview.

KindleGen is a simple, line-mode, conversion tool that runs in a DOS Command window with parameters. Super easy.

KindlePreview is a Windows App that is a Kindle simulator that runs on Windows. It shows your how the book will look on various devices. I already see formatting modifications I will need to make.

--Fun Stuff!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Call for Alpha Readers

After I have done my edits and Holly has done her edits the next stop on this train will be to con a bunch of readers into reading the damn thing and giving me feedback.

I have two lined up already! I want ten!

Alpha reading will be really important for me. I will need at this point people that will give me chapter by chapter and overall feedback.

--Email me if you are interested in being an Alpha Reader!



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Faster Than Writing

Rand
I have discovered that I can cut and edit way faster than write. It has been moving right along. I will be way faster than I thought. So far I have cut about 70,000 words with a current 122,000 count. More to go.

I have been finding annotations in my "project" that include links to internet photos that inspire characters in the story.

I use a tool called Scrivener. If you are doing any kind of creative writing I highly recommend it. Download it and give it a try. It's only $40! It also has great Youtube.com training vids.

--Back to work! Having fun!

Spelling and Grammar

I have tried to start 4 other novels in the past. I always got wrapped around the axle trying to be prefect as I wrote. Constantly checking, revising, editing as I went. Then I would go back and change it as I thought of something.

It crippled me to the point that I could not get past act 2 in a 3 act story.

I decided this time I was going to hammer through and never go back until the first draft was done.

I found it to be very productive. I wrote more, faster and hopefully better.

After my first cut/edit I have lined up my niece/friend Holly to do the spelling and grammar edit. She loves editing and I am lucky she is willing to take it on, FOR FUN!

--Action Adventure!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Started Editing

Author Photo Candidate Number 2
Wow.

I have already, in less than an hour, cut out about 50,000 words.

I cut one complete subplot out that will end up being the basis of Book 2.

I also cut the first three chapters. I read an article that said new writers make the mistake of spoon feeding their readers with too much set up for the pivotal event. It was true.

I also cut out in the first three chapters all my friends that I wanted to introduce and kill off for fun. Sorry guys. Cutting room floor.

The remaining cuts will be more complex. They need to be more surgical cuts. Cuts that weave all the way through the story.

--This is fun!!

Author Photo

Recommendations are already rolling in via email for author photos for the dust jacket. This is cracking me up.

Here is the leading contender ===>>

--I am way older now though.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Next Up: The Cut

The word count on this thing is over 192,000 words. My target length for publication is about 105,000 words.

So tomorrow I start cutting with a chainsaw.

I have already decided on one entire parallel plot line the grew too much will be completely removed and used in Book 2. That might be as much as 50,000 words alone. Other small sections can be easily removed and not missed.

Some subplots will need to be carefully cut away as they are woven into several places.

I am giving myself six months for cuts and rewrites.

--I might even spell check...

Cover Art

Cover Art by Duncan Long
Because I plan to start off this adventure with self publishing to Kindle I had to find some art for my cover.

After asking around and wandering around the Internet like a drunk guy, playing blind mans bluff, I was lucky to find a professional book cover illustrator named Duncan Long. 

In no time I had cover art.

He has an excellent, pre-made, collection of art work that is available for purchase and exclusive use.

I am also in discussions with him regarding a custom cover.

--Now I just have to edit the damn thing!

And so it begins...


Today I finished the first draft of my Science fiction novel.

The current working title is : FALLING

This is Book 1 of the Chronicles of Roland Barcus.

--Starting tomorrow the editing begins.