Monday, February 28, 2011

Posting and Writing

Tomorrow swiftly approaches.  I have printed out my outlines and record sheet.  I have a plan of how to write and edit.  And I have a goal of having everything ready to publish on the three main sites, Smashwords, B&N's Pubit, and Amazon's Kindle by the end of September.  So, what is left to print out and prepare?  What I will post this blog and how I will post it, that's what. 

The easiest decision is on the Walker Universe.  Out of the five short novels (Prequel/Harem and Novels 1 through 4), I will post Novel 1 and 2 to the blog.  Why?  Because I started with Novel 2; it only makes sense to continue with it here.  And having Novel 1 up also makes sense.  You see, I started posting primarily to record and share my method of writing, and these two novels are prime examples.  Although, Novel 1 is not complete, it is the closest I have to that state.  So, it will serve as a good example of how to edit using my out of order method.  Novel 2 is still mostly unwritten, but it was the first novel I started writing out of order on, so it serves as an example of writing that way.  You might remember how I was breaking the part up into different sections to write.  For example, there are seven main parts called Key Plot Points that include things like beginning, climax, and ending.  I also have different levels of events depending on how important they are, now called Secondary Events and Tertiary Events.  So, I will post each KPP, SE, and TE as they are complete at the time.  I revise as I go, basically (more on that in another post); that means, I occasionally will post a new version of a section or if the changes are minor I may simply post a revision note.  My intentions are though to show this novel all the way to the end.  So, while the final version will have chapters, I will probably still segment it up differently in the blog in order to better compare the last version to the earlier versions.  So, basically, I will be posting on two novels at the same time, one section at a time, with writerly comments too.

Now, on the monthly fiction.  I'll post my intentions on how I will write and edit these in another post, but basically I want to follow D. W. Smith's inspiration and post each story once it is completely done.  I don't know if I will post different drafts yet, especially since I don't intend to write out of order on these.  But either way, I want to keep it up until the next story is posted.  Also, I will put it up for sale on the Main Three Ebook Sites as soon as it is done.  I intend to do this every year, from January through September.  October I need to work on plotting my nano novel in November and working on getting an omnibus version up and ready for sale.  December is simply recuperating time and preparation time so that I have ideas ready for January's monthly.  So, basically, the monthly final version is going up and staying up until the next monthly's final version.

Those are my plans for posting so far.  They are subject to revision, but I think they are a good start.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Walker Series Outlines

I'm further behind than I thought on the Walker series, but sometimes you cannot force ideas.  No matter how hard you try, sometimes you just can't.  Today I have to make my changes to Novel 2, the one I was posting on the blog.  But once I am done with that, I believe I will be at a step where I can organize and print out my outlines.  I'll likely save that step for Monday, the last day of this month.  Today, I'll focus on last tweaks to my outlines' content.  So, maybe they will not be quite as ready as I wanted, but they will be strong enough where it counts to start writing and revising on them come March 1st.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lost Stories in Walker Universe Series

I wrote in my last post I regret not being able to write all the stories I wanted to in the Walker Universe Series.  What can a writer do when that happens?

Well, if the stories can still logically fit within the timeline of the series, the stories can be written.  Not quite doable here as I have the tendency to have short time settings covering weeks or days--even between novels--excusing Novel 2 which covers several decades, sorta.

Sometimes you can strip the stories of their identity and put them in a new unrelated world/series/story.  Could be possible in my case.

They could be made into fanfic for yourself or possibly for readers.  Gary Paulsen wrote Brian's Winter for that reason.  It wasn't called fanfic, but that is what fanfic writers often do--write a story on a What If basis.  Then somehow the alternate universe Brian's Winter became somehow canon and used in later books.  I'm actually toying with a similar idea for Walker Universe, inspired by the fact that Gary Paulsen played with chronology.

Those are some possibilities.  Not sure what I will do, yet.  Depends on how final and satisfying the series feels once done.

Character Drift in Walker Universe Series

I've been working on Valor's Tale, a side story set in the Walker Universe Series, and I realized that vampire story doesn't really fit the series or even the character anymore.  That made me realize I no longer really want to show his tale in a story of its own.  It just doesn't quite fit when everything else is from Walker's pov and is about Walker primarily.

The problem is that originally I intended Valor to be far more prominent--but then again, I also planned on about 7 or so novels in this series.  But the more I worked on this series, the more I narrowed its focus.  There are stories I mourn not being able to write, but they wouldn't work with the story as-is.  

So what is left to do?  Well, I need to glean from the other outlines who Valor morphed into and see if I like it.  Then once I settle on his character and background, I need to include that in Harem, the surviving side-story.  That is really where Valor will get his most face time.  After all, he is important to Walker.  Just turned out he became more of a minor character than I expected.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Update: Walker Universe

Phew, what a day for updates.  But I do have one more to make on Walker Universe.  I've been busy this week, especially this four-day weekend, working on the outlines of Walker Novels 1 - 4 and two side-stories/novels.  I have a rough outline for novels 3, 4, and side-story Harem.  I need to flesh those out and do a firm write up on key plot points and events for all of those.  I also need a firm outline on novels 1 and 2, which mostly need organized into a clean outline.  Finally, I need to start the rough outline of side-story two, Valor's Tale.  Valor is the vampire who once owned Walker, which is shown in Harem.

I am cutting it close, but I feel I can get enough to start working on the key plot points at least starting in March and complete the lesser events later if need be.  I'd prefer the whole six story series to be plotted and ready to write come next month.

But either way, this is a great learning process.  Not only do the novels play so much off each other--a change in one necessitates a change in another to make both novels work--but the more I work with these outlines, the more I get the sense of the story lengths.  Novels 1 - 4 are going to be short novels, ranging from just under 70k to just above 40k (aka 70,000 words to 40,000 words).  The earlier novels are longer; the latter ones shorter.  Harem and Valor's Tale are more iffy.  I intended them to be about 20k a piece, true novellas.  However, they may rival the shortest of the proper novels.  But that is the power of ebooks:  freedom of story length. 

These novels would be doomed by NY traditional standards, every single one of them.  Electronic publishing, especially self-publishing, is a far more open-minded world.  Now, I have the freedom to tell the story in the length it wants to be, for I don't believe a story has to be a certain length to be complete and compelling in and of itself.  Whether Novel 4 is 40k or 400k, it will work as it stands.

But you know what this means?  If the series turn out close to my expectations, I will end up writing (and with all hope, publishing) somewhere around 250,000 words this year.  That is close to three traditional fantasy novels worth!  Wow, don't you think?

Update: A Story a Month

March is soon approaching, and do I have my story chosen for it yet?  Not quite.  I have several possibilities though, based off ideas from my 2011 Ideas Project.  The following are the possibilities so far:

  • Meso - A younger son checks on his brother's distant colony; but when he arrives, the party is captured by the natives who have taken over, and he is enslaved, bled for his magic-filled blood.  Native culture is inspired by ancient Meso-American civilizations, especially the Aztecs and Maya.
  • House - A man wakes up in an inn/boarding house and discovers that the exit door leads not onto the courtyard but upon its own foyer.  Kafkaesque story.
  • Book Club - A man discovers whatever you write in this book about yourself comes true--but there are consequences.
  • Mage-For-Hire - A mage is blackballed by his temp agency and thus by all employment sources--but he cannot find out why.  Kafkaesque story.
I haven't settled on one yet, and still expect to add to this list up until this weekend, at which point I will make my final selection.

Update: 2011 Ideas for Year 2011

Unexpected success cropped up from my 2011 Ideas Project:  I am feeling more creative, and I am coming up with more ideas all the time.  Before I used to get so focused on my current project that I was lucky to come up with one or two new viable ideas a year for any kind of writing project.  Now, I'm coming up with a couple a week!  And I no longer fear not being able to write them.  Why?  In part because of two inspirational people:  Dean Wesley Smith and Dan Miller.

Dean Wesley Smith's blog always provides great inspiration, a boost to my confidence rather than a drain some blogs do on writing.  In particular, I like to re-read his posts on Speed and Time (to write).

In the Time post, he wrote:
For the two weeks of the class, [Kris Kathryn Rusch and I] kept [the student writers] in actual class, not writing,  just over 40 hours per week. We also forced them to write and hit deadlines. And to read the other writer’s work. They all produced almost 60,000 words of fiction each in two weeks. And it wasn’t until the end of every master class that I stood in front of them and showed them that they had produced 60,000 words of fiction in two weeks, while reading, while working (attending class) basically a forty-hour-a-week job.   (bold emphasis is mine; also the bracketed clarifications)

In general, Dan Miller of 48 Days to Work You Love fame is an inspiration.  He wants you to change the way you look at things.  He wrote:
On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister ran the first sub-four-minute mile in recorded history. Doctors said it could not be done--that the human heart would explode with such exertion. Six weeks later an Australian runner duplicated that feat. Approximately one year later, 8 college runners at one ACAA track meet all broke the four-minute mile. What changed? What was believed to be impossible was proven to be possible. Most of us operate under clear beliefs about what we are able to accomplish. If those beliefs are changed, the results change as well.

Many people are living their lives within boundaries that exist only in their minds.

After reading both of these people, I've been struck by the impression that you get what you are used to expecting.  If you become accustomed to thinking of producing a book a year and only a book a year, you produce only that book a year.  If you change your thinking, you can do more.  I want to do more.  And with self-published ebooks, I can.  That is why even though I am counting the 2011 Idea Project a success already.

Update: The One Who Sees

Well, the news is better than I expected. :-)  The book has passed the frightful hurdle of editor-requested edits.  Now, it is moving on to the next stages of formatting, cover development, proof, and release.  That is the greatest thing about ebooks: a 18,000-word story can sell based on its own merit and not be rejected out-right because of the word-count.  That, I love.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Update: The One Who Sees

I turned in my edits.  Regrettably, the most I could do was touch it up, clarify things that needed it.  I couldn't add extra plot, which is the only way I see to add more word count.  Long time ago, I considered expanding this story into a novel, but it never came about.  This week, I hit the same wall.  Sometimes a story is the length it is.  We'll see how this goes over with the publisher; hopefully well, since they seem like a nice outfit with gorgeous covers.  If not, well . . . I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Two Challenges: 2011 Ideas for Year 2011 and A Story a Month

Dean Wesley Smith's self-challenge to write and publish (electronically) 100 stories in 2011 has inspired a challenge in me.  To create a list of 2011 ideas for stories in 2011.  These ideas range from a simple idea of "magic bees needed to pollinate plants" to something a little more full-fledged with plot or characters.  Now from these ideas, I want to write and produce a publishable story or novella every month (i.e., e-publish it) in addition to any novels planned. 

By doing this, I hope to learn to write good works at speed, and a great deal many of them, and to make a career out of selling them as ebooks.  That part of the idea also came from a D.W. Smith post concerning the time it takes to write a novel while having a day job and another post on speed as necessity for e-self-publishers. 

These articles called back to mind the time I wrote almost two novels in a Nanowrimo challenge.  These were not short novels either, like the kind I favor now (in the 45-65k word range).  No, one was around 80,000 words and the other around 60,000 words (and incomplete), if memory serves me.  I can't recall if I was working at this time, in between jobs, or in college.  I also know that later on I decided these two needed some major rewriting--not because of speed, but because I used the plotting method of only knowing what scene I would write tomorrow and nothing more. 

The point is, I wrote about 4,667 words a day to get that 140,000 words in November.  Why can't I do 4k daily today?  Even if I revise in the same day I write (to get rid of my great novel killer, revision time), I should be able to do 2k a day on new words and revise 2k a day.

I started this challenge this week, gave it a test drive, and decided for several reasons, it is a keeper. For one, it gave me some insight into why I no longer can do 140,000 words:  I talk myself out of neat ideas.  My reasons range from "I don't know enough about medieval society to write a story like that" to "That sounds a little like another novel or story, and I rather save that for a novel or story."  I'm going to work on my little Doubting Thomasina.  Even if I just write a snippet of something new every morning, I need to loosen up.  It's not that I am deciding against writing an idea until I have a plot, but I am deciding against trying the idea well before that step.  Worse yet, the ideas excite me, but my doubt is greater.  More than ever, I need to give this challenge a real try. After all, the students I tutor at college grow in confidence the more they write, why not I?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Other Writing News: The One Who Sees

I've recently been in contact with an e-publisher on a short novella I submitted to them.  The One Who Sees was accepted back in September 2009, and now I have my first batch of edits to work on it. 

For those interested in the process, I will give a few details.

Most of these were minor edits, such as grammar.  I'm surprised because the more I learn about grammar in my writing tutor job, the more I am sure I don't know.  But I must have picked up quite a bit a long the way somewhere. ;-)  Anyway, though I looked over the changes, I mostly clicked the Accept button in Word.  Only when a rewording was needed did I not use the change.

Besides the minor edits, there were a few larger concerns, such as a making a villainous creature a little more real.  Another was to expand the ending. A little harder to fix than clicking a button, but I'm working on that.

My concern is the big edit.  You see, TOWS comes in about 17,800 words, which according to the SFWA guidelines is just barely a novella.  The editor would like to see it longer if possible, ending up at 20,000 - 25,000 words.  I'll look at it, but to add 2,000 - 7,000 words, you have to do more than just add a few enriching details; you have to change the story, add plot or events.  I'm not so sure I can comply with this one.  Cutting I could probably do.  Adding?  That is much harder.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Walker Updates: Changing Things Up

I've been busy changing things up on Walker Universe series.  As I work on the outline of one novel, I find plot, world-building, and even characters to change in another.  That is why I am holding off on any writing until all four planned novels and two novelettes are outlined. 

Plot-wide changes are not the only thing I am changing up.  Since these will be self-published novels, I am free to break certain rules I couldn't before.  Normally, a writer must keep the same format for each novel in a series.  In this series, I don't have to.  For example, in novel two, much of what happens to Walker in Paradise isn't shown.  In novel three, he is being interrogated and has to make the story of what happened to him good for a reason.  In other words, novel three is like a giant flashback.  This simply isn't done in a series meant for traditional publication, but you can experiment and play more when you are self-publishing.

Over all, I'm very excited about these changes.  I hope you, readers, will be too.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Thinking with the Heart

This week, I intended to work on Walker Universe.  Instead, I chose a different path, one where I could both write commercially and for myself, one where I could write something the publishers might deem acceptable while keeping the most precious ideas for myself and my faithful readers.  In following this path, I followed my mind, my reason, and in doing so, I failed.  I hadn't wanted the traditional market exorcising out what made me and my writing tick, so I did so myself, and thought I could be two different people.  In my attempts to protect my heart, I had forgotten to follow it.  The novel idea failed.  I was lost.

The failure cut deep.  I took it to heart that I was therefore a failure.  Why had I wasted so much time?  I should have been working on Walker.  So I went back to Egyptian studies, to play catchup on Novel One, to ease my way in.  I did this because the headache of my recent failure was too strong and painful that I feared ruining something precious to me.  But in studying ancient Egypt, I realized something important:  though my project failed, it did not fail its purpose in my life.

This is what I learned.  The Egyptians believed the heart was the source of both thoughts and feelings, unlike in our times where our heart symbolizes the seat of our emotions and our brain the seat of our reason.  In our world, thoughts and feelings are often in conflict with each other.  In the Egyptian world, they must have lived in harmony.  That is what I want for my writing.  Harmony of mind and heart.  Passion and reason.  Projects I love that earn me my living.  This is what my failure taught me:  I cannot have one without the other.  My plans for my writing career must include the satisfaction of both reason and passion.  Though my plan needs to be developed, I can see that path ahead of me.  Though I am not ready to walk it, at least, I will not choose a path upon which I will be lost.  No, not when I am ready to think with my Egyptian heart.