In which Shawn tries to justify his blog’s silence

Let’s go back to where we left off: October 8, 2013.

(Holy crap has it really been that long?)

October 8 – To Kill the Goddess was with my editor and I was trying to get started on Moon Sister (book two). This is roughly the same time that my work life turned to complete shit. I won’t go into details, as companies don’t look kindly on employees spilling dirt on the Internet, but let’s just say that it was all I could do to not have a complete mental breakdown. Did I write? Yes, but like a drowning man clinging to a life preserver. There was no time for frilly stuff like blogging. Somehow in there, I managed to bang out a first draft for roughly the first third of Moon Sister.

Christmas came along, then January, and the Antarctica-like deep-freeze that drove its claws into Minnesota. We resumed our search for a downtown condo and – surprise! – we found one. It’s awesome, and we are moved and living in it (Woot!) but yowza was that a lot of work. Six weeks of no writing are now in my rearview mirror.

So now here we are: April. I haven’t touched that first draft in a couple of months. Instead, I’ve been focusing on (what I hope are) final edits for To Kill the Goddess. My editor had far more complements then she did criticisms and I’m deep into the final stages of polishing those off. The book is in great shape, but now that I’m going through it again after so many months away I’m finding all kinds of niggly things that need to be fixed. I think I am going to make one more pass through the entire book before sending it off to a few new readers. After that? Line edits, finding someone to do a cover, e-book formatting, and finally: Amazon!

The First 1000 Words

Waiting

To Kill the Goddess is with my editor.

This is an awesome thing. It’s a huge step, and I should be so excited.

But the wait is making me crazy!

And in the meantime, where am I at with book 2? Not a single word written. A blank slate. Nothing.

Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve been in this position? So long that I have no tools for this in my writing chest. I don’t know how to start and that’s even scarier than the wait for my editor.

Moving On

I’m trying to take my own advice and put words on the page, but right now that is so much easier said than done. Where do i start? It doesn’t help that instead of having one main character, I have 6. So where does the story begin? Which one do I start with? Even worse, I could easily go all George RR Martin on this thing with like a dozen or more characters – if I wanted – and someone please organize an intervention if I do!

Yes, my friends, I problems!

But – after a week of freaking myself out – I finally picked a character and started writing. I don’t know if it’s the right one, but it’s a start.

Now I’m on chapter 2, with over 1000 word in the bag, and I know this is what I need to keep doing. I need to keep picking characters and just start writing.

Intellectually, I know that after a while it will begin to come together, that I will start to see where all the pieces fit, but right now every word is filled with a doubt and uncertainty that threatens to stall me all over again.

I need to man up!

I need to take the 1000 words I have and do that another 80-90 times.

How hard can that be?

It can’t possibly take me another 10+ years, right?

RIGHT?

Of Booze, Gophers, and Editors

Wow – I can’t believe it’s been three weeks since my last blog!

Needless to say, there’s been a lot going on.

First there was this:

A nice little vacation on California’s Central Coast. Paso Robles, to be exact. If this were a wine blog I would go on and on, but suffice to say, this relatively unknown region is getting its groove on. If you’re looking for a place to go taste exceptional wine, and one that is well away from the overwrought crowds and bustle of Napa and Sonoma, then this is your place to go. Oh, and you want a lovely place to stay where you can wake up in the morning and look out onto the rolling, vine filled hills? Here you go.

YUM!

After vacation, I had a week off in between work assignments. During that week, there was cookies!

There was also quite a bit of plotting going on for To Kill the Goddess’s sequel, Moon Sister. That’s a crazy process. Lots of fits and starts, ideas explored, some discarded and others integrated. There’s also been a lot of tasks I wasn’t expecting, like the Dungeons & Dragons style maps I’ve been creating to help keep the locations of everything straight, the vast amounts of history that I’ve had to document, and the realization that some concepts that I had thought to be ironclad needed significant revision.

This brings us to last weekend – the start of Minnesota Golden Gopher football season!!


Three weeks in a row of home football games means lots of fun, sun, beer, and a gigantic chink in my writing schedule. But I’m cool with that. College football is one of the few guilty pleasures that I allow to interfere with my writing.

And this week? New work assignment. Lots of brain power focused on scoping and planning the new work project. But in between that I have spent a lot of time in my search for an editor for To Kill the Goddess. Let me just say,

UGH!!

Damn, that’s a difficult job. I never once thought that self-publishing would be easy, but until you’ve actually driven the road, it’s impossible to appreciate the potholes, twists, and turns. Selecting an editor is one of the most important tasks – outside of actually writing the book – that a self published author will have to face. And it’s frakking hard!

I’m sure this will get easier the second or third time around, but right now I feel like a little kid who got separated from his parents in the middle of a busy mall. There’s literally hundreds of editors out there – or at least people calling themselves an editor – and finding the right one is an intimidating task. After all, it’s only your entire writing career on the line, that and a good thousand plus dollars. A mistake here could be deadly, or at least a waste of a boatload of money. But the right choice? That could be magic.

So hang on, friends. The self-publishing ride has started.

I’ll keep you posted.

Shawn Vs Chaos

My writing life is in chaos.

With To Kill the Goddess done (for now) my daily routine of picking up where I left off is a thing of the past. It was grueling, but at least I always knew what needed to be done next. Now it’s time to move on to new projects, some of which are in better shape than others.

Project #1 is, of course, TKTG, which is currently taking a well deserved nap while waiting for a couple readers to give me the thumbs up/down. After that I’ll tackle the daunting “find the perfect freelance editor task.” Gulp.

Project #2 is Witness It, my TKTG companion novella. I wrote two drafts of WI late last fall and when I picked it up to read it last week I was pleasantly surprised by how good it is. It needs some TLC, but another editing pass should get it ready to share with the Scribblerati.

Project #3 is Moon Sister, the sequel to TKTG. You would think that writing the second book would be easier than the first, which I’m sure it will be, but planning & plotting is another thing altogether. TKTG grew organically, in fits and starts over the course of several years and multiple drafts. I want to be done with Moon Sister inside of two years. That means I’ll need to do a lot of up front planning before putting words to page and I’m learning that process as I go.

So far I’ve bought a bazillion multicolored Post-Its, rearranged my room to free up a wall, and started slapping them up. This is either my best idea ever or a complete waste of time. Time will tell!

In the meantime, I’ll keep doing what I’ve always done – chip away one day at a time. And one Post-It.

December 30, 2011 (Plotting Pays Off!)

This post is brought to you by the number 18.

That’s how many chapters I outlined today. Woot!

In previous posts I’ve mentioned that To Kill the Goddess was written pretty much by the seat of my pants, which goes a long way towards explaining why it took so freaking long. This time though – I feel like I have a pretty good handle on things. I took those nine pages of notes I’ve been accumulating over the last couple weeks and chiseled them into something that actually resembles a story. I have character driven arcs for each POV character, twists, turns, and best of all, chapters already structured and organized with mid and end goals in mind.

All of that seems obvious, right? But let me tell you, but when you’re starting out and learning how to write and structure a novel all at the same time there are just some things you can’t do and – for me at least – methodically plotting out a novel wasn’t one of them.

So now I have my Excel outline file with eighteen cells filled in. Some of them are jam-packed with notes, others with just a sentence or two. I’ll come back to this as I write. I’ll fill in details as they become clear and then, at some point down the road, I’ll have another big plotting session and see if I can’t find my way to the end.

Here’s to being organized!

December 27, 2011

Figured out what was wrong yesterday. I was concentrating too much on the nuts and bolts and forgetting about those major thematic elements that guide the story. It’s like – when you’re building a house you gotta put up all those 2×4’s first – you gotta build the structure before you lay the carpet and choose the drapes. Seems obvious, but like I said yesterday, everything is a swirl of thoughts.

Thankfully, due to a lot of the thought I’ve already put into this, hammering out those thematic elements came pretty quickly and when I did I realized part of the problem I was running into yesterday was that I was missing a character who needs to be in this story. More complications! But better for the story – yes – much better.