And I’m going… Where?

Its been another long blogging break. Nearly 2 months, so not as bad as last time, but still. Unacceptable! I’ve been editing editing editing, and working working working on the condo, and as for real work? We shall not speak of it.

We shall, however, speak of editing, which is nearly – God willing – finished. Another leg of this long journey, almost complete. And a big one too, because this time it means I’m nearly to the point where I need to let go of my little beastie and see if it will fly.

But it’s scary. Not because I’m afraid to let someone read it, but because of what it implies. Publication. And that is terrifying.

I know I should be excited, and I kinda am, but I also know too much about the industry to not be concerned. Publication means I have a whole new set of skills to learn, while on a time budget that is already too tight. I’m sure I’ll be able to deal with most of these, one way or the other, but the big and looming specter is marketing, about which I know jack.

Self published authors live and die by their marketing efforts. Complicating matters is the fact that I have only one book to market. And then there’s the day job time constraints, which will slow everything down.

Of course, I could just phone it in and say frak the marketing, but I don’t want To Kill the Goddess to just sit there and collect virtual dust while a handful of friends and family throw me a bone and read it. I mean, what is the point of all this if not to be successful? Not necessarily financially, although that would be awesome possum, but to have people read it. And more than just a handful. I want to go somewhere someday and hear a stranger talking about my book. Not for vanity’s sake, but because then I’ll know all the years of effort and sacrifice were worth it.

Until then, I’m moving forward, on faith, or maybe just stubborn determination. And I’m going… Where?

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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!

Editing, Editors, and Excedrin

Holy crap is self publishing giving me a headache – and I’ve barely started!

Hence the Excedrin (which I’ve never taken, but it did make for for a nice title).

So let’s get on with it, shall we?

Conversations With Potential Editors

These are going well, but in the interest of full disclosure, I have admit that I’ve been self medicating on Surly Fest!

To date, I’ve had conversations with three editors. Now that is a strange experience. It’s one thing to ask the Scribblerati for feedback, but it it’s entirely another to talk to a total stranger and have them zone in with laser precision on the faults in my book.

Of course, those faults were all I focused on at first. It wasn’t until after some time for reflection that I saw all the incredibly complimentary things they also said. I mean, damn did they come back with a lot of really nice things to say.

But don’t think I’m taking all the credit for that. Sure, there was a tremendous amount of hard work involved (and really, if it isn’t any good by now then I might as well hang up my hat and take up golf or something) but I know I couldn’t have made it to this point without the encouragement of the Lovely Leann or the insight of the Scribblerati.

So while I’m feeling good, I’m also well aware that there’s still a serious stretch of road ahead, but things are good, you know? I feel like I’m on the right track and that there’s a possibility ahead, like anything could still happen.

Wrestlin with the novella

On the personal writing/editing front, I’m finishing up Draft 3 of my novella, Witness It. The first half is in front of the Scribblerati right now, which is super exciting. It’s been fun revisiting the story (I wrote it almost exactly a year ago) and I’m excited to hear what they have to say. My intention has always been to pair Witness It with To Kill the Goddess, so it feels good to have that in motion as well.

And what about Book 2?

Moon Sister is gestating. I have the first half-ish sketched out in outline form and the next step is to start writing.

From scratch.

Page 1. Word Count = 0.

Gulp!

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.

Book Diet Report Week 2

Weight loss goal: 16,000 words

Words lost: ~4,900

Status: Distracted

It was a crazy week. The week started out with me trying to edit Chapter 6 in the midst of a frakked up prednisone induced haze. Picture a blind man cutting wood with a rusted sword and you’ll get a good feel for what that endeavor was like. In the end I cut out 865 words, which is good, but barely a quarter of what I did the previous week.

Although all was not lost! I didn’t get any more writing done, but we did have a pretty awesome time in Austin, Texas as is evidenced here:

and here:

In other words, neither I nor my book had a good diet week!

Now on to week 3…

Trolls!

How long has it been since my last update? A week? I need to do something about that. Soon – I promise!

Remember those two new chapters I said I had to write? I finished first drafts for both of them and a second draft on the first half of the first. But that’s not why I’m writing this. I’m writing because –

Trolls!

You see, I was working on the first draft of those two chapters, and a nagging notion kept hammering at the back of my thoughts. It’s one I’ve been having for a while because every time I read a reference to lava tubes (which play a critical role in my story) I think, you really need to work them into the early parts of the story more. Which I do. And so –

Trolls!

Chapter 8 used to start with a fine yet somewhat droll account of setting and lead-in to an awesome fight. Now it starts with a troll. A naked, roaring, tree swinging troll with balls the size of boulders. It lives in a lava tube and attacks when Coltrane and his troops ride by. It’s pure awesome.

Credit where credit is due

I believe it was Jon who gave me the nugget of an idea for the troll scene.

And speaking of Jon, his short story Harris is getting published in Cifiscape Vol II. Check out his blog about it here on the Scribblerati website.

And the results of my February #writegoal are…

I didn’t make it.

poo.

My goal was to get through final edits on chapters 13 through 23. That didn’t happen, but here’s the deal: I actually got more writing and editing done then that.

Those of you who have been following along know that a couple of weeks ago I had an epiphany regarding Cassondra’s character arc. The result? A boatload of changes.

  • Chapter 19 went away. Parts of it were folded into 13.5 and I wrote the rest of 13.5.
  • Chapter 14 experienced some major changes; a lot of rearranging due to events in 13.5.
  • I wrote another completely new chapter, 16.5, which is now on its second draft.
  • I finished final edits for chapter 10, rewritten several weeks back.
  • Also finished final edits on chapters 20 and 21.

I didn’t meet my #writegoal, but it wasn’t for lack of trying!

As for what’s next, I need to catch up. There’s a couple of small changes that need to be made to Chapter 18, and I need to finish final edits on Chapters 22 and 23. After that, it’s on to Part Three. The ripples from the changes to Cassondra’s act should begin to smooth out at that point, but there are other changes coming up. There’s going to be a big rewrite for a particularly nasty and off-putting scene with Kaytlyn. And then there’s the ending. I’ve got some work to do there because, let me tell you, it’s really hard to write a decent ending to a book when the story doesn’t actually end. I suppose all series authors run into that problem at one point or another, but still, this one is particularly vexing. Woe!

So, #writegoal for March: ideally, I’d like to finish the whole thing. Realistically, I would be pretty happy if I could get through the changes with Kaytlyn and then plot out what I want to do with the ending.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

PS What’s the deal with the .5 chapters? It’s easier doing that then renumbering everything every time I reorder stuff. Don’t worry, there won’t be any fractions when I’m done. 🙂