Kingdom Death

Legacy games are all the rage in the board game world at the moment. My Tuesday group has already completed Seafall and Gloomhave and are 7/12 through Charterstone. I even have my own that I worked on over Christmas that I hope to devote more time to if work wasn't trying to kill me (believe those articles about how the 40-hour week is dead). I've had the wonderful opportunity to sit in on a friend's campaign of Kingdom Death a couple times, and I have to say it surpasses all the other legacy games I've played in story and atmosphere. Seafall and Gloomhaven had their strong points, but both suffered from weak endings ("Wait, what?" and "That's it?" respectively). And granted, perhaps I will be disappointed by Kingdom Death's ending, if I should ever experience it, but for now, I'm reveling in the creative doors it's opened in my mind. So, despite being sick for the bajillionth time this year, I sat down for a quick wind sprint to excise the opening that has been playing in my head since Friday when my character was killed during the end-of-game reward phase. That's right, I was killed by post-game box text, and it was glorious.

So, with the self-conscious caveat that I've been writing academic papers for the past three years, here is a small wind sprint on Kingdom Death.

CHAPTER 1

The first thing you notice isn’t the light, the cold white glow in the distance that illuminates a black lamppost that would otherwise be lost in the absolute darkness that surrounds you. The first thing you notice is the quiet. There is no breeze, no air, no sound of birds or bugs; the world holds its breath endlessly. The silence lasts for so long that the world around you feels dead, and you wonder if you’re dead, too.

Turning about brings no comfort. Away from the lamppost stretches an endless night without stars to twinkle or moons to glow. In every direction there is absence, in every direction but one. You head to the lamppost, the single white beacon calling to you like a fishing lure. You take comfort in the crunch of your footsteps. Dry grass, brittle like hay, pokes your bare feet. You accelerate your step, relishing the painful stab of each sheath. It says you are alive, and you beat that message to the world around you for all to hear.

If you were not alone.

Dream Chasing

I was in the mood to overwrite something tonight. I had a glimmer of an idea during a drive to New Brunswick that I'm letting percolate in my brain. I thought I'd do a quick wind sprint and make it as thick and sappy as I could.

DREAM CHASING

Amid the darkness of sleep, dreams illuminate sight and sound, a match-strike of fantasy that fades as quickly as it burst into existence. Come dawn only smoke remains, a phantom of the light in which we played. It fades into oblivion with the first gentle breeze, and our memory of it fades with it. When our parents tell us to chase our dreams, they tell us to change the fleeting. By the time we catch it, we will no longer remember what it is. They tell us to chase our dreams so they can convince themselves they did the same, and what they caught was what they wanted.

The twist is, sometimes the light doesn't fade. Sometimes you you remember your dreams. That bright flash of fantasy burns onto your brain, and you chase it with every breath. And if you should be so fortunate to catch those dreams, they'll tell you those aren't the dreams you should have caught. Try again. Chase something more realistic, something more prestigious that will pay the bills or that you can tell your nuclear family about someday.

When our parents tell us to chase our dreams, they're full of shit. That's why I've stopped listening to them.

Reincarnate

So I'm working toward my Masters of Science in Instructional Design and Technology (how to make education better, basically) and I've found that I can't write a research paper every week, do my regular job, and write a novel all at the same time. However, I have a three-month break coming up, starting next week, and I'm anxious to start a new project. I had an idea a couple weeks ago for my very first literary fiction novel. I was itching to write tonight, so I popped off 250 words. Here's a taste.

 

Where do you begin? It's not an easy thing, when a person asks you “Where do you think it went wrong?” With thirty-plus years under your belt, how do you pick out a day, an hour, an instant and say, Yeah, this is where it went wrong. You could pick this fuck-up or that one, but rest assured there was a whole host of fuck-ups that preceded them. So you say, I don't know. It just happened, gradually, because that's the kind of sage-like cliché that resonates with people and they don't push.

And what's galling is that if I truly had to pick one moment where it all truly went wrong, it's not even my fuck-up that I'd pick. It's my twin brother, Danny's. We were fifteen when he got into his accident and I realized how quick it all can be taken away from you. I got a sense of my own mortality, or whatever. Live each day like it's your last because holy shit, it just might be.

They say no one should die a virgin. They said it, and I repeated it to my girlfriend, Emily, and she agreed with them and me. They also say it only takes one time, which turned out also to be true. So if you want to know where it all went wrong, blame Danny. What we he doing, skateboarding without a helmet? That was stupid.

Pregnant at fifteen, married at sixteen, sometimes I think Danny's the one that got off easy.

First Paragraph for One of the Good Days

I've been bumbling around a concept for a few weeks and while I was watching "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries" (which you should totally watch, because it's awesome), a few lines popped into my head and I figured I should write them down before I go to bed. So here they are:

 

Victoria wasn't always like this. Once upon a time, she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. That's one of the problems with living so long, things don't last. They age. They whither. They get dirty. And the pricks at city hall throw you a rag and tell you to clean things up, but the rag they gave you is just as dirty. Victoria was the love of my life, but this city's gone to shit, and I don't think I can love her like I used to.

In Between Times

I always take a little break between manuscripts. I consider it a "voice reset." I used to be so jazzed I would immediately roll into a new project, but I found the voice of the next project sounded exactly the same as the one I had just finished. It inevitably led to a lot of rewriting and sometimes I'd have to drop all the work done as unusable. So now, I take time off and refresh. Sometimes that means playing around on HitRecord. This time around, I dabbled in my Knight Rider fan fiction. Mostly, though, I've been writing a lot of documentation. I'm the head of non-skating officials for New Hampshire Roller Derby and it's the start of the season. I've been writing a ton of "How to Officiate" documentation, which is a totally similar but totally different skill set than fiction writing. I do a lot of documentation for work, too, so it's not jarring. It does draw from the same pot of energy, though. I have trouble writing documentation and fiction at the same time.

Also, I think part of me is stalling until February. I wrote the first draft of FAMILY JEWELS in February then spent the rest of the year making it awesome. I think part of me wants to try and recreate that magic. I'm torn on what to do next. I had planned on writing THE CENOSAPIEN AGENDA. The original story idea had been as a sequel to FJ, but it quickly evolved into a different character (Serenity McIntyre), a different setting, and a different genre. Interesting enough, it changed so much that the sequel idea to FJ became a valid sequel again. So I can write TCA or I can write DISAPPEARING, INC., which is the sequel to FJ. Something to ponder as February begins next week. I'm still writing "How to Head NSO" documentation, so I guess this is a curse of riches situation or something.

(And admittedly, part of me is hoping that an agent says, "BAM! This is it. You need to get to work on a sequel because publishers will want more of this!" which would make the decisio-nmaking process much easier.)

Covering All the Bases

This post should almost be labeled a redux because I've posted so much of the conversation before. I am once again dealing with that balancing act of craft vs voice. I think more aspiring writers would do well to actually listen, absorb, and apply the feedback they receive from agents when they query. Too often I hear, "It's all subjective and that person is wrong. I'm just going to self-publish." I think that attitude is one major reason why self-publishing still has the negative stigma that it does. But that's not the point of this post.

The point of this post is that taste is subjective, but craft is objective. You might like a poorly written book. You enjoy it despite its lack of technical prowess, storytelling over mechanics and whatnot. So when receiving feedback, it can be hard to understand what is a matter of taste and what is a matter of craft, because the two aren't entirely segregated. They're a cozy Venn diagram. If an agent says, "I think X could be improved," you have to examine this and decide where in the diagram it fits and whether or not its actionable. (Pro Tip: The earlier you are in your career, the more likely it falls in the craft side, so don't get all pissy and go self-publish just because someone didn't extol your genius.)

I'm in that murky larval stage. I've spent the last four years working on pacing, chopping scads of overwriting from my work. I didn't think it was an issue until an agent told me so. I examined my work, saw her point, revised, and improved. One of the main reasons I'm so resistant to self-publishing my own work is that the querying process has improved my craft more than two flipping writing degrees ever did. Working in the system has made me better, so I'm not so quick to talk about how the system is busted and worthless. (Again, getting off track, so I will sum up by saying I agree with the Chuck Wendig school of thought. Publish what's best for you at any given time. It's not one versus the other. For me, I've decided my first step will be a traditional one, however.)

So recently I received feedback about trimming 10k from a manuscript. This is great news. There's interest there or they wouldn't have asked for a resubmit. But I don't know if I want to cut 10k. I'm still analyzing my Venn diagram. This isn't the overwriting of old (or the rambly nature of this post). This was a revised and revised-again manuscript that was built to be what it is. Perhaps with more specific editorial feedback, I could better understand what needs to be cut. But a simple note of "cut 10k" doesn't get me very far. If I had thought 10k needed to be cut, I would have done so of my own accord. So I have to ponder, is this a matter of taste or a matter of craft?

My wife commented about how I like to explain things. I do. She said she doesn't need an explanation. She assumes something happened because the plot needed it to happen and she goes along to see what happens next. I HATE THIS [BOLD FACE]. I hate this soooo much. It reminds me of every bad D&D session I ever sat through where the DM did things for no other reason than that's what he wanted to have happen despite any semblance of logic. I just saw "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" and there was a prime example right in the middle of the movie. They went to location Beta (one of numerous supposed safe locations, as we had been at Gamma previously) but the bad guys found them! Oh no, a character is taken! Oh no, people are shot! My first thought? Oh no, their secure location has been compromised. They must have a mole! I wonder who the traitor is...

EXCEPT WE NEVER FIND OUT! The security breech is NEVER addressed again. How the fuck did it happen? Sure, I get the power of plot guided the bad guys to the location, but for real, if I'm assuming this is really happening in the setting as provided, how the fuck did they find out? Was someone sloppy and get followed? Was someone turned? Was the site never truly secure? Are none of the other sites secure and if so, how did the previous conversation at Gamma site go so smoothly?

EXPLAIN THIS TO ME, MOTHERFUCKER!

My wife doesn't care. She went along for the ride. But for me, it soured the rest of the movie. There was a whole different story there that I think would have been more interesting than the standard run and gun we see so often. (Why do we drive anywhere if you can outrun a moving vehicle?)

I hesitated in writing this post because I didn't want it to sound like, "I'm not revising any more. What I wrote is perfect." Fuck that. I hate when famous authors do that. Given feedback, I will rewrite if I think it'll make my story better. Absolutely. I want it to be the absolute best it can be. But when I hear, "You should be more like [author]," that doesn't do anything for me. I'm not [author]. I'm me. I don't want to be that person. I want to be me. I have my own voice. And my voice explains shit. I'd like to think there are people out there that want their shit explained (the outer shell of the corn doesn't break down because it's indigestible cellulose, you see). But who knows. Maybe that's such a niche readership that it really will require self-publishing to find them. I haven't come to that point yet. I still have my goals. I still think it's a matter of finding someone who resonates with my voice, and I'm hopeful I'll find that person soon. But I wanted to share my thoughts. I've come a long way. I probably have farther to go (if you think you don't you're both wrong and an asshole). The "Am I good enough?" question never really gets answered. It's always a process of self-examination, and the better I get at this, the harder it is to reach a conclusion. That seems backward, but that's what's happening to me.

Inspiration Strikes Like LIghtning

It's not a good idea to wait on inspiration, but when it strikes, you grab that shit and hold on. It can be a winning lottery ticket, and if you tell it to wait until later, you might never get to scratch off those numbers and hit the big score.

/simile

I was leaving work late today, as I have done for weeks now. It's the busier time of year, made busier because I'm trying to get everything done so my holidays can be holidayicious. AND I had skate practice tonight, for which I was running late. As I hustle to the elevator, I hit the button, the down arrow lights up, I hear a ding, and...

...nothing. The doors don't open. Another door behind me opens. I look. That arrow is lit up too and there's a person inside. I watch the opposite elevator the entire time. I step in, watch, the doors close, I watch to the last. The light was on, but the doors never opened. How strange! Especially since I just listened to a piece on NPR's Marketplace about the science of elevators. I've been paying attention, and that was certainly weird.

Wouldn't it have been horrible if I had gotten on that elevator and then it broke down and then I missed skate practice entirely rather than just showing up late.

What if... what if... what if...

So many possibilities come to mind, and then I hear the first lyrical construction of what becomes the first few lines below. After I finish my current rewrite, I have two novels on deck. One is a larger fantasy I've tried to write twice before. The other is a science fiction who-dunnit with the working title of FAMILY JEWELS. I may have done a wind sprint for that one previously. I dabbled on it because I couldn't get it out of my mind. And I admit, I was unimpressed with the wind sprint. This, however, these few paragraphs capture the tone and attitude I want for the story.

BAM! Inspiration to the face! Hop past the break (if you see a break) to read the first few paragraphs. I'll let this simmer on the back burner for when I write the full thing. This may move it up to the next-to-bat position even though I've been world building on 7TH SACRIFICE a lot lately. We'll see when we get there. For now I still have a lot more to do with BLACK MAGIC AND BARBECUE SAUCE.


Chapter 1: Benedict Quick Hated Running

There is always a singular instant, a domino moment, when What Is deviates from What Should Be and becomes What If. All of a person's nicely ordered and freely chosen decisions become the victims of causality, falling one after the other. For Benedict Quick, lead detective at Quick and Easy Investigations, that moment occurred on Saturday the 15th of April at 0731. He stood on the fifth floor of the Bellanton Building, waiting for the uppevator to turn into a downevator, but when the up-arrow light turned off and the down-arrow light turned on, the doors did not open.

Another down-arrow light turned on, and a synthesized bell dinged as the doors to a second downevator opened behind him. Ben stepped into the metal box, an old-style pulley/engine conveyance that worked against gravity in both directions to move a person to differing floors while keeping their feet on a solid plane.
“Backward fucking planet,” Ben grumbled for the billionth time, punching a plastic circle marked “G” that lit up after he touched it.

That kind of antique novelty was common on planet Wozniak, the odd and eccentric, the vogue and the retro. Most members of the Galactic Cooperative of Planets used anti-graviton movement tubes, uppevators, downevators, leftevators, rightevators, and so on. These old style boxes only moved up and down and had a tendency to get stuck, even back when they were the only method of transport from the first to the fiftieth floor.

The first downevator's light remained on, but its doors never opened. It sat there, waiting for someone to call for service, while Ben made his way to the ground floor. Ben Should Have gotten on that first downevator. It Should Have gotten stuck between the fifth and the fourth floors with him inside. Then he wouldn't have reached the lobby when he did. He wouldn't have spotted Xio Xiolin--a white-collar biometics counterfeiter with a bounty on his head--walking toward the exit. Xiolin wouldn't have made eye contact. Xiolin wouldn't have run. And Ben wouldn't have had to chase him.

Benedict Quick hated running.

Run for Your Lives!

An exciting thing happened to me in September. An agent read a full manuscript of mine and offered me a recommendation. I know it's not as cool as offering me representation, but a recommendation is pretty awesome in itself. "Send it to X and Y."

Well hell yes I will! Especially since both X and Y are on my short list of agents I would like to work with. What an awesome opportunity!

The thing is, both X and Y are at the same agency. Now some agencies specifically say "do not query multiple agents" but this isn't one of them. HOWEVER, I was still nervous of querying them both simultaneously. Some asshats out there will use in their query "so and so said I should email you" when so and so absolutely did not do that. They assume agents are enemies and don't talk to each other. Publishing is small folks and agents absolutely talk to each other. If you lie, you will get caught.

So I didn't want to appear to be one of those people by querying two agents at the same agency that I was contacting them on a recommendation even though it's absolutely true. I weighed the merits of both and chose which to send to first. And now I'm waiting. It's hard to wait for a response to queries. Harder still when you have a recommendation that you're hoping will help your already awesome manuscript (of course) rise to the top of the slush pile. Harder to the umpeenth degree when some agencies (a la Nelson Literary Agency) frequently send responses in two weeks or less. I've had agents respond to queries six months after I originally sent them. One time, I finished a manuscript and then received a rejection for the manuscript I had written BEFORE that one. There is not a set schedule for this kind of stuff.

So here I am waiting and it dawns on me. Shit, NaNoWriMo is here! With NaNoWriMo comes the SUPER-SLUSH! That period at the end of November through the middle of January where hopeful participants think their 50,000-word quantity-over-quality block of text is the next Harry Potter. I've made the mistake of querying during the super-slush. If you are serious about your career, just skip this time period. It's a billion times harder to get noticed. There are holidays and there is a ton of shit coming in.

So I am going to query second agent now so I don't get lumped in with the pending onslaught of 50k novels. If you're working on your query right now, I recommend you get that thing polished and out the door.

Redux: Where I Write

As time goes on, I find there's a topic from my old (decommissioned) live journal that I wish people might have read. So I post it here as a "redux", meaning I haven't changed anything, so some of it may be out of date. Still, the heart of the post is worthwhile, so I post it for you to read. In case you're wondering, I settled on THE TRIAD SOCIETY as the final title.

How strange. I seem to have fallen into a pattern of posting every other week on a Thursday. That is unintentional. June is my busiest month out of the year and this year was particularly bad. The amount of dreck that came out of editorial was massive. The worst offenders submitted and then promptly left on vacation. Jerks.

But that's not what this post is about! I just had to get that off my chest. (The last month really has been miserable in that respect. So much more work than was necessary to complete these projects. Sometimes it took me longer to decipher what was needed than to actually create the ebook!)

Have you heard of

The Rejectionist

? She's a popular insider/industry blog, written by an anonymous agent assistant. Her agent reps fantasy, too. She seems like a pretty cool assistant to work for. I hope she works for an agent I query and not one I've stricken from my query list. I think we'd have a fun dynamic working together (though her tastes lean toward classic metal and maybe some NWBHM while I lean toward Nu Metal and Metalcore). (Interesting aside, I plugged Metalcore into Last FM the other day. I was pleased it recognized the genre, but displeased when it spat death metal at me instead. I know the difference, Last FM! Don't try and fool me!)

Now, we don't always see eye to eye. She reminds me of

Anna Genoise

a lot in her absolutist take on prejudice and discrimination. While we all agree that discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, or sexual preference is wrong, I tend to lean toward a "multiple factors" approach rather than pointing a finger and calling for the torches and pitchforks. Still, I enjoy her blog. She has sass and I'm a sucker for sass.

Well, last Friday she made a proposal. Don't tell, show us where you write. It's a common question, "Where do you write?" That and When... At home, on the porch, whatever. Writers tend to adopt favorite spots, locations where they are most productive. Some people go to Borders every day and that's how they do their thing (I've tried this and neither Borders nor Barnes and Noble are conducive to maximum output). Instead of just saying where we write, which has become almost rote memorization by now, we should show it.

Now for me, I write in public places, so I limited my pictures so I wouldn't creep people out by taking pictures of them. If you've followed this journal or read

my website

, you know I love breakfast food. I like it from a diner. And I like it at a counter. Specifically, I like Jackie's Diner. (I also enjoy Dylan's in Chelmsford as a second option.)

I went to Jackie's with my wife when we first moved to Nashua. I tried the coffee and it blew my mind. They serve Green Mountain coffee. If you live outside of the Northeast corridor, this is the coffee the serve at McDonald's except without the shit ton of sugar that McD's adds. Specifically, they serve breakfast blend which is the awesomest coffee ever. Enjoying the coffee, I went back. And back. And back. I am now a regular and eat at the counter with other regulars. They know I write and mostly leave me to my devices (especially when I stare off into space). We can differ on politics, which is a big deal in New Hampshire, and other things, but that's all cool because we're all regulars. The waitresses know what I do and they support me in my effort even though the owner Carol doesn't like laptops. Mine doesn't take up a lot of space, thankfully.

She's okay with it. I'll give her a signed copy when I finally get published. Coffee, pancakes, eggs, more coffee. Who couldn't write like this? My brain is powered by breakfast! Rrraaaaaaahhhh!!!!!!

Problem is, because I'm such a regular, they like to talk to me. That's all right. That's more of an early morning or weekend writing spot. I get the bulk of my writing done on the MBTA commuter rail between Lowell and Boston North Station. Getting a job in Boston has proven to be one of the greatest events of my life. Not only because I work for a much better publisher than I used to (which I do), but because now I have a commute. This was hard to get used to and some days it still runs me down. Getting home at 6:15 in the evening being "early" sucks. Getting home at 10:00 at night sucks more. But despite all that, the commute has proven the absolute best thing that has ever happened to my writing. It is time that can't be taken away (except by standing room only and shrieking children). I tried to set boundaries with my wife when we first moved in together (before we were married, because you know you were asking). It would last for a few weeks and then dissolve. This can't be taken away. This is dedicated writing time. Two hours of writing a day, one hour each way. I wrote BLACK MAGIC AND BARBECUE SAUCE and WANTED: CHOSEN ONE, NOW HIRING in a year's time because I rode this train. People think I rushed or I didn't revise. Nope. Two hours a day, five days a week and then writing at Jackie's on the weekend. That netted me two novels. Bam!

My regular seat was taken when I took this picture. I was in one of those sideways facing seats that fold up when no one is in them, so I couldn't frame the best picture I wanted. But writing on the train is writing on the train regardless of where you sit. This is also why I use an Eee PC (early gen netbook if you don't know what that is). Like any good fantasist, I have a bit of a belly, so using a full-size laptop is kind of hard. And who needs it? I can type on this thing and that's all I need. Type type type.

After taking this picture, I worked on my WIP for the rest of the ride in. I will do the same on the way home. Later this year, I will have another completed manuscript to send to agents and eventually I'll crack this glass ceiling and publish my damn books!

And who knows, when I finally do, maybe the Rejectionist will be the assistant who pulls my work out of the slush pile. (That's Joseph L. Selby, Le R. The next work you'll receive from me will be either THE TRIAD SOCIETY or THE HOOK AND HAMMER SOCIETY depending on which title I finally settle on. Get ready with a request for a full! ;)

No. Do Better.

I am not in between drafts, but I've already started to see the critical weaknesses in the draft I'm writing. Perhaps the most challenging thing for a pantser is that so much of the first draft is spent getting to know your characters and your setting. Sometimes you know them right away. Sometimes it takes pages and pages to finally understand what makes them tick.

Granted, pantsers can do prep work just like plotters do. It's okay to sit down and write out what your main characters have, what they want, and what they fear. But sometimes the character you meet along the way is not the character you thought you were writing about. The second draft is so much better than the first because you're writing from a point where you finally understand the players involved and the setting. Really, it's almost like the first draft is the longest, most detailed outline one could write about your book and the second draft is really where you start.

I am anxious to get to the second draft of my wip. (Of course, I'm anxious to get to the second draft of a previous work as well, which is making for all kinds of internal conflict). :) Because of all that conflict (and because I recently finished reading Russell Brand's MY BOOKY WOOK), I've started a process I usually save for between drafts. I read a good book (in this case, Peter V. Brett's THE WARDED MAN), one I've read before, and I tear it apart. I read it as critically as one can. How often does he use dialogue tags? Why did he use that adjective? When does he describe people and when does he leave it to your imagination? And so on and so on. Question EVERYTHING!

The reason for this is because I pick up on what I think the author did right and then I compare it to what I'm doing. (I also don't use the same author for this process because then you can get fixated on a particular style rather than the commonalities of good writing.) Describing characters and places is my biggest weakness because I rarely care what they look like. It's the events that occur and the choices they make that matter to me. If they have curly or straight hair is inconsequential. Of course, not everyone agrees with me, so I have to make it a point to remind myself that that kind of thing should be included.

And in fact, as I read a good book so critically and see my own shortcomings, a sort of mantra emerges. "No. Do better." Those two sentences (or one sentence if I chose to use No as a clausal interjection) inform my entire self-editing process. I go over what I did and say, "No. Do better." Repeat and repeat and repeat until you can say, "Okay. That's better."

That's More Like It

So do you remember back on April 3rd, when I was complaining about how I hadn't been writing that much? Well, I hadn't, and it was frustrating. Work was sucking the creativity out of my brain. I worked late. I worked more when I got home. I worked on weekends. That's how publishing goes. Like the military, there's a lot of hurry up and wait, but once shit's on, shit's on. So all my delayed titles parachuted in at once and I had a few weeks to make them happen. WHILE at the same time being asked if I could publish early.

Want to work in publishing? Behold your fate. This kind of thing never changes. Turn over late, publish early. Glamorous, yes?

Anyway, so I do what I do because that's what I do and get my work done (and publish early, behold my awesomeness). This means I have time to do things other than work, which means I have time to write. It's amazing how hard it is to write when you're spending all your other time working. Even if I wasn't working on the train, I was so exhausted from working all the time, I typically just fell asleep or watched Stargate SG-1.

So, on April 3rd, I was hanging out at 68,000 words. Two weeks later? 98,000 words. That's much better. That's the kind of productivity I like to see! It's going to take a lot of work to get this thing up to snuff, it being a first draft and all. But the main goal of a first draft is to finish the first draft, and I'm glad to see that progress is being made in that regard.

And you? How is your writing coming along? I see Ted Cross is mad in March with his stories and Nate Wilson is blogging like no one else can and Livia Blackburne is on her bajillionth draft. Update the class, kiddies. Let us know how you're doing.

Up for Air

I have a blog? Oh that's right, I do! And here I am posting to it. Let me tell you, it's a sign of how much I love you that I'm spending my precious few minutes of free time to say hello.

Hello!

All my December titles have already turned over. What's that? It's April? Yes, yes it is. Welcome to publishing.

I've been cranking it out lately. Ten-hour days plus four-hour commutes. Not the worst I've had in my career. I've done 15+ before, but still, 14 hours out of a 24-hour day doesn't leave a lot of leisure time.

Thankfully, this sort of thing will only last a few more weeks and then things settle back down. What distresses me most is not the amount of time spent working, but the drain it puts on me. Yesterday, trudging my way to the train station, I had to make a choice, write on the way home or watch Stargate SG-1 on my phone. Stargate won out. And it's been winning out a lot lately. Today is the first day I can remember in the last week where I had the energy to write both in the morning and the evening train ride home.

I'm not losing the rhythm of the story, which is great, but the word count is going up sooo slowly. I chopped out 20,000 words (a kick to the nuts but much needed). Then I rewrote the 20,000 words. I've only managed another 8,000 since then. Not bad, certainly, but normally I hit that number in four days.

I have no plans on being a full-time writer (in that full-time denotes having no other job). My benefits at my company are top notch, and I wouldn't want to give those up to be on my own. But there are times, times like this when I'm burning the candle on all ends, that I wish I had more time to devote to writing and less time to publish something in four weeks that would otherwise have eight.

Letting Go

So Kristin Nelson had a very important lesson on her blog today. A lot of famous authors have had to learn that lesson as well. Brandon Sanderson and his agent Jashua Blimes have commented on the drawer full of novels he had written and were not good enough for Elantris, his first published novel. And Marie Lu's first sale is a huge one. I actually send my condolences because the pressure for her next novel is going to be a bitch. Good wishes and all the support I can offer that she rises to the challenge. (I think I would be a mess.)

This is a lesson I'm having trouble with but not having trouble with. I have a rule, one new novel per year. Rewriting does NOT count as a new novel. New from scratch, never been finished before, that's new. Between requested revisions and non-requested revisions, I didn't finish my first novel this year until September (PRINCE OF CATS). I honestly don't know if I'll finish my second before the end of December (WHAT'S BEHIND THE CROOKED DOOR?). I won't have a completed draft of either before years' end. That's rough.

Here's the catch. I write fantasy and in fantasy, the world is effectively a character. I'm not so much consumed with the stories. They couple I've rewritten have changed to varying degrees. What I'm married to are the settings. The notion of abandoning the settings for new stories is something I haven't been able to do. I love those settings and I want other people to see them too. The problem is, having written a story in them (or a couple, for one world), it's hard to completely divorce what you've written for that setting and start fresh.

So, I excuse the whole thing by saying, as long as I write one new novel a year, it doesn't matter if the rest of my time is spent revising. That may burn me in the future, but for now, it's a middle ground I've found for myself.