Escaping the List

I love fantasy but there are fantasy characters that make me put a book down as soon as I see they're involved.


Wait, what? Dragons? How could dragons be on the list? It's the most iconic monster in all of fantasy. Smog, anyone?

And that's the thing. The dragon is the most overdone creature in the genre. No one does anything interesting with them. No one twists them in new ways. It's the same hard-scaled, fire breathing, treasure hoarding, lanced knight riding on its back because this super powerful creature is somehow still beholden to humans, monster in every book.

There are some books I'm missing out on. I've been told by numerous trustworthy sources that I'm missing some worthwhile novels because of this policy (TWELVE, THE GREYFRIAR, etc.) and it got me to thinking. Maybe I'm missing something worth reading. Now I could read either of the above because vampires are so high up on the list, it'll take more than some really good recommendations for me to pull them off. Sparkle or no sparkle, no vampires nada.

In 1999, I gave up watching TV. It seemed like nothing good was on TV and the commercials were atrocious! I didn't give the tube a try again for five years when I found out I missed both Firefly and The West Wing. I missed other good shows like Buffy and Angel, but Firefly and The West Wing rate in my top five best television shows ever. EVER. And I missed them.

So what books am I missing?

So I looked around and saw something that piqued my interest, a little ditty edited by Anne Sowards, who I've gotten to know on Twitter and she's pretty cool. SONG OF THE BEAST by Carol Berg.

Dragons are still the big scaled things that breathe fire, but the premise as to why the are beholden to humans, the origin stories of how dragons affected the world, and their need for the main character. It's a great idea. It's a genius idea! I'm still coming to terms with the ending, but I wouldn't hesitate recommending this book. If you're looking for some good fantasy, give it a try. I'm so glad I picked it up.

A Triumphant Return

So here I am. :) The busy season has passed. At least until it arrives again (which for me will be January). This year (in my new department) hasn't been even half as bad as the two previous where I was expected to work 14-hour days with weekends and basically go balls to the wall until the summer was gone. I love New Hampshire weather because it has four seasons, but I was skipping one of them and that wasn't as much fun.

I have continued to write, another thing that was difficult in the summer. I have been rewriting Wanted: Chosen One which is now titled With a Crooked Crown. Let me tell you how much work that has been. I thought it would be an up-front slog while I bent the first half of the book like a contortionist and then just some mopping up to clean up the dust. Not so! Change the main character to a person that was a secondary character and that takes a lot of work. More over, change one of the negative characters to someone less negative and you start to realize he had to get his bitch on in every chapter he was in. Every time I say I'm almost done, I have to stop and rewrite entire chapters.

This weekend I did some prep work on my next book. I don't always do character designs and such before I start writing. Often I don't know the characters to be involved and those I think will be of use end up never fitting into the evolution of the story. But I have a very clear picture of this story. Very clear. I already have names for ten characters and that never happens! So that's kind of thrilling and kind of frustrating at the same time because I can't work on it until I finish my rewrite. So close! So far away! (I spent the morning rewriting a chapter and have spent my lunch hour rewriting the rewrite to change the POV to a different character. :)

And I will leave you with this. My wife just read A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, as we are both fans of the series (books--we haven't seen the HBO show yet). By the end of A FEAST FOR CROWS I had picked up on Martin's chapter template: introduce characters, eat/describe what they're wearing, have something important happen. So I would read the first page to see who was around and then the last two pages of a chapter to see what happens. I'd skip all the description because after four books, I got it.

Well, according to the missus, he's actually increased his description of food, which may be difficult to comprehend. Her question was obvious? Why?! To date, I had just assumed it was his style, but then I wondered, is he doing this on purpose?

The answer slapped me like a person that's been sitting next to you on the couch for the entire movie and you didn't even know they were there. Yes he's doing it on purpose. In the very first book Ned Stark says people aren't saving enough for winter. Summer had gone on too long and people forgot how much food they needed to save for winter. So here is all this opulence, all these people feasting and gorging and being all disgusting. Why? Because the next book is named THE WINDS OF WINTER and you want to guess how hungry they're going to be then? It's a 50-calibre metaphor shot through five books so the sixth one can properly juxtapose their situation.

It's the opposite of the soft touch. It's the jackhammer. Or it's just his style. We'll see.

I'm Famous!

I don't read erotic romance, but that doesn't make Roni Loren any less cool. We have a great rhythm on twitter where she posts a blog entry, people comment, she says "Go check out the controversy!, and I go see one person disagreeing with her. I then wag my finger at her for hyberbolizing controversy (she should be a Washington reporter) and we both smile and keep doing what we're doing.

Well today, she has a guest blogger...ME! So go check out the controversy!

Also, her first book CRASH INTO ME is coming out soon, so buy it if you like erotic romance. I'm told its both super nifty and keen.

Why are you still reading here? Go! Now!

The Absence of Trees

Completely unrelated to my previous post (and apologies for its rushed nature), but I've been spending a measurable amount of time pondering book signings lately. Specifically how I cannot attend them. I don't buy paper books any more. It would be awkward going up to an author and asking him to sign my nook. Mostly because I don't want him/her signing my nook. I don't want him/her signing its protective covering, as that will inevitably wear out. (I put it through its paces.)

I've been envisioning lately a laptop, an appropriate collection of cables, and signature files that could be created and then transferred to the user's ereader. What would be even cooler was if my ebook already had the code to accept such a file and once the file was present, the signature would appear within the ebook itself. That would be thrilling.

I wonder if anyone is working on something like that.

Waning Fanaticism

I follow George Martin on LiveJournal. I thrilled to see the amazing actors that will perform in "A Game of Thrones." (Peter Dinklage!!!!) I have watched the trailers and am anxious to see the finished product in hopes that it will be as great as it appears. I even follow A Game of Thrones on twitter.

Sometimes I see responses to that twitter account by other followers and it reminds me, I'm just not into the story as I once was.

Friends introduced me to the series when A FEAST FOR CROWS first came out, and I bounced on it. I read all four books in a row and was just as enthralled as they were. But now? By the time A DANCE WITH DRAGONS releases, it will have been a minimum of six years since CROWS came out. I say minimum because there's no guarantee the book will actually release in 2011. It was supposed to release every September for the last three years.

There's a lot of "don't judge until you've been there" about this whole thing. How could anyone understand what it takes to...blah blah blah. It's an invitation for fate to smote me with their lightning bolt of humility, but at the moment, I really don't care. Six years for a novel that doesn't even advance the plot from where the previous book ended. It simply parallels it.

I fully expect this series to go unfinished or to follow THE WHEEL OF TIME and require a different author to finish it. This also influences my interest in the TV show. If it's a rave success and they cover a book per season, and (assuming DANCE comes out this year), the next book won't be released by the time the series has run its course.

Two years used to be a standard for fantasy. When I was growing up, an author had two years to put out the next installment of a series. Somewhere in the nineties that started to balloon. In the aughts, turn around time for the major names has become ridiculous. Of the major best sellers, only Williams and Sanderson seem capable of producing content on any type of schedule.

As a fan, this is incredibly frustrating. As an aspiring author, I cannot fathom how a person is managing their time if they write full time and cannot produce a finished book in over half a decade.

I list Martin and his series on my website as a favorite. And he is and it is, but the more time goes by the more this changes. I can't really call myself a fan of a series if the series no longer exists, can I?

What about you? What are your thoughts?

A Matter of Style

Mentioned previously, I'm reading CATCHING FIRE, by Suzanne Collins. It's the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy. With the exception of this morning's dumb decision on the part of the main character, the book maintains the style of the first book I enjoyed so much. There doesn't seem to be a lot going on, though. Well, there's enough, but nothing that says "THIS IS THE CHALLENGE THE PROTAGONIST MUST FACE!" It's just a continuation of a theme with no real plot point propelling the story forward. There is one, I guess (President Snow, I will say without spoilers), but it is treated in such a way that I don't find myself genuinely concerned with the main character.

And I think it's because of how THE HUNGER GAMES ended. It was a fair ending. I did not feel cheated. I did not roll my eyes or swear or throw my nook across the room. But if I had been writing the story, there would have been one significant change.


At the end of THE HUNGER GAMES, the gamemaster predictably reverses the rule that says there can be two victors, forcing Peeta and Katniss to face off. But they have poisoned berries, so they start the game of chicken. If the capital expects them to kill one another, they'll refuse and kill themselves instead. They pop the berries in their mouths, the capital caves at the last minute, they spit the berries out and stand triumphant.

That's how it happened in the book. In my book, the capital caves, announces them as the winners, and then they both fall down dead.

At the point, everything that's happened in the first 100 pages of CATCHING FIRE could have been summarized in a single epilogue. And I think because I'm effectively reading a continuation of a story that I would have condensed into a single chapter, I'm finding it kind of hard to sign onto the premise of the story like I did with the first one.

I'm not done with CATCHING FIRE. As long as it is average, I will read MOCKINGJAY. I'm curious whether either/both characters survive the story. Since it's a YA trilogy, I will assume they do. I would have been more satisfied if THE HUNGER GAMES had been a single book and they had died at the end.

Time Out

I have two thousands words left before I complete JEHOVAH'S HITLIST. I just bought SHADOWHEART, the fourth and final volume of the Shadowmarch Tetralogy written by my favorite author, Tad Williams. This is a time for writing and reading a big ass book.

...yet SHADOWHEART sits on my table (damn that thing is heavy to carry) and I haven't opened my computer since yesterday morning. Why?

A book came out earlier this year, MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins. The tweet-o-sphere erupted in various expostulations of worship. No genre is more represented on Twitter (or the internet, really) than YA, and there was no one that didn't love this series. I'm not a big YA reader myself, limiting that to Rawling and Hardy and that's about it. So when I see such a one-sided outpouring, I tend to stay away. Especially since a lot of the outpouring began with agents. Popular online agents tend to have a trail of sycophants behind them, so I find their corroboration of the agent's opinion to mean little.

Then a few actors hired a production company to film them in an 8-minute trailer in hopes of landing parts in the forthcoming movie. This trailer spoke to me. I downloaded the book preview (a genuine previous and not some front matter plus two pages crap I so often find) and immediately bought the book.



Finishing a novel? That can wait. SHADOWHEART? That thing weighs a lot. Why wasn't there an ebook?

THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins? Believe the hype. This thing is good.

Let's Talk About Sex

Tiffany Reisz is one of Sara Megibow's erotica authors. She wrote a guest post for Fiction Groupie that just blew me away, so I thought I would bring it to your attention.

Now, as a liberal adult, I have been instructed to be open about sex, and I am. So is my wife. We're cool like that. But this post gave me pause because really, few people I know, liberal or otherwise, are comfortable talking about sex, certainly so if it involves a discussion with more than one person. Impossibly so if someone under 20 is in the room and we are doing anything but an instructional lecture of the dangers of sex.

Yeah, not so much.

The specific comment that Tiffany made that I found so profound was:

Really?  I’m the only adult who has ever told a super smart beautiful young woman that sex was good?  That’s troubling.  Sex IS good. Why is that a secret? Marriage is good too. Nobody hides that fact from kids. Nobody thinks that by telling a fourteen year old girl that marriage is good, that fourteen year old is going to run out and immediately get married. So why all the secrecy? Why all the shame? I want her to know sex is good so she’ll know it’s worth taking seriously, it’s worth thinking about, it’s worth doing right.

Dear lord yes! I've known this and have expressed this but never articulated it in such a simple but powerful manner. Anyone that says sex is bad or shameful is either a liar or doing it wrong. This right here is how you communicate the importance of sex, safe sex, self-respect, and respecting others. This is going to be an awesome part of your life, so pay attention.

Kudos to Tiffany.

The Six Books of Harry Potter

Nathan Bransford invited readers to post comments about Harry Potter on their own blogs and link back in his, for which this post is created. Depending on how long you've been following me, you might have listened to the episode of the PodgeCast or even read the older post on my LiveJournal that covered the matter. Rather than digging through all that, I will repost here why I think the seventh book should be erased from the collective memory.


Molly Weasley vs. Bellatrix Lestrange


Like many of the previous novels in the series, HPDH lacked a firm editorial hand1. The 300-page trek through the woods was interminable. At least 100 pages could have been cut from that scene without detracting from the story.

The climax of HPHBP enumerates a number of rules for the final book. Harry is chasing after Snape and not having any success at all. Snape tells him that he'll never succeed without learning how to cast without speaking. More over, if Harry ever hopes to face Voldemort, he must first defeat Snape. Neither of these issues are addressed in book 7.

Never, not once ever, does Harry cast a spell without speaking in the seventh book. When it comes to the final conflict, it has no bearing whatsoever to the outcome.

Harry never faces Snape. Nagini kills Snape while Harry watches, so really, the whole ending of book 6 is negated.

WORSE, that negation also reduces Dumbledore's sacrifice. Why did he let Snape kill him? To protect the Elder Wand. Snape defeats Dumbledore and thus is the owner of the Elder Wand. Harry is supposed to defeat Snape so he can get the Elder Wand. The Elder Wand is one of three items that GIVE THE BOOK ITS NAME! That plotline is entirely disregarded.

Lupin and Tonks die so that Harry can be father to an orphan, bringing to a ridiculous conclusion to the character arcs of two of the most reasonable characters in the series up to that point. They throw their lives away to avoid responsibility2 and their deaths are a complete throw-away. It's not even a scene of the book.

Harry sends Ginny, the most badass combat wizard of the group, away at the end of the sixth book. And she stays away. What character is this? Certainly not the one that had grown into a strong-minded woman in the two previous books3.

And the clincher, JKR's comments following the publication of the book. No, not that Dumbledore was gay. Who gives a shit about that? No, she made two comments that just make me wonder how she managed to write such an amazing series in the first place as she seems completely out of touch with her own characters.

Blog post 1: JKR answers the questions of what happened to the characters after the end of the series. Harry and Ron become aurors and revolutionize the field. AYFKM?!?!? Neither of them are smart enough to be aurors much less to revolutionize the field. They lucked into potions class and would never have been able to last in any long-term capacity in that profession.

MORE IMPORTANTLY, she had created an arc she never resolved. Voldemort had tried to be the Dark Arts professor and failed. Following, the school never had another professor for more than a year. Being his opposite and given his proven track record at surviving the dark arts (and experience leading DA), Harry should have taken on the roll to break the curse. Ron could have taken his self-confidence and gone on to play professional Quidditch, which is the only activity he ever truly loves in the entire series.

Blog post 2: JKR says she crafted the ending specifically for Harry to represent Jesus in an effort to draw readers to Christ through her fiction. Hey, if that's what she wants to do, that's her choice. But to accomplish it, she derailed her own series and turned it in a direction where she could recreate Good Friday in a wizard combat zone. Never sacrifice your story for your message. A skillful author could use the former to deliver the latter.

Adendum 1: I also contend that Neville is more popular because of the movies than he is because of the book. JKR uses Dobby as the character that arrives with the timely answer (e.g., gillyweed). In the movies, they use Neville who is a lot cheaper than a CGI house elf. Not only did it work, it was BETTER than the books. It fit the character better and fleshed it out. The Neville of the books never got any real attention (other than being a practical joke) until HPOP, whereas the movies began his evolution one story earlier in HPGF. While he gets a great scene in the final book, I wonder how much attention he would have got if he hadn't grown so popular.

Adendum 2: What would have been cool? In HPPS/HPSS (depending on your nationality), Ron is the knight and has to sacrifice himself for Harry to continue on to the end. If that had been paralleled in the final book, it would have been a stroke of genius.

1 After the series became popular, there became a standard format to any Harry Potter novel. Part 1: Main plot. Part 2: Awesome subplot. Part 3: Lame subplot.

Parts 2 and 3 always got equal attention and swelled the book well beyond an appropriate page count. Parts 3 from every novel could have been chopped with no loss to character or primary plot flow. It would have just chucked lameness that we all had to wade through like we were sewer workers or something.

2 I have yet to meet a (sane) mother who would sacrifice the life of her kid to be with her husband while he runs off to get himself killed.

3 In all their previous fights, Harry and Ron have required a third person to force them back together. When Ron returns with the sword, it should have been Ginny hauling him there with whatever cattle prod Ron needs that book. They abandoned their strongest weapon and the story abandons her too4.

4 I will admit to some bias, as she's my favorite character, but really. If you're going to war, you don't send the guy with the machine gun home because it's dangerous. Certainly the guy with the machine gun doesn't stay home once he's there.

Minimum Word Counts

When I lived in St. Louis and began to finally put genuine effort to a career in writing, I began the Third World, an epic setting required of every major fantasy author. To that point, I did not read critically. I read what I enjoyed and read for enjoyment. I did not stop to ponder word choice or sentence structure, pacing or plot. I just read. And because of that, I just wrote.

I wrote chapters for the story of that chapter and gave no thought to reader fatigue1 or for that matter writer fatigue. Both CAUSE AND CONVICTION (originally titled THE END OF BLISS) and A CIRCLE OF CRIMSON STONE have chapters that are 10,000 words long. So when you look at the Queue and you see a word count of 40,000 words, that means that book only has 4 chapters written.

Shortly after this, I joined my first writers' group. The response was the same as everyone else's response would eventually be: shock. One chapter is 10,000 words?! Are you crazy? That's so long? Is it? I didn't think it was. Perhaps it was just a difference of genre. They wrote thriller, sci-fi, women's paranormal and...well, not sure about the last lady. But none of them wrote epic fantasy. So clearly mine was more appropriate for my genre.

Was it? I was sure I had read plenty of epic fantasies with similar word counts. But there would only be one way I could know for sure. I went home and pulled books off my shelf. Martin, Williams, Rothfuss, and others. All epic fantasies, the bellwethers of word count. 250k minimum per manuscript. Then I did a cast off2 on a sampling of chapters in each novel. I got the evidence I needed.

The average word count was 2000 to 2500 words per chapter. In the monsters of the genre, the chapters were still only 1/4 the size of the chapters I was writing. Instead of having 25 chapters, they had 100 or more. So, in my next work, I decided I'd try writing shorter chapters.

My next work was BLACK MAGIC AND BARBECUE SAUCE which ended up with chapters as short as 500 words, though most averaged about 2000. This proved to be a good move on my part because--as you can imagine--writing 10,000 word chapters can be exhausting. So now, as a rule for first-draft writing, all my chapters will be 2000 words long (minimum). This has been a great yardstick to use. 1100 words and I'm not fleshing out the scene enough. 4000 words and I've included too much back story. 1800-3300 words seems to be a great sweet spot.

This is also why I'm able to write in order and so quickly. I write 1000 words on my way into work. I write 1000 words on my way home, completing one chapter. 5 chapters--10,000 words--a week, and in 2-3 months, my novel's first draft is complete.

1 It's a weird psychological effect, but readers don't seem to handle long chapters well. They get mentally tired and want a break. Even if they don't take a break from reading, a chapter break seems to reset the internal clock, give them a sense of advancement, of knowing the story is moving toward its end. I could take the same ten-thousand word chapter and split it into two five-thousand word chapters, and the response from readers would be more favorable toward the latter. It's weird, but I've found this to be the case regardless of region or reader level.

2 The whole 250 words/page thing? Yeah, that's crap. That's the metric you use in a meeting when you're asked for the total page count and you haven't done a cast off yet. If you want a quick but accurate measure of how many words there are per page, you take a book of like design (you may not realize it, but books have different interior designs allowing for greater or fewer words per page), and do the following. Find five to ten pages that have a fair balance of dialogue and description (not all description and not all dialogue). Count how many words appear in the first five or six lines and divide by the number of lines. This gives you a word-per-line average. Then count the number of lines on each page and divide by the number of pages: lines-per-page. Divide the total word count by wpl average. Multiply this result by the lpp average and that is your projected page count.

There are ways to get even more precise page counts, but this one can be done in 5 to 15 minutes and is accurate enough for our purposes. For adult fantasy, the word count per page is closer to 300 to 350 per page rather than 250. Over the course of 100k-250k, that extra 100wpp can make a big difference.

Fried Ocher

I was talking to Elizabeth Poole yesterday who had been absent for a week because she thought she deserved to vacation in another state rather than hang out and talk to me over IM. Silly girl. Anyway, she asked me for an update on JEHOVAH'S HITLIST. I didn't have much to report. I had invoked and then rescinded rule 2a. I had decided to embrace the crapitude. There were certain things I was stuck on. I felt that Jehovah accepted the Hanged Man's orders too early. That I hadn't properly established what a great threat the HM was or why Jay would fold so quickly. I still had (and still do) have issues with the climax and how I use elements I really enjoy (like Jesus Street) that currently just seem to be there for set dressing.

But mostly, every time I thought on JH, I would immediately think of THE TRIAD SOCIETY. I've never received beta feedback only on a partial before. I'm in third-draft mode trying to work on a first-draft story, and that's difficult. VERY difficult. What's worse, I'm not just thinking of TTS. I'm thinking of THE RED SOCK SOCIETY and the whole Reliarachic1 Societies trilogy.

There is another rule I did not include in my list of ten because it only applies while I'm not published. Rule NP1 is don't work on sequels. What's the point of writing TRSS if TTS never publishes? You can't have an Empire Strikes Back without Star Wars2. I think this is good advice even though there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of authors selling their series in multi-book deals3. I don't care. I have plenty of other stories I want to tell, so what's the rush to dive into a series? It's why I'm focusing on individual novels rather than my ginormous series of trilogies, The Third World4. There's a catch, of course. When I finish one manuscript, I usually have a few false starts before I find another to work. When I finished WANTED, I had a few false starts before finally starting on TTS, which some might think is a sequel. It's set in the same setting, but on the opposite side of the sea. You can read one without the other, so I don't consider that a sequel. TRSS most definitely is a sequel. It worries me that I keep gravitating back to this world. I have other stories I want to tell, dammit!

ANYWAY, so last night I'm reading SHARDS OF HONOR, the first half of the omnibus CORDELIA'S HONOR by Lois McMaster Bujold, my favorite author. I read CORDELIA'S HONOR once a year, not intentionally. I just get in the mood for that story again. Specifically SHARDS OF HONOR, which is my favorite of the entire Vorkosigan Adventures series. There is a scene where Cordelia is returning to Beta Colony, a desert planet, and a cloud is described as ocher. I'm horrible at non-standard colors and even though the context tells me what the color is, I want to know the actual definition. Easier than you might think when one reads on an e-reader. It includes a dictionary. Aside from not having to lug around paper books, having a dictionary on hand is my second-favorite feature. I read the definition of ocher and it's like a stick of dynamite set next to the crack in my creative dam.

There are mistakes in JH. I rushed Jehovah agreeing to work for the Hanged Man. The climax needs some work. But who gives a shit? First draft. Embrace the crapitude. You know what the next 30,000 words are supposed to be so what are you waiting for?

It was the end of the NaNo'd chapter. It was too sucky. It was so sucky as to only reinforce my poor opinion of NaNo. It needs to be fixed.

The entire setting is in a refugee ghetto called the Nation. 53 blocks representing the 53 states of the United States of America when that nation collapsed and refugees were ferried to Africa when the waters were rising. The city is built beneath a giant platform city, one so large as to block out the sun. Instead, there is a giant array with lightbulbs to make it bright as day. The move in stages, increments of 30 minutes. First and second position, the first hour of day, are considered dawn. Jehovah arrives at the DMZ at dawn and I NaNo'd the scene.

Ocher is the key. Dawn shouldn't go to full brightness. It should be at half-power. There would be a dull yellow pall over everything. Ocher. Capital Center at Philadelphia Park shouldn't be a big crater. The crater should be on the inside. From Lazarus Street, he should see the front of the Offices of he Judiciary and walk around to the Offices of Refugees Advocate Authority when he sees that a big fucking bomb went off right in the middle of it all. It was all backward. It was too short. And it was the wrong color.

I revised the end of the NaNo'd chapter into non-NaNo being. I'm about to finish that one and start the next chapter fresh, to which I expect to successfully write the next 30,000 words without stressing on the final gun battle between the Kansas City Park Family and the deputies or of how I can tie Jesus Street back into things, because I honestly don't know if I can.

For now though... #amwriting. Bam said the lady.

1 I originally chose the word Reliarachic while writing WANTED as a means of showing just how overly-complicated that society was. Its own adjective was hard to say. Now that I have a novel set there, though, I'm thinking I might need to change it to something like Reliarish or something similar.

2 You thought to yourself "You mean 'A New Hope'" and you are wrong. There are only three Star Wars movies and they were named Star Wars, SW: Empire Strikes Back, and SW: Return of the Jedi. This whole renaming and numbering thing is crap, made only more crap by the absolutely horrendous prequels that would have existed if Lucas had ever been dumb enough to make them. Thankfully for all of us, he left the original trilogy untouched and unchanged5.

3 Pat Rothfuss sold his books as a trilogy, having written all three over the course of ten years. Given that original effort, he's still spent almost half that time over rewriting the second in the series because the original offering was so bad (per his own description).

4 Seeing what happened with the Wheel of Time and how long it takes Martin to produce another Ice and Fire book, The Third World is a setting explored in trilogies. There is a trilogy of stories with a meta-arc, and each trilogy's meta-arc combines to build an epic arc. That way if I ever die, at least the trilogies are complete. You can imagine why I'm not rushing to write something of such tremendous scope considering I haven't even been published yet.

5 Han shot first.

Accept the Crapitude

So, invoking rule 2a didn't have an immediate impact. I chose to finished Bujold's CRYOBURN1 before getting back to work for a few reasons which I may or may not enumerate below2. Anyway, this morning was technically a writing day, but I quickly realized that rule 2a was unnecessary. The writing was crap, but it was a level of crapness that seemed appropriate for a first draft. To stop and revise 40,000 words would reestablish neither voice nor rhythm in a fashion conducive to continuing the work. It was a time sink, a trap. It is the very reason rule 2 exists to begin with.

So instead, I began spot checking. Spot checking being reading while correcting errors I might happen upon. Mostly I refamiliarized myself with the Nation's bad grammar, Jehovah's obsession with family, Sid's foul-mouthed excitability, and Three's lovable innocence. It reminds me how excited I was writing JH before I stopped to revise TTS. It makes me want to write the work again. This is what I needed. I needed to warm up the engine so I could drive in the snow.

It doesn't fix my immediate concern that there's something wrong near where I stopped. I hope that it will come to me soon and I can correct it. Otherwise I'll have to soldier on. And I won't say that I just needed to be inspired again. That's just crap. What I needed was to love JEHOVAH'S HITLIST more than THE TRIAD SOCIETY. That has proved much more difficult than normal (see footnote3 too for hypotheses). While my word count won't be going up today, it may start going up tomorrow, definitely by Friday. Absolutely by Monday or the warning sirens go off.

Either way, it's time for Jehovah to discover the ruins of the Nation's government, meet with racist Rori Schapp (that will eventually lead to the story's thesis statement later in the book when he's talking to Dominic Texas), confront the deputy that follows him, and move the plot along. I want to have this first draft finished by the new year.

The killer? When I get beta feedback for TTS, I'll have to stop again. While I think TTS was served wonderfully for taking a longer break to begin JH before revision, JH seems to be suffering now because of the repeated breaks.

1 The end of this book would have been crushing to a series fan if Bujold hadn't spoiled it a year ago on her MySpace blog. It's almost enough to cause an AYFKM moment. It's a half-AYFKM, which is why this is only a footnote and not its own post like it almost was yesterday when I read it. It would have been delicious heartache, the kind of thing that Liz would chide me about for months after reading it if I had written it. But I knew it was coming.

2 The hardest part of starting JH again was that I didn't want to stop revising TTS. Receiving beta feedback on the first three chapters so soon after finishing my own revision, and seeing how much the novel improved because of that feedback, I wanted to keep going. There are 30 more chapters that need this kind of polish. Let's get to it! But I have to actually let people read the manuscript. ...dammit.

I also think there's a problem somewhere. Maybe Jehovah accepted the Hanged Man's threats too readily. Perhaps he needed to know he was being followed sooner. Even though I understand how dangerous the Hanged Man is and that Jehovah with his obsession with family would absolutely kill five strangers to keep them all safe, I'm not sure if I've properly communicated all of that.

3 I've totally stolen Nate Wilson's footnote gimmick. I commented that it really freed up my writing from those pesky asides. This is proving much more true than I realized at the time. This makes blogging so much easier. Why doesn't everyone have footnotes? Look at how easily I can communicate side-information without obstructing the flow of the main thought. Genius! Pure genius!

4 You just went back and looked because you didn't remember there being a fourth footnote. Didn't you? ...I think the footnotes might have just jumped the shark. Shit.