Thursday, September 29, 2011

On Crawling

No, this is not a post on the progress I've made this week writing-wise (though it very well could be. Stupid reasonable limits on my abilities...)I am proud to announce that Sera, as of two days ago, is now a crawler.

She can now toddle pretty much anywhere she wants. This means that anything--from computer cords to toys to shoes--is now fair game. The chaos has officially begun...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On the State of the Writer

Friday was somewhat less than a good day. I think I basically hit my stress limit in terms of all the projects that I've been working on, and my brain decided to take a little vacation. My apologies for those who have been awaiting any news from me. I know there were many who were holding their breath. :)

In any case, my most recent question is if I should try to publish Kingsley indie style or traditional style. Going indie with Kingsley means further investment out of my own pocket, but it offers rewards quicker. Traditional means waiting a year or two to see if the publishers will want to pick it up, which will tax my patience, but it would reach a broader market and require less financial backing on my part.

Which side do you guys come down on? I know some of you have already weighed in, but feel free to give your opinions. See you around!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

On the Wall

It has been hit...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On Setting New Goals (aka Scheduling Crazy Stuff)

So Murders in Whitechapel (or Mysteries in Whitechapel as I think it will probably be called), has been progressing pretty well. I am about seven thousand words in, and the story is shaping up pretty well.

My attempt to rewrite Iron Angels fell a little flat, however. Instead, I decided to turn Badger into a readable copy first, while I am still interested in Jacob's story. Once I get to that point, I will return to Gabriel and Susan and hopefully get an alpha reader copy out by mid October. After that, I will do another revision of Adventures and probably send out queries and summaries to editors and agents by the beginning of November. That will get me ready to finish off Mysteries by mid-November, and hopefully get Wolfhound published on Amazon and Smashwords by late November/early December, thus completing my journey towards having something up by Christmas.

On a totally unrealted note, I'm feeling kind of tired lately. Any ideas why? :) See you around!

Monday, September 19, 2011

On Hobbies

So I realized the other day that I don't have any hobbies. This disturbs me.

I used to have plenty of hobbies, but I seem to have either outgrown them or turned them into careers. Writing was once a hobby, but now I am doing it at a pace that makes it a career rather than something I do just to goof off. Gaming was something I did up until college, and videogames don't seem to fit the pattern of hobby that I'm thinking of. Running I guess you could consider a hobby, but it falls more into the exercise category since it isn't like I am preparing for races or anything.

I think I might need to start one, if only to bleed off some of the stress of working full time, plus writing books, plus baby. Any ideas on hobbies I could do? Post some that might be interesting, and I hope you all are doing well. See ya!

Friday, September 16, 2011

On Darker and Grittier

It's always a bit disconcerting for me when a character disagrees with me on how I am writing him or her.

Yet it happens on a fairly regular basis. Most recently, Kingsley decided to disagree with me on how I was writing the sequel.

I had originally intended to have a large portion of the book to be devoted to tracking down a serial killer in London. It was going to be a rather gruesome case, with a lot of violent themes involved, until Kingsley finally undoes the whole thing. Murders in Whitechapel was going to be kind of like the Dark Knight book of my series, exploring the nature and causes of evil.

Kingsley didn't like that. His style just didn't seem to fit with the darker tone the story was taking, and it certainly didn't fit with the event style plot. He's a detective, and his story follows mysteries and questions, not events and battles. Further, there tends to be very little gory stuff in a Kingsley book, even with violent characters like Rook in the mix. Trying to stick such a dark plot just didn't seem to work.

And so I had to change things, refocus them on new questions instead of a new event. The story has shifted around Kingsley's way of telling it, instead of the way I had pictured it before. Now I've got what might as well be a different story, to the point where I almost want to change the story to Mysteries in Whitechapel instead of Murders. It's weird, but it works a lot better, and I am looking forward to writing it that much more.

Oh well, I suppose it will turn out well in the end... See you around!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

On Prologues

You know, I don't think that prologues are all that bad.

There are a lot of prologue-hating authors out there, and they make a lot of very good points about the deficiencies of including a prologue in a story. It's often an unreasonable delay to the story, many prologues don't tend to add anything to the plot, character development or mystery of a story, and there are many prologues which signal instantly to the reader that they should turn their brains off and coast for as long as the prologue lasts, if only to be able to enjoy the story that follows. A lot of this comes from prologues that tend to exist only to "tell the reader what they need to know" or explain some obscure part of the backstory that doesn't show up again until much later on in the book. These prologues can break a story before its even begun.

Yet I've noticed lately that a lot of these arguments only really target poorly-done prologues rather than the concept of a prologue in general. There are a lot of well done prologues, including those written by Brandon Sanderson and other fantasy writers, that add a lot to the flavor of the story. I'd say that as long as a prologue helps the reader get a feel for the world and the main characters, it can actually do a lot of good. One example of that is the prologue to Mistborn or Elantris. They not only provide some small setting details and character traits, but also set the tone and flavor of the tale that follows, allowing the reader to immerse themselves in the story.

Another example comes from my own work. There is a certain series of stories about a certain steampunk investigator who gives a short prologue before each of his books. While some setting details are revealed, the main function is to allow the reader to get a feel for Mr. Kingsley and his view of life. I'd say that without that short 600 word prologue, the rest of the story would not go nearly as well. In fact, it would pretty much break the book.

My evidence for that comes from the sequel. When I started the newest iteration of the series, I had to labor over the prologue a while before I got it right. The first version was so bad it had to be thrown out completely. It set the tone entirely wrong, and I actually couldn't convince myself to continue writing because the story just felt wrong. But the second...

Let's just say that it tastes like victory. Mwahahaha!

So let's all be nice to prologues, alright? They do have some good points, and you never know. Someday, you might end up writing one yourself... and even worse, you might like it.

In any case, I hope that your lives are going well, and I'll see you around!

Monday, September 12, 2011

On A New Project

I made it! Badger is now done, at least as far as the first draft is concerned. The book will likely need a second draft before it can be readable, but for now I will be shifting my focus to the next project: Murders in Whitechapel.

I'm a bit concerned on how to start this one off. Part of the problem is that Kingsley is a mystery oriented story, which is very different from the event oriented storyline in Badger. Rather than a battle, I need to inject intrigue and trickery, which requires a bit of a different focus.

Another part of the problem is that unlike the first Kingsley novel, you start this one with a fairly good idea of who at least one of the bad guys is. That brings the conflict a lot more quickly into focus than the first book, and changes at least some of it from a "Whodunnit" type story to a "Whatshegonnado" plot. It's enough of a difference to make things subtly different, and it presents a puzzle I'm going to need to work around to get things right. Given the success I had with the first book, I am hoping to not flub the second one completely, so there's that presure to deal with as well.

At the same time I'm going to be doing a third draft rewrite of Iron Angels. The writing group has made its way through nearly a third of the second draft, and their critiques have given me fuel enough to go through and make my alpha readable draft now. That story's pretty different from Jacob's or Kingsley's as well, but I don't think it will distract me too badly. I hope.

Here goes everything...

Friday, September 9, 2011

On Anniversaries

You know, every year around this time I start to worry a little about the state of my soul.

Maybe it's the constant, politicized reminiscing about Sept 11th in the news. Maybe it's the op eds that try to explain what happened and how, sometimes occasionally placing the blame on us as a nation rather than the murdering bastards who committed the crime in the first place. Maybe it's the sudden worries about various groups or individuals who might try to duplicate the tragedy of that day, simply to make some kind of political point, alongside the distant memory that things didn't use to be this way. We used to live without worrying about having a major terrorist attack each year at the beginning of September, we didn't use to have airports that acted more like screening centers than travel hubs, and we didn't have an anniversary to commemorate quite possibly the worst day in recent American history. Or maybe, as I half suspect, I just have a particular emotional trauma associated with the whole thing that has simply refused to heal.

So I end up being angry half the time, for no particular reason. I hate hearing about that day, dislike reading op ed articles about it. In fact, I've started avoiding most articles that have to do with it around this time because I just know by the end of them I'll be enraged. The frustration just sort of sours and festers and sits for as long as the collective 'celebration' of the 'holiday' lasts, until it passes and we can get on with life as usual. At least we can until next year when we do it all again.

In the beginning I kind of tried to deal with it with bitter, sarcastic humor. I would make jokes about it, as if by mocking it I could deny how much it hurt. That wasn't too healthy, but just chaining it up and soaking in the anger doesn't seem to work either.

At some point I started to wonder if all this anger is really just something wrong with me. That I just haven't healed the way some people have and it's my fault that I keep nursing the grudge or whatever that causes it in the first place. I wonder if I have someone I need to forgive in order to get past it, and then I wonder how to forgive someone who uses what happened to get political gain, or to sell tickets to a movie, or to sell newspapers? Or how do you forgive the people who originally did this in the first place? I still haven't found a way, and I wonder if I ever will.

This year it was kind of especially bad. Probably because it was the tenth year since the attacks more than anything else. I just wish that some day, somehow, I can manage to get all the way from August to October without once having to say "crap, it's that time of year again." Or even better, if I could look back on Sept 12th and say, "Oh yeah, I guess yesterday was the anniversary. Huh."

Someday, right?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

On Frustration

Well, if this post goes up, it means we've gone a whole week without Internet access. I'm most likely alright--if by alright you mean curled up in a corner whimpering--but we'll be back soon. Really soon! I hope I hope I hope...

Monday, September 5, 2011

On Hitting the Home Stretch

So by the end of the week, I hope to be finished with Badger. Huzzah! It is at this point that my writing drive goes into high gear. Maybe it's a leftover from the cross country and track days, when I would throw everything I had into the final push before the finish line. When I got to the end of Kingsley, I was writing fifteen thousand words a week; the Iron Angels finish was a similar burst of new words written in the final week. So far Badger is shaping up to be similar, so I have high hopes to finish the thing by Saturday, in spite of moves, baby and work in the emergency room. :)

Of course, the end of Badger's first draft means the beginning of the next Kingsley novel is right around the corner. The working title will be The Continued Adventures of Hector Kingsley: Murders in Whitechapel. If you have protests, requests, demands or bargains for that project, now's the time to make them! In any case, I hope that all goes well for each of you in your work, whether in writing or your other pursuits. Hopefully the Internet will be back up in our new digs, and I will have a report for you then. See ya!

Friday, September 2, 2011

On the Publishing Industry Part Three: Changes for Publishers and Writers

So the changes to the bookstores will probably continue to change the relationship that publishers and writers have with each other. As I said, the publishers traditionally acted as the negotiators with the distributors, something which may be a lot less necessary in days to come. I think that publishers may act as a different kind of help for writers, shifting from the go between for writers and distributors to the go between for authors and their readership.

The reason for that shift is pretty logical. The publishers, for all their faults, still know how to market and prepare books for a wide readership. Self-published authors, while they might get a lot of that work done on a contract basis, just don't have the same kind of experience. Cover art, copy editing and a lot of other work that goes into a book have been done by publishers for so long that they have made it into, well, an art. Marketing is another facet of the industry where the publisher has reigned supreme. The boost in readership that a self-published or e-published author could enjoy merely by being associated with a publishing brand is incentive enough for them to accept traditional contracts now; I can only imagine how much more attractive those kinds of deals will become once the publishers adjust to the new state of things.

At the same time, writers are going to enjoy a lot more control and responsibility in the industry than they have before. Publishers and agents may start treating e-publishing as a kind of universal slush fund, and offer contracts to the writers whose work rises above the rest. They may even start offering contracts where the books come out before the hard copy, allowing publishers the chance to gauge how much demand there are for the books. The issue is that it might start to depend on which authors the publishers can count on to produce work on a steady schedule, authors who know enough about contracts not to get suckered into bad deals with agents or publishers. Contracts may change as well, revolving more around royalty rates, deadlines, and rights to the work itself than advances or multiple book deals. A new breed of author might need to be willing to create themselves as marketable properties and brands for publishers to pick up, almost like viedo game companies working with consoles. The new state of things will ask for writers with business sense and at least some marketing knowledge, which traditionally has not been true.

One thing I don't see happening is the absolute disappearance of publishers as a whole. While they may be scrambling right now, and while here and there they haven't been adapting in a good way, publishers simply have too much usefulness and staying power to vanish. It will be interesting to see what further changes come and how the industry grows as a result. We shall see how I can fit into things; hopefully there's a place in all of this mess for a little newcomer like me. :)

In any case, hopefully my internet will be up by Monday and our move will be complete. Wish us luck, I think we'll need it. See ya!