Heads up on posts

Item the first

Facebook has cut a publishing connection between wordpress.com’s JetPack tool and sites that use it (mine included, even though I self-host my site). I’m not sure this’ll be going out, and if it’s not, and I can’t (I can’t believe I’m saying this) find one myself, I’ll need to write one. Anyone have plugins that work without JetPack as an intermediary?

Item the second

Between ArmadilloCon and events during/since, I’m putting together a big post (set of posts?) about it and my work since. Let’s see if I can’t get it to work on my page without having to tussle with TB/T too much.

Item the last

Between on that, I’m putting together a post for today providing a copy of my writing progress Google Sheet. Look out for it!




Can’t have 4k EVERY day!

Yesterday was a word count bust: under 500 words. But! I spent a good three hours doing some (don’t tell folks) plotting to complete Zepps, my sci-fi novel in progress. After that an excellent workshop with the White Gold Wielders. Ain’t nothing like feedback and encouragement from folks who Know What They’re Doing.

Today’s another olio day: reviewed the excellent Deana Roy‘s presentation on Indie publishing. Meeting Jack Conner for lunch to translocate his very successful publishing strategies to my brain. Then I can get down to the business of getting to the thriller at 40,000 feet that is Zepps.

On a separate business-of-writing note, I’ve noticed that my hours per day of writing and editing have skyrocketed over the past month. I’m averaging 7-9 hours per day, seven days out of eight. Just like writing’s a muscle—the more often you write, the more you can write in a day—editing works the same way. I can knock out 20-30 pages of line editing (mowing through the 765-page monster:my post-apoc novel Last Run). And 5k of another two or three stories for other writers.

Austin’s a great place for writers, and I’m lucky to count several as friends. There’s something really cool to see a published author in their new-book-release glow. Wanna. Just… wanna. ArmadilloCon is less than two weeks away!

Miscellaneous Blog Post Day

Keeping Things Updated

I was chatting with a cover artist today and after giving him my web site URL he asked me how my novel “Last Run” was coming along, since it showed I was 22% complete. Hmmm… old news. So I updated that page to reflect some of the kreative kaos underkway.

So the novel page got a rewrite. I’m meeting with a photographer Monday for an author head shot (may her camera not shatter). About a cover (for Last Run) I’ve already tipped my hand. That’s also going to need help from a marketer and editor, because I just don’t have the cycles for all of that myself. So, this web site, formatting and all, will likely change radically in the next couple of months, making it more focused on writing and easier to update and maintain.

Last Thoughts on the 2018 WLT A&E Conference

The 2018 Writers League of Texas Agents & Editors Conference was very helpful. More this year than last but more because I’m more aware of all that I don’t know instead of last year’s version of feeling smart. So yeah, worth going if you’ve never gone. Helpful, but also showing me how much more organized I need to do, and how much have have yet to do while still looking for an appropriate Daye Jobbe (as the late author Jay Lake would put it). Trello’s good at organizing things, but the real problem—and not just for me—is load paralysis. Too much to do? Play solitaire! Y’all know that one? Yeah, me too.

…But I’ve got…my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I’m swamped

So, to summarize: I’m writing one novel while editing three others, marketing a fourth to agents and a firth for Indie publishing (well, one of the three under edit, but hey, numbers!). Oh, and I’ve still got four more ArmadilloCon manuscripts to go over before the end of the month. (All hail that fair venue!)

Writing Velocity

Today (Saturday) was a 4,000-word day, and that brings me to 4,2500 words written in my last ten calendar days (including this past Thursday with no writing done). Years ago I thought 1,500 wpd was a good chunk. The Shmuley Myers books were written on an average daily cadence of 2,500 words. Zepps is cruising along at 3.65k per day and I kick myself for goofing off for a couple of those days. A pair of 7ks and a few 5+s in the mix, there.

Sure, for anyone who’s done a NaNoWriMo novel challenge, there’s no quality like massive quantity. Fellow Austin writers might remember my little video clip from the early 2000s, humble-bragging. Daughter the Elder, lying face down on her bed, was typing blind to finish her 50,000-word “novel.” (Hint: her fingers were off for five thousand of those words. We’ve sent the results to the NSA for decryption and haven’t heard back yet.) 7/17/18 Update: DtE avers that she was really blind typing. She. Scares. Me.

At these speeds there are chunks I’ve had to simply tear out because they were crap, or took the plot off a cliff. For example, over 11,000 words from the second Shmuley Myers book, An Uncertain Allegiance, because I turned an explosion into a runaway, Skyscraper meets Armageddon meets Mothra kind of even. Fun to write, and I’ve got it tucked away, but horrible. Aside from blowing up the plot it created over a dozen characters two thirds the way into the book, and… well, let’s never speak of it again.

But they’re replaced with better ones. And it’s better to get the words out, then edit, and maybe remove, and then later maybe use somewhere else, than not to write them at all. Plotters might disagree, and say that if the plot’s sufficiently laid out in detail, then wild writing sprees aren’t necessary or good. But I submit that a plotter would get perhaps more and better WPD than even I. After all, we pantsers tend to make it up as we go along, more or less.

Thoughts, anyone?

Amid, Among, Between, Betwixt

H/t to Ashwin Mudigonda for non-commercial use

Just signed up for the 2018 Agents & Editors Conference here in Austin. Last minute. Second year going. Wasn’t going to, but after working on a single query letter for the better part of the day, I might as well see if I can’t catch an agent’s eye. Researching each participating agent and editor took a few hours, but that’ll come in handy as I stalk the Wild Agent at the conference. I’m also gonna do a toss-at-the-buzzer pitch of my larger novel, Last Run, to one or two victims agents that might have an appetite for it. Of course, that means cleaning that puppy up too, before June’s end.

This interrupted writing madly a piece to submit for the ArmadilloCon Writers’ Workshop. I think this is my last year that I’ll submit. I’ve gotten quite a lot out of it but the panel sessions were where I got the most bang for my conference buck. And hopefully I can assist next year.

All this while getting the first “Angels” book cleaned up enough to send to agents. Meeting tonight with one of my writing groups for dinner and last revisions before last cleanup. And find a title. It’d be great if I had something to call it aside from a word unrelated to the story.

Book two in the series is done, at least in first draft. And #3 is already starting to come into focus in my head, so I’m getting character journeys and the larger arc or three sketched out.

And all the above is while my fascination with a paying, full-time day job increases. Doing an application right can take an hour or two for each one.

Life. Gotta love it.

ArmadilloCon Flotsam & Jetsam

Just little bit from last week’s conference. Also submission grinder, which has some useful search tools (but definitely slanted towards SF/FF/Horror and not “straight” fiction.

I came away with a hunger to write that I haven’t felt to this degree in years–and I’ve been ramping up my writing for a few years now.

More than that, I realized, in attending the panels and the critiques, that I have a few stories, partially completed, that deserve to get finished. They’ve got good characters, stories, and lives I’d love to share with readers.

Just as soon as I get a few more submissions in…

ArmadilloCon ’39 Critiques

There are five writers per group at the ArmadilloCon writer’s workshop. Four manuscripts to critique. Along with life, job, and one’s own writing. Most folks do the 5k max, but I’ve got one (shown) that clocks in at around 3k.

There are some folks that can do a critique and still get their 2k/day words in. I… am not one of them.

In SlugTribe it’s a 5k word limit, but only about 20-30 minutes to read it. In reading feedback from them it’s clear that the edits go away towards the end (see previous post). But for the workshop, it’s every page. Well, almost every page. I say almost because between pointing out the passive voice a dozen times previously, and a typed analysis as well, sometimes the need to torture deceased equines is obviated by the need to get another story done!

The image at the top of this post is an example of a short story mid-critique. In addition to my (possibly unreadable) edits, in the background you can see a written critique that gets above the fray.

I hope I get as good as I’m giving, but, for me at least, the critiquing is at least as educational as a good first draft.

Critiquing and Paper Cuts

I’m lucky to live in a city where there are overlapping supporting circles of writers in every possible genre. I’m involved in a few writing groups, including an invite-only one, the venerable and awesome Slug Tribe (that just got a great write-up in the Austin Chronicle), as well as occasionally hitting a Meet-Up group every now and again. Plus the Writers’ League of Texas is based here, with its annual Editors and Agents conference and the cozier, and perhaps more “incestuous” ArmadilloCon (and I mean that in the least creepiest way!). And the Austin NaNoWriMo group, a once and future way to spend November.

Three of the above perform critiques on pieces. The most paper-prolific by far—and I say this with two bandaged fingers—is Slug Tribe. Probably best to bring at least fifteen copies of a piece. With a 5,000 upper limit, that’s approximately twenty sides of writing (more if there’s a lot of dialog). On average sixty percent of Sluggers write comments on the pieces, which I dutifully reel back and bring to my editing operating theater. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s 300-400 pages single-sided. Which I try never to do, what with the lack of available earthworms at my place.

So here’s the evening’s tidbit: collate them by page, putting them in reverse page order (so you’re working from the back of the piece forwards). Take the “global” written comments (thank you, thank you all for the thought put into them!) and put them at the back of the pack. Why?

  1. People tend to comment less towards the end of the piece. On-the-spot editing is tiring, and once a reader has made their point, why flog the expired equine?
  2. Going backwards makes it harder to skip something because the mind forms the logical construct of the paragraph, and not the backwards verbs of the placement.
  3. Those pesky page numbers mean very little when going through the tenth set of edits. What was on page one, with an easily spotted paragraph shape is no longer there. That means wasting brain and time trying to find something that there. Going backwards en masse means never having to figure out where you were before you carved up two paragraphs and inserted four clauses.
  4. It’s hard to know who commented on a page, until you get the the end (first pages). This means addressing each suggested edit on its own merit, and not on the merit of the author making the comment. Just because they’re a great writer doesn’t mean their edits have a greater weight than a sharp-eyed newcomer.

Enjoy a slightly less painful time editing your next critiqued work!

Bashert: finally getting started

Finally! After an enthusiastic response at the writers’ workshop I attended almost a month ago, and after fiddling with outlines and time lines and all matter of silliness, I’m FINALLY getting actual words on paper. My goal is to turn a 5,000 word short story into a 110-130k novel — by September’s end.

It took getting
away from Austin to the amazing Canyon Of The Eagles Resort to get my head free enough to make the first few thousand words come. And now, as whenever I write, the outline and my characters leave me free to create the prose without worrying about where the plot might wander. Ah…