SOMNUS First Draft Finished

Done.

… for now, at least.

The first draft of SOMNUS, my stand-alone, sci-fi heist novel is done. I just finished typing future-Andy some notes, corrections, and things to finish. The files are saved. Everything is tucked safely away into Drobbox. And I don’t want to see the damn thing for at least six months.

Minimum!

Hell… maybe not for a year.

In fact, I might never pick this one back up. It was a HARD project. Or is a hard project, I suppose. For, while I’m finished with the first draft, the thing is hardly “done”. But this one may be as done as it’s ever going to get. I need a break from intergalactic corporations and scheming smugglers. I’m ready to work on something new.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m proud to have worked my way through the first draft of another novel. But this one was an ambitious undertaking. It contained a lot of firsts. Firsts for me, at least.

  • It’s my first far-future sci-fi book.
  • It has multiple overlapping and non-sequential timelines.
  • It was my first fully-outlined-before-I-even-wrote-a-single-itty-bitty-word novel.
  • It was my first project in Scrivener.
  • It’s my first go at an ensemble of POV characters.
  • The main protagonist is not a good guy. I try to make him relatable and likeable, but he’s definitely a bad, bad man.

So… it was hard. And now it’s there. And it’s mine to do with as I choose. Or not.

I’ll take SOMNUS out of the cupboard one of these days. Probably. When I do, I’ll decide if I want to invest more time in it. I might even be excited to do the re-write.

Who knows?

But now, and for the time being…

ON TO THE NEXT BOOK!

Drive Write: Writing Out of Order

Drive Write podcast

DriveWrite: Episode 13 – Writing Out of Order

This week on Drive Write I’m talking about writing out of order. The gist of my argument is, if there’s a piece of your book that you’re excited to write… write it. Stitch everything together later.

You’re going to have to write the entire story eventually. Might as well write the stuff you’re excited to write when you’re excited to write it. Right?

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year, you should be past the half-way mark at this point. Great job!

Regardless of how you’re doing this year on your NaNoWriMo project, you might benefit from a little encouragement and strategic advice. If you’re not already listening to them, I’d encourage you to check out Mur Lafferty’s daily I Should Be Writing podcasts. She’s posting every day through the month of November to help us all accomplish our 50k word goal.

Thanks, Mighty Mur! =)

Until next week. Good luck, be well and write hard.

Drive Write: Writing on the Road

Drive Write podcast

Drive Write: Episode 9 – Writing on the Road

The past six weeks have had me at three conferences in as many states. I’ve traveled from Alaska to Texas, back to Alaska, down and over to South Carolina, back again to Anchorage, up north to Fairbanks, and finally back home to stay.

Whew…

Somewhere between coming home from Charleston and leaving again for Fairbanks, I recorded this. It’s a collection of my thoughts on writing while on the road and how to keep productive. I don’t know about you, but planes, late nights and strange hotel rooms don’t necessarily inspire me to great volumes of writing. However, I’ve found a couple defensive measures that keep me in the game. I hope you find them valuable on your travels.

If you have any travel tips for writers, please share them in the comments. Safe travels and get your words in! =)

Drive Write: The Confidence to Fix Stuff

Drive Write: Episode 4 – The Confidence to Fix Stuff

This week on Drive Write I’m talking about mistakes, poor writing, and crappy first drafts.  I’m also talking about having the confidence to write those things and then to fix them. I hope you enjoy the cast and please share your thoughts in the comments.

Too excited not to share

Ok. Ok, ok, ok.

I probably shouldn’t be posting this, but I just gotta. I’m way too excited about the project not to share.

This is only a test panel for stylistic choices, pallette selection, and whatnot. For instance, I know this isn’t the font that I want to use. I’m not sure yet about the dimensions. Etc, etc. Blah, blah, blah.

BUT STILL! They live! My little droblar guys are live, inked and in color!

As soon as I figure out how I want to publish the story, I’ll start posting them to a dedicated website. I already have one reserved (droblar.com), but for the near future these little fellas will live only on the blog. Also, new panels won’t come out very quickly as I only draw on Sundays.

I’m rambling.

Aaaaanyway, the story is finished. All that’s left is to draw it. And I’m awfully excited to say that it will look…

something…

like…

THIS!

Droblar - Page One

 

Free Fiction

If you follow me on WordPress, you probably received a notification that I’ve added a new page to the blog. Free Fiction is currently a single page with a single flash fiction story on it. Over time, I will turn this page into a section with a variety of my writing.

The pieces I post in the Free Fiction section will be:

  1. published and freely available in an online market, or
  2. pieces that I feel are interesting enough to read but are not publication-quality for some reason.

I’ll make new blog posts each time I post something new in the Free Fiction section. However, don’t expect new material very often. It is my goal to get my fiction published in traditional markets, and that process can take quite some time. If I intend to re-write or polish a piece somewhere down the road, I’ll be keeping it private until I have a chance to complete it and attempt publication.

So… head on over to the Free Fiction page and check out my first free online publication, The Innovator. And please do let me know what you think in the comments.

 

The Short Stuff

I’ve completed a few short fiction projects lately.

I submitted a piece for Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest. I’m actually really proud of that piece. I volunteer at the Teen Writers Society in Anchorage at the Loussac Public Library. A few months ago, the group was talking about ideas and writing prompts. We went around the room and everyone shared at least one idea with the group. One of the regular attendees suggested “Fantasy Vet Clinic” and everyone agreed the idea was the one we should use as our writing prompt. My story ended up a little over 7,000 words and I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out. We’ll see if the contest judges feel the same.

Also, the success of Fireside Magazine’s year two Kickstarter campaign inspired me to respond to their request for flash fiction submissions. I had been mulling over an idea for several months with the thought that I might be able to turn it into a novel. While I found the concept very interesting, there wasn’t really a story there. But 1,000 words should be plenty to illustrate a simple idea though, right?

Um… yeah. For what it’s worth, 1,000 words go by QUICK. I got it done, though. And I’m really happy with the results.

These projects have taught me a lot about both writing and storytelling. Particularly, working on short fiction projects has reinforced the need to have your words do more than one thing. When you only have 1,000 words to work with, they each need to do as much heavy lifting as possible. It’s not enough that a word, phrase or sentence establishes character or describes a setting. They need to do both. Dialogue can’t introduce conflict without advancing the plot. Anything ending in an –ly had better have a damn good reason for being there.

I’m back to working on a novel now, and I can tell that writing within the rigid constraints of short and flash fiction has had an impact on my prose. I think, for the better.

If you’ve learned any lessons moving from short fiction to novels or vice versa, let me know in the comments.

Being Thankful

I have so very much to be thankful for.

In the spirit of the holiday, I’d like to encourage everyone to not only be thankful for what they have, but to give to those who are less fortunate. Local food banks, homeless shelters, and the Red Cross are a few of my favorites. I recently had a fantastic opportunity to help those challenged by Hurricane Sandy. That opportunity helped set November up to be a fairly crazy month.

Zuzi is eyeballs deep in the final throes of her doctoral project. I started my NaNoWriMo novel on the 15th (Yeah, yeah… I know). And, my dream agent will be doing a partial critique of my first urban fantasy book in early 2013.

Wait… what?!? Jennifer Jackson is going to be reading my work?

Yawp. I can’t believe it either.

On November 5th, four writers rose to Jennifer’s call for the writing community to support those suffering in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Jennifer raised an impressive $6,000 in relief funds for those impacted by the devastating storm. I was lucky enough to be one of those in a position to contribute.

Needless to say, I’ve been obsessing over my submission ever since.

My friend Catie recommended that I talk to Betsy Mitchell for editorial services. I’m adamant about putting my best foot forward, and Betsy has some small amount of experience in the industry. Hmm… let me see. She spent ten years as VP and Editor-in-Chief at Del Rey. She has over thirty years in the industry. She’s worked with Terry Brooks, Elizabeth Moon, C.E. Murphy, Peter F. Hamilton, Harry Connolly and just about everyone else.

So… yeah, I’d say I’m in good hands.

Right now, I’m just committing as much time and effort as I can toward making sure what I place into those capable hands is worth their time and attention.

Happy Thanksgiving, from the great frozen north.

Writing Tip: Audio Notes

I haven’t posted much about writing lately. That’s probably because I’ve been planning writing more than I’ve actually been writing writing.

I have some revisions on Cravings that I want to finish before November. Working through that rewrite should get me rolling in anticipation of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I’m also planning on going into NaNoWriMo with a well-developed pitch and a clear outline.

That takes planning.

I wanted to share a tool that has become invaluable to me in all stages of the writing process, but especially with concept work. It’s a little recorder app on my phone called AudioMemos. There is a free version, and I can’t remember exactly what the distinctions between the paid and free versions are anymore. However, I do remember that I was very happy when I upgraded to the paid version. I berated myself for dragging my heels before forking out the $0.99 for the full app.

I know that some people are religious about keeping a pen and notepad on them at all times. That’s true for both my writing and musician friends, actually. I’m just not good and keeping track of those things. I misplace stuff all the time. I am, however, never without two things, my wedding ring and my cell phone.

Drop me in any city on earth and I’m going to be fine as long as I have my phone and my credit card. To be honest, if I have my phone… I can get a new credit card.

The perpetual presence of my preferred IT peripheral lets me capture details, ideas, and loose end tie-offs. Driving, running, watching the kids on the playground… all are potential problem solving opportunities.

Heck. I still have the recording of the original idea for Cravings on my phone. You can hear my kids splashing in the background. That’s because I worked through the original concept and a rough outline of the plot during bathtime one evening.

It just kills me when I have one of those, “Oh! That’s brilliant. I have to remember this and write it down when I get home.” moments.

Yeah… those get remembered maybe 10% of the time.

Anyway, I don’t really do app recommendations. This is one that I wholeheartedly endorse, though. I’m sure there are a ton of good ones available. AudioMemos is just the one that I latched onto. Pick one and get comfortable enough so that it’s never more than quick click away.

I haven’t decided which novel I’m going to do for NaNoWriMo next month. It’s between a new Chad Clifton book and a Sci-Fi mystery that I’m falling more and more in love with. Whichever way I decide to go, I have nearly a dozen rambling recordings on each to feed into my outline.

One last thing on NaNoWriMo. My buddy Robby (@robby1066 on Twitter) posted this the other day. Cracked me up and I thought that I should share.

  Robby Macdonell (@robby1066)
10/15/12 2:24 PMWhenever I look at the word NaNoWriMo, all I see is this google.com/search?q=nanai…

Har har… =)

Bang! Simmer. VROOM!!!

I didn’t manage to get a blog post in last week. The confluence of a variety of life-stuff conspired against me.

Alas…

This week, I’m just going to describe a situation in hopes that some other writers might respond and share their own experiences.

About six weeks ago, I sent out ten copies of Cravings to a set of beta-readers. Their objective was to tear the book apart to find weak or slow sections and straight up mistakes. One comment that I’ve heard from several those readers can be paraphrased as:

  • I love the first sentence/paragraph
  • It starts strong
  • It gets stronger as the story progresses.

You know what?

I think I agree with that commentary.

I also think that all of this means that I need to rewrite the beginning of the book. I don’t think it needs to begin differently, I just don’t feel like it’s written as well as the rest of the book. Perhaps it took me a while to get warmed up. ;-P

Whatever. I don’t feel like a book should grab the reader from the first line and then struggle to hold them through the first 25%. Especially not when the remaining 75% is a fast, fun read.

Authors? Have you noticed the same thing with your own stories? Is it different for; stand alone novels, the first novel of a series, later novels in a series?