28 June 2013- Updates and Reader Letter

Guten Tag! Today has been another day of editing, revising and general polishing. Though it took me a good few hours to get through this copy of my manuscript (again, a little gracias to my readers), I am pleased to say that other than some minor errors (I promise I know the difference between “to” and “too”) and clearer phrasing here or there, I only had to make major changes to ONE scene.

I must say that this makes me happy, because I sent my manuscript to some of the most critical eyes (in a good way!) that I know. With that in mind, I’m going to post a copy of the letter I sent to my readers. Note that the “What bores you?” through to “What’s cool?” are things I borrowed from the illustrious Mary Robinette Kowal, who mentioned these things on a Writing Excuses podcast (I don’t remember the episode, or I’d link to it). Anyway, giving credit where credit is due. Here’s what I was looking for:

Readers,

Thanks for taking a look at this for me. It means a lot, and I really appreciate it. I don’t have a lot of specifics things I want you all to be looking for in this draft, but rather I’m looking for how the book works as a whole. Just as a sort of guide, here are a couple of things to be thinking about as you read:

  • What bores you?
  • What confuses you?
  • What things can’t you “believe” (what is too unreal in terms of characters, etc.)?
  • What’s cool?
  • Where are the problems?
  • What elements would you like to see more of?
  • And finally, what parts do you think can be cut? We’re talking scenes, characters, events and anything else you think might not work.

If you can’t or don’t find anything for one of these sections/categories, that’s fine. Basically I want you to be reading through this like a regular reader to see if everything works. If you find a misplaced semicolon or something, feel free to fix it, but bear in mind that grammar and punctuation aren’t the only things I’m looking for. I’d rather you left the semicolon and told me “this character is abysmally boring” or “I think this scene has a lot of good sensory detail” or something of that sort that will make my writing better.

My end goal with this is to have something I can submit to an agent/publishing house after I’ve gone through everyone’s comments. With that in mind please be honest! It won’t do me any good if you keep the bad parts from me. Show me where I can improve. If I get your copy back and it has so much red it looks like a water buffalo was disemboweled over it that’s fine! I’d rather that than an untouched manuscript with “Looks Great!” scribbled on the front page. I know there are some issues. Find them and tell me about them.

Thanks again for taking a look at this for me. Your critical eyeballs are much appreciated!

-Branson-

And that’s the insight that I was looking for from my wonderful readers. They are wonderful, peachy folks, and I’m incredibly grateful that they each consented to look over my manuscript. Writing may be a solitary process, but effective editing takes a whole herd of people. Thanks again to my people with the critical eyeballs! (Okay, done with my little rave, promise.)

P.S. This weekend my dear wife and I are celebrating our anniversary (yes, I remember, it’s on Sunday) so we’re excited to get away for a bit! See you all on Monday!

 

26 June 2013- I’m BAAAACK!

Well folks, here I am, back in the saddle again, so to speak. I told you I couldn’t stay away for a whole week. Truth be told, I almost came back Monday, but exhaustion kept me away from my keyboard.

In terms of updates, my first reader got done with this draft of the manuscript on Saturday (YAY!), another has only about sixty pages left and the others are in various stages of completion. Last night I had a meeting with the first reader to finish (thanks Carrie!) and she didn’t have any issues with plot points other than the fact that I kill people off that she likes (tough beans… it happens). There were a few spelling mistakes, such as here turned to her, chase and case and so forth.

That’s pretty much it for now. I’ll keep you updated as things progress. Stay tuned, as I’m going to be making daily updates once again!

P.S. It was my maternal grandfather’s 80th birthday on the 21st, so shout out to him! We had fourteen cakes there (one for each letter in “Happy Birthday” and another that said “80th”). It was a smorgasbord of cake and ice cream and birthday wonderfulness.

20 June 2013- Blogging Break

In case you didn’t read the posts from the past couple of days (yesterday’s was barely a post at all), I have finished Draft 2 (Yippee!) and am now spending my time de-stressing a bit.

I deconstructed Lego sets/cleaned Legos yesterday (repetitive, mindless, and completely necessary, not to mention nostalgic).

I’ve also been playing an interesting video game called Alan Wake which has been quite enjoyable, although as a psychological thriller, it’s a little different from the games I’m used to. It’s about a writer whose story (in an unremembered manuscript) is coming true in a horrifying way. It’s very engaging and I might be hooked.

I’ve also been doing some work for other projects, some research, etc. but nothing too exciting. As such, I don’t have much to post or say and (as stated) I need a little bit of a break. Therefore I won’t be posting for a little bit.

Ideally I’m planning on taking a whole week off (because that’s how long my readers have my manuscript), but knowing me, I might be back sooner. I just can’t stay away from working.

Anyway, I’m at less than 10% battery, so I’m going to go.

Ciao kids!

18 June 2013- FINISHED!!!

WAHOO!!! I’ve finished Draft Two at 126,496 words! It’s been tough, but it’s done and ready for my readers to take a look at it. Tonight I’m going to go home, print off several copies (please bless that my printer doesn’t explode), and get them to my readers. Hopefully they’ll be done in about a week so that I can make the final edits to the manuscript (which will hopefully be between 5,000-15,000ish words shorter) and call it done!

I’m not even going to apologize for today’s short post. I’m tired, I’ve finished a huge piece of work and I think I deserve a break.

Tomorrow’s Docket:

  • Conquering the Unknown!!! [FYI: that’s just code for “I don’t know what the heck I’m going to be doing, but it’ll be something]

17 June 2013- Birthday and Weekend Shenanigans

HihappybirthdaytomebecausemywifesaidIhadtosaysomethingabouttodaybeingmybirthdayhere. [Insert deep gulp of air here.]

Okay, on to important stuff. Since today is slightly different than the other 364 days of the year (or 365 with leap year), I haven’t finished as much as I probably ought to have. Or at least that’s what I’m chalking up my miniscule progress to.

I’ve also been trying (without much success) to outline the “connect the dots” section between Draft 1’s Chapters Thirteen and Fourteen. I foresee this being at least one, possibly two chapters in all.

Over the weekend, we visited parents for Father’s day, and had a cookout with my family. We also went to a local Art Faire (yes, spelled with an ‘e’ at the end to make it more uppity) called the Summerfest. There we were able to walk around and look at a lot of great art, a great deal of which is made by local artists. Everything from painting to photography to ceramics to glasswork to woodworking was present. There was a guy who built furniture out of old wine barrels (which was incredible), a local lady who originally started as a stained glass artist, but branched into other takes on the stained glass discipline, incredible painters, a guy who makes gargantuan wind-spinny-thingies and so much more. I purchased a beautiful hand-carved cane. I was only “allowed” to get another “stick” on the agreement that I actually use it when my Cute Little Wifum feels I need it. Sigh.

I also have been doing some… maintenance with the website. Apparently one of my posts attracts somewhere on the order of 20-50 spam comments per day. If I see another advertisement for prescription-less [insert whatever substance here], I think I’m going to squeal like a stuck pig. Yes, a stuck pig.  I know that I can just delete them all, but the fact that they’re there at all drives me cat-spit-insane.

Anyway, that’s it for today. Now, off to eat a wonderful dinner (of what, I have no idea yet) and some wonderful heart-attack cake!

Tomorrow’s Docket:

  • Recover from cake-coma
  • Wrapping up Draft 2. Maybe tomorrow we’ll hit the finishing point!!! [Insert crossed fingers here]

14 June 2013- Progress!… Also a Rant

Shout out to my paternal grandfather because it’s his birthday today!

In terms of word count, I don’t really know exactly how to calculate it anymore. Why? Because I’ve been copying and pasting so much, adding parts, taking things out… long story short, it’s WAAAYYY too difficult to determine how many of the words are copied from Draft One and how many are original words I’ve written for this draft.

So, with that in mind, I’m between 81 and 85% of the way finished. Yesterday I was only 76% finished and the day before I was only to 62%, so I think that I’m making good progress.

I want like to finish before the weekend is finished, but that’s probably not happening. I’m feeling REALLY drained and I think I might be coming down with something.

In other news, in light of the recent discussion of racism in fantasy, I went back to an article that I wrote entitled “Race in Fantasy,” and how we in the genre deal with race in either right or wrong ways (mostly wrong ways). In the article, I point to some of the early incarnations of the “race issue” in the genre and some of the people who (inadvertently) contributed to our current concept of race in fantasy.

Anyway, I looked at it, and though it isn’t post-able at the moment, I think that it bears mentioning. We as writers in fantasy (and science fiction, for that matter) need to be careful about how we approach portrayals of race both earth-based and invented.

And that’s my disjointed, unsolicited soap-box for the evening folks. Yippee.

This Weekend’s Docket:

  • Writing/re-writing

P.S.  We also went to a church social/function thing this evening and that was quite enjoyable. That may also be the reason this post is also a little late.

13 June 2013- Insanity

Hello people. I know it’s late, but it’s been a crazy marathon day. I made about14,000-ish words worth of progress (note that I only wrote about 5,000 of those), went to a birthday party and had Little Man who had some high-maintenance moments today. Therefore, I’m thumbing this post on my phone 10 minutes before midnight just to get it done. Better update tomorrow, I PROMISE!

12 June 2013-Vitamin D and Productivity

We’re sitting at over 7000 words today people! Wahoo! Okay, about 2000 of those were 85-90% copied and pasted into the document from “Manuscript One: Draft One,” (the other 10-15% included minor addition, subtractions or changes, though for the most part everything stayed the same in those couple scenes) but I’m still considering those 2000 words as progress.

I wrote outside today, which was wonderful. It was the perfect temperature this morning with a light breeze and under the shade of my parents’ willow tree on their patio. I got about 1500 words finished in around an hour, so it was definitely useful (not to mention enjoyable and full of good vitamin D).

Since I’ve been working on the last half of the book, it’s been a lot easier. When I was writing the first draft, I had a lot more time dedicated to this section, as I had quit my job to start writing full time for the summer (this was the summer of 2012, FYI) and was thus able to spend a lot more time writing and polishing. Before then I was working full time and hadn’t the time to dedicate to writing. That, alongside the fact that I didn’t know exactly where the story was going with a few of the characters and their development, made for some BIG issues in the first half of the first draft.

If the rest of the book is like this, (which I’m PRAYING is the case) I could have this draft ready to go and out to readers (still have to see who I’m going to have do that) before I had planned. As it stands, the 21st of June is my (tentative) finish date. It was the 17th, but I just don’t think I can get it finished by then. I’d have to do over ten thousand words per day, and while that was fun to do last week, I don’t think I could pull it off every day. If I did, I’d be a zombie by the end of the week.

In other news, I’ve run into some interesting issues with my Character and Magic Systems essay, so I’m going to have to do some more reading and distill my thoughts before I finish/post that one.

Other than that, our little family is enjoying the summer and I can’t wait to get draft 2 finished and take a break for a couple of weeks to just spend time with them!

Tomorrow’s Docket:

  • Oodles and gobs of Draft 2