Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Yes, I'm using a Twitter hashtag outside of Twitter.  But it's entirely appropriate.

A little over a week ago, I started another round of edits on THE ACCIDENTAL WARLOCK, working with the notes from my critique partner.  Said notes are awesome, by the way.  It's been a long time since I've worked with a notated copy of my book, and I'd forgotten what it's like.  The process is oddly uplifting in some ways, as there's nothing quite like learning that a scene or a moment or even just a joke worked exactly how I wanted it to.

The process is also humbling, as there's nothing quite like having someone point out a character issue that crops up so often that, two-thirds of the way through the book, they don't even have to explain why I should cut something.  O_o  It was especially humbling when my CP pointed out that I did something I've pointed out to other people I've critiqued.  (I swear I actually said they left the tent...)

The thing is, though, it amazes me how much better the book is going to be because of this.  I've realized that I left out some crucial things that I needed to explain, things I wouldn't have realized on my own because of course I know how they work.  I still have five chapters to go, but already, the lore has more detail, the action scenes move faster, and the romantic scenes are just plain better.  (I've been single since dinosaurs walked the Earth.  There are things I forget. -_-)  I also now have a new half-page of my own notes on things I need to change, but that's good too.

It's like the entire process exists only to make the book more awesome.  And I love that.

I know this all is nothing new.  No writer should be a stranger to editing, or forget how much better it will make any story.  But I love this feeling of rediscovery, of hammering out what doesn't work and refining what does.

I haven't felt this good about TAW since I first finished it, and gods know I've done a ton of revision since then.  I'm hoping to start the query process in June, as the book is out to another CP, and I still need to get my query letter into workable shape.  I also have to write the dreaded synopsis, possibly synopses, since not all agents want those of the same length.  But it'll be worth it in the end, I think.  I hope.

One step closer.  I tell myself that with every chapter, every page, every note, every word added or taken away.  One step closer to ending TAW out into the world and seeing who wants to see more.

Next entry: IWSG.  I'm feeling good this week, let's see if I can develop a new neurosis by next Wednesday.  ^_^

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

This one Time, at Writer's Camp...

Okay, I've never actually been to a writer's camp.  Closest thing I've ever done was staying in a very small hotel room that felt like it should be part of a writing camp, and I didn't actually do any writing there.  But!  I've been thinking about some of my past writing, and thus realized I've done some pretty damn laughable stuff.  And while I don't have most of those old stories anymore, I figured... why not share?

I'm very glad the internet as we know it didn't exist when I was a kid, because the first real story I ever wrote was horrible fanfiction for the X-Men cartoon from the early 90s.  Original character that was a blatant self-insert and stupidly overpowered, ridiculous romance storyline, you name it.  Thankfully, it's not posted somewhere under an embarrassing nickname that I now have to hope no one finds out was me.

Around that same time, I attempted to novelize a video game.  Somehow, I thought the company that made it would grant novelization rights to a thirteen-year-old who decided the story needed to feature a kid who got sucked into the game and dropped into the main character's body.  Yeah.

The first fantasy story I ever wrote was also much like a video game.  I introduced all the main characters, the main bad guy and all his hench-dragons, had three of the heroes unite, and killed off the first hench-dragon... all within the first twenty-five pages.  I never went back to the story after that.  I gave it to a friend of mine to read; she compared it to premature ejaculation.

I created a ridiculous future-science-fantasy world with magic and tech run rampant that somehow wasn't far off from the mid-1990s when it was written.  The main character started off as a drug runner because I thought that was cool and dangerous, and he basically abandoned the job within the first five pages.  My vision of the high-tech magical future included flying motorcycles, but no internet.  Clearly, I'm no prophet.

I've started two different books with the main character waking up from vague but ominous dreams, and in both of those, said main character then looked in a mirror so I could describe what she looked like.  In one of those books (maybe both, I'm not going to check), I spent two paragraphs describing a door.  Not even an important door.

And with almost every book I've written, I've been convinced it was going to be the one to start my career.  I've imagined myself speaking at conventions, signing autographs, seeing fans dressed as my characters.  Out of all the things I've talked about, this is the only one I still do.  It's laughable to think my older stuff would lead to this, but with what I'm working on now, I think I have a shot.

Okay, now that I've shared, I want to hear from the rest of y'all.  What did you do in your earlier writing days that now makes you look back and laugh?

Next entry: #amediting

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I'm Thinking of a Number Between One and Three.

In my ongoing attempt to get two books completely plotted and ready to write before writing them both this year, I've set aside yet another plot.  This is partly because I came up with another iteration on it that interests me a lot more than my original plans, and partly because it's a very dark story and I'm at a time in my life where I need to keep a more positive outlook.  Thankfully, the first plot I've been working on is still awesome and I'm really looking forward to getting started.  So, I decided to focus on the plot for the sequel to THE ACCIDENTAL WARLOCK.

Sequel plotting is strange and alien to me.  O_o

I've only started writing one sequel before.  This was the sequel to the first novel I ever wrote, a sprawling fantasy epic that took me over three years to finish.  If I remember right, that book is well over 300,000 words.  It's also crap, but hey, first novel.  :P  I never got very far into that sequel, because it didn't seem right to start working on the second book when I hadn't even sold the first one.

I'd love to look back and think I knew what I was doing even then, but yeah, I can't.

So, fast-forward almost thirteen years.  I have a very good feeling about TAW, and the feedback I've received has been largely positive - everyone who's read the whole thing has really liked it.  (I try not to worry about those who've read part of it and haven't liked it, because there's no such thing as a book that everybody likes, and I'm sure someday I'll rack up the one-star reviews on Amazon like everyone else.)  I'm hoping to start the query process by June, and if things go well, I'd like to be able to tell an agent that I can start writing the sequel at any time, or even that I've already started it.

It's weird.  I'm optimistic by nature, but starting on the second book when I haven't sold the first one still seems odd to me.  It's somehow too optimistic.  I tell myself it's a mark of faith in my own abilities - it's a way of reassuring myself that yes, I think TAW will work out for me, so I should be ready to write the sequel.  And it means I can develop some stuff I only touched on in TAW, write as a character I've never written as before, and introduce a lot of things I thought up way back in 2003-04 when I first started taking down notes for this world.

Plotting for this book has, I'm glad to say, been going really well.  I've been doing character and location work for the past few nights, and this stuff is just flowing out of my head.  It's kind of surprising, actually - all the little details are fitting together, like my subconscious has been assembling all of this when I wasn't looking and I only now get to see.  It seems my brain has been waiting for me to get started on this.

Just a little longer, brain.  I still have that interplanar adventure ahead of me.

Next entry: laughing at the past.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

IWSG: Fix What?

Many years ago, a small-press magazine published one of my short stories.  I was absolutely ecstatic when I got the e-mail.  This was the beginning, I was sure of it - more published stories were sure to follow, then books and a successful career and accolades and convention invites and learning that all these writers whose work I admired liked my stories too.  (None of that has happened, by the way.)  But shortly after that e-mail, I got the editor's list of corrections and suggested changes.

What followed was three days of thinking I sucked at everything and would never be successful.  EVER.

I'd never received that kind of critique before, and it really brought me crashing down from the "I wrote this and it's awesome and it's getting published" high.  It was very hard not to let it get under my skin.  I don't think I have a fragile ego, but my characters are the closest I'll ever have to children of my own, so when someone tells me there's something wrong with them?  To fix them?! To tell me that my story has issues, when telling stories is all I've ever wanted to do?  Yeah, not easy to deal with.

But in time, I pulled myself out of my own personal pit of despair and looked through the editor's suggestions again.  And they were really, really good.  Those changes helped turn the story from a somewhat awkward love story to a tale about the main character realizing he was the only person who could help someone who desperately needed it, and finding that she was the one person who could truly accept him as well.

The changes made the story so much better.  I haven't had anything published since, but I'm grateful that the first piece out there with my name on it is something I'm still proud of.

I think I'm better about receiving critique these days.  I do my best to approach it from the mindset of making the story better, and I know that's the goal of the person who gave the critique as well.  Yesterday, I received the first fully-noted critique for TAW, and I'll start plowing through that this weekend, when I finally have the time.  (Yes, very busy nowadays, and it kinda sucks.)  We'll see how that goes, but I've looked at enough of my CP's notes to have high hopes for the rest of it.

If my next blog entry is nothing but pained gibbering about how much I suck at this and how I'm forever doomed to failure, well, then I guess I'm not as good at handling critique as I thought.

Next entry: something other than pained gibbering.  I hope.