I Was Only Pretending to Procrastinate

I just finished my first real read-through of the first draft of book three of The Songbird River Chronicles, The Fount of Magic.

I finished writing that draft… um… a while ago.

And while I did, in fact, beat myself up over the fact that I was spending all of this in-between time NOT editing it and preparing it for publication, I find now that the distance has actually been extremely helpful.

First off, I had a chance to forget some of the story. Oh, I remembered the big overarching skeleton of the piece, and lots of chunks of the flesh, but some of the details had escaped me. I actually went back and reread books 1 and 2 as well to get back into the story.

Second though, and more importantly, I’ve had time to grow as a writer between finishing the draft and now. I’ve been reading a whole lot for pleasure lately, as well, something I haven’t had time to do since I was in high school, really. I’ve been critical of the books I’m reading, picking out things that I think work really well and things I can see don’t work at all, and I’m analyzing them as best I can. It’s been really fun going through my own work now and using those skills to see how I can make the second draft actually work.

That isn’t to say that the draft is broken, currently. It works, the story is there, and it’s pretty decent. Pretty damn good in lots of places, to be honest. It’s just the bits in between those “pretty damn good” chunks that need some reworking.

And that’s where this whole distance thing is coming into play. Because, when I first finished the draft and immediately turned around and read through the thing again to attempt some clean up, I floundered. I knew it needed something, but I just could not tell what it was. I knew particular chapters flagged, but for the life of me, I had no idea how to make them crackle the way the other chapters did.

So I got frustrated, and I put the draft aside.

And now, many, many months later, when I opened it up and read through chapter one (which needs some not insubstantial work, though is by no means the worst offender) the answer immediately snapped into place in my head. The same thing happened when I got to my other trouble chapters.

Two chapters will need heavy rewriting, and I mean total scrapping, tossing out the window, light those suckers on fire because just GAG me already they sucked. Most of the rest need some light reworking to adjust the information flow, or to adjust for the major changes in those rewrite chapters.

But there are some that I’m just not touching, because as far as I can tell, they are in exactly the form they need to be. Those are the chapters that I was reading along, and suddenly realized I’d forgotten I was editing them. They’d sucked me in, and I’d just been going on a ride with them.

Like I was reading a real book! An entertaining one! With plot and characterization and pacing that worked properly!

And when that happened, I stepped aside, patted myself on the back (because, as writers, we don’t acknowledge our own good work often enough. I say, if your own work carries you away like that, let it! That’s the whole point of writing, after all!), and made myself reread the section more critically.

So, long story short, I no longer feel so guilty about the procrastination. Well, I do, but I feel it worked out for the better this way.

I’ve got the house to myself this Saturday. I’m planning to make some decent headway into this thing, now that I’ve got my edits outlined. Maybe I can even wrap it up before we leave for our Germany vacation in a week?

So long as I don’t start procrastinating again…

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Second verse, same as the first

So in my last post, I told you all about my first short story publication in the 2015 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide, and how that was awesome due to a number of factors, including the fact that both me and my dad have stories in it. If you haven’t taken a look at that anthology yet, you really should, especially if you have middle-grade kids who might enjoy reading some science fiction aimed at them.

But today, I have to apologize for what may seem like a repetitive posting.

Two days ago, the Fiction River anthology Pulse Pounders was published. This anthology is really cool, because not only does it mark my second short fiction publication, it also marks the second anthology in which both my father and myself have stories! (Could this be an emerging trend? Is there more Collins take-over to come? Stay tuned, loyal readers!)

Pulse Pounders also features a never-before published original Frank Herbert (Dune) story, so that’s really super cool. Here’s the cover for your enjoyment!

FR Pulse Pounders ebook cover web

Yeah, my dad’s name is on the cover, and that means that half of mine is, too! This is how I know I’ve “made it,” my friends. *self-deprecating laugh*

Another sweet thing about this anthology is that, if you pick up the Kobo special edition, you’ll get some extra stories that aren’t in the print or other e-versions! How cool is that?

This anthology is full of exciting stories, from action to thrillers and lots of stuff in between. My story, “Frostburnt”, is a traditional fantasy, but the stories cover a range of genres. I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t be bored reading this collection, so check it out!

Some updates

Some updates since the last time I was around here…

I have sold two short stories! The first is titled The Sugimori Sisters and the Interplanetary Concept Clash, and will be appearing in the 2015 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide. This publication is full of science fiction stories aimed at middle grade readers, and stresses inclusion and diversity, as well as strong female characters. You can find a preview of my story, and many of the other stories appearing in the anthology, here on their Wattpad page! My dad will also have a story in this one, which is pretty cool.

The second story is titled Man of the House, and will be appearing in the March/April issue of the MCB Quarterly. This is a publication that spotlights LGBTQ fiction of all genres (meaning it’s not all just romance! My story certainly isn’t one!) This piece is a more mainstream one dealing with gender issues.

I’m very excited for both of these, and can’t wait to be able to share these two stories with all of you, my beloved readers!


 

Also, my dad has finally released book one of his eight part fantasy novella series, Saga of the God-Touched Mage. This first book is titled Glamour of the God-Touched, and can be found in numerous places. Check out his blog for the links! Here’s the back cover copy to whet your appetite:

A mage’s apprentice.
Sorcerers on the hunt.
Unnatural magic of devastating power.

Garrick is a mage’s apprentice, soon to be a full-fledged sorcerer. The course of his life is clear—he will be an apprentice, a mage, and then a superior. But a tragic accident finds him wielding a god-like power over life and death, and as rumors of mage war grow stronger around him, he learns his future is not fated to be as simple as he dreamed. Glamour of the God-Touched follows Garrick as he discovers the forces behind his new magic. The lessons he learns and how he deals with them will threaten the very nature of who he is.

 

The whole series is very, very good traditional fantasy. I’ve read them all (I was actually his copy editor for books 2-8) and thoroughly enjoyed them. Book two is available for pre-order as well. If you’re looking for a bit of sword and sorcery with political intrigue, this would be an excellent series for you.


Finally, following from my small comment above, I am thinking about offering my professional services as a copy editor. I enjoyed working on my dad’s series, and now have some substantial proof that it’s something I’m good at. I’ve got to think about things like rates (per page? per hour?) and how to actually find work, but I figured I’d put a little feeler out here and see what happens. Considering that I’m just starting out, I can probably guarantee good rates! I’d prefer to work on fiction, but whatever you have that needs grammar, spelling, punctuation, and word usage checked, I can do.

See you all next time!

 

Publisher Website

I spent yesterday evening and all of today studying up on HTML and CSS, and the result is a brand new, shiny, professional-looking website for my publishing company, Frosty Owl Publishing. You should go check it out! There’s not really a ton to do over there now, but that will change as things progress.

It’s very interesting to spend such a big chunk of time on a project, but I definitely don’t feel like it was a waste of time, nor was I chomping at the bit, thinking “I could be doing x, y, or z right now instead of this.” I was really having fun figuring out how to get the page to look the way I wanted it.

In other news, tomorrow is the first day of writing a new novel. I actually have two novels ready to write, but I still haven’t decided which one it will be. The goal is to have the entire novel written in about three weeks, and I think I should have very little problem achieving this, provided life doesn’t throw me any curve balls this week. I’ll be updating this blog weekly, as I stated in my previous post, and I’ll definitely mention how I’m doing on this particular project each time.

I’m expecting to get my first-reader comments back on The Southern Dragon very soon, so I can get started on the second draft of that, too. Hopefully, that task will take maybe three weeks as well. I’m still not quite certain how my editing time and my writing time will play together, since so far, I’ve kept them separate. (meaning, of course, that I’ve spent the last two weeks after finishing the first draft of The Southern Dragon editing a bunch of short stories I had lying around.) One more thing to keep you guys informed about, I guess.

These last two weeks have been full of a lot of  (relative to a novel) little goals; editing short stories, working on the blog and the website, working on some covers. At times, it definitely felt like I was just flailing around, structureless. I didn’t meet all of my weekly goals this week, although I think the only thing I missed was editing one particular short story. All in all, though, I have been productive. I’ve set a lot of things into motion this week.

At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

Anyway, it’ll be nice to return to the much more straightforward project of writing a novel.

See you next week!

Goal Oriented

Well, it’s been quite a while since I posted here. This is because I am bad at blogging. I have a hard time making myself put the words out there for people to read. I call myself a champion lurker.

This is changing, though, because I have decided that it will.

A number of things have happened since I last posted here. I appeared as a panelist for the first time at Legendary ConFusion in Detroit in January, which was a lot of fun. Then in February, my father (Ron Collins) and I went out to the Oregon coast to attend a week-long workshop with Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. In the lead-up to this workshop, we had to write six short stories for six different Fiction River anthologies in six weeks. A short story a week, basically.

I’ve heard people talk about writing a short story a week before, and was always skeptical that I could do it. Well, this workshop tossed me into the deep end of the challenge. Lo and behold, not only can I do it, I’m actually kinda decent at it. Sure, some of those stories could have used an extra round of polish, but the whole story was there, on the page.

And two of them were purchased by the editors of those anthologies. My story Gambler’s Fallacy will be appearing in Fiction River: Risk Takers, edited by Dean Wesley Smith, in February of 2015, and my story Frostburnt will appear in December’s Fiction River: Pulse Pounders, edited by Kevin J. Anderson. My dad also sold a story to Pulse Pounders, so we’ve got the father-daughter take-over of the table of contents going on there.

Oh, and there’s an unpublished Frank Herbert story in that one, too. No biggie.

The other four stories from the workshop are still floating around looking for homes.

The main thing I took away from the workshop experience, I think, other than getting to meet a ton of amazing professional writers, is that I can do this. I just have to apply myself. Now, that’s easy enough to do when the deadline, the goal, is coming from something outside yourself, e.g., this workshop with its weekly deadlines for turning in stories, but goals that you set for yourself are a different beast. It’s a lot easier to say “I’ll do this tomorrow” on a deadline you set yourself.

So I got back from the workshop and decided to see if I could set myself some writing goals and meet them. I had that novel I started back in November, the sequel to my first novel, Singer, that had just been sitting collecting dust for the past few months. The whole story was plotted out, so all that was left to do was write it.

I set myself the goal of two chapters a week.

the first two weeks went very slowly, and I ended up a little behind. I just wasn’t into it. I’d let the story sit for so long, I wasn’t excited about it anymore.

Then, week three hit, and I wrote three chapters.

Week four, I finished the novel.

I wrote nine chapters. I also cranked out another short story that week. I think I wrote about 25,000 words in this week.

So, yeah, I can meet my goals.

Therefore, I have made my blogging goal to post once per week. I want to talk to you all about my writing, about being a new writer, and about how I’m figuring this whole thing out as I go along.

If I can pull off a 25,000 word week, I can manage a little blog post.

🙂