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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Wearing the Publisher Hat

I’ve been working for the past week or so on things to get ready for publishing The Southern Dragon. It’s getting really close now! I’ve got the proof copy in my hands, and am pouring over it to make sure it’s up to snuff before hitting that ‘publish’ button. I’m hoping to publish in time for Detcon next weekend. I already have some tweaks I want to make to the cover, and we’ll see how the interior goes as I read through it. Hopefully there aren’t too many mistakes!

In the mean time, I’ve also been working on some other business-y things, such as getting more organized with my finance tracking and putting together some promotional plans. I’ve got these snazzy little business cards that I’ll be handing out at the convention. They have information on my two books and my publisher website, including a QR code to it. They’re meant to be easy hand-outs, and I’m hoping to get them printed up sometime early this week. I’ll also be running a sweepstakes, I guess? I’ll have a sign-up list and be giving away three free e-copies of Singer and The Southern Dragon to randomly selected participants. The hope there is that these lucky people will read and review my books, thus bringing me more publicity.

I’m considering doing something similar on twitter, once I can figure out how the logistics will work.

I also have plans in the works to set up a newsletter soonish. Still working on that, but would like to have it set up and the first issue out this week if possible.

I did manage to get some bits and pieces of writing in during this time, and actually finished the first draft of a short story yesterday, but to be honest, the publisher stuff can be distracting sometimes. It’s got its own sort of fun-ness to it, and it feels hella productive, but when it comes down to it, doing your publishing duties is necessary, but not a substitute for writing. I’m still learning how to balance my time between the two. I’m in a scramble to be all publisher, all the time right now due to the upcoming con, which I think is okay, but once it’s over, I’ll be returning to more focus on writing for a while. I had been hoping to start on my next novel earlier this month, but it will probably end up having to wait until after the con just because I’m so busy getting ready for it.

 

In other news, it’s the last game of the season for Detroit City FC today, unless we make it into the tournament… I dunno, I’m not the knowledgeable one on soccer in my family. But we’re going to the game and screaming and shouting to push them to a win today. I know a lot of people who aren’t ready for the season to be over yet.

 

Finishing

Today, I finished the first draft of The Fount of Magic.

Yay!

This one came with a five-week long hiatus, a segment of the “mid-book blues” as some call it. That time was painful, because I felt like I just wasn’t being a good human being. I wasn’t writing, so I felt like a failure in everything else I did, too. Like I was just wasting time.

But I got over it, and got back to the writing. Those first few days back at the keyboard were painful. I had pitiful word counts. I hated everything I wrote. But I did it.

Eventually, the pace picked up, and it became easier, because it was fun again.

And now, I’m finished with the first draft.

While I’m definitely glad to be finished (it means I can move on to all of the other projects I’ve got stacking up in my to-write list! Yay!!!) a part of me is not looking forward to NOT having the novel to come home to after work. It had gotten to the point that I would walk in the door, pet the kitty, and then sit down to say hello to the novel. Sure, there’s still editing to do, and that’s fun, too. But it’s not the same as when you’re sitting there, pushing yourself to just put thirty more words on the page. Only thirty, and you’ll break 3,000 today!

Obviously, since I’ve already stated I’ve got more projects, new novels will come along in the near future.

But now this one is done, and I will miss it.

We had our laughs and our hard times, and in the end we came out with a pretty good draft. But now it’s time to move on.

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.

🙂

Steady Progress

I’ve got a few writing projects on my plate right at the moment, including two novels and a handful of short stories. Most of these projects are currently in the “just starting out” phase, meaning I’ve got a few ideas and bits of plot lines written down in my notebook. One of the two novels (currently very originally called “Second Novel”, since it’s the second novel I’ve worked on) is actually in its first draft stage. I spent a decent chunk of time today working on it, and I’ve finally gotten through all three (yes, three!) prologues. I dunno, maybe later I’ll decide to call them chapters, but they each introduce a main character and get them to the point where the real story can start. So they feel like prologues right now. I’m not sure about the third one right now, mostly, I think, because I don’t quite have a firm handle on that character yet, but hopefully as I dig through this first draft I’ll discover more about her so that I can make her prologue more in tune with who she really is.

The other novel is the sequel to Singer. The current plan with this one is to get it all plotted out in time for November, when I will power through the first draft in a month. I’ve actually got some decent headway into the outline, and I’ve got lots of fun and interesting ideas that I’m playing around with. I think the most fun part of this sequel will be exploring a world which I only got a tiny peek of in the first book, but which I am discovering to be peopled with more interesting characters and sprinkled with fantastic and dangerous places to visit.

The short stories will come as they come, I suppose.

Anyway, so long as I can keep up some steady progress, I’ll be happy with myself.

Singer now available in print!

You know, I thought it felt real when I hit the ‘publish’ button on Smashwords, releasing the ebook version of my novel to the world. But I was wrong. That real feeling comes when you hold a physical copy of your book in your hands. I received the proof copy of Singer in the mail today, and it was beautiful. Everything looks just the way I wanted it to.

Therefore, I am happy to announce that the print version of Singer is now available for purchase on the CreateSpace eStore! Beyond this, the Kindle version will be available on Amazon in a few hours, just as soon as they finish reviewing it, or whatever it is that they do to it over there. I’ll be sure to let you know about it once it happens. In the mean time, check out this link to the CreateSpace eStore’s version! I really hope everyone enjoys it!

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