Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Crossing the Finish Line


Above is the certificate I won for finishing NaNoWriMo.  I crossed the line a day early with 50,0042 words.  Considering how many thousands of words I was behind a week in, I’m justifiably pleased with having finished early.  

Below is another picture I can also proudly display.


I spent almost all of this NaNoWriMo writing down the backstory of perhaps my most dynamic character, Artemis Arrowsmith.  This material will appear in flashback scenes in the second and third books. 

Last year I wrote much of the second book for NaNoWriMo.  All told, between what I wrote last year and this year, I have over 300 pages of material for the first-draft of that novel.  I plan to spend the next year turning that into a completed work.  I’ll keep you informed of my progress.

That’s all for now.  Have fun everyone.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My First Query Letter

I’ve been bouncing off the walls since “finishing” my first novel.

First I hired a professional editor, then canceled that.  I reformatted my manuscript into standard format, which was a bigger task than I expected.  (I had to replace all my italics with underlines.  I thought this strange until I saw how poorly italics show up in a courier font.) 

I sent off copies of the manuscript to the writers group and asked for feedback on whether they thought I needed to hire an editor or not.   Still bouncing off the walls, I switched to researching what a query letter to an agent should contain. 

Contrary to its name, a query letter is not about asking any questions.  It is a one page sales pitch designed to first interest an agent in your story, then in yourself.  You jump directly into summarizing in one or two short paragraphs a complex novel filled with characters you’ve spent possibly years crafting.

Last night I finished my first query letter.  And I was still ricocheting like a Racquet ball. 

I needed to focus on writing for NaNoWriMo, where I am already thousands of words behind.  Every time I tried to write I kept being distracted by the thought of the completed novel waiting for the next step.

One of my great strengths and weaknesses is my ability to act impulsively.  To leap, then look.  It is easy to see the disadvantages that such a trait brings with it, but there are advantages as well. 

It allows me to trust my gut.  To move forward into dark and unfamiliar terrain, guided by the confidence of a fool that I will somehow find my way through.  Sometimes this leads to terrible mistakes, but more often it lets me accomplish what dithering and planning would never begin.

So I sat looking at my finished query letter, which I am quite pleased with, and my stomach churned over the fact that I have a finished work ready for submission.  I realized I would have no ability to focus on my next writing task until I acted.  

So I sent my first query letter off to a literary agency, one that gets a “highly recommended” rating from the site Preditors & Editors.

I am calmer now, and I think I can focus again on writing.   The first novel is still in my thoughts, but no longer dominates my mind. I feel like I can now write for NaNoWriMo without the severe distractions that have hampered me so badly this time around.

I’ll post again if I hear something back from the agent, whether the news is good or bad.  Till then, have fun and party down.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Moment of Reflection

It has been a long time since I added a post here.  This is not because I haven’t been writing, but because I have been incredibly focused on writing.  For over a year, all my energy and efforts  have focused on completing the second complete draft of the first book in Gods Among Men, At The Lady’s Behest Comes…

At the beginning of October I finished the second draft.  This completed a wrenching experience in which I rewrote much of the book from scratch.  Some scenes I rewrote multiple times.  I edited every page, ever paragraph, multiple times. 

Along the way, my editing skill grew immensely.  Enough that since finishing the second draft last month, I performed a complete edit on every chapter, scene, page, paragraph, and sentence.  I managed to cut over third of pages from the second draft, removing over 200 pages (over 70,000 words) from the novel.  Essentially, in one month I completed a third draft.  

I feel proud of the first novel’s current state and consider it complete, for the moment.  (More on that further down the page.)  All chapters are available for download at http://gods-among-men.com/blog/books/book1.  I invite anyone interested to read what is there. 

What’s Next?

It is going to be hard to get At The Lady’s Behest Comes…published.  It is long for a first novel (over 150,000 words, whereas most first novels are around 80,000 words) and it ends on some major cliff-hangers.  But it is a good story with strong characters, and I have faith that eventually I’ll see it in print.

I have contracted a professional editor to review the novel and provide feedback on what I must do to make the work more presentable and palatable to agents and publishers.  I expect that his suggestions will prompt further changes, and possibly more rewrites.  I use to dread rewrites; now I accept them as challenges that improve my skills as a writer. 

And In The Meantime?

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short.  Last year during NaNoWriMo I wrote much of the second book, …Demiurge, Unbound,…

I’m late getting started this year, already almost 5000 words behind where I should be.  I plan to focus on writing a hodgepodge of scenes I need for the second and third books.  This will help me flesh out a variety of characters and scenarios better.  I’m hopeful  that by focusing on scenes I’ve thought about for years I’ll rapidly make up the lost time.

By the end of November, I expect to receive some feedback from the editor I hired.  December and January will probably be devoted to incorporating his suggestions and comments.

After which I will look for an agent.  I expect the process of getting an agent and publisher to dominate much on my non-writing/non-work time next year.

And With Regards to Writing Next Year?

My goal for writing next year is to finish my partial first draft of the second book and begin the process of editing it.  As chapters reach the “presentable” stage I’ll post them on my website, http://gods-among-men.com.  

It would be overly optimistic to expect to finish an edited version of the second book by the end of next year.  I think it likely that I will finish a rough first draft and have final edits of many chapters by then.

And I keep toying with posting MP3 readings of the first book on my website.  I think it would be fun to do, but also quite time consuming.  I’ll likely keep bouncing this idea around in my head and never get around to actually doing it.  But I might well try a few chapters and see what happens.

And Your Blogs?

The blogs served an important function for a time.  They forced me to write regularly and focus my thoughts.  Maintaining them like I did helped push me to write often enough that I developed good work habits.  I expect I’ll focus my future writing efforts on my story, and blog infrequently at best.

That said, I sometimes look back over old posts and find what I wrote there interesting snapshots of where I was at that time.  There is value in putting random thoughts in permanent form, insight to be gained from reviewing previous ramblings.  Perhaps I’ll make an effort to add post more regularly, but I doubt it.

Until next time, have fun and party down.