Wait, it’s the 23rd already?

doctor-who-hold-on

This is what happens when I’m trying to balance a superbusy Day Job (woohoo yay Q4…), editing a mammoth book, bingewatching the Great British Bake Off with A., and other life stuff.  The last thing on my mind is usually what day it actually is.

My week has been filled with numerous small Day Job queries that definitely pile up and get really irritating after a short time, as well as a computer refresh, which for the most part only took about an hour, but I spent the rest of the day fending of more small queries while trying to get said new computer’s software correctly set up.  [Noted, a lot of these queries are what you would expect at the end of Q4…lots of “I need this yesterday btw on vacation until 1/4 kthxbye”, lots of “OMGWTFBBQ I need this delivered on Monday but the file isn’t here yet what do I do O NOES” and so on.  Your bad planning is not necessarily my problem, folks.]  The good thing is that the last week of the year is often the slowest for us, so that’ll give me time to finish things up and maybe have some time to breathe and more things sorted out.

ANYWAY.

What about the writing stuff, you ask?  Well, yes, I am still plugging along with the edit of Book 3.  I’m closing in on the halfway point, so despite my feeling that THIS IS TAKING FOREVER, I’m actually making good time.  I’m still on schedule for a January release.  Yay!  Then we’ll have a few other Mendaihu Universe-related surprises coming in the spring of 2017, and then we’ll see where we go from there.

So now what?  What am I going to do on this upcoming last week of the year?   That’s a good question.  I’ve already written my wistful Year End/Year to Come post earlier this week, so I don’t need to do one of those.  We shall see!

Until then, hope everyone has a lovely Christmas weekend!

Current Status

umaru-kawaii
EDITING LIKE A BOSS

So!  Yes.  I am currently going through my galley copy of The Persistence of Memories and will be uploading the finished version to CreateSpace to release the official physical version.  [I will also be checking the e-book version as well to make any fixes there as well.]

I think I lucked out this time, as there weren’t as many formatting errors I had to fix, nor were there as many grammar or plot issues as there were in the first book.  I’m sure I’ve missed one or two things, maybe a misused phrase or missing punctuation, but for now I’m happy with what I’ve done with it.  The plus side is that I’m already about halfway through that book already, so this one may even be out before Christmas!

And then starts Book 3.  That may take a bit longer, but we shall see.  If I remain dedicated to editing and formatting this last book, I should remain on schedule for early 2017.  This one’s worth the wait, folks!  I know I ended TPoM on a cliffhanger, but to be honest, it was more like the end of Bladerunner (the version where it cuts to black as Deckard closes the elevator door).

The Balance of Light is the culmination of everything that’s happened so far in the previous two books.  I did my best to tie up as many loose ends as was needed.  I ended it maybe not on a very high note, but an optimistic one.  That was one of the main points of the trilogy: doing the right thing, despite outside influence.  I hope you enjoy that one too…it was by far the hardest book I’ve ever written, but I’m quite proud of how it turned out.

So.  What’s my next writing project?

Good question.  I’m still not sure!  I’ll let you know when I have a more solid idea!! 🙂

Editing Complete!

tbol-last-page
(SPOILERS) The last page of the third book in the trilogy.

Oof.  Note to self: as much as I’m happy that I’ve FINALLY finished galley editing The Balance of Light, in hindsight I probably should not have stormed through the last six (albeit short) chapters in one marathon session last night.  I climbed into bed and passed out around 11 last night.  Exhausted, but happy.

That said…one MAJOR hurdle has finally been overcome!  TBoL was a beast in need of taming, and over the last few months I did my best to do exactly that.  Most of the prose that got the axe contained a lot of chaff to begin with — a lot of lengthy phrases that were culled down to much shorter sentences, a lot of visual cues that were cut, a lot of filler words that weren’t needed.  As this edit took place purely on paper, I have no idea how many words I cut, but I’m sure I cut a lot of them.

So what’s next?

Well, next is the physical printing of The Persistence of Memories.  I have a galley copy here that’s been marked up and everything, I just need to clean up the e-book and prepare the physical copy for release.

Then, one more time with TBoL: create the e-book and physical copy for release.

And that’s it?  No more work on the Bridgetown Trilogy?  I can put it to bed?

Well, not quite.  I have something special that I’d like to prepare for a March 2017 release; something to celebrate it being twenty long years since that first writing session that started it all.  A special e-book release, maybe with some fun extras?  And maybe shiny collector’s edition versions of the physical releases with extra stuff?  Who knows.  But it’s gonna be fun!

And then I’ll have to think of what to work on next!

Cooler heads

west side story cool

Cooler heads have presided, and the edit of The Balance of Light has been reeled back in.  I’m keeping it a single book. It won’t be the sprawling epic that my Writer Brain threatened earlier this week.  Heh.

Printing out the manuscript seems to have worked wonders, as I figured it would.  Having done a galley edit with a test copy of A Division of Souls (which helped me find a lot more issues I’d missed), doing the same for Book 3 seems to be working out just fine.

Which reminds me — remember that first chapter I deleted a month or so ago?  Yeah, it’s back in again.  Why, you ask?   Well, again, cooler heads.  I realized that starting the story on the original Chapter 2 was an even WORSE idea.

So…what does that mean?  I need to delete at least 50k words somewhere in this behemoth.  Where the hell is that going to take place?  Well, that’s a good question.  This is another reason for the printing out of the ms…so I can give it another reread and find those soft squidgy spots that can be cut out.  Scenes I can merge or leave out.

This is still going to go far past my original deadline, but again — I’m okay with that.  As long as I’m going in the right direction, that’s all that matters.

Still Editing, Still Busy

image
No, really, I’m getting stuff done! Honest!

Hey there, everyone!  Lots of movement here in Spare Oom.  The Day Job has been keeping me busy, though I’ve been sneaking a few minutes here and there to edit.

At this point, it looks like the release of The Persistence of Memories will more than likely be end of March rather than February…I do apologize for the delay, but this edit run is taking a bit longer than expected.  I’m still about a quarter of the way through, but I’m making good headway.  I’m giving myself a bit more of a buffer so I can do the formatting and the cover, and so I can release both the e-book and the physical version at the same time.

I’ll have more to blog about my editing processes to date, but that will be after everything is done.  Yay, future blog posts!  And thank you for your patience, as always!  I promise, it’ll be worth the wait.  This one’s still my favorite of the three.

But seriously, I’ve been taking extra steps to make sure I get all this work done on time and with minimal distraction.  I’m still utilizing the habit of closing down all web browsers when I’m not using them for something important (like checking my word choice against the Merriam-Webster website).  I’m even doing this during the day when I’m editing during slow moments, as you can see from the above picture.  Making good on my plan to scale back on my internet usage in general has worked out just fine.  I’m more productive and less distracted.*   Once I post this, I’ll be closing down the browsers again.

* – Okay, I may have returned to my FreeCell playing habits, but the trade-off is worth it.  A five-minute game is a lot better than a half hour of Twitter.

Oh — and if you’re curious, here’s the wallpaper I currently have.  I took this out Spare Oom window with my nice camera during a rather spectacular sunset late last year.

End of the day, 8 October 2015
End of the day, 8 October 2015

The Gang’s All Here

I blame Stephen King.

Okay, actually I blame my ex from ’94 for handing me a copy of The Stand while we were working on True Faith, but the point remains:  I blame Stephen King for introducing me to the Large Ensemble novel.  I read a wide assortment of his novels in 1993-95, intrigued by his style and his characterizations, and it was The Stand that grabbed me the most.  I’m extremely picky when it comes to stories with End of the World themes (they don’t bother me, I just have very little interest in them), but this one fascinated me, because it was such a sprawling piece of work.  A doorstop.  And the edition I read was the expanded version that had just been released.  And I loved it.  Still do…specifically that version.

I loved the idea of a large ensemble in a novel, because I was fascinated by how each character’s life intertwined with the others, even if they never met face to face.   I loved the idea of each character’s unique development and evolution throughout the course of the novel.  I especially like how each evolution had a specific role within the main plot, whether it was a large role or a small one.

That’s one of the reasons the Mendaihu Universe novels are always an ensemble affair.  Like the purging and repopulating of the human race in The Stand, I wanted to show that the awakening and ascension of spirits in the Universe weren’t merely relegated to the main characters, but to everyone in the world.  Not that future MU stories will also have a large cast; I already have some ideas focusing on a minimal number of characters that we may see down the road, and I’m quite sure I’ll have a Tales from the ARU sequence soon enough.

Writing large ensembles is tricky work, because you need to be a really good note-taker, or at least have it down really solid in your head.  Switching from one POV to another is simple enough; you just need to pay attention when you do it.   More often than not I kept with a single main POV character throughout an entire chapter to keep it simple — and in the process I got to play with that character’s evolution within that length of time.   And on a higher level, I had to make sure the main plot kept moving.  It was quite the juggling act, but it was a hell of a lot of fun.

I know a lot of people who aren’t big on ensemble casts, or doorstop novels for that matter.  They prefer a slimmer cast (and a slimmer spine!) in their books.  Shorter, more concise stories, ones that don’t meander or take forever.  Events that affect a small group rather than the entire planet.  I tend to switch between the two; one of my favorite novels is Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves, which essentially has two main characters and about six secondary characters, and the plot mainly focuses on how the house affects the characters.  And on the other hand, I also love Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto manga, which spanned 700 chapters and has an incredible array of main, secondary and tertiary characters who all have unique personalities and play an important part in the overall plot.

I say all this because I know that some readers may find the Bridgetown Trilogy a bit long; A Division of Souls is nearly 150k words, which is quite long even for a genre novel.  This made me think about playing with convention, maybe taking the opposite approach that the 1994 edition of The Stand took:  what if I created an abridged version of the trilogy, and leave it up to the reader to choose which version they’d like to buy or download?  I’m totally fine with taking that step, because I learned from Douglas Adams: there’s always more than one way to tell a story.  I could conceivably edit out some minor characters and leave out a few scenes here and there and still have the same story.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I’m refusing to listen to reason by whinging that severely edited versions of the books lead to them being less than pieces of art.   Yesterday I bought a copy of one of my favorite 90s movies, Wim Wenders’ Until the End of the World.  The original 1991 version Warner Bros released is around two hours long; the director’s cut, which I picked up, is 288 minutes — that’s over four and a half hours long.  I get that Hollywood needed a much shorter movie.  I was fascinated when I watched the first twenty minutes and noticed something:  at the 20 minute mark in the Hollywood version, the main female character (Claire) meets the main male character (Trevor/Sam).  In the director’s cut, they haven’t even met yet, let alone Claire getting to the destination where they meet.  There are number of short establishing shots, bridging scenes, and emotional moments that are there to show how the world looks and behaves in this fictional 1999.  Each version tells the story: one is crisp and concise, the other is slow and deliberate.  Both work the way they’re supposed to, and both are enjoyable to watch.

And like any director’s cut of any movie, there are going to be fans and detractors.  Some audiences hate long films.  Others love the idea of an ‘alternate’ version of their favorite movie.  This is where I started thinking:  why not alternate versions of my novels?  Am I willing to spend all that extra time playing around with different versions of my stories?  Am I dithering in wanting it both ways?  And realistically, would anyone really care either way?  Well, some of those questions really don’t matter all that much in reality.  I’m not looking for Hugo nominations here.*  I’m not looking for scores of fans; I’m just looking for readers who’ll have fun reading my universe, whichever version they so choose.

 

* — Yes, as a matter of fact, A Division of Souls can be nominated for a Hugo!  Go ahead and nominate if you want, I’m cool with that. 🙂

 

Time is Against Me Now

This always happens, damn it.  I give myself a reasonable, decent timeframe to finish the line edit for The Persistence of Memories, and something comes along and says “OH HEY You need to get this done first, there’s a couple of errands you also need to do outside the house, and oh, by the way, Day Jobbery has been busier than usual, so chances of you sneaking any writing in during the day is slim to nil.  Oh, and remember those blogs that you ignored all weekend because you were too busy shopping and doing housework, and watching the new X-Files episodes?”

Grumble grumble whine whine.

But you know, I’m not going to let it get to me.  This has happened enough times that the most I can do is work around it.  I’ve read too many blog writers and webcomic artists that have this same issue, and that’s all you can do:  soldier on the best way you can.  I say this, as it seems my original schedule has gone a bit wonky.  I’m pushing the release of The Persistence of Memories out a few more weeks, mainly because after this line edit is done, I’m going to need to give it another surgery.  It’s great as it is, but it’s still far too long at nearly 169k words.  That’s actually about 15k more than A Division of Souls.  The response to that book, by the way, has been quite positive, except for the words no writer really wants to hear: it’s too long.  And Book 3 is even longer than Book 2, which is not a good sign at all.

But!  But!  It’s a piece of art!  You’re supposed to savor the pace both when it’s fast and slow!  Why does no one understand my genius?

Heh.  Yeah, right.  More like, “….Oh.  Yeah.  Huh.  You’re right, that bit’s pretty sluggish.  I should definitely speed it up.”

The thing with self-publishing is that you’re going to see it, warts and all.  The original 150k version of ADoS is still out there as an e-book and a trade until I get around to re-editing that.  On the one hand, as a writer, I feel like a failure because I put the book out there well before it was completely ready, and now No One Will Ever Trust Me as an Author Ever Again.

On the other hand, I can just get back on the horse, fix what needs fixing, present it again, and move on.

Whatever works, kids.

 

Granted, I’m also giving myself quite a lot to do in the next six months.  Editing and revising books 2 and 3 in the trilogy, as well as writing Walk in Silence.  My original plan for WiS was to have it released in April, but due to the trilogy editing and re-editing, work has been embarrassingly slow on it (about 2 handwritten pages a day, which really isn’t much).  I’m thinking that one will end up being released during the fall semester.  I’m okay with that…as long as it’s done by some point this year.

And then, maybe, finally, I’ll be able to work on new stuff.  Maybe.

Post-Release: Remastered Edition

One aspect of writing and publishing (self, professional or otherwise) that doesn’t always get talked about is the subject of editions.  To tell the truth, it’s kind of a boring subject, not to mention it’s one that the writer and publisher doesn’t always want to talk about, for various reasons.  With professional publishing, the idea of a second edition is sometimes seen as a distant hope; the publishing house only goes into multiple editions once it’s seen that the book is a big seller, and that the original run of however-many copies has been accounted for.  This happens with much less frequency than one expects; this is also why writers are often super-paranoid about possible errors before it has its first print.

With the self-published writer, especially for one like myself that’s just starting out, one might not want to tell one and all, “Hey, I have a new edition of my book/e-book available!”, for the reason that it could be read as “hey, I just uploaded the latest version of my book, which doesn’t have bad formatting and other embarrassing mistakes!”  It’s better just upload the new version and just keep it on the QT, and hope no one noticed.

 

But new editions of your self-published e-book don’t necessarily have to be a bad, embarrassing thing.  Well — for the first edition of the physical book you should at least make sure that the formatting is tight and there’s no weird errors, but that’s another post entirely.  [This is the main reasons A Division of Souls is still e-book only at this time.  I’m about to start in with the Big Galley Fix starting today, so hopefully within the next few weeks it will finally be available at Amazon.]  But future uploaded versions of your already-released book doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.

So many ellipses, so little time...
So many ellipses, so little time…

Upon finishing her reading of the ADoS galley, my wife stated that I have to go on a strict diet of NO ELLIPSES.  I will totally cop to using that punctuation WAY too much (that, em dashes, and italics), to the point that I’ve trained myself to cut them nearly 99% of the time in future editing projects.  The Persistence of Memories doesn’t have nearly as many as ADoS did, but I’ve managed to quash nearly all of them.  Most of them are hiding in dialogue, where I want the client to…well…you know…kind of avoid having to reveal something they need to reveal, but it can also slow down the flow considerably.  I’ve learned to use when and where necessary, and only then.

She also mentioned that, since it contains a large cast, some of which are mentioned early on but not mentioned again for some time.  I’d been on the fence on this one, to tell the truth.  Luckily, among all the notes and outtakes for the Mendaihu Universe is a solid dramatis personae that I can add before the main text.

The next edition of ADoS will contain a few formatting errors I missed (such as the Case of the Curiously Vanishing Pilcrow), some minor edits, a dramatis personae, as well as the deletion of a number of said ellipses.  The cover will remain the same for the e-book, but still want to toy around with the spine for the physical book, as I’m still not happy with it.

Will this lessen the worth of the book?  In terms of self-publishing: not entirely.  The mistake made here is the belief that once you have the book out there, for good or ill, it’s out in publish and any mistakes will be points off your credibility.  I made peace with that some time ago; I still find glaring formatting and editing errors in professionally published books, which just goes to prove we’re never dead-on perfect the first time out.  While it’s great to want your best work out there, focus on the story and the execution mostly, and do your best with the editing and formatting.  We readers will forgive you if your character’s name is spelled Rbfrit instead of Robert in exactly one place on page 276.  It happens.

Again with the music parallel:  you’re re-releasing your album because it’s been remastered, not because you hated your vocals on a few tracks and chose to completely rerecord them.  You’re reuploading the album because Jimmy hit a bum bass note on Track 8 and a quick ProTools edit made it go away.  In short, you’ve already uploaded some of your best work to date; you’re just making it even better this time out.  [And believe you me, there are some fans out there who will buy the ‘remastered’ version — and I’m talking books now, not music.  If they enjoy the story that much, they’ll have your back.]

So yes — don’t be afraid if you see a minor error in your self-published book.  Go right ahead and make those fixes and reupload the file to whatever platform you’re using.  It’s totally up to you if you want to make it publicly known that it’s a new edition, but don’t fear it.  Use it to your advantage.

Current Status: Forward! [Plus Sneak Preview!]

So!  It’s been two months and change since I released A Division of Souls, and it’s been quite an interesting road so far. The movement of ADoS has been fascinating.  I’ll be adjusting the price again pretty soon, and looking for more avenues in which to advertise or share it.  We shall see.  On the plus side, my decision to make it available at NoiseTrade Books has come up trumps!  It’s leveled off a bit, but I’m still getting maybe one or two downloads daily.  Go me!

Meanwhile, I’m about a third of the way through this final edit and it’s taking a little bit longer than expected, but I’m getting there.  Most of the fixes have been in deleting a lot of extraneous words and revising a few others.  No major issues…yet!  (knock wood)  I’m still aiming for early 2016 for the release of this one.  I shall of course keep you all updated!

So!  In the meantime, I’ve decided to let you take a peek at the first chapter of The Persistence of Memories while you wait, hiding just below the jump. It takes place just a few days after the finale of ADoS.  I hope you like it!

And again…thank you all for checking out the book. Y’all are still awesome!  [And a special shout-out to those from my hometown who may have seen my pasty face in the local paper a few days ago.  Hi there to you too!  And thanks for the well-wishes!]

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