State of my writing: Oct 2017

It’s been five months since I started Book 1 of my new fantasy series, and I’m currently making my way through a nearly-final edits. But at the same time, I’m working through the first draft of Book 2!

Way back in 2014 I posted about my method for ‘gap-writing’ a first draft. But with these two books, I’ve been experimenting with dictating the draft into my phone. I’ve been hearing more and more about the pros and cons of dictating technology. I don’t really do anything special with. I just turn on my ‘Notes’ app and click the mic button. There’s LOTS of correcting afterward, but I think it’s worth it to be able to freely record my ideas and lines while I’m feeling creative.

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I’ve been enjoying so much, that during a recent weekend trip to Jekyll Island, I spent a good deal of time roaming the beach and dictating passages into my phone. I’m sure any other beach-goers thought I was a little silly. Or a workaholic using his phone  to take care of business on the beach. And they were probably right.

Jekyll suffered some damage from Hurricane Irma this September. It barreled through and scraped some of the sand from the beach, took out at least one boardwalk, and excavated another old one. (See the pic below.) The weather was a bit overcast, so overall, it made for a bit of a post-apocalyptic feel (if you happened to be in a particularly imaginative frame of mind). Which leads me to one other ‘pro’ to dictating: It unshackles you from writing in your office or your living room. Getting into a wide open space and doing some storytelling in a natural setting was really fun, and it really got my creative juices flowing!

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Random thoughts about writing…

Watch out now, quick takes!

I’ve been proofing for the last week, and I realized I hate any time I use the word ‘had.’
He had a smile on his face.
He had to go to the store.
He had liked cartoons when he was younger.
What is it about any use of that word that feels awkward or almost amateurish when I hear it? Maybe I’m focusing on it too much. I’m sure most readers breeze right past the word.

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Writing a fantasy series, I’ve realized that lighting can be a major problem! My characters keep wandering into caves or abandoned dungeons—how are they supposed to see where they’re going? Even a scene outdoors at night can be a major issue. Yes, I know that I can give my characters torches. But those seem awfully smoky and hot and drippy—and just generally unpleasant. Plus—how long does a medieval torch last? I’m sure if I went back to old episodes of Xena or some other just-for-fun sword and sorcery show, there would be scenes where characters walk through moodily lit caves without addressing the fact that no one should be able to see anything.

September TV

September was a busy month for TV, with several shows vying for time to distract me from writing.First and foremost, there’s a new season of ‘Rick and Morty’ on Adult Swim. This might be might favorite show, period. It’s a cartoon, a family comedy, and a sci-fi adventure with enough mind-blowing ideas to make Doctor Who jealous. This season has featured some more introspective themes. What makes Rick tick? How is his megalomania affecting his family? Most of the episodes are self-contained, so you can jump aboard with just about any episode you want and get a complete, understandable story.

Earlier this month, Big Brother ended it’s polarizing, predictable 19th season with a polarizing, un-predictable finale. Personally, I was ‘Team Paul.’ Sure, he was maybe a little more manipulative than he needed to be (although this is Big Brother we’re talking about), but how can you not give props to a guy who, through separate plots, convinced every player to purposely lose a racing competition, so that a woman with a broken foot could end up winning it?

After Big Brother ended, Ozark (on Netflix) entered my life with a blistering first episode. Yikes! It’s fascinating to see Jason Bateman’s character be the financial planner/money launderer using his nerdy bookkeeping skills to hold off hitmen and thugs and drug dealers, episode after episode. The writers of Ozark definitely seem to be asking, ‘How can we add another problem to make this show even more dramatic?’ I was a little over halfway through the season when all the problems piled up had started to make me feel too stressed. So I’m taking a break from the show right now.

Also binged the first season of the Good Place. A very witty show. In between, I watched as many episodes of 30 Rock as I could. (It left Netflix on Septmber 30th). I enjoyed the first ep of American Horror Story: Cult, so I will probably watch more of that. Although a lot of times I don’t end up making it all the way through the AHS seasons.

How about you? What shows are you watching or looking forward to watching now that the summer TV season has ended and the fall season is starting up?

Progress report

Today I finished the third draft of my latest manuscript! Woot woot! Still a good bit of proof-reading left to go, but I’m definitely in the final approach. The book is a little over 40K words long, but I’m thinking now I might not release it until I have Book 2 in the series ready. I’ve heard that it’s a good idea for independent authors to launch more than one book of a series at a time, because the best way to take advantage of a launch it to have another product out there, ready for new readers to buy.

It’s a tough decision, because I’m excited about getting this book out there. It’s been a blast to write! And quick too! (Six months, which is turbo-fast for me.) I’m feeling impatient about sharing it. But also, Book 1 has shaped up to be a ‘getting-the-gang-together’ sort of adventure, and I think the epic, world-ending threat that drives the undercurrent of the series isn’t really revealed until Book 2. So in that case, it makes sense to release both books together, to help establish what will be the ultimate quest of my Fantasy series.

So what are the tentative titles of my next two books?

Book 1:

 

& Book 2:

 

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Nevada and Utah trip

Earlier this year, we took a trip out west to explore Las Vegas and Zion National Park, and a few points in between.

Examples of Tafoni in the Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

 

Near the Rainbow Vista in the Valley of Fire.

 

4000-year-old petroglyphs on Atlatl Rock.

 

Inside Zion National Park.

 

Looking down into Zion National Park.

 

A shot above the Virgin River.

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Odds and ends… Even a beginning!

First, The Wilds is currently on sale on Amazon, starting today and ending Sunday, July 14th. If you’ve read Idyll Book 1 (still just $0.99!) and you’re looking for an excuse to jump into Book 2, this is it! I’ll probably run a limited-time discount for Exile (Book 3 of the trilogy), in the coming weeks, so I’ll make an announcement about that as well.

I redesigned my Idyll covers! OK, the covers were updated over a month ago, but still I thought it was worth calling them out. I’m not ecstatic about the Idyll cover, but I think the yellow stands out pretty well, and I think all three covers together, yellow, magenta, and blue, work pretty nicely together. I think I’m the only one who’s favorite is The Wilds cover.

Somehow Amazon recognized The Idyll Trilogy as a thing, and now it has its own page in the Kindle Store! I like how all the books look side-by-side:

And finally, I’ve been plugging away at my new series! I’ve already completed a rough first-draft at 35,000 words (I’m planning that these books will be about half as long as the Idyll books). I don’t want to say too much about the idea, but I’ll reveal more soon. I’ve even started Book 2 of the series, logging in 1500 words of a beginning just to see if the transition from Book 1 to Book 2 would work. Knock on wood, but I haven’t run into any plot-holes or roadblocks that might have caused any major rewrites on this series. I’m trying to keep the plots a little simpler and more crowd-pleasing overall. Although the characters are really start to resonate with me. I hope readers will be excited by the new series as I am writing it right now!

More soon…

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