Idyll Chatter: Writing Progress

In May of 2008, I started keeping digital journal to keep track of my writing progress. Basically, I’d make a new .RTF file each month, and record what I wrote on for that day. Over the years, it’s developed into more of a personal journal—but more of a ‘dudish’ version of personal, as in recording what I did on my lunch hour, or what I watched on TV that night.

But I still list my writing (or lack thereof) for every day. And as I switch from one writing project to another, I color code the months with different color tags. That usually gives me a daunting (and usually depressing) look at how long it takes me to finish a book. I’ve included a screenshot of the last 4 years of my ‘Writing Journal.’

The yellow dots are months that I worked on IDYLL, and the purple dots are months I worked on the novel that became LINE OF DESCENT. I swapped working on those two books, on and off, for nearly ten years! The blue dots were months I worked on polishing SHADOW SIDEWAYS. The orange dots represent progress on THE WILDS.

I had forgotten that I started a first draft on The Wilds for several months, then went back to do one final pass on Idyll, then came back to finish The Wilds. So last week when I was checking how long it took me to write The Wilds vs. writing EXILE, I was disappointed to see 12 red dots (EXILE months) vs. 11 orange dots for The Wilds. Exile overall is about 3,000 words shorter, and also it has a more streamlined and straightforward plot. Also, I thought I was getting faster with my writing, and I thought I was really motoring along. Then I scrolled up in my Finder window and saw that in truth I worked on The Wilds for an 11-month clip and also an 8-month clip before that. So Exile WILL be the first book that I finished in a year or less. Pretty cool!

By the way… The green dots at the bottom of the window? Starting in April and May of 2017? That’s the beginning of a completely new series of novellas! I’m very excited about that, and it’s been major fun creating a new world. For this new series, I’m hoping to keep the novellas around 40,000 words, so that I can finish them and publish them at a more rapid pace. (By comparison, all of my other novels are around 80,000 words.) I’m hoping the series will have a sort of pulpy, episodic vibe—but with no cliffhangers. Stay tuned for more news in the coming months!

Idyll Chatter: The Light at the End of the Tunnel

I want to apologize in advance for letting my blogular presence slide over the last few months. I’ve been really buckling down and focusing on finishing the last revisions of IDYLL, Book 3. I thought I was doing really well, finishing the first draft in mid-December. But for some reason these last few rounds took a really long time.

I’m thinking about redesigning the covers for all of the Idyll trilogy. What do you think of this new logo style?

Probably the biggest factor was work, which has been crazily busy over the last few months. I’m working after-hours more than ever, and that’s certainly been cutting into writing time. But I have to admit there was a period there where I got complacent (about 75% into my final set of rewrites), and I slowed my pace. Also, I’ve been thinking more and more the next series I want to write, and there’s been a few hours of writing time that I’ve devoted to outlining and world-building on that series.

After two years of straight writing on THE WILDS and EXILE, I needed a little break from the planet of Idyll, and I think those little bits of break have helped me re-approach the IDYLL finale and re-excite myself about the whole series. I’m really pumped about the way the Idyll trilogy ends, I can’t think of any other heroes who have had their story end in quite this way!

How will Samuel, Walt, Miriam, and Virginia ride off into the sunset? Will ALL of them make it to that last ride? I’m proud to announce that readers won’t have to wait long to find out. The manuscript is now finished, and EXILE should be released by May 16!

Also, I’m planning to release the entire series to Kindle Unlimited, so if you’re a KU subscriber, you’ll be able to check out the entire series for free. Stay tuned for more news.

And thanks so much for visiting and reading!

Idyll Chatter: False Start

I posted a few weeks ago about how I had started to write Idyll Book 3 from the middle out. (I’m sure the boys at Pied Piper would be proud!) Well, that was a over a month ago, and since then I’ve returned to the proper beginning of the book, and I’ve been treading forward, building characterization and tension (I hope) that will lead to that midway climax that changes the rest of the book.

I knew what characters I needed to inject into the story, where I needed them to be at the midway point, and what new scenarios I had to set in place. So I diligently set to work. Perhaps that was partly where I ran into a problem. Or at least my focus prevented me from seeing the problem, at least for a while. Unfortunately, after writing those first five-or-six chapter, I realized that the process was feeling a little too much like ‘work.’

The first few chapters were coming out boring!

Too much sci-fi exposition. Too much dwelling in the past. Honestly, probably too much characterization—too much angst and hopefulness and mushiness and all that stuff. And no action. In fact, my first outline contained a few twists and interesting reveals in the beginning, but the first real action scene didn’t happen till maybe 15% in.

So I backtracked and started again. And I think EXILE is going to be much better because of it. I’ve moved up the first big action scene, so it starts to happen while we’re still coming to grips with our heroes’ new status quo. And a few dangling, sci-fi-ish threads are twined together and explained (hopefully smoothly, in a way that won’t make more action-oriented fans lose interest).  Also, a critical new character is introduced during the action.

And another character was excised from the plot altogether. Readers of the series hopefully recognize the name ‘Arbiter.’ I had this character arrive in our heroes’ new home and spend a few tense (but wordy) chapters with our heroes before any action begins. Now, the Arbiter will have a much more scaled-back role (but still essential), and a portion of that story will be told through Interludes.

So there you have it! Thank goodness so far I’ve been working in a gap-writing style, so I didn’t waste too much time on my false start. I believe I’m back on track with a story that will be much more enjoyable, middle, ending, and beginning. I’m hoping to have the first draft done my the end of October.

“The Wilds and FREE” eBook Giveaway

Wilds_FREE_Promo_CoverTo celebrate the release of StoryBundle’s Weird Western compilation—and IDYLL’s inclusion in that amazing set—I’m now offering a free eBook copy of Book 2 of the Idyll Trilogy (THE WILDS) to anyone who signs up for my email newsletter.

All you have to do is email me at jderrywriter@gmail.com and let me know what eBook format you prefer (MOBI or ePub), and I’ll send it over to you!

So If you’ve just finished reading IDYLL (or you’re considering reading it), I’d love to hear from you and to send you a free copy of THE WILDS. I hope you’ll enjoy finding out what’s next for the Starboards and the Bridges. Here’s a hint: It involves a whole planet’s worth of trouble!

In return, I’ll send you eblasts (never more that biweekly) with updates and concept sketches for the Idyll Trilogy, plus news on my next SFF series. You’ll be the first to get info on the upcoming Book 3 of the trilogy (I’m about halfway through the rough draft) and the first to hear about other deals as well.

This giveaway expires on September 10th, so don’t forget that old bit of settler wisdom: “Quick is merciful!”

Don’t wait, sign up now!

Brand NEW! The Weird Western StoryBundle

So proud to be part of the Weird Western StoryBundle, launching today!

Boy Eating

Here’s the low-down from the Bundle’s curator, Blair MacGregor:

Welcome to our Weird Western Bundle, where wide frontiers, flintlocks, whiskey and revenge meet swords, airships, terraforming, magic, myths, and dragons. You’ll find stories here set in the snows of old Alaska and the heat of contemporary Arizona, post-Civil War San Francisco and post-colonization planets, and places the seem as familiar as any wooded mountain or wind-swept desert… until tigers and dragons and horses that are so much more than you might assume burst into the scene. The different aspects of the Weird Western spirit in this bundle will give fans of the genre something they haven’t seen before, and folks new to Weird Westerns a wide sampling of its fantastic offerings.

I was raised on a combination of SFF and Westerns. Star Trek and Gunsmoke, Asimov and L’Amour, Lonesome Dove and Battlestar Galactica. I was just as thrilled to shake the hand of Hugh O’Brian of Wyatt Earp fame as I was to meet Katherine Kurtz, author of the Deryni world. It’s been a joy discovering more writers combining the genres, raising their unique voices, and upsetting the familiar with the fantastic. The result is a Western setting that respects history and the people who created it while spinning in unique powers, esoteric challenges, and the terrifying magic of discovery.

You’ll learn the secrets behind the post-quarantined expanse of ranchland in James Derry’s Idyll, and the reasons the man of Joe Bailey’s Spellslinger is ready to make a stand. There’s the subterfuge and wild ride of Gemma Files’s Book of Tongues, and the smart, snappy adventure of Lindsay Buroker’s Flash Gold novellas

Dangerous wonders and determined enemies fill J. Patrick Allen’s West of Pale, and Steve White’s New Worldbrings chainmail and strange powers to the frontier. Kyra Halland puts rogue magery and danger in a dusty Western town in Beneath the Canyons, and Kenneth Mark Hoover gives us a time-wandering lawman in Haxan.

And I’m thrilled to share the debut of Judith Tarr’s first novel of a new series, Dragons in the Earth, set in present-day Arizona, and filled with horses and dragons and the power of the desert itself.

StoryBundle let’s you choose your own price, so you decide how you’d like to support these awesome writers and their work. For $5—or more if you’d like—you’ll receive the basic bundle of four great novels in DRM-free ebook format. For the bonus price of at least $14—or more if you’d like—you’ll receive all nine novels. If you choose, a portion of your payment will go toward supporting Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now.

The Weird Western Bundle is available for only three weeks. It’s a great opportunity to pick up the stories of nine wonderful writers, support independent authors who want to twist your assumptions about the West, and discover new writers with great stories along the way.

The initial titles in The Weird Western Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:
•    Haxan by Kenneth Mark Hoover
•    Dead West Vol 1.: West of Pale by J Patrick Allen
•    Idyll by James Derry
•    Spellsinger by Joseph J. Bailey

If you pay more than the bonus price of just $14, you get all four of the regular titles, plus five more:
•    Hexslinger Vol. 1: A Book of Tongues by Gemma Files
•    Horses of the Moon Vol. 1: Dragons in the Earth by Judith Tarr
•    Daughter of the Wildings Book. 1: Beneath the Canyons by Kyra Halland
•    The Flash Gold Chronicles I-III by Lindsay Buroker
•    New World Book 2: Hair of the Bear by Steven W. White

And as special thanks to our newsletter subscribers, all of you who subscribe get New World by Steven W. White for free! Grab the free first book in the New World series before you start on book 2, Hair of the Bear, found in the bundle.

This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!

It’s also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

  • Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.
    Get quality reads: We’ve chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.
  • Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth to you. If you can only spare a little, that’s fine! You’ll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.
  • Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there’s nothing wrong with ditching DRM.
  • Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now!
  • Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you’ll get the bonus books!

StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.

For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, tweet us at @storybundle and like us on Facebook.

 

 

Idyll Chatter: Bass Ackwards

bass_ackwards_309552032Good news! I’m almost halfway through the first draft of Book 3 of the Idyll Trilogy! Not sure if I’ve revealed the name of Book 3, but I might as well announce it in this post. EXILE!! So ‘Idyll,’ ‘The Wilds,’ and ‘Exile.’ How’s that for long ‘I’ sounds mixed with ‘L’s?

So far, my writing has moved much faster on ‘Exile’ than it did with ‘Idyll’ and ‘The Wilds.’ Partly, that might be a “light at the end of the tunnel” thing. I’m starting to get fired up about bits of positive reaction I’ve received, and I’m excited to complete the whole Idyll Trilogy and show my readers how the book ends. I’ve had this Book 3 climax and denouement sketched out (roughly) since October of 2014! I hope people will find it hopeful and thought-provoking, and maybe a bit heartbreaking as well.

Another thing that slowed down my progress on ‘Idyll’ and ‘The Wilds?’ There was a lot more open to change in the story. In fact, I’ve mentioned on the blog before how ‘Idyll’ went through massive changes during the seven years (yikes!) that I fiddled with it. Zombies to lasers, to neo-cavemen, to comet UFOs. At one point, all of these things (and more) existed in the Idyll world. In Book 2, my main stumbling blocks came from the plot. There were at least three times where I would hit a stumbling block in the story (usually I needed a character to act in a way that didn’t make sense, or the story elements were becoming too complicated to explain), so I would have to backtrack and rework the path until I had a story that was as simple and smooth as possible.

With ‘Exile,’ the potential for detours has greatly been decreased. Most of the world-building is established, the character’s voices have been clearly defined. Also the room for divergencies in the plot has been greatly tightened.

With all that said, a few months back I decided to do something unconventional—maybe controversial—to try to eliminate any stumbling blocks or rewrites. I already know exactly where I want the story to be at about 66% into the book. There’s a big milestone event that happens there, and the fallout from that is what shapes everything thereafter. I had a rough outline that was pretty good at fleshing out the story leading to that 66% milestone, but I was pretty hazy on what our heroes do that gets them to the books climax and the series epilogue.

So I stopped writing from the beginning of the book, skipped ahead to the moments after that 66% milestone and started writing from there! From there I wrote up to the epilogue, which I’m guess will be the last 8% of the book. (The epilogue is going to be pretty loooong! I might end up just calling it the last chapter).

Now I’m writing again from the front of the book, armed with the foresight of what the characters need and what they WILL be thinking in the last third of the book. So, far the process has worked pretty well. I just hope the tone that I’ve fallen into now will match the tone that I was writing in two months ago. But there’s been several times before that I’ve written sequential sections of a book at different times, and then I had to go back and smooth over the tone between them.

Fingers crossed that this will work out, and I’ll keep writing at this steady pace!

Sketchbook: Virginia Bridge

sketch072Virginia Bridge
Age: 22

Like many settlers, Virginia was born of Chinese and Latino descent. This shouldn’t be surprising, since the Idyll expedition was primarily populated by volunteers from the Sino-Pacific Partnership and the United Americas.

Virginia prefers to wear leafweave clothes, which are made from gene-modded plants. The preferred method to tailor leafweave clothes is to arrange the seedlings over mannequins so that the creeping ivy intertwines together. Some articles of clothing are created from fronds meshed in a herringbone pattern. Others are made of broad, felt-covered succulent leaves. Leafweave clothes are usually not green. Jackets, blouses, and skirts are often tawny brown, or very pale blue. Deep red or bone white. If you squint you eyes, you’ll probably see an ancient American-Indian influence to most leafweave fashions.

To learn more, read Idyll, or download a free sample today:
Amazon
iBooks
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Smashwords

Or check out the continuing story from Virginia’s perspective, starting with The Wilds.