Awards

Awards

This morning, I found out that Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers earned some awards. These weren’t something I sought out. It was a very nice surprise, and I’m still trying to process it.

SpiritFilled-Pace-SM

SpiritFilled-Pace-NL

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are given by Peter Younghusband and David Bergsland, who work together on this. The link in Peter’s name will take you to the page where Peter posted the award citations. The link in David’s name takes you to the Radix (Reality Calling) site.

I’m humbled by this. There is a whole team behind the production of the two novels and they deserve a lot of the credit, too. I mention them the acknowledgements in each edition. I hope they see these awards as praise for their efforts as well.

Awards and recognitions are always welcome after the hard work of writing and publishing. I appreciate these and I thank Peter and David for their kind consideration.

Keep writing.

 

Revisions

Revisions

My editor, Brandi, and I are most of the way through the edits and revisions of my draft of Nasty Leftovers (sequel to Sudden Mission).  The working title seems to have stuck and the team hasn’t come up with another title. Oh, well.

So we are on track and may even be ahead a little. I’m thankful for my editor. She has a unique view on my work and brings the hard edge of critique to her edits and suggestions. In all cases, her work has made my work sharper, cleaner, more exciting, and stronger.

We’re in the second novel working together and she now will often just provide a comment at a point in the manuscript where she thinks we should do something different, add a character, add some emotional language. Then she turns me loose to make the changes or additions as I see fit and we smooth things out from there.

I hope and pray that I get to keep Brandi for the third volume, and any other projects I submit to Booktrope and Vox Dei.

As I dreamed of being a published author all those years before, I had no idea what it would be like to work with an editor. During the early revisions of Sudden Mission, I was almost terrified what the editor would think of my approach to some of the changes she suggested. I discovered that an editor is the most important person for an author in a writing project. Sudden Mission became a stronger, more powerful story thanks to her efforts.

Now, when I bring revisions and rewrites to Brandi, I make an effort to use the Oxford Comma, allow my characters to feel and express more, and shake off some of my old lazy-writer habits. I think she makes me a better writer. That’s a good thing.

If you are an aspiring author–still unpublished–this is a relationship to look forward to. You do have to kick your ego to the side and let the editor bring his or her ideas forward. You will be glad you did.

Keep writing.

P.S. I’m still undisciplined and a procrastinator. But, I’m working on that.

 

What I learned from NaNoWriMo

(Originally posted at www.rapier57.com, Jan. 2013. This is proper to repost, as NaNoWriMo is coming again in November, 2013.)

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is something I knew about for some time, but just didn’t have the time or motivation to do. This year, I jumped in with both feet.

As a former print journalist, I knew I could produce the copy to meet the 50,000 word goal in 30 days. I break it down like this. I can type about 60 to 75 words a minute. Optimally, I could generate at least 3,600 words in an hour. I need to produce about 1,660 words per day to meet the 50,000 word goal. If I blocked out three hours to work on the novel each day and produced about 2,000 to 2,400 words of decent quality content, I would easily reach the goal.

The question: Could I produce something worth reading in a month?

So, what did I learn from NaNoWriMo?

1. Success requires some planning.

Outline, or not, get some idea of what you are going to write. Do some character sketches. Set some scenes and locales. Break the project into chapters and scenes. A novel is a huge project. Break it into small, bite-sized chunks and attack it one piece at a time. Do some research on the subjects or topics you will use. Gather the tools you’ll need to verify setting, scene, locale, whatever, when required.

I use Scrivener as my writing environment. It helps me keep a plan (by chapter and scene) in place, provides tools for scene and character descriptions, and has other useful writing tools. I also kept a copy of John Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey handy to keep myself on track regarding the character and story arch. And, I had a decent story idea.

I charged ahead on November 1.

2. You can write a decent novel in 30 days.

I charged ahead and didn’t worry about the grammar, mechanics and stuff like that–well, too much, anyway. I’m an obsessive self-editor. I still made my daily goals almost every day, and then some. I could take a couple days off for family and holidays, and still finish the novel two days early. It came to just over 50,000 words, but enough to get the NaNoWriMo winner certificate.

I kept my wife away from the work until I was done. This drove her crazy, but she was my first reader when I finished. She had it read in two days and loved it, to my surprise. She did make notes and copy edits throughout. After she read it, I spent a few days making corrections and did a little rewrite of some places and the ending. At that point, I sent it off to another writer friend for a critical read.

My writer friend quickly read it and sent the marked up copy back with glowing comments. I’m now going through another edit cycle to clean up the passive voice and smooth out some rough spots in the story.

3. Be methodical.

Do the writing. Take a break. Do the editing. Take a break. Get some feedback, do some rewrite. Take a break.

During the breaks, do some research on potential publishers, editors, or agents. Put together a marketing plan.

Do a re-read, edits, rewrites as needed. Or, have another skilled writer/editor (highly recommended) give it a read and take the edits, corrections and rewrite suggestions to heart. If you have to pay for it, this is the time to do it.

Pick three or four publishers, editors or agents to contact about your novel. Read submission guidelines and requirements and prepare your query letter and the chapters (sometimes just the first 50 pages) you will submit.

When you get the work back from your editor, do the rewriting, revisions and changes. Finalize the document and stop messing with it. Submit it to your first publisher or agent.

4. Move on to the next project.

Don’t stop writing. Start a new project. If you think you can do it, use the NaNoWriMo model and set your goal to complete it in a month or two months. Just set a goal. Goto 1.

I’m going to try to follow my own advice here and keep going, keep writing. This has been an interesting experience and I now know I can complete a novel.

Keep writing.