Category Archives: e-books

Time to shed the purple funkies….

Since I’ve published Princess of Fire, I’ve kinda felt like Bill the Cat on a bad day–

bill-the-cat2

I’ve doodled away on four or five different projects, none of which have much prospect of seeing the light of day anytime soon, when I haven’t been collapsed in a purple funk. I was briefly cheered by an small uptick in my book sales on Amazon, but the warm fuzzies didn’t last (said uptick shows every sign of being over).

In the wake of my struggles with Princess of Fire, I have been afflicted with the certainty that I am a useless putz and a complete hack, enjoying a well-deserved obscurity. My mood has not been lightened by the fact that, in my unemployed state, I have slipped down to the only rung on the ladder of personal despair lower than yard work.

Yes. I have started to clean out the garage. Pray for me.

In the end, though, self-pity palls. You either have to yield to a final dissolution into a puddle of primordial slime, or stand up, buckle on your harness once more, and face the storm– i.e., knock off the whining and get back to writing, dork.

Because, if I’m a miserable hack, at least it’s my miserable hackness…hackiness…hacknicity…whatever. It’s my duty, or doom, to write my stories, and nobody else’s– and, conversely, no one else can write stories that belong to me. I need to tell them, and that’s all there is to it. Whether they ever get read is quite a separate issue.

As I do, I console myself with the thought that at least my stuff is better than Fifty Shades of Grey. It ain’t much, but it’s something.

So–

MY IMPORTANT WRITING PLANS–

1. Set up the Createspace print-on-demand version of Princess of Fire. This shouldn’t be particularly arduous, so a week or two should be sufficient to check this item off. No one has yet bought any of my POD editions (which means the three copies I own are completely unique and exist nowhere else in this universe, which is kind of freaky when you think about it), but you never know when some librarian in Ottumwa might decide to give you a shot.

2. Spend a month writing a detailed synopsis for Princess of Stars. I’ve already blogged about my deep and abiding desire to avoid another pantsing disaster, although I have not experienced a sudden conversion to detailed, anal-retentive plotting, and still less outlining (this is writing, people, not engineering). I know where Princess of Stars begins and I know where it ends, but I need to have a clear picture of what happens in-between.

3. Sometime in October-November launch into the first draft of Princess of Stars. God alone knows how long it will take to complete the first pass– I’m planning on allocating at least a year. How some people write full novels in three months puzzles the crap out of me.

4. Pick up the pace of my blogging– who knows, maybe even establish an actual schedule, although I don’t want to go off the deep end. Among other things, there are books and movies out there just waiting to be reviewed, which obviously need my particularly ignorant and completely biased opinion to find their correct place in the artistic inventory of Western civilization. That’s another aspect of my writing only I can commit…um, write.

Note: I previously blogged that I would be spending time on Horse Tamer between Princess of Fire and Princess of Stars. Unfortunately, I have laid it aside. My previous experiment yielded 60,000 words that went nowhere, and I think I finally have to admit that this story-line needs to go back on the shelf, probably permanently. It makes me sad, but I have only so many years left on this Earth, and I can’t spin my wheels forever.

So– once more into the fray, chilluns….

“Ring the alarum-bell!—Blow, wind! Come, wrack!
At least we’ll die with harness on our back.”

Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5, Page 3

A brief update re: Princess of Fire

Perhaps a brief update is in order, now that I’ve been AWOL for a while.

I tend to be a glass-half-empty sort of person, even on the best of days, as some of you may have already noticed. Not for nothing have I been nicknamed “Eeyore” in more than one workplace. Lately, however, I have been more down than normal. Life-issues, starting a new job, and, most importantly, doubts about my whole writing effort have contributed. April has been a gloomy month.

Perhaps, though, things are starting to look up. Along with the new job, I have started work on Princess of Fire version 3.0.

Yes, version 3.0. There was a version 2.0, but it had the life-span of an ice cube on a Texas road in August.

I started out wanting to cut everything back to a single thread focused on Kathy. When I actually started cutting, however, I realized that another thread was needed, to round out the story and ground it in the everyday life of people Kathy was working hard to save. The chief difficulty is that I don’t really have the story of this secondary thread down. I probably need to build out the characters a little more, and in that effort, mostly likely, the sub-story will be revealed.

I still managed to cut 10,000 words. I will probably add that many, and a good deal more, back before I am finished.

The other issue I have to resolve is with structure and pacing. I want the story to go forward against a backdrop of rising danger, which has to start small and increase steadily until it’s screaming in Kathy’s ears. This may be, in fact, the most difficult effect I have ever tried to pull off in a novel. The only thing similar I have ever done was in one of my unpublished trunk novels, A New Heaven and A New Earth, in which a mortal danger is slowly developed– but that was achieved through a series of distant incidents, with the full revelation of what was going on eventually being sprung upon the protagonists (and the audience) in one big reveal. In Princess of Fire, the danger literally looms over Kathy the whole time, and somehow I still have to create suspense and increase the sense of danger by steady increments.

I am not sure I am up to it.

But I’ve started. Progress will be slower than with version one, simply because I’m no longer sitting at home debating whether to write or watch Game of Thrones clips on YouTube. Because of that, all bets are off about when Fire will see publication. But then, it’s not like the rent is depending on its sales.

I’m still working on that part….

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PS, 4/26– As I get into version 3.0, one of the first evident facts about it is that many of the scenes and sequences are actually, no kidding, and absolutely in the wrong order. This was pantsing on a manic scale– I have one character working with Kathy before she even arrives in the capitol; another is preparing in the morning for a festival that same afternoon, and ten thousand words intervene that relate the passage of two whole days before I get back to that afternoon festival. I am cutting and pasting thousands of words at a time to get things in the proper order.

Never again…as God is my witness, never again….

A small detour….

I am north of 64,000 words on Princess of Fire. In the last week I’ve missed a couple of days of writing due to real-life demands, and so I’m a little off my previous pace. I’m not particularly worried about it, but over the next day or so I will probably lag even further behind. I’ve decided I need to take time to re-edit a novelette I had previously published on Kindle. Some weeks ago I got a review of the story in which the reviewer had major problems with the editing. I don’t recommend this as a course of action to be taken every time you get a little negative feedback, but in this instance I decided to un-publish the story until I had the opportunity to revisit the editing. I think I’m now at that point.

I don’t believe there was anything majorly wrong with the piece as it was, but I want to be open to improving my writing at every opportunity. It could turn out that the reviewer just has a burr under their saddle…or there could be some undetected (by me, anyway) problem that cries out for correction. Me being me, you have to leave the door open to the possibility that I screwed up somewhere, perhaps spectacularly. From what I’ve seen so far, however, it’s more likely that the reviewer was reacting to lingering passive language and over-long sentences (unfortunately, they were not terribly specific in their review). My hopeful thought in all this is that, perhaps, my ability to see these problems is an indication that I have improved, at least a little, as an editor.

I will not, however, be attempting to create a perfect edit with this story. I am firmly convinced that such a thing does not exist. At some point, a writer has to let go of the work and just get it out there. To do otherwise achieves only paralysis.

Once I am through with the edit, it will be back to Princess of Fire with guns blazing. And a few other things, as well….