Shadow of an Empire Editing Rolls On

Not much to say today, folks. Work on alpha editing Shadow of an Empire is rolling on, about halfway through the first pass now, and that’s been keeping me pretty focused. I’d forgotten how fun this universe was to play in. If you read the short story Ripper from Unusual Events, then you’ve already had an early taste of what Indrim has to offer. Shadow of an Empire is a lot bigger, though, being an epic novel. Ripper was just a short story. Still, if you’re looking for a preview of what’s coming and don’t want to support on Patreon, grab a copy of Unusual Events and pay close attention when you read Ripper. Might be you’ll see some faces from there in Shadow of an Empire …

Anyway, things are pretty quiet on the site front mostly because I’m just plugging away at the editing process. Oh, and Monday’s Being a Better Writer post is going to have to be on Tuesday, as I’ve got a long shift on Monday. So heads up!

Last but not least, I thought I’d throw out a comment made the other day on a discussion forum about books that turned to “High brow literature” versus “low brow literature,” as I feel it’s a good comparison. One poster was asserting that they only read “high brow” quality stuff, and none of the “low brow” stuff that’s popular and read in large numbers, because they wanted to “experience quality.” I made a comparison response that, I think, worked pretty well. Here goes, cleaned and trimmed a little.

Millions of people drive Toyota Corollas. They’re known for being a quality, dependable car that lasts and performs it’s purpose with simplicity that to most is elegant in its simplicity. It doesn’t need Walnut-trim door handles. It doesn’t need a special shifting pattern, or even a manual gearbox. It’s a car that does exactly what it’s supposed to do without any fluff or unneeded complexity.

Then you have something like a Rolls Royce or a Bentley. A “high quality” car designed with the purpose of “experience quality.” And sure, it might be nice to ride in one from time to time, but it’s a car with brakes that cost as much as a Corolla that the driver will never use. Walnut trim on the door handles that looks nice but otherwise adds little but the look. Suspension that confidently assures you that you’ll never feel a single moment of discomfort provided you keep the car on specific roads it’s meant to travel and not anywhere else (yes, read into that).

Point being it’s nice to ride in one occasionally, but much of what it is, while pretty, is superfluous to actually being a car. But you still have car enthusiasts that look down on Corolla drivers for not having a “quality car” like a Rolls Royce, Bentley, etc.

All they’re really doing half the time is spending ten times as much to make an otherwise simple journey in ostentatiously overblown “comfort,” away from “dangerous roads” and “lowbrow designs.”

IE there’s a time and place for a luxury ride in a nice car or with a high quality book, but don’t be fooled into thinking you’re somehow superior to the majority of Corollas out there delivering the same end-goal and scenery without the Walnut door handles.

I thought it was a pretty good comparison. Look, there is something nice about reading an overly verbose and flowery book once in a while, a title far more concerned with the flow of its language than the intelligence of its characters or plot. But you don’t need those things to have a good story, one that provokes thought or carries the reader down an unknown road (and often, the more “high brow” stuff sticks to the same roads repeatedly rather than going anywhere unexplored). Both can get you to the destination: one with “luxury experience,” the other with a bit of character and sometimes even some daring when it makes a detour off the normal path.

Anyway, back to work! Gotta get Shadow of an Empire ready for its big debut!

By the way, if you’re a prior Alpha reader, check your inbox for your Alpha Read invitation and get back to me. A couple of you haven’t responded yay or nay yet, so the invites are just floating in the limbo.

Jungle’s First Draft … is Done!!!

Yes, I used three exclamation marks there! I earned those!

Because the first draft of Jungle is DONE! After a writing day of 5,236 words. Bringing the final wordcount for the first draft too …

457,931 words.

Yes, you’re reading that number correctly. 458k. 2.1 MILLION characters.

That’s insane. Colony was only 334k. Which makes Jungle a third-again as long as Colony. So we’re looking at 2400+ pages, easy.

Editing should trim that down a bit, but still. What a beast.

And now, now, editing can begin on Shadow of an Empire. The work never ends, folks.

But I think I’ve earned a small celebration.

And by the way. This book? Prepare for ride.

Being a Better Writer: The Death Spiral

Real cheery title for the first post of 2017, isn’t it?

Seriously though, welcome to 2017! I hope it feels like as much of a breath of fresh air for the rest of you as it does from me. Though in my case, it’s mostly because I took the last two weeks off.

I know. I took an actual vacation. Cleared games out of my backlog, read a bunch of books, and everything. And you know what’s funniest about it?

I actually had to convince myself to stick with it. There was a period about three or four days into it where my mind was like “What are you doing!? You should be working!”

I’m glad I stuck with the vacation. I was so dedicated to clearing my backlog that it almost was work, but it was a lot of fun all the same. Finally knocking a few games off of that list was satisfying. As was all the reading I got to do.

Anyway, none of that really has anything to do with today’s topic, mind. I suppose if I had to tie together my ramblings, they would come together as “It was a nice break, but I’m glad to be back at work!”

So, about that topic. As I mentioned, it may seem like an odd title for the first post of 2017. After all, “death spiral” doesn’t exactly imbue much confidence, does it?

No. It doesn’t. Which is exactly why I think it makes a good topic for the first post of 2017. Because for many young writers, a death spiral is something they get trapped in with no idea of how to get out. And for the new year? Nothing could be better for some of those writers than realizing it and breaking free.

Right, enough pontificating. Let’s dive right in and answer the question on so many minds right about now: what is a death spiral?

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Colony’s Copy-Edit is DONE!

Yes, you read that right. Not an hour ago, I turned the last page of Colony‘s Copy-Edit.

It’s done. Finished. Right now I’m putting the final file together for upload. Tomorrow I get the cover and the description finished. And then … ?

Colony goes live for pre-order.

At long last, it’s almost here. Over one thousand pages of Epic Sci-Fi Adventure. Submarines, action, explosions, mystery … After so much time spent working on it and staying quiet … it’s finally going to be out!

Here’s a quick teaser for you all:

Five years ago, Carlos Rodriguez, one of the greatest computer programmers of the modern age, retired.

Now his old employer wants him back. Quietly. Which means enlisting the services of three unconnected individuals: A paranoid corporate investigator, a white-hat hacker, and a gun-for-hire with a penchant for violence.

There’s just one catch. Carlos didn’t just retire from work, he retired from Earth, vanishing out across the stars to one of mankind’s distant colony worlds.

It’s going to be a long trip.

Ehh, I’m working on it. Speaking of which … I’d best get back to it!

The Sound of Silence

Yes, I know I’ve been pretty quiet this week. Fear not, it’s been for a good cause! Colony is on the edge of being done with its second Alpha. How much of an edge?

I’m literally doing the final run-through to make sure that all of the Alpha readers concerns have been addressed, taken care of, and/or fixed.

In other words, I’ve been silent for you guys … but not for them! They’ve been fielding message after message. “Does this look right? What about this? I rearranged this sequence, does it flow better now?” Etc.

But the good news, which you may have picked up on above? I’m on the final run-through. Problems have been fixed, plot quibbles patched up, science worked out … and I’m doing the final checks. Which means that Beta calls will probably start … tomorrow? Or Monday at the latest. Planning for two Beta reads, as usual. This also means that next week I need to start work on the cover. And (because I’m juggling two projects here) this also means that the first wave of Alphas for Shadow of an Empire can really start getting out there. So that’ll also start next week. Gotta make a few adjustments to the initial draft first, but …

Yes, I’m quiet, I know, and in the business of running a site that relies on content, that’s not always the best option, but thankfully I’ve got a lot of content in the archives to keep readers occupied.

Though if you are looking for something new to glance at for a few minutes while enjoying … well, whatever it is you’re doing when you bounce through your morning collection of sites (Coffee? Donuts? Stakeouts?), then you can take a look at Publisher’s Weekly‘s 2016 summary of the industry. Just … ignore the click-bait title (the article itself offers a solid and actually logical explanation of the same thing they try and social-outrage with in the title).

Anyway, if you’re interested in looking at some numbers in the industry concerning who holds what jobs and whatnot, it’s fun to look at. Useful? Well … depends on what you’re doing, but it is interesting to look over even if you’re not directly involved with it. It also does raise some uncomfortable questions (such as why there’s such a firestorm over male authors being more prevalent than female authors as an example of male sexism when about 80% of the publishing industry is women. Is the male-centric sexism really there? Etc), but feel free to contemplate those or ignore them on your own time.

Anyway, I’m back to work. Watch this space for updates.

Colony is coming soon!

Colony Update! + News

60,000 words.

That’s how little I have left to edit on  this Alpha pass of Colony. 60,000 words. Considering the story itself is 333,000 words, that’s not much. A day or two worth of work, no more. Then I’ve got to run through and make some noted changes to air pressure in a few marked chapters, and then …

Then I move to Beta. Which means those of you that are former Beta Readers can expect to see a message from me soon, while those of you who aren’t may see a post looking for additional beta readers up here on the site, looking for those I know are good for it.

The point to all of this is, however, that Colony is getting close to being ready for release. Sometime in the next week or two I’ll probably start work on the cover, and once I’m officially in Beta I’ve got to figure out some other things to. Such as “Do I split this titan of a story into two ‘parts’ so that readers can buy a cheaper chunk rather than the whole thing at once and then sell a ‘combo’ book that’s both alongside it? Or do I just sell the book?”

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Being a Better Writer: My Personal Editing Process

Welcome back! So, very quickly, first the news, nice and quick: There’s a Labor Day Sale. You should check it out. Boom, done, on to the next docket: The Dragon Award winners have been announced, and there are some who are very unhappy about it (guess who?). If curious, check that out here.

Now, onto today’s post! Today’s topic comes by way of surprisingly convenient request. Why the surprise and convenience? Well … because as it turns out, I actually received a request for a post of this nature a week or so after I’d written it … but as a reward for my Patreon Supporters, who usually get access to behind the scenes stuff and the like.

That said, it was a request for a Being a Better Writer topic, and aside from one caveat (that being that this is my approach, and other authors likely differ), it’s worth looking at. So often with BaBW we talk about writing in one form or another: How to improve, what to watch out for, even how to take care of yourself while writing. But aside from my own personal commentary on what I’m up to during the fact or some Q&A responses, we’ve not really talked in-depth about the process and steps from start to finish of a novel once the first draft is done. And there are a lot of steps!

Now, that said, the particular steps presented here? These are mine. Not in a possessive way, but they’re the steps that I use when taking my book from “finished draft” to “finished product.” They’re what I’ve settled on over years of writing and millions of words written. I bring this up because this is not the editing process that was used by any of my old teachers, from Sanderson to Kent (it’s actually much closer to Larry Corriea’s editing process). Each one of them, when answering a similar question, spoke of a different process than the one I use, with different steps, though—and I will stress this—we all still accomplish the same goal.

My point? This is the editing process I use. You can pick and select what steps from it you wish, but in the pursuit of making your work the best it can be, I would highly advise using it (and other’s processes) as a template, not a perfect guide. Know your weaknesses and build a system that is designed to ferret them out and fix them as you edit. Find steps that work. This post isn’t meant to be the way to do it, but a way.

So, that said, let’s get to it! My editing process, in several steps, with examples.

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Being a Better Writer: The Process of Editing

Editing is a curious thing. Almost everyone agrees that it’s something a written work needs to have. But by the same token, it’s one thing that I’ve noticed that, in my time as an author, many people don’t actually agree upon or know much about what it entails. The most accurate consensus I could assemble from what I’ve read and heard from casual writers (not dedicated authors) or the average layperson is that editing is about making a written work better. It’s about fixing the mistakes.

Now, that doesn’t sound bad at all. But here’s the thing: What do people mean when they say “fixing the mistakes?” And that’s where the root of today’s topic comes from.

See, you’d be hard pressed to find a reader of books somewhere that wouldn’t make a case that editing is something a manuscript needs. But if you ask them what goes into editing, you’ll get something like “Well, you know, fixing errors and stuff.”

Yes. “And stuff.” While that’s an answer that makes sense and technically is accurate, it really doesn’t give the discerning writer much to go off of. After all, there can be a lot of errors in “stuff.” And this vagueness in turn makes it difficult for new writers, first-timers pushing out their skills to try and get their first manuscript together, to understand what they need to do to fix errors, or even what those are. It’s a bit like asking someone to fix a car and then, when asked what’s wrong with it, giving the answer “stuff.” Not only is it not helpful, but those who have worked on cars (or really, done any big tune-up project) know from experience that there are some things that matter more than others, or need to be done in a certain order.

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