Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Top 5 Wednesday: Authors I Want to

I've been a longtime fan of the Goodreads group Top 5 Wednesday, and since this topic is one I've been thinking about lately, it makes sense to weigh in.

By "Authors I Want to Read More Of", I do not mean my auto-buy authors, or authors who have only published one book and I loved it and am eagerly waiting for more. I mean authors who have a significant backlist I have yet to explore.

1) John Scalzi. I'm on the last book of the Old Man's War series now, and officially consider myself a fan of his writing. I plan to start his new series, The Collapsing Empire, as well as checking out some of his stand-alones, including Fuzzy Nation, Redshirts, and Lock In.

2) N. K. Jemison. The Inheritance Trilogy was epic awesomeness, and I'm hearing only raves for her new Broken Earth trilogy. Next up for me is to read the Dreamblood duology, though, since I already own book 1. Then I'll read Broken Earth.

3) Connie Willis. I've been working my way through her Oxford Time Travel series, but I've heard great things about Crosstalk and her many collections of short fiction.

4) Kim Stanley Robinson. I read his Mars trilogy years ago and hold it in the highest esteem, but I never had the desire to read more of his stuff until last year, when I picked up 2312 on a whim. Now I'm seeing a bunch more of his books I'd like to check out: New York 2140, Aurora, The Years of Rice and Salt, and the Three Californias trilogy.

5) Jo Walton. I've only read Among Others and Tooth & Claw, but all her books seem so intriguing and so different from one another: My Real Children, Lifelode, the Thessaly series.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Back to the Hour Goals

I'm shooting for 30 hours of work on FAaLa in the second half of April, including time spent researching.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Setting Sail

I have submitted 10 queries for Mender... and already gotten one rejection. Yay. This process is no pile of giggles, lemmetellya.

But enough about that until I've heard back from the rest. Now it's time to talk about the next book.

A few weeks ago, I was alarmed that I had zero desire to work on anything new. I was pretty sure I knew what book I'd be writing next, but just felt meh about it. But I guess it was just a matter of needing to wrap up all the loose ends with Mender, because as soon as I started sending queries, the cylinders started firing, and now I'm ready to start the story-building process.

Looking back over three books, I see that I have always had a gap between the story-building and the actual drafting. With Eleven Names, I did story-building for years and then had years of gap before actually starting the book. With The Owl Bearer, it was an orderly two months of story-building followed by a three month gap. Mender had kind of a strange trajectory: six weeks of story building when I should have been working on TOB, then a year-long gap, then six more weeks, then a five-month gap, then drafting the first two chapters, then another 3-4 weeks of research and plot fiddling before finally plowing ahead with the rest of the book.

So what am I going to do with this information? First, I'm going to be open to the possibility that the gap between the story-building and the drafting may just be a part of my process-- while still planning to begin the drafting right away. Second, I'm going to plan for two months of story-building-- while allowing for the possibility that it might take longer than that.

This book (which I'll be calling FAaLA for now-- an acronym of its working title) is a stand-alone novel that takes place in the same Science Fictional universe I created for EN, TOB, and the as-yet unwritten Terra Astra. So the first order of story-building business is to pin down a timeline for this world and figure out where this story falls in relation to the others. I also need to get going on some research. For Mender, I was reading about Nineteenth century manners, New England native peoples, and Colonial American pastimes and holidays. For this book, it's going to be theoretical models of interstellar space travel, the topography and culture of Ecuador, and polygamous cults.

I'm preparing to set sail to a strange new world-- the land of FAaLA-- and I'm excited to discover what lies ahead.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Week 2 Goals

My goals for the second week of April:

1) Revise the synopsis as needed. This was on my list for earlier this last week, but I didn't get to it.

2) Send Mender submission package to 10 agents. I am sticking with the oft-recommended approach of querying ten (or five) agents and then waiting three months. If I don't get any requests for pages, I will take it as a sign that my query and/or opening pages still aren't up to snuff.

Bleah. I'm trying hard to keep a positive attitude, but there's definitely a part of me that is most un-psyched to be beginning this process again.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Mender is Done

I know I have a lot of posts titled "Done" for various stages of done-ness for different books. Here's another.

I'm done.

I've fiddled with the opening to the point that if I change anything else it will be just changing things for the sake of changing them.

I have spellchecked one last effin' time.

I have typed THE END on the last page.

Mender is 106,000 words. It took me ~4 months of on-and-off storybuilding spread out over a year, plus 13 straight months of drafting.

And this is an important first for me: from the moment I first typed "Chapter One" back in early March 2016 until today, I have never stopped working on it. This is the first time I've worked so consistently on a book, taking no unscheduled breaks until it is finished.

I can write a book in a year. I did write a book in a year! I'm astounded.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

No Catchy Titles Apply to This Post

I accomplished everything I wanted to yesterday. I just checked my post on AW, and it has only two replies. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though: in my experience, when a request for feedback gets very little response it generally means either the thing is so terrible people don't know where to start, or good enough that people don't want to nitpick. Based on the feedback I did get, I think it's the latter.

My goals for today:

1) Read the feedback and take notes, which I've done.

2) Work on the scene for one hour. I only have two tweaks to make based on the feedback, so after that I'll be doing exercises to try and sharpen the writing.

3) If I have time, work on the synopsis a little. I only have one line in there that I think is confusing and needs clarification. I'm also trying to decide whether to add in a subplot. I have about a quarter of a page to work with to keep the synopsis to 2 pages, so I'll see if I can sum up the subplot in that amount of space, and without introducing a whole bunch more characters. If I can, I'll sprinkle those lines in. If not, I won't add the subplot.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Progress Report

I did two hours of fiddling with the opening scene today. First I read it over and smoothed out anything that seemed awkward. Then I removed every adjective and adverb from the first five pages and considered each one individually. I probably eliminated a third of them, replaced another third with a stronger word, and kept the remaining third the same.

I have a few more exercises I'd like to do with the opening pages, but I figure I should see if I'm at least on the right track with it first. I posted the first 1,300 words to AW. I'll give it until Thursday morning to accumulate feedback.

In the meantime, I'm going to:

a) do the adjective/adverb exercise with the second half of the opening scene.

b) patch a gap in the MS where I tore out a few paragraphs and transplanted them to the opening.

c) read over the query and maybe tweak a few lines.

d) read the synopsis and evaluate how much work it still needs.

Monday, April 3, 2017

And There Was Rejoicing Throughout The Land...

After eight frustrating days, I have finished the draft of the new opening scene.

I'm not actually done with it, of course. Au contraire: tomorrow I will read it over, revise it however I see fit, and then post it to AW for another round of shredding critique.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Plan for April

I'm not going to do an hours goal for this month. Instead, I'm doing week-by-week goals.

For the first week of April, my goal is to finish this version of the opening scene: complete the draft, revise, and post to the AW forums for comments. I'll need to see what the comments are before I figure out the next step. I may wind up having to do yet another version if this one still doesn't work.

At least I feel like I'm making some solid progress with it now. I spent most of last week shaping the existing dialogue to fit the new sequence of events, and then changing my mind about the sequence of events. The end of the scene is complete, as are chunks of the middle, but I was banging my head against the wall trying to write a new beginning. I really liked the first line I had, but it didn't work with the revised action of the scene.

And then yesterday I figured out that with a tweak it could still work, and three hours of writing later I have the opening 1,000 words that connect to the first completed chunk almost done. This has been a slog, man. My brain had decided the book was finished, so making up new stuff for it has not been easy.