What a Difference a Book Makes

I’ve just wrapped up the first round of revisions/rewrites on The End of the (Werewolf) Curse and I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself. I think I might need only one more round of light revisions, and then I can polish it up. I stress might. Like, I said. Right now I’m feeling pretty pleased.

Part of that is because I am pretty satisfied with the work I’ve done on the novel and how swell it’s all gone so far.

The other part is me comparing the work on this novel to the work I did on (Vampires) Made in America.

For those of you playing the home game, you know that both of these novels, as well as another NaNo first draft called To Tell the (Conjurer’s) Truth, is all part of my Outskirts universe that began with the short story “My Winter with Stanley”. So comparing the revision process of the two novels makes sense.

I wrote the first draft of (Vampires) Made in America for NaNo in 2011 and back then it was called American Vampires. While the basic story remained intact throughout several revisions, the context of the story changed dramatically. We’re talking major rewrites. I think I rewrote it at least twice before I could even get to the point of doing revisions.

Contrast that with The End of the (Werewolf) Curse. I wrote it for NaNo in 2015. I did some light rewriting to probably the last third of the book, along with some revisions throughout. That’s it.

The biggest difference between the two were the first drafts. When I wrote (Vampires) Made in America, I was still learning how to write a first draft effectively (though I’d already learned quite a bit by that point), but outline for the book was probably the best I’d done at the time. When I wrote The End of the (Werewolf) Curse, I knew what I was doing. I had the outline and I knew how to write what I was writing. The years of practice in between had paid off.

And because the first draft was better (though still garbage because first drafts are supposed to be), the revisions have been better.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell if I’m getting better as a writer. Comparing myself to other writers isn’t really good for my ego because I read so many who are much better than I am.

So to see that at least the actual technique of my work has improved, well, that’s something I can appreciate.

Even if I’m the only one.


March Writing Projects

Last month I said I was only going to work on revising The End of the (Werewolf) Curse, but thought I might do something else, too, because I so rarely do just one thing.

Yeah, no. That was it.

And I didn’t even get it done.

Okay, I sort of knew that I wouldn’t get it done in February because I typically only revise one, maybe two chapters a day and there are more chapters in the first draft than days in the month. Throw in a couple of unwell days when I didn’t do as much as I’d like and a couple of tough spots to revise, and there was no chance of getting it done before March.

However, it shouldn’t be any trouble to get it wrapped up in the first week of March. The ending needs some real work and some of it could be a struggle, but I think I can get it done.

And after I do, I’m going to work on a short story that might likely become the first chapter of another novel. We’ll see. Story first.

I’m also going to be working on submitting some of the short stories that I have done that are just sitting there. I need to get back in that game a little bit.

If you’re curious, I’m keeping up with my experiment to write a page a day on a novel. It’s about sixty pages of nothing like I’m currently working on and I find it very refreshing to write a page not knowing exactly where it’s going to go and having only a vague idea of the story.

This experiment is going rather well.

Episode 3 of Murderville: The End Of goes live on March 13th. Don’t miss out! Become a patron for a $1 an episode and read about Detective Josh Carpenter and his sister-in-law, death investiagor Lu Jones, as they try to solve the mysterious death of another Munsterville resident. For $2 an episode, you get all of that murdery goodness, plus bonus content, including peeks into other projects I’m working on. It’s never too late to get in on the killer fun.

The Long and Short of Some First Drafts

Safe to say that since I started doing NaNoWriMo, the majority of the first drafts of the novels I’ve written have been written during 30 days (or less) in November. In fact, it’s been so long since I’ve written the first draft of a novel outside of November that I can’t remember the last time I did it.

I mean before this last time.

My bright self decided after finishing the first draft of The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant to immediately start on the first draft of The Coop Run. Had the former gone better, then perhaps the latter would have, too, and I wouldn’t be writing this post.

But the former didn’t and that could be why the latter took me more than two months to write.

The original goal was to write The Coop Run in the two weeks I had left in November. Once I finished writing the slog that was the first draft of The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant, I didn’t have the energy to keep up the needed pace of 3,500 words a day to get it done. I decided to take it a little easy for a while, only writing 1,000 words a day, and then I’d pick up the pace. It looked at the time like the first draft would only be about 35,000 words and if I picked up to 2,000 or 2,500 words a day, then I’d have it done in the first week or so of December.

Oh, how dumb I can be.

It’s no secret that the holidays are my least favorite time of year and I actively try to not work on big projects during them because the entire month of December drains my life force. Let this past December be a good reminder of that.

Instead of my word count on The Coop Run picking up, it went down. I was basically writing 500 words a day most days and calling that good. I just didn’t have the energy to write more. I did end up picking up the pace to 2,000 words after January 1st, though that dipped again the week of my birthday. The slog feelings from The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant carried over to The Coop Run, though I think overall it turned out to be easier to write, especially toward the end.  It also turned out to be longer than I thought it’d be. Instead of 35,000 words, it ended up around 56,000.

I actually ended up sick of writing the story. I wanted to be done so badly but just couldn’t push hard enough to finish it. It was a miserable feeling. And instead of feeling satisfied when I wrote the last word, I felt relief. Overall, it wasn’t the most enjoyable first draft writing experience I’ve ever had.

I do believe that I’ve learned my lesson, though.

No more novel first drafts in December!

March Writing Projects

green flowerConsidering the loss of my only day job, my plans for March haven’t really changed that much. Probably because I didn’t have any real solid plans to begin with.

Last month, I finished my latest round of revisions on (Vampires) Made in America, wrote the first drafts of two short stories, “Grandma’s Funeral” and “A Girl’s Best Friend”, and formatted Murderville: The Last Joke into an eBook novella. I also ended up writing the first draft of a short story called “Suicide Paris Green” (I told you I’d do something with that eventually) and published The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys as a stand alone novella eBook. And finally, I began writing the first draft of a story called Come to the Rocks, a story I thought would be about 4,000 words, but is now over 10,000 and headed straight for novella territory.

February was surprisingly productive.

This month I plan to finish writing the first draft of Come to the Rocks and start the first draft of another story that I really don’t know if it will be a short story or a novella. I love those kinds of surprises.

I’m also going to work on the Storytime Jukebox, try to make it a little more user friendly. I’d like it to be more popular, for obvious reasons, but I realize in order for that to happen, it has to be better.

Of course, anything I can do to boost my writing career will be happening this month in earnest. The ball, as they say, will start rolling.

The next episode of The Last Joke comes out on the 7th. Don’t miss out! Read teasers for episodes one and two and then become a patron.

November Writing Projects aka NaNoWriMo

nanowrimoIt’s that time of year again. Oh yes. Time to write 50,000 words (okay, 60,000 for me) in thirty days.

I finally figured out that I should just write another Outskirts novel. This one will feature truther (not THAT kind of truther) Maisie Day, conjurer LittleJessie Witt, and famed hunter Sister Mary Valle. The working title is To Tell the (Conjurer’s) Truth, which isn’t great, but not great titles are my thing. I’m not married to it by any means, so I can easily change it if I ever revise it.

Naturally, I say “if” because (Vampires) Made in America and The End of the (Werewolf) Curse still sit waiting. I’ll get around to them one day, I’m sure.

I’ve only outlined the first ten chapters of To Tell the (Conjurer’s) Truth, the idea being that for every chapter I write, I’ll outline the next. You know. Write chapter one and then outline chapter eleven. I don’t want to get too far ahead with this story because I only have a vague idea of what I’m doing with it.

Reassuring, no?

This could be a potential disaster, but I’m all in as always, baby.

Though my main focus will be on NaNo as my Novembers are usually spent (I think this is number 13 maybe), I did finish the first “season” of my Patreon serial idea. I’m going to attempt to revise at least the first episode or two during the month. Fingers-crossed that it’ll be something worth trying come the new year. As usual, I was feeling way too ambitious to think I’d have it ready to go before then.

I’ve also been writing essays on the side for the last month or two. Just another practice thing. A page a day of learning is good for my brain, I think.

Let’s hope I have some brain left after this month.

July Writing Projects

FireworksSo, the novel fell apart spectacularly, but I can strip it for parts. And I did finish the 99 novella. I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. It may end up being one of those personal writing projects, something I needed to do just for me. And that’s cool. I do not mind those sorts of projects because they free up brain space. June wasn’t a total waste.

This month I’ll revise Open Christmas Eve. And by revise I mean make it longer because it is really short for a script. All part of me feeling less like a fraud about my contest entry that will probably not win anything.

Speaking of contests, the short story I entered into a contest earlier this year did not win, so I’m going to put that loser to the side and do something else with it later. But still, buy my stuff and tell me I’m pretty because my ego hurts.

And speaking of short stories, that’s going to be my main objective this month. I have an idea for a new short story collection, so I’ll be writing and revising with the aim of starting that. I’ve also go another idea for a different short story project that I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull off, but hey, I gotta try. That will be mostly revising short stories that I’ve never been able to find a home for.

July looks to have a whole lot going on.

Who needs summer vacation?

Writing–When It All Goes to Concrete

Rainbow paperI wanted to write a novel this summer. I had the idea all ready to go. I was going to do it the same way I wrote an impromptu novel last summer, just a thousand words a day, a very loose outline. I even mentioned it in my writing projects post, that’s how sure I was that Suicide Paris Green was going to be a thing.

Forty pages in and I realized, that no, it’s not going to be a thing. Well, not a novel thing, anyway.

I’ve written first drafts before in which I could easily look at it and say, “This is fucking garbage”, but then I’d say, “It’s okay. I can rewrite it.” I looked at this first draft and went, “Nope.”

I can’t say how I know that something I’m writing is just not going to work. It’s actually very rare that it happens. I usually finish the first draft of most things and it may be after I’m done that I look back and go, “No, it’s not worth the effort to fix”. And that’s fine. I don’t think everything I write is meant to be finished to ultimate completion. Sometimes I just need to get the idea out of my head and once it’s out, I’m done. I’m cool with that. I don’t consider that in any way to be a waste of time or effort because in the end, I’m practicing my craft.

But there are those rare occasions when I’m writing something that I just know it’s a lost cause, that it isn’t worth pursuing. It’s definitely an intuitive thing. The only way I can describe it is that the idea, once fresh and new and liquid, now feels like old, set, scarred concrete in my head. There’s just no life to it anymore, no movement.

That’s what happened to Suicide Paris Green. I was working on it yesterday morning, typing away, and I realized that it was concrete in my head. I know what I wanted from it, but in the act of actually writing it I realized that I wasn’t going to get what I wanted. I was going to end up with an unreadable mess that I’d never want to look at again.

It just killed my mojo.

I hate it when that happens to my ideas and I’m happy that it happens rarely.

But all is not lost, at least not in my world. Not long after I called TOD on this draft and decided not to write another word, my eyes lit up at the prospect of stripping the draft and the ideas I had for the story for parts. What might not work as a novel may just work as some short stories with a similar theme. And maybe I’ll write enough of them to put together another collection.

And I’ll save the title for a living manuscript, too.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, maybe instead of a writing a novel this summer, I’ll just write some short stories instead.

June Writing Projects

Yellow flowersLast month I finished the first draft of Open Christmas Eve, which makes me less of a cheat in terms of the script contest. It’s really short (too short), so I’m thinking a revision will definitely be happening at some point to reduce my feelings of being a cheat even more. But that probably won’t happen until later this summer.

More importantly, I finished the last revision and polish on The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys and, after days of agonizing, finally put together the ghost story collection lamely titled Ghostly. It was the best I could do which is probably why I’ll never make a living doing this. But, so long as self-publishing can be done, I’ll at least be making some change. So this is all a round about way of saying that Ghostly will be out at the end of the month.

For June, I’m going through with my plan on writing a short novel for the summer. It’s called (for now) Suicide Paris Green and it’s quite a bit different from the stuff I’ve been writing (read: not horror, not paranormal, no fantastical elements). It’s kind of dark, so to counteract it, I’m going to be writing a fun story at the same time as a kind of palette cleanser. I have no idea how long this story is going to be, but it’s also VERY different from what I’ve ever written in terms of original fiction. Right now it’s called 99 because even my fun stories aren’t immune from my shitty titles.

At any rate, June should be a good month for some laid back writing in terms of deadlines and demands and bottom lines and I sort of need that kind of thing right now.

Let’s do this, summer.

May Writing Projects

pinkflowerApril turned out to be quite a productive month for me, quite unintentionally really.

I finished the latest round of revisions on The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys as well as the first drafts of all five of the potential script contest entries (first fifteen pages and one-page synopsis) before I left for Chicago. Part of the purpose of going to Chicago, besides seeing friends and eating orange chicken, was to be able to work on my writing without interruption or distraction. I found myself in a hotel room with no major writing project demanding my attention as I was still undecided what script to do for the contest. I ended up polishing “What You Don’t See” and “Short Hallway” (I polished a haunted hotel story in a hotel room while watching 1408 because my commitment to a theme cannot be denied) and got about a third of Voice polished before I left. A productive short trip despite the anxiety troubles I had.

I finished polishing Voice after I got home. I then turned my attention to the script contest. I ended up picking one called Open Christmas Eve and did my best to get those first fifteen pages perfect. I hit the “What the fuck am I doing? I can’t do this! I have no idea what I’m doing. This is pointless” wall Friday night, got my “Fuck it” second wind Saturday afternoon, and after a few more tweaks and some polishing, I submitted it Saturday night. I recognize that it’s probably a waste of an entry fee (and only with extreme luck will I even win that entry fee back), but I still did it. There is some kind of accomplishment in pushing myself to explore different forms of writing.

Speaking of, April was National Poetry Month and as an exercise I made myself write at least four lines of poetry a day. They’re just scraps of poems, nothing glorious, and I have no idea what, if anything, I’ll do with them (I posted one on my Instagram at the end of the month to celebrate), but it was a fun little project.

After all of that in April, what’s to be done in May?

I’m going to completely finish The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys. It needs a little more revision (just some tweaks), a beta read, and a polish. Once that’s done, I’ll get to work putting together the ghost story collection. I’m also going to work on finishing the first draft of Open Christmas Eve. Now that it’s submitted, the rest of the script should be easy to finish and I’ll feel like less of a cheat having the whole thing written.

I sort of feel like spending the summer writing a short novel. I’ve got the idea (actually, I have two ideas, but I think I’m going to save one for NaNo) and I think I’ll spend some time this month working on fleshing it out.

No worries about getting bored. Still plenty left on my To Do List of Doom.

NaNoWriMo 2015 Done and Other Stories

nanowrimoI officially reached 50,000 words and the end of the first draft of The End of the (Werewolf) Curse yesterday. Compared to the last two years, I was positively slacking on the daily word count and the speed because it took me nearly three weeks to finish. In 2013 I finished in 12 days and in 2014 I finished in two weeks. I averaged between 2,000 and 3,000 words a day this year, which is good, but I still felt lazy.

I felt so lazy, in fact, that I started working on a novella in addition to working on NaNo.  At just a page a day starting on November 3rd, I managed to get about 5,400 words written on The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys.

But, back to NaNo.

The use of the loose outline worked out pretty well for me in terms of getting my word count in every day. My biggest hang-up as always is just getting started for the day. Once the words start, I usually hit my daily target in no time.

However, I admit that this first draft felt like a total slog. There are aspects of this story that I really like and I really hope I can build on when I revise it, but I also feel like this thing is boring as hell and my characterization is shit and everything is terrible. Considering I feel that way about a lot of my NaNo projects, I may be just a tad pessimistic about it, but I don’t think so.

But it’s done and that’s always the goal and it’s time to start thinking about other things.

When I’m doing NaNo, I don’t really want to do much else. I don’t want to read. I don’t want to write blog posts. I don’t want to work on any other projects (obviously writing the novella at the same time this year was the exception, not the rule). When I finish NaNo, it’s like touching back down after orbiting the Earth for a few weeks. Time to get back to the other things on the To Do List of Doom.

I’m working on getting The Ivy Russell Novellas paperback out and about.  Right now, it’s only available on Lulu, but eventually, it’ll get to Amazon and Barnes and Noble and such. I’ll also be updating the links to The Ivy Russell Novellas eBook, as it’s finally hit some other marketplaces.  So be sure to check that out!

Now, back to the word mines.