Cha Cha Cha Changes!

I’M MOVING!!

Please note this will be my final post on this specific WordPress blog and is cross-posted to the new Copious Notes. Please use the URL blog.aaroncrocco.com to get to the new Copious Notes and you’re golden. That’s been redirected and will point to my new home. Please update your bookmarks / links if you’re still pointing to aaroncrocco.wordpress.com.

Also, please note comments for this post are disabled. You can comment on this same blog entry by going to the updated address.

This post has been a long, long time coming. For the past three weeks I have been getting some heavy lifting done and moving into some new digs. There’s a fresh coat of paint, a new server and some awesome WordPress stuff going on here. The changes to Copious Notes are obvious but you’ll also notice that my entire site is integrated as well.

Why the change? You may have heard about Apple’s big news recently. While iCloud sounds really great, they’re also killing MobileMe which has hosted AaronCrocco.com for the past two years. Instead of waiting for Apple to throw the switch next June, I packed up and headed out. This provided the opportunity to spruce up the place and really integrate my website with my blog.

Even more exciting is I will be using the whole site as a place for some awesome projects coming up and to not only speak about them but also promote / distribute them here too. All in due time of course.

So pull up a brand new Ikea chair and enjoy that fresh carpet smell ’cause it won’t last long. We have work to do and this is just one reason why 2011 is a great one. Thanks for stopping by!

Project X: Signed, Sealed, Delivered

With my days off from work falling on Wednesday and Thursday, my ‘weekend’ is always a little off-kilter. The advantage though is that I’m the only adult who’s home and that provides good writing time as long as I’m able to manage my time properly. This past ‘weekend’ I was able to complete my work on Project X. Then I took a step into unknown territory… I submitted it.

I feel like throwing a party or doing a dance but honestly my nerves were all wrapped up in the worries that I was following the guidelines correctly. If there’s one thing I’ve had hammered into my head in the past few years it’s this: “Follow submission instructions to the letter!” There’s likely nothing worse than spending copious amounts of time working on a WIP to then torpedo it by not following instructions.

Composing the email was a task that took me almost an hour as I read, re-read, and triple-re-read the submission guidelines. Did I include my real name? What about my phone number? Did I remember to attach the damn file?!?! Universe-ending questions such as these ran through my head with each pass of my unsent draft. Actually worrying was a good thing as I did miss the ‘Real Name’ field and quickly inserted that into the list of information required for submission.

In the end, I was satisfied that my email was 100% correct, the file was attached and then I hit send. A momentous occasion to say the least but the lingering ‘nothingness’ afterwards was a stark reminder that there’s more words to write, more story to edit and tons more work to do. I’ve set my first story free and now I wait impatiently for an answer that likely won’t come for many months.

Aside: I loved the movie Project X as a kid and just thought it was fun to pay homage to this cool movie from the 80’s in my writing.

Knowing Your Length

This past Thursday I began working on the revisions to Project X after getting it back from my second beta reader. In reading her comprehensive and detailed notes, I realized something important: You must pay attention to length!

In working on Project X, I’ve focused strictly on word count and not number of pages. My go-to, most favorite writing software Scrivener doesn’t even understand page numbers as it’s designed to work in small chunks. Only when compiling the WIP into Word do I see where I stand. This seems to have bitten me in the ass.

My second beta reader liked the idea and the execution but felt the story was very front-loaded. It took me 12 pages just to get to the action! The entire manuscript was 29 pages, so this is a glaring issue. It was also a surprise to me since in my Scrivener world, I had three documents broken down to about 1,100 words each that lead up to this action. Broken down, it doesn’t seem like much. Combine it all into real-world formatting and BOOM I’m dragging my feet on the story.

It was only by viewing my writing in a linear format did I see areas that needed improvement. My advantage here was having Scrivener AND Word open side by side. As I read through the WIP in Word (and staying mindful of what page I was on) I was able to make the appropriate edits in Scrivener. With just a few hours of work, that pesky page 12 action was bumped up to page 6 with some shuffling of scenes and cutting fat off the WIP as a whole. Even reading it mid-revision, I see the story is a lot tighter and significantly improved.

Sometimes we need multiple viewing angles to see what needs to be done and that requires multiple tools. While I’ll never do my primary writing in Word, I’ve now seen it can be valuable for analysis in the editing process.

So how do you change your setup and approach when shifting from the writing stage to editing? Sound off in the comments!

At A Crossroads

It’s been a week between posts here but I wanted to update Copious Notes because it’s writing that I want to get done. Lately I’ve felt that I’m at a crossroads with my writing with all three projects that’s going on.

An opportunity arose last month to write a short story and to get it done in time to submit it out. ‘Project X’ as I’ve dubbed it, is completed, back from one beta and will be back from a second beta reader in a few days. I’ve enjoyed starting something and then finishing it in such a short amount of time. It’s lead me to wonder if I should write some short stories on my own and put them up on my website or self-publish them for free on Kindle, Nook, etc.

On Thursday, with Project X in the hands of others, I returned to Loopback and wow it’s not easy coming back to a WIP! I was away from it for a month and my groove I’ve had with it was nowhere to be found. I found myself referencing my outline multiple times and completely re-reading the previous chapter I had completed. My output was decent (1,128 words) but I know when I revise this book, these chapters will need a lot of work.

This leads to me to the final WIP: good ol’ Spirit Hackers. I’ve had it back from my second beta for two months and haven’t touched it. That needs to change.

So I’m at a crossroads and need to decide in which direction I need to go. My plan right now is spend one day editing Spirit Hackers and the other writing Loopback. Ambitious as always, we’ll see what happens.

How do you decide what to work on?

Capacious Kindle for May 24: eBooks Arrive

One interesting thing about not updating this blog too much over the past few years is the fact that I’ve failed to capture the rise of the Kindle and eBooks as a whole. The Kindle has been the best-selling device on Amazon’s website for years but now we’re hearing about a whole new class of writers either breaking out (Amanda Hocking) or moving to it (JA Konrath). The eBook has certainly arrived. With the additions of the B&N Nook, Apple’s iBooks app for the iPad and the Sony Reader, there’s no shortage of ways to read on the go.

Here’s where things get REALLY interesting. On May 19th, the New York Times published an article showing that for the first time ever, Amazon is selling more Kindle books than print books. This isn’t more paperback or genre or anything else. Physical books. “Amazon sells 105 books for its Kindle e-reader for every 100 hardcover and paperback books, including books without Kindle versions and excluding free e-books.”

The eBook has arrived and we’re in the middle of this revolution. We’re not only in an exciting time for readers and their access to content but also for authors that have regained a huge amount of control over their destiny. As a writer AND a reader, I can’t wait to see where we go from here.

The Weekender for May 20-22: Stop Aspiring

Twitter is interesting in the fact that it’s a collection of the vast knowledge we all possess and the people it brings us into contact with. Besides being a huge time-waster we can utilize it to find out things by ‘asking the masses’ and also searching it. Used correctly, it’s not just for saying what you had for lunch.

I’m talking Twitter because last week I came across a tweet (I’d link to it but unfortunately it’s lost to the ether of the Internet) saying that if you put “aspiring writer” in your description, you shouldn’t. If you write, you’re a writer. You’re not aspiring to write. I’ve given this advice lots of thought and realized that person is right. I’m writing my third book in four years and I’ve hit a stride in my life where writing is important. Plus I have a goal in mind. We always hear about people saying “treat writing like a job” and “envision yourself at the end so you know how to get there.” I’ve done this and I keep reaching the same conclusion: I am a writer.

So from this point on I’m dropping the ‘aspiring’ moniker from any of my descriptions or titles. I don’t need my name in print in order to be validated as a writer. Of course that’s the goal and ultimate prize but I am a writer, book deal or not. I’ll say it once more:

I am a writer.

Lyrically Speaking for May 19

Normally when I think of music I love it’s by The Smashing Pumpkins but another band has emerged in the past few years that sounds similar but not ripped off: Silversun Pickups.

This band out of California has a lead singer with similar vocals to Billy Corgan and the band’s “sound” could easily be mistaken with classic Pumpkins’ by the casual listener. Their second album was one I loved so much I bought it a second time on vinyl just so it could grace my record player. If you’re into rock that sounds different but awesome, I think Silversun Pickups may be the band for you. If you like The Smashing Pumpkins then DEFINITELY check them out.

From the album Swoon, this is Panic Switch:

Time
It’s never worth my time
Blue shine
Bleeds into my eyes

I still
Sleep on the right side
Of the white noise
Can’t leave the scene behind

Could I be anything you want me to be
It’s always meant to be seen

When you see yourself in a crowded room
Do your fingers itch, are you pistol-whipped
Will you step in line or release the glitch
Can you fall asleep with a panic switch

And when you see yourself in a crowded room
Do your fingers itch, are you pistol-whipped
Will you step in line or release the glitch
Do you think she’ll sleep with the panic…

Mm, I’ll try
To hold on tight tonight
Pink slip
Inviting me inside
Wanna burn skin
And brand what once was mine
But the red views
Keep ripping the divide

If I go everywhere you want me to go
How will I know you’ll still follow
When you see yourself in a crowded room
Do your fingers itch, are you pistol-whipped
Will you step in line or release the glitch
Can you fall asleep with a panic switch

And when you see yourself in a crowded room
Do your fingers itch, are you pistol-whipped
Will you step in line or release the glitch
Do you think she’ll sleep with the panic…

I’m waiting and fading and floating away
I’m waiting and fading and floating away
I’m waiting and fading and floating away
Waiting and fading and floating

[Guitar Solo]

I’m waiting and fading and floating away
Waiting and fading and floating away
Waiting and fading and floating away
Waiting and fading, waiting and fading

When you see yourself in a crowded room
Do your fingers itch, are you pistol-whipped
Will you step in line or release the glitch
Can you fall asleep with a panic switch

And when you see yourself in a crowded room
Do your fingers itch, are you pistol-whipped
Will you step in line or release the glitch
Do you think she’ll sleep with the panic…

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