Archive for the ‘ Books & Writings ’ Category

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.

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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?

Status Update

Once in a while it’s good to take inventory of where you are in order to see where you’re going. Things have been a bit busy in my writing world and triggered me to remember that it’s a good time to take stock of each story I’m working on.

Spirit Hackers

My second beta reader finished the book a couple of weeks ago and we’ve e-mailed back and forth a bunch of times getting her feedback and answers to my multitude of questions. Next stop: round 3 of editing!

Loopback

I must say I’m quite surprised and happy about the progress I’ve made within Loopback. Since starting this novel I’ve written 22,840 words which is great because I have a lot going on in my life that takes away most of my time. I’ve fallen into a groove of writing on my two days off and I’m also keeping close to my 3,000-word-per-week goal I established a few weeks ago. The book is already more than 25% done and we’re rocking & rolling.

Project X

Wait, I’m working on a third item?? Didn’t I JUST say I wasn’t?? Well project X is a quick thing I’m working on that I AM able to work into my writing schedule. This is a short story (no more than 7,500 words) that I’m working on for submission into an anthology. I’m already 3,400 words into Project X so this is something I’ll have wrapped up soon.

This short story is something that really intrigues me and I’m excited to submit this out to see if it’ll be picked up. As things play out I’ll provide more details but for now this is where my writing energy is going. Now Loopback is not on hold or even taking a back seat. I’m simply working on Project X for a few days since there’s a deadline involved with that.

We’re turning the corner into very exciting times in my writing world since Spirit Hackers is that much closer to a querying stage and Project X coming out of nowhere.

While I’m holding on for the ride and remaining positive for results I’d love to know how you’re juggling your projects!

This Time Travel Stuff is Hard!

Writing is hard. Any writer will tell you that. We intentionally make it harder (also known as ‘challenging’) on ourselves to see what we’re really made of. I did that with Spirit Hackers in the ways of creating a full outline and structure before writing. I also ditched MS Word and Apple’s Pages for a still relatively-unknown app called Scrivener. With Loopback, I’ve done it again by working on a plot involving time travel. This is a subject that can get you in trouble easily if you don’t dot your T’s and cross your I’s.

The odds of hitting a paradox are high and plot-holes aren’t just issues that can be patched. They can completely derail the entire book. Add in the fact that I’m inventing technology as I go and this is a perfect storm of screwing up that I’m trying to avoid.

I’ve taken organization to the next level and created a dedicated document in my Scrivener binder for all technology I’m inventing and also the time travel rules I’m laying down. By having a reference that’s never more than a click away (and if I jump into split-screen view, it’s not even that!) I can keep my head on straight when referencing something down the line in chapter 20 that I invented in chapter 2. So far, it’s working great for me.

Finally, my word count is progressing with Loopback clocking in at 13,754 words. My current goal is to write about 3k a week to keep my original promise of having this book done by the middle of the year.

So what keeps you organized with your writing? How do you challenge yourself in new projects? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Entering A New World

I don’t know if there’s a saying or phrase one utters when starting work on a new book but if there is one, let it be said here. Writing on Loopback has officially begun and while it’s been a little slow-going (my available time to write has been extremely limited) progress has still been made.

The world building took a little longer than I thought but in discussing key plot points with my wife, I found what worked and what needed tweaking. She’s a stickler for time travel inconsistencies so this is something I know needs to be perfect. Luckily Back to the Future is my favorite movie of all time and I consider it one of the most consistent and accurate time travel stories told. Being a student of Marty McFly and Doc Brown, I believe, gives me an advantage in knowing what to do and not do with this book. If I keep close to my outline and not get ‘cute’ with time travel tricks, I think Loopback can be really successful as a novel.

Interestingly enough, the book has had some false starts and sticking points in this early stage. For starters, I don’t have complete character descriptions for most of the people in the book. I’ve decided to just ‘go with it’ and add things in as I find them necessary whereas a personality and good dialogue can supplement descriptors that may mean nothing to some readers. This is quite a departure from Spirit Hackers where I had each person not only described in a one-sheet but I also had reference pictures for their profiles. Of course if this doesn’t work out, I can always fix these issues in editing.

Finally, my first chapter was half-written and then scrapped. I envisioned Loopback to be told in first-person but I quickly saw it was not working. Perhaps it’s from never writing a full-length book in first POV or something else but each sentence was a struggle to format and there was no flow. After working on it for an hour, I moved it to the side and started again. Thirty minutes later, chapter 1 was complete.

There’s plenty more to say and report on with Loopback, even in its infancy but I’m going to keep its debut post here on Copious Notes (relatively) short and sweet. Plus it gives more more to blog about later on. 😉

Loopback Progress: 6,641 words, chapter 4 half-way complete

Rinse & Repeat

Writing seems to be a cycle that repeats itself: brainstorm, outline, write, edit, beta, edit, edit, submit. While waiting on edits and submissions other works begin their lives and today is no exception. I’m beginning work on a new book.

Spirit Hackers took me over two years to write and this time I’m determined to finish this one in record (for me) time: 6-months maximum. Can this be done? Perhaps. Life always gets in the way along with a drive that isn’t consistently there but I think setting a goal is always helpful. For the past four or five months I’ve thrown around the idea of writing a time travel story, which in itself is difficult. Only a handful of books and movies have done it well and it’s a minefield of plot holes. I consider myself a student of time travel (Back to the Future being my favorite movie of all time) and it’s a challenge I’m up for. Hell, I may even write a great book in the genre!

This past week I broke out my good ‘ol lefty notebook and began outlining & brainstorming this time travel beast. It’s coming together pretty well but there’s still plot points and world-building that needs to be done before I get behind my keyboard. This is the most exciting time with a new WIP. It’s the most creative and the world is my oyster.

So with that said, I welcome into my writing universe my new time travel book: Loopback. Let the games begin.

Beta Blocker

Last week I completed the edits to Spirit Hackers which brought my long and inconsistent writing process with this WIP to another milestone: Second Draft. I’ve talked a lot lately about how long it’s taken me to get to this point but boy am I glad I got here! Any time I complete a stage of this project I am filled with a huge sense of accomplishment and confidence. If you include my Robert book, I have now written two full-length novels.

So what do I do now? Continue the process of course. In the months leading up to the completion of my initial draft, I began lining up some beta readers. I’m not an active member of the Absolute Write forums (haven’t even visited the site in years) and so it was a little tougher of a process finding people I was comfortable in approaching. In the end, I think I made some good choices. My first beta and I tossed a few preliminary e-mails around setting the stage for what I was looking for and in just a few hours my baby, my sacred story, was shuttled through the internet at light speed hurdling towards an inbox. Now the hard part for me: I wait for the impending feedback. Patience has never been my strong suit so I’m doing my best to not tweet or e-mail this person so I’m not a pest. I think I’ll be fine.

With Spirit Hackers off my plate (for now) I can turn my attention to another project. “Another project?! What other project?” you may be asking yourself. Stay tuned to Copious Notes to find out soon.

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