Monday, July 29, 2013

Gonna Need a Bigger Grindstone (and not just because I have a big nose)

Aside from a few days while on vacation I have stuck to my six-day-a-week-get-up-at-5am-and-write-for-forty-five-minutes regimen.  Sometimes it's closer to an hour, other times closer to thirty minutes depending on how I stagger out of bed, but it's a rare day when I don't bang out at least five hundred words.  This allows me to not be a nervous mess about trying to write at 10pm or so when I'm tired and worn out from a full day's work, exercising, taking care of the kids, laundry, etc.  Am I tired?  Since I'm maybe getting five hours of sleep at night, a little (don't hit me Kevin!).  It's okay, though, because this needs to be done.

See, about sixteen years ago I wrote this book.  I was separated and my girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife lived around fifteen hundred miles away.  In addition I was taking every other Monday off, and on those days I was usually punching out between three to five thousand words.  When I finished it the draft rolled in at about 229,000 words - WAYYYYY too long for a complete unknown, unless your name is Rothfuss (not be fair, he'd already placed in the Writers of the Future contest.  I had published doodly).  Then the next worst thing happened - a publisher liked the sample chapters and asked for the manuscript.  With visions of book signings in my head I sent the cinderblock off.

It was rejected, of course.  The editor liked the writing but not enough to take a chance on such a long book with an unknown (this was a small Canadian press - I have no idea how I picked them out. This was so long ago I was using a book edition of the Writer's Market).  Bummed, I set it aside and didn't really write much for a while.  A few years ago I found a copy on a box and said, "Hmmm."  So I started editing before promptly forgetting about it and switching back to short stories.  I'm back on it now and pretty much rewriting it as opposed to editing.  As Roger DiBrees says in The Producers, 'That whole third act has got to go.'

As it stands I think this draft - yes, I've finally learned that this is just a first bite at the apple - will end up in the 110-120,000 word range, which is pretty good.  Optimal would be around 90k, but it's close enough and editing should trim it some.  Then come the big questions - do I try to find readers?  Do I send it out myself or try to find an agent?  DO I say 'screw it' and try to pull a 'Wool' by selling it myself on Amazon and hoping review copies on Goodreads engender interest (although I'll try to actually write a complete novel and not a really good short story with an extra 60,000 words tacked on)?  Will I actually ever look at the copy of Scrivner I bought on sale and try to learn how to use it?  Who knows.  I had a friend suggest I should take a whack at writing a game, but that's a major time investment.  Can we make the days a few hours longer?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

In Which I Am Wistful

First things first - I'm here to shill for something I'm not even in.  The sequel to Machine of Death is out, and the editors of This is How You Die would LOVE to make it to the NY Times bestseller list.  So I am recommending that you go to your local bookstore or maybe here and grab a copy before Saturday.  This is a good book put out by good people and they're trying to make the bestseller list via normal means instead of the one-day blitz we did last time that made us the #1 damn book on all of Amazon (suck it, Glen Beck).

Am I bitter that I'm not in this volume?  No.  Disappointed and wistful absolutely, but not bitter or angry.  I write two stories and I thought they were pretty good, but as is my penchant I left them somewhat ambiguous in ending and was informed that they were trying to avoid that this time around.  Not the first time an editor has disagreed with me (nor the last, nor in anything less than great quantity).  it's probably even worse for my friend Dorian, an accomplished game writer who received a special note that he'd made it to the final round of judging before being eliminated.  That's both inspiring and crushing at the same time.

The original book has been a ridiculously amazing experience that keeps going on and on - last week there was our inclusion into the Humble Bundle and a Reddit AMA, for instance.  I would dearly, dearly love to have been in this one as well, but I am not.  And that's okay.  Not optimal, but okay.  And I wish nothing but success to North, Bennardo, and Malki! and I hope they make a million bucks each off this one.  If it does so well that a third edition is needed, well, I've got some ideas cooking  . . .

Seriously.  Go buy it.  Support indie publishers making a difference and changing the way the industry works.  All the info you could ever want is at

Friday, July 12, 2013

In Case You Wanted to Ask Me if My Fridge is Running

There will be a Reddit AMA for the authors of HumbleBundle today and they've asked me to be there, the fools.  12:30PM EST and the link will be on this page: 

I have no idea what anyone would ask me.  I'm just going for the free booze.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Story That Wouldn't Die, Which is Ironic Because it's in a Book About Death

So, news.  You may have heard of the Humble Bundle, where a bunch of great books are grouped for a price that you pick, which a chunk going to charity.  As if Wil Wheaton, Peter Beagle and Cory Doctorow weren't enough of an enticement the original Machine of Death, which includes my story 'Fudge', has been added to the package.  It's like everyone doesn't know you can download it for free anyway It's great to be offered along with such great company, including the also added Neil Gaiman.  It's almost as if this little indie book is being taken seriously NO THAT'S CRAZY TALK. 

I am pleased.

I'm Not Judging You! No Wait I Totally Am JUDGE JUDGE JUDGE JUDGE

I will have some very cool news this afternoon - well, definitely cool for me, hopefully cool for you as well - that I can't talk about yet, but in the meantime I have other spiffy things as well. As mentioned yesterday I decided to branch out and made on offer to be a contest judge (and editor, it seems) for an online mag and it appears that I have pretty much been accepted instantly. So, if you like to write you should check out  On The Premises magazine.  They run contests year around, offer free critiques for the top ten, and have a top prize of $180 for each winner.  Why wouldn't you enter?

So come over and take a look.  This quarter's contest just started last week and the theme is 'instructions.'  Come make me see how awesome a writer you are!  Although it'll be blind judging by the time I get to it and I'll be going on merit alone.  BE MERITORIOUS!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Surrounded by Greatness

I spent the past few days at a private Housecon.  It was filled with fairly brilliant people - award-winning game designers, corporate writers, well-known writers from the RPG world, and even one of the stars of a Broadway show.  I don't mention this to namedrop - in fact, I'm not going mention any at all.  Being in that environment, with all those success stories, can be a little intimidating. Even a little depressing iff I let myself dwell on it for too long, but I didn't do that.  I chose to be something else - inspired. 

Nobody walked in and said to any of these people, 'Here's your dream job on a platter.  Enjoy.'  They went out after what they wanted and they earned it.  I need to keep that in mind when I wake up at 5am to write and just want to turn over and go back to bed.  I also need to challenge myself in different ways and to diversify.  A bunch of them learned how to play instruments and a garage band formed.  While they were nice enough to let me exercise my rusty (and extremely limited) guitar skills I feel the urge to be much more accomplished for the next one. I'm going to start doing editing work and I just applied to be a contest judge for an online lit magazine.  I don't know if any of these will work out but I'm going to try and be happy I did so.

Of course, ask me how pleased I am when I'm a chapter away from finishing my novel rewrite but can't get to it because of a combination of editing, reading stories under a deadline, and blistered fingertips..  Wheeeeeeee!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Being Judicious

I have written a long post - well, actually I've done it twice - about my disbelief at some of the stories that get published.  It was filled with dismay and bitterness and a heaping helping of bruised ego.  I wondered at what point, if ever, it was actually okay to question the editors' choices and to cite others who agreed with me for validation.

I erased them.  A good idea, both times.

This writing thing is, for all but the super successful, a constant kick in the chops.  You can write something you think is good, have your readers tell you it's good, and then watch as your self-esteem slowly shrivels like a vampire in noon sunlight as the rejections dance in.  And it's galling - fucking galling - to see horribly written drivel like Twilight and 50 Shades of Lame-ass Soft Core make best-selling multimillionaires out of hacks.  I want to be one of those successes.  I want to be able to make writing my vocation, to be able to schedule time on the computer around taking care of my kids instead of dragging my ass out of bed at 5am and cranking out 500-750 works in 45 minutes on the slow crawl to a finished novel.

Well, it's good to want things.  Makes me ambitious.  Gives me me motivation. It may never happen, but it won't be from lack of trying.  And while I might not be smart enough to accept my shortcomings as a writer, at least I knew enough not to burn any bridges behind me.

So far.