Irons in the Writing Fire

I’m not sure how many other writers do this, but I typically work on more than one project at a time. I tend to pound out a lot of words then pause to consider it. See, I don’t plan or do an outline. I start a project because I have an idea, a “what if…”, or just a title. Usually I know the ending, sometimes I don’t. Other than that, the plot for the book just flows. And sometimes that flow takes my characters to places or situations I didn’t expect. And I need to back up and think about it. The more I write, the less I discover it was the WRONG direction. Either I’m becoming a better writer (and trust me, some of my early stuff truly stinks) or I’m getting better at figuring out how to get out of the corner I painted my novel into.

What I do while I think is either play games on my PC (my current obsession is Homeworld Remastered) or I go to another project. Sometimes that thinking takes a while and even if I come up with a solution, the path to getting there is not clear so I gotta think some more. And as some friends will agree so quickly they spit, I tend to think too much and not just freakin’ do.

So what irons are in my writing fire? Glad you asked.

Perchance – Book Three of The Soliloquy series. I’m well over half done (64,048 words) with this but the corner I just painted poor Karen into is itty bitty small. I’m not sure if I will keep what happened or delete and try again. I’m leaning toward the latter.

The time it took from when first multi-cell organism was formed from the ooze until man killed another man was but a blink in the eye of the cosmic consciousness. That moment of same species violence revealed the truth of what was to come. The magnificent art on the caves and the formation of spoken words and music: all of them so emotional. They could not compete to the violence man was capable of. The violence man carried out over the ages. The violence man carried out now.

The weapons sweep had brought about the fall of…something. I’m no philosopher. I just know Humans will never be the same again. They’d held this thought, brought on by generations of movies showing how easily humanity could bring down alien space ships, that they could do the same thing in real life. Not so. (snipped)

But now the only weapons left were those being handed out to police and select military groups. Keyed to the user’s DNA, the weapon could not be used by anyone else. Oh, sure, there were some bows and arrows somewhere. Molotov cocktails were all the rage with the rioters but skill to make one, fuel to fill it, and aim to make it go where one wanted were three things seemingly in short supply in the same location at the same time.

Elements – (working title) My foray into magic. It started as a “What if…” and went from there. I once said I would never write magic books but this one demands to be set free. Will it ever get finished? Let’s just say it needs some serious editing and rewriting and filling in spaces (it gets from A to W in, like, three pages).

Alicia stood in the {Something} Archives, with a book open before her. She questioned not just her occupation, but everything about it and her life and her world. She bent her neck again, slowly, to gaze down at the page. To see if maybe she had read the words wrong. She’d already read them three times but maybe…

“The four primary elements are strong, mighty guardians of the world. The two intrinsic elements are stronger and mightier and do not interfere with the primary elements’ duties. The six are combined into two when the Mother starts to awaken. The result will either full awaken or assist the Mother in returning to sleep. It will depend upon the two who hold the six.”

Simple Sarah – Book One of the Something Series – Poor, poor Sarah. I started writing this book in 2004. Finished it in just a few months. And then it has been cat licked to death ever since. I swear upon my mother’s newly dug grave that I will finish that damn thing this year or archive it. Okay, by the end of 2019 because I really need to get Perchance out this year or my publisher may give up on me. Sorry Mom.

The storm had started just before dusk and had increased in intensity as night deepened. Between the thunder and the pounding rain, Sarah Durnhold did not get much sleep in her attic bedroom. She finally gave up and went downstairs to the kitchen. Restarting the stove was easy enough as her father always banked it to perfection. A few little bits of old cloth, some kindling, and soon she was able to add several quartered pieces of wood. She was filling the kettle when she heard movement upstairs.

“Might as well fill it enough for three,” came her mother’s voice.

Sarah got down two more mugs from their hooks and the basket of teas from the shelf. Her father was not much of a tea drinker but Sarah found the packet of “untainted” tea that he preferred. He did not understand the need to take perfectly good tea leaves and ruin them by adding fruit or the like, just to add flavor, when the flavor was just fine left alone, thank you very much.

The Relic – working title. (24,354) Ah, I’m loving this book. It’s been a slow, delicious burn in my mind and releasing it is fun. It has a lot of layers though, but I’m working hard to keep it a single novel and not another damn series.

Many times the relic, and those just like it, had been moved across the world. From the sharp peaks of the Himalayas, to the hot sands of Africa, to the moors of Scotland, to the mountains of what would eventually be known as North Carolina. The stewards had been charged with keeping the relic safe. At all costs. Many called it a burden but a necessary one. Few called it what it was: a privilege.

The Norse had been far to the north. Spaniards had not yet arrived to the New World. The caretakers of the relic were of mixed ethnicity, gathered from the places the relic had rested, and intrigued the Cherokee, Catawba, and other native tribes in the area. Years later when the Cherokee were forced to leave, the stewards used some of the gifts granted to them and helped hide not only themselves and the relic, but also to hide many of their Cherokee friends. They did it again during the Civil War. By then the world had grown and it would be difficult to hide and explain the relic if it were to be moved. Instead, it was relocated just to the north. The sarcophagus was placed in a natural cave that had been expanded. Wards were set. And the stewards settled down.

As Advertised – one of the Butch Girl books. Yeah, I know. Lesbian readers love love love their romance books. But I dislike writing them. Well, dislike isn’t the right word. Remember above when I told you that I often had to step back from a book to digest or think something through? Well imagine writing about magic or feathered aliens or whatever and then trying to slip into the relative simple angst, conflict, and lives of normal humans. It doesn’t work for me. However, I keep trying and As Advertised is indeed progressing. It started back in 2004 as well and was actually the first BG book I started. But BGCFA was finished first and the rest is herstory. I have several other Butch Girl books in progress, too.

Nikki Rogers pushed off with her foot so the stars above her swayed and blurred. The beers from the gathering and the tequila shared with Harri later, had her head buzzing. She closed her eyes against the moving universe above her to wait out the swing’s momentum. But that just turned her thoughts inward and reminded her of Kelly and Grace’s gathering. Nikki was over the moon thrilled for her friends. But it also made her realize how empty her life had become. She had become financially comfortable, had a wonderful, renovated home, and plenty of land to maintain privacy. Yet, there was no special someone to share it all with. Except Spam, of course, but in matters such as these, he didn’t count as special.

She heard muffled breathing and felt the elephant land on her chest. She scrunched up her face for what she knew was coming next.

Step(s) Forward

The problem with being a writer, well, one of the many, is that you have to write something that makes sense to someone somewhere and hope that special someone finds your work and admires it. The more someones that it makes sense to, the better. There’s things to do to ensure that number is high. Editing, understanding grammar, plot, character development, etcetera. Then there’s marketing and promotion (which I stink at).

I got this story. It’s huge. I have mentioned it a lot since I’ve been working on it since 2004. I’ve finished it three times now. Maybe four depending on how I look at it. Each version is slightly different and, with each, it makes more sense to more people. I’ve had some people read it and they’ve all enjoyed it. Sure, there’s problems. But for the most part, they’ve liked it.

Problem is, I don’t. Yeah, yeah, I am so addicted to this novel I dream of it. But there’s parts of it I just can’t seem to get right.

The book is Simple Sarah (I can hear the groans from here). The problem I have with it is the Bad Guys and Evil and All That Bad Guy Evil Stuff. Where’d they come from? Where have they been? Why are some religious nuts allowed to kill them? Why doesn’t the gov’t step in and say, “Um, you are killing a lot of people.” It just never really felt right. I’ve danced around the issue in several different ways and I’ve discussed it with Lorna (spouses of writers discuss the oddest things at the dinner table).

Gods and Goddesses are odd beings. Where’d they come from? Are they static? Do they never change? Do the peoples that worship them change them in any way? How do those peoples even start worshiping them to begin with?

I realized the deities within Simple Sarah are like the Greek/Roman gods. They walk among the people at times, although they are not all that accessible on the whole. Which means perhaps that they have faults, just like the Greek/Roman gods did. And perhaps they were also influenced by the who and how of the worship directed toward them.

Many times in the Christian Bible we read of how someone sweet talked God into Plan B. Was that God’s intention to begin with or did He/She really get swayed?

Which led Lorna and I to develop a new religion base for the Simple Sarah novels. It actually feels better now. I feel as if I understand it now and feel more comfortable with the entire story arc. One of the things E. said about it when she read it was that while it was a good story (she finished the whole thing), she didn’t feel that anything actually happens. And she is right. Sure, lots happen but really, it was the WHY, not the WHAT that was missing. At least to me.

Evil plays a huge role in fantasy novels. People, things, places, abstract thoughts. Mean dragons or evil wizards or unholy trinkets wreak havoc on the world and someone has to fix it. But why did that dragon eat that village? Why did the evil wizard become evil and why did he stay that way? How did that unholy trinket come to exist? And, if it is oh so powerful, why does a simple blow from just the right hammer or a toss into just the right fire kill it?

I really feel that this is it for Simple Sarah. I really feel that in a few weeks, it will be done. For real. But I am not recommending you hold your breath. Unless you are underwater, then, yeah, go ahead.

Now, For the Title…

Now I need to come up with a good title for the book.

It started out as Simple Sarah and has maintained that all along. The first version was this huge honkin’ thing and I knew it would have to be broken down into parts.

At that point, when I was sure there would be three books, they were called The Blessed, The Graced, and The Divine. It fit because the first book was about Sarah (the Blessed), the second was to be about Lea (the Graced) and the third was a culmination of the other two and some other stuff tossed in (the Divine). But I am thinking that Lea’s book (which chronologically takes place before the others) would be best saved for after the others are done. But I have another idea that may still fit the title.

If I keep Simple Sarah, I need to come up with something similar for the second book and I can’t, not if Lea’s book is put off (it would have been named Long Lea). Then there’s the naming of the third, which I am drawing a complete blank on in terms of this theme.

Another problem is I know I have enough written and in my head for the second book, but I’m not sure I have enough for a third.

I could go with Simple Sarah and just figure out the other titles as I go. When they are all done, be that two or three, I can update the sub-titles then. I’ve already decided the first book will not say “Book One of the Something Cool Here Series” ’cause that means I’m expected to write more than one more ’cause you don’t have a series with just two books in it. I had considered “Book One of the Castanea Chronicles” but, again, that’s assuming there’s more than two books.

Did I just ramble on enough? Wander about in the thickets of my mind a little too much?

Simple Sarah – with the other(s) getting non-themed titles
The Blessed – with the others getting the other two mentioned above (which would mean Lea’s prequel getting an odd title)
Castanea Chronicles: The Story of Simple Sarah – would make the other books fit I guess. Even Lea’s book would fit. Hmm….

Edits Done!

Okay, done with that round. It came out to 117,574 words. The pages came to 391 but that is with .5″ margins. With the publisher’s submission guidelines of 1″ margins, it comes out to 501 pages. Whoa! Big difference! Wait, I use Verdana when I type ’cause it’s so big. Changing to Times New Roman….Wow. That shrunk it down. 399 pages now. In comparison, BGCFA final copy (with chapter breaks and other stuff) came to 78,303 words and 302 pages. So after the chapter breaks are put in, Simple Sarah is going to be huge. Coooool.

Anyway, I diverted myself.

Next, off to the beta readers!

Then, edit in their suggestions/changes.

Then, print it out, pull pages at random, edit one page at a time*, and enter those in.

Send it off!

Hope it sells!

*In pulling pages at random, you see just that page. You don’t get caught up in the story. You see the words on the page as just that, words. You can see a lot of errors this way, especially commonly skimmed over errors and sound-a-like words such as their and there and they’re.

Words of advice: make sure you print it out with the page numbers! Made that mistake once….

Editing Continues

I realized I’d not posted in a while. Not since I went off and ranted on a few things. Nothing like gaining friends that way, eh?

Anyway, edits on Simple Sarah continue. To recap, I printed it all out (402 pages) and went through it to edit. I then started inputting those edits including hacking off bits and chunks. It ended at 121,103 and, right now, sits at 118,457 and 393 pages. I’m at a place where I’m having to pause and think and it will result first in a huge hack of words but then some other words put into its place.

It is going much slower than I thought it would. I had some issues I needed to iron out. And even still, there’s a few places where I have just decided to leave in and worry about later based on beta reader opinion and, perhaps even later if it sells, the editor’s opinion.

My goal is to get this damn thing done by this weekend. My self-imposed goals were not realistic but I learned a lot from them. I still want to get two BG books out this year but I will be happy to get one written and edited and sent and get the other at least written. I’ll re-evaluate that as soon as Simple Sarah is out of here.

Paper Edits

I finished the edits already. Now to enter them and other changes into the manuscript. After that is done, I’ll send it off to the Beta Readers.

Over all, I really like this book. It has some issues here and there that I think I can fix or I can get good suggestions from the Beta Readers.

Speaking of which, any one want to be one? A Beta Reader, that is?

And the Edits Begin

I hate editing. I really do. I wish I could say I’ve gotten better at it.

But this is daunting, don’t you think?

That’s 402 pages, double spaced, .5″ margins all around, with a footer. Oy.

That small amount I’ve got separated by my finger is pages 1-83. I’m on page 50. Oy.

My printer did a good job of it. It only got itself hung up once and I hung it up twice trying to feed it paper. I only had to reprint 3 pages! Not bad. It did it really fast because I remembered to put it on “economical/fast draft” setting. Ink is expensive!

I’m doing a slash and dash type of editing right now. If it don’t forward the story, out it goes. I’m thinking a huge chunk of the beginning is going to go. So I’m glad I ended it so big.

Oh, and I’m getting a cross-cut shredder. That stuff will be mulch after I’m done with it.