Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Where Things Are

Just a little update.

Things progress merrily along. I'm working on converting the manuscript into a .pdf file that I can upload to Createspace and turn into a book. I'm doing this while I'm learning on the job, but I am learning. A lot of what I've learned is how to use Word 2007 in ways I never had before. Such as learning how to start page numbers at a given page on a manuscript, or how to make a title page, or how to make headers, etc. I'm currently waiting to see if I can get some information on a couple of fonts from the man who designed my cover before going forward with headers.

But as it stands, I will hopefully be able to upload a .pdf to Createspace in the next few days. This time I will be trying to publish the physical book first, then I will immediately move to the ebook. There are two reasons for that. One, if I already have a physical book being sold on Amazon.com, then Amazon DTP will automatically try to link the ebook to it when they publish that. Second, I'm going to have to learn some new things to publish this ebook the way I want it, or maybe even have to pay to have it formatted for me, so I just wasn't ready to put out the ebook yet. I want it to have a clickable Table of Contents, and I currently don't know how to do that. It may be over my head.

So that's where things stand for now. Things are getting done.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Booya!!! They're Done!!

This morning I finished the rough draft of "Legacy of Flies", the eighth and final ghost story needed for my Shades anthology. It weighs in at 12, 631 words, a novelette like most of the other stories in the collection. These eight stories should result in a decent sized book that has about seventy thousand words once finished. (edit; a quick word count obtained by adding the different manuscripts reveals a count of 69,457. That could change as time goes on.) I still need to write an introduction, but that's only a few paragraphs and doesn't really count. The point is I now have all eight ghost stories I needed to make this anthology what I wanted it to be.

The stories are... (in no particular order)

Storm Chase,
A Memory of Me,
Death and White Satin,
An Echo of Blood and Mirrors,
Legacy of Flies,
A Singularity of Purpose,
Dance of the Ancients,
A Long, Cold Forever of a Night.

All exist in different stages of refinement, but all are written. Yet a lot of work remains.

Now begins the editing. I intend to go through the tales, story by story, and edit each one with a highly critical eye. I will need to review the stories for flow, and also figure out the order in which they should appear in the anthology. I pretty much want "A Long, Cold Forever of a Night" to be the last one, but other than that the order is open to whatever works best.

Then, once I have the introduction written and the stories edited, arranged in order, and all put together in one manuscript, I'll need to decide how I will format it for publication. Do I attempt to format it for the kindle myself? I've done a couple of single short stories, but this would be a much bigger project and I also want a couple of bells and whistles like a clickable table of contents...things that are currently beyond my skills. I will also have to decide if I want to go through Createspace and make a physical copy of the book. I would kind of like one of those...which means I'll have a lot more to learn.

So that's where things are now. An important milestone has been reached, but I still have a long way to go.

But the adventure is in the journey :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Climactic Pauses

I think I've started to notice that part of my struggles with writing come from something I'm now going to call "the climactic struggle". It seems that the nearer and nearer to the climax of a story I get, the slower and slower I write.

I'm currently working on the last story of the Shades anthology, and I'm now at the point where the protagonist struggles to survive her encounter with the above pictured menace. And I'm now at the point where I'm literally writing "sentence by sentence". Every sentence, every word, is being measured and weighed...and often deleted and restarted. Last night, I worked for four hours to complete just one double spaced page of writing.

I think it's because of the emotion of the situation. The climax is the emotional highpoint of the story, and that's where I start getting very cautious.and critical...maybe overmuch. But if a story is going to work, the emotion desired has to be achieved. Whether it's fear, joy, sadness, or laughter...the story has to deliver.or both the reader and the writer have wasted their time.

Come to think of it, the climax is kind of like the package that the hook promises to deliver. You use a hook to draw your reader into the story, and the climax is the highpoint that convinces the reader that a further relationship with the writer is worthwhile....


Okay, I'm heading into metaphors I think I'll just leave alone.

Anyways, hopefully sometime this coming week I'll be announcing that the rough draft of Legacy of Flies is finished and I'll have be ready to write my introduction and move on the the next phase.

Go me :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Thews and Stuff

So my laptop is still languishing at Geek Squad, and I don't expect it back until Friday or next week. So what is a writer, who can't really use a pen or pencil, to do?

 What I did was buy a collection of collection of ninety-nine Robert E. Howard stories.

I have been reading them for a week now, and I'm a little over halfway through them. I have met Conan the Barbarian, King Kull, a couple of hard nosed detectives, and a rather lovable gorilla of a sailor/boxer named Steve Costigan.

And thews....lots and lots of muscles and thews.

Iron thews. Knotted thews. Massive thews. Bull necks. Huge shoulders. You get the idea. I find it odd how a man who had such a wide range of prose and setting, could get into a bit of a rut when it comes to the attributes of his main characters. Because Howard could actually write...and rather well. His imagery and prose was very polished, and conveyed a powerful sense of setting and atmosphere. It's just that after about forty stories, I've pretty much met his main character before...with the exception of the boxer Costigan, who still had plenty of thews but an entirely different voice than the others. Even his detectives are pretty much Conan in a cheap suit.

Sadly, Howard was also a man of his times and there are places (especially in the stories set in his present day) where the writing crosses the  line from understandable political incorrectness due to his times to outright racism. I despise much of political correctness, but I was getting uncomfortable with some of this. So there is that. But he was a good writer.

So I will continue with  my reading till my laptop gets back, for if nothing else the works of a good writer can often inspire new stories from a different writer. That's what I'm hoping for.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Disaster Report

My laptop...my window to the internet and my writing machine...went kerflooey. About a week earlier, my wife's computer crashed harder than Evel Knieval jumping canyons. So suddenly, our 21st century lives have screeched to a stop, and the only way I can even access the internet is to get down on the floor and use the children's computer at their little desk.

Yes, this officially sucks.

Anyways, my writing is on hold until the geniuses at Geek Squad can repair my laptop. So far they have settled for shaking their heads dolefully and shipping it off to parts unknown. Sigh. Yeah, it's that bad. Thank God for Dropbox.

I have downloaded a Robert E. Howard collection to my kindle, and I guess I'll just read that until my laptop returns. I was about eighty percent through the last story for that ghost story anthology. Hell, of a time to have to take a vacation.

Oh well, back to Conan.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

So 2011 is one for the books, and 2012 beckons with all it's possibilities.

2011 was a frustrating year for me, writing wise. I only wrote and published one piece in 2011, which was The Mushroom Man....and that got pulled along with the rest of the Shades stories as I have started to approach the finish of the Shades anthology. So publication wise, 2011 was a bust.

That doesn't mean that nothing got done, though. Actually, I wrote a large portion of a novel titled Dead Stop, and have written four never before seen stories for the upcoming Shades anthology. I'm currently working on the fifth. And I even got about twenty thousand words written on Argiope. So words got written, it's just that the vast majority of them never saw publication.

Hopefully, 2012 will be different.

When I finish the last story, now titled "Legacy of  Flies", I will start the publication process. And that is going to be the defining experience of this year. I have a lot to learn when it comes to publishing. I have seen some good self published works, but I have also seen some very amateurish attempts as well. So I definitely want to see to it I fall in the former catagory. That means lots of work, but I guess I already knew that.

I want this to be right.

2012 will be a year of changes as well. I will continue with the way I run this blog now, only updating when I actually have something to say. It works better that way. I will still consider the possibility of starting over with a new blog as well. Something more focused on just writing. Nothing is set in stone yet, but it seems to me that a lot of the personal stuff in this blog could just as well be put on facebook.

So there it is in a nutshell. Things have been slower than I wanted, but it looks like they will be picking up this coming year. I have a few other projects in mind as well. Photography, cover art, etc, so things will be busy.

I hope all of you have a great New Years out there and find ways to stay busy as well.

Happy New Years :)