writing

 
 

Barely-Hanging-On Author’s Log, Supplemental

So, the final Deadgirl book is taking a long time to come out, you may have noticed. And believe me, it’s weighing on me pretty near-constantly. But for the tiny group of Constant Readers, I figured you deserved an explanation before I started drifting into George R.R. Martin territory.

I can’t disclose too much information because it’s not exactly public, but there’s a serious medical issue in my family that cropped up right before the pandemic began. It’s not me, somehow. I’m still mildly healthy despite my diet of burritos and bourbon (and a solid decade of dedicated self-destruction).

Needless to say, the one-two punch of a global pandemic and an immuno-compromised loved one in need of care has not improved my productivity or my creativity. Add to that my dayjob and the usual responsibilities of a dad of two feral boy toddlers, and, well, you can do the math if you like. Not that I would ever do unnecessary math.

I’m a human mess at the best of times, and to be completely honest this series of comically bullshit events has been too much for me.

I’m working on the book when I have the energy, but the engine is sucking fumes.

So, let’s get down to brass tacks. Deadgirl: Daybreak is still in the drafting phrase, and I’d call it 70% done. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd acts are buttoned up, and the 4th and 5th acts (typically the shortest in my structures) are heavily outlined but in need of prose.

Once those acts are completed, I do what I call a “structure draft” to make sure everything makes sense and is relatively consistent. It might not be a good book at this phase, but it ceases to be random word vomit and becomes a semi-coherent story.

After that, it goes to my beta reader (my wife Gina, as always), who usually only needs two weeks to tear the story a new stata chocolata. I make her changes and fix the story up again.

Then it goes to a professional editor. From there, I’ll do a final cleanup draft that’s basically a read through. Then, a professional formats the book for print and ebook. Luckily, I had the cover art commissioned and finished ages ago so that bit is already in the can.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, first I always find it interesting to see someone else’s process, and I’m hoping you do to. But what I’m saying is once my original prose draft is finished, it’s pretty much a month or two from there to publication.

I don’t know when the first draft will be finished. My life is currently not structured in a way that allows me to be creative or feel human emotions beyond “exhausted” at this point.

But, I’ll let y’all know when it IS finished, and we can calculate a month or two out from that will be when it gets published.

Anyway, thanks for listening.

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Sneak Peek: The 1st Chapter of Deadgirl Daybreak

I present, here and now, a sneak peek of the first chapter of Deadgirl: Daybreak. The full book will arrive on Kindle and paperback this year, which apparently is 2021.

Why leak the first chapter? Because, well, you’ve been waiting for it. Maybe, I don’t know your whole deal. But if you HAVE been waiting for the fourth and final Deadgirl book, I figure it’s only fair I share a little aperitif while you wait.

Presenting to you now, the first chapter. If it changes in the final, published draft, well, them’s the brakes. But enjoy!

As you’d expect, this chapter contains MASSIVE SPOILERS for the end of the 3rd book, Deadgirl: Goneward. Also, minor spoilers from the Daphne novella. Proceed with caution!

Or don’t, I’m not your mama.

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What Am I Up To?

So, what have I been up to lately? This:

What I’m Reading

Image result for dark tower

I just plowed through the entire Dark Tower series by Stephen King for the second time, and I have some shocking and terrible news for you: it’s still incredible. I first started reading the series when I was around 15 years old, and was forced to wait painfully for the last four books to come out. 

Being able to read them all back-to-back provided a slightly different experience. But, overall, yeah. I think it’s still my favorite book series of all time. It’s so epic and surreal and strange, with a truly unique world (well, worlds) that feel 100% real. Even the weirder meta elements in the last few books work really well for me. 

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Why “Deadgirl: Daybreak” is Delayed

Because I suck.

END OF BLOGPOST

A gif of a penguin falling down

Okay, But Seriously Why is “Deadgirl: Daybreak” Delayed?

At the end of “Deadgirl: Goneward,” which is also the last book, there’s a little tag saying “Deadgirl: Daybreak” will drop in Spring 2018. As you may or may not be aware, it’s Spring 2018. And as you also may or may not be aware, you don’t own “Deadgirl: Daybreak” because it’s not possible to own it. Why? Well, mostly because I failed.

Continue reading

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Another Monday, Post-Evisceration

Stomach is starting to heal from the hernia surgery. Turns out it’s painful for your guts to come out, and JUST AS PAINFUL to put them back in again. So, you know. Don’t do that.

Keep that shit on the inside, if you have the option.

Because I’ve been anchored to the couch for medicinal reasons, been watching a shitload of The Walking Dead, old episodes, and they just remind me how great season 1 and season 2 were. I know, everyone hates season 2, but on Netflix, in binge-form, it really works. It has some of the best character work in the series, and the Shane/Rick stuff is intense as hell. It’s funny because no matter how many tanks or evil baseball bats they give their new villains, none of them are as intimidating as Shane’s unhinged, slack-lipped murder stare. Jon Bernthal (Shane) was and is the absolute man. Probably the only actor on the show so far who could match Andrew Lincoln’s Rick in acting ability and gravitas.

Been trying to play Mass Effect: Andromeda too (with all my new couch time), and it just absolutely refuses to become good. Damn shame, considering how excellent the last trilogy was. Well, caveat – how good Mass Effect 2 and 3 were. Mass Effect 1 had a lot of the problems Mass Effect: Andromeda is having. The games work when they’re little episodes of Star Trek. The games fail when they try to present some wide-open boring landscape to putter around in in an under-powered space car.

Okay, those are all my thoughts for today.

Got some good writing in just now – Deadgirl 4 is finally starting to shape up into something I like. Easy realization that made it happen: Deadgirl 4 is not Star Wars. I kept trying to make it this big crazy epic story with all these characters and forgot that the series is about Lucy.

Now that I’m listening to her voice again it’s all rolling out.

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Deadgirl: Goneward Cover Reveal

Coming May 30th, 2017! Here’s the cover, by the hyper-talented artist Andrea Garcia.

deadgirl goneward cover.png

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Deadgirl: Goneward

Deadgirl 3 is officially on its way, and I cooked up a little promo poster:

Deadgirl Goneward Date

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Smile!

LucyClose

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The Asshole’s Guide to Editing: #4

Assholes Guide Banner

Previous Guides: #1#2, and #3.

Last time: Solin walked down a single street. No, seriously. Also he vaulted over a cow, I guess?

EXCERPT

The Morali land was large, but Solin was soon at his destination (passive – watch those “was”es). A copse of trees rose up in the middle of the plains, following the course of a wide stream that broke off of the Sabrienne river to the east. As he got closer he slowed down, both for fear of disturbing his friend and simple exhaustion. He slowed to a jog, and finally a brisk walk (unnecessary comma, the sequel), allowing his muscles to stretch out and his blood to slow down. (Okay. This is a common move I still have to try hard to keep out of my writing. So first I said “he slowed down.” Then, in the next sentence, I DESCRIBE what slowing down is. In case you don’t know. It’s partially my tendency to over-explain, and partially an artifact from the first draft. This kind of thing is okay in a first draft because it’s really just telling the story to yourself. Later drafts need to be leaner. Take out the tell “he slowed down” and leave a punchier remnant of the show, like “His run decayed into a jog, then a leisurely stroll.”) It felt good to be tired, properly exhausted. Solin didn’t fear toil; he was just terrible at it. (STAHP. We get it. We all get it.)

Solin moved into the shadows of the trees then (Delete “then.” Why is that even here?), great willows that stretched their wispy canopy over his head. In the center of the copse the stream passed (Yoda, is that you?), crystal clear waters from the Sabrienne, a river that traced back to the great mountains to the north (Second time you’ve described the course of a distant river for literally no reason at all – well, kinda. Spoiler alert, this river starts somewhere mystical, which is why I felt the need to mention it twice. It’s still ham-handed, though). The stream split there beneath the willows, and most of the water cut south and no doubt hit the sea at some point (“No doubt?” It does or it doesn’t. Pick one). But Rion’s father had dammed up a portion of the stream along (two words there, son) time ago, and created a little shimmering pond. Solin and Rion swam and played there in their younger days. Frayed lengths of rope still hung above the pond, aching to be swung on. (Great imagery trapped in a pretty good sentence, even with the preposition wonkiness. So far, the count of pretty good sentences is “2,” for those keeping track at home.)

But that was a while ago, and Rion used it for fishing now. He claimed that was the only reason he came down here, but Solin knew better. (Delete this and inject it into dialogue later. Have Solin bust Rion’s balls. “Waxing nostalgic?” “Not at all. Trout are jumping this time of year.” “Oh yeah? Is that what the sketch pad is for?” Or something. Bring it into the character’s actions, not pork-fingered exposition.) It was a place of memory, and reflection, and at dawn or dusk Solin always thought it had a magical look to it. The way the willow branches crept down and filtered the light into shining specks that danced across the water. (By the way, this is the REAL reason Solin likes getting up early. See how unnecessary all the times he hemmed and hawed about it earlier? All those can be cut completely).

Solin noticed a handful of trout hanging by hooks from the branch of a low-hanging willow. (“Hanging” is twice in this sentence. Fix.) A few extra spears were leaned up against the tree (“A few extra spears leaned against the tree.” Boom. Passivity gone. Watch those “was”es and “were”es, right?). A pair of boots sat just on the edge of the water.

Solin leaned against the willow and watched.

Rion ett Morali stood on the shallow bank of the pond. The biting cold water (This could go either way, but Solin doesn’t know that the water is biting cold. Sure, he could deduce, but it feels like perspective flopping. Cut it) lapped around his ankles, though it didn’t seem to be bothering him. His long brown hair fell in waves to his shoulders, and high above his head his arm was in an arc, aiming the spear in his hand toward the waters (Not horrible, but the wording is so clunky. It just needs a clean rewrite). His back was to Solin. He couldn’t see his face, but it was no doubt arranged in its perpetual look of peaceful concentration, with nary a wrinkled brow to give away his thoughts.

(YUCK! Solin just described something he isn’t seeing just so he can describe the character to the audience. Also, don’t be so quick to description – you don’t need to fix your description in the mind of the audience right away. In fact, and this took me a LONG time to realize, you really don’t need to describe your characters at all.

I know that sounds weird, but bear with me. Your job as a writer is MUCH easier if you let the reader take over some responsibilities. Let’s say you have “Helen,” and Helen needs to be beautiful for the story to work. And I mean, NEEDS to be. The plot hinges on it.

You don’t have to go into crazy detail. Don’t describe her eyes, the upturn of her nose, the slender calves, whatever turns your key. Have other characters react to how beautiful she is – have men constantly hit on her, have woman envy her, have a photographer stop her in the street and ask if she’d like to do some modeling. Have her blow off all of these advances in a nonchalant way, letting us know she deals with this all the time.

That’s how you make Helen beautiful. The reader will then pick up on this and conjure a beautiful woman in their mind, and their beautiful woman is going to make the Helen of your tedious description look like a pig. Reading is interactive, if you let it be. Let it be.

Hypocrisy alert: You’ll find some in-depth descriptions of characters in my books, and I regret almost all of them. If a physical signifier is 100% important to the character – Morgan’s stunning beauty in Deadgirl, for instance – then include the stuff I talked about. If it doesn’t really matter, don’t put too much energy into a physical description. Let the reader fill it in, and they’ll never forget the character they conjured.

I’m still working on this because it’s a really hard habit to break, especially for us visual types. But remember, books aren’t a visual medium. Use the best tools at your disposable. Don’t try to hammer a nail in with a saw.)

Solin had tried to get him to play cards with some of the guys in town; Rion wasn’t much for games (Semi-colons again, you old dog, you!). He’d win a lot of money with that unreadable gaze, too. Solin moved forward a step, about to break the silence, when Rion lunged.

His arm moved in a blur; (Oh shitttt, makin’ it rain semi-colons) Solin could barely follow the path of the spear. Droplets of water flew through the air around Rion, and he gripped the submerged spear with both hands and tugged it out of the water. A monstrous trout squirmed on the tip of the spear, and Rion turned and whipped the spear above his head. The fish sailed through the air, and Solin jerked to just narrowly avoid its flight. (There are some repetition problems here I would fix. Air, water, spear, air, water, spear. Maybe just delete a lot of it).

“Want to hang that up for me?”

/EXCERPT

I’ve seen a lot, A LOT, worse. It’s not good, don’t get me wrong. To semi-quote one of my agents – “Look at every paragraph – can it be condensed into a sentence?” You’ll find it often can, especially if you tend to overexplain, overdescribe, and overwrite (like, for instance, me).

Here’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about:

“Solin had tried to get him to play cards with some of the guys in town; Rion wasn’t much for games. He’d win a lot of money with that unreadable gaze, too. Solin moved forward a step, about to break the silence, when Rion lunged.”

Well, in all honesty I’d just delete everything but the last sentence and then perk it up bit: “Just as Solin opened his mouth to break the silence, Rion lunged.”

The stuff where I nearly break my back trying to not use the phrase “poker face” is unnecessary and should go. Rion will either seem stoic to the audience or he won’t – stop telling them who people are. If Rion is relatively quiet and strong in his actions, then we’ll get it. But don’t just unzip the sentiment and ram it home – romance the audience a little.

I’m still not convinced anything in this chapter shouldn’t be cut entirely. In fact, once we get to what I think the starting point should actually be, I’ll let you know. See you next week for I think some actual danger/conflict. I think.

My memory blocked out huge chunks of this book for safety reasons.

 

 

 

 

Categories: publishing, The Asshole's Guide to Editing, writing | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Selfless Reminder

Just a completely altruistic, non self-serving reminder that the sequel to a book I wrote is coming out in one month. Which I also wrote. I wrote both, is what I’m saying.

DG Date Banner2

Check out the first “Deadgirl”

And the new one, “Deadgirl: Ghostlight”

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