NaNoProgress – The Hypocritical Rant!

This November I find myself lacking.  There are two things I desperately wish I could find over the next twenty two days – words and time.

time_by_vive_le_rockOf course I will explain it to you all in somewhere between 300-600 words, and burn at least thirty minutes.  So I’m spending potential words and a measure of time to proclaim to the world how I am so frustrated by the lack of time I have available and the absent of words on the page.

Hence calling this a hypocritical rant. – the lantern has been hung, shall we continue?

November 20th  approaches rapidly and I find myself still more than 20k words away from finishing his editing pass of Seth’s novel.  God’s sake, I still don’t even have a title yet.  At this point I am starting to come to grips I won’t get another pass at this.  I intended to make a final pass for polish and nit picking, but that doesn’t seem possible.  I’m struggling to finish this pass in time.

I’ve learned a valuable writing lesson.  It is rather unfortunate it must be in the final days before I need to submit the project, but I learn a lot about my common mistakes.  The punctuation around dialog tags, my insistence to put that in every sentence… I think further work should be at least moderately cleaner.

That’s really the whole point of all this isn’t it?  Writing and reading are the only two sure ways to improve the craft, and that’s exactly what I’m doing.  I’ve managed to come through this process with a couple of lessons.  It’s not just about my mistakes, but I have a much better indication for how long I need to allocate for the editing process.

So all in all, as mind numbing and soul draining as the last couple weeks have been, I’m still making progress.

The main casualty of this lesson is my NaNoWriMo project.  It’s eight days into the thirty day month and I sit at a staggering zero words.  It’s disappointing, witnessing the rising counts of my writer buddies doesn’t help.  Alas I still feel capable and up to the task.

There’s no point in setting easy goals you know you can do without a struggle.  At the risk of sounding arrogant, NaNoWriMo itself was never going to be a difficult exercise.  To win you need to write 1,667 words per day for thirty days.  Well my average is over 3k.  This delay in my NaNo beginning just makes it a more difficult challenge to aim for, without being out of the realm of possibility.

For me NaNoWriMo will be half the time, so it shall be renamed TurboNoWriMo.

I know initially it sounded like I was losing my mind, but it’s not the case;  okay, well not entirely.  I’m feeling the grind of this editing process and the pressure of the deadline looms, but that’s what being a writer is all about isn’t it?

As grueling as this whole ordeal feels I still get a small feel of accomplishment as I finish each chapter and I imagine it’ll feel terrific after the final one is complete.

I have to get back to work. Words and time are precious commodities this time of the year – so I hope you guys appreciate that you’re important enough to me to spend at least a part of it on you. 😉

Cheers
Devin

The Logical Next Step – The Road To The Publish Button!

Before getting involved in this mess I underestimated the obligations one must accept on the road to being a published author.  I knew there was more than simply writing, but I did not comprehend the sheer weight of the rest.

I finished the first strunkOptimizeddraft of Dean’s novel.  It weighs in at a little over 86K. Although I know there’s a hell of a lot I need to fix with it, I am so damn proud of it.  At the risk of sounding as though I’m developing a large head, I can feel how much I’m improving.  This craft of writing is becoming getting more refined with every outing.

That being said, I was not prepared for the required energy for the editing process.  Now that Dean’s draft is done and shelved for the immediate future I have turned to Seth’s novel.  I have to get this polished and edited to submit to Percy Janes in November.

It turns out that it takes me about twice as long to edit a chapter as it took me to write it.  It’s become a daily grind such that I’m looking even more forward to NaNoWriMo and to get started on Krugers.

I can’t imagine I will feel less drained when I start having to write and edit on the same day until it’s done.  I may need to let NaNo fall behind for the first half.  It’s okay though I feel I write fast and prolific enough that I’ll hit at least 50K by November 31st.

If you’re an aspiring author and working the grind of editing, then shall I make a recommendation for you.  Go to EditMinion.com and use it to help.

It’s a great tool.  It won’t help plot holes, or even grammar and spelling, but it will highlight when you’re using a single word too often, and it will draw attention to all your adverb usage and examples of passive voice (both should be limited)

It’s been a valuable ally in my current project, and I know it can be for you to.

Well, that’s about it.

Seth’s Novel – Being Edited (Starting Chapter 9 when I finish this post.)
Dean’s Novel – Rough Draft finished, awaiting editing in December.
Krugers – A few beats outlined, but highly anticipating the start of November to dive into this one.

~Cheers
Devin

On To The Next One!

It has been approximately thirty seven days since I finished the draft of my first novel.   I have been working on it for about three years give or take and there is still a decent amount of editing and polish left to apply before I call it a finished product.

When I started this whole thing I was so green to the process, I would hear someone say they spent three years writing a novel and think there was absolutely nothing wrong with it.  In fact if you’re strictly in it for the craft and you’re trying to write your magnum opus only intending to publish a single work in your lifetime, then sure go for it.

Just don’t get the idea that you’re the next Harper Lee who can write a single novel and live on its success for a lifetime.  It doesn’t happen that way.  The odds are firmly stacked against you.

If you want to make a living in the trenches putting out genre fiction then three years is a time frame which guarantees writing will remain a hobby forever.  Unless you hit the lottery and your book goes viral you are not going to make a sustainable living.  You are not the next E.L James who will strict it big modifying your fan fic.

Hell even if you are the next E.L James, you still can’t get into this with that attitude.  It’s not feasable.

I am ecstatic to write that as of October 25th, 2015.  Thirty seven days since completing the previous draft of my first novel, so realistically we’re talking abotu thirty four days since I started writing this work – I am finished the first draft.

It’s beyond exciting because not only have I finished the draft with enough time to mentally prepare for NaNoWriMo, but I have six days that I can sink completely into the polish and editing of the first novel – including deciding on a title for it.

November 20th, I will be submitting that first novel for Percy Jane First Novel Award, it needs to be great and having a week long buffer before beginning my NaNoWriMo project is certainly a huge help towards that goal.

If I can keep up this pace I know I’ll be able to hit my deadline.  I should be ready to announce some publication dates by the end of February, with enough of a back log prepared for release that 2016 is going to be a very busy year for me.

As 2015 comes to a close I finally get the feeling that I’m not just running on a treadmill, I’m actually getting some mileage on these plans.  Let’s hope I can keep up the face and by February you’ll know exactly when you can expect my first e-book to show up on Amazon.

Cheers

~Devin
E-Mail: Devinleenl@gmail.com
Twitter: @shallopNewf
Facebook: Coming In February!

Mailing List To Come Soon As Well

Does It Get Any Better?

I’m not going to lie this entry is probably going to be a little more fluff than normal.  There isn’t really any major news to report on in my personal or writing life, but I have every intention of keeping this blog as current as possible so here we go.

passion_weight__by_m0thyykuThere’s a certain feeling of euphoria surging through me as I arrive at Tim Horton’s with my laptop to start today’s writing session.  Truth be told I’m pretty significantly behind where I want to be with the current projects, it looks like I’ll still be editing Seth’s novel during November.

I was hoping I wouldn’t have to divide my time so much during NaNoWriMo, but I really don’t feel comfortable leaving Dean’s story cold for a full month and trying to finish the rough draft in December.

This week had a zero word day but I allocated that time to see the Attack On Titan movie at Cineplex. There was only one showing on one day, so it had to be done.

It befuddles my mind why it took so long for me to dive head first into the writing world, I’ve never felt like this about anything I’ve ever done.  Just sitting down at the booth, opening the laptop and my exercise book with notes in it, and popping the tab on my coffee cup have given me this warm fuzzy feeling.

Starting a writing session is a high unlike anything else I’ve experienced in my life, and embarrassingly enough I have a lot of alternatives to compare it to.

Presently I’m still waiting to finish the rough draft of Dean’s Novel so I can get to the edits on Seth’s.  I’m still hoping to get those edits done before November 1st to offer all my attention to my NaNoWriMo serial project.

Dean’s novel just popped over 75,500 words and I’m hoping I’ll be bringing it to a close within the next couple of days.  It’s only moderately behind schedule, but between sick and other obligations there were a few set backs.  All in all I’m confident I’ll still be hitting my goals.

Also a very rough outline of the Krugers serial got plotted while at work last night, I assume I’ll put a little more effort into that tonight, getting more characters created and establishing more rules for what these characters can do.

It’s quite an exciting time.  The best part of it all is that this is basically the norm, there will always be new projects coming up and new ideas to flush out and work on.  I love this whole process.

My seriously regret not giving this a serious run years ago.
Anyway, enough ramblings, I need to try and hit 78K on Dean’s novel before work tonight.

Cheers,
~Devin
E-mail: devinleenl@gmail.com
Twitter: @shallopnewf
Facebook: Coming Soon…

P.S:  I am presently only finished the first chapter but I feel the need to spread the word anyway.  Betty Rocksteady, another Atlantic Canadian author has just released her book “Arachnophile” – published under Eraserhead for their Bizarro Author series.

From my best assertion this story is a paranormal, horror-ish love story.  A man having troubles with his wife falls in love with the girl next door – who happens to be a giant spider.

Like I said, I’m only a chapter in but I’ve read a some of Rocksteady’s flash fiction and know how twisted of a mind she has when it comes to her writing.  I’m looking forward to reading the rest and I think you all should check it out too.

Click Here to Buy
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UPDATE

After the aforementioned writing session I just crossed the 80,000 word count. There’s three chapters left to write and I’ll be putting this to bed.  I’m projecting if I can get a good session in I can finish Dean’s novel as early as tomorrow, Oct 25th, or the next day at the latest Oct 26th.

Eff Ya!

Say G’bye Twenties… “Good Bye Twenties!”

Greetings and salutations ladies and gentlemen,

I apologize for the delay in getting a new post up but this week has been pretty hectic.  I’m not one for excuses, but in saying there here’s my excuses:happy_birthday_by_alexiuss-d46w91y

I was out of action for two days with the most violent stomach bug I’ve ever contracted, strangely enough it only lasted for two days but it was enough to floor me.  This week has three zero word days and I’m not pleased about that.

Aside from the bug yesterday I made a conscious decision that I would spend my normal countless hours on the keyboard trying to make up my lost word count; since it was the first day of my thirties.

That’s right as of Saturday, October 17th, I am 30 years old.

I understand some of you may be older than that but I just don’t want to deal with that right now.  I keep thinking back to when I was a kid and was always convinced that I would Chris Farley myself and be around much later than my thirties so I’ve had many years of building fear of this decade.

Of course, I’m not going to sit back and just let that happen.  After going to my sister’s house tonight to see my parents, I begin considering my health as important as my writing from here on out.

I was let loose on this world thirty years ago yesterday, and well I plan to start a writing career that should flow through the next thirty years.  There’s a lot of work to do and it’s time to get down and do it… tomorrow.  Tonight is for nachos & cake.

Almost every year of this blog I’ve made some kind of post on my birthday itself telling everyone how “things are going to be different” and “I’m putting my foot down, Change Now!”  – And recently every year I’ve been actually drawing attention to that trend.

The end of 2015 and the birth of my thirties I think will remembered as when I finally got my shit together.  Truth be told, the last few months leading up to this I’ve felt like I’ve got a lot together, but we’re talking about birthday milestones here.

As for where my writing progress stands at the moment, I’m pretty optimistic in spite of this week having a few set backs.

I presently stand a hair over 62,000 words on the first draft of Dean’s Novel.  The end is in sight and I am pretty sure I have the beats in my head for how the rest of this story goes, so it’s getting pretty exciting to write.

The other night an aspect of this story dawned on me that damned near broke the whole thing and is going to make the revision process so much of a pain the ass both for Dean’s Novel and Seth’s.

Speaking of Seth’s I’m still holing out hope that I’ll be able to finish this draft of Dean’s novel in time to make a couple of fresh eyed editing passes of Seth’s.  That needs to be submitted for Percy Janes in the middle of November which means I need it done before since I’ll be hot and heavy into NaNoWriMo by then.

If the schedule stays true I still have seven days to finish this draft of Deans story, that will give me a full week to dedicate to polishing Seth as much as I can before submitting him.  I’m excited for that contest, the novel will get critical feedback win or lose.  With no entry fee how could I not enter?

The other news on my ditch digging is that I have almost completely decided on my idea for NaNoWriMo and I’m going to be writing in a different format, yet again.  Seth’s novel was a straight first person linear story, Dean’s is a three POV non-linear tale, and I suspect my Kruger story is going to actually be written as a multi-installment serial.

By the end I hope to be able to bring them all together and make a 80-100K word novel, but I will be doing so in a format of writing them at 7-10 installments.  Meaning there will be a soft beginning middle and end in an episodic fashion, while still trying to make it feel like one cohesive story when combined.

Ambitious for unpublished aspiring writer but hey, that’s kind of what NaNoWriMo is all about isn’t it?  Experimentation and testing your limits?  Will it be gold or non-publishable shit?  We’ll find out in December I guess.

Anyway, that’s basically it for now.

By the time I come here to write my post about turning thirty-one I intend to finally break the cycle of “this will be my year” kind of posts and finally be able to give you all my first celebratory, “I finally did it” posts.

October 17th, 2016 – I plan to announce being in the best shape of my life, and at least able to announce that I have a couple of books up for sale.  I’m not greedy I don’t want to be making Terry Mixon money quite yet, but I want to at least have a professional looking product that is respected by the few people who do pick it up.

Wish me luck folks,
Cheers.
~Devin

Mail at: devinleenl@gmail.com

The Mysticism Of Writing – Misconceptions

The idea of being a full time writer has been bouncing around in my head for a long time, long before I realized what it the bouncing actually was.  From my early days of fantasy wrestling to my current endeavor of 3,000+ word days to built a body of work, it’s clear that this was the path I should have took years ago.

NoTearsPlease is still something I would like to get involved with and get developed but that is more of a passion project that I will try to get to at some point because it’s something I will enjoy.  It’s not something I’ll even really be able to monetize so it has to go on the back burner for now, especially with the looming period of unemployment rapidly approaching.

Writers-in-Real-LifeThis week I’ve made tremendous progress on my most recent novel.  I still don’t have a name for it; something I need to deal with at some point.  I’m on track to have three full length and edited novels completed before the end of the year.  If I can make a fourth available in January then I’m certain I will be able to make my announcement in February.

This project has just come up shy of the 34,000 word mark, meaning I’m a little less than half way there.  Based on my word tracking app, I’ve got 20 more days before I hit the 95K goal, and to be honest there’s no guarantee it’ll be that long.  It may end up being much shorter.

Anyway, as far as writing goes I’m making steady progress and it’s feeling awesome.  My shifts at work keep feeling longer and longer because I miss being at the keyboard getting my narrative out.

Now with that said, I want to rant about something that a friend posted on her Facebook.  Here is the image/blurb.

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My response to this on Facebook was a conflicted one.  I’m not really sure how I feel about it.  The fact this person is calling all writers liars because they do not share in the opinion is a little insulting, but their justifications do not come from an objective area.

When I read this I see a conflict between the general perception of writers in the eyes of the non-writing society, and a misunderstanding in the advice and opinions giving by professional authors when they talk about their craft.

Let’s break this down, first and foremost that opening line is a little ridiculous to me because I do not know a single writer who actually publishes work that would say this work is easy.  Yes, it’s something we love doing and there are certainly times when the words flow so smoothly that you swear you are just an extension of the keyboard; that doesn’t mean the whole process is an easy one.  For every day spend sitting back and being a passenger in my own story there are at least two or three sessions where I despise every word I put on the screen.

Writing is an endearing vocation but nothing about it is easy, nor have I encountered any credible professional who will disagree with that.

I agree that from the outside looking in people get this idea of writers as these uppity, zen like beings who dive into these fantastical worlds navigating treacherous perils and bring back the story to share with the world.  We are pilgrims in the land of imagination.  That may very well be the type of feeling we hope to invoke in the reader who is taking the time to read our products but I have my doubts that this is the way the average author will look at his work.

Attacking the “morning ritual” and “dressing as a writer” tells me the original writer of this passage is not a full time author or a dedicated writer.  The idea of the morning ritual is not some mystic feng shui.  It’s about finding that balance of variables that provoke the most creativity.  It’s not superstition, it’s psychology.

I discovered that in the night time if I wrote in my basement with two lamps to give a cozy lighting and a comfortable space, I basically doubled the amount of output that was fostered by sitting on my bed writing for the same amount of time.  There are conditions that work better with some than others.  For me it involves music being played and my table in the basement or my booth at the local Tim Horton’s.  I’ve tweaked with this a lot, and I won’t go so far as to say that I can’t write elsewhere, but through trial and error I found my comfort level was greater in these two locations and when I can sit down and write in those conditions I get more productivity.

It isn’t that the otherworldly energy is channeling through me and giving me the story while in these ritualistic areas, they are just places that comfortable places to write.

The “dressing like a writer” is advice that stems from the common workplace advice of “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”  Being a full time writer, especially a self-published writer is all about your interaction with your readership.  If I find myself in a conversation with a random person and tell them I’m a writer, they could very well be a potential customer.  They may love the genre I write in and be interested in checking it out, then tell their friends if they like it.

If I have food stains going down my shirt and reek of body odor then what is the chances that conversation will last long enough to ever get to the point, let alone will they be interested in looking at my work.  You are your own brand when you’re a writer and if you dress like a slob and unprofessional than that’s how your audience are going to react to you.

*Looks at the chili stain on his hoodie*… I think I need some new clothes….

Anyway!

Authors don’t “pretend their stories were shiny and perfect waiting to be written.”  This again is a mash up up two different schools of thought.  The idea that writers have it easy, which I already addressed.

Any honest writer, which is most of the talented ones, will tell you that every story undergoes numerous drafts before even seeing an editor sometimes.  In fact a big reason self published authors get such a bad rep is because of amateurish writers who are posting first drafts in amazon and touting it as great pieces of work.  No, stories aren’t shiny and perfect out the gate.

The second school of thought is also mentioned in the next sentence. The idea of a story being like brushing dust away from a fossil, discovering the whole body.

This comes from a Stephen King’s “On Writing” – which whether you’re a fan of him or not is a great read.  Especially if you’re a discovery writer like myself.

First I want to ask, “Has this person ever looked at the process of excavating a full sized fossilized creature?  King wasn’t referring to brushing a bit of dust from an arrowhead that can fit in your palm.  I’m sure he was more referring to unearthing a T-Rex.  You need to brush a little, dig a little, brush a little, dig a little, with pin point accuracy for fear of hurting the fragile skeleton.

Discovering a fossil and actually digging it up is a very delicate endeavor.  If you want to compare your righting to having at ice with a screwdriver that’s within your right.  To me that analogy makes writing sound a lot more clumsy than precise.  Especially when you are discovery writing you have to consider your overall story, individual character arcs, their personalities, plot twists, how even the most trivial action taken by the characters can affect the entire world you’re exploring… yeah, that doesn’t sound like hacking away, I wish it was as simple as just hacking away with tenacity.

The dust on the fossil analogy tries to paint it as easy, I see it as painstaking accurate and a lot more stressful.

Also, I mentioned Discovery Writing – that’s what the fossil analogy explains.  If you’re an Outliner than you tend to map out the whole body of the creature first before a spec of dust gets moved, and taking an accurate excavator to raise the whole thing, making sure it all stays together while it’s being lifted.   Just as challenging, just in different ways.

If writing is more hard and boring for you than anything else, you’re doing it wrong.  Yes I know I said there were plenty of days when you hate the words you write, but the point is if you’re a writer than even on those days you still love what you do.  It’s never boring to you.  – sure it wouldn’t make for good television is someone wanted to watch the story of your life, but who cares about that.  As writers we weave the tales, we’re not the stars of them.

Unless you Mary Sue it, but that’s a whole other discussion we would need to have.

Anyway, that’s it from me.

Cheers,
~Devin

Twitter:@ShallopNewf
Drop me a line here or at DevinleeNL@gmail.com.

Facebook Author Page To Come In February!

The Paper Magician & Finding Perseverance

I actually have a pretty great segway for this entry from the previous one.  If it hasn’t been made abundantly clear by now I am a huge fan of the Writing Excuses podcast.  If you were to take a look at my second draft vs the third draft (that I’m almost finished with), I don’t think you would attribute it to the same writer.  Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mary have been instrumental in the evolution of my writing. Honestly if I can actually sell this book when I’m done I will be in their debt.

Sometimes it’s a little discouraging to hear that my first novel is going to be basically a learning experience and wont sell to anyone, so they can get a little discouraging when it comes to my ambition of being a successful writer anytime in the next three-five years.

It could very well be an arrogance or it could be just confident that through reading and listening to the pros (like Writing Excuses) I have been able to take their teaching and made myself into a marketable writer… is that the case?  Probably not, but I’m going to damn well try.

So. Anyway.  To the issue at hand.  I’m not really one for giving in depth reviews, at least not at the moment but I needed to highlight this book.

Writing Excuses featured an author who recently sold their first series of novels to Amazon’s publishing imprint.  She is a former student of Brandon Sanderson himself, and was really entertaining to listen to.

Favorite quote, “and I it only took my nine book to get published.”  Referring to Sanderson’s thirteen he wrote prior to his success.

This was enough to make me pick up The Paper Magician on audible.  There were a few more night shifts left before I had a day off and it felt like a great way to kill a shift.

The book is fantastic, even coming from someone who doesn’t usually enjoy this kind of story.  The world really drew me in.  The idea that various man-made materials were able to be manipulated by magicians gave a bit of an Avatar The Last Airbender vibe.  The Paper Magician is a “Folder” who specializes in using paper in various ways.  Rubber, Metal, if it is man made there is a manipulator for it.

I asked if this was influenced by Avatar on Twitter and Charlie herself responded saying it was more of a Howl’s Moving Castle.  I never noticed it early on but I definitely seen it afterwards.  (And if you haven’t seen Howl, go do so now. Miazaki FTW)

I loved the novel, this week I’m going to be picking up the other two in the series and look forward to seeing the growth of her heroine.

I really would love to talk more about it but I refuse to spoil anything. So go now… read The Paper Magician, then message me on Facebook or Twitter and I will certainly gush some more about it.
Buy It On Amazon, Seriously it’s $5 for a kindle copy, there’s no reason NOT to have it.
Or listen to it on Audible

Disclaimer: This is not a paid ad, I get nothing from you purchasing this other than the satisfaction that more people are reading this book.

Alright aside from the commercial.

Charlie’s story gave me a renewed vigor in my writing endeavor.  She didn’t sugar coat it making it sound like it’s easy, or that success will come sooner rather than later but she gave practical insight and grounded perspective.

I’ve listened to that episode of Writing Excuses at least a dozen times in the past two weeks and every time it motivates me to get back at this manuscript.  I’m more than 2/3’s through this rewrite.  I’m about a month or two away from submitting it for the Percy Jane.  I see the like at the end of the tunnel, and it is from stories like this that I find the will to keep going.

I’ve thanked the crew and Charlie on Twitter already but I wanted to say it in a little more than 140 characters.

Thank you again guys for everything you do, and Thank you Charlie for just sharing your story.

“I’ve got a ton of rejection letters and I made a quilt out of them, keeps me warm at night.  Don’t let it get you down.  We[Her and Brandon] both wrote a ton of books before we broke in.  Just keep going, don’t give up but don’t get lazy.” Charlie N Holmberg 

P.S: If you go read the Paper Magician series and want more she has a new book, Followed by Frost up for pre-order.  Coming out Sept 22