Tag Archives: phase 2

Success!

It was a long, hard road. I wrote more in two weeks than I have since NaNoWriMo. But, thanks to the power of deadlines, I did it. The last major revision of Fugitives from Earth is done.

Eff yes.

That doesn’t mean the novel is done done. I’m starting to seriously doubt that day will ever come. There’s still a last streamlining edit–I want to read through the whole thing and smooth over any egregiously uneven bits–and, following just behind that, the copyediting. My wife the copyeditor will also be looking for consistency and any other major uh-ohs that somehow escape my iron insight.

And that’s to say nothing about the actual layout or cover art. Fortunately, that stuff isn’t nearly so intense and the deadline isn’t quite so close. Even better, it all means that I can stop putting the bulk of my creative energies into FfE.

So what’s next in the immediate future other than what I mentioned above? Well, I’ve got a bunch of ideas for short stories I want to write. I was going to start getting into short stories several months ago, you may recall, but the deadline pressures were just too much. That’s no longer true, of course, so even when work on the next novel commences, I want to keep shorts part of my routine.

Speaking of the next novel, I’m starting to assemble my thoughts for the pre-writing process. I’ve had a bunch of semi-coherent ideas bouncing around for months, and I think they’ve just gestated enough that they’ll survive being written down.

I haven’t decided on anything firmly, mind, but it’s going to be much different from FfE (no sequels for me, thank you. At least, not yet). It’ll be young adult. It’ll be urban fantasy of an unusual sort. It’ll have just one or two viewpoints and take place over a much shorter time than FfE.

Hopefully, it’ll also take me less time to write.

The Finish Line

That panting sound you hear is me getting close to the end of the finish line. After weeks of increasingly hard work, I’m getting oh-so-close to finally putting Fugitives from Earth to bed. As of this morning, I have approximately 6,000 words left in the phase 2 revision; that’s only five scenes or so (a couple of them are pretty short). Once those are out of the way, we have a week-long final read-through, during which I start handing pages over to the copy-editor.

Speaking of which, I have to thank my lovely wife for volunteering to do the copyediting. She doesn’t have the technical qualifications that a lot of professional copyeditors do, and more unfortunately, she’s already read the book. However, she possess an enviable attention to detail, forthright determination, and the ability to break bad news to me gently. She’s doing me a tremendous service, and for that I am profoundly grateful.

I’m also quite grateful to be finishing Fugitives from Earth. I’m reasonably happy with the way that the story’s ending up, and I won’t be embarrassed to sell it, but still. My skills have advanced so much over the course of writing this book that I’m measurably a better writer now than I was. That’s great. But it also means that I’m finishing a novel that was, in large part, written by someone who is not as good a writer as I am now. The only way to fix that would be a complete re-write, and at this point, that’s not worth it.

That’s what the next novel is for. I’ve been thinking about it off and on for several months now, and I’m raring to go. Look foward to some information about that in an upcoming post. First, though, I’ve got a ton of short story ideas that I want to get off my chest. I also want to have a plan for mixing up shorts with my novels so that I don’t get as close to burn-out as I am now.

That’s all for the future, though. Right now, there’s only this weekend, and those last few thousand words. See you on Monday.

Mea Culpa…Again

I just realized on Saturday that I didn’t do EITHER of my blog posts for last week. That’s by far the longest I’ve gone without posting and it ruins a reasonably consistent streak that I had going. Suffice it to say, I’m not thrilled with myself, but there’s nothing to be done about it now. And, at the very least, I had an excuse.

So, I’m just closing Part III of the novel, and my deadline for finishing Part IV is Sunday. That’s not a lot of time to write a dozen scenes, much less the climactic scenes that need to get done. So…things may get stretched. That’s okay, though; I’m not working for a major publisher and I can allow things to get squishy. Plus, some of the things I had allotted their own separate time interval–things like cover design, layout, back-cover copy, and so forth–can overlap with the copyediting phase. I’d prefer that I had enough time to really focus on each thing as it came, but whatever.

I spent this entire week working at NaNoWriMo-like intensity trying to refactor and conclude Part III, which seems like it wouldn’t be hard, but it kind of was. It seems that despite my best attempts to the contrary, my rate of production has slipped a fair amount. Obviously my prose is a little more polished and the ideas are a little more sound when I’m writing slowly, but I’m not sure the tradeoff is worth it. That’s a secondary point, though, because I need to write 2000+ words a day this week just to squeak by, and if the prose happens to suffer that’s barely worth thinking about. I will, after all, get one final revision for word choice.

As something of an aside, I find it interesting that when I NaNoWriMo ends, and I start thinking about my writing on a deeper level, I spend so much more time writing the same amount of text that it becomes almost sacred for me. I’m so reluctant to can what I have and redo it because the weight of all that time hangs so heavily over me. So I try to adapt and tweak, adapt and tweak, and in the end, more often than not, I have to can it and redo it anyway because it doesn’t work. In the long run, trying to save time, even if it is half subconscious, takes more time. Anyone else noticed that?

For better or worse, that’s no longer relevant for Fugitives from Earth because the end is so near. It’s definitely something I need to think about for the next novel, though, whether I write it for NaNoWriMo or not. Here’s hoping I don’t slow things down even more by trying to misapply the lessons I learned from FfE.

The Sitch

How do things stand at the end of week one of three? Well, I finished Part II. Parts III and IV are yet to come, so it might seem like I’m on schedule–one part per week–but I’m not. I want to have at least a few days to read through what I’ve already done and streamline it. My current edits are a bit scattershot and that’s something that will probably need work.

So things are a bit hectic. I’m still pretty optimistic about my original deadline, but some things are going to get a bit squished, I have no doubt. Strange to be so concerned about a day that’s still two and a half months away.

I’m going to do a couple of hours of writing tomorrow morning, and then not much for the rest of the weekend. Sunday is moving day, and even though we’re only moving a mile or so, I’m not going to have much time for writing until Monday at the earliest. Not the best way to spend a three-day weekend, I tell you what.

So if you don’t hear much from me for the next few days, you’ll know why. Rest assured, however, that I’m cracking down as hard as I can, trying to get as much sleep as possible, and just putting words on the page.

Until then.

Let’s Roll

As I have long held, the release date for Fugitives from Earth will be OryCon in mid-November. Let us work backward from that in order to create a rough schedule for the next couple of months, shall we?

I want to reserve a month, if at all possible, for final proofing and ordering. So that brings us to mid-October. Then, I’ll need a week or so for layout and cover design–the hard work on the cover is largely done, it just needs some tweaking–so we’ll say that brings us to October 10th. It’s my sincere hope that I can get a copyeditor to go through the whole thing in three weeks, which beings us back to September 20th.

So, then. Three weeks to finish the writing. No pressure, eh?

There’s some wiggle room in there, but not much. I can’t really afford so much as a day of slacking off, and I’m probably going to have to make some compromises on the re-write. No vast, sprawling edits, just aligning and tightening what’s already there. A week or two for line-editing, which I’ve been doing as I’m going along (and some of which will happen in that final month, anyway). You might say, then, that I have two weeks to get the plot/character portion of the novel finished.

Anyone up for a NaNoWriMo-style write-a-thon? I’ll probably need to pull 2500-3000 words a day to get things finished on time. I’ll need to write mornings and evenings. It’s strange how release can be so far off, and yet there’s so little time to get everything done.

Unfortunately, it’s even worse than it sounds. I’m moving this weekend, so until Sunday I’ve got serious competition for my attention. Then, the weekend after, I’ll be out of town at the in-laws. Gonna be hard to write there. Then there’s my weekly roleplaying game, which I’ll be preparing for. This is all stuff I really want to do, but so’s finishing FfE.

Fortunately, I think I have what it takes. If there was ever a time for me to earn my pro stripes, this is it. Damn the torpedoes, gentlemen.

Ready for Some Scenes from the Future?

Is anyone else tired? I feel like my brains are running out my ears and down my neck. It’s ironic, because I spent much of this weekend in blessed repose, sleeping the hours away. As a result, unfortunately, I didn’t get a lot of writing done so I have precious little to report here.

But I know that you want more than that from me, so it’s time for another installment of the nearly world-famous, semi-annual feature Scenes from the Future, wherein I talk a little bit about a scene or part of a scene from something I’m working on. In this case, of course, the “something” is Fugitives from Earth, and the scene comes right at the beginning, where I do a little worldbuilding and character development.

A shadow fell over the monorail as the bulk of Brighton Tower cut off the sun. Ahead, Joanna could see the yawning doors of the depot at the Tower’s base open and ready to receive them. Joanna spend so much time inside the tower and so little outside that it was easy to forget how huge the building was. It might’ve been tiny if placed in any major terrestrial city, but the Tower’s dozen stories and flying buttresses were still an impressive sight. It utterly dominated the flat, dark landscape of the Mare Serenitatis and the scattering of landing pads around the monorail line. It was a crowning achievement of human engineering, and Joanna always felt a tingle of undefinable pride whenever she laid eyes on it.

It was all the more impressive for what lay beneath: a sprawling underground city, 50,000 people strong and growing continuously. Aside from the lack of windows and the lower gravity, one might almost think it was on Earth, so extensive were its amenities. People responded to that; tourism was a major source of income for Brighton, and tourism was exploding. It was almost cheap to get to the Moon now, from Earth.

The tower’s architecture was dominated by a the planetary-orbit logo of the United Nations Space Colonization Authority, positioned so that anyone riding the monorail would be unable to miss it. Brighton was everything that UNASCA wanted its colonies to be: safe and clean but bustling and ever-expanding. More than anything, it wanted everyone to know that they were in charge. If the news stories and blogs were to be believed, they could use all the positive PR they could get; every day there was more bad news from Jupiter.

Of course, on Brighton, it was all an illusion. Joanna glanced at Gabriel out of the corner of her eye and saw Gabriel chuckling at some small joke Benjamin Riley had made. Gabriel was in control on Brighton, no matter what UNASCA believed. She wondered if it was like that on all the colonies.

They pulled into the depot airlock, and the tram stopped while the pressure was equalized. As the far doors opened and the tram moved into the multi-story industrial space of the Depot, Gabriel was blathering. “I could never make my living out in the belt like you folks do. Certainly I can understand the desire for independence, the allure of a hard day’s labor, but I confess that I’m perhaps too dependent on my luxuries.”

What do you think?

The story of Fugitives from Earth is the story of the rotten core of UNASCA that Joanna sees hints of here gradually consuming everything. I’m trying hard in the beginning of the novel to make it clear that UNASCA is powerful, to a certain extent anyway, but that their power is more and more tenuous, reliant on people who don’t have the best interest of the body politic at heart.

The entire political situation is based very loosely on the political situation during the American War of Independence, where a powerful empire either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the political situation in its colonies. The cities and stations of the Solar System are at a point where they consider themselves self-reliant, and very much resent the economic prerogatives that the central government reserves for itself.

And, as you all know, I love space, and I love describing things that take place there. I feel like I didn’t get to do enough of it in the first draft, so now there are more bits and pieces scattered throughout. Nothing to slow the pace of the story, of course, but enough to foster a sense that it takes place in a real world, not just a collection of sets and backdrops.

Progress…and Soyuz

Get it? HAR!

Week one of the revision is drawing to a close, and, while I’m not thrilled with my progress, I am at least satisfied that progress is being made. There’s always an adjustment period when switching between projects, and I’m just starting to overcome that. You all saw my list of things that I wanted to get done throughout the novel; I’ve converted a lot of that to more specific suggestions to myself for specific chapters, and I’m just starting to put my nose to the grindstone.

One lesson I learned from my first revision phase is to start at the beginning and work in a roughly chronological order through the rest of the story. That’s doesn’t mean that I can’t touch chapter 2 until chapter 1 is finished or anything like that, it just means that I want to work on one plot element and all that it entails at a time, in order. Last time, I wrote a lot in Part III and Part IV without even re-reading Part I and Part II, and it gave the novel a really disconnected feel that I had to spend additional time fixing.

Also, I had a few extra, boring minutes, and I made myself a cover mock-up. Let me know what you think in the comments! All images/fonts are licensed under Creative Commons or are in the public domain.

Cover Mockup

As pretty much every American knows, the last Space Shuttle flight just ended, and already the Russians are saying “it’s our space age now.” Sure didn’t take them long to start crowing, but it’s their right. SpaceX has said in the past that they could go from government approval to flying astronauts in three years, but that approval hasn’t yet arrived. Boeing’s CST-100 and others are even further behind.

I have nothing against the Russians, mind; their space program has been much more consistent than ours has, if more single-minded. You certainly don’t hear about Russian robots visiting other planets; NASA and ESA have the market cornered there. It’s not as though the egg is entirely on our face.

And the good news is, once the new ships start to arrive, we’ll have lots more options, and once the rockets that will carry those ships are ready, we’ll be able to put even more things in orbit. NASA might not be looking so good right now, but, in the grand scheme of things, spaceflight is doing okay.

Oh, except for the James Webb telescope. Every scientist ever wants it. Will Congress let them have it?

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m getting back to work. See you on Monday.