Tag Archives: phase 3

The Light at Tunnel’s End

Ahaha! I’m DONE!

Yes, after a week of furious copyediting, I finally have in my hands the final version of Fugitives from Earth. It’s definitely not my best work, not anymore, but I’m not embarrassed to sell it to other people, and I’m oh so very relieved that I don’t have to think about the story anymore.

And the layout’s done, too. Let me tell you: Word is horrible at making print-ready documents that aren’t term papers. It took a fair bit of wrangling the page settings, margins, text wrapping, alignments, and who knows what else to make it look good, but at least it was mindless work, so I got to watch movies while doing it. Didn’t get to do that while I was writing the damn thing.

So, now I’m eagerly awaiting the proof copy from Createspace. I have my hopes that’ll be a quick green light, and I can order my print copies for OryCon, and not a minute too soon. Never again will I let myself get this close to the wire.

Finally, this blog is about to come full circle. I realize that I haven’t been posting as often as I did in my heyday, but I’ve got plans for this year’s NaNoWriMo. Yeah, it snuck up on me too, but whatever–I’m starting a brand new novel, and along with it, I’m starting a brand new posting schedule for The Tenth Word. You can also expect some layout changes to accompany the book’s release, just two and a half weeks away!


The Countdown Has an Ending

Holy crap I’ve been a bad blogger. Over a week without a post? And my posts have been getting more and more irregular? That’s a problem. In fact, coming up shortly I’m going to be re-examining this whole blogging thing. I like having this personal web space, but if I can’t keep it nice and updated, what’s the point?

And more than anything, I need to find some new things to talk about. I’m starting to bore myself talking over and over again about the novel countdown. Yes, it’s stressful, but that somehow doesn’t make it automatically riveting.

Fortunately, in regard to Fugitives from Earth, the stress is about to end (or at least, mutate). It turned out that the only person with the time to do the copyediting, who was willing to do it for free, was me. My wife put in a valiant effort, but she’s even busier than I am, and I still don’t have hundreds of free dollars to spend on the novel, especially since I still have to get it printed.

So that copyediting is a little over half done, and I have every confidence that the novel will be finished (at least in terms of the story) by this weekend. That’ll leave me a few days to do the formatting, and plenty of time to get my review copy before ordering actual printed books for OryCon!

It’s kind of unreal that it’s so close; I’m looking forward to going back to being an actual writer. I feel like I’ve been doing less and less work per day as this novel’s drawn itself out and out. I definitely don’t want to have a major deadline like this if I can ever help it; doing some other creative work would’ve helped to lessen the pain a bit, and kept me from losing my good habits.

Anyway, the next time you hear from me, by this weekend, I should have the novel well in hand. Then I can start the non-writerly parts of self publishing. Yay!

The Joy of Constrained Creativity

So, did I accomplish my goal of getting the novel’s final creative revision done by Friday? You might remember that I promised to set myself on fire if I did not, but…I did not. However! I decided to delay my frustration-induced self-immolation for another week because I did accomplish something equally noteworthy: the cover!

Fugitives from Earth Front Cover
Now I figure another three to four hours of work will finish up the creative revision, and then it’s just copyediting and layout. I’m encouraged by reports from fellow NIWAns that layout won’t be crisis-level hard, since they’ve got templates, tips, and tricks that’ll make it easier. The trick will be to take care of the submission stuff early enough that I can get a full gallery/test copy mailed to me, correct it, and then get a bunch more mailed to me for the con.

So, that’s enough of a countdown post for today. I want to briefly talk about an awesome experience I had last week: it’s called Fiasco.

I imagine that plenty of you writers out there play or have played tabletop roleplaying games. If you’ve played more than once or twice, you probably know that some RPG systems have a lot of stats, mechanics, and die rolling, and will thus tend to play more like wargames. Others put more of an emphasis on story and character, with mechanics that influence gameplay without dominating it. And then there are a few indie games that have few to no mechanics, so as not to get in the way of the story.

Fiasco is one of the latter. It has rules, but those rules exist just to put some interesting restraints on gameplay. Without over-explaining, I’ll just say that character relationships are determined by a series of die rolls, and the characters themselves naturally evolve out of those relationships. For example, in our game, two players had the relationship “mutinous.” They were on a 1930s-era Titanic-esque ocean liner, so we decided that they were officers on the ship. One of those guys would be a criminal, since his relationship with another player was “mutual criminals.”

And then the game took off. We decided two players were working with pirates to hijack the ship, and the third player was the straight man, a crew member who stumbles on the plot. Over the course of the games 12 scenes, the players killed the captain, accidentally framed each other for the crime, barricaded themselves in the bridge, accidentally shot a passenger, and blew out the engine. It was the most fun two hours of recent memory.

I bring this up partially just because I had so much fun with it, but also because I think that, more than most RPGs, it’s a great tool for writers. It doesn’t have a game master, so everyone gets to participate in the plot. You’ve got a framework, constraints that force creativity, but don’t stifle it. The theme of the game is, generally, “small people get over their heads with fatal results,” and that informs the action as well.

The world of writing is similar. The constraints are generally self-imposed rather than external, and obviously there’s a wider variety of stories to tell, but the thinking process is the same: “Next scene. What would be awesome?” I think Fiasco is an awesome creative exercise for writers, particularly ones that wouldn’t roll a D20 if their lives depended on it.

Anyway. I hope to have more triumphant news to report by the end of the week. Also, NaNoWriMo approaches! So much to do.

P.S. Might be fun to do a Fiasco hangout on Google+. Anyone interested?

The Tension’s Mounting

I realize these countdown-style blog posts are probably getting a little familiar. The truth is, they’re getting a little too familiar to me as well. This is probably typical, but I’m starting to feel more and more that Fugitives from Earth is like an anchor around my neck. I want to move on and create something new, but I just can’t seem to get away from it. And now that things are getting so close to the wire, I have that extra bit of stress that it’s all going to be for naught.

Lovely. It hasn’t been a great day all around, so I apologize if that shows.

So without giving in to despair or frustration, here’s the situation:

  • I need to finish my final “creative” revision. As I indicated before, this mostly just means that I need to search for all the words that end in “ly” and replace them with something that scans better. That’ll be finished by Friday or I’ll set myself on fire.
  • The cover needs to be done. Not done done necessarily, but I need to have a rough version for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association trade show on October 14th. Actually, it needs to be done a week before that, so it can be integrated with the rest of the NIWA books on a post, bookmark, and other such things.
  • The copyediting needs to be finished. My wife just got a promotion and her fall term just started, so I’m going to have to help out here. I really wish that I could afford a professional copyeditor, but unfortunately my wife didn’t get a promotion quite that good.
  • I need to do the layout. I’m hoping this won’t take too long, since I can follow directions, but I also have a strong feeling it’ll surprise me. The advantage of being in a group like NIWA is that many of them have done this before and I can leech off of all their hard work. After all, what are friends for?
  • Finally, I have to submit the whole bundle to CreateSpace and get my review copy. Once I have that in hand, I’ll look through it, find a bunch of errors, fix them, and resubmit.
  • Then, I buy a dozen or two dozen copies, have them sent to myself, and sell them at OryCon! I’ll also upload the ebook version to Smashwords.
Not too much for the next four to five weeks, right? Sure, no problem.

Busy Busy, As Always

The deadline is fast approaching, so I’ve been reserving my writing time for actual writing rather than blog posts. As you can imagine, these posts will be a little shorter and more scarce over the next two to three weeks.

On schedule, I’ve finished my Part I re-read and I’m halfway through Part II. I hope to get that finished tomorrow, and then it’s on to Part III over the weekend. I might even be able to get it entirely done by Sunday, and then I can do Part IV over the first couple days of next week. That’ll give me a little breathing room to do the cover and a bit of layout research.

Speaking of revision, I’ve mostly been skimming each chapter to make sure that the whole story flows, and to make sure that I don’t do the same exposition twice. So far I haven’t had to make any major changes in that regard, but I did make one other discovery: I use adverbs a lot.

It’s not as bad in the more recent additions to the novel, but really throughout all of my work, I use adverbs way too often. I’ve pretty much just hit ctrl-f to find, typed in “ly” and fixed most of the stuff it found. In particular I had a lot of egregious uses of the worst adverbs of them all: “probably,” “actually,” and “really.” Nine times out of ten, I just cut the word and the sentence still works.

I don’t think that it’s a horrible thing to overdo the adverbs on an initial draft. Inelegant as they might be, they get the point across and serve as decent placeholders for the better description that comes in later drafts. It’s not worth my time to come up with nicer-sounding alternatives right in the first draft, since it’ll probably get changed anyway. That’s what revisions are for, after all.

So that’s my rapid post for today. I’m going to be out of town all weekend, so no post until next Monday, at which point I will be nearly done with the final creative work on Fugitives from Earth. Stand by!

The Calm Before

Flush with the triumph of my two-week sprint, I took the first half of this one off, writing-wise (except for some miscellaneous tasks). My reward for pushing through was to allow myself to purchase a computer game I’ve been waiting for forever: Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

This is the worthy heir to the original Deus Ex that I’ve been waiting for (Deus Ex Invisible War certainly wasn’t it). In the last decade, the way shooters have developed means that game publishers are seeking after the Halo/Call of Duty-style hits with simple, linear campaigns and highly-developed multiplayer rather than a deep non-linear single-player experience. Fortunately, Human Revolution harkens back to the original, and comes as close as anything to meeting its high standards.

Let’s talk writing for a moment. I’m almost done with my read-through of Part I, and my goal is to have Part II and Part III done by the end of next weekend. Shouldn’t be too hard, since I’m just shotgunning my way through, trying to stay ahead of my wife’s red pen. I am correcting egregious stylistic errors, but a lot of the language is kind of committed now. Which is probably fine; I could correct it forever if I let myself.

It’s going to be pretty intense, though. I have about three weeks to get the final version done with the final cover so I can start layout on CreateSpace. I think I can make it–I made my last deadline, after all–but this weekend is going to be the only real break that I get until everything is submitted. So this is what being a real writer feels like!

I am allowing myself a few minutes here and there to write things unrelated to Fugitives from Earth. I’ve been forced to ignore the semi-weekly challenges run by NIWA, but this time I’m letting myself write a short short story for it. I’ve also got my final edits for our inaugural anthology to submit before the middle of next week.

Ah, the writer’s life. Now that the fun part is over with regard to FfE, I’m very much looking forward to putting it to bed and getting started on the next thing. Hopefully, that one won’t be quite so intense.