The Verdict Is In

glass baysmIce HuntersThe three novels in three months challenge continues. I’m nearly done with the second novel, Glass Bay, and wondering what to write for the third novel to carry me through August.

Part of the deal with the challenge is that Dean Wesley Smith will give feedback on the novels. What I guess I forgot was that Mr Smith won’t pull any punches. Won’t give any quarter. He does offer caveats (which I think all first readers should), that it’s just his opinion, his view and his taste. I know that some of the authors he enjoys reading, I find difficult and not at all to my own taste.

What he does bring to the table is decades of experience as a professional writer, with millions of copies of his books in print. Yeah, I should listen, even if it bruises my poor little ego.

The points he made about what didn’t work in the novel are basic things that frankly I should know after all the time I’ve been reading, writing and studying writing.

Being in the character’s head. Depth of setting. Appropriate imagery. (to paraphrase his comments). Probably, easy fixes, for the most part.

Right now, I’m taking those comments and making a big cycle back through the current novel (Glass Bay) and creatively looking for where I’ve made similar errors and deleting sections, or writing new sections. Yep. Glaringly obvious now.

Of course fixing is one thing. The really interesting test will be when I write the third novel and keep those concepts in my head the whole time.

Frankly, ego aside, that feedback was, if not like a complete writing course, the crystalization of writing courses, where all those concepts suddenly seem much clearer.

As Mr Smith would say, onward.

 

Glass Bay image © Claudio Arnese | Dreamstime, Ice Hunters image © Algol | Dreamstime.

Three novels in three months: Novel number 2 update

glass baysmAs I’ve mentioned, I’ve taken on Dean Wesley Smith’s challenge to write three novels through June, July and August. I completed the first novel late in June and, somehow, I’m already nearing the halfway point in the second novel.

It turns out that this new book is a sequel to my 2015 novel Big Sur – and Emily Jade thriller. I’d wanted to write the next novel in the series, but have been distracted by, you know, writing science fiction (insert self-deprecating grin here.

Draft cover here – image © Claudio Arnese | Dreamstime. I don’t know if that will be the title even, but it’s kind of got the look I want.

Important thing to point out: this challenge is fun. Really. It pushes me along. It gets me focused. It gets me in the chair. And whenever I’m focused and in the chair I’m definitely having fun. I hope the fun comes through in the book.

Two thousand days of writing every day

quito2000daysA thousand days back I posted about writing every day for a thousand days. That’s almost three years. Now, after five and a half years, I’ve hit that two thousand days mark. Funny thing, that happened almost a week back and I missed it. Too busy scribbling away, I guess.

Now, I guess that for someone who’s a writer the idea of writing every day is pretty obvious. Somewhere over the years I guess I let that tumble away. I suspect I also bought into the myths that writing is hard and I needed to rest my brain and that I needed to gather my thoughts and I needed to think about what I was going to write before I wrote it.

Kind of, I guess, like a tennis player thinking about playing tennis before entering a tournament. Thinking about has its place, but exercising the muscles and getting out on the court figure pretty highly too.

But more than all that, I’ve seen more success with my writing from that. I’ve won a couple of contests, I’ve had numerous professional stories published, and I’ve indie-published a whole lot of novels, stories and collections. Those would not have happened had I not put my focus back on writing. So, I recommend it.

And about missing the actual milestone day, I think a part of that really is that the habit is so established that, even though I track my word count and other marks for each day, I feel like I’ve fully integrated the habit. I recommend that too.

Venus Vulture album – Air and Eyes on Zenapolæ

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In between all the traveling and novel writing and trying to get my head around the general oddness of the world, I neglected to mention that the Zenapolæ netlabel released my Venus Vulture album Air and Eyes in May.  I’m grateful to Arnd for curating this collection of five tracks – in this case effectively becoming producer as we whittled the number of tracks, and worked a couple into better shape.

I’ve always made music to listen to while I write. It usually turns out that I can’t listen to my own stuff more than, say, once, but that’s okay, there’s more out there, including lots from my labelmates on Zenapolæ.

Air and Eyes is a free download.

Novel number 1 completed

Ice Hunters.jpgAs I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m taking on Dean Wesley Smith’s challenge to complete three novels in three months. I’ve finished the first novel. 41,000 words.

A shorter novel for me (usually I hit around 60,000 words), but it’s still kept me busy. (Hence fewer posts).

The rules allow me to bank up to half the novel from the previous month (I wrote 12,500 words in May, so that was a good start). I’m now working on the second novel, banking words for July. It’s still fun, even if a bit intimidating.

The first novel turned out to be hard science fiction, a series book in the same universe as my book Asteroid Jumpers from earlier this year. The image is a draft cover for the new book – illustration by Algol | Dreamstime. I plan to have the book out later this year.

The second novel is looking like a thriller, in my Emily Jade series.

 

Novel challenge: 3 Novels in 3 months

keysSo, I’ll admit it. I’m one of the crazy few who have taken on Dean Wesley Smith’s novel challenge. The challenge? Write a novel a month for June, July and August. There are a few others taking on the challenge too.

I’ve written a novel in a month before. Plenty of people do a novel in a month for NaNoWriMo. This is not a new idea. The estimable Mr Smith does so frequently (which is why he makes a good coach for taking on such a thing). He even writes novels much faster.

There are rules. The novel must be at least 30,000 words. At least half of the novel must be written in the month in question – so there’s a little bit of an escape there (I got 12,500 words done on the first novel by the end of May: that’s a good start, I figure). The third novel must be completed by the last day in August. These are all artificial constraints, of course, but they will challenge me. Challenge is good.

I’ve written a whole lot already this year – averaging around 50,000 words a month (which is a bit shy of my usual novel length – mostly my novels come in around 60,000 words). Part of that has been while traveling, where my daily average was a bit lower (more like 1100 words a day). It’ll still be a push to get through 60,000 in a month.

It should be a blast. I’ll give updates as I go.

Writing what I love for the fun of it

gallostI’ve written a few books now. I write because I love to write. Sometimes there’s the temptation to write into current trends. Someone even suggested that I should write some romances because they sell really well.

Hmm. It would be nice to have have a book sell really well. Absolutely.

I doubt, though, that I could write a convincing romance. I don’t really read in the genre. I’m sure that would show. Chasing sales based on trends feels like hard work.

Lately I’ve been coming back to writing the kinds of books I loved to read while growing up. I could list a whole lot – The Godwhale, Ice and Iron, Icerigger – and I wondered to myself what if I just wrote some things along those lines? Would it be fun? Would the novels work?

One way to find out: give it a go.

Turns out writing like that is a blast. It’s more than that old adage of ‘write what you know’ and kind of ‘write what you love’.

My novel Astjewel of jeroid Jumpers comes from playing with the ideas and tone of Gregory Kern’s Cap Kennedy/F.A.T.E. novels. The Jewel of Jarhen was one of my favorites (though back in the eighties, I only had the first six and now, thanks to the Internet, I’ve discovered there were many more in the series). I also loved the Tim White covers, though many of the volumes sported covers that looked much more like 1950s SF

So, in Asteroid Jumpers I have an investigative crew, including an alien, battling through against impossible odds. I don’t know that my Captain Arlon Stoddard would quite measure up against virtual superhero Cap Kennedy, and the novel is unlikely to ever be mistaken for one of Kern’s (Gregory Kern was one several pen names used by prolific English author Edwin Charles Tubb – back in the day I read several Space 1999 novels by E.C. Tubb, fully unaware the authors were one and the same). Asteroid Jumpers is not intended as a pastiche, or even an homage, more just a ‘this is what the kid in me enjoyed reading, this is what the kid in me likes writing’.

And I had a whole lot of fun in the writing of it.

Should I write more about where my novels come from? What do you think?