Tag Archives: writing a novel

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?

Writing a novel while traveling, some thoughts

Later this year I’m heading away for a trip into the wilds. Well, with some touches of cities and towns.  The trip will involve thirteen flights. I’m taking carry-on luggage only. I might need a subtitle: ‘while traveling light’.

Dean Wesley Smith wrote a series of blog posts earlier this year about writing a novel in five days while traveling. Well, I won’t be managing a novel in five days. Much too much sightseeing to do-but it would be cool to get a whole novel through the trip.

Smith took his whole big writing computer, lugging it in the back seat of the car. On the basis that it’s easier to write with the same old regular writing set-up. I agree, but with air travel and boat travel and a whole lot of walking I’m leaving my hefty desktop behind. In fact, not even taking a laptop.

Instead I’m using a smartphone with a wordprocessing app, a bluetooth keyboard and a dinky little stand I designed and had 3D printed. The three pieces fit snugly into a kind of re-purposed travel wallet. I designed the stand to fit into the cavity in the keyboard – where the battery section forms sticks out. A couple of Velcro dots hold the pair together for packing.

Even with the charger, the whole package is way smaller than my laptop (as it turns out, smaller than my laptop charging brick and the cord combined).

Smith has some other good hints – be realistic, plan for the fiction writing and plan for the touristy stuff. To be honest I’m not sure that I’ll get through a novel in the time, but part of this is to keep up the momentum with the writing every day process. Even if I only get down a few hundred words in a day, I’ll know that I’m know that I’m on track with that.

Doubling on the packing light; that phone will also serve as my camera (I do have a nice camera which takes way better photos, but it’s kind of bulky; the phone will do). The phone also has an e-ink screen on the back, so I have reading material (without chewing through the battery), and, importantly, I’m taking a tiny OTG drive to back-up my work everyday. There’ll be some long stretches with no internet access, which is fine by me, but when I do get access I’ll back up through my email as well.

I’ve tried out the system to make sure it works for me – beyond just typing on the keys (given Smith’s point about writing on your regular set-up). I took a few days worth of writing time and wrote a short story – 6000 words – going to various places; home, other places at home, my lunchbreak space at work, Subway (where I’m sure I looked pretty geeky to other sandwich eaters and passersby). Completed the story. Got it backed up. Good to go.

Still, we’ll see how it all works out when I get underway to Easter Island and the Galapagos. I’ll keep you posted.

A different kind of a year.

So my number of external publications is slowing. Down to a few factors.

First: I’m focusing on novels, so I’ll be writing fewer short stories and novellas. I may write a short story or two between bursts of novels. Inclination will be a big determinant on that 🙂

Second: I have a trip coming up later in the year. Six weeks. Latin America. I can’t guarantee my access to the internet to manage submissions and the business as a whole. So I’m putting submissions on hold from now through until I return. No sense in frustrating editors if by chance they want my story and they can’t get hold of me.

Third: I’m pursuing professional sales only. You would think that that’s an obvious strategy, but for many years I’ve undervalued my writing. That’s not to say that I’m not proud of my publications, or ungrateful to those editors who’ve honored me with publication.

Naturally this assumes that editors will take my stories. I have had numerous professional publications, and I generally get positive personal rejections from most for stories that don’t make the cut. Making it cut is always a long shot. I recall reading that Clarkesworld receives around 1000 submissions a month, all angling for one of five places in the magazine.

So, all that said, if I’m not here announcing more frequently, it’s because I have less to announce.

Naturally, I will be writing just as much 🙂

books 2017c.jpg

At the risk of getting myself in trouble, some NaNoWriMo thoughts for writers

National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo – is a celebration of writing, described on the website as “a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing”. The idea is to write a whole novel during November.

nanowrimologo.jpg

I think NaNoWriMo is a wonderful thing. It gets people writing. Gives focus and milestones and goals. Fabulous.

One little niggle though, and I may be wrong, so feel free to shout me down. It seems to me that participants are encouraged to write fast and sloppy. Get the words down and come back and fix them later.

As if ‘fast’ and ‘sloppy’ are irrevocably linked.

I’m not convinced that’s the best approach.

For a time I tutored in a university creative writing programme. I hold a Masters of Philosophy in creative writing. As part of my job I even run writing workshops for children. I’m not sure any of that really qualifies me to give NaNoWriMo advice (or any writing advice for that matter).

Nor have I ever participated in NaNoWriMo.

So, my thoughts are really just the opinion of a relative layman.

That said, I have written a novel in a month. It just happened to be June of this year, rather than November. I’ve written several other novels this year, mostly though, taking more than a month (forty days seems to be my around-about duration).

So, if I think ‘fast’ and ‘sloppy’ is not the best approach, what do I think?

Why not write fast and the best you possibly can? Those two can go hand in hand. Really, that’s how I strive to write. I can’t say if my writing’s any good or not (that’s up to the readers), but whenever I sit down to write, I don’t go sloppy. I write the best I can. Sometimes it works, sometimes not, but I’m always working to write the best I can.

I think if you write sloppy, that might be how you’re training yourself to write. I doubt that Venus Williams plays sloppy when she’s practising. I hope the guys who put a new roof on my house didn’t hammer sloppy. I don’t do a sloppy job on my taxes and come back to fix it later.

Write the best you can. Every time you go write. Even if you’re aiming to write a novel in a month.

So, that’s my two cents on NaNoWriMo. Have a great month. Write a great novel. And as you write, do the best you can.

Starting a new novel

After finishing my draft of Guest House Izarra, I wrote a few short stories (well, one crept up over 11,000 words). I’ve done that through the year – finished a novel draft and spent a week or so on stories before firing up on a new novel.

Lost Ark

So, with those stories aside and awaiting attention before submitting, I’ve started on a new novel. After a few days writing I’m about 3000 words into it and having fun. It’s not the novel I expected to be writing. It’s not part of any series (though it may be come a new series – like I needed yet another series to manage). It’s got a life of its own.

I started out with the title Lost Ark, but as I thought about that I figure that’s a pretty well-used title already, so I’ll come up with something else. I’ve made a quick placeholder cover (with a quick placeholder title – unlikely that will be the final title). Graced with another wonderful image from Innovari/Luca Oleastri.

All going well I might get this though all its drafts and out sometime in the first quarter of 2017.