Tag Archives: writing a novel

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.

The month of the novel

Guest House Izarra draft thumbnail borderEarly in June I thought I’d try my hand a writing a novel in a month. Now, on the last day of the month, I can report something: Success. (insert requisite number of exclamation marks). With the success comes a tinge of, if not quite failure, at least some stumbling.

The success is that I have completed the draft of the novel. It came in at 61,497 words. Right on the mark as far as my novels go, and the general length for books in the series. I finished up on the 29th – a day to spare, yay. A couple of thousand words a day.

I celebrated the completion by opening up a new file and starting the writing of a new story. Since writing it pretty much the most fun thing, a new story is a great way to celebrate.

I hope to have the book out by the end of the year, once it’s knocked into shape. It’s cool to have a cover just about ready for it.

The stumbling, I suppose, came from the direction the story took. The Karnish River Navigations series is hard science fiction. It’s set in the distant future, on a distant planet, with some very high-tech premises. While those are present in Guest House Izarra, in places I realized that the action was taking a front seat, making the story angle off towards a straight thriller. That’s fine, it was still fun to write, but I’m not sure who the audience will be. Perhaps readers of the other books in the series will be forgiving. I’ll definitely make sure the next one is very tech-dependent. I’ll probably start that one in August. I’ll take more than a month over it, though, I think.

I noticed that right away with the new story too: a swing of the pendulum the other way. High tech all the way. Very much fun to write.

Month of the Novel, quick update

kbsmAs I mentioned earlier, I’ve challenged myself to write a novel in the month of June. Looks like I’m on track.

20 days down, 44,102 words written. Running about ten percent ahead of target. Naturally some of those words will go before it sees the light of day.

While I’m having a ball writing the book, I’m finding I need to ensure I don’t borrow too much time from other activities. Sometimes that extra half-hour or so of writing each day pushes into the business of getting things formatted and out. Still, all a good learning experience.

Midway through the month, midway through the novel

Somehow I’ve managed to maintain momentum with my target of writing a novel in June. As I mentioned earlier my novels seem to come in at around 60,000 words. So far through June, with 15 of 30 writing days completed Guest House Izarra stands at 33,194 words. So I’m running about ten percent ahead.
Guest House Izarra draft thumbnail borderHow’s the writing itself?  Well, I’m happy with progress. Feel like I’m going in the right direction. Don’t feel like there’s much that will need to be cut. So far.

We’ll see. I feel like I have a few thousand words ‘in the bank’, so to speak. With the last couple of days writing, cycling back through the previous days’ work, I wonder if this will be a shorter book anyway.

Either that or much longer. It might have to continue to July if that’s where the story goes. I don’t want to arbitrarily force it shorter just to finish within the month.

I’m glad to have a draft mock-up draft of the cover in place. Nice similar look to Arlchip Burnout. It still needs a tagline or something else at the top I think. I’ll have to track down art that’ll work for the other books too. With this one, the background is by Antaltiberiualexandru, and the figure by Algol. Kind of shows the book just about perfectly.

Glitches? Well, I had hoped to get finished with formatting my earlier novel Athena Setting for release already. Somehow though, when I imported the original document into the formatting software I dropped out all the italics. And it wasn’t until I’d just about completed formatting-page breaks, chapter headings, bookmarks and so on-that I realized. So now I’m in the process of working through to put all the italics back in. Sheesh. Starting to think it might have been easier to re-import and do all that other formatting over again.

Anyway, that’s slowing other aspects down. Still focusing on getting a couple of thousand words down every day.

I’ll see how the rest of the month goes.