Keeping Stuff Organized 101

17 Mar

This isn’t about how to keep notes for your future self when you’re planning an epic, multi-length saga or an ever-expanding universe, so much acknowledging there’s multiple ways to organize your projects, and I like to make life for future me as easy as possible. I tend to know the status of everything in terms of, “Drafted, Revision, Published” but I can’t remember if I asked this blogger for a review or what day exactly I sent something for submission. This is about what works for me, but there’s always more than one way to organize. I used to be a zipline instructor, and I made up a spreadsheet for our daily equipment check logs, and the others preferred a different format, so I revised until we were more or less satisfied. You may even start out one way and decide another format will work better based on what you do. My preferred format is novels, but if you’re submitting a lot more, say poetry and shorts, you might want to use a very different format because you’ll have a lot more information. I’m going to talk about submission logs specifically using MS Excel, and how they’re useful for both long term and short term projects.

Why do you ask do you need to keep notes, if the important stuff, like the product, I can generally keep track of? If you only have one series or project it’s relatively easy, but you still don’t want to be emailing the same people over and over again for a review, or maybe if you write a sequel, you want to send a copy to the reviewers who liked the earlier book in the series.

First off, divide your work into different categories. Let’s pretend I am promoting a book that’s already out, writing a short story for a contest, and getting ready to promote something coming out in two months.

So these categories may include:

Book Promotion

Submission

Future Promotion

For the promotion, I might have already signed up for a book tour, and the tour might require different articles on your part. I made this basic template to tell me the status of each article and when it’s due. Normally, instead of the blog name I would put a link to the blog or site, but I made these up.

Depending on what you’re doing at that time, you might be only focusing on submitting one product at a time. I write shorts as well as novels, so I go based on the year. Going by the name of the novel works too, but I can look at a glance how I worked in 2020 vs 2019. The best part, is if some houses only have a limited submission window, say, February 1-28 every year for that genre, I can make a note at the beginning of the log to remind future me to have the product ready as per the submission guidelines.

For me, finding a publishing house can take some time, so I like to know who publishes what and, if it’s for an anthology or a contest, what the submission time frame is.

As with the above example, these are all made up. Tower of Obsidian was published February 2013, and Chimera is still waiting for me to fix it.

As you can see, the above is only meant for me, so I’m not worried too much about consistency in the dates.

Future Promotion is a little different, especially if your product is in the hands in the publisher. I have watched expected publication dates fly by with no control on my part, but let’s assume that I have complete control of the work. I might decide to ask the Book Promotion Company to do a cover launch, or a preview of a chapter, or something. Basically, this would be drafting a game plan.

You can make up an excel spreadsheet if you’re needing to take your time to come back to a project, but it’s essentially leaving yourself a note. If, however, I were to stumble across someone else’s unfinished project, I might divide their work into categories.

Oh Yeah? What about keeping your work organized in Portfolios?

I’ll be the first one to admit that I have several projects in hard copy, beta-read, that really should be revised and submitted. I’m incredibly guilty of philandering with a new idea and saying, “Oh, I’ll edit it after I’m done this draft”. So how do you keep track of projects?

The nice thing about MS Word is that it doesn’t care, and you can abandon a project for years and come back to it. MS Word also dates the last time you revised it, but it can be problematic if you open something and save an earlier copy, and you don’t know which is the most current file. I don’t think a screenshot is super important here, so basically how I organize my writing is as follows:

Main Drive: WRITING

First Set of Sub Categories:

Mine

Ron’s

Niece’s

Others

R.J. Hore is my beta reader, and my niece has joined me in making stories. If someone sends me a lot, they have a chance of getting their own subfolder. Ron’s stuff is mostly me asking questions back for his revision, but if he needs me to look over something quick (or vice versa) we’ll send each other emails. In general, we print out and swap manuscripts in person. Yes, COVID has made it tricky but we manage.

In Mine, I then have:

Short Stories

Novels

Non-Fiction

Blog Posts

Within Novels, there’s further subcategories because I put entire series together and just have subfolders within. I tend to keep series together, and each novel, novella or short would have its own folder within that. If it was something that stood on its own, like Dreams of Mariposa, inside I would have the main novel files, but then I would have further subcategories:

Unused

Legal

Extra

Unused would be scenes I cut entirely or rewrote, when I select all and cut.  I tend to just leave them, but I like having the ideas handy if I want to use them in a different project. They’re messy and raw, but let’s just say that a scene that took too long in another book got shortened, and I used a scene in Titan’s Ascent that I really wanted to use in a different novel, but acknowledge that the beast was long enough without it.

Legal is my query, synopsis, even copies of the contract would be here.

Extra would be notes for myself. This would be like, what color Aaron’s horse is and if the name has any significance. In particular with Tower of Obsidian, I wrote down pronunciation and notes Ron would send me. For instance, Kale and Aaron were knights in the first draft, but Ron pointed out that knights didn’t technically exist in Ireland until centuries after the end of the Viking age. They had men-at-arms and warriors, but let’s pretend the publishing process didn’t go nearly as quickly as I assumed. If I found a publisher later and an editor asked, “Why aren’t these guys knights?” I could easily turn around and reference my notes, then find supplementation to explain to them.

When I start editing with someone else, I learned the hard way that editors are human and make mistakes. Make a subcategory with the date. “Feb 2018 Edits” or “March 2018 edits” might be fine in the title of the file, but I want to be certain I’m not redoing work.

And to clarify, here’s what a series like Rogue healer would look like:

Writing – Mine – Novels – Rogue Healer :Witchslayer’s’ Scion

                                                                           :Magus’ Gambit

                                                                           :Titan’s Ascent

                                                                           :Underman

Clear as mud? Obviously this isn’t the only way to do things, and you can make spreadsheets for your stock, keeping track of expenses and however you find them to be a useful tool. Just keep your receipts if you’re going to write off anything; last thing you need is to be audited over parking.

Vacation always goes by too quickly!

4 Feb

I know, I know, who takes vacation in January?

People who don’t get their first choice off in the summer, that’s who.

We were majorly short staffed prior to and during the first block of my vacation, so I ended up working part of it anyway. Then I said no to a bunch of OT, so hopefully the worst is behind us. We have a pretty strict sick policy, which is necessary, but it sucks when a bunch of people are off at the same time.

It’s always so bizarre going back because I get to put in next year’s vacation requests pretty much next week until the end of the month. I always hate putting the following year in, but now I’m on the home stretch until they refresh. The other bad part, is my birthday is literally two days after they reset, so if I want it off I need to use vacation to get it. There’s no using stats or banked time, everything resets. I’m on nights, but it’s also Easter weekend, so I’ll put in for it. The weather has been super nice for the most part, but with the lockdown restrictions, probably be the second year of no birthday party, but lah-dee-da.

I feel like I got plenty done, although in hindsight I probably should have focused on the art: Inking, painting, etc. Lots of working out and ice skating, not so much on new writing so much as editing. I finally found a copy editor for a middle grade novel I would like to self-publish, and we seem to jive well, so that’s good. Very little in the art and painting department, but I got myself an awesome new sit/stand desk. I’ve been wanting a writing desk since before I got my house, and I figured I am the sort of person who gets up and walks around when I’m writing an action sequence.

Could have used those days I worked to finish projects, but I did house repairs, I swapped with Ron the last part of Titan’s Ascent (and it’s in huge revisions, the 160k+ beast is being split into two books but I am letting it sit until next month at the earliest) and the two reasons I’m so ahead on my reading list is 1) Youtube is terrible for advertising. Audiobooks and podcasts aren’t making me get my messy hands on the screen every 7 minutes. If I’m listening to anything other than a long music session – and even then, I get super long ads as opposed to the short little ones – I should be able to paint a picture and not have to give the ‘are you still there’? after 20 minutes. Oil paint is messy, or maybe I’m dicing veggies or whatever, it’s a pain. and 2) Once again, I worked on my ‘vacation’ so my idea of taking it easy during down time at work is reading. I think I read 3 books in one day, which sounds like a lot but “One Book” can be a Wheel of Time Title (approx 30 hours audio books so far, each) or something that would more likely qualify as a novella/novelette and, I think in 24 hours we ‘worked’ (were in station/in a truck geoposting) for just over 20 hours. I was on call and had a day to recover, but I needed that day to recover, and then I was back at work again.

Ah well. I gave myself some more modest goals to work on revising some projects that have been sitting for way too long. It’s nice because it feels like things are starting to come together. I’ll be honest, the work I have set out for myself is ambitious, and I’m not afraid of work, but one step at a time.

Happy 2021!

1 Jan

Sorry I missed my Christmas well-wishing for 2020; been busy with work to the point where the last two weeks I’ve kind of been dealing with a fuzzy brain. I decided to stop picking up even on call in the evenings, and I’m feeling much better already.

So I looked back on goals – I think goals are better than resolutions, mostly on account that I know when I’ve reached a goal, whereas a resolution for me at least seems a bit more theoretical – like you never really know how your progress is if you ‘go the gym three times a week’ but you goof around on your phone and never break out of the comfort zone.

According to WP a year ago, my goals were fitness and financial. I’ll be really honest: Finances seem fine but that also took a backburner because 1) I can’t really go anywhere 2) A lot of the stores were limited hours this year. I’m getting there; if my goal was to be completely debt free before buying a house I wouldn’t have moved in 2019.

Fitness: Well, my exercise bike is still broken. I’m not as lean or ripped as I’d like to be, but to be fair I haven’t really been focusing on diet. I traded and worked in a different station and I got to see everyone’s home gyms; honestly I have been following different stuff on youtube. You can get plenty of decent routines for all fitness levels on youtube, so long as you have a mat and maybe a few dumbbells, not saying I don’t miss the gym but I just learned to make due. I think I’ll make a more tangible goal: I want to do 1 pull up. I want to do more, but let’s start with 1 pull up. My nephew can do like four or five, so I want to be able to do a pull up.

Seriously though, social distancing aside, I got to do some amazing kayaks in Manitoba. I looked back at my travel pics from Hawaii and Costa Rica (two and four years ago respectively this month) and while I admit I miss traveling, I also think that I can be patient and responsible and wait.

Writing and Book Wise: Well, I finished both Rogue Healer 3 and Chimera, the latter was me trying to figure out how to get myself out of a hole I dug. Both need work and a good chunk of Titan’s Ascent (Tentative Title for RH3) will be removed and put in another book after a brief conversation with the publisher on word count. I don’t mind, I just have to stop reading 200k bricks and thinking I can do the same thing.

Dreams of Mariposa came out this spring. I think I fell off the promo and review bandwagon, so I need to get on that. Witchslayer’s Scion (Rogue Healer 1) will hopefully be out this March. I owe the publisher a better map. I’d love to say my art and inking skills have drastically improved, but I think I’m about the same, but I kind of know what I’m doing and have had plenty of practice. I had to resubmit Magus’ Gambit in the fall, but I have enough other projects to keep me busy.

As said, I figured out the Ebook thing but I’m not confident on my understanding of code. I would love to say that it’s easy enough to hire someone, but I’m a once bitten twice shy kind of person, and let’s say finding an editor for another project has been challenging, so I’m second guessing myself at this point. I know a big part of this has been the stress from all things COVID related – I feel confident enough when it comes to handling sick patients, but everyone seems edgy and it’s effecting my mental health.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to waste anyone’s time and I always want to put out a good product, and it’s my job to make it as good as I can, but I have to get over the self-imposed perfectionism. I’m not saying my works are perfect – I’m saying I get hung up on people talking about minor issues like they’re major ones. It’s basically Imposter Syndrome. I’ll get there, it just takes time and me finding the right people to hire for what I need.

I wish you all the best in 2021, and I also wanted to say how proud I am of many of you civilians who stepped up. With minimal training, a lot of people did a lot of hard stuff in 2020. I don’t know what it’s like in your neck of the woods, but I can’t wait for to see some of the usual suspects again when it comes to shows and conventions.

NaNo 2020: Another Fail… or was it?

2 Dec

So to say it’s been busy at work has been an understatement. Don’t get me wrong, most nights aren’t that bad but let’s just say that I spent my first day off sleeping. That still left me with 2 days to do just under 20k, but all in all I looked at what I have done and the revision I need to do, so as of right now, I definitely lost the 50k challenge…

…but I have the previous two projects I did in 2018 and 2019 to edit respectively, and more than a decent start for the other WIP. That is to say nothing of the project I’ve been keeping under wraps that I want to revise.

I gave myself a list of work to get done before the end of the year back in September. Let’s just say that it’s looking realistic right now. Not 50k on Rogue Healer 4 or anything like that, but if I plod along revising Titan’s Ascent and rewriting the aforementioned mystery title, so long as the region doesn’t fall apart I’d like to take my usual holidays in January and given no one is going anywhere, butt in chair working doesn’t sound too far off.

The big complaint I have about this year is that I haven’t done as much drawing or painting as I ought to have. I think a big part of it is feeling a little creatively tapped, I seem to be much more editorial brain than creative brain, but my inking is better and I don’t think I’m any worse off.

As for the reading challenge: I’m going to keep it simple. A small press or Manitoban author every month. I started The Eye of the World only because I needed a new audiobook for driving to work, but the goal right now is also to get through as much of that ‘to-read’ pile on goodreads as I possibly can. I always seem to add more when I’m done, so wish me luck.

Mini Win – And Why does this take so long?

23 Nov

So I officially put the “THE END” at the End of Chimera today. I started it for NANO 2018, and I got to the final act and hit a wall. Not just any wall – shoot, I’m a Plantser – combination plotter and pantser – so wrote the ending, which I’ve had to change a little, but it gave me an idea where I wanted to go.

Basically I had an idea for how they would get to that point, but it didn’t seem smart enough for me. I’m not saying every ending needs to be smart, but what I had was unsatisfying, especially considering the lead up. I didn’t like the climax, and the problem, ultimately, was that I needed to develop the technology of not one but two forces that oppose our heroes. They oppose each other, and I highly expected them to go against each other and allowed our underdog heroes to skirt around them. It didn’t go as planned, but I’m somewhat satisfied at how it played out. More revision is needed, of course, but at 85k I’m sitting at a nice length and I can shorten and lengthen as needed.

The premise of Chimera, is that humanity learned to punch portals in not quite deep space and have been terraforming several suitable planets for a few hundred years, however it’s unknown to the general population. The problem is that there’s factors in these planets that make them not quite great for the general public outside of their biospheres, so it’s easier to start modifying the human genome to make subspecies to inhabit these potential planets. Everyone’s pretty much a cyborg by this time (very minor implants, think of it as having your cell phone implanted and you’re constantly connected to a variety of what they call ‘underwebs’ or grids if you are military) but there’s still many human modifications that are very illegal, as they tend to be invitro or so invasive the general population abhors them. Since several planets have been terraformed, the powers that be can modify the people they send there without real consequence.

My main character, Cheyenne, is sent out for some what she assumes is routine maintenance and she’s there in case the autopilot malfunctions and she needs to take manual control when their civilian-class transport is starting to malfunction. They’re pulled into this other part of the galaxy, and because she’s outside the main transport, she and a handful of other pilots and engineers are able to limp to the nearest life-permitting planet, and the powers that be don’t really care about them anyway. The planet is terraformed and they’ll be okay, but once their shuttles hit the planet they’ll be unable to breach the atmosphere and, they know even if they manage to make it to the portal back to our atmosphere, they’re too far from Earth to limp home with the life support. They know they’ll either be found out and willing to be saved or caught by the local wildlife/free range humanoids and dealt with.


I had to do a lot of research and think about how I wanted to approach it. Right now, the plan is to write book 2 and make it a duology, but I’ll be really honest I’ll probably focus on the NANOWRIMO other projects and get around to this one after I knock Titan’s Ascent down to size.

I know I tend to say each project takes about a year, but here’s the conundrum: Some projects take far less, other projects take much more. I’ve abandoned projects before, I’ve left projects and come back to them. I’m about to revisit and revise a project which, I thought I was just about ready to self-publish at the time (unedited, that would have been fixed) but I was just starting into my paramedicine and that, so I figured I should learn about real trauma, real injury and I’m glad I waited. It sucks because I think with any project, you can look back and go, “Hey, this could be better. I’m a better writer now than I was.” And it’s true, but that being said I think a big part of being an artist is knowing when the project is fit for the public. Knowing that yeah, you might have done better, and there’s no excuse for rushing out a poor project. But, you also need to get over yourself, and think about the next one, and how you’ll improve on your next title.

But in general, I’m feeling pleased with the project and I got more ideas floating around for it’s sequel than Rogue Healer 4, but that being said I haven’t really been focusing on it as much, so I haven’t hit flow yet. The shorts are coming along fine, and the way my tours are split up I’ll have a few days at the end of the month to catch up. I’m hoping to finish early so I can revise Titan’s Ascent, then go revise an older project.

Oh, and I self-pubbed a short story, “Straw Man” on Kobo exclusively for now. I’ll probably put it on Smashwords and other places in the coming weeks. I’m still learning, and my plan is to work on a full size Ebook. I made a few practice, smaller ebooks with ‘chapters’ (Stories with pictures) so I feel confident enough to get it done. I’ll post when it’s all available.

Not Quite at Year Round Up

14 Nov

We still got about six weeks left.

I’m pretty sure most of us weren’t anticipating the 2020 we had. I hope you and yours are safe.

My province went from doing very well to right now, having some of the worst if not the worst per capita new cases in the past month and a half. There’s not much we can do right now, other than take personal responsibility and care for each other. I know it’s hard, and we can’t control other people. I kind of learned with my job is it’s my job to try and help people to the best of my ability. I’m lucky, as I haven’t been affected financially and I feel trained for this and, I think I have always known there’s only so much I can do.

We’re going to get through this. Whether the concern is physical health, mental health, financial strain, or even loneliness; we’re going to get through this.

Writing Thus far:

Dreams of Mariposa came out earlier this year. The book tour went out the week after lockdown, so that was… different. It’s been weird, because many events have taken their show online, but R.J. Hore and Larry Flewin and I typically go to a few shows. Right now, all we did was the Shelmerdine Farmer’s market because it was outside and the numbers were really good in the summer. I don’t have any hard copies of DoM, and I’m not going to ask my publisher for any until she’s ready.  Honestly, I fell behind on the marketing so I should probably get back to promoting DoM.

Witchslayer’s Scion is not out. We’re really close, and like with Tower of Obsidian, I don’t mind waiting and doing it right. I had to resubmit the second book in the proposed series, and I technically finished the rough draft of Book 3 in August (Tentative Titles Magus’ Gambit and Titan’s Ascent respectively). Unfortunately, it was sitting at +160K, which isn’t the longest I’ve written but that’s a little long for the publisher. I suffer from too many ideas and not expanding them, so I’m in revision. Doesn’t bother me, I said series not trilogy but I have the feeling another plot I really liked it getting chopped. Honestly, this could be the shortest book in the series if I just focus on one plot, but remains to be seen. I chatted with the publisher about a few other projects I’ve written. I’ve been writing books and stories since before High School – not well but not the point – and I made a list as to what needs to be revised/rewritten and, hey if I’m going to be at home, I’m going to get to work on some of these projects. My plan is to work on more manuscript related to NANOWRIMO (see below) and edit TA bit by bit once I catch up. I’m behind, but seriously writing 5k in a day isn’t a problem so long as I’m caught up on sleep. We have been too busy at work for me to work on it then, so I will have to do it on my days off.

Ebooks: I learned! Still not great, and my problem was honestly I needed to practice with some novellas before going for the full meal deal. I’m a firm believer in hiring people, but you get burned a few times and you just want to do things yourself. I figure I should be able to at least make a basic ebook without junk code. I’ll post some links soon.

NaNoWriMo: I’m cheating again this year. I still haven’t finished Chimera, and I’m technically working on some novellas, other projects and Rogue Healer 4. My plan is now that I’ve gotten another major task out of the way, get away from the newer projects, and finish Chimera. Let it percolate. The other projects can take their time, as I’m going to be working more on revising other projects I think in December/January as opposed to finishing a fourth book in a proposed series. If they sign Book 2 and ask for Book 3, then I light a fire under the kiester.

Reading…?

So I already read 52 books this year. Some years I don’t make the goal, and other years I blow it out of the water. It depends on the book length, not the amount of books, but audio books has made it easier for me. My partner and I were carpooling, but she’s going to be off for the next year so I’m driving by myself.  Sounds like my new partner is renting a place in town, so he won’t need to carpool at all.

Normally I prioritize reading local and small authors, and I still do, but I have been in a bookstore twice since March and both times weren’t for me. I’ve been using Manitoba Elibraries and decided to work on finishing up series I started. I don’t mind waiting for the next book in a series, but it is nice to look at my ‘To-Read’ Pile on Goodreads and at least change the ones near the top of the list. I typically end up adding just as many as I finish, so the number remains about the same.

I like doing themes in years, and I’m torn between making next year all about Trilogies or reading Wheel of Time (12 books, 12 months) but I can’t decide. I tried to read WoT when I finished reading all of Discworld and they were a little heavier than what I needed at the time. Ironically, a year later I got introduced to the Malazan books, and then Game of Thrones. I’m not planning on going back to school any time soon; I like the idea of seeing how a series is plotted, but going through trilogies has a certain appeal to me as well. I know, “Why not BOTH?” short answer is I’d almost rather go through the trilogies series by series. Reading a specific length helps me write a specific length. Believe me: I loaned my niece Card’s Ender’s Game and she obliterated it in three and a half hours yesterday (I gave her the book and the movie)  and I know what it’s like to finish off someone’s year’s long work in an afternoon but, I’m leaning towards some three-act structures. That isn’t to say I could do a bunch of trilogies and change gear mid way and read an entire series in order as opposed to a book a month; I ordered the last three books in West’s House War series but I’m not tempted to do a complete reread yet.

Like I said above: I have about a month and a half to figure out what I want to do for 2021 and I do feel like I’ve made decent progress with the writing, even if I’m not as far as I’d like to be. I don’t think it’s been an easy 2020 for most people. Be patient and kind and love each other.

Fantasy Settings – Beyond the Medieval

21 Oct

I’m going to start with other works, and then discuss mine in another post.

What do you think of when you hear ‘traditional fantasy’?

Lots of folks think castles and knights, dragons and princesses with the funny dunce caps (they’re called hennin). I love traditional fantasy, and don’t think we need to put the fantasy in the here and now to make it relevant to today’s audience. I’ll be the first to admit that I thought Underworld was great because it was bringing the fantasy to the modern era, but then I kind of backtracked when urban fantasy hit the market, or rather, got really popular. It didn’t help that it was seen like Twilight and paranormal romance, so there was admittedly some backlash and, some people had a very set idea of what they thought of as ‘real fantasy’.

Thing is though, that around the time I was graduating high school and studying for my undergraduate, there were a bunch of rather popular series taking place:

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – kingdoms, but hardly medieval fiefdoms. Take one look at the Shire aesthetic.

Pirates of the Caribbean – Piracy and swashbuckling lends itself to fantasy very well, but we’re in an age of gunpowder and exploration. I’ll talk piracy in another post.

Star Wars – Fantasy IN SPAAACE.

Harry Potter – A secret wizarding world, basically set in the 90’s. You don’t notice because we’re mostly at Hogwart’s or Diagon Alley or at least something fun and magical. Even the wizard experts about us normies aren’t certain what to make about rubber ducks.

Okay, how about books? I know that there’ve been films made by the following, but going strictly with books:

His Dark Materials (Phillip Pullman) – In addition to the multiverse, we start out in a steampunkish alternate Uk with armoured polar bears.

The Dark Tower (Steven King) – Once again multiverses, but central protagonist Roland comes from Midworld, a rather western aesthetic.

Discworld (Terry Pratchett) – AH HA! The first few books definitely play around with more traditional fantasy conventions, featuring characters like Cohen the Barbarian. Over the course of 30 books, they definitely move away from the sword swinging to something that resembles something rather British and Dickensesque, depending where we are.

None of these are fringe stories no one’s ever heard of. Going into more, Conan the Barbarian is set in an ancient age, which had kings and princesses and monsters, but the cultures were like the previous versions, so your Stygians would become Egyptians and your Shemites would become Semites and so on and so forth.

So why is it that there’s this pervading idea that medieval fantasy is fantasy, or at least stock fantasy?

I suppose we could point our fingers at western literature, but it’s not really that simple. What happened during the ‘dark’ ages was that we lost quite a bit of literature, not because they were always burning books, but because if you wanted something preserved over a few centuries it had to be written by hand. A lot of our knowledge of old pagan tales had rather Christian slants to them, because it was most likely to be monks and what they considered the ‘noble pagan’ works.

But consider how we view stories like Heracules or The Iliad and we like to place them in Greek antiquity, but if we were to consider how they were viewed, some of the mythos might be considered quite aged by the time the Romans were taking over much of the known world. It’s not entirely wrong to place these stories in what we understood as say, Greece and Rome at the time, but it’s not like there would be the modern world as we know it.

Same with the romance of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. We don’t have any solid proof that such a figure really existed, and if he did, Arthur or a figure like him would be more than likely like the 2004 film, where they’re remnant Romans (willing or otherwise) or a few generations removed, not quite established in other interpretations.

2004

Admittedly, this wasn’t my favorite as I thought they made Arthur a weenie. Eva Green was why I watched the first season.

This isn’t unique to western literature though. From 1001 Arabian Knights, the story of Aladdin was originally set in China. However, it’s pretty much China in name only.

Hence, old stories are placed in generic antiquity – even I’m guilty of thinking that Conan’s stories would have been around the time of Jewish Founding Father Abraham, even if we’re well before that time period if we go by source material. (Hyborean Age being around 10,000 BC).

What do you think of my statements concerning how we in the west view fantasy? There’s dragons in plenty of mythology throughout the world; knights are relatively new additions to legends if we want to get technical.

Summer Wind Up, Goals for the Rest of 2020

9 Sep

I don’t know what the weather was like where you live, but we had a beautiful summer. I miss seeing some of my friends, but I made the most out of the COVID related restrictions by enjoying the great outdoors. I’m planning on at least one more kayak trip, weather permitting, it’s supposed to warm up later this week but there was frost on my car yesterday morning after night shift, but it was warmer this morning, so my tomatoes and other veggies have a little bit more time.

I know I said I was giving myself two weeks off for a break for Rogue Healer 3, but I might continue for a bit yet. I got another round of edits back from Book 1 and my aunt finally got around to a kid’s project I sent her, so the plan is to get the Witchslayer’s Scion edits back by the end of this four days off as well as get my house in order, and use what she gave me to revise and then I can start to develop that kid’s project properly. Taxes are due at the end of this month (farming community) so after they’re done I got minor house repairs, but I have maintenance to do in the meantime. I mentioned another project to the publisher so I have to revise it, so as of right now, here’s the bottom writing half of 2020’s game plan:

  1. Get the edits back to Cassie. Try to get it so she can publish it for the end of this year, so if she wants something try to do this first.
  2. Upload those ebooks (Strawman and Garnet and Silver) As well as make a print plan for Garnet and Silver, and while I’m at it figure out the cost to print #3
  3. Edit the Mermaid Stuff. I found an editor-editor that’s not my aunt. Draw a decent map and figure out a cover.
  4. Revise Book 3, Titan’s Ascent. After talking with Cassie, she would prefer I stop creeping up the word count and try to keep my projects in and around 130k max. She’s okay with me continuing a series or doing a spin off, and I’ll be the first one to admit it never seems like I’m writing just one book when I’m doing these epics.
  5. Revise Other Project. This is probably not that bad; I mostly need to cut and possibly split the content into two.
  6. Finish Chimera. Needs. An. Ending. Once I do that, I do the percolate thing like I’m doing with Rogue Healer 3, only I am probably going to revise and rewrite because it’s been percolating all summer.
  7. Write 50k new project in November. Either new book or those two novellas. This might be related to #5.
  8. Book a review tour for Dreams of Mariposa. If we are game for end of year, book another Book Tour for Witchslayer’s Scion.

Sounds terrible but it ain’t. I got hung up on banking stuff for ebooks, and I think my formatting for ebooks isn’t terrible. And as much fun as it would be to start a ‘new book’ I might just do the novellas or use the word count on another project, and I can start clean again in January for either Book 2 Chimera or Book 4 Rogue Healer, or just focus on that other project because really, I’ve been sort of sneaking in to work on it anyway. Also, I haven’ done any oil painting it seems like all summer. This won’t stand.

Reading wise I am ahead of my goals, and it’s all thanks to Elibraries. I figured I’d be doing a lot of rereading, as I’ve been in a bookstore like twice sincethe major shut downs. I have a few print books I want to get to sitting upstairs, but I get distracted when I got a hold for an ebook or audiobook. Also, my beta reader randomly loans me different titles, so we haven’t swapped as often as we have been. If you’re ever curious why I sometimes read 50ish books other years I read 70ish books, I will politely point out that I’m currently listening to an audiobook that is only two hours long, and have been listening to an audiobook which is more than 20 hours long. I can reread The Screwtape Letters in an afternoon, or take two weeks to read a fantasy brick.

How’s your 2020 goals looking now that we’re on the back half?

Cover Reveal: Witchslayer’s Scion

3 Sep

What do you think? The first in a proposed Sword and Sorcery series, I’ll give a definitive release date when I know it.

Titan Slain / The Dreaded Hump

24 Aug

So I was going to post a month ago basically saying, “Yeah, the novel’s basically roughed, I just have the handful of scenes to rewrite and like two to write but I basically know what happens” and here I am, sitting at a 162k rough draft, realizing I’m really going to have to reign in the B Plot (again) but acknowledging it’ll be fine. I’m a better writer than I was even ten years ago. This time, though, I’m not touching the manuscript for at least two weeks short of Ron asking for a swap.

I like setting goals but know that life  happens. If I say, “At this rate, I’ll have it revised and workable by Christmas, plus all the other projects I wanna do.” Yeah – no, probably not. Late March/Early April 2019, my sister and I rented my parent’s time share up near Clear Lake, MB, but they had to go back the day I came (Spring Break), and I was by myself for a few days, and I figured I’d do the writer retreat thing and finish editing the rough draft of Magus’ Gambit. I had to go back a day early for union related stuff, but thought I was finished… just a little tweaking, make sure I got the timelines right. I didn’t submit it until the following fall – part of it, granted, was moving and me getting a shiny new kayak.

So realistically – assuming I don’t get thrown into quarantine for a month – if I leave it alone, let R.J. Hore beta the entire thing, then leave it for an additional few months and start editing it after NaNoWriMo, I’ll have a decentish draft by the end of my January holidays, so aiming to have it edited several times by spring is realistic. Still, happy dance about being done a working draft, my reward is focusing on another project and hopefully gaining the mental distance so I can revisit Titan’s Ascent. Finishing a novel feels great. Getting to finishing always kind of sucks, mostly because of what I call:

 

The Dreaded Hump

Know what feels great when you’re writing? Writing “The End”. At least, it would if I wrote in the book’s intended order – quilter over here typically kind of develops an idea for an end goal relatively early in the book’s creation. I typically do leave “The End” for the very end, but know what doesn’t feel great? Those final scenes, especially when you’re not exactly sure what you want to happen. Because I didn’t write them sequentially, these scenes might take place anywhere in the novel.

How is this different than Writer’s Block? I’ve posted before I’ve written myself into a corner, but it’s not the same as The Dreaded Hump. Writer’s Block is more like, you aren’t sure what to do and how to do it. The Dreaded Hump is soldiering through the muck because you know the general direction – but it’s only after the fact that you realized there was a much nicer, cleaner way, and it’s more scenic, you know? Sort of like midway through the novel, where you are kind of meandering and you write a scene, only to go back and change it because you were like ‘meh’ about it or hated it but knew you needed to just write out a version of events, so you can later write the ‘good’ version. Heck, you might even have written some scenes you like, and you realize that given the size and scope of the novel, you can’t dedicate that much time to the idea. Out those fun, impulsive ideas go – in with a more tame version, grumble grumble  – not saying you’re deleting those scenes completely; if you’re me they go in a file folder and will probably to be explored in another project. It’s different than what I’ve been experiencing in the past few months – even if I’m lying to myself about ‘almost being done’ or that I’ll be done by Day X. Gone is the fire and fun of this new and amazing project, as well as the sense of accomplishment of finishing. You know you’re making progress… sort of. The end’s not in sight, but you’ve sunk in enough time and words to know that you might as well at least finish the project.

It’s the hours you spend in the gym, or practicing your instrument. No one sees the real work you put in here.

The segments that make up The Dreaded Hump sometimes might be a great scene – on draft 4 or 5. How it helps to give yourself permission in your busy schedule is to think of it like you’re sketching out the frame work, and you need to fill in the details. It’s fine if you know it’ll work and you can do some hard research to make sure you fill in the blanks. Realizing you made a critical error and it’s a genuine plot hole and you have no idea how to go about fixing it, without majorly changing the book? That’s hard.

Writing garbage shouldn’t be confused with doing research and, if you just want the project to die already, take a break. Philander with another idea. If you are creative in other ways, it might be the time to dip your toes, or see what other artists have done to get around similar situations. For me, I respond to physical activity, so spending some time in nature if I can definitely helps.

But finish it. Unless you’re under contract, there’s really no time limit to any of this. And it sucks, putting your baby into the world and letting it get rejected time and time again, but let me ask you: Would you rather have a finished project to have rejected, or a bunch of half-finished and barely starts?