November 9

NaNoWriMo in the Bag

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It’s the final day of NaNoWriMo2018, and I just eased my way over the finish line. Truth be told, I'd finished with the Wardsmith first draft a couple days ago, but it came in at just under 47,000 words, so I've spent the last couple days mapping out the next book in the series.

 
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Writing up character backstories and roughing out the first few chapters of the next book in the series took me over the 50k finish line, but I got there in the end. Now I'll just let the Wardsmith draft sit fallow for a bit before I put on my editor's hat. If you read Gunmage and are looking forward to the next book in Tales of the Avernine, I'm setting my sights on March/April for Wardsmith to hit the shelves, so watch this space.

And on a related note…

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Free Stories!

NaNoWriMo 2015 saw me write 9 short stories in a month…

The Year Gone, The Year Ahead

2015 is dead. Long live 2015!

From a writing perspective, I’ll remember it most as the year I put the finishing touches on The Dreambetween Symphony with the publication of the novels Exile Ballad and Requiem as well as the companion volume Preludes & Elegies. (Note: there is one final bow to tie on the series, but you’ll have to read on to find out what that might be…)

My other big project was the overhaul of the interior formatting and covers for my entire catalog. This meant brand new covers for all four titles in the Symphony and for my NuLo books, Seven and Quinboy (the latter being a novelette also on the list of stories published this year), as well as some gentle tweaking of the covers for The Singles Collection short story bundles.

 

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The covers for Seven, before and after...

 
 

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During the editing process for the final installments of the Symphony, I got a surprise that altered my production schedule for the rest of the year (and beyond!). Several threads merged into what I thought was the seed of a short story or novelette, which I duly banged out to the tune of 12,000 words or so. But the story always felt bigger, so I played with expanding what I had, and suddenly found myself with a new novel on my hands. Two months later, I put the finishing touches on the first draft of The Pike, a near-future, dystopian-ish, cyberpunk novel. Given how genre-distinct this book is from my existing “worlds” of the Dreambetween and NuLo, I’m not sure if I’ll publish it under a pen name or keep it in the quiver until I have a more established author brand. Of course, as is my wont, I’ve already got a rough idea for a sequel that’s begging for attention…

And that brings us to the project that closed out my writing year. November 9 was my version of NaNoWriMo, wherein I tossed all the story ideas that would have distracted me during the drafting of The Pike into a folder and used November to put the nine most interesting ideas into story form. Written, edited, and published during that month, the nine stories cover a range of genres and (...predictably, I hear you say...) caused yet another round of adjustments to my 2016 production schedule.

How so? Well, If you enjoyed the final story in that collection, a weird western entitled Lamia’s Daughter, you’ll be pleased to know that I’m in the process of expanding that setting to encompass and entire series. Tentatively titled Gunmage, the series will follow the adventures of a young man in an alternate-Earth version of the Wild West, replete with eldritch guns, fey magic, and demons. While I have several characters and storylines I’d like to explore, I’m still not sure if the series will be published as novellas or full novels. I’ll have a better idea once I begin drafting the thing in the next few months.

But before I get there I need to put the icing The Dreambetween Symphony cake. This final flourish will take the form of an omnibus ebook edition of the series that includes all three novels and the companion volume. That’s the entirety of the Symphony in one digital bundle that will be less expensive than buying the individual books. But I’m going to offer an even better deal to my mailing list (sign up here) in the form of a special launch sale. I’ll just tease that here at the end of the post and trust you to do the right (and obvious) thing…

I look forward to delivering more words to you soon!

And Now, For My Next Trick…

(TL;DR version: Over the course of November, I will attempt to write and publish nine short stories, free to read online or as an ebook in early December. Want to learn more? Read on…)

The problem is never finding new story ideas. The problem is being able to ignore them long enough to write the story that’s in front of you now. Or at least that’s how it goes for me. I lose momentum on the work in progress when I get distracted by the bright and shiny object of a potential new story.

So I made a deal with myself as I was drafting The Pike (my new cyberpunk/dystopian science fiction thriller novel) these past couple of months. Every “new” idea that popped into my head was tossed into a text file on my desktop with the promise that I’d tackle them when the first draft of The Pike was complete. Tackle how? By doing a rapid-fire writing and publishing sprint with as many ideas as seemed viable in the month that followed. And do it all within the limited 2-3 hours of writing time available to me each day.

Madness? Perhaps. Glutton for punishment? Not if you enjoy writing! Besides, I’ve never done NaNoWriMo, so this seemed like an interesting twist. And I certainly didn’t want to fall into that post-drafting rut that makes the words dry up for a week or two after a first draft is complete.

Anyway, when I finally staggered across the finish line after the first pass through The Pike, I immediately dove into the Text File of Deferred Ideas. I knew it would be bad, a bloodbath even. And it was. Fully half the snippets, characters, worlds, and plots I had dumped in there held no interest for me anymore. The fire had faded. Others seemed interesting, but didn’t get me as excited as I knew I would need to be to deliver a bunch of stories quickly.

I buckled down with the remaining ideas, knowing that I would have just a little over a week to decide which stories I would be taking on. And all the while, I tried to ignore the fact that my normal short story writing process takes 1-2 weeks to advance from idea to the first draft being in the bag. Oh, and did I mention that I’ve decided that the novem root of November means that I'll be challenging myself to finish nine stories in the month?

Nine readable stories.

That means I'll need to do editorial passes and polish drafts instead of the raw word count that is de rigueur when it comes to NaNoWriMo. The stories will not be wart-free, but they’ll be as good as I can make them in a month. The end game here is to go back and rework the stories with a little distance and the help of anybody who dares to read them at this early stage of development. More refined versions of these stories will then be made available for sale in both print and ebook format in the early months of 2016.

But what if you’re brave, or curious enough, to want to see the sausage being made? Well then, pull up a chair, dear reader, November is going to be interesting.

I’ve already expanded the ideas that survived the initial purge, mashed a few together, then added structure to create story skeletons for my nine tales. I have a week’s worth of pre-planning ahead, but after that blessed extra hour of sleep on Saturday night, I’m going to disengage the emergency brake and go for broke on November 1st.

How can you follow along? You’ve got two choices, both free. If you want to watch it happen live, I’ll be publishing the stories on Wattpad, though you’ll have to register to read them (note: registration is free!). You can read the stories on the Wattpad website or on any of your phone/tablet devices using the free Wattpad app.

If you’d rather receive an early holiday gift, I’ll be distributing a free ebook containing all nine stories to my newsletter subscribers in early December. (Not a newsletter subscriber? Sign up now!)

This has the potential get ugly. If I get even a minor cold, I’ll probably crash and burn. Maybe the pre-planned stories will refuse to cooperate when I try to write them, forcing me to come up with entirely new tales on the fly. Maybe one or two of them will even try to explode into full-blown novels.

Should be fun to watch…