Posts Tagged With: writing

10k Words Cut from Cerulean Bound!

Editing on Cerulean Bound proceeds at … I want to say a “good clip,” but realistically it’s more a slow crawl. I had started November with the intention of getting the second draft done by mid-December (a.k.a. right now) but then I got laser eye surgery and things went a tad sideways.

Long story short, either the LASIK people didn’t do the surgery correctly, or my eyes are just being difficult, because my vision never got up to 20/20. It’s supposed to take a couple of days to clear up after the surgery, but by seven days out, I was still seeing blurry. The surgeon says I’ve “regressed,” which is supposedly something that usually happens around the 3 or 6 month mark, so I guess I’m just special. This means I’ll have to go for a touch-up surgery in the spring, and until then the world is ever-so-slightly out of focus. I can still drive, but the signs are blurry, and I have to make the text on my screen bigger so I can read it.

All this is to say that my editing plans got completely derailed by the surgery, and I couldn’t properly read (let alone edit) for a good two weeks after the surgery. Then my eyes had a bad reaction to the steroid drops (because of course they did) and that knocked off another week of productivity. By the time I got properly into editing, it was basically December.

But! Now I’m back home in Ontario for the holidays, so I have a good two hours every morning of (relative) peace and quiet to get my editing done. There are the occasional (read: frequent) interruptions from my father, who’s very excited that I’m home, but they’re brief so I can usually get back into the editing groove without too much trouble.

As of today, I have officially knocked 10k words off my whopping 142k first draft word count. Now, YA books are generally between 70k-100k words, so I still have a ways to go, but I’ve been able to streamline scenes and even delete a few extraneous characters, so I’m hopeful I’ll be able to get down into the 110k words zone by the end of this edit. That leaves 10k-15k for my editor to chop, which is fine, because my editor loves chopping. If editing doesn’t work out for her, she’d make an excellent lumberjack.

That’s all! Just wanted to check in and let my devoted fans (all six of them) know that I have not, in fact, forgotten about book 3. I’m hard at work, and am doing my best to get it ready for a Spring 2018 release. Stay tuned, and stay awesome!

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Categories: Self Publishing, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Cerulean Bound (Imminent Danger #3) Update!

Okay, before everyone gets crazy excited, no, I have not finished the first draft. That remains a work in progress. But I figured you guys deserved an update after many months of silence, so here it is:

Cerulean Bound has officially crested the 70k words mark!

Now, what does this mean for the book itself?

I am about halfway through the story at this point, which means the book is on track to be about 140k words long. That, of course, would be the word count for the first draft. After extensive editing and chopping and revising, that number will hopefully be down in the 90-100k words range. So there’s still a while to go before the book is ready for eyes other than mine to see it.

On the upside, 70k words in and going strong! B&B season is gradually coming to a close, and NaNoWriMo starts in a few days, so I’m hoping to bang out the rest of the first draft by early December. Then the editing begins.

My very tentative hope is to get the book out next year. I don’t think it’s realistic to expect it in the spring — probably more like the fall — but miracles can always happen, right?

So there’s the update! Happy Halloween to everyone, and if you’re going to attempt NaNo this year, happy writing!

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Categories: My Works, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Day in the Life of an Author / Innkeeper

6:30 AM — Wake up to the gentle chirping of cellphone alarm.

6:31 AM — Nope. Still too tired. Re-set the alarm for 7:00 AM, fall back asleep.

7:00 AM — Wake up to the gentle chirping of cellphone alarm.

7:01 AM — Fall back asleep.

7:10 AM — Wake up in a panic, remembering that I do, in fact, have to get up.

7:15 AM — Realize I’ve been lying in a daze in bed instead of getting up.

7:16 AM — Proceed to washroom and get into the shower.

7:26 AM — Realize I’ve spent the last 10 minutes contemplating my novel instead of shampooing my hair.

7:45 AM — Escape shower, look at cellphone clock, realize I should already be downstairs, panic.

8:01 AM — Stagger downstairs, fully dressed and more-or-less awake.

8:05 AM — Start making breakfast for our guests.

8:37 AM — Stomach starts to gurgle, scavenge random odds and ends from fruit salad bowl, toast crumbs, ham slices, etc.

9:02 AM — Halfway through cooking four different dishes, run a platter of jam and maple syrup out to the dining room because Mother forgot to bring them.

9:03 AM — Stay on my “I’m so competent I never forget things” high horse for an entire minute before I realize I forgot to make bacon.

9:07 AM — Hover over the stove, with the bacon pan on high heat, begging the goddamn bacon slice to cook faster.

9:33 AM — Get the last meal plated and sent out to dining room, immediately start cleaning kitchen.

10:00 AM — Check out time! No one is ready to leave yet.

10:07 AM — Hover around kitchen, putting random stuff away, stomach rumbling, waiting for guests to leave so I can eat.

10:33 AM — Eat breakfast!!!

10:55 AM — Start cleaning.

11:55 AM — Still cleaning.

12:55 PM — Still cleaning.

1:55 PM — Still cleaning.

2:55 PM — Still cleaning, Mother is starting to panic we won’t finish in time for check-in, take off earphones so I am able to hear her freaking out and respond accordingly.

3:47 PM — Finished cleaning!!! Told you we’d be done in time, Mother. Pffft. Why do you continuously doubt me?

3:51 PM — Crap, didn’t make cookies.

3:52 PM — Make cookies.

4:00 PM — Check-in time! No one is here.

4:37 PM — First guests arrive! Give them tour of the house, get breakfast order, show them to their room.

4:41 PM — Sneak back downstairs, flip open laptop, open up my novel file, and try to get a few words in before the next guests show up.

4:44 PM — Next guests arrive.

5:26 PM — Tour done, guests safely in rooms, return to laptop and try to write some … nope. New reservation came in. Deal with reservation.

5:32 PM — Writing time!

5:33 PM — More guests arrive.

6:01 PM — Okay, now it’s writing time!

6:04 PM — Last guests arrive.

6:27 PM — Seriously, do I finally get to wr–nope, it’s time to water the garden. Come on …

7:33 PM — Gardening done! Stomach’s starting to rumble, so that means it’s time for din–

7:34 PM — Realize the grocery store closes at 8 PM, and we need about a gazillion things to make breakfast tomorrow.

8:00 PM — Stagger back into house loaded with grocery bags, unpack groceries.

8:06 PM — Dinner time! And then maybe after that I can retire up to my room, sit down, and finally get some writing done …

8:37 PM — Iron napkins for breakfast.

8:43 PM — Set table for breakfast.

8:52 PM — Help Mother fold fitted sheets.

9:01 PM — Get ice and glasses for guests who want to drink rum and coke before bed.

9:07 PM — Go to turn lights out in parlour, get drawn into discussion with guests about their vacation plans for tomorrow.

9:28 PM — Grab laptop and phone and run upstairs before anyone can ask me to do anything else.

9:31 PM — Finally, writing time! Open up laptop, put fingers to keys … and am so tired I can barely string two words together.

9:35 PM — Watch an episode of whichever show I’m currently binge-watching.

10:30 PM — Resolve to actually get some writing done tomorrow, crawl into bed, pass out.

 

Doom and gloom aside, I actually am really enjoying running a bed and breakfast! It’s just a lot of work. So. Much. Work. And I never get any writing done. It’s driving me crazy. Hopefully once Mother and I get more comfortable with being innkeepers, we’ll have more free time and then I can actually get some work done on Cerulean Bound. Until then … onwards and upwards!

 

Unrelated media of the day:

Truly excellent stock photos …

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

Writing When You Have a Terrible Memory

I have a terrible memory. Readers of my blog will not find this surprising, as it’s something I’ve mentioned many times before. Or have I? I can’t remember.

Badum-tish!

Right. So, I have a terrible memory. Which can make writing very difficult, as where other writers would be working on a scene and think, “Hmm, did I already mention this earlier? Yup, I did. Okay, moving on,” I go through the following thought process:

Did I already mention this earlier? Yup, I did. Or did I? I should probably check …

*Scrolls back through manuscript to appropriate section. Finds nothing.*

Okay, I’m good. So I can mention it here, and then … hang on. I definitely talked about this. I’m like 73% sure I did. Maybe it was in a different section?

*Starts at beginning of manuscript and starts scrolling. Halfway through Chapter 3, notices a typo.*

Dammit. How did I manage to misspell “the”? It’s three freaking letters! Hang on, I remember this scene being funny. Let me just read a bit … no, she wouldn’t say that, let’s change it … ha! Good one, Michelle. This bit should be longer though, to drive home the joke …

*Three hours later.*

What was I doing again?

As a result, writing tends to take a while.

This blog post was brought on by my valiant attempts to write the first draft of Cerulean Bound, in which I introduce the space rock band Hail Oblivion. The drummer is currently named both Flurgeluff and Snorgeluff, as I apparently changed his name halfway through and didn’t notice until I went back to double-check the spelling. In my defense, I got the second half of the name correct, and that’s really all that matters, right?

RIGHT?

Wrong. I seem to be incapable of remembering characters’ names. I’m lucky I remember my own name half the time. Then again, I grew up with my father frequently referring to me as “Cocoa,” which was our dog’s name, so I suspect it’s genetic.

In conclusion, remembering things is hard.

 

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Categories: Writing | Tags: , | 13 Comments

Life Update (a.k.a. Where the Heck Have You Been, Michelle?)

You’ve probably noticed I haven’t been posting on this blog in a while. In order to explain my absence, I have created a list of possible explanations. The game is to figure out which of the four explanations is true. Ready, set, go!

  1. I was recently contracted by the US Army to develop a high-end, designer line of semi-automatic machine guns for the “Flying Duck” squadron, codename: Quack Smack Attack.
  2. I had a terrible automobile accident that resulted in my arm being completely severed from my body. Thanks to the stalwart efforts of Dr. Stark, I now have an Iron Man-style robot arm which allows me to fight crime as the masked crusader “Robot Arm Girl” (trademark pending).
  3. I had an existential crisis and fled to India for six months to find myself in the rough streets of Mumbai, where I teamed up with a young man desperately trying to save the girl of his dreams from local gangsters, and ended up competing on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?
  4. I moved to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia to open a bed and breakfast with my mother.

If you guessed #4, you were right! If you guessed #1, #2, or #3, we need to have a serious talk about your grasp on reality.

Basically, my mother and her boyfriend decided to move to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and open a bed and breakfast, and I’m going along to help out as the assistant innkeeper! We’ve just finished moving all our stuff into the house (not unpacking, though – HA, as if) and we are now in the process of getting ready for our June 1st opening date. The B&B is called the Atlantic Sojournif you’re curious to see what it looks like. Or I guess I could just show you a picture …

11708220_25_z

So that’s what’s been going on with me! I also wrote a short story for Kai Herbertz‘s Arcane Arts sci-fi/fantasy short story anthology, which should be coming out later this year. Oh, and I’ve of course been working on Imminent Danger #3 (Cerulean Bound) — I’m about a quarter of the way through it, which is a quarter more than I was before, so huzzah!

Thanks as always for reading, and stay awesome!

 

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Take Bad Reviews with a Dash of Salt

A few weeks back, I mentioned something called the “Immerse or Die” report — which is basically where this guy gets on his treadmill and starts reading a book. If he finds three glaring errors that pull him out of the story, he stops reading and marks the book as failed. If he makes it all the way to the end of his 40 minute treadmill run, the book passes. Simple enough, right?

I was a bit hesitant about sending in Imminent Danger, since A) harsh criticism makes me sad, and B) the reader is a 50 year old man, and thus not exactly my target audience. But then I thought “what the hell” and sent it in anyway.

Which was an … interesting decision. Spoiler alert: Imminent Danger did not survive the Immerse or Die report. You can read the report for yourself here.

So here’s where we get to the “take bad reviews with a dash of salt” part. Obviously, I was bummed out. In an ideal world, everyone would love my book. Not going to happen, of course, but it’s a nice dream. So I was feeling pretty down on myself as I started to read his review.

Then I finished reading the review, and I wasn’t down on myself anymore. In his review, he pinpoints three details in the first chapter that made him stop reading the book. Damn, right? Those must have been some pretty massive, glaring flaws. Except they’re not. Here are the earth-shattering problems he found:

  • fellow high school classmates” is redundant (as in, classmates implies “fellow”, so both words weren’t necessary)
  • high schools start at 9am, not 8am
  • Eris is facing the trees, and then gets dragged in backward (did she turn around at some point? it’s not stated)

Points #1 and #3 are actually really helpful, because he’s absolutely right, and those two things (redundant language and keeping track of where my characters are) are things I will look out for in future books/editing. Point #2, however, is just plain wrong. According to the US National Center for Education Statistics, the average high school start time is 8am. Here’s the link if you don’t believe me. But I digress.

Basically, he stopped reading the book because of A) a wording choice, and B) a mix-up in which direction Eris was facing. Which is fine. I, personally, tend to stop reading books due to larger issues, like the plot not making sense, or glaring spelling issues, or an unlikable main character … but hey, different people are different!

So, all in all, I’m content with my decision to submit Imminent Danger to the Immerse or Die Report. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Did his review frustrate me? Absolutely. Will I be reading his books, or visiting his site again? Definitely not. We obviously have completely opposite views on what makes a story good.

At the end of the day, the only thing you can really do when you get a bad review is read it thoroughly and:

  1. Pick out the legitimate criticisms and learn from them, and
  2. Ignore the rest

Now I just have to keep telling myself that!

 

Unrelated media of the day:

More excellent book dedications …

I Am, by Matthew Hubbard

The Land of Stories, by Chris Colfer

Categories: My Works, Self Publishing, Writing | Tags: , , , | 36 Comments

What’s the biggest thing you ever cut from a manuscript?

In honor of leap day, today’s theme is leaping. As in, leaping over awkward plot points to get to the heart of the story. During the editing process, writers cut all number of things: useless characters, random sub plots, flowery but unnecessary description, adverbs, etc. So, I put this question to you:

What’s the biggest thing you ever cut from a manuscript?

For Imminent Danger, the biggest thing I can remember is the “descent to Alpha Centauri Prime” scene. Originally, the galactic hub planet was surrounded by a minefield–the remnants of an old space battle. So ships had to line up to be guided through the mines. Varrin, being Varrin, decided to skip that whole tedious process and tackle the minefield himself, resulting in a 1000 word action sequence where Varrin pilots the Nonconformity down through the mines, and Eris and Miguri panic a lot.

When I sat down to chop 20k words off the story, that was one of the first scenes to go. It was fun, but ultimately didn’t need to be in there. Plus, as my brother pointed out, it kind of didn’t make sense that one of the biggest trade hubs in the galaxy was surrounded by mines that no one had bothered to clear out yet. So the action sequence was scrapped, and the descent to Alpha Centauri Prime was cut down to a paragraph.

For Chasing Nonconformity … hoo boy. With Imminent Danger, I did a lot of revising, but the basic structure of the book remained the same. But with the sequel, I pretty much re-wrote it from the ground up. So almost everything got cut and then rewritten–with the exception of Trystan, Sebara, and Fino’jin, who were in the story from day one.

So I can’t really pin down the biggest cut, but certainly one of the large ones was Bax. Bax was a shapeshifting bounty hunter who Fino’jin hired to help track down and capture Varrin. During the original climax of the book, Bax shapeshifted into a jsgarn (big angry monster) and nearly killed Sebara. She did eventually defeat him, although she then had to jump out of the low-flying spaceship they were in at the time (I don’t remember why) and then broke like half the bones in her body upon hitting the ground.

In the re-write, Eris and Varrin’s plotline completely changed, and Bax didn’t work with the new story so he was axed. I don’t regret that one at all–he was mildly interesting, but definitely not a stand-out character. I wrote him as sort of a “blank slate”, in that he didn’t exhibit much personality at all because he shifted forms so frequently that even he didn’t really know who he was. But there wasn’t enough room in the story to explore his character properly, so instead of trying to shoehorn him in, I just cut him.

So, all you writers out there, what’s the biggest cut you’ve ever made? Or the most memorable? Or the cut that absolutely destroyed you, because you loved that particular scene/character and hated yourself for having to leave them out?

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Categories: My Works, Writing | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

Awesome Book Dedications

I’m hard at work writing Cerulean Bound being on vacation and not accomplishing a darn thing, so I thought I’d brighten up your Monday a bit by sharing some excellent book dedications. These were collected on Imgur by PolarBlair924, so shout-out to him/her!

Thus, in no particular order, here are my favorites …

Categories: Random | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

2016 New Year’s Resolutions

It’s not really until you take a step back and look at the past year that you get a true appreciation for how your life is going. And I have to say, my life is going pretty well. Not bragging or anything — just grateful. I may not be a best-selling author or a brilliant neurosurgeon or anything, but all in all I’m quite satisfied with where I’m at. And that’s really all that matters, isn’t it?

And now, the resolutions! In no particular order, this year I would like to:

  • Write every day. It doesn’t have to be a lot, and it doesn’t have to be any good, but I definitely want to get back into the habit of daily writing. NaNoWriMo is a fantastic motivator, but I want to have that kind of motivation all the time. And I’m so tired of having all these amazing stories floating around in my head just waiting to be written down, but stuck eternally in limbo because I don’t have the mental discipline to sit down and actually write them. Currently I’m working on a few projects (including Cerulean Bound — banged out the first chapter yesterday!), and hopefully at least a few of them will actually get completed this year.
  • Get down to 140 lbs. I won’t tell you where I’m at right now, but let’s just say it’s above where I should be. Not drastically so, but enough that my old pants don’t fit, which is both frustrating and inconvenient. I don’t have plans to become a bikini model or anything — I just want to fit in my pants, dammit! I’ve managed to drop about 12 lbs since I started counting calories back in September, so hopefully I can keep it up.
  • Stop sweating the small stuff. I fully admit that I have some anger problems. Not in the sense that I randomly flip out at people — I just find little stuff irrationally irritating, and after silently fuming about it for a bit (or a while), I have to take a step back and be like, “Michelle, for the love of sandwiches calm down, it’s totally not a big deal.” So ideally I’d like to be able to go straight from “getting irritated” to “calming down”, and skip the “fuming about it” part entirely. Because, at the end of the day, all I really want is to …
  • Be happy. Let’s be clear — I’m pretty darn happy already! I just want to continue being so. That means doing things I enjoy, spending time with people I enjoy, accomplishing the things I set out to accomplish, and generally feeling content with the life I’ve carved out for myself. Part of how I’m going to do that is every night I’m going to write down one thing I did that day that I’m proud of or that I enjoyed. And then, whenever I’m feeling down, I’ll flip open my little notebook and remind myself of all the reasons I have to be happy. And, hopefully, there’ll be a lot of them!

So those are my resolutions for 2016. What’s on your list?

Oh, and … HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

 

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Monday Writing Update

NaNoWriMo is officially over, and I have officially … lost.

Dammit.

Now, in my defense, I came pretty darn close. I started at 31,881 words and ended at  71,889 words, which means I wrote a grand total of 40k words. Not quite 50k, but still a great deal more than what I started with! So, I’m calling this one a moderate success.

Of course, my story is still in shambles. I’ve reached about the 1/3 point in the plot, and I’m 70k words in. So that means the book is on track to be 210k words long. Yikes. Excessive editing and cutting and rewriting will cut that down, but it’ll be a hassle for sure.

In other news, I’ve recently launched a proofreading service. This is partially because I’m good at proofreading and want to do more of it, and partially because my income is laughable at the moment and I need to pay rent. So, if you’re looking for someone to proofread your next book before it goes live, hit me up! The going rate is $0.0015 per word, which works out to $150 for a 100k word novel.

My final life update is something I mentioned before, but am still excited about–I’ve acquired a seasonal job at a local tea shop! The hours are whacky, and I’m having a devil of a time remembering the 150+ teas we sell (and by “devil of a time”, I mean it will never happen), but it’s still been quite enjoyable thus far. Money is always nice, not to mention it gives me a reason to leave the house and get a bit of exercise. I won’t be able to head back to Ontario for Christmas this year, but I’m planning an awesome road trip in January/February once the contract’s over so I can go see my folks. Huzzah!

I think that’s about it. What are you awesome people up to these days? Any fun holiday plans? What’s your favorite kind of tea? Let me know in the comments!

 

Unrelated media of the day:

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