Chipping Away At the Mountainside

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Imagine that you have a lump of stone. It may be a very pretty stone. It may have fascinating gradations in texture or color. It may have an interesting suggestion of shape or form. But ultimately it’s still just a lump of stone. You have to sand and grind and chip away at it until it becomes something recognizable without destroying the whole thing in the process.

I’m finding that this is rather what editing a book is like. This is the first time in my life that I’ve gotten this deep into the process of Writing (with a capital W), so this is all new to me. Of course, I’ve got several books on how to edit, but as usual I just plowed ahead and tried figuring out how to do it on my own without reading any of them. I suppose that’s not entirely unexpected; each writer has their own way of doing things after all. So I wanted share how I’ve personally proceeded with the writing process on this book. Obviously my way isn’t the only way and I doubt it’s the best or most efficient way. But at least it’s an example of one possible path that you can take.

So, this is how the last 16 months spent with All’s Fair have gone:

close-up-chisel

(click image for source)

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Expressions of Gratitude

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It is far too easy to focus on the negatives in life, too easy to see only the flaws, to complain about what we do not have or how we wish things would be. So I want to take a moment to express my gratitude for that which I am very lucky to have.

I am grateful for being able to live when and where I do, despite its flaws. For having a place to call home, for not needing to worry about where my next meal will come from, and for having the time and leisure to write at all, even if it sometimes feels like that time is scarce or that leisure is unearned.

I am grateful to have lived in areas with easily accessible libraries and for always being encouraged to read without boundaries. I know not everyone is so lucky. Being literate and having access to books is a gift that I never, ever want to take for granted.

On that note, I am grateful to all of the creators of books, movies, television shows, music, and art I have had the pleasure to experience over the years. Your work has inspired and improved my life immeasurably, and I thank you for sharing it. Art of all kinds makes the world a better place, so keep making it!

I am grateful to my family for being so supportive of me and my work:

~ Thank you to my brothers Richard and Daniel, who, despite much teasing about my writing and English degree, always have my back when the chips are down.
~ Thank you to my super-amazing and talented mom, who never ceases to impress me with her fortitude and ever-expanding repertoire of skills, both artistic and practical.
~ Thank you to my awesome and talented dad, who knew the value of writing skills combined with a good education and ensured that I received both.
~ Thank you to my adorable cat-babies, Diego, Phantom, Chaos, Zuko, Sokka, and Bunny, who are so freakin’ cute and cuddly and mommy loves you so much!
~ Thank you to my adopted Aunt Nancy, who is probably the sweetest person on the planet.
~ Thank you to my onii-san, David, for basically everything.

I am grateful for my most excellent friends, both far and near, who make me laugh and make me think. You guys rock! Special thanks to my writing groups, the Gburg Wrimos and Pens in Space for sharing both the trials and tribulations of literary life.

I am grateful to the following spectacular beta readers, fellow writers and sisters-in-spirit, who have been willing to suffer through various drafts of my work:

Foxglove Zayuri
R.E. Myles
Epha*
Storm Elf
Imp
Laughing Ninja 

Thank you so very much! I appreciate your help and efforts more than I can possibly express.

Everyone… I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

 

* NOTE: Due to a spelling error, I accidentally pronounced Epha’s name as “Ephra” for the Audio Edition. Due to the time-consuming nature of recording and re-uploading, I have made the correction here on the print article, but the Audio Edition retains the mispronunciation. My deepest apologies for this error!

Autumn Updates

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It seems like when I left for my much-needed ocean-side vacation, it was the height of summer with all of the lovely heat and much-despised humidity that entails, but when I returned, fall had arrived.  The cooler temperatures make my morning walk far more pleasant and I love the leaf-smell of the season. (Hopefully this nice weather will last longer than a week.)  So, with the Autumnal Equinox just behind us, I want to take this opportunity to make a few announcements:
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1) All’s Fair is currently finishing up its second round of beta reading and will soon enter the third round of editing.  Thank you so much to my beta readers for taking on this challenge; I really appreciate it!  I’m hopeful that this time it will not require quite as much revamping as the previous drafts. (Just as long as I don’t have to rip the entire thing apart and reassemble it again…)

2) I’ve simultaneously started to research agents and book publishers who may be a good fit for All’s Fair and projects in the future. The Writer’s Market 2015 is the tool I’m using to start with and I’ll narrow down the field from there. So far I’ve got a decent but not-overwhelming list of prospects, as I’m focusing on those who handle science fiction and fantasy with a special place for those who do so exclusively.  (For All’s Fair, I’ll need to look at those who also handle romance novels, so that’s an additional factor in my deliberations.)

3) National Novel Writing Month is just around the corner and I LOVE their space theme this year! In keeping with said theme, my chosen project will be a story that my dad and I want to collaborate on: Astra’s Revenge. Dad already wrote a short story/novelette version of it and asked me a long time ago to adapt it into a full-length novel. So that will be an interesting challenge.  As a back-up, I’ll probably also work sporadically on my juvenile fantasy novel DragonFriend and my still-unnamed urban fantasy starring my hard-nosed “detective” Karen Mohssey. (I’m calling her a “detective” for now, even though the story isn’t fleshed out enough for me to know exactly what she does yet!)

4) I’m trying to keep up with the Audio Editions and get more of the #ThrowbackThursdays up and running. Unfortunately, due to the time involved, it doesn’t happen with the regularity I’d like to achieve. (It takes about two hours to record and edit an episode with a run time of ten minutes or less.) Also, you may notice that the sound quality of the Audio Editions has changed.  I purchased a new pair of headphones with a mic, so things might sound a bit different, hopefully in a good way. There’s still a lot I don’t know about Audacity, the program I use to record the Audio Editions, so I hope to continue improving!

5) In conjunction with the Audio Editions, I’ve been listening to some podcasts or a (more or less) regular basis.  My current favorites are Let’s Know Things by Colin Wright and The Baltimore Barristers hosted by Alexander Bush and Stephen Caramenico.  Let’s Know Things covers all kinds of topics ranging from perception and bias to cyberspace and suburbia, and the show notes are exceptionally extensive. Plus, Colin does a great job of covering controversial topics with an even hand that explores the positive and negative effects of both sides, which is really refreshing to hear.  The Baltimore Barristers focus on politics, often locally, but many stories have the potential to reverberate nationally.  In addition, they have some absolutely amazing interviews, including Scott Adams (writer of the Dilbert comic strip), Mike Rowe from the TV show Dirty Jobs, and Jack Hunter, editor of Rare Politics.  Both are great podcasts that cover a wide variety of topics in a thorough, engaging fashion; I highly recommend them.

And now, without further adieu, back to the writing.
And editing.
And researching.
And– oh, look, TV!

 

I Finally Caught Up!

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Oh, my poor ears.

I think I have squeezed more audio editing into the last few days than I have more months.  I was behind by twelve Audio Editions, ranging from 5-10 minutes in length, on average.  (Obviously, some are shorter and a few are longer.)  I know the finished product looks pretty simplistic, but five minutes of audio takes me about an hour to clean up, edit, convert into a video, and upload to YouTube.  So please, have a listen if you haven’t already.  All of the links on their respective Cat’s Cradle entries should be updated by the end of today.

Also, I got my first set of feedback from one of my beta readers, R.E. Myles!  I was really nervous, but it seems that All’s Fair isn’t as broken as I feared it might be.  She was really great about pointing out the story’s strengths and what she liked, along with some good suggestions on how to increase interest and drama.  Some of the broader suggestions will be put into play immediately with further refinements as feedback arrives from my other betas.  Thank you all so much for your time and attention!

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Now… back to work.  ^_^;;

UPDATE on 02/29/2016 @ 10:00pm:
Hooray, another beta reader arrived with feedback today!  Thank you so much, Foxglove!  I really appreciate your time and thoughts on All’s Fair.

Draft Completed!

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Oh my gosh, I am so excited that I don’t know where to begin.  I guess the title of this entry says it all: I’ve actually completed a draft of a novel!  Yep, All’s Fair (AFiLaW) is the first one.  While I’ve spent a lot of time working on Ravens and Roses and have called each stage its own “Draft,” that story is still missing pieces of it and therefore should probably not be titled as such.  But that’s just splitting semantic hairs, so moving on!

I hammered out the plot and characters for All’s Fair in October 2015 and started writing on November 1, 2015.  As of January 31, 2016, I have a complete story ready for beta reading.  Wow.  That’s 170 pages written in 92 days.  There aren’t any gaping holes that need to be filled in or scenes that haven’t been written.  Obviously things may be adjusted, dropped, or added during the editing process, but you can actually read it from beginning to end.  I’m still a little stunned at this; the only other complete novel-length stories that I have finished are fan fiction.  (Yes, I know, I need to get back to “Nakishojo.”)  And those took me years to complete!  The fastest I’ve ever written was for the Dark Crystal Author Quest back in 2013, which took three months, but was still not really complete.  Not like All’s Fair.

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“You Are Not Imposing!” Requesting Feedback

via QuickMeme

via QuickMeme.com

Maybe it’s just me, but I always feel like I’m imposing whenever I ask someone to read my work.  Of course, I’ve heard that a lot of writers are hesitant to show their work to someone else, especially when it’s still just a first or second draft.  After all, your novel is your baby; you’ve been working on it for months, if not years, and the last thing you want to hear is someone say that it sucks.  Working up the courage to allow someone to read what you’ve written is hard enough.  But then there’s this added weight of the guilt of imposition.

Whenever I finally make a decision to show someone my work, to ask for their opinion of it, I always feel like I should crawl up to them on my knees, smeared with ash and dressed in sackcloth, manuscript in hand and beg in the most deferential voice I can muster, “Would you please…if it’s not too much trouble, because I know your time is valuable and you probably have a million other things you’d rather be doing but….could you please, please read this and tell me what you think?”

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