21-Day Novel Challenge: Day 19 Update

Cover Art

Cover Art

Been a busy couple of days at the day job. Thursday, as seems to be the norm, was a “no writing” day. Didn’t get any time during the 17 hour shift to get any edits in. Friday was mostly a packing day, but I did manage to get a few more chapters done.

So at this point, I am about eight chapters from finishing the edits. I’ll be doing those Saturday after the move, and then doing a final proofing pass either Saturday evening or Sunday morning.

Then I have one more tweak for the cover. The book title is a bit smaller on this cover than on the cover for book one. I’d like to have very clear branding between the two covers – so that they are clearly the same series. To that end I plan to tweak the cover art just a little bit.

In other news, the first book – Accord of Honor – is 99 cents on all retailers right now, and picking up some nice sales. If you’ve been following along on the mailing list for this challenge, then you already got the rough draft sent to you. If you’re interested in reading book one, then now’s a GREAT time to grab it while it’s on sale.

You can find it here: myBook.to/accord1            

I remain on target to launch Accord of War on Day 21 – Sunday the 13th! See you there.

21-Day Challenge: Days 15+16

Cover Art

Cover Art

The book didn’t end up getting finished Monday night. Monday is kid day – and it seems Minecraft (the computer game) has a new patch, one which makes the monsters hit harder and the whole game much more tough. So my three kids and I spent most of the day beating up monsters and building virtual tree-houses together.

Key moment: lightning strikes something, and creates a new monster none of us have seen before – a skeleton horse! One of my kids goes to investigate, but approaching the horse spawns a bunch of skeletons. She dies. We go try to recover her stuff. Lightning strikes the horse a bunch more times, making more skeleton horses… All of which spawn more skeletons as we approach. An epic battle ensues.

Pullquote, in the most deadpan voice a nine year old can attain: “The skeleton horse apocalypse has begun.”

Anyway, after kid time was done Liz and I went to the new apartment to get things set up a little there. We had new curtains we wanted to test, and were doing some light cleaning, setting up cleaning supplies, etc. Move in is on Saturday, after all! I got a very little bit of writing done afterwards, but not enough to count. I called it quits, exhausted, to finish in the morning.

Today – Day 16 – I finished the last 1700 words of the book and wrapped it up. Those of you who’ve been following on the mailing list, your copies of the first draft edition are on their way to you tonight! Enjoy. 🙂

The finish ended up being 54,821 words. About the 55k I thought I was going to end up with. Now the question is, how long will it be after I am done with the edits and cleanup? Am I going to make the 60k I was shooting for? I’ve started a first run through the manuscript, and have added another 300 words today. Not a great start for editing 5 out of 43 chapters, but there’s still a lot of story to go through. We’ll have to see how it goes.

21-Day Challenge: Day 14

Cover Art

Cover Art

OK! I’m two weeks in. And had a great writing day today, despite work: 4446 words, bringing the total count to 53,133. I expect to finish the book tomorrow, which is WAY ahead of schedule. In the plan I wrote out, the first draft was to be completed by the end of Wednesday. I’m not finishing because I’m writing faster than expected, but rather because I have two chapters left to go, and expect the book to wrap up at about 56-57k words, instead of the 70k I’d initially planned. I’m OK with that… Remember my mentioning a while back that I was trying to outline with the Story Grid method? Or a somewhat scaled down version of it, anyway? I suspect that my inexperience with that method has left the story a little leaner and therefore shorter than I’d expected.

Before I go any further, I’d like to pass along this invitation:

When the work is completed, I will be emailing out a link to the folks who’ve been following along on my email list. If your address is in there, you’ll get a copy of the rough work, just finished, with no polish or edits. For you folks who’ve been following, this will give you something to look at and compare against for changes.

If you’re interested in taking a peek, it’s not too late! Click the link below:

Sign Up For the First Draft!

Or you can just wait until it’s out on Amazon, one week from today.

Editing and Revision

I’ve written before about how I look at the editing and revision process. The TL;DR version: I don’t generally revise. I either self-edit (used to do that professionally; not recommended unless you’re quite good at it), or hire out the work to an editor. On longer works, I tend to do the latter. Mostly because I hate editing. I like writing the thing – correcting typos is not on a list of my favorite things.

In general, my finished published copies are about 98-99% identical to the first draft. I manage this by cleaning up the work as I go. If I notice myself repeating words, I’ll skip back up and fix it. If I need to add an element to a previous chapter to explain something, I’ll get to a good stopping point then go back and add it. I do these things while I write, so generally the first draft is very nearly the final one.

This run might be a bit different. In fact, if I add 3000 words to a 57,000 word story, as I think I might, then I’ll be changing at least 5% just with those additions. That’s unusual for me – which means it’s a good thing I’m going to have Tuesday and Wednesday to do some extra work on the book.

Every writer’s editing process is a bit different. Ironically, despite Chris and I expressing some of those differences earlier, it’s looking like the books we’re writing right now are going to be more similar than I’d thought! I’m using something much more similar to his process, adding in extra scenes to the final copy. But I think in this case at least the book will be stronger for it.

Sign up for the draft and you’ll be able to compare and see for yourself whether you think the changes merited inclusion or not!

21-Day Challenge: Days 11-13

Cover Art

Cover Art

Went a little silent there for a few days, sorry! As I mentioned in my last post – I was moving into my long work period in the day job. With minutes to write, it gets hard to put them into a blog instead of story words! Playing a little catch up today.

Thursday was Day 11. I arrived at work at 7am. I left work just before 1am on Friday. During that time, we had four new admissions, three of whom I had to manage all of the paperwork etc. for, solo. For those of you not working in the medical field: imagine an already busy 17 hour work day, into which is crammed an additional 3 hours of work. As a result, no words happened. I got breaks long enough to wolf down some food, but that was it. That was why I had Thursdays as a ZERO word day on the schedule, remember – because sometimes my Thursdays are like that. So I didn’t fall behind, I just met expectations.

Day 12: Friday, I brought my word count total to 46,199 – about 1,100 words. More admissions at work, so even though I was only working one shift, I didn’t have time to write anything during a break. Just words at home. And the at-home words were broken up because we’re moving next Saturday, and I still had a lot of things to line up for the move. Finalized the movers; finalized the reservation of an elevator; stuff like that.

Yes, I’m moving the day before I have the book scheduled for launch. Hey, Chris set the schedule for this program. Blame him. 😉

Speaking of Chris, HIS Day 12 finished his book at about 60k words. Which is AMAZING. He’s done such a great job with this.

Day 13: I’m 1900 words behind at this point. Not so good. But I’m also writing SHORTER than I had scheduled. Much shorter. I think this book will wrap up at about 55k, and maybe expand a little during edits. So while I am behind my planned goal coming into the day, it’s not a disaster. Knowing work was going to be tough again today, I hit the ground running before work and got in about 2500 words, putting my count to 48,687 words total. Now, to be on target I SHOULD have 51,500 by the end of Day 13. So I’ve still slipped behind the target word count, but – this is life.

Life happens, and you roll with it. Notice, the ONLY day I didn’t get words done was the one crazy busy 18 hour work day. Friday and Saturday were busy, but I still got at least some forward progress each day. And this is the thing: sometimes life will intervene, things will get crazy, and your targets will be missed. It’s still important to find a few minutes to make some forward progress, though. Even if it’s a single half hour sprint, or a couple of ten minute sprints. Get some words in.

By working every day, you continue to reinforce to your mind that This Is Important. You’re keeping the mental momentum going. I know that if I stop writing completely for a few days, picking things back up again becomes harder and harder. In fact, the more days I stop writing, the more difficult it becomes to jump back in on a story. Writing something – even if it’s just a little – is important.

Onward to catch up a bit on Day 14!

As always, you can sign up for email updates on my progress – click the link below to join and follow along. Would love to hear comments, either here or in emails, too!

Sign Up Here!

21-Day Novel Challenge: Day 10

Cover Art

Cover Art

And the grand total at the end of the day: 45, 062 words! It was a long battle, but I got in 6025 words to finish another day on target.

My biggest frustration right now, really, is that the story just isn’t as long as I was planning it to be. I’m very much below the 70k target. Going to struggle toward 60k, I think. I’ve added several scenes to the end, but I’m solidly into Act Three already.

Accord of Honor was 67k words, so what happened with this one?

I think part of the reason it’s running short is because I was using a new plotting system. Remember that I mentioned I was trying out a modified form of the “Story Grid” plotting system? It calls for 15 segments. Roughly doubled, because this story has two POVs and two interwoven storylines, that’s 30 major movements or scenes in the story. And I’ve doubled up some of them, especially for Thomas’s  POV. He’s the protagonist, and he gets a lot more screen time.

But that’s left me with only forty chapters in all, since I equated those major movements to chapters in my head (more or less – as I said, I made some of them two chapters). And my chapters are only running about 1500 words or so, average. Thus 60k words instead of 70k.

Lesson learned. If I want it to be a little longer, next time I need to add a few extra movements, or break up a few more scenes into multiple chapters. Open things up a little bit more. Still, the overall experience has been good. It certainly made plotting a breeze.

It also might be a side effect of writing so darned many novellas. I’ve written several recently – all about 20k word urban fantasies. And right before that I was writing the third Blackwell novel (another urban fantasy), which ended at 48k. Typical length book, for that series.

But for my SF, I’m intentionally trying to go just a little bit longer in the word count. It appears I still have some work to do in that regard. Every book is part of the process of improving as a writer. Identifying what you want to work on next and then plowing away at it is part of the fun.

As always, you can sign up for email updates on my progress – click the link below to join and follow along. Would love to hear comments, either here or in emails, too!

Sign Up Here!