Monthly Archives: February 2015

Writing Update

Writing Update

I think it is time for a writing update.

That’s my excuse to step away from Gliese 581 for a moment and screw my head on straight. It isn’t easy killing off 99% of the world’s population with a virus, you know.

So Gliese 581: Departure is a hybrid dystopian/TOTWAWKI/sci-fi hybrid. Because, if you know me at all, I simply refuse to be defined by one genre alone. It simply isn’t in my nature.

In any case, if you haven’t read War’s End:The Storm and its sequel War’s End: A Brave New World, well, I really suggest you do that. Not just because they are good stories, but also because I write in one big ole shared universe. And I do love to further my favorite characters down through the ages. So while you might not see Jess or Chris, the main protagonists of both of the War’s End books, you will get to meet their children and grandchildren in the Gliese 581 series.

So I’m hard at work on Gliese 581: Departure – the first of two, possibly three books. And I’ve…

  • Identified 38 chapters (typically I title the chapters, write a brief description of what will happen in it and then move on, returning later to write the chapter)
  • Finished writing 17 chapters
  • Almost finished four more chapters
  • Started two more, but have significant work to do.

So…wow…I’m just over 50% done.

Nice.

I hope to have this book up and running (or ready for edits) by spring…

Yeah.

That is a big if. I’ve got a LOT of classes scheduled…as in over 50 for the first seven months of the year. But I would dearly love to get this done, edited and in print by summer.

You are going to buy a copy…right? Right?

What We Do and Finding Time to Breathe

What We Do and Finding Time to Breathe

What We Do

My dad recently sent me an email with “what we do” in the subject line. He wrote…

Hi Junior,

A friend pointed out this article to me. Basically, it explains the power the storyteller has for causing real physical, mental and emotional changes in others. It is very thought provoking and credible look into the effect stories have on listeners and readers:

http://aeon.co/magazine/psychology/once-upon-a-time-how-stories-change-hearts-and-brains/?utm_source=Aeon+newsletter&utm_campaign=96c8c57d9f-Daily_newsletter_January_12_20151_12_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_411a82e59d-96c8c57d9f-68662081

Love,

D a d

I read the article and immediately thought of Horton Hatches The Egg by Dr. Seuss. It was my favorite story as a small child. I cannot imagine how many hundreds of times we read it. And the message that I have carried with me in my life came from that book, “do what you say you are going to do, be faithful, be dependable, be responsible.”

If you have not read the story, I recommend that you do. No matter your age. There is a lesson here in perseverance, loyalty, love and more.

I will not lie and say that I have always been this. Horton is my hero, someone I aspire to be every day. But I fall short, like anyone else, I’m human after all.

But I have to go back to this article and say, that yes, as a storyteller I am trying to change the world in my own small way.

I want people to read the two War’s End books and feel the fear and pain, but also revel in the healing that can come from the love of family and friends. I want people to read it and walk away with the understanding that no matter our family unit, when we find and create love, when we commit to and rely on others, that is when we can choose to truly live our lives and make the most of the situations we find ourselves in.

Finding Time to Breathe

Sometimes, all of the priorities that are warring for my time and attention are just way too much. Lately, it seems that everywhere I turn, there is a mess. Or something I must do, have to do, besides writing. The dining room table is covered with stuff, the kitchen is a mess, there is laundry to wash, fold and put away. I don’t even want to think about the catastrophe that is our homeschool room or my front bedroom (spare room/sewing room and the closet door which houses all of our medicines).

So as usual, I’ve got the familiar refrain of “I’ve got so much to do around here I can’t even think about writing!”

It just seems like there is this unending list of crap that needs to be done…now.

I’m going to take a day or two to try and get on top of the pile before tackling my writing projects again. Homeschool room, here i come!

Criticism – Accepting It and Turning It Into a Positive

Criticism – Accepting It and Turning It Into a Positive

Receiving criticism isn’t easy. It’s tough, really, really tough.

Despite my feisty exterior, I wear my heart on my sleeve, and it is the biggest downside of writing for public consumption. It is as if you have grown a baby for nine long months, given birth, and held it up to the world to view – only to be told it is ugly, it is lacking, it is…less than it should be.

Now obviously, you cannot please everyone. You simply cannot. We are all different, all wired with different interests and different views, and those inevitable hot buttons.

So when I posted on Facebook the other day that I needed reviews, I knew I was opening the door to criticism. I crossed my fingers and hoped I would get a few more reviews for my various books and I hope it inspired some to read what I had written if they hadn’t already, to take a few moments and post a review of one of the books. And I’m expecting that it will be a week or two before a few more roll in, but I was excited to see one come in today.

Until I read it. The review suggested that I ‘edit the book a little.’

Heart…thump…stutter…

Because I have edited the book in question, multiple times, and not just me, but a proofreader who makes a living editing small and large jobs. I will admit I took a few indulgent moments to be resentful, to think of uncharitable responses, and to point out (several times) to the empty office that, “editing is effing hard to do and damn near impossible to catch every last mistake.”

And while I dearly wish such a comment had NOT been put on Amazon for all to see, I finally came to recognize the worth in the criticism. I hate typos, grammar, and other editing/writing inconsistencies too. I was in spelling bees as a child and am rather anal about such things. So the idea that my book, my baby, still had them, and enough of them to be commented on was the real issue I was stressing over.

It took a while, but I turned it into a positive.

Do my books need better editing? Well, yes, obviously they do. So I’m going to try this idea on for size. When I finish with a book and begin the editing process, I plan on doing a fast one-through myself. Checking facts, correcting typos as best as I can, and the next round will be reading it out loud to my husband. A lot of typos go unnoticed by writers because we know what we are intending to say, and our eyes automatically skip crucial sections, fill in missing words and miss those funky little typos. Reading the words out loud will help check everything, because while my mind might automatically fill in wording as I am reading, I won’t automatically substitute the right words when reading the piece out loud. I’ll catch more of the mistakes. This will also accomplish another positive end…my husband will get to enjoy reading the story his favorite way, by listening to it. He has a form of dyslexia, and has always preferred audiobooks or being read to.

Feedback, criticism, can be hard to take. That said, as a writer who enjoys putting my work out for others to read, I know that it is an intrinsic part of the publishing process. i won’t always get reviews that focus on the meat of the matter – what a book said, or how it affected someone else – and I won’t please everyone. If I depended on a publishing house to edit my work, there could still be mistakes made (heck, I find them all the time in books!) and I would have someone else to point a finger at and blame. In that way, I think that I vastly prefer to be responsible for my mistakes, to own them, and to try to improve my editing skills and the finished end product with each book I write.

As my dad says…”Onward and upwards!”