Category Archives: Books/Literature

The New 2021/2022 Novel Update #17

So last week Saturday I posted that I had finished reading through and putting down the red ink revisions for Draft #6 of my latest novel.

I wrote I felt the novel was nearly done and, as if to prove that fact, today and six days later I can announce that I’ve put all those red ink notes into the Word file and the book is ready to be printed out one more time and given a -perhaps last!- red ink-revision before putting those edits into the Word file.

If you’ve been around here you’ll know that as my novels get closer to be finished up, I tend to need less time to do these revisions. The earlier drafts require quite a bit of reworking and revisions and it is not unheard of that a draft can take me several months to finish up. The fact that I was able to put all these revisions into the Word file in less than a week speaks to how close I feel the book is to being finalized.

So perhaps tomorrow (its getting a little late today) I will print this puppy out and give it a read through.

If all goes well, my next announcement should confirm whether we’ve reached the last draft or not!

Fingers crossed!

THE NEW 2021/2022 NOVEL UPDATE #16

It’s Saturday the 14th of May and its not quite lunch time and I’ve just finished the read-through and red ink revisions of Draft #6 of my latest novel…

…and I’m freaking ecstatic.

One of the very best feelings in the world for an author is reaching a point where you feel like your novel is just about done. With regard to this book, that’s exactly where I’m at at this point in time.

The revisions happened pretty quick considering I did spend one weekend flying out -and therefore was unable to do any work on the book- so in reality I’ve taken maybe a little over two weeks to go over this books and write my revisions down.

Even better is the fact that, in looking over the revisions, I suspect it won’t take me much more than a week to transfer those revisions into my Word file and print the whole thing out once again.

When I do that, I intend to give the book one more read through but I feel confident in saying this will be the final one.

So, if all goes well and I’m not delayed by anything, maybe another week or so to add those revisions to the Word file, maybe another couple of weeks at the most to read it one final time, then maybe less than a week or so to add whatever final revisions are necessary.

The book will be ready by June, there is no question about this.

Let’s see when exactly I’ll have it available for purchase!

Stay tuned, it won’t be long now!

On Writing…

Got into an interesting commentary tangent yesterday with some people online about writing and figured I’d cut and paste it here, if you’re interested…

The first bit is rather brief and involves what I think are two things all authors should keep in mind and/or do:

1) Ingest a lot of fiction, chew on it, see what works and -sometimes even more importantly!- what doesn’t work. The more awful a work and the clearer you can see what makes it “awful”, the better because that teaches you the things you may not want to do.

2) I feel author Elmore Leonard created a fascinating list of 10 writing tips but its the final one that I like the most: Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

Yes, it sounds snarky as hell but there is a startling clarity to this.  What he’s saying is don’t run up the page/word count just for the hell of it.  Hone your story into a razor sharp book, one where a reader will love every word and won’t find their eyes glazing over at any points.

That led to this longer posting where I elaborate a bit about what I wrote above…

Like many would be writers way back when, I also looked into the “How to” books on writing, up to and including the Stephen King book which I mentioned way upstream.

The bottom line, I’ve found over time, lies in the two things I pointed out. I’ve always been super curious about reading and/or watching stories (whether on TV or Movies, etc.). After a while, I began to detect patterns to stories, some of which were eventually categorized in other works (the “hero’s journey” being one of the biggies, though at the time I didn’t recognize its categorization!).

And I was highly critical about the things I would read and or watch. I would see where the things worked and very much paid attention to what didn’t. If a book, for example, started very well but lost me at some point, I would try to figure out why it did so. Likewise with movies. And if I felt everything worked, I’d also try to understand why as well.

This subsequently becomes applicable to one’s own fiction writing. You develop that understanding of what is in your mind “good” versus what you feel is “bad” and you obviously try to steer your work in the former rather than later direction.

Experience becomes key. My first novel took forever for me to write because not only was it my first attempt at such a beast (I had written shorter stories before that) but also I was just finding what worked for me from a technical standpoint.

Today, as I’m about to finish off my 13th full work, I have an understanding about the techniques I didn’t way back when. As I noted upstream, I tend to want to start a novel with a reasonably clear idea of how it begins and, even more importantly, how it ends. This doesn’t have to be written completely in stone, but the general ideas should be there and should be intriguing enough for me to take the next step.

The biggest struggles I have are in writing the connective middle, getting the reader (and me, the writer!) from Point A to Point Z. Here I fall back on my memory of all the stories I’ve ingested and try my hardest to create something that is as unique as possible. I loathe the idea of retreading a story and strive to make something that is my own. By virtue of the fact that there are so many stories out there, mine cannot be some 100% “new” thing -that’s impossible- but I do strive to give readers a ride and surprise them with whatever it is I’m offering them.

And that’s where the Elmore Leonard quote comes in, especially when I get to the later stages of the revision process. I also loathe the idea of having readers’ eyes glaze over with either paragraph upon paragraph or page upon page worth of stuff that doesn’t in the end make your story any better.

Back when I was in College and had a creative writing class the teacher talked at one point about Henry James’ theory of the “organic form”, ie the idea that a novel or story is like a human body and that every organ, muscle, cell, etc. has a purpose in said story. In some ways this ties in directly to Elmore Leonard’s quote in that you want your story to be razor sharp and not have any extraneous (beware, highly technical literary jargon follows) bullshit muddling the overall work.

When I finish my first draft of a novel, in general it can be at a low of 50,000-60,000 words. As I revise the book in the early stages I’m often adding material into it and the book can bulge up to 100,000 to 130,000 words. But once I have the book “locked down” and know all the elements I’ve wanted to include in the work are there, I start to pare things down, to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. The book will then generally become thinner, word count-wise, and by the end I’ll have a work that usually (but not always) winds up in the 85,000 to 110,000 word range. 

The New 2021/2022 Novel Update #15

Yesterday, April the 25th, I finished putting all my notes/revisions into the Word file of my new novel. It’s been almost a month since I finished putting in those inked revisions and now putting them into the actual pages and I have to say…

…I like where I’m at.

One of the most satisfying things about being a writer is when you see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, the point where you feel your book is really, really close to being done.

Yesterday, when I finished up putting those revisions into the Word file, and as I was going through those last pages, I was hit with a wave of pride at the work. I felt like I accomplished what I was hoping for and am really close to delivering the story I’ve tried so very hard to deliver.

So Draft #5 is done now and, unfortunately, I’ll have to wait a few days -busy with other stuff!- and let it sit during that time before getting back to it. I strongly suspect the book will need not much more than two more drafts and that Draft #6 will feature mostly edits toward the later pages and where a little more polishing needs to be made.

It’s impossible to give an estimation as to how much longer it will take to get all this done, but I suspect we’re looking at a Summer release of the novel at this point. Perhaps sometime in later June or July if -and that’s a BIG if- I can really get things going in the next few weeks.

We’ll see.

The New 2021/2022 Novel Update #14

Yesterday, March the 27th, 2022, was a truly magical day, at least for me.

I didn’t realize until yesterday that, since last year and the passing of my parents in the collapse of Champlain Towers South on June 24th, that I’ve been in a sort of mental fog.

I suppose I knew this to some degree. Things that usually gave me joy didn’t. I was doing the things I needed to do to get through each day but I did so on a sort of autopilot rather than with any pleasure.

I worked on my new novel during this time, but it too was done in such a piecemeal fashion and without the mix of love and frustration (truly, writing a novel is usually a combination of extreme pleasure and frustration!) I normally have for my works. Not that what revisions I was doing were bad, mind you, only that the emotions behind it weren’t there like before.

And this went for pretty much most of the activities in my life this past nearly a year.

Unless there was no good relationship between offspring and parents, the loss of one’s parents is a traumatic event. And for me, for my family, the shocking way they died made the situation all the worse. From the collapse itself to waiting for their bodies to be found to dealing with all the lawyers and trying to settle their estate (not only did I lose them, but all the paperwork they had in their home) to running their businesses… its a lot to take one and find the time to properly grieve as well.

But yesterday, for whatever reason, I found myself a little after twelve noon feeling extremely exhausted and needing to take a nap. This is not totally unusual for me, there are days here and there where my body simply reaches the point I need to rest.

Only this time, when I lay down and took a deep thirty minute or so nap and woke up, I felt… different.

I felt incredibly refreshed and, for the first time in far too long, alive like I hadn’t been in too long.

Perhaps for me the extreme sadness which came from the trauma of the building’s collapse and their deaths has finally crested, though it certainly isn’t anywhere near gone. I still miss my parents tremendously, but it felt like after that nap I was energized and for the first time in a very long time I felt I was past that emotional fog.

I picked up my new novel, which printed out runs to 195 single spaced pages and of which I had the last 1/4th of the book, some 50 pages or so, left to revise and, in the course of yesterday afternoon, I did that revision.

I read through it and made my red ink notations and it was such a freaking joy to do so.

Time eventually heals all and while I don’t feel like I’m fully healed yet, at least as of yesterday and for the first time in too long a time I felt like I was a little bit back to my old self.

Let’s see if it lasts.

The New 2021/22 Novel Update #12

Man, how time flies.

When I last made an update in early December of 2021, I was noting how I just read and wrote in the various revisions on paper for my latest novel and would be getting into putting them into the computer.

Well… that took much longer than I thought it would.

In part, I suppose, its because of the Christmas/New Year/Holiday dates… it becomes very difficult to find the time to carve out what with visiting relatives and having family over. Plus, I traveled with my daughter back to Austin and spent some time there with her which also sucked away a few days. Not to mention my other work and those myriad issues regarding taking care of my parents’ estate, the lawyers, etc. etc.

Truly it feels sometimes like I need a real break.

But today, I’m extremely happy to say, I got into a groove and essentially burned through the final parts of the revision, making it some ten pages from the very end of the novel and, upon realizing just how close I was, decided to do a ”clean sweep” and finish off this draft once and for all.

The big question is: Where am I now with regard to finishing this novel?

Pretty far, it feels.

Of course, until I give the book another read and pull out the dreaded red pen and make all those revisions, I won’t know exactly how close to finished I’ll be, but I feel like things are getting there. Perhaps the biggest single revision I did in this part of the draft was moving an entire section of the story to a little earlier in the novel -thank the heavens for Word Processors!- but otherwise it was a matter of cleaning stuff up and adding better descriptors and/or dialogue here and there.

So I move along, hopefully printing this novel out by tomorrow (I have neither the time nor desire to do so today… there’s still stuff to be done around the house!) and, if all goes well, by either this weekend or early next week its time to start reading!

Onward!

The New 2021 Novel Update #11

It is shocking to come back here and realize my last post was from November 16, some two plus weeks ago…!

Sorry for the delay in getting back here!

I’ve been crushingly busy, what with issues regarding my parents’ estate (which will drag on into the new year), their business (which is very busy at this point), and the topic at hand: My new 2021 novel.

Last time I did an update about the novel was October 25 (you can read it here). One of the things I pointed out in that post, which I wrote when I finished up the 4rd Draft of the novel, was this:

 I doubt the novel will be good enough to publish when I’m done with this 4th draft, but it wouldn’t shock me if it winds up being one of the last drafts needed. At this point, I’m guesstimating the novel will require at least two, if not three, more drafts and before its done.

Not much has changed from what I wrote above. As of today, I’m halfway through the 5th Draft of the novel, ie the readthrough and the red-marker revision phase. I have to now take all the revisions/corrections I’ve made on paper and transfer them into my latest computer file and, once that’s done -and this will take a little while, there are plenty of revisions I’ve made!- I print the whole thing out and start all over again.

Having said that, its really difficult to express how happy I am at the moment.

Yes, there are a lot of revisions that need to be placed into the Word file but after going over this revision, I’m ecstatic with where the story is at this moment.

It feels like I’ve set all the major elements/characters/situations in their proper place (for the most part) and I’ve created a rather unique, scary, and hopefully entertaining novel which should surprise and delight readers…

…at least that’s what I hope!

Alas, we’re already into early December and while I may be able to put all those revisions into the computer (it’s certainly possible) before the end of the year, December historically tends to be one of those months where things get really complicated for me and I’d say the odds of me getting the revisions in before the New Year are 50/50.

Which means regardless of whether or not I get the revisions in, the novel will be done in 2022 and, hopefully, early in the year. If that’s the case, it should be released by no later than the middle of -or earlier- of next year.

Trust me, I’m as excited to get this out as I’m certain others are getting it but, like all my novels, I don’t release something until I feel it is ready to be released.

With this latest revision, we’re almost there!

The New 2021 Novel Update #10

Last week Thursday, the 21st of October, I finished the 3rd Draft of my new 2021 novel and…

…we’re getting close.

There were issues regarding the motivations of certain characters within the book and, as I was banging out the newest draft, that stuff sorted itself fairly well, I think.

After getting that done, I spent Friday the 22nd working on another story, this one a fairly short one, and got the first draft done. By the end of Friday I was feeling pretty burnt out with all this writing and work I’ve been up to and resolved to take it easy during the weekend.

For the most part I managed to do just that, though I did slip in a quick second draft of the short story. Today, Monday, I managed to get a 3rd draft of that story done and sent off to my collaborator.

Now, I’m purposely not giving out too many details about this particular story. It’s off the beaten path of the other stuff I’ve done to date and I’m hopeful it bears fruition and finds itself published, though that remains to be seen. Regardless, even if nothing comes from it, I’m happy with what I wrote and may eventually post it here if nothing does come of it.

Regardless, I’m feeling a little recharged now. Perhaps not fully so, but enough to feel like its time to print up the latest draft of my novel and get to work on its 4th Draft.

The bad news: I doubt the novel will be good enough to publish when I’m done with this 4th draft, but it wouldn’t shock me if it winds up being one of the last drafts needed. At this point, I’m guesstimating the novel will require at least two, if not three, more drafts and before its done.

That may seem like a lot, but it feels like the worst of this is over and my focus is turning toward revisions involving the process of story telling versus actually creating the story. The later is always much harder than the former!

Here’s hoping!

The New 2021 Novel Update #9

A few days back (you can read it here) I offered my last update on my latest novel and wrote:

This current draft is a very serious one

It occurs to me this line needs a little explanation.

After all, each time I sit behind my computer and stare into the monitor with whatever current draft of whatever novel I’m currently working on… am I not taking the work seriously?

Yes, yes I am.

But there are times when one is simply fishing around for ideas, where you have a general notion of where you want to go but are searching around for the proper way to get there.

I can’t tell you the number of times I sit in front of that computer and sit there… and sit there…

…and nothing seems to come of it. I may move the proverbial ball a few inches forward -I usually do- but truthfully the end result might be almost negligible and I feel like Sisyphus pushing that boulder up the hill. Yeah, I’ll eventually get there and the boulder rolls back down the hill and I’m back to the start with that new novel, searching for a new and interesting path to take that boulder up that hill.

The current draft of the book is a serious one because I see the path now to the top of this particular hill, where in earlier drafts that path might not have been so terribly well defined.

Or, to put it another way, the novel’s skeleton is complete and I’m moving on from coming up with the story proper and feel like I’m about to move more solidly into the revision phase, where its not so much what I’m presenting, story-wise, but how I’m presenting it.

It will still take time, of course, and I’m not quite there, but the boulder is getting that much closer to the top of the hill.