Fish Tacos

I finished chapter 19 in Pursuit today. It was a little strange because I hadn’t written anything since chapter 13 until yesterday.

I also discovered that Lillim likes fish tacos. I mean it’s been four books and everything, but it’s nice to know I can still learn new things about her.

I sometimes feel that Lillim maybe doesn’t have enough characterization, but then I go and write a scene where she eats tacos at a little stand and waxes about how sad she is. You know because characterization is all about being sad and mopey.

In other news, I did manage to send Hatter to my editor at 11 at night. Yeah, an hour before it would be “late,” but in my defense I went over the manuscript word by word before hand. That takes a while even with books as short as mine.

Hatter Goes to the Editor

Today is the day I am supposed to send Hatter is Mad to the editor. Through my edits I knocked the book down by almost 3k words, despite adding two chapters. (I cut like three chapters though.)

I managed to get it back up to where it was before I started cutting thanks to the work of my two crit partners, who apparently are gluttons for punishment.

After that, I went through my manuscript looking for overused words like had, just, back, then, etc. Doing so shrank my book back down by another 3k words.

Since then, my wife has worked tirelessly to edit the first third of my book. Thanks to all her hard work, I’ve actually gotten the book back up to 1k past its original size. It is really a much better book.

I just need to give it one last once over, and it’s off to the editor for the final polish/proof read. After that, well, you’ll be able to buy the book. You should totally buy it too. It’s like a bazillion times better than Kill It With Magic. You should buy that book too, if you haven’t, because it’s a non-stop thrill ride of awesome. Special emphasis on non-stop and thrill ride.

There’s definitely a little more breathing room in Hatter is Mad, so if Kill it With Magic was a little too bumpy for you, I’d encourage you to check out Hatter when it comes out in December, anyway.

Good WIll

We started cleaning out the garage because of well, reasons and stuff. We do this every year about this time and every year I find myself giving away my books. This time was no exception, and I got rid of a load of books from my childhood.

I mean, I got rid of Haymeadow and The River (the sequel to The Hatchet). I was going to keep A Wild Sheep Chase, but decided that I was just delaying the inevitable and put it in the box. I like that book a lot, and I was hesitant to buy it originally because it was so damn expensive. ($13.99 like ten plus years ago)

I also got rid of my collection of Katherine Kerr novels. I had the entire Deverry series which, oddly enough, I bought the first one from a Good Will many moons ago.

I have a few more books to take this weekend, and every single one makes me sad. On that note, however, I found my copy of Summer of Monkeys. This is a novel I refer to all the time, but no one else seems to have heard of. It’s by Wilson Rawles, the guy who wrote Where the Red Fern Grows.

My Grandma would always refer to Wilson Rawles whenever I thought my writing was terrible because he had terrible grammar and couldn’t sell his writing. So he burned it all in a fire. Then his wife (English teacher) edited Where the Red Fern Grows, and it became a classic. Think of all the other awesome stories we’d have by him if people didn’t discount his writing to the point where he burned decades of work.

It seems like when I clean out my books I always find a hidden gem I’ve forgotten about. Last year, I found From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler last year. I have vivid memories of them bathing in fountains. I try to explain it to people and no one seems to get it. Sigh.

I also kept The Great Gatsby but donated my copy of Sons and Lovers. I am always hesitant to donate “classics” because I feel like they make me look smarter from their perch on my shelf. (And I’ve actually read them.)

I think I’m going to get rid of my Star Wars novels, but I really don’t want to because I like them. It’s like my Vampire the Masquerade novels. I like them dammit, and you can’t make me get rid of them. Then the next year I get rid of them. (This time it was Deverry.) I wish there was an easier way to store books, like on an electronic device or something…

Had Enough

Did you know I used the word “had” over 480 times in Hatter is Mad? Apparently, it is one of my go to words because something like 8% of the words in the entire book were the word “had.” To put it in perspective, I used the word “then” 80 times and the word “still” 90 times.

So I spent the majority of my time going through the book “had” by “had” and deciding to erase them or rewrite them. I’m down to about 100 usages now. This is better, I think. It really tightened up a lot of my writing.

I’m a little sad because I wound up shrinking my novel by another thousand words when I did this. But they were a thousand words mostly consisting of had, hadn’t, and been.

I think this exercise has made me a better writer because now that I’m aware of it, I can fix it. I’m not sure what other words to look out for exactly, but it was really crazy to do a find and have the word “had” pop out at me 10 times on one page.

I think part of it is that I use it in colloquial speech a lot and that’s fine, but it also presents situations where it makes the sentences unclear and/or repetitive. Also, apparently there’s a thing called a past perfect tense. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but I apparently “don’t need it.”

Grammar Snob

I suck at grammar. In fact, if I didn’t have spell check, I wouldn’t even be able to spell the word. When I critique stories, I come out and say this at the beginning. I mean, I’m not a hapless inbred trying to string words together in a way that makes no sense. I can fumble along reasonably well, but the nuances of grammar escape me.

My wife, on the other hand, is a master of grammar. She bends it to her will and makes it do things I don’t understand. When I proofread her stuff, I always hate bringing up points I think are wrong because there’s almost always an obscure grammar rule I don’t understand for why she wrote it the way she did. (Wow that was a long sentence.)

Anyway, upon being awoken this morning by my alarm clock, my wife informed me that she now understands why I suck at grammar. She says she can teach me a targeted lesson on grammar. At least that’s what I think she said because I was still 87% asleep.

Either way, I suspect you will see a marked improvement in my grammar come… well, soon.

Another Review

I got another review. I’m excited because it was 5 stars, even if it was a little short.

You can view it here, if you like

Moving on, I’d like to share some review stats, just for funsies.

Amount of “reviewers” contacted for a review: 46

Amount of “reviewers” who accepted: 17

Reviews received: 2

 

Basically, in my experiment of me, for every book reviewer I asked, approximately 1/3 accepted. Of that 10% returned a review. Now to be fair, several of these reviewers promised to have a review by the end of the year. So I expect that number to jump a little bit. *fingers crossed*

On an unrelated note, Hatter is coming along nicely. It is still hard to believe I have to send it to the editor on the 20th. It’s basically a month out from being available for purchase. That’s a scary thought. It’s a little weird that by Christmas, I’ll have two Lillim books available.

I mean, it’s not like weird, weird, but it is still a little strange to be like I wrote a book, and not only that, there’s a sequel.

Speaking of sequels, I’m up to 11.5k words on Pursuit. Which is good (because hey that’s a lot) and bad (because I was there on Thursday). I haven’t written a word since. I was on a roll, but I have so much editing to do for Hatter, that I haven’t really had a chance to work on it much.

Also, if Shattered was written listening to Nickelback, then Pursuit is being written listening to Hollywood Undead.

Outlines

I just finished Chapter 8 of Pursuit yesterday. I’m at about 9k words. I try to write 1200 word chapters. I’m just not a wordy guy, and as anyone who has read my books or blog posts know, I tend to get to the end of the book before my word count is where I’d like it to be.

I’m the rare kind of writer that has to add words on subsequent drafts. That being said, I’m pleased with my progress since I tried to start this in line with NanoWrimo. I don’t think I’m actually going to “be part of” Nanowrimo, it doesn’t seem like my style, but I like the idea of it.

So what am I doing differently with Pursuit than I did with the other books? I wrote an outline, but not an outline like I did for Fairy Tale. When I finished Shattered, and was trying to come up with a blurb for the book, I wrote an outline. This outline looks something like this:

 

  • Chapter 1 -Dirge
    • Dirge and Warthor head to Warthor’s house
    • Joshua missing
  • Chapter 2 -Dirge
    • Dirge and Warthor travel through the outskirts of Lot
  • Chapter 3 – Warthor
    • Joshua goes crazy

 

As you can see, it isn’t super detailed. I wrote the chapter and who had perspective during that chapter. I gave myself one or two (sometimes three) bullet points to help me remember what happens during the chapters.

I decided to try this for Pursuit because I got to chapter 4 or 5 and was stuck… I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. So I sat down and did the same exercise. It really helped me a lot. Just having something to refer to for each chapter was nice. I could just refer to it and be off to the races.

At the same time, this was a lot less detailed than my Fairy Tale outline. That was a super detailed outline that felt like it was constricting my writing. This new outline structure feels more like a series of writing prompts, and you know what, I still don’t always follow it.