Back to the Business

Hello, Panara, my old friend.  I’m here to blog with you again.

The trip went smoothly.  Ten hours of traveling–really, it was only a few minutes over ten hours that I consider it so–a lot of flat-out blasting down straight lines of highway in Indiana and Ohio, and a lot of twisting and turning on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  There were time when I felt like I was blasting right down the old Nurburgring again, though the huge number of cops would have prevented me from opening the throttle and hitting a hundred-plus.

Still, it was a good drive, and I managed a couple of pictures of passage through the first tunnel while R.E.M. was blasting on the stereo.  There was something just slightly on the edge of surreal with that moment, but it’s what made it memorable.

I’m more or less set up now, safe inside my little room, with TV and Internet.  I can catch up on Breaking Bad tonight, and watch Project Runway on Thursday.  I’m sure by this time next week I’ll know if I did the wrong thing, or if I’m going to enjoy the next six months.  Tomorrow may be a pain in the butt, since my main route into work is being worked up–everything here is being worked upon, it seems–so I’m going to look at a few alternates today.  Driving through Hburg feels a lot like driving through Indy, though if I hadn’t known where the Panara was located, I wouldn’t have found it driving down I-83, because there wasn’t anything on the side of the road telling me the Panara was here.  Hey, Penny, the rest of civilized world marks their eatery locations.  We even do it in Indiana, but that might be for the benefit of the meth heads who are up all night after getting their Linlu on.

Duke is in the headphones, and I need to make a run to Costco and Target later today.  After that . . .

We know what comes after that.

No editing was preformed in the course of the day, but I had too reason for that.  Though for a moment I considered pulling over on the Penn Turn, hitting a service center, and powering up the laptop for an hour of getting through the current chapter.  But, no:  I’m not that crazy.

Not much.

Thursday night I managed to edit about three thousand of the ninety-seven hundred words in Chapter Nine.  It wasn’t until I started editing it the other night that I realized the chapter is as big as my smallest published story.  It was just one of those things that kept growing as I wrote, because I needed to get a lot of information in the chapter, and it wouldn’t have done to split it into different sections.  Which means this one chapter makes up almost one-fifth of the story–so I better get it right, yeah?

The feeling here is different.  I still have my financial issues, and I really need to find a place to hole up that cheaper than my current digs.

But I’m on my adventure.

Now if I could get some sleep tonight . . .

 

Late Night Downloads and Star Smashing

Crazy times yesterday, let me tell you.  So many things happening all at once, and coming to a head today and tomorrow.  It keeps a girl busy, you know?

Though there’s been little mention of the activity, the editing on Couples Dance continues.  Two-thirds of the chapters are now clean and done, with four remaining–which means not a lot of work, right?  Wrong!  Three of the four chapters are among the biggest in the novel, accounting for almost half the story–about twenty-four thousand words total.  That mean there is considerable editing ahead of me, even if it is only four chapters.

Up to this point the editing has been great, and I’ve learned to look hard at what I’m doing and make certain things are right and tight.  I’ve caught a few bad quotation marks, lost words, stuff that just doesn’t seem right.  I’ve removed the “suddenly”s and “very”s from the story.  I’ve even taken a couple of passes at two chapters because I was certain tenses were all messed up, and I wanted to sleep on the story before looking at it again.

Editing is fun.  Really, I wouldn’t lie.  Yes, it sounds like a lot of work, because it is, but your story needs this work.  It needs your eyes to fix things like spelling and tenses and things that, when you read them, simply don’t make sense.  The editor on the other end of the Internet can’t always know what you, the write, wanted to say, and you lose time if they’re sending you a block of text with the notion, “The hell is going on here?”

That’s time taken away from the work in progress you’ve got before you at that time.  And you don’t want that.

Not only that, but once more I’m up early with things bugging me.  This article I’ve spoken of–well, a couple of them, actually–I’m laying in bed and it’s like four AM, and there are idea flowing through my head that simply won’t let me sleep.  And out of nowhere comes this thought:  “Hey, if I make that Lensman sunbeam gun, will that 9.15e10 megatons per second of energy it generates really destroy a planet?”  Most people wake up imagining some warm hotness lying next to them; I’m thinking about blowing up planets with a sungun.

You know where this is going, right?

Once the computer was up I start the Google, looking for a calculator to convert megatons to joules–and, what do you know, I find it.  I plug in the above number and end up with 3.82836e26 joules of energy.  Now, you’re probably wondering how do I know if this is enough energy to blow up a planet?  Because I wrote an article some time back about using energy weapons in science fiction, and I gave the amount of energy needed to overcome the “binding energy” of Earth’s gravitational field and let the planet come apart completely.

And that number is 2e32 joules.  Now, it is said that the energy from the Sunbeam is designed to melt the planet, so if you look at the energy being delivered, yes, indeed, in about a minute or two you’ll deliver enough energy to melt an entire planet to the point where it’ll pretty much come apart.  Maybe.  It might be a little more than that, but the concept is workable.

I’ll leave the proof of concept to you.

Stepping Into the Big Dance

No, it wasn’t my intention to edit a little over eight thousand words yesterday.  But things happen, right?

After writing up yesterday’s post I pulled up Couples Dance and began looking at Chapter Six, the midway point of the story.  it’s the first “big” chapter in the book, going just over eight thousand one hundred words.  One could consider it a bit of an info dump, but I like to think of is as more of a “Mr. Ullman Moment”, named in honor of Stewart Ullman, the manager of The Overlook Hotel in The Shining, who tells Jack everything he needs to know about all the nasty, horrible crap that happened at The Overlook back in the day.

That’s pretty much what happens in Chapter Six.  One of my main characters wanted to learn about the notorious past of his house, he has a secondary character look this stuff up, and here it all is, dude, just like you asked.  It’s a fun chapter, even though they talk about death and misery, and maybe a little . . . naw, not going to give that away.  I had fun writing it–

I had more fun editing it yesterday.

I’m rereading everything, trying to not only catch errors, but rewrite things where needed.  I wrote this novel over a year ago, and there’s many things about my style that has changed since–not to mention that I know a bit more about this game than I did in the first three months of 2012.

In the prior five chapters, all ten thousand four hundred fifty words, I’d found mistakes, changed up a few lines–even deleted paragraphs.  Oh, noes!  Yeah, I started cutting things, but don’t get too bent out of shape, the cutting wasn’t that bad.  When it happened it was because things either needed cutting, or some major changing.

Since I had other things on my plate yesterday I figured I’d do about a third of the chapter, maybe half if I was in the mood, then do the rest today.  That was my plan–

My plans have a habit of going to hell quickly.

I get into the chapter, and start reading and writing and editing.  It’s coming along rather nicely, and I feel none of the ennui I sometimes get when I’m editing, because lets admit it:  editing feels a lot like having to eat those vegetables you don’t like.  It’s a necessary bore at times, but you do it because you must.

By the time I finished that first entry, I’d looked at maybe three thousand words.  Maybe.  Not sure, but I do know I’d cut about fifty words from the chapter.  Then it was off to do other things–

Last night, after eating and a few other things, I decided, “Hey, I’ll give it a look, edit a little bit,” and started working on the chapter about six-thirty PM.

About nine-thirty I was finished.  As was the chapter.  All edited, all nice and clean, more or less.  I found mistakes, I deleted fluff, I rewrote lines that needed rewriting.

Now up next:  the crazy sexy.  I love it.

Ride the Camp Kaiju Ashore

I’m told that today is the day that the Camp NaNo winner goodies are in the truck and heading up the dirt road, but I don’t see the damn thing yet.  I’ve checked the site twice this morning, but I must be way too early (it’s six forty-nine AM right now), because the truck isn’t here, and the goodies are lacking.

Or maybe Jason got the drivers last night while they were having sex.  You can never tell.

I’m considering what to do with said goodies, because there’s only one I wish to use, and I probably won’t be able to use that one until the software is released, maybe next month, maybe in October.  The last two NaNos those goodies have gone unused and eventually vanished into the aether, though I once gave a friend my Scrivener fifty percent off code so they could enjoy the software, which they put to good use.

Maybe this year I’ll hold my own version of The Hunger Games for the code.  Call it The Hungry Writer Games, and accept submissions for best and most creative death scenes written in five hundred words or less.  Spend two weeks getting them, then narrow the submissions down until there is only one person left standing, who then rips me off for my goodies.  May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor, penmonkeys.

Enjoyed the movie yesterday.  Plenty of jager on kaiju action, and the beatdowns were brutal.  And may I point out that a mecha head, like the bridge atop of the saucer section of a Federation starship, is the dumbest place to put your cockpit.  Sure, it looks cool riding around in the head, but when all but two of the jager pilots died, it came because the head is right there just asking to be abused.  Head shot, head shot, head shot . . . Guillermo del Toro obviously thought the BattleTech hit table was a load of crap, or he rolls boxcars with loaded dice, cause he showed little mercy to the cockpit crawlers.

Also, when they were fighting in Hong Kong I sort of got an idea where some of the action was taking place, ’cause I kept recognizing landmarks there.  It’s been a long time since I was last in the Fragrant Harbor, but I still look at the place on Google Maps, and dream.

After returning from the movies, however, my novel Couples Dance was on my Seagate drive telling me that it’s not going to edit itself.  Yeah, those lazy ass characters, they won’t do anything on their own, so I gotta pull it up and get in there and do some work.  Now I’m getting into the longer chapters, and Chapter Five is around thirty-six hundred words, so I expect to get about half way in and stop . . .

Right.  How did that work out?  About an hour and a half later I was through the whole chapter, having re-written here, deleted a few things there, and ended up adding a new Scrivener status:  “Recheck Revision”.  Because I found some tense issues, and I want to breeze through it again and make sure I’m not bouncing about in time like a faulty TARDIS.

No, I leave my time travel for my science fiction novels, not the erotic horror . . . or do I?

Creationositiy

The second chapter of Couples Dance is down and done–as much as it’s going to be for now.  I’m certain there’ll be another pass though when this is over, but for now I’m pretty happy.  Sort of happy.  Kind of happy.

Yeah, I’ll take what I have.  Right now it feels good.

The first four chapters are really pretty small as far as the story as a whole is concerned.  Each is between fifteen and eighteen hundred words, so I’ve got a short story to start setting up things for the strangeness to come.  It’s the chapters that come after, that are eight thousand and six thousand, and ever one that’s nine thousand words, that are going to take some time.  Those are the ones that will require a day, or more, to get cleaned up and somewhat rewritten.  Seeing as how I have ten chapters to do, I’m guessing since a few chapters will require multiple days to edit, I could have another two weeks of work ahead.

On this story.  No word on what’s coming next.

Well, I do know what’s coming next, and that work is coming along, at least visually.  My three-dimensional layout for my school is getting bigger and bigger each day, and as I get better at this modeling thing, I can always make better trees and forests, and my building can start to look more like buildings and not some gray blocks on a green surface.  It’s fun to do, to build this thing that has lived in the bowels of my memory for some time, but damn, does it take up time.  You can write, or you can make things relating to writing.  This is definitely the “Make things relating to writing” part, because I’m not writing when I’m working on this landscape.

At least Blender doesn’t kill my system like a few other modeling program have.  Though once I get a few thousand trees laid out, I may need to go to a bigger system.

In a way this school has become another character in my story.  Not that I don’t have a few already:  there is, as they say, a cast of dozens waiting to walk upon the stage and have their say.  Most will be small players; some are going to set up shop and be around for most of the stories about my kids.  But as I lay out this place known as the Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning, I see how it’s turning into more than a place where teachers get up and go through their daily routines, and the kids look for places to hide and make mischief when they’re not studying their butts off.

The school has become something organic.  It is more than a collection of buildings and grounds; it’s a tangible thing.  I am building its personality as surely as if I were making characters notes in a file.

People ask, “What do you do to get to know your characters?”  That’s an easy question to answer:

You do whatever is necessary to turn them into living, breathing creatures.

Even when they’re made of dirt, wood, and stone.

From a Long Way Off

One bit of editing advice given to writers is to put some time between the time you write your story’s first draft, and when you come back to edit the manuscript.  The word on the street is that when you put a few months between these moments, you look upon your written words differently, that you see your writing with eyes that look upon the story with a lot more of a critical edge.

Now stretch that time out to about a year and you’ll be where I was last night.

I’ve spoken about editing Couples Dance a few times before, and it’s gone through one very fast revision last May before I sent it off to some publishing limbo from which it never returned.  I’ve usually thought it was an interesting, nicely paced, horrifically sexy tale, at least when I wasn’t being creeped out by what I’d written.  While it’s not some magnum opus of erotic horror, it’s a story that’s near and dear my heart.

But last night . . . oi.

I opened up the first chapters, began reading, and everything was all, “Oh, that’s not right”; “Ah, I can say that better”; “that doesn’t make sense”.  There wasn’t anything wrote with the chapter, or what was happening in the chapter, but I saw things that didn’t set well–not at all.

There were different ways to get a point across, or to describe what was happening.  There were words that simply didn’t belong and needed to go.  There were a few places where I’d tried going off in one direction and things sorta stopped.  It wasn’t a total mess, but it wasn’t clean.

I’ve seen people say, “Oh, I suck at editing, I’ll get someone else to do it.”  You don’t want to do that.  See, you can send your manuscript off to have someone find and point out wrong punctuation and misspelled  words, but the one huge advantage you have when editing your own work is seeing where you can make improvements.  Not just cutting out huge chunks of story because you’ve meandered into a sub-plot involving robot cats with lasers taking over your living room, but getting things tight and right.

I used to hate editing.  There was a time when I’d rip off a story and think, “Yeah, that’s good.  My first drafts rock!”, but these days I know better.  I’ll go over a story three, four times, pass it around to someone, and still freak when I discover some crazy typo that skipped past all those readings.  It’s enough to drive you to abuse chemicals if you’re of such a mind.

One chapter edited, a few more to go.  Actually a lot more to go.  The story is fifty-three thousand words, and I edited thirteen hundred last night.  Hey, a little over fifty-one thousand, seven hundred words to go!  And there’s a good chance I’ll give the story another look before I find some people to look at it and tell me where things are wrong.

I’ve got a month to six weeks to get it good.  No rush, yeah?

Lammas Word Harvesting

Happy Lammas, everyone.  Today you should have your wheat harvested and your bread a-baking, and get that sucker blessed and put in the corners of your barn.  Or you could just head down to Panara and pick up a loaf of rye and cut out the middleman.  I love rye; maybe I’ll pick up some today.

Yesterday was one of getting things laid out for my three dimensional mapping, and helping people.  Mostly it was mapping, because I’m having fun with it, but somewhere about four PM I realized that I was mapping out the whole place, and if you’ve seen my maps, you’ll know that “whole” covers a huge amount of ground.  I’ve laid down most of the buildings, but there are a huge number of tunnels and paths that are in need of plotting.

At least I have the lakes in place.

Today, however, I want to return to editing.  While I have things to do during the day, this evening I’m going to pull out Couples Dance project and set up the story for a good polish.  That means reading each chapter a couple of times, and probably finding someone to look it over as well.  Because–editing!  And I want this published by the end of September, which means I want it nice and clean.  A lot cleaner than Her Demonic Majesty, which still has little bugs here and there that I’m fixing as they come to my attention.

Yeah, this is the way publishing goes.  Lots and lots of work.

I’m still considering submitting this to a house for publication.  I believe there is a market for this story, though I could write erotic tales of fairies, there’s always that.  But back to my story . . .

I’ve performed one edit on the story already:  that happened when I was stretching it into novel form, because the original version was just short of being an extremely short novel, and it was suggested that I add a couple of chapters and make it so.  Fortunately I saw where those chapters could go, and said words went into those places.  (This was also the first time I used Free Mind to map out one of the new chapters, because I wanted to see if my ideas made any sense.)

Because it’s in a Scrivener project file, it’s easy to pull out the last version of the story, save it, and continue editing, knowing that should I get too crazy with the chopping–which I almost never do–I have a point to which I can return.  Another great thing about Scrivener, and one that others should use.  It’s also fun to go back and look at your past glory, and see if you’re getting better with your craft, or if you’re only moving the ice buckets about the Titanic.

I won’t stop on the school grounds layout, but it’s back to writing work.  Oh, doesn’t sound like it?  Editing is writing–it’s just different writing, as Trusty Editortm tells me.  Whatever it is, it’s Day One to getting another story published.

Please Stand By.