Admiring the Prior Creation

There was a moment during last night’s editing of Kolor Ijo that had me going, “Hum, really?  I did that?”  And it had nothing to do with clumsy sentence structure, of which a few I discovered during the night.  It had to do with discovering that I’d actually done a great job setting up a mystery–

Allow me to explain.

First off, I’m not good with riddles and mysteries.  Riddles have always set up a mind block in me of some kind, and I usually have no idea what they are, or mean.  I mean, there’s often no point of reference for them, so unless you’re Edward E. Nigma, they seem difficult, if not impossible, to solve.

And mysteries are never good with me.  I can usually see the solution coming a mile a way, or I’m spending too much time trying to figure out how the particular conclusion was reached an I remained puzzled.  This is one of the reasons I don’t mind spoilers in a book, show, or movie, because a lot of time I’m watching how someone–the writer and director in most cases–got from A to Z without tripping over their own feet.  I’ll usually have to go back and reread or watch something to determine if I enjoyed what I’d seen, or if I’d realized that what was before me made no sense.  (I had that happen with a recent re-watching of the movie, The Avengers.  Didn’t make much sense on the second time around.)

But what I’d done in Kolor Ijo was set up a mystery.  I had to, because the events that lead to Part Three are all dependent on things that happen twenty years before, and as I was going through the story last night, I could remember how I’d spent time sinking down into the story and looking up some history on Indonesia to be able to get to that particular point in the novel.  And after I did so, I felt pretty pleased with myself.

I didn't look quite as happy as this, but I was almost there.

I didn’t look quite as happy as this, but I was almost there.

Last night wasn’t the best of nights, what with crying and my toilet deciding it was going to spray water around my bathroom with a little help from me–that last part is true, don’t ask.  But while I was in my little editing zone, I felt a confident and, yes, pleasure, that all those years ago–well, almost three–I was able to set up a background event that, in the long term, made sense.  And I remember now that this story was one of the reasons I started looking into time line software, because I was probably thinking at the time, “This would be a lot easier to lay out if I could actually see what happened in the past.”

That’s carried into today, because I’m setting up little hints and clues to future events in my current set of novels.  Or, if not that, I’m throwing things out there that may seem like I’m just blowing them off, but that will be resolved somewhere down the line.  Maybe in few chapters, maybe in a few novels.

Believe me, though:  I will get back to them, because I know they are there.

From Makassar to Massachusetts

Though there hasn’t been much comment on the subject of late, I’m three chapters into the edit of Part Two of Kolor Ijo.  Really, truly, I am, because I actually worked on two chapters last night.

See?  A manuscript!  It does exist.

See? A manuscript! It does exist.

I was surprised that editing went so quickly last night.  Well, I shouldn’t say quickly:  I finished up Chapter Seven, then polished off Chapters Eight and Nine before settling in for the night, watching a little television, and going to bed.  Actually, I didn’t get heavily into editing until after watching Planet of the Apes, so that means I spent about an hour before that movie came on, and two after, going through about four thousand words.

Now that I’m through the intro–and believe it when I say that Part One really is an intro–I’m starting to enjoy the editing on the story.  I’ve been cutting stuff out; not a lot, but enough that I’ve probably dropped the word count by over a hundred up to these last chapters.  Last night was the first time I ended up with words added to the count:  fifteen exactly.  Wee hoo!  Better watch out, it could be the start of something bad!

There is a pleasantness in being able to read something that I haven’t see in a while, and that makes it easier for me to take my time, read the passages, and see all the little mistakes that were made–or, as the case was last night, a couple of big mistakes when I found paragraphs that made no sense at all and needed some massive fixing.  That’s the idea of an edit–to find stuff like that and get it right.

So it’s coming along nicely.  I plan to get through the next chapter tonight, and this is one of the longer chapters–as you can see from the image above, I started getting a bit wordy in this part of the story, which is normal for me.  At the rate I’m proceeding, I feel I’ll have the first pass edit finished in a couple of weeks, and then I’ll probably send it out for beta reading while doing another edit.  If I can find a cover for cheap, I’ll likely go ahead with my plans to self-publish the book in June.  Or maybe I should just bite the bullet and start sending it out to some of the local horror houses.

Speaking of novels . . .

I’ve been bothered by the lack of my kids in my life of late.  While I haven’t been thinking much about A For Advanced, yesterday did trigger a lot of thoughts about Annie and Kerry.  As much as writing a four hundred thousand plus word novel was a total pain in the ass, I realize that I do want to tell what happens to them, and that their first level was just the beginning.  There’s a whole lot more ahead–not just their school years, but stuff that happens after.

Therefore, I reached a decision last night.  In May, probably the first weekend in the month, which happens to be 1 and 2 May, I’m going to set up a project and stay laying out the novel.  If I stick to my normal process, about the time Salem would be shutting down for the summer, and Annie and Kerry would be on their way home, I’ll likely start writing The Foundation Chronicles:  B For Bewitching.

There.  I said it.

So it is written, so it is done.

Writing at the Speed of Imagination

After a slow start to the day I’ve come back to a point where I am actually thinking straight, almost like a real person.  It’s wonderful that I’m not crashing out right about now.

Today I’m going to answer another reader’s question and this one is from Christy Birmingham, who I’ve followed for sometime as well.  Her question is simple:

 

What are your top three reasons for using Scrivener?

 

That’s an interesting question, because I’m not certain I can answer it sufficiently.  You see, there are so many different reasons why I use it, but let me see if I can break this down to something that makes sense.

 

One:  I can organize everything from the shortest story to the longest novel however I like.

 

Let me show you a few things.  First up is, believe it or not, the only real short story I’ve ever written, The Relocater, which clocks in at fifty-eight hundred words.  I wrote it in September, 2013, over the course of five nights, just to prove to myself that I could write a short story.

Looks kinda cute, doesn't it?

Looks kinda cute, doesn’t it?

There isn’t much to organize here, and Scrivener even has a short story template that allows you to just rip off some quick stories when you’re in the mood.  In this case I wanted quick and dirty, and that’s what I got.

Now, here is the novel I’m currently editing, Kolor Ijo:

Welcome back, 2012 NaNoWriMo story!

Welcome back, my friend, to the show that never ends.

When I laid out this novel I’d used Scrivener for about fifteen months, so I had a better grasp of how I wanted to set up my novel.  You can see that here I’m setting things up in parts, and that each text file is really a chapter.  And since most are short and separated in action from each other, I can get away with having it neatly laid out this way.

Now, maybe you recognize this work . . .

Every time I think I'm finished, you pull me back in.

Every time I think I’m finished, you pull me back in.

This is, right here, the most advanced layout I’ve ever done, which is for, naturally, The Foundation Chronicles:  A For Advanced.  And I should mention that the layout I have today is not the one with which I started.  When I began writing this in October, 2013, there were parts, there were chapters, there were scenes–but there were no acts.  It was only after I was close to finishing what is now Act One that I realized this story was gonna be huge, and trying to release it as one large tome might not be a good idea.  Therefore, I added the acts, began moving Parts into those Acts, and everything followed.  And that’s one of the things I love about the program.  However I want to set up my story, however I want to lay out my research, however I want to link to information from internal and external sources, I can.  It’s all up to you.  It’s even possible-though I haven’t tried it yet–to build your own template so these setups are available when you go to create a new project.  Like I’ll need with I write that B Level novel.

 

Two:  Write in one simple format, compile it into anything.

 

As a word processor Scrivener is simple:  it’s just text files where you can set margins, font styles, and font sizes.  You can so most everything that you can do in, say, MS Word, though for some functions you need to be hooked up to the Internet to get them to work, but who isn’t these days?  (And those functions are really needed to get the story written–I know; I’ve done that.)

But where the program really shines is in the area of how your final product look.  The Compile function is the formatting system of the program, and it makes it possible to just write lines of information in each text box, and by setting definitions in the Compile pop-up box, you can make the output look any way that makes you happy.

So many options, so little time to play with this stuff.

So many options, so little time to play with this stuff.

Most of the time I’ll compile into PDF format to look for errors and to send to beta readers, because you can’t change the stuff in that format–well, you can, but I have to trust my beta readers.  When I’m ready to send something up for self-publishing, I’ll compile the document to a Word .doc and run it through various checks as it’s converted into an epublishing format–

Which Scrivener will actually do for you.  .Epub and .Mobi are the two epiblishing formats supported by Scrivener, and if I remember correctly, Amazon will allow you to upload .mobi to Kindle Direct.  And those options on the left of the popup window?  Those are you selection and formatting options.  It’s actually possible to take plain, unaltered text an set your margins, fonts, and sizes in there, and have a ball getting your final product ready for whatever you like.  I haven’t explored all that because, well, it would take away from my writing.

And speaking of writing, the most important reason I use Scrivener:

 

Three:  It keeps everything I need for the story right in front of me.

 

Scrivener is not a word processing program:  it’s a project management program.  That’s why, when you go to create something new, you’re not creating a story or a short or a novel, you’re creating a project.  And into that project goes–

Everything.

Here’s something I’ve not shown much:  the research section for A For Advanced.

I seem to have an interest in aircraft . . .

I seem to have an interest in aircraft . . .

All that stuff on the left are things I slipped into the binder almost a year and a half ago, and some of the information I’ve kept updated, or even changed, as I went along with the story.  After all, the Spell List was being updated and added to constantly, because I’d come up with new things as I wrote.  But all the world building I did in October, 2013–it’s there.  Everything.  And up above I have information on students and who’s in every coven, and the levels and . . . you get the idea.

Now, in the picture above, there are four entries that look like little globes.  Those are interactive webpages that you can set up inside the project–you know, some of those functions that you need an Internet connection for?  Here’s what that looks like:

I seem to recall looking for these schedules back in 2013--

I seem to recall looking for these schedules back in 2013–

And the website is completely functional, so while I’m working on a scene, if I really needed to know the time for the train from Rockport–which, if you remember, is the end of the train line on Cape Ann and not that far from the school’s main gate–to Salem, it’s right here.  That was why I set this page up:  so I would have access to these schedules if they were needed.  And they will be–maybe.

The great thing is when it comes time to set up a project for B For Bewitching, I have an option to import another Scrivener project, so I’ll just zip all of this into that new project, delete what I don’t need, and keep the rest.  There you have it:  all my research is available for the new novel, with a little fuss as possible.

That’s pretty much it:  three main reasons why I use Scrivener.  There are a lot more, but those three are the biggest reasons.

And with reasons like those, I don’t really need any others.

The Path to Knowing is In the Missing

Here is an interesting quandary:  I was supposed to work on Kolor Ijo last night, because when you’re in the editing, you should edit, right?  And editing doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, because the novel is only (I would put that in quotes but then it feels like I’m showing off if I do) twenty-four chapters long, with a prologue and a code that stretches it out to twenty-six chapters, the whole novel is sixty-eight thousand, eight hundred words total.  And nearly all of the chapters are short:  in Part One the longest chapter is just under three thousand words, and that was a standard with my last novel.

See?  Just little bitty chapters.  The good ol' days when you could rip off something like this in a month.

See? Just little bitty chapters. The good ol’ days when you could rip off something like this in a month.

The nice thing that comes from editing a work like this is that you can take your time reading the tome and see what needs to be changed, and what has to be changed.  I found a lot of interesting but messed-up sections in the chapters I’ve read, and without a careful re-reading, that crap would have slipped through.  That’s one of the hazards of NaNoWriMo:  you’re writing so quickly at times that words just flying into the page, and there are sentences where those words make no damn sense.  I found about a dozen of them so far, and it’s a scary thing, let me tell you.

But at the same time I’m editing this–and I should mention I’m taking my time editing, because I’m reading this once for the first time in over two years, and it’s taking me time to get to know the characters once again–I’m thinking about another couple–and you know who they are.  Over the weekend I began thinking about something that happens to the kids–here it comes–after they leave Salem, because they do have a life outside the reinforced walls of that environment, and the things that happened to them when the Real Annie and I started thinking about their lives at school have changed slightly.  Meaning their future has changed slightly as well.  This is a perfect example of Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey stuff going on, and one must adjust.

There are things that happen to them both that need to be adjusted, because what happened before was, frankly, a little strange.  Also, life is a little different in The World of the Foundation, and it’s pretty obvious that Annie has her sights set on doing something that she wants to make her own, and it seems likely that Kerry may follow in her footsteps.  They’re gonna be busy kids from their F Levels on for a couple of years, and later on into their lives.

In fact, one of the things I was time lining out was . . . hum, should I do this? Naw, better to keep you guessing and wondering.

I don’t need to wonder:  I know what’s coming.  In both the future and the past.

I just gotta get their on my own power.

 

Revisiting Old Horrors

I have to confess:  while I was editing another project I realized that I was missing something, and I think you know what I was missing.  When is put down almost sixteen months of your life to a single project, you tend to put your heart into said project, and now that it’s not in my life at the moment, things feel lonely and just a little bit empty.

I was looking for ways to keep busy after editing, a little of which was done by catching both Judgement at Nuremberg (a movie I’d only seen the first fifteen minutes of a long time ago), and Dr. Strangelove (which I’ve seen dozens of times and never get tired of seeing, only because I want to exceed my authority and launch a nuclear attack), so I sat down and did something I started on a few days ago.  And that something looks a little like this:

You also now know when the Last Madness of the 2013/2014 school year is held.

You also now know when the Last Madness of the 2013/2014 school year is held.

I’ve always been curious about the time line of the “books”–I guess I can call them that now–and now I know.  The first three are the “shortest” in terms of calendar time, with A For Advanced the shortest of them all.  Why?  Because it picks up right as the kids are getting ready to leave for Salem, and any discussion of their summertime fun is seen in flashback.  The time between the B and C Level books is deliberate:  the story, as I see it in my head, actually starts on 2 June, then immediately flashes back to the night before.  Why?  You’ll have to wait for me to write it, that’s why.  But it does, because I know how it starts.

And the last three novels, particularly the last two, cover a year in their lives.  In reality, there’s almost no break in the story between the start of the B Level book and the end of the F Level one, save for the month that passes between the D and E Level novels–and you’ll know what’s going to happen in that month because it’ll be discussed at the end of the D Level novel.

There you go:  I know the road.  Just have to write it now.  And know that between the screen borders on the left and right of that shot, I know just about everything that happens to my kids.  Everything.

But this didn’t keep me up all night.  Nope.  I got into something else . . .

First off, I finally moved my Foundation novels off my computer drive and placed them on my external drives for safe keeping.  It’s a sad thing, I know, but when I’m finished writing those stories I move them away for safe keeping.  And in return I moved something back onto my computer–

Welcome back, 2012 NaNoWriMo story!

Welcome back, 2012 NaNoWriMo story!

I started editing Kolor Ijo last night, and let me tell you, it’s so different to go back into a work you haven’t actually laid eyes on for over two years and started reading it again.  As you can see I began editing the Prologue, and . . . oh, boy.  Was it a little rough?  Yes.  Has my style changed?  Tremendously.

Reading the prologue was like reading the writing of another author.  I was trying for a style and it felt clumsy, as if it were almost experimental.  That comes from writing a whole lotta stuff since then–probably close to 600,000 words if you include the end of my latest novel, and not include this blog.  It was a little tough getting through the work, and I ended up not only re-writing certain portions, but I cut out about fifty words.  That doesn’t seem like much, but it’s likely closer to a hundred when you take into consideration what I rewrote.

This is something I’m doing.  My mind is on other things, too, but I do want this story edited and even published.  I miss Salem, but I miss some of my other characters as well.

And it’s a change of pace to go back into the horrors of the past.

Back At Makassar

Last night was editing of another project, not any of my novels, and playing with time lines–you know, doing that thing that I said I wouldn’t do.  It was a lot of fun, actually, and I’m discovering something about a B Level novel:  there won’t be a lot of talk about classes, because it’s not about classes, it’s about people.  Most of the stuff that ended up in events had to do with personal things and improvements, though I did see where someone goes to the hospital twice in the course of the year–probably off to Bay #1, Bed #2.  And in one instance it’s almost a repeat of another incident that happened to a particular person, and they’re brought in unconscious after same person they collided with before sorta runs into them once more.  Yeah, that’s a thing again.

And there’s this:

Not sure what it means, but it involves being outside the school, that's for certain.

Not sure what it means, but it involves being outside the school, that’s for certain.

You know me and how I love to play with maps, and if given the chance I will.  I usually only do anything with them if it has something to do with the story, so you can rest assured that map above has something to do with another novel.  Keep in mind that it takes time to plot things out in detail, so the likelihood I’m going to start writing a second Annie and Kerry Novel within another week or so is slim.  You’ll have better luck finding Bigfoot riding on the back of the Loch Ness Monster.

What I have decided is that as soon as I finish the project I’m doing on the side, I need to get back into editing, because I have a novel I want to push out.  And that novel is Kolor Ijo.

Some people may remember my first self-published story Kuntilanak.  That was the first thing I wrote, and kept writing, and finished writing, and even went so far as to put it up for sale.  It was never meant to be a best seller:  I just wanted to say that I wrote a story, and that people have bought said story.

I was never certain I would ever expand upon the story of Indriani Baskoro and Kadek Bagus Surya Buana:  as it was the original story started out because someone wanted a Halloween story, and I wrote it only to discover later that it was too long for what the person wanted.  I thought those twenty-five thousand words would be enough.

And then NaNoWriMo 2012 came along.

I usually start thinking about what I’m going to write for NaNo about two months before November rolls around, and 2012 was no exception.  Really, the expectation was high for me, because I’d “won” 2011 writing Her Demonic Majesty, and I wanted to prove I could do it again.  And as I needed an idea I thought I’d write a sequel to Kuntilanak, but instead of setting the story back in Bali, I’d go somewhere else in Indonesia.

Like . . . here.

Like . . . here.

There are a lot of places to visit in Indonesia, and they are all so very different.  I moved the setting to another island, changed it up further by creating an urban setting, and started writing Kolor Ijo.  And when I finished–

That was it.  I hadn’t done anything with it in over two years.

I think I need to change that up, and it’s likely I’ll start editing it in a couple of weeks.  It’s not the monster A For Advanced is:  I could fit five Kolor Ijos into that binder.  Which means I should be able to edit it up right.

At least that’s my hope.

Let’s see what comes of this.

And Today I’m With Rachel Carrera!

Before I get into my normal post, a couple of weeks back I was interviewed by Rachel Carrera, and today the interview is up on her blog.  Click on this link, go over and give her a little love, and read all about get into my work.

As if you didn’t know already.