Rejection, hoops, more writing

on Tuesday, November 29, 2011
So I'm in that stage of manuscript submissions where people have requested partials/fulls, and they start rejecting those. Which, honestly, is somewhat more painful then when people just reject queries. When they reject a query at least I can blame the stupid query. When they reject an actual manuscript, that means they read it and didn't like it, which also means the blame falls on the writing itself. That can be a little rough.

There are still a handful out (some with partials, some with just queries) and I've honestly seen more success with Steelgods than any other batch of submissions, but it doesn't make the entire experience of jumping through hoops any less stressful. It also is a stronger revelation on why so many prospective authors turn to eBooks: it's aggravating to have (what you think is) a quality product only to have it halted at the various stages of approval. I can certainly see why this is beneifical: the more people that see it and are allowed to make changes, the (potentially) better the manuscript will become. But the whole notion of having to jump through all these hoops just to get through the door is aggravating, and makes the whole thing seem more of an impossible task than it probably actually is.

Not that I would know. I haven't sold anything yet; as far as my personal experience goes, it IS impossible. But that isn't going to stop me from keeping on trying.

On a more pleasant topic, my NaNoWriMo inspired vacation is going to be officially over on the 1st, and then it's business as usually. And by that I mean a blitz of writing Death's Aria in one month (or less!). I've spent a good half of November not thinking about writing at all (mostly just Skyrim), cleaning the pallet more or less. Now I'm chomping at the bit to get started again. Book number eight will be finished before the year is up, to be sure. I also consider it to be the most "marketable," to be honest, which means I might push up it's editing schedule to get it back out.

Back to a less pleasant topic: the future of Steelgods. There isn't much I've decided on yet (as I said, it's still out with a lot of people, I'm just thinking way ahead) but if nobody picks it up it makes writing the rest of the books in the series pretty much useless from a financial standpoint (unless I decide to epublish them). Because I like the story so much I honestly think I'd still go through and finish out the series, but it is a thing to consider.

That's it from me. Back to killing dragons and sniping mammoths from the top of a mountain.

Slacking off

on Monday, November 21, 2011
When I said that when I got Skyrim I wasn't going to be doing much, I wasn't kidding.

My evenings have basically consisted of two things: Watching QI (Quite Interesting) while playing Skyrim. QI is a fantastic British television show that I highly recommend. Skyrim is a video game that will ruin your life.

I've taken this brief respite to send off more query letters, do some minor editing, and catch up on my reading. My Goodreads currently has like six books in my "currently reading," which I need to finish up. My main read is Steve Jobs' biography, which is absolutely fascinating if a bit long-winded. If you have any interest in how Apple became what it was or how personal computers basically began, you should seriously consider looking into this book.

To be honest, it's good to finally take a break. I've written around 500,000 new words this year so far, not to mentioned essentially rewrote all of Steelgods (so tack another 100k onto that number), so a breather was in order. I also went to four cons this year, two of them out of state, formatted and published a Kindle book, and went to Brandon Sanderson's class. It's been a wild year, and I think this is a breath I need.

That being said, I'm only taking November off. Once December rolls around I'm blitzing Death's Aria, if only so I can have written three books this year. I can't have 2010 have three books written and not 2011 (even if Effulgent Corruption is longer than all the books I wrote in 2010 combined).

So that's generally it from me. Skyrim is incredible. Keep on writing. And here is some awesome music (I listen to this soundtrack a lot with Death's Aria, if only because it gets me in the weird mood)

Variant, Death's Aria, Gears, and Young Adult

on Saturday, November 12, 2011
Go buy this book. 

First off, thanks to all of you who participated in Larry Corria's Book Bomb of Robison Wells' Variant. Everything went CRAZY on Tuesday. Basically Robinson got laid off from his job because he has panic attacks, which left him unemployed. The spark Larry started exploded into a huge Twitter thing, bumping the book from ~#6000 on the amazon listing to freaking #55. Yeah, it beat out the freaking Hunger Games boxed set. The only thing above it in both Sci-Fi and Fantasy YA was the individual Hunger Games books and the new/last Eragon book. They sold so many copies they bought all of Amazon's stock for all versions (except Kindle, obviously). It was awesome.

I actually picked up the Kindle version, and so far it's a really good book! It reminds me a lot of The Maze Runner meets...something else. There's lots of paintball in the book. But it's a fun YA read that I'd recommend to anybody, especially considering it's only $10 (and your money goes to a good cause).

Anyway, reading Variant made me think a lot about the young adult genre, especially since I'm switching gears (pun intended?) and writing another one instead of an epic fantasy. There were a few things about writing young adult I really enjoy, which is probably why I keep finding myself coming back to it.

- The books tend to move a lot quicker, with less descriptions and more dialogue.
- As a whole, the majority of the characters tend to be in the same age group (adolescents; 12-25), which sort of makes them easier to write. They also tend to play off each other a lot more...excitably? than other genres.
- Young Adult books get right to the point, which is usually one major key theme that drives the whole book. In The Hunger Games it was...the Hunger Games themselves (which is why I think the third book was so weak). In Harry Potter it was the wizard idea and then Hogwarts (again, why the last book didn't seem as strong to me). The Maze Runner was about the maze, I Am Not a Serial Killer is about hunting demonic serial killers. They tend to pick an exciting topic and stick with it, which both keeps the focus and makes it easy to follow.
- Romance and crazy emotions. Teenagers honestly aren't a volatile as most people make them out to be (it's a stereotype that they'll never break; adults actually have nearly as many mood swings as teenagers do, we just aren't as loud about it), but it is a time of life where you have tons of options, you are getting control of your life, and you don't like having that sense of independence taken away. It makes for very proactive characters, which helps drive the story. We adults like to sit around and have meetings.
- Secretly, lots of people still wish they were teenagers, though they'll never admit it. It's subconscious, and honestly I think it's why many adults read YA novels. We miss the constant excitement, the romance and the wildness. We miss having open futures; after a certain point things get set in stone and put into routine. It's a form of rose-tinted wish-fulfillment: we don't remember the awful parts of high school, but we'll certain idealize that time of life. Which makes for both an enjoyable read and write.
- My first book was very much actually Young Adult, even though it wasn't intended to be. Honestly, the vast majority of what I write is probably closer to YA than adult. I have adult ADD, and I started writing books because I felt a lot of books were too slow, so I set out to write something I'd enjoy reading. That principle has still applied, which means most of what I churn out is at least paced like a YA novel. In retrospect, maybe I should just write thrillers or something (hey, Jim Butcher made it work with the Dresden Files).

The point is that I'm really enjoying writing Death's Aria, and even though I'm only a small bit into it I'm enjoying reading it too. I'm actually doing a quick re-read of The Gears of Anbar just because I'm in a YA mood right now, and I'm surprised how much I enjoy it. Not in a "tooting my own horn" way, but in a "why don't I read more YA?" way. There's a reason this is a big market right now.

Granted, I'm also fully aware of the pitfall of writing something adult and branding it as YA when, in truth, it's probably an adult novel. While I'll completely agree the third John Cleaver book (I Don't Want to Kill You) sits squarely in YA with following the basic conventions, the second book (Mr. Monster) really...doesn't. I don't want to force genre tropes onto anybody, but YA books have a sort of flow and reoccurring themes that adult novels miss (perhaps the biggest being the fact there is nearly always a love interest, and their relationships usually pan out in the same structure: gradual, but not gradual enough for an adult book).

Rambling. I think the point of this is I like writing YA, and I'm debating how much that will be my main focus. I'm also writing Death's Aria because of the recent Writing Excuses on expanding your genre. Death's Aria is well set in urban fantasy (though not the whole "chicks kicking butt" thing, which I honestly can't stand), which is a genre I haven't tackled. It's still YA, so it isn't like I'm branching out into supernatural romance or anything way out there, but it's still something different. And I'm enjoying it.

Anyway, this is a long blog post because I'm at work on a Saturday instead of writing or playing Skyrim. So thanks for humoring me if you read this whole thing. If you just skimmed it to the end: SHAME ON YOU! But if you skimmed it to go back to playing Skyrim, I suppose that's totally fair.

Wallpapers, Nightwish

on Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Here's a little bonus.

If you liked that wallpaper, you can grab all of my favorites in one 40 mb zip here.

And guess what? Nightwish is FINALLY coming out with a new CD (the last one came out in like freaking 2007). The newest single is pretty good, even if I HATE the music video. Take a gander.

A change of pace; my life is over on Friday

So a few things: this is me officially saying Naught But Glass is on vacation until further notice. I'm considering leaving it for Brandon's class this year (which would start in January) and instead just focus on my current project.

Oh yeah, my current project! I'm switching some serious gears and going back to writing some YA. It's a sort of urban fantasy, but not...really? It's more like something I've been wanting to write for a while.

For example, in my "Misc Writing Ideas" folder (where I go to mine for crap sometimes when I have nothing to do), there is a .docx titled "Violin Death Girl" which only has one sentence: "Tiasa wove across the strings of her violin while Death looked on, enjoying the melody."

Despite that being kind of a crappy sentence, that's all that's in that file. It's actually inspired from some wallpaper picture that magically appeared in my wallpaper folder one day. Still don't know where this came from.

But it's COOL, so I kept it
Anyway, after a couple hours yesterday of me walking around in the cold and brainstorming (and generally clearing my head), I actually came up with a setting, plot, and a handful of characters. It's sort of an urban fantasy idea, for certain YA, and completely awesome.

I also wrote a 3k first chapter just to test the waters, and I'm really enjoying it. It's goofy and a bit dark (and I'm doing my damndest to not rip off Tarry Pratchett) and I think it'll be a fun warmdown write. I figure if I'm going to finish another book before this year ends it's going to need something I enjoy and can write quickly, and this fits the criteria.

We'll see what happens.

Though I'll REALLY just be doing THIS all weekend/forever:


Yep. Skyrim. My life is over.

Alloy of Law, Beard Slap, The Future

on Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I attended the midnight release of Brandon Sanderson's latest novel, The Alloy of Law, which is a sort of wild-west/steampunk rendition of his Mistborn world. They actually sold out of copies, but I was ok with that because I was getting it on Kindle anyway. I still stood in line for three hours to see him and have him sign my Arc of The Way of Kings as well as all my Alcatraz books for my nieces and nephews, who are getting this for Christmas (hopefully they don't read this blog and spoil it). Brandon is fun as always, as is Isaac Stewart  (who does the art and is currently out selling his middle-grade clockwork spider book that sounds awesome). So good times were had by all.

Regardless, I'm excited for this one. Mistborn is my favorite book by Brandon, and mixing that with steampunk can't possibly go bad. So we'll see how this one works out. 


And now, BEARD SLAP. 

Not really relevant to anything, except that I have a beard that kind of looks like that one. Or will in a few more months. It's gettin' bushy.


On a less positive note, Naught But Glass is going "not" anywhere. I haven't written in it for the past couple of days, mostly because I've been entertained by Batman: Arkham City and QI (Quite Interesting), a British talkshow/gameshow hosted by Stephen Fry. I've also just been generally disgruntled with this novel, which is making me think I might give it a guilt-free break for a day or so while I write up a Steelgods synopsis and figure everything out for all the billions of people I'm going to be sending it too.

That's it from my front. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim comes out on Friday, which will officially be the death of my productivity. I'm considering taking this month off; I have some sort of NaNoWriMo stigma that makes it so I can't write in November anyway. We'll see.

Naught But Glass - "Not" feeling it yet

on Friday, November 4, 2011

I'm working on Naught But Glass, but currently I've been struggling with the story. Granted, it's only been three days and I've got a prologue and two chapters, but I still seem to be taking issue with it.

Perhaps it is that the story/book is daunting. Unlike the majority of my books, this one has very little "action" in it. It's a battle that is more inward, focusing more on the politics of a nation and the psychology of a group of former "heroes." While I'm fascinated by this, I'm worried that I'll be able to pull off the delicate details that keep this book both authentic and interesting. Plus, while politics and psychology certainly play an important role in just about any fantasy novel, they rarely are the main point (exception: A Game of Thrones). Often they accent these with battles or fights or other such action using swords and magic to keep the reader interested. Which is why this is going to be difficult.

In truth, I feel like I did when I started Effulgent Corruption last July (and then abandoned it). It was as if it was something that was far too ambitious for me at the time, so I wrote Steelgods and plotted/edited a considerable amount before coming back to it.

I don't want to do this with Naught But Glass, mostly because I need to have finished a third book this year. So I will press onward, even if it proves difficult.

Aside from that, discovery writing has given me a hand: I thought of several good character quirks that fit well with both the characters themselves, the overarching plot, and the magic system. I almost never plan character specific oddities beforehand (I have a general idea of how they react to situations and what their personalities are, but eccentricities are saved for discovery writing) so when things like this come together it's both exciting and delightful. I also like to think it makes appear smarter than I am, but that's up for debate.

And, as expected, I tend to throw my first 2-3 chapters out anyway, for the very reason mentioned above (I don't understand the characters enough yet). So I really just need to brute force my way through this until I "find" my characters, and then things will be just peachy.

This isn't a very exciting blog post, but that's life. My Twitter is constantly being assaulted by NaNoWriMi stuff. Yay?

Keep writing!

NaNoWriMo, Naught but Glass

on Tuesday, November 1, 2011
So it's NaNoWriMo again, and we all know how I feel about that. My opinion regarding it hasn't changed, but yet again I feel oddly compelled to participate.

So I'm doin' it. Hopefully better than last year, where I did it for like a day and fell off the planet.

But as a specification: I'm not actually doing NaNoWriMo, I'm just using it as an excuse to start my book today. I'm going to keep writing until I finish it regardless of what month I'm in, and hopefully I'll finish it before the world ends in 2012 so I'll have accomplished my goal of three books in one year.

In other news, I've been preparing my queries and also am working on both a synopsis and polishing the first chunk of Steelgods 1 to perfection. I'm hoping to start sending those out by next week.

And favorite episode of "Hey Ashe, Whatcha Playing?" Also, I now say "I'm doin' it" in the same way Ash does in this show's fun. Hush.

BONUS: We'll throw the minecraft episode on for fun.