Migration Beginnings is almost here!

The thing that they don’t tell you about books is that, while they may take a couple of months to write, that’s probably the shortest part of the whole process.  Once it’s written, you’ve got months of editing to slog through, including professional editors who need to take a whack or two at your book.  Then there’s the fact that you need to submit to publishing houses and wait quite a bit more for them to come back with a say.

For me, I’ve decided to self publish.  I changed Migration Beginnings around a bit, including a new prologue that jolts the reader into finding out just what big things are about to come, and there was a fair bit of rewriting a couple of other parts.  Now that all the writing is done, I’m at the point where it’s been professionally edited and now returned to me.  I’ve got the arduous task of going through the changes one by one and deciding what sounds the best, and we’ll almost be through.

But wait, there’s more!  Yes, the last bit of detail that an author needs, especially if they are self publishing, is a book cover.  That is being taken care of by a dear friend, but I’m on their timetable, so we wait a bit more.

All this to say that Migration Beginnings, the adventures of a gay couple as they see the world around them change, and their role in the new world grow, is ever so much closer to being released!  This book was such a labor of love that in a way I’m almost hesitant to let it go.  But I hope that, when I do, people love it as much as I do.

More news soon!

First Book Published!

So Lisa and I have been working on a nonfiction travel book for the last couple of years.  Well I’m proud to say that as of 5:30pm Pacific today, that book is published!

Normally this wouldn’t be such a big deal. But you have to consider that this is the first book either of us have published!  

Here’s a blurb from my iPhone that shows the book available in the Apple iBookstore.  It’ll be available soon in Amazon’s store for their Kindle.

Update: The Kindle version of the book is located here.

Dealing With Rejection

So as writers, one of the things that you deal with most often when you want to get something published – by a publishing house, and not self-published – is the issue of rejection.  It’s not something that is easily brushed off, and it can negatively affect your mindset.

I originally submitted my Migration series to a publishing house, and after a couple of months, they gave me some good feedback with a, “Sorry, but we’re going to pass right now.  But make the changes and resubmit!”  I took it to heart, and made the changes that they asked for, then resubmitted.

Well, after making the requested changes and waiting more than four months, today I get the, “No thanks,” rejection email.  The publisher was nice, but the reviewer made it seem like I had offended them and not made any suggestions they gave.

Ehh…  Oh well.

The problem, however, is the self-doubt that comes out of the process.  Migration is a hard story to tell, because you have to build the world up before you can destroy it, and I do just that.  There’s a prologue that gives you some of the necessary data about the story, and then a 2 chapter buildup.  It all amounts to about 10,000 words that the specific publisher is saying needs to be cut.

Can I do it?  Can I hack my baby up into smaller pieces – going from the original 85,000 words, down to the 78,000 words post-initial submission rejection, to maybe 68,000 words?  Without sacrificing the whole of the story?

I get it – I really do.  And part of me wants to jump on the bandwagon and make those changes instantly; that’s the part of me that wants instant gratification, and seeks out approval.  But there’s the other part of me that wants to stand tall, tell the critics to get bent, and self publish.

So I’m going to compromise.  I’m going to hack it down some, and then see how I like it.  If I do, then I’ll go with the new version.  But if it sacrifices too much, then I’m going to bail, go back to my original storyline, and self publish.  Only time will tell what path I decide to go down.

But first, I’m going to self-publish our (me and my coauthor Lisa’s) nonfiction travel book.  I would like to get that out the door, published, and off my plate so that I can focus on the Migration series.

So that’s how my birthday went!  How about you?

Waiting, as they say, is the hardest part

So of course Migration: Beginnings, is ready to go.  Finished, polished, edited, and right now sitting with a publisher.  But beyond that, I don’t know what the status is, because it’s been 3 months since I’ve submitted the book to the publisher.  I keep hoping to hear, but at some point, you just have to cut your losses and move on.

I’ve decided that if I don’t hear from the publisher by the end of October, that I’m going to move forward with one more publishing house that my friend Kim says would be a good fit.  But if they say no or don’t get to me, then I’ll just move on to publishing the book myself.

I hate waiting.

But I guess I’m going into a business that has a ton of waiting time built in.  You’ve got your time writing, your time editing, your time waiting for responses.  And who likes all that waiting?  Especially if you’re looking for something by one of your favorite authors?  I think I’m bad on this side of the table – and then I realize that it’s me on the other side of the table when it comes to some authors that I love.  For Ken Goddard‘s “First Evidence” series, I had to wait a relatively short time between his first and second books in the series (20 months) and a long time between the second and third books in that series (11 years)!

So we all hate waiting, especially me.  New plan is to have an answer by the end of the year on the Migration series.  And if it’s self published, then the second book will be completed by the time the first book comes out.  Because why make other people wait, when it’s something I’m loathe to do myself?

One Book Down, One To Go!

So my “books in limbo” just got subtracted by one.  At least meaning in limbo by me.  The first book in the Migration series, my SciFi/Action/Adventure series, has been completely edited, polished, and sent off to the publisher for consideration.  This is the same publisher that I’d originally sent the manuscript to, and while they turned it down initially, they gave me some really good feedback and told me that if I made the changes, they’d be “more inclined to offer me a contract.”

I’m not taking this as gospel that they will still like the book and will want to publish it, but I’m still a bit hopeful.

So now I have to polish the non-fiction book that Lisa (my cowriter) and I worked on for NaNoWriMo 2013.  It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally getting a lot closer.  I’ve got one more read through and some changes, then Lisa gets a last pass – and that book will be ready!  We’ll self-publish that one, though, along with my friend Adam’s custom drawn cover, so we’re close!

Writing can be such a blast, and it’s a cathartic process for many of us.  Hopefully the end results will be appreciated by the reading public!

Who has two thumbs and is going to try and publish 2 books this year?

This guy!

Okay, so the most that I’ve been blogging about here is about my book, Migration: Beginnings, and the next two books in the trilogy.  But actually, besides this series of fiction books, I’m probably going to publish a non-fiction book first.

Non-fiction, you say!  What is this nonsense?

Well, you see, before I took a stab at writing a SciFi/Action/Adventure trilogy, I actually wrote a travel book, coauthored with my writing partner Lisa.  It was about 100 pages and somewhere in the neighborhood of 55,000 words.  I wrote it for NaNoWriMo 2013, and turned it over to Lisa to edit – which was a massive undertaking.  Why?  Well, there are quite a few reasons, including the fact that the book is now just 33,186 words now that Lisa is done with it.  What can I say?  I’m mouthy!

But I digress.

Anyway, so our non-fiction travel book, which is aimed at anyone who is new to the world of traveling (but especially traveling consultants who are just starting out), is called A Million Miles Amok.  The manuscript is back in my hands now, and by Summer, the book will be completed and published – just ready to fill in the “Five Books for 99 Cents!” bin at your local megamart.

More details to come!

Ten Rules To Write By

Sometimes when you’re not writing, you’re reading about writing – if that makes sense.  Right now, I’m in a holding pattern for my second fiction book, because I’m truly not feeling it at the moment.  It’s okay; things happen that pause you from writing now and again.  Bad thing about the pause is that I’m enrolled in April’s Camp NaNo.  It’ll suck to not finish a NaNo, since I’ve finished the previous two times I’ve competed.  But you know what?  I have to do what’s right for me.

But I digress.

I came across a wonderful article by One Salty Blond titled “Ten useful writing tips from a frustrated editor“.  And while individual writers won’t have every single one of these idiosyncrasies in their stall of writing habits, they probably have at least one or two that they can take to heart.  I know that I’m guilty of a few of these…  For example, I try not to use “very” at all, because “very tired” sounds pedestrian, when “exhausted” is so much more descriptive.  I may have one or two, so when I’m done, I’ll go back through and search for them.  Writing can be a stream of consciousness for many people, and you may put words down on the page that you don’t mean.  That’s what editing is for – both self and professional.

Of all of the items on the list, I think I like “make powerful sentences stand alone” the best.  And I can’t describe it any other way than to paint you a scene.

Consider this:

Justin was ripped out of his sound sleep by some unknown noise that seems to echo off the darkened walls.  The only light coming in was from the window, a glint of moonlight shining through and casting eerie shadows across the foot of of the bed.  He waited, the only sound being a whisper of wind coming through the windowframe.  As he closed his eyes and turned over, he heard the doorknob click.  The door opened by itself.  Pulling the blanket to his chin, he watched as a pair of glowing red eyes glaring into the room.  He blinked, filled with terror until his roommate’s voice boomed through and the light was flicked on, nearly blinding him.  “Stop stealing my smokes!”

And now consider this:

Justin was ripped out of his sound sleep by some unknown noise that seems to echo off the darkened walls.  The only light coming in was from the window, a glint of moonlight shining through and casting eerie shadows across the foot of of the bed.  He waited, the only sound being a whisper of wind coming through the windowframe.  As he closed his eyes and turned over, he heard the doorknob click.

The door opened by itself.

Pulling the blanket to his chin, he watched as a pair of glowing red eyes glaring into the room.  He blinked, filled with terror until his roommate’s voice boomed through and the light was flicked on, nearly blinding him.  “Stop stealing my smokes!”

See how just by changing the spacing and breaking it out creates more tension?  So awesome…  I love the power of words!

The Importance Of An Editor

So one of the most interesting aspects of writing a book comes down to editing.  Unless you’re writing a 200 word ficlet that you’re going to post somewhere and never worry about again, you should honestly get someone to give you honest feedback on it.

But sometimes that doesn’t exist.  I am lucky to have a network of friends that I can send something to and get honest feedback from.  Right now, the very first book I wrote, back in November 2013, is sitting with my cowriter Lisa.  She’s someone I can bounce ideas off of, but also someone who can take a sentence that I write and turn it into something beautiful.  She’s good that way.

My fiction book, however, is a work solely of my own.  But not having someone that I know there to edit it for me (Lisa is still working on the travel book, which we hope to have out by this Summer) was quite a daunting thought.  Luckily someone turned me on to the GoodReads.com website, of which I was already a member, and pointed me out to the “Betas And Editing” section.  I found a professional editor, who did a massive job of not only content and scene editing and suggestions, but line editing as well.  (If you’re interested, her name is Debbie, and you can find her at DebbieEdits.com)

Now I’ve done my work backwards.  I sent my book off to an editor, but also off to a publishing house.  The publishing house really liked it, but asked for changes to be made; not huge, but ones that would consider a few major rewrites of some sections.  I’ll take Debbie’s professionally edited copy with her suggested changes (the ones I agree with, of course; you don’t have to agree 100% with your editor), and then start the rewrite again.  Then it’ll be back for final edits and then resubmission.

Ideally, I’ve been told through a Reddit post on the /r/writing subreddit, you shouldn’t have to hire an editor yourself unless you plan on self publishing.  At the time I finished with Migration, I was pretty convinced that I was going to publish the book myself, like we will with the travel book.  But now that I know there is interest from a publisher, I’ve probably gone a little overboard – but that’s okay.  I’d rather get the experience, than not.

Happy writing!

The Problem With Kudos

So here’s the thing.  I’m working on my original works, but in order to keep practicing, I like to still write different things.  For me, that means writing fanfiction, because there is such potential to learn and grow, and the feedback can be both heartwarming as well as nearly instantaneous.  I know that writing a book means that there’s not one certain place, like a personal blog or such, where you will get feedback on your writing.  So it helps me when I write fanfiction to get that feedback from the people reading your work.

Except for the kudos.

If you’re not familiar with kudos, it’s a nice little way of saying, “Good for you,” or “Good job” or the like for a piece of your work.  It can be anonymous, or it can come from a person.  A kudos, though, is like looking over an overflowing dessert table with dozens of different sweet treats available, but only being able to take a single, nondescript nibble from one of the items.  Sure, it’s nice, but you know that there can be so much more.  So in a word, it’s just not fulfilling.

My latest work is in an obscure fandom, for a pairing that may not even exist.  I love the BBC’s Atlantis, and there seems to be a storyline coming up that will pit the sweet, somewhat dorky Pythagoras with the doomed character Icarus.  We have but a taste of the pairing from the Season 2, Part 2 teaser trailer, but what it is looks heartbreaking.  It intrigues me to no end.

So in a writing community that I belong to, there is a time when you can get a picture prompt and then write a story that is exactly 1,000 words (for it is said, a picture is worth 1,000 words).  When I received my picture, the story featuring Pythagoras and Icarus laid itself out in my head, and I knew I had to write it.  And once I did, knowing the Atlantis community is small, and the Pythagoras/Icarus community even smaller, I did a post on tumblr to help promote it.  It worked, because I got some feedback on the story like below.

tumblr

So that’s good, right?  I get called a “lovely author” (though the tumblr reccer assumed that I was a girl – it happens in the “slash” writing world, trust me), and even a “This fic is so, so good and so, so painful.”  Sounds good, right?  But here’s the thing; people are so focused on SHINY! and diverting of attention, that we can’t be bothered to leave reviews anymore.  Indeed, this fic that I wrote and got such nice words written about shows up on the archive where I wrote it as such:

ao3

 

Two kudos, and not a single review.  Why?  Because clicking “Kudos” is so much easier than the critical thinking and time it takes to actually write a review.  And while I get it, it doesn’t mean that I have to like it.

Trying To Stay Positive

So there comes a time when you’re working on something, and you need feedback.  When you’re in the fanfiction type realm, you can get this pretty easily, because you’re writing for others in your fandom and get nearly immediate feedback.  It can be addicting.

Writing an original work of fiction – be it a book or whatever – is a lot like writing in a silo, because you’re working on a subject and with characters that are speaking to you and only you.  They are not a shared experience, and how you see your characters and describe them is totally different than someone else may see them.  That is the most apparent in the unpublished status, because the characters have only developed in your head, and exist only on your page.

It’s important to get feedback on your writing, both from friends that know and are used to your style, and from strangers as well.  The friends will give you the feedback that you’re used to getting, and if they’re good friends, will give you the constructive criticism that you are also looking for.

The strangers?  That can be a crapshoot.

For instance, I’ve had exactly three strangers read over the first two chapters of the first book in the Migration series.  One of them has been honest, saying what did work, what didn’t work, and what needed to be tweaked.  She just happens to now also be the person that I’m having edit the book; she brought to the table a level of trust with her comments and critiques that I asked to work with her and she accepted.

The second person absolutely hated the book.  Well, not just the book, but every single thing about it.  They even hated the title.

The third person got back to me today, and they had some really good constructive criticism about the book, even though they said that they didn’t like it.  There were specific examples given, and indeed, those are things that I struggled with in the book in it’s pre-edited form.  But there were things that I absolutely didn’t agree with – but that’s because I know the characters well, and can defend them saying X or doing Y, when there is explanation beyond that first couple of chapters.

In all, it can be pretty disheartening when you get feedback about something you love.  I mean it’s good to get the right feedback; we shouldn’t all end up dittoheads, automatically liking everything exactly the same.  But at the same time, you have to learn – or better to say I have to learn – to stay positive about the situation.  Because in the end, even if nobody else likes what I’ve written, even after it’s been massaged and gussied up, I will still like it.