Category Archives: Writing

I love it when a plan comes together

I failed to take my own advice last night, and didn't do my word searches on The Enhanced League. I read the whole thing from start to finish last night, and I like it. The word searches can happen at any time, and maybe I can deal with some of them on the road during the week.

After I finish with them, this book will be ready for beta readers.

I slept in a bit this morning, but was still up before seven. Otto needed some “poodle time,” But he's snoring away in his bed right now.

His down time leads to my opportunity. The first draft of The Yak Guy Project is in the vault. I ended with a couple of emotional scenes, but it was the right place in my mind. I always like the “life goes on” ending, and after I wrapped up some threads, it just felt perfect.

It still needs some things, no doubt. This one is in first person, so I'm sure most of the sentences start with I, my, or we. This is the bane of first person, but I usually manage to change enough of them to make it palatable. Right now, it needs to rest while I turn full attention to Enhanced League.

My plans don't always come together, but this is exactly where I wanted to be sometime today.

I still worry about word count, but I've convinced myself that shorter is better for 21st century sensibilities. Enhanced League is 37,000 words more or less. Yak Guy is a novel at nearly 70,000. This will change during the editing phases, but it gives you a rough idea.

I don't know what to do with myself for the rest of the day, but I'll probably start those word searches. I need to read some blogs too, and now I have time to enjoy them.

Sounds like I need a new plan, and that has to be a call for beta readers. If I'm lucky that will happen next weekend, but I'd have to get incredibly lucky. Doubt, the raven, is whetting his beak as I type this. He loves my editing phase.

I also owe Chris Graham a few more posts, but if I drag my feet, I may be able to write about a new book.

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Runs, Hits, Errors

This was not an overly productive day today. The big thing was managing to pay all the bills before I leave town.

I managed to get through my critique, and made all the changes I could. This particular critique had more good remarks than bad ones. Believe me, it doesn't always happen that way.

That's really about it on the productivity front. I spent too much time playing with the dog, and I watched a baseball game. We finally decided to take the plunge and get the MLB package, now I can watch baseball all summer.

I've reached a point where I have to change part of my plans. I cannot put off editing of The Enhanced League until I finish the draft of The Yak Guy Project. That was a good plan, before we drifted into Spring. With Summer fast approaching, I'd like to get The Enhanced League out there.

This isn't a horrible option, because I don't require the silence to edit. In some ways, a bit of peripheral noise keeps me from getting into the story and lets me concentrate on the line by line stuff. This means evenings will be spent editing. I'll take my iPad to Louisville, but may not have time to work on that kind of thing. At least I can answer comments, emails, and may get to update my blog. I can also follow along with the RRBC party if I wake up early every day.

Then there is my error… I told all of you I have the post tomorrow at Story Empire. This is because when I checked the scheduled posts, mine was next. This is not the case. My post is up Wednesday, and someone else has to post tomorrow. Sorry about that, but with my iPad in tow, I can mange comments on Wednesday. Visit tomorrow anyway. Story Empire is made up of some awesome authors and you're bound to find something good.

Tonight, I'll probably start on my word searches. This is part of my editing process, because after this much time I know what errors I usually make. I have a living document with them and can go through them in order.

Tomorrow, I am going to start with The Yak Guy Project. It's my last good day to draft new material for about two weeks. Fingers crossed.

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It’s a party, yo! #RRBC style

Welcome to my stop along the Springtime Book & Block Party route. Let’s get the preliminary stuff out of the way first. I’m giving two prizes away, and you don’t have to be a member to win. All you have to do is leave a comment, and a random draw will decide the winners. Contestants are only eligible from North America, due to the restrictive cost of shipping.

So what could you win? How about one of these awesome coffee mugs, featuring my personal assistant, and the spokesmodel for my writing career, Lisa Burton the robot girl.

Look how beautiful that marble bust looks, oh and Lisa looks nice too. These things are huge, and you’re going to want one.

This time the party took me by surprise. Last time we did one of these, I timed a book release around it, and that worked out extremely well. I don’t have a book release today, but I can still give you the tour.

At the top of my blog there are a couple of pages that might interest you. There is the standard “about me” page, but there is also a free selection of Lisa Burton paper dolls if you’d like them. I wanted to come up with some swag for an author who only has ebooks available. Make sure you print the pdf files and not the images shown.

The fun one is called Lisa Burton Radio, I’ll let her tell you about it.

“Hi everyone, welcome to the new visitors, and I see some familiar faces here too. The show is really fun, and I interview the characters from your books. At the end I include covers, bios, purchase links, whatever you want, really.

“When the post goes live, I share it to Flipboard, Stumbleupon, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and two Facebook sites. I try to help as much as I can. I’m always looking for guests, so drop me an email. If you want to check out past interviews there is a link in Craig’s sidebar. I’ll let him tell you about the sidebar, he loves his sidebar.

Thanks, Lisa. I also tweet out the five most recent interviews every week after Lisa finishes with them. My sidebar starts out with a link to obtain a free reading app. As an ebook guy, I don’t want to make it difficult for anyone to read my stories. Then I post the two most recent publications with direct links to those books. I have all the covers in a slideshow, because it doesn’t feel right to have them all on there. Lisa mentioned the blog categories, and this is where you can always find her interviews. Those of you who write speculative fiction might find some inspiration in the Idea Mill posts too. Oh, and before I forget, there is an Entertaining Stories Facebook page too, if any of you are so inclined. It’s the only place you can see videos of my dog, Otto. (Don’t laugh, I know some of you are into this stuff.)

That’s the grand tour. Hope everyone is enjoying the party, it’s one of my favorite events. I hope to have two new books coming out soon, but I got caught without them ready yet. One is a collection of short stories called The Enhanced League, about a futuristic baseball league. The other is kind of an alternate world fantasy novel called The Yak Guy Project. Coming soon, I promise.

I guess if I’m going to promote something, The Playground could use a bit of review love. I know some of you are holding shiny new Amazon gift cards at this point in the tour. The club even has a list of who you are. Mwa ha ha…

For those of you who aren’t RRBC members, this is an awesome club. We thrive on mutual support, and it’s kind of a pay it forward system. We’re growing by leaps and bounds, and we’d love to count you among our members. There are too many benefits to mention here, but things like this blog party are happening all the time. Why don’t you check it out at this link.

Party on! Sign up for your own character interview. Leave me a comment. I love interacting with everyone, and you could win a prize.

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Hello, Writing Cabin

I tromped into the writing cabin and caught Lisa unprepared.

“I thought you were reading and stuff. Let me just tidy up real fast.”

The office looked emaculate and I told her so. “What kind of mess can one robot girl make while I'm out? You don't even have to cook.”

“Dust, there's still dust even if I'm completely gone.”

“Suit yourself. I finished my backlog of projects, and decided to try a bit of writing today. You know, just to see if I remember how.”

Lisa broke into action, making coffee with one hand while she took out the Swiffer and went over the floor with the other one. She took a dust cloth and ran ahead of me to my writing desk.

The raven of Doubt glared at me from his perch. He bobbed up and down a few times in excitement.

“Not yet, dude. I'm not doing any editing today. It's time to move the Yak Guy ahead.” He knows The Enhanced League is ready to start editing, but I don't feel rushed to dive in yet.

I started by rereading my last few chapters. I made a small correction or two, and Doubt gave me the stink eye. Lisa showed up with coffee about the time I started writing.

I wrote one short chapter and it was kind of draining. It came in slightly over 3000 words. I don't know if it's because I hadn't written in a while, or because of the content. This chapter involved the end of the yak. He's been such a central character to the story it was hard to see him go.

“I'm really going to miss him,” Lisa said. “He's been at the cabin for a long time.”

“He has, and the next go round maybe we'll see the end of yak guy, Ted.”

“Then what?”

“Then, you probably have to pose for more posters and plan for a worldwide blog tour – or two.”

“That's always fun, then I'm going to use some vacation time.” She opened the window and let in some fresh air. Doubt took the opportunity to stretch his wings at the same time. She sighed as the yak crossed the meadow and headed for the snowy peaks. “He played a mean game of chess, you know.”

“Really, how did he move the pieces?”

“He told me the moves, and I moved them for him.”

“Kind of like he was playing against the computer then?”

“Not kind of, he was playing against me, my processors, and memory. He won more than a few too.”

“Maybe you can get him to come back for your radio show someday. Did you put his data in your Rolodex?”

Please, I'm completely electronic, you should know that by now, and yeah, I have his contact data.”

I checked email, and answered blog comments while she stared out the window.

“So what happens next?”

“Yak guy has to finish his journey. After that, I have a couple of novellas I want to try. That's how it will work out in a perfect world. They could be long short stories or short novels depending on the experiment.”

“What are we talking here? I might need to buy some new outfits for these stories.”

“One is a kind of paranormal superhero origin story.”

“Is that the one with all the hats?”

“Yes, ma'am.”

“So you'll want the paranormal office then.”

“Absolutely. The other one is a spin on the lifeboat story. It has a science fiction background, but they're stuck in an underground bunker for a specific amount of time. The problem is they can't leave, and the antagonist is in there with them.”

“Got it, I already earmarked a bunch of hats and can get them ordered. I wonder what scream queens are wearing this season?”

“I'm sure you'll figure it out before we start. We have to give yak guy some closure first.”

The enchanted beer horns sounded off and came running. They curled around my ankles like a pair of cats.

“Hi guys, I missed you too.”

Lisa said, “I got a nice doppelbock from McCall Brewing for you to try. It's called Dunce Cap.”

“Huh! Did you pick that specifically for me?”

“Of course, I know doppelbock is your favorite.”

Woosh!”

“Don't woosh me, I know what you meant. Do you want the beer or not?”

“Of course, besides, these guys won't stop honking unless we fill them up.”

***

For those of you so inclined, I opened a Pinterest account earlier this year. I started a couple of boards called The Hat and Estivation that relate to my upcoming projects. You can check them out here.

 

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Ready for the work week

My last day at the office was Wednesday. I have to go back tomorrow. Admittedly, I took this time off to pay my debt as an author. This might come as a surprise to many of you readers, but it will make sense to the authors out there. I'll try to give the rest of you a glimpse into the secret club today.

I need proofreaders, critique groups, beta readers, blog hosts, and reviews to make my books a success. There isn't a kind of shop where you can go get all of that. Being self published is often a matter of supporting your hobby without going too far into the hole. The big dream is to turn a profit someday.

The truth is you can pay for many of those services, but it gets kind of expensive after a while. This is why we all tend to help each other. At a bare minimum, we are a fresh set of eyes who can spot the difference between hear and here in a manuscript. It's hard to spot these kind of things in your own work. There are also times when we know exactly what we're describing, but readers aren't getting that vision. Different eyes will raise a red flag at these points.

I take advantage of this kind of help, so it's important to provide it in turn. We don't typically share project for project. It's more like a pool of authors who will do what they can – when they can. I rarely get the same people from project to project, but in the long run – they are the same group.

Most of my time off was spent paying my authorly debts. The rest was spent on other duties, just like at the workplace. I'm proud to say I finished my last authorly project at about 1:30 today. Then I hauled off all the fruit tree branches, and declared myself done.

I feel a bit like that guy at the top of the post, but I also feel pretty darned good about it. I got to read some awesome stories, some for a review, some as a beta reader.

The good news is that my metaphorical office is clear. On my next day off I can return to my own novel. I'm kind of excited about it to tell you the truth.

I'll spend the rest of the evening catching up with most of the blogs I neglected to read. After that, it's off to bed early enough to go to my workplace all fresh and ready for work.

One of these days I'll have to take some time off for the sake of time off. It could happen, someday.

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A small chores update

Honestly, I'm starting to wear out on chores. I've been away from the paycheck job since Wednesday at quitting time, and don't have to go back until Tuesday. During that time, I've hit the chore list hard.

I'm not embarrassed to say I didn't get as much accomplished today. I managed to get my critique work done for our meeting on Thursday night. I put it in my truck, because that's my insurance policy against forgetting it when I need it.

What I didn't post about was pruning fruit trees. The sap is up now, so I stopped at about 2/3 to 3/4 of what I want to remove. After the trees adjust, I can trim the rest. They're all in a big pile in the back yard, and my son and I are hauling them to the dump tomorrow. Part of the peach tree must weigh 400 pounds, so I'm glad to have an extra back involved. This stuff takes time too, but it didn't do much to advance my author agenda.

Today, I worked on my beta reading project. I'm about 2/3 of the way finished now. If everything works out well, I may finish and deliver my notes tomorrow. (Maybe)

I also assembled and scheduled Thursday's Lisa Burton Radio. I have two other interviews out there in cyberspace, but it's Sunday night and the first guy finished became the first guy scheduled.

Honestly, I could have hit it hard and finished everything else, but I'm wearing a bit thin. I caught up with recordings of S.H.I.E.L.D., and don't regret it a bit. ABC scheduled this beyond reality for a working man, so I have to record the episodes and watch them later.

My other son and I also stayed up late every night playing Diablo III, and we had a great time. I think my wife is wearing out on us, but she's the one who surprised me with an X-Box. (So there.)

My so called vacation was a lot of work, mixed in with a bit of fun. We even worked two date nights into the mix. The good news is my path is cleared, or will be very soon, and my next day off may let me work on my novel.

Hope all of you had a Happy Easter.

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Ah, Spring…

Ah Spring, the grass is green and we've even cut it once. The birds are singing, my fruit trees are all in bloom with honeybees visiting the blossoms. And the, what the f—?

Must be Idaho. Nice time to burn some vacation leave and enjoy Spring.

Seriously, I took some time off to work on projects. I've been fairly productive so far. I finished reading a book and posted a review. I worked on three different shticks for Lisa Burton Radio and sent all those out. I even managed to start my beta reading project. I seriously believe that if you want the benefit of beta readers, you have to provide the benefit of beta reading to others.

I'm feeling pretty comfortable with my reading at this point, but I also promised another friend an ARC read. I don't have to return to work until Tuesday, so I could get more done than I originally hoped.

Between these projects, I pecked away at my own post for the Rave Reviews Book Club party, and managed to get it scheduled too. I also got my next Story Empire post scheduled. That should buy me a bit of time.

If I get back to my own writing, The Yak Guy Project will be front and center. I want to finish that manuscript so I can park it for a few weeks. During that time, I can do my edits of The Enhanced League. Doubt the raven is waiting to tear my soul apart over that book, and he's been patient this time.

Enhanced League has a cover, and I'm waiting to finish the promotional art so I can take it on tour. That's at least a month down the road, but I'm planning ahead. I need to get it to beta readers before I can tour it around. Beta readers need time to deliver their mark-ups, and you can't rush this part.

After all that, I'll think about a cover for Yak Guy and start the process all over again.

I've been adding the occasional note to my storyboards for two novellas and my next novel. These are mostly organized chaos right now. Plenty of time to polish them up after my books are published.

I may just turn a corner and blog ahead this weekend. I'd like to have a couple of things ready for Chris Graham, I can hold them in case I get one of the books published. When the time gets closer, I can either say something about the new book, or send one of the prewritten pieces. I also have several new ideas for Story Empire that I may rough out.

Tonight, I'm kind of pooped out. If I do anything else, I'll go back to beta reading. That's highest in priority right now.

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