Tag Archives: critique

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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Rambling and babbling today

My wife insisted on the Hallmark Channel all day today. Remember what I said about my wonderful writing weekend? Yeah, I sure wish that storm hadn't changed her plans. By the way, is there a rule that every elderly person in a Hallmark movie must smile like an idiot at all times? These movies could use a serious dose of Billy Bob Thornton or Anne Ramsey.

I have another story idea that I'm tempted to write as a vignette. I want to start a storyboard instead. I have a thought about trying to release a novella or two, and it might make a fun one.

This idea was inspired by an image I saw on Facebook. It posted in two different timelines a week or so ago. Do you think I can find it again? I searched FB, DeviantArt, Bing images, and Google images using every description I can think of. If you're inspired by images, save them the very second you see them. If you don't, you'll find yourselves in my position.

While I'm serving time in Hallmark jail, I haven't been able to accomplish much. I tried to relocate to another room, but there aren't any comfortable places to sit. I want to finish reading a book too, and it's all about the same problem. I suppose I can deal with the critiques I received last week. Maybe I should pay the bills too.

I managed to assemble and schedule the next Lisa Burton Radio, and it's a fun one. I also managed to write one guest post out of four I committed to. I only need three more in a week, so not impossible.

I need to stop blogging about my failures and post something about some successes. I just need to create a success or two.

Okay, I'll deal with critiques and bills so they aren't distractions when my time finally comes. I'm off on Monday, and the only distraction will be Otto.

He's no small obstacle. I took two fifteen minute breaks to play pumpkin ball while typing out this post. He throws it right on my keyboard if I don't pay attention. So this post is +/- 400 words. It took about 30 minutes of pumpkin ball playing to finish. If I write 1000 words (which is nothing) on Monday, I anticipate the pumpkin ball will eat up 75 minutes.

Maybe Otto doesn't need a reindeer outfit, maybe he needs a straight jacket.

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Trying to get back in the routine

Today is my flex day off this week. I got kind of a late start, and it felt good to sleep in for once. I spent an hour feeding Otto, and playing with him and his squeaky fox toy. After he settled down, I headed for the writing cabin.

I landed my gyrocopter and parked on the runway. When I took the elevator down into the basement, I noticed the formerly haunted biplane was missing. The yak was standing in his stall, waiting for me to get back to his story. “Where’s Lisa?”

“She has not returned,” the yak said. “I need to graze, if you don’t mind.”

I opened the stall and led him out the back door. “Stay near the cabin. Lisa isn’t here to guard you, and there are all kinds of fantasy creatures in the woods.”

I left him to his breakfast, and went in through the front door. Bunny needed food and fresh water, so I took care of him before settling into my office.

The window was open, and Doubt the raven soared high above the grazing yak. I grabbed the critiques I received weeks ago and went to work on them. The guys are enjoying The Yak Guy Project, and I didn’t have a lot of tweaking to do. We’re about to get a new member this coming month and I’m excited to meet her and get some different input.

I scheduled my next post for Story Empire and moved on to some of my short fiction. I wanted to do a read through on some of the stories for The Enhanced League. I made a few edits along the way.

I’ve been called for drifting into present tense a few times now, so I try to watch for it. I discovered one such place in a short story. It seems to be when using internal dialog. To my mind that is happening at the moment and present tense feels more intense. I changed it to past tense anyway. When I use contractions like “it’s and he’s” it feels correct for dialog. There is no reason why they aren’t contractions for “it was” and “he was.” Am I justifying, or am I reasonably correct? (Probably justifying.)

I opened a blank page to start the next short story and my phone rang.

“This is the Orange County Jail calling for Mr. Boyack. You have a collect call from Lisa Burton*. Will you accept the charges?”

“Yes.”

“So, um, hi. I ran into a little trouble here in Florida, and need you to post my bail.”

“You have internal phone capacity, why are you just calling now?”

“Turns out there are no signals at all in the jail. I’m fine, but can’t get a signal out. I even tried routing through their printer, but it’s a pretty stupid machine.”

“What happened?”

“Well, I had a lovely visit with Susan Nicholls, and she told me where I could find a new swimming suit, and some flip flops to go with it. That lead to a cute cover up, and some other cool shops–”

“Not the shopping, why are you in jail?”

“I’m getting to that. I just bought a cute denim outfit and some shoes before heading back to the airport. I always fly my own plane, because I can’t pass through security. Too much copper and titanium. So I wandered through the gate and pulled the chocks away from my tires when I was approached by two TSA agents. I swear, I was just minding my own business and coming home.”

“What did they want?”

“Turns out they have a problem with the machine-guns on my biplane. Some plane affictionado had to check it out, then got worried and reported me.”

“I thought you removed them. I hope they weren’t loaded.”

“Um, yeah, about that. You have some pretty scary stuff in the sky’s above the writing cabin. There are dragons, and aliens, and even witches on broomsticks. I may have a class three battle chassis, but I’m not going to survive a fall from twenty-five thousand feet.”

“How do you think your antique biplane would fare against an alien ship?”

“I need you to stop the writer’s brain for a second and post my bail.”

“No problem. I’m sure they impounded your plane. How will you get home?”

“Well, I’m going to un-impound it. Then I’m hugging the ground to avoid radar and coming straight home.”

“You’ll never be able to go back to Florida.”

“No, my plane will never be able to go back. I can still use the rocket-pack if I’m ever invited.”

“Okay, I’m logging in to their site right now. Oh look, they take PayPal.”

“Did you feed Bunny?”

“He’s fat and happy, and the yak is grazing right outside my window. Watch your tail, they may chase you as you fly off.”

“As soon as I get a signal, I’m going to link into their communications and make a mess of them. They can look for me in the Bermuda Triangle or somewhere.”

“Okay. Bail’s all posted, but I don’t know how long it will take at their end. You owe me too.”

“I know, and thanks. The money will go right back into your account once I can hack their system. I need to scrub my record, and destroy all video of my plane landing in Florida. It will be like it never happened, I promise.”

***

* Lisa Burton is my personal assistant and the spokesmodel for Entertaining Stories. She’s a robot and made her debut in Wild Concept. She also has a short story in The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack.

 

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Saturday Efforts

I wound up left to my own devices today, for the most part. I went through social media and push feeds while my wife was still here. After she left for a few hours it was time to get with it on my list.

I worked on a short story until I needed to do some minor research. I used my critiques to give my mind a breather. The guys want me to add some more world building to The Yak Guy Project. It isn't a lot, but subtle things seen in passing. I kind of like those things. This isn't our world, and tiny reminders keep the reader curious. There were a few typos and sentences that needed to get reworded. There always are.

My research wound up being pretty quick. There are things you just know, but want to check out anyway. In one instance I knew there was no rule what dugout belonged to the home team in Major League Baseball, but I had to check to be sure. This short story is part of The Enhanced League. Whereas my Experimental Notebooks could have stories set anywhere and at any time, The Enhanced League will be a book of shorts all set during the same season in one environment.

This individual story is going to be a big one. I added 3000 words to a story I'd already started. This is one of the only games in the book, and I have nine innings to cover. I'll skip ahead and cut the long boring parts, but the setting and the first inning help build tension. I haven't written that many words in one day for a long time. It isn't massive, but it felt great.

Other stories will cover trades, deals, careers beginning, or ending. I'm having a great time with it so far.

Otto and I played fetch and a little tug-of-war while I watched a heartbreaking women's soccer match. (Heartbreaking for the USA, if you live elsewhere.)

I didn't get to the reading or publishing part of my list, but there is more weekend left. I got another Lisa Burton Radio sheet today too. Maybe I'll work on it tonight.

The best news of all, the first pumpkin beers are in the stores and I'm about to have one right now.

This is the first gif I've ever used on this blog. I hope it adequately expresses the joy of pumpkin beer. Have a nice evening everyone.

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Working Vacation Day #3. Have you seen my Mojo?

I had to find my productivity in other areas today. I just couldn't bring myself to be even remotely creative. I nearly bagged the whole thing, but that doesn't bode well either.

I started out with social media. There are always a few emails, tweets, and blogs to get through. This allowed me time to get the first cup of coffee down.

It was a good time to work through my critiques. The guys don't have me fixing much this time, but I'm disappointed that a cluster of “was” writing crept in again. I may never get over this flaw, and I think it sneaks in when I write fast. Thank God for critique partners who know my shortcomings.

By this time, I knew there would be no new words today. I still want to keep working, so I decided to assemble my short stories into a book. It came out a bit over 40,000 words. I still have to add the back material once I decide what that is, but it isn't fair to count those words.

The first Experimental Notebook offers 12 stories for 99ยข. This one will offer 15, heck of a bargain if you ask me.

I chose a micro-fiction piece called Fever to start the book with. Amazon decides how much to offer as a preview, and I have no control over that. I want to let pre-viewers read an entire story, so by placing a micro in front I have some control.

This one offers a nod to pulp science fiction. This wasn't on purpose, but three stories came out that way, and I like that. The old pulps were a lot of fun. I also have two stories with no speculative element what-so-ever. (Shocking for me.) I struggled with what to do with them, but by having more stories than the first book, I've convinced myself they are freebies.

One of the stories without a speculative element turned out so good I decided to end the book with it. Like all decisions, it's debatable, but I really like it. It's called Practical Geology. (I never said it wasn't weird, it just doesn't include advanced technology or magic.)

I also wrote my intermission. The first Notebook included one, and I got some good remarks about it. If I'm calling this one a Notebook there ought to be some consistency. I'll probably change the intermission ten times before it gets to market, but it exists now and that's important.

For ending material, I'll probably pull an excerpt from The Playground. Clovis is kind of charming, (he said with tongue in cheek) there is probably a colorful section with him I can use.

I put together a fun draft for the next Lisa Burton Radio post, and it's turning out great. I also exchanged email with a couple of authors for future character interviews.

So all in all, it was a productive day. It wasn't even remotely creative, but I accomplished a lot. The task driven part of being a writer doesn't get talked about often, but it matters.

Tonight, we're going to try date night somehow. We'll have to be quick, because my wife has to work tomorrow at 3:00 AM.

Tomorrow, I need to start reading through these short stories. I'm sure there are spelling and punctuation errors in there. I may even have a “was” cluster to find and kill. It looks like I need to spend some time with the Raven of Doubt to get this thing ready.

I hope to publish this in September after the school year starts back up. That worked well last year. This means I need to think about cover art, promotional stuff and all that jazz. That will be a project for a different weekend.

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Getting limited work done

My wife likes to do everything in the heat of the day. Me, not so much. I'd rather do things about 9:00 in the morning. I believe even shopping should put us at the stores when they unlock the door at 10:00.

We wanted to drain the antifreeze from the camper and get it ready for use today. We didn't even get a start until 11:30. This isn't real antifreeze, it's something else, for the sake of my sanity I call it antifreeze.

I put the hitch on my truck, and loaded the camper battery. We had to retrieve the camper from the storage facility, bring it home, and fill it with water. This allowed us to flush the lines until all the red stuff disappeared. The residue goes in the grey water tank, and in the case of the toilet – the septic tank.

This means we had to take it to a dumping facility, and the easiest one is in Emmett some 20+ miles away. We decided to take Otto with us. He does well in the car, and I have a great air conditioner. I left the AC on and a window down while I emptied out the tanks. It was about 99 degrees out there today.

Otto was a little tired when we got home, but wasn't deeply effected by the heat.

I managed to print two and a half of my critique reads out. That's when the printer refused to work because it wants a more ink. I will work up two critiques tomorrow, and will have to find someplace to print the final one.

I spent some time assembling the next radio interview, then sent out a rough draft of the one after that. These things are a blast to do, because I get to work with some incredible authors.

I'm always looking for someone to participate in Lisa Burton Radio, so let me know if you're interested. The character interviews have been well received and I don't think anyone else is doing them. I think it's a pretty good opportunity.

Otto decided he likes the laundry room and the kitchen. We have a cool smooth floor in there and he likes to lay on it. He tends to go like crazy, then crash hard. In a few hours he's ready to go again. I believe the yoga crowd refers to this one as “Resting Frog.”

Have a good evening everyone. I'm going back to my reading for now.

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Making progress today

I don't want to take anything away from my guest post today. Make sure you visit today's radio spot and check out City of Hope and Ruin. She's been tearing it up today, so make her feel welcome. I wanted to post on my staycation progress.

I made a screaming tour through Blogland and social media this morning while the coffee brewed. Then I started in on projects.

I cobbled together the next Lisa Burton Radio post and sent it for final approval. Haven't heard anything back, but there is still time. It's likely to be scheduled for next week.

I managed to write seven pages of The Yak Guy project. Honestly, I wanted and expected more. I guess I'm out of shape mentally. The next phase of his growth is about to begin, and I don't like writing the transitions. The new players are just about to enter the story now, in fact one of them has been seen but not introduced yet. It's a decent place to stop, because I'm excited to get back to it now. Besides, I get to beat the crap out of him next. Fun fun fun. Last section he got to have sex with his dream girl, now he gets to meet her father.

In keeping with my Tarot personal challenge, her father is The Emperor the other guy represents The Hierophant. I'll probably minimize The Emperor and spend a little more time on The Hierophant. Readings never expect to give full weight to every single card. Later on, I'll have to minimize The Hermit too. Nobody wants to read five chapters of Ted pondering the meaning of life.

I worked through the critiques I received on The Yak Guy project. The group all seemed to like it, but they said some cautionary things, and it feels like good advice. Yak Guy Ted is being put in a lot of uncomfortable situations and is forced to evolve. This is good, but it's also passive. I need to get Ted driving the action. He's just about ready, and has to a degree. It's a really good caution though, and I may have to address it in rewrites. I still want it to follow the Major Arcana, and The Fool can't be a mover and shaker until he's ready.

I also managed to get Jason Fogg out of trouble in his new short story. I still have to figure out what he's going to do to the bad guys, but I'm in no rush here. I don't try to set deadlines for my short stuff. The only issue is several other characters who want their short stories to get written. I refuse to start them until I finish this one.

I wasn't the best blog buddy today. A few months ago I created a list I called “must reads.” These are the people who I really enjoy, and 99% of them visit Entertaining Stories and interact. I actually follow over a thousand blogs. I like surfing the headlines and reading the stuff that jumps out at me. If I want to get anything done, I limit myself to the list. That's the kind of day today was.

Tomorrow I want to rough out the next-next Lisa Burton Radio interview and send it out. I need to move The Yak Guy ahead, and will to some degree. I may even finish with Jason Fogg, but it isn't required.

I really wanted to watch The Diamondbacks play tonight, but the damned thing is only on a channel I don't pay for. Greinke vs Cueto too.

I'll probably return to the novel I'm reading instead. I need to get on with that too.

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