Tag Archives: editing

Tuning up a manuscript

I woke up at 6:30 today. Hey, my wife had to work, and I'm on vacation. If the puppies let me sleep that long, I'm taking advantage of it.

I made it out to the writing cabin about 7:30. I had three dogs to feed, and forced Otto into a short, slow walk around the park next door. He's been pretty sedentary, and I wanted him to move around a little bit.

Lisa is still gone, having scheduled her own vacation right after she finished up posing for Sean Harrington. Right now, it's just me and Doubt the raven. A little bit of that New Orleans chicory coffee and I went to work.

I opened up The Enhanced League and started into my reading. My beta readers all pointed out things I used, and I wanted a final reading to make sure everything still flowed. They all had some ideas I didn't use too, but that's kind of how beta reading works. These wonderful people helped me make the book so much better.

Doubt spotted a spelling error and a formatting issue too. For these short stories, I usually start off with a date followed by a colon. Some of them had a location immediately after that, and some didn't. I revamped everything, replacing the colons with periods, and made sure they all had a location. This involved my fictional broadcast team being in some places where the location isn't relevant to the story, but that's how I did it. If nothing else, it helps define how big the league is.

I sent off an email to my formatter. I last contacted her in late April, and feel bad for taking so long. Life has a way of interrupting my writing career, and that isn't all bad either.

I decided to break up the work by assembling and scheduling a guest post for tomorrow. This is pretty simple to do, but it takes some time. I emailed the advance link back to the guest, and checked that off my task list.

Then I decided to start writing blog tour posts of my own. I only managed one, about something new in this book that I call anthems. I wrote about my inspiration to create them, and how I used them in the book. I still have more posts to write, but it feels good to get started.

That's when the phone rang. “Hello.”

“Hi, this is Lisa. Just wanted to see how you're getting along.”

“Oh, fine. It's the first day of my vacation. How's your vacation?”

“It's good, I finished up with Sean yesterday and grabbed a bus out of town.”

“A bus?”

“You know robot girls can't pass through TSA machines. It's a bus or come home to get the rocket-pack.”

“Oh yeah, from the second Notebook. Where did you decide to go?”

“I'm in sunny Southern California right now. There are cruise ships operating out of San Diego, and I may decide to play a little blackjack.”

“Hardly fair with your card counting skills.”

“It isn't illegal to be smarter than they are. Besides, it's my main source of spending money.”

“What about your paycheck?”

“That's cute, but it doesn't provide the kind of wardrobe I'm used to.”

“Well, try to have a good time. Then I need you to help me with a time travel story. Right after that I need to polish up The Yak Guy Project. Before you know it, we'll be starting on The Hat, and Estivation. We need some Macabre Macaroni stories too.”

“It all sounds like fun. The posters are going to be awesome.”

“With you and Sean, I never have any doubts. Can't wait to see them. Do you think I need to find a bus depot and pick you up eventually?”

“Um, I'll keep you posted on that. Bye.”

Research Note: The Henderson Motorcycle Company was an American company. If it were still around, it would be revered right alongside Harley Davidson. They were part of the Schwinn Bicycle company. The Henderson Streamliner is an Art Deco masterpiece.

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Release the pressure, be calm

It's fairly well documented that I put pressure on myself, then I stress when things don't go according to plan. Today I did something about it.

I asked for vacation time all next week, and it got approved. I feel like the clouds have parted, and the pressures all disappeared. Of course, I set the stage for a good week by finishing my beta edits over the weekend. After a couple of read throughs, I can send The Enhanced League to the formatter. I'm toying with the idea of including all the Lisa Burton posters at the end. Maybe someone will like them as cool freebies.

Once I get Enhanced League to the formatter, I need to start on edits for The Yak Guy Project. I also need to write tour posts for Enhanced League. Once I have everything, I'll put out a call for hosts, and try to figure out if they want me or Lisa to visit their sites.

If I can do all that, and get Yak Guy ready for beta readers, it will have been a good vacation. I don't feel like it's a huge, unreasonable goal. I don't have to go back until July third, and then I get the fourth off.

I have my critique group in there somewhere, so I'll have to work up their pages. I sent my own submission off this evening… while enjoying a glass of Talisker.

For those who are waiting, we took Otto back to the vet this afternoon. This whole pain thing has nothing to do with pecans. It's a neurological thing, involving his spine somewhere around his tail. He is in incredible pain, and we now have even more medication to try.

What really bothers me about this is that on Friday he was the happiest dog in the world. Today he can barely walk. We can't think of anything that happened to him, beyond the pecan debacle, and the vet says it has nothing to do with that. He didn't fall, nobody was physically abusive to him, the puppies certainly didn't hurt him. We're supposed to give him his medication and stand by. We were told to keep him calm for about ten days even after he starts feeling better. I guess in baseball terms, he's on the ten day DL list.

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Working on my edits

I took a more leisurely approach getting to the writing cabin today. Puppies decided to wake up at 4:00 am, and they were hungry. After feeding and walking them, I went back to bed and all of them crawled in with me.

Bulldogs apparently don't have any concept of personal space. Otto was the best of the three, because he was happy to conk back out. After repeated attempts to keep tongues out of my nostrils, and noses out of my armpit, the puppies went back to sleep.

The writing cabin was a cold quiet place this morning. Lisa* is absent for a few weeks. She is hanging out with Sean Harrington and working on promotional posters for The Enhanced League, and The Yak Guy Project. I found detailed instructions for everything from making coffee to feeding her pet rabbit, Bunny.

I dragged my feet taking care of everything. Editing of any kind is not my favorite thing, and I knew what waited for me in my office.

He glared at me with inky black eyes. It was a look you might see at the end of your life, like when a great white shark bears down upon you. His black beak aimed my direction and followed me to my desk. I took a seat and opened the files I would need.

Doubt, the raven, hopped off his perch and glided to my desk. I paused, then opened the window in hopes he would leave for the day. He looked at me like he was disappointed at my childish antics.

I don't speak raven, but they make the damndest collection of noises. They aren't crows, and this one is from Mt. Olympus. He's more than an ordinary raven. He paced across the desk while waving his head from side to side in disapproval. “Jugaluggg, blork. Jugaluggg, blork.”

I knew what he meant. He thinks it's all crap. I massaged and tweaked my manuscript while he voiced his disapproval.

Enhanced League got a lot of volunteers for beta reading. I hoped for four, and got seven. I only hope Yak Guy will get half that many when the time comes. Everyone had something wonderful to offer. Commas were deleted, then added back, before being deleted once more.

My UK readers had a tough time with this one, and I expected that. Baseball is popular in North and South America, and in major parts of Asia. Not so much in the UK. I struggled with how to make it accessible to everyone, but had to make an executive decision. Professional ball players would not realistically discuss the basics of the game. They are veterans of the sport, and some things are understood so well they would never come up. This means, I've limited my audience for this book. It makes Doubt happy. He feeds off my worries and concerns.

One of them suggested that some baseball cards might help keep track of everything. It's an outstanding and creative idea. I just don't think I can commission the artwork to support a .99¢ book.

I managed to get through four of the reports before the real world called me back. I'll need another day to get through the rest, but that won't be the end. I will have to re-read it one more time before I can send it to the formatter.

All in all, I feel pretty good about it.

* Lisa Burton is my robotic personal assistant, and the spokesmodel for my writing career.

***

In reality, it looked a lot like this. IPad Pro with its split screen; one side for Enhanced League, the other side for email. This is because some readers sent notes in an email along with the attachment. My old iPad has all the beta read documents on it. I do it this way, because the pro won't allow me to use the split screen on the same program. I can't open my word processor twice. Truth be told, I really like this setup, and I'm glad I kept my old iPad for this reason.

I had my phone there too, but used it to snap this picture, so you can't see it. The other important device is a cup of chicory in a weak attempt to hang on to my vacation.

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Why I’m not moving ahead

I read a post by one of my fellow Story Empire authors about things being seasonal, and it certainly reflects my writing career. I do most of my writing in the winter. I try to do book releases in the Fall, particularly if they have a paranormal angle. I’ve also released some in the Spring. Summer is for family things, and now they’re starting to clash.

This year, the seasons got away from me. Part of this has to do with taking on two books at once. I’ll own that. I need to tackle those beta edits and ship everything to my formatter. I just got the cover art for Yak Guy, and need to start working on it too. I’m trying to finish an ARC read for a friend, but there hasn’t been a lot of time. I’m also falling behind on my RRBC reading obligations.

This weekend, Old What’s Her Face and I are taking a mini vacation. This may seem contradictory to my predicament, but we kind of need this. I can do some research while I’m there, even if it’s just people watching. I’ll update you guys from the road if something cool comes along. I do okay with reading on airplanes, so maybe I can finish that book, and even write a review during a layover. (Optimistic, no?) There are some decent novellas and short story collections on RRBC, and two of my Story Empire friends have some I haven’t read yet. It’s kind of a cheat code, but a shorter work might help me meet my reading obligation.

As soon as we return from our mini vacation, my critique group meets. I only have one submission so far, but maybe I can work it up tonight. I can’t print on an airplane, so I hope the others show up soon.

The following weekend, my parents are coming to visit the puppies. Let’s be honest, that’s the real attraction. We always have a good time, and I understand the appeal of little puppies. The chance to get anything else done is almost nonexistent here.

One weekend after that, I learned yesterday, we have a campground reserved in the heart of morel mushroom territory. That weekend may have some hope, because I could do some things after dark. I don’t need wifi to read, or even to edit. Then again, I may go for a drink beside the campfire and just bag it.

Every spare second is pretty hectic right now. There was a line something like this over the weekend: “You watch the puppies, and I’ll go to the mall and get a second suitcase.”

“It’s only a couple of days. Do we really need a second one?”

“Ours will be packed, and we might want to buy something and need room to bring it home.”

Yeah, it seemed like a good way to avoid spending a bunch of cash on trinkets, but I lost that debate. Then there are all the mundane things that we would normally save for the weekend, picking up enough food so kids and dogs can eat while we’re absent, dry cleaning, choir performances by grandchildren, etc. It’s also medical season. I just had one checkup, and tomorrow I have an eye appointment. I’m going to try to cobble some of those “weekend” errands onto my trip to the eye doctor.

Besides all of this going on, there is sleep deprivation. Frankie and Nyx seem to want to sing the song of their people about 11:30 to midnight every night. They want up in the bed with us, but what they need is to go outside and potty. This requires me to pull on shorts and rush them outside before we have a failure on the carpet. Sometimes I win, sometimes I don’t.

After all these events pass, I hope to be close on The Enhanced League release. Yak Guy will take the next priority. After that, I need to get hopping on a short story for an anthology I was invited to contribute to. Then I need to start thinking about Macabre Macaroni stories for October. They don’t write themselves either, and I enjoy doing them.

So my theory is to do some reading on airplanes, with luck I can get caught up there. When I go camping, I might be able to work on some edits at night. I may have to take some vacation just to work myself out of this hole.

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Not Feeling It

I’m just not feeling it today. This isn’t an infrequent situation, to be completely honest. What I normally do is bull my way through and accomplish what I can anyway. I always have so much going on that I can’t afford a goof off day. Today I’m taking one, and that’s bad.

Here’s what I need to do this weekend:

  • Schedule a guest post I committed to. (This is simple, I just need to do it.)
  • Assemble and schedule next week’s Lisa Burton Radio.
  • I have two “radio” posts to get started on, which takes some time.
  • I have a book I need to keep reading.
  • After this gets finished, I need to start working on my own beta edits.

My daughter came home last night. She gave me an awesome haircut, and we had a nice visit. She also had some visit left in her this morning. I dedicated 100% of my time to her before she left.

I took today off, but it was for a checkup with Doctor Finger. It turned out to be a consultation, and I avoided the finger completely. It was a great report, and my PSA continues to drop. Still, between this and my daughter, half a day was shot. That contributes to my attitude a bit.

Tomorrow is dedicated to a different project. We have to drive to Burley and bring Frankie home. She had her final puppy appointment and weighs 10 pounds 1 ounce.

That shoots down tomorrow. Sundays are never all that productive. I’ve been watching a lot of baseball in the evenings too. I’ll probably continue this habit, with a puppy in my lap. Need to get to my task list in the mornings.

The good news is my flex day off is Monday. I can usually be productive on my flex day.

I won’t actually wait that long. I’ll chip away at things every day, and maybe the list will be smaller when Monday rolls around. What do you do when you’re just not feeling it?

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The time has come

I finished my edits. I wanted to make a fun post about Doubt the raven, since he always helps me with editing. My regular work schedule just doesn’t allow me any time for this. I had to make a choice, and either forge ahead, or put everything on hold for three weeks. You guys probably know me well enough to predict what I chose.

So here we are with a 37,000 word manuscript all ready for beta readers. My goal is to get five or six of you to read it and give me feedback. It’s a short book, so it really shouldn’t take very long.

Regulars will know that I’m constantly experimenting. It’s how I develop and grow as an author, and this book also had a personal goal. I wanted a collection of short stories that told an overarching story this time. There is a semi-main character, but he’s not in every story.

The Enhanced League is an alternate baseball league where anything goes. You’ll read about performance enhancing drugs, alongside a group of misfits who couldn’t get attention in the Major Leagues. The rules are a bit different, but not so much as to be unrecognizable.

This is also the one where I experimented with what I’m calling Anthems. These are second person presentations about the game of baseball that are intended to enhance the experience for the reader. I intend to call them out in the table of contents, but they aren’t called out in the MS yet. (Can’t make the TOC until I finish the beta adjustments.)

So there it is. I hope there are enough human elements to keep the book interesting for those who aren’t sports fans, or specifically baseball fans.

If you’d like to be a beta reader, I’m looking for about five of you. I can send a Word, Pages, EPub, PDF, or RTF format. All you have to do is drop me an email and let me know you’re interested.

I’d like to have the reports back by May 23rd. This is a week less than I usually allow, but the book is half as long.

If you’re still game, here is my email address, just modify it into a real email address. Coldhand (dot) Boyack (at) gmail (dot) com.

*  Quick edit here. I have enough volunteers for this book now. If you still want to volunteer, I will have The Yak Guy Project at this point fairly soon. I’ll put out a call for beta readers just like I did for The Enhanced League.

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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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