First Draft

Happy to report, I’m halfway done!

It’s been a hectic last couple of weeks. Between work, having a nearly three-year-old at home, and my wife’s schedule for school, it’s been tough to find time to write. Finding time to write that also coincides with having the mental creativity to write. It’s a tough window to find.

As of this morning’s writing session, I’ve crossed the 40,000 word mark in the next book’s first draft. Which signals approximately the halfway point in the book.

I’m hoping to find more time to write over the next month or two, so I can finish up the first draft before diving into doing my first round of edits.

Someone once said that you should find something to do that you love, so I’m going to try to devote more time to write this first draft and get it finished! I’m very excited to finish it up and get some feedback on it.

If you’re interested in being an early reader to offer your feedback, drop me a line!

I’ve started my next book!

If you’re not following me on social media, you missed an important tidbit from last week. I’ve started my first draft of my next book.

In fact, I’m over 10,000 words into it after just three writing sessions (totaling a little shy of five hours.) For comparison, My Last Days is around 92,000 words. So I’m chipping away at it pretty quickly.

As is typical of how I write, I’m just going and going and going. I don’t like to spend a lot of time outlining and creating character personas. Particularly since most of my characters are rooted in reality. They may not be exact clones of actual people in the finished product, but they are as I’m writing. For me, that makes drafting much easier and quicker. Does it make a better end product? Probably not. But it’s how I enjoy writing and I fear when this feels more like a job than a passion, I’ll not want to do it anymore.

So far, I’ve exposed two hints about the book. In case you missed them, I’ll share them here, too:

  1. In takes place in 1996 – so much nostalgia coming your way!
  2. It takes place in Billerica, Massachusetts.

I don’t have any goals around when the draft will be done. I didn’t want to impose any additional self-apposed stress on myself until life gets back to a closer semblance of normal (namely, daycare re-opening.)

For now, the goal is to write a few chapters a day until I feel comfortable with the first draft. Then work on tightening up the main plot points, the characters, and the entire premise before shipping it off to beta readers. If you want to be a part of the beta reading process (you read an early draft and provide your honest input), sign up for my mailing list. It’s the best way to get the inside scoop on the new book, as well as exclusive discount coupon codes for future books!

Back on Track!

I’ll admit that I’ve been feeling a little defeated lately. The lack of sales of A Sour Chord – though mostly my fault for not really marketing it – have me questioning why I’m even doing this. Not because I want the money, that’s not – and never has been – what this is about. I just want people to read what I write.

If I could make it completely free all the time, I would.

I’ve started diving back into My Last Days now, reading it aloud, to try to get to a second draft. I’ve been making notes as I go along, hoping that I can refine the story and get to a better place with it.

It’s such an arduous process to read and re-read and re-read something over and over again. Well, reading it’s not the problem. Trying to separate myself from it to the point where I can constructively criticize my own work is what I’m having a tough time with.

I was hoping that I could have outsiders do that for me, and provide objective criticism, but a lot of those people who offered to read the first draft and provide feedback flaked out for whatever reason. That, in and of itself, had me questioning whether or not the book was so bad that those people didn’t even want to finish reading it.

Though the few that did said they enjoyed it, so it’s tough to say.

Regardless of what happened with those people (maybe they’re just flakey people, who knows), I’m pressing on and going to get through this first draft re-reading by the end of the month. Then I’ll move on to a second draft before sending it to my editor to run through.

My goal is to have this completely done and ready for publishing around the same time that A Sour Chord went live in the bookstores, which was mid-May of this year. So, fingers crossed that I’ll get it done on the same schedule.

Spinning My Wheels

I’ve got a handful of people reading My Last Days right now. Not to tell me that I missed a comma or a closing quote or the like, but to tell me what they think of the story. I read through it twice when I finished the first draft and I’m not fully sure that I love it. I like the idea, I like the message I (think I) conveyed with it. But I’m just not sure that I’m in love with the whole thing.

So I’m hoping for some good feedback from those folks that are reading it now. So far, nothing either way, but hopefully soon I’ll get some feedback.

In the meantime, I feel a lot like I’m spinning my wheels. I feel as though if I’m not writing anything, I’m wasting time. Which is a weird feeling, given that this is not only just a hobby, but it’s not like I have a drove of fans waiting for my next book, or a publisher that’s hounding me to get something written.

I just feel like if I’m not doing something, I’m wasting the day.

Sure, I’m working my day job, I’m working on a website or two for fun. But other than that, every day feels more of the same. I wake up, eat breakfast, sit at my desk for eight hours and then do some chores and tasks, make dinner and watch TV. It feels very repetitive lately and I don’t know why I’m in this rut.

Maybe it’s because subconsciously I wanted A Sour Chord to do better than it has done. Maybe I wanted someone to email me, call me or write a review online telling me how much they loved it. Maybe, on some level, that’s done some damage to my mentality and it’s starting to hit me. Maybe the book’s not as good as I wanted it to be.

When I first started working on A Sour Chord, I didn’t tell anyone. I did that on purpose because I’ve, many times in the past, started things and not finished them. That’s sort of my motus operandi. I’ve started and quit so many things in my lifetime, I didn’t want to get anyone excited about this until I knew I was done.

Then when I finished, lots of people were excited. Friends and family wanted to read it. So I, foolishly maybe, started sending it out. I realize everyone’s busy and have their lives to think of, but some people that were so excited to read it still haven’t. It’s been almost three months since it was entirely done and for sale, and some of those folks still haven’t read it yet. Am I being sensitive about that?

I’m wondering if I should start working on something else while My Last Days is being read. I don’t know how long that whole process will take this time. From the end of the first draft through editing, through artwork, through re-reading, through reader feedback until publishing for A Sour Chord was more than a year.

I’m hoping, based on what I’ve learned from last time, My Last Days will go faster. I’m also hoping that once it’s published, I’ll sell some copies. While it’s not — and never has been — about making money for me, it’s sort of nonsensical to spend thousands of dollars on editors and artists to create the finished product when it’s only going make a couple of dollars.

Maybe I need to hire a marketing person. I’ve learned, quite quickly, that I have no idea how to market anything. I was hoping that I’d publish and people would just find the book, but that appears to be the wrong way to think about things. Maybe it’s time to regroup and rethink my strategy.

That’s all I’ve got for today. I realize this is mostly me rambling the thoughts I’ve been trapping in my head for the last couple of weeks, so I apologize.

My Last Days First Draft is Complete

It seems like it flew by once I started working on, it really did. Once A Sour Chord was published and for sale, I started hitting My Last Days again. And hit it hard I did.

The total word count is just over 92k, and the story seems to all warrant such a word count. I’ve read through it twice now since I finished writing — to do a rough edit for punctuation, grammar and spelling — and I think I enjoy it. I’ve got it out with a half dozen people to read and give me their feedback, so hopefully they’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

When I first started writing it, I was lost. I didn’t really know where it was going or what I was trying to say, but as I progressed the story sort of unfolded on its own.The characters told their own story and I was just their narrator.

One of the most interesting things about My Last Days, at least to me, is that it’s in first person. I don’t often write in first person, but it was a fun and unique challenge to do so.

From here, we begin the process of gathering feedback from people, incorporate any feedback into the story and then move on to the editing process. Once that’s done, we do artwork and then we publish. It really is pretty simple.

The hardest part, from here, will be the editing. It sucked my will to live last time and I really didn’t enjoy it much. Not even a little bit. But it’s necessary and has to be done, so we all do it, right?

If you’re interested in reading My Last Days to give some pre-edit feedback, I’d love to have you check it out. Just drop me a line either on Twitter, Facebook or via the Contact page and let me know which format you’d prefer (Kindle, PDF, Nook, iOS) and where to send it and I’ll get it over to you.

I look forward to finishing this up and picking what I’m going to write next. I’m thinking, after two of them, maybe it’s time to write something a little less dramatic. Maybe a suspense novel? I’m not sure I can pull that off, but I have an idea and am willing to try.

The End is Near!

Perhaps that’s not the best title for a blog post, but it’s true. The end is, in fact, near.

The end of the first draft of My Last Days, that is. If all goes according to plan, I should finish this week and start my first round of edits either this weekend or early next week.

I’m really excited about it and think that it came together quite nicely, though I fear it’s going to need quite a bit of editing. When I write, I tend to just go and go and go without thinking too much. Sometimes that works in my favor, sometimes it means I have a lot of word chopping and scene re-arranging to do.

The story, as a whole, really works. I think I can say that honestly without any bias. But I think there’s some reworking that needs to happen and some more emotions that need to be put into the story near the beginning and middle (the bits I wrote in late 2013.) When I picked it back up again this year, I had a really good sense of where I was going, so I think that helped me stay on the right track.

I’m really stoked to finish this up and get on to the second draft. I hope you’ll check it out when I’m done! In the meantime, grab a copy of A Sour Chord if you haven’t already. It’s on sale everywhere for just .99 cents and that’s a bargain you can’t beat!

Back to Work on My Last Days

Now that A Sour Chord is fully done and for sale in the various market places, I’ve decided to put off all of the other real-world tasks that I have to complete and get back to work on My Last Days.

Last week I started re-reading everything I’d written so far, so I can be familiar with my characters again, as well as the story lines I’d written. I probably could have skipped this process, but it’s actually pretty beneficial for a few reasons. Primarily because I’ve already found mistakes and inconsistencies in the first draft, but also because I’m getting back into the head of my main character, which is important for this particular work.

My goal is to finish reading the last 40 pages by Wednesday and get back to writing later in the week or early next.

This is such a fun journey and one that I’m glad that I’m able to do without very much effort or money. (Though, let’s be honest, I spent more than I thought I would on A Sour Chord, but that was worth it.)

I’m shooting to finish the first draft, first round of edits and a second draft by the end of the summer before turning it over to an editor. Then, this time, I’ll do a bigger group of beta readers than I did with A Sour Chord. Hopefully that’ll spark more interest.

I’m also hopeful that a second book will inherently draw more attention than the first anyway, now that I’m not an “unknown” anymore.

If you grabbed a copy of A Sour Chord, thank you! If not, it’s still on sale for 99 cents through the end of June across all platforms. Grab a copy before the sale ends and read it whenever you’d like. Once it’s yours, it’s yours! Also, if you have grabbed a copy, thank you so much. I hope you enjoy it enough to leave a review on the site you purchased from. I’d love that very much!

My Last Days on Hold, Back to A Sour Chord

I didn’t realize it had been so long since I’d updated the progress blog here.  Over the last three weeks, a bit has changed with things.

My new (wonderful) editor, Lauren, sent me her initial feedback earlier in this month, which I’ve read at least half a dozen times by now.  I agreed on most of what she said and will work a lot of her feedback into the story as we go through the (hopefully) final rewrite in the next month or two.

In order to get back into the mindset of A Sour Chord, I’ve ceased working on My Last Days.  Not for good, just so that I can get my mind back into that of my characters from A Sour Chord.  I don’t know of many (if any) authors that write two books at the same time and it’s probably because it’s so difficult to jump back and forth between sets of characters, stories, locations, etc.

As of now, I’m waiting on Lauren to start sending me detailed feedback on a chapter-by-chapter basis.  That’ll allow me to go through and either edit or flat-out rewrite parts of the book to get to the goal that we’re setting out for the ending.  The overall ending won’t change (I stood my ground on that, despite her recommendation to change it), but the story that gets us there will change a little bit.

What I’ve learned during the editing process

  • It’s difficult to find an editor — I didn’t factor cost into this at all, I’d gladly have spent whatever it took to find someone that I felt would take this seriously — despite just being something I’m doing on a whim.  I counted my emails and I emailed back and forth with 15 editors before finding something that I felt took me seriously enough to want to do the project. Many of them were either outrageous in their pricing, didn’t want to offer me a sample edit (why would you pay someone when you don’t know what their style of editing is?), or said they’d get back to me and never did.  A very frustrating process.
  • Go with your gut — if an editor comes across as pushy or difficult during this process, they’re probably going to be pushy or difficult to work with too.  I’m glad I didn’t go with a handful of them that were really unpleasant via their emails.
  • It takes a long time — I finished writing the book nearly six months ago, hoping to have it published by now.  It’s left me feeling somewhat defeated that I missed my own (admittedly completely arbitrary) goal.  Having friends read it and give me their input as well as the actual editing process has been mentally draining, but hopefully worth it in the long run.

From here, the final edit/draft will be completed. The cover will be designed. The book will be on sale.         And hopefully, just hopefully, at least a couple of people will buy it.

Then I’ll finish My Last Days and start this whole horrible process all over again.

My Last Days Continues!

word-countOver the last three weeks, I’ve been chugging away at My Last Days, trying to get through the first draft.  You can see the recent word count history there on the right.  A couple of big days early on, but I’ve been slowing and missing days due to “real life” getting in the way.  It’s been a busy month for me and I’m just now getting back to writing every day.

I’m about 40% done now and am finding it more difficult than it was to get through A Sour Chord’s first draft.  Maybe because I had already known how that one would end and what all the main plot points were since I wrote the short story so long ago.  With My Last Days, I’m honestly making it up as I go along.

My goal is to hit 100,000 words with the first draft, though I think I’ll probably end up closer to 80,000 when I’ve written all that I think the story needs.  I may try to push it a little bit, though. If the editing process is anything like A Sour Chord’s first edit, I’ll lose a few thousand words that get cut out during that process, so I think I’m shooting for more so the end result is a more readable book that doesn’t feel too short.

I wrote another 1,502 words this morning in a single chapter and have planned out the next three chapters to help me through the rest of this week.  I realize that at some point I’ll have to go back through and re-think the entire story, its meaning, and organize the chapters into a more sensical order.  Right now I think I’m just writing haphazardly to get the words out onto the paper.

I wonder if other authors struggle with their second book more than their first.  I’d imagine so.  I think most people that write have a big idea for their first novel and power through it and then get to the second and hope they have as good of an idea as their first.

On the A Sour Chord front, editing continues there.  My editor, Lauren, is working through her first edit and then will go back and do a full line-by-line edit, and probably hate every sentence I’ve written, but hey, that’s what you pay an editor for!

I’m behind my own personal schedule with having A Sour Chord available, but that’s due to my ignorance on how this whole process works.  I thought I could power through it more quickly than was really possible. I’m learning a lot as I’m going through things and am thankful that my life leads me the opportunities to not only learn this process, but to follow through with it.

More updates coming soon and hopefully a sample chapter (once we have a final draft of one!) will go up on the site as soon as possible.  Thanks for checking in!

First Edit Complete!

I was so excited about the progress this week (not to mention busy) that I didn’t have a chance to write a blog about this week’s big milestone: the first edit is complete!

Austin really pulled through and edited the last half of the book in about a week, and I managed to get through all his notes and changes in two days.  My eyes are still bothering me from it but I managed to get it done anyway.

While chatting with him as I went through his edits, he let me know that he felt like I took greater care towards the end, saying that the last few chapters had very few edits.  Which I found a bit surprising given that the last few chapters seemed to just fly out all at once — I blinked and before I knew it, I had the last chapters and was done.

My one question (so far) to him was whether or not he could predict the outcome — which he couldn’t.  I enjoyed that.  My whole point (with the story) was the surprise the reader and to end it on a note that would be unexpected but (hopefully) satisfying.

To prepare for the next round of edits I’ve printed a hard copy (which to my surprise was 226 pages and a whole black ink cartridge in my shiny new Epson printer) so I can mark it up with pen.  I’ll be on a plane in a little over a week to Vegas for a long weekend and will be doing some story and character editing on the flight there and the flight back.  I figure I should have enough time to write some notes and get down some thoughts after I get through a full reading for myself.

I’m really excited that I’m moving through this process at a greater speed now and with Austin’s notes, I feel like I’m almost unstoppable.

In case you’re wondering what the book looks link printed, here’s a picture I took:

Printed!

Editing Continues and Some Thoughts

I’ve been chugging away at the edits that Austin sent over before he left for a vacation in Greece (I know, I’m jealous too!) and I’d guesstimate I’m a little less than halfway through the list of edits he had.

So far I’ve trimmed a few thousand words out through the various edits, which I think is good.

Going back through and editing has allowed me to read a lot of the actual book myself.  It’s helped me realize that there’s some changes I’d like to make.

Most notably, I want to change my lead female’s name — for reasons I won’t get into here.

I also want to change the name of the band — as a placeholder I’ve been using Resolute Resolve, which makes no sense and is flat-out stupid.  I’ve known since I started writing that this would be a placeholder, I just have to spend the time to come up with a different name.

I need to revisit describing some of the characters — I’ve done this twice so far already, but need to do it again as now months after writing some of the characters I’m having a hard time remembering what I wanted them to look like.

The story needs some work — there’s certain keys that I wanted to hit to make sure that the end is really powerful.  It’s not a twist in the traditional sense, but I think the ending comes as somewhat of a surprise.  My hopes is that I pulled it off well, but I know that there’s some work that needs to be done.

I’m still pretty well on schedule for where I wanted to be at this time.  I’m hopeful that when Austin gets back from vacation we can plow through the rest of the edits, and then I can use my (fancy new) printer to fire off a printed copy to mark up with a pen.

I was hoping I could do that on the plane on the way to my vacation at the end of the month, but I don’t think that’ll work out with the timing.  Perhaps I’m wrong, but time will tell.

Just about halfway through

I’ve been chugging away at doing my first read through and am just about halfway there.  It’s such a surreal experience to read your own work, especially since I’ve been reading it on the iPad.

Though I decided the other day that once I’m done with Austin’s edits (which should hopefully be soon), I’m going to print a hard copy to markup with my changes.  I’ve been finding things as I’m reading through that would be easier to just jot down on paper, and go back and make those changes. Nothing major, but little things here and there: this reads funny, this character was taller earlier. That sort of stuff.

I also started interviewing some editors through a number of online services, and will hopefully be able to nail that down before I’m done with the actual first draft.

The whole process is taking quite a bit longer than I anticipated and I still have quite a bit of work to go.  But I’ll get there.  Seeing as how I don’t have a deadline or a publisher to report to, there’s no immediate rush on getting everything done at a specific date or time.  Being my own “boss” has its rewards.

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