Re-Reading Your Work

My first book has been in my heart for the last eight years. Now the first book in this planned series is nearing its final stages. It is an exciting time to know that the project, at least in the way of writing, is almost completely finished. We have an editor, and around this time next month, the search for an agent will continue, and then comes the publisher, and hopefully a career.

My editor has been very good. I just received the note ridden document on the first chapter, and am absolutely thrilled with it. What I like about this editor is she really wants to help improve your story. You hand her silver, and she tells you how to make it gold. Poor analogy if you prefer silver to gold, but you get the point.

Sometimes getting editing tips can sting a bit, but you need to remember that an editor is coming at the story from an objective point of view, the same way your readers will. If something confuses them, it will likely confuse other readers as well. An editor’s tips can be most helpful to increase a manuscript’s readability and put your own worries to rest.

Though I trust her completely, there are a few things I myself still wish to correct before she gets to work, so I have been re-reading my manuscript and tweaking it in parts. Personally, this is one of my favorite parts of the writing process. Re-discovering your work after a break from it can be a real eye opener, allowing you to see the things that don’t quite work, and also see where the story got something right.

The edits were superficial for the most part, removing a few lines of dialogue and description here and there, changing things around, and giving her more to work with when she gets the chapters. Last night I blew through chapters 7 and 8, editing them as I went before they get their final evaluation. It had been many months since I read them, so I had actually forgotten a few of the things that happened in my own book.

This is one very important reason to re-read your work, but only after a break. If you go back over it moments after wrapping it up, your mind is still racing from what you just finished. Not a good state to look things over in. If you give yourself a break and then go through it, it helps you look at it with at least a little less bias. When you’re calmer, you can just relax and look through your work with much greater care. You may even get caught up in your own story.

Every once in a while, there would be something that made me cringe, wordy inner monologue, a strange exchange between two characters or any number of other small errors in a narrative. These things were not indestructible, and were vanquished after my fingers did a little waltz on the keyboard. It felt like cleaning a room or polishing a car. There was a nice sense of accomplishment knowing that the story became just a little bit better.

Occasionally, a few of my fears were calmed. My main character is a dragon, and one of my other characters had a bad experience with dragons in the past. We all know that archetype, from the angry police chief in every Dirty Harry film, to Val Kilmer in Top Gun. They’re that character that doesn’t trust the hero, calls them dangerous, reckless, and eventually they either come around, or get their teeth knocked in.

I like the angry police chief as much as the next guy, but if that’s all a character offers, you can’t help but roll your eyes. Fortunately, reading through the manuscript again has calmed my nerves. This character, named Blondie, is more than just paranoia. She cares about her companions, is passionate about her work in history and archeology, and her suspicions are purely based on worry for those closest to her. Her reasons are well founded, and you can actually understand and empathize with why she is not entirely trusting of the hero. I can’t begin to tell you the relief that brings when you fear something won’t work, only to discover it does.

In an earlier post, I compared reaching the ending to a book to climbing a mountain. You know where you’re headed, but the real question is getting there. Going back over a manuscript after a period of rest is similar. You know where to go, and how to get there. The only difference is you can avoid the rocks you tripped over last time.

Meet and Greet Link 2/26/16

This has been a most exciting month for this project. Thanks to blogs like Danny’s, we have had our most successful month to date since this blog began in September of 2014. If you are seeking more views and followers for your content, or are just curious about checking out some new content yourself, this is a great place to start. Give it a try and see for yourself.

Dream Big, Dream Often

dream-big

I hope your Saturday is off to a great start!

The Meet and Greet continues today so be sure to stop by and visit other bloggers.  I want to remind everyone as to what I consider to be the most powerful aspect of the MnG concept and that is to visit other sites and introduce yourself.  Leaving your link and leaving is one method, but it is the least effective method.  Leave your link and then spend some time reaching out to others!

And don’t forget, you can leave your link multiple times!!

Meet and Greet Link 2/26/16

View original post

Unexpected Surprise From My Illustrator

Sometimes the little things in life bring you so much pleasure.

My illustrator Joseph Buehrer is an artist of high standards. He always strives for the absolute best when it comes to his work, even after it is supposedly finished.

The illustration for chapter 1 of the Never Heroes fantasy/adventure series he is helping on was one of the biggest moments in the history of this project so far. Finished last year, it became a favorite piece of ours to show off, and putting it on here greatly aided in the site’s traffic.

I was satisfied with it. Joe wasn’t quite finished.

A few days ago he sent me a message, saying he wasn’t satisfied with the image given how much the quality the illustrations has increased, especially since last December. So, he tweaked the image until it was more up to the standards of the current work and sent me the update. Here it is.

Never Heroes Chapter 1

I must say, the updates were most thrilling to see, the most obvious being the new scale pattern in our dragon protagonist’s neck and chest, and the added detail and color to his great horned crown. I don’t have the HD version of this picture just yet, but will add it to the Chapter 1 Illustration page once it becomes available. In the meantime, I hope this SD version will satisfy your dragon needs.

Updates on the book cover coming soon. Thanks for reading.

New Concept Art for Never Heroes & Abyssus Coming Soon

Yesterday was a big day in the way of artwork for both the Never Heroes book series and my horror script Abyssus. The main villain from book 1 of Never Heroes, the villainous dragon Heavy, is almost done and needs only to go through some small adjustments before he is posted here. I saw the progress on the art last night, and it is nothing short of breathtaking.

Additionally, work on another element of the cover began on our designer’s end. he will be drawing the heroic dragon, Zhyx, to be added to our growing collage.

Every bit as exciting is this early piece of concept art for the monsters in the recently completed script for Abyssus. Our designer began with the McFarlane sea monster as a base before branching off, looking at various species of deep sea fish and ancient crocodiles in search for the right combination to make the audience shiver.

The creature pictured here is not a final product, but it is a wonderful start.

Abyssus Concept Art 1

More such artwork coming soon. In the meantime, give David Spada a hand for his amazing work.

If you love monsters and creatures, be sure to check out his blog at Monster Legacy. He has astounding articles for such creature greats as Alien, Predator, Godzilla, An American Werewolf in London and more.

Thanks for reading and I’ll make the art available as it is finished.

We Have An Editor!

Though my personal break from writing has begun, my projects continue to move along. The fantasy/adventure novel Never Heroes has been going through a final polish before the query process continues. I was doing this editing myself, but always felt a small tinge of worry. It was after all my book, and was thus hard to view objectively.

Yesterday, those worries were put to rest. Through a writer’s group I attend, I met an editor. She agreed to do the book for a price that is very affordable, especially when you consider the cost of most editors is usually around 2 or 4 k. She agreed to do it for less than 1 k.

Editing a manuscript is an important, often overlooked part of the writing process. It’s like editing a movie in many ways. You still need to trim, fix a line of dialogue here and there, and alter any number of words or phrases in your prose in order to maximize the emotional punch of the work. It’s all about understanding the ideas you’re trying to communicate, and communicating them more clearly.

As such, it probably isn’t the best idea to self edit, or even have a close friend do it. You could miss any number of small errors in the writing, and in many cases, a friend of course will tell you how awesome it is and not much else. Editors work best when they are objective, coming onto the scene with fresh eyes and fresher ideas.

A few days ago she sent me a sample page showing how her editing style worked, I liked it, we met on Skype yesterday, drew up a contract, and got to work. She estimates being done with her edit sometime in March, so not too far off.

Better yet, she is also a graphic designer. This means for a little extra, we can work together and create that ever elusive title font for out front cover.

I cannot begin to tell you all the relief this brings. Not only does it mean the search for an agent will continue much sooner than expected, but it also means I’ll be able to take that period of rest after-all, ensuring that in April when work finally begins on book two of the series, I won’t be burnt out.

This year did get off to a rough start with the sad end to my trip to Ohio, and the unexpected change in management at my apartment. As of late though, things are going pretty good with a new job, three new writing projects finished, and now my pride and joy finally getting its fine mirror shine before I attempt again to send it out into the world.

The Sequel Jitters: Writing the Second Book In a Series

My break from writing begins today, apart from the edits of my first manuscript that will continue. What? You don’t think I could ever completely give up writing for a full month, do you? While I certainly am looking forward to this period of rest, an obstacle awaits that fills me both with eagerness and dread. At the end of this vacation, I’ll write the second book in my four part Never Heroes fantasy/adventure series.

To write the first book was a massive effort. I finished the first draft of it just under a year ago. Over 130,000 words and one draft later, the first book in the series still remains my most cherished work, but it is only the first part of a saga that has yet to be finished. I can’t help but be a little nervous about measuring up. The story of Zhyx the dragon and his companions going on their adventures in the mythical country of Haiden has become more than a hobby, a passion or even a career prospect. It has become a part of my immortal soul.

There certainly is no shortage of ideas. The earliest draft of the book was so full of information, characters and set pieces, I made the decision to divide the story up into a series rather than try to cram it all into one giant volume. Those characters and set pieces still wait patiently to be reborn by a keyboard’s strokes.

Much will happen, and these future books will expand on and elaborate these characters and their universe, delving deeper into their relationships and their abilities as they continue their adventure. The later books will take place over a much longer period of time. Whereas the first book takes place inside of a week, the final book will span twenty years of their tribulations and triumphs alike. There will be joy and sadness, old characters will be lost for new characters to take their place, relationships will crumble while others flourish, all as these characters continue on an adventure filled with hope and fear.

I certainly won’t be going in completely blind. A decent roadmap has already been prepared. Even while writing my setups, the payoffs were already neatly catalogued in my many pages of notes and ideas. I know how each of the next three books begins, and how each of the next three books ends. Shortage of ideas is not the problem. The problem is organizing it all into a coherent story.

With so much for me to juggle around, I’m not going to fool myself into thinking there isn’t a lot that could go wrong. There’s also the worry that my pre-mapped story may not be the best idea. If I’m dead set on a path, a potentially great alternative may pass me by.

Yes, writing a story is always difficult. To craft a sturdy cohesive narrative can often seem like building a tower of cards. If one little piece of character development doesn’t work, or if one piece of world building is inconsistent with the rest of the story, it could all come tumbling down in a sad heap.

Writing the first book was an exhausting effort. All the days of going to the store hours early just to have the privacy to work, all the times going over the manuscript and correcting each mistake, all the nights staring open eyed at the ceiling trying to figure out how to get my characters out of a bind without copping out. By the time that first manuscript was done, I was about ready to keel over. Now I have no choice but to do it again, three more times.

Three more times, each time being much longer and elaborate than the last.

As the journey for my characters will be far longer and far tougher, I expect it to be the same for me. Yes, Never Heroes is certainly going to be a tough nut to crack.

Still, these characters and their world are closest to my heart out of anything I have ever done. To go on another adventure with them will be a treat. Ultimately, they will not rest until their story is done. Neither will I.

There is the comfort of knowing I’ll be in good company.

This Year In Writing

It has been just under a year since I finished my first draft of my first novel, the fantasy/adventure novel Never Heroes. Looking back, it is hard to believe just how productive these last twelve months have been.

In that time, I completed a second draft of Never Heroes and edited it, finished the short scripts for The Dragon In the Warehouse, Forgotten Apocalypse, and The Ice Cream Man, the last of which was made into a short film directed by yours truly, wrote three feature scripts for City of Wolves, Distant Horizon, and Abyssus, and completed two short stories, The Phantom in the Pit and Mare. A full length novel, two short stories, three feature scripts, three short scripts and a short film. It’s the kind of body of work most don’t complete in a lifetime.

With such a massive body of work done, it seems an opportune moment to take a vacation.

Rest assured, the vacation won’t be for very long. Honestly, I wonder if I will even last the month and a half I have planned. Writing isn’t just a passion of mine. It became a way of life. This art form was my chosen method of survival and maintaining my sanity while working a job in retail. When working at a job like that, you watch the days of your life slowly drip away, and your passions and dreams seem ever the more further out of reach. Even if it is just a part time position, it takes a toll on you.

Things were different when I was writing. On my lunch hours and during my breaks I would pound away at the keyboard. I would deliberately come into work early, sometimes as much as six hours, putting myself in a position without internet for the sole purpose of working without any distractions. All the while, there was a feeling that I was working towards something, something that seemed more within my grasp with each stroke of my Mac’s letter keys. Writing fulfilled a deep desire not just to pass the time or seek a new profession. It was my way of maintaining hope.

Hope is something in short supply at times.

Much has changed since this time last year. I now have my first film industry job and am earning more money than ever before. I have reconnected with many old friends with similar aspirations of working in the arts. Overall am in a much better place than before. Still, there is that desire. I almost can’t contain that drive to just keep going.

There certainly are several other projects to consider, from comedies, to horror films, and of course the next three books in the Never Heroes saga. Even now, by the day, the ideas won’t stop. None of them will rest until they’re finished.

Even though not a lot of writing will be done in this time, things will continue to take shape on other fronts. The elements of the cover for Never Heroes continue to have life breathed into them. As seen here, Major Celice Arietta and Professor Graga “Blondie’ Kelpla are looking in rare form. Even now they are very presentable, but they will look even better by the time this cover is finished. Perhaps I can use this time to finally brush up on that drawing tablet and help out with some of these illustrations myself.

Celice and Blondie Cover

I really wonder if I will last that month and a half. In this time, writing has just come to feel so correct for me. The idea of it becoming a profession has me feeling more than a little gleeful, and each project has only served to increase my confidence.

Friends and relatives have asked me how I write so much. It may be because of the confidence it offers. I write because it is the only time I see in me what everyone else seems to.

I may really have to force myself to finish this month and a half.

My Latest Script, Abyssus, is finished.

Today is a big day folks. After two weeks of work, my latest script, the horror tale Abyssus is finally done.

Ever since this project’s origins, it has always been a personal favorite. My first draft of this script was written back in 2012, where I quietly wrote it off as a failure and forgot about it. Earlier this year though, I started to get more ideas for it, inspired by movies like Alien and The Thing.

The story is simple. A safety inspector and the eleven man skeleton crew of a newly commissioned oil platform uncover that a malevolent sea creature has snuck on board. Cut off from civilization by five hundred miles of stormy sea with their radio, chopper and lifeboats crippled, the bio-luminescent beast gruesomely picks off the crew one by one. The men must band together to defeat their enemy, an enemy that may be smarter than they initially thought.

Abyssus is a script meant to assault its audience much like any great horror film, but it is also done with a spirit of fun, meant to recall the days of the classic 50s Universal monster movies.

One thing I hate is to see a story go unfinished, and four years later, I can safely say Abyssus is finished. I also got this new draft finished in two weeks, a new personal best for a script. Working on this script also gave me a much needed break from my Never Heroes book series. After a short break from writing, the writing of book number 2 in the series will begin.

So without further delay, here is the first act of Abyssus. Feel free to contact me and I will give you the password to view the full script. Also, don’t be shy about offering some constructive criticism in the comments. I hope you all enjoy, and don’t scream too loud.

SCRIPT – Abyssus Act 1