#AMEDITING CHICKEN

No real blog post for you today, my beauties. Because:

This could be an Editwock.

This could be an Editwock.

As one is wont to say on Twitter, I #amediting. Feast your peepers:

  • I’m on the FINAL EDIT!!!!! of The Dying of the Light (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #3) (formerly known as Legacy, formerly known as Legend’s Heir), my epic fantasy story of Rafe Skelleran (formerly known as Esau Skelleran, formerly known as James Moore, formerly known as Travis).
    This book has been through a lot. It will be glad to get away from me. Projected pub date: JUNE 30.
  •  

  • Tomorrow, I plan to submit my short story “Requiem for the Milk of Wisdom” to the Author Strong short story contest. It needs a final once-over, then I’ll be ready to let it fly from the nest. Hopefully it will return home with a contest win under its belt. Or at least an olive branch.

I’m also helping prep for this weekend’s celebration of my grandparents’ 75th wedding anniversary. BANGERANG. A lovely occasion to honor lovely people alongside many other lovely people. I’m looking forward to all the hoopla, but it most def makes for a busy week!

And so, instead of watching Agents of SHIELD and folding laundry as I had planned, I shall now away to bed.

Toodles!

I can fit my whole fist in my mouth (weirdness + #amwriting update)

Me: I would seriously throw up if I had to remove somebody’s eyeball. Makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it.

Ed: Don’t think about it. You won’t have to do it anytime soon.

Me: I might. There could be a zombie apocalypse and somebody could have a tumor in their eye.

Ed (in Schwarzenegger voice): It’s not a tumah.

____________________

Ed: I hate that story.

Me: What? “The Three Little Kittens”? Why?

Ed: Because I’ve read it about a million times!

Me: Well, the good news is, I can still fit my whole fist in my mouth.

Ed: I… what? Why are you–? Your whole fist?

Me (with enthusiasm): Uh-huh!

Ed: But…what are you doing, just sitting in here all by yourself, stuffing your fist in your mouth?

Me (with enthusiasm): Uh-huh!

Ed: But…I…okay. (walks out)

____________________

In the car….

Toddler (from backseat): I need a pah*!
(*pacifier)

Me: You don’t need one right now. It’s not naptime.

Toddler: I need a pah!

Me: No, not right now.

Husband and I converse for several minutes. Suddenly–

Toddler (singing to tune “Wheels on the Bus”): A baby in a bus say, I need pah, I need pah, I need pah. A baby in a bus say, I need pah, all through the town.

Me: Well, that’s the most passive-aggressive thing I’ve ever heard.

____________________

In other news,

my January progresseth apace with editing every moment I get.

Legacy (Legends of the Light-Walkers #3) (working title) is still underway: I’ve finished Draft 0.1-1.5 (I’ve lost track of which version this actually is by now) and am now in the throes of editing and rewriting based on feedback from three beta-readers. Since all three know what they’re doing, I have my work cut out for me. I’ll write a more comprehensive Writing Life update soon.

Also, I really can fit my whole fist in my mouth. Cheers.

_______________________________________________________________

Works-in-Progress Update and Getting Naked

Sci-fi novel Elevator People

First draft still in-progress. Still one to two chapters away from completion. I spend more time thinking about why I can’t finish the story than I do trying to finish the story. Which is a stupid way to spend my time. But there you have it. My theories as to what my problem is:

(a) I don’t want to kill off the character who’s probably gonna die in the last chapter.
(b) I’ve been spending too much time on social media, and it’s rotted my brain.
(c) The antagonist kicks the bucket too soon, and that’s made me lose momentum.
(d) Part of me thinks I should slog through and finish the first draft as-is, then go back and fix the problems.
(e) Part of me thinks I should fix everything I can fix and then finish the story.
(f) I keep wanting to play with sparkly new story ideas for my Legends of the Light-Walkers universe.
(g) I have ennui.
(h) ALL OF THE FREAKING ABOVE.

Dash it all.

Sci-fi short story “The Mercy and the Schadenfreude of the Soulless”

Yes. That is the actual title.

My beta readers have finished the story, and their response has been overwhelmingly, blush-elicitingly positive. Which, of course, makes me panic that these two people, whose opinions and clear views of life I generally trust, are, just in the case of my story, wholly blind to reality and deceived as to the merits of my story. Which makes me an angsty, ego-driven writer, I suppose, but then, what else is new?

Tonight’s blog post is, apparently, brought to you by Courtney’s Penchant for Commas. You’re welcome.

Anyway, edits on TMatSotS are going well, and I plan to have it done and turned in to Tony by the end of the week. BANGERANG.

Advice

Especially in the shower.

Especially in the shower.

#Amwriting Your First Draft: The Editwock Will Steal Your Soul

NOTE: I wrote a version of the following post for JuNoWriMo 2013. Becca Campbell, one of the founders of JuNoWriMo, was kind enough to ask me to write a Pep Talk for this year’s event. I was only too happy to oblige. What follows is a version of that Pep Talk, altered to suit the needs not only of WriMos, but of first-draft novel-writers everywhere. Enjoy!

Greetings, O Ye Warriors of the Mighty Pen!

Word documents. Word wars. Word mongering. Wordiness. WORD COUNTS!

If you’ve committed yourself to writing a novel (which is not unlike committing yourself, period), then you’ve committed to hammering out that first draft no matter what it takes. Some of you have done this before, some of you are doing this for the first time. But whether you’re an oldtimer or a newbie, you know that words are key to succeeding in this crazed endeavor we call noveling.

This could be an Editwock.

This could be an Editwock.

Well, duh. It’s kind of hard to write a novel without using words. I suppose you could try using music notes instead, but you’d probably end up with some kind of post-postmodern, Wagner-derivative opera suffering from an existential crisis, and I don’t think any of us want to hear that. And writing your novel using Morse code might be tedious. So, words it is.

But the thing about words is…they’re tricksy. They flit like pixies across your page or screen, all innocent-like with their serifs and curlicues…and then they just squat there. Brooding. Staring back at you from your work-in-progress and making you care about them. Making you want to change them. Daring you to change them.

If you change one, you’ll want to change others. You won’t be able to help it; editing when you’re not an editor is some kind of weird addiction. Once you start, you can’t stop. AND THE WORDS KNOW THIS, PEOPLE.

One minute, you’re writing merrily along, something about Our Heroine rescuing the doomed prophecy puppies and drinking the magic elixir in the nick of time. Next minute, you start editing, and before you know it, your Plot Point #3 has turned into Carrot Magnetic Demolition Force 7 and there’s really no turning back after that.

What I’m getting at here, y’all, is that while you’re first-draft-ing, you must avoid editing. The words will tempt you to edit. They will lift their lovely faces to the morning sun, open their lovely mouths, and give voice to lovely siren calls of editing bliss. Do not listen to them! “Beware the Editwock, my son! The affixes that bite, the compounds that catch!”

*ahem* Sorry. Slight Carrollian digression there. But you get the point. First drafts and editing don’t mix. If you let yourself edit, you’ll slow yourself down. Those chapters won’t write themselves, y’know. You gotta put in your butt-to-chair time, and if you take that time for editing instead of writing, you’re going to be hard-pressed to slog through the Middle-of-Story Blues or have the energy for the Finish Line Sprint.

Your best friend, dear writer, is the admonition emblazoned upon the JuNoWriMo homepage:

JUST WRITE.

Don’t worry about the “mistakes” (better known as “happy little accidents,” right?). Don’t worry about the typos, the synonyms, the passive voice, the dangling participles. After you’ve used the last of your strength to type “The End,” you can give in to the sweet seduction and edit all you like. But for now, resist. Don’t worry, and just write.

You have a novel to finish. And the great news is, you can finish it and you will finish it. You’re sacrificing sleep to get there. You’re sacrificing time with friends and family. You’re sacrificing the calm that comes from not over-caffeinating 24/7.

And yes, you’re sacrificing the luxury of poring over your own every word and tweaking each word to perfection.

But all this sacrifice is worth it. In the end, you’ll have a first draft in your hands — and editing it will be glorious. So just write, hon. That’s your only job right now, and you can do it.

Now stop reading this and get back to it. : )

__________________________
Other JuNoWriMo Pep Talks by Nina Post (contemporary fiction), Hugh Howey (WOOL series), and Rayne Hall (dark fantasy fiction).

Witch Doctors, Jesus Christ, and the Harlem Globetrotters

Hile, you lovely people! With no more preamble than what you’re reading RIGHT THIS INSTANT, here’s a quick run-down of Courtney’s Recent Life:

  • Writing advice site UnstressedSyllables.com published my recent article on how to choose a target audience for your novel. Click that link to read and go ooh-ahh.
  • Speaking of ooh-aahs, I’ve been singing a lot of “Witch Doctor” to the baby. She finds it entertaining.
  • I’VE BEEN PAINTING. I know. I KNOW. That’s a pretty big one. I hope none of you fainted. If you did, and if you’ve since revived to read the rest of this bullet point, I’ll tell you that I’ve actually got TWO paintings in the works:
    1. an illustration of Revelation: a post-Second-Coming Christ, the church in the form of a house, and a New Jerusalem coming down out of the heavens — you know, iconic epic-type stuff
    2. an image that’s been knocking around in my head for almost two years: landscape with crimson sky and purple hills in the background, and a mysterious dark Something in the foreground. The Something might be a structure. Or it might be a person (possibly a female version of this). I’m not sure yet. But it will be black.
  • I’ve been editing Josh‘s latest: Hell-Bent for Leather, a Weird Western in which supernaturally gifted Chet Leather must rescue the soul of his friend, Dan, from the clutches of a Duke of Hell. It’s an incredibly entertaining romp with plenty of action, deviltry, tongue-in-cheekiness, and heart. Though I’m slow due to time constraints, I’m enjoying it immensely. In other news, Josh has been very patient with me.
  • In further news, Elevator People progresses apace. Our Hero is about five paragraphs and a few lines of dialogue away from his final encounter with The Villain, Carrigan Bell. I’m glad of it, because I’m ready for this story to be in editing and pre-publishing stage, and I also want Carrigan Bell over and done with. He’s a particularly nasty sort, and I always feel like I need a shower after I’ve been in his head for a while.
  • This isn’t part of Recent Life, but it’s a Recent Development pertaining to Life, so I’ll share it: I get to see the Harlem Globetrotters in April, and my brother-in-law will be on the opposing team. BAM.

For now, that is all. I’m going to bed. See ya later, dahlings! Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.

But if you do, take pictures.* ; )

*I picked that one up from my Grandpa. WHAT.

Your Novel Is Missing Something

Greetings, my lovely inklings! I hope your day is fantabulous thus far.

Since I’ve been posting on so much various and sundry of late, I thought it well to pen for you a few whats concerning writing today. This is also by way of an update on my own Writing Life, i.e. my work-in-progress, i.e. Rethana’s Trial (Legends of the Light-Walkers, #2).

Background Particulars

If you recall, I recently mentioned in passing that I’d submitted the final draft of Rethana’s Trial to my indie publisher. I did not, however, make note that while I considered the draft complete, I did have a few minor bits and pieces to clean up. I figured that I could just work ahead of Aaron and have all of my fantastical ducks in a row before he laid eyes on whatever section of story I’d just finished polishing.

Said polishing, by the way, was to consist of fact-checking Book 2 against Book 1; fixing some linguistic errors in Lirren Eamnaya, the language I invented for this series; and making sure that the redhead in Chapter 2 wasn’t a brunette in Chapter 17. Things like that.

I write my stories in Google Docs, so I’d left myself comments all over the place. And as I went through the document, checking and fixing and comment-resolving and congratulating myself on how well I was keeping ahead of Aaron, I came across the following:

Note to self

Do please click to embiggen and feast your eyes on the note I left myself on the right-hand side of the screen capture.

Yes. I had managed to “complete the final draft” and had left out an entire chapter in the process.

*le sigh*

I sent Aaron an email with the subject line “oh crap,” detailing the lack of finishedness. The good news is that in the Google Doc comment, I’d left myself an outline of the missing chapter. It’s a very rough outline, but at least I’m not racking my brains trying to remember what it was I intended said chapter to contain and accomplish.

The bad news is that I could go into labor at any moment, and if I don’t get that chapter written before this happens, I likely won’t get it written for at least another month. (I am trying to be optimistic.)

How to Add Necessary Wordage to Your Novel

So. Now the goal is to add 4,000-6,000 words to the story. How to accomplish said feat? I know I can’t be the only writer out there to be facing such a task, so I thought I’d delineate a few steps for all of you writerly people. This is by no means an exhaustive how-to; this is just how I’m approaching the problem. If it works for you, too, then I’ve done A Good Thing. : )

How to Add Necessary Wordage to Your Novel

1. Have an idea of what those words need to be.

As I mentioned above, I’ve already got a rough outline of what needs to go into this chapter. Now, by “outline” I do not mean a point-by-point bulleted list, although that might be helpful. I mean I have three or so run-on sentences that say “first this happens and then this and then someone says that and the MC responds and then they argue and blah.” Yes, the “blah” is a direct quote. When I wrote the comment, I needed to remind my future self of the thoughts that had inspired the idea that the story needed this chapter. The Run-On Blah serves as my “oh yeah, that.”

2. Know what the extra words need to accomplish.

In my case — and without providing spoilers — my entire extra chapter serves a dual purpose:
(a) It fleshes out a side character as one of the main antagonists of the story.
(b) It provides my main character with extra motivation for her decisions over the course of the next 2-3 chapters.

Unless you’re in the throes of NaNoWriMo and are trying to pad your word count, you’re never just adding words for the sheer heckuvit. This is not a thesis paper to which you’re adding fluff in order to get your letter grade. This is a novel, in which every word must be absolutely necessary. (Really, you should approach thesis papers the same way, but who does that?) In novel-writing, if a word doesn’t need to be there, you have to cut it. Conversely, you shouldn’t add a word unless you need it, either.

So, before you go adding a couple thou of wordage to your story, be sure of what function you want those words to perform. Fleshing out character? Adding motive? Clarifying action? Tying up subplot? Giving main character another delicious obstacle to overcome?
Decide. And then move on to the last step.

3. Engage butt-to-chair and write the darn thing.

I discovered my lack-of-a-chapter on Thursday. I didn’t get around to sitting down to the story again until Monday. Granted, in the meantime I had baby-related necessaries to accomplish and away-from-keyboard activities in which to engage. But still…I’m a big enough girl to admit to the possibility that I might have been procrastinating a little.

Do as I say, not as I do. In every step of novel-writing, plunking your butt in your chair and just doing the work will ultimately be the only thing that gets your story written. It’s the only thing that will get your story finished — and I mean really finished, not just ready for someone to start reading while you frantically work ahead of said beta reader and hope they don’t catch up to you before you’re done.

———

So, there ya have it. My three steps on how to add necessary words to your novel. Comments, questions, and even disagreements are welcome. What would you add to the list?

Writing Means Creating Hay

So. As far as significant blogposts go, I honestly got nuthin’ for ya today, y’all. The reason for this is that I’ve spent every possible moment of the past 36 hours working on the sequel to Rethana’s Surrender.

The goal, in case you hadn’t already guessed, is to get this sequel ready for editing before the baby comes. I feel like I’m pretty well on-track to accomplishing this; but still, I remain aware that time groweth short. So, with much aplomb, Ima make hay while the sun shines.

Over the past 36 hours, the creation of said hay has been: finishing up an entire chapter of new material and editing into submission two chapters of material I last tinkered with four years ago.

I LOVE MY JOB. : )

That is all.

He Made Me Loose, and 5 Other Shenanigans

Or: How You Spell Dis?! Part Deux

Greetings, O Fearless Writerly and Readerly Ones! I come to you today bearing tidings of great joy. And those tidings are that you, too, can learn to communicate clearly by improving your spelling and your grammar! Doesn’t that sound like fun?!

*ahem* You don’t have to answer that.

C-A-L-C-U-L-U-S

So, moving right along! Once upon a time, I regaled you with the tale of Riku and his encounter with a terrible, flying M-A-T-H. Aha! And there we’ve arrived at my first point, which is a reiteration of the moral of Riku’s story: If you don’t spell things correctly, people ain’t gonna know whatcha mean. How easily does Riku’s “math” become “moth” (which was the true source of the poor kid’s terror).

For the purpose of emphasis (and to make this post have something to do with its title [Yeah, we all see what I did there. {I don’t apologize.}]), I’d also like to restate one point from the Riku post:

THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LOOSE and LOSE.

He made me lose. = He caused me not to win.

He made me loose. = He turned me into a slut.
(Notably through no fault of my own.)

PLEASE STOP DOING THIS WRONG.

*ahem again* Thanks.

Okay, with that out of the way, let’s move on to happier things like lightning and cat pee.

Yes. You read that correctly. Lightning and cat pee. Here we go!

5 More Spelling/Grammar Shenanigans: How do you spell…?

1. THEY’RE, THEIR, THERE.

INCORRECT: They’re cat peed on my porch. = They are cat peed on my porch.

Now, if you’re trying to insult someone, you might say, “They’re (They are) cat pee on my porch,” but that wouldn’t be very nice of you.

“Their” is a possessive pronoun. A possessive pronoun is a word that replaces a name and indicates ownership of something. Instead of saying, “The Smiths’ cat peed on my porch,” I replace “The Smiths'” with “their.”

Correct:
THEIR cat peed on my porch.

INCORRECT: I saw the cat pee their.

What we’re looking for here is the word that shows where the cat peed. Remember, “their” is a possessive pronoun; it shows ownership. As-is, the sentence isn’t complete. I could say, “I saw the cat pee their coffee beans,” but that certainly wouldn’t be very pleasant for the cat.

Correct:
I saw the cat pee THERE.

THEY’RE = THEY ARE
THEIR = ownership
THERE = location

2. IT’s and ITS, YOU’RE and YOUR.

INCORRECT: I saw it’s mischievous look when the cat peed on my porch.
= I saw it is mischievous look when the cat peed on my porch.

INCORRECT: I saw you’re mischievous look when you peed on my porch.
= I saw you are mischievous look when you peed on my porch.

I saw it is mischievous look?
I saw you are mischievous look?

No, no. The “mischievous look” belongs to the cat — or to you, for shame! — so, once again, I am looking for a word that indicates ownership. “It is” and “you are” do not fit the bill.

Correct:
I saw ITS mischievous look.
I saw YOUR mischievous look when you peed on my porch. (Tsk, tsk, tsk.)

BONUS:
mischievous (MIS-chuh-vus) = CORRECT
mischievious (mis-CHEE-vee-us; rhyming with “previous”) = INCORRECT

3. LIGHTNING and LIGHTENING.

INCORRECT: When the cat peed on my porch, I saw lightening flash across the sky.

(This is quite the apocalyptic cat.)

LIGHTNING (noun) = those bright bolts of electricity you see during a storm

LIGHTENING (verb; well, technically a participle, but that’s more than I want to get into here) –> from TO LIGHTEN
= to change gradually from dark to light; opposite of TO DARKEN

Correct:
When the cat peed on my porch, I saw LIGHTNING flash across the sky.
The lightning highlighted the mischievous look on your face as you allowed your cat to pee on my porch.

4. INDEPENDENCE or INDEPENDANCE?

INCORRECT: Your cat peed on my porch on Independance Day.

(You really should control your pet’s behavior a bit better, you know that?)

I don’t know what the Indepen Dance is, but if someone wants to teach me it, I’d be more than happy to learn.

Correct:
Your cat peed on my porch on INDEPENDENCE Day.

(This is grammatically correct but conceptually quite bad form.)

5. WHOSE and WHO’S.

INCORRECT: I am perturbed at Mr. Smith, who’s cat peed on my porch.
= I am perturbed at Mr. Smith, who is cat peed on my porch.

Mr. Smith who is cat peed?

No.

If I wanted to insult Mr. Smith, I would say, “I am perturbed at Mr. Smith, who is cat pee on my porch. The worthless slime.” But again, that wouldn’t be very nice. And, again, I am searching for a word that shows ownership of the mischievous and apparently incontinent cat. “Who is” does not work.

Correct:
I am perturbed at Mr. Smith, WHOSE cat peed on my porch. AGAIN.

OR:
I am perturbed at Mr. Smith, who’s (who is) the man whose incontinent cat won’t stop peeing on my porch.

DISCLAIMER: Neither you, nor my porch, nor urine of any sort, nor any cats were harmed in the making of this blog post. Nor, even, Mr. Smith.

However: Terrible, flying maths will always be swatted.

Paaaaperbaaaack Wriiiiiterrrrr (sing it!)

Greetings, hardy readers!

This message is brought to you by the letter “P”! As in, PAPERBACK! As in, I wanted to let you know that we’re close to having the paperback of Stains of Grace ready. : )

“But, Courtney,” you ask, “why is the paperback coming out so much later than the e-book?”

Well, my loves, I’m so glad you asked. You see, the file we upload to Amazon for the e-book is not the same file we upload to Amazon for the paperback. The formats are different. And when we change the e-book format over to the paperbook format, all sorts of fun little errors crop up.

Such as font changes where there shouldn’t be font changes. Plain text where there should be italics. Oh, and random bullet points, as though the document suddenly thinks I’m writing a PowerPoint presentation instead of a novel.

Yay!

So, my job over the past few weeks has been to scour the paperback file of Stains and find all those pesky little weirdnesses that weren’t there before. Lemme tell ya, ’tis great fun. I’ve been trying to get it done while getting hired as Acquisitions Editor for Consortium Books; finishing acquisition edits and painting cover art for Aaron Pogue’s latest fantasy novel, The Dragonprince’s Heir; and finalizing edits for my own soon-to-be-released epic fantasy novel, Schism Rethana’s Surender (retitled since this post originally went live).

I love my job(s), but it’s been a rather tiring few weeks. (If you recall, I’m also putting together a baby inside my body. So there’s that.)

BUT. I’ve finally finished reviewing the paperback file for Stains of Grace (Demons of Saltmarch #3), and it is now in the hands of the publisher. As soon as I find out that the Amazon sales page has gone live, you lovely people will be the next to know!

In the meantime, happy reading to all (here’s the Stains e-book if you wantiz it, and please watch out for unexpected and unusual salt formations. ; )

P.S. Did I mention I got hired as Acquisitions Editor for Consortium Books? I got hired as Acquisitions Editor for Consortium Books.
😀