Don’t. Plan. Anything.

YESTERDAY was a wipe as far as getting any writing or editing done. See, I’d planned to work (i.e. day-job work) until the usual 3pm or so, then spend some time working on Smoke & Mirrors. (The night before, I’d re-read the script for the first time in some months and spotted some glitches; and since I’ve been looking for agents and publishers to submit to, I decided I’d better hold off until I’d run another editing pass to find and fix as many of those glitches as I can.)

So much for the plan. Around noon something came up that meant I had to quit the day-job early and go help with moving furniture. That took until after 8pm, and by the time dinner was done it was too late, and I was too tired, to do anything else.

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This is ALWAYS the way it goes when I plan anything. I’m sure we all get the same thing. Plans are as fragile as soap bubbles. Make a plan, and something comes along to bugger it up for you. Your plan is a house of cards sitting on the San Andreas. It’s Alderaan an hour before the Death Star shows up.

So the only solution is: Don’t. Plan. Anything. There’s no point setting aside an hour or two later on, or tomorrow, to write or edit or anything else — because, guaranteed, the fuck-it-up fairy will be there to wave her magic wand and, well, fuck it up. Instead of making any kind of plan, grab whatever time you get —  ten minutes here, fifteen there — and use it. Get shit done.

On that note: this morning, lovely Saturday morning, the cat and I have been the only ones awake in the house since around 7:30am. The cat’s been parked on the work laptop, resting after a hard night’s sleep, and I’ve been working on Smoke & Mirrors — reading it through carefully, marking up changes where I see a word here or a phrase there that could be better. I also wrote in a new five hundred word scene that’ll help foreshadow something that happens near the end. I got shit done. Having done that, I put it to one side to write this — and if the house is still asleep when I’m done, I’ll grab another coffee and do some more.

Right on cue, the fuck-it-up fairy fairy appears; the house is waking up. And I don’t care. I’ll find a few minutes here and there later today, or tomorrow if things get busy (there is a little bit more furniture to be moved and cleaning to be done, but it’s almost done). Shit will get done.

Until next time . . .

I #AmEditing Again

YES, it’s true: after many moons of non-editing (most of which was for not-really-very-good reasons), this past weekend saw a burst of writerly action at last.

I think the kick in the pants that started this effort was a direct consequence of the writing workshops I’ve been going to at Old Firehouse Books up in Fort Collins. Those had the effect of getting me thinking about writing again, and I think it just went from there. The most recent workshop was last Tuesday; by Friday evening I’d decided that I was definitely going to do some editing work on The Artemis Device on Saturday morning. But unlike similar decisions in the past, which had been made a bit half-heartedly, this time I meant it. No, more than that — I was itching to get busy, for the first time in months. I was actually looking forward to it.

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You read that right: Looking forward to editing, of all things — the part of writing a book that many writers truly detest.

Well, there were a couple of distractions (for one, I have a regular Google Hangout call with family on Saturdays, and I didn’t want to miss that). But despite that I got past the hurdle in Chapter One.

Let me explain: there was a sentence in Chapter One that my copy editor had marked up requesting a change. But I wasn’t able to fix it. Every time I tried to work on it, I’d stare at it without a clue what to do.

Saturday I solved the problem. Here’s how: I ignored it. Went past it to the next mark-up, and dealt with it. Then the next. And the next. And then on Sunday I moved on to Chapter Two.

Only when I was done with Chapter Two did I go back to that first killer hurdle, the one that had been such a problem. By then I had momentum. I had confidence. My Vorpal Keyboard went snicker-snack, and the Sentence Of Doom fell. Success!

That was enough editing. I’m still rusty at the process and it’ll take a little while to get back to being able to edit for five, six, seven hours at a stretch, like I used to.

But I still had some writing left in me. I updated my WiP page. I wrote a couple of short posts on Google+. And of course, right now I’m writing this.

Today, after work, I did a little more editing. And the plan is that tomorrow I will finish the editing of Chapter Three. But if, like today, the day-job gets hectic and I’m not able to finish it, that’s ok. If I can only spend even ten minutes on it, I’ll be happy — because ten minutes of progress is better than no progress at all.

I might even write some more tonight; I have a couple of other projects in the works that I could spend time on. One needs some outlining work, the other, a read-through and maybe the start of a rough timeline.

But first, dinner. All work and no food makes Pete a hungry boy.

Until next time . . .

Ranting and Reading and TV, Oh My

THINGS have been… well, hectic is the first word that comes to mind. I’ve been working ten-hour days and seven-day weeks on the day-job project for a few months. Hence: no blog posts, little Twitter activity, and so on. Most days after finishing work I’ve been too tired to do anything more than watch TV until I fall asleep.

At last, that’s coming to a close. Today is the first Saturday I haven’t had to work in quite a while (well, almost; I did about an hour first thing to tidy up a couple of little jobs). And so, time for a blog post. Whee!

So first, let me get the obligatory Trump rant out of the way. Yes, I’m worried. I’m concerned for the twenty million or more people who could lose medical insurance cover (including the people who voted for Trump thinking he didn’t really mean what he said about repealing the ACA… you silly people, you), and I worry about what the impact of a bigoted administration on minorities is likely to be, and I’m scared half to death about the long-term damage a cabinet-load of shit-for-brains climate change deniers will be, and I’m really worried about what a thin-skinned “president” with the maturity of a twelve-year old and access to the nuclear arsenal could do if someone slights him and sets him stomping his little feet.

Whatever happens, the country (and the rest of the world) is in for a rough ride, but there are a few glimmers of hope: there’s still the chance that the Electoral College will do their duty come December 19 and reject Trump the Chump; if they don’t, there’s the possibility that he’ll do something incredibly stupid and illegal that’ll get him impeached (I can kinda see that happening before this time next year, to be honest); meanwhile there are plenty of sensible people on both sides of the aisle who’ll oppose him and his Bizarro-world cabinet of defectives, hopefully enough to be able to stop some of the worst from coming to pass; and then there are the activists like the ACLU and others who’ll be doing their level best, too. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic, but the alternative is ulcers, and having had one of those I’m trying to stay hopeful.

RANT OVER.

Now to other things. As I said, I’m back to something like normal on the work front, and that means more time for other things INCLUDING GETTING BACK TO WRITING, YAY! The Artemis Device has been sitting there since, what, April? waiting for me to edit it so that it can be published. I actually did some work on it today. After so long away from it, I’m rusty; I still haven’t finished chapter 1, even. But I’ll do some more tomorrow and I plan on setting some time aside on work days, too, to get more done. The more I do, the more momentum I’ll get built up and the easier it’ll get. I’ll be glad when it’s all finished, because I have two other writing projects I want to work on but I’m not allowing myself to get sidetracked until this editing is done, done, done. But boy, today was kinda rough.

What else?

Reading: I’m about 80% through Abaddon’s Gate (book three of The Expanse). Damn, these books are good.

TV: I admit it, I can be a terrible binge-watcher at times. I’m finally watching the last couple of seasons of The X-Files (for the first time ever). I watched both seasons of Carnivàle (don’t you hate it when a damned good show gets cancelled because, hey, good TV don’t mean nothin’ if the advertisers aren’t making their pile). I’ve been watching Fringe again, and I’m part way into season 4. Things on my list that I haven’t got to yet: Westworld and Twelve Monkeys.

Enough blog post for now. I call beer o’clock, and time for dinner. Meanwhile, here’s Vixey the cat to keep you company:

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Until next time, gentle reader…

2015 Wrap-up

LET me begin by saying I hope you all had a great Christmas, and I’d like to wish all my readers (Sid and Doris Bonkers of Pahrump, NV) a Happy New Year.

So 2015 is all but gone, and 2016 is just around the corner. Will it be any better? In hindsight I don’t think ’15 was all that bad. ’16 could end up being a lot worse, but I’m optimistic. On the political front, I really don’t think the GOP has much of a chance; if having a lying, bigoted misogynist like Trump as front-runner really means that he’s about the best they can offer, then as far as I’m concerned they’ve already lost. My money’s on Sanders this time around.

But enough of that. I want to keep this short because, well, The Expanse episode five isn’t on yet, so I’m in the middle of binge-watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (I only ever saw a couple of episodes when it first aired) and I want to get some dinner and watch some more. So:

On the writing front: I’m still working on the storyline for the Artemis sequel. With the week before Christmas being taken up with all the prep for the big day, I got maybe fifteen minutes in on that. This week’s been lighter so I’ve made a bit of progress but I still have quite a way to go.

On the subject of Artemis, I’m expecting some editing work to be coming my way from my copy editor, but with the holiday I have no idea when that’ll hit. I’ll update the WiP page when I have something.

And on the subject of works-in-progress, so far no luck finding an agent for Smoke & Mirrors. What I did find was a publisher that usually doesn’t accept unagented submissions, but has an open submission period through ’til the end of January. For them, I have to boil my six-page single-spaced synopsis down to no more than three pages of double-spaced. Basically all I can do is slice out more and more detail and compress what’s already there, and hope what’s left still does the story justice. It might sound easy, but it’s surprisingly hard.

Tomorrow I’ll be getting back to that and hopefully finish it in time to get it out before New Year’s Day. Not that that’s important, but it gives me kind of a mental target to hit.

That’s all for now. Time to get some grub and get back to ST:DS9.

Until next time . . .

Vacation

What I Did On My Holidays

THIS is more of a diary entry than anything else. Most pro writers agree you should write something every day. And so…

Dear diary…

I took extra days off work to bridge the gap between the Labor Day weekend and the next, so I have a nine day break, of which I have three and a half days left. Here’s what I’ve been up to.

Writing Stuff

ON Sunday I went through a three-and-a-half hour editing marathon that finished the long-running first pass of The Artemis Device at long last. That went off to my editor the next day, so now it’s just a matter of waiting until she gets a chance to look at it from her side and start feeding back suggestions for improvements. Not holding my breath, as I know she has at least two other projects on her plate right now.

So the plan is to get started into my own self-editing pass of the next project, Smoke & Mirrors. I’ve deliberately taken a breather before I get on with that, but now I feel ready and I’ll probably get to it tomorrow or even (time permitting) later today.

I’ve also been writing a series of blog posts about Google Chrome. You might have seen them. I have a couple more written and scheduled to auto-publish over the next few days.

Bought a New Printer

OLD printer was old. It kept getting clogged print heads and was having problems feeding paper. So I took advantage of a Labor Day special at Office Depot, and got a nice new printer for $50. It’s wifi so we can set it up pretty much anywhere, and thanks to Google Cloud Print we can print stuff directly from phones and tablets from anywhere we have an Internet connection. Nice.

Watching TV

NO vacation would be complete without some actual rest, and in my case that means lying in bed and watching TV. I watch quite a bit on my tablet using the Netflix app. Recently I’ve been watching The 4400, which despite being more than ten years old, I’d never heard of until recently. I’ve also been re-watching Warehouse 13. Fun show, that. I actually wanted to watch The Dresden Files again, but it’s disappeared from Netflix (why? WHY?), so I’ll have to see about buying it on DVD, if it’s even available.

Reading

CHUCK Wendig’s Miriam Black books, a book about writing (The Snowflake Method), and Ian Watson’s God’s World (which is SF, by the way, not a bible tract).

Pest Control

THE warm weather brought with it an influx of insects. Earwigs (which seem to have died down without help from me), and tiny little red ants which (thank you, Internet) I was able to identify as grease ants. I bought some stuff from Home Depot that took care of that problem in two or three days, and they haven’t come back. Here’s hoping it stays that way.

That’s enough for now. Until next time . . .

Free Signed Books!

FINALLY, after too many months of delays and problems and other work-hurdles, I just finished a major editing pass of The Artemis Device. Let loose with Woot! and Woohoo! and other celebratory sounds! Do the I’m-done-for-now Happy Dance!

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In celebration, I’m giving away something for free. I have three, count’em, THREE first-edition paperback copies of Mr. Gunn and Dr. Bohemia just waiting to be signed and sent out. Want one? All I’m asking for is a promise that you’ll put an honest review on Amazon when you’ve read it.

Go to my blog at petefordwriter.com and click the Contact link at the top. Fill in name and email address, and a short note to say you’d like one. DON’T put in a mailing address just yet. Since I only have three, the first three replies get the goods, and I’ll contact you via email to get a mailing address and ask how you’d like me to sign it. I’ll even pay postage, so to you it’s 100% free (apart from a little of your time to write a review when you’re done).

And don’t forget, it’s available in e-book form for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc., as well as print, from Amazon and others: CLICK HERE for details.

[UPDATE: Brad Plaskett in Ohio gets signed copy #1. Two left!]

[UPDATE: Gary Webster in Seattle gets signed copy #2. One left!]