Ramble

Thanksgiving week meant all my time went to family things: cooking and cleaning mostly, but a lot else besides.

I took the week (actually more like ten days) off from pretty much everything else. I was already behind with my self-imposed schedule of posting here at least once a week, so that took another hit, and I deliberately avoided social media – as a result, I have pretty much no idea of what’s been going on in the news. The only thing I’ve used any computer for in the last few days has been playing games (The Talos Principle and Sir, You Are Being Hunted) and watching Netflix (I watched Cloud Atlas and Rogue One yesterday – the first pause all week where I was able to sit down and relax properly for a few hours).

Starting today, I’m getting wound back into the world. I took a few minutes earlier to send an email to my editor-in-chief to ask if there’s any news about the status of copy-editing on The Artemis Device, and whether she’s accepting Phantasms & Magicks for publication, and also to update a couple of pages on this site. I caught up a little bit with Twitter (and learned that Rance Howard died yesterday) and Mastodon (which I just started using a couple of weeks ago).

On the actual writing front, I’m planning on splitting the rest of today between doing some timeline work on the Untitled SF Project, and also writing a few notes for another project idea that I had a few days ago (it started as a short story idea, but as I thought about it it became bigger to the point where I think it’s likely to end up being a full-length novel).

On that note, I need to wrap this up; I have a couple of errands to run (the first time I’ll have left the house in three days) and then I want to get on that writing work.

Until next time…

Queries have been sent . . .

I just sent out query letters for Smoke & Mirrors to five agents. The original query letters I sent out a few months ago didn’t work at all, so this time round I read up some stuff on Query Shark and Writer’s Digest then, rather than reworking those old letters, I wrote new ones from scratch. Let’s see if that makes any kind of difference.

On a different note, I found out last night that I have a kidney stone. I feel like crap—persistent aching in my side, tired because of lack of sleep.

And on that note, that’s all I can manage for now. End of post, except for this thought:

Screenshot 2017-07-07 at 20.13.54

Bad Days, Good Days

THE last couple of weeks have been really heavy going at work, which is the main reason I haven’t had a chance to throw out any updates here. We’ve been moving a few of the web applications to new host machines, and it’s one of those jobs where ninety percent of the work is easy and takes ten percent of the time, but then you hit the ten percent that’s all hurdles and problems and means you can’t just finish it up and get it done. As I write this it’s Sunday morning, and tomorrow I have three, count ’em, three system moves that are stalled waiting on things.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, writing work has all but stopped, which is very frustrating. I’m working on a story I want to write, and I’ve been stuck at the planning part for something like a month. I have a character, she has a name, and she has an interesting past that’s given her an ability, if you can call it that—sometimes it’s going to be a lifesaver, most times it’s a curse. And I can’t say more about that without giving too much away at this early phase. The big problem is that I still don’t have a solid story, and I just can’t seem to get the time to think my way past that.

The day-job work craziness been part of that, of course—among other things I’m so tired at the end of most days I just don’t have the energy to get into writing, and in any case there are home/family things that take up what little time I might have had—but there are other things too. For example, I now officially work at home and hook into the office over VPN; I rarely need to go in. It’s great, but one definite downside is that it’s caused a complete change of routine. I used to use the drive time between home and office to think about story and characters; Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia was planned and plotted and all but actually written on that daily drive, as were The Artemis Device and Smoke & Mirrors (more on status of both of those shortly).

But I don’t drive in any more, and my writing time is suffering badly for it. I need to change my routine to give me some of that time back somehow.

OK THAT’S ENOUGH OF THAT. It’s not all doom and gloom. Time to focus on some of the positive.

One thing that’s taken away some of the writing time is that I’ve been catching up on READING, and that’s not something I consider at all bad. I mean, seriously, I went through a period of several months during which I hardly read a thing. Not good. So I kicked myself in the pants and told myself to shape the fuck up.

Rod Duncan’s The Custodian of Marvels came out Tuesday and I’ll be starting on that just as soon as I’ve finished reading Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles; I’m almost through Trapped (which I think is the fifth book in the series). But wait, there’s more: the eighth book, Staked, just came out and we went to Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins on Thursday to meet the author and get a signed copy. Really? I hear you say. Pictures, or it didn’t happen. Okay, then:

20160204_190840

There you go.

Now, last points: I mentioned I’d give a couple of status updates, so here they are:

  • The Artemis Device is still with my copy editor at Xchyler Publishing, but as I think I mentioned she got married recently, and then she was dealing with a book release (Ben Ireland’s Kingdom City: Revolt) and now, as I found out just a few days ago, she’s off on honeymoon. So I don’t expect to get back any editing notes in a hurry.
  • Smoke & Mirrors is still looking for an agent or a publisher. A publisher in England had an open submission period last month, so I sent them the first couple of chapters. The web site said it could be three to six months before I hear anything, so right now patience is the word.

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 . . .

There Will Be Blog

I’VE been having trouble with editing Artemis.

The first problem was that what I had to do seemed overwhelming. I’d be looking at the typescript and thinking, I have to think up and write these new scenes to add more backstory to this character and that character, AND I have to have to look for and change bits where I see problems, AND I have to fix the grammar accidents AND mop up the odd spelling mistake, AND I have to do ALL THAT in a single pass and OH MY GOD MY BRAIN IS MELTING DOWN. And then I’d stare at the page like it was the headlight of a freight train coming along the tunnel to turn me into meat-splat. Well, I think I found a solution to that problem: don’t try to do it all at once. So, what I’m doing now is reading back through the ‘script and as I go along, I make simple changes only—obvious spelling mistakes, missed or doubled words, in-yer-face grammar fuckups, and so on. Anything needing more work than that, I mark for later. I might hit a part where I can say, this needs a touch more dialogue to foreshadow something that comes later, or I might spot the ideal place for a new scene that’s needed. So for those things that need some actual wordage, I slap in a comment to say That new scene I need with rabid wombats goes HERE, or I’ll highlight a sentence and add a comment like, Alice remembers the man who shot her brother with a Nerf gun filled with lemon custard. It seems to be working; I don’t lose the momentum of the read-through, I have the right places marked up with the right changes, and then later, when I’ve done every chapter, I’ll gird my loins for the actual writing of new scenes, etc., knowing exactly what I need to write.

(As it happens, a couple of days after making that decision I read something along the same lines in Chuck Wendig’s book, The Kick-Ass Writer, to the effect of, editing needs a plan just as the actual writing does. Well, there’s a plan that works for me.)

The second problem is finding quiet time. The last few days have been particularly bad on that front. Last Monday, I made the above decision about how I’d approach the editing, and a second decision, which was I Will Edit At Least One Chapter Every Day. Tuesday, the second part was already in tatters; that morning I did an hour of day-job work then had to head out for several hours for an appointment, then in the evening we had tickets to see Seether and 3 Doors Down, and we didn’t get home and to bed until 2:15am. Four hours later, up and back at the day-job . . . and then I found out that the family who were expected on Friday had arrived two days early, so off for an evening visit we went, and bed was after midnight again. Thursday, day-job was followed by a barbecue with just-mentioned family, and at the same time I was on the work laptop helping out with an emergency release of a web application. That night, bed happened sometime around 1am. By Friday (yesterday) after day-job I was so exhausted I could barely think straight; editing was not an option. I read a book for the thirty seconds it took for my eyes to feel like they had lead weights on them, then basically died.

Oh, well. At least I got a good night’s sleep last night and today I was able to edit two chapters, which makes me feel a whole lot better. And I came up with another damned good idea, which revolves around the fact that a few weeks ago, in preparation for the visit of aforementioned family, I cleaned up the basement and made it into what is essentially a second living room. And it is a place of light and wonder. Being underground, it is cool, and because the windows are small and face the back of the house instead of the front, it is also quiet—no noise from a motorbike left idling in the street for twenty minutes at 5am (curse you, evil neighbour), no banging and clattering of garbage trucks. There is no TV, or radio. And so, when the family has left for home, I will be making that excellent room my personal Fortress Of Writerly Solitude. Awesomeness will follow.

Until next time . . .

Various Sundry Items

I haven’t written anything here for ages… Since March, apparently.

No excuses. Yes, I’ve been really, really busy at the day job, and that hasn’t left a lot of time for much else. But if I’m honest, I could have probably found a few minutes here and there to put a post or two together. I have most definitely been remiss. But anyway, things have slowed down a bit, so—at least for the time being—I do have a bit more time. And so…

Writing Progress

WORK on The Artemis Device was going very slowly until recently (same reasons—not enough free time) but the last week or so has seen a change in that. I finished a related set of new scenes that I’ve been bashing my head against for a while. I have notes in place for seven or eight more, yet to be written, and I’ll be getting into those soon. Under normal circumstances I’d be doing that over the weekend, but there are other things around the house that I really must take care of: there are boxes in the basement and garage that need to be unpacked and reorganised, and I’m planning a big push on that tomorrow. If I can hit my targets, I might be able to spend some time Sunday working on writing. Fingers crossed on that.

I also did find some time to do a little bit of editing work on the Smoke and Mirrors project. Mostly just reading it back through, looking for obvious mistakes. That one is on the back burner for the foreseeable future, though.

Well, it turns out this is going to be just a short post. It’s Friday afternoon, I’ve just finished the day job work, and now I have to go and run a few errands. But I will be making more of an effort to post here more often. I promise.

Until next time…