Update Tuesday 7/8-7/14 — July 17, 2012

Update Tuesday 7/8-7/14

Well, last week was an up-and-down kind of week for me. (I know that comes as no surprise to any of you.)

First off, I 4,454 words on HotG. (That includes losing 70 words as I attempted to switch the story from first person, present tense to third person, past tense.)

Then on Wednesday or Thursday (I’m not certain when the decision became final), I decided to shelve the book entirely. The story is not working and it was such a slog to get through my goals every day.

I’m not kidding you. I’d allot myself three hours in the mornings to get progress toward my daily goals. In that time I’d write a few hundred painful words. Sometimes I’d manage to get those word count goals, but it often meant I’d be writing late at night before bed as well to get there.

I realized that HotG was not me at all. HotG is a YA contemporary, aimed at the older end of the YA spectrum, that involved a lot of historical stuff and a lot of places I’m not familiar with. I struggled to connect to the story at all. If I’m not connecting how can I expect others to?

So I made a switch. I retreated back to my world of YA fantasy. Only this time I have opened up an old project. Some of you might remember the story I wrote, “Clockworks and Cogs” which I then attempted to turn into a novel. I’ve picked that back up, only this time intending the story to be a novella. I was already about 16K-17K into the story when I opened up the old manuscript.

I’ve renamed it. The story is now titled “Dragon’s Steam.” It’s the first of a series of novellas set in this world I created for it. Sure there’ll be a lot of revisions, but already the story is going so much better. I love this story.

Last week I managed to add 2,171 words to DS. Which, considering all the angst and torment I was going through in my struggles with HotG and taking the weekend off, is pretty good I think.

How are your WiPs going?

A Sign of Progress — July 12, 2012

A Sign of Progress

If you ask an author at their signing how many books they wrote before the one that got them published for the first time, most will answer with any varying number from none to 13. (I believe that was what one author who spoke at a conference I attended said he wrote. Then book 6 was what got him published.)

So far, I’ve written 5.

Of those, two are complete rubbish and will never see the light of day. (Except maybe as an example at a conference presentation, if I’m ever cool enough to present.) One has been shelved forever (and is pretty rubbish as well). One is worth rewriting because I love the story and the characters, it’s just the prose that’s rubbish. And one is off with betas right now where it is being subjected to a sword fight, burning at the stake, possibly a cleverly-conceived torture or two, and an overall mauling.

These are all good things.

But these are not the sign of progress of which I am speaking in the title of this post. No, that sign of progress concerns my current project, Jason McDaniels and the Hammer of the Gods.

I think it’s the sign of a good, or at least improving, writer when they can recognize the flaws in the manuscript mid-draft and come up with a way of fixing or addressing those flaws while drafting so as to reduce the amount of headaches and hair-pulling later on.

This book is absolute rubbish. Yes, it’s just a practice novel. But it’s rubbish and I’m not afraid to admit that.

I think the biggest problem is the POV and the tense that I chose for this story. I’m nearly 17K into the book and, well, I’m losing my motivation to finish it. I think it’s partly the POV and tense issue and partly the ridiculous pace I’ve set for myself.

I’m feeling tapped out mentally by ten in the morning. That’s not good.

So I’m scaling back my efforts at pushing out the word count and tackling the POV and tense issue head on before I go one word further in the draft.

Maybe it’s bad. But maybe it’s a sign of progress. A sign that I am improving at my craft even if I can’t see it.

Editing to add: This project is likely going to be shelved. Switching it to third person past tense isn’t working and I’m not sure if past tense in first person will work either. I’m also not in love with the story and why spend my time and creative energy on something that doesn’t sing to me?

Update Tuesday 7/1-7/7 — July 10, 2012

Update Tuesday 7/1-7/7

Another week gone. Before we know it we’ll be on the downward slide toward winter.

Oh wait, we already are. Stupid summer solstice. (I kid, I kid.)

Anyways. While we’re dying of heat here in Utah (seriously, it’s going to be 100+ the next three days), I am camped out in the basement where I still need socks on my feet.

What have I been doing while camping out in the basement?

Writing of course. (And Twittering, and Pinterest, and a lot of solitaire.)

I’ve been working like a madwoman on HotG. My goal is to have this book first drafted by the end of July. And not to brag but if I can maintain the mad pace I’ve set for myself, I’ll totally be there.

This book is a departure for me in so many ways. I started out writing it in third person past tense but about a paragraph into it I switched that over to first person past tense.

Then just over 5K into it, I switched that all over to first person present tense. And I’ve continued to write in that combination the entire week. I’m not sold on it. More times than not I set aside books that are written in first person present tense. The main reason I do so is that I’m not connecting to the character or story. But I do feel like the POV and tense combination is a contributing factor to that.

I digress.

In the date range in this post title I’ve written 12,152 words on HotG. I ended the week slightly behind. I should have ended at an even 12,500 minimum word count to be truly on track for completion at the end of the month. But Saturdays are nearly impossible when it comes to writing.

How are your WiPs going?

Doubting Myself — July 5, 2012

Doubting Myself

I have a feeling there will be a lot of angsty posts while I’m drafting this book. And I apologize for it in advance. But this blog is supposed to be a chronicle of my journey.

This latest road bump?

I’m doubting something hugely fundamental in the structure of this story.

I’m second-guessing myself on both point-of-view and tense.

I’ll give you time to pick your jaw up from the floor.

I’ve blogged about tense and point of view before.

With HotG (Hammer of the Gods, I changed the abbreviation slightly), I initially started it in third person past tense. One paragraph in I changed it to first person.

5K words in?

I’ve decided to change it all over to present tense.

Again, I’ll give you time for collecting whatever may have been flung in disbelief.

I really feel like there’s an immediacy in the present tense which is absent in past. An immediacy which this book may really need in order to be successful.

But then I find I’m doubting that. I am torn between continuing in present tense or reverting to the past tense. I will retain the first person narrative. In light of the doubts I’ve come to a decision.

For now I’m going to go ahead and forge on with writing it in present tense, if for no other reason than the challenge.

It’s good to challenge ourselves once in a while. If I can complete this book the way I’ve now set about writing it, I’ll have proved something to myself. I’ll have proved to myself I can write differently. I can write a male MC in first person present tense. I can write an action-adventure novel. I can write first person. I can write present tense.

If we don’t challenge ourselves we’ll never learn our bounds and figure out how to break them, right?

So here’s to experimentation!

Update Tuesday: 6/24-6/30 — July 3, 2012

Update Tuesday: 6/24-6/30

Wow. Where did the first half of the year go? I can’t believe it’s already July.

Let’s see. Woven is off to betas. Thank you so much to all those who offered. If I didn’t take you up on the offer, don’t despair. I may still need you a couple drafts from now.

While Woven is away for summer camp, I’ve been feverishly working on research for Jason McDaniels and the Hammer of the Gods. (That’s a mouthful so it will now be HOG for purposes of brevity.) I know I’ve been venting my research woes here on the blog. Thank you for putting up with that. I promise my blog posts will become more random instead of being stuck on Pete and Repeat.

I finished most of the research I needed to do. Enough that I could actually sit down on Saturday and plot out the entire book. This is going to be an adventure novel. I’m aiming for around 60-65K for word count. It’s YA, but a bit on the older end of the YA spectrum. I’m aiming to have it finished or mostly finished by the end of the month. It’s a tall order but I think I can fill it.

How are your WiPs going?

Mythology, History, and Research — June 28, 2012

Mythology, History, and Research

So, I’ve been reading up on the history of Scandinavia and Norse mythology for my research for this new book. I’m feeling totally overwhelmed. I’ve never paid much attention to history. Sure, I’ve gleaned a certain amount of knowledge over the years when it comes to Greece and Rome, and even Egypt to an extent. Those are the cultures which heavily influenced the regions from whence my ancestors came, Britain and so on, which in turn have a massive influence on America.

But when it comes to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland (and apparently Germany but not Finland), their mythology and history, I’m at a loss. The mythology includes Germany but not Finland, while the history includes Finland but not Germany. The physical territory, the different peoples who fought and migrated, united and tore themselves apart, it’s all foreign to me.

It’s fascinatingly foreign, but I’m starting to feel overwhelmed again when it comes to the research for this book. The mythology is fascinating. I read “D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths” as part of my research. It was a good introduction to the gods and stories this book is set to focus on. (It’s geared, I think, to younger children, but again a good introduction.)

But heaven help me if I try to research it further. The deeper I dig, the more names appear. I have another book of mythology that encompasses lots of different regions. The section on the myths of the Nordic lands goes much deeper, including Germany, Russia, and other Slavic regions.

I’m caught in a vicious cycle. The more research into the mythology I do, the more I realize I need to research the history. Then the more I research the history the more frustrated I become so I dive deeper into the mythology.

This book has been brewing in my head for 3 years now. It’s changed shape a few times and I’ve shelved it several times as well. But it’s still there, demanding to be written. If only I can get through the research.

The other thing that makes me freeze when it comes to research? Knowing that no matter how much research I do, there will always be people out there who will rip me up one side and down the other over my “lack of research.” Sigh. I want to do this story, the area of the world it’s focusing on, justice, but I’m terrified of the prospect.

Which means I should totally be writing this story, right? What we’re afraid of will make us stronger if we face it? Something like that?

Update Tuesday 6/17-6/23 — June 26, 2012

Update Tuesday 6/17-6/23

Oh, what a difference a week makes.

I finished my revision outline for Woven. Which means that as soon as I find betas and they’ve read and returned the manuscript I’ll be all set for revisions. These outlines are tedious to create but so helpful for my overly-analytical brain when working on revisions. I think I need to add a few thousand words to the manuscript still. I have a small idea for another sub-plot to weave into the story. Breaking down the story in the revision outline will totally help me weave that new sub-plot in seamlessly.

Speaking of betas, I’m still looking for two. This is the worst part of this process for me, begging for readers. So please put me out of my misery.  Pretty please. *puppy dog eyes* (If you beta for me I’ll gladly return the favor in the future.)

As for Jason McDaniels and the Hammer of the Gods (mouthful, I know), I’m still elbows-deep in research. And sadly the more I research, the less desire and motivation I have to plot and write the book. Yet it’s an idea (the idea for the book) which will not go away. I’ve set it aside several times in the years since it first came to me. And every time it inevitably knocks on the door of my imagination again.

How are your WiPs going?

Also, don’t forget to check last Friday’s post to see if you won a prize in my 500 posts giveaway. I’m still waiting to hear from two of the winners.