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Archive for November, 2011

As we head into the holiday season, I thought it fitting to update the universe on my recent activity… or something.

Babylon: Daft #2.5 is still with the wife. If you want the book before I die of old age, send her nasty emails or call her (555.READ.IT.ALREADY). Once she finishes, I can get the next draft done and move it along. We’re looking for an early 2012 release there. The first draft of the video trailer is also done, but I’m not sure my #2 is completely happy with it. Once that is done, you bet we’ll post it here.

Eden Audiobook: Yup, I’ve hinted at this in the past and it’s finally, officially happening! I have one of the best voice actresses in the world ready to read the narrative. What held me back was the cost vs. Distribution. I knew (via “Matt Math”) that distributing outside of Audible.com was probably not going to cut the mustard. So, I waited. And waited. Now, it’s possible for me to put the audiobook of Eden up on Audible and iTunes via self-publishing, so we’re going for it! You can bet I’ll post instructions (with screenshots, of course) on my experiences with self-publishing an audiobook.

Eden Graphic Novel: Still cranking out sketches; almost halfway done with the first draft. And what’s this I have here in my pocket? Wha-BAM! Another sketched panel from the graphic novel, courtesy of Andres Cornejo. Yup, he’s pretty awesome at what he does.

Santino joins the crew:

Artwork by Andres Cornejo, all rights reserved.

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Eden for a buck, Black Friday!

Head on over to Smashwords and enter this coupon code:

MV58Y

Eden for $1 all day today! Download in any format (including mobi) and upload to yer device of choice.

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25% off Hardcovers until Dec. 14!

Don’t have a hardcover yet? No problemo! Take an additional 25% off that red pricetag you see here with this coupon code at checkout:

BUYMYBOOK305

Truly, the hardcovers are an awesome thing to hold in yer hands. Extra art, extra weight — what’s not to love?

Merry X-Mas, bitches!

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A few weeks back, I posted my thoughts on what to do when your first novel draft is finished. I’m doing all of this as I go through the editing process for Babylon, so I figured it would be cool to share.

So you sent your second draft off to your “first reader,” your trusted pair of eyes. This blessed person has read the manuscript and came back with some suggestions. Chances are, they also caught some typos (though that wasn’t their main objective). You fix the typos and ponder the rest – do you agree with their suggestions? You may on some, and maybe not on others. There’s certainly no harm in granting a stay of execution for some of your prose until the next round of review. However, if your first reader points out any major holes or obvious problems, you best go fix them!

So, time for that third draft. Fix the typos and decide what you will re-write based on the first bit of feedback. This third draft is important! I typically print off 3-5 copies of this draft to distribute to my “A-Team.” These folk are not only willing to help you, they are the first opinions on your masterpiece. You’ve now had time to edit the whole thing at least 3 times. It’s put-up-or-shutup time for the manuscript. Keep in mind, this is still a “content” review. We don’t want anyone taking a fine-tooth comb to the grammar just yet. Generally, you’ll get a mixed-bag of comments and suggestions. If there is a common theme to the suggestions, try to look at those objectively and prepare to make some changes. Chances are, your readers picked-up on something critical you missed. Listen to them! More often than not, they are correct from their outside position. Of course, the opposite is also true – you may disagree and discard some suggestions. Let’s look at both situations!

With Eden, nobody liked a “side quest” I had the characters take on their way from Brasilia to Eden. Quite universally, I got: “why would they go off and do that, when they are focused on this?” My only answer was “because I liked writing it!” The story flowed much better without this added chapter and removing it was easier than I thought it would be. Oftentimes, your garbage can be removed with little to no pain. Funny how that works…

Conversely, I had one reader note that the beginning of Eden was too slow. I disregarded that remark because I knew it started in the thick of things better than most novels, and nobody else had the same complaint. With The Antaran Legacy, one reader didn’t think that religion would be a major factor in a futuristic society. Not being an avid sci-fi reader, I realized where she was coming from but respectfully disagreed. I kept religion a (minor) source of conflict in that novel as it is in many other futuristic yarns. It has its place.

So, that’s the process. Analyze each bit of advice and decide if it has merit for your work. Incorporate changes (or not) to arrive at revisions 4,5,6 and beyond. Widen your initial audience as you go to get more varied opinions (or reinforce existing ones). Then, at a certain point, you will (hopefully) be content enough to finalize the editing process. That entails a few more revisions on your own. Be sure to read the manuscript out loud at least once – you’ll be surprised at how many things you will edit after that exercise! Sprinkle-in those little recurring themes/messages/thoughts, and you’re off to the final step: send the darn thing to your editor!

NOW we’re editing for grammar/style. Be sure to hire a pro. Revise the manuscript once or twice after you get it back from your editor and you’re done! Some writers tweak for months/years after they get their manuscript back. I’m of a different mindset: ship it out! You’ve spent enough time with the story. Let it go! Set it free! And then move on to the next story. As a storyteller, that’s your job.

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Work-In-Progress Poster for Babylon

Bonnnnngggg!

(click on the image if it’s only the tower… it’s *wide*)

Artwork by Axel Torvenius. Digital art by Miceli Productions HD.

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I’ve read countless articles, posts and excerpts from books on what to do once your first draft is done. While there are some similar themes, I guess I’ll lob my hat into the arena now that I’ve completed 3 full first drafts in my young career.

So, you did it! The first draft on your novel manuscript is finished and you just leaned back in your chair from your computer/typewriter/notepad/stone tablet.

Congratulations!

Writing a novel takes passion and determination. Writing it well takes skill and experience. Combine all four and your first draft is well on its way to publication.

So… what now?

Quite universally, many writers agree on one point: take a break from that work. While I don’t believe there is any set timeframe for your return to that draft, I do believe you must give it at least a day. Wake up the next day and don’t look at it. Go to sleep and don’t think about it. If you will absolutely explode by going a day without writing, then I suggest blogging, working on another manuscript or banging out a new piece of flash fiction.

In my case, I completely detach myself from writing. I play some games, watch some TV or engage is similar mindless activity. A vacation for the brain & heart isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After that vacation, I start thinking about the first draft and I make little notes on my iPhone or scrap pieces of paper.

Things like:

– Spend more time in location X, conversation with Bob

– Maybe character X should live after all

– Be sure to check X on the next read through for consistency

– etc, etc

Then -and you’ll know when- return to the first draft when you have 4+ hours to work on it, uninterrupted. Have your notes handy and plow through the entire manuscript. Why the whole thing? Well, novels are rarely written in one sitting. And unless you have a perfect memory (my is full of radiation leaks – your mileage may vary), some things just won’t jive. Perhaps you duplicated a conversation between characters. Usually, there are many inconsistencies or things that make you say “what the fuck was I saying here?” It’s helpful to read the work as a whole and make those changes.

Some writers don’t even edit on this read-through (and they’ll give advice to that process). Well, I believe each writer is different and my only advice is try to read the whole thing in that sitting. If you can make edits as well, go for it. There’s no right or wrong answer there.

In any case, you’ll have your second draft done after that sitting (or the sitting thereafter) and you’re on to the next step!

What is that next step, you ask? Well, when I get there with Babylon, I’ll certainly share my thoughts on the subject!

[my notes on the 2nd draft and beyond: http://wp.me/pXrOJ-iC]

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