Progress on Bleeding Worlds Book 3

Bleeding Worlds Book 3 - TeaserHi everyone.

I’m lousy at maintaining this blog. I often say that, but I’ve yet to find a cure.

That said, I think it’s important to keep you all up to date with The Bleeding Worlds and progress on Book Three, Resonance.

So, the short answer is, things are going slowly.

The longer answer is to say the book has become a victim of my failings as an author.

Failing number one is my inability to outline. I start with an idea, get excited about it, follow it down the rabbit hole, and reach about 15,000 or so words. And then I hit a wall. Not just writer’s block, no I could probably handle that. Instead, it’s the inescapable sense that I’ve taken a wrong path and the book no longer meets my vision.

The solution usually takes the form of a mass purge.

I start over.

The few things that survive do so in thought only, they require total rewrites.

The happy news is starting over always makes me happier with the book and, certainly in the case of Suture, delivers a superior story than the one I started with.

The second failing I have as an author is not being able to work through my moods. Those authors who attain true success sit down everyday, crank out their desired word count, and move ahead in their work, regardless of their mood. I’ve yet to master that skill.

When I’m depressed, words don’t flow.

When I feel overwhelmed, or tired, ideas don’t take shape.

And the worst part is the longer inactivity continues, the more depressed I get because I’m not making the progress I want.

I hoped Resonance would be nearing completion by this point.

It’s not even close. In many ways, it’s just starting to live again.

But I will not fail you, or myself. The story will be told. I will write the best book I am capable of, and The Bleeding Worlds will come to a conclusion.

This happened with Suture last year, and I was able to release the book in the first week of August. I think I’ll be a little earlier than that with Resonance, but I don’t realistically see it being released before July.

Which is still faster than a lot of authors release their novels, but I had hoped to improve my release times by now.

So there’s the update. I’m still writing, the new direction is a huge improvement over the first words I wrote, and the book will be out this summer. I hope you’ll hang in there and join me when that time comes.

Thanks for all the support,

JR

Something Different Coming in September

Sometimes an idea nags your noodle so much, you have to work it out before moving on to something else.

Thanks to one such idea, I’ve finished a first draft on a novella.

Yeah, it kind of surprised me too. I thought I was just sitting down to jot some points for a future story, and found myself 15,000 words later being quite content with what I’d created.

It’s called Revelation Game and will be released on September 17th. I’m not ready to drop a synopsis quite yet, but let’s say this was born out of a love for the recent anime Sword Art Online and the classic .(dot)Hack.

Because it’s a shorter work, it’ll be an Amazon exclusive and be priced at $0.99.

It’s exciting for me, because it’s written in first person in the active tense. I’ve only ever written a short story this way before, and it was interesting to stretch it to a longer work. I’m not sure if I’m sold enough on it to write a whole novel that way, but I enjoyed it for a change.

And don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten Bleeding Worlds Three. In fact, my wife said to me just yesterday that she wants me to get moving so she can read it.

I’ll post more when I’ve ironed out a few more drafts and written an official blurb.

That’s it for today. I’m seriously thinking of what I can start posting on this site to make it fun and interesting. I don’t want to be one of those Indie Authors that has nothing but writing advice, especially when I feel like I’m still learning and improving myself.

Anywho, until I find that next fun topic, all the best.

JR

An Update – Where is the Sequel?

Hello everyone. I’m sorry for being away so long. Truth is, I’ve just been pouring every bit of creative writing energy I have into writing Harbinger’s sequel, Suture. However, I visited my Amazon page tonight, and saw that someone had asked about an update regarding Suture. Funny enough, Amazon won’t let me post directly to that thread because I haven’t purchased the book, so I thought I’d answer here and hopefully it will be found by the person wondering.

Back in January, I mentioned I was about a third of the way through Suture. By March, I’d completed half the book. Then, about mid-March, I threw it all out.

It’s a daunting task to look at 35,000 words and decide that only a tenth might survive. But after reading some of the comments left on Harbinger, and weighing my own feelings, I decided it was the right thing to do. So I started over.

Currently, I’m working on the last two chapters. I’m very pleased by how this new draft has worked out. My hope is to have a completed first draft by the end of the week. Then edits, then release.

The good news is I’m a much faster editor than I am when writing the first draft. Giving ideas shape is so much harder than making the shapes slightly prettier.

So my goal is to have Suture released by July.

I know, I had originally said Spring. At that time, I didn’t know I’d be starting over so late in the season.

It thrills me that people are still picking up Harbinger, and based on comments and ratings, a number of you are enjoying it. Right now, I feel confident that if you enjoyed Harbinger, you’ll find more to love in Suture.

Thank you so much for hanging in there. In the next week I will have more news, including the cover reveal.

All the best, and talk to you soon (I promise).

JR

Progress on Harbinger’s Sequel, Suture

Since Harbinger released, I’ve been pouring my writing energy into its sequel, Suture.

While I don’t know that I’m the one who should be giving writing advice, I figured someone might find an interest in my current writing process.

Yes, I say current because I believe that as I continue to grow as a writer, my process will evolve. At least, that’s my hope, because my current process is tedious at best.

Right now I’m 23,000+ words into Suture. I’ve accomplished this through some forethought, much humming and hawing, and just forcing myself to spew words. Thankfully, this haphazard approach has yielded something that is starting to look like a decent first act. This is a pretty critical time in my process and it’s when I bring in the big guns. My wife.

See, my wife is a voracious reader who devours everything from Nietzsche to Twilight. She’s a massive Star Wars nerd who can recite the original trilogy from memory and who can have an intelligent conversation about why the fourth Indiana Jones movie never should’ve happened. In short, she’s perfectly suited to tell me if I’m on track or missing my mark.

Because of the loose way I plot on the go, I need this feedback at the approximate third way mark. At this point, I’ve written enough that I have a clearer path for the rest of the novel. On the other hand, I haven’t written so much that I can’t handle axing a few thousand words to change a direction or two. This feedback helps give me direction. But more than that, it helps to give me some confidence.

Writing is a wonderful and horrifying hobby. Creating worlds and characters feels magical, but words on a page feel like an invite for self criticism and, at times, loathing. For every sentence I love, there are dozens that make me shudder. It’s why some authors take forever to release a novel. Having someone tell me I’m on the right track helps bolster my confidence and allows me to carry on to the end.

So Suture is getting the third-way-there preview. I’ll let you know how it goes in a couple days.

Is It Too Complex?

I was out in the car today with my wife, babbling about The Veil.

I told her I’m having serious difficulty writing the final four chapters. Simply put, they need to be planned in an in depth fashion. I’ve been lucky so far, my “Chess” approach has worked well and brought me into novel length territory.

But this is the end.

If I don’t get some kind of ending written that has the foundation of being kick-ass, I’m sunk.

So now I feel challenged.

In the midst of telling her this, I started to relay some of the numerous ideas and influences that exist in The Veil. When I was done, she looked at me and said, “Now, I’d have to read it, but something has me a little worried… It sounds kinda complicated.”

And she’s right.

The Veil is a mish mash of various story ideas I’ve had over the past couple years. It incorporates science, religion, myth, conspiracy and so much more, it threatens to spiral out of control. But it’s meant to be several books.

Yes, I know all the weird and complicated maneuvers that are going on behind the scenes, but I don’t intend to show all my cards to the reader in book one. Nope, I want them in for the long haul.

This presents a conundrum. How much do I reveal in Book One?

I need to present some smattering of all the themes and ideas, or I’ll get to book two or three and something will just hit the reader out of nowhere. To me, it’ll be obvious, but the reader is going to shake their fist and scream “Bullsh!t.”

This is where editing is going to be crucial.

I believe I’m not the only writer to do this. To be honest, I’m positive there’s a boatload of writers in the exact same situation.

I’m sure you’ve all read the writing advice that as an author, you should know all the back story; but you shouldn’t feel the need to info dump all of it.

Honestly, some things are useful to build a character’s identity in our mind, but are unnecessary to state explicitly for the reader.

But what if the whole series hinges on that information?

Do you remember the fifth book of Harry Potter, The Order of the Phoenix? It finally revealed why Voldemort went after Harry and his parents. Thing was, the prophecy was mundane. I mean, Duh, any astute reader had that prophecy already figured out. It felt like we’d been baited with something earth shattering, only to have a deflated feeling when it turned out to be the same old “the boy & monster will meet, and one will defeat the other.”

While the actual prophecy was a bit of a let down, it served to explain why it had been so important to Voldemort to find and eliminate the Potters. It answered a question that had been nagging for a number of books.

On the flip side, the reveal of the master wand in book seven seemed forced. There was an article I read on the web that asked a very good question; Why the hell didn’t Voldemort just take everyone out at the end of book six? Well, because it would have been a suck ending. The introduction of the master wand and its ilk tried to a) answer why Voldemort remained in the shadows and b) provide a way for Harry, who hadn’t been the most powerful wizard in the world, to defeat Voldemort. While it was thrilling, it felt forced.

Don’t get me wrong, Harry Potter is brilliant. If I could write a series half as good, I’d consider myself blessed. My point is, if you have an invisibility cloak early on in the series that is part of this mystical triad of items that are integral to the end of the series, couldn’t you have mentioned something about it earlier? Reading the books, I have no doubt JK Rowling knew all about the wand and company early on. She just didn’t let us in on it until the last book.

Given the complexity of plots and themes in The Veil, I need to avoid this. First off, I need to do so because people aren’t going to be as forgiving of me as they are JK Rowling. Secondly, because people really will call me on using big twists out of nowhere.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with big, complex ideas. In fact, I thrive on things like that, which is why my book is filled with them. The key is finding a way to make them feel organic. Book one needs to lay the ground rules. If a stepping stone doesn’t exist in book one, that’s a path I won’t be able to follow.

Editing this thing is going to be a beast. I know that, and I’m not even there yet.

What do you think? Can you get away with omitting some ideas from book one as long as they get put into book two? Or should the whole path be present in book one, even if left obscure?

Or am I making a huge mistake from the start, having it clear in my head that this story is going to require several books to tell?

Of course, it’s too late to stop now 🙂

Hitting Milestones

So last night I crossed 50,000 words in The Veil.

Depending on what guidelines you follow, that means I’ve officially crossed into novel length territory.

When I launched this blog in April of 2010, I had written 9,000 words. I admit, there’s been times when I wondered if my idea would actually amount to a novel. There were days when  the ideas weren’t flowing and I thought it was hopeless. I figured The Veil was bound to be another file in my “Failed Attempts” folder.

But last night I crossed over into novel territory. And what’s even better, there’s still eight planned out chapters. At this rate, I think The Veil will easily weigh in at more than 70,000 words.

It’s funny how a weight feels lifted. This is the furthest I’ve ever taken a story. At this point, the question is no longer will I be able to make it, but rather, how long till I finish it?

So it’s a happy day. I’ll be even happier when I make it to 60,000. That’s the goal I set for myself as that’s considered a lower end Young Adult novel.

My goal is to have the first draft done by this blog’s anniversary. Wish me luck!

Formulating a Plot

If you happen to follow the “Current Work In Progress” meter to the right, you might notice a drastic change.  It’s not an illusion or a joke, my work in progress has fallen from 25% done at 15,000+ words to just above 10,000 words.  Maybe you’re scratching your head wondering, why?  Today I chronicle the tough decision I felt forced to make, and what I have been spending the last few days doing about it.

First off, why chop a third of my work in progress?  The simple answer is, I had painted myself into a corner.  I hated it.  When I first started The Veil, I had a vision of it focusing very closely on the main character.  The cast would only expand  if the story became a series.  I already had characters in mind and how they fit into what would become a team setting.  The first book, however, was about finding yourself.  Where I had taken the story, characters appeared far quicker than I had anticipated.  My story about a young man finding himself turned into more of a super-team book.  Not what I wanted.  So I retraced my steps and asked where I went wrong.  The point I decided on meant a third of the work got intimate with the delete button.

So where do I go now?

As discussed in previous posts, writing wildly ahead without a plan or direction is the wrong approach for me.  Like a stubborn fool, I continued to do just that and got myself into trouble.  So I decided to make a plan.

I asked the Twitter gods if there was some sort of form for a plot outline.  I enjoy filling in forms.  Having some structure gives me security.  Unfortunately, the Twitter gods decided to ignore me that day.  Or perhaps were too busy preparing for the Lost finale.  Regardless, I was on my own.

First thing I did was look at Martina Boone’s Plotting Made Easy – The Complications Worksheet.  This gave me some idea of what I should accomplish in each section of the story.

Secondly, I thought long and hard about the Hero’s Journey.  My character’s arc fit the hero journey, so I gave close consideration to the various components.

Third, I allowed my idea to run free.  I said, “If this is the world I’ve created, what’s possible?”  The more I asked what could happen, the more did happen.  I started having some pretty wild ideas.  They worked.  They fit together.  My story excited me again.

With these new ideas, I wrote a synopsis of the story.  It was dirty.  It had holes in it.  I would never give it to anyone if I wanted them to read my book.  But it gave me a framework to pin things on.

Then, I created a space that I called Themes & Ideas.  I used this space just to write words and random sentences.  Some were about mood, others about deeper themes and meanings.  I used it as a space to brainstorm with no restrictions.

Out of those random thoughts, I was able to return to my synopsis and start plugging holes and touching up the paint.

Last night, I started putting together scenes.  For each scene I asked;

  • Scene – [Title]
  • What’s the Purpose of the Scene:
  • What Action Happens:
  • What Do We Learn That’s New:

Making sure that every scene answered these points fleshed out the story.  It was more cohesive.  No scene could be a throw-away, I forced myself to justify their existence.  I didn’t worry about order, I just wrote scenes. As their number expanded, I saw where they fit together.  When I have more, I will create a new file and copy the scenes in their proper order.  When that’s complete, I’ll have my plot map.  Then the fun starts!

While it was hard to kill a lot of work, this new direction is far more exciting and satisfying.  It stays truer to the original vision I had while still managing to provide surprises.

This process is frustrating to a “I want it done now” kind of person.  Which I confess, I am.  Truth, though, cannot be denied.  This is the only way this book is getting written.