International Podcast Day and Other Updates

I still really haven’t got back into the regular swing of writing since my nearly three year hiatus.  Even regular blogging still eludes me.  I don’t like to do several self promoting posts in a row, but at the same time I believe writing anything is better than nothing.  So I thought I’d touch on a few updates since I last blogged.

But first, today in International Podcast Day, so what better time to announce that I have sold another short story.  My story, “Compassionate Death” was sold to the Canadian Podcast, The Centropic Oracle.  This marks another first for me.  I’ve never sold a story to a podcast before.  I also had to explain to my Dad what a Podcast was.

No information on when this story will be published, but given that today was International Podcast day, I thought I’d share the news now.  Besides, the folks at The Centropic Oracle deserve a name drop.

You may also remember that I sold a short story to SciFan Magazine, which was my first print sale.  I also blogged a little bit about my thoughts on the publishing side and may have mentioned that I missed doing it.  This prompted SciFan Magazine Co-Producer, Dayne Edmondson, to contact me.  They asked if I’d join their review team and I accepted.

Now I will preface this with the fact that SciFan Magazine is doing amazing things and I am happy to be a part of their review team.  However, it has only made me miss publishing magazines that much more.  I will say that I am glad to see a magazine like SciFan.  This magazine has huge potential and could go somewhere big in the near future.  I am so glad to be a part of it.  Still, I hope someday to publish a magazine of my own again.  Someday.

But, on the topic of SciFan Magazine, I am giving away a signed copy of Issue 9 as well as some other great prizes.  Enter through Rafflecopter today!

There are several great prizes and you can earn more point each day by simply tweeting.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go send a few more short stories off to other great publications.  Wish me luck!

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“The End” Doesn’t Really Mean The End

So many of you made a point of letting me know that I forgot my weekly blog post this past Sunday.  I didn’t forget, in fact I let my Facebook and Twitter followers know exactly why I didn’t post.  I was finishing my novel.

Of course, by finish I mean putting ### (The End) on the first draft of my novel manuscript.  It is in no way finished.  But it sure felt nice to say it was finished.  I let myself bask in the fact that I had completed my novel for a few days.  And now, reality has struck.  “The End” on paper doesn’t really mean the end.

Many of us can write.  Most of us can write enough to create a short story.  A few less can write enough to create a novel.  But far fewer can keep following though on all the steps after “The End” to really finish a novel (or even a short story).  I’d like to see a few more people reach the real finish line.

When it comes to writing works for publication (even self publication) there are steps you have to take to reach the finish.  I’m going to clue you in on some steps so that you know what to expect after you type “The End” on your manuscript.  I’m new to the Novel steps, but they are the same as those for a short story, just longer (and maybe harder).

Let it Rest

You have to let the story rest in your head for awhile.  That is, you have to forget about it a little.  If you finish the first draft and then start edits the next day, you’re bound to miss things because the ideas and words you typed are still fresh in your head.

How long is enough time?  Well that is really up to you.  I know fellow writers who wait months to touch a short story and years for a novel.  I know others who can wait a week on a short story and two weeks on a novel.  There is no right answer when it comes to time.

For my short stories, I post the first 13 lines (or the hook) in my writer’s group.  I give them a week to ten days to share their thoughts and offer to read the story.  After that I move to my second step.  With this novel, I plan to wait until March to start the next step.  I think it will be enough time for me.  If not, I’ll give myself more time after the next novel.

You don’t need to forget the story as a whole.  If you are like me that could be impossible.  It’s just enough time to allow you to forget enough of the gritty details that you will see things like inconsistencies, grammar errors, missing words, POV errors, and other things.

Self Edit

Next, you will need to read your entire manuscript and self edit.  Check for errors that don’t fit the story line.  Maybe you typed a chapter thinking you’d go one direction and now it no longer belongs in the story.  Perhaps another area needs more development to increase the story.  Go though and edit all these things.  If you find grammar errors, punctuation mistakes and typos fix those too, but that isn’t the main focus here.  They point here is to begin to smooth out the story.  Cutting out unneeded areas, and beefing up areas that need it.  Once you are done with that, you’ve got a second draft.

Trial Readers

Once you are done with that second draft you need some trial readers.  You need someone who will give you HONEST thoughts on your story.  This isn’t likely to be a family member or even a close friend.  No one wants to hurt anyone’s feelings, especially not those of a friend.  Friends and Family are best left to read the final product, not your drafts.

This is where a writers group is very handy.  You can get honest thoughts and critiques on your work from other trusted readers who also know a bit about the business.  I’ve planned a blog post for later this month on critiques.  Watch for it.

Now, you are likely to get responses at different times.  One reader might be done in a week, the other might take two.  Since you definitely need to have more then one trial reader, here in my suggestion:  Don’t read any critiques or change anything until you get a response from all your trial readers.  Otherwise you may change something one reader hated, but the other four readers loved.  So save yourself the extra work and go through each critique after you have them all.

Self Edit: Part 2

Look at all these suggestions your trial readers gave you.  Some of them you will find completely useless and you should ignore those.  However, if all the readers point out the same trip up, you might want to fix it (even if you think it is fine the way it is).  But remember, this your work not theirs.   And only you know what is best.

You may really like a scene, but your readers have trouble with it.  Rewrite it then, or cut it.  That is up to you.  But again, this isn’t about grammar and punctuation.  You will be polishing this into a even better story.  Soon, you will have something resembling a third draft.

Proofreading

Unless you made major story changes, it is time to move on to the final draft.  I am a firm believer in four drafts and done (the done being the fourth).  It keeps you out of the endless rewrite circle.  I have a friend who is on their twelfth draft of a novel.  As I have told that friend, that novel will not be published.  They have become obsessed with making it perfect.  It won’t happen.

Now, with my short stories my proofreader is my wife.  She catches most, if not all, my typos, grammar mistakes, and punctuation screw ups.  And for a short story that is enough.

There are proofreading services out there.  I haven’t use any, but I may use one when it come to my novel.  I miss things, and a professional shouldn’t.  Now, some people don’t feel comfortable with that.  It is entirely a choice that is up to you.  I see no reason to do it for short stories.  But, my novel is 67,000 words.  So after my wife reads it she may miss some things.  If the rate is reasonable I will use one.  Otherwise, I am an author that has no money.  I won’t spend a lot on it.

However, no matter how you do your proof reading this is the time to go grammar cop.  Fix all those little mistakes.  Look for those rather then anything to do with the story.  Fix them.  Once they are fixed you have your forth draft and your completed manuscript.

THE END

You are done with your novel, right?  Well not exactly.  You want to see it published.  That involves a lot more work.  It is really a blog topic in itself.  But you have already accomplished much more then the average person who sets out to write.  You have a completed manuscript.  Pat yourself on the back.  Go get a snack, and then start working to get it published.

Book Review: The Nanotech Murders

Cover art by Deron Douglas

From the Back Cover:

The year is 2071 and there’s a serial killer loose in Atlanta.  Lieutenant Jak Decker, a homicide cop, is on the case but is getting nowhere.  As the body count mounts, his boss assigns him a partner, the smart and beautiful Detective Cassandra Smith.  Decker, a tough, wisecracking loner, doesn’t want a partner, especially when he finds out she’s an android.

 
The Nanotech Murders by Lee Gimenez (Double Dragon Publishing) was added to my ‘to read’ list because the topic of future police work appeals to me.  I felt it promised to show me another author’s take on the future of police work.

I spent a lot of my college years studying Law Enforcement.  It had been an eventual career goal for me at one point.  So when I read or watch fiction involving police work, I tend to be extra critical.  I tend to notice unbelievable situations, reactions, and characters.

Unlike others I have know, I am able to recognize that police fiction has to be dramatized because in general the job has a lot of very boring moments.  No one would read a book about a cop who pulls over traffic violator for eight hours, maybe handles a domestic quarrel or two, then goes home and goes to bed.

Trust me, I am not down playing the daily duties of our police, they regularly put their lives on the line.  They often have to go from boring to complete terror in seconds.  If fact, that is exactly whey we love Police fiction.  It takes that terror and puts it into a believable scenario so we can watch police officers become the heroes we know them to truly be.

It is 2071 in Atlanta, and the police are dealing with a serial killer.  They have almost nothing to go on and the number of victims are rising.  To make matters worse the Captain is putting a lot of pressure on Detective Jak Decker to solve the case before the media gets wind of it.

Jak’s boss feels he needs a partner and forces Cassandra on him.  As you read this story Jak and Cassandra  find themselves neck deep in a case that may be more then they can handle.  Every time they pull a small thread, their word unravels even more.   They must struggle to solve this case before it destroys everything they have worked for.

Jak is you stereo-typical detective:  A drunk with a troubled marriage, who doesn’t play by the rules and often goes rogue from his orders.  It’s pretty much all thrown at you in the opening scene, and it was a bit troublesome for me to take.  But, Gimenez quickly breaths life in Jak and despite the stereo-types, I quickly found myself drawn in by Jak’s character.  I really wanted to see him succeed.

The character I most identified with was Cassandra Smith, the CS android unit that represents the best android technology has to offer.  Every scene and chapter in her point of view was enjoyable to read.  She is struggling to understand police work beyond the programing she has.  The relationship that Cass and Jak develop through the novel was one of the very enjoyable plot threads of the novel.

Gimenez writes a thoughtful thriller that applies subtle twists and turns to the plot.  It is a fresh take on the thriller with multiple entertaining plot threads that work well to complete an overall story that was fun to read.  I don’t think there was one point in the novel where I thought, I saw that coming.

The action scenes are written well.  They provide you with an intense feeling as if you are actually involved in these scenes yourself.  There are plenty of gun fights in the novel, but they don’t ever become boring or predictable.   Each time a character was involved in something life threatening you got the real sense that they could lose everything trying to solve this crime.

As I mentioned above, I am very quick to spot the mistakes in Police stories, the unrealistic descriptions of events.  This story has some of those.  None of this was distracting to the story.  I never felt like yelling:  Oh come on!  That’s impossible!   

So overall this is a great future cop thriller, that is believable and an entertaining read.  Gimenez does everything right with this one.  He takes believable cops, and shows them to be the heroes we all know them to be.  The Nanotech Murders is a must read for anyone who enjoys Science Fiction, Thrillers, and/or Police fiction.  Gimenez does a great job telling a blockbuster tale here.  One that is fun to read, has believable characters, a strong plot, and is just plain entertaining.  It is easily a four out of five.  I strongly recommend you pick up a copy.  I know I will be adding some other Gimenez titles to my ‘to read’ list.

(You can purchase The Nanotech Murders in paperback or for your Kindle on Amazon.com here.  It is also availble in paperback and Nook at Barnes and Noble here.)

Updates: January 2012

Well, in my post “Distractions” I talked about setting a writing goal.  Part of that commitment to writing more was to share the journey with you.  So, once a month, I am going to give you some updates on how my writing has gone.  I’ll also touch on some of the other projects I have going.

First lets talk about writing.   I made a commitment that I would try to write 1,000 words a day.  Honestly there have been a few days where I didn’t write at all (six days actually).  But considering we had the Holidays in that time, I am okay with that.  However, there were a lot of days were I wrote a lot.  I even had some great days, this past Friday I almost got 10,000 words.  On the days I wrote I averaged over 2,000 words.    I’ve been posting my daily word counts on Twitter (when I write).   I have written just over 38,000 words.

None of this counts the writing I do here.  While I love getting the blog to your guys.  I even had a very successful post on self-publishing.  But, this word count has gone directly into my novel.  You may remember I have set a goal of one short story a month and one novel a year.  I haven’t thought of a short story for January yet, so I may be a little behind on that.  But, the novel is coming along well.

I have a children’s book my oldest son (he was five when we wrote it, six now) and I wrote together.  The status on it’s publication is still a bit in limbo.  I have an illustrator working on the drawings.  The backgrounds are all done, and the characters have slowly been put in the scenes.  But, the next part is all the coloring.  She just had a baby, so of course that slows things down.  Fingers crossed for a March release, but I haven’t set any dates yet.  It is the hope that by the time I do the Updates for February I can show you the cover art and announce an official release date.

I think those of you with kids will enjoy it, and likely relate with it.   It also embodies the joy of working on a project with your own child and sharing in an art you both can enjoy.  In any case, “Daddy is Tired” will be a joy to read for parents and young children learning to read.

I still have two short storied for 2011 out at different markets.  They will make their rounds until they are published.  I will of course announce that right away on both Twitter and Facebook.  Once I start turning out short stories monthly, I will be really glad to Duotrope to help track where they all are.

As far as my reading goes, it has been put on hold with the holidays.  I am currently reading the novel Shining in Crimson.  As some of you know I read this when it was still a draft to help Robert S. Wilson with my thoughts on the novel.  I am excited about reading the completed work, and have found he left in all the good parts (so far).   I don’t have a novel on this list for once I am done reading this one.  So, a trip to the book store may be in my future.  Shadows in Flight by Orson Scott Card is set to release in a few days, that will certainly be on my list.  You can always follow what I am reading by becoming a fan on Goodreads.

I still get my daily dose of short fiction from Daily Science Fiction.  But, I am way behind on my issues of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine.  I haven’t even opened the Nov/Dec issue and the Jan/Feb should be coming any day.  Perhaps I will take a break from novels and catch up on those.  We will see.

My short story “Death Watch” has been nominated for two awards in 2011.  I am very please with this.  First, of all this is my very first published short story.  It was only the second one I had ever written and the first one considered Flash Fiction (under 1,000 words).  You can still read it at Liquid Imagination by clicking here.

The first nomination it got was for the Micro Awards.  The announcement on that won’t come until the very end of February.  It will be judged by a panel of judges and we will see how it does.

The second nomination came as a complete surprise.  It was nominated in the Preditors and Editors 2011 Readers poll.  There are a lot of good works there.  I was reading and voting through the categories when I got to Science Fiction and Fantasy short stories.  And there was “Death Watch” listed.  I about jumped out of my seat.  I was honored to find that I was even nominated.

Because it is a poll, it is done based on voting.  I am even more pleased to announce it has been in first and second place for a good portion of the polling.  Polling ends January 10th.  Please, go place a vote here.  It only takes a minute and I would appreciate it.

I think the last thing I will bring up isn’t directly related to writing.  I used to own a business, and I am dying to get back into owning one again.  I have been contemplating many different things, but another Security Company is not one of them.  I have been in the industry for a while, but the big companies really have locked the start ups out of the business.  Perhaps if I had clients set before I got started, I might consider it.

So that is the updates for you this month.  I will continue to post my weekly blog posts on a variety of topics.  Please subscribe to my blog to receive email updates on when I post.

 

I have entered the world of Blogging

Well that is not entirely true, I used to blog when I was running for Vacaville City Council in 2010.  But that was a different kind of blog.  It was a kissing babies and bragging about my community involvement.   Of course, I love the City of Vacaville and still remain active in my community both as a Volunteer and in my shopping local pledge.

This blog is my entrance into blogging about those items that come to my mind.  People think the hardest part of being a writer is thinking of new story ideas.  I contest that.  Thinking of the ideas is the easiest part.  Almost anyone can do that.  Taking that idea, turning it into a story, crafting the world in which it takes place, and then getting that all down on paper that is hard.  Getting it in front of an audience of readers, well that is even harder.

This blog allows me to do three things.  Write, write and write again.  Writing is a craft and like any craft it needs practice.  The best way to continue to improve myself is to keep writing.  That is what I intend to do.

Now, if you would help getting it in front of an audience, I would appreciate it.  First, subscribe to my blog by clicking the link to the left.  You can also follow me on twitter and Facebook with those links to the left as well.  Second, recommend my blog to everyone you know.  Sure most of them will just get annoyed at you for sending them something they don’t care about, but a few of them might follow my blog, my Facebook page or even my Twitter feed.  In the end, I don’t think I am asking for a lot.

I hope you enjoy my thoughts and blogs.  There will be sarcasm, things I find funny (but you likely won’t), and of course the topic of writing.

Enjoy, Richard