Thursday, November 1, 2018

A Long-Awaited Sequel?

Now Playing: THE ARRIVAL AT TATOOINE AND THE FLAG PARADE By John Williams

I've probably done more writing-related activity today than I've done in a long time, maybe ever. I was really excited about participating in NaNoWriMo this year. It would be my first since 2013, when I wrote a novel called Star Born. I wanted to use this November to write the sequel.

But first I needed to refresh myself. I wrote Star Born a long time ago, and though I remembered a lot of it and thought about it frequently, I wasn't as up-to-date as I thought I should be when starting its sequel. So I printed out a copy and took a pen to it, editing feverishly over the course of as few days as I could manage. I did it in about two.

But reading it with a pen and a critical eye turned out to be the quick part. It took much longer to go through the word document and type in the changes I made. Plus, I made a bunch of notes about details that needed to be added earlier in the novel, so it took forever going back and forth, adding paragraphs and details here and there, and being as careful as I could not to add something that created a plot hole somewhere else.

But I had the day off today and was determined to finish it. I edited 162 pages today, I'm guessing about 45K words. I'm happy with how it turned out. I think it needs one more read--a polish--before it's ready to be queried. However, I'm definitely ready to write the sequel.

Having spent the first day of NaNoWriMo editing, I'm a bit behind. Fortunately, it runs 24 hours for the whole month. So I'm going to publish this post, open Star Born 2, and start it.

I'll try to post regular updates throughout the month . . . but if Nano 2018 is anything like 2013, I'll see you in December.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

An Old Idea, Finally Being Written

Now Playing: MY LIFE FOR HIRE by A Day to Remember
Just Read: THE RUNAWAY JURY by John Grisham--Another good one by a great author. He does a terrific job of keeping my interest, not giving too much away, and keeping the ending just out of sight. Worth studying!
Reading Now: THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH by Ken Follett

A while ago, I had this idea for a story about a robot. It struck me that it could really be a great story. I don't always think this about my works in progress--I usually think a story could be competent, sometimes even good. But I'd like to think I can honestly examine my own work, and not a lot of it reaches that top tier of being worthy of the description "great."

But I really had high hopes for this one. It was a story I loved watching over and over again in my imagination. I saw moments that tugged at my heart strings, suspense and tension, and a good sense of adventure. I read a lot of Writers of the Future stories, because I'm always trying to win that contest, and I thought this robot story, perhaps more than any other story I'd ever written, had a chance to soar to the top.

I'm always hoping my submissions are climbing up the ladder at WotF, but never more than this previous quarter. I received an email saying my story had passed the first read and would now be read by head judges. I was ecstatic. I'd never received such an email before, though I had won six Honorable Mentions.

Ultimately, I received another, my seventh. I feel as though that's a lot, and I'd like to think it means I'm on the cusp of breaking through into the "Finalist" arena, maybe even winning.

So this week, now that I've gotten started with my new day job career as a nurse anesthetist, I started writing the robot story. Today I got in over 3000 words. It isn't finished, but I like where it's going, and I'm way ahead of my usual schedule for submission for WotF. I'm hoping to finish it, let it sit, then edit it until it's as close to perfect as I can get it for submission for this quarter, ending December 31. I hope hope hope I can nail this one.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Getting Back To It

Now Playing: A JOURNEY IN THE DARK by Howard Shore
Just Read: CITY OF THIEVES by David Benioff--Loved this book! Absolutely fantastic writing throughout; really on the best written books I've read in a long time. Really enjoyed the language and characterization of the supporting cast.
Reading Now: THE RUNAWAY JURY by John Grisham

Just wrote my first new words since finishing graduate school. It was a good feeling, but it wasn't much--a few hundred words that came to me (at the risk of sounding cliche) in the shower. I was thinking about how John Grisham always writes about law adventures because he's a lawyer--maybe I should write about anesthetics. So I did.

Getting back to it after a long absence is hard. I've done it before, always because of time constraints of one type or another. Each time requires a bit of a transitional period to get the metaphorical dust off. I usually start with some editing and lots of thinking, which I did today.

I was thinking about where to send stories I've already written but haven't had the time to shop around. My mom wanted me to clean out my old desk back home, and in it I found a Writers of the Future Honorable Mention certificate--that makes seven for me, which I consider to be good, but what I really want is a win. A few of those stories that earned Honorable Mentions haven't been to other magazines; today I was brainstorming where would be best, and doing some mild editing to that end.

In short, it's back to work. It is work, and I have to remember that and not sit around and wait for the fabled muse to bless me. I'm going to set a writing goal tomorrow, and see if I can meet it. Wish me luck. Or better yet--tell me to get to it.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Onward!

Now Playing: SKYRIM by Jeremy Soule
Just Read: A WALK ACROSS THE SUN by Corban Addison--I wish some of these characters were a little more active (things kept happening TO them), but overall I enjoyed this book.
Reading Now: CITY OF THIEVES by David Benioff

Well, it's been a long road, but grad school is over and I've successfully passed boards! I'm going to be a nurse anesthetist! The final six months of school flew by, and the last few weeks especially have been a whirlwind. But I'm finally on this side of it, and it feels so good.

At the beginning of school we had a talk about time-energy commitment. The idea is that some things require a lot of time to accomplish, while others take a lot of energy. An undertaking like anesthesia school takes both. And you only have a finite amount to give to the things you want to accomplish.

I was happy to agree to this commitment, but it came with certain sacrifices. Writing fiction was mine--I used to write one story per week. The glory days! That was in the Write1Sub1 era, maybe like 2012. I dropped down and pretty consistently wrote one story per month until school started, but my productivity kept decreasing as school went on and became more and more all-consuming.

But now it's done! And one thing that never stopped the whole time was the influx of ideas. I have a notes app on my phone with almost 400 new story ideas. That's a lot of writing ahead of me. Now that I've got some time, I'm hoping to tackle a few of them, maybe even in a rush over the next month. An explosion of pent-up fiction! Let's get started.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

New Places, New Ideas

Now Playing: TOLD YOU SO by Drowning Pool
Just Read: VORTEX by Robert Charles Wilson--Very entertaining read, but different from the other two books in the series. Spin was the best, Axis the worst, Vortex perhaps the most fun.
Reading Now: THE CUCKOO'S CALLING by Robert Galbraith

Grad school is coming to a head--six months left until graduation! In many ways this is awesome, but the workload only increases until the final day. I've got a large final project and paper, a summer of studying before boards, and classes with their own tests along the way until then.

I'm trying to find time to write, but the chances are few and far between. I had a talk with my cousin, who's a musician, about this kind of thing, and he encouraged me to not put too much pressure on myself. He said these kinds of life-centered road blocks happen, and that it's okay because they won't be around forever. He learned, in his case, to play a few chords here and there to stay in love with the craft, then to get back to it whenever life calmed down.

This week I flew out to Arizona for a nurse anesthesia conference, and while here I decided I wanted to get the next book by Beth Cato. She was a member of Write1Sub1 back in the day, and since then she's published a few novels, and I'm a big fan, and not just because we were both in the same online community of writers, which gives me hope that I could publish too, before long. She's really good!

I got to a local bookstore called The Poisoned Pen, and it turns out they were having a book signing by a science fiction writer named Tom Sweterlitsch. So I stayed, listened, talked with him, loved the premise of his book "The Gone World," and bought it. Of course I got it signed. He was great to listen to, and I'm looking forward to reading his book.

Then I got home and opened Beth Cato's book and found out that IT was signed as well! Woohoo!

Being in a strange place around new science fiction writers is inspiring to me. It energizes me and makes me want to think about new stories, and to write them. I have one in mind now that mixes space travel, villainy, and virtual reality. We'll see if I can get it on paper and edited before the March WotF deadline. That's the hope! Here's to trying.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Next Year's November

Now Playing: ROGUE ONE by Michael Giacchino
Just Read: SPIN by Robert Charles Wilson--Great book! Very cool pure science fiction story that really delves into societal sci-fi without getting too in the weeds. Kept the focus on the main characters. Love to write one like this some day!
Reading Now: AXIS by Robert Charles Wilson

This November, I'm gonna be swamped.

I'm juggling three or four school projects and a few extra papers and articles to write, conference calls, interviews for future anesthesia students, exams, and full-time clinical work. And building a house at the same time! Sadly little time for writing.

And I've got a decent story idea in mind. I think. I mean, you never know--this quarter I submitted a story that I thought was pretty good to the Writers of the Future contest after receiving my fifth honorable mention last quarter. But it was returned rejected this week. Oh well. In hindsight I can find a few problems with it, but it's so long (14,000 words) that re-working it seems daunting. I might end up taking a story from August and seeing how it will do this quarter, then working on this other story more slowly and submitting it after the first of the year.

Because November is gonna kick my butt. Next November, though--that's the dream. Done with school, working full-time and earning a paycheck again, and I'll have my own writing room to participate in NaNoWriMo again. If everything goes the way I want (HA!), I'll spend some time after graduation re-writing the novel I worked on for NaNoWriMo 2013, and then work on its sequel in November of 2018. That would just be awesome.

I get so jazzed for writing in November. Everyone is writing and tweeting about it, and the online writing community is so alive. There's just something in the air, too. Something magical about the season changing that makes me want to craft stories. This year, most of those ambitions will be on hold. But next year . . . .

Saturday, September 30, 2017

September Fruit

Now Playing: SHERLOCK HOLMES by Hans Zimmer
Just Read: PACKING FOR MARS by Mary Roach--A fun read! Lots of good science but also very funny. I love hearing the ridiculous stories of serious astronauts!
Reading Now: SPIN by Robert Charles Wilson

It's been a busy but fruitful September. In school we had some tough respiratory tests, then went to Seattle for a national conference and a student election, which I won! I'm the National Student Representative to the AANA Education Committee, and my first duties took me to Chicago for a weekend conference of committees. So needless to say, not a whole lot of writing time.

But, knowing everything that was coming, I spent Labor Day weekend writing a behemoth of a story--a 14,000-word old-school fantasy--that I edited here and there (literally, in Seattle and Chicago and at home in North Carolina) until I had a pretty decent final draft of 50 Microsoft Word pages. I just submitted it to Writers of the Future, right at the end of this quarter.

It's got some aspects that I think appeal to the WotF judges, but it's originality is questionable. It sounds like it wants to be a Game of Thrones style sword-and-sorcery type of tale, which is great, but I'm wondering if the judges will frown on it for being cliche. We'll see!

One thing I've been trying to do lately is edit my own stories better, to be a bit harder on myself and read them more honestly. I think the past two or three stories I've written have benefited. It helps me to print them out and let them sit for a week or so, then come at them with a pen and tear them up. Also, my wonderful wife got me some awesome moleskin notebooks for story planning, and they've been helping. So for October's story, I'm gonna try something a little less run-of-the-mill. Here goes!