Quick and Dirty Book 5 Update

Things are going well on the outline for book 5. I’d say I’m about 85-ish percent done with it. Lots of thinking, research, more thinking, and staring blindly at things to let thoughts bubble and churn into interesting ideas has gotten me to this point.

Anyway, that’s it for the quick and dirty update. For book writers interested in a tip I learned (or fans who like this kind of thing), keep reading.

As part of writing the outline this time around, I’ve tweaked the way I use my outline spreadsheet. As I’ve mentioned in a past post, when outlining, I set up a spreadsheet with three tabs, Outline, Timeline, and Brainstorm (I now just make a copy of the last outline spreadsheet, clear out what is unneeded, update the calendars to appropriate Letheran months, and start there). The Outline tab has the outline, Timeline has a calendar with several months on it (not in list form but in actual calendar format using square cells for days in the month with day numbers and chapter numbers in them, so I can see when things are happening and plan accordingly), and Brainstorm has lists of brainstorm ideas and details of promising ideas.

So, what changed? Well, I now use 5 columns labeled Plot (plot line number), Chap (chapter), Scene (within the chapter), Scene Description, and Notes, in that order. Plot is still where I put the plot line number, and I still use different numbers for each plot line. So for instance, the main plot might be numbered 1. But now, I use that same number on every row having to do with that plot. I used to use thousands to represent various plots, so the main plot might have been 1000, and the Plot column would have 1000, 1010, 1020, etc, to organize its scenes in order, and I had overall timeline numbers to organize scenes into their book order. Well, that got to be entirely too cumbersome to maintain with the amount of switching around of scenes I’ve been doing to keep things interesting. Instead, I now use Chap and Scene to do that. So, let’s say that I decide a certain scene should appear two chapters later (or earlier) than where it currently is. The old way would have required me to renumber the Plot column numbers for that plot line (and the Timeline numbers of ALL scenes between) from the current location down (or up) to the new location. Now, I just change the Chap number of that scene, and I only have to redo the Scene numbers of that one destination chapter based on the order I want its scenes. But the biggest time saver is when I decide to add or remove a scene. The old way required a renumbering of the Plot or Timeline columns for every single scene from its added (or deleted) point to the end of the book. And let me tell you, I am adding lots and lots of scenes right now as I outline, so it was just horrible. The new way is much faster and easier. Plus, Sort can still be used to arrange plot lines the ways I want. If I want each plot separated into their own groups so I can just focus on outlining a particular plot, I sort by Plot, Chapter, Scene. If I want to see all plots mixed together as they will appear in finished form, I sort by Chapter, Chapter, Scene. Why do I do Chapter, Chapter, Scene? Because OpenOffice Writer usually remembers Sort settings used, and this way, I only have to change the first sort field between Plot and Chapter, instead of selecting all three fields every time.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do NOT use the scroll wheel of the mouse to change sort fields! Always click-and-choose. If you accidentally over-scroll up, the instant you hit the ‘-undefined-‘ selection, ALL field selections below that one will be cleared. I did this a few times before I learned my lesson. Note number two: When you bring up the Sort dialog, you may have to click the Options tab and select ‘Range contains column labels’ so you see Plot, Chap, Scene, etc, instead of Column A, Column B, etc. Note number three: Always select the entire spreadsheet before sorting. A fast way to do that is to click the grey square at top left, the one next to A and 1. Oh, and Note number four: I use Chap 0 for the prologue scenes.

Happy reading!

EDIT: Ignore Note number three! Do NOT select the entire spreadsheet before sorting! Calc auto-selects pertinent cells for you if your click (or are already in) a cell in the data and just go to Data->Sort from the menu. And in fact, if you DO select the entire spreadsheet first, Calc sometimes forgets the ‘Range includes column headers’ option. It has done that to me a few times and my best guess as to why is because the number of rows with data changed from the last time I sorted. For some reason, letting Calc auto-select the data block seems to keep that option, at least so far. Note that for its auto-select to work, the data you want to sort must be all together in a block of cells with no empty rows or columns within, and anything you don’t want sorted (like results cells, etc) must be separated from the data block by at least one empty row or column.

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Research, research, research

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday break. I spent some time up north with family for a bit of a vacation and to hopefully get some cold-weather research in, as snow isn’t something one sees very often in central Texas. Alas, in the week and a half I was there, there was little to no snow in the part of Nebraska I stayed at. There was one evening of light snow a few days before the end of my vacation. It left less than an inch on the ground, and locals scoffed at the amount, but I was pleased to have been able to see the white stuff falling and the thin accumulation on streets, sidewalks, yards, trees, and on the frozen lake we visited a couple of times. Walking atop that lake was enjoyable, though alarmingly slippery, and something entirely new to me. All in all, it was a good trip. I had fun and got some insights that will help with the next book. Though I didn’t get to enjoy deep rifts of snow as I have in the past, I was able to experience just how terribly cold it feels when temperatures approach and go below zero degrees F, and think about just how difficult and dangerous life in those climes can be.

Now that I am back home, I’m doing research that is much more mundane using my trusty assistant, Google. The research concerns other matters that may impact plots in the next volume: technology advances during the industrial revolution, arctic ecology, history, and the like. A bit boring, perhaps, but essential to understand how we as a people progress and fall back, and how greed, fear, the desire for progress, and such, propels individuals.

Time to get back to it. Happy reading!

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Trade Paperback Version of Book 4 Now Available

Trade Paperback Cover for Book 4

Of Gods, Trees, and a Sapling, trade paperback version cover

I just received the proof of book 4, Of Gods, Trees, and a Sapling, today and it looks great. I chuckle every time I glance at it because it’s so darned big. At any rate, I have approved the proof so the trade paperback version of book 4 is now available HERE from CreateSpace.com. It should be available at Amazon.com within 3-5 business days and will be accessible at the same link as the kindle version, you’ll just have to select the paperback version in the ‘other versions/formats’ section. Once Amazon has a direct link to this version, I will update this post with that.

Please note that the price for the trade paperback version of this book is more than previous books because the minimum price allowed by CreateSpace is higher due to how long the book is–at 773+ pages, it is about the size of books 1 and 2 combined.

Happy reading, all.

UPDATE: Amazon now has a link to purchase the trade paperback version, if you’d rather buy it from them instead of CreateSpace. You can do so from HERE.

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Of Gods, Trees, And A Sapling Now Available in eBook Format!

It took some time, but the eBook version of the latest book in the Dragonlinked Chronicles series, Of Gods, Trees, And A Sapling, is now available at Amazon.com (and all amazon sites, actually). The trade paperback version will be available within the next couple of weeks, depending on shipping times and whether I have to make adjustments based on the sample.

Many apologies for how long it’s taken. There are two main reasons it took as long as it did for me to finally finish this book. The first is that my life has been ridiculously hectic these past eighteen to twenty months or so. I won’t bore or bring you down with the details, but suffice it to say I wore black a lot and made a few trips to visit relatives in the hospital. There were a lot of days where I struggled to write.

Now, the biggest reason it took so long–and I mentioned I had suspicions about it in a previous post (which turned out to be true)–is the length of this book. In between uploads to Amazon after tweaking the format and fixing the two spelling errors that somehow sneaked through, I started work on another document, the trade paperback version. My preliminary pass at formatting that version indicates that, in print, this book will be seven hundred and seventy-three pages long. That’s more than double the length of book 2. I suspected it might be longer than book 3 based on how long it was taking me to complete a read-through, but it didn’t feel that long to me while I was reading it. My test reader’s only comment that was even remotely related to the length was that she couldn’t stop thinking about getting back to reading it in between her job as a substitute teacher, working on starting her business, and picking up her kids. So, she apparently didn’t think it felt long either.

At any rate, here you go. ENJOY!

(And for those of you who want a physical copy, I will continue working on the trade paperback version tomorrow, I swear!)

P.S. OH!  If any of you followed me on my Amazon author page and you did NOT get notified about the release, could you please post a comment below? If some of you were not notified, I want to speak with Amazon and find out if there is anything I can do to fix it. Thanks!

Categories: Books, Dragonlinked, Fantasy, Lethera, LGBT, LGBTQ, New Release, Update, YoungAdult | Tags: | Leave a comment

Almost There.

I had hoped to have book 4 released by now, but life got in the way. Too many things happened this month. At any rate, I have had a chance to work a bit on the cover (I think it looks nifty, so far), and I’ve done three read-throughs with edits and revisions (and am on a fourth, now). Part of the reason I’m holding back release is that I found issues in each of those three read-throughs. Nothing enormous, but they were big enough that I am uncomfortable not checking for more. I want a read-through where I find nothing but minor problems. And, too, I’m still trying to come up with a title I’m happy with.

So, the short version: I’m working on a clean read-through, finishing up the cover, getting a decent title, and then all I’ll have left is to look at test reader feedback and then format it for e-book and trade paperback.

Very close, now.

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Draft of Book 4 Complete!

I have completed the first draft of book 4. Well, I call it the first draft, but due to how I write, previous portions have had several read-throughs and edits performed already. I also completed a number of little edits based on many notes and voice memos I’ve made along the way. I’m currently doing a read through of the entire thing for more edits and tweaks, after which I’ll give it to a test reader. Then there’s a title (I think I have one already), covers for the ebook and trade paperback versions, and it will be ready for release.

It’s getting close!

P.S. As I’ve said before, don’t forget that there is a Follow author option on each of Amazon’s author’s pages so that you can be notified when your favorite authors have new items available on Amazon. If you’d like to know when I have new books available for purchase on Amazon, you can check this blog, or click the large Follow button near the top left of my Author Page.

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Dragonlinked Book 4 Update

Got back from a kind of family vacation several days ago. I spent a little over two weeks with my brother’s family and had a great time. I hadn’t seen my niece and nephew in a while. It’s surprising how much kids change in their early teens. Anyway, I’m finally working on the last scene of the last chapter.

This chapter has been my nemesis, my Khan, my great white whale. I think I now know what writer’s block is. It’s not that you can’t write, necessarily, it’s that you can’t figure out what to write. I could not come up with a way to present what I wanted to present. I even tried my trick, which is to just write anything. I started work on the chapter before the vacation and hoped time away would give me inspiration or at least let me come up with a way to get through it that wasn’t . . . tepid. It didn’t go so well. When I got back I had to scrap the entire first scene because I hadn’t done proper research into the way certain processes actually work and I had gone about it entirely the wrong way. Ah, well. Always do your research, kids! Save yourself time and effort. The research did help, though. It gave me a framework upon which I could wrap already-written scenes as well as new stuff. Even so, I did have to figure out a way to make, ah, that process not be boring when you are rooting for, ah, the side you normally aren’t. History helped there. It turns out that part of the process worked differently prior to the mid-1900’s, so I took full advantage of that by deciding it would be the same on Lethera. And apologies for being so vague, but I don’t want to spoil anything. At any rate, I did finally get things lined up and presented in a way that I think works well.

So now I am working on the last scene. This will be the denouement, the easy-going wrap-up, though it will have a little surprise that came to me a few nights ago as I lay in bed waiting to fall asleep (when many great ideas occur to me and get recorded in voice memos, as I’ve talked about before). Then there will be the epilogue, which will be much easier and quicker to write, then coming up with a title and cover art. Still, I can now not only see the light at the end of the tunnel, I can make out some of the scenery there, too!

Funny thing? I’ve got ideas and have even imagined scenes for book 5. Silly brain, focus on book 4 and THEN think about book 5.

Also, don’t forget that there is a Follow author option on each of Amazon’s author’s pages so that you can be notified when your favorite authors have new items available on Amazon. If you’d like to know when I have new books available for purchase on Amazon you can check this blog, or click the large Follow button near the top left of my Author Page.

Happy reading, all!

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Alright, So Maybe I Do Still Have Use For Math And Things

Whenever I include something ‘real world’ in my writing, I want to make sure the way I include them is as correct as possible. I will do research on said topic to make sure I have a decent grasp of it, and then I’ll include it in a way that makes sense in my book’s universe.  For something in Book 4 (no spoilers!), however, I had to do an enormous amount of research concerning physics. Yeah, science-y stuff, WITH homework. More specifically, I researched fluid dynamics and projectile trajectories. I did a lot of math using formulas discovered on that research, and I’ve gone about those calculations from different directions to make sure the numbers agree, thus hopefully confirming that the figures I came up with are correct. As I get close to finishing the climactic chapter, I’ve gone back and double-checked those numbers to make sure that how I present certain things and how characters use them are at least close to ‘real.’

It turns out that some of the mathematical principles I learned along the way actually do still come in handy. Therefore, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all the teachers and professors that I have had the luck to learn from over the years. As some of you said, your instruction is still pertinent, even now. Oh, and Google, too. Man, oh man, has Google saved me time and effort on more than one occasion. Without it, for example, I would have had to spend days and days at a library researching these recent topics.

Alright, back to writing.

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Writing Climactic Scenes is Time-Consuming But Exciting

I’m now working on the big climactic scenes. Scenes, you ask? Plural? Yep. There is a lot going on at a few different locations across a certain city leading into and during the scenes. I’ve been going over the scenes I’ve got down so far again and again. One of the tricky parts for these is getting the pacing right. You can’t have a very tense or highly paced scene at the beginning of the buildup and then have the big climax not be as tense or fast-paced as the previous scenes. So, you have to try to build tension and pacing as you go, so the climax is, well, the climax. As you get closer and closer to good tension-building or pacing, reading the scenes feels more and more exciting. Another tricky part, at least for this book, is telling stories at different locations that are happening at basically the same time. I think I’ve got a handle on it, though, so we’ll see.

As far as writing progress, I’m guessing there is only one short chapter after this one (denouement), and a short epilogue, so I’m pretty darn close to finishing the first draft. /wipesbrow

V for Vendetta popped up recently on Netflix or Hulu, I forget which, and I passed the time one evening watching it as I ate dinner. I was thinking recently that my writing process is a bit like setting up a large domino knock-down art piece, like the ones V creates and starts in the movie. One has to design the pattern you want the dominoes to follow, then you have to get the right dominoes into the right places at the right times so that they can then be knocked down to create a fantastic show. It’s exciting when you find that some dominoes are already where you need them, or when a domino that you placed earlier for some other reason shows you an even better pattern to follow later on.

Don’t forget that there is a Follow author option on each of Amazon’s author’s pages so that you can be notified when your favorite authors have new items available on Amazon. If you’d like to know when I have new books available for purchase on Amazon, click the large Follow button near the top left of my Author Page.

Until next time, happy reading!

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Finished Read-through of Near-Complete Book 4 Draft. On to Writing the Final Chapters!

I just finished another read-through of the draft so far. I found the typical things: misspellings, double words (the the door), wrong character name used on a speech tag, etc, but I also found some instances where event sequences, people’s knowledge of what took place in them, was out of order. Typical, too, are places where re-writes of sentences or paragraphs were needed for better flow, clarity, or where trimming was called for. I’ve also found a few places where I need to tweak the emotion or action for pacing reasons, and will fine-tune those as I go. In a previous post I talked about mixing literary and commercial (emotion and action, in simplified terms) beats, and I’m tying to get a combination in this book that works for me. It’s a delicate balance, but worth getting as close to right as possible.

At any rate, next up is writing the draft of the last couple of chapters. I can see the finish line! 🙂

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