Nutella and tears – I try to learn how to hold my horses

Last week I wrote with some bravado about how I was ready to start submitting the book to agents and publishers. I even offhandedly said, “I have some rewrites on the horizon from the feedback I get from beta readers but those will happen fairly quickly, I think.”

To which I now respond, haha. HAHAHAHA.

HAHAHAHAHHAHAAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHHAHAHAH AHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA HAHHAHAAHAHAHHAH AHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAH AHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA HAHHAHAAHAHAHH AHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH HAHAHAHAHH AHAAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HA HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

And so on.

Because, as it turns out, I’m going to need a lot more work than I had originally thought. How much? Well, I’m still trying to wrap my mind around that one. But here’s where the book sits now: I have a full manuscript that has been edited. It has some plot holes and is in need of more line edits than I have given it so far.

The other issue is that I need to take my secondary character, Isa and turn her into the protagonist.oh-shit-o She wrestled constantly with my current protagonist, Joe while I was writing the first draft. Since this was the first book I had ever written, I thought this was a natural part of the process and didn’t recognize it for what it was, a HUGE flashing warning sign. One that said, “hey asshole! You can’t ride a tyrannosaurus down this highway! It’s too big and it’s from a different dimension!”

I rode my dinosaur apace, snarling at the passing motorists.

So now I’m going through and creating a summary for every chapter. Something that hits the bullet points about what’s happening so that I can look through and say, tear out 10,000 words while weeping hysterically and shoveling fistfulls of Nutella from the jar into my mouth.

But everything’s fine, no really! ::barfs into hat::

Seriously though, while this does mean some more work, potentially a lot of work, I’ve never felt in a better place to pull it off. It’s just another part of the learning process and it’s helping me understand what it truly means to be a writer.

Time to start pitching the novel!

I’m feeling ready, like a runner who’s trained for months for a marathon. It’s time to put out my feelers and start pitching my novel to publishers and agents.

Photo courtesy flickr user David Paul Ohmer.
Photo courtesy flickr user David Paul Ohmer.

I have some rewrites on the horizon from the feedback I get from beta readers but those will happen fairly quickly, I think. Also, chances are high that even with a successful pitch, I’ll still get a list of things that require rewrites. I’m cool with that.

I hear some of your questions, “but Nathan, why would you submit to agents or publishers when you could self publish and retain control of your work?” I hear you, dear reader, I do. And over the last couple of years of reading opinions on blogs, twitter, reddit and news sites, my answer is this: while publishers have become somewhat diminished by the rise of self publishing they are still behemoths in the market place. Yes there are self pub success stories like Hugh Howey out there, but I believe that he represents the grazing edge of a very keen blade. His success is astonishing and invigorating. It’s also enormously unique to him being at the right place at the right time with the perfect content. While I may get that lucky (and I’m not diminishing his talent by saying that), expecting to duplicate his performance would be foolish on my part.

Undoubtedly, self publishing is a rising star in the industry. People are finding lots of success without the help of agents or publishers. There may come a moment in the near future, after I’ve collected enough rejections to sink my canoe when I’ll decide to go ahead and release my novel as a self pub. But I want to give the traditional way a shot before I do.

Some of the best success stories that I hear about are from those folks who are using the hybrid model of publishing right now. This is the direction I will likely try to take, where I release some things on my own and some things through a publisher. In my head, this approach just makes the most sense.

What are your thoughts? Are you getting ready to pitch? Have you foresworn traditional publishers? Am I way off base?

Post Gen Con Writer’s Symposium wrap-up

Last week, as I’m sure many of you who follow me on social media might know, I was at Gen Con. Don’t believe me? Fine. This is buddy Omar and I bringing the noise.Gen Con 2013 - We eat people.
Overall, I had a great con, but this year went faster than I can recall my previous experiences going.

Naturally, I spent a good chunk of my time at the Writer’s Symposium (big thanks to organizer Marc Tassin!), as I do each year (if you’re looking for some interviews with authors that were at this year’s symposium check out this blog post I wrote for Apex).

Some of the highlights for me:

Mike Stackpole‘s workshops. The man is a master of creating information-dense one hour sessions and I spend the next several weeks (or longer) just trying to process all of the notes that I’ve taken. The beautiful part is that, like any good teacher, after he says it you’re just like, ‘oh, crap, why didn’t I think of that?’

Example from his Knockout Novel worksop: find the most recent two novels from the top five writers in your niche area. Read them critically, take notes and at the end figure out why you liked and hated the things you did. This will help you immensely in tailoring your writing towards that market.

And this one from his Writing Careers in the Post Paper Era: In all of your social media (blogs, twitter, FB) don’t lament or complain, entertain. Entertainment is your product and you are your brand. Don’t forget that your product is not your brand.

From the Creating Memorable Characters seminar, Scott Lynch recommended that you, “give yourself permission to remove stuff from the plot.” And if you get stuck with where your plot is going, “create a scene where all the characters have a conversation.” He used the example of a dinner party where they sit around and talk to one another about the story, what their motivations are, even about you the author. Once you feel like that conversation has gotten you back on the right track, remove it and move forward.

In that same seminar, Kelly Swails said, “every character has something they want. The story happens where the intersections of those things play out.”

This year Brad Beaulieu gave Stackpole a run for his money with a very rich workshop on creating Tension on Every Page. He used the Hunger Games as an example where tension exists on literally every page. He pointed out that breakout novels and best-sellers manage to do this extremely well. We may not like them very much, but they are exceedingly good at keeping us flipping pages. One of the biggest take-aways from this workshop was that as soon as you give the reader what they want, the tension is gone. I know this is something I’ve struggled with in the novel that I’m still in the process of writing.

Naturally, there were countless more events that happened that I’m not getting into here. Readings, workshops, a fascinating panel with Mercedes Lackey, Jim Hines and Larry Dixon and moderated by Elizabeth Vaughan that was about Writing a Series and included a sort of walk-through of their careers. The worst part about the symposium is that my time is finite and that there are so many other great events happening within (and out of) it that I couldn’t attend them all. Thanks for another great year to all the folks who participated!

 

Cultivating a list of Florida Scifi, Fantasy and Horror writers

Okay, I know that I said I was taking a break yesterday but I just need to get the ball rolling on this one small thing.

Yesterday someone asked me if I could connect them with any other science fiction, fantasy and horror writers in Florida who were on Twitter. I follow a couple and suggested them to him, but there were surprisingly fewer than I recalled having followed.

So I started cultivating a list, well two of them, actually.

One is for Florida SFF writers on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nmhall/florida-sff-writers

The other is for Florida SFF writers on Facebook (login required): https://www.facebook.com/lists/10101358334623588

Thusfar, they’re both little sparse BUT you can help change that! If you’re a writer who meets the below requirements, I’ll add you to the list:

  1. You live in Florida
  2. You write
  3. You write science fiction, fantasy, or horror
  4. You don’t spam the hell out of people or over-promote*

Just contact me via my contact form, Twitter or on Facebook and ask to be added to the list.

If you’re not a writer, but know someone who should be on the list, let me know about them.

Now back to my break…

 

*my discretion, sorry – basically, if I look at your Twitter feed and see a significant number of tweets promoting your work, I won’t include you. Don’t do that and everything will be great!

Fyi: taking a little break

Fyi, for the folks who are interested, I’m taking a little rest from the pressure I usually put on myself to write, blog, edit, etc.

iPhone-BatteryIf you’re a writer reading this blog, I think you can sympathize with the amount of stress maintaining a full time job can be while also trying to be a productive writer. If you’re plugged into writer’s groups, or follow authors on twitter or reddit or wherever else, it can feel like you’re constantly falling behind. You start to get the impression that everyone is massively more professional and put together than you are. In the time that it took me to write and do the second draft of my first novel, I’ve watched other writers push through writing, edits, and publish more than one novel.

It’s easy to say you can’t compare yourself to others but putting that thinking into practice can be a difficult thing. After all, if you don’t have a yardstick, how can you measure your own progress? Nevertheless, I’m trying to challenge my own thinking on this. I understand that most of the people who I’m comparing myself to now are published authors who (for the most part) have made a career of their writing. That is their 40 hours+ a week. That I’m comparing myself at all to people in that caliber is a testament to how far I’ve progressed in a couple short years and I try to keep that front of mind.

This week, I put the finishing touches on my second draft and invited anyone who wanted access to be a beta reader for me. On Tuesday, I felt odd when sitting down at my desk in the morning. I didn’t have that story to read, polish, etc. anymore. It was out in the wild. I tried to start writing something else. I’ve plotted out three or four other stories to one degree or another while editing this book. But something didn’t feel right about doing that. I didn’t have the energy and enthusiasm that you really need at the beginning of a project to see it through.

So for that reason, I’m taking a little break. It’s only going to be for couple weeks but I feel like I need it to recharge the batteries and get myself back to full strength again.

In the meantime, if you would like a beta copy of my book and would be interested in giving me some feedback, please fill out the contact form here and tell me if you’d like a pdf, word, kindle or nook formatted file.

See you all soon!