The Quick and Dirty

So where have I been and where’s that book I promised you – a year ago?

Truth of the matter is, my dear dedicated reader, that it’s been a long nasty road that I’m not done traveling yet and I can confirm has been seeded liberally with landmines.  The gist of it? I picked up a part time job because editing is expensive. Various important appliances (computers, cars, you know the things I need to live) have broken down and been jury rigged into a state of “please don’t die just yet.” My grandmother has had a stroke, recovered and gone home, had another and resigned herself to hospice care for what will very possibly be the rest of her life. Mom made great strides in her own health that all came crashing down like a castle of cards as soon as her mother got sick and I didn’t help matters much by immediately catching a flu so bad it reminded us both that people can still die from the common cold.

It’s been bad, dear dedicated, and it’s likely nowhere near done being bad just yet. While I’ve been occupied with all of that I’ve gone and let this vital lifeline grow dangerously thin and that’s not helped matters one bit. A writer that isn’t writing is a very unstable and hazardous person indeed. So in the interest of getting healthier (while still recovering from that monster flu) I’m preping “Toxic Ash” for paperback release and working on the rewrites of “Tasting Ash.” It’s slow going, a little like an athlete that’s been out of competition for a long while, gained a bit of a gut and a lot of self hate, before finally starting to train again more for their sanity than for any love of the game itself.

I don’t love editing. Editing is a very special kind of hell that’s only true competition is the dreaded formatting for paperback publication that will come next. But there’s a very special kind of healing magic to be found in reading your old work over again. A kind of wonder and ego boosting pride to read a few pages that aren’t half bad and realize that maybe you don’t suck half as bad as the mangled manuscript you’ve been wrestling with off and on for a year has led you to believe. That maybe, just maybe, you can polish this old turd into a diamond after all. You’re not entirely sure of the exact alchemy you’ll have to perform, to transform turds to diamonds, but there before you is the proof that you’ve done it before and you’ll do it again and again and again.

Probably.

So long as you can just keep with it long enough.

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What the Azathoth is Going On Here?

Posts have been few and far between for a while now, culminating in a long period of seeming silence. I haven’t updated anyone on what’s going on with the books or posted anything of use on the blog, facebook, twitter or tumblr. A few particularly astute readers have taken the time to track me down and demand answers but I’ve been cagey even then.

The truth of the matter is, many nasty things have happened in the last six months or so added up with recurring bouts of problems with my hands and fingers that have really put a hurt on my writing work. Not all of what’s happen only concerns me and my affairs so I’m not even at the liberty to divulge them all (except for the knowledge that my Grandmother had a stroke earlier this month – and we’re lucky that she’s recovering nicely) that have left me psychically and mentally fatigued.

I keep trying to put off saying that I’m exhausted, depressed and looking at a complete rewrite for “Tasting Ash.” Shortening the projected story line has ruined the flow and it needs serious work before I can release it to anyone. Meanwhile I’ve lost one of my first readers to mysterious (and worrisome) circumstances. I’ve also been casting about for a new editor to go over the second books in both the Eldritch Elysium series and The Four Horsemen series, in preparation to committing them both to paperback.

All in all I’m a bit overwhelmed and tired, I had some awesome plans for the new year (setting up a proper newsletter, taking the site to it’s own page, offering up a few ecourses on self publishing) but now I’m cutting my project list waaay back and just trying to keep my head above water for the nonce. Books will be published, stories will be written – it’s just going to take a lot more time and right now I feel like I’m at the bottom of the hill looking up with a giant boulder in front of me that needs pushing.

A Vital Reminder

This last year has been a not so great time for me. I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on family (often at the expense of my writing) while my family minimizes my written work and suggests with full candor that I would be better off doing literally anything else. I might be a stone cold bitch that habitually writes about getting away with murder but that still hurts, a lot.

Thankfully other writers are always there to remind me that awful as that is, it’s also kind of normal. We all have to fight for the time and space to do that thing that no one else really understands and seems largely composed of staring at blank walls from time to time. And we’re all here to help each other out and deepen our craft as we go.

So let’s do a relink of some of the more visited posts on my blog that are full of helpful tips for other struggling Indie Authors out there.

Starting with the most important step:

Once you’ve got that you should update your series “bible” before tackling the beast that is formatting for paperback.

There you go Indies, a recap of everything that I’ve written on writing in this digital era that should prove useful to anyone looking for the information. Sign up for updates if you would like to keep abreast of anything new going on with my books or on the blog. Keep strong, keep your heads up and for the sake of the old gods’ keep writing!

Scrivener: Series “Bible”

Scrivener-LogoI love Scrivener, it makes writing novels (and writing novel series) so much easier! One of the things I noticed while constantly changing my writing process, however, is that there’s not that much information out there on how to effectively use Scrivener for writing a novel series. So I’m going to try and outline some ways that I use Scrivener to do just that.

First up: The Series Bible.

A series bible is a compilation of relevant information about a series that can be referenced by an author and their editor during the editing/revision process. A good bible should include:

  • Character Outlines
    • bio’s
    • important traits (physical/mental)
    • nicknames
    • key moments for their development in various novels
    • Compilation of character outlines/timelines (if you have them)
  • Locations
    • Where exactly it is
    • Furnishing
    • Style
    • Anything that’s been altered by the story over time (ex: broke that expensive Ming vase/set fire in that room and haven’t managed to clean up the damage yet/changed the color from green to blue)
  • Vocabulary
    • Special words or word usages
    • Grammatical notes specific to the novel
  • Creatures (where applicable)
  • Details Details Details
  • Style Guide
    • Any special notes for grammar usage in the novels to flag for an editor to ignore
    • aka “It’s not a mistake it’s a feature
  • Full copy of previous novels for quick reference if necessary
  • Quotes
    • Characteristic sayings
    • Quotable bits of dialogue to be used in promotion
    • Potential tie ins for later novels

I created a bible for each of my series using Scrivener. Th bible is an entirely separate document to the document that contains the actual novel writing, this helps to keep things clear and easy for reference. You’ll notice there are no notes or references for future novels in the bible, I keep all of those in the doc I’m actually writing in.

In Scrivener I create a folder for each of the main points and subfolders inside of those as needed. For example, Characters-> Rin Tyler -> Outlines etc.

A good bible is a wonderful reference guide! The first few novels I wrote, I didn’t have Scrivener – or any kind of bible. When I went on to write the second book in the series, I had to reread the first book in the series before I could edit my new novel properly and make sure there weren’t any giant plot holes! Though it was fun to reread the work I’d written so many years earlier, it was a huge time sink that’s best avoided whenever possible.

I recommend starting your series bible as soon as possible and keeping it updated as you go.

My Writing Process

Writing

My writing process has changed. A lot.

In the beginning I started out using a few books on the art and craft of writing novels and tried to follow along – often deviating about a third of the way through their recommended process as I got the hang of their method, made changes to suit my own style and my novel’s needs. Most of those craft books aren’t really geared towards writing series either so, even in the best of times, after the first novel was finished the books were pretty much useless to me and I had to find my own way.

Now my process is a culmination of techniques I’ve used before, utilizing software that I’ve found helpful (more about that later I hope) and my own preferences. Here’s a brief rundown of the process, hopefully I’ll explain and expand on each of the sections in blog posts of their own later.

You might notice that cover design and title choice aren’t on the list, those tend to happen at various times that I haven’t really finalized yet. I try to decide the title and finish the cover as soon as possible, it helps with advertising and getting readers excited about an upcoming release.

Another thing you won’t notice on the list is an estimate on how long the novel will take or when it will be released, they vary too much. I have yet to be absolutely certain of a release date more than a week or two in advance – mostly because the second a novel is done, I put it up for sale. I can’t stand making readers wait for a release that could be out sooner but if I set a date in advance based on how things are going at the time – it’s pretty much guaranteed that it will put a hex on the works.

“Toxic Ash” Is Finally FINISHED

I am finally done with the draft on “Toxic Ash.” Now it’s time for – everything else. Right now it feels like writing the thing was the easy part and that was damned hard. I haven’t sent out an email blast yet, since the publication date isn’t settled – lots of edits need to happen first and I can’t rush a single one of them.

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A Day in the Life of Crimewriter Tim Ellis

Ever have that feeling that the whole world is conspiring to keep you from writing your novel? Between bouts of sick, migraines, random power outages and downed internet I am – still – plugging away at “Toxic Ash” rather doggedly. Unfortunately that means I’ve been neglecting the blog. Fortunately Crimewriter (not to be confused with Crimefighter) Tim Ellis is here to the rescue!

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