Booktube is Wonderful

Well, exams are finally over, which means I can finally get back to focusing on my writing. Thankfully it didn’t take long to get back in the swing of things. I think part of that has to do with reducing my goals during exams rather than eliminating them. By just doing a little bit every day I was able to keep the world and its characters vivid in my imagination. It made the transition back to focusing on higher word count goals much easier.

I am hoping to finish this rough draft of my new manuscript soon. I am excited because it ties in my first novella Just Under the Sky and expands on the mythology of the world. I know it’ll be a bit of a mess when I finish it but it’ll be a fun mess. A mess worth cleaning up because the end goal is having the first text that ties a lot of my future ideas together. This excites me because it’ll mean even when I write standalone books they’ll still have some connection to my other work even if they aren’t a part of the same series.

Currently, the draft is at 70k words. I’m nervous because I don’t want the ending to be rushed, and I know it’ll be a series but I also don’t want too many side plots to be unresolved in the first book. Like there are so many things going on with my three main characters I want their smaller goals to be completed by the time I finish and just have the main quest really be the one feeding into future books in the series.

As mentioned before once I finish this draft I can get back to focusing on manuscripts I wrote earlier this year. I had one major idea change in one of my rough drafts. The good news is I love the story, the bad news is it’ll rely on MASSIVE rewrites.

Anyway, I don’t want to bore you all with the details. That can be another blog post’s problem later. Today I just want to give recognition to a couple of booktube/reviewer friends I’ve made.

First, congratulations to my friend Gabby for breaking 5000 subscribers on Youtube.

The first video I saw of hers was her August Wrap Up I believe

 

The video included a review of IT, and though the movies have always been too scary for me (the original giving me nightmares for weeks) I always enjoyed hearing reviews of the book itself. Gabby’s channel is just an awesome place to visit on Youtube. She and I have bonded over books, movies, music, all of which make appearances in her videos. That’s what I like about her, it’s not just book reviews it’s everything.

The second channel I wanted to give a shout out to is LiteraryLizzzy (yes 3 z’s). Lizzy and I became friends on her channel. She actually reviewed a couple of my books too (yes flattery helps build friendships lol). She is a really hard working Booktuber, keeping up with a lot of book challenges, readathons, and runs a book club. She gives great recommendations and offers highly entertaining content.

New Year. . . Similar Me?

Okay, so truth be told I am pretty mediocre at keeping my new year’s resolutions. Maybe not mediocre. . . more like amazing with the small stuff and unreliable with the rest. I did manage to dedicate more time this year than 2016 to writing, unfortunately, editing had to take a back seat. Though I managed to write 4 (well finishing the 4th) first drafts for different manuscripts this year, the only thing I was able to polish to any degree was a 40k novella released in August.

If 2017 was the year of writing, 2018 will be the year of re-writing. I’m saying it here so I don’t have the opportunity to forget, or at least not the same opportunity to forget since this blog did not exist a year ago.

Once I finish the current WIP I am working on, my primary focus will be to re-writing three of the four drafts I popped out this year. My mammoth, a futuristic satire in a world where automation has replaced everything but celebrity, and the currency is influence (or reach), will take me the longest. I plan on taking the sort of time NFL teams are supposed to take in developing rookie quarterbacks because of all the stories I’ve produced recently, it’s the one I am most proud of. It may take a long time to shine, but I know there’s something great in it.

As for the other books, one is in need of MAJOR re-writes as I changed the occupation of the main character, and the conclusion (which of course means everything leading to the conclusion needs to change). This one being the Absolute, which is about a painter’s strange relationship with God. The main plot follows his time painting a mural for the new chapel in his hometown.

The third book I plan to get to has a working title of The Pathetic Tycoon and it’s a rather violent tale between an old-time criminal and a young rival with a legitimate business he inherited from his parents.

It should be a fun year. . . well a stressful as re-writing tends to be. What I don’t like about re-writing is you don’t get the same satisfaction of goals like you do on a rough draft. I mean knocking out a word count goal offers instant gratification. Re-writing is much more macro, and you don’t really see the results until you reach the end. At least for me, rough drafts are more about “wow look what I’ve done,” while re-writes are more about “wow look how much I have left.”

I know it’s a lot of hard work, but as Stephen King put it “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”

 

Review: The Hobbit

The HobbitThe Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well that was adorable. It’s funny, I didn’t get into reading until I was older so when all my friends in elementary/middle school were reading these books (because at the time the movies were coming out) I was too intimidated by the size to pick one up. At the time, I was trying to do everything in my power to get away without reading.

So after all these years I sorta looked at Tolkien as more than a man. Ya know a guy who created our baseline for high fantasy, he had to be the standard of everything great in literature right? Well that’s not what this novel turned out to be and it was for the best because I loved it. It makes me regret not reading it as a child because I know I would’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Narrator was adorable and so welcoming. He was the old guy who shows up at a party and wants everyone to like him so he tells them the most fascinating story he can think of, all the while breaking the fourth wall or breaking from the narrative to offer exposition that enriches the story.

There was never a dull moment. It starts off with Bilbo being invited on the journey, oversleeping, then deciding he was going on an adventure. The characters were always on the move and always facing new challenges, whether it be trolls, elves, spiders, or goblins (which works well for a story because it offers plenty of opportunities to put it down and pick it back up without losing your place).

All in all, I loved this tale. It was a fun adventure that wasn’t stressful or intense. It didn’t require any deep thought to enjoy (I know one could dissect the layers of this book and pull out deeper meaning but it isn’t a requirement for enjoyment).

I now look forward to reading the LOTR series. This is exactly what I needed after finishing the Dark Tower series.

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Power of Ten Minutes

Like most authors, I try to remain disciplined with daily word count goals when it comes to completing a rough draft. The goal always being to throw as much story as I can on to the canvas and to worry about making it pretty later on. I learned this strategy from Stephen King’s On Writing memoir, and an anecdote by an old teacher who had Harry Turtledove as an advisor. Apparently Turtledove has a gnome figure above his computer with two signs on it: Edit and Write. This serves as a reminder to him to not look back until he finishes the rough draft so he has enough momentum to finish.

For the longest time I struggled to consistently break out of the 1000-1200 word a day routine. There were times I successfully challenged myself to do so, but it yielded similar results to crash dieting. A brilliant short-term return with no long-term results.

No matter what tricks I tried, real life would always kick my average back down to my plateau. Now I would like to say there is absolutely nothing wrong with only writing 1000-1200 words a day. The reason it was a problem for me was entirely personal happiness.

I knew I wanted to produce more output, and I knew I could not continue the same routine I was doing and expect different results (thanks Einstein). That’s when I read a quote by Elbert Hubbard saying “Positive anything is better than negative nothing.”

It’s true. Just because you can’t reach your goal at a particular moment that day, doesn’t mean you can’t make progress towards it. I used to make the mistake of only giving myself a block of time to write. I would sit at my kitchen table during my designated block of time, knock out my daily minimum (listed above) feel fatigued and call it day.

I figured if a single designated block of time wouldn’t yield the results I was looking for, maybe unstructured, multiple sittings would.

The results were more than I was hoping for.

Originally I wanted to get to the point where I consistently wrote 2000 words a day. At that pace, I could have a decent length draft (60k+) done in a month.

What ended up happening was three or four sittings a day, resulting in 2500-4000 words.

Why this turn around? A number of reasons. One being fatigue. I never reached the point of being tired while writing. I would knock out as much as I could in the morning before going to class, knock out a little more after class, and then do one or two sittings in the evening.

The second reason being I never felt like I was working. Before when I wrote in one long block of time I felt like I had to see results or else I failed. By spreading it out throughout the day I accepted there would be times the words fly onto the page and times I struggled, but no matter what I was moving towards my goal. It also created an almost insatiable desire to keep writing. Before I looked forward to finishing my designated writing time, but now if I only give myself a small taste of writing, I find myself thinking about where I need to take the story next and can’t wait to get back to my computer to keep writing.

Finally, I realized I used to underestimate how long ten minutes was. I say ten minutes, because a number of times I would get my writing done in the ten-fifteen minute slot before class started.

The average person writes 40 words per minute (since I’ve spent so much of my life at a keyboard I have the luxury of typing faster). This means in a ten minute period they could write 400 words (+ or – the time it takes to think about the plot). For me, I was able to crank out around 500-600 words in these ten-minute slots, making a decent dent in my daily goal. When I finally arrived home after class, to the time previously designated to writing, I’d already be at 1000 words, making the goal much more achievable.

This may not work for everyone, but do not sell yourself short. You can do a lot more in those short moments of freedom throughout the day. Before I started this routine, I used to think “I only have ten minutes, I’ll write later.” Don’t fall into the trap. Even if you can only write 200 words (shoot even if you can only write 50) in that time, it’s still more than you would have without it.

Review: The Dead Zone

The Dead ZoneThe Dead Zone by Stephen King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay here we go Mr. John Smith. I know you have this strange ability to see into the future but did you see this review coming? Well, did ya? You feeling lucky John? Cause I sure as hell am after reading this. I’m not as sad to finish it as I was the dark tower series (because i poured so much emotion into finishing those damn books) but this was quite an enjoyable read; one I could really sink my teeth into when given a full day to do so.
The development of John, his relationship with his family (and Sarah) and the progression of his ability/the perception of his ability by others, was the driving force of this novel. In fact, it was more entertaining than the ultimate climax of the text, which dealt with the question of “if you could stop Hitler before he rose to power would ya?”
John felt an inordinate amount of pressure from his gift, which I thought serviced this book well. Rather than making him a superhero, his gift became more a question of mankind and morality.
Just another lovely King book that makes him the legendary author he is.

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