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Heading Upta Camp

April 1st is right around the corner, which means it’s about time for me to head upta camp (Name! That! Reference!)…

Camp NaNoWriMo, that is.

Camp NaNoWriMo, for anyone unfamiliar with this event, happens twice a year: April and July. It’s part of the NaNoWriMo organization but is different from its November counterpart in a few ways. Camp events offer participants more flexibility with their goals. You can set your word count goal to anything at all that you want. 50k, 10k, 100k. Whatever. You can also work on an already existing novel without labeling yourself a ‘rebel’. They even offer a couple of different tracks for people writing memoirs or people trying to finish those already existing projects. They even allow participants to set editing goals.

Which is what I’ll be working on next month.

I’ve participated in Camp NaNoWriMo many years, but this will be the first year where I have set an editing goal. I have no idea how it’s going to work, or even if it will work, or if it’s a remotely obtainable goal for me.

Also adding to the unknown this session is the fact that my significant other and I have some family and friends coming to visit in early April, so I won’t really be able to give Camp NaNoWriMo my full attention (or as close to my full attention as anything gets these days, anyway…) until about halfway through the month.

So I could be setting myself up to fail. I really don’t know. It’s an experiment, and it doesn’t really matter how it goes. Either way, I would be working on editing Full Circle, so I figured why the hell not give it a shot.

So, stayed tuned, I guess, for editing and Camp updates.

Provided I have some.

Hey—it could happen.

That’s going to do it for me today. Thanks for stopping by. It’s always appreciated.

Stay safe and well, all.

Editing Update: Onto Step Two

In case you’ve missed it, the theme of my year (and possibly next year and maybe even the year after that) is editing and revising a little hot mess of epic proportions I like to call Full Circle, the third book in my epic-ish fantasy series, The Coileáin Chronicles.

In my last post, I talked about Step One of the process. Or, you know, my process. There’s no one process that works for everyone. We’re all delightful individuals, so what works for me may not necessarily work for someone else. Which I imagine is true. I mean, it barely works for me, so I can’t imagine it working for anyone else. But whatever. That’s a different post for a different day, maybe.

But, to recap, Step One involved printing out a hard copy of the manuscript and reading it and making notes (many, many notes) about what changes need to be made. These changes could be minor fixes, such as typos and missing words, misplaced commas, etc. They could slightly more involved fixes, such as awkward word choices or over used words (seriously—my characters nod so much, it’s amazing their damn heads haven’t fallen off) or awkwardly phrased sentences or interrupted story flow. Or they could be even more involved fixes like continuity issues or characters who mysteriously disappeared who need to be found, and a whole host of other things such as dialogue that adds length but not substance to the story, and narrative that serves an overall story plot arc that no longer exists. This step involves a lot of pens and highlighters because, as a first draft, this story is a mess.

But now, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, I’m moving on to Step Two. I completed the read-through last month, and now I have a 755-paged manuscript with pages that looks like this:

So now, I am hard at work (or perhaps hardly working) on Step Two. The step where I attempt to fix all of those problems I found during the read-through, as well as the problems I’ll find while attempting to fix the other problems because I missed them the first time around, and the problems that will inevitably appear because of the snowball/avalanche effect that automatically comes with making changes to a story.

I tend to start off with the smaller, easier fixes and work my way up to those requiring more brain power. I keep track of those tougher problems in my notebook in a section usually titled “Editing Shit Deemed Too Difficult To Deal With The First Time Around”, and round and round I’ll go until all the changes have been made and I end up with something resembling a second draft.

Which has served me reasonably well in the past (meaning that, eventually, I do actually finish a second draft), but this time, there are some big, labor-intensive fixes early on in the book that need to be addressed RIGHT NOW because they will determine how some later scenes will go.

Which means I am not exactly crushing it right now.

Step Two is labor-intensive and time-consuming (at least for me), and I anticipate this will take me months to complete. Because, you know, it always does.

Right now, my goal is to have it done by April, as we have some family coming to visit early on in the month, and it’s also the first Camp NaNoWriMo session of the year and my focus will be on those two things. Is this goal at all realistic? Hell, no. Not in the least. Could I surprise myself? Probably not, but it could happen.

(Narrator: It would not happen.)

If it doesn’t happen (Narrator: It won’t), I’ll revise the goal, assess where things are, and pick a new date.

Rinse, lather, repeat.

Until it’s done.

So, that’s gonna do it for me today. Thanks for stopping by—it’s always appreciated!

Stay safe and well, all.

The Editing Update For Which No One Asked

Normally, my first (and, let’s be honest, usually only) post of the month is devoted to my goals for that month, but as my goals currently all revolve around my editing efforts (or lack thereof…), I’m just going to talk about that instead.

So…consider yourselves warned, I guess.

This is your last chance to cut bait and run.

I mean it. I’m going to talk about editing soon.

Like, right now.

So…here goes…

Okay, so as I mentioned in my last post, last month I broke out the red pens and blue highlighters and started reading through the first draft of Full Circle, the third book in my epic-ish fantasy series, The Coileáin Chronicles.

This is the first step in my revision process. I print out a hard copy of the manuscript and start reading it, making notes (many, many notes) about any mistakes I come across or anything at all I don’t like. It can be a sentence’s awkward phrasing, a weird word choice, out-of-order events that screw with the story’s flow, continuity issues, some stupid thing my characters do, some stupid thing my characters don’t do, characters who were somehow lost somewhere along the way and have to be found and worked back into the story, whatever.

One of the big things I’ve found myself dealing with in this particular story is that somewhere along the way, my plans for the overall arc of the story shifted, but not all of the narrative shifted with it. The first part of this book was especially guilty of this, so now the margins are littered with notes like, “BRING THIS SCENE UP TO CODE!” which I have apparently decided is my new phrase for ‘update your narrative’ because why write that when you can write ‘BRING THIS SCENE UP TO CODE!’?

But overall, it’s been…disheartening. I knew it was a first draft and would have all the problems that come along with a first draft, but even the stuff I thought might be kind of okay has been more…not okay. Which has been discouraging. So much so that the other night, I was getting ready to start reading a new chapter, read the first line, remembered what scene it was, and decided instead to make a list of my Top Ten Roy Kent moments.

So…yeah. The going has been slow thus far. But I am working on it, and I will (hopefully) be able to make things better in the next go-around. (I mean, it’s hard to imagine I could make them worse, but I probably just jinxed myself…)

The goal for February is to complete this first-round read through by the end of the month. Then comes the part where I have to start actually coming up with solutions.

Whimper.

Here’s hoping that February manages to last as long as January seemed to (seriously—did anyone else feel like January was, like, 9000 days long, or was it just me?) because I am afraid I shall need every day I can get. I’m gonna have to read the end of this book eventually, and I already know I wasn’t happy with that three or four months ago.

And on that happy note, here are the stats as they currently stand…

Editing Stats:

Total pages: 755

Pages read thus far: 410

Pages left to go: 345

Number of heavy sighs over stupid mistakes: Too many to count

But what all this means is that there’s still time (lots of time, really) to enter my super cool giveaway. And, really, who wouldn’t want to read this book after reading this post?

That’s going to do it for me today. Thanks for stopping by, all. It’s always appreciated.

Stay safe & well!

Let The Editing Commence! (Also, A Guessing Game…)

So…this is happening:

That’s right. I have officially plunged into the abyss that is the first draft of Full Circle.

I haven’t looked at it in a few months (I set aside every first draft for at least three months), and I’m wading into this first round of revisions with some trepidation. A lot of trepidation, really. The book feels too short to me. Which is weird, I know, given that it’s clocking in at 236,000 words. But still, it feels short. I also remember being unhappy with the ending, and I just know I’m going to be unhappy with a hell of a lot more than that as I make my way through these 755 pages.

Which is, of course, to be expected when reading through one’s first draft. As much as I may hate it, first drafts are meant to be imperfect messes. As Terry Pratchett once said, “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” I think it was Neil Gaiman who said, “In your second draft, make it look like you knew what you were doing all along.”

So this is what I am aiming to do. Figure out if this damn thing is somehow too short. Identify weak and/or lazy writing (not that there will be any of that…) that needs to be improved. Locate and kill any and all darlings (RIP, goat conversation). Fix any plot and/or character arcs that aren’t quite arcing the way I want them to. Laugh my ass off at all the unintentionally hilarious typos. See if the ending is really as bad as I remember it being (or if it is, in fact, worse).

And so on and so forth.

This generally takes me a while. A long while. But, as mentioned in my previous post, my goal for the year is to get through this round of revisions and send the manuscript off to my beta readers. (Hear that, betas? I’m coming for you. You know, eventually. I mean, it’s really gonna be a while. You know how slow I am.)

But anyway, all this brings me to the guessing game portion of this post…

How many red pens and blue highlighters will be required to get through this first draft?

Post your guess in the comments below. Whomever is closest without going over (we play by The Price Is Right rules in this house…) will win a copy of Full Circle when it’s finally released upon the world. (Please note: That won’t be until 2023 at the earliest. Remember that I am slower than slow.) If multiple people guess the winning combination, they will be entered into a drawing to determine the winner.

Some stats to help you determine your guess:

Second Nature:

—4 pens

—3 highlighters

—324,000 words

Terrible Romance Novel Love & Other Lies:

—2 pens

—2 highlighters

—95,000 words

Best of luck to everyone who enters!

Thanks for stopping by today. It’s always appreciated.

Stay safe and well, all!

The One With All The Goals (2022 Edition)

Well, it’s a new year which means I’m kicking things off with a monster post with (as the title would suggest) a shit-ton of goals for 2022.

As per usual, these goals are broken up into three categories: writing, health & fitness, and other. Listed here will be the big, bold goals with a due date of December 31, 2022. Not listed here will be how these big, bold goals will be broken down into monthly, weekly, and even daily goals. So, I guess, just know I’m doing it?

I like setting goals for myself. Even if it seems like I never make much progress on them, I think it helps to have set them in the first place. I shudder to think what my day-to-day life would look like if I didn’t have them. Darkness, chaos and probably some dragons… (Name! That! Reference!)

The Writing Goals

—Edit/Revise Full Circle and send to the beta readers

So, last year I finished the first draft of this project. It’s been sitting in the metaphorical drawer since about September, which means it’s about time to print out this monster project (though at 236k words, it’s not my longest manuscript ever) and rip it to shreds.

January goal: Print this puppy out, find some red pens, and let the shredding commence.

—Complete the first draft of the Terrible Romance Sequel

Yeah…this is a carryover from last year. Though I did make some progress on it during November’s NaNoWriMo event, I didn’t finish it. So I’m going to try to do it this year.

January goal: Nothing. I need to think about some things, so this project’s on the back burner for now.

—Participate in all three NaNoWriMo sessions (April, July, and November)

I’m still doing the ML thing, so…yeah. It’s on the list. Please note how this goal states ‘participate in’ but not ‘win’…

January goal: Nothing. I won’t have much to do for NaNoWriMo until we get closer to April.

—Attempt to make some attempt at marketing at least once a month

This goal went pretty poorly last year—although there were only two months where I did absolutely nothing (like a CHAMP!), so it definitely could have gone worse. To be honest, I don’t have particularly high hopes for this year magically being better, but if it’s not on the list at all, I definitely won’t try. So here’s to trying!

January goal: Come up with an idea to try and, you know, try it.

Health & Fitness

—Stop drinking so much damn soda and drink more damn water

I tried to do this last year and ended up going in the complete opposite direction (like a CHAMP!). Now I shall attempt to correct that.

—Walk, run, or bike an average of three miles per day

This goal is slightly tweaked from years past. Some days aren’t conducive to walking three miles for whatever reason. Instead, I’m aiming for the average. Three miles a day for an entire year comes out to 1095 miles. So basically that’s the goal. 1095 miles by December 31st.

All The Rest

—Declutter

I think this goal makes the list pretty much every year, and every year I pretty much do the opposite. But this year, the significant other and I have started to bandy around another ‘D’ word…Downsize. If we go through with it, I will definitely need to declutter. But even if we don’t go through with it, I should still probably declutter. I’m not a hoarder or anything (unless you’re talking about books or notebooks or pens or post-it notes or Funko Pop! figurines or…maybe I should be quiet now.) but I’m guessing there’s still a lot with which I can and should part.

January goal: Take that bag of books that’s been sitting in my office for two months to the Free Little Libraries in the area and donate them already.

—Read a damn book at least once a month

I have NOT done well with my reading goals lately. One book a week has been too much to ask, so this year, I am scaling back and going with one book a month. You may be saying “that’s not a challenge” but you should know that I only managed to read eleven books last year. Total.

I hate how long this slump has lasted. It’s just getting sad now.

January goal: Finish reading that Janet Evanovich book I started reading at the end of last year. There’s only, like, fifty pages left to go, so I think even I can finish them by the end of the month.

So, on that note, I’m outta here. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you had a great New Years, and that 2022 is kind to you all.

Did you set any goals in 2022?