Blog Of Writing +1

Transition From PM to AM…

Ah, the best-laid plans… am I right?

I was a fool to think this holiday would be rife with gaming, reading and writing. We just moved into a new home! There are boxes to unpack! Floors to clean! Furniture to buy! A property to sell! The list goes on, and on, and on… and… well, you get the gist of it.

On top of all that I was in no way, shape or form a handyman prior to moving here. In fact, it wasn’t until we bought this place I’d worked with concrete. I’d certainly never used a pickaxe (I foolishly thought shovels had come a long way, I was wrong). What was a drill bit? I’d seen 8, 16, 32 bits… But Sonic and Mario had never taught me how to use a hole saw. In the past week, I’ve donned many a hat; from plumber (no goombas were hurt in my adventure) to carpenter and labourer to janitor. Thank god for YouTube!

I have written a bit, just not as much as I wanted to. Then again, it never is. I had a lofty goal of setting myself into a routine in the new house. New home, new me. I swore it, by the old gods and the new! Ha ha ha! I laugh aloud, well more in hushed tones so I don’t trigger a barking fit from the pups in the laundry below, but alas the feeling is the same. I’ve been a fool! Three weeks, squandered on moving and eating and cleaning and sleeping and all for what?

*SIGH*

I am the very definition of a writer: suffering from extreme anxiety, sorrow, or pain.

Oh no, wait… that’s the definition of distressed. My apologies. I think that may stem from work calling me back early from holidays. Imagine having six days left, suddenly to have it become five with no actual passing of time! I hadn’t travelled to the future! I stared at my phone for what felt like another day, as I was already wasting the day at hand waiting for people to service our windows and quote us for flyscreens.

They need me. I thought. Normally, there’s a good feeling attached to that.

Fast forward to this evening, I’ve been reading an extended family member’s memoir and there’s always this guilty feeling I get when I’m reading. You should be writing. But reading is good too! Who knew even my imaginary friends would end up peer pressuring me? I’m an adult goddamnit! I’ll do what I want! Oddly, in editing through her writing I’ve suddenly become more aware of things I do as well; Punctuation I don’t use enough of, some I use too much of, run on sentences. I was just too close to see.

Not only has editing her work helped but much of her writing is entertaining. I’ve found myself chuckling through more than a few of her experiences and wishing I was living nearby now. Not just because she’s living in one of my favourite countries in the world, but I’d like to discuss writing in person. That being said I could find more people here to write with and discuss our stories, however, there is a lot of poetry focus nearby and as much as I enjoy poetry… I need to discuss my stories with people who are excited by the same thing I am. It helps with the motivation and also keeps the gears turning.

At one in the morning, however, I sit tapping away at my illuminated keys for a blog post as opposed to editing or creating. Why I don’t know, but if I’m ever to be a published author, eventually I will have to knuckle down and give it a fair go, especially with my NaNoWriMo plan slowly progressing. As for now, I should probably sleep before I stop making any sense. I am a writer who dares not to drink coffee, so wish me luck!

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Well, That Was Fun!

Wow, it’s been awhile, readers and writers!

Last I wrote, I was working on my first query letter which went rather poorly (not everything requires reporting). You see, as I’m sure many of you know, being a writer is like being on a rollercoaster.

There are highs (Holy S**t, I finished writing a novel!)…

Followed by lows (Wow, this is utter rubbish.)…

Then back into the highs (Oh wow, everyone wants to publish exactly what I’m writing!)

And sometimes a bit of a loop-the-loop (So exciting, can’t believe I submitted it- *Three Months Later* At night is when the tears come…)

Jeez, I just love writing!

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Actually, I really love writing! It’s always nagging me!

But that’s not the only reason I vacated the ole blog, oh no sirree. Actually, I’m writing from my new home. A home with a man cave. A home with a Writing Room. A home for the rest of my days. This is the home where my future kids will grow up and it will be filled with memories. Everything is so new, so fresh. Well, except the yard. The verdict is still out on the yard for now. But inside! Well… we still need some furniture. But that is what the next lifetime is for! Boom!

So yes, writing from my designated writing room! At my writing desk! With many classic and inspirational novels at my right side to not only guide me but push me to be better! It’s an odd thing to say, but I have spent my whole life trying to get to this moment, a moment where I was so settled that there was no more packing up for a move. No more neglecting photos because “we won’t live here for long”. No. Not this time.

I’ve been thinking about how much this special place means to me and not many of my friends and family would understand. They call it an office. A library. A reading room… well, it is that too. But this is my sanctuary, where I create, build and live many lives as both reader and writer. Now the question is, where do I go from here?

First, I’m going to do NaNoWriMo again. The timing is perfect and it will help me settle into a routine in the new home. If I can actually write 50k words in a month (which I know I can, I’ve done this a few times), after a few months I should be pretty far into my trilogy. Secondly, I’m going to see Gabriel’s prequel novel through to completion first and foremost. I’ve spent a lot of my time in the past few months thinking about how I want the whole seven novels to come about. Gabriel is a character whose four-book arc sees him do the following transformation:

Tragic -> Hero -> Villain -> Mentor -> Villain -> Partner -> Hero -> Legend

The Jefferson trilogy only really explores his Mentor to Legend progression but I believe that it’s his progression that makes the store more interesting. I mean, I love how George R. R. Martin said that no one is the villain of their own story. It’s actually one of my favourite pieces of writing advice which creates these grey characters who aren’t quite good but aren’t quite bad, but they make the best decisions they can under the circumstances which tend to not be the best decision overall.

Understanding your antagonist is just as important (in my mind) as understanding your protagonist. If you play your cards right, the antagonist’s history comes out as you write the history for your protagonist. These can be linked or intertwined like Voldemort and Harry Potter, or Sauron and The Fellowship.

Either way, it is very exciting to be back at a proper desk and set up ready to go. I feel like this is a huge step in being serious about my writing and I definitely look forward to what it will bring me in the coming year. Not only that, but Citizenship also awaits, as well as an engagement/housewarming party and a wedding! No big deal! 2017 was huge, no idea how big 2018 could be!

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My First Query Letter Attempt

So… Hindsight… 20/20… Yadda Yadda.

I imagine the folks at HarperCollins who may have received my manuscript for Jefferson & The Magician’s Curse most likely opened the file for a single moment before deleting it. Harsh right?

No.

In fact, now, I wouldn’t blame them.

I kind of let my excitement and nerves get in the way of rationale and sanity. When I sent it through, first I hoped I’d sent the right file. Second, I hoped I’d sent the right story. Third, I abandoned all hope and wrote the whole ordeal off as a mistake. Back to square one? Don’t mind if I do!

Fast forward… uhh… to a few weeks ago. I started getting Writer’s Digest emails because I’d been looking at their Writer’s Market books. This all stemmed from my partner asking her favorite author, Diana Gabaldon, for some advice on writing for me. She actually replied and with some good tips to boot! On her recommendation, I began to look into the Writer’s Market books but couldn’t take the plunge. Just too expensive in my mind and I couldn’t really get a feel for what they were actually about.

As if by some divine guidance, an email dropped into my inbox.

Now 75% Off! 2017 Writer‘s Market Books!

75%?! That had to be wrong. I mean, I know the 2018 editions are coming soon but 75%? That meant I could get five books from there including shipping and it would cost me less than two of them with free shipping from Book Depository (let’s not even talk local bookstore pricing, yeesh). The order was placed with the support and approval of my lovely partner (who by now was wondering why I hadn’t already bought them).

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Then, as if guided by the hands of fate herself, the books arrived in record time from the US and just in time for my day off. Not only that but we were informed our house may be ready by the end of next month, which means my writing room could be right around the corner!

As everything falls into place, I began reading the beginning of Writer’s Market 2017 which has a wonderful section about query letters. These are essentially the resume cover letter that we were taught about back in high school, but geared toward the writing industry and your product. It’s not just me I’m trying to sell anymore (yes, I see what I wrote there… close enough) but it’s the story too. Limiting yourself to a single page for all the important details is a fun challenge (read: the tears come at night) but I think I’ve managed.

The question is, what do you think?

<Insert El Editor’s Details Here>

Dear El Editor,

My 98,000 word novel, Jefferson & The Magician’s Curse, is fantasy fiction in the same vein as the Harry Potter series of novels but with a hint of influence from Star Wars as well.

Jefferson is a teen orphan whose feeling of being the outsider leads him to seek out the circus for its oddities and curiosities. Here, he discovers a performing magician, Gabriel, who introduces the boy to the wonders of real magic.

Finding his place in a secret society of magicians, Jefferson walks a dangerous line between the rise of forbidden arts and learning magic. As Gabriel becomes more erratic and dangerous, Jefferson finds he is the key to saving or defeating him.

From cursed magicians and multiple personality disorders to magical battles and time travel, Jefferson & The Magician’s Curse is familiar to fans of fantasy while taking a new approach to the question, “Where does magic come from?”

Jefferson & The Magician’s Curse would ideally fit in with Harry Potter or Dragonlance series of novels. Your website noted that you were seeking out fantasy novels over 75,000 words and this fits those criteria.

I have been writing and editing many of my shorter works for the below website and blog. My short story, Circle of Vengeance, was critiqued and edited more than twenty times before being self-published. You can find this on my website below as well as at lulu.com and on the iBooks store.

As stated in your guidelines I have enclosed the first 30 pages. Thank you for your time and consideration of my novel, Jefferson & The Magician’s Curse.

Sincerely,

TJ Edwards

<Insert My Details Here>

Let me know if there’s anything I could do better! I need all the help I can get!

Also… any tips out there for submitting manuscripts?

Thanks a bunch, as always you folks are legendary!

Blog Of Writing +1

A Brief Hiatus and the Wings of Icarus

Do not fear the title! I’m not going anywhere. No, in fact, it is that I have already gone and during my brief interlude I have cruised through three books.

  1. Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing.
  2. Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.
  3. Stephen King’s On Writing.

After completing my second attempt at reading On Writing, I found myself laughing alongside Mr King, even as he described his near-death experience at the hands of an inattentive driver. It took two attempts (roughly four years apart) to actually get through the first half of his book. You see, as a lover of fantasy, I never much admired his writing. The Dark Tower drew me close, but I never really made any connection to the rest of his works. Horror (aside from Lovecraft) does nothing for me. But on this attempt at reading his memoir or his advice, something had changed. Something big. Something called Jefferson & The Magician’s curse.

Four years ago I shut my eyes, shook my head and spat; I didn’t want to hear what this old writer had to say. Sure, he was successful. Sure, he was published. But goddamnit, I just didn’t care about the story of his youth and his struggles. I know, I am a jerk, but at least I’m honest. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t relate to him as a person, it was him as a writer that I couldn’t relate to. Here he was talking about a thousand words a day and living story to story and at the time I was struggling at how to organise my thoughts into an arrow and aim for the target.

It was hopeless.

Then, somewhere along the line, I smashed out a novel. With a quick twist at the end, one novel became two, then three. The antagonist reared his head, beat his chest and demanded another novel. Four. The world that I was building then gave me the question of what happens two thousand years later? Oh man. Another trilogy. The levy had broken and the world was gushing through my fingers and onto the screen. Magicians ran parallel to angels and demons and all ran alongside a fabricated war that was to bring about the extinction of the human race.

*GASP*

I’d never finished a novel before. Short stories were as far as I’d managed and only one was worth sending out into the world. I realised that I could write a novel, no I could write seven… if only someone would pay me for it. This is what sparked my sudden interest in reading again. I needed to know what others did to get there.

Both King and Bradbury did something I never considered. They both got published in Fantasy or Sci-Fi magazines and much like working at McDonald’s or volunteering for experience on a resume, I’d never considered building a writing portfolio of this kind. When I say “of this kind”, what I mean is an actual resume with references and editions and people to give me feedback. I posted all my writing to this blog and it’s only been a problem once when I went to submit one of my posts from my gaming days for a publication. They loved it and wanted to actually publish it, but refused to because I’d already published it myself. A wasted effort in retrospect as for the blog, it got maybe twenty views, but on their website, they get thousands of hits an hour.

Damn it to hell, right?

Back to Bradbury and King and their magazines for a second though. I started jotting down some notes into a new idea, exclusively for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. King himself has been published in there (with The Dark Tower no less) so my interest has been piqued. For some unknown reason, I decided to go through a bag of books I’d bought at a local book fair and lo and behold, what did I find?!

An actual copy of Fantasy and Science Fiction for July/August of 2016!

Some days, it’s hard enough to put one foot in front of the other to get where you need to go. Other days, such as this, the path literally plots itself out for you. Eagerly, I breezed through its pages and found some writing that was high quality. I also found some that I loathed. Best of all though, I found that I already had a story that fit the style and tone of the magazine.

And the peasants rejoiced.

This is a two-fold win! Number one, I have a great new idea for a story that I can still write and use for perhaps another magazine, perhaps for myself. Really, I just can’t wait to write it. Number two, I can test my editing chops (the story itself is fantastic, the writing… *ahem* has yet to be edited) and use an old story that I love. Some spit, polish and love tomorrow (which happens to be my day off, seriously though, timing and props involved… I couldn’t make this stuff up) and that story may actually be ready to be sent off by the end of the goddamn week!

All in all, I’m feeling pretty good. This year has been huge for me and my lovely girlfriend turned fiancee and it just keeps getting bigger. We are building our dream house (complete with writing room)! We got engaged (at Hobbiton, in New Zealand)! More news I can’t post about for at least ten days that is also fantastic for my partner!

The question that remains now though is, do I tempt fate? Everyone has heard of the story of Icarus, the boy who flew too high and his wax wings melted from the sun’s warmth. As we fly high, do I dare push higher? I’d like to think there’s no risk in doing so, but with so many great things going on, it really feels like something has to stop this year from being so incredible.

Or maybe… just maybe… this is our year.

I should make the most of it.

 

Blog Of Writing +1

Forgive Me Bradbury, For I Have Sinned

Not unlike a devout Catholic heading into confession, today I returned to the place where I find my way. To the place where my writing sins can be wiped clean. My holy book.

Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing.

Strangely, I’ve never been particularly drawn to his particular writing style or his stories. I enjoy more in the fantasy vein than science fiction and this has always led me away from his compilations, however, I do have a compilation from Barnes & Noble, bound in leather.

The above book though, Zen in the Art of Writing, is a sort of pallet cleanser. Whenever I am feeling as though writing is too hard, perhaps I should give in, there he is in all of his zest and gusto. Each page is soaked in his passion and as I flip through it for the tenth time, it affects me all the same. A kindred spirit. Someone bound to writing and writing bound back to him. I read of how he wrote, day in and day out. A thousand words minimum. A short story on a Monday, revised each day before being sent away to a literary magazine on a Saturday. Each of these things I want to do, but ironically as things appear easier than ever to accomplish these things… the information seems watered down and less consistent.

I read of how he wrote, day in and day out. A thousand words minimum. A short story on a Monday, revised each day before being sent away to a literary magazine on a Saturday. Each of these things I want to do, but despite it appearing easier than ever to accomplish these things… the information seems watered down and less consistent. More contests require a submission payment while others require you to have a subscription.

Today, I set a challenge.

I have searched up a few free magazines to submit to and have chosen one to attempt to get published in. My choice? Fantasy & Science Fiction. They appear to have a need for Science Fiction and Humor, perhaps I’ll try my hand at both! My plan will be to have a completed 25000 word (or less) short story by the end of the month and then sent away for July. By that goal, I should have my first draft pumped out by Friday (16th of June) and then revised at least three times, in full.

Tuesday just passed, my fiancee and I completed the lighting plan for our new home. As we walked around the perfect floor plan for the top level, I stopped in my writing room for a moment and considered how it would be organised. The thought of a room explicitly for writing is beyond exciting for me as even now I am writing nearest all of my distractions on a comfortable lounge. Not the ideal place for work to get done, but it will do for now. I’ve been trying to nail down a perfect time for my routine and as of now between eleven and twelve at night will be the most consistent. Mornings will not work, as somehow I do not run on coffee.

So, in summary: Forgive me, Bradbury, for I have sinned. I have not written with zest, nor gusto. I have not written consistently. I have only dreamed the dream. Now, I hunt that which is dear to me, with renewed vigor and passion! I lust after publication not just for my back pocket, but because I need to know if I’m there yet; If I’m ready to pursue a career in writing. I want people to join me in my imaginary universe, filled with my imaginary friends!

I want to be an author.

After all, I am already a writer.

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Investing… In Writing?

We all love spending money, don’t we?

I have probably been a bit frivolous in my spending than I should be, especially with a house being built as we speak.

I love movies. I love games. I love books. I love food. I love pop vinyl figures.

All of these things above cost money and I have absolutely no trouble dropping a tonne on any of those in a heartbeat. Leatherbound book sale? Take my money! New Lord of the Rings pop vinyls? Savings be damned! Favourite restaurant Fridays? Can’t go without!

Then suddenly, my partner’s favourite author recommends a book for a budding writer such as myself and I take one look at the price tag. Fifty dollars?! Is it really worth it? But in the same breath, the Lord of the Rings Balrog pop vinyl is thirty-two dollars and I didn’t even hesitate to buy that.

Why?!

 

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My secret love of Beastie Boys bustin’ out…

 

Some piece of me thinks I am a huge fan of self-sabotage. I can literally justify a piece of plastic over something that will not just improve my craft, but also my understanding of the publishing industry. Even today, I was sent an email in regards to an incredible amount of savings on the Writer’s Market 2017 guide (regular fifty dollars, down to thirteen… even in US dollars, that’s huge… even with shipping) and I had to stop and think about it. I forwarded the email to my fiancee, who has been patiently listening to me talk about this book for the past six months while I toiled over the prices. Finally, I took the plunge (a deep plunge, I bought five books, roughly twenty dollars a piece).

It shouldn’t be this hard. In fact, I’m not sure why I can justify collectables over the books. I have been staring at this book for so long and have read the sample on iTunes, I could probably write it nearly word for word. In a few months I will have invested the most into my writing life that I ever have; A writing room. Originally it wasn’t a part of the house we are building but when my fiancee changed the size of our ensuite, our builder asked if there was anything else I hadn’t asked for. For roughly an extra five thousand dollars, I now have an incredible space fit for only one purpose.

In the meantime though, I am filling in many of the gaps in my world. Building a map. Creating new lore. Tying novels from different times, all together. The unsuspecting character in the prequel? Yeah, he’s suddenly an antagonist in the final novel of the next trilogy.  The protagonist from the first trilogy? Mythological figure in the second trilogy. These ties are not only something that is exciting for me as a reader, but also as a writer!

 

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Me looking for an editor…

 

The worst part is that fear we all have; That we aren’t very good at writing. I’ve sent samples of my work to a few editors, hoping that my novel would resonate with them, but to no avail. Well, at least as of this post I still haven’t heard back from any of them. I’m starting to get desperate for feedback, so much so that I’ve enlisted a guy at work to give it a crack. I’m also considering starting up a Writer’s Group once I move as there is a free community room available and I want to get feedback and get better as a writer. I’d also love to meet some local creative types, but that is all less than half a year away. So close, yet so far.

At some point, I’ll have to actually get an editor. I’m also going to have to seek out a literary agent. After that, I’m going to have to try and get published (preferably with HarperCollins). For now, I’ll just enjoy the whole creative process and wait for my Writer’s Market books to come. After all, Orson Scott Card’s book on writing Sci-Fi and Fantasy may prove quite useful before I go too far!

How’s your writing going out there in the interwebs? Also, are you published? Any thoughts and ideas would be greatly appreciated and thanks for stopping by!

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Edit or rewrite? What would you do?

After spending what was left of my afternoon reading articles on getting published and how apparently I need an agent for traditional publishing, I began rereading my story. First came the joy of reading what I wrote… I mean, this was my story! My characters!

Then I stumbled over a sentence where I had to change a few words around to give it a better flow.

Suddenly I was whisked away again, on my journey through the nighttime atmosphere of Villenoire. As I followed Jefferson, my protagonist, away from his orphanage and toward the silken tents of the circus, I grew proud of the world I was creating. The funny thing is, the world is still evolving. That portion of the story is very well thought out and my writing is of a commercial quality.

Further along, however, not as lucky.

My descriptions are farther apart than the beginning. The story begins to get dialogue heavy. Suddenly, there are more locations and I begin to wonder… where in the world is this place?

For all of you pantsers out there, take note. This is exactly the problem writing with no plan will get you into. You see, writing with no plan is very liberating. You write one word after the other and for me, I let my characters guide me. I’ve spoken of my method before; Five plot points, and the direction was dictated by the actions of the people. This worked well to get the whole idea down… but now it has left some gaps.

This has left me with the title question: Do I edit or rewrite? Both have their benefits.

Editing would keep the completed story as its current version. As good as that is, it would take quite awhile to fine tune it to the point where everything fits together like a puzzle. For Tolkien, his world included the map, which made everything tangible. If I edit, there could still be some lingering piece of description that I miss. As a perfectionist, that would definitely frustrate me.

Rewriting would carry the benefit of having the story’s plotline in such great detail that if I broke the current novel into points, a rewrite wouldn’t take as long as the initial copy. Also, cohesion would be at its best this way as once the world is fleshed out, I can ensure from page one that everything will be the same and work together. On the other hand, the idea of a rewrite seems daunting… especially when I have seven novels stirring in my brain.

From these brief points, rewriting seems a better way to go… much to my dismay. I mean, no one ever wants to start from page one again. But with that comes the ability to add in further detail to make the world I’m creating a real place. Not only that but if I factor in the other trilogy I have in mind… if it was ever made into a movie it would be awesome for people to point out the ruins of a 2000-year-old Villenoire or other prominent locations from Jefferson’s story. This idea is exciting for me, almost more so than the stories themselves. It’s that world building that got me interested in fantasy novels and video games in the first place, so this is no surprise to me!

Now… as is always the problem with us writing types…

When do I start?