Monday, April 23, 2018

Progress Update - Graviton Rift

Last September, I set a goal to write a book - start to finish - within one year.

This is significant for me, since I've only finished three books in the fifteen years I've been writing. (That's an average of five years per book, for those who prefer not to do the math.)

Admittedly, a large part of my early writing years was devoted to developing skills and finding an acceptable Author Voice. It was a time for practice, rather than performance.

But at this point in my writing career, I feel an overwhelming urge to shift into a performance phase. Hence the goal to write a book in a year.

I have made several conscious decisions that I hope will allow me to hit this goal. Foremost is the decision to write a middle-grade novel.

I've wanted to write middle-grade for some time. The Space Corps General started out as middle-grade before ballooning out of control. I love the idea of visiting schools and doing presentations. I believe middle-grade is the right genre for me.

Fortunately, middle-grade books are, by definition, shorter than adult and YA books (50,000 words vs 80-100,000 words). Shorter means (hopefully) faster to write.

The second decision I made was to pick a high-concept story, and stick close to established tropes. The beauty of a high-concept idea is that it can be easily communicated, and provides some very powerful focus. The concept for Graviton Rift is: "The Parent Trap re-imagined as an interplanetary adventure."

I made this decision after trying to pitch The Space Corps General, and having a tough time describing what the book really was all about. There are a lot of great elements in that story, but like I mentioned earlier, it ballooned out of control. By focusing on a high-concept idea and the associated tropes, I believe I am creating a much better story, and spending less time wandering through literary wastelands in the process.

The third decision I made was to participate in NaNoWriMo. If I could write the first draft of the novel in a month, then I would be well on my way towards a final draft in a year.

It actually took me 45 days to get a completed rough draft, but I was able to put down the required 50,000 words during the month of November. I won! (With a little help from HeiHei)

But the real work begins after the NaNo win. The fourth decision I made was to spend a minimum of five hours per week editing and revising. (I really want ten hours per week, but for now that remains a bit of a pipe dream.)

For the most part, I've been able to hit that goal, and I have seen slow but steady progress in this revision. As a result, I am about 60% of the way through my second draft. It's not where I want to be, and success is anything but certain. I still need to give this story to beta readers and then do at least one more draft.

But if I stick to my current pace, and maybe somehow manage to eke out a little bit more, I just might hit this goal. More importantly, I have proven to myself that it is possible.

I love this story. I love the characters. I'm thrilled at the prospect of finishing a book, idea to final draft, within a year. I can't wait to share the final product with you.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Writer Friends

As is human nature, I constantly second-guess my decision to become a writer. This is especially true at tax time, when I see how even my tiny operating costs as an author have overwhelmed my tinier author revenue. 

But despite having been in "startup" mode for over a decade, there are two things that constantly remind me that writing is the right avocation for me. 

The first is that I truly enjoy writing, and believe that I am reasonably capable. I know I have much to learn, but the learning is enjoyable. I have progressed steadily since I first started writing fifteen years ago, and I have faith that I will be able to build the writing career that I want.

The second "proof" that writing is right for me is my collection of writing friends. To use a comfortably-worn cliche, these people are my tribe. They "get" me, and I "get" them. And nearly every writer I've talked to feels the same way about their fellow writers.

This past week I had the opportunity to see some of my writer friends that I usually only see once a year. Aften Brook Szymanski had a signing for her new book, Cheat Code, and it just happened to coincide with my quarterly visit to the Onyx home office.

Not only did I get to come support Afton and the launch of her debut novel, but I got to see some other writing friends: Melissa Meibos, Rachael Larsen, and Crystal Liechty

I love these little author reunions. 

For me, this was like the little teaser trailer in preparation for the big Storymakers conference in three weeks.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Carey Forward

My sisters and are working on a new project. We're calling it Carey Forward. Because we're clever like that.

The seed for this project was planted several years ago, when our youngest sister, Noreen, was taken from us suddenly in a tragic accident. The four remaining Carey siblings locked ourselves in a room for hours, and through many tears and much laughter, we worked up a life sketch of Noreen to share at her funeral. We took turns sharing stories and examples that gave our unique perspective as Noreen's siblings, and showed everyone just how amazing our sister was.

From this experience, we were reminded just how important it is to face life with faith, determination, and a healthy dose of humor. And just as important, we were reminded of the value of family, and how much stronger we can be if we lean on each other for support.

Carey Forward is our way of sharing that support, not just with each other, but anyone and everyone who could use a little boost.

Follow us on Facebook @CareyForward and Instagram @carey_forward. Great things are coming.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Living La Vida Lulu

This girl. She's the one they wrote the poem about. 

You know, the one about how when she's good, she's very very good; but when she's bad...

Hoo, boy.

Her life is hard. As a consequence, my life is hard.

I love my Alyssa. She is the child that forces me to stretch; forces me to grow. I could write a book about they many ways she challenges me.

If I survive this current phase, I will write a book about it.

I'll call it, Living La Vida Lulu.

She hates it when I call her Lulu.