Friday, October 27, 2006

Nearing the end

I'm within 20,000, maybe 30,000, words of finishing the first draft of my trilogy. That's probably another two weeks' worth of writing for me, maybe a month if I'm busy with other things. And I'm only about 2,000 words from the beginning of the climax to my tale.

That scares me. I didn't think it would, and I've read where other writers have mentioned this, but I'm scared of completing my trilogy.

Part of me is thrilled .. but I've spent almost two years living in this world, and I realize I still have plenty of editing and rewriting to do on the second and third books.

But still, it's kind of sad. I feel like I'm saying goodbye to some old friends.

I guess that's what sequels and prequels are for, not only for the reader, but for the writer too.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Book buying habits

Mystery writer JA Konrath has plenty of great information for budding novelists over at his blog,

One thing Konrath writes of fairly often is that a writer should remember that he is a book buyer too, and should pay attention to one's own book buying habits. For instance, he raises the question, how often do you buy a new writer's first novel? For most of us, the answer is probably, "Not very often, if ever."

So, this got me to thinking. What are MY book buying habits? I've mentioned some of my reading habits elsewhere on my blog.

When I was a kid, in the late 70s and early 80s, my options were quite limited. I lived in Lexington, Ky., and there weren't a lot of bookstores, mainly a Waldenbooks at one mall and another at a shopping center. About all that was available to buy were Tolkien, Terry Brooks, the Thieves' World books, and later the Dragonlance novels.

To fill my need for fantasy and sci-fi, I joined a writer's book club in which you order four books for a buck and then in the next year you have to buy four more books at regular price. Here I discovered Asimov and McCaffrey, as well as Stephen King.

In 1986, a miracle happened. Josph Beth Booksellers opened their first store, and it happened to be in Lexington. Since then JoBeth has opened stores in 5 or 6 other cities, and they have became a small chain somewhat similar to Barnes & Noble, but much more intimate and in touch with their community.

Anyway, Joseph Beth opened, and revealed to me whole new worlds and writers. JoBeth gave me Poe, Heinlein, Bradbury, Lovecraft and more. I spent most of the late 8os devouring everything horror, from King to Koontz to Saul to Straub to McCammon.

Then in 1990 I decided to get serious about my writing. I wrote 75,000 words to a horror novel titled "The Storm," and to this day I've yet to finish it (though I still have plans for it at some point). I also got serious about my reading, and decided to read all the classics because I felt a "serious writer" should know the classics. I spent the next couple of years discovering plenty of classical writers, and I fell in love with the works of Twain, Dumas, Melville and Jules Verne.

Most of the rest of the 1990s I stayed away from speculative fiction, other than an occassional horror novel. Fantasy and sci-fi seemed "all done" to me. There are some exceptions, however. During the 90s, I re-discovered comic books, or, at least, graphic novels. Alan Moore and Frank Miller and Neil Gaiman and Dave Sim more than filled my need for spec lit.

Then I suffered from writer's block for five years. I've covered that elsewhere. The last few years, I've been catching up on my fantasy reading again. Unfortunately, most of the modern fantasy I read I tend to find subpar; it's not all awful, but it's not great. Though I have discovered the Wagner's Kane stories and Cook's "Black Company" tales. I've read a good bit of R.A. Salvatore, Paolini's first book and some Terry Goodkind. I've a Brian Jordan book I plan to get to sometime, and I've read Peake's Gormenghast trilogy.

Though I spoke mostly about "reading" above, I mainly was talking about what I had been buying during those periods. Does it prove anything? No, other than I've got plenty of reading to still catch up on.

Happy reading to you.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The dream

Most writers have a dream. Some just want to finish their story. Others just want to be published. A good number want to be the next Stephen King or Anne Rice or Tom Clancy or J.K. Rowling, etc.

My dream is to have fiction writing as a career. I don't expect to get rich, though I'd like to make enough money to quit my day job. From there, I'd like to write a couple of novels a year, with a few short stories thrown into the mix every once in a while. Maybe I'd try my hand at screenwriting again, or get into writing for video game companies.

Some might call that selfish. Others would just say "it's nice to have a dream." Some would say it's never going to happen.

And it might not. But you know what, it sure as heck won't happen if I don't give it a try.

What has brought this post on is my annoyance at reading online advice to writers that says "just do it for the love of writing, not for the money." I'm sure this advice is warranted, as there are a lot of people out there who are trying to be writers and a good number of them are not realistic about their goals or their expectations or their level of skill or talent.

Me? I love writing, and I think I have some talent, though I don't claim to be the next Hemingway. But ya know what? I still want my paycheck. Even if my dream of becoming a career writer is never fulfilled, I will continue to write. I love writing. I really, really do.

But I often think writers do themselves a disservice by only "doing it for the love of writing." I'm not saying I'm ready to join a writer's union, but I think it's time writers stood up for themselves more.

And I don't mean you should pester some editor or publisher for money. I think writers just need to be aware that if they are serious about being published, then they need to be aware they are in a business, not a hobby.

If you want to make money, then your publisher has got to make money. It's that simple. So, write the best you can, submit it, and keep your dreams alive.

Just don't quit the day job.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The bad guy cometh


I've been fighting something for a long time.
I have this villain. He's my favorite character. But because he's a villain, I've been avoiding having him attempt something that's actually beneficial to the good guys, even though it's something that is in his nature to do.
So, last night, I decided not to fight it any more.

Yes, I've got a villain who is sort of turning into a good guy.

The funny thing is, he would chop me up with a big axe if I called him a "good guy."


Useless numbers to keep me awake ...

I'm not going to keep track here my daily word count for my current novel, but I'll post the last four days:

Tuesday -- 900 words
Monday -- 600 words
Sunday -- 1,800 words
Saturday -- 800 words

Beyond that I can't remember, but lately I've been averaging about 1,000 words a day, which is less than what I was averaging a few months ago. Then I was averaging about 1,500 words a day.

Also, I've kept track of various word counts for each of my three novels. In the first two novels of my trilogy, the average word count per chapter was about 3,500. Odd though, my average word count per chapter for the third book has only been about 2,500. The first book had 32 chapters. The second book had 21. The third book should have about 30.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Title and concerns

So I'm working on a fantasy trilogy. The first book is mostly finished, other than one final read for minor errors and the like. The second book has some editing yet and rewriting, and I'm waiting to hear from a few folks who are reading it. The third book is in the middle of being written, and I'm at about 55,000 words.

All in all, the trilogy should be roughly about 200,000 words when I'm finished with it. If I went by the first drafts of each book, the series would be closer to 300,000 words, but I have a tendency to chop out lots during rewrite.

Now, I'm going by ACTUAL word counts, not by multiplying the average number of words per line by the number number of lines per page, then multiplying that by the number of total pages. By that count, I'm back up closer to 300,000 words. So, which number do I use to tell publishers? I've been using the actual count. Guess I'll stick with that.

And considering the size of many modern fantasy books, I've thought of just trying to sell the trilogy as one large book. If that were the case, the title I'm considering is "The First Magic." The reasons why I like that title come to light in the third book.

Which raises a concern for me.

There are some religious elements to my trilogy. There is a religious history important to the story, and much of it has to do with religious beliefs in the world I've created, from both political and spiritual aspects. However, for better or worse, none of this comes to light until late in the overall story. In fact, it doesn't really come to light until halfway or a little more through the third book of the trilogy.

My concern: Is this cheating the reader?

The first two books are basically action/adventure, sort of sword and sorcery. There is little to hint at the religious aspect which rears its head late in the third book. I'm wondering if all that's too much of a shift in gears for the reader.

Should I go back to the first two books and throw in some hints?

I guess you can't know unless you've read my works, but thought I'd seek some advice.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Longest fight of my life

WARNING: There will be spoilers below to the third book in my trilogy. But I'm not giving away any major plot points or an ending.

That being said, I've spent the last three days writing the longest fight scene of my life, and I'm STILL not finished with it. It's about 2,000 words right now, but that's after being cut back from almost 5,000 words. Also, I've still a little more to add.

Basically, Kron fights a demon. In the middle of the air. While hanging from a rope. And a dozen soldiers in heavy armor are below shooting crossbow bolts at our hero. And Kron is out of grenados and arrows.

Sound like fun? Kron thinks so, and so far he's only suffered three broken ribs, various bruises and minor cuts, and a few major cuts. And he just fell into a bunch of hard wood chairs on a stone floor. And he's yet to take out the demon. Or any of the soldiers. Oh yeah, and he's barely conscious.

Is THAT enough trouble to put my hero into?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Latest update

I've not written here much lately because I've been busy with a few things. Work has been hectic, I'm in the middle of a job hunt and have had some interviews, and I've been busy writing.

The update: Work sucks. The job hunt has its ups and downs, but it's been quite frustrating (mostly because I'm running into barriers by trying to switch careers, not merely jobs -- I'm running into lots of companies that are "interested," but not quite willing to make the jump).

As for the writing, I'm at about 50,000 words into the third book of my trilogy. I've also done a first draft on a rewrite of the final chapter of the first book, and I'm giving that some breathing space before I get back to it to clean it up.

Still waiting to hear about several shorts stories. Also waiting to hear from one book publisher and an agent, but I've about given up on the agent after contacting him twice and giving him TONS of time to respond. Guess he's just not interested.

Back to the keyboard ...