Weekly Update – August 15, 2017

Last week I joined a meetup event for the Massachusetts Sci-Fi and Fantasy Authors group and saw quite a few familiar faces. It was supposed to be an informal get-together for coffee and shop talk, and it turned into a bit of a brainstorming/planning session for where the MASFFA is going and what it will be doing. I was pleasantly surprised and rather pleased to be part of the effort to lay some groundwork, and I’m looking forward to plotting and planning with some very cool people (and, of course, excellent writers).

Speaking of MASFFA…

We’re about halfway through the MASFFA group promotion going on through the end of the month. If you want to grab some free e-books (including a copy of Cheap Thrills Digest), go to the MASFFA website and sign up for the participating authors’ newsletters, and you’ll get free e-books as a thank-you!

WRITING PROJECTS

Well Behaved Women: I passed the 44,000 word threshold last week. The climax is shaping up in my head and I know the dots I need to connect to get to that approximate point, so hopefully I will have another productive week on this project.

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootBlades of Glory: In the editing phase.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Fourth draft finished, ready for editing.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling from the Wreckage: Second draft finished, and I am going to be working on a third draft since I have time a’plenty.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins: Audiobook recording is, for really real, almost done. My narrator is going to be uploading the files to ACX this month so I can review them and request retakes — which I hope I do not have to do, because I would like to finally wrap this project up.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC

Here’s your reminder that I have a weekly newsletter that features some of the stuff you see posted here plus new, newsletter-exclusive material. Go click this link to sign up.

Weekly Update – August 8, 2017

Starting off this week with a reminder about the Massachusetts Sci-Fi and Fantasy Authors group promotion going on through the end of the month. If you want to grab some free e-books (including a copy of Cheap Thrills Digest), go to the MASFFA website and sign up for the participating authors’ newsletters, and you’ll get free e-books as a thank-you!

Next, a big thank you to K.R. Conway for organizing and inviting me to participate in the Author Panel Night that capped off the Cape Cod Teen Writers Conference. More than 70 people, mostly (but not exclusively) teens, sat in on our rotating roster of discussion groups. Mine was “Heroes, Villains, and Lovable Losers,” and I had great co-panelists in Kim Savage, who is not what she seems (in-joke), and goth unicorn Hillary Monahan, who stepped into the role of moderator.

The Teen Author Night lineup.

WRITING PROJECTS

Well Behaved Women: I passed the 36,000 word threshold over the weekend and hashed out most of the rest of the plot (I am a pantser by nature so things like plot points tend to come to me in fits and spurts).

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootBlades of Glory: In the editing phase, and I’m seeing some rough cover art coming in. It’ll be a fun image, reminiscent perhaps of old Dragon magazine covers.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: With WBW stuff still percolating in my brain, I used last week to go through Black End War again, and I now have a draft that is ready for editing! Obviously my editor has her hands full for a while, but once Blades of Glory is done, I’m shipping this right over to her so it will be good and ready for a late winter/early spring 2018 release.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling from the Wreckage: Second draft finished.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins: Audiobook recording in progress.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC

Here’s your reminder that I have a weekly newsletter that features some of the stuff you see posted here plus new, newsletter-exclusive material. Go click this link to sign up.

Weekly Update – July 25, 2017

This coming weekend is a big one, in a sense, as it’s the last completely free weekend I have before I’m eyeball-deep in rehearsals for the Connecticut Renaissance Faire. I’m returning as fight director and will be in the cast, on top of making a special split personality appearance as part of the Local Author Series (more on that below).

Fortunately, I started a new part-time job that actually gives me some more writing time during the week. The job involves short bursts of activity interspersed with long periods of sitting and waiting, and I’m free during the down times to read or write. On that note…

WRITING PROJECTS

Well Behaved Women: The first act is coming along nicely, and I had two days last week in which I banged out 2,500 to 3,000 words, which is a good day for me.

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootBlades of Glory: Second draft of both the main story and the back-up short are finished. Heard back from another test-reader last week and I’m waiting on two others, and then I can get to work on the next draft. Sadly, chances are this won’t be ready for my day at CTRF but I do expect the book to be ready later this fall.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Second draft finished, third draft in process.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling from the Wreckage: Second draft finished.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins: Audiobook recording in progress.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC

Just a reminder, I now have a weekly newsletter that features some of the stuff you see posted here plus new, newsletter-exclusive material. Go click this link to sign up.

Weekly Update – July 18, 2017

Thank you to everyone who signed up for the Innsmouth Look Publishing newsletter! I got a good initial response, and you should by now have received the first one.

While the giveaway part of the subscription drive is over, the drive itself is an ongoing project, so if you want to sign up, click this link. Hopefully as I get used to this new tool I’ll find a better way of integrating it with the website.

WRITING PROJECTS

Well Behaved Women: Work has begun on this long-in-planning secret project. I’m keeping the details quiet for a while, until I make some solid headway on what I plan to release as a trilogy.

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootBlades of Glory: Second draft of both the main story and the back-up short are finished.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Second draft finished, third draft in process.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling from the Wreckage: Second draft finished.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins: Audiobook recording in progress.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC

Speaking of the Teen Writers Conference, I have a few more details on the Author Panel Night. Because we have so many authors on-board, the session will feature five breakout groups, each group discussing a specific topic. Hillary Monahan, Kim Savage, and I will be discussing “Heroes, Villains, and Lovable Losers.”

Finally, thanks to Linda Kepner for giving me a guest spot on her website.

Requiem for a Trunked Novel

Years ago, long before I was remotely capable of competent prose and I was still beholden to worn-out tropes in my characters and plots, I wrote a novel.

That novel was called Bostonia – The Secret History of the City on the Hill. It was an urban fantasy tale that tapped a lot of bizarre little tidbits of life in Massachusetts, past and present to bring to life a world in which supernatural creatures and magic existed, more or less out in the open. It has so much going for it. It had solid characters, cool concepts, a personality that would speak strongly to anyone who grew up in and around Boston, and a character who remains to this day one of my favorite villains I’ve ever created.

I also learned a lot while writing it. Not about the craft so much as the process. I punched out the first act easily and thought I’d finish the book in the course of a few months, even though I was writing part-time (very part-time; I was still working at the newspaper full-time so my personal writing time was limited).

And then I hit the middle of the book and had no idea where it needed to go.

That’s not entirely accurate; I knew where it ultimately had to go, but I didn’t know how to get it there. I wasn’t sure how to connect the dots I’d set up in the first act with the dots waiting for me in the third, and I stalled out. I thought I might never finish it, and worse, I thought it was a sign this whole fiction writing thing was another dead-end dream.

And then I happened across Neil Gaiman’s blog, and at the time (2007 or so?) he was discussing his progress on writing The Graveyard Book — specifically, he was discussing what a pain in the ass it was to write the middle of a story and how he struggles to get through second acts.

That was a revelation. Here was this writer who I absolutely idolized admitting he had the exact same problem I was having — and that it was completely normal. Reading through other entries, I realized that writing was not the formulaic, one-size-fits-all exercise I thought it was, that everyone had their own methodology and idiosyncrasies and hang-ups and it was okay to have them.

While that was encouraging, it didn’t help me with my block. Bostonia sat untouched for months.

And then one day, I got back to work on it. The middle was still a pain to write, but I wrote it. I finished it in 2012. And I was happy with it. And then I got to the third act, which I powered through. And I got test-reader feedback, and I revised the book, and I went through the process of shopping it to agents and publishers, and after a round of rejections, I put it aside to work on other projects — namely Action Figures — intending to one day re-visit it, polish it up a little, and finally release it.

It’s time to admit this book will likely never see the light of day.

Every so often I think about pulling it out and doing a fresh draft. There are a LOT of problems with Bostonia that are a result of my skill level at the time, problems I could correct with a lot of re-writing — as in, I don’t go in and make changes in the existing manuscript, I trash the whole thing and start writing it all over again from scratch, using the previous iteration as nothing but a loose guide so I don’t subconsciously recreate the flaws I’d be trying to correct.

The thought of doing that is intimidating, but that’s not why I’m thinking it might be time to admit it’s never going to happen.

I have two series going right now. One of them isn’t going to be finished for four years at the very least. I have an urban fantasy trilogy idea I’ve been dying to start working on. I have a horror novel concept I want to tackle. I have plenty of existing and new projects keeping me going. The notion of putting them on hold so I can try to recreate an old story simply does not appeal to me.

It’s time to, as writers say, formally “trunk” Bostonia.

It saddens me to do so. I put literally years of work into that novel. I love the things I got right. I learned so much from writing it. But I have other things to do.

The day may come when I decide it’s time to look at it again and give it another chance. I just don’t see that day coming anytime soon.

Weekly Update – July 11, 2017

Some of you might have seen the early bird announcement on my social media outlets yesterday, but I am finally launching a weekly newsletter.

My goal is to offer some of the same material you see here every week, but offer some newsletter-specific content to make it a different experience than the website.

To sweeten the pot, I will send a free copy of Cheap Thrills Digest to everyone who signs up for the newsletter this week! Simply submit your name and e-mail address, and the first 500 people who sign up will get a free e-book!

So follow this link and sign up today!

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootBlades of Glory: Second draft of both the main story and the back-up short are finished.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Second draft finished, third draft in process.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling from the Wreckage: Second draft finished.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins: Audiobook recording in progress.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC

My Book Echoes interview is now live! Go here to give it a listen!

 

Weekly Update – July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth of July, eveyone! Don’t get (too) drunk and blow (all) your fingers off!

WRITING PROJECTS

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootBlades of Glory: Second draft of the main story is done and with test readers, and I finished the first draft of the back-up short story over the weekend.

Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War: Second draft finished, third draft in process.

Action Figures – Issue Eight: Crawling from the Wreckage: Second draft finished.

Action Figures – Issue Nine: Rough plotting in progress.

Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins: Audiobook recording in progress.

APPEARANCES and EVENTS

MISC.

Speaking of CTRF, that show is going to be a little cuckoo for me. I typically don’t work the fall show, but then for a while it was looking like I might, then it was looking like I wouldn’t, now it’s looking like I am, doing some writing, fight directing, and performing. That means I’ll be at my table on my Local Authors Series day in costume, which I kind of hate. I like to be “Author Mike” when I’m appearing at any kind of event, and showing up in a costume, even if it’d be appropriate, feels cheesy.