Category Archives: Fallen

Publishing: My First Good News!

It’s been a while since I posted (and a while is seriously understating my lack of presence) but I had hoped to have something concrete to announce before now. So, if that’s the case, you may be asking yourself, why post now? Because I finally have what I’d been waiting for: something concrete to announce.

On Monday morning I sent in the contract that officially makes me an author! A short story I wrote last year titled Sing, Sweet Nightingale will be part of an young adult paranormal anthology. The anthology (title is still under debate) is about to start the editing and formatting process and is set for publication in Spring of 2012. It will include authors like my fabulous friend Lani Woodland whose second book released this week (Indelible is amazing! Buy it, read it, love it, then buy more for your friends!), Melanie Marks, Rita Webb and Wendy Swore (who are co-editors of the book), as well as a couple of other authors who are making their debut with me. I’ve had a chance to read some of the stories already and I am very excited to be working with such a wonderful group of talented people! I will post updates and progress reports every so often, so be on the lookout!

In related news, I posted last year that I had scrapped my then-current project Safety Net (previously titled Fallen, for those of you who have been following my slow progress for the last couple years). What I didn’t say much about was the novel I then turned my attention toward. It has been on the back burner for a couple of years, something I worked on when I needed a break from my main story, but I’ve always felt the pull to finish it. I’m hoping that the first draft will be complete by the first of the year. I don’t want to say too much about it now (you never know what may change in the editing process), but I will give you a little bit of information. It is told by a seventeen year old girl named Tabitha who lives in my hometown of Ft Lauderdale and it is NOT paranormal. I know. Shocking, huh? No ghosts, no vampires, no angels, no faeries. Just people and all the good and bad things they’re capable of. It’s tentatively titled My Own Prince Charming and I have high hopes for it.

In other tangentially related news, I got a job in publishing! I now work for a magazine as something of a factotum. I answer phones, source photos and videos, help develop the digital side of the magazine, run their newsletter campaign, and copyedit, among other things. Also, I have a full-length article in the upcoming issue and I am very excited to see my name in a internationally distributed publication! It’s not fiction, but it’s really darned cool. And, this job is an actual, viable step toward my ultimate career goal: becoming either a novelist or a fiction editor. In fact, I’ve managed to take steps toward both possibilities this year. I am gaining experience in the publishing field and have actually sold a piece of fiction. I had a feeling that 2011 would be a good year.

Better late than never, right? 😉

Revision: Starting From Scratch

Sometimes, all it takes is one well placed comment to make you look at your story/essay/novel/etc. and go, “Man. I can so do better than this.”

I know because it has happened to me over the past couple of days.

Sometimes, better means a revision, editing a point of view error or plot hole. Other times, better means putting aside treasured sections of work because they simply don’t belong anymore. On occasion, better means re-envisioning your entire body of work, keeping only core ideas or plot points, and starting from scratch.

It is a painful decision to make and one that may make you question your sanity (at least, I know that’s what I’m doing right now), but if you can honestly look at your work pre-publication and say, “I can do better,” then you owe it to yourself to make the sacrifice. I mean, do you really want to put your name on something you’re not obscenely proud of?

I know I don’t.

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Publication: Indie Houses v. Fatcat Publishers

Because of a lot of things happening in May (namely my birthday and my sister’s recitals), I took the month off from everything but work. Hey, I still gotta eat. 😉 But just to catch you up with my life…

No new news on the agent search.
Nothing to report on the writing front. I’m still revising.
I really need a vacation.

And that’s pretty much it.

On to the reason for the post!!

It’s kind of weird how many times I’ve heard this from people who know I’m trying to publish a book. “Well, if you don’t get picked up by a major house, you could always self-publish.” While this is a true statement and I have nothing against self-publishing, people tend to forget a whole third option in today’s publishing world: the independent houses.

Just like self-publishing, independent houses are not for everyone, but they shouldn’t be excluded as an option entirely. There are strong benefits to working with a smaller house including, but not limited to, working with people who are truly passionate about what they do.

Joshua Mohr recently wrote an article entitled A Faithful Grope in the Dark where he talks about his path to publication and how he ended up working with Two Dollar Radio, a small press that is about to release his first novel Some Things that Meant the World to Me. Listen to what he says because he makes some really good points. But, in the end, all I’m suggesting by this is that if you land an agent and they tell you there’s a small “boutique house” interested in your work, consider it. It may end up being the best choice for you.

Writing: Messy First Drafts

Perfectionism has no place in the early stages of creativity. Mistakes are gold mines and should be treated as such, and first drafts are the best place to make those mistakes. But who am I to tell you this? Luckily, I’m not the only person who thinks so. Go read this article featured in Writer’s Digest:

Get Messy With Your First Draft

And, for those interested in my own writing progress, here’s an update. I’m currently working on my ninth (I think…) revision of Fallen. Once this is complete, I will send the story out to a new batch of agents and hope for a bite. There’s a connection my mom has that might turn into something useful, but I’ve learned enough by now to not put all my hopes in on basket. 🙂

Update: Looking back on 2008

Last December, I posted this list of goals:

  1. Sign a contract with an agent.
  2. Go to the gym three times a week.
  3. Sell a short story to a magazine.
  4. Complete rough drafts of books two, three, and four of the Fallen series.
  5. Begin work on a new book project.
  6. Sell Fallen to an American publishing house.
  7. Completely reorganize my house.
  8. Start printing pictures and putting them into albums.
  9. Develop a writing schedule.
  10. Post in Incandescent at least twice a month.
  11. Buy a good laser printer.

In that post I also promised that I would come back around the same time this year and go over how well I did. Accountability and all that. So, here it goes.

I have been working on several stories outside of the Fallen series, so number 5 has been taken care of. The first draft of Guardian is complete, which means 1/3 of number 4 can be checked off. Every month has a post in it, so number 10 is partially complete. And I did manage to reorganize my house (mainly in the last month), so number 7 was knocked out just in time. Unfortunately, that’s where my successes end.

Although I came close to a contract with an agent, I am not yet represented. I definitely didn’t make it to the gym, like, at all. My short stories have been sadly neglected and haven’t made it into any printed media. And the rest of these goals… well, weren’t even thought about, honestly.

You know, looking at it like this is almost depressing.

But, on the bright side, a lot of good things have happened this year, too.

So the purpose behind this post, to completely redo my goals for the next year. Here it goes:

  1. Complete rough first drafts of the final two books in the Fallen series.
  2. Sign with an agent in January or revise and resubmit Fallen.
  3. Continue working on various side projects.
  4. Develop my editing services.
  5. Continue with at least one post per month on Incandescent.
  6. Diet.

So there it is. It’s a lot less ambitious than last years, but I think there’s a chance of actually completing all or most of these. Wish me luck. I’ll check back with this list same time next year!
Oh, and, by the way. Merry Christmas! 😀

Writing: Randomocity

I found a new toy today. It’s a wonderful tool and a perfect example of how the internet (and technology in general) is both making our world an easier place to live in and making us lazier in the process. Let me elaborate.

While on hiatus from the Fallen series, I have been world building for an epic fantasy I plan on writing after the Fallen saga has reached its conclusion. And I’m going all out. I have a map that’s bigger than my desk with the entire world (all 6 continents, 4 oceans, 7 seas, and 16 countries worth) laid out in a geo-political collage of colors, landmarks, cities, and territories. I have over 100 pages of notes on different types of flora and fauna, geographic locations and climates, characters, cultures, and religions. I have a fledgling outline for the first quarter (give or take) of the first book. And I have a three ring binder full of the beginnings of two distantly related languages.

The scary (and wonderfully exciting) part is that I’m not even close to done. 😉

It was in the process of doing research for my map (I’m new to both art and cartography) that I stumbled across this site: Fantasy Mapmaking 101. The author did include some good tips for beginning mapmakers, but I was most interested in this page: the Random Name Generator. [[edited to add: apparently this portion of the site has been taken down]]

At first I simply thought it was kind of nifty, but not something I could use. The names the generator pulled out were based on the Elvish and Orc languages by J.R. Tolkien and are therefore kind of specific in the sound of the words they were capable of producing. But then I noticed this note at the top:

You may edit the JavaScript in this HTML document byviewing the source, and saving it to your hard drive.
Change the letters in each of the arrays you will find, and
voila!, a personalized name generator!

The angles began to sing and the clouds parted for a beautiful ray of sunshine (which was miraculous occurrence indeed considering it was around 11:30 pm) as I frantically called my friend.

“How do I do that?!” I demanded.

Being more than well aware of my eccentricities by now, he pointed me in the right direction. Then, with only a few more (polite) demands for direction, I altered the appropriate elements, turned the source code back into an html document, and opened my own personal name generator for the first time.

Someone please bless the owner of Fantasy Mapmaking 101. Seriously.

I have since created a specific name generator for each of my languages and will create new generators for every language I create after this point as well. Which got me thinking…

What would I have done without this tool?

I would have slogged through countless pages of notebooks and scrap pieces of paper scribbling random combinations of the letters used in the languages until I came up with a couple dozen words that were pronounceable and sounded like words. I would have practiced coming up with these words and probably would have eventually become passably good at creating coherent random strings of letters. But now?

My excuse is that my brain is extraordinarily linear and that limits the possibilities for randomness, that, in the end, I would be stuck with a certain type of word, a certain grouping set, and languages that were far too similar to one another. But I know myself too well for that. My own laziness is using this as an out. I’m letting myself off the hook because I’ve found something that I can personalize that can do the job better than me.

Do I feel guilty for using it? A little.
Is that going to stop me? Nope.

It’s food for thought, though. People have been saying that technology is a crutch for years. Parents bemoan the fact that children are becoming incapable of doing simple math without a calculator, disorders and addictions centering around technology (Blackberrys anyone?) have already been accepted by some psychology groups, and I can’t remember the last day I didn’t wake up and head straight for my laptop. In most cases I’ve argued that our intelligence is not being dumbed down, simply altered. Our social consciousness is evolving and so are the skills and knowledge we use on a daily basis. But what about people like writers who thrive on mental capacity and creativity? How will technology alter the way we work?

No one can say for certain (I know I can’t), but it’ll be interesting to see which way this one goes.

Writing: Series Issues

I know that it’s been a while since I’ve had a post on writing, so I kind of feel like it’s overdue. Luckily, I ran across something in my own work that sparked an idea for a blog. I know. You’re on the edge of your seat in anticipation! 😉

As most of you know, I’m working on a four book series, the first of which is tentatively titled Fallen. I finished it last August (August 2nd, 2007 at 2:12 a.m., to be exact) and have been slowly working on the sequel, tentatively titled Guardian, since then. While I had an outline for the book before I began writing it, it was very vague–my writing style (so far) works better when I have a generalized, chapter-by-chapter outline to keep me on track and fill in the details as I go. This meant that I knew how the second book was going to end, but i wasn’t precisely sure how the characters were going to get there. This is where the problem came in.

In chapter 12 of Guardian, something happens to one of the characters (yes, I am going to be that ambiguous) that made me realize that there were details–major, key, ultra-super-could-be-amazingly-important details–missing from Fallen. Oh. Crap. Not only has Fallen been complete for months, it’s being shopped with agents right now. (If you are one of the agents with my book, I am completely confident in the story as it is, I have simply found a way to make it even better. Writing is constant revision, right?)

So what can you learn from this? That nothing is finished until it’s published. Nothing. And even published works go through editions which sometimes involve changes. Usually not narrative changes (in fact, that is probably against the rules), but still. I’m getting off track. The other thing that you can learn is how to avoid issues like this. There are a few options:

1– Incredibly detailed, fully realized, character involved outlines of the entire series before you even start writing the first one. This involves research, worldbuilding, character development, and dedication. Time consuming, yes, but worth it in the end because all the prep work has been condensed and completed.

2– Write the entire series before sending the first one out for publication. This may not be feasible if you’re planning a ten book epic thriller fantasy mystery series that spans the length of space and time itself, but if you’re working on a trilogy or a quadrilogy (yes, it is a real word. I looked it up and everything), it’s possible. Even, perhaps, preferable.

3– Don’t write a series. Self-explanatory, I think.

The point is, don’t let it discourage you. I used to be amazed when authors mentioned something in book one and it suddenly became extraordinarily significant in book three, but now I know that they just worked their @$es off to build a world and a story that was as complex as the one we live in today. Writing a book like that is not only possible, but achievable. You just have to be willing to put in the time.