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House of Cabal Vol. 2 Deadline March 5th

I have less than eighteen days to finish House of Cabal Volume Two: Estate. On March 5th, I need to send it to my copy editor. She will get it back to me around the 11th and then I’ll look through her edits, finalize the text, and publish on Smashwords and Amazon.

I’ve been working on the final draft all day. Earlier in the week, I was using the Find function to search through the text and look at sentences and word use in isolation, but today I’m reading through the whole book, seeing everything in context, and making corrections as necessary. I’ll have a better idea about if I have any weak sections after this pass.

Time is running short, so I’m also searching for any plot holes or logical inconsistencies.

Example: I describe large cedar trees on the House of Cabal estate. The estate was supposedly constructed fifteen years ago. Were the trees on the site before the construction, which is highly unlikely, or is there another explanation for their rapid growth? I hadn’t thought of this before today. I could address the cedar trees in the plot or remove them from the description.

I need to consider every detail before it goes to the copy editor. If I try to fix these types of problems after I get it back, I’ll introduce new errors I hired my copy editor to catch.

In other news, my horror novel The Forgiving is on sale for $0.99 at Amazon HERE.


Day 8 of 9: Through the Cave

Super Bowl Sunday I stayed mostly at my desk all day. For quite a few hours I wasted time on Twitter. I finally got to writing around the time of the halftime show. I accomplished quite a bit the rest of the day, probably eight hours of writing out of the fourteen I was trying to write, but my confidence in my book is wavering.

This dark moment of the soul, when you think the feat is impossible because you seemed to have tried everything, is a natural stage when you are getting close to accomplishing a tough goal.

Art-Illustration-Magic-Mushrooms1You put a lot of work into a section and it just doesn’t work and you fear it never will. Sometimes it needs to be cut or rearrange, but if you have done all the work, and you’ve fixed all the big problems, the writing still might be in a form that seems awful to you.

This is usually right before it gets good.

When you are in that dark cave, you have to keep going.

It’s an odd thing that happens, reaching the light. I’ll work on a chapter and work on it, and it will spring to life unexpectedly. I can often feel the shift like it’s a bit of magic.

This has not yet happened with the problem section, a talky bit around chapter seven.  But I have faith. I’ll get through the dark cave and reach the other side if I keep at it. It’s just the nature of the work.

Current draft status: The first six chapters are mostly finished. I’m still working on the hard copy of eight and nine. I’ll try my hardest to finish the draft on day nine, Tuesday, but I worry I still have too much left to do.

Day 7 of 9: Add Some Red

I print out my work when I’m feeling stuck, which happens when I can’t see something with fresh eyes anymore.

I take a red pen to the warm, freshly printed copy, and I add what I think the chapter needs. I cut things too and make corrections and draw long arrows to move stuff around, but Design-Book-cover-Fairy-Crimsonmostly I add dialogue and description to the places that feel a little thin. I make these additions without restraint or too much thought. If the pages don’t seem to have enough red, I might take a second read through. I’m not perfecting the piece with these additions, I just need more words to play with, more clay to mold.

After the thin places are filled with red, I listen to some music while adding all the red onto the computer copy. It takes some time. Some of my notes say things like “Fix!” with a paragraph circled or “Add More Here” with an arrow.

When I read it again with all the red added, the work feels fresh again and I can keep editing on the computer and rework it until it sings, or until it feels dead and I have to print it out again.

Current draft status: The first five chapters are mostly finished. I printed out chapters six through nine and I’m still working on the hard copy.

Reminder: House of Cabal Volume One: Eden is FREE on Smashwords for a limited time!

Day 5 of 9: Taking a Moment to Think

Writing doesn’t just happen while you’re typing or scribbling down words. In the haze of waking, I thought about my book this morning and what it needed and came up with some ideas.

untitledVolume two of House of Cabal poses a lot of questions. While it’s still early on in the series, it needs to offer up a few more answers to be satisfying. I figured out what some of those revelations should be. These early answers will hopefully set up a better payoff for volume three.

Taking a moment to think about what you need to accomplish can be a huge help to preventing you from spinning your wheels when you get absorbed by the words and sentences. It’s amazing how much you can write without taking a moment to take in the bigger picture.

Current draft status: The first five chapters are mostly finished, chapter six is now in okay shape, and I’ve rearranged some events in chapter eight and nine.

Day 4 of 9: Rest is for the Writer

Take naps as needed.

Botanical-Floral-World-and-Garden-Guide-1878-Paul-NeronIt’s better to take a rest break than to keep struggling when your mind has stopped working. I’ve found I’m sharp in the morning and by mid-afternoon, around two, I become useless.

That’s when I go for a walk, read a book, and eat lunch. Then I test if I’m up for writing again. Often I’m not. I do other things until I’m tired and then try to sleep a while. Once I’m awake again, I’m often good to write for a night session, another few hours until I’m sleepy again.

This is obviously different for everyone. Rest and writing times are something you have to experiment with to find something that works for you.

Current draft status: The first four chapters are mostly finished, chapter five is now in good shape, and I’ve already started on chapter six.

Write until you can do your idea justice.

January was a great way to kick off the year. I published House of Cabal Volume One: Eden.

This book has been a long time coming. I started writing it fifteen years ago. It grew into an idea that I knew was bigger than one book and more importantly, an idea I wasn’t skilled enough to write at the time.

So I went to college, and I wrote other things: three screenplays, a horror novel The Forgiving, rough drafts of a few other novels. Now I’ve circled back to House of Cabal in earnest, now that I can do it justice.

All that time it wasn’t dormant. I worked on it, trying different permutations, but none of them felt good enough until now. It took me about twenty years of writing to get good enough so that House of Cabal Volume One: Eden could be good enough to publish. It’s not perfect, far from it, but it fulfills the promise of my idea and conveys it to the reader.

And that’s all I really want.

Using the Self to Write

What does “Self Write” mean? Self Write simply means to use the self to write. While the idea is simple, there is nothing simple about the self. The self is a wellspring of creativity and insight, but it can often get obscured when you try to write something down.

You can often get locked into writing what you think other people would say. Don’t you want to sound like your favorite author? Or worse, your mind will just volunteer what you’ve heard before. Or you can be inhibited by all the things you were advised not to say. Some of this advice is useful. Most is nonsense.

The self is made up of all those ideas you’ve come into contact with over time, so it makes sense these creativity blocks would happen when you try to write something new, but you are also more than those things. You are a synthesis.

The self is more than a repetition of other selves. The self is a response, a sometimes subtle evolution of countless ideas and thoughts that helped inform your perspective. Just as you are a response to the world around you, when you Self Write, what you write contributes to an ongoing conversation.

Being yourself is the only way to synthesize information and create something new. Only this way can you be an evolution of what came before. That is what it means to Self Write.