Half way there

This edit pass of Ready or Not is going amazingly smoothly.  I’m already about half through it all and have mostly been fixing typos.  This bodes very well for moving up the release date!

I’m hoping, if this pace continues, to have this in my editor’s hands by the end of the month — maybe end of the first week of February at the latest.  She has to do another pass; no way to avoid it, my grammar and orthography can get pretty lousy at points — my schooling included little education, and less where English was concerned.  Too, I’m loathe to ever release anything that hasn’t been looked at by another set of eyes after being written/changed.

Depending when she can start the editing process on her end … in a perfect world we’d be looking at an early March release!  But more realistically I’d say no earlier than April or May.

Writing about writing

I’m going to take a tiny break from my poking around the NaNoWriMo forums, and unburden my mind on something.

I spend an awful lot of time writing about writing when I only have one book out, don’t I?

Seems strange, especially to me.

Thing is, Tolkien wrote a bit about writing and he only ever released two books (Lord of the Rings, for those who don’t know, was only a trilogy due to paper shortages).  I certainly don’t believe I’m half the author that Tolkien was, nor do I disregard his academic writing … but his fiction is only two works.  Silmirilion, and others are unfinished and posthumous publications.

Thing is, a person who writes can know a lot about writing without being published.  If this were not true there would not be writer discussions everywhere on the internet, and before that on Usenet, and before that on Fidonet, and before that on select BBSes, and before that in various paper newsletters or coffee shoppe/library based clubs.  No, a person can have an hundred titles published and not know anything about writing, and a person can have nothing published and know everything.  It’s like saying someone with a degree in something is more knowledgeable than someone without one — not always true, the difference is that one met certain criterion in a university, the other just spent a lot of time in careful study.

I don’t propose to know all about writing.  I certainly would never claim to, on purpose, write literary works — if for no other reason than my outright distaste for every single example of such that I’ve ever encountered.

The thing is, we all find something that works for us — we share that for those who it might save some grief and pain.  Somewhere out there is another writer wired a bit like myself who is staring, tears in her/his eyes, struggling to compose a tale upon the cold, lifeless screen of a computer.  Sweety, turn off the machine, grab some ink and paper, give that a try.  Hurray, another story rescued!

Also, one cannot write without reading.  This is stated time and again.  Someone had to be the first writer, someone had to be the first blacksmith, so I suppose it’s not quite true — someone can work it out from nothing but it’s going to be pretty unlikely.  Even our friend Mr First Blacksmith, he probably knew something about making bronze, and Mr First Bronzesmith learnt something from Granddaddy Copper or Tin-smith, both of whom learnt all they needed from Ugh Goldsmith who figured out the shiny yellow rocks look neat if you smash them with some dull gray rocks, and goes all runny if you get it near that neat fire thing his cousin Og No Eyebrows discovered last week.  So, I say, you must read.  The first novelists read poetry.  What did the first poets read?  I honestly don’t know, it’s not an area of history that ever much intrigued me, but I would guess that they listened to story tellers who recited a kind of epic poetry.  From this you learn techniques (a hotter fire makes these funny rocks sweat out grey shiny stuff), you learn methodology (no, no, hit the metal, son, not your thumb, works better — trust me).  Most importantly you learn what inspires you (what?  I can’t turn everything into a smithing analogy)!

If you read enough, and then write enough, you discover these details (oh!  hit the metal with a hammer!  Who knew!?) which some will call rules of writing and others rules of thumb.  I provide rules of thumb.  For certain kinds of fiction it’s important to follow strict structures, to only put that she wore green shoes if it’s vital to some later or immediate aspect of the story (at the very least it has to be symbolic).  For others, this isn’t so important.

This is why I tend to say, do it or not, it’s up to you and the necessities of your story.  Because that is the key:  It’s.  Your.  Story.

Believe me, I haven’t read all there is to read, but I’ve read enough to know that one thing is Truth:  in the course of human history, there is no truly new idea in how to write.  Someone will have tried something like it somewhere.  And in this age, someone will have published it at some point and in some place.

As I said:  Do the characters eat?  I don’t know, dear, do they?  Do the characters have sex?  Is it that kind of story?  Fade to black or graphic detail?  Is it that kind of story?  Do I describe their clothes?  Does the narrator notice the clothes, or care?

I cannot stress enough, that there are no literary police who will charge you with being in violation of code 43-b of the Rules of Writing if you don’t do what some literature professor or creative writing instructor told you to then confiscate your literary license.  TELLS, yes, sort of, it’s called marks and they tend to be bad if you don’t follow the instructor’s instructions — but that’s a whole other matter.  Believe me, Jo Rowling, Stephen King, J R R Tolkien, Robert Heinlein, Charles Dickens, A A Milne, Frank L Baum, Edgar Rice Burroughs, E E “Doc” Smith, Arthur C Clarke, William Shakespeare, Voltaire, Geoffrey Chaucer … and so many more, names we know, names we love, names we cherish, names that will live on or have already long endured … they broke The Rules, or at least some rules.  Other rules they followed, some rules weren’t rules yet, some rules aren’t rules any more.

And there’s another point.  It’s so hard to agree on these rules that it’s possible to have these discussions.  If Rules for writing truly existed, beyond those needed to codify how one communicates via the strange glyphs upon a page or screen, then there would be no question and no discussion:  one would become a writer the way one becomes a plumber, or an accountant.

Time and again:  Art has no rules, no boundaries.  Art is imagination, and creativity.  We say ‘think outside the box’ when we want someone to be creative — we tell them to step beyond the bounds of laws, rules, status quo, etc.  In our imaginations, men walk upon the moon, upon alien worlds; in our imaginations we explore the depths of the sea and soar among the clouds; in our imaginations we can send a picture around the world in the blink of an eye; in our imaginations we can converse with cats and have tea with dormice.  Some of these things have, since, become reality — but first they were imagined, and first they were the stuff of fiction, first they were novels or epic legends, dreams of eccentric geniuses.

It can never be stressed enough, and I am not alone, so many of the artists we all adore so often stress the same advice:  do not shackle your dreams.  Do not stifle your story with boundaries and Rules.  Reserve “should” only in name of advice, “Should Veronica wear high heels with that kind of dress, do you think?”  If you can dream it, write it, because if you can dream it you can inspire that dream in others — and that’s what it’s all about really, sharing our dreams and imaginings so that others can enjoy the same journey we did.

Status update: Ready or Not

Well, Love or Lust is holding strong as an Amazon bestseller and hot new release (for category, but hey — it is a bestseller list — says so on the label).  Which is lovely.  Even climbing charts globally.  A ping on the German radar and some love from Down Under hath come my way as well — thank you.

In the meantime I’ve got back to work on Ready or Not and am nearly half through it.  So far it’s not quite the disaster I was thinking, but I also don’t think I’ve hit the bits I wrote during NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo.

I’ve a horrible, sinking feeling when I consider what I can recall of them.  They’re actually great parts — by themselves.  I’m just terrified that, when I get there, they won’t fit and can’t be made to fit.  If that’s the case, then that’s about one third of the book down the drain and a lot of work to get to before I can have the next book out.

If I’m wrong — things are going well enough between my own read through and my editor’s pile of work to do that she ought to be sitting down to attack it with her mighty Red Pen of Death which I swear is filled with human blood — possibly magically siphoned from the author upon whose work she applies it — instead of ink.  We’ll have some lovely conversations regarding my dyslexia, my inability to grasp various minutia of English grammar and orthography and then I’ll give it one more read for ‘now how in Hell did this get by both of us!?’ moments.

Should the universe be benevolent and kind (please do stop laughing, please) I might have book 2 out by Christmas.  Realistically speaking, I’ll say don’t expect anything before Easter 2014 and I might even wind up so close to 29 June 2013 that I may hold off to release on the 1yr anniversary of the first book.

All told I’m impressed with this first half, really.  There’re some very touching moments, and a good tear jerker in there.  I’ve managed to have some really good humour bits.

For fun I’ll post the only part, aside from a poem from late in the book which has already been released here, I’ll give you a sample of the only other part I’m willing to present to the wider public:


The story which follows contains people:  Tall people, short people, fat and skinny.  It will contain intelligence, stupidity, ignorance and knowledge.  It will contain people ambulating, masticating, respirating, and articulating.  It will contain people who are homosexuals.  It will contain heterosexual people.  It will contain males, females, and God help us all, humans.

It should be known that the author is not promoting anything.  This story is for enjoyment, entertainment and, if the author might be permitted a moment of vanity, inspiration.

Reading it will not make you gay, straight, masculine, feminine, feline, canine, richer or poorer (well, maybe a little poorer as I hope you bought a copy, but I hope not significantly poorer).  It will not make you smarter or stupider, more or less violent.  It will not send you to Heaven or Hell (I think).  It will give you super powers if read while being exposed to cosmic rays*.

If you like it, fantastic.  If you hate it, I’m sorry.  Just know that you’ve been warned.

Yours with love,

Jaye Em Edgecliff

*Please use cosmic radiation responsibly and only according to the direction of a scientific genius or similar.  Author cannot be held responsible for injury or disfigurement caused by exposure to strange solar emanations.

WriMo: Help or Hindrance?

Now that I’m in the process of editing Ready or Not I’m getting a chance to really reflect on the benefits, or even if there are any, to participating in NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo.

For me at least, not such a wonderful thing.  The motivation it provided, the impetus to get words on paper was nothing that a little determination on my own part couldn’t have achieved and the effort — even not taking it seriously and not caring if I made word count goal or not — to make the word count goal led to what I now see, as I delve into editing the results, substandard writing.

I won’t say that the project itself is a bad thing.  I really think there are potential authors out there, ones with talent and good stories to tell, who lack … a certain something, perhaps self confidence, to even try to get their novel rolling.  For them, it’s definitely great.  For those who want a vacation from their usual writing load to just churn out any ol’ nonsense as fast as they can, it’s good.  For anyone who needs that external push, or possibly just some little bar graphs showing their progress, it’s good.

For me?  I’ll pass from now on.  If I get another nasty bout of writer’s block I’ll simply go to the park and stare at a lake for a few hours in the sunshine.  Seems to be more productive.

For those looking forward to the series, no worries, I’m fortunate enough that what I wrote is quite salvageable; I’ve no need, yet, to do any massive rewrites — just far heavier editing and more drastic rewriting of some paragraphs and pages than I did with the previous book.

Wish me luck.

And for those inclined to keep giving WriMo your time and attention, good luck yourselves and have fun.  I must say, the forums were an interesting and fun distraction now and then.

I really hate this part

I, honestly, hate being done with a story. While you’re working on it, it’s such a wonderfully frustrating thing that you can think about, daydream scenes for, and occupy lulls in life with finding out what happens next in.

When it’s over you don’t have that. This is when the Work starts. This is when you need to drag yourself to the computer and start proofreading, revising, polishing, considering.

This is the part where it’s easy to break down crying, certain beyond any doubt that the 110000 words before you are horrible, worthless trash and ought to not just be deleted but data wiped (this is deletion with extreme prejudice for those of you not very computer savvy).

This is the point where it’s hard to really want to start the next book because you feel like you really ought to feel a little more confidence in the previous book – at least in terms of a series – before you start. This is so you feel more confident of the contents of the previous book available for referencing back to in the next narrative. But it’s also hard to start another project because the insecurities and shoulda-coulda-woulda imps are invading your mind, causing you to see every scene of this newly completed novel in a distorted, mangled form that makes you positive you must rewrite it, but doing so would force a rewrite of everything after … truly, finishing a novel is agonising.

True, being stuck behind an impenetrable wall of writer’s block is no picnic either, but there’s nothing like the existential crisis wrought by the completion of a story. Or worse, the completion of, not just a book, but a Story – the whole series, a standalone book, etc – when you then stare at the finished pages and thing, Dear God, what in Hell am I to do now?!

Needless to say I have not yet started on Book 3, nor picked Færie Patrol back up, or anything of that sort. This means I’m terribly bored, especially at work, but I know I need the break. I also know I’ll refuse to listen to me, as I’m sure I can’t possibly know what I’m talking about; I doubt not at all that in a week or two I’ll have a pen in hand staring at paper and contemplating the eternal question, “what comes next?” it probably won’t be book three though, because I really am nit as happy with Ready or Not‘s last couple of chapters to want to start a book which may need to begin in a way that inseparably ties to the ending of its predecessor.

Hopefully I’ll veg out for part of this break I’m taking and reset my neurons a bit before I get back to work. Nintendo and DVDs are healthy things, sometimes.

Another one down

Ready or Not (concept only)Here in the wee small hours of another Hellish, Georgian, what-is-this-spring-nonsense-of-which-you-speak day I have finished writing Ready or Not!

I’m thrilled, and exhausted. This one was a lot harder to write than Love or Lust was, and I’m worried that Book 3 will be just as difficult. Book 4 I’ve very clear thoughts on, and am quite looking forward to.

Still, I think I have a handle on things. I’m going to take a bit of a rest, take time to type up what I’ve written, then let that marinate while I get some editing done to Love or Lust I discovered a particular scene needs after learning a bit more about playing guitar. When I’m done I’m going to get to work on book 3 before I start editing Ready or Not. It makes sense in the way my mind works, but I doubt very much I could explain it.

In other news I’m still waiting on word back from over half the agents I sent queries to. I suppose that’s a good thing, in that it means they’re (probably) giving my query some serious thinking about, but at the same time I kind of wish I could get one who reads the query and is all immediately “This is great! I would love to represent this story!” Sadly the opposite has been true, as three rejections came within 48hrs of being submitted. Ah well, this is a hard story to sell to mainstream, I’d probably have 6 agents offering me contracts if it were Færie Patrol I was sending out. YA Urban Fantasy is being seen as instant cash in the bank by the agents and publishers right now; everyone wants the next Twilight.

God help me, I didn’t learn my lesson.

So, Camp NaNoWriMo is coming up.

For those who don’t know, it’s a set your own word count goal event in April from, yep, the folks who bring us NaNoWriMo.

I’ve no idea what I was thinking.  Still, I’ve set myself a loose goal of 25,000 words with the expectation that it might be to the end of Ready or Not.  To be honest, I’m not sure the book actually has that far left in it, so I’m thinking of changing my goal to 10 or even 5 thousand.  Or else making up the missing word count with Book 3.

In any event, Ready or Not should be ready for editing and proofreading by the end of April.