Not Quite From Scratch

So the rewrite has begun as far as I’m concerned. I’ve started going back through the initial story and I’m working through what can stay and what can go in the whole mess of it. Considering how long ago I wrote this story,1 I am not that surprised with what’s staying at what’s going.

What’s staying:

  • Basic plot
  • Most of the universe elements
  • Most of the characters in some way
  • A few of the scenes

What’s going:

  • All of the actual written text

This was written nearly 7 years ago. The ideas I still like, but the actual prose is… well, it’s like it was written by me 7 years ago. There are a lot of things in it I don’t like, such as the belief I used to have that a large vocabulary meant that I was awesome at this writing thing.2 There’s also the fact that everything is kind of traditional in that there’s a damn lot of dudes, all two of the women in the original cast fall into the traditional roles and there’s nothing societally that’s changed from what I thought things were like back in 2008.

Which is weird because I took a glimpse at the story I wrote the year before and none of these things were an issue.

I do, fortunately, have a bunch of notes of things to change and I’m working on writing up a new plot off the old one. I need to flesh out bits of the universe and get the setting down3 and make sure I have the appropriate back stories switched, but it’s definitely workable. I just need to write it again.

And edit.

And edit again.

And again.

You know how it goes. Wish me luck. This one’s going to be a bit of a rough one, I can feel it.

Also, I keep changing the cover around, so look forward to previews of the cover with every post.

  1. 2008, I think, for Nanowrimo []
  2. It doesn’t, 23 year old me. It really doesn’t. []
  3. Looking at Saskatchewan for this one, not that it actually matters []

Procrastination and Covers

So I’ve been seriously procrastinating on the rewrite. Obviously. Besides starting to build that project I mentioned1 I keep doing this awful thing and opening up Photoshop.

So on the downside, I still don’t have the new book plotted. But on the upside, I know basically what the cover looks like.

cover

And I finally have a new title for it! I mean, I know there’s other books using the title, but it fits with mine as well.

Oh, but that’s not all. On top of that, I have the cover done for the book next year! Have a sneak peek!

coverflightless

Oh, but that’s not all. How about a book I had no plans to write originally and was still debating whether or not it was happening?

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00002]

So apparently I have to write the White Noise sequel one of these days. I mean, otherwise I’ll never get to use this cover, right?

Next week I’ll get to rewriting. That or I’ll be further in programming and I’ll be drowning in covers for the next decade. Really, it’s one or the other.

  1. Which now has three different stories I’m planning to make for it instead of just the one because I have no self control []

Transmundane – The Multilinear Project

So this may come up this year given everything, so I figure I’ll talk a little bit about it now. There’s this story. Transmundane. It may start getting written this year.

The main reason I haven’t done any writing on it so far is because of what the story is and how the story works. Transmundane was conceived as a multi-linear novel, meaning that the story is told from the perspective of every character you encounter. From the start of thinking about it, there was a built in way so that you could bounce back and forth between characters.

Originally it was going to be a much more visual thing. I had plans to animate it in Flash1 and have areas of the screen clickable when they were shown so that you could switch to another character’s perspective, then go back wen you crossed paths with the original character again. If you ever did.

And then I remembered my art skills.

The idea of the multiple stories happening at once and switching between them, though, has been one thing that stuck. There were six character’s whose exploits you would follow through the narrative and it was supposed to be the user’s choice to follow who they wanted to follow as they moved through the book, learning things with the characters and being capable of ultimately knowing the whole story while none of the characters ever gt that.

When I read Game of Thrones, I trashed the idea of just switching perspectives per chapter once and for all.2 The structure just didn’t work with what I was doing and I wanted something very different in how I wanted it to work. It had to be some sort of interactive thing. Something that didn’t rely too much on visuals.3 Something that put the control in the user’s hands and gives them the chance to go back and follow a different character through a section of the story if they are curious. Or let them continue on with the current path without context if they aren’t.

I think I have most of that figured out, though. After looking at Twine, I now have a hundred notes for a custom system I want to build to tell this story. Which, in turn, means I should probably sit down and figure out the plot and an end point and all that nonsense as well.

Why yes, I am procrastinating on working on Fate. Why do you ask?

  1. That dates the conception of this, doesn’t it? Whoops. []
  2. Especially since I think I read less than half of Dance with Dragons because I hate everyone at this point. []
  3. Because, again, lack of art skills. []

So I looked at Twine…

I have this one story that I’ve been wanting to work on, but there is a major problem with it. It’s not one story. It’s about six. Six to eighteen. And they’re interconnected.

I’ve been wanting to build it as a choose your own adventure story of some sort. The structure is essentially one where you would get a passage and there would be links inline so that you can switch perspective and follow different characters as you read, hopping between the stories and discovering what happens to all of the characters.

Enter Twine. It’s this fancy Choose Your Own Adventure creator with a nice interface and the ability to make it all online instead of downloading a program. The interface is pretty intuitive and, from what I’ve played with so far, it is a really nice way to tell an interactive story. There’s plenty of options all over the place for extending the narrative to include inventory and actual game play options as well.

I like the system, but the documentation is lacking in anything that isn’t just straight narrative options, leaving users to go out and learn javascript if they want to figure out how these functions they offer actually work. Which isn’t a problem for me, but I can imagine it’s a pain for anyone else trying to make something more like a game than a branching narrative.

I also couldn’t see the options I was looking for anywhere in the documentation. See, there’s something specific I’m looking for in terms of this project.1 As much as I looked, I couldn’t find some way to archive the scenes you visited and a way to easily go back and make different choices. There appeared to be a way to go back, but not an archiving system.

I also couldn’t tell if you saved the session or not when you were done. I’d want to be able to come back to it later.

I need a system that does both of these things because I want to be able to add to the story. I want to be able to update the story with more content and I want a way for people to return to the story and continue where they left off, or to go back and try other routes and see what the other parts of the story are easily.

Which means I still have to build this thing from scratch. But Twine looks good if I ever have a shorter, more straight forward project. Which, you know what, I just might one of these days.

  1. Whenever I get around to doing it. Don’t get too excited, it’s still a ways away. []

Decisions, Decisions

I am still trying to pick the second book I’m going to work on for this year. I’m opting not to do another young adult, which means the number of options has been cut down at least. Unfortunately, I still can’t decide between them all.

First there’s the one that I keep thinking about, Escaping Reality. I feel like the only reason I’m considering this one is because I just finished it for NaNoWriMo in November and I want to take a crack at fixing it up already. Also, because it’s the one that has the least problems with it. It’s newest, so it’s much cleaner and more in line with how my current writing works. There might be passages I can salvage and I won’t have to start from scratch.

I am doing my best to resist this easy option.

The other two are much older stories with a lot of issues to them structurally. First is Flightless1 which has basically nothing happen in it that makes any sense. There were things that were supposed to happen to make things make sense, but those things never happened. In fact, none of it makes any sense at all until a huge exposition dump half way through where a minor character steps up and starts getting stuff done off screen.

Fate2 has a lot of the same issues. It’s from almost a decade ago and it has the prose I was using back then. Which is awful. The base story underneath it and some of the ideas of characters can be salvaged, but so much of it really needs to go.

I know it sounds like I’m saying that there’s nothing left to save in these stories, but I do still enjoy the stories. It’s just everything else needs to be fixed. Like the plot. Pacing. Characterization. You know, everything that isn’t the intended story.

At this point, I’m leaning toward Fate because it’s the oldest and will involve the most work. Because if I don’t do it while I’m motivated, I’ll probably never do it. Which means I really need to re-plot this thing and figure out a new ending. Wish me luck.

  1. Which is a new temporary title because the old one really doesn’t work anymore []
  2. Another new temporary name. I went on a temporary re-titling spree! []

The Beat Goes On

I’ve been trying to figure out what big project I am going to edit next year. While the third book in the Looking Glass Saga is definitely on the table, I want to put another one out there and I’ve been running down the list, trying to pick up just the right one. After White Noise has turned out to be more of a success than I was expecting1 I want to try to put out a Looking Glass book and an original every year.

The thing is, going through my stories like this one after another, I’m noticing distinct patterns in them. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Some of these are things I have liked in other stories, while others I’m just not sure where they come from. It’s just the pattern of the story beats that seem to repeat themselves over and over again.

It’s not even just in my young adult stuff either. There are stories I have intended for an older audience that I’m considering writing over the next year that still pull the same beats in the same general places. I’m starting to wonder if I’m getting predictable already or if that’s just the way I write. Or if anyone else is even going to notice.

I know the Hero’s Journey is a thing and, as I grew up with both that and the plot diagram as the basis of my understanding of how stories are constructed, I can understand why some things are in the places they are every time. A lot of the beats in the story make sense in that context, but it just bothers me that they actually are all in the same places.

Which means I’m probably going to make a conscious effort to change the placement of these beats if I can this time around. Looking at them in these stories, I don’t know how I can without some major surgery on the plot, but I was already planning on rewriting them anywyay.

Now to just choose a story.

  1. In that people I don’t know are actually downloading it! []

Print Book Publishing with Createspace – Part 2

The first proof arrived almost a week early. It was a great start, or so I thought. I was working form home that day because I caught a flu1 and was able to get it without going to pick it up. I waited until 5 to open it and it was more exciting than Christmas. Which is only relevant because it was the start of December at the time.

It looked amazing. At first. The front was great and the matte felt great in my hands. It smelled like a book. And then I turned it around. The spine was a little off, but that’s okay. I knew about the 1/8″ slip and I measured. It was exactly that much of a slip, so it was fine. And the back cover looked good too, so I was generally pretty happy.

Well, until I started reading it through.

Those notes? Every one a thing I had to change. Missed orphans. Places where the spacing looked weird. Typos. Grammar. All the things I thought I had gotten the first few times going through it, and there were still little things that needed fixing.

But it was all little stuff. I fixed them all in both the InDesign document and in the eBook at the same time and uploaded the new versions. I also changed the finish to glossy because, as much as I loved the feel of the matte, it smudged and got dirty like crazy with a white cover. The pages, as well, were very white and didn’t feel like a book in the way I was used to. I went back through my stack of reference novels and noticed they all had more cream pages, so I changed that as well.

Time for the second proof.

They were a little lighter in the cover than I thought they would be. I darkened it with filters in the photo, but the grey was just a bit too light for my liking. The problems in the book, though, those were mostly fixed. The glossy worked better, as did the cream pages, but I didn’t check the spine alignment on the digital proofer this time, thinking everything would be the same as before. I was… very wrong. But, since I was changing the colours on the cover anyway, I went back through and made more adjustments to the spine.

Proof copy three. Here’s hoping this time?

One thing I will say is that throughout this whole thing, shipping has not only been good, it’s been amazingly fast. The slow option took maybe a week all of these times so far. On top of that, this version of the books looked great. No orphans left and after reading it through hundreds of times to the point where I was unable to see anything wrong with it anymore, I couldn’t find a single thing wrong with it. And on top of that…

… the spine finally lined up!

In chronological order. You can see how off the spine has been so far. It was pretty awful. You can also see that 6×9 as a size is much larger than most of the books on my shelf. At this point, I’d put so much work into it that I couldn’t go back. The ISBN was assigned to the size. I’d make a smaller one later when I was more comfortable with everything. When I could pay for moor proof copies with the income from this book!2 It’s the size of Name of the Wind on the next shelf down, as well a few other scattered books I have, so it didn’t bother me.

I looked through it yet again. A few times. I showed it to the girls at work, both designers, and they couldn’t find anything wrong with it. That night when I got home, I decided to publish it. I have a coupon for two free books from finishing NaNoWriMo, so I go ahead and order those as well.

2 hours after deciding to do that, I got a message pointing out something…

Screenshot_2015-01-07-15-10-02

Dammit.

So of course, I immediately get it all changed and get the new version. I’ve learned at this point that Createspace usually gets back on approvals in 12 hours on changes to interior files and less on cover changes. I get it changed and breathe a sigh of relief.

Which brings us to now. I have received my free books3, and they have the right back cover! White Noise the physical copy is now for sale at Createspace and on Amazon.

I think I’m going to wait a little while before I do this again. It’s been an interesting journey so far, but I think that’s enough for a little while. Time to start looking at what I’m going to write next.

  1. Which is still going, might I add. I will be sick forever. []
  2. Such wishful thinking on my part… []
  3. It took UPS a week and a half while I called over and over to find out what was happening []

Print Book Publishing with Createspace – Part 1

It was late November. I had just finished writing two books for NaNoWriMo1 and I had promised that I was going to take the rest of the month and all of December off of writing to keep myself from completely burning out. I was already really close to burning out as it was, so it was a good idea to take a bit of time off.

But this is me. I don’t do time off very well.

I don’t know why, but I got it in my head that I wanted to turn White Noise into a print book. I have wanted to make a print version of my books just for that aesthetic. I like holding books and I love the smell of a book, so I wanted that for my own works as well. Since I promised that I wouldn’t be doing any more writing, I figured that now was the perfect time to start working on creating something that I always wanted. I’d just finished White Noise and I already designed the spine and back cover back in October, after all, so why not this one?

Luckily, I’d already been playing around in InDesign for a while, so I had a general sense of my way around. I pulled out novels from my shelves and made a pile of them by my desk as I started looking for fonts and tried to remember every gripe my designer friends and classmates had about text on a page. I tried to get rid of any orphans and widows2 that I could find. I adjusted my spacing and rewrote little things so that the lines looked better.

And then I chose my fonts3 and I had to lay everything out all over again. Choose your fonts first.

I went with a 6×9 layout because that was the recommended size by Createspace and, now that I had all of my documents ready, I was able to start uploading all of my documents. It was exciting. I had checked everything and rechecked it. Everything was going to be great. I’d get one proof copy and it would be perfect and that would be all. I uploaded the cover and the interiors and I waited for them to approve it and get to the stage where I could order my first proof. I obsessed over the description for a while, I selected a matte cover finish,4 but there was something wrong.

Here’s a tip about Createspace. For those who are using Createspace for the first time and you’re wondering why your interior file still needs approval, open up the Digital Proofer. There’s a big blue button at the bottom that says Save and Continue. You have to press that before it will approve your interiors.

Once that was sorted, I looked through their digital proofer. From here, you get to see how the spine is aligned and the spine was a little off. Cue making little adjustments to it, uploading it and waiting until Amazon approved the new version before I could actually check it for myself. The biggest downside of this whole process really is this part right here. You have to upload a cover and get it approved by someone on Amazon’s end before you can check the alignment yourself. But a few tries later, I finally get it ready. It’s approved. The spine looks good.

Time to get my first proof copy.

  1. Escaping Reality and a Looking Glass book []
  2. Single words on a line and single lines on a page []
  3. Chaparral Pro and Bebas Neue []
  4. Because matte is awesome []

Writing Resolutions for 2015

It’s the time to make resolutions that we’ll all give up on within a couple weeks. Promises to eat healthier only to give into the junk food cravings, a gym membership that goes to waste by February, and all that water you thought you were going to drink replaced by Coke soon enough.

As such, I tend to set my resolutions as goals instead of sweeping lifestyle changes.

I plan to continue posting Looking Glass Saga and Cloned Evil on alternating Saturdays for the new year and probably several years beyond that. It’s been fun, though I suppose I should try to get a few more readers for both of those.

I’m also planning to get two more Cloned Evil arcs written. The current arc is only 10 parts long,1 which means I still need to write another 18 updates for the rest of the year, which will probably end up being about two more parts. It should be awesome. I have plans.

After getting White Noise in print, I have a desire to do the same thing for Return to Wonderland. I need to get a new cover made before I do anything like that and think long and hard about making sure that all the books in the series have a similar cover and branding and whatnot.2

Speaking of, I am also planning to publish Jabberwocky’s Book3 this year as well. No guarantees on a print book for that one.

On top of that, I want to edit and put out one more book from my stack of rough drafts that I have. I’m thinking about pulling out one of my early Nanowrimo projects that I know I need to rewrite completely and, after all the trouble this last year was getting books done, I think I can manage this.

So thems the plans for this year.4 It’s a lot, but I still hope it’s feasible. If not, it should at least be fun trying.

  1. With two installments posted in 2014 []
  2. My artist for that project will probably hate me by the end. I am ready for that. []
  3. The sequel and second in the Looking Glass Saga []
  4. Also, a not at all expected one being sell enough books so that I can get an Amazon cheque. It’s more of a wishlist thing than an actual plan because I suck at selling things []