Sunday, February 28, 2016

Rejuvenated

It's the end of February here on the eastern edge of the West and it was 70F yesterday and nearly as warm today. The tulips are pushing up and there's certainly a vibe of Spring in the air. But damn, it's WRONG. It's supposed to be winter here. What the hell is summer going to be? Get ready, there's a lot of swearing here. Fair warning.

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Not the cover.
In November 2011 I started writing a book for NaNoWriMo. It was a space opera/heist tale with quantum computers and aliens and a young orphan who chooses a life of adventure and crime. For those who don't know, NaNo is a directive to write 50,000 words in 30 days. There are local support groups and a national forum to help the writer out. I attended local write ins, ran word sprints with my friends. At the end of November I won NaNo by having written a bit over 60,000 words. By the middle of December I'd written over 90,000 and the story was complete.

Fast forward through 2012 and 2013 into 2014. I'd been revising and editing and revising and editing and I sent the book to a couple of publishers and agents. Of course the agents didn't want to read it because I'd poisoned the well by sending it to science fiction publishers. One house requested the full manuscript and took six months to write back that they liked it but they didn't know what to do with it.

A nice rejection, to be sure, and motivating. I decided to self-publish. That meant another round of beta readers.

By this time I've lost count of how many revisions I've gone through at this point but readers will tell me what has to happen to make the book better. And I need to know if I'm really going to do this.

Last spring, one of my volunteers is an independent editor and she gave me potentially devastating feedback. I didn't have a novel, after all. A little over three years of working the story to make it better and make it better and getting a requested full manuscript from a major SF publisher what I had was an outline for THREE novels. 108,000 words of outline!

Also not the cover.
This, my dear friends, was a revelation. It could have destroyed me, sent me spinning into a black hole of 'what the fuck have I been doing all this time?' It could have broken my will to get this book into your hands.

Instead I read through her notes and saw exactly what she saw. I knew exactly where to start the book, I knew now where the serious flaws in my (lack of) worldbuilding. I knew what had to be done.

So I started revising again. It was both easier and more difficult than I imagined. I knew where to start so I had to figure out the ending. Since I knew the one book was going to be a series (there are solid outlines/treatments for at least four more books) I could spend some time foreshadowing. And worldbuilding. And character expansion. I had a couple more folks read it in December when I engaged the time of another independent editor.

Today I sent my final revision of The Cold Distance to my editor. I've never worked with her but a friend who has says I will definitely benefit from the experience. Which is exactly what I'm hoping for/paying for. We're working in two stages: first will be developmental edits and then line edits after I revise the developmental stuff.

Still not the cover.
This is the process that authors working for publishers go through. I'm excited and trepidatious at the same time. Will it be good enough? Will it come back marked with so much red I'll wonder if all the blood, sweat and tears I put into are leaking off the page?

It doesn't matter. The book will be better after I read the edit notes. Right now I'm really happy with it. If there's a lot of red there I'll learn from it. I'll do more and do better on the next one. But I want to give you readers (and potential readers) the best damn book I can make. That's one reason why it's taking so long. Another is The Fear.

You know what I mean.

But I'm ready. The book is ready. I can't wait to get it in your hands this summer.

So once I've accomplished the fixes of the developmental stage, I send it back for line edits. Then I get those back, make the fixes, read through it again and then I enlist the help of several friends who've graciously volunteered to help with a Proof Party. This is going to be the most professional product I can put in your hands.

The cover will be revealed in May. I'll put up a preview here (the first three or four chapters) about the same time. I'll be at Planet Comicon at the end of May with those to show off and a new Evolver book. The final one, at least for now. But this summer is about The Cold Distance. The launch party will be at Kansas City Comic Con where actual, physical copies of the book will be for you to purchase. I'm looking forward to it.

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If you've ever told someone to 'die' on social media, you're a bully. And a bastard. Stop it. No matter how much you dislike someone or disagree with them, you're a dick for wishing them dead. Death should be reserved for one's most dangerous enemies. There are few people in the world who might actually wish you harm so it won't cost you anything to be nicer. If you can't do that, maybe foregoing comments in the first place is better.

Spend your energy on what you believe in rather than tearing someone you've never met down.

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Stay tuned for an announcement about a story of mine in an upcoming anthology. There'll be a Kickstarter where you can get your own copy of the book.

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The poor treatment of convention guests is something that has to be addressed in all circles. No matter the convention, no matter what is being celebrated, there has to be a policy against harassment. It has to be enforced. If you're running a convention, you're running a business. An anti-harassment policy is good human resources planning and you have to follow through with it.

Too many shows are coming under scrutiny for bad behavior that doesn't get addressed. There are many, many more issues that the public never hears about. (Trust me on this one. I'm barely a blip on any con's radar and I've heard things that will break your soul.) I can only imagine the stuff I don't hear about.

For you, the average attendee at any convention here are some rules to help you:


  1. Don't be a dick.
  2. Report bad behavior.
  3. Help others do the same.
Have fun at your shows, behave accordingly and recognize when someone calls you out on your bullshit. that you're probably having fun at someone else's expense. See the above item about being a bully.

For the owners of the cons, do your best. Hire enough staff to deal with everything that could come up. The bigger the show, the more staff you need. Actual, paid staff who are trained and can manage volunteers. There's going to be less and less tolerance of shows that don't do their homework and take care of business. 

This is not an indictment of any one show, by the way. Merely an observation.

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Let's end on a positive note, shall we? Last weekend I attended the inaugural Empower Comic Con in Topeka, Kansas. I had a great time, enjoyed the panel I was on and the other I saw. I will definitely be returning next year, maybe as a vendor, hopefully as a guest. 

I got to see several friends and talk with John Holloway of the Worst Comic Podcast Ever and then listened this week to his panel from Empower with Lindsay Wagner who some of you might recognize as having been in The Bionic Woman. He's obviously a fan of hers (as most straight men of a certain age likely are) and the questions are great. 

John's a terrific, professional interviewer. You should spend the hour and listen to the whole thing here. And check out the WCPE. 

That's all for this week. Be good to one another.  Because baseball's spring training is on and hey, the Royals are set to make another run toward the postseason. As long as they're competitive and leave it all on the field like they have the last two years, this fan will be more than satisfied.