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Writing, Publishing, and 20 Books Vegas

It’s been a few weeks since my last post and I thought it would be good to drop an update. I’ve been busy the past few weeks whittling away at my goals and trying to learn as much as I can about self publishing. So lets jump into it.

Since my last posting I revisited my outline for book two, many times actually. I found a bunch of holes that I fixed, lined up dates and timelines with book one, and teased out each of the POV’s I was going to write. I have a few people in this historical arc I need to flush out the personality of but overall the important points are good to go.

I broke out the outline into all of my chapters and built out my Ulysses folders. On the right you can get an idea what it looks like. Nothing fancy really. A grouping per chapter, some slots for Front and Back stuff, etc. I also included a small screenshot of what the folders in Book one look like after it evolved. I got this idea from Matt Gemmell.

I create Focus On filters to help me narrow in on POV’s or other things. Selecting one of the filters in there brings up all of the scenes with that character in them. I also create a Requires Attention filter to quickly find things I need to cleanup later. To flag these things I use conventions like TODO littered throughout the book or I prefix things like EEP1 or EESHIP to denote that I need to come back later and fill in the name of the first planet in Epsilon Eridani or the name of their ship. It’s nothing fancy, but when I’m writing I want to remain in the flow as long as possible. The last thing I want is to get bogged down with figuring out a ship name on the spot.

So the outline is done, it’s been chopped up, and while I have a few small things to tweak later, there isn’t anything stopping me from writing. WOOT! I’m excited to get into the story lines I outlined. It really shaped up and I surprised even myself with some of the twists I added 😉

Believe it or not I’ve actually been doing some writing outside my outlines. I finished my first few passes of editing for the tail of book one. I’ve been reading through certain POV’s (using the Ulysses filters I mentioned earlier). I know what each character should feel like and where I want them to be as the arc evolves. Focusing in on them I’ve been able to see if I delivered and tweak as needed.

One nice thing that’s helped me edit is using the built in iOS & Mac functionally to read anything you highlight and ask it to.

It allows me to close my eyes, listen to what I wrote, and see if Siri stumbles over the words. Is it the tone I was going for? If not, tweak it.

On to other things like learning. With my new job, I now have a 20-30 minute commute each way. While I love music I’ve been using this time to listen to podcasts on writing. Some of my favorites that I’d recommend are:

  1. Writing Excuses
  2. The Self Publishing Show
  3. The Every Day Novelest
  4. Sell More Books Show

There are more, but these are the ones I’ve been listening to the most. They’ve helped me think about my characters, story arc, tools, publishing, and marketing to name only a few things. Tons of great content and plenty to binge listen if you’re looking for something to pass the time.

Warning: be sure you have something to take notes on while you’re listening. The ideas will come fast and furious sometimes. If you’re like me, and you’re driving, then I suggest you master talking to Siri to take a note while your safe behind the wheel.

So what else am I doing to learn my craft? Last spring I attended the ConCarolinas Convention and did the Writers Track. This year I wanted to up my game a bit and find something with bigger and deeper writing tracks. I wanted more information on marketing and self publishing, something that ConCarolinas was light on. I wanted to up level up my conference experience.

I started looking at DragonCon Atlanta in September. It’s massive and while I found a few reviews online about the writing tracks they were from years ago and sparse on details. There’s no doubt it would have been a level up from ConCarolina but I wanted to know more before I pulled the trigger.

In stepped 20 Books Vegas.

It was an entire conference focused on what I was trying to do. Self publish. They make most of their material available online afterward but I want to meet the people. I want understand how they got to where they are, network and brainstorm ideas for stories, plot, and marketing. I’d joined their Facebook group a while back and have been lurking and reading the awesome posts from the community.

This seemed like the perfect conference. While it would likely be more costly than ConCarolina or DragonCon in my Charlotte backyard, I could still attend on the cheap. So, I queued up last weekend and when they opened the floodgates of registration I pulled the trigger. Well, lets be clear, I did so only after I talked to my wife about it. She’s amazing and said yes 🥰

So that’s in November which according to my calculation, is plenty of time for me to edit book one, write and start editing book two, and dare I say start outlining book three. Heck, I might even be able to get some book covers lined up.

That’s all for now. It’s going to be a fun year.

Talk to you again soon.

Outlining And Planning Book Two

I’ve been working on the outline for book two of my series. I wasn’t sure where it was going but I knew at a high level what I wanted the beginning and end to look like. The rest was filling in the middle with a bunch of cool ideas.

Since I’ve been reading I’ve been inspired by certain literary devices that authors use. In particular I was inspired by how a few other authors wrote their second books and used a device of telling their backstory at the same time they advance the main story line. They do this by switching the POV back and forth between the two.

Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery meant I wanted to try it myself. So, I took that literary device and applied it to my universe and my story. I used it to fill in details up to where book one starts and also advanced one of the main story lines.

What I like about it is that the reader fills in important blanks that explain the backstory in detail. They get this satisfaction while at the same time giving them a taste of where things are going in the future. It might take a few chapters to get them into that flow of POV shift but it can be really effective when pulled off.

Let’s hope I can pull it off.

I started by outlining all of the historical story lines. This had a bunch of people and places to take into consideration as it was spread over multiple generations. Once I had that roughly outlined, I took that number of chapters from the historical story line and worked to fit the current timeline story arc into that. I know that sounds painful but surprisingly, it wasn’t. After I knocked that out I then went back for another few passes and refined, cut, refined, and cleaned up the outline some more.

It’s close to final form. I want to let it sit for a few days and read it again to make sure it lines up across story arcs and everything flows nicely. I also want to pull out some key elements and try to lay them out on a visual outlining tool to check for holes. That shouldn’t take long though. Famous last words, right?

It’ll be interesting if this actually works out when I sit down and finally put prose to page. I’ll keep you updated.

I Finished The First Draft

129,319 of 125,000 wordsIt’s been a long time coming but it’s done, the words are written! I wrote the last 13k word chunk over these past three weeks since my last post as I’ve gotten back in the groove. It took me about five years from ideation to completion of book one. I know that sounds like a long time, and it is, but I wrote the entire book over three chunks of time totaling around nine continuous months. There was a lot of outlining, researching, iterating, and even some rewriting after that conference last year.

I’m excited to move on to the next stage of this series. I’ve started outlining book two and I’ve started the editing passes for the book already. I’ve already had a critique parter read the first four chapters but I need to find more. If you’re a fellow writer and interested in swapping manuscripts drop me a message.

Status Of My First Novel

It’s been quite some time since a I’ve written about the status of my novel here. I’ve mentioned it on my twitter account but haven’t yet posted an update here. I thought I’d take a moment to give an update as well as what my current thoughts are around publishing.

A few of you might remember my first blog post 4 years and a few month ago where I mentioned I was going to start writing a book. Yea, it’s been that long. I’ve been much more diligent on twitter documenting my progress. Here’s my tweet from over a year ago when it started writing again after a few years on hiatus. Even that was after a long multi year gap of not writing.

The drought between starting and restarting the first time was due to career interruptions, a cross country family move, and loss of focus. I repeated the career interruption this last time around but with only a four month gap in between. WOOT! I hadn’t lost focus this time, I just wanted to give 100% of my attention to my new job and onboarding.

Well I miss the creative expression of writing and want to use it as an inspirational outlet like I did last year. It positively impacted all aspects of my life and I want that back so I’m back to writing again.

116,854 of 125,000 words

So where am I with my book after all this time? I’m currently 116,854 words into my targeted 125,000 words. To the right is a look at my Ulysses.app goal tracker.

This first novel is book one of a planned trilogy. I know, high first publish goals right?

I refined how I was approaching the trilogy last year. Originally I was going to write the books as open ended continuations of each other but after attending a writing conference last year I changed my approach. Now I’m trying to give the first two books reasonable ends. I’m not closing out all of the major plot lines but the reader won’t be left not feeling some form of closure.

As far as releasing them I’m on the fence a bit. I’d like them to succeed but I also know I’m not a super fast writer and my beta reader pool isn’t huge. My options right now are:

  1. Write each book, edit it, and release it when it’s done. Optimize for release and then write the next book and repeat. It’d say this would put me at about a book a year (with my current rate of beta readers and editing). The first could be done by this summer.
  2. Write and edit the first two books and put them in the can. Once the third book is “close” to complete then release the books staggered by a month or two. This would all me to maximize their release and likely reader purchase. I can also optimize the covers, marketing, etc. it also allows me to write it all the way through and just parallelize some beta reading. So long as I don’t need any mass rewrites this could be ideal.
  3. A combination of 1 & 2 but only hold the first book until the second is close to ready. Then release them back to back and preorder the third. This is hoping I could knock out the final book in say 6 months. It’s risky but could get something to market sooner.
  4. Don’t do any of these self publishing routes and try to query publishers & agents and enter the 2-3 year queue of praying authors. This is the least attractive option to me. Even if I decide that self publishing isn’t for me, I’d now have a back catalog to sell from and I’d have learned something. Publishers rarely touch trilogies from new authors anyhow so I’d have to come up with something completely new to query with.

I’m leaning toward #2 or #3 right now. My goal is success without fizzling out which is what happens often with the first option. Readers can lose interest and getting them back is hard. This is especially hard without a back catalog of books and a glut of reading options on the market.

If you have any thoughts I’d love to hear them. In fact if you’re interested in my writing or blog for that matter you can signup for my newsletter. I’ll be sending out regular non-spammy updates about once a month going forward and you can be sure that my books will be mentioned.

I’ll be updating and posting here more regularly again on my progress and process going forward. Thanks for reading!

Writer In Motion: Week 6, Final

The Editor Process:

Full disclosure, I’ve never worked with an editor. I’ve written in school and dealt with teachers but I’ve never published anything with a professional organization, magazine, or website so I’ve never had an editor. I’ve posted thousands of entries on multiple blogs and websites but they were never professionally edited.

So what was I expecting? Given the range in critique partner (CP) feedback I was expecting something that cut deep. While I couldn’t imagine anything with more red than Elle’s critique last week, I braced myself for the worst.

When I saw the email last Sunday I hesitated before tapping it. Until I opened it everything was fine. My CP’s did an awesome job and my writing was better because of it. After tapping it, my ego could be decimated again. But let’s be honest, the point of this exercise was to grow as a writer. To improve my craft and highlight the good, the bad, and the ugly of evolving our writing.

Tapping the edits, it opened in Pages. Yes I have a Mac and iPad and I’m not a fan of Word. The result … as I read Jeni’s edits … I wasn’t destroyed and my heart didn’t drop. She’d rearranged a bunch and cleaned up many things. Yes, there was a ton of red but it wasn’t decimation so much as a shuffling and sharpening. It felt good, it felt clean.

It took me a week to address her changes, not due to the destruction but because of life. I had a planned family vacation and didn’t have a ton of time until this morning.

So here it is, the final version of my Writer in Motion short story. I hope you like it. Thanks go to Jeni Chappelle for her awesome edits and for helping bring this entire event together.


Humanity’s Deep Blue Warning

The seahorse wouldn’t leave Alora alone. It darted about her face and pecked at her neck. She batted at it a few times and missed. The little bites stung.

“What do you want?” she shouted only to realize she’d fallen asleep on duty again. Last time, her boss warned her not to let it happen again or they’d banish her to the caverns.

Unfurling its tail, the seahorse dropped a small shell into Alora’s lap and skittered away. She picked it up and furrowed her brow at its deep blue sheen and intricate yellow stripes.

The shell meant one thing.

What did she miss? She must have missed something to get a blue shell. Pulse bounding, she swam upward from the nook in the reef. The warning shell drifted through the dark water, landing on the rocky sea floor.

Shaking off sleep, Alora gripped her golden trident and swam down the reef she patrolled. Her gills flushed water against her skin.

There, off in the distance, ripples and shadows on the surface some twenty fathoms above. A human boat.

Defending the border was her job, her calling. She couldn’t let her family or her city down. She had to do something.

Alora grabbed a small metal rod, brought it near her trident, and beat them together three times. The deep clangs echoing through the water rousted nearby sea-life. Dolphins, turtles, and the like slinked away to hide.

The noise dissipated and the calm of the water returned but that was about to change.

Bracing herself, she raised her hand above her head, letting the rod fall. The tightly woven kelp rope attached to it gently fell to her hip.

A red octopus tentacle engulfed her arm, yanking her up. She raised her other hand gripping the trident, and another tentacle wrapped around it, pulling her closer to the octopus. The tentacles guided her safely past the jet of water propelling them.

Held in place at the head of the giant octopus, she rested her hand against its skin and closed her eyes. The area where she touched the octopus glowed yellow as her fingers danced over the skin, instructing it. The tentacle grasped her tighter and adjusted course toward the boat.

Two great whites flanked her as they all raced toward their target — her companions had heard the alert. Alora’s gaze locked with each of theirs, the water between them seeming to flutter as if snapping a tether. They awaited her orders.

Coming up under the boat, she thought through her options. Humans didn’t belong here and knew better. They were close to the Atlantean border, and alarms would soon alert all the residents.

She’d end up in the caverns serving hard time if she let that happen. That blue shell was bad enough — she couldn’t risk worse.

Gesturing with her hands, first to the octopus and then the whites, the plan was set. Coming just under the humans, the octopus lifted her up and over the stern, dropping her onto the boat. She landed with a thud against the wood planks, her trident clanging against the nearby anchor.

There were three humans sitting around the edges, glass bottles in hand. One slipped and fell in the saltwater, and the others froze in surprise. Their pitiful human eyes were wide in fear. This race was weak, and they needed to be reminded of their place in the world.

Alora leapt across the stern. Her webbed feet suctioned to the floor and prevented her from sliding. Rage consumed her as she kicked and stabbed each of the scrawny human forms, lifting them over the edge of the boat and into the water. She shook her head. Humans swam horribly. Even clams had more elegance in water.

Screams of agony echoed through the blackness of night as the whites tore the humans to pieces. They painted the water in blood as the octopus ripped planks and contraptions off the rickety boat.

Alora reached up to a tentacle and made contact, reminding it not to destroy the boat entirely. She wanted to deliver a message to the shore. Something the humans would remember.

Her gills were drying out, but there was a faint crying from within the boat. Walking forward, she stopped just outside the vessel’s door and leaned in. She slid the door open. Cradled in a clam-like structure and nestled within a covering that resembled seaweed was a tiny human form.

The baby was innocent. It didn’t know any better and couldn’t be held responsible for the failings of its elders. She reached down and gently lifted it, pulling it close into her chest then returned to the stern.

There, alongside the boat, the whites awaiting Alora’s command played in the blood-red waters. They swam up as she lifted her leg over the edge and slowly lowered onto the back of the nearest, the infant still tucked safely to her chest.

She linked with the white and ordered it toward the nearest shore. The infant needed to be dropped on dry land.

They raced across the surface of the water, and the giant octopus towed what remained of the human craft alongside. There on the bow, she could make out the name the humans had assigned the meager vessel, Point Reyes.

Alora wondered what it meant but realized at the same time she didn’t care. The humans destroying her world continued to trespass near Atlantis.

Part of her hoped they’d heed this warning and change their ways. The other part of her hoped they’d ignore it. Their days were numbered, and Atlantis would soon rise again, retaking this planet that was rightfully theirs.

Word Count: 946

Writer In Motion: Week 5, Draft 3

The Critique Process:

I’ve only recently worked with Critique Partners on my novel so I’m still fairly new to the process. The first review from Jen came in and it was about what I hoped and expected. She made some great points and I worked to clean up the draft. Then the review from Ellen came in. My head exploded. There was so much blood red.

“Man, I’m awful” … that was my first thought. I closed the document and went back to work. I had to wait to read this later after I breathed a bit.

Cracking it open later that night I took it all in. Ellen, like Jen, made some amazing points and lots of suggested edits. I learned so much just viewing both of their suggestions even if I didn’t agree with everything.

After finishing reading the critiques a few times I closed them up and let them soak for a few days … plus work has been crazy lately so I couldn’t edit until Friday night. Well, last night I opened them again, read them several times, and went to work. Below is the result of taking in all of the awesome feedback from Jen and Ellen and coming out the other side with a much better draft than when I started … WOOT!

I hope you enjoy it. And ya, I finally gave it a title.


Deep Blue Warning

The seahorse wouldn’t leave Alora alone. It darted about her face and repeatedly pecked at her neck. She batted at it a few times and missed. The little bites stung.

“What do you want?” she shouted.

Unfurling its tail, the seahorse dropped a small shell into Alora’s lap and skittered away. She picked it up and furrowed her brow at its deep blue sheen and intricate yellow stripes. The shell meant one thing.

Without a thought, she swam upward from the nook in the reef. The warning shell drifted through the dark water, landing on the sea floor’s rocky bottom.

Shaking off sleep, Alora gripped her golden trident and swam down the reef she patrolled. She’d fallen asleep on duty again. The last time she fell asleep her boss warned her not to let it happen again or they’d banish her to the caverns.

Her pulse was bounding. Her gills flushed water against her skin. What did she miss? She must have missed something to get a blue shell.

There, off in the distance, she saw ripples and shadows twenty fathoms above on the surface of the water. A human boat.

She must do something. Defending the border was her job.

Alora grabbed a small metal rod, brought it near her trident, and beat them together three times. The deep clangs echoing through the water rousted nearby sea-life. Dolphins, turtles, and the like slinked away to hide.

The noise dissipated and the calm of the water returned but Alora knew that was about to change.

Bracing herself, she raised a hand above her head, letting the rod fall. A tightly woven kelp rope was attached to it so it gently fell to her hip.

Her arm was suddenly engulfed with a red octopus tentacle yanking her upward. She raised her other trident hand and another tentacle wrapped around it pulling her closer to the octopus. The tentacles guided her safely past the jet of water propelling them upward.

Held in place at the head of the giant octopus, she gently rested her hand against its skin and closed her eyes. The area where she touched the octopus started to glow yellow as her fingers danced over the skin, instructing it what to do. The tentacle grasped her tighter as it adjusted course toward the boat.

Looking left and right Alora checked that her other companions had heard the alert. The fins of two great whites flanked her as they all raced toward their target. Alora’s eyes locked with each of them, the water between them seeming to flutter as if connecting. They were awaiting her orders.

Coming up under the boat, she thought through her options. Humans didn’t belong here and knew better. They were close to the Atlantean border and alarms would soon alert all the residents. She’d end up in the caverns serving hard time if she let that happen. That blue shell was bad enough; she couldn’t risk worse.

Gesturing with her hands first to the octopus and then the whites, the plan was set. Coming just underneath the humans, the octopus lifted her up and over the stern, dropping her into the boat. She landed with a thud against the wood planks, her trident clanging against the nearby anchor.

The three humans sitting around the edges, glass bottles in hand, scrambled from their chairs. One fell on his butt and the others yelped in surprise. Their pitiful human eyes were wide in fear. This race was weak and they needed to be made examples of.

Alora leapt across the stern, her webbed feet suctioning to the floor preventing her from sliding. She kicked and stabbed each of the scrawny human forms, lifting them over the edge of the boat and into the water. She shook her head, humans swam horribly. Even clams had more elegance in water.

Screams of pain and agony echoed through the blackness of night as the whites tore the humans to pieces. They painted the water around the boat in blood as the octopus tore planks and contraptions off the cabin of the rickety boat.

Alora reached up to a tentacle and made contact, reminding it to not destroy the boat entirely. She wanted to deliver a message to the shore. Something the humans would remember.

Her gills were drying out, but she needed to check inside the boat before departing. Walking forward, she stopped just outside the vessel’s door and leaned in. A faint crying noise… an infant. She slid the door open to find the tiny human form. Cradled in a clam-like structure and nestled within a covering that resembled seaweed.

The baby was innocent. It didn’t know any better and couldn’t be held responsible for the failings of its elders. She reached down and gently lifted it, pulling it close into her chest. Walking out of the chamber she returned to the stern.

There alongside the boat, the whites awaited Alora’s command as they played in the blood-red waters. They swam up as she lifted her leg over the edge and slowly lowered onto the back of the nearest, the infant still tucked safely to her chest.

She linked with the white and ordered it toward the nearest shore. The infant needed to be dropped on dry land.

Racing across the surface of the water, Alora looked to the left at the giant octopus towing what remained of the human craft alongside her. There on the bow, she could make out the name the humans had assigned the pitiful vessel, Point Reyes.

Alora wondered what it meant but realized at the same time she didn’t care. The humans were destroying her world and continued to trespass near Atlantis. Part of her hoped they’d heed this warning and change their ways. The other part of her hoped they’d ignore it. Their days were numbered and Atlantis would soon rise again, retaking this planet that was rightfully theirs.

Word Count: 990

Writer In Motion: Week 4, Draft 2

The seahorse wouldn’t leave Alora alone. It swam around her face and kept pecking at her neck. She batted at it a few times and missed. The little bites were starting to hurt. “What do you want?” she shouted.

Unfurling its tail, the seahorse dropped a small shell into Alora’s lap and skittered away. Picking it up she saw that the shell was painted deep blue with intricate yellow stripes around its perimeter which meant only one thing. Swimming up suddenly, she knocked the shell from her lap and it slowly drifted through the dark water to the rocky surface below.

Shaking off the sleep, Alora reached for her golden trident and bounded down the path she was supposed to be patrolling. She’d fallen asleep on duty once again and was certain to get chewed out by her superiors. It wouldn’t be the first time but if she’d missed something it could certainly be her last.

Her pulse was pointing now and she could feel her gills flushing water against her skin. What did she miss? She must have missed something to get a blue shell.

Approaching the end of her route Alora saw it. There, off in the distance she saw something. When she widened the dilation of her eyes completely she could just make out the ripples and shadow far up on the surface of the water. A human boat.

Reaching to her hip she grabbed a small metal rod, brought it near her trident, and beat them together three times. The deep clangs echoed through the water causing nearby sealife to slink away and hide. The noise dissipated quickly and nothing appeared to happen but she knew better.

Bracing herself, Alora raised a hand above her head at the ready letting the rod fall to her hip. It appeared to be attached with some type of green vine.

Her hand was suddenly engulfed with a red tentacle and she was yanked upward. She raised her trident hand and another tentacle wrapped around it pulling her upward toward a red writhing mass. The tentacles pulled her safely past the jet of water propelling them upward.

Held in place at the head of the giant octopus she gently rested her hand against the animal’s skin, interfacing with it and taking control. Their minds connected as she danced her fingers over its skin instructing it what to do. The tentacle grasped her a bit tighter as it adjusted course toward the boat.

Looking left and right Alora checked that her other companions had heard the alert as well. The fins of two great whites flanked her as they all raced toward their target. Making eye contact with the whites their souls connected, they were awaiting her orders.

Coming up under the boat she thought through her options. Humans didn’t belong here and knew better. They were close to the Atlantean border and alarms would soon alert all the residents. She’d end up in the caverns serving hard time if she let that happen. That blue shell was bad enough, she couldn’t risk worse.

Gesturing with her hands first to the octopus and then the whites, the plan was laid. Coming just underneath the humans, the octopus lifted her up and over the stern dropping her into the boat. She landed with a thud against the wood planks, her trident clanging against the nearby anchor.

The three humans sitting around the edges, glass bottles in hand, scrambled from their chairs. One fell on his butt and the others yelped in surprise. Their pitiful human eyes were wide in fear. This race was weak and they needed to made examples of.

One by one Alora leapt across the stern and kicked or stabbed each of the scrawny human forms lifting them over the edge of the boat and into the water. They were horrible swimmers, even clams had more elegance in water.

Screams of pain and agony echoed through the blackness of night as the whites tore the humans to pieces. The waters around the boat were painted in blood as the crushing began. The octopus started tearing planks and contraptions off the roof of the rickety boat.

Alora reached up to one of the tentacles and briefly made contact, reminding it to not destroy the boat entirely. She wanted to deliver a message to the shore. Something the humans would remember.

Her gills were beginning to dry out but she needed to check inside the boat before departing. Walking forward she stopped just outside the vessel’s door and could hear it. A faint crying noise, a human infant. Sliding the door open she saw it. It was cradled in a clam-like structure and nestled within what looked like seaweed but she knew better.

The baby was innocent. It didn’t know any better and as such couldn’t be held responsible for the failings of its elders. She reached down and gently lifted it, pulling it close into her chest. Walking out of the chamber she returned to the stern.

There alongside the boat, the whites awaited Alora’s command as they playfully swam in the blood-red waters. Lifting her leg over the edge they swam up. She slowly lowered onto the back of the nearest, the infant still tucked safely to her chest.

She linked with the white and ordered it toward the nearest shore. She needed to drop the infant on dry land.

Racing across the surface of the water, Alora looked to the left at the giant octopus towing what remained of the human craft alongside her. There on the bow, she could make out the name the humans had assigned the pitiful vessel, Point Reyes.

Alora wondered what it meant but realized at the same time she didn’t care. The humans were destroying her world and continued to trespass near Atlantis. Part of her hoped they’d heed this warning and change their ways. The other part of her hoped they’d ignore it. Their days were numbers and Atlantis would soon rise again, retaking this planet that was rightfully theirs.

Word Count: 1011

Thoughts:

I’ve been swamped this week with work and had no time at all to revise this until the weekend. Under a crunch to not delay the rest of the team I knocked out some changes.

After re-reading through it I wasn’t as worried as I thought. It read pretty well to me. I felt like I could show vs tell better in a few places and clean up some of my descriptions so I did that. Unfortunately, that bloated my word count above the 1,000 word limit. I’m sure my CP’s will knock out some stuff though so in order to keep the ball moving I’m handing it to them.

My first CP for Week 4 is Jen Karner from Syllables and Sass and my CP for Week 5 is Ellen Mulholland. I’m looking forward to seeing their comments and suggestions to move this story to the next level.

From here I’m using my workflow from Ulysses and outputting my draft in a Word DocX Standard Manuscript (MS) form. This is a format that many editors request MS’s in because it’s easy to read and markup. I’ll be sending it on to them this evening.

I hope you like the changes I made. Enjoy!

Writer In Motion: Week 3, Draft 1

The seahorse wouldn’t leave Alora alone. It kept pecking at her neck and it was starting to hurt. “What do you want?” she shouted.

Unfurling its tail, the seahorse dropped a small shell into Alora’s lap and skittered away. The shell was painted deep blue with yellow stripes which meant only one thing. Swimming up suddenly, she knocked the shell from her lap and it slowly drifted through the water to the surface below.

Shaking off the sleep, she reached for her trident and bounded down the path she was supposed to be patrolling. She’d fallen asleep on duty again and was certain to get chewed out again by her superiors. Her pulse was pointing now and she could feel her gills flushing water against her skin. What did she miss? She must have missed something to get a blue shell.

Approaching the end of her route Alora saw it. There, off in the distance, she could just make out the ripples and shadow far on the surface of the water. A human boat.

Reaching to her hip she grabbed her horn, brought it to her mouth, and blew. A deep blast echoed through the water causing nearby sealife to slink away and hide. The noise dissipated quickly and nothing appeared to happen but she knew better.

Bracing herself, Alora raised a hand above her head at the ready letting the horn fall to her hip. Suddenly her hand was engulfed with a tentacle and she was yanked upward. She raised her trident hand and another tentacle wrapped around it and pulling her upward.

Held in place at the head of the giant octopus she gently rested her hand against the animal’s skin, interfacing with it and taking control. Their minds connected as she danced her fingers over its skin instructing it what to do. The tentacle grasped her a bit tighter as it adjusted course toward the ship above.

Looking left and right Alora checked that her other companions had heard the horn as well. The fins of two great whites flanked her as they all raced toward their target. Making eye contact their souls connected, they were awaiting her orders.

Coming up under the boat she thought through her options. They didn’t belong here and needed to leave. They were close to the Atlantean border and alarms would soon alert all the residents. She’d surely end up in jail serving hard time if she let that happen. That blue shell was bad enough, she couldn’t risk a border alert.

Gesturing with her hands first to the octopus and then the whites, the plan was laid. Coming just underneath the humans, the octopus lifted her up and over the stern dropping her into the boat. She landed with a thud against the wood planks, her trident clanging against the nearby anchor.

The three humans sitting around the edges, glass bottles in hand, scrambled from their chairs. One fell on his butt and the other yelped in surprise. Their pitiful human eyes were wide in fear. This race was weak and they needed to made examples of.

One by one Alora leapt across the stern and kicked or stabbed each of the scrawny human forms lifting them over the edge of the boat and into the water. They were horrible swimmers, even clams had more elegance in water.

Screams of pain and agony echoed through the blackness of night as the whites tore the humans to pieces. The waters around the boat were painted in blood as the crushing began. The octopus started tearing planks and contraptions off the roof of the rickety boat.

Alora reached up to one of the tentacles and briefly made contact, reminding it to not destroy the boat entirely. She wanted to deliver a message to the shore. Something the humans would remember.

Happy with the destruction being brought upon them, her gills were beginning to dry out. She needed to check the inside before departing. Walking forward she stopped just outside the vessel’s door and could hear it. A faint crying noise, a human infant. Pressing the door open she saw it. It was cradled in a clam-like structure and nestled within what looked like seaweed but she knew better.

The baby was innocent. It didn’t know any better and as such couldn’t be held responsible for the failings of its elders. She reached down and gently lifted it, pulling it close into her chest. Walking out of the chamber she returned to the stern.

There alongside the boat, the whites awaited Alora’s command as they playfully swam in the blood-red waters. Lifting her leg over the edge they swam up. She slowly lowered onto the back of the nearest, the infant still tucked safely to her chest.

She linked with the white and ordered it toward the nearest shore. She needed to drop the infant in a safe place.

Racing across the surface of the water, Alora looked to the left as the giant octopus was towing what remained of the human craft alongside her toward the same short. There on the bow, she could make out the name the humans had assigned the pitiful vessel, Point Reyes.

Alora wondered what it meant but realized at the same time she didn’t care. The humans were destroying her world and continued to trespass near Atlantis. Part of her hoped they’d heed this warning and change their ways. The other part of her hoped they’d ignore it. Their days were numbers and Atlantis would rise again someday, retaking this planet the was rightfully theirs.

Word Count: 931

Thoughts:

I’m nearly 431 words over target. I’ve not edited at all and actually only reread the story once, trying to not change anything. During the next week I’ll do some self editing before it’s turned over to some critique partners.

I hope you enjoy what I wrote! I’m looking forward to sharing my results after editing and in the coming weeks.

Writer In Motion: Week 2, My Process

The Prompt:

Authors, you may use this image in any way that moves you: setting, colors, subject, the emotion it evokes.

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

My Process

So before I jump into my first draft I want to talk a bit about my process. The term pantser and plotter are relatively new to me but like the Harry Potter houses if I were to pick one I’m definitely a plotter. In a perfect world, it would be that simple but to me, it’s not quite that cut and dry.

While I love to outline and plan as much as possible, sometimes too much, I try to not let it constrain me creatively. I always start my writing using the outline but as I’m entering into each scene or character I let them speak to me as I write. For my initial writing, it’s usually really close to the outline but I’ve found that the deeper I get into character the more I stray from the plan. In my current work in progress this has led to some interesting plot twists I never foresaw in the beginning and as you’d imagine has caused me to circle back and revise the outline.

So in short, I’m a Plotting Pantser!

Outline

So all those words to say first I started this prompt by creating an outline of my thoughts from this image. I start by taking notes and then evolve that into a target plot. Here is what it was:

  • Google search the image and read some articles on the backstory.
  • What do I see in the picture?
    • The field of stars appears to be fake as no real constellations are discernable.
    • Since it’s the west coast it appears to be sunset based on the position of the boat.
    • The boat appears to be in a tidal area of the shore that water can be seen flowing through. Unsure if it’s a Tidal River or not.
    • The boat is quite weathered and has clearly been there a long time.
    • Huge chunks of the starboard side near the stern of the ship appear to be missing.
    • There is a massive gouge above the bridge.
    • Some of the trim on the bow is ripped partially off.
    • There appears to be broken glass on the top of the bridge. Some of those pointy things, what was their purpose and the same for that glass?
  • Brainstorm questions that could lead to a story.
    • How’d it get there?
    • What happened to the crew?
    • Why is it still there now and no one claimed or tried to fix it?
    • How’d it get damaged?
  • Story ideas
    • Drunk captain dies at the wheel navigating a storm.
    • The ship runs aground in a fog.
    • Attacked by something while at sea. By what?
    • The boat drifted somewhere it wasn’t supposed to be and was attacked. By who?
    • Atlanteans!
  • Favorite Idea: Atlanteans
    • The ship enters into protected waters near Atlantis
    • The guard on duty, cool name, is woken up by someone (an important person) to show human a lesson.
    • A guard approaches the ship and in the process is hit with the anchor.
    • Overreacts and aims to teach humans a lesson. Launches an attack on the boat. Throws a bunch of stuff at them, pulls crew under and kills them, rips parts off the boat.
    • Uses sea creatures to deliver the boat to the human shore as a warning.

Writer in Motion

So I decided to scratch my itch and silently returned to my writing about 7 months ago. Those of you who drop in from time to time might remember that I started a novel a few years back and then stopped at around 30k words. Well, since returning to writing late last year I finished the novel at around 113k words and I’m now close to finishing my first round of edits.

It’s been an awesome experience and getting across the first full manuscript finish line felt amazing. I then put it aside for a few weeks and returned to do the first pass of simple edits, checking for plot holes, flow, etc. I’ve discovered a few gaps in my writing skills along the way that I’ll blog about in the future.

Some of the things I’ve been trying to do as I approach the finish line with my first novel was:

  1. Meet my fellow writers and find a community
  2. Work on refining my craft so I can iteratively improve this novel and future writing
  3. Learn from others what needs to be done to publish this thing successfully.

In the search to find a community, I came upon this great Slack writing community called the Writers’ Craft Room. It’s a fun group of people that help each other with feedback, critique partners, Twitter pitches, etc.

While finding my way around the Slack I stumbled upon this cool channel called #writerinmotion. The channel was about a new project the community was kicking off. It’s described as:

“Create a space where readers can see how a writer moves through the drafting, feedback and editing process to create a polished work.”

I was fortunate that they hadn’t yet started so after I begged (not really, I just asked) if they could use a newbie like me and just like that they welcomed me into the launch crew. WOOT!

So here I am, a Writer in Motion!

This will be a week-by-week process where the 12 of us will draft a short story, revise, rewrite, digest feedback, and blog about our process as we move from start to finish. The goal of the journey is to both document and share the process of writing and refining so people can appreciate and fully understand the creative process of storytelling.

If you’d like to follow any of us on our journey you can find my writer cohorts blogs here:

  1. K. J. Harrowick (http://blog.halon-chronicles.com/ & http://kjharrowick.wordpress.com/)
  2. Jen Karner (http://www.SyllablesandSass.com/)
  3. H.M. Braverman (http://hmbraverman.com/)
  4. J.M. Jinks (www.authorjmjinks.com/)
  5. Melissa Bergum (will be posting via KJ’s site)
  6. Thuy Nguyen (http://www.tmnstories.com/)
  7. Kristen Howe (https://kristenswritingendeavors.wordpress.com/)
  8. Kathryn Hewitt (https://spinningmyyarns.wordpress.com/)
  9. Sean Willson (me)
  10. Paulette Wiles (http://www.paulettewiles.com/)
  11. Talynn (http://inkinthebook.blogspot.com/)
  12. Ellen Mulholland (http://www.ellenmulholland.com/)

Look for my first posting the week of June 1st with subsequent postings at least once per week thereafter.