The difficulties of the third book

Last week, I started Sand and Bone to submit to the writing group. I’ve never written the third book of a trilogy before and I’m struggling with something I never had to deal with before: the previous two books.

The first book is easy, everything is new. Nothing to bring forward. The second book gave me a little more difficulty but it was manageable since I could just make the occasional references to it and move on.

The third is giving me trouble and it seems to be an exponential problem. I have the history of both books to take into consideration. Do I write it as a stand alone novel or with the expectation that readers would read them in order?

I think stand alone is the better approach, though I know very few readers who would start on book three before one and two. Most of them go “oh, book three. Let me start with book one.”

The problem with writing it entirely stand-alone is that I have a few things working against me. I have a conlang in the novel (Miwāfu) which uses names that appear to cause some difficulty with native English speakers (e.g., Kanéko, Mioráshi, and Rutejìmo). For me, they make senses but I have a fan-boi obsession with Japanese and a fondness for German (the accents are gender markers). In the first two books, I added 1-2 chapters in the beginning to get the reader used to the names and only introduce 2-3 characters per chapter. One of the questions is, do I do the same thing? I’m not exactly sure since throwing seven characters in the first chapter can be overwhelming, but five them have been described for 130k words in two other books.

The other difficulty is knowledge. The first two books are about events that significantly drive Rutejìmo. It explains his motivations, his struggles, and triumphs. I can’t figure out how to hash that in the beginning of the third novel without it becoming an info dump or spreading the revelations over 40k words.

I’m still going to write it, because I’ve been planning this book for two years, but it has been an interesting experience to say the least. Not sure how it will work out, but I’m hoping it will be a fun read (when it finally gets done).

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A lot of little things going on

I think if I had to come up with a word to describe the last week, I’d go with “scattered.” I still have too many projects open at the moment, but I’m limping along because of other obligations.

Writing

  • I need to process the edits for Sand and Blood. They are reasonably extensive, but the “Track Changes” caused Libreoffice to choke. That means I have to switch over to Windows and Microsoft Word to integrate them, which makes it just that much harder.
  • I’m mostly done with Sand and Ash except for a short stack of feedback from the writing group. Once I get through those, I’m going to let it marinate for a little bit before finding/reusing an editor.
  • Because the writing group didn’t have enough submissions, I (foolishly) started working on Sand and Bone, the third and final book of the series.
  • I also submitted a short story for an anthology I was asked for. That will show up this Thursday, which gives me a day to integrate feedback and get it in before the deadline.
  • I still have a commission that I keep not finding the time to do. I did tell the commissioner that I was going to be overloaded for a few more weeks, so this isn’t critical. I just don’t like procrastination.
  • I’m still trying to get the swearing and insult stuff done, but I got distracted by reformatting my conlang’s dictionary into YAML.

Support

Outside of writing, I had a little bit of IT support at home. SMWM’s laptop stopped booting on Tuesday. After messing around for an hour or so, it looks like she trashed her hard drive again. I was bemoaning the lack of SSD of an appropriate size when a coworker said that there were 750 GB SSDs on sale. So, I snatched up a 750 and a 250 (for myself since my computer was also locking up) and installed them on Friday. Unfortunately, I forgot to check my hard drive size so I ended up going from a 320 to a 250. Which is fine, I had too much crud on my computer.

Development

Somehow, in the middle of reinstalling my entire laptop, I also did a little bit of work with docbook2odf 2.1.0 and mfgames-writing-make. It now generates an error-free Smashwords documents and fixes most of the outstanding issues. That means that I don’t have to do any manual editing on the resulting document before uploading to Smashwords.

This means that in a single command (make all), I generate the print-ready PDF in A5, the Kindle MOBI, the Smashwords Microsoft Word document, and an epubcheck-verified EPUB. And the PDF handles proper hyphenation for my conlang, drop capitals and epigraphs, and even building the “also by” section.

The system is still badly organic, but it “works for me.” Eventually, I’ll get it cleaned up, but I have so many other things, I’m limping along with this system until I can do something else. But, still nice to be able to have everything in 10 seconds and know there won’t be any errors (in the technical side).

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Been a few weeks

Life has been pretty hectic right now and I’m trying not to push it (I don’t need to burn out at this point). However, I’ve gotten some good progress on a number of fronts including one that is somewhat significant:

  • I finished submitting Sand and Ash to the writing group. I’m still hesitant with my writing skills (mainly because I miss so much), so I really appreciate being able to get people’s opinions on plot, pacing, etc. But, after today’s edit at lunch, I’m currently sitting on a completed book with no outstanding feedback. So, I promptly asked another beta reader to read it.
  • This also opens up for me working on Sand and Blood during my lunch hours. I’ll get to find out if all the wait was worth it. I’m a little nervous there.
  • I packaged a book (print and ebook) for a friend. I did this mainly so I could improve my skills in packaging (for Sand and Blood of course) and they were willing to let me make mistakes. It was a fun experience and I have some new opinions about CreateSpace verses Lulu.
  • I finished a first draft of a sci-fi anthology that I was sitting on for almost a year. Procrastination unfortunately nailed me there and I was struggling to get it written up and polished before the 15th.

So, while it is slow progress, it is progress. And that isn’t something to be upset about.

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Swears, Epitaphs, and Insults

Last Wednesday, I got the edited version of Sand and Blood back from my editor. I got a lovely high from that, being that it has been eight months since I first sent it out, but it also crashed when I realized that there were two things I needed to figure out before I published the book. Plus, working on those two items means I can stall with integrating said edits into the novel.

The smaller (and easier) task is figure out swearing in my fantasy world. And this can be a nasty little thing to figure out.

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And more editing!

Actually, this is turning into a month of editing and I’m pretty good with it so far.

Pressures at work are pretty high right now and I’m afraid of burning out. So, I’m taking a low-key approach to editing these last few weeks (and probably well into March) to focus on other things, like working out and destressing via other mechanisms.

The biggest news, however, is that I got Sand and Blood back! It’s been quite a few months, but now I have a large amount of editing to do there. Which… will take a few weeks I’m sure since I saw a lot of comments. However, I am that much closer to getting it published.

I’m getting excited now.

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A rather stressful week and then another

Last week was rather stressful. We are now three weeks from our code cutoff at work, which means I’m working a lot of hours to try getting as much as possible done. This means that I’m not really planning anything very extensive beyond doing taxes until that goes through.

Plus another week to burn out since I won’t be getting that much sleep.

Games

Beyond that, I just had a weekend of single parent with a Sunday of being childless. I got a chance to play some more Starbound, Pixel Junk Monsters, Costume Quest, and Broken Age.

  • Starbound was great for a while, but I got tired of the grinding for a while. I tried a mod pack and got overwhelmed with options. Then I realized I didn’t really have time for grinding and happily cheated for about five hours before I accidentally screwed up my ship. Note to others, if you are removing the floor, be very careful not to lose the captains chair. That is why makes it fly. And I was a quarter done redoing Firefly as my ship.
  • Pixel Junk Monsters: Eh, it’s a tower defense game. Very smooth on Linux, though.
  • Costume Quest: A bit laggy on my machine even at a lower screen resolution. And I don’t like navigating isometric games that much. But, a fun plot, great characters, and I like the fight scenes.
  • Broken Age: This was a lot of fun, but I only played it a few hours because of the other games.

Editing

I did a lot of editing this last week. And, after eight months of waiting, I got a large hunk of Sand and Blood edits Sunday night. Which means I’m going to do another week of major editing because that was one of the major blocking things for getting the book out.

World-Building

I did write two world-building posts over on Reddit, though. Both of which are directly related to one of my existing novels (mostly Flight of the Scions but some Sand and Blood too). They are here and here. So, if you like to reddit and want to see a bit more of my world, that’s a good place to look.

I still need to figure out the curses, swears, and insults.

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Another week of editing

I spent the last week editing a fair amount, as I showed in a previous post, but I still have a lot more to get done. So, I’m mostly focusing on editing this week, but I also need to figure out something that needs to be done before Sand and Blood comes out: swearing. Yeah, it’s a rough topic to think about, but there is swearing in the book and I’ve had a frequent comment that my curses and swears are a bit… bland for the world I’ve created.

Other than that, I’m going to be editing.

You may have noticed that Author Intrusion hasn’t shown up lately. I’m planning on getting back to it, but I want to get Blood out before I spent a month working on it. Plus, I got discouraged since I worked on the previous version over three years to get where I was. Reinventing all that in two months was probably a bit too… optimistic for me.

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Beta reading feedback I like

sand-and-love-beta-3 One of the things I like to do for my local beta readers is get a copy of the book printed up as if I was publishing it. That includes typesetting it and sending it to Lulu. I usually don’t have a cover, but I just throw a random one on there and print it off.

Yesterday, the first (and only) person to read Sand and Love returned their copy along with a “few” notes and I had to take a picture. That and I had to resist squealing with happiness when she handed the book over to me.

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Rejected by Harper Voyager

One year and three months ago, I submitted Flight of the Scions to Harper Voyager.

Today I got the rejection email.

I’ve been waiting for this email for a long time, but I was really hoping for something other than a “it doesn’t work.” It put a pallor on the remainder of my day.

As much as it hurts, I think good came from the wait. I started Sand and Blood because I wanted to work in the same world as Flight but couldn’t touch Flight or its sequel. So, I got two novels out of waiting.

Speaking of Blood, I think I’ve finally given up on the editor. It’s been seven months and I haven’t seen even a single edited page. For a 60k word novel, I think that long is a reasonable amount of time to wait.

So, back a few steps. I’m not going to say square one, because a lot has happened in the last year. So, I think I’ll go with “a few steps to the left” instead.

The next steps are pretty obvious, at least for a few months. Get Blood out, finish editing Love (which will probably be renamed to Sand and Ash), and then finish SAD. And then… go back to Flight.

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And now a week of editing

Last week, most of my creative energies were focused on something with work which meant I had little time to really do anything. I did some fun writing, but nothing substantial. It was more just having fun and getting a few hours of relaxation instead of working toward one of my goals.

I did get a bit of game playing (Starbound), cleaned, and some home repair (trying to wire a basement room with cat5), but otherwise, I pretty much just chilled.

This coming week, I have a lot of editing for Sand and Love. If I manage to get most of it done, I have a bit of programming work to automate creating Smashword documents and some website maintenance. Other than that, not much else.

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And a lovely Monday to say the least

This last week was a fairly productive one, though not always in ways I expected. I didn’t have any real plans for the week, which always makes me feel like I’m floating in a tub, but given the project at work, it was for the best. (I don’t think I have enough commas in that previous sentence.)

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Board games and broomsticks

This was a pretty eventful week of board and computer games, a bit of writing, and moving forward.

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Apparently adults don’t make mistakes

When I was visiting my dad, my cousin surprised us by showing up with his three girls. The eldest, six years old, and I started playing with blocks. I ended up trying to reconstruct the particle accelerator my dad worked on for a number of years before she convinced me to make a hospital instead. Somewhere around the efforts to duplicate I-94, I-90, I-355, and I-55 using wooden blocks, I made a mistake at the I-90/I-94 junction. I pointed it out (proudly as I’m wont to do).

“Adults don’t make mistakes, my teacher said so.”

I was immediately non-plussed with her teacher. Mistakes are a part of life, and with my style of life, I consider a mistake to be a far better learning experience than always succeeding. I pointed out that everyone makes mistakes, we just make different ones, but I don’t think she was convinced that somehow an adult was less than perfect.

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