The End is in Sight

I have finished the beta-informed revision of Book 1, which included some structural changes, mostly in the end of the book, and a few insertions where more of Character A was needed, or Character B’s arc needed some tightening.

Of course, I still have a bunch of comments in the Scrivener file.  Some are from me to remind myself to check or fix little niggling things that I didn’t want to waste time on during the major revision, such as “Make sure this word is consistent” because I changed the way I spelled it halfway through the manuscript.

My next step is going to be working my way through all of those comments, using the “View all Scrivenings” feature of Scrivener with the comments showing in the right hand pane.  I click on a comment, it takes me to where that comment is anchored, and I deal with it.

When all of those are done, then I’m going to go through it with a fine-toothed comb to make sure I’ve got as many of the typos and such as I can.  I’m undecided on whether I’ll do another beta pass, or if I’ll just start sending it out into the world and move on to the next project for a while.

And I still don’t have a great title for this thing.  As I’ve no doubt said before, the original working title is shared with a bona fide classic of the Literary Canon, so I’m not sticking with it.  I’ve been idling around The Widening Gyre, as it sort of works, but I’m not married to it.  But I need to figure that out before I can send it out.

Anyway, I’ve got some blog posts upcoming; then the school year is starting soon (WHY ME?).  School year notwithstanding, the next project will be an unrelated space opera.  If Book 1 here sells, then I’ll set that other book aside to work on the sequel–it’s plotted, but not yet written, and I need a break from these characters for a little bit.

What are you working on?

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In Beta, almost done

So, The Widening Gyre is currently still in beta.  I’ve heard back from all but one of the beta readers, and that one gave me some basic feedback, so I’ve been going through all the beta reports.  I thought my process might interest one or two people.

First, I read the overall feedback I was given, and made notes of things more than one individual said or that struck me.  In one case, one of the readers said something about the end of the book that sounded capital-R Right to me, so I asked the others what they thought.  All of them agreed, so I’m reworking the last two chapters.

Second, I went through the in-line comments.  I essentially reviewed each comment, and if I liked it outright or thought it had merit and should be considered, I would copy it, then move over to Scrivener and place the comment into the text where the reader would put it. When I’m done reworking the final chapters, I’ll then go through the manuscript comment by comment, making sure I address each one, and then I’ll do a final pass, with or without final readers if I can find some, to make sure their are no typos or bad grammatical constructions that shouldn’t be there.

Then it’s time to search for an agent.  Gulp.

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The Work Never Ends

As I’ve said, the Damned Book, now tentatively titled The Widening Gyre (and that will probably have to change), is in Beta.

And yet, the solution to something that bugged me in the final chapter finally percolated through the grey matter.  Now, I swore I wasn’t going to touch the book until I heard back from the beta readers, but I wrote down some notes on how to fix that scene.

Then I sat down with my reference materials and plotted Book 2 out.  I’m not planning to start writing it until and unless Book 1 sells (or I decide to just do it anyway, maybe), but having it plotted out makes me feel better.  Book 2’s tentative title is Only Earth’s Rivers Run Free.

Then, because I need something else to work on, I conceived of my next space opera.  The setting is embryonic, and the book isn’t anywhere near even the plot stage, but the essential elements of that plot are in place.  We’ll see how it goes.  But the MC has a name, and a job, and a crisis to get through.  So that’s a good start.  Oh, and it has a tentative title, too: A Rage Across the Stars

In the meantime, I’ve got a critique to finish before I head off to Scotland. So that’s next on my plate, along with some home repairs/modifications I want to make next week, cleaning the place so we don’t come home to a mess, and packing for the trip.

8 days to Scotland.  Good grief.

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The Book, it is in Beta

So.  Two years after Viable Paradise 17, my submission novel is in beta.

Yesterday, I got a compliment re: the book from one of the beta readers.  I haven’t got her full feedback yet (I told my beta readers that I wouldn’t be returning to the book until after I return from Scotland in late June, so there’s plenty of time).  But her immediate gut feedback was quite encouraging.  And unlike at VP when I got compliments from two writers I admire and a Tor editor, I didn’t feel a need to maintain a poker face, so I grinned from ear to ear.  It was a great feeling.

Unfortunately, I then got an email that sent me into a towering rage.  It passed, but the adrenaline surge of the anger, along with the blood pressure spike, left me feeling pretty awful for several hours.  But I’m OK again.

While I patiently, yet eagerly, wait for returns from the betas, I’m focussing my work time on getting all my grading done, and my leisure time on video games and a critique or two I said I’d do.

But still feeling pretty good about this whole writing thing.

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On Raising My Daughter in a Sexist World

When my daughter was born, my wife and I decided to raise her to be proud of who and what she is.  She’s beautiful–and this isn’t just parental opinion–and she’s smart, and we began, from a very early age, praising her intelligence as much, if not more than, her beauty.  We want her to know she’s smart, and we want her to know she’s beautiful, but we want her to prize the smarts more.

When she was four, I asked for a kiss.  She said no.  Like a lot of dads, I pressed the issue.  She got angry, and I realized what I was doing and, horrified at myself, put her down.  She thought she’d done something wrong.  I explained to her that, no, she has every right to say “no,” and nobody, not me, not her mom, not her grandparents or aunts or cousins or even the President–she was fixated on Obama at the time–had the right to make her do anything she didn’t want to.  Ever since then, I’ve respected her boundaries.  If she says no, that’s it.

I do this because I don’t want to have a child who feels pressured, ever, to show affection in any way.  I want her to be herself, and I want her to be strong.  Since she was four, we’ve let her choose her clothing (most of the time).  We let her decide what’s in her daily snack pack, and if she wants a home lunch instead of what her school provides, we do it.*

I worry probably more than I should about the mixed messages our society is going to send her.  We try very hard to make sure she doesn’t grow up thinking she has to be some kind of chaste sex goddess, and we’re honest with her–as much as is wise with someone so young–about the world she’s going to be dealing with.

At the same time, we’re doing what we can to make the world better for her.  My wife models what being a strong woman is.  I model respecting that woman, and all others.  And we make sure she sees other models of womanhood, from housewives to career-oriented women, from families with more kids than we have to families who’ve chosen to have no children.  We’ve placed choosing her clothes in her control, with only occasional parental overrides if she chooses something inappropriate (and my wife and I have to sometimes negotiate, because sometimes our standards differ–and we let her see how that works).

In short, we try to model for her a marriage based on respect.  When we argue, we try not to do it in front of her, but if we must, we’re honest about it, and work very hard to keep her from taking any sides.

Though it’s not entirely because of my child, my novel includes not one but two strong, intelligent female characters at least partly because I want her to see these things in fiction.

She loves superheroes, and I proudly guide her to the best–her favorites are Black Widow and Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel.  She’s happy as hell that when the Captain Marvel movie comes out she’ll be old enough to see it without me having to see it first to judge its suitability.  She’s very upset that there’s still no Black Widow movie, but hopeful there will be one when she’s older.

But at the end of the day, I worry.  I worry none of this will be enough, and she’ll be hit so hard by advertising and the idiotic expectations of others that she’ll be hurt beyond my ability to see or help.  I read stories like this one and I cringe, because it could happen to my baby, too.

We do what we can, I guess.  Bottom line, I will support her, no matter what.

<small>* If you’re drawing breath to tell me how awful it is she eats school lunch: she goes to a private school that serves healthy food.  So don’t go there. </small>

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How I Got Into Kayaking

A few years ago, after watching a video of someone kayaking down the Russian River, I remembered I had wanted to try it for a long time.  So I made up my mind that the next time I went to my favorite camping place, I’d take advantage of the nearby kayak rental and try it out.  Mind you, I’d never taken a class, and didn’t really have a clue what I was doing.

But, I drove to Gualala, and the next morning, my equipment was delivered to my campsite.  The guy who delivered it gave me a quick primer on the equipment, then left.  I carried the kayak down to the water and climbed in.  I spent that whole day paddling upriver, looking over the side (the water in the Gualala is very clear, allowing one to see down about 15 feet (which is the bottom at the deepest parts I’ve seen).  I got close in to the shore, under the trees that grow close to the water, and watched tiny fish maneuver around the roots.  I saw a hawk snatch a fish from the lake.

I loved it.  When I first climbed aboard, I nearly tipped right over, but managed to compensate and stay upright–and that was the last time I’ve ever come even close to tipping on accident.

I say “on accident,” because the next year, I took a course on kayaking, and that required me to tip myself over and climb back on.  Those are the only times I’ve actually fallen overboard.  As to the class itself, I have to say I didn’t learn a lot from it beyond what I’d already figured out by trial and error on my own, though I did learn a couple of useful things.

The big thing is that you don’t steer with your arms–in fact, kayaking is in general a whole-body workout. Steering is done by planting your paddle into the water and moving the boat with your legs–it sounds weird, but once you start doing it, you get used to it pretty quickly.

I won’t be riding any rapids anytime soon, and I’m not ready yet for ocean kayaking (though I look forward to it someday), but for exploring a river or lake, there’s little as amazing as a kayak for exploring wildlife spaces.

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Two Kinds of Games I Don’t See Enough Of Anymore

Starfighter Cockpit Simulations

I love everything about starfighter games.  I love dropping my mind into the game, letting the real world fade away for a moment as I climb into my cockpit, fire up the engines, and go save the world.

I was a Wing Commander fan; I played all the primary games in the series and loved them.  I loved Starlancer, which took WW2 battles and translated them into the future.  I was an INSANE fan of Independence War and I-War 2–in fact I’d still be playing I-War 2 if my stupid PC hadn’t died and left me with a half-functioning archaic machine.

My love of this genre of game translates into my writing–my years of playing I-War 2, in which I basically ignore the plot and just fly around getting into trouble in the open world play, inspired a piece of flash fiction years ago.  That piece of fiction popped into my mind one day in class, and it combined with the class subject (Modern Irish Literature and its relation to the Troubles) to become my novel-in-progress.

But these games are now almost nonexistent.  They had their heydey in the mid-90s, but then they fizzled out.  There are signs the genre is making a comeback, but we’ll see. Apparently Elite: Dangerous is good, but I can’t play it on my PC, so I don’t know, really.  The Xbox One version will supposedly be out sometime this year, but we’ll see.

Superhero stories

I’m not just talking about games based on Marvel or DC properties.  Those can be good (though they’re mixed, really), but stories like inFAMOUS, which I never got to play as it was a Playstation3-only game and I’ve got an X-Box (can I mention how much I hate console-exclusivity in gaming?).  From what I’ve heard, the game is great, and is original, with choice in how you play–you can be the good guy, or the jerk.  I like that .

I want games where a protagonist–and I don’t care if it’s a man or a woman, honestly, though I do like to be able to design my own character when possible–gets some kind of paranormal ability and then sets out to save the world. I’m ok with games that allow you to choose your morality, though I rarely see both sides of the choices given, as being a jackass in a game world makes me feel almost as bad as being one in real life.  I’ve played many Star Wars games, for example, and I’ve only once or twice played the Dark Side, because it just feels creepy to be that big a jerk.  I want to be the hero, not the villain.

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