04th Sep2012

Back to School Update

by Aaron

Licensed under CC, Nina Matthews Photography. http://www.flickr.com/photos/21560098@N06/

Well, hello there! Long time, no see. It’s been five months since the last update to Copious Notes and yes, I know, I’ve been very quiet. While that may be boring to you guys, know that when a writer is quiet on the Internet, it’s good news in the long run. Why? Because I’ve been getting work done.

Since my last post in April I’ve been 100% focused on the edits Spirit Hackers. The book is nearly complete. I’ve edited 35 of 39 chapters, completing that 35th chapter just a few days ago. I’m so very close to this third and final round, which gets me quite excited because that means the next step is querying. That’ll be a new and uncharted experience for me and I’m sure I’ll be blogging a lot more with the trials and tribulations I am sure to come across (and of course the pile of rejections).

Spirit Hackers is now over 83,000 words long, which is a drastic improvement to the word count of 72,000 I had after the previous revision. Adding 11,000 more words has filled out the story and I find that my experience with writing the As Darkness Ends books have helped me make the book even better. By the way, that 35th chapter was the first of two for the climax and man, does my protagonist kick butt! I’m jazzed just thinking about it!

At this point I’m pretty much on track to have the edits completed by the end of September, far ahead of my goal to query it by the end of this year. There’s much more to come and I’m really excited to share the tons of writing-related topics floating in my mind, so stay tuned because I’ll have some more posts coming this week and also next week.

30th Apr2012

Falling In Love All Over Again

by Aaron

Time and projects are an interesting mix. I’ve found that it’s a constant effort to strike a balance between being away from and then knee-deep in a Work In Progress. This past week I found myself returning to my old stomping grounds: Spirit Hackers.

While my plans to get back to this long-in-progress book has been delayed by life, I was able to get back into my chair and resume the final round of edits. While working on chapter 26, I was sucked fully-back into the story in just minutes. I reconnected with my characters and it was good, comfortable. Best of all, the hour I spent tweaking was all I needed to spark the drive once more. The following night I was back at the editing after work and stuck with it for two hours.

In that time, I hit a key goal for the book: I broke past 80,000 words. That number may not mean anything to most people, but the 80k mark is the defining word count to make the book officially a novel. In my large to-do list that I reference as I edit in Scrivener, this was another item I was able to cross off!

This is the drive. This is me falling in love with the story again. This is the proof (to me at least) that this book still is a great idea and has a chance to make it out there. Time will only tell on that last part. I’m coming up on a three-day weekend and already I’ve blocked out six hours dedicated to more edits and further reaching my set goal of getting Spirit Hackers out the door to at least one queried agent this year. 2012 is still young and I’m roaring to go on this book.

Have you found yourself detached from a book or project and then sucked back in after just a few minutes? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

26th Mar2012

After These Messages, We’ll Be Right Back

by Aaron

I’ve been meaning to get a new post up to Copious Notes for a while and unfortunately I haven’t had the time. With a moment to breathe, I can finally catch everyone up with where I am with my books and what you can expect in the next few weeks and months.

First, I want to thank everyone who’s picked up a copy of Redbacks. I’m grateful for each and every person who saw the book and thought “oh, that looks good.” Reviews are coming in and the book (currently) has a five-star rating on Amazon.

My plans after the release of the book has been to return to Spirit Hackers and finish the final round of edits before embarking on the daunting task of querying agents. The idea was to start that two weeks ago but then something big happened: I bought a house. It was in the works for some time but now that has dominated my free time as packing and preparing for a move shot up to become a top priority. I think I’ve said this in the past, but the time I get to really work on my writing is on my days off. That time is currently occupied with this whole house / moving thing.

As it stands, I will likely not get much done on the writing front until next month but if an hour here or there comes up where I’m free, you bet your bottom dollar I’ll be in my chair working on edits.

This whole thing has taken the break I had planned for after the release of Redbacks (one week) has morphed into a month. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since a recharge is good for the mind, body, and soul after the end of one project. The most important thing is that I’m still on track with my goals for 2012.

On an unrelated note, it’s been one of the mildest winters on record here in the northeast and I couldn’t be happier. Aside from one snowstorm in October, 2011, we’ve had a total of 3 inches. In mid-march we had the windows open and beautiful 50-70 degree days have graced us at a time when I’m normally just putting away my down coat for my wool one. I love it. I’m getting a bit of spring fever and it’s fantastic. Anyhow, I have a few blog posts in mind for the upcoming weeks so while I may not be writing, I will have plenty more to share with you. Until then, enjoy this fantastic warmth if it’s happening by you!

23rd Jan2012

Of Covers and Red Ink

by Aaron

This past week has been one of not having the utmost control over my work, one where I was not the sole person in charge. This is good news. Just over a week ago I fired out book two of As Darkness Ends to my editor and also had my cover artist begin her work on one of the most important pieces of the book. Of course, nothing goes as planned.

I (mistakenly) thought I would be done with the first round of edits on the manuscript by Thursday the 12th and I would email it to my editor. Surprise, surprise, it didn’t work out that way. Some things came up and I ended up getting the edits to the final chapter and second-half of the previous done late Friday evening. I did make the deadline and got it to her.

The world isn’t without its gremlins because with only 5-pages to go until she got to the end, my editor’s computer bit the dust and wouldn’t boot. She was panicking because she likes to get work back fast but being a techy guy, I know what these things are like and I said it wasn’t a worry. My edits were returned in a week, which is still stellar.

Then we get to the cover. All I can say is wow! My cover artist took a murky idea that I had in my head, let me see that my vision was all wrong and by my request took the reins to create a beautiful cover that I absolutely love. My original idea was busy, muddled, and I did not have much of an idea of what I wanted aside from a few cues I took from other covers I liked. Want to know what a disaster looks like? Well you won’t because I’ll never let those versions see the light of day. I applaud my cover artist on her efforts to make sense of what I wanted when it was a complete mess.

Sometimes you need to scrap what isn’t working and let someone with the knowhow take over. Given the fact that I’ve put together only one cover (Paradox) and she’s done hundreds, I have no problems admitting she’s the expert and has a better eye for this. Admitting defeat was the best move I could’ve made. The cover is great and I am excited to have it be the first impression of the book. As of Saturday, the cover was done and finalized.

With the cover and edits complete, book two is hitting the final stages towards gracing your eReader. Next comes a second round of edits with me going through the corrections and suggestions from my editor to tighten it up and strengthen any areas that may need some adjustment. Lastly will be a final read-through for polish and then it’ll be whisked off to Amazon, B&N and Smashwords.

As I get closer to the final book, I will set a ‘street date’ and I also plan on having a big cover-reveal party and an unveiling of the book’s title (it’s not just going to be ‘book two’!) before that. As those dates and details work themselves out, I’ll be sure to let you all know!

14th Nov2011

Commence Book Two!

by Aaron

Oh, what’s that you see there? An outline for As Darkness Ends: Book Two? Why yes it is! With November in full swing, I have stuck to my plan to slow my final round of editing on Spirit Hackers and begin work on book two of As Darkness Ends. But before I get to that, a quick word about Spirit Hackers.

This book has taken a long time. A very long time. It blows my mind to look at the creation dates of my documents within Scrivener and see that the book took form in 2008, a whopping three years ago. It’s been a long journey and one with many interruptions and stints where I didn’t write. I continue to see the light at the end of that tunnel and I’m oh so close to getting it done. It’s quickly approaching the magical 80k word count and I’m more than half-way done with the final round of edits. In short, significant progress has been made.

My original plan with As Darkness Ends was after its release, to resume Spirit Hackers edits during September and through October. Little did I know that all the self-promotion and work would take up all my time and also require a little break. October was all edits but I am short a month. I am determined to keep on schedule though because the first book has momentum and I do NOT want that to stop.

For all of November I will be writing book 2 and working to have the first draft finished before December hits. Regardless of when that happens, I will not go back to Spirit Hackers until the first draft is complete. I want to give myself a couple of weeks away from book 2 so I can begin editing with fresh eyes. If all goes according to plan (which it never does!) I expect book 2 to hit the virtual shelves in February. Of course Thanksgiving and Christmas / Channukah have to factor into all of this so I’m not setting any concrete deadlines. Finally, with all this said and done, this is the first official post for book two and as such, it gains a place on my right-hand sidebar of current works!

So that’s the rest of 2011 for me. What are you working on to finish up the year? Sound off in the comments!

12th Sep2011

Back To Work

by Aaron

Last week was quite the whirlwind and honestly, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. The launch of my first ever published book was a success and I’m incredibly humbled by those who have supported me and the generous reviews the book has received on Amazon, B&N and GoodReads.

Now… I get back to work.

There’s no rest when it comes to writing. We may take small chunks of time off to recover from a project but our work is never done. You can see from that nice sidebar to the right that I have quite a few projects that are still in progress. I haven’t forgotten about them and now, it’s time to address those.

With ADE (I’m going to begin referring to As Darkness Ends by this at times since it’s easier for me) out the door, my focus is shifting back to Spirit Hackers. I am currently 1/3 through my final revisions and it’s time to buckle down and get it completed. This book has been many years in the making and I’m so close to the home stretch I can feel it. The book is good. Really good. The idea: solid. Even three years after first coming up with the idea, I still love this book. That says a lot.

For the rest of September, I will be working exclusively on edits to Spirit Hackers. Once done, the querying will begin along my hopes of landing an agent who can see the potential in such a riveting story. Based on the pace of my edits, I should have the book nearly complete by then but of course, I’ve made promises like that before. The book is done when it’s done but I also don’t see myself having this book in the ‘Work In Progress’ category for much longer.

If you’re wondering about Book Two of ADE, rest assured that I have ideas written down and a rough idea of what will happen. There will be more on that when the time is right.

20th Jun2011

Knowing Your Length

by Aaron

This past Thursday I began working on the revisions to Project X after getting it back from my second beta reader. In reading her comprehensive and detailed notes, I realized something important: You must pay attention to length!

In working on Project X, I’ve focused strictly on word count and not number of pages. My go-to, most favorite writing software Scrivener doesn’t even understand page numbers as it’s designed to work in small chunks. Only when compiling the WIP into Word do I see where I stand. This seems to have bitten me in the ass.

My second beta reader liked the idea and the execution but felt the story was very front-loaded. It took me 12 pages just to get to the action! The entire manuscript was 29 pages, so this is a glaring issue. It was also a surprise to me since in my Scrivener world, I had three documents broken down to about 1,100 words each that lead up to this action. Broken down, it doesn’t seem like much. Combine it all into real-world formatting and BOOM I’m dragging my feet on the story.

It was only by viewing my writing in a linear format did I see areas that needed improvement. My advantage here was having Scrivener AND Word open side by side. As I read through the WIP in Word (and staying mindful of what page I was on) I was able to make the appropriate edits in Scrivener. With just a few hours of work, that pesky page 12 action was bumped up to page 6 with some shuffling of scenes and cutting fat off the WIP as a whole. Even reading it mid-revision, I see the story is a lot tighter and significantly improved.

Sometimes we need multiple viewing angles to see what needs to be done and that requires multiple tools. While I’ll never do my primary writing in Word, I’ve now seen it can be valuable for analysis in the editing process.

So how do you change your setup and approach when shifting from the writing stage to editing? Sound off in the comments!

07th Feb2011

Beta Blocker

by Aaron

Last week I completed the edits to Spirit Hackers which brought my long and inconsistent writing process with this WIP to another milestone: Second Draft. I’ve talked a lot lately about how long it’s taken me to get to this point but boy am I glad I got here! Any time I complete a stage of this project I am filled with a huge sense of accomplishment and confidence. If you include my Robert book, I have now written two full-length novels.

So what do I do now? Continue the process of course. In the months leading up to the completion of my initial draft, I began lining up some beta readers. I’m not an active member of the Absolute Write forums (haven’t even visited the site in years) and so it was a little tougher of a process finding people I was comfortable in approaching. In the end, I think I made some good choices. My first beta and I tossed a few preliminary e-mails around setting the stage for what I was looking for and in just a few hours my baby, my sacred story, was shuttled through the internet at light speed hurdling towards an inbox. Now the hard part for me: I wait for the impending feedback. Patience has never been my strong suit so I’m doing my best to not tweet or e-mail this person so I’m not a pest. I think I’ll be fine.

With Spirit Hackers off my plate (for now) I can turn my attention to another project. “Another project?! What other project?” you may be asking yourself. Stay tuned to Copious Notes to find out soon.