Think Less – Write More

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I haven’t been blogging for a while – I’ve been up to my ears in a seemingly endless cycle of revisions for a couple of projects. A bit of a different approach given the darkness, the bleak, bone-chillingly frigid temperatures of the Saskatchewan winter is when I’m usually found knee-deep working on a new project. Every writer out there has a best time to write – a period of the day or possibly even of the year when the creative juices are flowing like crazy. Aside from working on new stuff and/or revisions, I’m part of a small Saskatoon-based writer’s group. I hosted a couple of day-long workshops last year and each month we get together for a meetup to look at what we’ve produced and to chart a course for the next month or so.

There’s a common theme in our meetups and it generally spins around a cycle of writing, self-editing while you write, gnashing one’s teeth because you believe the story sucks and of course, the inability to focus on getting the project done. I know … I’ve been there. I get it. But seeing as how I’m the guy in the group with five published works, everyone sort of looks to me to give them a special insight into their projects. I remind them that I am in fact:

a) Not terribly bright

b) Not the best writer in Saskatoon

c) Fortunate to have the help of a brilliant literary agent and all the resources that come with being an agented author

d) Not an editor

Emphasis on the “not an editor” part. See, I try to remind everyone that interpreting a person’s completed project is a subjective process. One editor might think the story is weak, the characters, one dimensional, the plot? Predictable. Writer’s groups are great for moral support and shared insights into each person’s interpretation of what you’re producing, but the true litmus test is to throw that project out the universe and to see what the universe as to say about it. In short, querying agents or submitting to publishers. In order to do that, you have to get the damned project completed, rewritten, revised, scoured, rinsed and repeated if necessary. What I’ve found in meeting numerous unpublished authors is they can’t get past the “I should change this” stage while they are writing. This inevitably leads to the writer getting bogged down in an endless cycle of self-editing while they’re on that evil, vile creature known as the first draft.

If this sounds like you, take a chill pill. That first draft isn’t going to get first drafted when you’re endlessly changing the story while you’re trying to write the darned thing. For me, I like to think of that first draft as a nice shiny new poured concrete foundation for a house that’s about to be built. You can’t have a completed house without a solid foundation and you can’t mix the concrete if you’re constantly tinkering with the ingredients of your ready-mix. You just have to clear your head, write that draft, get it done and then print it off and read it. Send it to your beta-readers if you’ve got some unbiased non-family members available. Consider their thoughts and notes in the margins and then write the second draft. Again, rinse and repeat.

See where I’m going with this? Stage one is the first draft. Most of the writers I meet in my group tend to get stuck playing with their ready-mix concrete, trying like hell to get the right blend and then second or even third guessing their cement mix to the point that the foundation for their house ain’t never gonna get poured.

Think less. Write More. Get it done. Just … write the damned first draft and then look at the lay of the land. There’s a secondary benefit to getting that first draft done, too. It’s called “HOLY MOTHER OF GOD … I WROTE A COMPLETE DRAFT OF A NOVEL!!! LOOK AT ME GO!”

That’s a pretty cool feeling. It’s an amazing feeling. It’s an accomplishment, feather in your cap, rite of passage, insert euphemism here. It’s validation that you actually had the chops to complete something along the lines of 60-100K words. It means that you’re deadly, brutally serious about this business of getting published.

So think about my little pearls of wisdom here. Very simply, the book ain’t gonna write itself – particularly if you’re second-guessing every fifth paragraph. Set a daily word count target and write, write, write the damned draft.

Then pour your foundation and get ready for the next step as you build the book version of your dream house.

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Here’s what I’m up to this year

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me

(Revisions Face. Every Author Wears This Face When They Are Revising A Project.  There’s Usually Swearing Involved.)

 

It’s 2014 and time to issue a small report on my activities, so here we go:

I’ve had two books released in two consecutive years – that’s a pretty decent accomplishment that wouldn’t have happened without the hard work on the part of my agent Jenny Savill. And she’s working hard again with one project that’s currently on submission – I’d love to tell everyone about the plot, but I can’t … its just too cool.  What I can say is that’s it’s not Young Adult, it’s good old fashioned urban/dark fantasy that doesn’t feature a teen witch and her dorky boyfriend. It’s got a hard as hell to kill  main character – a guy I could write about until the cows come home and it takes place in a port city. That’s all you’re going to get out of me for now – I hope like hell the book sells because I’ve already started on a sequel to it so there’s that.

But fear not, YA fans – I’m just finishing up revisions on a YA project that’s about a thousand miles away from my books POLTERGEEKS and STUDENT BODIES. It’s dark, terrifying at times, bleak and if I do say so myself, probably will raise a few eyebrows if we sell it because it’s … well, it’s different from a hell of a lot of YA these days.

And I’m still writing other stuff. Last year I completed a middle grade project – the first time I’d ever tried something middle grade. There’s a hippie grandmother with wild conspiracy theories, her intrepid albeit sceptical granddaughter, a heck of a lot of missing cats and possible alien abduction. I’ve plotted a second book with the same characters involving Bigfoot and a rogue moose on the loose.  I might even write an experimental first chapter these weekend to see if it brings a smile to my face like the first chapter in the first manuscript

I’m also plugging away at another YA project – this time a contemporary one involving a shoebox filled with letters from the Second World War and a very basic premise: once upon a time, young people saved the world.

I’m also spearheading a monthly writer’s meetup here in Saskatoon. I’m planning day-long writer’s workshops on a quarterly basis this year – I did two last year and they were well attended. I have my old day job of course … one day I hope to make the jump to full-time author. That day ain’t here yet, though.

So there’s lots going on. I hope to report a book sale one of these days and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that.  To everyone who’ve cheered me on over the past couple of years – thanks for everything. I’ve had two trips to the UK thanks to my two books from Strange Chemistry. I met some amazing people. I’ve watched English Premier League football in England – that’s sort of like living the dream for a fan who lives on the cold Canadian prairie. It’s been a hell of a ride and I hope for some authorly success to report in 2014.

Have a great year, all!

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Merry Christmas!

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I suck at send out Christmas cards to people – I’m usually pretty scatterbrained most days anyway. But this year, I remembered! Anyway, it’s been a hell of a year and I just want to thank everyone I met during my travels, all the bloggers who’ve reviewed my books and finally, everyone who copped up a few bucks for a pair of books about a teenage witch and her dorky best friend. Merry Christmas to all! I hope your holidays rock!

 

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!
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Sean’s Saskatoon Friendship Inn Super Quick Fundraiser

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Saskatoon’s Friendship Inn feeds more than 500 people a day and they’re looking for a helping hand with their Fill the Plate Campaign. They’ve got an operating deficit because of the ballooning numbers of meals they’re providing to needy Saskatoonians and the good news is Potash Corporation is matching donations during December up to a maximum of $100,000.00.

Look, hunger exists in every city around the world – and The Friendship Inn does a lot of great work in my city not only at Christmastime, but all 365 days of the year.

Saskatoon has been good to me, so I’m going to give back. Here’s what I’m offering to do – a little online auction.

The highest bidder gets these:

1

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh … and these. (They’re audiobooks)

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Plus these three books.

shadefright3d

funeral3dunseen3d

Here’s where you come in … All of my books and the two audiobooks are being auctioned off to the highest bidder. How? By leaving a bid in the comment section of this blog post. Here’s the rules:

When does bidding start?
Bidding opens at Midnight CST December 6, 2013

When does bidding end?
Bidding ends at Midnight CST December 12, 2013

How will I know if I’ve won? 
You can check the comments box to see if yours was the highest bid. But don’t worry, I’ll be contacting the winning bidder with all the information they need to finalize their bid. (Please don’t make any payment to the Saskatoon Friendship Inn until you get an email from yours truly confirming you’re the highest bidder.)

When the winning bidder has been notified, paid their donation to the 2013 Fill the Plate Campaign and emailed me the receipt as proof of payment, I’ll ask for a mailing address and fire off your books. Easy peezy.

How do we know you’re not going to steal the money? 
Seriously?

Okay … so there you go. Let’s see what we can do to support a worthy community agency in Saskatoon – an agency that is vital to the lives of a hell of a lot of people.

PS – it’s -41 Celsius today with the windchill. So, you know, try to put yourself in the shoes of someone less fortunate.

PPS – if you don’t want my books but still want to donate, I recommend it. So here’s the donation form.

Alright … now get ready to bid!!

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Day of the Doctor – Post Awesomeness Thoughts

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As soon as I heard David Tennant say the 50th anniversary episode was going to be a “seismic shift” in The Doctor’s story, I told my better half … “Moffat’s gotta be bringing back the Time Lords”. (Seriously, ask her. It’s true)

Now, granted, Gallifrey is in a pocket dimension and hidden from the universe, but The Doctor is no longer “the last Time Lord” as of yesterday’s epic program that completely made up for lacklustre season Matt Smith’s Doctor has been experiencing. I’m not sure if it’s the whole “impossible girl” thing or the fact that I’m still ticked off at how a giant weeping angel Statue of Liberty ran amok in NYC leading up to the milked for all its worth “goodbye raggedy man” scene where we said goodbye to Amy Pond from last year, but what a celebration!

I’ve been quite literally bouncing off the walls, hoping like crazy for months now that Moffat would do something spectacular on the 50th Anniversary show and I wasn’t disappointed. The episode leaves a number of lingering questions:

1) Tom Baker – is he a curator or is he the fourth in that episode and if so, how? (Or was it a nod to fans like me – Baker was my Doctor growing up)
2) Gallifrey – where is it? Will we be seeing more Time Lords now? I can’t see how we won’t, frankly
3) Is Capaldi the 12th or the 13th Doctor and if he is the final incarnation, will we be seeing a new doctor emerge or will this one get a 14th, 15th & 16th incarnation.

Lots to think about but I will say this much: When this happened, I actually squealed with glee. It was embarrassing for my wife and son who were watching the episode alongside me.

 

capaldi

(Click on This … Behold The Awesomeness)

 Bring on Peter Capaldi and let’s get this reboot going, folks! It’s gonna be a long wait, sadly, until next fall when we finally get to see a new Doctor leave his mark on this enduring show that has stood the test of time.

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