I Got The Edits Back on Betrayed! I Have Some Work to Do

I Got The Edits Back on Betrayed! I Have Some Work to Do

Greetings all,

caught-front-coverI’m happy to report I got my developmental edits back for Betrayed from Sara. That means there’s a lot of work to do. This was probably among the more disappointing sets of revisions I’ve had in a while. That doesn’t mean that 1) Sara was mean or 2) she hated the story. It just means there are some developmental issues to work out. Sara is paid to be honest and constructive, and she’s earned her money this time around.

I’m not entirely surprised  in this regard. This is my first trilogy, and I expect the middle books to be challenging. I have to balance pace with development, and most of the things I have to address are in that regard.

In my last update post, I said I wasn’t sure whether I was going to finish Discovered or get right to work on Betrayed. Honestly, I’ve been struggling to get to the computer for the last few days. My expectation is I’ll be getting to work on Monday, and when I do, I’ll be attacking Betrayed.  I hope that before that, Sara and I can talk about things a bit more and ensure we’re on the same page. That depends on her schedule. I might plug a bit more time into Discovered while I wait for a chance to talk with Sara more, but I do intend to get the developmental draft of Betrayed done as soon as I can. I hope those revisions to wrap up by September. I’m feeling like Betrayed will be much closer to early 2021 than 2020, but Discovered should be close on its heels.

Thank you all for your support and your interest. I want to make sure I keep everyone up to speed on what I’m doing because I want readers to be a part of all of this. My hope is these little updates are informative and that they help you get excited about these stories. They are coming.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Let It Go: The Balance Between Deadline and Quality

Let It Go: The Balance Between Deadline and Quality

Greetings,

The Journals of Bob Drifter Front Cover
The cover is copyright M.L.S. Weech, any redistribution without my consent is a possible copyright infringement. All stock images are from Pixabay (This includes the feature photo).

As I type this, I’m waiting for the physical proof copy of the 2nd edition of The Journals of Bob Drifter. This reminded me of a few things I’ve discussed with others in the field.

The main reason I wanted to do a 2nd edition was to gain more control over the price and make it easier for people to purchase. I also wanted to be able to have electronic e-sales. Making this decision allowed me to do another editorial pass. In truth, I did three.

By my count, that means I’ve done about 41 total passes on this book. This isn’t to say I’ve rewritten it, I’m proud to say I only did about three “full” revisions. These were drafts where I changed or rearranged content. The rest were proofreading drafts, and that’s where I want to focus my attention.

There’s this term, minimum viable product. I’ll be honest, I hate that term. To me, it connotes, “get it printed as quickly as possible, and don’t worry about the quality.” Perhaps I take that term too far, but I’ve read work completed under that banner, and to be frank, it never works out well. The typos and issues pull me out of the story and away from the plot.

However, the other side of that coin is even worse. You see, at some point, you have to let it go. This is why I hold so firmly to my process. It’s the balance I’ve found between ensuring the best product I can get to my readers while ensuring I actually release something.

Too many people ever finish a book or never publish it because they want it to be perfect. Here’s the brutal truth: You’ll never be perfect. Of the 41 times I’ve read Bob Drifter, I’ve never failed to find a rather significant number of issues. It’s simply going to happen when one writes 133,000 words. Now, this version is FAR cleaner than the last, and it should be. I’ve been told that the industry standard for “number of errors” in a book is 3% (author and editor friends, I’d appreciate confirmation of this). That means I could theoretically have more than 3,900 typos in Bob drifter, and I’d still be “within standard.”

horizontal-2071304_960_720I never counted, but even after paying my editor to do a pass on the book, I found an embarrassing number of grammar errors and typos. I even noticed a minor continuity issue. (It appears Richard used to own a house that changed color. I fixed that.) I assure you, my editor did a fine job. I promise I gave my best effort the other 40 times I went over the book. The simple fact of the matter is the book will never be “perfect.” I have to give you readers the best, high-quality product I can in a timely manner. That means taking a breath, and letting the story get out into the world at some point.

I don’t in any way agree with the philosophy of “just get the product out.” Those who disagree with me are welcome to, and you can even comment if you wish. This is simply my opinion on a common topic of discussion in the industry.

What I do support is the idea that you have to, at some point, release a book.

What I recommend:

editing-1756958_960_720Develop a plan, and hold to it. I’ve mentioned my plan a few times in a few different blogs, but because I can’t think of any one to refer you to, I’ll just go over it.

Discovery draft: get the story written.

First draft: Fill in holes. Flesh out the plot. Read out loud until you don’t catch any errors. (This usually takes me between 3-7 “passes.”)

Alpha draft: Get alpha readers’ feedback. Take information under advisement and address concerns. Read out loud until you don’t catch any errors. (This time it usually takes me 2-5 “passes.”)

Editorial draft: Sara gets her hands on the product and provides her developmental edits. I take those recommendations into consideration and make appropriate changes. Read out loud until you don’t catch any errors. (The remainder of these “read-throughs” usually take between 1-3 passes.)

Beta draft: Send the draft out to the target audience. Apply their feedback. Read out loud until you don’t catch any errors.

Copyediting draft: This one goes back to Sara. She looks at the structure and grammar. Read out loud until you don’t catch any errors.

Proofreading draft: The last draft before I send it to publish. Simply read out loud until I can’t find an error.

Proof draft: When I get my proof (digital or physical), I read it out loud, making any changes I catch. I don’t repeat the process, I simply correct what I catch.

Is this too much for you? That’s OK, you can’t minimize. I wouldn’t be angry at someone who doesn’t do “read out loud” passes until the copyediting draft.

Arguments against my way: “What do you pay an editor for?”

I’m glad you ask. I pay Sara to catch what I miss. The more errors I blatantly ignore or don’t bother to look for, the more likely she is to miss something. I’m sure Sara would much rather I send her my best than if I send her a group of random fragments for her to polish into a book. If I did that to her, I may as well give her credit as a co-author. She’s the editor, but I’m the writer. It’s my job to give her my best product, and her job to make it better.

ElelefinalHowever, once I finish my process, I let the book go. I haven’t even looked at Sojourn, even though it’s not even scheduled to be turned in until later this winter. I followed my process, and I trust it. I’m sure people will note errors, and I’ll note them and offer my thanks to any who tell me about them, but I did my best with the time I gave myself to develop the story.

This is the process that works for me. You can use it, use your own, or use mine to develop something new. The point is, give your best effort. Don’t expect your editors to take your “least” efforts and make it stand out, but don’t edit a 30,000-word story 30,000 times and take years to release what should come out in a matter of months. (I’m delaying my releases because of a marketing and momentum plan, but those products will be finished well before my “deadlines.”)

A note: Please don’t feel insulted. Perhaps you have a different definition of “minimum viable product.” I’m happy to hear it, though I’ll probably still disagree, it doesn’t make you wrong any more than it makes me right. Like I said, find what works for you. The point is, give your products the love you want your readers to give those products, but remember they can’t love the books at all if you never publish.

What I hope is this post motivates you to publish that book you’ve edited 40 times. Get that story out in the world because you worked hard on it. If you’ve just finished the first draft of a product, do the story a favor and give it a few passes to make sure it’s the best it can be. Perhaps if they called it “most timely viable product,” I’d be more willing to accept it, but that’s not the case.

I hope this motivates you either way. I’m very eager to hear editors’ and authors’ opinions on this matter.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

That Pesky Pronoun: A Pitfall of 1st Person Narrative

That Pesky Pronoun: A Pitfall of 1st Person Narrative
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All Stock images taken from Pixabay.

I’m taking the chance to work on Images of Truth since I’m waiting for the editor to get back to me with Sojourn and Bob. This project is so much bigger than either of those. How much bigger? Well, I’m at 107,000 words, and I’m not even halfway done (though I’m at 47 percent based on my math).  Using POV writing as opposed to first person narrative is much easier to do though now that I’ve written a complete story with both techniques.

That gave me an idea on what I could share with people in today’s blog. Last week, I talked to you about Adverbs. Today, I’d like to go over something I saw a lot of in my fourth set of revisions of Sojourn.

When I first wrote about first person narrative, I spoke about the pros and cons. What it let me do was limit the scope of the story and focus on the character I wanted everyone to connect with most (in this case, Elele). I stand behind the idea that it was the right call. Now, this may backfire on me for a few reasons I won’t get into in this blog, but I made a decision based on what I felt was best for the story, which is all any writer can do.  That said, one consequence I didn’t think about what how many times a writer would be tempted to write “I.”

The first was easy to fix because of my experience as a journalist. I teach my students that observation is the most powerful tool they have, but a lot of my students feel the need to tell me they saw something. “I watched,” “I heard,” and “I felt” are attributive clauses that aren’t necessary. Want to see what I mean?

Here’s a paragraph from the third draft of Sojourn:

I watch as they fuss over their pod mother. She touches them and embraces them. 

Dozens of Seferam each check on the oldest member of their family as I observe, breathing in moist air.

So here’s a question to ask yourself.  Isn’t this story in first person? So of course she’s watching and listening. I don’t need to tell the reader that because the narrator is the character doing the watching and listening. Now, I’ll be honest. Even though I looked out for it in my last draft, I still have those types of clauses in there. I’ll have to do a search and get rid of it. It’s wordy and unnecessary.

Here’s what that segment looks like in the fourth draft:

They fuss over their pod mother, and she touches and embraces them. 

Dozens of Seferam each check on the oldest member of their family as I observe, breathing in moist air.

alphabet-2082547__340Yeah, I still have her “observing,” but I felt I needed that to show her position in relation to the other group, not to prove she saw it. One could argue I don’t even need that bit in there, but it’s a step up from the last draft.

So when I sit down to do my final draft, you can bet I’m going to search for the clauses “I watch,” “I see,” “I hear,” and “I feel.” I’ll delete that, and watch my story’s word count shrink. This will make my prose cleaner, more readable, and more active.

But that’s not the only thing to watch out for with that pesky pronoun.  Naturally your character is going to do things, and, since you’re using first person, there will be the temptation to start pretty much every sentence with the pronoun in question. Quintessential Editor (who was so kind to Alpha Read) for me, pointed out how often I did that. What that actually does is dehumanize your character. It buts the character in the way of her own story. So let’s go all the way back to that first draft of Sojourn and see what Corey wanted me to see.

Here’s the Alpha Draft:

I close my eyes an instant before I approach the threshold. I feel something brush over the tip of my nose. The heel of my left leather shoe scrapes along something too. I open my wings, and use the force of the air to turn just before I glide into a red-painted wall. My wings strain at the effort, feeling as if they might yank off no matter that my mind knows that’s physically impossible on a mathematical level.

Notice that three out of four sentences begin with “I.” Notice the word “I” is in that sentence five times. We want to get rid of some of that redundancy and make this a bit more active? How do you do that though without a subject? Well, I choose a different subject.  Let’s look at this latest draft.

My eyes clench shut an instant before I approach the threshold. I feel something brush over the tip of my nose. The heel of my left leather shoe scrapes along something, too. I use my wings and the force of the air to turn just before I glide into a red-painted wall. My wings strain at the effort, feeling as if they might yank off no matter that my mind knows that’s physically impossible on a mathematical level.

Now, two out of five sentences begin with “I,” and I only see that pronoun four times. Just look at it though. See that “I feel” there? That’s right. This needs a nice, final once-over for just that problem.  Like I said, I know it’s there, but now that I edit for it, I’ll think about it more as I draft. So let’s look at how this paragraph should probably end up:

My eyes clench shut an instant before I approach the threshold. Something brushes the tip of my nose, and the heel of my left leather shoe scrapes along something else. My wings open, and the force of the air causes me to turn just before I glide into a red-painted wall. My wings strain at the effort, feeling as if they might yank off no matter that my mind knows that’s physically impossible on a mathematical level.

letters-2077234__340Now, I have four sentences, and not a one of them starts with the pronoun “I.” In fact, that pronoun only appears twice. The structure of the sentence is still active, I’ve only changed the subject and the predicate. I noticed it more on this draft, but in the final draft, I’ll look for things like this to tighten up that prose and make life easier on the reader.

I thought you’d all like a glimpse into the editing process and note things to look out for. I’ll be better at it the next time I write in first person, but, at the very least, I know to look out for that before I through one word at a reader a hyperbolic number of times.  If you’re writing in first person, try this out. Do a search for the word “I.” If your program is like mine, (I use Pages, but that’s more because it came with my Mac than an endorsement.) the program will highlight all the instances. I did it with my first draft, and suddenly it looked like someone overlaid my document with sheet music.  I mean yellow highlights everywhere!

Like adverbs, you can’t eliminate a part of speech entirely, nor can you simply never use that pronoun. The trick is to use it when you need it, and not to let it get out of control. Trust me, I’ve read each of these four drafts about seven times each, and I still see instances where I can revise and tighten the structure of my sentences (sorry Sara!).  Like any tool or trick, you want to do everything you do with intent and awareness.  I hope this gives you something to work with in your drafts.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

Frantically writing Badly: The trouble with adverbs

Frantically writing Badly: The trouble with adverbs
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All stock images were from Pixabay.

I’m almost finished with my edits to Sojourn in Captivity, and I came upon something during my revisions that I thought I’d share with you.

General writing advice states that “Adverbs are bad.” This was most recently (Yes…that’s an adverb, but I needed it) reiterated to me in Elements of Fiction Writing-Conflict and Suspense by James Scott Bell (I’ll review that soon, I promise). Bell says, “Always see if you can find a strong enough verb to stand on it’s own.”

So let’s talk about those pesky modifiers.

What are adverbs:  Adverbs are one of the eight parts of speech.  They most commonly (see that?) modify verbs, but they can also modify adjectives and other adverbs. They usually (yep..there’s another one) end in “ly.”

So why are they bad?

I offer two reasons why adverbs are almost never helpful:

1) They’re vague. People tend to want to throw an adverb in there because they have a clear picture in their mind about what they see, but they’re not looking for the best word. So they do something bad writers do: they fall under the illusion that more words makes bad writing better.  This is false. More words don’t make a sentence more clear or a book better. Here are some examples:

He quickly ran – So…you mean he sprinted.

He said softly – So….you mean he whispered.

He shouted loudly – Okay, now you’re just being ridiculous. Have you ever heard someone shout quietly?

eye-2286601__3402) They cause more problems then they solve. The second problem isn’t about the adverb one uses (though you’re better off if you replace it with a stronger verb). It’s about where people put adverbs. Adverbs are modifiers, and when you put a modifier in the wrong place, you alter the wrong verb, adjective, or adverb. My students recognize this as a misplaced modifier. Here are some examples:

He fought until he tirelessly finished his work for the day. – No.  I don’t think he finished tirelessly. In fact, I’d wager he was exhausted by the time he finished. I think that because I’m pretty sure he fought tirelessly

He typed until he quickly finished his writing for the day. – Well, maybe he did finish quickly, but the way he finished quickly was by typing fast. Here, there’s less confusion about what the writer meant, but I’m telling you it still makes the writer look bad.

What I hope I’ve done is help you see why adverbs cause problems. Can you eliminate them completely? (Obviously (Yes….I’m aware of what I did twice in a row.) not.) What you want to do is make sure each adverb is justified. Every time you write an adverb, justify its existence as if you are justifying your right to be a writer.

What did I do?

First: I did a search for ly.

manuscript-1614234__340My trusty writing program told me I had 406 adverbs in my story. I went adverb to adverb, just as I recommend you do. When it was all said and done, 363 adverbs remain. That’s not entirely true. (Wait…I mean there’ s more to it than that). My word program said there were 363 words that end in the letters ly. That means the word family would appear in the search. I’m not sure how many actual adverbs I have left, but I’m happy I switched out about 40 for stronger verbs. The story moves better. Each sentence is stronger for it.

Following this plan, or one like it, will do the same for you.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

A Sojourn in Captivity Update: How I Use Beta Reader Feedback

A Sojourn in Captivity Update: How I Use Beta Reader Feedback
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As always, all stock images are from Pixabay.

Last weekend I received the feedback from my wonderful beta readers.  Before I do anything else, I’d like to thank them.  My deepest gratitude goes to:

Elizabeth Drake, Jenn Moss, C.L. Schneider, (The rest I’ll use first names only as they’re private citizens.) Ashley,  and Alora. You all are amazing people and very busy, and it means so much to me that you took time out of your schedules and lives to provide this humble indie author some insight into the book.  I didn’t imagine we’d have room for any sort of “acknowledgements” page, but eventually, I’ll be giving shoutouts to you and the alphas and editors.  But today is for you wonderful betas because it gave me the idea for this blog.

The story writing and editing process is as unique as the author creating the story. I thought it’d be interesting for me to share with you what I look for from and in a beta reader.

What I ask of them:
I’ll do another post at some point on what I look for in an alpha reader, but the short version is I’m more demanding of them because I need my alphas to make sure I don’t look like a moron. My betas are there for me to be test readers. So what I did is send them my character analysis sheets and ask a few questions.

mixing-1584267_960_720The character analysis sheet is just a term I made up to sound smart.  All I do is ask the readers to rank the character, description, dialogue, world building, and exposition for me on a scale of 1 to then.  I expand the “character” sliders to include sympathy, proactivity, competence, and power. This is how I review books; this is how I evaluate books, so this is how I like to receive feedback.

Then I ask what I feel the most important questions any author can ask the reader:
What do you think of the story as a whole?
What do you think about the main character (in this case Elele) at the beginning of the story?
What do you think of the main character at the end?
Would you want to read another story in which this character (and others) appear?

Then I invite the reader to add any thoughts they find relevant.

early-seferam
One of these days I’m going to have a more accurate rendering of Elele, but until then, you’ll keep seeing this very rough concept sketch. 

So I sent the book out to betas and gave them a few weeks (I try to let them have two days to read a single chapter or segment) to read the story. When I got the feedback, the first thing I did was thank them for their time.  This is critical authors. These folks are reading your work, the least you can do is let them know what it means to have them offer their time.

Then I opened up a document and typed whatever comments they gave me. For those who quite frankly went the extra mile and sent back the document with notes in the copy, I saved those files to a folder.

I’d be very interested to see what others do via the comments below, but here’s what I do:

Respect everything they say. You’re going to hear feedback. You won’t like all of it. Heck, you might not like any of it. I turn my ego in before I open a document.

While everything each beta says is valuable, what I look for is overlap.  What do they all love? What do they all hate? What do they all think? What trends do I see.  This is why I tend to want between 10 and 20 betas. The bigger the sample size, the more likely you’ll have enough opinions to really help you sort things out.

I’ll peel back the onion a bit here. The number one bit of feedback I got from every single beta is, “The story starts too slowly. There’s too much information to swallow.” Or something to that effect.  Here’s how feedback works in the photojournalism field. One person’s opinion is just one persons opinion, but if everybody who says anything says the same thing, that’s truth.  They all wanted to start closer to the action. (And when I review Conflict and Suspense, I’ll talk about that a lot more).

So when the majority of the betas say the same thing, I trust that majority. But what do you do when there isn’t one?

horizontal-2071304_960_720Well, I sort of take the liberty to trust my own feelings. If it’s a mixed bag, I understand that people are going to like some things and hate others.

I put the bigger weight on the betas who fall within my target audience. They’re the ones who I care most about because they’re the ones I want to buy this story. Some of the beta readers I have here provided critical information, but they’re more secondary alphas than actual betas. I trust their options more in matters of style and craft.

So an example might be if one of my style and craft beta readers thinks the dialogue isn’t working, I trust that, because they’re experts. I do this even if my “main audience” betas gave my dialogue 10s. This works because if I improve the writing of the dialogue, the “main audience” betas are only going to like it more.  I give those main audience more weight in terms of how they feel about the character and the plot.

An example might be YA themes. I’m not actually a fan of teen or YA books.  I can appreciate them and respect them, but I don’t like some of the storytelling elements in those genres. So if one of my friends asks me to read a YA book, I read it, but I’m not going to tell them I don’t like this character of that character if I can tell it’s a genre bias. But if I sent a YA book to a 19-year-old, and she hates the character, then I’m real scared.

So that’s it.  I look for overlap (what are they all saying or agreeing on). Then I give tie breakers depending on why I asked that person to beta read.

Armed with my feedback, I create a “revision plan” document in which I plan on going over each segment several times (one time per issue I annotate in my plan). Then I go over it again (another several times) for each document the betas sent me via the actual copy of the story.

Once I finish this draft, it’s off to my editor for a copy-edit, and then I send it out.  How do you use beta feedback?

I want to say one more time how grateful I am to those beta readers who helped me out. I may not apply all of your changes, but everything you said was heard and noted. You’ve made me a better writer, and I can’t thank you enough for that.

Thank you for reading,

Matt

State of the Weech: What’s This Guy Up To?

State of the Weech: What’s This Guy Up To?

I’d mentioned earlier this week that I had intended to do a post going over my schemes for the next little while.  I wanted to do that today because there’s a lot happening.

First, I’m happy to announce the discovery draft of my short(ish) story, Sojourn In Despair, is finished! I wrapped that up Dec. 22. So I’ll wait about a week before I try to revise that into a first draft that Alphas wouldn’t want to throw out of a window.

caught-cover-finalI’ve learned a lot this past year. I wanted Caught out in March of 2016, and I couldn’t make it happen until 2017. This is because it’s not about releasing a book for me, it’s about releasing a GOOD book readers will enjoy.

Revising always takes me an extremely long time, and I wasn’t anticipating a fifth and sixth draft. I want to say this because writers are in love with their work, and they’re either in too much of a hurry to get it out (normally me) or too afraid to put it out there. There’s a balance to this I hope everyone finds. You have to be willing to stand behind it.

When I sent Caught to Marco for an edit, he gave me a lot of information that I think made this book that much better. But it meant taking time to apply that feedback. This is part of the art. This process also taught me a lot about how to look at work. I’ll be using this process again in the future.

I want to help other authors avoid mistakes I make. I want each project I release to be more successful than the last. So I hope this information helps those who are afraid to show their work to many people. Get lots of feedback. Hire. Professional. Editors.

I feel far more confident about Caught than I did about Bob. I also feel more realistically optimistic (not an oxymoron I promise).  But, now that Caught is scheduled to hit the digital bookshelves, I have time to do more stuff.  So here’s a list of my projects in order of priority:

Sojourn in Despair: Elele’s story is drafted, and now I have to do the work that takes a solid early-seferamidea into a well-told story. I’ll take a week off (maybe accidentally write a short story and submit it, Hi J.R.).  But once that week is over, I’ll do another draft of Sojourn. This one will still go by quickly, but each draft will take exponentially longer than the last.

Re-release of The Journals of Bob Drifter: I’ve been quiet about this, but it’s time I start talking about it. I feel this was a great story, but I made a lot of mistakes in how I published it. There are also some glaring typos I want to fix. The story will not change. The main priority of this effort is to bring the cover price down and gain more control over pricing. I want Bob to be more affordable to my readers. I’ll chip away on this in between drafts of Sojourn.

Images of Truth: This book is going to be wonderful. I was about halfway done when Caught revisions became my soul purpose in life.  Elele (from Sojourn) is in this book. She’s one of four primary characters, but this book focuses on Jammin, a young aspiring photojournalist who finds himself a stowaway on a special forces spacecraft in the middle of a secret war effort.  Sojourn is the story of how Elele came to be where we find her in Images. I want to finish this discovery draft quickly. The release of this book is a long way off. But I like having a draft done.

Revisions of 1,200:  1,200 is the story of a homeless veteran who is secretly using his recently-discovered magic to help the rest of his fellow homeless veterans. I want to revise this sooner rather than later, but if Caught does well, this will be the project that falls father in the back burner.

kaitlynThe sequels to Caught: I have a confession to make: I accidentally outlined a short story about Kaityln.  Not outlined exactly, but she’s such a wonderful character. She whispered in my ear (I’m not crazy; I promise) the whole flight to Arizona, and I got off the plane with a great little story just for her. This isn’t part of the trilogy, but her short story will be released in 2018. When in 2018 is something else entirely, but it’ll be out. Books Two and Three of the Oneiros Log will be revised and drafted accordingly. It may be ambitious, but I want all three projects AND Images drafted by the end of 2017.  I don’t know when I’ll publish them. So much depends on releasing a book, and I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep. Once Images is drafted, these will be the books I outline and draft. What I will promise is that as soon as these books are ready, I’ll get them to you.

150912-n-tk177-008The plan is to rotate edits between Sojourn, Kaitlyn’s story, Oneiros 2 and 3 until all of them are ready. 1,200 isn’t the biggest priority right now, but it’s a great project to step away to when I’m feeling bogged down. I may also decide other characters from Caught need their own stories. This depends on how loud they get in my imagination and how successful Caught and Kaitlyn’s story are. I do intend to release short fiction (novellas 40K or less) more regularly. This is so you all have stuff from me to read while I work on the larger books. For other young authors out there, this also helps me keep product hitting the shelves and earning income which will fund edits, covers and revisions for the larger products. I feel this was a solid idea on my part, and it keeps me writing.

I’ve been writing since I was 7 or 8. It’s been my dream to be an author since I was 17. Even now, what I’m doing is a dream come true. However, I’m never one to settle. I don’t just want to be a published author. I want to be successful. I want one day for this to be my primary source of income. That said, in a way, you all are so amazingly important to me. You’re here now, in the beginning, when it’s hard. You’re here for me when I’m up at midnight writing a blog or drafting a story. I can’t tell you what you mean to me. I can’t tell you how amazed I am that you’ve shown an interest in my dream. I hope you’re as excited about these projects as I am about getting to work on them.

So, I’ve been particularly blessed this Christmas, because every single time one of you shows interest in my work, that’s a gift you give me. Aside from the love of my friends and family, that’s truly the greatest gift I could ask for. I hope you all have the happiest of holidays and New Years. Thank you!

For today, and the days that follow, thank you for reading,

Matt

Caught is FINISHED!

Caught is FINISHED!

Caught CoverAfter more time and revisions that I could ever count, I’m so very proud to say that my second book is ready to send off for review and, more importantly, publishing!  I don’t know that this feeling will ever get old for me, but I plan to enjoy every moment I can every time I reach this stage.  About a year-and-a-half ago, I published The Journals of Bob Drifter. I had no idea what to expect, and I honestly didn’t know what I was doing.  I just wanted to publish my book.

Caught is different. I’ve mentioned a few times. It’s darker, but I feel like it’s a step forward for me as an artist. I learned a lot from Bob, and I’ll always be proud of it, but if I’m not pushing myself to reach new levels of skill, I’m going to be irrelevant before I’m even heard of.

This process is still going to take some time, but it’s a matter of weeks now instead of months.  I want to send it to some reviewers (Kirkus and Red City) for cover blurbs. While they take a swing at it, I’ll probably address some style issues and do another proofread. One thing I regret about Bob was not doing another proofread.  It’s a problem that I’m not sure I’ll let stand for much longer, but I don’t have to make that mistake with Caught.  So there will be a lot going on here in my life. I’ll be setting up my book for publishing, waiting for the reviews to come back, and taking that time to do another read-through just because I care that much about fixing any mechanical issues that may pop up in the book.

new-lion-iconI don’t have a release date yet, but I’ll announce that as soon as I get a few things figured out. What matters to me is first that my dream has come true a second time.  That doesn’t happen without God’s help, and a lot of help from some very important mortals as well.

I’d have to start here with my mom.  The reason for that is she had a nightmare once.  She told me about it.  I filed the thought away and the result is this book.  I love my mom. I think a lot of my creativity and drive comes from her side of the family, and this book is a result of her many conversations with me about stories.

Ben is my alpha reader, editor, best friend, and pretty much whoever else I need in life.  He is and will ever remain the first person I send my books to.  If I never sell another book (I’d rather sell a million), I’ll keep writing them so long as he enjoys them.

Rosa was the first person to read this book (and a very rough draft at that) after Ben.  I’d just gotten to know her and she picked this up to read and wouldn’t put it down. She took it home and read through it.  That was one of the first times anyone just read my work for the sake of reading.  It was a big moment for me.  This was before Bob came out, and I was very nervous about sharing my work.  She’s of the opinion this book was better.  I have a soft spot for Bob, but I’ll admit I feel confident this book is, at the very least, written better, especially after all the editing.

Marco Palmieri of Otherworld Editorial took what I thought was my final draft and showed me how to make these characters even more impactful.  He did this during an incredible transition in his career and some emotional struggles as well.  Even then, he and I sat over a phone call and hashed out the character and plotting of the book to find ways to amp up the development and growth of the characters.

Quintessential Editor did a few passes on my book.  He’s my continuity editor on this project, and I’ll keep working with him as long as he keeps putting up with my random messages and Naruto interruptions.  Corey, thanks for your unwavering support.

kaitlynPeggy has become a huge supporter of mine after Bob.  She’s read a few key scenes here and there, and I can’t wait to see what she thinks of the finished product. She’s a one-person sales and celebration team who I’ve come to admire more and more since meeting her.

There are more, but these are the people who I wanted to give special appreciation to as I head into the publishing process.

So what do you do when you accomplish a life-long dream for a second time?  You start writing another story.  I’ll plow straight into Sojourn in Despair so that project can be finished by deadline.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Caught Update

Caught Update

For those following my Twitter feed, you may have noticed that my updates on where I was at with various chapters had stopped.  The reason is I’d reached an important benchmark.

sign-697219_960_720A note on editing:  Part of the revision process involves beta readers and editors.  The editor suggested something that scared me if I’m being honest.  We discussed changing the main character’s arc.  This required some extensive rewrites and several polishing drafts.  This is where I’m extremely weak.  I’m the most impatient person I, or anyone who knows me, know.  I hate editing.  I write a book so that I can write another book, and then another.  So any time anyone so much as recommends a tweak, I’m already grumpy.  This time around, I’ve done a much better job of being patient.  Rushing a low-quality book to you all is just going to disappoint you, so I made the commitment to make those revisions and a few others.

Once I reached the half-way point and got the main character to where he needs to be, I wanted to get a few opinions on it.  Quintessential Editor was more than happy to take a look and provide feedback.  So what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks is going over the first half of the book and addressing whatever notes my betas brought up.  I’ve just finished those tweaks, and now I can move on to the second half of the book knowing I’ve made these corrections, and these corrections have made the book more compelling and more satisfying.

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Example of a character arc.

Now that I’ve finished with the adjustment of the main character, I think edits will go by more quickly.  There’s still a bit more I have to address which will slow me down at times. I may also have to add a chapter or two, but I think I can realistically expect to release Caught this fall as promised.  I’m still aiming for September, but I won’t rush.

I thought this gave an opportunity for me to talk about revisions and keep you all in the loop because this process has always been fascinating to me.  Our work is an extension of ourselves.  Pouring our heart and soul into what we’re doing makes us very sensitive to anyone saying something wasn’t quite right or satisfying.  What matters is the story though.  It’s up to me as an artist to tell the story accurately in the best way possible.  By accurate, I mean true to the character.

That’s what made these revisions so challenging because I was concerned that the character would be forced to go in a direction he wouldn’t go.  I’ve very careful about not making  a change just because someone says it would make the book more successful.  If the character wouldn’t do something, I wouldn’t have him do something just because someone said it would help the book sell.

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We don’t see strength through victory; we see it through overcoming adversity.

For this main character, it wasn’t so much about making him do something he wouldn’t, it was allowing him to feel and react to what he’d been going through.  Adversity shapes us, and it shapes our characters, so when Sal was put in this awful position, I needed to give him the chance to react and grow.  Ultimately I feel you all will be pleased with the final product.

I’m still impatient.  I hate the idea of delays.  I’m not done with Caught, I haven’t started Sojourn in Despair, and I’m stuck half-way through the discovery draft of Images of Truth.  When you’re an accomplishment driven individual, a bunch of half-finished projects is pretty much hell.  The way I get through this is to remember how much I hate poorly done projects.  I’m crafting the best book I can, and I’ll release it as soon as possible.  You deserve that much.

So I’ll keep you in the loop as I finish revisions.  I have a bit more to do with artwork before I can begin the publishing process.   Until then, as always…

Thanks for reading

Matt