The Fear of Long Books

This is something I’ve noticed lately in my time spent in various author places online. There is an almost pathological fear of long books.

I see post after post from people worrying about their word count, that their book is “too long.” I see post after post of people saying “Keep your book short because all long books are unedited pieces of crap and you don’t want to bore your reader!” (Paraphrased.) Many of these posts I see are referring to books in my genre — SFF.

The word counts I’m seeing this about? 150K. 130K. 100K.

*looks at 250K first novel that was extensively edited and also pretty well-received*

It’s really weird to claim that all long books are “unedited”. It’s like there’s this assumption that you can’t POSSIBLY need that many words to tell a story; that if it’s that long, it means you couldn’t cut what was unnecessary.

Sure, there ARE longer works that haven’t been cut down as much as they should have (though to be honest, this usually happens a bit into a trad-pubbed series, when no one dares tell a popular author “No” anymore — see: George Lucas & the prequels). I’m not saying that it never happens; I just think it’s weird to assume it’s ALL that ever happens.

Continue reading The Fear of Long Books

I’m failing Nanowrimo this year (and considering it a success)

I know what you’re about to say.

You can’t fail Nanowrimo, so long as you get some writing done!

If that’s the criterion, I have failed this year, because I have written 0 words. Zero. Look:

there's a kind of purity to this. it's so empty, so clean.
there’s a kind of purity to this. it’s so empty, so clean.

Nothing. No words on Anala, no words on From the Ashes; just a smattering of words on blogs and some rants on Facebook.

And yet I’m counting this month as a success. Why?

Simple. Even though I planned to write this month and failed, I managed to not beat myself up about it once. I managed to not feel shame. I managed to be okay with not writing for a month.

I didn’t write anything this month, but the fact that I didn’t rip myself apart for it means I can go into December with a clean slate, free of shame, and not let the failure of November weigh me down. If anything, the failure is lifting me up, because for the first time I’m okay with failing at writing.

(What helped was reading this blog post by Mary Robinette Kowal, which helped me realize my inability to write at the moment is depression, not lack of will. It made it okay for me to be gentle on myself, and to take steps towards digging myself out of the depression hole.)

So I am going to spend the rest of today getting ready for the new month and maybe cleaning my kitchen a bit, and letting the end of Nanowrimo pass me by without a word written. (Assuming the fumes from the renovations upstairs don’t suffocate me first.)

See you in December.

Ways to sneak having ice cream for breakfast

  1. Throw it in your coffee. It’s cream and sugar, and this is also the easiest way to make a peppermint mocha if you don’t have peppermint syrup but do have mint chocolate chip ice cream.
  2. Roll it in corn flakes and call it cereal.
  3. An ice cream sandwich totally resembles a breakfast burrito, right? Go with that.
  4. Just fucking eat it, because you’re an adult who can make their own food choices without judgy asshats shaming you. And if some judgy asshat does get up in your business, take this blog post, print it out, and papercut them with it.

Seriously, though, putting mint chocolate chip ice cream in my coffee this morning was pretty inspired.

~Katje

How to Procrastinate

Procrastination doesn’t just come naturally, you know. We have to work hard at it. Really make sure we’re getting everything we can out of the time we waste.

After feeling awful for over two weeks because I haven’t been writing or editing, I finally got down to working on The Jade Star of Athering again today. I thought that working on it would make me feel better — and you know, it has. I’ve worked on it for maybe 20 minutes and written about 150 new words in it. Now I’m feeling “Okay, I worked on this, can I quit and do something else now?” That sort of ‘feeling better’.

Here’s the thing with The Jade Star of Athering. I set myself up for editing failure with it.

My natural writing state is to write a bunch and go back and edit it before moving on. I am an edit-as-I-goer. That was how I did Bellica, and while Bellica took way too much time, its finished first draft was about 10x cleaner than its sequel’s first draft.

I started doing Jade Star that way, too. It is, as I said, my natural state.

But then I published Bellica and became active in online indie author circles and started reading all this advice and…somewhere along the way I internalized the idea that the point was to get it written and edit it later. I’LL FIX IT IN POST, my brain drunkenly screamed as I tried like hell to finish my first drafts. THIS IS A GOOD IDEA, it further said, swigging some vodka (I don’t know where my brain got the vodka) before knocking over a lamp.

This worked out okay for Stranger Skies, which was fully plotted before I wrote it (and therein lies the difference, likely). I say okay, because editing Stranger Skies was still like dragging my carcass through a swamp made of death and tears in a way that editing Bellica wasn’t.

And now editing The Jade Star of Athering is turning out to be even worse.

Part of my issues are related to Fear of the Sequel, yes — I won’t deny that. There lurks a fear in me that I can only do great first books and whatever book is next in the series will fall short. Which is fair, as it’s basically a trope now that Sequels Always Suck, so it makes sense I’d feel that way about my own work (whether or not it’s true). But mostly, the big wall that keeps springing up is the fact that this finished first draft is the messiest pile of crap I have ever produced. And that’s because I absorbed “Don’t get it right, get it written” when I was finishing it.

Look, “Don’t get it right, get it written” is actually great advice for people who are not natural edit-as-we-goers. If you are the type of writer who works better editing after the first draft is done, then yes, absolutely, vomit those words onto the page and make it pretty, make it make sense, later. Do it, because it works for you.

It doesn’t work for me. And that’s a lesson I’ve learned, now, and I won’t repeat this mistake in the future. When I’m finished The Jade Star of Athering — which was supposed to be at the beginning of this month, by the way, and now it’s looking like I’ll have to push the release date — I’ll be working on From the Ashes, the next book in The Borderlands Saga. And I’m going to let my natural inclination to edit as I go take the lead, this time.

How to procrastinate: let writing advice override your natural inclination for editing as you go. Finish a first draft. Try to edit that first draft. Suddenly, everything will look better than editing that thing (including my publishing work, which I usually also try to procrastinate on).

On the plus side of this procrastination business, I’ve gotten some work done on the publishing-other-people’s-stuff side of my life, such as getting Kaimana Wolff‘s new book Broken Sleep done and ready for pre-order (I reviewed the book back in May when I was still working on it; very few changes have been made since then, so the review stands). Shameless plug follows.

BrokenSleepebookcoverfinal400xWhat has happened to Jane?

“All voices sing in unison: get out get out get out escape escape escape…” but violence and death stalk Jane along every bend of every way out….

Can you escape a past you never knew?

Four hardworking professionals live the good life–until one falls into a hole in a Vancouver street. As the world’s colors change, each man grapples with shadows of war as Jane tumbles into the abyss of the Disappeared.

Paul and Zack, thrown together by what may be Jane’s last testament, are hardly excited about cooperating with each other on any issue, least of all on the disappearance, weeks ago, of their mutual friend and her little daughter.

What did Jane expect of them–if anything? What does her story mean–if anything? And what, if anything, should they do about Matt, Jane’s beloved husband, the man each of them suspects?

Caught in an ancient web of caring and enduring, action and restraint, law and healing, Zack and Paul enact the next steps–in Jane’s existence as well as their own.

Available for preorder in ebook and paperback from these locations

Kindle US

Kindle Canada

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Gumroad

Storenvy

Note, the paperback preorder is only available from our Storenvy store, and not anywhere else. If you buy a paperback copy from Amazon or B&N, you are getting an older copy of the book which is completely different from this version. (Broken Sleep was originally published 9 years ago. That version is out of print, and the book has gone through extensive revisions prior to this version being released. They are basically completely different books.) The paperback of this version will be available via Createspace after the release date of September 23rd.

If you were hoping for an ARC of the book, there’s still time for one. Fill out this form and I’ll send you a copy of the ebook ASAP.

And now, I think I’ve spent enough time procrastinating. I even took a big break from working on this post to update my Facebook page and create a new cover image for it. I work really had at avoiding work, y’all.

Go order Broken Sleep, or request the ARC or something. Make my procrastination worth it! <3

Again I go, into the breach swamp….

-Katje

Lazy Sunday

I did basically nothing today. It was gray and rainy outside and I woke up late, and tired, dealing with low levels of pain from the moment I got up. (Wisdom teeth problems like these are not something I would wish on my worst enemy.) I’m alive, though. I have an arsenal of painkillers to get me through the day.

I spent most of the day knitting. I’m working on this currently; the pattern calls for endless stockinette until one binds off, at which point the exciting bit happens. (I’m not sure if you need to log into Ravelry or not to see the pattern. It’s a drop stitch pattern, which means when you bind off, you drop stitches to create a laddered look. I’ll post pictures when I’m done.)

While knitting, I watched things on Netflix. Stockinette is tedious as hell; it helps to do something else with your brain. I tried to watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, but I managed to start up one of the less racially sensitive episodes and just decided…nope. Not watching a retelling of the conflict between settlers and aboriginal people told via ponies and buffalo. Not after watching the clusterfrack that was the “Voodoo zebra!” episode.

So I switched to Torchwood, which mom heard a bit of while it was on — she’s intrigued! I have another show to make her watch, when we’re done with Grey’s Anatomy.

We’ve been watching a lot of Grey’s since I got here. Got her all the way through season 4; now working on season 5. She loves the show. I love watching it with her. It’s a good time.

Tonight mom is out at the movies. I am knitting some more and getting my word count down, though I might not hit 411 words today. That’s okay. I hit my monthly goal of 15,000 words yesterday. I can take it easy today (but not take a day off), and tomorrow I’ll be back up to speed.

So, with that, I’m off to knit some more and possibly eat dinner. When mom gets home, we’re watching more of Grey’s.

Tomorrow we’ll actually get things done. I swear.

Episode 3 has been filmed

SleepAvengerCoverIt just has not been edited yet, because I have been set back on EVERYTHING because of Stranger Skies edits/proof-making. I haven’t even worked on my Nano for several days.

I would like to say I’ll be getting to it this weekend, but I won’t. This weekend is for relaxing at the Ogre’s. I am terribly sorry, but I am also unapologetic of the fact that I need time to recoup spoons. I am so tired you guys. You don’t even know. I have been up for 20 hours right now. I am so tired.

In the meantime, my humorous short story The Sleep Avenger is available for free on Kindle, today and tomorrow. Go pick it up, read it, have a laugh. I’ll see y’all on Monday evening.

zzzzzzzzz

In which I yell into a microphone and shake like a leaf.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3VNWpTBj8k&w=560&h=315]

This is me at the VanSlam on Monday night. I haven’t watched the video and probably won’t. I have issues with watching myself on video and am not in the right headspace to do so today or maybe ever.

But, you know, if you wanted to see me perform “Blood Candle”…there you go.

Now, back to work, from which I am totally letting myself get distracted.

That’s progress, I suppose

I have not actually written any on The Jade Star of Athering since August 2nd. However, I have thought about writing on it, and even opened the notebook to the appropriate page so I can start typing up the handwritten chapters I have done so I can continue on, as I’ve reached that point where I look at the  handwritten stuff I have and say “What is this I don’t even.

It’s time for story-beefing!

And I have thought about it. Even gotten fairly close. Tomorrow I hope to type up a chapter.

We’ll see how that goes.

-Katje

PS Oh my gods is Wrimo really only eighty-one days away what the fuck. I’m going to die.

PPS Current GYWO2010 count is 35,365. I wrote 15K on another project, if you can believe it. Not a fiction project. A journaling project. It’s easier to bullshit when it comes to journaling.

Daily Heart Attack

Today I signed into Facebook and saw this:

 

Augh! What do you mean only ninety-eight days? I haven’t finished The Jade Star of Athering, Islands of Fire and Water, OR The Man of Bronze! How the frak am I supposed to start a new novel in 98 days???

Ahh! Ahhh! AHHHHHHHHHH!

*hyperventilates*

*calms down*

Nope, still upset.

Fuck.

Determination

It pays off. I found my notebook!

As I was posting earlier it occurred to me, somewhere in that thing I call a brain, that the notebook may be in my set of plastic, clear drawers, because I remembered setting the notebook on top of the drawers while I was packing.

So I toddled on down to the garage, where all my stuff is sitting until we can get a yurt built in the backyard for me (no lie; I’m living in the library right now), and looked in the clear drawers and lo! my notebook! And the notebook for The Man of Bronze, and my AA batteries!

A good day, overall. I’m going to reward my hard work with some Glee, and then I’m going to write.

Really.

I promise.