Off to the Editor

So Novel 4 is officially off at the editor’s. She will work on it for the next week or two and then send it back, at which point “all” I have to do is:
1. Incorporate changes and final edits,
2. Convert it to HTML,
3. Find appropriate cover art,
4. Upload it to Amazon/Kobo.

A significant amount of work still, but we’re on pace to getting it live and uploaded by the end of the month. And that’s something… this will be my third novel available through Amazon/Kobo (but you all knew that already), although it is technically the 4th novel I’ve finished because Novel 3 is still under consideration with the people I’d like to be my agents.

Regardless, it’s exciting! It gives me a little bit of breathing room before pushing forward towards the next novel, which is also nice, and it means I should be able to keep up a 2-novels-per-year pace for the next few years at the very least. Which is also something.

Novel 5 is coming along slowly, but it’s coming along. The big stumbling block there isn’t diving into Novel 6 out of excitement to start something new, and to stick to this one until it’s done. Shouldn’t take too much longer, but I don’t think I’ll have the main draft done until January. At which point we start the 3rd round of edits, and then send IT off to my editor. Woo.

Anyway! Going to enjoy a few hours of hiking, and then back to the editing! Hope everyone is having a great week!

Writing Retreat!

Well, it’s that time of year again. In a few short weeks I will be heading into the chaos that is the holiday season.

What this means is that I’ll have absolutely, positively no time as my “days off” become a distant memory. But what it also means is that I have a few days (today until Wednesday) to do nothing besides write.

I mean, I will be doing a FEW things. Maybe a bike ride. Maybe a hike. Some shopping, a little cooking. But mostly, just hanging out in a church that’s been converted into a little B&B in the middle of nowhere Ontario and writing.

I have a bucket of edits that need to get finished for Novel 5, and then it gets sent off to my editor on Monday or Tuesday. Then, another bucket of edits to Novel 6 (that’s going to be a tonne more work, it’s still very preliminary) before hopefully sending it off to my editor sometime early December/January.

All this will lead into publishing another novel on ye olde Amazon by the end of the month (woo!), and then another one in February or March of 2020. I figure if I can keep up the twice-per-year pace for a while, I’ll get to the golden “Full-Time Writer” status sooner… and that would be awful nice.

Oh, and I teased some “good news” a few posts ago… and I’m going to tease it a bit more! I can confirm it is definitely good news, and it’s pretty dang exciting for me… but no more than that at this point. Hopefully more in a week or so!

Hope everyone is having a great week, and happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian readers!

October New Novel!

Well, I’m committing to it here first (albeit by minutes before my Patreon supporters find out). I’m going to do everything in my power to make a new novel available by the end of the month.

October tends to be pretty traditionally the time of year that I get a new novel out. It’s comfortably before the holidays so I’m not completely insane at my other job yet, but it’s also the last opportunity to get things done before things become completely insane.

The only hiccup this year is that I have two novels waiting on the sidelines to go! One of which is under consideration by the folks I’m still hoping will be my agent, but the other of needs a final editorial pass before it’s ready. But that depends on my editor, of course… I think she’ll have time, but who knows?

Anyway! Either way, new novel out soon! Novel 3 available to the public! Whee!

In other news, I’m ready to record the audio on the short story I sold, so that’s also going to make this month busy. But busy is a good problem to have!

Phew! Lotsa stuff to get done… I should get to it! Hope everyone is having a very good start to the autumn!

Back in Canada!

Well, I have successfully returned from my trip overseas. If I had to sum up the trip to Japan, I would say it was incredible.

Now that I’m home, time to get the nose back on ye olde grindstone. I have plans to release Novel 3 by the end of October, assuming everything goes okay. The process isn’t difficult, just time intensive, but hopefully with the trip to Japan out of the way I will have the opportunity to make sure it happens. That will make this the 3rd year in a row with a novel release, which is a good pace to start with I think.

Which novel is getting released? Well, that would be telling.

Regardless! I’m excited. Nice to have clear goals.

In other news, I am finishing up the last edits to the short story before I start audio recording (also needing to get that done in October). I’m really pleased with how it’s turning out… heavy on the funny, with a good dose of action. Just the way I likes ‘em.

Anyway! Nice to be back home, and although I will miss Japan/Tokyo, it was an amazing experience.

Last Full Day in Japan

Well, this is it. Tomorrow I fly back to Canada to resume the life I have there.

It’s a bitter-sweet kinda thing. I miss home, and the familiarity of routine, and my friends and family of course. But I am going to miss a lot about Japan as well. There’s so much potential energy here, and I harnessed so little of it.

Tokyo is lovely. Kyoto, for the day I spent there, was lovely. The moments blitzing through the countryside, either by train, cable car, or on the few hikes, were really lovely. I’ve had some truly awful coffee, but some quite good coffee as well. I had some food I wasn’t crazy about, and a lot that was spectacular. Bought some small gifts (mostly food), and picked up a couple little things for myself.

Today I’m going to the Ghibli Museum, and that’s about it. Some wandering around to do a little shopping, and a few more meals. A very low key kinda… unpacking… I guess. Just trying to absorb the ambient “Japan” out of the air, carry it with me for as long as I can.

Anyway, in writing news, still waiting for final edits to the short story, and I did a bit of work on Novel 5 in the interim, so that’s at least moving along.

A Quick Trip to Kyoto...

Today (and a bit of yesterday) were spent in Kyoto. I’ll be honest, I didn’t do a lot or see a lot… I went to a couple shrines, I saw an ancient castle, I petted some cats, and I ate a lot of convenience store sandwiches.

Like… a LOT of convenience store sammiches. The Japanese convenience store sandwich is a thing of beauty. Their onigiri (balls of seasoned rice wrapped in seaweed and usually with a flavourful “core”) are great and inexpensive, but their sandwiches… I am absolutely, 100% going to miss those.

In other, WRITING-related news, I managed to finish the first draft of the next short story I sold! Huzzah! I’ve sent it to the Writers Group with the hopes they can review and give me some feedback… I can tell it’s pretty good, but it’s missing (or rushing, or not spending enough time on) something. Still, it was a bit like pulling teeth to get it this far. But now that the first draft is done, I’ve already started blocking out the audio version in my head. I have a month to finish the written portion and record the audio, so basically as soon as I’m wheels-down in Toronto I’ve got to start organizing that.

Sadly, this means I have to return to editing… Novel 5 has some pretty serious edits needed, but it’s an interesting process, considering I wrote the first draft so very long ago. There is the temptation to just scrap the whole thing and start from scratch, but that’s mostly the voice in my head that hates editing with the passion of a thousand suns.

Right! The Shinkansen (bullet train) I’m on is about halfway to Tokyo, so I’m going to read for a little bit and then get back to editing!

In Japan! Glee!

Well, it was a heck of a trip to get here (13 hours in the air, 4 hours on the trains/subways to get to my hotel), but I’m in Tokyo!

I’m so happy I could explode!

I mean, at the end of the day, it’s just a city. I’ve been to a lot of big cities, some (few) bigger than Tokyo… Shanghai and Beijing, for example… and I’ve only been here for a day so far. So it’s a bit early to make comparisons. But man, is it ever amazing to just be here. I’ve dreamed of coming to Japan for almost 30 years.

Upsides so far: the food. Breakfasts are cheap, healthy snacks grabbed at a convenience store, lunches are cheap bento boxes, dinners have been cheap but incredible meals (ramen day 1, and I almost cried as I ate it… so damn good).

Downsides: the timezone difference is messing me up a little, and being away from my incredible partner and cats is a little sad, but nothing insurmountable.

Anyway! It’s early morning on Day 3 in Tokyo (today Alex and I are doing super geeky stuff and a lot of walking, which I am PSYCHED about!), so I’m going to get some writing done for an hour or two before my day officially starts. I have almost another full week here before I head back to Canada, and there is so much to do and see in the city! Now, if I could just find good coffee…

Two More Days!

Well, it’s almost time.

I leave for my trip Tuesday morning, so this will probably be the last post I make from North America for a few weeks. I don’t know what my internet connection may be like from Japan, nor when I’ll have the time and/or energy to post anything… but I’ll try!

I am pretty excited for the trip, although nervous at the same time. Mostly, I’m looking forward to a bunch of days where I don’t have to do anything specific or be anywhere specific, and I can just try and take in a bit of everything. Eat the food, walk the streets, that kinda thing.

Anyway! I have a lot of packing to do tonight, and I still have a few thousand words to finish up on the short story I’m working on. Next post: Japan!

One Week to Go!

So, next week (a week today, actually!) I leave for Japan.

9 days in Tokyo, 1 day in Kyoto (approximately)… a trip that I agreed to almost exactly one year ago, and have been saving up for ever since. I am insanely excited! It’s been about 20-25 years since I originally wanted to go to Japan, but this is the first time I can afford it!

It’s not quite the trip I dreamed of, but that’s absolutely okay. Spending a week and a half in Tokyo won’t even start scratching the surface of the city, and thankfully I’ll be exploring the city with a friend who has been before, so that should make things a bit more manageable.

My Japanese is rusty and was never very good to start with, so I’m hoping to get by with a lot of bowing and apologizing.

I am, of course, bringing my writing with me, because even on whirlwind trips there will be some time to relax… I plan to have at least one afternoon spent in a nice little coffee shop somewhere overlooking a nice scene, and writing for a few hours straight. Plus a few hours per day… I have two novels that aren’t going to edit themselves!

Anyway! I hope to take a few nice pictures, eat lots of tasty weirdness, and get a little, little glimpse into life on the other side of the planet. I should probably pack at some point too!

Outline Done, And More Editing!

I think I’ve made my opinions vis-a-vis editing quite clear. But, typically, I edit three to four times as much as I write… which sort of makes sense (I mean, if it takes “1 unit” of time to write a chapter, and “1 unit” of time to edit a chapter, it will take four times as long if only because I usually do 3-4 editorial passes!). But still annoying.

Anyway, last week I got the foundational work for the next short story done, which is nice. I don’t usually go in for outlines except in the very rough sense, but in this case I wanted to get the major plot notes down so that it will all come together eventually. I’m pretty optimistic about the story, and since this is technically a sequel to the first “Black Cacophony” episode, it is quite validating as an artist. They liked it enough the first time to pay for a second time! Woo!

Still no word from the agent with my sci-fi YA novel, but that’s okay I suppose… I was hoping to have something finished already to send them immediately if they don’t like the one they have right now, but it’s not looking like it will be finished for a month or two (and that’s assuming Japan doesn’t torpedo all the plans entirely).

Anyway, back to work! Hope everyone had a great summer, and is looking forward to the cooler autumn to come!

New (Free) Short Story Up!

Hey folks! It’s been a few months (okay, more than a few) but I finally got around to publishing another short story! You can check it out over on the “Short Story” section of this here website.

This was a quick little one I wrote a while back. I wanted to see if I could write an “action” story where none of the action actually happens. Sorta like that scene from “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” or from “Hero” where the entire fight takes place in the mind before anything actually happens.

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, honestly. The Haiku are… well, as good as any poetry I’ve ever written, I suppose (and almost entirely lifted from actual Haiku written by Basho, I believe).

Anyway! Progress on the novels continues, and I have enough money saved up to actually pay for editing costs when those come around again, so that’s something as well. I’m going to get back to that… hope you all enjoy the story!

Sold Another Story!

So I landed another commission story sale. Yay! It’s a small sale, but honestly this makes 2019 my most profitable year for writing since I started being a writer oh so many years ago.

Which is great! Sure, I’m still losing money (writing is expensive, people, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise), but it’s part of the process. It’s steps towards being a full-time author, and that’s the important part.

Plus, it’s a pretty kickass story I get to write. That’s also pretty nice!

This week (specifically today!) I’m going to flesh out a framework for the story, do some background research (one of the characters is very particular about radio etiquette, and that means watching a few videos and jumping into a few Wikipedia/TVTropes holes), and come up with a solid foundation for the eventual audio story it will become. I’ve learned not to do a few things (have characters interrupt each other while talking… really tricky to record), and overall I’m excited about the process.

It’s a tonne of work, but hey, it’s paid work! And that’s a start.

Also, less than a month before I leave for my 10 day trip to Tokyo… excited/nervous! Going to be great/nervous-wracking!

A Weird Revision/Rewrite Thing

So work on Novel 5 (currently titled “Marshal Morcos”, but that’s almost certainly going to change at some point) is a weird little thing.

Basically, this is the skeleton of something I wrote in a NaNoWriMo (“National Novel Writing Month”) back in 2013. It’s been sitting around on my laptop for 6 years waiting for me to have a chance to reread/edit it.

Which is what I’m doing. And man, has my writing changed a LOT in the last six years.

I mean, it’s not completely fair. NaNoWriMo is about hitting word targets, not about producing quality work. And I hit the word target (the final word count before I started the editing process was 50,001), but the new version doesn’t exactly resemble the original.

For example, the opening scene is this weird quasi-dinner-party-political-thriller sorta thing that initially was very dry. The new version, humbly, is a lot more like the dinner scene from Dune… political machinations within machinations, shifting allegiances and subtle jabs between both allies and enemies. It’s not great yet, but the beginnings of something great is there. Hopefully over the next two revisions I can find the great first chapter in there somewhere… or maybe cut it completely. That tends to be the fate of most of my first draft early chapters. But we’ll see!

Anyway, it’s neat working with such old material of my own. And kinda fun… I like the optimism that I had 6 years ago!

Other than that, the beta readers are continuing to do amazing things with Novel 4, and no word from “my” agent regarding Novel 3 yet. It’s been about 7 months… this is usually when they send me their thoughts. But we will see, we will see…

Last note, just over a month before I go to Tokyo! Excited!

Feeling Better Through Application of Nines...

Well, the response to the Black Cacophony episode was pretty positive. About 70% of the people who responded to the poll were willing to listen to more full episodes of the story, which is great!

Sadly, that other 30% is a pretty big chunk. It means that I can’t expect to do too many more of these, and the rate of 3-4 a year seems to be about it. Still, that’s a step in the right direction… and I’m really not complaining. The audio story wasn’t why people tuned in, and enough people liked it that I get to keep doing ‘em, which is great!

It did send me into a bit of a sad-spiral for a few days, but I sat down and shotgunned 40 episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which I’ve enjoyed, as well as a few sci-fi movies (“I Am Mother” was okay, but too depressing for my tastes) and a few old episodes of Deep Space Nine. Overall, it’s definitely helped put a positive spin on how I’ve been feeling, which is good. I’ve never agreed with the concept that artists need to be angry and/or depressed to produce good product… and life is too short to spend too much of it miserable.

Also! Only about 40 days until I go on my Japan trip! Excited! Lightly terrified, but excited. Still doesn’t feel quite “real” yet, but it’s approaching the point that I’ll start thinking about it as a thing that is actually happening, as opposed to a nebulous event sometime in the future.

Anyway! Back to writing Novel 5! Hope everyone is doing well!

Black Cacophony, Episode 1, Live!

It’s always a glorious and terrifying moment when one your stories goes out into the world.

A story I sold to the “White Noise” podcast just went live today. I’m really very proud of how it turned out… there’s a little bit of a chat about how the story evolved before and afterwards, but the majority of the episode is devoted to the story itself (about 45min long). It’s set in the Infinity universe, but I don’t think it requires much knowledge of that universe in order to enjoy.

If you’re curious, and I hope you are, you can listen to it here:
https://benandmarty.libsyn.com/91-the-black-cacophony

Hopefully the podcast gets enough positive feedback that they let me do it again! If so, I have some interesting ideas for the next one… some ways to streamline and speed up the process.

Anyway! Hope everyone enjoys!

Second Draft Done!

Phew! Best part about editing a novel is definitely FINISHING the editing! Which I have now done… which feels pretty good.

I’m still working through the story with the Writers Group, and that’s going really well. Some good suggestions, in particular a chapter I think I can squeeze in between 9 and 10 which will help flesh out the story and add some interesting context. But I have still finished the first editorial pass, and that’s a big hurdle so it feels really good to be done that.

In other news… I’ve started Novel 5! This one doesn’t have a title yet, but is very much a space western. Two Interplanetary Marshals sent to the farthest reaches of human space to bring law and order to the wilderness. It’s part crime procedural, part Firefly… at least, that’s the plan. For now it’s a very rough outline of a thing, but I am really looking forward to it! I like the two main characters already (Kristen Smith and Caitlyn Morcos), and playing them off each other should be a lot of fun.

Anyway! Nice to be writing again. But first… I’m going to read Chapter 7 from “Dune” to get the right feel for a banquet scene I’m writing. Ah, if only all research could be so sweet…

Have I Mentioned I Hate Editing?

Before I jump into more of why Editing is the worst (most important) part of writing, let me just say that one of my 3 adorable cats is currently gently snoring in a sunbeam. It’s exactly as amazing as you think it is.

Anyway! Editing continues. The audio story I submitted last week was accepted and paid for (still my favourite part), and the client has requested a short interview to discuss the process for the listeners of the podcast.

I am going to try and finish up most of the novel editing today, and then throw together a quick “out-takes” audio file for the best screwups we made during recording. Because there were SO MANY.

Good editing. Important even in audio formats. Who knew?

Anyway! Other than that, I watched the first three episodes of Deep Space Nine (still my favourite Star Trek, don’t @ me), and they were extremely satisfying. Oh, and I watch Baby Driver, which was a lot of fun but made me really think about how it was perfect for its format. Like, it wouldn’t have been nearly as satisfying as a book or comic or whatever. The visual juxtaposition with the music… incredible.

Oh! And I watched Into the Spiderverse last week… may be in the running for my favourite superhero film ever. Just… stunning. Completely stunning.

So lots of media consumed… time to go back and produce more of it myself!

One Finished Audio Story!

Well, it took a month… but the audio version of “Black Cacophony” is finally finished! Woo!

I’m actually pretty satisfied with how it turned out. Sure, it was a TONNE of work, but it was really pretty rewarding. Recording all the “voice actors” (big shout out to everyone I know, since by now I’ve asked you to record something for me!), then the narration, and then stitching it all together and feeding in the sound effects… very, very satisfying.

The end result isn’t perfect, but it is an improvement over my previous efforts. I hope the client is happy with it… as soon as he gives the thumbs up, I’ll link (or post!) the result here!

Other than that, editing work on Tintian (Novel 4) continues apace, which is nice, and I continue to have no time whatsoever to do anything, which is less nice. But hey, I go to Japan in just under 9 weeks, so there is that, at least!

Audio Work is Hard!

Today I’m recording the narration for two short stories (one very short, one regular-short). That is probably going to take me all freakin’ day.

I really enjoy doing it, don’t get me wrong, but it is a tonne of work to get right. Between balancing levels and cutting and pasting audio into the right places and then, after all that, putting in sound effects and music… yeah, it’s a tonne of work.

But! But. It’s work for which I’ve been paid a small amount for, and honestly I’m happy to do it. I don’t think I’ll ever make a living out of it (unlike writing!), but it is a neat little thing to do. Another artistic pursuit in a life too full of them, I suppose.

Anyway, I’m on Chapter 17 on the Tintian edits, so that’s still moving along nicely, and I’ve finally paid for my trip to Japan in its entirety, so that’s a weight off my… bank account. 70 days until I go! I can’t wait!

Happy Canada Day!

Canada is not a perfect country. It has problems of racism, an increasingly paranoid and reactionary right-wing movement, and a significant amount of NIMBY-ism.

That stated, it is a pretty great country. You can acknowledge how much work needs to be done while still appreciating the good that has been accomplished.

I’m really lucky to live in this country. Sure, it has problems, but where doesn’t? And at least there are people willing to stand up and try to make things better.

As for writing, I have a long weekend to hopefully finish up editing my new Tintian novel (which is coming along nicely, despite how much I hate editing), and then I have an idea for a novel kicking around my head that I want to try out.

But not for today. Today I rest and appreciate that which I have while not forgetting that things can always be better. Happy Canada Day everyone.