Inner thoughts of a soon to be debut writer

I’m having a hard time concentrating on my work on RDAD (The Shattered Ones: Book 3). I originally wrote the three books as one overly long book, but there was a time jump from 1986 to 1990 before the third act, so when we split out the story into three shorter books there’s only a second half of a book for book 3. So I’m writing at least 25k of connecting material that kind of shows what the new normal in 1990 is before setting all the machines in motion toward the final act (at least for these three books).

The world of The Shattered Ones is extremely big in my head. I not only have all the characters that appear on these pages but the history and future events of this world and far more inhabitants that don’t have page time in these books. This works for me and against me. I have a great deal to draw upon to make the world feel real and big and drop hints for other things… but I also have to make sure I don’t screw up my ability to tell other stories in this world later on. I also have to make sure that I don’t have feature creep so to speak with these details because I need to tell the story of Alex and Hannah first and foremost and adding any details that undermine this is not helpful.

There’s also the mental dance of knowing that I feel really good about Book 1, and reasonably good about Book 2 (because it is in final pre-copyedit edits), but know that Book 3 is nowhere near done. Logically I know it is publishing in February and I have time to make it sing. Emotionally I feel like I’m letting everyone down by not having it to that point already. This is ridiculous. I absolutely understand that. I need to put one word in front of the other and do my edit passes one at a time. I can’t jump to finishing polish when I’m doing a zero draft. That way lies madness. I just can’t seem to quiet the impulse to feel like I should. I’m hoping that admitting this publicly will quiet it more than trying to go round and round inside my own head about it is.

My zero drafts are done with a pen on paper. I do my first edit pass as I type up my words. I find I do a lot of “oh, I meant this” edits and “ugh that sounds awful let me make it better” tweaks. I’m arguing with myself if I want to do absolutely everything on paper first and then type it up, or if I should start typing up a bit every day after I find myself tapped out for new words. I’ve been sticking with paper up to this point, but I think that typing after I’m tapped out will make me feel a bit more of control of things.

I’m also lucky enough to have my brother Chris living with us over the summer. Chris is my alpha reader so he basically sees or hears stuff before anyone else. The reason he has that position is that he does not critique, he only asks questions for clarification. Basically I can work out plot and character stuff by reading him new material out of my notebook and he can let me know what’s on the page and what isn’t. I’m sure there are people who don’t need this step, but I need to think stuff on the outside of my skull when I’m having problems and the only way that seems to work is if I have someone I can talk it out with. Chris reacts to the story, not to the writing and that’s super helpful to me in telling how things are going.

I thought I’d hit a really bad snag the last couple days and I spent 20 min reading the two scenes in question out loud to Chris as he ate his lunch… and found that both scenes just need to end slightly sooner so there aren’t dangling details. I’d been stuck trying to move each scene forward and now I know that I just need to end them a little sooner. Never underestimate how much help reading something out loud can be. I also know from Chris’ response that the scenes work really well, so that makes me feel a lot better too.

zen

Starting to get a lot of replies back to queries for guest blog posts and it’s making me a little anxious. On the one hand it is exciting and cause for celebration, but it’s also putting things on to my To Do list with every response and that’s feeling a little overwhelming. I’m having to compartmentalize the promotion stuff mentally. I look at the emails as they come in, and know that they’ve been logged into the beautiful spreadsheet my lovely publisher has made for me. This is for my information and I will deal with it when I decide to, because nothing is currently hanging fire with that. I’m just being kept in the loop so that I can properly schedule my time. *deep breath* Everything is Awesome and I’m part of a team. (ha now that’s stuck in your head too!)

Any questions, comments? Words of encouragement? Things you’d like to see me blog about in the run up to publication?


Conversation Between Writers

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Jeremy Zimmerman

Today on Conversations Between Writers I talk to Jeremy Zimmerman [website, Twitter] (no relation, though we joke) about the second book in his YA superhero series Kensei: For The Love Of Danger that he’s currently Kickstartering part of the cost of publishing. Jeremy along with his lovely wife Dawn Vogel are also the evil geniuses behind Mad Scientist Journal. I was lucky enough to get to Beta-read this ambitious novel (Kensei takes place in the shared superhero world of Cobalt City and I have a Cobalt City character who happens to be Kensei’s roller derby coach. Jeremy always checks with me to make sure he’s treating my character with respect.) and I really enjoyed it. It’s a super fun read with a lot going on. I hope you’ll consider backing it.

Minerva Zimmerman: So you’re heading back onto the streets of Cobalt City once again with Kensei: For The Love Of Danger. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that?

Jeremy Zimmerman: I’ve been working on my sequel to my first book, Kensei, and have a Kickstarter going to pay for some of the production costs. The sequel brings back the titular Kensei, who finds herself having to deal with a lot of legacies. Not only do her grandparents learn about her crimefighting and have something to say about it, but there’s also a World War Two supervillain who has come back from the dead in order to kill Kensei.

MZ: Yikes! So what challenges did you have in writing about a teenage superhero whose crime-fighting isn’t a secret from her family and in fact is complicated by her family?

JZ: Some of it was just fitting it with what had already been established. When I first created the character, she had no idea that her family also had a history with superheroes. It’s been a careful line to walk in order to make it plausible that it was kept from Jamie. Plus Jamie is half Japanese and have African American. Treating her family’s dual backgrounds with respect required a lot of research.

MZ: Do you have a favorite part of doing the research for this book?

JZ: Do I have to choose just one?

MZ: No! I’m just curious where your research took you and even some of the things you couldn’t use

JZ: Starting with Jamie’s family, one of my favorite parts was researching for her father’s parents. When I was working on the first book, I learned about differences between Japanese Americans who had lived in the continental United States and those that had lived in Hawaii. Living in Seattle, which has a notable Japanese American population, you learn a lot about the Japanese American experience. This is especially true when it comes to learning about how they were treated during World War Two. But in Hawaii, the experience was very different.

My other favorite research was for the villain, Imperial Dynamo. I collaborated with an Italian-born friend of mine who is also a history buff. She introduced me to the Italian Futurist art movement, which later fed into the Fascist Party in Italy. It added a really interesting dimension to the villain.

MZ: Wow it seems like you’ve got a lot of threads running through this book. What do you want people to know about that might pique their interest?

JZ: The core idea I’m playing with in the book is that of family expectations. Both Kensei and her friends have families and legacies that are pushing them in different directions. Aside from the more physical conflicts, a lot of Kensei’s emotional conflict is trying to cope with what her family wants while remaining true to herself.

MZ: I think that’s something we all can relate to.

So you’re Kickstartering some of the costs of publishing this book. Can you talk a little about the decision to go that route? I know I’m always interested in hearing why people choose one option over others.

JZ: I had debated for a while about whether or not to do a Kickstarter for this. Early on I thought I might focus my crowdfunding efforts through Patreon. But it seems like Patreon seems to work best only if you already have a sizable fan base. It also doesn’t work as well if you are mostly doing large projects. And the money it brings in mostly supports my other baby, Mad Scientist Journal.

Kickstarter has the advantage of helping make the project more visible to people. It also gives me the chance to offer some fun things to backers that I don’t have much excuse to on other occasions. So I’ve gotten to commission stickers and patches for backers. If it does really well, then it gives me the opportunity to create something a bit more robust. One of my current stretch goals is a limited hardcover edition of the book, which I would have trouble justifying under normal circumstances.

MZ: The stickers are ADORABLE!

JZ: Thank you! We are really happy with the artist we found. She’s been great to work with.

MZ: I am a sticker hoarder so stickers are always an amazing perk for me. :) I recently bought an RV I’m using as a writing office, and I’m pondering what stickers to stick on it right now.

JZ: Good to know. When we came up with some of this, there’s always the worry that what sounds awesome to us might not sound awesome to other people. I’m glad the stickers are a winning point.

MZ: I hope the KS goes bananas and maybe next book you’ll have a Cleopatra Thunder sticker :D

JZ: One of the stretch goals is to have more characters for the stickers. We could see about working in Cleopatra Thunder.

MZ: *giggles evilly* So what else are you working on these days? I know this book and getting the KS set up have eaten up a lot of your time, but you’re a person of many hats and many projects.

JZ: We’ve been working on the anthology we Kickstarted earlier this year, Selfies from the End of the World. I just sent out the ebook proofs to the contributors to have some extra eyes on it. I’ve been doing a lot of research for an overly ambitious series of YA books I want to do beyond Kensei. Mad Scientist Journal is always on my plate. And I’m getting ready to run some games later this year at a local convention.

MZ: Oh cool, what convention?

JZ: AmberCon Northwest, down in Troutdale, Oregon. Four days of roleplaying games in the middle of a winery/brewery/distillery/resort/spa.

MZ: Oh wow. I always thought that was somewhere in Washington for some reason. That sounds fabulous.

JZ: It is. I’ve been going every year since 1999. It’s a small and intimate convention, and just a ton of fun.

MZ: Are you going to make it to WorldCon or is your schedule just too full up?

JZ: Our schedule is sadly too full up and our vacation time is spread too thin.

MZ: Yeah, it’s always a balancing act. I had to cut out a bunch of other cons this year to go. Is there anything we didn’t touch on that you’d like to talk about?

JZ: Well, I could babble forever about things I learned during my research. But in terms of things people would be interested in, I’m offering the ebook for my first book for free through the Kickstarter. There’s a link [edit: THIS LINK] where you can download the files right there. You don’t have to pledge a token amount or use a coupon code or anything. I feel really passionate about the work I’ve done developing Kensei, and this is a low commitment chance to see if you like her story before committing money to the cause.

MZ: That’s really smart. I somehow missed that reading over the KS. Well, I should probably run and get something to eat. But it was great talking to you and break a leg (preferably someone villainous) on the Kickstarter!

JZ: Likewise, and thank you for taking the time to talk!


ASK ME THINGS

takeonemecover Hello Internet. It is 62 days until my novel, TAKE ON ME is published. (that’s its cover up there! I just realized I failed to do a cover reveal blog or even link to the cover reveal on the Fireside page… oh hey you can pre-order it too!) The rapid release schedule for all 3 books means that I just turned in my final changes to Book 2: CRUEL SUMMER. I’m also working on Book 3: RUNNING DOWN A DREAM, so it’s been a little hard to focus. I’m super glad to have an amazing publisher who can send me messages reminding me of the promotional things I have upcoming and take care of sending out advance copies and all of those things. There is absolutely no way I’d be half as successful at this on my own.

The rapid release schedule also means that I’m kind of flying in the dark. I’m finishing Book 3 and very few people have read book 1, so the level of doubt and fear about people hating the whole series is VERY HIGH. My response to this impending publication anxiety has so far to be very very quiet. I was thinking about that response and how very little good that does for anyone, it just isolates me, and perpetuates… I don’t know the false hope that publication changes everything and makes it easier? The more I talk to authors I consider ahead of me on their career journey the more I realize I’m doing OK and no one really has it all figured out.

In a perfect world I’d have a whole trunk full of short stories I would be submitting like mad right now to get a few acceptances and publications roughly around the time TAKE ON ME comes out. But, I don’t have short stories ready to submit and only a few I should be looking for reprint markets for. I don’t have a lot of time or energy to do that AND work on novel stuff.

It’s weird, but sometimes impending publication panic just comes out of nowhere and I find my heart racing and thinking out worst case scenarios. Logically I know that some people will love the book (hopefully a lot of people, but I realize my work is not for everyone) and that some will bounce off of it (hopefully less people), and some might flat out hate it. That’s totally normal and I have really no control over any of that. All I can do is try to reach as many people as possible who MIGHT want to check it out. I’m going to try and be more communicative about how this whole process goes over the next 60 days or so and what the soon to be debut author mind is like (well… sort of. I am going to censor myself. Some days it is just panicked flailing and a non-stop internal monologue of swearing, and you can imagine that part for yourself). So if you have any questions or conversations you’d like to have, let me know. I’m going to go ahead and turn comments on for this post and we’ll see how that goes. What questions do you have for me about TAKE ON ME, writing novels, impending publication, working on a series, rapid release, working with small press publisher, etc?


Too Many Links From Today

Dyes, Diets and Deodorants: Venetian Beauty Secrets Revealed – Researcher mixes up a bunch of 16th century deodorants from a beauty manual and tries them on friends.

Glossary of Medical Terms used in 18th and 19th Centuries – I know this is TREMENDOUSLY helpful for me. Hey you know how they say you should never work with animals and children? I’d like to add that you should never plot a book around vampires either. Terribly messy. So very very messy.

Shipwreck found off of North Carolina 

3D Printed Cap tells you when your milk expired – GENIUS!!

CBD promotes enhanced healing of broken rat femurs – Huh. That’s actually interesting though I’m curious how the experiment was set up (that doesn’t seem to be in the article) and if that was the goal or an unexpected result.

…and yes, cars can be hacked.  (This is a more in-depth article about what was done, by who, and for what purposes. Not a OMG YOU”RE ALL GOING TO DIEEEEEEEEE articles that are also all over today, though that’s still implied if car manufacturers don’t do anything)


Way Way Way WAY too many Links

Clearing out my stash of articles I’ve been saving and not posting so if there are any duplicates from earlier I apologize. Yes, many of these are months old. But you might have missed them! Also I needed to clear out my email where I’d been storing them.

Unconscious Library an homage to things forgotten

THE LOST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF JAVIER GRILLO-MARXUACH – The initial writing of LOST (very interesting reading for writers of all kinds)

David Nickle’s horror novel Eutopia confronts the racial overtones of Lovecraftian fiction head on (no fiction is ever written in a vacuum and we’re better off exploring those aspects of the works that inspire us and others rather than pretending the vacuum is true. This book sounds fascinating because of its exploration.)

Another Word: Free Advice from a Full-Time Author. Worth Every Penny Paid by WESLEY CHU

The Giant Robots That Serve the World’s Largest Library Archives

Traumatic Brain Injury in Domestic Violence Victims (Trigger Warning for Domestic Violence and its effects)

Laurie Penny talks about determining difference between outrage, and justified rage of the marginalized. (Lots of good stuff but by no means perfect or meant to be. I know I am thinking more about this. It becomes harder and harder to signal boost the very real and necessary rage to promote societal change and healing without feeding the outrage machine of the privileged and perpetuating a cycle of harm. All I can really do is try to do better with my own actions. I will still screw up, but I can accept that, and do better in the future.)

An Article about Leeches (so I can find it later)

An article with good reminders about how we all screw up and how to admit it and make amends. 

Flexible Circuit Injected Into Living Brains

Google Cardboard as Gateway Drug to VR 

Hey did you know someone wrote an amusing article about T-Rex Sex? I probably already sent you this article if you’re on my IM list when I first saw it. I was torturing EVERYONE with this. Though I’m still annoyed at all these weird fakey autopsy shows they keep putting on TV. At least this one was about an animal that actually existed at some point? The Dragon Autopsy had me throwing things at the TV.

Yes I saw this thing about appearing gnome statues. 

Sex Pistols Credit Card (YES REALLY)

Student Proves Earth Surrounded by Plasma Rings

Fossilized Dinosaur Claw has preserved structures that look like blood cells. 

This just makes me want to paint glow in the dark eyes on statues everywhere. 

Interesting interview with AI specialist Stuart Russell (from April, if you follow this sort of thing you’ve probably already read it, seriously I haven’t posted one of these link wrapups in WAY TOO LONG)

Article about agency based out of Russia dealing in commercialized coordinated disinformation campaigns (paid trolls) There’s probably a lot more of this going on for a variety of reasons in all sorts of places. I’d imagine there’s a lot of marketing stuff both positive and negative being done for various products. You can see this already in product reviews on online retailers… clearly not all of those reviews are from actual customers.

THE UNDERWATER GRAVEYARDS OF TRYWERYN VALLEY, WALES

Graves on the Island of Pirates

Oldest Sperm Fossil Found In Antarctica 


BIG NEWS!!!

OMG YOU GUYZZZZZ I HAVE A WHOLE BOOK SERIES COMING OUT!!!!!!!ELEVENTY1!

READ ALL ABOUT IT HERE

So yes. I have three books coming out from Fireside Fiction starting in October.

What I am about to tell you will not help you at all in getting your own books published. Really, it won’t. What I hope you’ll take away from this is how perseverance, and cultivating relationships with all kinds of people is how you will eventually succeed. Nothing happens overnight. I have been poking and prodding at this world and these characters since… I don’t know 1998? I thought I was ready to publish stuff back then, but I’m very glad I didn’t. Today seems like the end of the race to the me of 1998, but the me of today realizes this is only a new beginning. So here’s the story of how sold these books:

I don’t remember how I ended up talking to Brian White. I’m pretty sure it was on Twitter and I’m pretty sure I was giving him a raft of shit about something he was loudly protesting in a way that encourages people to engage with him in an amusing yet vaguely antagonistic way. That’s kind of his thing as @talkwordy. The longer I followed him on Twitter the more I realized there’s a lot more to him than just “that shouty guy on Twitter.”

I’m about to absolutely ruin his rep, but hopefully he’ll forgive me. You see the point where I started to respect him as an editor was one night where he was actively drunk tweeting with a large group of people and generally carousing and carrying on with a great deal of participation from many fronts. This had gone on for some time before I realized that all of his “drunk” tweets had the same errors. Consistent misspellings, consistent transposing of words, same highly irregular punctuation mistakes… and given his night job as a newspaper copyeditor I messaged him to ask, “Are you using a drunk tweet style guide?” He replied that he’d sobered up hours ago but everyone was having so much fun giving him crap he’d decided to keep the virtual party going.

That’s when I realized he not only had a similar sense of humor, he had the editing chops I would need a lifetime to develop (my punctuation tastes are… unconventional—not to mention inconsistent and wrong) so I approached Brian as a freelance editor for a project I planned to self-publish, but I wanted him to read it first because it was a little weird. I didn’t want him to commit to what would be a long term project if he hated the story. We talked a little back and forth about it and after a few weeks he asked if I was serious about self-publishing it.  I said yes, cause I didn’t think I could sell it (for a variety of reasons). He clarified that he meant could he possibly read it with the option to publish it through Fireside if he liked it. I could still refuse and he’d still work with me as an editor for self-pub. Considering I had NO IDEA that Fireside was even moving into books at all… I was kind of shocked. We talked a little bit about what that would mean and I said sure, he could have the option to offer on it.

On the evening of July 16, 2014 I sent him the first three chapters of what would become TAKE ON ME. Later that evening he asked for chapters 4-6, and the next morning he had me send everything I had.  After he read it, he asked if I was willing to let Fireside publish it.

I said yes. I want more people to read my stories. My personal reach is very small. I don’t have a big built-in audience. Fireside might not have a huge reach, but it has a much bigger one than I do and is generally well-respected in areas I care about. Fireside is taking the financial risk here instead of me, but I get an equal share of the income. Could I make more self-publishing it? Maybe? I don’t think so. I’m a very small fish in a very small pond and this works out to be a win-win for me at this particular junction with this particular story.

I can’t put a price on having Fireside as a partner in this process either. I know how much I would have paid Brian to edit it for self-pub but I got so much more than editing as a Fireside author. Brian introduced me to Andrea Phillips whose amazing book Revision launched Fireside’s foray into books. She and I have had each other to lean on and commiserate with during the publishing process in addition to boundless publisher support.

I also became a slush reader for the magazine during this process and have gotten to champion stories I loved to publication (though not all the stories I championed made the final cut). There’s a whole family of people behind Fireside who love fiction that doesn’t neatly fit in any particular box and making sure you get to read it.  I feel very privileged to be a part of that fiction-loving family (and finally able to talk about it).


I’m baaaaaaaack

devils Copy

Hey guys, long time no blog. So yeah, apparently I can’t do intensive edits and blog at the same time. Your mileage may vary but it doesn’t seem to be my wheelhouse of abilities.

Anyway, I’ve turned in my edits and now I’m working on new words. I’ve got about 25k I need to create and shape into a legit draft by the end of the month or… ULTIMATE COSMIC DOOM happens. Well, not really, but it would really screw up a lot of things. I swear this will all make a lot more sense in a couple days.

You know the giant impending news I keep hinting at? Well it kept getting pushed back for various reasons (all good!) and it is finally really actually going to be announced this week. Then you’ll finally know what I’ve been busy working on.

I’m super excited and a little terrified. Ok A LOT terrified. I don’t do well with good stress. Bad stress is easier to deal with because it is generally more actionable. There are steps I can take to mitigate bad things. It is a lot harder to mitigate anticipation of a very exciting and positive thing. I end up having the following sorts of conversations with myself:

“Wow this is really amazing.”

“Yes, but it really isn’t THAT amazing.”

“It’s kind of a big deal.”
“Don’t get cocky. If we let the full ramifications of this sink in we will be in gastrointestinal distress for the next week.”

“Right. Right. It isn’t THAT big of a deal. Just a total natural progression of events and there’s no reason to get excited.”

“Oh no.”

“What?”

“Just for an instant I allowed myself to think of potential futures spread out in front of us stretching to infinity… I feel it. I feel the cosmos.”

“I feel sick.”

So, yes, that, or variations of it since July 2014. What is going to seem very sudden has been quietly in the works for a full year and took pretty much most of my adult life before that.

Watch this space.

Coming Soon.

Very Soon.

No Really.

I mean it.

Soon.


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