Sunday, December 30, 2012

Speaker of the Winds is going out to Beta readers

It's ready. 

Speaker of the Winds is officially in Beta Reader manuscript print. Copies are going out ASAP. The first one went out last night. Because it's so big (and expensive) it'll take some time to get them all out. 

So with a little 'acceptable' tweaking of manuscript format and some other small changes I managed to drop the page count from 730 pages to 600.
That's about 1 and 1/5th of a ream of paper and most of an ink cartridge. It's a hefty beast and I'm still uncertain how I'm going to get it bound if at all. So for my readers it'll likely come to you as a stack of paper like this.

Some of my friends and supporters have offered to read my stories and offer feedback to help me. They are different than my other equally great friends who just want to read and enjoy my stories. This manuscript is in the first stage. Incomplete. If you're not a writer, then you'll probably just want to wait for the finished book. Reading incomplete works can be difficult or even turn you off of a writer if you're just a reader.
New York Times best seller Brandon Sanderson once had his best friend and a member of his writers group say this about his manuscript. It went something like this. "What? You write like this and get published! Maybe I'll get published after all."
Now that wasn't and insult, but rather a clear point that until a work of art is complete it's imperfect. There is work to be done.
I suppose my point is, not everyone who reads fantasy would like to read an incomplete novel. Most of us just want the clean polished version and that's o.k. too.

What is a Beta reader?
To me a Beta reader is someone who will read an unpolished novel, evaluate it's strengths and weaknesses, write on the manuscript where and when they happen and do so in a reasonable period of time. Beta readers are not necessarily writers or readers of great acumen. They are however well read and know when they are reading if the text is bad, average, good or excellent. Beta readers have read enough in the past and do so in the present to understand beyond personal opinion if something is good or not. They also recognize their opinion matters and ensure their comments include their opinions. They also return the manuscript with their legible remarks, because without it I can't improve my story. A Beta reader points out places of success and places that need improvement, but doesn't say how it's to be done. That's the job of the writer and editor.

This is for my Beta readers who I've already spoken to:
It's coming. Here's the kind of feedback I'm hoping to receive.
Of course, spelling, grammar etc is helpful, but that I can edit that on my own, so don't feel to pressured to dive into that kind of work. A side note: that's the last stuff a novelist edits, so there's been very little of it done on the manuscript so far. Don't let it bother you.
Mostly I'd like to hear back on these things below, so please do use a RED pen to take legible notes on the manuscript. (A BIC ball point or similar will work. Please don't use a marker or felt tip as they'll be hard to read and will bleed through pages. Please don't use black or blue, the most common pen colors, as it's hard to notice against the printed text.) You'll be returning it to me so I can review them.
My success and all your hard work reading this novel would be fruitless without your comments and thoughts, so if you thought it, don't hesitate to write it down. I'm always available for questions.
  • Plot problems
  • Inconsistencies of any kind
  • Points of confusion
  • Points of excess (wordiness, repetition)
  • Pet Peeves
  • How's the pacing
  • Do the climaxes peak and the valleys rest
  • Do you have closure
  • Did you feel tension in the right places
  • Was there suspense
  • Did you feel pulled from chapter to chapter, scene to scene, page to page, paragraph to paragraph
  • At what points did you get board
  • Trouble pronouncing names of people, places or things
  • Is there a scene, character, or situation that lacks description
  • Names, scenes you liked... alright, anything you like. 
  • Anything else that you notice
*Again it's most helpful to see your notes in the text, where it's happening. 


For those of you who've offered to volunteer recently I'll have to get you a copy to read for feedback after I start getting some of these back. This can take a while and nothing about writing is very fast. So some sharing will have to happen and all in good time. Also, I do expect to put out two more novels to my readers in 2013, so more opportunities will arise.


If we haven't talked yet, but you're interested in helping me write my novel this is what I expect out of a potential beta reader. 

  • I need to know you well. Most likely you live near me and we communicate regularly. 
  • You're an avid reader of fiction and certainly in the specific genre that the book I'm sending out is in. 
  • The expectation is that you will read the novel in a reasonable time frame and give me feedback that I can use to better the story. You understand that I take all your feedback seriously even if I don't make changes or fix all the things you suggest. 
  • It's o.k. to give me a pat on the back if you like what you've read, but I'm not looking for ego building. At least not at this stage. ;-)
  • You should realize that a Beta reader is reading an unfinished story. It's incomplete. It's not so rough as a first draft, certainly, but it's not submission ready either. At this stage I've worked on the story for well over a year. (Two years on this one.) I'm at the point where I need outside input to improve my story. So it's not a matter of if, but rather when you come across rough points and I expect you to call them out so I can smooth them over and write a breakout polished novel.
  • There's expense involved. It costs me money to print and time to read and write my stories, but you spend your time helping for free because you're cool like that. I expect to be a paid, published professional author one day. Maybe then helping me out might be prestigious, but for now you do it because you like it and it's fun. Because it is.
  • Yes I do expect the manuscript back, and no I'm sorry you can't share it with your friends yet, but once it's published I will need your help with that. Thanks for the enthusiasm! All in good time.
  • It's not top secret, but it does represent hundreds if not thousands of hours of work by both myself and others. It would be a shame if it was compromised. All of the above is why I only do paper copies and I wouldn't give it to you if I didn't trust you, nor would you be here reading this. Thanks friend.

You're all brave and honorable folk and I'm blessed just to have you in my life. Thank you.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Big Mile Stone

Just a quick update.
As of right now I've finished my last revision before Beta feedback on Speaker of the Winds.
I'm going to spend some time tomorrow morning formatting it for printing, then I'll print my first novel that I'm sending away into the world for feedback.
This is big for me and only a little scary. O.k. more like Splash Mountain scary, but I'm totally getting into that log!

Cross your fingers.

P.s. If you're one of my Beta readers, and you know who you are. Expect your copy soon.


Monday, December 17, 2012

How the Universe Works and A Few Other Small Things

Quick things first...
Did I ever tell you the feedback I got on Zombie Wife.  My first reader a.k.a. Brittany said that she loved Zombie Wife. That it was my best work yet. Although she recognized that it has a long way to go, it is a first draft after all, that she was most excited about it.  Quite frankly, I'm very motivated to get Speaker of the Winds done and out just so that I can dive into revisions and edits for Zombie Wife.

Speaker of the Winds progress bar has been updated to 65%. That last 10% or so was slow because I've added three scene's that I didn't have before.  It was necessary and will make the story better.  You'll see. Their will probably be more of that also.

I've updated a couple video's into my YouTube channel.  I attended the the Salt Lake City library's Worlds of Fantasy lecture with Brandon Sanderson. I actually got good enough seats to record the session. There were a few minor disruptions, but I managed to upload the video and it's decent enough.
Brandon Sanderson, Worlds of Fantasy, Lecture

How the Universe Works.
Quirky, I know, however I'm going to hit this anyway.
The more I pay attention the more I see this to be true.
If our life was a canvas, we are the painters and the paint is our spent energies. It's the remnant or residue of our actions. When we desire more in our painting or if we're dissatisfied with the work we have, the solution is entirely controllable.  Think, decide, and take action. Then of course we must evaluate our progress, think, decide and take action again. Like the pilot, we know our destination, but if we don't continually sample our progress, check our bearings and adjust our course we'll forever overshoot or miss our target. For those who are not even trying... well they're in the airport still.
So my point is, we can accomplish anything if we apply effort.
We shape the universe around us, not the other way around.
I think it's long been assumed my most people, my self included, that there is this conglomerate of a thing that we'll call our environment, family, government, laws, rules and other pre-determined orders that's for the most part managed by god, nature and other much more powerful governing bodies. There is little to nothing we can do about any of that, but exist within the boundaries that has been created for us. Weather we follow the rules or break them, we so often believe that the options before us are the ones presented.
Imagine, if you will, the scenario where a hero is put against a bad guy. He's been cornered and the enemy gives him two options. Either option, of course, lets the villain win in one way or another and the hero loses. The surprise ending is when the hero realizes that he is in control of his own destiny and creates his own option which saves the day.
Don't take the world around you as a set thing. You control and shape it. If you can wrap your mind around that, things will start to change and you'll notice them. Why? Because you changed them and that's not supposed to happen. Or is it?
Test it. Think of one thing that is odd or doesn't come up. Make it a strange word or concept. Focus on that, make it important, then pay attention. I've no doubt that soon you'll see it show up in your world in ways that had you not placed it there it would not have shown up.
No, really, do it right now. Meditate on it for a few minutes. Yes, like 120 or more seconds. Really, honestly focus on it. Remember it through out the day. Subconsciously you'll be wide wave broadcasting this and the supposedly set universe will bring that back to you in ways you couldn't have imagined. It's not serendipitous   it's not coincidence. It's not that you were just not paying attention to it before and it was always there. You made it happen. You put it there by telling the order around you what to put there.
So for those of you who imagined a pile of cash and it didn't just show up, you're kind of missing the point and like the novice who's just started studying Kung Fu, you're not a master yet. Give yourself time to develop the skill.
Next, you'll learn that if you apply yourself fervently enough, you can change big things in your life. This can be stuff like eliminating negative things or people from your life to acquiring that thing you always wanted, but for some reason never did.  But that's all together rather shallow, this truth goes much deeper.
Think about it. Authors do all the time. What if you could take your life and change anything about it. Anything. Is the sun red? Is the grass crystalline .. ok, that's not very useful, but it should get your mind working on something less than obvious or shallow as your individual wants or needs. Your influence is much broader than what is right before you. Reach out into the world around you and draw in greater resources.
Decide what you want in your life and the world/universe/god around us will start to present opportunities. We have to apply the energy to make it happen, but once we do, it's not as hard as we would think. And once you've established that flow or path for the universe, then it's energy will start to pass along your path making it happen. It still takes work, for sure, but it's you who is in control. You're not just floating around, a speck on a sea of turbulence waiting for the universe to sink you. You form everything.
You've heard the natural law of flow, right?  Things or intelligence without stubborn intelligence (that's us),  will always flow in the path of least resistance.  That's how energy bounces and creates light, it's how water flow creates rivers, it's how matter and energy pool and vibrate creating this earth and nature around us. When you redirect that flow of matter and energy into new paths, you're reshaping what's already been done around you into what you prefer to have.
As the artist shapes clay into beautiful sculptures, you have the same ability to affect the world around you. Because you are both intelligent and aware you control the other intelligences around you.
Will you be bending rivers or water and wavelengths of light around you?  Well, maybe not today, but if it's important to you then, yes you can. Nothing is withheld from you. You must simply make the decision and act and in time all things can be as you would have them.
Do not let seeming failures stop your efforts. Like you and the world around you, both are imperfect. There is more than one force trying to shape the same thing. The broader the influence you demand the broader your impact and the greater the effort you will have to apply. This place you work on influencing will rarely be the same now as it will be moments or even years later. But if you persist eventually success will be yours. What ever that may be.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stepping Outside

I'm just over the half way mark chapter count wise on my revision of Speaker of the Winds. This has been a real growing experience for me and no doubt there is more room to grow. Still I'm very excited to finish and get it printed and shipped to my brave Beta readers.

I should have done that by now, and I've been missing that step for most of this year.  I allowed myself the opportunity to write two more novels when I should have been in revisions of this one. Personal weakness, I'm sure. I love the thrill of a new story and drafting it out.  Watching the characters come to life in my mind is very fun and enticing when you're trying to break through a wall with your current story.

My goal is to be finished with my revision by the end of the year and have it shipped out within the first few weeks of 2013. Then hopefully I'll have all feedback in and completed and shipped out to my first publisher submission by mid year. Then it's query agents time.

That's probably looking too far out. For this morning, it's writing time.

But before I do, I think I need to make my way over to the theater site and buy me a ticket to The Hobbit.

Have fun writing!