Next steps, and plans

I hate making new years’ resolutions. In my mind, it’s ridiculous to think one can plan for something so far ahead, because life throws curved balls at us and changes everything. What we plan at the beginning of the year, is planned based on the info and difficulties we are aware of at that moment. The next moment, the Sun may implode and we end up rotating around a red dwarf. One hell of a sight to see, but it’s going to put a little dent on those plans. I believe I’ve said it before: when mortals make plans, gods laugh. Especially if those plans rely on the completion of a whole bunch of other things happening before the resolution comes to fruition. I’m talking about resolutions like, “I want to travel the world from east to west and north to south in a canoe before the end of this year.” A lot of things need to happen before one achieves that. Like learning what a canoe is, and how to navigate in the sea without electronic equipment. So I never, ever do them.

I don’t mind setting small goals, physically and mentally possible. Like, “this year I’m going to learn to count from one to ten in Cantonese.” It’s manageable and doable, even if life throws at me its worse.

All exaggerations aside, I’m more of a person who likes to set goals (see, I’m making a distinction here between goals and resolutions) over which I have control, things that I know for a fact I can make them happen in the immediate future (“this Saturday, I’m going over to Steve’s to reconcile with him after our last week’s argument”). So it’s more like a plan than anything else.

Well, this year, I broke my own rule. I set a goal for me, only it’s actually a resolution.

I will publish my first novel in 2018, I said. It shocked me a couple of weeks after I said it, but my mind insisted on it. 2018 will be the year the world will read my first novel.

A lot of things need to happen between now and 31 December 2018.

1. Have a completed manuscript ready (edited by me at least 20 times, read by betas, and re-edited after their suggestions 5 more times) –> CHECK
2. Have a basic knowledge of how one gets to publish a book –> CHECK
3. Have a list of potential readers who might be interested in reading said book –> CHECK (I have a newsletter, and some of the readers there show genuine interest in talking to me. That’s a start, right?)
4. Have a basic understanding of how a writer can promote their work –> CHECK (though I’m still learning)
5. Have an editor ready to edit the book –> X
6. Have a cover designer ready to craft a cover for it –> X

So now I’m at the point where I’m looking into editors. Line editors, to be exact. Apparently, not many of them go around. Or if there are, a great deal of them bundle copy editing and line editing into one (two different kinds of editing, but I’ll get back to that at a later post). Also, money is an issue. Editor needs to be affordable. Hmm, let me rephrase that: cheaper than what most writers would consider affordable. Take into account the different earnings between Greece and your countries. So, in other words, the editor has to be dirt cheap. Perhaps a line editor who is just starting up their self-employed editing career, and want to attract clients and referrers than anything else.

I’m sure there’s someone like that out there. I’ve already got my eye on a few. I’m waiting for them to reply to my queries and get quotes. I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the mean time, TL;DR (too long; didn’t read): 2018 will be the year I will publish my first novel.

Crutch words – WENT (part 2)

You didn’t think I forgot part 2 for this crutch word, did you? In case you missed part 1 you can find it here.

When we draft our stories, we want to get them out as fast as possible. Which tends to make things sloppy and messy. Non-writers, don’t get us wrong. It’s a need all writers have; get the story out of our heads immediately. Unfortunately, this comes at a price.

Crutch words.

When we finish our first draft, we haven’t exactly “written” anything. Technically, we have, but practically, well… it’s not readable. When we draft a story, what we’re really doing is putting our thoughts down. Writing comes after we’re finished with the first draft. That’s when we have to turn our drafts into something that won’t hurt the eyes (or the minds) of our readers. Part of this process involves removing crutch words.

One such crutch word is the past tense of the verb go (went). We love using it (and other crutch words), because it’s always available and it does the job. The thing is, readers want more than a word that just does the job. The problem with went is that it’s not descriptive enough. And so, we have a huge list of synonyms to consider. Below, is a small list of some of the available synonyms for WENT. Keep in mind that every synonym has a meaning of its own, so make sure you use the right word. And yes, I know there are more synonyms available. I will cover those in future posts.

 

Crutch words – Smile/Laugh

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about crutch words and I focused on the word LOOK. Of course, look isn’t the only crutch word writers use. SMILE and LAUGH are two similar words. Keep in mind that the words I include below are not the only ones, but they tend to be used more often than others. Also, some of them are the product of onomatopoeia (Greek word, meaning to create names), and as such they describe a sound. As I mentioned in that earlier post, make sure you understand what each word means before you use them.

Call for betas for a cyberpunk novel

I believe I have done all the edits I could think of on Through Stranger Eyes, my current WIP. It’s time for others to have a look at it and identify all the mistakes I have failed to spot. No doubt they’re plenty and will keep me busy for a while. But for me to improve the manuscript, I need you.

So, I’m asking for beta readers willing to take a plunge into my dark futuristic world, into the fears and hopes of Dr Rick Stensladnt (my main character). To try to figure out with him why his life took such a bad turn all of the sudden, who’s behind everything.

Through Stranger Eyes is a 132k word cyberpunk mystery/suspense about Dr Rick Stenslandt who, despite the fact he augments people with advanced cybernetic implants (as is the norm in his world), he refuses to have even the simplest implant in him. Though a purist at heart, he will have to stray from his convictions when an accident deprives him of his sight, and is forced to have an ocular implant. Things take a strange turn for him after the operation, as Rick begins remembering the deaths of influential people, whom he has never met before, deaths that have taken place years earlier. Driven to find out what is happening to him and why, he will risk losing everything that matter in his life; his social status, his sanity, his family, his life.

You may ask, what is Cyberpunk?

“Trying to define Cyberpunk is a difficult task. In short, however, Cyberpunk refers to both a culture and a genre.

Cyberpunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that features advanced science and technology in an urban, dystopian future. On one side you have powerful mega-corporations and private security forces, and on the other you have the dark and gritty underworld of illegal trade, gangs, drugs, and vice. In between all of this is politics, corruption, and social upheaval.

High tech. Low life.” (Definition taken from https://www.neondystopia.com/what-is-cyberpunk/).

Though not a prerequisite, often noir style of narration is employed (again, not all the times). I have tried using this kind of narrative.

If this still doesn’t shine any light (understandable, since the world is gritty and dark), consider the film Blade Runner as the epitome of what a cyberpunk world might look like. That’s one side of the cyberpunk spectrum. The Matrix is also cyberpunk, though with a lot of other subgenres thrown in. If you haven’t watched either of these films, and you’re into anime, then Ghost in the Shell and Akira are the first ones that come to mind (if you know more, please let me know. I’m not into anime, but I really like cyberpunk). In terms of books, William Gibson’s, Neuromancer, and my favourite, Richard K. Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs novels, particularly Altered Carbon. If that also doesn’t help, have a look at my pinterest board, designed specifically for this book.

So if any of you have read or watched any of the above and liked them, you’ll feel right at home (hopefully). If not, but you are willing to read an early work (or as early as any work can be after more than a year of editing and fine tuning), if you don’t mind answering long questionnaires about the book, if you are the kind of reader who understands that the only way to help a writer and his/her work is by being brutally honest and point out as many mistakes as you find (and the occasional praise for the things you liked), then please let me know. And if you’re concerned whether or not you’ll hand it back in time, I usually give two months minimum for the readers, because, well, life happens for all of us. After all, I’m not the speediest reader and I’m known to have taken a long time to return a manuscript (hi Yoann!). So, if you want to help, don’t worry about time. We can always extend the time frame.

A few people – people whose opinion I trust, and whose help I value – have already offered to help me. I’m eternally grateful to each and every one of them. Some aren’t writers, just readers. Others are writers (more skilful than I am) who write in different genres, yet their comments is almost always accurate. Some have a keen eye for details and are more editing-oriented, others see the whole picture and comment based on that. Whatever your skill level, whether you write or not, if you want to help me, please leave a comment or let me know in any other way (use email, twitter, facebook, pinterest etc). Those of you who have already agreed obviously don’t have to do it again, but if I’ve forgotten to contact you personally (I apologise, but lots of things are happening, some health-related issues with close family members), please message me and let me know of your availability.

Please be advised, that Through Stranger Eyes has some adult themes and imagery, as well as mild foul language (in other words, it conforms to most genre standards). Just a heads up 🙂

Thank you all very much!

Finally, it happened. Again.

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Through Stranger Eyes is finally printed, and the red pen is anxious to have a go at it. Isn’t there something magical when you transfer the thing of your labours into a physical medium? I mean, when you type it and store it in the cloud or wherever, you know it’s there, it’s accessible, and if anyone ever doubts you wrote a book all you have to do is go online, access your files, and voilà! You can easily say, “Ha! In your face, nameless person who doubted me.”

But you have to admit there’s something so much better when the object of your desire, the reason you locked yourself away for weeks, months, or years and allowed people to think you’ve turned into a deranged hermit, is tangible and in your hands. I mean, it’s been three days since I printed it, and I’m still giddy and excited. Hell, I feel as if I can take on any one and any thing, maybe even tackle another one…

Just kidding. I will not start another story until I’m through with this one.

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So this should keep me occupied for a few days (weeks or months, more likely). As I mentioned in an earlier post, once I fill this bad boy with as much red ink as I can fit on the margins of its pages, I’ll transfer all the changes into the digital copy, then turn on the macro function and sweep away all the nasty adverbs, filter words, etc that I have missed on all previous editing rounds .

My only concern at the moment is that the story came out at 140k words (!!!), which is 20-25k more than what I wanted it to be, and I doubt if I cut every adjective and adverb from the manuscript it would reach my intended word count. The funny thing is that the first draft was 128k words, but I needed to replace some of the scenes with new ones and ultimately had to add one or two extra, and that’s how I ended up with so many words.

Regardless, this ought to be fun!