Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Taking stock and cleaning house.

I've been writing for four years without taking a breather. Forging ahead every time I had an idea for a new story. That was sort of my deal with myself: I wouldn't block myself, I would write anything I wanted.

So when I woke up one morning a couple years ago with a vampire book in mind, it was already well past the time to write a vampire book. But I did it anyway. In other words, I've just written anything I want without regard to suitability. No long term career planning here.

Many of my better books actually started off as a lark and then turned into something. I'm not changing any of that. I think it's a good way to write, and I intend to continue. However, I'm so far ahead of myself I can afford to take a couple of weeks to try to clean up what I've done and take stock.

My files were an unholy mess. So I started creating files and eliminating files I didn't need. (Having first downloaded everything onto a flashdrive, just in case.)

It's given me a much better perspective on what can be done and what can't be done.

I contacted the artist of my Star Axe and Snowcastles books a couple of years ago, and he wanted 2K for each cover, which was way beyond what I could pay. I negotiated down to 1K last year, but the last year has proven to me that I can't justify that price either. He recently finally accepted 500.00 per cover, which is more in line with what brand new covers cost.

I've had Star Axe and Snowcastles and Icetowers scanned for some time now. It's messy and every line in the books have to be gone over to make sure that they are correct, and everything has to be formatted correctly. It's tedious but can probably be done in a week for each book. (I would combine Snowcastles and Icetowers into one book with the Snowcastles cover--which is appropriate anyway.)

So I'm going to do that.

The biggest thing I've done is going through my files of books and trying to consolidate them into folders. It's wrestling a real mishmash of stuff, but I started to see a pattern, how much each book was completed, how much needed to be done.

Frankly, if I was to take just a couple of months, I could finish a number of books.

I'm going to eventually put them in a Vault; each book finished off with editing and covers. Ready to go at the push of a button.

Then just start releasing them every 3 or 4 months for the foreseeable future.

So I have a number of books where I have covers and editing done. I'm just waiting for the right moment. This year is all about waiting to see what happens on the publisher front. I have books out being considered, I have books already accepted that will be coming out.

So I don't want to step on the toes of my publishers. I want to concentrate on those efforts and not dilute them with my other stuff.

I've got a couple of books that just need to be finished.

Devil's Forge already has a plot and 35K words. I've got a much better beginning planned. It is still a timely book, especially if wildfires continue to rage. So I could probably finish this within a month. I've been clipping newspaper articles out of the Bulletin for the last year, and it's amazing how much research material that has provided. I'm trying for a Crichton-like feel to the book.

The agent and publisher didn't care for my "100 kick-ass pages" so I'm going back to my original conception. I've put all the chapters back in the order they were originally, and I'm kind of excited to get started.

I also read through my Tuskers IV, and...I like it. It's good. It's a worthy continuation. I'm 25K words into that book, and again, I can probably finish it in a month.

So those are my next two projects.

I'm going to try to tick off each of my unfinished projects one by one over this year, have them all finished by the end of the year.

About 2/3rds of my books have a manageable number of versions, between 1-3 copies.

Led to the Slaughter had more than a dozen, but that book is two years old now, and I can just shove them in a file. Same with some of the others.

But Faerylander. Oh, la, la. Over 35 versions of that puppy. Every word has been gone over, every version.

There's a book under that pile of manure, I'm sure of it! In fact, there's 3 books!

Mike Corley did some wonderful covers for the first five books. Now all I have to do is figure out how to split Faerylander into 3 books. I'm going to do some detailed planning and outlining for each book before I start. It's a real puzzle. The 4th and 5th books are written, but need to be revised.

Finally, what about my early aborted efforts?

I have a bunch of books that I wrote first drafts and set them aside. I like them all right, but the stuff I started writing about a year into the process were so much more complete and ready to go that I didn't feel like going backward.

But they are fun books in their own right? What to do?

I've gone back and forth for years about doing books under a pen-name. Believe me, I have more than enough material. I have 2 books still unpublished from my earlier career, and I've written at least 5 other books since that I also think should come out. (These are outside the main career books.)

Question is-- do they fit the rest of my oeuvre, as it were? They are mostly fantasy, not horror.

So I'm thinking of having two tracks. The first is the Duncan McGeary route where I go to the expense of editing and professional covers for each book. These are books that I might send to a publisher; which I at least do some strategic career thinking about, when they should be released and how.

The second route is using a pen-name, where I do my own covers and editing and I just release whenever.

I've got at least 4 books finished and ready to go under the name Duncan McGeary. I've got Star Axe and Snowcastles and Icetowers coming out soon as well. I've got more two books in the pipeline. I have the five Faerylander books, I have Tuskers IV and Devil's Forge. (I already have 7 books out under publisher imprints, and two books out by myself under the Duncan McGeary name.

That's a career already. (I can hear some of you thinking: yeah, yeah, that ain't writing, that's typing. All I can say is, I'm spending a huge amount of time writing...)

And I'm by no means done writing. (Knock Wood.)

I could plunk these out every 3 months for years.

So why not do the penname thing on the other 7 books?

What I'm telling myself is--do my own covers as best I can, and do my own editing. I've got a much better idea of how to do covers now. My writing is pretty clean actually, not a lot of mistakes, so a little editing effort on my part should take care of that.

So I don't see any real downside to having books come out under a different name. (Right now, I'm thinking D.M. McKinnon, which is my middle name.)

Anyway, I think I'll feel a lot better if I can just deal with these little housekeeping chores. A couple of weeks or a month's worth of work.

Believe it or not, I don't think I've taken a month off from writing in 4 years. There is a reason I'm so prolific. I'm spending almost ALL my time doing it, I'm very diligent, and I seem to have a lot of creative energy.

I want to be sure that all this effort isn't wasted just because I didn't do the last few detailed things to make them possible.

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