Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What Time Is It? Time for Oumings.

Okay, decision made. Thorn and Shadow is done and in the hands of my first draft reader. When she finds the time, she will work her way through it and make various notes and circle the typos and such. In the meantime, I have begun work on another novel. Yes, I have decided to start something brand spanking new instead of going back to work on Mary of Starlight.

Why work on a sequel to a book that doesn't come out until August of next year? That was my thinking. Therefore and thus and such, I have started work on a fantasy novel called Oumings in the Dark, very loosely based on my short story of the same title (which, by the way, got reviewed at this website once upon a time and called "a nice little piece."). And that short story was based on a novel I attempted to write in high school called The Fifth Crystal. Yes, ladies and germs, the origin of this one goes way back.

Anywho, it is the story of a stubby race of furry critters called Oumings who are enslaved to humans in a rather dreary kingdom for some terrible thing their ancestors supposedly did. It will involved intrigue, bloody combat, assassinations in the dead of night, touching moments, betrayals and dreadful monsters that eat people (and Oumings). What more could you ask for? What more?!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thorns and Shadows

Well, I finished the initial review of Thorn and Shadow. Read through the whole thing, made some minor edits along the way, a few additions and deletions and changes, and I have to say, with some degree of relief, I think the book works. It's a short little novel (87,000 words) compared to everything else I've written, but it moves and flows and has some real emotional heft to it. That's my impression, anyway. We'll see how the first draft reader feels when she gets hold of it.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Okay, I moved past the rough part of Thorn and Shadow. Actually, I just worked my way through one of the key scenes of the novel, a pivotal and emotional moment that is vitally important to everything that comes thereafter. And, oh, sound the sacred chimes, the scene works. I mean, you never really know until the first read-through, right? You never know if a scene really works, even though you wrote it yourself, until you get some distance from it and then read it.

In this instance, the scene works. It involves a big emotional turning point, and it works. Noice! All is right with the world. I will sleep easy tonight.

Friday, November 23, 2012

My Stars and Garters

Oh, man, sometimes you're just working your little way through the rewrite, nixing a word here and there, switching an adjective or two or three along the way, murdering your adverbs, and it's all just flowing and going. And then! And then, ladies and gentlemen, you get to a part of the manuscript that is so rough, so disjointed and poorly written, that you daren't hope it will ever work. You even consider deleting whole paragraphs, whole chapters, or maybe just loading up the MMORPG that you are currently subscribed to (for the record, it's Rift) and wandering around a digital world in which the manuscript doesn't even exist.

Yes, that is what happened this evening, and it was such an important scene. Such an important scene. I wanted it to work immediately, but it didn't. Oh, how it didn't! But I refused to walk away. I stuck it out, hammered away like a little Fix-It Felix Jr., and gradually it took on some semblance of okay. It will need more work eventually, but at least I can now stand it. I am hoping the next scenes will be in better shape.

We shall see.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Halfway Through

Well, I'm halfway through the initial rewrite of Thorn and Shadow. It's just a cursory rewrite, nothing major, just a tiny bit of polish to make the manuscript readable. So far, there are parts I really like, parts that are okay, and some parts that will need a great deal of work at some point. Overall, I think the novel works. My only concern is that it might have too many characters. We'll see how my first draft reader responds.

Anyway, I am leaning in the direction of working on Mary of Starlight next. Yeah, I've got another novel I want to write, but I'd really like to get Mary Lanham's story told. There are some epic/touching/compelling things I've got planned, and I can't wait to write them. Oumings can wait. I don't know. Maybe I will change my mind again before I move on. So many ideas, so little time.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Pain of the First Read-Through

So when I'm working on a novel, I do not, under any circumstances, go back and reread what I've written until I have finished the whole thing. Too much discouragement can keep me from getting to the end. Once I get the whole thing written, then it's time to read it for the first time. And, yes, it can be painful, because, up until then, the novel is still that pristine and perfect thing that resides in my imagination. The words never quite live up to what was in my head, so that first read-through can be a slog. Rewriting, for me, becomes a process of shaping those clunky words into the best approximation of what I had in my head. There's just a lot of work to be done.

Now, that makes it sound altogether unpleasant. However, from time to time, as I read through the first draft, I find a passage, a paragraph or maybe just a sentence that turned out just the way I wanted it to. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a sublime moment, and it makes all the rest of the work worthwhile.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I Miss NaNoWriMo

I got done too soon, people, and now I miss NaNoWriMo. I was part of the action, part of the adventure, part of the daily grind, the sweat and tears. I got to watch my friends as their word counts went up or just sat there. It was all so exciting, and now it's over. I finished my novel mid-month, and I'm out of the game. And rewriting doesn't count, even though I have thousands of words to rewrite, including but not limited to clunky dialogue, typos out the wazoo, strange transitions, plot holes and needed scenes. But NaNoWriMo doesn't care about such things. NaNoWriMo only cares about first drafts. Oh, I know how you are, NaNoWriMo. I know how you are.

In other news, the blog Little Library Muse posted an excerpt of Mary of the Aether. It's the scene where Aiden and Mary are trying to lose creepy old Iris who starts following them at the gas station. Well, here's the link people: Little Library Muse.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I Win, NaNoWriMo, I Win.

That's right, NaNoWriMo. You heard me. I win. I just completed the first draft of my novel, Thorn and Shadow, on November 14, all 86,277 words of it. You thought you could stop me, didn't you? Oh, I know how you are, NaNoWriMo. I know the way you try to break people. I'm aware of your tricks. But I defied your every wish and finished the novel. I win. Take that back to your hovel in shame and disgrace!

Okay, to be fair, I didn't write the whole novel during November, only the last 22,000 words. Nevertheless, the first draft is done, and there it is. Epilogue and everything. Now, of course, I have to go back and do one million revisions, but that's just the way it goes.

Thorn and Shadow turned out to be one of my shorter novels. It might grow in the rewriting, because there are a few scenes I know I need to add to flesh things out. I expect it to top out around 90,000 words. And that's just fine. It has a nice, brisk pace.

So, there you go, people. If I can defy NaNoWriMo's tricks, so can you. Get that novel finished and rub it in his filthy face!

Good luck and God Speed,


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Eight Novels

Thorn and Shadow is done except for the epilogue. Not sure if the ending is too abrupt or not, but I think it's a short enough novel that a lingering denouement would not help the pacing. The NaNoWriMo page says I will be done with the novel by December 4, but actually I should be done with the first draft by tomorrow night. That'll be one more novel completed.

As I tally it up, that means I've written eight novels in my lifetime. I probably shouldn't count the first one, as it was profoundly terrible, nay, vomitous. I don't even remember the name of the first one. I wrote it in my first year of college. It had something to do with two brothers finding a mysterious red crystal in a cave that turned out to be part of an alien's spaceship and had powers. Blah blah blah. Awful. Nauseating.

The second novel was called Deep Water. It was a very personal novel, written with a lot of emotion, in the year of our Lord two thousand and one, but it needed a lot more rewriting than I was willing to put into it at the time. It currently resides in a plastic box in the closet.

The third novel was called Dreaming of Shadows. It wasn't well thought out. A meandering plot with some interesting and disturbing scenes involving paper-skinned monsters called Teshogats, it ultimately added up to very little and ended in an unsatisfying way. I wrote it in 2004-2005 or thereabouts. No publisher loved it.

The fourth novel was Mary of the Aether.

The fifth novel was called The Klown Kroo. It is still looking for a publisher. It is my wife's favorite of all the things I've written. It is also disturbing enough to cause me some trouble, so it may never see the light of day. I mean, clowns and post-apocalypse and brain worms and zombie-like hordes, you can see how that might all add up to disturbing things.

The sixth novel was Mary of Shadows, which I have already signed the contract for. It comes out next summer.

The seventh novel was a rewrite of Deep Water. It wound up being over 200,000 words, so I split it into two volumes: Bloodstone and A Whisper in the Void. It is sitting at a publisher right now, being considered. I should hear something one way or the other by the end of this month.

And there you go. The novelistic history of Mr. Jeffrey Miller. I didn't even touch on all the unfinished novels. This blog entry is already too long, as it is.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Possibilities and Crazy Things

Well, I just passed the 80,000 word mark in Thorn and Shadow. We are at the climactic chapter, with all sorts of crazy things happening. I'm talking blood, critters falling down dead, ribbons of light, people being impaled, rampaging animals, dreadful voices. So far, this has been one of the funner writing experiences I've had. There really hasn't been any part of this novel that was difficult to write. It has a nice, steady pace that just ramps up into fun and crazy things. I enjoy it. Will other people enjoy it? That remains to be seen.

At this pace, I will be done with the novel in another week or so, which will mean I have nothing left to do with the rest of NaNoWriMo. For my next project, I think I will go back and finish working on the second sequel to Mary of the Aether. It's called Mary of Starlight, and it will also ramp up into crazy things. In fact, it will get so epic near the end that I find the prospect of writing it daunting.

On the other hand, I might not finish Mary of Starlight next. I have an idea for another fantasy novel that I want to write. When I was in high school, I attempted a novel called The Fifth Crystal. It was more than I could manage at the time, so I got about fifty pages in and gave up. Nevertheless, it is an idea that I want to revisit, and I know how to make it work now. I actually wrote a short story called Oumings in the Dark that appeared in the fourth issue of a magazine called Encounters that is very loosely based on the same idea. The link is here. Anywho, I might write that next instead of the next Mary novel. We shall see.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Oh NaNoWriMo

Are any of you participating in NaNoWriMo? We're only ten days in, folks. Don't collapse now. Press on! As I mentioned before, I am using NaNoWriMo as a means to propel me to finish Thorn and Shadow by the end of November. I should be able to do it. I'm past 77,000 words, and I've got another, say, 20,000 to go.

You want to know the secret to completing the NaNoWriMo? Here it is: write. Make yourself write every day, folks. I don't care if you've got diarrhea, dentist appointments, family reunions or gout, make yourself sit down every single stupid, sweaty day and pound out the words. You don't have to like it. You don't have to want to do it. Wrest control of your own self and make it sit before the computer and write.

And that, gents and dames, is the secret to completing NaNoWriMo. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Meet the Author

I did a Meet the Author event at a Middle School this evening. Parents and kids came to the school library, and I read a couple of chapters, gave away some copies of the book, sold other copies, signed copies, handed out bookmarks, answered various questions about writing and publishing and Mary of the Aether.

It turned out to be a fun event. I met some fans of the book, which is an interesting and new experience. Here's a couple of pics from event.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Climactic Moments

I've passed the 75,000 word mark in Thorn and Shadow, and we're approaching the climactic moments. I just finished a particularly bloody scene with stabbings and broken teeth and various awful things happening.

I had one of my stranger writing moments the other night. I was out for my evening walk when I got inspiration for the next scene in the book. As I worked through it in my head, suddenly I wanted very much to write it down, but I was two miles from home. So I pulled out my iPhone, opened up the email app and wrote out the scene using that awful fake iPhone keyboard. It was dark, I was walking, there was occasional traffic to be mindful of and the auto-correct kept wrongly correcting things, but I finally got the scene written. Then I e-mailed it to myself, all while continuing to walk. I couldn't help it. I had to get the scene out!

Anywho, in other news, I am heading back up to Prairie Grove Middle School tomorrow evening to do a Family Literacy Night event. I will be talking about the writing and publishing process, reading some passages from Mary of the Aether, and possibly even selling a few copies. I have no idea what to expect, how many people will be there or how it will be received. We shall see!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dust, Decay and Blood

Well, I've got various things a'brewin' for Mary of the Aether. I am still working to promote the novel. To that end, I've got an interview at the YA Promo Central Website. Click on the title there to head on over and read it. I also have an excerpt that will be appearing soon on the Little Library Muse blog. I'm not sure exactly when that will appear, but I'll link to it when it happens. In the meantime, you might head on over to the website and see what they're all about.

I continue to work on Thorn and Shadow, inspired by NaNoWriMo to get the thing completed by the end of the month. I think it will happen. I just passed the 70,000 word mark, and we are heading into the final stretch. So much dust, decay, blood, fighting, fear, anxiety, guilt and apocalyptic events, I can scarcely contain myself, people.