2013-10-27

A Writer's Brain never stops

After the final click which sent Peacekeeper on its way to Smashwords, I leaned back and thought, "Time to take a break and catch up on some reading and other things I've missed out on while working on the book." Well, that's sort of what's happened. My work schedule has gotten in the way with all last week being 12-hour days. I have managed to get some reading done as well as watching a few episodes of Firefly. But my writing brain has not taken a vacation.

I do a lot of thinking about my stories while in the shower (strange but true) as well as just before drifting off to sleep. Instead of taking a break, I find I'm still thinking about any one of the several stories that are waiting to be written. My brain has refused to take a break. I've come up with a possible Galactic Alliance novel that is a follow-up to Peacekeeper. This would create a parallel series based on Peacekeeper. I also keep thinking about a sequel to Off Course where an Akuda super-ship is discovered causing the Ba'Ruta to become involved. I've come up with a really cool twist concerning the mysterious Ba'Ruta. I've also had a few requests to make a third Dragonverse book and there are ideas floating around for this as well.

My biggest seller is the Galactic Alliance series and my wife strongly suggests that I focus more on that series than the others. I'm torn about this. I enjoy the large sales from the GA books but I also have stories that are itching to be told. I have been quite surprised that the Dragonverse books haven't sold better given the fact that many people are fond of dragons. I've often thought about going back and doing a complete re-edit of the two Dragonverse books and then continuing on with a third in the series.

I would also like to put together a 'meet the author' chat session where anyone can join in and chat live with me online. I don't know how many people would be interested in doing this either and even if there is a lot of interest in it, I don't know how to pull it off. I used to be a rather decent computer programmer but I've never done any internet programming. The sad thing is, I've been falling behind in the technology and now there's a lot of things out there on the web I'm not familiar with. There might be a way to do a massive chat but I can't tell you what it is.

I'm going to stick to my plans and take a break from writing at least until next year. But just because I'm not actually writing doesn't mean my brain is on vacation. The dumb thing keeps working even when I'm asleep.

2013-10-20

10-20-2013: Galactic Alliance (Book 4) - Peacekeeper has been released

At long last I can finally report that Peacekeeper has been released. This book has occupied much of my free time for the past 9 months. I did take several forced breaks to build a new fence around my house, attend DragonCon, participate in two refueling outages, and make a trip to Minnesota. I cannot thank my wife enough for putting up with my desire to finish this book and for her help in doing the grammatical review. She's not a big fan of science fiction but she does have a knack for spotting the grammatical errors I tend to miss.

As she was finishing up her first review, I was doing my second pass through the book and making additional changes. Although I wrote the novel using Scrivener, the final editing is done in Word. This gave me the ability to use Word's track changes feature so my wife could have her chance to review the changes I made. This process was finished on Friday. I made one final quick pass looking for spelling errors and seeing what Word claimed was not proper grammar. Only a very few minor changes were needed. This process finished up Saturday morning.

The next phase involved making 3 copies of the manuscript; one for Amazon, one for Smashwords, and one for Createspace. Each one is slightly different. Amazon is the easiest and it's pretty much a direct upload to start the publication process. Smashwords requires a different header page with a mandatory license statement on the first page. The hardest one to create is the one for Createspace. This gets reformatted into the 5.25 x 8 inch PDF that will become the interior of the book. I have to add page numbers and tell Word to use mirror margins so the printed pages will align correctly. I also have to do a page by page check to make sure the chapters don't end with only a couple of lines on a page. When everything is formatted properly, I print it out to a PDF file. The different versions get uploaded to the various sites and the process is complete.

I will be taking a break from writing for awhile. At the moment, I don't have a project in mind. I could write another Peacekeeper edition creating a spin off of the Galactic Alliance series. I also have an idea for a follow-up to Off Course and there's the possibility of a third Dragonverse book. I have a germ of an idea for a short story as well. But for now, I'm going to catch up on some of the things I've missed out on while working on Peacekeeper.

I was adding a recently completed book into Goodreads and it occurred to me that even though I read the entire book, I don't recall much of anything I had learned from it. On reflection, however, I know I did learn quite a bit. When you think about it, the human brain is always learning--it never stops. Reading a book on how to develop better characters will help me develop better characters even though I can't write down what I learned. The learning process takes place on a level that we can't directly access. There are books out there that give the reader these large checklists to run through to make a book better. Does anyone actually ever do that? I seriously doubt it! When you write a paragraph, do you go back through it, word for word, and do an analysis of sentence structure and word usage? I hardly think so. Instead, your brain integrates what you've read in the past into how you write. The bottom line is this: If, after reading a book on how to make your writing better, you set the book down and think, "well that was a waste of time", you're wrong. Learning has occurred--you just don't know it yet--now go write something!

2013-10-09

10-09-2013: Late post - Peacekeeper editing

This week's post is late due to a number of factors. Since the blog is about "Working and Writing" I should perhaps include some of the things that I do for a living other than writing.

I am a nuclear power plant worker. The company I work for owns 4 reactors. These reactors must periodically shut down about once a year (my plant is only every 2 years) so the reactor can be refueled. This is called an outage. It's a major event for a nuclear plant with lots of work going on. The plants that are not being refueled send a few people from each shop to the down plant to help with the work. That's where I am now. I am working 12 hours a day 6 days a week. That doesn't leave much time for anything else. Luckily, I only have one week left on this schedule.

My one day off is Sunday and I had to make a quick trip home to fix my Media Center server. Let me explain this as well: Instead of using a cable company DVR box, my cable comes into the house and goes to one of my computers. I have a quad-tuner installed and my computer serves as a whole-house DVR. I use Microsoft Media Center for this. My two televisions have an X-Box connected to them that then connects to the Media Center server and that's how I watch and record television shows. Last week, the server stopped responding and neither X-Box could connect to it. I found that Norton-360 had suddenly decided that the X-Boxes were new devices and blocked them. I spend last Sunday removing Norton and installing Microsoft Security Essentials. The server is now running smoothly.


Peacekeeper update: My wife has finished proofing the book and I am on the last chapter of my final edit. Because I'm not at home, I can't put her final changes in and she can't look at the edits I've made. We plan to take care of this as soon as possible. My hopes are to have the book available for sale by 10-19. If I can swing it, this date will be moved up.