2014-06-30

PK2 is Off to the Beta Readers

Congratulations!
I would like to congratulate everyone on their Locus awards. I met Ellen Datlow at Launch Pad 2012 - she won best editor - congratulations.

A Day Late But Not a Dollar Short
I'm a day late in getting my blog out but for a good reason. We've been having some remodeling done and things have been very hectic around here. My wife has been up early and then out of the house while the contractor has been removing our old bathtub and installing a walk-in shower. I've had nearly 2 days of uninterrupted time to edit and that's what I've been concentrating on. The end result is that the first editing pass of Peacekeeper 2 is complete and the novel is now off to the beta readers. I don't expect to be getting the results back until I return from Laramie in three weeks where I will be attending Launch Pad 2014.

With the editing done, I find myself in a rather strange position. I'm heading off to a place where I normally expect to get a ton of writing done but I don't actually have anything I'm working on at the moment. What to do? The solution - I'm going to start fixing The Galactic Alliance Technical Reference Manual. It's a free publication that's available on my website and it's in dire need of a major upgrade. I don't write short stories or I would be working on one right now so fixing the GATRM is a good choice.

Editing
There is an art to editing and I'm still learning how to be a good editor of my own work. When you read books on editing you hear things like: "Each sentence must resonate with the reader"; "Every word, every sentence, every paragraph must be dissected, the useless parts discarded, and the remaining pieces stitched back together again to form a more coherent whole". Okay - I made those up, but you get the idea. Editing is hard work! My problem is I tend to rush through the editing process. I read the words as if I were the reader, listening to how they sound and looking for improvement ideas. I will occasionally stop and delete something or go back and add in something. But I tend to rush the process.

With PK 2, I hope to have a final product that everyone can enjoy. I'm going to try to take a single chapter at a time and read it, slowly, patiently, keeping myself detached from the story but engaged enough to spot errors. After each chapter is done, I'll take a break. It might take me another month to finish the editing but I think it's worth it.

I just finished replying to a fan who has found a few errors in Translight. Over the years since being written, I've gone over this book at least a dozen times and yet there are still problems in some of the words I chose. "Road" vs "rode", "sighting" vs "citing", and one sentence that had a word that should have been removed. It's embarrassing but I want my readers to point these out. That's how people learn. Just because you've done something wrong all your life does not mean it's the right thing to do.

The contractor should be finishing up today and our bathroom (except for painting which I will take care of) will be complete. We'll have a new walk-in shower and a new toilet. My wife wanted to widen the door but because of how the frame is built and the flooring around it, we'll have to wait until when we decide to replace the flooring in the living room and hallway. We plan on retiring here and making little improvements like this now is called 'planning for the future'.

One final note: Today marks the first official day of my new job at the power plant. I can now tell everyone I am a DataBase Administrator (DBA). Like my wife likes to say - "You're not AN I&C technician, you're not A planner, you are THE Database Administrator." I like the sound of that.

2014-06-22

Job Status

First Up - Congratulations!
I would like to congratulate an author I've never met. John Joseph Adams is the husband of an author I met at Launch Pad. His anthology The End is Nigh was featured on Amazon and has risen in the ranking until as of this morning it stands at #11 of all paid Kindle books. I suspect this is what happened to my Translight book back in 2012. I'm always glad to see someone's book doing well. Again - congratulations!

Peacekeeper Update
Editing is moving along at a good pace. I'm about 1/3 of the way done. I've added about 2,000 words to the manuscript as well. My goal is to have the book ready for my beta readers by the time I leave for Launch Pad next month.

Job Update
There is some exciting news (well, to me anyway) regarding my job at the nuclear plant. If you've been reading this blog you may remember I recently took a new position as a maintenance planner. During the interview process another manager learned about my computer programming skills. He's been trying to get me into his department ever since. I'm used to working a lot of overtime making my annual income considerably higher than my base pay. The job he was trying to get me to accept would involve little overtime and it was a salary position as well. But, a lot of people thought I would be a good choice for the position and so the bargaining began.

Last Friday, I was handed an offer that came with a considerable pay raise. Even though the number that will appear on my income tax form from now on will be slightly lower, I accepted the job. There were many factors involved in my decision. The position becomes official on Monday and it is everything I've always wanted in a dream job.

I am the maintenance department's DBA (DataBase Administrator). Basically, I will be doing Access database programming as well as maintaining a number of database applications and interfaces. I love programming – more than writing I admit. It's a strictly 8-hour a day job with semi-flexible hours. I will no longer ever have to put on a hard hat, work in high heat or high radiation areas, and never work nights. This get's me home early enough for me to not only spend some quality time with my wife, but to have quite a bit more time to write nearly every day.

I am a happy camper!

Next Project
Looking into the future, I think I've decided what I will be doing after Peacekeeper is finished or perhaps while I'm waiting for some feedback from my beta readers. First up – the Galactic Alliance Technical Reference Manual is in dire need of a major upgrade. I'm determined to turn it into something everyone will enjoy and it's going to remain freely available. Once that's done, and Peacekeeper 2 is behind me, I'll be doing a minor rewrite of the Dragonverse books. This is in preparation for a third book in the series that will be about the children of the series' main character. After that, I'm seriously thinking about writing a sequel to Off Course – something several people have asked me to do.

Finally
I hope my use of email to remind everyone of this blog post is being well received. The way I look at it, if I were on the receiving end and I didn't feel like reading the post I would just click delete. Simple. I've been using MailChimp to send these emails which has worked out quite well for me. I did however, screw up the last one when I forgot to change the link. Nobody seemed to notice that it pointed to an older post. I hope not to repeat this error in the future.

I would like to remind everyone to share your good books with your friends. If you enjoyed reading a book, tell your friends. 85% of all book sales are done through word of mouth. Feel free to forward my email reminder to your friends as well. If they're interested, they can sign up to receive my updates themselves.

That's it for now. Have a great day!


2014-06-15

Editing

Editing
I am a very big fan of Scrivener. Ever since discovering it, I use it to write my novels. Unfortunately, it is not so useful when I get into the editing phase. When I'm editing, I like to be able to work with the entire document. You can do that in Scrivener using a mode called 'scrivenings' but there is one major drawback to that mode - you lose the program's ability of having it remember where you were at when you close down the document. It faithfully remembers you were in scrivenings mode but you are presented with the top of the document each time. Although I could edit in normal mode, I like to work with the entire document in full screen.

For editing, I prefer to use LibreOffice. This program is fast, clean, and free. When the first draft is complete, I output the novel to Word format and then open it in LibreOffice. I save it in LibreOffice's native ODT format. I use this format because LibreOffice Writer will remember where I'm at each time I close the document. Now, I can work on editing on my netbook, close it down, and then restart on my home system seamlessly. There is a trick to getting this feature to work though. You must fill out the user details in the options menu. The thinking here is that LibreOffice will only put the user back at the same place if that same user is the one who originally closed it.

LibreOffice can also generate PDF files and can save in many other formats. When I am ready to publish, I save the document in Word 97 format and then I go look at it in Word to make sure the formatting is still good. Then, I can upload this to Amazon as well as Smashwords. The ability to generate a PDF is useful when I'm ready to create the printed version. I use Createspace for this and they want the manuscript already formatted and ready for printing in PDF form.

I did seriously consider buying a copy of Microsoft Office - or, actually, renting it. Up until recently, we were using Office 2007 at work. We have now 'upgraded' to Office 365. I am not a fan of the new interface. What was wrong with the old way of doing things? The new interface takes up far too much room and is in my opinion clunky to use. There are some nice added features but I use Office 2003 at home and I've never needed anything more. Paying for a program I really don't need especially when I can get a free version in the form of LibreOffice simply makes no sense.

Peacekeeper Excerpt
If you would like to read a short excerpt from Peacekeeper 2 you can do so by visiting my website at http://dougfarren.com/. Scroll down until you see Peacekeeper 2. The link is there. Feel free to pass this along to your friends. If you're reading this blog and you're not on my mailing list, I would to have you join. If you would like to subscribe to my mailing list, please give this link a try: http://eepurl.com/VYmMD. If that doesn't work, you can always send me a direct email at: author@dougfarren.com.

Copyright Papers
I received my copyright papers the other day! I submitted copyrights for all of my books on December 22nd of last year. That's a turn around of about 6 months. Considering the huge number of submissions they receive I consider this to be a pretty good response. I strongly suggest filing for a copyright. It's easy to do and relatively inexpensive. To file, go to http://www.copyright.gov/.


That's it for this post - back to editing!

2014-06-08

More Science

Peacekeeper Update
Editing is continuing although not as fast as I would have hoped. I added 1,126 words yesterday bringing the total count to 73,260. With all the numbers I post you might get the impression that I somehow find them important. Truth be told – I'm not too much into numbers when it comes to writing. I do know that it is a good indicator as to how much writing a person is actually doing (except when editing like I'm doing now) and I also know that many writers keep a daily word count. I don't keep a record of them but I will post them in this blog in case you're interested.

I was hoping to include an interview with the two main characters in Peacekeeper 2 in this week's blog but life stepped in the way. I did my editing and my wife has gone over it for grammatical errors but I have not had the chance to put those changes into the text. I will put it out next week. My apologies.

Getting the Science Right – Again
Yesterday evening, I was rolling along with my editing and came to a screeching halt. My main character had recently engaged his stardrive and was heading away from Earth. He directed his ship to put in a call to Earth and the two proceeded to talk as if they were in the same room together. Even FTL communication signals take time to traverse a distance. I realized that if the math says the delay is too great that I would have to rewrite the entire conversation. It was late so I left it for a problem this morning. Getting the science right, even a little detail as a communications delay, is important.

I follow most of the people I've met or will meet at Launch Pad. Caren Gussoff (Twitter:spitkitten, website:spitkitten.com) wrote the following tweet yesterday: " Trying to calculate the axial tilt of a fictional planet, while sick, broke my brain". I found it to be quite inspirational that someone was going to that much trouble to get the science right. Way to go Caren!

Copyright Update
I received an email from the U.S. Copyright Office the other day. Apparently, if you change the spelling of some words and fix grammatical errors and then release the book as a second, third, or fourth release you can't copyright the material back to the original publication date unless you submit the first version. I quickly replied and they should be processing my copyright. I did explain to them what the changes were so maybe they will still use the original publication date.

Programming – My Other Life
I am one of the lucky people who actually enjoys their line of work. Even when I was a technician I enjoyed doing the job. Now, I'm a planner but I haven't done very much of that recently. I've been doing lots of database programming. Other than writing, programming is my passion. It's actually a toss-up between which one I like most. The problem with that is I have a difficult time trying to split my available time so I can do the things I want to do. There are times when I really wish for someone to come up with a solution to the human body needing sleep. Just think of all the writing, programming, and reading I could get done!


Time is flying by even now and I need to get back to editing. Until next week…

2014-06-01

Getting the Science Right

Peacekeeper Update
The first draft is complete! Total word count is 71,785. I will, of course, be making at least 2 editing passes before turning it over to a couple of beta readers for their feedback. After I get the comments back from the beta readers I will make any appropriate changes and then turn it over to my wife for her grammatical check. There's still quite a bit of work to be done.

Getting the Science Right
I'm a big fan of trying to get the science right. Yes I live in a universe where stardrives, shields, and colossal energy weapons are possible, but I can at least try to make the science believable. If I'm writing about something that is currently known then I absolutely must be able to get it right. If I don't, someone out there is going to find it and call me out on it. To help me out, I've created an Excel spreadsheet allowing me to compute travel time between star systems, distances between any two stars, kinetic energy when two objects collide at high speed, etc. It has come in handy.

The other day, while finishing the last chapter of Peacekeeper, I mentioned that Jupiter and Saturn were on opposite ends of the solar system. A few paragraphs later I went back and asked myself if this would be true at the time of the story. I have given my readers a very good timeline in Translight and if someone carefully follows the narrative of the remaining books you can easily identify a year when things take place. I did a preliminary search on the internet and came up blank. So, I did what anyone else would do – I yelled for help. I fired off an email to the Launch Pad alumni.

While waiting for a reply, I looked around the internet again and came up with a clunky but workable solution. I found an interesting little solar system simulator at http://www.faustweb.net/solaris/. I allowed the simulation to run until it hit my target date and I was very surprised that my guess was almost perfect! So now, how do I find the distance between the two planets? Jamie Todd Rubin to the rescue. He sent me a link to WolframAlpha.com and I found heaven. Here is the exact link he used: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=distance+saturn+to+earth+on+july+17%2c+2142. I suggest you give it a try. I have it bookmarked.

Blog Updates
Up until recently, I've been relying on people's memory and Facebook notifications to get the word out that I've posted a new blog entry. I try to post every Sunday but people forget and Facebook is no longer sending notifications of my posts. Fact is, people these days are so overwhelmed with social media that few have the time to read all the posts and updates. I sent out a quick email from my mailing list asking if people would mind if I fired off a reminder and a link to the post once a week. The response was overwhelming. I was planning on using my own email account but maintaining it and using it to send out these emails would have taken up quite a bit of time. I turned to MailChimp. This blog is being announced via MailChimp for the first time.

If you do not want to receive these weekly updates, please let me know. I will put you on a less frequent list. If you are not on my mailing list and you want to be included, please send me an email at author @ dougfarren.com. I will put you on the weekly or the less frequent list as you request.


Just a reminder: 85% of all book sales are by word of mouth. If you enjoy my work or any indie author's work for that matter, please – tell your friends! Get the word out. Send them to my website or just tell them to look me up. Help support us independent authors.