Jul - 26 - 2010
For the past few months I’ve spent time writing Fiddler’s Green nearly every day. I like to plant myself in the back corner of Pantera Bread (because it rocks), or my neighborhood Starbucks (where they know my name and give me free stuff), or the burrito shop down the road (chips and fruit tea all day long) and once I’ve settled in with something tasty to eat or drink or both, I crack open the Macbook and get to work. Some days it might be an hour, others it might be six or more. And there’s a lot of hand-wringing going on because now that The Fiddler’s Gun is in readers’ hands, expectations have been whetted for the next book and the conclusion has got to satisfy.
I’m humbled by how emotionally invested many readers have become with Fin and her story and I don’t want to let anyone down. So the writing has been a meticulous process of trying to make sure that everything is firing in just the right direction in order to complete the story arc and deliver the emotional impact that I’ve been imagining in my dreams for over a decade. It’s worrisome work at times. And wonderful...Read the entire post
Jun - 16 - 2010
There’s an aspect of writing that I often struggle with in which I find that my own style is reshaped by whatever or whomever I happen to be reading at the time. I’ll write a passage one day and when I peruse it the next I’ll discover that, like the skin of a chameleon, it’s taken on the rhythm, structure, or vocabulary of someone else.
For instance, I began writing The Fiddler’s Gun almost immediately after reading Frederick Buechner’s Godric and in the end I had to completely rewrite the first few chapters because they had the same archaic and often yoda-like sentence structure as Godric. It was fun to write but it certainly didn’t fit the tone of the book. It wasn’t really my writing–I was parroting, riffing off of a better author. I find that this sort of thing happens to me all the time and often wonder where the line is between influence and imitation...Read the entire post
May - 19 - 2010
Thanks to all of the readers out there telling your friends about the book. You are the reason The Fiddler’s Gun has been such a success. But don’t stop! Let your local bookstores (especially independent bookstores ) know that if they aren’t stocking The Fiddler’s Gun then they are, as a reader told me lately, ‘missing the boat’.
And remember, if you send me a picture of yourself posing next to the book stocked on the shelf in your local store, you’ll get a free advanced reading copy of The Fiddler’s Green later this year.
Speaking of The Fiddler’s Green, it’s almost finished. Just a few days ago I sent Part I: A Voyage to Stranger Seas to my editor. While she’s going through it, I’m finishing up the last few chapters of the second half of the manuscript. I think it’s shaping up to be...Read the entire post
Feb - 06 - 2010
In the last couple of months I’ve been asked by several people how I go about finding criticism. I’ve talked a bit about this before and you can read my previous post on it by clicking this link. But here I want to discuss an angle of the subject that I didn’t cover in that post: online criticism.
When I first began my revisions of The Fiddler’s Gun, I dabbled in a few online critique groups and systems and they weren’t completely without benefit. The process usually consisted of posting a chapter or an excerpt and then sitting back to let anonymous people tear into it. While it certainly did open my eyes to a few issues, the greater lesson I learned from it was that criticism by strangers is only useful to a point; it has a glass ceiling. The ceiling exists at the point that your prose is more or less grammatically correct, properly formatted, devoid of easy cliches, and doing a good job of showing, not telling.
This ceiling marks the place where an acceptable mastery of the objective nuts-and-bolts craft of writing has been achieved and your work as a whole begins to hinge more clearly on the subjective art of storytelling. Any anonymous internet person can point out why your subject and verb don’t agree but in order for someone’s artistic opinion of your use of pace, symbolism, voice, or rhythm to mean much, you’ve got to understand where they are coming from. That’s not always easy to do via the internet.
Here’s an example...Read the entire post
Oct - 04 - 2009
I did another happy dance this week. The proofread is done!
I got the manuscript back from the proofreader and went through it to review the changes and was pleased to discover that they were few, far between, and all minor. So I accepted the corrections and, voila, the text of the manuscript is now finished. Complete. Hard to believe.
The next step is typesetting. I had hoped to hire a freelancer to do this for me but it was way outside of my budget. All is not lost however, I have some design background and I’m no stranger to...Read the entire post
Sep - 22 - 2009
It’s been busy around here. And by “here” I mean the immediate vicinity of my personal being and not, as is evident, the website. Consider the situation remedied, though, for I’m now blessed with a complete lack of editorial obligation.
The editing is finished. I did the official happy dance this weekend (in fact, I’m doing it again right now). The story and writing are stronger than they’ve ever been and I’m deeply grateful to Kate Etue, my editor, for the fantastic job she did of pointing out things that needed fixing, passages that needed strengthening, and a thousand and one apostrophes that needed to be turned around (it’s complicated). It feels really good to be done.
The manuscript is now hurtling...Read the entire post
Sep - 10 - 2009
Zounds! It’s been a long time since we had an update around here. At last, I’m back home in Nashville and I’m ready to dive in and get back to work. The old day job has been so busy for the last month and a half that I had to put a hold on just about everything else. Thankfully, that project is over and I’m back on track. Time to write. Time to edit. Time to publish a novel. I’m excited.
The editing is roughly 3/4 done, I have a meeting this afternoon with Evie Coates, my cover artist, and I’ll be on the phone this week with the printer to hammer out those details. I hope to be deep into type setting before the month is out.
Stay tuned, I think I spotted a musty old letter tucked away in the corner that needs transcribing, and I’m fairly certain there are a couple of short stories lurking around the hard drive waiting to be dusted off.
Aug - 02 - 2009
I’ve had my hands full lately. I’m working 10-11 hours days, seven days a week at the old day job, and I’m trying to find time to edit and get a printer lined up in the few hours of the day I have left. Though it goes slowly, it goes well.
I’m about 2/3 done with my edit and so far I’m quite pleased with all the changes. There have been a few scenes added, and a few deleted, and a few trimmed down or expanded. As a whole the manuscript is far stronger now than it’s ever been and I can’t wait to get it out there so people can read it.
I’ve had discussions with a couple of printing companies and it looks like I’m going to end up going with Quebecor. They come highly recommended, I like their prices and, after inspecting a example book made to my desired specs, I’m satisfied that the final binding and printing will be a high quality product that I’ll be proud to put my name on.
The next step is to get all the paperwork filled out and set up a Rabbit Room Press account with them. Then it’ll be a matter of getting the edit finalized so typesetting can begin. I’m aiming for a December 1st release, which seems a long way off until I consider all the work I’ve got to get done in order to make that happen.
Stay tuned, I hope to get another Letter to Peter up sometime this week as well as the next chapter of The Wander Beyond
Jul - 27 - 2009
The dreaded day job has kicked into high gear in the last couple of weeks and it isn’t going to slow down for at least another month. The upside of this is a paycheck. The downside is that I’m spending 10-12 hours a day, 6-7 days a week doing something other than writing and editing.
While I’ve managed to keep the updates on the website coming pretty regularly, I’m afraid website maintenance is starting to eat into editing time. That’s bad.
So for the next week or two, I need to focus more on the manuscript and less on daily site updates. I know, it makes me sad too. Back to business as usual once I’ve caught up on the editing.
Jul - 15 - 2009
Editing is going well, but it doesn’t go as quickly as I’d like. I’m basically working two jobs, only one of which pays actual money. The other is writing. I’m generally able to get two or three hours of work done on weekdays which, for me, is just enough time to get my head in the right space before it’s time to head to bed. So anything at all that manages to get done during the week is a minor miracle.
On Saturday and Sunday I try to get in 6-8 hours each day and it’s the only span of free time I have that’s long enough to let me really sink down into what I’m doing and think of things in big picture terms. It’s the long days when the good stuff tends to come. It’s also the long days that make me wonder how much more I could accomplish if I could get rid of the need to make money at a real job. Any patrons out there looking for an artist? Let’s talk.
For those that wonder what the editing process is like, I thought I’d provide a glimpse of what’s keeping my nights and weekends busy.
Here’s a paragraph as it appeared in the manuscript when I submitted it to my editorRead the entire post
Jul - 01 - 2009
While I was on vacation, Kate (my editor) was hard at work. After just beginning to wrap my brain around the things I talked about in yesterday’s post, I came home from work today to find a whopper of an email waiting for me. She finished her edit!
I spent a few hours skimming through the newly edited manuscript and I like what I see. It’s marked up with scads of comments, corrections, and suggestions. I’m a happy man. I’m also a man with a lot of work in his future. I’ll spend the next couple of weeks...Read the entire post
Jun - 30 - 2009
Last week while I was on vacation I got an email from my editor and sat back to consider it with suspicion. I was worried that it might contain good news and let’s face it, nothing is worse than good news. Allow me to explain.
It’s easy to look around and find ten people to read your work and tell you it’s wonderful, or gosh-wow great, or really, really nice but none of that is terribly useful. On the other hand, try to find ten people to give you a thoughtful critique and offer suggestions on how to improve your manuscript. The latter is...Read the entire post
Jun - 17 - 2009
Like most novels, the first draft of The Fiddler’s Gun has gone through a lot of changes and is a good deal different from the final version that readers will hold in their hands. I did a lot of research while getting to know the various peoples and places of the story and in the earliest drafts a great deal of that research is explicit on the page.
But just because the author knows the history of a person or a place doesn’t mean it belongs in the story. A lot of that kind of information gets cut during editing. That doesn’t mean the research was in vain, though. The individual stories and histories behind the persons and places of The Fiddler’s Gun serve to inform the tale in much more subtle ways long after the raw exposition has been excised.
It does make me sad sometimes, though, and one such example is that of the Salzburgers...Read the entire post
May - 09 - 2009
After finishing my edit last week, I spent a few more days fidgeting around with the manuscript, re-reading, re-editing, and re-writing various things. I’d written quite a few new scenes during the last few weeks that I felt I should go back and revisit after some time away to make sure they fit together the way I wanted them to and to ensure they didn’t mess up the general rhythm of the manuscript.
I was especially concerned with the last chapter, which had remained almost unchanged throughout the entire evolution of the story. I made some significant changes to...Read the entire post
May - 02 - 2009
I think I finished the first draft of The Fiddler’s Gun about six years ago and since then it’s been through edits and rewrites many times over. I’m amazed that each time I finish an edit I feel like the manuscript is strong, lean, and well-written yet every time I pick it up again to take another look I find a thousand more things that I can improve. When does ...Read the entire post