The Red Pen’s Revenge

The excitement builds. The whisky is poured. Draft two is complete. It is a relief. The first run, you see, doesn’t feel real, it doesn’t feel like the end product. It’s almost as if the first copy is a grainy image of what is to come. It can be lax. It can be unstructured. Things don’t necessarily need to follow or make sense. Great slabs of story are missing. Other flabby bits are hanging off the sides, waiting to be cut out.

What a mess! What a disaster! How can we clean this thing up and get it into something readable? Well that’s where the second draft comes in. Still on the machine, I read through it all, start to finish, and cut out what needs to be cut out and put in what needs to be put in. I correct obvious errors or grammar and spelling and correctness. I think whether the timing makes sense, the locations, the people and the settings.

Is that what this character would do? Is that really the best way to describe that? Bit by bit I massage the story out from its amorphous shape and, with a pinch here and a cut there, it becomes a story with a purpose. Great. That’s the point I’m at now. That’s the moment of ‘woot’ where I can take a breather and fix up the garage or fly a kite with Joey.

That’s not the end of it, though. For now comes the nasty part – the Red Pen.

The Red Pen is ruthless. The Red Pen cares not for fancy constructs, nor for passive tense. The Red Pen spots that naughty comma and herds it into the right spot. It scrawls its thoughts down in haste, it draws arrows and brackets and, when it gets really steamed, it draws thick lines through words, sentences, even whole paragraphs!

That’s what happens when you leave a Red Pen in a cup for half a year. It gives it time to plot and scheme. I only hope there’s something left after it has had its fill.

Did Someone Let in a Draft?

It’s wintertime. It’s cold. It’s fireplaces and curled up cats and cups of tea on the couch.

I like winter. I like being able to rug up in jumpers and wear hats and gloves. Most of the time, even when it’s chilly, I’m pretty hot. Maybe it’s got something to do with genetics and my metabolism or whatever, but unless I’ve got the flu I’m usually trying my best to cool down.

I stick my feet out the side of the bed. I wear only pants because a pyjama top is too constrictive. I don’t like having a warm cup of cocoa before hitting the hay. Give me some water. Just the way God made me, I guess. On a side note, it’s the Smashwords Summer (Winter in the Southern Hemisphere) Sale – get e-tonnes of e-books for bargain prices, with many of them (including all of mine) as free.

One major benefit of being a walking radiator is that I’m quite at home sitting outside on a cold night, and that’s where I’ve been during the cool autumn nights and winter evenings. There’s a little table and chairs set up on the porch, you see, and it’s perfect for writing out my drafts for the next Tedrick Gritswell. Perched out there with a coffee or a cognac, take your pick, I managed to knock out the first draft fairly quick.

Now I’ve done the ol’ red pen trick, and I’m happy with my second. I’ve already made notes to myself for where I’ve dropped a few stitches, and I’m tidying those up as I’m going. Nearly time to print it out again and go for the third.

There’s something special about this time of the book. It’s ‘done’ but not done. You can see it, touch it, it’s there and real, but not so real as being published. That rumbling feeling that comes up as the anticipation builds. The myriad conflicting ideas about whether a section should even exist, whether Bill should have a greater role in the story, whether this bit is too verbose, too lax, too crude. It’s time to chill again, be patient and print it out.

It’s a laborious process, believe me, and there’s every temptation to put it down and play Metro Redux, but that’s not going to get the cows milked, is it? It’s the final slog to the end, to keep pushing until it’s at that point I nod my head and say, “That’ll do it.”

Until then, to keep my mind in the zone, I’ve been working on the cover and the title page. Here’s the latest:

There’ll be a bit of poking an prodding with this bit – I don’t want to rush out the front cover just yet. Once I’m happy, I’ll make a post about the design process behind it and let you know.

Thanks!

Stumpy Makes a Return

I took some time off work yesterday and today. I had some things around the house that needed doing. The fireplace, for one, needed painting. The original coating was faded and buffed and rust spots were appearing. Some sandpaper, mineral turpentine, a paint brush and a tin of pot-belly black high temp paint solved that problem.

Now the house smells like turps, but that’s not the point. The point is that I knuckled down, got the job done, the fireplace looks a treat and I’m ready for winter.

I also needed to replace a strip of quad in the bathroom because it got left out during the renovations. Some stain, some gloss, cut it to size, stuck it on the wall, job done. And the lawn needed mowing – got that out of the way. Oh, the doorbell dinger needed to be replaced – done. The winder in the bedroom is failing – turns out I can’t fix that without replacing the box, so I’ll have to leave that to another day (and someone else).

So where does that leave me? It leaves me with some time to actually do what I want to do, which is finish off the sequel to Tedrick Gritswell. That’s right, folks, our favourite little spud from Borobo Reef is back in business and he’ll soon be peeking out from a bookshelf near you!

The Second Draft is complete. I’ve put my poor little printer through its paces (took a while to get the drivers and get it working) and it dutifully churned out 100 odd pages of words for me to read through and correct. Now I’ve got to go get another red pen. I kind of killed my last one. Time for a trip to Officeworks. After that, more editing and corrections and then onto the final.

In the meantime, I’m having a break. I’ve got to get onto the front cover, after all. I had decided this time around to do the cover first, but that idea got lost along with everything else that came at me this year, but don’t you worry, I’ll get out the tablet, crack open my Corel Draw and reacquaint myself with just how to apply a virtual paint to a virtual canvas.

Next in Paranormology – Portsmouth Avenue Ghost

It’s official: the next in Paranormology sees our protagonist accompany the Professor to Exeter, following up on a potential lead involving a wealthy widow and a mysterious medium. I finished the second draft just now – coffee down, have a stretch, crack of the knuckles and back to it, Jez.

Naturally there’s the drama between the Professor and the Gypsy – neither appreciates the other’s presence. The protagonist is caught in the middle, being young and idealistic.

There’s the theme of the optimism of youth, and it helps in a few spots, yet the premise is related to controlling one’s emotions. Sound vague? Of course. I’m not going to spell out the premise, that’s the book’s job.

I don’t think I’ll be doing the whole KDP thing again on this one. Firstly, it wouldn’t be fair to those who have the rest of the Paranormology series on Kobo, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, etc. Secondly, I really like Smashwords as a publisher! They’ve got the author as their focus, not profits, and they make it easy to do just about anything. I’m cool with that.

As for the cover, I’ve got a particular house in mind that I pass by every day on the way home from work. It’s over in Essendon and I’m thinking I might want to ask for permission from the home owner first before I stand outside like a creepy guy and take happy-snaps of the house… Yeah, maybe I’ll do that.

Don’t know how I’m going to approach it, but. “Hey, hi. You don’t know me and, well, I don’t know you, but I was wondering if I could take pictures of your house…”

Hmm.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Borobo Reef – Nearly There!

Tedrick has come a long way. I had the 20th of April marked down as the cut-off for the second draft and I’m chuffed to say that I’ve hit it! I’d pop a champagne but instead I’ve popped a few vertebrate, and I’m well behind on a whole bunch of other things, like making Joey a petrol station.

Heck, I only just made the Easter eggs in time this year (actually, I’m down by four. Sorry.)

But phooey to that! I’m just glad that I’m actually ahead of the game for once.

Sweet. When’s it out, Jez?

The final draft is deadlined for May 10th, so expect the release to be around mid-May. There’s a metric tonne of things that need to be done in the meantime. Now, I know I’ve drummed up Smashwords a lot, and don’t get me wrong, I’m going to be using them again but… and it’s a big but…

But I’m going to try out Amazon KDP. There, I said it. I don’t approve of their policies, I’m not a fan of the whole ‘thou shalt not’ that they brandish with a big stick, but they do offer some interesting services for independent authors.

It’s going to be one of those ‘suck it and see’ things. As for the hard-copy, I’m going to give Lulu a miss and try Amazon’s services directly. Again, not entirely convinced, but if I don’t it a shot, I’ll never know for sure.

Fret not, you non .mobi guys. Once the clearing period for the KDP thing has past – something like 100 days – I’ll be pushing it out on all other platforms.

What about the Front Cover?

Yeah, that’s been put to one side for a tick. The due date for that is May 1st so there’s no rush to get that done.

OK, OK, I’ll give you the work in progress:

TedrickGritswell13I’ve got the font sorted – pretty happy about that, and I’m getting advice from one Mr. Whiteread regarding the colouring, font weight and other factors. On top of that, Mister Gritswell got some suckers and more shading, although I think we need some shells and grit and some more crud in the water.

Ah, there I go again, getting caught up in the front cover when I’m supposed to be printing out the darn draft and wearing out my red pen. I can’t afford to get complacent.

On that note…Mini Jeztyr Logo goodnight!