To recap . . .

Let’s recap. Sometime around April last year I began setting down ideas on paper for a novel. At the time it was nameless, unless you count ‘Mars Shit’ as a name. I’d been kicking some concepts around for a while, and they began to coalesce that April. With a little bit of corralling I shaped them into the outline for a novel length story.
At the end of that month I started writing. There were so many reasons not to write it (I wouldn’t see it through; it would be rubbish; I had no experience, etc) that I bloody-mindedly thought I had to give it a shot. Yes, it might be rubbish, but at least I would have done it. And if I could do it, there were all kinds of super-modern channels by which I might be able to get it out into the world.
So I set off down that road, knocking out between one and three thousand words a day until I’d finished the first draught. I was driven on by the fear that if I stopped I would never start again. Some days words flowed and I was pleased, occasionally impressed, with what I had written. Other times it was a labour and I turned out garbage. But I pressed on.
When I finished in midsummer I put the draught away and was relieved to be shot of it. The last couple of weeks had been particularly trying. If I couldn’t have seen the finish line in the distance I might have fallen. I staggered to the end then put it out of my mind.
Around mid-November I had recuperated enough to dig it out again. I read it and began revising, rewriting and editing it into something readable. I moved house in late January, so there was another hiatus there, but from March on I worked on the manuscript until its release in September.
As the release date appeared over the horizon I stared to think about publicity. After poking around the internet for some guidance I discovered that I should have been working on building some form of public profile years before I even though about setting pen to paper. Ho hum. I had three months to build something, so I set up this site and one for the book. The point of this site was to generate a following who would then be curious about the book.
Well. Nice plan, in principle, but what would I blog about? I tried a few wibblings about my experiences writing the book but no one was biting. Why should they? It also came to my attention around this time that there are thousands upon thousands of wannabe writers hawking their dubious wares around the interwebs. There I was, trying to make my voice heard above a massive discordant chorus of dreck.
The book was released on 22 September. It got a couple of good reviews (see here and here) and I’m happy with the way it turned out. I think it’s a good book, and I stand by it. I’m currently working on some shorts set in the same fictional universe, then I’m going to be writing book two of the trilogy.
I gave up blogging for a while because no one was in the least bit interested. I’d get maybe five views for a post, and I’d suspect four of them were bots. But now I’m back. The book is out and I’m once again seeking the world’s attention. I’ve got some schemes in the pipeline and I’m planning to build on the tiny bit of interest I have manage to garner so far.
So this is a sort-of new beginning. The book, now called Ephialtes (a huge improvement on the working title, if still unbeloved by some) is taking its baby steps in the world and I’m back here to support it. Stick around, it might get interesting.


Finally finished at last again

I guess some things never end.

I read someone somewhere saying about – was it books, or music or film? I don’t remember, but they said something like, ‘You don’t ever finish them, you just let them go.’

I’ve completed my latest read through of Ephialtes in paperback. That must have been about the tenth time I’ve read it from start to finish, excluding all the times I’ve read individual chapters or scenes. And still they come – the typos.

This time around I picked up two hundred and fourteen required corrections. To be fair, around three or four of these were missing words or punctuation and a further five or six were minor editorial adjustments. The rest were hyphen-based.

Obviously, I’d like the finished article to be polished to a dazzling shine, but I think I may be at that ‘letting go’ point. I’ve been here before, of course, and how foolish those times seem to me now. But this time? I don’t know, I think this might be it.

I had a skim through my digital proof before ordering a hard copy. I noticed I had ‘air-lock’ in there somewhere, where it should be ‘airlock.’   I guess I’ll stick that on the pile for the next go-over, should there be one. If there isn’t, maybe I’ll come to treasure that one little rogue hyphen. Maybe that’s the necessary flaw that sets off the perfection about it.

Or could it just be that I can’t face going through the whole damn thing again?

Definitely the former. That’s what I’m telling myself; definitely the former.

Please talk about typos again, please

Everyone loves typos. I know it’s cheap, but since I’m here to garner popularity I’m going to go on about typos again. I spoil you, and you know it.

I’m ploughing through the paperback proof of Ephialtes and noting required corrections. I’m up to page 184 (of 464. Tiny font too, so it’s lots of words) and have 118 minor corrections so far. I say minor – I think there are a couple of missing words and a few instances of minor editorial tinkering, too – because the bulk of these corrections concern the use and misuse of hyphenation. Ain’t that funny?

I’ve already mentioned that, of all things, I had quite a bit of gyp with capitalisation, and that’s weird enough, but who’d have thought that hyphens could be such a bother?

So this is my top writerly tip for the day: keep on top of your capitalisation and hyphens, and the rest will look after itself.

There. Is that enough typo-talk for you? Right then, on your way. Don’t you have homes to go to?

What are you reading?

Weird thing: reading a book once it’s book-shaped is different to reading it as a manuscript. Why? No idea, but it certainly seems to be true.

I’ve spent some time today reading a paperback proof of Ephialtes. Despite the strong story, great writing and terrific characters, I had become weary of reading through it in draft form. But now it’s book-shaped, it’s like reading it for the first time.

What does that mean for ebooks? Again, no idea. They aren’t particular booky, but seem to do okay. I guess it means there is something you don’t quite get from that experience that you do from reading a physical book.

This seems a shame to me, because CreateSpace have a minimum price for physical books they produce, based on size and length. In the case of Ephialtes, that minimum price is seventeen dollars (roughly eleven pounds), which is prohibitively steep for a paperback by an unknown author. It’s too bad, because as I’ve been discovering, the essential ‘booky’-ness adds to the reading experience.

I’d love to be able to get the price of the paperback version down to something realistic, as it’s my preferred version. I recommend this to you: if, come September, you download and enjoy the ebook of Ephialtes, treat yourself to a copy of the paperback.

Go on. You’re worth it.

I think I might read a book

Today is another day chasing typos. I’ve checked my proof, and although the formatting is great (one scene was unjustified – typographically speaking; there are loads of scenes that are unjustified generally) typos are popping up all over the place.

I’ve looked at the first four chapters so far (of thirty-seven) and have a list of fifty corrections to make. Most of these are odd uses of hyphenation, things like ‘fire-power’ where it should be firepower. It still seems strange to me that I missed so many of these previously.

A thing that interested me, as it was not what I was expecting, was that when I came to revising the first draft the thing that caused most problems for me was capitalization. Really. My book Ephialtes is set during a future conflict between Earth and its former colony on Mars. So I have lot of generals and majors and so forth. On the political side of the conflict there are presidents, secretaries of defence and foreign affairs and whole load of other people with fancy job titles.

The capitalisation of these titles is trickier than you might think. Look it up if you’re interested, but it changes according to how the title is being used (indirect address, direct address etc). I’m still not quite sure if I’ve got it right for all my uses of ‘army’ (an army is just army, but a specific army might – might – be Army, depending on how it’s being used. Nightmare.

Anyway, I’m settling down today with the paperback of Ephialtes and noting all the little errors that I thought had been put to bed weeks ago. It’s somehow nicer to be reading a paperback than an A4 manuscript, but there’s still that dread feeling that this process will never end.

Still, there’s worse things I could be doing.