Tag Archives: Revision

Revision Mortalis

Revisions on the death scene of a favourite character is like stapling through your fingernail. Again.

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Of Evolving Covers, Convergence, and How Lucky I Was To Meet Dylan.

Large things start small. Like seeds in the dark. I met Dylan Edwards in Grade Eight. He had hand-drawn comics spilling out of his saxophone case that I handed back to him. Talk about epic moments in time. We were the two biggest nerds consistently from then until we graduated. Nerd legends for our hobbies, interests, and isolation. We were instant brothers, kin in suffering the glacial pressures of growing through adolescence.

We started a comic company in grade nine; and we were the guys play-testing our Zombie Apocalypse role-playing game in study hall during exams. We rolled our eyes and ignored the jibes of the typical detractors through it all, with eyes locked on one another; that precious psychic bond of survival. He went on to become one of the best fathers I’ve ever been privileged to know, and the best friend a man could ever wish for.

He also became an incredible artist. Despite my constant, frantic texts, emails, mistakes, dysfunctional uploads, and endless problems, he remains, as always, stoically patient, and everwise. And waiting for his new cover drafts is better than Christmas. His idea for the cover for my new prequel short story, Juris Lunence, blew me away.

Here’s the first draft:

 

Juris cover 1 draft

 

And the final version:

 

Juris 2nd draft covr

 

Once you’ve read the story, I think you’ll get just how awesome this image really is. At least, it flattens me pretty effectively. Crazy to think how small things like me grabbing a dropped piece of drawing can turn into such things. Reminds me to keep looking for them.

Juris Lunence is available for free on Kobo, and, as soon as enough people tell amazon they are being undersold, free on Kindle as well.

 

~B.

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Red Pen-marks are not scars on the soul.

Juris Lunence just went live yesterday. It’s the origin story of one of my favourite characters in To Drown in Sand, mainly because when he stepped on stage in my mind, I had no idea who he was. Then he started doing Very Awesome Things, and became a lynchpin plot figure for the climax of the novel.

Juris marks the first time I’ve gone beyond Beta and self-editing, and it shows. My amazing editor, Chad Horton, graciously offered to edit for me pro bono. His warnings were clear:

“I will be merciless.”

And, thank the Saints, he was.

This is what I got back,over a very nice lunch.

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What surprised me, though, was that no tears fell onto my Fish and Chip dinner.

Instead, I was more excited than ever before. He had magically taken my work, sensed exactly what I was trying to do with it, and pushed me back to tweak the language and structure. I learned so much from rewriting Juris that I shudder to think what it would have become without him.

Yes, there were rewrites and revisions afterwards. Typos caught and created, little mice to chase through the pages. But the PLAN was clear.

 

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It wasn’t like before. No doubt-filled story arcs and soul-squashing plot questions. I had a plan; a highway, with signs, little yellow marker-bars, and a destination. And I saw the difference in the end result between this story and other stuff. Not that it wasn’t good writing; I really think it stands up.

But not as pain-free as having a qualified eye take my work out of the jar that is my head, and look at it through the microscope of the objective reader.

Thus, my new rule.

Get It Edited.

I was editing before, but not in the way that created the separation required. It’s a lesson I’m ecstatic to learn, especially as an Indie.  Call it a corner in the path, I guess.

Nice view from here onward.

 

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What I’ve learned: 4 months post-release.

It all started with an initial wave of increasing sales every month. Upon a Wake of Flame was released as a test in the fall, and Sand was released just before the beginning of December. I watched the KDP sales reports like a maniac. By February, I was closing in on 100 copies sold. Then things slowed, and I realized I had probably run out of friends who bought my writing out of support. I watched this thing return to a state of rational conduct.

But, something silly had happened. I stopped Writing, and started Marketing.

I had let something happen that I had promised not to; I had fallen for it. I had let myself enjoy the film. Suspended my disbelief, and let myself buy in. I’d grown accustomed to the 4 months of increasing sales, and the little rush of beating last month’s numbers.

But, as it inevitably had to, things calmed down, and, in February, To Drown in Sand was raised from its comfortable sit, propped up by its little arms, and set free. No more Facebook sales drives. No more Pinterest jamming. I want to see what it can do; what happens when someone doesn’t just BUY my writing, but READS my writing, and tells someone else about it. So, now, the book is up on its own legs, and is taking its staggering, uncertain steps forward on its own.

Hard to watch. The coffee tables around here have very sharp corners. I’m holding my breath.

Since the beginning of March, sales have continued in the UK, which is great, because word is getting around over there. And that’s a huge surprise. In the US and Canada, each month brings someone new to Alseiry Beach, Shastre, and the Boddies, so I’m more than cool with that.

So here’s what I’ve learned:

An Ebook is NEVER finished.

Endless tweaks. Endless. Each new upload of even the smallest change results in catastrophic changes in page breaks, margin changes, and even accusations of disorganized formatting in reviews. Such things are taken, considered a part of the exercise in education and live formatting, and fixed.

Speaking of which;

If I read my reviews, I pretend I’m someone else. As in, a potential reader. And then I forget about it. Back to the keyboard.

Pinterest is fun; a great, free, promotional tool, and a substantial time-sink.

I spent a LOT of time fishing on Pinterest. Which was fun, but killed my writing time. And, while I did see direct sales from it, I had much more enjoyment discovering new writers like A.J. Wilson, Brian Parker,  Terry C. Simpson, and Holly m. Kothe, and promoting them on my Pinterest boards.

Facebook is a sticky, ego minefield.

Facebook  groups became a bit of a mire; free advertising that resulted in direct sales, but it taught me a lot about the demographics of Indie writers that spend time there. Some people don’t really want advice when they ask for it. They want you to tell them how awesome they are. They want to smack you in the face with their books. IF they’ve really published one. There are a lot of writers who haven’t actually published anything, which shocked me. And a lot who probably shouldn’t have published what they did. A quick glance at a free sample of their writing shows which writers think their story is too precious for an editor, and which editors weren’t real editors, and which writers really, really want their work to be good.

Others, though, are incredible folks who want to accomplish what you want to. They want to be Writers. Find those, and you have comrades.

Overall, no big loss of time. I learned volumes from the exploration. Biggest take-away? Just like my heroes say.

Get back to writing.

It’s true, you know. The only thing that will sell your last book is your next book.

Thus, I dove back into the fray. That awesome, loving, splashy, ridiculous fray. On went the headphones and the Steve Jablonsky music. And man, it was good to go back.

Thus, Juris Lunence was born.

I’ve just finished the latest draft of the new back-story for one of my favourite characters from the 10th Regiment. Even got a new editor to take a look at it, and rip into it with his red pen. (More on that next time).

Great fun was had by all. My awesome graphics designer Dylan Edwards is hard at work on a cover, and the final draft will be ready for release soon.

I don’t have any free stuff. Everyone says “You gotta have free stuff.”

So, we’ll go with that for this release. It’s about 25 pages, but they are 25 Very Good Pages. Juris Lunence was a great deal of fun to write, and will go in the stack that will eventually create a short-story anthology; a complete prequel-set for the 10th Lunen Regiment Trilogy.

Here’s a glimpse of the (very) rough draft of one cover concept; Dylan is drafting a few more that I’ll be too excited to contain, and therefore will pop up here for perusal.

Juris Lunece Concept

More updates on its release as things unfold.

Onwards!

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The excitement of release. (Wow…that could sound so wrong).

Well, that was fun. We cringed, we howled. I revised and rewrote, interviewed soldiers and rocket scientists, went back again and again to the keyboard until we all agreed that it was ready.

It’s ready.

It’s done.

The short story prequel to this November’s To Drown in Sand is up and live.

It’s called Upon a Wake of Flame, and it is now up for sale.  The link is here, and on my sidebar.

http://www.amazon.ca/Upon-Flame-Lunen-Regiment-ebook/dp/B00ELP2LOS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376759899&sr=8-1&keywords=upon+a+wake+of+flame

Upon a Wake of Flame was supposed to be a promotional piece that served as a test for the upload and editing process. It evolved into so much more; an invaluable lesson in writing, revision and completion.

And as always, Dylan’s cover and design are incredible.

Upon a Wake of Flame is available on Amazon and Kobo E-Books for $0.99 Canadian. If you enjoy it, please rate it and post a review.

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Of the Almighty Blurb

After much research and fussing, I took the advice of my graphics designer, the amazingly talented Dylan Edwards. About eight months ago, when we were discussing the blurb for my book, he gave one of his priceless pearls of wisdom to me:

“I don’t think writers should write their own blurbs. They’re too close to their story.”

However, I don’t think he realized what he had said. Because  last week, I took him up on his advice and asked him to write one.

Thankfully, he was able to squeeze time out from his busy work schedule as an animator, film maker, cover designer, all-round creative genius, and father, to put an awesome first draft together.

After some editing (which was hilarious, ME editing HIS work for  a change), we came up with the result below, which thankfully, he thinks will fit on the back cover:

To Drown In Sand – A Novel of the 10th Lunen Regiment
by BC Laybolt

No matter how far you run, your shadow follows.

Centuries ago, they fled the doomed Earth. Their damaged flotilla stumbled on a new star system and colonized the worlds they found there. The ragged remnants of mankind fought the elements and each other to survive. Out of terror and darkness, the Nar Exus Triumvirate was created, enforcing a fragile peace between their planets.

But on the dwarf planet called Shastre, the people’s simple life along the rivers and in the mountains, unconcerned with the politics of the Triumvirate, has backslid into superstition and savagery under the sway of a murderous warlord known only as Ter Ense. The Triumvirate has responded to reports of genocide on Shastre by sending the 10th Lunen Regiment to restore order. But danger dwells deep in the jungles of Shastre. An ancient darkness that predates the flotilla is awake after a long slumber.

To escape his tragic past, a man named Kyris Issep arrives on Shastre as a fresh recruit. He has come to a war zone, seeking peace for his damaged soul. His commanders see him as a weapon they hope to wield against the enemy. His squadmates see him as a bad omen they fear will get them killed. Issep is not sure of the truth himself, only that something in the jungle is calling to him, and he will travel into the heart of darkness to confront it.

Ooh…catchy!

The blurb also fits well into the Wiki for the book.

Another step closer!

© 2013 B.C. Laybolt

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Ah. So THAT’S what revision means.

Well, revision of the first draft of To Drown in Sand is properly underway. While my theme editor, the amazing Chad Horton, performs his surgery, I’m working through each scene with surprise and a sense of wonder.

After following Mr. King’s advice, and not touching or looking at the manuscript since about September (alright, I’m fibbing. I may have tweaked and toggled bits here and there, but nothing committed. I actually dug pretty deeply into the sequel), I pulled out my copy of the book and my red pen, took a deep breath, and flipped open the last scene. I like to rewrite backwards, apparently.

I admit to thinking that the manuscript actually wouldn’t need much.

Which is great. Because, in this case, I’m glad I was wrong.

I didn’t really know what revision was. But after researching it thoroughly, and discovering how critical it is to the process, I’m getting genuinely excited when I start to carve into a new scene.

Why?

Because every page I find myself slicing through with my red scalpel tells me that I’m doing this right. The real way. Necessity for rewrite means it can be improved. And improved means becoming a better writer. And that’s very redeeming.

Observe; page 237 of the manuscript. All my pages looked like this at first, and in my blissful naiveté, I thought most of them would remain so.

page 237 before

Ha.

Same page, after surgery:

page 237 (2)

I am still a little shocked at the amount of rewrite required for each page.

And thrilled.

Same for page 240:

page 240 before

Annnd after:

page 240 after

A lot of pages are so covered in red scars now that they are barely recognizable:

page 316 unrecognizable

And there have been many surgical murdering of darlings. Ouch.

murdered darlings

Rather than seeing my edit notes as an indicator of  how much work there remains to do, or how long the total writing will take (which could be a real drag), I’m looking at clear evidence, in crimson no less, of my writing getting better. Every note is like a gram of writing knowledge in ink; things that I’ve learned since finishing the first draft are adding up in pounds.

The red is FAR more important that the 300+ pages of crisp, black, Courier New.

Like any scar, they are signs of growth and change.

Looking back, my fear came from the same place most of ours do: the unknown. But I really am overjoyed to find myself enjoying this part of the process. It’s exciting. It gives me a chance to sand the edges smoother, and insert slices of art and thought that I know can work better than the version I started months ago.

If there’s a sequel, one can wedge in themes that you know will be incorporated later that weren’t in your head when you first started.

And I’m surprised by how quickly it goes. It’s not really arduous, if you drink lots of coffee, take breaks, and don’t think about things like missed workouts and clocks ticking on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and other waiting markets that might miss your genius if you don’t hurry up. I think that’s all very silly.

Time.

Time creates quality.

So, with my reasonable self-imposed deadline in mind (upload date 3rd week of October, then tests on the platforms, then announce the release on POD and eBook November 2013), I’ll be taking mine.

It’s really too much fun not to.

© 2013 B.C. Laybolt

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