First Watch is at the editor’s!

Okay, dear readers, guess what! Yes, that’s right, the draft for First Watch is officially in my editor’s hands/mailbox/email inbox/shared Google file/it’s getting looked at. I’ve asked for her help with identifying spots that need answers or embellishing, which for those that don’t know is called “editing for content.” Basically I’m 10k words short of my goal, which averages to about 40 pages. While I still have a chapter or two to write to wrap up this story and lead into the next, I don’t think that will take 40 pages. So I’ve enlisted my editor’s help (hopefully) with expanding the current stuff a bit.

I’m an independent or self-published author, so you may be asking: why is word count important? I saw an e-book the other day with 9 pages in it! 9!!!! Well, it’s because I still have goals or expectations for myself, and ideally I’d like First Watch to be as long as its predecessor, Civil Dusk, which was about 40k words. Right now with the indexes for First Watch I’m at about 30k words (a smidge over, but whatever, we’re estimating.) This is technically FINE for a novella….my OCD just wants the book to be about as thick as the other book. That’s all. I blame the OCD.

So, at this point that duty is in my editor’s and beta reader’s hands. I just need to draft up the last chapter (or two), craft a blurb for the back, convince my cover designer to add “Book 2 of Civil Dusk” to the design (sorry Dave!) and….that’s it? Order the test copy and then some stock and hopefully (IDEALLY) have everything done and in my hands by May 8.

Why May 8? Because (as of RIGHT NOW) that’s the date of the Manassas Viking Festival in Manassas, VA. And, as of RIGHT NOW, that festival will be happening this year. Hopefully. Knock on all the wood. First Watch features Viking history and Nordic gods pretty heavily, and I intend for it to be done in time for release at this festival.

SO! Put it on your calendar. May 8, 2021. Manassas, VA. I’ll see you there with fresh copies of First Watch and Civil Dusk, ready to be signed!

Big ol’ rambly post

One of my favorite things about writing is that Moment when Inspiration Strikes. I’ve been struggling with a plot problem in First Watch for several months, and it’s made me NOT want to write because I knew once I reached that point I’d have NO IDEA what to do.

So I’m wicked pleased to announce that I’ve solved it and am now extremely excited to write again!

Thanks to a Facebook post by Mystic Moon, a local shop, I’ve learned that when hag stones break it’s a sign that it had saved a life. Readers of my novella Civil Dusk will know that Hugh, the main character, is bound to a dian-stane, which is really just a BIG hag stone when it all boils down. (Nonreaders can grab a copy of Civil Dusk here: buy my book on paperback or Kindle.)

Followers of my Facebook will know that the Wild Hunt features prominently in the plot of First Watch, which is the sequel to Civil Dusk that I am presently drafting and will endeavor to release sometime in 2020.

Readers of this blog will be wondering where the fuck I’m going with all these cues, and hey, guess what: that’d be telling! Unless you enjoy massive spoilers in a novella that isn’t even published yet, you’re just gonna have to wait. And if you do enjoy massive spoilers, please comment on this post and I might divulge SOME STUFF because I’m legit really excited about this.

Or you can just go explore the posts in the various things I linked above and piece it together yourself, because I’m sure I’ve leaked some critical plot stuff somewhere in there. What else have you got to do, anyway?

I guess the main reason I’m writing this post (besides to take the opportunity to toss in some shameless plugs, because OBVIOUSLY) is to define writers’ block as it affects me. When I get writers’ block, it manifests as either ZERO idea of how my plot is going to get from where it is to The End, or to the next scene, or whatever; OR it’s because I’m missing a scene idea to bridge Where We Are to The End. Basically, I don’t know where the story’s going, so I can’t write it. This problem likely arises because I don’t outline.

Why don’t I outline? Well, it’s simple: I get REALLY EXCITED about the ideas I do have, and so I just want to Get Writing those ideas. So outlining takes time, time which I could be spending Writing The Ideas, and so The Ideas get written and the outline doesn’t happen. It didn’t even get Capitalized. So my writers’ block moments are, ultimately, my own fault.

And I’m okay with that. This method of haphazard spurts gets shit done, obviously: I’ve published some books. It’s just not very efficient, and I get that, and it makes me a little unpredictable as far as release dates, and I get that too.

How does your writers’ block manifest? Is there something that triggers it? Are you dealing with it? Can you punch it in the face? DO YOU KNOW ITS NAME??

Signs You Might Be A Writer: PENS!

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1) You carry an extra pen just in case your current pen mysteriously dies.
2) You have a favorite pen and, let’s be honest, your other pens know which that is.
3) You’ve read the word “pen” too many times at this point and are wondering if it’s actually a real word.
4) You never ever lend your pens when someone asks for one, even if you currently have it in your hand and when they ask “do you have a pen I can borrow” you look them right in the eye and say “no.”
5) When you come across a nice pen in the wild (store, bank, etc) you steal it without the slightest bit of shame.
6) You own a Really Nice Pen that you intend to never ever write with, on account of how nice it is and you don’t want to spoil that by using it.
7) You’ve written with a quill just to see what it was like.
8) You’ve written with a fountain pen just to see what it was like.
9) You’ve been driven into a mad panic because you briefly misplaced your favorite pen and you’ll never write again despite the 15 extra pens you have waiting in reserve – and it’s fine because it was behind your ear or under your leg in the couch/chair the whole time, thank the Muse.
10) You’ve thrown away a pen with plenty of ink in it still because the little clip thing broke and who really has time for that in their lives.

Determination

Previously, my books have taken years between them for the writing process to occur. I’d set goals and organize little trackers to, in theory, help motivate myself by seeing the progress as it happened. And, to a degree, these worked: books were written and subsequently published. I’ve got 3 out, y’know. But then I read a summary of survey results regarding Writing Habits of the People That Actually Do This For A Living (And Don’t You Want To?) (my title, not theirs) and it seems that people who make a living with their books have published over 20 titles.

As a person who works in retail, this made a lot of sense to me.

So I’ve become more determined to get the series started by “Civil Dusk”  populated as quickly as I can while still maintaining a particular sense of quality. To that end, I made a goal for myself: I’d write 1.5 pages every day until First Watch was complete. Ideally, I’d like it to be fully drafted and edited by the end of August 2020, so that I can get all the cover work and last bits done in September for publication in early October or late September.

My math is laughably WRONG in this case, but whatever, that just means First Watch will be done waaay ahead of schedule if I stick to my goal. And so far, dear readers, I’ve been tempted to stray. I finished the first chapter as scheduled, and typed it up, and then TOOK A DAY OFF FROM WRITING.

MISTAKE, dear readers, MISTAKE.

My muse shattered. I lost inspiration for a whole second day. I knew generally where chapter two was going but had no impetus to write; until my day job boss gave me the next day off on the one stipulation that I WOULD WRITE. He’s super cool. 😉 Maybe he was sick of hearing about my writing woes. Whatever.

So according to my goal I now had 4.5 pages to write to catch back up to schedule. And I DID IT. And then, the FREAKING MAGIC HAPPENED: my muse didn’t pass out! I kept going! I drafted an entire chapter in ONE FREAKING DAY! It was a first for me and my writing.

And it taught me something. I needed structure, and I needed to be determined enough to actually keep working at the writing thing until it was fluid enough to keep writing without me. (Writers know what I mean by this.) Guess what? I’ve just done TWO MORE PAGES tonight because I sat down and stared at the page and jotted notes and stupid things down until the writing started. I meant to do 1.5 pages tonight; I GOT 2 DONE.

It’s exciting. Summary, as presented by my dog Aggie: be determined enough and you can do it, even if the task at hand is fitting your 62 lb Rottie self down into a bed meant for a 20lb dog TOPS. Yeah, you know there’s a photo.

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“First Watch” Update

“First Watch,” the second book in the series started by my novella “Civil Dusk,” is well on its way! I’ve drafted and typed the first two chapters, and already the Hunt-pup is getting into trouble and Hugh has reunited with the Nuggle. Don’t know what I’m talking about?

YOU SHOULD READ “CIVIL DUSK”! Get your Kindle e-copy: https://www.amazon.com/Civil-Dusk-Nicole-Ordway-ebook/dp/B07S21GXW7

and your physical paperback copy: https://www.amazon.com/Civil-Dusk-Nicole-R-Ordway/dp/0578485044

 

Anyhow, my dogs greatly enjoy cuddling with me on the couch while I’m writing. I figured I’d post some pictures of these silly pups for your enjoyment. Here are a pic each from yesterday’s writing MARATHON in which I cranked out chapter 2 in its entirety:

Aren’ they the most regal pups EVER?! Heh. The one on the left is Riley, who has been in my posts previously. The one on the right is Aggie, who is sort of the breed inspiration for Ozlo, the Hunt-pup mentioned above.

Are your pets involved in your writing process? Share cute pet stories in the comments!

How RPGs Made Me a Better Writer

For those who may not know, “RPG” stands for “role-playing game.” There are several variations of this concept in the world, from tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons to online games like World of Warcraft, but the one I am referring to here is the one hosted on message boards and in email chains: the text-based RPG.

Text-based RPGs are, in a very big way, the reason I finished writing an 80,000 word novel ( Hollow Thunder .) They are, essentially, huge living stories that you write with other people. As a writer’s training tool, they’re extremely useful because you must achieve certain things in order for other people to want to reply to your posts.

You must:

  • create interesting, flawed, motivated characters that have compelling backstories and goals
  • develop a writing style/voice that makes others want to read and reply to what you write
  • be willing to adjust your ideas around the feedback/replies of others in order to keep the story going
  • conceptualize story arcs and plots, some of which may involve one or two characters but others which encompass the entire group and could carry other small stories along with them
  • collaborate with others to further develop your own characters based on how they interact with others’

And there’s so much more that I probably didn’t even consider when this realization hit me. All of these qualities of text-based RPGs made me a stronger writer, which got me on the track to becoming a published author, even if I didn’t recognize it at the time.

The last RPG message board I participated on had a unique requirement for posts that made me capable of writing an 80,000 word novel: word count requirements. There wasn’t a set minimum for each post; rather, you had to match or exceed the word count of the post to which you replied. That requirement eliminated short posts that didn’t do anything to move the story along, and it also made each writer really stretch those brain muscles. At that point, the people I was playing/writing with were good enough that they realized the word count couldn’t just be fluff-filled. It had to be important and meaningful.

I highly encourage anyone who wants to be a writer to get involved in some RPGs. Even if it isn’t text-based, go hang out with the LARP nerds or the D&D geeks and try the story out. (For reference, I use the words “nerds” and “geeks” with love and belonging.) You’ll find yourself improvising in the mind-set of your character and delving into those story-building qualities before you even know it.

Eye of the Eagle

As discussed in a previous entry, I believe strongly in Experiencing the world, culture, location and people that your writing focuses on. In the case of Fantasy genre authors who are creating their own worlds, sometimes this may not be possible. But if your creation is at all inspired by a real life Experience that you can visit, touch, taste, hear, or otherwise sense, your creation will be that much more real to your reader. Realism (even, or perhaps especially in Fantasy) makes the reading more pleasurable because the reader can relate with your world and can willingly suspend their natural sense of disbelief in order to allow themselves to be transported.

A great tool for this is something that Google has made available to us all FOR FREE.

It’s Google Maps. Specifically, the Earth (or Satellite) view.

With this tool, I can describe to my readers down to the detail of a count of the stones in a garden wall. Without ever going to Rousay (although I dearly desire to at some point) I can tell you about the rocks Hugh washes ashore on, and about the sheep in the quartered pastures that will stare at him. I can tell you about the ruined, crumbling house that is the Seeming for Hulda’s house’s disguise. I can tell you about the stone wall that separates her garden from the road and from the magic of the hill further west, and about the post-and-wire fencing that designates the pasture of the next property. I can tell you about the shade trees (on an Atlantic Island?! GASP!) and the purple heather at the corner of the walk. I can tell you about the crunch of the grass. And not because I’ve been there, but because I’ve seen it.

Cheers, Google. Here’s a link to the pictures of everything that Civil Dusk’s Chapter Eight is set in. Click it. And travel with me.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_WdsYUY5_C7zs9R5ifwhF9aWu7kLXRGNoO-Tpg3DuAs/edit?usp=sharing