It’s Tuesday, I forgot to post

I’ve been doing a panic edit on book two, The Daemon in the Castle. Once the check clears, the editor I hired will want the manuscript. I needed to do one more pass. Boy, did I find a bunch of stuff that needed fixing. It taken days to do that last edit and the holidays have interfered with my time. I had slaved over the manuscript for months to make it the best I could before I approached an editor.

Now if I could get some decent feed back before I go to the editor. I sent book two to Beta Readers. They gave feed back but not much. I want to know first if I have written a story. I think I wrote a story, but did I. I can fool myself. I want to know if the readers like the main character. I want to know what I did right or at least well enough to make the reader happy. Once I know I will not more of it. I have a new fan. He liked book one. But I can’t get him to tell me what I did right. He did find two errors. I had that book edited and it looks like the editor did a good job. I have been accused of being a sloppy writer. If it isn’t the fact I can’t spell then it’s the dyslexia.

So I apologize. I spent Monday editing book two. I had friends over for thanksgiving and got behind on the editing. I was up late Monday editing and totally forgot to write a blog post. Now if I haven’t made a bunch of mistakes do to lack of sleep I should be ready to send the manuscript to the editor. Of course I’m going over the manuscript one more time right now.

Stay strong, write on.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Writers Procrastination versus Distraction versus the Goal

I get accused of procrastinating. I’m an engineer, I have engineered procrastination to levels you can’t even dream of.

Distraction is my biggest enemy. A word flashes up with a red underline in what I’m typing. It’s misspelled and I can’t ignore it. I have to ctrl+alt+w and bring up the in-memory dictionary and fix it right now. I can’t just keep typing, no matter what others have said about writing a junk first draft and keep typing. Go back later and edit, I can’t do it. I’ll worry that I will forget to go back and fix it latter and if someone sees what I’m working on they will think I’m a dunce. It doesn’t matter that a complete document spell check will find the misspell and the the bad word will always be underlined. I have to fix it now. I can’t stop think about the bad word I left behind. It interferes with my thinking about the story, the characters, my writing.

I get up to get a drink of water. The kitchen sink is a mess. Food stains need a shot of cleaner (I’ve found that 409 works better than Fantastic) and a lot of rubbing. A two minute job. Yeah, it ends up taking ten to twenty minutes minimum and cleaning powder and scouring pads.

And don’t get me started on emails. I know that there are emails setting in the inbox screaming at me, begging me to be read. They need to be read, thought about, answered. And I get a hundred emails a day or more. And I just weeded out my email list, but the number of emails keep getting bigger.

Then I need to go to the store to get something I’m out of for lunch. On the way to the store I remember I need to go by another store to get something totally unrelated. And then I remember I need to go by another store and I should stop by somewhere else while I’m out.

I lose sight of the goal. I have a manuscript at an editor. She told me that while she is waiting for the check to clear I could incorporate the comments from the sample edit she did and any other changes I can come up with and send her the better manuscript and she will use that one over the one I had already sent. And here I am writing this blog. I had assumed that once I sent the manuscript in it was locked down and had gone on to working on another book. That’s what I get for assuming things.

The goal is to get the best manuscript to her before the check clears. Knowing Bank of America the check should take a week to clear, but they will clear it in a day since I need the time.

Bottom line; Distractions are Procrastinating by getting things done.

Stay strong, write on, and keep your goal in sight.

Professor Hyram Voltage

The Editing Decision

I have trouble making decisions. Especially when the decision involves thousands of dollars. Buying a new car can take me months, but then I keep a car for 11 to 15 years. My showing up over and over again at the car lot can drive new car salesmen to drink. Then when I go in to buy the car I get tired of the run around and the long time it takes them to fill out the paper work. I’ve made up my mind and I have the money in my hand, quit stalling.

I decided to go with a Editor recommended to me by an author I know. A author is a writer that finished a book and has published it.

This is going to cost thousand of dollars. I’m sure it will be worth it. I’m going with a content edit, then after the content edit I will get a line edit from the same editor.

I get a small discount for getting both of the edits from her. Sort of a package deal.

The editor gave me a sample edit of the first chapter of my book. What a mess. I had slaved over that chapter for weeks. I thought I had it solid. In the months that I had worked on the edits to get the book in shape to show an editor I had dropped a very important element (a piece of the time line) out of the first chapter. She was also able to give me some very important insight on the lead female in the book. Let’s face it, my characters are stiff and not very emotional.

Funny thing is the defense attorney at the jury selection the other day said I was curt and unemotional. Hey I’m an engineer.

The things the editor pointed out in her edit of the first chapter are going to take me days of hard thinking and even harder writing to fix. And I’m paying her to beat my writing up.

Well it looks like it’s oatmeal and sandwiches for the next couple of months. And I have Christmas shopping to do.

Stay strong, write on.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Stuck, Unhappy, and Confused Writer, What To Do?

If you are stuck or unhappy with your writing then what you are doing isn’t working and you need to change.

What to change?

Writing is work. Go do something that is harder work, like a deep cleaning of the bathroom. I don’t mean wipe out the sink, I mean get on your hands and knees and scrub. If you work hard enough your mind will beg you to go back to your comfortable chair and write. Don’t give in.

Keep slaving away. But also think, would your protagonist clean the bathroom. Have you every thought of your main character doing ordinary things. Would your protagonist do things you don’t like to do or that you consider hard work in a way that is unique, fast, or even happily? Take notes for when you get back to writing.

It doesn’t have to be cleaning the bathroom. For one of my first jobs I had to clean the business’s bathroom every morning. Ten minutes later it was a mess. A fellow worker felt that someone else had to clean it up and he could make a big a mess as he wanted. It was always someone else’s problem, yeah mine.

Go out in the garden and pull weeds. That’s hot, dirty, or muddy work. Soon you’ll be longing for the coffee shop and the air conditioning. Don’t stop. Think about your protagonist gardening. You don’t think she would garden. Sherlock Holmes raised bees. Why wouldn’t your protagonist garden? Write it down and keep pulling weeds.

Maybe you just need a break. Are you a member of the write a book a month squad? Slow it down to a book every two or three months. Then dig out the grammar and writing books and make those books that take longer better books. If spending a couple of hours with conflicting grammar books doesn’t make you want to throw the grammar books against the wall and get back to writing the great American novel I don’t know what will.

Go read something for pleasure. If you have been writing too much and are burned out, you  haven’t been reading enough. Go read outside your genre, go read something for a guilty pleasure. Read a short story and make notes on how to write it better. Make notes on how to write it your way. Finish reading the book before going back to your writings. Better yet read two or three books before writing again.

Try doing some hard work that will make the old mind beg to return to writing. Do a deep edit of something you wrote. You think writing is hard work, why do they pay editors so much money to edit. Editing is very hard work and if it isn’t hard work for you then you’re not doing it right.

So if you’re stuck then get out of your rut and do something different. Don’t do something simple, do something hard. And finish that task. Don’t let the call of the coffee shop pull you away before you’re finished.

Stay strong, write on.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Oxnard Steampunk Fest Pictures

A bunch of amateur snapshots at the Steampunk Fest.

Advertising Driven Home at the Oxnard Steampunk Fest

They tell us authors that we have to advertise our book, story, blog, etc. I had that point driven home again at the Oxnard Steampunk Fest recently.

It’s a nice little fest with live music and many great steampunk outfits.

Wandering around the Fest I saw a sign pointing down some steps to presentations. The presentations were being held in the basement of a classic restored house. I like going to presentations, you never know what you’ll learn. There were problems, the Fest did not have the program flyer ready to hand out the first day of the Fest. The program would have listed the time the presentations were going to be given and what they were about.

Attendance at the presentations was light (people didn’t show up). A classic case of; if they don’t know about it, they won’t come. They missed some good presentations.

It wasn’t because the presentations were held in a basement. The presenters needed to advertise. They needed to put a sign or banner, no matter how crude, up pointing to the underground rooms telling the attendees about the presentations and when they were. They needed a come on (called a landing page in advertising). This is just like your book, even if the reader likes what you write, if they don’t know it exists or what it’s about they won’t buy it. The presenters put up with low turn out, rather than going out and doing something to get more people to come to their presentation. If someone lets you down you have to take up the slack and do it yourself, even if you paid the person to do it.

Hundreds of books, courses, and blogs have been written about advertising your book or presentation, but if you don’t do anything you won’t get new readers. What’s the best thing you can do. That’s a moving target and depends on so many things there is no one answer. But doing something, even if it’s not the best thing is better than doing nothing. Life is too short to do nothing.

Be prepared. Have book marks, post cards, business cards ready to hand out. Keep a white board in the back of your car. Keep markers (in several colors) handy. Keep a flip board in your car. It’s crude and simple, but it means the difference between attendees and no attendees or sales and no sales.

It’s hard work getting out in front of people, some of the presenters were dressed in steampunk outfits. Outfits they put a lot of work into. Outfits that screamed look at me. Yet they would not take the extra step and advertise. It hard work doing something that someone else should have done, but you got to do it. If the other authors are not doing it and you are, then your book will be selling when theirs are not.

Remember doing something, even if it’s wrong, is often better than doing nothing.

Stay strong, write on, and advertise.
Professor Hyram Voltage

A Frightened Writer

I made a commitment to go to an editor.

I’ve been putting this off. For over a year I have been self-editing and polishing my manuscript to make it good enough to show to an editor. I put a lot of work into it. My critique partner has read the book at least three times.

Still, I know that the manuscript has problems I can’t see. I know I’ll be devastated when I get the red smeared manuscript back from the editor.

I’ve been stuck. I’ve been putting off, stalling, getting an editor. It’s worst than writer’s block, it’s the fear of an editor rejecting me, or hacking my work to pieces. I’m asking to be hurt, it’s like I’m asking a stranger to be beat about the head and shoulders with a two by four. The only thing that will get bruised will be my ego, but it’s such a fragile, little, thing and it will hurt.

But I took the step. The step forward and approached an editor. Now if she doesn’t laugh herself silly when she reads my manuscript.

I’ve had professionals, authors, and people on the street tell me that you have to have your book edited. It’s something I have to do.

This step is going to cost me $1200.00 to $2000.00. And I’m paying that to have someone tell what’s wrong. But I’m doing this for the reader. I’m doing this as a professional, and I may never make back in book sales what it is going to cost me.

Incorporating the editor’s comments will cost me hours and hours that I will never get back.

So join me. Ask other authors which editors do they use. What experiences have they had with their editors. They will tell you. Many will be anxious to tell you about their editors and will even recommend their editors.

If you get a recommendation for a good editor it’s not all roses and sunshine. Editors are busy. The editor may not be able to get to your book for months. I almost guarantee it. The better the editor the busier they are. The editor may reject your work, not you, your work because it’s the wrong genre (I don’t do science fiction), it’s not the style of writing they edit, the level of writing is not up to the level it needs to be. I’ve seen all of these. It isn’t pretty. It’s devastating to the writer. On the other hand there are lots of hungry editors out there, but if you get feedback consider it, they may be right no matter how great your writing looks.

Boldly go and contact an editor. You will get feedback. Consider that feedback, embrace that feedback, use that feedback, they may be right.

Stay strong, write on, and go get an editor.
Professor Hyram Voltage

Going All In

At the Gaslight Expo I talked to an author I know. She recommended an editor she had just used. The author writes graphic novels and had just published her first novel.

That and the fact that conventions get me fired up I went and contacted the editor. She asked for a copy of the manuscript.

I wasn’t expecting that. It’s Friday and panic time. I’m still working with the critique group on a review of the last chapters of the book and I haven’t cranked in their comments from the review of earlier chapters.

I had a presentation to do Friday night and getting that polished took half the day. The presentation went OK, but I was so tired that I was not thinking straight, and I did not get the comments cranked into the manuscript. I ended up asking the editor if I could send the manuscript in Monday and she agreed.

It’s Monday and I should be working on the manuscript.

I took a big leap and committed to getting an editor and stop trying to beat the manuscript into better shape.

Excuse me, but I have to get back to the manuscript.

Stay strong, write on.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Gaslight Expo San Diego pictures from the panels and talks

Here is some pictures from the talks;

Victorian Space Suit 8

Victorian Space Suit 7

Victorian Space Suit 6

Victorian Space Suit side piece 5

Victorian Space Suit 3

Victorian Space Suit 2

Victorian Space Suit 1

Vernor Vinge

Gaslight Expo Fiji Mermaid 3

Fiji Mermaid picture 3

Gaslight Mermaid Fiji Mermaid 5

Fiji Mermaid picture 5

Gaslight Expo Fiji Mermaid 4

Fiji Mermaid picture 4 replica

Gaslight Expo Fiji Mermaid 2

Fiji Mermaid picture 2

Gaslight Expo Fiji Mermaid Taylor

Fiji Mermaid picture 1 speaker Taylor

Chart reading log book

Gaslight Expo Chart reading Gordon Permann


Gaslight Expo Chart Reading 1


Gaslight Expo Opneing Ceremonies 10-5 2 Panel Opening Ceremonies 10-5 1

Gaslight Expo – Pictures, Photos, and Snapshots from San Diego

I attended the Gaslight Expo in San Diego this weekend (10-5/6). Here are some pictures I took snap shot style.

Here are some pictures of the staff in action.

This is Check-in early Friday morning;

Gaslight Expo staff 10-5 1 Gaslight Expo staff 10-5 2

This is check-in late Saturday afternoon;

Gaslihgt Expo 10-6 1 Gaslight Expo 10-6 2

Be sure to stick your head in and say thank you to the volunteers that man the tables, and bring chocolate.

Gaslight Expo 10-5 3 Gaslight Expo 10-5 4

Gaslight Epo 10-5 5 Gaslight Expo 10-5 6

Gaslight Expo 10-5 8Gaslight Expo 10-5 7

Gaslight Expo 10-5 9

Stay strong, write on, and take pictures.

Professor Hyram Voltage