It’s been a long time coming

This post…

This post has been coming for a long time now. This post has been virtually in the works for 10 months. Over a thousand hours of my life spent working toward a goal. And just a few days ago, I reached that goal.

My book is done.

I have, for the first time in my life, completed a story I set out to finish. Through countless attempts, I have finally completed my first step, as a writer, toward my dream.

I am an Author.

All of that said, it’s time I take my next few steps. As I posted in a prior update, I’ve begun querying agents. However, as you all know, this is a long and painful process. Additionally, I posted an update about future plans and story ideas. I have made my choice and will begin outlining shortly. In the mean time, I’m recovering from fatigue and taking up a few short stories that I’ve had floating around for a while.

However, before I sign off and take my much needed break, I will drop the WIP name of my next book.

Epic of Q’tal

My name is Jason Penn and I am an author.

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7/14/2015 And so it beings

It certainly doesn’t feel like only 8 days have passed since my last post. This update will be short, but it’s a major one. As of today, I am querying agents. As of today, I’ve taken the next step in becoming a published author.

Now, I don’t assume it’ll work out immediately and everything will be sun shine and rainbows, but it is a big step. My book is finally in a state where only the eyes of an agent and editor can improve it. I can make tiny tweaks here and there for months, sure. However, I feel comfortable with what I’ve accomplished and waiting around trying to nail perfection won’t get me anywhere. It’s time to face the crucible and suffer rejection as all authors before me. Hopefully with it, I will grow.

7/6/2015 Update and Steps Forward

Nearly a month has passed and finally I return. I went to my grandfather’s 90th birthday and was able to spend a little time with both of my grandparents. My grandmother was doing as well as I could hope. It was awkward being around so many family members. The hundred and ten degree weather didn’t help the experience either. I’m just glad I was able to see them.

My writing stagnated after I received the feedback and it’s taken a lot to get myself back into the groove of things. However I’ve been in contact with her and she has given me lots of guidance.

I entered the Pitch to Publication event too. It helped get me writing again and even though I’m pretty sure I’m out of the running, it was far from a waste of time. I wrote an entirely new opening that brings the reader right in. I got a bunch of revisions done to the first chapter to make things flow better. And on top of that, I got some good experience in writing query letters. Over all, it was a good for me.

Today I sort of just woke up and started doing things. General house work, gardening, finishing a closet, and then I simply opened up my manuscript and started editing. I’ve gotten through the first chapter and I’m awaiting her critiques of the second and third. So in the mean time, I worked up the energy to write this update and to say that I haven’t given up.

With renewed vigor, I write on.

5/18/2015 Update

Sadly, this update doesn’t come with much news of progress. I’ve found myself in a worrying lull as I reach the limit of my experience. Creativity doesn’t occur in a vacuum and I feel editing works the same. At this point, the previous Beta readers are all too busy with college finals or swamped with their own responsibilities. My own attempts at self editing, while fruitful, have limits.

So I reached out to a fellow author in the family who can give me some guidance. However she has her own projects and responsibilities, which means I will have to wait for the feedback I so very much need.

This brings me to why I’m making this update. I’m not here to mope over the stagnation, but to outline my plans for the interim. As I’ve been told so many times before, I must keep writing! I’m currently working on an outline for a short horror story I intend to submit it to a magazine. If it works out, good for me. If not, I will have gotten some needed practice in the first person perspective. I don’t have a literary degree. I went to college for programming. I’ve never been published before, thus no awards or history to include in my writer’s biography. So, while I wait to learn how I can do better, I intend to make the most of my down time.

My goal is to finish the first draft by the end of the week, but finishing entirely would be quite pleasing.

5/11/15 Update and Milestone!

The announcement is a little belated, but last Thursday (5/7/15) I finished the first round of edits of my story. I still have plenty more to do, but now I can finally say I have a completed first draft; though some chapters are as far as revision 5. Using standard spacing, Times New Roman, and size 12 font, it’s roughly 170 pages and 69,000 words. I’m amazed at how I used to worry about the book not being long enough, but that’s approximately right on genre target. Almost certainly, I’ll have to try and tighten things up to reduce the page and word count, though I’m not certain with my current level of skill I will accomplish much on my own. However I have a skilled Beta reader, a technical writer, and a connection with a published author who can hopefully give me her opinion and insight.

As I wait for feedback, my plans are mostly laid out. Now that I’ve returned to the beginning of the book with fresh eyes, I’m going to rework the first few pages into a proper opening. At the moment, even if it’s acceptable for my POV, it feels like an info dump. I’m going to highlight the essential setting details the reader must know and then figure out how to distribute the rest cleanly. My intent is to get the reader into the story within three paragraphs if possible. I’ll also look into different methods of entry, so likely I’ll be working on this section for the rest of the week if I’m unlucky. From there on, I’ll be going through my notes while tightening each chapter.

I’m excited and terrified by the impending querying process, but that isn’t any of my concern until I’ve made the book as polished as I possibly can. I much continue to work hard no matter how insurmountable the challenge may seem.

5/3/15 Update and Thoughts

So here I am at the beginning of April and only 3 chapters away from finishing my first round of edits. I will sometimes tell myself that I’m only so many chapters away from finishing the book. I say that knowing that what I really mean is that I will finish the first round of editing. I will have successfully created a Revision 1 version of my novel.

A few months ago, I managed to finish writing the first draft. To a seasoned author, this is just another step in the process of writing a book. However, this was the first time I has ever finished a book. Before, I would often write the first chapter and quit because something else more interesting inspired me to focus elsewhere. Or, even more common, was that I wouldn’t ever write anything at all. I’d come up with everything and play out the book in my head. Knowing everything that was going to happen, I lost interest. Why write a story you already know everything about? I’d gotten my fun out of it and that was that. Before my current project, the closest I’d come was four or five chapters into a story two years ago.

Around October of 2014, I began writing an urban fantasy story based on a writing exercise I was going to do with my girlfriend. The exercise never happened, but I was intrigued with the world I’d created enough that I decided to give it a shot. January came about and I’d finished writing half the book. Had to quit my dead end job because I hurt my back… But I had written more than I had ever done in my entire life. And for the first time in my life, I felt proud of the effort I’d put into something.

Then, about two months ago, I wrote the finale. The book ended. I finished the first draft of the first book I’d ever written. No book, no story, will ever hold such an accomplishment for me again. This I share with every author, great and small.

I don’t feel as if it will be smooth sailing from here on out. I don’t even feel like I’ve crest the mountain and that the rest of this marathon is downhill. No… I know that once I finish editing these last few chapters that I’ll just be looping back to the beginning of the story again to continue editing until I have something worthy of people’s attention; of their time.

As a novice, there is only so much I can accomplish on my own. I have Beta readers giving me their thoughts. They have helped me so much in seeing my shortcomings. I don’t have a professional editor, but their sharp eyes see what I cannot. I look forward to finishing my first rounds of edits, because it means I will be that much closer to the day I can start querying agents. I’m aware of that it’s a tough industry to get into, but until that first rejection letter arrives, I don’t think it’ll sink in. Self doubt destroys us and I have it. Yet I’m working through it. I’m not afraid anymore. You could say that I know nothing and it is ignorance that blinds me to the pain I will soon face. I will accept that. However I will still move forward. Happiness is at my fingertips and I intend to grasp it.

4/17/15 Update

Sadly this is a small update compared to the prior.  It took me a whole 15 more days, but I finally finished editing Chapter 7 into something I was willing to show my Beta readers for feedback.  Two days later I finished editing chapter 8.  It will be Monday before I start on chapter 9, thought that leaves only 6 more chapters until I’ve finished.

I anticipate chapter 11 will take some time, however my writing had improved greatly as I approached the end of the story, so I’m optimistic that I’ll finish within a month.

Needless to say, I’m quite excited.