Tagged: Grandson of Science Novel

A Progress Report from the Writing Cave

We passed the 60k milestone this week on Grandson of Science Novel, which is great! Of course, that leaves us only three weeks to hit our target of 100k by year’s end. Which would take an average of 2000 words per day. That’s only 1000 words apiece (have we ever mentioned that having a writing partner offers many advantages?), but that’s every day, and it’s significantly more than the pace we’ve been on. Like, very significantly. Back when work started on this one, we ran some numbers and came up with a plan that felt perfectly reasonable. And now, here we are, with nearly half of the book remaining to write and less than a month to do it.

So we’re a little stressed about missing our deadline. Life keeps getting in the way. We have all kinds of excuses, and we think most of them are pretty good. Unfortunately, we haven’t come up with the excuse that’s so good it lets us hit our deadline after all.

Thing about this deadline is, we imposed it on ourselves. Rune Skelley sets Rune Skelley’s schedule. So the consequences for blowing it are rather abstract. Assuming we do end up blowing it, we’ll miss out on the satisfaction of attaining it. And, the longer it takes us to write a book, the longer the gaps between our releases.

Setting goals and deadlines for yourself is vital for being able to measure progress, and even without a mean boss glaring at your tardiness, you need to take these things seriously. You need discipline, and you need to protect your writing time. You just can’t let deadline stress ruin the joy of creation.

Altitude 40k And Climbing

Manuscript milestone — we just hit 40,000 in Grandson of Science Novel. The previous book’s word count came in light (by our standards) but based on the progress so far it really doesn’t look like we’ll have such concerns about this one.

Obsessing over word count is silly, except that it isn’t. Genre conventions, reader expectations, pacing through a series, all are important considerations impacted by word count. In our particular case, we see it as significant because it is a deviation from our customary results. We’ve been regarding it as a symptom and trying to diagnose the underlying cause. The picture that’s coming into focus is something along the lines of, “Holy crap, there’s a lot of story here! We must be extra-laser focused!” And then succeeding a bit too admirably at that.

The other big news this week has been our internet being out. New modem didn’t help, so we’ll be visited by the cable gnomes soon in hopes of figuring out what’s actually wrong. Funny how not having access to distractions like Twitter and email doesn’t automatically make it easier to be productive. (At least Kent says it doesn’t.) That would have been a nice silver lining.

Anyway, if you need us we’ll be waving our phones at the ceiling in a futile quest for faster hotspot performance.

Juggling

Elsewhere’s Twin continues its sojourn in its chrysalis, preparing for its glorious emergence next month as a beautiful butterfly of prose.

Grandson of Science Novel is chugging along, approximately a quarter of the way to the first draft finish line.

Sibling of Music Novel, which is next in line for composition, is like a snowball rolling downhill, getting bigger and bigger, collecting more and more plot complications and character details. Soon we’ll have a full-blown avalanche of an outline on our hands.

We’ll talk more about each of those in the coming weeks. Mark your calendars!

Right now we’re splitting our time between writing, brainstorming, and research for a variety of projects. Our current research topics include brain structure, the history of the New York City skyline, cancer, the Mandela Effect, and birth videos. And there’s a TV show that touches on subjects somewhat similar to some things we’re working with, so we’re binging our way through that to make sure the similarities stay in the realm of “slight” and don’t require us to restructure anything. So far so good. And it totally counts as research. It’s not a distraction, honest!

Plus, of course, we’re keeping up with Twin Peaks. Our son comes home every week to watch with us. No, your family is weird.

Shifting Gears From Revision to Composition

Last time we gave you an update from the writing cave, we were deep into a revision pass on Elsewhere’s Twin. This week, Kent wrapped up his edits. Jen had crossed the finish line well ahead of him, as was the plan. That manuscript can now take a well-earned rest before its final read-through and polishing.

We’ve already returned our focus to writing. It’s sometimes tricky to get the brain back into writing mode after dwelling in revision-land for a while. (Yes, just the one brain. We share.) The road trip must have been just what we needed, though, because this time we seem to have hit the ground running with it. Grandson of Science Novel just crossed the 20k word mark. Woohoo!

Now to write some more.

The Surgery Was a Success!

It took a week longer than we had hoped, but Jen just completed an editing pass on the Science Novel. It had been through the ringer at least once before, and she still managed to smallerize it by 7,000 words. Meanwhile, our current manuscript-in-process, Grandson of Science Novel, has topped 11,000 words, most of them from Kent. It feels really good to have such a solid start on the new book. It feels even better to have a net gain in word count. We’ve added more to this series than we’ve taken away.

While Science Novel lays in the recovery room for a bit, waiting for the bandages to come off, Jen will turn her attention to Divided Man Book 3. It’s called Elsewhere’s Twin, and its release date is on the horizon. We’re hoping to go through the whole thing twice more before sending it out into the world, which means we have no time to waste.

That extra week we devoted to Science Novel makes the schedule a little tighter than we would like. Jen won’t get any downtime between the projects to clear her head. She’s already eyeing up a fresh scalpel. The last time through Elsewhere’s Twin she was still wielding her chainsaw. This time should see fewer huge cuts and much more finessing. Another difference is that this time, Kent will follow along a few chapters behind Jen with his own surgical tools. Having a coauthor means having more eyes on the words at every step in the process. It means a better finished manuscript.

Prosing Has Commenced

Grandson of Science Novel is underway!

As we talked about a while ago, we rainbowed and outlined the two sequels in tandem. The first draft of Son of Science Novel is complete, although we are still tinkering with it. But for the immediate future, our focus will be on book three of the series.

Jen has been a stubbing maniac. She set herself a target of writing stubs up through a certain point in the plot, and this week she attained it. Yay! The word count just for this first wave of stubs is over 18,000. Yowza.

Meanwhile, there were enough stubs stockpiled for Kent to jump in and begin writing actual scenes. He had some leftover assignments in the other two Science Novels, but now all that’s cleared away and the first couple of scenes are in the can.

The trick, at this point, is to get ourselves into a good rhythm to keep cranking the words out. Real life and Netflix have a way of interfering with our good intentions, but we will see it through. As a team!

Giants of Science (Novels)

We passed some nice milestones recently in the auxiliary writing cave. Our base of operations shifted there while we collated and discussed the critique input we collected on Science Novel, and even though we would rather have done that work over the winter (because the auxiliary writing cave has a fireplace) it was still a nice change of scene.

Now we’re back in the primary writing cave, gearing up to dive into the Science series. Maybe “come at it broadside” would be more apt, seeing as we’ll have three books in play simultaneously. Now that the critique info is digested, Jen will begin an editing pass on Science Novel. Meanwhile, Kent will be making additions to the first draft of Son of while Jen lays the groundwork for Grandson by cooking up its first batch of stubs. It’s a form of cookery where all the plates are spinning, evidently.

The last time we tackled three books all at once was when we did the covers for the Divided Man series. Based on how that turned out, we might want to start making a habit of it.

Predicting the Future – 2017 Edition

It’s time for everyone’s favorite activity: Strategic Planning!

What do we plan to accomplish in 2017? And how hard will this post make us laugh when we dust it off and look at it at the end of the year?

Kent, Jen, and Lady Marzipan took a nice long walk yesterday, and in between long, lingering sniffs of all the mailboxes in the neighborhood, we talked about how we hope to spend our time in the writing cave this year.

First and foremost, we’re planning to publish two books this year, sequels to Miss Brandymoon’s Device. Tenpenny Zen will be out in March, with the third novel to follow in late summer or early fall. There will be a lot of busywork involved with prepping those, which will keep us distracted from actual writing. But it’s kind of necessary if we want to release a quality product. Which we do.

Our second highest priority is knocking out the first drafts for Son and Grandson of Science Novel. We’re currently something like halfway through Son, and we’re planning to just steam ahead and write them both back-to-back (interrupted only by the fiddly stuff needed to release Tenpenny). We’re notoriously bad at predicting how long it will take us to write a novel. Jen seems to think that if we really knuckle down it should only take one long weekend, whereas Kent is more realistic and assumes it will take forever. Hopefully we’ll land somewhere in the middle and finish up by summer. Maybe.

After that, well… After that it gets a bit scary. With the Divided Man series published and the Science series resting comfortably as a first draft, that leaves only the Music series. We like the elegance of trilogies, even if we try not to officially label things that way – who knows when we might feel inspired to tell more stories set in our various fiction worlds? Currently the Music series has two completed novels, which means it needs at least one more. We have a few notes about what that third story might look like, and yesterday while we were out getting lunch and taking care of a friend’s cats we talked through those ideas and expanded a few of them. We don’t know yet what form the third Music novel will take, but we have no doubts that we’ll figure it out.

But then what? After we wrap up the Music series, we run out of map. We’ve been living with these three story worlds for a long time, and it’s unsettling to think that we might be done with all of them as soon as this year.

That might be catastrophizing a bit because it’s highly unlikely we’ll finish three novels in one year, and even if we do, there’s still all the editing.

But. But! We’re still sailing off the end of world.

So, if we’re smart we’ll devote a couple of lengthy conversations to exploring what comes next. Road trips are a fruitful time for that, which means we’ll need to plan a few of those. Where will the new year take us?

Happy New Year, everyone!

Sayonara (Not So) Sweet ’16

What a year. Politics were shit, and too many cool celebrities died.

But!

It wasn’t total misery! Looking back at our post from this time last year, it seems we more or less accomplished what we set out to do in the writing cave. Son (and Grandson!) of Science Novel are both outlined, and we’re well underway with the composition. Go Team Skelley!

Where we deviated from our plan was basically everything that had to do with Son of Music Novel. It did not get time to rest quietly in a drawer, it did not get a thorough edit. Since the other members of our writers’ group were not at a point where they had anything to share, Son of Music Novel got its critique debut a bit early. It’s been a challenge to divide our attention between the projects, but we’re managing. At least we have each other’s shoulders to cry on.

So how did we spend our year 2016 at SkelleyCo Amalgamated Fictions, LLC?

In January and February we were deep in the outlining for Son of Science Novel. It’s pretty much the only thing we blogged about.

March brought our brilliant scheme to outline both sequels before moving on to prose. We did accomplish that, and as far as we can tell at this altitude, we haven’t fucked it up yet. If we can ever get out of this holiday quagmire and chain ourselves to our desks again, we ought to be able to finish up Son and roll right on into Grandson.

Along with taxes, April brought an end to the outlining, and a trip down memory lane. We cleaned out the Writing Cave and took a look at how we used to do things back in the Olden Days. Then we partook of a different kind of nostalgia, beginning an editing pass on Music Novel, which hadn’t seen the light of day in a while.

May was spent elbow-deep in the guts of Music Novel, editing like fiends. Or skilled surgeons, if you’d rather.

In June we hit a couple of bumps in the road, but our partnership (and marriage!) are as strong as ever.

Come July we were all over the place, working in all three of our story worlds at once, and beginning the preliminary work for self-publishing our very first novel, Miss Brandymoon’s Device.

Happy Anniversary! In August, our chain story reached installment 100! And we were still getting through all the throat-clearing that happens before we actually start writing a novel (or two).

September was mostly spent in the run-up to publishing Miss Brandymoon’s Device. Kent created a beautiful cover for it and both of its siblings. We did all kinds of boring behind-the-scenes technical stuff with fonts and layouts and what-have-you. Jen took care of the final pre-writing tasks for the new novels.

And then Boom! October! Book birthday! We think our new baby is gorgeous, and we hope you love it just as much as we do. Hop on over to your favorite book retailer and pick up a copy of the ebook for free! Or order a physical copy from Amazon. You won’t regret it!

Suddenly it was November. How could it possibly be Thanksgiving already? Please explain to us the passage of time. As we always do, we ignored NaNoWriMo and kept our own schedule, with got us to 20,000 by the middle of the month. Not too shabby, when you consider how many distractions we were dealing with.

Good thing there are no distractions in December, amiright? Despite a very long list of things vying for our attention we’re going to finish up 2016 with about 45,000 words in the can for Son of Science Novel. It’s not as many as we’d hoped we might have by now, but it’s nothing to sneeze at.

Jen was feeling a little disheartened that we weren’t further along, and as we worked on this Year in Review post she was able to diagnose her main issue. It feels like we’ve been working on this book for an entire freakin’ year! And that’s because we have been. But we took a huge break in the middle to edit several novels and actually get one of them out in front of people. Somehow that part had slipped Jen’s mind. But when you look at things rationally and see that we’ve only been actually writing this book since sometime in October, it feels like an accomplishment to be proud of.

So we’ll say it again, Go Team Skelley!

Next week we’ll talk about our plans for 2017.

Places, Everyone!

r-avatarOur first three novels are set in the same made-up town, which is strongly inspired by a real place. The music novel and (son-of) are set in New York City, which despite what you may have heard is an actual, real place. For the science novel and its successors we have once again invented cities, and the locations that inhabit them.

The science novel’s locale is practically part of the cast. We never considered setting the story in a known city. When it came time to plan its sequels, though, we worked very hard at tracking down a real place that could work. Neither of us can quite say why. Given the logistical constraints of the plot, as well as some crucial geographic and climate considerations, it was proving all but impossible to choose an existing location. Plus, we wanted it to have a cool name.

The desire to name the place was probably the signal that snapped us out of it. So, today we concocted a deliciously Russian appellation for the place where we’ll be making more characters’ lives miserable, and decided where to put its map pin. In this case, “we” means Jen of course, because names are her superpower. Now that we’ve chosen this route, it’s dawned on us how strange it would have been to have books in a series follow different theories of setting and world-building.

As an added bonus, creating a location from scratch allows Kent to stretch his D&D muscles to draw up maps.