Tagged: Science Novel

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.

Sayonara (Not So) Sweet ’16

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


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.

Scouting the Locations

r-avatarWe have a habit we’re trying to break, wherein we do online research to discover exciting locations in which to set our novels, write a rough draft of said novel, and only then visit the location. This leads to edits to punch up the atmospheric details, and occasionally reblock scenes.

Last year we were a little smarter and took our field trip before we finished the first draft. We didn’t need to make any changes, and were able incorporate some fun details to give the work more verisimilitude.

This year we were brilliant! We made our pilgrimage before we set pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard.

Son of Music Novel is in the hands of beta readers, and we’re revving up the engines to start composing both Son and Grandson of Science Novel. The location we visited last week is one we’ve been to before — it was our inspiration for the main setting of Science Novel — and we wanted to refresh our memories, get the feel for it again so we can do it justice in the sequels.

Sadly we won’t be able to visit all of our inspiration sites. One no longer exists in the real world, and some of the others are in Russia. We have, in fact, been to Russia, but it’s been a few years, and we stuck to the touristy stuff when we were there. No secret labs or long-forgotten cold war bunkers on our itinerary, alas. But if we ever decide to set a novel in St Petersburg’s Hermitage or the Peterhof Palace, we have a ton of pictures to use for reference.

2015 – That Was The Year That Was

r-avatarIn January of 2015 we wrote up a schedule for our year in writing, and then promptly did not look at it again until just now. Imagine our shock and delight when we discovered that we pretty much stuck to the plan!

  • Novel #5 (aka The Science Novel) is in the hands of an extremely capable agent, and we’re reminding ourselves to be patient as we await a reply
  • Novel #6 (aka Son of Music Novel) is in the can
  • and we have indeed begun brainstorming for Novel #7 (aka Son of Science Novel)

But how did we get here? Let us cuddle up with warm beverages and take a look back at 2015.

January was all about getting to know our new characters.

February saw us chugging through the outlining of Novel #6, and extolling the virtues of writing partnerships.

By March we had most of the kinks worked out of the rough outline we call the Plot Rainbow, and were preparing to move to the next step in our process.

In April we were still in the preparatory phase for the new novel, honing the characters’ voices, and dealing with a (gasp!) disagreement in the Writing Cave.

May brought the actual start of composition. Finally.

In June we were patting ourselves on the back for our deft theme incorporation and thorough world-building.

We spent much of July talking about music. This is Son of Music Novel, so it makes sense. Also, we were 43,000 words in!

By the first week of August that word count had leapt to 72,000 words. Yikes! We talked about our marketing efforts, and also went on a field trip.

Our schedule disruptions continued in September when we attended a writing conference and visited with our good friend and fellow author Reggie Lutz.

In October we were still chugging away on the first draft, encountering only a few minor problems.

November saw completion of the main narrative. We even had time to read through the whole damn thing over Thanksgiving break.

Which brings us up to the present day, December 2015. Son of Music Novel’s first draft is completely complete, ancillary material and all. Sure it’s long, but we’ll worry about that later. For now we’re making plans to see Star Wars again before Kent heads back to work.

Next week we’ll talk about our plans for the upcoming year.

Happy New Year!

When the Time is Right

r-avatarThe first draft of Son of Music Novel is 99% done. (Amazing how the last couple of percentage points take so much  longer to complete!) Soon we’ll be ready to start taking it to critique group, which is very exciting. We’re really looking forward to getting input from a bunch of very smart fellow writers.

This time out we’re following the same policy we had great success with on the Science Novel: waiting until the draft is entirely written and the known issues are dealt with before taking it in. That allows us to keep input in perspective because we can weigh comments against what we know about how the various arcs ultimately play out. Sometimes it’s a good thing if readers get pissed off! The fun is in watching them take the ride.

Certainly, there are other ways to manage critique. Past experience has taught us to prefer this method. The Music Novel itself is a case in point. With that one, we started taking it to group when we hit approximately the halfway mark. That was intended to give us time to reach the end before our critiquers caught up, and in that regard it worked fine. Thing is, we then did a major restructuring that rendered much of the original input moot. Fortunately, by the time the second version was ready we had new critique group members available, meaning there were unspoiled readers by whom we could gauge the success of our changes. It’s very hard to look at successive drafts as if for the first time.

In the primordial phase of our fictive endeavors, when crude stick-figure drawings of mammoth hunters first appeared on the walls of the writing cave, we used to take stuff in whenever we had stuff. Often this meant a new chapter would go through group before we’d even written the next one. The drive to produce something so you can take it in is a plus, but we ran into some serious downsides. Premature input can be very distracting. Even with an outline telling you, broadly, where things end up, it’s easy to fall into trying to “fix” your critiquers’ attitudes about particular characters or events. You might even be talked into departing from your carefully planned outline.

Talking to your critique group about a work in progress can lead to inspiration. Critique’s a collaborative process, after all. Knowing that other people are taking your story to heart, investing energy in understanding it, is very motivating. Depending on your process, you might thrive on the in-the-moment feedback, or even depend on the influx of ideas that arise in discussion.

Are you in a critique group? (You should be.) How do you get the most out of it? What works best with your style?

Writing Cave Status Report

r-avatarRune Skelley’s habitat has been a rather hectic place of late. In addition to the recent travel and interviews that we mentioned the past couple of Fridays:

  • We heard back from two more Science Novel beta readers with much positive input
  • Yesterday’s #PitMad kept us nicely distracted on the twitters for a while, pitching the Trilogy and the Music Novel
  • Jen analyzed the outline of Son of Music Novel and terrified Kent with the number of words we should expect to write by the end of the year to meet our deadline
  • We allocated the next handful of stubs — we will be able to work in parallel for the foreseeable future so our productivity should take an uptick (unless this jinxed it)
  • We’re shortly off to a conference, our first in a while

All the schedule disruptions, while they slow down our prose generation, are also positive things in their own right. So we have mixed feelings about them. Maybe if they didn’t travel in packs…

Keeping With Tradition(al Marketing)

r-avatarThe frustrations of sending query letters do sometimes have their compensations, such as when an agent asks for a full. That happened to us this week, which (a) makes us both extremely happy, and (b) feels a little spooky considering that just last week we vented about marketing.

Now we need to generate a properly formatted manuscript of the Science Novel and get it sent!

In related news, we’ve also registered to go to a conference next month. It’s been a while since we attended one, and we’re excited to do a little networking with industry types and our fellow wordsmiths.

Meanwhile, the first draft of Son-of-Music-Novel continues to move along. We’re at 80,000 words and into our fourth batch of stubs, which takes us more than halfway through the outline.