Tagged: Son of Music Novel

Forecasting 2018 (In Which Jen Tries to Keep Her Expectations Realistic)

Dire warnings of Bomb Cyclones and blizzards have been echoing around the writing cave, and while we aren’t in the path of any of the really nasty stuff, we’ve been locked in a deep freeze since before Christmas and it’s showing no signs of lifting. Today’s high is supposed to be 7º!

Since the weather forecast blows (both literally and figuratively), let’s see if things look sunnier in the fiction mines.

Grandson of Science Novel is moseying along toward the finish line, and finishing it up is our first order of business. In her secret heart Jen is dying for a deadline, but she’s terrified of missing another one. For now we’re winging it without. She’ll probably declare a deadline when we’re close enough to the end to touch it, and claim that she’s had it in mind all along. And Kent will humor her.

Once Grandson is done, the whole Science Trilogy will be in the can. Our major goal for the year is to publish the first one. It’s been edited a couple of times already, but there are many steps before it will be ready for its debut, and those will eat up a lot more time than Jen expects them to.

While the Science Novels rest between edits, we will devote our time to outlining the novel we are currently calling Sibling of Music Novel. As you may recall, we have the Music Novel, and Son of, written in full, but now we’ve decided that Son is really the third book in the series and we need to plug that hole in the middle.

If, after polishing Science Novels and writing Music Novels, we have any extra time, we’ll get started on brainstorming our Ghost Series.

We currently have no release dates to announce, but when we do, you’ll be the first to know. Check this space for updates!

And Happy New Year to you!

It Counts as Research

It’s been a while since we talked about the music we listen to when we’re writing, but it’s still an important part of our process. Especially this time of year when all of our neighbors renew their passionate love affairs with their lawn mowers. It’s been an especially noisy spring around the writing cave. A few weeks ago we rode out a pretty severe storm, and ever since we’ve been treated to practically daily concerts by the chainsaw chorus. And as I write this post, the people across the street have a cement mixer beeping and chugging away in their driveway. They’re in the midst of a never-ending construction project of some sort, and I can’t imagine what they need the cement for, since yesterday it was all nail-guns all day, putting up siding.

Both Jen and Kent skew pretty hard toward the Introverted/Antisocial end of the spectrum. In order to keep our sanity we need a buffer from the leaf blowers and hedge trimmers, the shrieking kids and teens on skateboards, the yodeling beagle and that weird guy who walks the streets in the dark, singing.

No, I’m not tense. Why do you ask?

Music is our respite, and lately it’s also been research. We’re in the early stages of plotting out our third Music Novel and it’s really helpful for us to swim around in songs that we love in order to get in the right headspace.

Last weekend we went to an out-of-town concert. We used the drive time to hash out some character details and brainstorm some plot points. Once we got there, we put that part of our brains in neutral and simply had a helluva good time. Of course, being writers, we were observing everything, soaking in the atmosphere along with the secondhand pot smoke. The ride home was filled with talk of fun details to work into the two extant Music Novels.

Now that we’re trapped in the writing cave again, we’ve taken to choosing songs from our collections that we feel exemplify the sound of the various bands in our novels. Interspersed with that are stretches where we listen to nothing but the Red Army Choir. Son and Grandson of Science Novel feature Russian characters and settings, so it really helps to set the mood.

Sometimes instrumental music is called for, especially during editing sessions. At those times we gravitate toward classical guitar or piano

What do you like to listen to when you’re writing? Let us know in the comments.

Size Does Matter

We are so close to done with the first draft of Son of Science Novel we can taste it!

Jen wrote the final scene yesterday, but we’re not actually done. Kent has one more scene on his plate that will fall before the last scene. Um. Obviously.

Here’s the thing. This draft is going to come it at around 95,000 words. That’s a lot of words, right? That’s a very satisfying, lengthy novel. We should be happy! The problem is that Science Novel, the book that this is a sequel to, is currently 121,000 words. That’s quite a discrepancy!

While Science Novel has had some edits, there is certainly still some flab there to be carved away. It will get smaller. But so will Son of SN when we edit it. The discrepancy will remain. Jen has this hangup about all the chapters in a book being roughly the same size, and all the books in a series, too. The key word here is “roughly.” No matter how much Kent teases, she doesn’t actually want all the chapters to be exactly the same length. But they should be able to measured with the same yardstick.

Since Jen is the keeper of the outline, and the creator of the stubs, she has seen this word count disaster coming for a while now and she’s been running around like Chicken Little. Now that the end is in sight, Kent has finally begun to believe her. We’ve given a lot of thought to the ‘problem,’ trying to figure out where it all went wrong. Every novel we’ve written previously has come out well above 100,000. Hell, the one before this (Son of Music Novel) came it at 182,900 (which we are not going to round to 183,000 goddammit). Our current draft feels like the runt of the litter.

The problem is not lack of plot. We have enough plot to choke a horse. Before we started writing, we were concerned that we might have another monster on our hands. It would be nice to think we’ve just improved our craft so much that we have transcended the need for editing, but the sky in our world is blue, just like yours.

We have identified a few places where we need to expand things, and we think we’ve discovered a hole that needs to be filled. It’s not 25,000 words worth of stuff, but it might get us up to the magic 100K.

Our current plan is to have Kent write that one last scene that is not the last scene, and then read the manuscript through, looking for what’s missing. It shouldn’t take long, since it’s so damn short.

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.

Spinning Plates

r-avatarRune Skelley likes to focus on just one novel at a time. Having to keep track of multiple story worlds simultaneously makes it harder to do any of them justice. Harder, but hopefully not impossible, because we’re bending our own rule right now.

Novel #1 (Miss Brandymoon’s Device) is getting a final round of line edits, while we’re also doing a read-through on the Science Novel in preparation for outlining the sequels. We’ve already rainbowed them, and now we need to really get that world under our nails to expand those rainbows into full-fledged outlines. The line editing is happening mostly by day, with evenings available for the read-through. It seems to be working pretty well, so far.

In addition to all of that, we’re getting feedback from our beta readers on Son of Music Novel. That means we have to keep all three of our story worlds in our heads, to some extent.

Oh, and we’re doing cover mockups for our first trilogy. Shifting from verbal creative mode to pictorial creative mode is refreshing now and then, although there’s a lot of creative verbiage flying around the writing cave while we converge on a common vision for these covers.

Sometimes, practical demands force you to spread yourself a little thin. Having a writing partner means you can keep more plates spinning.

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.

Reading Aloud is Always Allowed

r-avatarWe just drank our champagne in celebration of completing the revisions on Music Novel, a process that culminated in a few nights of marathon read-aloud sessions so we could make sure our careful cuts hadn’t gone amiss anywhere.

Now, we’re doing our preliminaries for revision of Son of Music Novel, which consists of (say it with me) reading it aloud. We like to read things out loud, and we think you should do it, too.

There is a little more to it than just getting prepped for editing. We have beta readers awaiting this book with varying degrees of impatience, but it’s a first draft. We know it has some issues, and we don’t want to make it our beta readers’ job to report them to us, at least not the big ones.

We could just each read the manuscript and then compare notes. But hearing it (and in Kent’s case speaking it) is a great way to pick up on the rhythms and textures, and we find it’s a good info-dump detector, too. Working with a partner gives you a built-in listener, but even if you’re going solo it’s a valuable tool.

We also have at least one prospective beta “reader” who’s requested it as an audiobook, so perhaps one of these times we’ll make a recording.

Looking Ahead at 2016

r-avatarIt’s a brand new year, which means it’s time to draw up a plan for our writing.

Son of Music Novel’s first draft is resting quietly in the virtual bottom drawer. Once we’ve forgotten everything we wrote we’ll pick it up again and edit it with fresh eyes, then take it to our critique group.

To help us do that forgetting we’ve begun to spec out Son of Science Novel. We had approximately a day and a half of just sort of staring at each other, trying to remember who had survived the first book in the series and imagine what they might get up to next. Then – BOOM! – the ideas exploded and we’ve started filling up the pages in a new steno pad. Jen’s made her first timeline and her first list of potential character names. Kent’s list of topics to research is growing by the minute. It’s amazingly fun.

Not that it will be fun for our characters. Nope. They’ll hate us, which is how it should be.

Coming into the brainstorming we had some pictures and preliminary notes on two real-world locations that seemed like fruitful story settings. Early ideas seemed to rule them both out, though, much to our chagrin. But now we’ve found a way to work with one, and possibly both of them. Huzzah!

We’d like to think that the brainstorming and outlining won’t take as long as they did for Son of Music Novel. If they keep going at this pace, we should be golden.

Once we get this baby outlined nicely, we’ll switch back to Son of Music Novel and do those edits, and while we’re at it we’ll pull up Music Novel itself and find ways to tie the two narratives together more strongly.

Meanwhile, we’re waiting for good news from the agent who is currently looking at Science Novel. 2016 might just be the year this all takes off.

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!